Title: My Dearest Calenhad
Game: Dragon Age 2
characters/pairing: Carver, Calenhad, Bethany, Leandra, some others.
Disclaimer: Dragon age ©Bioware--- Calenhad and Traveyl and Parith ©Shaleene1
A/N Chapter 1 is heavily edited and reworded by the lovely Bucklesinthesun here on Deviant art. Her words gave the introduction chapter a lovely flow... The rest of the chapters are edited by me so don't be surprised if they are not as beautifully written. THANK YOU MY DEAREST BUCKIES
The art is created by our lovely talented CoupleofKooks here on deviantart. Links in Desc
Calenhad slipped silently out of the house and gently shut the door behind him. He could hear the sound of splintering wood and his brother's grunts as he chopped the winter's firewood. He sat down on the top stair hugging his legs to his chest and resting his chin on his knees. Winter it seemed, was creeping in early, but despite the cool temperature Carver was shirtless and sweating over his work. Calenhad watched silently, both admiring and envying his younger sibling. He loved watching Carver work around their farm and on rare occasions when he was allowed to follow along on one of Chanter Devon's jobs. His brother was smart, talented, willful, strong, tall, and could wield the biggest and heaviest swords he had ever laid eyes on. Calenhad was the complete opposite, he stood maybe shoulder height to Carver and was less then half his size. Not to mention he was the only one in the family that didn't have their trademark onyx hair and tawny colored eyes. Even his skin tone was a shade or two lighter then the rest of them. Thanks to his size, Cal had made a rather convincing elf the year before on Feastday. Bethany had even created a pair of pointed ears from beeswax which she later reused for candles.
Calenhad was also a big fan of tales and legends he often heard when he would visit the tavern and marketplace with his siblings. Stories of tall handsome men and women fighting legendary beasts and scouring the world for lost, mystical artifacts. Of course many of them were fabricated or twisted over the years, but that made them no less fascinating. As he watched his brother swing the axe over his head repeatedly, he wondered, not for the first time, what kind of tales they would tell about him. Would Carver become a hero or a champion? What kind of name would he leave behind, legendary warrior of the ages who saved the world from some vile monster? Maybe he would save King Cailan in an epic battle against maleficarum who summon a demon dragon from the fade to destroy Denerim. They would build statues in his honor, a hero of legend with his lovely, and insufferable wife Peaches beside him living in riches till the end of their days. Carver would die a grand old warrior high on a forgotten mountain battling a dragon.
Ok, so maybe his mother was right. He did spend too much time fantasizing about silly things. But then what else was he to do during the day when he was hidden away like a dirty little secret.
Cal let out a silent sigh, turning his head and resting his cheek against his knee. He wondered why the heroes of stories were always alone in their moment of triumph. Did none of them have traveling companions who fought with them, friends or cousins or brothers? The Dwarves always had a shield brother beside them, but even their stories ended with the hero fighting alone. Calenhad sometimes dreamt about fighting alongside his brother, overcoming impossible odds together. In those thoughts there was no happy ending with the insufferable 'Peaches', no lone death on a mountain top; it was just Carver and Calenhad Hawke, side by side, always.
Calenhad was nothing compared to Carver. His smaller frame wouldn't allow him to wield claymores and maces. He couldn't carry a heavy steel shield on either side because his arms grew tired so quickly. Wearing steel armor would block his subtle gifts, for his strength lay elsewhere. It was a strength he feared to use most days. Fear of the Templars finding him and his family, sure. But moreso it was fear of losing control over the elements that far outweighed anything else. Carver was the only one born without magic, but he wouldn't have been scared of the power at his command. Calenhad envied him for that self-assurance. Carver was everything Calenhad could never be; fearless, dashing and adventurous. That was why Carver was the head of the family even if Cal was the eldest sibling. He would have to be content with that and fade into the background as the unknown brother while that courser-faced tittering little twit of a farm girl stood beside what should be his.
Carver dropped his axe, the head burying itself in the ground beside the block. Cal heard it as much as felt the solid thunk through the slight tremor beneath him. A mundane wouldn't have noticed the earth shivering at being struck. Carver stretched the tight muscles in his back in a rippling wave of sinew and skin. Something huge and white flashed at the edge of Calenhad's vision. He barely registered what it was before the mass was flying through the air. One hundred and ten pounds of muscle and fur collided with with Carver, sending both youth and dog tumbling to the ground with more than a few sputtered swears and happy barks.
"Okay, Maferath, you asked for it!" Carver yelled as he grabbed his mabari around the neck. He rolled, pinning his wiggling companion to the ground. The dog yipped and barked, slobbering and mouthing at the unprotected neck-- the cheek-- the arm. Maybe it would look like a fight to someone else, but Cal had seen this happen many times. Carver and Maferath had an understanding between themselves. It would no doubt end with scratches, bites, bruises and cracked skulls. If he were lucky and quiet, he might catch a glimpse of that rare crooked smile on Carver's lips before he was needed. It seemed only Maferath could coax such a smile from Carver these days. Calenhad didn't mind having to play physic once it was all over. It was one of the few times his brother truly did need his help, and he was more then willing to give it.
Calenhad let out a small chuckle before he could stop himself, causing Carver to notice his silent watcher at last. His brother pushed his dog away and scrambled to his feet, dusting himself off with little success as he went. If anything it made the filth worse as dirt mixed with his sweat. He ended up succeeding only in coating himself in a thin layer of mud. Carver could feel his brother's gaze on him as he walked back to the chopping block.
"Damn it Calenhad, stop staring at me like that! It creeps me out!" Carver suddenly snapped, turning an icy glare on his brother.
"I'm sorry Carver."He replied in a small voice, his smooth cheeks turning a deep shade of crimson. Calenhad hurried back into the house and out of his brother's disapproving glare.
Carver watched as his brother made a hasty retreat before going back to chopping wood. A foul mood had descended like a wet cloak dropped on his shoulders. Maferath, knowing the fun had been ruined, took up his guardian position a safe distance away. He didn't know why, but over the past couple years his brother's gaze had made him rather uncomfortable. Oh stop it you liar. A voice much like Bethany's chimed in from the deep recesses of his mind. Or perhaps he did know why and just didn't want to admit it.
Carver's mind drifted away from those thoughts as he chopped. He began thinking of his sweetheart, Peaches. The two of them would sneak off together behind old man Parith's shed. She'd live up to her name in minutes, all bouncing peaches and sweet cream from head to toe. Hair the color of wheat, eyes the color of the sky on a clear day, lips as soft as silk; you'd have to guess she was some nobleman's bastard to be so fine. Of course, this close to Denerim that wasn't out of the question. He smiled as he thought of her on her knees in front of him again, how he would relish the feel of his hands in her hair and slippery mouth at his cock. He would tilt his head back, closing his eyes. In his mind, that was hair not the color of wheat, and that adoring gaze was not blue...
A shiver ran the length of his body.
Carver scowled at himself, pushing those thoughts as far from his mind as he could. Besides, he was chopping wood. It wouldn't do to lose a hand or a foot to a daydream. Maker knew if he couldn't work the family would freeze to death over the winter. Cal was useless for manual labor, winded and red-faced from swinging an axe or digging with a shovel. And Beth, well she was the type of woman more prone to housework than woodcutting. He worked for another couple hours, occasionally glancing back at the house to make sure his brother had not returned.
When his shoulders and back began to ache, he stopped. Stacking the freshly cut cords along the side of the house took less time than cutting, but his spine twinged with every load.
Carver was in the middle of grabbing another armload when the sound of hooves pounding made him glance in their direction. A single rider galloped along the dirt road to the farm, not turning off to go down to the old well-house for a dipper, but coming this way. He tensed, his eyes flashing quickly to the side to ensure his blade was still leaning against the house before turning fully towards this guest. The tension in his shoulders eased slightly as the figure drew nearer. It wasn't a Templar. Horse and rider came to a skidding halt a few feet away.
"Ser Traveyl." He said with a forced smile and a slight bow of the head. "Can I help you?"
"Hail, Carver Hawke." He replied in an all too-official tone. A slight nod of his own head in return did nothing to take the edge off his voice. "The king calls for one son or daughter from every family to join the army at Ostagar. I expect you or your brother will join?" He held out a rolled missive with one hand. It wasn't a weighty thing, like the parchment documents their mother had. It had been made of cheaper stuff and the ink smelled putrid, but the seals were there. Denerim. King Cailan himself.
"I will." Carver assured, once he got a look at the pressed wax. There was no hesitation as he shifted the wood in his arms, wiping one sap covered hand against his trews before snatching the missive from the mans hand. If Traveyl noticed the foul mood he'd brought on, he didn't seem to care.
"Very well, the men will march tomorrow morning. I expect to see you there." Traveyl said and spurred his horse onwards toward the next farm before Carver could say another word.
Carver sighed. He dropped the wood he held into the nearest pile before popping the ribbon and unrolling the missive. There it was, bold as dog piss. His brief thrill of excitement died quickly, mother was going to have a fit.
"You can't go." A small voice said from behind the house. He turned and saw the almost child-like form of his brother round the corner into view.
"Damn it Calenhad, didn't I tell you to stop spying on me." Carver growled as he rolled up the missive and shoved it into his waistband.
"I wasn't but I heard the horse. You can't go, who will take care of mother and Bethany?"
"Maker Calenhad, your the eldest! Act like it for once!" Carver said exasperated. Usually he found his older brother's innocence and naivete quite amusing and sometimes, even a little adorable. Other times he wanted to take his brother by the hair and poor a few gallon of guts down his throat.
Calenhad bit his lip but said nothing else as his gaze dropped to the ground. Carver rubbed his forehead in irritation and turned toward the house. "Stack the rest of this wood. I need to take care of some things."
Carver had already turned to leave by the time Calenhad nodded. He watched as his brother walked with slumped shoulders and disappeared into the house. As he set to his task there were only a few precious moments of silence. Then came the inevitable angry shouts. He could hear Leandra's screaming and Bethany's crying from here. Calenhad was glad that he was largely ignored by his mother unless he displeased her. For his part he wouldn't have wept like Bethany, but gladly volunteered to go with Carver, perhaps he would have even snuck away to do so. It only made sense. He couldn't very well heal Carver's cracked skull or torn flesh at Ostagar by doing chores here.
Concern, fear, wariness; the sound of his elder brother's footfalls approaching across the cobblestones caused all these as Carver hurried to shove the rest of his supplies into his rucksack. He never understood how his brother could make even his quiet steps mirror his thoughts and emotions. The redbirds, who cared nothing about cold it seemed, were singing irritatingly happy little tunes to greet the morning. As Calenhad drew closer, his emotions tangible enough for even a mundane to read, they fell silent in wary expectation.
"I am not going to argue this anymore, Cal. I already spent half the night arguing with Mother." Carver spat as he shoved the last of his supplies into his rucksack and knotted the rawhide. In a more reasonable tone he added, "Our King calls so I must go."
"Perhaps..." Green eyes glanced and dropped, then rose again to fix somewhere on the lower half of Carver's face as if somehow avoiding his younger brother's gaze was essential to this unusual display of courage. "Maybe I should go with you? You might be injured and I can't do you any good from here." Calenhad's words were barely above a whisper as he rung his hands nervously. "I hear when there are no mages and you get a bad wound, the field physic saws off your limbs like they did Parith's arm. Please, let me go with you."
Carver looked at him but did not answer. He appreciated the fact Calenhad had not wept as Bethany did and simply offered this brief flash of courage, this offer of aid, but they both knew how absurd that line of thinking was. Calenhad was far too passive, too innocent, too kind. Not to mention he was an illegal apostate living outside the laws of the chantry and the Maker. Carver stood and hefted his gear onto his shoulder.
"Be good, Maferath." Carver interrupted, cutting off his brother's words. "You take care of them till I get back." His mabari pressed into the firm pats Carver lavished on his head. The wise beast gave a reassuring bark and trotted over to Calenhad's side.
"Take care of my dog." Carver commanded as he turned toward Lothering.
"Be careful Carver." Calenhad called after him. Something in his voice made Carver's stomach flip as he rushed to join the grim parade of peasant men heading south along the highway toward Ostagar. More bodies to don the king's armor. There must've been so many casualties already if the standing army needed so many fresh men. It did not bode well, but he was committed. He did not look back.
Calenhad watched as his brother disappeared down the highway. He continued to watch the empty road for a long time after, as if wishing hard enough would cause the entire company to turn around and come back like a dwarven automaton wound in reverse. It wasn't until he heard his younger sister's voice that he realized just how long he'd been standing there. The sun had risen a full handsbredth more in the sky and his skin had pinked in the chill. He turned his attention away from the highway.
"Come, brother. It's cold out here and you're shivering. Don't worry so much. He will be back. He is too great a warrior not to. Besides, he promised me." Bethany said as she rested a hand on his shoulder.
"I hope you're right." Calenhad said as he looked back at the cracked stones of the highway once more. After a moment he turned and followed Bethany back down the road and into the house. She was right. It was so cold. Winter had come early, far too early and both of them were almost positive it came with whatever was threatening the south.
One week went by. Then another. A third passed and Teyrn Loghain marched through the village proclaiming defeat at Ostagar, and decreeing the Wardens traitorous enemies of Ferelden. Calenhad spent every free moment watching the highway, searching every face that passed through their village. Carver was neither among the hale or wounded. Sometimes Cal thought he'd spy him in a crowd of stragglers, but when they drew closer it was never the brother he waited for.
Dark rumors began to spread through tavern and marketplace, like ink in water, rippling outward and staining everything they touched. The Blight was moving toward Lothering from the south, bringing with it the killing snow and darkness. It took only a few days before the villagers began packing their wagons and abandoning their homes by the dozens. Some headed west to Redcliff, others north-east to Denerim.
Calenhad paid no mind to these things. He would never believe Carver dead until he saw a body. He could not believe until he felt it in his heart. Calenhad had known the instant his father died, he knew it would be the same with Carver. And so, every day he took Maferath and continued to watch the road from the South.
One day it had been Ash warriors who survived Ostagar, though their faithful mabari had perished. They had been kind to Maferath, as they would be to no other creature but could not give Calenhad the news he sought.
The next day it was hoards of wild animals, skirting the town, driven before the Blight like wind before a storm. They carried only the nameless terrors of animals, their simple emotions like confusing bright sparks. That evening, before Calenhad finally returned home a few soldiers passed. They had not been wounded badly but their tidings were grim and unhelpful. He thought they were the bandits that had been harrying up and down the road by the way they eyed him and the dog. The Templars had chased them off several times, but here they were, back again.
`The day after that, Calenhad met the last of Ferelden's Grey Wardens. They did not seem to be vandals or murderers, as the General had suggested. The three were unlike anything he'd seen before, a chasind witch, a Templar and a Circle Mage. Maker did the first two argue-- but the Templar never took the woman to the Chantry to turn her in. Honestly, Cal would have never guessed she was a witch until she threatened to turn the Templar into a frog, and he took it very seriously. He could see the spire of the Chantry from the road, and still nothing. She and her threats were allowed to sass all they pleased. It... was nice. They even had a playful mabari who rolled about with Maferath as happy as dogs are wont to do. Any other time and Calenhad would have felt admiration for them all, for their bravery and the hope they gave him. But legends and his sad plight as an apostate didn't occupy his heart to bursting. He only thought of Carver. The senior Warden was nose to nose with Cal, an elf in most delicate face paint, and a silky robe. The Circle Mage, of all people, who was polite enough to speak with even if Cal found him a little odd. He apologized, in his way, but assured there would be no more from Ostagar. The Darkspawn had come. There was little Calenhad could do but shrug and give a forced smile in thanks.
Calenhad kept his vigil faithfully, despite the fact the Warden's words rang true. Nothing had come from Ostagar since. Mother had begun to lose hope, lamenting about how it should have been Calenhad to go, not her good son, not her Carver. This had set Beth to bawling over Carver's return and soon they were both trying to convince Cal it was time to flee the village. Each day they asked. Each day he refused, telling them he would not leave without his brother. His Mother's loathing for him was plain and Bethany rarely went against her. Calenhad wondered why they didn't just leave him behind with Maferath and evacuate. It wasn't as if he could stop them.
Perhaps it was the dog. The mabari was a status symbol among the Ferelden Nobles. Maferath wouldn't leave Calenhad so Mother wouldn't abandon him. It would be like her. She was always fretting about appearance and prestige.
Just over a month had passed since Carver had marched to Ostagar, and Calenhad still waited every day. His skin, once almost fair, had gotten tanned and wind-roughened by all this time outside. His legs had grown stronger for the pacing. His body even filled out a bit as well from constant play with the dog. There wasn't much else left to do in Lothering, it had become almost as barren as the wastes past the Kocari wilds were said to be.
Three hours till sunset. The chill had already settled into Cal's bones as he paced back and forth.
"Young Master Hawke, there will be no more from the South. The Grey Wardens were the last." A warm concerned voice said from behind him.
"I don't believe it. I can't." He replied softly unable to look at the Templar.
"Calenhad, see reason! Think of your Mother and Bethany. I've seen your sister often in the Chantry and every day she grows more pale and more worried. Does she deserve death because you refuse to accept the truth? Carver is dead. Lothering is lost. You must think of the family you have left, gather up what you must and leave. This will be the last wagon out of town. My Brothers and I will guard it as best we can against the darkspawn, I swear it. There's no need to be afraid. Come with us."
Calenhad turned. "Thank you, Ser Bryant. You've never been anything but kind to us all, but my brother will be back any day now. We... I will not abandon him. I swore to him I would be here when he came back. I'll never break my word." He gestured down the road toward the farm house he shared with his family. "If Mother or Bethany wish to leave with you, please take them and keep them safe."
"Your brother was at Ostagar. He's not coming back, young Hawke. Flee while you can. Your magic will not protect you from the Darkspawn for very long." At Calenhad's flinch, he continued. "Aye. I've known about you and your sister for a long time. There's no reason to fear me. You're righteous and bother no one. Aside that, who's left to tell? The world of late is filled with madmen and piles of dead friends."
Calenhad stood staring blankly at the Templar for a long time. "Come with us, Calenhad."
He was sure the smile he forced across his lips looked more like the rictus grin of a skull. "I thank you for your concern, Ser. I WILL go to Denerim. When my brother returns."
"Very well. If I truly cannot sway you, I will pray that I see you all again. Maker watch over you, Calenhad Hawke."
"Maker watch over us all, Ser Templar." He replied and watched as the rare Templar turned, donned his helm and marched toward the house. A short time later he came back without Mother or Bethany. Bryant took his place at the back of the Caravan. He looked over his shoulder one last time before their slow march onto the old Imperial highway made them disappear from sight.
With a soft sigh that became a cloud of frozen mist, Calenhad turned and walked down the road. He passed through the quiet village. He didn't like the silence. It was the silence of a grave; a quiet expectant silence that only required corpses to fill it. Save for the rats and a couple stay dogs, the place was deserted and ripe for the approaching darkness to give it those corpses. Frost covered everything in deceptively cheery sparkles. They might have even been pretty had the sun been shining. As it stood, a light snow had begun to fall from the brooding clouds. His mind wandered, as always, towards his brother and he glanced towards Ostagar for what seemed like the hundredth time that day.
"Calenhad, I know you promised me you would be here when I came back, but if what I hear is true, you may not have that option. If I... if that time comes, you will take mother and Bethany and go to Denerim."
"Damn it Cal, listen to me!" Carver snapped, his golden eyes blazing for a brief moment before calming himself. Calenhad knew he wasn't saying this merely to be cruel. The tension in his brother was like a bear-trap with a hair-trigger spring. "Calenhad, if I am... delayed... you must protect mother and Bethany. Take them north-east to Denerim and I will find you if I can. Do you understand me?"
Calenhad smiled then. He knew what Carver wanted him to say. There was also no way he could make such a promise. His brother needed words, though. He needed to have that tension released, needed his focus restored. All Calenhad could do was give him honesty and hope that Carver understood. "I swear to you, brother. I will protect mother and Bethany from the Darkspawn."
Carver nodded, not realizing the omission. "Go to bed. Goodnight, Cal." Calenhad nodded, hugging him on impulse. Carver was still like death, hardly even daring to breathe. It was always this way when Calenhad touched him, this instinctive revulsion, as if he knew each string in the secret winding of Calenhad's heart and they were poisonous to him. He stepped away from Carver and faded into the darkened house like a shadow, wrapped in the shroud of his own hurt.
"We should have gone with them." Bethany's voice interrupted his thoughts. "If half of what Ser Bryant told Mother is true, we should have left with the wagons." He turned and watched as his sister rounded a corner, she'd been spying again, and matched his pace. Snow flurries clung to her dark hair like tiny diamonds. For a moment, she could have been a fine lady in a jeweled hairnet, but it passed as they started to melt.
"We've seen a lot of survivors. Carver is at least as strong as those Ash Warriors. He survived too. He will come back to us." His heart told him so. It was a quiet certainty, one that was impossible to communicate properly. Carver was alive. He was getting closer. It was simply something he knew.
"Do you truly believe that, Calenhad?"
"Don't you?" He tried to keep his look from being incredulous, but Maker it was hard. Bethany's arched brow made him sure he'd failed.
"I want to but no one has returned from the South since the Wardens. That was almost a week ago. Think about it. If Carver survived, why hasn't he come back yet? What if the Darkspawn get here first?"
Calenhad didn't have an answer. He did the only thing he could think of, he wrapped his arm as best he could around his sister's shoulders. Bethany had to walk slightly hunched, as she was a couple inches taller, but she had no complaints as they strolled home in silence.
There was some comfort in her presence. Alone like this in the glittering empty town, he could almost pretend it was one of their Fade-games. Almost. He longed for sleep and the Fade. Their great dramas would take his mind off of all the problems that waited for him in the waking world.
And when he woke, perhaps Carver would be home. He seemed so close now, Cal merely had to close his eyes and stretch out his hand and it seemed as if his brother would be there just beyond the tips of his fingers.
His lungs burned as he ran, dodging bushes and roots hoping his feet wouldn't find some unseen undergrowth or half-buried stone. Bitter cold clawed at his exposed skin. His breath misted, turning almost to frost. He was lucky enough to have a full moon to help him navigate through the trees, but the shadows were still deep and his mind was set on a destination just beyond the woods. He was racing against death.
The finish line was the Hawke cottage in Lothering, just up the hill. Had Carver paid closer attention he would have realized the mistake he made that night before he left, the night he tried to force Calenhad to break a promise and forge another. His fool of a brother never broke his word once he had given it. Carver had to give him credit for his guile. He'd realized only too late what his elder brother had actually agreed to.
Death was not an option for Carver as he burst through the treeline in a shower of crumbling ice. His heart hammered like a war-drum as he charged through the streets of Lothering toward the only light at the other side of town. His feet slid on the ice, but still he plowed on. It crackled and split, against the empty houses his footfalls sounded like the fizzle of lightning pacing itself through the darkness.
A small candle burned brightly, set in the window to guide his way home. Cal's work. It had to be. This whole bloody mess would be him. Carver ran towards that winking golden glow, blind to all else, and slammed shoulder first into the door. The bolt had not been slid into place as he had expected. He stumbled stupidly over the threshold, barely regaining his balance before he could spill face first into the floor.
Calenhad was ripped violently out of the Fade by the impact. He sprang from his chair with a rather embarrassing shriek as he pressed his back against the wall. His hands began to glow a deep icy blue as his wide eyes focused on the man before him. Not a Darkspawn, Cal, give it a rest. As Carver straightened up Calenhad's face went from terror to joy in a split-second. The magic at his fingertips vanished, forgotten. Maferath barked hysterically around their feet, yipping and leaping in welcome.
"Carver.... Carver your alive!" It wasn't surprise that made him cry so, but a quiet reverence. Somehow those words were all Carver needed to hear. Everything had to be alright now. It had to. They just had to be fast. They had to get out. Now. He spared Maferath a rub between the ears and the dog calmed instantly.
Calenhad was quivering, barely able to stop himself from bolting forward and throwing his arms around his brother's neck. Carver could see it as plainly as if the words were written on his face. He was just waiting for a whisper, a sign. Anything. His green eyes glittered with unshed tears. Carver couldn't even allow him what he had his mabari.
"Get your staff. We're leaving." Carver grumbled as he rubbed his shoulder, making his way to the back of the house. His mother and sister were sharing a room before he left, they should still be.
Cal sputtered, "Carver, what...."
"NOW CALENHAD! Maker's breath, do you want us all to die?" Carver roared at his brother, sending the smaller man scurrying and stumbling to collect his gear and dress.
Carver burst into the room only to have his twin throw herself against him in a tight hug. She squealed in his ear like a little girl, bouncing against him in a manner he would have found amusing any other time but now. It reminded him of when they were children and she demanded to 'fly', looping her arms around his neck and commanding him to spin in a circle as fast as he could. Behind her, Carver could hear the quiet sobs of his Mother's relief.
"Bethany, later. We need to go. The Horde is, at best, a half an hour behind me. At worst, less. You and Mother get dressed. We're leaving." He pried his sister off his neck with firm hands. This was no time for coddling.
"Carver but ..."
"Bethany, please. Do not second-guess me." He said in a much milder tone then he had used with his brother and turned leaving the women alone to prepare.
Carver snatched up the rucksacks in the corner of the kitchen and began filling them swiftly with supplies, poultices, bandages, anything worth coin. Whatever they would need for the road. Once the sacks were full, he shoved the supper table aside and ripped the loose floorboards up. There lay a small box filled with emergency funds and a few small gems worth a few coins each. It was his father's idea, adding a little bit to the box now and again over the years. He had once thought it pointless, but now he was glad for it. A rucksack slung over his shoulder and money in his belt pouch, he exited the house, dragging gear for his siblings. He turned toward the south road watching and listening, luckily it was silent. For now.
That was a mixed blessing. Darkspawn made a lot of noise so you could hear them coming. Then again, you could hear them coming. If there were no escape, it made the wait so much worse to hear them as they steadily drew nearer and nearer. A feeling of dread crept up his spine.
Bethany and his Mother were the first out of the house followed by Maferath. In his mouth he held what looked like a small sack. Calenhad exited a moment later, dressed in their father's old over-sized Circle robes. He was carrying both staves he had hidden in the floor of his own room, one of which he gave to his younger sister without a word. Carver passed each sibling a sack and bade them follow him. In fearful silence the Hawke family made their way east out of Lothering and onto the old Imperial Highway.