After the disappearance of High King David, Sir Gannon was sent with a sealed message tube to the freehold of Silverwood and Lady Arlana of House Ailil. On his way, he was ambushed by a motley of six commoners suddenly appearing in the trees. Gannon and his faerie steed fought them off as long as they could until a lucky blow shattered his steed's leg. The horse fell, Gannon throwing himself aside only to be swarmed by his attackers; feeling the cold iron blades drawing his spirit from him as he fell into a black well of nothingness.
The First Dream Edit
The ground shook beneath them as a powerful tremor rocked the foundation of the fragile gate that represented their last chance to find safety from the cold wind that poisoned the Dreaming. Eregannon ap Dougal watched as the rest of his household hurried through the crumbling portal. In the distance, beyond the hills he and his entourage had travelled, he heard the howling of nightmare creatures. He spared a moment's pity for the poor soul held as by by the foul beasts, though he realized that the quarry that currently occupied their attention also served as a timely decoy, buying time for him and his household.
He hurried his retainers through the portal. One by one, the remnants of Eregannon's freehold passed beyond the mortal world, seeking the silver path that would deliver them to the blessed haven of Arcadia.
The tenor of the unseen battle shifted a the howls of victory turned to screeches of pain. Lady Moira, his beloved, paused at the gateway. "My Lord," she called, "come now if you would leave with us." Eregannon stepped toward the portal where Moira waited, hand outstretched. An anguished groan his ears, followed by the growl of a beast that had latched onto its prey.
"Hold the gate, dearest one," he said, realizing what he must do. Drawing his sword, he hurried toward the sound of battle, ready to give aid to the beleaguered victim of the nightmare that, like all creatures of the Dreaming, sought escape.
Gannon awoke with the remembrance still sharp. It was rare he remembered such things. Suddenly he was interrupted by a voice beside him in the bed. "Are you awake, my lord?" He was shocked to discover a shapely form curled up next to him, flesh to flesh. His face reddened as he behold the face of his companion, partly hidden by auburn hair. He tried to apologize but a giggle cut him off.
"Welcome to Silverwood," the fae maiden (though that was probably not the exact term) said, her voice a breathy whisper in his ear. "Your reputation has preceded you."
"I hope I have not offended you," Gannon blurted out, but this only caused the damsel to laugh.
"You would have offended me had your form ignored your function, my lord," she said. "My name is Calinthe and part of my duties as fosterling of the house consists of making certain our guests rest in comfort."
Gannon started to put his memories back together, remembering he was bound for Silverwood... the ambush. Calinthe informed him another guest delivered him from the ambush. Gannon, remembering he had a message for Lady Arlana, threw back the covers, then quickly pulled them back as he remembered his nakedness. "My clothes..."
Calinthe informed him they had been cleaned and that he had bled a lot for one who still lives. Unselfconsciously she tossed aside the coverlet and slipped from the bed. Shaking her hair so it draped around her shoulders like a russet cape, she walked across the room to retrieve Gannon's clothes. She knelt before him in mock humility and offered to help him dress. Gannon closed his eyes and informed he he'd do fine on his own and asked her to inform Lady Arlana that he sought an audience at her earliest convenience. With a dramatic sigh, Calinthe agreed and strode out of the room, still naked, while the sidhe knight donned his composure with his attire.
The Reception Edit
Lady Arlana received Gannon in her hall, flanked by Calinthe and another male sidhe wilder. Sir Gannon approached and, with a bow that was only courtesy. The lady of the house welcomed him to the freehold and gave him leave to speak freely. Introducing himself, he offered the message he carried to the lady of the freehold. In silence, Arlana opened the tube and read its contents before offering the letter back to Gannon and turning to the unknown sidhe next to her. She told him, naming him as Count Declan, that the letter was a summons for him to appear before the Parliament of Dreams to answer question concerning his involvement in the disappearance of the High King.
Gannon, not knowing what was in the letter, was flustered. Arlana told Gannon that she had given Declan hospitality for three days in her home and then also offered him her hospitality for three days and three nights form that hour. Surely, he would not violate her host-bond to her guest, or refuse her hospitality to him? She also fished about for his belonging to the Red Branch. She asked again if her would accept her hospitality and at the end be free to take Declan to Tara-Nar.
Realizing that the lady was giving him an opportunity to fulfill his honor, he accepted, if uncomfortably. Arlana then left the room, with Calinthe following, though the younger sidhe offered Gannon her hospitality again if he desired it. Gannon and Declan were left alone to talk. Gannon, realizing Declan was the one who rescued him acknowledged his debt. Declan demurred saying he didn't rescue him, though he did save his life and that of his horse. This lifted Gannon's spirits and the two went to the stables.
The Banquet Edit
At a banquet in his and Declan's honor that night, Sir Gannon met the other members of the household. They asked him many questions until Declan finally asked him if he had any. Gannon had one, and questioned those gathered about their belief that honor is a lie, when they so obviously do honorable acts. Declan's answer was easy to take, if not one he entirely agreed with. Lady Arlana's response angered him, but he recognized he had asked for her words and did not push the issue. After she left again to discuss things with her troll Captain of the Guard, Garsen, the mood of the dinner apparently spoiled, Gannon and Declan talked long hours into the night about honor. When he finally went to bed, Calinthe was waiting for him and, this time, he allowed himself to respond to her ministrations.
The Second Dream Edit
Eregannon reached the battle site just in time to see a young knight make his final stand against a mob of nightmarish creatures: enraged Thallain desperate to gain access to Arcadia and chimerical monsters born of the frightened and angry dreams of the abandoned commoners. Without stopping to consider his own peril, Eregannon plunged into the fight, his sword slashing a path through the attackers with deadly accuracy. Finally, the Dougal knight reached the fallen warrior. "Get up," he commanded, thrusting his shield at the wounded knight, whose tattered surcoat bore the silver dragon and stars of Ailil. "Watch my back and follow close upon my steps!."
Having spoken Eregannon proceeded to hack his way once more through the enemy ranks, fury and desperation driving all thoughts of defeat from his mind. All around them, the world shuddered and groaned as the death throes of the Dreaming intensified. The sky took on a sickly green cast and the wind howled a dirge that put the cry of the Bean Sidhe to shame.
Once clear of the battle, Eregannon and his charge faced a tortuous ascent to the remains of the portal, where Lady Moira, her face drained of color, sill held the gateway open by force of will. Eregannon grasped his beloved's hand and clutched her to him as he pushed the wounded knight over the threshold onto the fast disintegrating trod. As he stepped into the portal, the knight turned a grateful face to his rescuer. "My life is yours forever," he said. "Thus swears Declaniel of House Ailil."
Gannon awoke in a cold sweat. Calinthe asleep next to him. Must I now betray one whose life still rests in my keeping? And does he remember his oath to me?
The Chess Game Edit
For two days, Gannon and Declan shared each others' company; foxhunting and learning they shared a love of chess. Gannon's approach of head-on opposition while not sacrificing long-term advantage for short-term gains, was very different from Declan's style of finesse and calculated risk.
In their last game, though, Gannon could no longer hold his musings to himself. He broached the topic of memory, asking if Declan had memories from before the Shattering. Declan said a few hazy ones but wanted to know what brought it up.
Hesitantly, Gannon recounted the dreams he had been having, those that led him to remember that Declaniel of House Ailil had once sworn to him that his life belonged to Gannon after the dougal knight saved his life at the Shattering. Declan spoke, saying that if the memories are true, the oath still binds, especially since Gannon had not released him from it.
"I know," Gannon said, his voice filled with pain. "I feel I have betrayed you by bearing a message that contained your doom within it." Declan didn't protect the man's feelings, saying he couldn't help how Gannon felt and that he must follow his code of honor, even to Declan's harm.
Gannon spoke, mostly to himself. "I cannot renege on my duty to the Parliament." Declan said he wasn't asking him to do that. Gannon continued. "There is one thing I can do, however. I have been charged to accompany you to Tara-Nar and deliver you into the hands of the panel of inquiry. I intend to stand beside you and give my own testimony as to your character and your honor, despite our differences of opinion on the word's meaning. I will stake my own reputation as a knight of House Dougal and a loyal member of the Red Branch on your innocence of the charges brought before you." He sighed as he admitted his membership in the semi-secret group of knights.
Declan pointed out that such a risk was unnecessary. Gannon claimed he saved Declan's life before. Declan saved his more recently. All Gannon needed to do was release him from the vow, saying the debt was paid; a life for a life. "Or would that be too easy a path for someone from a house that prides itself on hardship and disability?" he added bitterly.
Gannon blanched at the naked insult to his house's weakness. "If you think to anger me by such a crass reference to this," thrusting his mangled hand forward so Declan could see it fully, "you severely misjudge my intentions. I am not looking for a way out of my quandary; I'm looking for a way into yours."
"I have just given you one, if you will take it," Declan whispered.
Gannon nodded, speaking in a voice bereft of all emotion but sorrow. "So be it. I do release you from all oaths that you have sworn to me." Then he quickly strode from the room.
Leaving Silverwood Edit
The following morning, Gannon arose and dressed to travel, his sleep having been dreamless and feeling unrefreshed. He was curiously reluctant to leave the freehold, one that he had shared life in and that, for all its differences, still comported itself with grace and dignity. I will remember this always.
After preparing, he went to find Lady Arlana to bid her farewell and thank her for her hospitality. She gave him Calinthe's regrets for not being there to say goodbye, with the excuse that the girl was bad at goodbyes and gave her heart to easily. Gannon grew embarrassed but Arlana laughed softly, telling him not to concern himself, that Calinthe must learn of courtly love from someone and that one day she would be grateful to him for his instruction in impossible amours.
Then Gannon asked after Declan, so that he could take him into custody and deliver him to Tara-Nar. Arlana smirked ever so slightly and informed him that Count Declan had already departed. She seemed to take pleasure as the awareness took him. She informed him that she had given Declan the same terms of hospitality and that his term had ended a few hours before Gannon's own. She thought he had understood that and smiled deprecatingly, though her expression belied her expression of remorse.
Gannon informed her that he then had even less reason to remain now that his welcome was over. He thanked her for her hospitality again and for the lessons he had learned under her roof. He turned a headed for the door. Arlana stopped him though and gave him a note from Declan, one that might soften the blow. Gannon forced himself to accept the letter and rode hard from Silverwood toward Tara-Nar. Only when exhaustion took him and his steed did he stop to read the letter, his vision blurred by unbidden tears.
The Letter Edit
forgive my feigned ignorance as you shared your memories of our ancient pact. Ever since I invoked the power of the Dreaming to heal your wounds and replenish your faerie spirit, I, too, have known of our brief encounter so many centuries ago. Cherish your memory of that time, though it may bring you bitterness at first because of my perceived betrayal of your trust. I had need of you to release me from my oath, and for that I thank you.
Think me dishonorable if you will; condemn me if you must, but please understand that now, more than ever, you have gained a precious insight into the Unseelie heart of my house. I have come to respect your dedication and I do not regret the time we spent under one roof. In my own fashion, I have tried to uphold my definition of honor. Should we chance to meet again, I hope that you will consider me your adversary, rather than your enemy.
Your brother in the Dreaming,
Declaniel ap Ailil."
Dougal Flaw Edit
Gannon lacks two fingers on his left hand.