Chapter Summary: In which Ornstein receives a message.
(Author's note: I had this story for a long time in mind now, my interpretation of how Ornstein received Artorias death. But I kinda fell out of the story and abandoned it for quite some time before coming back to it. Enjoy the first chapter.)
"Captain, I have a message for you."
Ornstein turned to the silver knight with a huff: "How often do I have to tell you to not interrupt silver knight training?"
"I am sorry, captain, but I think you should look at this..", the silver knight said and showed Ornstein the seal on the message. Ornstein recognized it instantly as Ciaran's hornet seal. That was a reason to worry. The assassin had followed Artorias, who had a mission in Oolacile, out of worry. Her message could mean that she requested help.
"Then thank your for delivering this message to me, you are dismissed.", he said and accepted the message.
"Excuse me, I should read this right away.", he said to the silver knights, who had stopped their exercises out of curiosity at the messenger. "Continue with your exercises, it won't take long."
Ornstein decided to take a few steps away from the training area, so that he would be out of earshot for the silver knights and broke the seal of the envelope. He took the letter out of the envelope and started to read.
The words he registered made his knees go weak and he had an urgent need to sit down.
"Keep it together...", he murmured to himself. Maybe this was a mistake? He didn't want to believe what he had just read. He took a second glance, just to be sure, but the message stayed the same.
Ciaran's sharp, tiny letters formed a very clear sentence: "Artorias has fallen. Please come to the Royal Garden as soon as possible."
His first instinct was to think that this was some dumb joke, but Ciaran wasn't exactly the type for such jokes. She actually was known a lot more for her brutal honesty. This words had to be the truth. But Ornstein didn't want to believe them... Artorias...
He perfectly knew what a force the wolf knight was to be reckoned with. How could he have managed to die? What happened to him? Who had been able to strike his best friend down?
Ornstein had managed to keep himself together for a good time, but he could feel the breakdown coming. He already had started to shiver. But he couldn't break down here and now. Not in front of his silver knights. He had to keep it together. He took a few deep breathes to try and calm himself down before returning to the training session.
"Was it something serious?", one of the Silver Knights asked after they noticed his return.
Ornstein looked down on the message, then shook his head: "It's nothing important. Let us continue with the training." His voice was quivering slightly, he hoped, that nobody would notice that. For now, he had to keep it together. He was the captain of the knights, the dragon slayer, and thus wasn't allowed to show any weakness. He just had to keep it together to hold the moral of the Silver Knights high.
After the training was over, Ornstein had developed a stomach ache and a slight nausea. He would have liked to just run and lock himself in his room, but he had to take care of assigning the silver knights to their night shifts first. Luckily, this didn't take long, because the silver knights had found out a fairly good system to toggle themselves between the night and day shifts. Even though it was dinner time now, Ornstein felt like anything he would eat wouldn't stay down right now and decided to skip it for now. He could always ask for leftovers later. He made his way to his room, in a steady pace, but not running, entered it, closed the door behind him, turned the key in the lock, took a few steps in the direction of his bed and broke down next to it.
Leaning on his bed, still in full armour, he was vehemently shaking. He hated it when this happened. He felt so weak and powerless and couldn't do anything about this expect for waiting that it stopped. He wanted so much to believe that what was wrote in the message wasn't true. That tomorrow would come back and greet him with his usual warm smile, playing with his wolf puppy Sif. But he knew perfectly that this wasn't a bad dream. That was the truth, a truth he had to face, if he liked or not. Two questions crossed his mind: How and why? He still couldn't grasp his head around how Artorias of all people had manage to fall in battle. He suddenly noticed that he had started to cry. Oh no, Artorias surely didn't want that he cried about him. All of them had been aware that they could die in battle every single day.
"Keep it together.", he murmured to himself once again. "Just keep it together. Stay tall, stay proud."
It had become a mantra he always would tell himself to overcome one of his breakdowns. This one was was going on particular long, but that had to be expected. Eventually he started to calm down. After the shivering had completely stopped, Ornstein got up. He needed to see Gwyndolin, tell them about the message and ask if he could leave the town like Ciaran requested.
A short walk trough the night later Ornstein stood in front of the Dark Moon Tomb where Gwyndolin had moved to watch over their father's grave. He stepped in front of the lord's statue and presented the ring that Gwyndolin had given him so that he could enter the tomb whenever he wished. After the illusion of Gwyn's statue vanished, Ornstein entered the fog gate.
"Gwyndolin, it's me, Ornstein. Are you there?", he called.
Gwyndolin entered the hallway, seemingly a bit surprised to see him. "Ornstein, what are you doing here at this late hour?"
"I have received a message of Ciaran and I need you to take a look at it.", Ornstein said and handed Gwyndolin the message. They unrolled the scroll, read it and gasped.
"Oh, by my dear father and sister.", they said. "These are terrible news. Ornstein, are you feeling alright?"
"I am fine.", Ornstein said. You are not fine and you know it. Ornstein shook the voice in his head away and asked: "Ciaran has requested my presence. I wanted to ask if I could leave the town for a few days to help her out."
"This situation must be tough for you. Are you sure you can handle this?", Gwyndolin asked. Ornstein nodded.
"We had been aware that we could fall in battle at every given time. Now it is my duty as his captain and his friend to pay him my last respects.", he said.
"I am fine with you sorting out whatever happened down there.", Gwyndolin said. "Make sure to put someone in charge you can trust handle it. You should send a bird to Ciaran and tell her that you get on your own way the next day. For now it is too late to start travelling."
"Thank you, Gwyndolin.", Ornstein bowed to them and left the tomb. Back at the cathedral, he found some silver knights ,explained to them that he had to leave for a few days and asked them to pass the message around. He would pick out the ones in charge the next day. Then he made his way to his room to write a message for Ciaran. He took a seat at his table, pulled out ink pot and quill, unrolled a scroll and wrote:
"These are terrible news. I have told Gwyndolin and they allowed me to sort things out with you down there. I will be on my way the next day. Expect me around late afternoon."
He signed the message, rolled the scroll in and used his lion seal on it. Now he only had to go to the crows and let one of them carry the message to Ciaran. A thing he didn't look forward to. Ornstein and birds didn't had a good relationship. Thankfully, one of the silver knights was up there to take care of the crows at the moment and saved him the task of actually picking a bird, tie the scroll to it and send it away. The crows were fast, Ornstein was sure the message would reach Ciaran before the next morning arrived.
At the way back to his room, Ornstein made a detour to look into the kitchen. His stomach still hurt, but it was unhealthy to eat nothing at all. Maybe there was some food left that would be easy for the stomach. When he popped his head in the kitchen, the servants were nearly finished with cleaning up. One of them noticed him.
"Oh, Sir Ornstein, I am afraid, you are too late, we have already put everything away.", she said. It was quite common for him to come after dinner was long over and ask for a meal.
"I am only here to ask for some leftovers. It would be best if it would be easy for the stomach.", he explained.
"Are you feeling sick?", the servant asked. "We have a bit of rice porridge left. That tastes a bit bland, but it shouldn't be too rich for this late hour." The servant vanished for a brief moment and returned with a warmed up bowl which she handed to Ornstein. "Just remember to return the used dishes the next day like usual."
Ornstein took the bowl to his room, got rid of his armour and slowly ate the rice porridge. He didn't feel hungry at all, eating felt like it took forever. After what felt like an hour had passed, he finally managed to swallow the last spoon. Sadly, neither his stomach ache nor his nausea had vanished. Ornstein eyed his bed with the intent to go to sleep early today. After all, he had a long journey ahead of him the next day. He got up and packed a few things before changing and pulling the blankets over him, trying to get to sleep.