Summary: Ornstein is working on feeling better.
(Author's note: Last chapter ahead and it is a pretty long one. Please enjoy and thanks for staying with me during this ride.)
After around a week had passed, Gwyndolin finally allowed Ornstein to leave the Dark Moon Tomb. Ornstein had needed that break as much as he hated to admit it. His nausea had subdued and the constant ache in his stomach had greatly tuned down. It now was apparent to him that his sickness had stemmed from him trying to keep it together.
For his injuries, he couldn't do anything about the broken fingers, but that shouldn't hinder him much, at least it was only on the left hand. His bruised leg still hurt a bit, but was on a good way to heal completely, with him able to walk on it quite normally.
Now that Gwyndolin had allowed Ornstein to leave, he was very eager to get back into his armour. In fact, he felt a bit uncomfortable having to walk the distance to the cathedral without it. It was a good thing that the streets were pretty unoccupied. Granted, that might have also been because Ornstein had decided to walk back once the night had fallen. His gaze was on the bright full moon as he walked. Ever since Gwyndolin had taken up the mantle to rule over Anor Londo the moon had been full every single night. Ornstein had never questioned it, they were a god under the protection of the moon overall. It didn't occur to Ornstein how cold the nights in Anor Londo had become.
As Ornstein approached the cathedral, the silver knights standing guard there greeted him.
"Captain, it is good to see that you feel better."
"Don't worry about the cathedral, we took good care of it in your absence."
Ornstein thanked them with a smile and made his way to his room, hoping that his armour had been brought there. To his relief, it was there along with his spear. After not being able to wearing it for so long and because Ornstein wasn't tired at all yet, he put it on, only with a little trouble because of the restricted movement of his left hand. After he was done, he picked up his spear and looked at himself in the mirror.
Seeing the fierce expression of the lion helmet instead of his face brimming with his insecurities and anxiety, made him feel a lot better about himself. Gwyndolin was saying that he should be more true to himself, but Ornstein didn't felt anything wrong about using his armour to keep up his composure. He still was the captain of the knights and while he had allowed himself a moment of weakness, it had to be over now.
He adjusted his armour until it fit perfectly and left his room, wandering through the cathedral, greeting any silver knight or servant he saw and eventually stopped in front of the so called silver knight ask box. It looked like there actually were some messages in it. Well, he hadn't checked it for a while now. Ornstein gathered the box and headed for the conference room with it.
When he opened the door to the conference room he first deeply sighed at the sight of the paperwork and then froze because he saw Sira sitting there. Without her helmet for once, working on the paperwork.
"Sira, what...?", he started and she jerked up, frantically fishing for her helmet and got it on before answering him.
"Oh, Captain Ornstein, are you feeling better?", she asked. "I was handling the paperwork. I have made stacks for stuff that you still need to sign and stuff that I can't do on my own, but everything else is pretty much done, I wanted to turn it in once I finished the last few bits."
"Have you done this the whole week?", Ornstein was astounded as he gazed along the paperwork, messy lumps now neatly organized. It even intimidated him how big the stacks had become. He thoroughly hoped the biggest one wasn't the "to sign" stack.
"Yes, but I liked doing it. To be honest, I only joined the silver knight because my parents wanted me to. I never felt much for fighting, organizing stuff is a lot easier for me."
"I am impressed. This helps so much. That you managed to do all this work in such a short time. I should assign you to do the paperwork exclusively."
"Actually, I would rather cherish that."
Ornstein stared at Sira, then at the paperwork, then at Sira again. He was half during the process to formulate a sentence in his head that she didn't need to and that it was his duty to do the paperwork and he just needed to stop procrastinating it, but then he asked himself. Why shouldn't he lot Sira do the paperwork? She had told him that she liked it more than doing the usual duties of a silver knight.
"Well then, Sira, I assign you to be in charge of the paperwork.", Ornstein said.
"I will fulfill this task to the best of my belief.", Sira answered and bowed to him. She took a bunch of papers with her, to Ornstein's relief from the biggest stack, pointed the one out he still needed to sign and left the room. Only when she had left Ornstein noticed that she hadn't stuttered once talking to him this time.
With Sira gone, Ornstein put the ask box down on the table and his gaze laid on the stack to sign for a moment. He should probably sign it, better sooner as later, but for now, he wanted to open the ask box first. He removed the lid and fished the first message out.
The silver knight ask box had been established a long time ago, back when all four knights of Gwyn still had been around, when the dragon war still had been raging on, when Lord Gwyn and even the Firstborn had still been around. Ornstein had bought the little box because he had become sick and tired of having to answer the same question to every silver knight individually, so he put the box down, instructed the silver knights to put any questions in it and at the end of the day he and the other knights of Gwyn would go through them and tell the silver knights their answers at the next roll call.
Ornstein was expecting to see a few requests in the box, so when he unfolded the message and looked at it, he got surprised to see the words: "Captain, are you feeling alright lately? It doesn't seem like it. May I suggest you get some rest?"
He unfolded the next message only to be greeted with a similar sounding message: "Captain, don't worry too much about taking a break, we can handle it until you feel better."
Ornstein fished a third message out of the box, which read: "Captain, if I don't see you take a break soon, then me and Terrick will drag you to the infirmary." It was signed by Amira, of course.
The rest of the messages were all like this. Concerns, the knights telling Ornstein not to worry about it, them begging him to take a break and even a few that must have been tossed in only recently, because they asked him if he felt better.
"You guys.", Ornstein murmured to himself. "Why did I think I had to shoulder it all alone? I should have trusted my knights a little bit more..." He laid his head down on the table, overwhelmed by the kindness of his silver knights and his gaze fell onto the papers that still needed to be signed.
Ah well, he could get to them now. He felt that he at least owed Sira this. And if he only had to sign the papers it wouldn't take long. He fetched a quill and an ink pot and got started.
Later that day Ornstein was going through the stuff he had brought back from Oolacile. It wasn't much of course, he hadn't been there for sightseeing and he already had unpacked all the clothes he had brought with him and gave them to the laundry team.
What he hadn't unpacked yet, where the sketches he had made back then. Gough, Ciaran, the Sanctuary Guardian and some flowers from Dusk's garden. He remembered that he once had also drawn Dusk's maiden, but he had given the picture to them. Ornstein stared at the sketches. Didn't he thought about giving them some colour once he returned? He wasn't too sure though when he had used the easel the last time. He should check if the colours there were still moist and hadn't dried up yet.
However, before Ornstein wanted to visit the painting room, he picked up the sketch of Ciaran in front of the makeshift grave. Back then, Ciaran had shooed him away and he didn't had a chance to finish it yet. He let his gaze wander over the sketch. Ciaran's general posture had already been sketched out, how she had kneeled in front of the grave, hands folded into a prayer stance. Ornstein grabbed for a pencil, an item he usually would carry around with him and set the tip on the paper, it made a scratching sound once he drew the lines of Ciaran's helmet, the distinct shape, resembling a hornet.
He couldn't look at her for reference right now, but he didn't need to. He had seen her almost every single day for a few centuries, she was vividly in front of his inner eye. He continued the sketch with adding her distinct ponytail, unlike his, it had been added to her helmet, but Ornstein knew it had once been her actual hair, hair that she had cut short when she became an assassin. Ornstein drew the last few lines of the braid before adding her armour, the light leather set, which was worn by all of the lord's blades, but Ciaran still managed to distinct herself from them. Her mask looked different and she herself had chosen it. Ornstein drew the narrow eyes and the thin mouth on it, the only facial feature on the mask. Once he was done, he laid his pencil down and looked at his work.
A perfect sketch of Ciaran in her grieving, which she had done right away, instead like him, who had hid his feelings for far too long. Ciaran had decided back there and then, that her feelings were more important than her duties and stayed at Artorias grave. It hadn't even occurred to Ornstein to visit her. It must have been awful for her, maybe even more than for himself. He had a churning feeling in his chest, thinking about it. His gaze fell onto the drawing of Gough, the gentle giant, who would always carve and whittle away on some wood on this tower. They both had been worried about him, had told him several times to take care and what had he done?
Ornstein determined that he would visit both of them as soon as he had a free day. And his leg wouldn't hurt anymore.
Now that Ornstein had finished the sketch of Ciaran, technically he felt he could venture to the painting room and look for colours, but he wasn't in the mood for it. Instead, he picked up a fresh piece of paper and his pencil.
The first thing he roughly sketched out were a few trees. They didn't need to be very detailed, he just needed the general idea of a forest clearing on this piece. He adumbrated some grass and then the scratching of his pencil worked on the main part of this sketch, a figure leaning against a tree, legs spread out, relaxed posture. Nobody viewed Ornstein draw, but when he would have a spectator, they would have realized that he was working on Artorias the moment the lines formed his cape and hood. Ornstein added the details of Artorias armour on the drawing, the leggings that mostly resembled those of a silver knight as well as the chest piece, which was party covered by the cape though. Then the next line formed the tassel on Artorias hood, going straight down, resting on his chest. And even though most of the time, Artorias face was darkened inside that hood, Ornstein decided to add it. The gentle gaze, the charming smile, the vertical scar just above his nose, the beard shadow that grew back even after Artorias had fully shaved that morning.
Yes, this was Artorias like he remembered him. An Artorias who was at ease with himself and the world. Ornstein hoped, that wherever Artorias mind was now, that he could find this peace, that he didn't had to wander in endless nightmares.
Ornstein gazed at the sketch again. Actually, this wasn't complete yet. What truly made Artorias, was still missing. He added the figure of a wolf pup next to Artorias with a few strokes, curled in on itself.
Another glance, still didn't felt finished. Ornstein didn't need to think twice about what to add. A few lines later, Artorias had his sword laid lazily over his legs, the massive size of it still making the tip bury slightly into the ground and his shield was laid protectively over Sif, as if he wanted to shield her from any harm. Ornstein laid down the drawing and felt satisfied. That was how he wanted to remember Artorias. Not like the one he had seen in his dreams... he wanted to try and remember his friend as the relaxed man chilling in the woods.
It had gotten quite late while he had worked on the drawings. Now he had Gough, Ciaran and Artorias. Three of the four knights of Gwyn. Only one missing.
Ornstein stared at his armour that he had stacked into a corner of the room. He stood up and walked over to it in slow, but steady steps. He studied the armour thoroughly, tried to etch every single detail into his mind. He had been wearing it pretty much every day now since he had become the first knight of Gwyn. It felt like it had become a part of his personality.
"I wonder if this is a good thing?", Ornstein asked himself, when he picked up the helmet and took it back with him to the table, placing it in plain sight, turned around, so that he would look at the backside. Then he straightened a new piece of paper.
Ciaran he had drawn praying in front of the makeshift grave, Gough he had drawn carving, Artorias he had drawn relaxing in the woods. And the last knight of Gwyn?
Ornstein sketched out the cathedral, the part that was most visible for anyone who would come from Sen's fortress, the big gates, the stairs, the windows, the spires, before he sketched the figure of the dragon slayer in front of it.
Spear firmly gripped in his right hand, his back turned to the watcher, the gaze of his lion helmet on the cathedral, his ponytail falling down his back, posture strong and assertive, showing that this place was under his protection. He truly felt like the last protector of Anor Londo.
Ornstein dropped his pencil, after drawing that much his fingers had cramped and the broken fingers in his left hand throbbed too, although he mostly had used this hand to hold the paper down.
Ornstein looked out of the window. He hadn't even noticed that the sun had already set. That explained why his room suddenly felt so dark. He lighted a candle and put it on his night stand. Ornstein wondered if he should go to bed straight away, but he wasn't feeling tired yet. It wouldn't hurt walking the short distance to the painting room and check for colours. He could buy any missing ones the next day on his patrol, so he grabbed the candle and left his room.
As Ornstein was wandering through the hallways, he could hear a voice casually speaking: "...and then we all wanted to know who the mysterious piano player was and were eavesdropping at the door, but we were too greedy and then the door busted and it turned out to be... Oh, Captain Ornstein!", Herman greeted Ornstein as he crossed the path of him and Jervis. "Is anything the matter? Do you want to check if we do our job right?", he chuckled.
"No, I am not here for that.", Ornstein replied, he couldn't help but feel amused. "I just wanted to check something in the painting room."
"Alright, captain, call us if anything happens.", Herman said and both knights passed Ornstein. After a few more steps, Ornstein could hear how they continued their conversation.
"So who has been the mysterious piano player?", Jervis asked.
"That's it, it was indeed Captain Ornstein. He was furious about us eavesdropping, especially at Artorias, but he still agreed to play for us.", Herman answered.
That brought Ornstein back. One day he had discovered a piano in one of the guest rooms and he used to learn it as a kid. He hadn't played for a good while this particular day, so his playing was far off and sounded awful, so he came to practice every single day and got the interest of the silver knights. Playing the piano... he hadn't done it in a while yet. Ornstein thought it could be fun to do it once again, but then he remembered the broken fingers on his left hand and looked at them.
"Won't be able to hit all keys with two of them restrained liked this.", he murmured to himself and entered the painting room he had arrived at in the meantime.
He closed the door behind him, put the candle into his left hand (carefully to not drop it, being able to only hold it with three fingers) and headed straight for the cupboard where they kept their colours. He opened it, carefully placed the candle on the floor and checked if he had everything he would need.
Let's see, he needed gold, red, blue, silver, white, brown, black and green mostly. Most colours were still there, but he noticed a shortage of blue and gold. Ornstein closed the cupboard, picked up the candle and went back to his room.
The next day on his patrol Ornstein strolled over the market place and got the missing colours, a new brush when he was already on it and some treats that he intended to give to the group of cats.
It felt a bit like Artorias ghost had possessed him when he bought the treats. Ornstein had never cared much about cats, they were far too hostile against him, but for some reason, this group had started to grow on him. While Ornstein was tossing the treats to them, he thought about that Artorias often had brought dogs or cats with him into the cathedral before he had gotten Sif, hastily hiding them in cupboard drawers until Ornstein had forced him to get them out of the cathedral.
An uneasy thought crossed Ornstein's mind. What if he still had cats and dogs hidden in his room? And nobody had entered this place for a good while now...
Orstein shook off the thought as quickly as possible, there was no way Artorias would have left some animals to starve while he was gone. Even if there had been animals in his room, he would have made sure that someone took care of them. And when he had asked Ciaran, she also would have made sure that they were taken care off.
While Ornstein had been lost in thoughts, he hadn't noticed that the little white cat had laid down beside him, purring and he absentmindedly had started to pet it, even though his hand was covered into a cold metal gauntlet. Snowy didn't seem to mind though. Hm, strange, maybe he could get behind cats after all.
Ornstein kept some of the treats for himself (a guilty pleasure only a few people knew about) and finished his patrol. There wasn't much going on. His silver knights did outstanding work and managed to deal with thieves, bandits and even Undead flawlessly. Ornstein had to admit, it probably helped that Seath would house the Undead until they were able to escort them to the asylum. Even though Ornstein felt like they always got less Undead back than they had brought in.
After Ornstein arrived back at the cathedral, he met up with Sira to take care of the paperwork she couldn't do on her own. After that was done, he cleaned out the silver knight ask box while eating the left over dried fish treats and saw even more supportive messages, which brought a smile on his face. One of them was from Amira and Terrick inviting him to a game of cards. Ornstein considered it, he really should try to go out more, spending time with his knights could be just what he needed. Even though he enjoyed some solitude, he had to admit that he had felt quite lonely lately, with Artorias, Ciaran and Gough gone, the three people he had spent so much time with over the course of several centuries.
After his duties were done for the day and the silver knights were assigned to new tasks (even though Amira and Terrick had suggested they could do it, Ornstein still wanted to do this task on his own), he fetched the colours and the brush he had bought earlier as well as the sketches from his room, unsheathed from his armour and walked to the painting room.
Ornstein prepared an easel, put the sketch on it and poured the colours on a pallet. He wanted to start with Ciaran so he mostly needed blue and some white. Soon it was only him and the strokes of his brush on the painting as Ciaran started to get some colour, first the basics, then the details. Ornstein took great care into adding lighter spots at where the sun had shone on her, he remembered the picture of her praying in front of this grave so well and that it kind of had looked beautiful how the light had reflected on her armour.
As soon as he was finished with giving the grave some colour, Ornstein stepped back and inspected his work. He found it to be a fine piece. He would have loved to show it to Ciaran, but...
Ornstein's stomach growled and he realized how much time he already had spent in the painting room. He could finish the other paintings over the course of the next few days. As he was cleaning up and on his way to leave the room, Ornstein noticed another easel which was covered with a cloth. Curious on who had painted lately and what, he removed it and stared at a painting of himself and Artorias.
Oh, that explained why blue and gold had been out.
Ornstein nearly felt like crying when he looked at the painting. It wasn't a masterpiece, far from it, it was pretty crude and bristled with beginner mistakes, but he instantly knew that Artorias had painted it. Ornstein wondered if Artorias had planned to gift it to him? Had it been his birthday? Ornstein was awfully bad at remembering it, but Artorias hadn't forgotten it any single year. Every year Ornstein had received a cake from him, often along another present, often handmade.
And now, Ornstein would never eat Artorias cake again.
Ornstein put the cloth back over the painting, wiped away the tears that had formed in his eyes and left the painting room.
After dinner, Ornstein decided to accept the invitation to the silver knight card game and thus it was far too late to continue his paintings once they finished and he excused himself to go to bed while the silver knights still seemed to want to stay awake a bit. After Ornstein did had so much sleeping trouble though, he decided to work on a consistent sleep schedule and go to bed at a reasonable hour each day.
The next few days continued in this matter. Ornstein would attend to his duties, then paint until dinner and then usually spent some time with the silver knights. Over the days, the drawings became more and more coloured.
On the first day Gough and his carvings turned into the brown and black shades the giant appeared in. On this day the silver knights wanted to play some chess and all got destroyed by Ornstein, who jokingly said they had to get Seath when they wanted a chance and ended in several silver knights trying to hold back the newbies when they actually wanted to venture into the archives.
On the second day, Ornstein's brush strokes gave colour to Artorias and Sif, which soon appeared in their usual silver-blue as well as grey. Ornstein took so much care of tiny details, that he had to postpone painting the background, because he barely managed to finish Artorias sword once it was time for dinner. This evening, the silver knights indulged in a game of truth or dare. Ornstein didn't join, but watched from the sidelines, thinking about the times he had played it with the others. This evening when Ornstein left he felt a lump in his throat.
The third day was spent with painting the forest around Artorias and Sif, before Ornstein managed to give colour to his self portrait. This day he didn't felt like hanging out with the silver knights and instead used the extra time after dinner to finish the drawing, added some details and painted the cathedral around himself. After he was done, he took a step back and admired his work. It had been some time since he last had painted, but this felt like some of his finest works. Now he had to find a place where he could hang them, but first, they needed to dry.
Ornstein decided to take a bath, he had managed to splash himself with colour quite a bit. It was a bit troublesome with the splinted fingers, but at least Gwyndolin had took off the bandage around his leg in the meantime and the bruise had almost healed, so that Ornstein didn't need to limp at all anymore. Ornstein also had arranged to visit Gwyndolin on a regular basis for some tea and them talking to each other, as friends not as knight and lord and Ornstein felt like this greatly improved his mood, he had started to look forward to visiting them ever since he had left the Dark Moon Tomb. He felt like both of them needed this visits, it made them feel less lonely.
Even though Ornstein enjoyed spending time with his silver knights, they never had the same chemistry with him than Artorias, Ciaran and Gough had. Sure, they were friendly and made him feel cherished, but ultimately, Ornstein knew they still saw him as their captain and so a certain closeness was missing. Ornstein wondered if that was what Artorias had felt about him? That Ornstein involuntary had pushed him away, because he was his captain and not because Ornstein had feared that his secret got lifted? Sadly now he would never know the answer. Artorias literally had taken it to the grave with him.
This night Ornstein had a mental breakdown again.
The next day, Ornstein had organized some picture frames, mostly from unused rooms with paintings so old that the colour already chipped off, still storing them neatly in the painting room.
Ornstein had decided where to hang his paintings and so he was in the silver knight quarters, scanning the walls, searching for the best position to hang the paintings. Once he had found a particular long wall with enough empty space, Ornstein picked up the hammer he had brought and proceeded to knock a nail in the wall, carefully taking care to not hit his hurt fingers. It was troublesome enough already with only three fingers to hold the nail and every hit on it made the injury throb, so Ornstein was pretty glad, when some help arrived in the form of Herman.
"Captain, let me help you with this.", he shouted out. "It must be difficult for you to hold the nail with your injuries."
"Thank you, Herman.", Ornstein said and instructed the knight to where he wanted the nails. While he was at work, Jervis popped in, curious what Herman was doing. These two knights really had become inseparable lately. Ornstein felt like they had some father-son-dynamic going on. Which also reminded him, that he never did had a father figure in his life. The closest was probably Gough, they often jokingly had said that Gough is something like the team dad of the knights of Gwyn. And Gough had just chuckled in his low voice and said that he didn't mind having three children like them now.
Once again, reminiscing in this good old times made Ornstein feel uneasy.
"Alright, Captain, I am done.", Herman's voice snapped Ornstein out of this thoughts.
"Thank you.", Ornstein said and stood up, walking over to the paintings he already had framed. He picked the first one, that of Ciaran and hung it on the first nail on the wall.
"Oh, we are blessed with some original Ornstein's today.", Herman casually said.
"What?", Jervis asked, clearly confused.
"You see, Captain Ornstein sometimes paints and then finds a place in the cathedral to hang the paintings. This appears to be a painting from Lady Ciaran, who sadly has left us. What is the painting called?"
"Grief.", Ornstein answered, after checking if the painting was hanging straight.
He picked up the next painting, the one of Gough carving.
"It has been so many years since I last saw Sir Gough! How is he doing?"
"Fine.", Ornstein answered. "He carves the whole day, so much, that his body is littered with chips."
"The title of this one?"
The next painting was that of Artorias. Ornstein mulled over it for a bit before he started to hang it. This time, Herman didn't say anything.
"I called it peace.", Ornstein explained after hanging the painting. "It is what he deserved. It is what I hope he has." Ornstein didn't knew yet that he never would stop wondering if Artorias had actually be able to move on.
Only one painting left. He picked it up without taking a second glance.
"So know we have all of the four knights of Gwn watching over us.", Herman mused. "And what is the title of this one, captain?"
Ornstein finished hanging the painting, looked at it, looked at the floor, blinked and stared at it again.
"The last protector.", he finally said.
"How nice to see that you bless us with our presence."
Ciaran's word stung like a hornet. Ornstein knew she didn't mean it like that, she usually was that sarcastic. He took it as a good sign. Her spraying some poison meant that she was feeling better.
"I had a lot of stuff to do and then...", Ornstein started but didn't continue the sentence, absentmindedly petting over Sif's head instead, removing his left gauntlet to better feel the soft fur of the animal.
"What happened to your fingers?", Ciaran asked, suddenly standing next to him, startling Ornstein so much that he jumped.
"Oh that...", Ornstein said, staring at his fingers. "I fell."
"Fell how? Down the stairs? Or did you trip over a cat?" Ornstein could clearly hear the irony in her voice over the last line.
"Fine, you got me, I collapsed from lack of sleep.", Ornstein blurted out. "And then I was sick for a while and couldn't leave."
"You insisted all this time that you were fine, but I still knew it would happen.", Ciaran scolded him. "You should have taken care of yourself right away."
"To be honest, Ciaran, you put on quite a burden on me when you told me that you wouldn't return to the cathedral.", Ornstein snapped back at her.
"That is true. I am sorry for this, but I simply knew that I wouldn't be able to continue my duties.", Ciaran casually explained.
"You want to watch over his grave.", Ornstein said, it was a statement, not an ask. "Together with Sif."
Ciaran simply nodded and sat back down behind the grave. After a few moments, Ornstein followed her. As he passed the grave, he took a moment to pray in front of it, sending his best wishes to Artorias. The sword of the wolf knight had been slammed into the ground. Sif was still too small to use it. And it would probably take her another 100 or 200 years to grow to her full size, great grey wolfs were a long living species but also one that grew exceptionally slow.
"So, how have you been?", Ciaran asked once Ornstein had sat down beside her.
"Well, you know...", Ornstein started and then he told her almost everything what had happened until he arrived back at Anor Londo. About how he drowned himself in work, how the mission with the dark wraiths went and how he was locked up by Gwyndolin in the Dark Moon Tomb for a good weak, but he didn't tell her about the mental breakdowns he had, how much he actually had vomited or that he had hung a painting of her grieving in front of Artorias makeshift grave into the silver knights quarters.
Eventually Ornstein had to leave. The way to Oolacile wasn't the shortest and he had used his free day for the visit, although this time he hadn't travelled on foot alone but actually paid some money for a carrier ride which greatly shortened the time. The first time around he mostly had decided to walk, because he had dreaded the arrival. And while this time he still had an empty feeling in his chest, Ornstein knew it was because he missed his friend, that was all. He probably would never stop to miss him, he only could get used to it.
However, Ornstein didn't want to leave back to Anor Londo right away, he had another friend to visit. As soon as he had climbed the ladder and set both feet on the ground of the tower, Gough greeted him.
"It's good to see that you are feeling better, Ornstein."
"Yes, I am glad about this too... wait, what?"
Gough chuckled, that low chuckle that made Ornstein feel so much at ease.
"It is the way you walk, the clanks of your steps are sounding totally different depending on your mood.", Gough explained. "So, how have you been doing lately? You took your sweet time to come for a visit."
So Ornstein told his story a second time, pretty much the same like for Ciaran, only letting out things like his mental breakdowns, although to Gough he did tell that he had hung paintings of all four knights into the silver knight quarters.
"And when I was painting, I was discovering this other painting, it was of Artorias and me... and even though it wasn't signed I knew instantly that Artorias had painted it. Had he told you something about it?"
Gough stopped his carving and pondered for a bit, but then shook his head: "No, Artorias hasn't said anything about having done a painting. I guess he wanted it to be a surprise. Why don't you consider it as his last gift?"
"I was thinking about it anyway. Thanks for your advice, old friend."
They both stayed like that and chatted a bit more until Ornstein really had to leave, or he would miss the carrier departing towards Anor Londo and he was supposed to pick his duties back up tomorrow. From the base of tower, Ornstein could see how Gough waved to him and Ornstein waved back.
Even though his knights weren't with him anymore, he could still visit them. And that made Ornstein feel a bit less lonely.
Ornstein was in his room, searching for a place to hang the painting of Artorias he had discovered in the painting room. It took him a long while to find a a place, trying out quite a few, being unsatisfied and searching for another place until he finally settled at the door. Then, he could look at it every time he left his room. And Ornstein felt like Artorias deserved this, even if he didn't knew if the painting had been intended as a gift, the dragon slayer had known the wolf knight for so long, that he pretty much didn't had any doubt about it. He would cherish this last gift Artorias had ever made him. He wanted to be able to look at it every day without even forgetting once. So the door was the perfect place for it. After he was done, Ornstein took a few steps back and just admired the painting.
Not everything was fine yet. Sometimes Ornstein still awoke in cold sweat because of a nightmare. Sometimes Ornstein still had mental breakdowns. Sometimes he had to just leave the hangout time with the silver knights because his feelings overwhelmed him and he needed to calm down. But at the same time, Ornstein had started to talk more to Gwyndolin about everything that troubled him (but he still left out he had mental breakdowns, he didn't want to burden them with this knowledge) and he regularly visited Ciaran, Gough, Sif and Artorias in Oolacile.
But Ornstein felt like he had to do one last thing to get full closure, to finally being able to accept Artorias death.
He was staying in front of Artorias room and took a few deep breathes, pacing back and forth until ten minutes had passed. "This is ridiculous, just enter.", Ornstein scolded himself but knocked at the door first, exclaiming "Artorias, it's me, Ornstein, I am coming in.", even though he knew Artorias couldn't be in there.
It still felt right to do it. They always had announced when they intended to enter the other's room. When Ornstein opened the door and entered, what he was seeing was a nice, tidy and cozy room.
That was so very much Artorias, he loved to keep his stuff neat and clean, just like his handwriting. The bed was neatly made, some blue sheets with a wolf pattern was on it, which made Ornstein smile, that was so fitting. The table in the room had a tea service ready to use on it. There were some books stacked on the night table, Artorias probably had intended to read them after he returned. There was a cupboard and when Ornstein opened it, Artorias clothes were hung in place, a few missing, the ones he had taken with him to Oolacile.
Ornstein also opened the drawers and sighed in relief when he didn't see any cats or dogs in them, especially because after so much time had passed they already had starved. But Ornstein also knew that Artorias would have never let that happen, he loved animals for too much for this.
Ornstein sat down on the bed. It was soft and yielded under his weight. He took the first book on the night stand and opened it.
It was Artorias cookie recipe book. Ornstein stared at his beautifully handwritten recipes and at the drawings he had added of the cookies. He stared at the notes Artorias had made. Notes about which cookie which of the knight liked the most and even notes how to make more unliked cookies better so that everyone of them could enjoy them.
Ornstein put the book aside. He felt tears streaming down his face. But, this time, he just let them be. He allowed himself this moment of grief. Yes, Ornstein would need to keep it together for a little while longer.
But he hadn't to keep it together right now.
(Author's note: And we have reached the end. Thanks for everyone who supported this story. I would love to hear your opinions.
Even though I halfway wanted to give up on this story, I am glad that I could get my muse back and write out this last chapter, with a scene I wanted to use to end it with over a year ago, when I first thought about writing it.
I hope you enjoyed my take on how Ornstein would take Artorias death and maybe we'll see each other again on another work of mine.)