Trangdor was thrilled to have his friend back safely, and Belynda was overjoyed to have somebody to talk to again. The energetic xvart had held her tongue the entire way from Dregladorf, because Hilde hadn’t seemed to want to talk about anything at all. But now that they were once more within the confines of the huge house in Brakoff, and Trangdor wanted to badly to know how the trip had been, Belynda unleashed a flood of words, giggles, and wild gesticulation to convey every last detail of their quest.
While Trangdor and Belynda talked with frenzied energy, Hilde just unpacked her things in the main hall of the house. She tossed dirty clothes into a pile, and set out the coins they had found, the art pieces, and the chest of gold. When she got to the maps that had been in the beholder’s nest, Trangdor and Belynda lost all interest in anything else, and like two children on a sugar rush first thing on Christmas morning, began to examine and try to make sense of the drawings and writings. Hilde left them to it, and put on a heavy cloak. They didn’t even notice she had left the house when she headed to her favorite pub in the city, the Wretched Elf.
Nobody was sitting outside this evening, but Hilde got herself a warm beer and sat outside anyway. Her mind ceased to meander, and her decisions had been made. She drank slowly, enjoying the warmth of the beverage, and realizing that she had made the right choices. It was not going to be an easy future for her, but then again, she had never wanted easy. She had wanted meaningful. Like a dwarf that needs a task, she needed to make a mark in the world, to do the right thing, the just thing. Her eyes had been opened to her interconnectedness with the people around her. She could not ignore their pain, nor deny her ability to make amends. She finished her beer, and took the tankard back inside to the bartender.
Instead of going home, she walked through the night cloaked streets to the headquarters of the 10th Army. She waved to the guards on duty, who smiled as they let her pass. Even out of uniform, she cut a wide swath. Her smile in return was polite, but not thoroughly genuine. She was focused on what had to be done.
She made her way to the living quarters of General Wolstheimer, and knocked on the door. There was no reply, so she knocked again. The general’s wife, a bugbear same as her husband, opened the door, and upon recognizing the visitor, opened it wide, and bade her to enter.
Hilde stepped in to the warm apartment, and removed her cloak. She waited while the general’s wife went to get her husband, who had apparently just turned in for the night. This was probably not the ideal time for this, but Hilde has resolved to not wait any longer.
Her commanding officer came into the room, and offered her a seat. Hilde sat down, and drew a deep breath. The general sat down next to her on the couch, and turned so that he could see her. “What’s on your mind, Sergeant-Major?”
Hilde looked at him, and said, “I resign my commission.” She smiled even more as the general’s face became etched in surprise. With a hint of laughter, she added, “I could not wait until morning, and causing you to be any longer without a functioning Sergeant-Major seems disingenuous.”
The general nodded his head, his large ears somewhat pinned back with noticeable frustration. “Very well, then. I release you from further duty, but I shall note that it is only with extreme reluctance.”
“You are very kind, sir. Thank you.” Hilde said softly.
The bugbear looked intently at the orc next to him. “Might I inquire as to why you wish to leave the army?”
Hilde was quiet for a moment or two, and then answered, “I am needing to clear a few things up. It might get ugly. It would be easier if I wasn’t tied to any command.”
Silence sat heavily between the two of them. The general was the first to break the calm. “If the coming storm has to do with your father, proceed cautiously.” The look on Hilde’s face confirmed that he was on the right track. “Everyone in the Grafdom has heard the rumors. But nobody is willing to say more than they have. Reports were taken, and submitted. If nothing ever came of it, a person should be curious as to why.”
Hilde bit her lip, and averted her eyes.
“Don’t misunderstand me, Hilde.” The general said, his voice almost a whisper. “I would like to see justice done as well. But I cannot help you with things not within my jurisdiction. I was still a brigadier in Craiovia when all of this happened.”
Hilde looked at the general, and said, “What I mean to rectify began before his governorship here. And I am not relying on you to help, sir. I am merely giving you a chance to avoid being caught up in the drama.”
The bugbear shook his head. “I appreciate that, I really do. But there is no avoiding this. Anyone with any power, anywhere along the way, stands to be affected.”
Hilde stood to leave, and said, “Power has consequences. It gives, and it takes away. Everyone that has it, knows that it comes with a price. You know it. And I do too. I suspect my father knows it as well. It comes with the territory.”
The general stood as his guest left his quarters. As she shut the door, he muttered to himself, “Yes, it certainly does.”