On Renouncing a Pedigree
"Are you absolutely sure?" he asked, a quill pen poised hesitantly over the bottom of a freshly inked parchment. "There's much to consider, both in the sense of permanence, and in the consequences you will face. I've known you since you were knee-high, and I am terribly troubled signing this into effect without knowing you've first considered the circumstances."
"Absolutely." Felis sat, both hands folded in her lap, in an ornate mahogany and velvet armchair in front of an equally ornate desk of similar arbor. At the desk sat Palmstead Andavel. The first thing one would notice about Palmstead, besides being a dragon of the Noble Spitfire variety, was his age of over three centuries; deep lines spidered the entire surface of his crimson and strawberry body where his scales delineated, his garnet horns were long and growing colorless at the base, his deep mandarin-colored eyes were clouded slightly, and his voice vibrated with a deep, superhuman baritone. He served as the primary magistrate of all matters Andavel - pedigrees, treasuries, will, and writs - if something required record within the prestigious Andavel family tree in the present era, it likely was penned by Palmstead. And so, before him, Felis spoke again, kind in tone, but with finality, "I've never been as sure of anything in my entire life."
The older dragon's claws lowered, the quill finally landing on the rough, sand colored paper beneath, a tiny dot of ink wicking onto its porous surface. It did not, however, move beyond. His browridge furrowed, but his hand trembled, and after a sigh of frustration, he lifted the quill off the page and set it aside. Both hands raised and plucked the glasses off of his snout, setting the gold-rimmed spectacles next to the quill before raising back to his hard, chapped snout and rubbing the bridge between his eyes, leaning back in his chair and closing them.
"Is there something wrong, Uncle Palm?"
Palmstead groaned wearily, though instantly a smile crawled along his maw. "Ah, you would have to call me that, wouldn't you? When you called, I thought you'd be finally coming over to see me and catch up over some tea... I suppose we have, in some way, but I'd never imagine under these circumstances." He leaned forward again, opening his eyes to look over Felis head to toe where she sat, still as a lake's water on a windless day. "I'm an old man, Felis, contrary to popular belief. I've been witness to many, many things transitory in my administration of the family's affairs. Life, death, taxes, and much more. At this desk, I have made and broken the fortunes, futures, and very lives of many." His eyes narrowed, his smile shortening, though his visage remained one of levity. "I worry. It is in the nature of one with such age and wisdom. Would you be so kind, as I've always known you to be, to hear out an old man's concerns?"
"Of course, Uncle Palm."
"Thank you." He folded his hands on the desk and took a deep breath, any hint of a smile gone now. "Renouncing the Telvanni Pedigree is roughly on par with disowning the family. We have been aligned with House Telvanni since its inception many eras ago, and truthfully are one of its most powerful influences. In the interest of protecting that, and the benefits, power, and security that come with it, the Andavel family guards that interest with terrific scrutiny. I needn't remind you that when they discovered he was magic-mute, your brothe--"
"Uncle Palm, please. We both know every step Mertisi has taken is blessed. His hardship in life is a mockery of the word itself."
"...Very well." Palmstead adjusted himself, browridge returning from the initial state of surprise to Felis' interruption. The siblings had never gotten along, but Palmstead knew that inside, Felis still loved her brother; at least worlds more than she resented him. "As I was saying, we guard our alignment to House Telvanni very closely. It is critical in all matters of our greatness as a family. It controls our ability to hold land across the mainland, it influences our positions throughout the nobility and government, and almost entirely assures our survival in our business throughout Vvardenfell.
"If you renounce your Pedigree, to join House Redoran no less, you will lose any official recognition within the family. I do not think your life will be in jeopardy, surely, but your future will undoubtedly be modest and uncertain. Although not necessarily implemented in the discarding of your Pedigree itself, your access to the resources of the Andavel Treasury will swiftly be revoked once the Elders hear of it. Anything not officially in the name of Felis Andavel will be expressly off-limits to you. Land, money, services, outreach... A world of opportunity shall close its doors to you forevermore, and nothing I can do will change that. Not even my lifetime of influence and service will move the Council of Elders. Do you understand that?"
"Yes, Uncle Palm."
Palmstead grimaced. He had hoped that presenting the bare facts of her choice would change her mind, but he knew after all that it was a foolish hope. Felis had never been one for matters of material nobility. Humility, service, and hospitality... He had always figured she would be a family midwife and proud mother. "I must have good conscience that I am not dooming you to the life of a pauper before I finalize this. Not only in my official capacity, but as the brother of your father, Arkay rest him. What do you intend, for the future?"
Felis closed her eyes and sighed - not of impudence, but of a deep sense of purpose. "Many times, I have had visions. Each night, when I pray, a great three voices speak to me. It is the Tribunal. To try and repeat what they've told me would be impossible, but I know one thing for certain: I must make a pilgrimage to Vvardenfell and seek the audience of the Grand Temple there. My purpose in life is to be given in service to House Redoran, and to the Three." She opened her eyes again, face pleasant but without any hint of emotion. If she was delusional, one would have no impression of it despite her talk of Gods and voices. She knew nearly nobody in her family would understand, most either outright eschewing piety or aligning to the much more popular Imperial Pantheon. She also knew that, despite being aligned to the latter, Palmstead surely would.
He watched her for what felt like several minutes, in which neither spoke nor changed expressions. At last, Palmstead broke the silence. "At least, the temple shall provide you a living, however meager." He reluctantly put his glasses back on his snout. "To be plainly honest, I wish you would reconsider, but the choice is not mine to make, nor do I have the desire to deprive you of whatever future you'd seek." He plucked up the quill, and after glancing once more over the parchment, finally drew the quill across it, ink calligraphy spelling out his signature. "That's all, then. You are officially released. I'll deliver this to Census and Exise tomorrow." He pushed it aside on his desk, and turned to look as the grandfather clock chimed nearest a dusty filing cabinet - it was now 6 in the evening. Secretly, he was thankful for the distraction. "Gracious, it's late. You'll miss your carriage back to the Inn. Are you sure you'd rather not sleep here tonight?"
Felis stood, patting off her robes before striding over to help Palmstead out of his chair. "No, Uncle, but thank you, really. I have much to think about, and I think I'd prefer to be alone just now." Once Palmstead had righted himself, he nodded, then reached out for a hug, embracing Felis tightly and kissing her cheek before letting her go. "Whatever happens from here, you have my support," he said. "Always. Look after yourself, and I'll be in touch. I still have some tricks up my sleeve." Felis smiled pleasantly before turning towards the door. "Don't get yourself into trouble on my account, Uncle Palm. I'll be all right." And, after a moment of gathering her luggage, she was gone.
Palmstead stood, staring at the door for several minutes, wrestling with his feelings, before sighing and returning to his study. He longed to help her in some way, but the only things that came to mind involved intersecting her will to separate from her Pedigree. He began gathering the teacups and saucers, but stopped abruptly after a moment as something struck him in a flash of momentary genius. He reached for the telephone and picked up the receiver, clicking the handle twice and clearing his throat. "Directory? Good Evening, connect me to Cormaris View three-eighty-nine, please. ... Yes, I'll hold." He chuckled to himself lightly. It was fortunate Felis had visited while the Exise office was closed as it had bought him time... but the fortune of visiting on a Loredas evening bore yet more serendipity. "Hello, Wettel? This is Palm. ... Fine, fine, and yourself? ... Have you been drinking? ... Goodness no, for once I'm pleased. Have you sent the Telvanis Council missive packet for the week yet? ... No, that's fine, just fine. Listen, Wettel, I have a strange favor to ask of you, and you must promise not to ask questions..."