Once again, Eamon heard footsteps pounding up the stone steps to the roof. Reaching behind him for his sword he soon realized it was unnecessary. Coming from the entrance to the roof were the rest of Bell’s companions. They skidded to a stop to scan the roof.
“Look, Alistair and Wynne are over there, Bell has to be there too, hurry,” shouted Leliana.
Before Leliana had spoken, Thor was already at Alistair and Wynne’s sides. They saw Bell’s war hound stop, sniff the air and give off a dread howl. Thor’s howl had made Alistair jump to his feet. Alistair reached out and with all of his strength grabbed Thor by his collar before he could jump on Bell’s badly injured body. Thor was snapping and trying his best to bite Alistair to turn him loose. “Thor, stop it,” roared Alistair.
Sten had made it to Alistair and Wynne’s sides before the others, where he saw Bell lying against Zevran’s chest in front of them. “Hold” shouted the giant warrior, his spoken command making Thor instantly still in Alistair’s grasp. “Sit” and Thor obeyed the Giant. “Down,” commanded Sten. Alistair let go of Thor’s collar. Thor hunched down on all fours, inching himself down, lying flat on the stone floor of the tower next to his mistress. Thor was inching his head and mouth closer to lick Bell’s hand, whimpering because his mistress wouldn’t respond.
Sten turned his gaze back to Bell, then turned to Alistair. “Kadan, she lives?”
Alistair looked the giant in the eyes, “she barely lives.”
Sten nodded, turning he walked over to the massive dragon, where he stared down at the gaping wound in the dragon’s head. Glancing back to Alistair, “she struck the final blow?”
“She did,” responded Alistair.
“It is done,” replied the Qunari warrior with a final nod of his head. Sten came to stand next to Irving on the other side of Bell and Zevran. The giant firmly planted his feet and crossed his arms, resuming his usual position of standing guard over Bell, without anything further to say, returning to his normal stoic self.
By this time Oghren, Leliana, and Shale had made it to the others.
“By the stone,” grabbing his flask from his belt Oghren uncorked the flask and took a huge gulp of his master home-brew. Taking the back of his hand, he wiped his mouth. He stared down at Bell’s body for a few minutes, and then looked over to the dragon.
Leliana had come around Oghren, to see Bell. Before Oghren could stop her, the little red-headed bard had flung her arms around him and planted her head on top of the robust dwarf and started to sob.
Oghren grunted then stopped himself from pushing Leliana away and tried his best to sooth the bard, patting her on the back as best as he could, since Leliana was nearly twice Oghren’s height. Oghren’s wide build being double Leliana’s width. “Awe hush now,” grunted Oghren. It was obvious Oghren was uncomfortable with the situation. It would have been amusing to see this reaction out of Oghren if they all had been back at camp.
Wynne had come up behind Leliana and starting rubbing Leliana’s back with small soothing circles. “She’s alive, Leliana. Hush, child.”
Leliana raised her head off of Oghren’s bushy red hair, letting Oghren go. Spinning around to face Wynne with her tear streaked face she looked into Wynne’s eyes for confirmation. “The truth child, I wouldn’t lie to you.” Leliana grabbed Wynne in a bone crushing embrace which nearly knocked Wynne off of her feet. Leliana started to sob even harder. Wynne returned the embrace, hugging Leliana just as tight. “Irving and I will do all within our power to save her, I promise.” Leliana just nodded against Wynne’s check, still to full of sobs to speak. Leliana finally pulled herself out of Wynne’s embrace. Wiping her tears away.
Shale had been standing quiet and still when she suddenly said “She lives, this is good news.”
All of Bell’s companions spoke at once. “She?”
Shale just shrugged. “It would be most improper to call her ‘it’ at this time, would it not?”
Oghren stepped forward and offered his flask to Leliana, “here take a swig, I think you could use it.”
Leliana took the flask and nodded her thanks; raising the flask to her lips she took a gulp, and swallowed quickly, more tears stinging her eyes when she swallowed then gasped for air. “Maker’s breath,” Leliana exclaimed.
“Pass it around; I think all could use a stiff drink right now.”
Leliana handed the flask to Wynne. Wynne took a swig, and then handed off to Alistair. Alistair took a healthy dose, then handed the flask down to Zevran. “Sorry,” since Zevran was still holding Bella against his chest. Alistair held the flask to Zevran’s mouth for the elf to get a swallow of the potent brew. Alistair stood up and offered Oghren’s flask to Sten. The Qunari eyed the flask for a moment then reached out and took it from Alistair, taking the biggest swig of them all. “Hey you big oaf, that is all I’ve got on me,” cried Oghren. Handing the flask back to Alistair the massive warrior returned to his former position, and then responded to Oghren. “I’m bigger than all of you, will take more of the concoction to have any effect on me.” Alistair passed the flask to Irving. He took a swallow as well. Irving stood up and walked to Arl Eamon offering. Arl Eamon got a swig and walked over to Oghren giving him his flask back. “Holy Andraste, that will put hair on your chest.” Eamon’s eyes were watering after his gulp.
“By my ancestor’s, I can’t believe the mess on this roof, what happened up here?”asked Oghren.
“From the looks of this roof it was some battle, everyone below saw the explosion. What was that from?” asked Leliana.
Wynne supplied everyone with the answers. She looked at Alistair then she explained.
I’m not going to like what I hear thought Alistair.
“The dragon had grabbed Bell and was shaking her in the air, Arl Eamon and many others were hacking away at the dragon from the back, trying to get the dragon to let go of her, when it did she landed on the ground standing straight up; I think this is when she got the compound fractures to her legs, plus the wounds to her chest. The dragon was nearly down from everyone hacking away at its legs from the back. At this time, I keep casting heal, and massive rejuvenation spells to keep her on her feet. Bell started hacking away at the dragon’s front legs again as it was coming down. At this time she yelled that nobody but her could take the killing blow, a Grey Warden had to make the kill, none of us knew why until she did. The dragon was completely down by this time but was starting to rear back up. Bell threw her weapons down and yanked a great sword out of the body of a dwarf warrior and went running and sliding under the dragon embedding the sword into the dragon’s underbelly, the dragon falling down once more. She rolled out from under the dragon just in time. Then she stood up, grimaced, and with everything she had she drove the sword through the dragon’s head.”
“When she drove the sword through its skull: light, magic, and energy started pouring out of the dragon into Bell’s own body. This went on for a minute or two; the energy was so intense that nobody could get near her or the dragon to help her. I think with the last of her stamina she twisted the blade in the dragon’s head and then more magic and energy poured out of the dragon into her. She tried to scream, but she couldn’t. I could tell that whatever was happening was extremely painful for her, for whatever reason she never let go of the sword. The energy kept building until there was an explosion. The explosion did knock her off of her feet and she landed just where you see her now. I saw her going down before I fell from the blast. This same amount of energy was also coursing through Bell’s body when the blast happened.”
“What you all saw, was the dragon’s corruption being destroyed.” Said Alistair.
“This is the very reason a Grey Warden needs to make the kill of an Archdemon,” spoke Alistair; “it’s our abilities as wardens that allow us to do this. Loghain would never have ended the blight as he claimed that he could, it was impossible for him to do this.”
“Loghain had to be a Grey Warden in order to kill the Archdemon?”
“Yes, this is the reason that Loghain would have failed.”
“So that means, if you and Bell hadn’t won the Landsmeet, Ferelden would have fallen to the Arch Demon?” Leliana, asked Alistair.
“Yes, it didn’t matter if Bell made me King or Anora Queen; we had to win the Landsmeet in order to fight the Archdemon. We couldn’t afford to lose the Landsmeet and be executed before the Archdemon was killed. Loghain had stopped the Wardens from Orlais at the border, no help was coming from other wardens to help defend Ferelden.”
Everyone looked at each other in shock. “You and Bell knew this and didn’t tell us?” Asked Leliana.
“We felt it was best not to distract any of you.” Alistair responded.
Nobody knew what to say to this.
“Before we started our march to Denerim, Bell asked my permission to send a messenger to the Wardens waiting on the border with Orlais, I rescinded Loghain’s orders. Those Wardens are marching to Denerim as we speak. If Bell had died before killing the Archdemon I was to order a retreat back to Redcliffe, and wait for the Wardens from Orlais, to help me kill the Archdemon.”
Alistair really didn’t want any more questions on their personal fight at the city gates so he asked his own question.
“Wynne, where is Riordan?”
“I’m sorry Alistair; he died before we stormed Fort Drakon. We all saw it happen. Riordan had gotten to one of the towers while we were tracking down the generals. He jumped on the Archdemon’s back from one of the fort towers; he fell off from the dragon’s back to his death. Riordan is the reason the Archdemon was on the roof, he injured one of its wings, so it couldn’t fly as it had been through the city. The Archdemon would try to fly and that blasted dragon had us running all over this roof.”
Alistair squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose at the news. “She fought this dragon without Riordan being here?”
Wynne didn’t respond for a few seconds. “Yes Alistair, she did.”
Pain slashed across Alistair’s face at this news.
Eamon realized this was the best time to get them all moving and get the Commander to her room downstairs. “Mistress Wynne, is it possible to move Warden Commander Lady Cousland to the room prepared for her downstairs?”
“Yes, I think we’ve got her bandaged well enough to move her.”
“Let’s prepare to move her then.”
“How are we going to do this?” asked Oghren
“Well the door for one thing, to use as a pallet, one of the Legions of the Dead made the suggestion.”
Oghren was scratching his beard, “not a bad idea actually.”
“I think the rest of the Legion went to help their fellow Dwarves here on the roof. I think they’re all on the other side of the roof where battles were fought with darkspawn. The Archdemon keep calling for more darkspawn to help defend it,” spoke Wynne. “I’m sure a few hundred darkspawn lay dead on the roof alone. All of us were trying to fight the dragon and darkspawn at the same time.”
“Wait, she didn’t sound the horn for any help for a long while, what was happening then?” Alistair asked.
“It was just us four on the roof until Arl Eamon and Irving showed up. The Archdemon was the only thing we were fighting at that point, then it started throwing darkspawn at us and then Bell sounded the horn for the Dwarven army to help us. I think she realized at that point we had to have help; I also think she was trying to save lives and this is the reason she didn’t sound the horn for any help right away.”
“Maker’s Breath,” was Alistair’s shocked reply.
“She also didn’t sound the horn during our battle in the Alienage or storming Fort Drakon itself.”
Alistair nearly rocked off his feet at this news. Wynne reached out a hand to steady him.
“Oghren, can you and Shale get the door in better position, move it closer to her?”
“Aye, I think we can manage, come on Shale give me a hand.”
“Everyone move back.” Ordered Oghren.
Oghren and Shale got the door right next to Bell and Zevran.
Alistair had walked over on the other side between Irving and Sten. “Don’t touch her; I’ll move her to the door.” Alistair knelt down on one knee. “Zevran ease your arm from around her.” Zevran did so. Alistair took his arm and placed it around Bell’s back, just under her arms. Next he placed his other arm under her knees. He slowly stood with Bell in his arms. Alistair looked into her face. Then he planted a kiss on her forehead. Alistair walked a few steps forward and knelt with Bell in his arms. He gently eased her onto the door.
“Here, I’ve got this cloth I purchased at the market; we can cover her with it.” Leliana began pulling the beautiful green fabric from her bag and handed it to Alistair. Alistair took the fabric and spread it over Bell. Alistair stood and stepped back.
“Sten, you and Shale are near the same height, will you carry her down?” Asked Alistair. The Qunari warrior never said a word just moved into position at Bell’s feet, with Shale at her head. Sten looked over his shoulder at Shale. Shale nodded. The warrior and the golem lifted the door with Bella on it effortlessly. The others didn’t notice but those on the roof that had survived had formed an honor guard for their hero to pass by them. Each man and woman who had survived bowed as Bell was carried by them. Sten and Shale slowly made their way with Bell and the rest of their war party following behind them.
It took some time for them to get her to the room that had been prepared for her. They had to navigate a large eating hall which connected to a long hallway, and then they had to make a left turn into another long hall with her room near the end of the second hallway on the right. Stepping over corpses all the way. It was one of the rooms for the higher ranking soldiers of the Fort. All of which were now lying dead defending the fort against darkspawn down in the main entrance hall to the fort.
The room had two large double beds, chests, tables, dressers, and even bookcases filled with books; plus its own stone bathing pool. The room next door had bunk beds which could accommodate the rest of the war party to be close to Bell in helping care for her. Across the hall was another large room that Wynne and Irving could use to prepare their medicines and salves they were sure to need. The room was ideal being enclosed with all walls being of stone. This would help in keeping drafts off of her. Shale and Sten slowly lowered the door to the floor. Alistair stepped forward and gently lifted Bell into his arms and slowly lowered her onto the bed.
“Mistress Wynne, some of my men told me there is a kitchen on the lower levels I think they have water boiling for your use.” Eamon offered.
“I would think there would be some way for water to be piped in up here, which is a long way to carry buckets of water from the lower levels. That water could be used downstairs for more injured that will be brought in. I’m assuming the upper levels of the fort can also be used to accommodate the injured, along with your estate and the Chantry.”
“There has to be a valve up here somewhere, come on Shale let’s go see if we can find a water source up here. I’d sure hate to carry buckets of water all the way up here to the sodden third floor,” said Oghren. “Don’t forget to save me a low bunk in the next room.”
Shale and Oghren set off to find a valve for the water.
“I’ve sent Teagan to check out the condition of my estate off of the market district, the Chantry looked to be in good shape, Teagan told me when he was here just a few moments ago. The royal palace took a lot of damage; we’ll have to check the entire palace before we can determine if the buildings of the palace district are safe and usable.”
“Eamon, have you had any word on the condition of Vaughn’s estate? Hopefully the injured can be taken there as well if the estate is in any condition to use,” spoke Alistair.
“I’ve sent Sir Perth to start looking for all of the commanders to come to the fort and meet us here to get a report on conditions in the city and some idea on how many injured we’re going to be dealing with Your Highness.”
“Zevran and Leliana could both of you go down to the kitchens and see if you can find a brazier that we could use since there isn’t a fireplace here?”
“On it, let’s go Leliana and see what we can find.”
“Of course, first let me drop my extra gear in the next room.”
“Where is Morrigan? I haven’t seen her?” Asked Leliana
“She was on the roof, yes?”
“Yes she was,” responded Wynne. “Morrigan and Zevran were closer to Bell then Irving and me. I don’t remember seeing her, when we all regained our footing. I did see her fall like the rest of us; I’m sure she’ll show up later, she probably went on the hunt for herbs to make more poultices.”
Alistair already knew that Morrigan had probably left just as she said she would, but he didn’t inform the others. They would want to know why she left so soon after the battle. It wasn’t a discussion he was going to have with the others, so he keeps quiet.
“Enough chit-chat, I need to get started on helping our hero on her road to recovery. So, all of you need to leave. I will need water as soon as possible to get her wounds cleaned so I know what I need to do, so that is a priority.”
Everyone filed out of the room except Alistair, Arl Eamon, and Irving.
Wynne walked over to Alistair, she placed her hand on his arm. “Don’t worry, Irving and I will do our best for her, if anything happens I’ll send for you right away. You’ll need to give guidance on what the people and the armies need to do; they are going to need direction and you are the only one to it give it to them. She’ll be fine, I promise.”
Arl Eamon placed a hand on Alistair’s shoulder, “she’s alive Alistair so there is hope, and we need to return to the roof to wait on the commanders that will be coming.”
Alistair just nodded his head and with one final look at Bell, he turned and left the room with Arl Eamon to return to the roof.
A short time later, Shale and Oghren returned with good news. Water had been piped into the upper floors of the fort in the mess hall across the hall. They got the valve turned on and even got a few buckets of water and brought them along for Wynne and Irving to get started on getting Bell back on her feet.
“Irving are you ready, I believe we have our work cut out for us?”
“Whenever you are Wynne,” both mages rolled up their sleeves and set to work on their charge.