“A moment gentlemen, I need a few minutes alone.” At least they didn’t bow, that was something.
Alistair had stepped into a room to use a chamber pot, he hadn’t actually lied to Eamon, he did have to go, being hours since the battle for the city had taken place. Finding a chamber pot in a room, and getting his armor adjusted he was finally able to relieve himself. Ah, that felt better, no way would he relieve himself like Oghren. How the Orzammar warrior could relieve himself in his own armor…well Alistair just couldn’t fathom the idea, let alone the stench. It was bad enough walking around with dirty socks and small-clothes on all the time. After getting his armor back in place, Alistair took a few moments for himself to collect his thoughts. He leaned into the nearest wall lost in thought.
How was it possible that Bell was exhibiting signs of going through her joining again? Maker’s breath, what had Morrigan’s ritual done to her? Did Urthemiel really have a hold on her in the fade, how could they know for sure without Wynne or Irving going into the fade, and it would have to be Wynne, not Irving. How would it be explained a senior enchanter suddenly disappeared in case Wynne became possessed by a demon and he would have to kill her? If this happens Irving will have to back me up. They couldn’t allow the Chantry and the Templars in on what was truly going on. Greagoir would notice Wynne missing to be sure.
Damn you Morrigan, he thought.
If Bell has been harmed by this I’ll hunt you down and smite you to the Maker, I swear by all that I am I’ll do it and your bastard demon baby will never have a chance to be born. I want nothing more than an excuse to hunt you down, you vile witch. Alistair shook with his thoughts.
It was more than this and he knew it, he was ashamed to admit he had enjoyed his night with Morrigan, and it pained him to realize that he had. Morrigan had realized it and used this to her advantage, goading him into doing the act twice to make sure the ritual had taken root, ere his child took root within her belly. She had dangled Bell’s life before him and manipulated him. Nothing would please him more to hunt Morrigan down and kill her.
Was Bell’s life now tied to Urthemiel’s and the old god being born anew? If he was certain he could kill Morrigan and her child and it wouldn’t harm Bell he would do this in an instant. If he ever saw Morrigan again, he wouldn’t hesitate in killing her. I guess there will be some advantages in being trained as a Templar after all.
Once things settled down he’d have Wynne and Irving do research in the Circle’s library on the old gods and see what they could come up with; they might be able to provide more clues, and it wouldn’t hurt having more information. A look in the Chantries libraries might not be a bad idea either. Leliana would be perfect for this job.
Taking a deep breath to clear his head Alistair headed back to the roof.
Good everyone is here, time to get started.
When Alistair walked up to everyone they all bowed to him.
“Please, let’s not stand on protocol just yet; we have too much to do to expand our energies in such a manner.”
“As you wish Your Highness,” spoke the Grand Cleric.
“We have several enormous tasks ahead of us, and one that will take the use of the remaining army, especially the abilities of the Templars and Mages.”
“How so Your Highness?” The Grand Cleric asked.
“I’m speaking as a Grey Warden and not just the future King, please allow me to explain.”
“The carcasses of the dragon and all darkspawn have to be burned and the sooner the better before they corrupt the ground they lie on, this can be done with mages who have fire ability, torches and even fire arrows from any archers. Then I’d like Templars to cleanse the area once the bodies of the darkspawn have been burned to ash. This is going to take days, weeks, maybe a month or more to do this, and we’ll have to set up teams or units to begin. I’d like to start with Fort Drakon and move out into the city. The battle in the Alienage has hundreds of dead darkspawn, so the Fort and Alienage and near the Denerim Chantry is the priority for now, later we’ll work our way out depending on how many units that we have.”
“Also, start getting the message out that nobody can touch any darkspawn; they will become corrupted with the disease if a person touches them so get that news spread quickly. If anyone touches a darkspawn this person will have to be detained and put to death because they will spread the disease. I’m sorry, there will be no other recourse for this, and there is no cure for darkspawn corruption except for death.”
“You’re sure of this, Your Highness?” Asked Her Reverence.
“I’m sorry, Your Reverence, I’m certain as a Grey Warden.”
“I also need to know Your Reverence if the Chantry has enough lyrium on stock for this enormous task. Mages and Templars will need more lyrium to complete these tasks, if not we’ll have to send to Orzammar for more.”
“Also, messengers need to be sent throughout the kingdom with these same instructions to burn the darkspawn. I’ll also need four units of four forming one unit of: three individuals and at least one Templar needs to be in each group.”
“One group led by a Dalish Elf for the elves, another group led by a Templar or a Human Knight in charge of another, you get the idea I’m sure. We need them sent in the four main directions to perform the task I just gave instructions for and inform the country. That will be sixteen people from these ethnic groups to form those four units. At least four Templars for this task alone. These four groups will need a proclamation from me you, your Reverence.”
“You’re certain of this Your Highness, these people will have to be put to death, if tainted by the darkspawn?”
“I’m certain. I’m speaking as a Grey Warden Your Reverence.” Alistair knew he would get crass with her if she asked him again.
“I can already inform Your Highness that the Chantry doesn’t have the necessary supply of lyrium, we’ve used nearly all of our stock for the battle of the city, so more will have to be sent for. I’ll send Templars to Orzammar at once. Is there anything else Your Highness?”
“Yes, Your Reverence, several things actually.”
“No City Elves can be allowed back inside the Alienage; the conditions in the Alienage are beyond the use of any living person, even elves. Eamon, I need units of guards blocking the entrances to the Alienage right away. I’ll also need to speak with the Elder of the City Elves; I believe his name is Valendrian or whoever their leader is in case the elder didn’t survive the battle. If anyone can find Sergeant Kylon, I’d like to see him and use the Denerim soldiers for this. Kylon will know the City Elf Elder, since they have dealt with each other. If Kylon has been killed then I need whoever is in command of Denerim’s garrison soldiers.”
“Your Reverence, if we can use the Lay Sisters of the Denerim Chantry, would it be possible for the sisters to help round-up as many women as they can and get cooking fires started and supplies in making some soups or stews to start getting people feed and any injuries that people have that they are attend too. I’d like to see, women from all backgrounds. We’ll also need guards to help protect the ladies and help them search any safe buildings for supplies and food. What are the conditions of the Chantry, Your Reverence?”
“The darkspawn never made it inside the Chantry, but it was close, we could hear a battle taking place just outside. We saw the enormous monsters lying all around when Ser Greagoir came to escort us t’was a sight.”
“The Warden Commander is the one who fought that battle Your Reverence, one of those darkspawn was a general of the Archdemon. The darkspawn were trying to break into the Chantry when we came upon them in the Market District. Bellavalia is the one who killed the General just outside of the Chantry, so in essence she saved the Chantry, with my aid of course,” grinned Zevran.
“She saved more than just the Chantry this day,” offered Leliana.
“We’ve been truly blessed to have the Warden Commander sent to us by the Maker.”
Alistair eyed the Grand Cleric; he didn’t believe her for one minute. From Alistair’s point-of-view, the Grand Cleric had been squarely in Loghain’s pocket. She could play politics all she liked; he wasn’t fooled by the old bat. He had to deal with her – given her and his positions within the Kingdom. He really couldn’t afford to make her his open enemy.
“Your Reverence, will it be possible for the Chantry to be used for the injured?”
“The priority of the Chantry compound will be for the use of: injured Templars, Lay Sisters, and Mages of course. We have our rooms and the barracks within the compound, which you recall your Highness having lived there several years. I will allow the use of the main hall for the injured to be brought in if this is your wish Your Highness; I’d prefer women, children, and the elderly the use of the main hall first.”
“I’ll leave you to make those decisions Your Reverence, since this is your area of expertise.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.”
“We need to start getting pyres built for the dead and the blessing given for the dead and I would like for funerals to start on the morrow if at all possible. What will be the best way to do this Your Reverence?”
“I would say one inside and outside of the city gates, one near the Chantry if possible, and one in the Alienage of course but first we’d need to check with the Elder on how this needs to be handled. Main intersections in the city would offer the best solution. The Lay sisters will be able to go anywhere within the city that they will be needed to perform their duties Your Highness, that will not be a problem with a proper Templar escort of course. We will see to this Your Highness and perform our duties accordingly.”
“Your Reverence, we also need to check the Chantry well and of course the others within the city and the Alienage. Fire and ice cleansing needs to be done and a Templar to cleanse the wells and for them to be blessed.”
“I’ll have the Templars see to this Your Highness at once.”
“Thank you, Your Reverence.” Alistair bowed to the Grand Cleric.
“If there is nothing more Your Highness, may I take my leave to get started on the tasks that you’ve set before me?”
“One more thing if you please.”
“Of course Your Highness, however the Chantry can be of service to our people.”
“The Warden Commander has been critically injured Your Reverence, will you pray over her and offer her your blessing?”
“It will be an honor and is my duty to do this for the Warden Commander and offer up my prayers for her recovery. I’ll send a Templar back with a message when everything is in order at the Chantry and let you know when we’ve fully set up for the injured to be brought in and get started on getting pails of soup made for the needy.”
“Thank you Your Reverence.” Alistair bowed to her once again.
“Sir Greagoir, will you please escort her Reverence and also start sending Templars and Mages to the courtyard of Fort Drakon to get started on forming units, I’ll be down in an hour or so to help. This will also allow for an hour of rest before we begin.”
“Certainly, Your Highness.”
The Grand Cleric and Ser Greagoir bowed and took their leave.
“Commanders if you will.”
All four commanders of the armies stepped forward and bowed.
“As you all heard, please start ordering your units to gather within the courtyard of Fort Drakon; start formulating in your minds the best people for the burning of darkspawn and get together as commanders and start getting units formed, make sure you choose people who can get along with other races, this will take a combined effort on everyone’s part.”
“Enchantress Wynne and Mistress Leliana will have some soup or stew made for you gentlemen and you can all get this from the mess hall across from the commander’s room before you head on down to the courtyard. I’ll meet all of you there in about two hours. I shouldn’t be more than two at the most.”
“Also to let you know, the Warden Commander is alive and she is resting comfortably if you’d like to pass this information along within the ranks; however she has been critically injured, so please offer up your prayers to your Gods for her recovery.”
“As you wish, Your Highness.” All four commanders bowed to the King, then left for the entrance of the roof.
Right, that left their companions, Eamon, and the Legion of the Dead still on the roof. He had to get everyone off of the roof with just Irving and himself to do the task he needed to do…getting as much of the dragon’s blood as he could.
“Eamon, how are things moving getting the injured off the roof?”
“We haven’t started but have seen too their injuries.”
“Eamon, I need this roof cleared as fast as we can clear it; I have duties to perform as a Grey Warden regarding the dragon. I need privacy in order to perform my duties for my order before we set the dragon on fire.”
“Bell’s companions and I can help move them off of the roof, there are many rooms within the fort that the injured dwarves can be moved too, time is of the essence here.”
Eamon nodded his head that he understood, even though he didn’t understand the need for privacy; the Grey Wardens were a secret order and there were things that Alistair would never be able to share with him regarding the order. He didn’t like it – he had no choice where Wardens were concerned.
“Sten, Shale, Oghren, and Zevran, will you please start helping the injured down off the roof, we need to move as fast as we can get them below. Anywhere that they can find a place to stretch out will be fine. I’ll get my personal guard to help as well.”
“Leliana, will you please go down and help Wynne with distributing the soup to the commanders and the dwarves, then return to me up here.”
“Of course Alistair.”
“Allen, have your men join in.”
Allen bowed, “of course your Highness, as you say.”
“Once we’re done with this task I’ll need to speak to all of you once more.”
“Alright people let’s get moving.”
It had taken them nearly an hour to get everyone downstairs, it would have taken longer if not for Shale. She could handle four dwarves at once.
Here we all are, right back on the roof once more and he was just getting started, blast it. He was behind all ready and the troops were already assembling down below.
“Eamon, will you please go downstairs and see if you can find vellum to write off a message and have it sent to King Behlen of Orzammar and inform him that the battle has been won and the blight defeated. Ask him for instructions on how the dead of Orzammar need to be handled.”
“I’ll also need four sets of written instructions and proclamations sent with the four units for every: city, town, village, and freehold that they come to. They will also need to be resupplied if possible.”
“Also, has Teagan returned?”
“Not yet Alistair, but I expect his arrival any minute, why do you ask.”
“Eamon, we should send someone to check and see if Anora survived the battle.”
“I’m ashamed to say I forgot about her.”
Alistair laughed, “It’s understandable given the circumstances, and she isn’t exactly my favorite topic of conversation either. I would only trust you or Teagan to check.”
“It will be best if I go to check to give her the bad news that you survived!”
“Alright Eamon, I’ll leave you to it then.”
At least Eamon was out of his hair for a while.
“Allen, once my companions leave the roof, nobody gets past those doors. You and your men are to guard those doors and wait until I come downstairs.”
“Are you sure Your Highness, we’re not supposed to leave you unguarded.”
“It will be alright Allen, I promise. It will be just me and Irving up here.”
“I need the rest of you to leave the roof now and do as I’ve commanded; we’ve a lot of work left ahead of us.”
“Allen, I need guards posted at all entrances to this roof, each doorway that leads up here has to have guards, no one in or out until I say otherwise and I don’t give a damn who they are. If anyone makes it to this roof I will personally kill that guard and the person(s) they let through. Do you understand my instructions?”
“Yes, your Highness, I’ll get guards posted right this minute.”
Alistair walked back to where Irving was standing.
“Irving, are you ready to get started?”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“Sten, all of you can wait downstairs and rest for a while until I get this done. I’d suggest all of you get a nap if possible, all of you will have missions to perform once I’m done here.”
“Alistair, are you sure we can’t help you.”
“I’m sure Leliana, thank you for the offer.”
“Leliana will you please make sure you get a nap, I’d like you to sit with Bell awhile to give Wynne a break, and I don’t know how long it will be before I get back down there.”
“Of course Alistair, Wynne will need to get some sleep. I’ll get a nap in and sit with Bell later on, that won’t be any problem.”
“Leliana, I do need to know where you and Zevran hid those buckets.”
“Alistair, they are hidden up here around the ballista.”
“Ok, how did you two pull that off?”
“Tsk, tsk Alistair, we are rogues, after all of this time, I’d think you’d be more confident in our abilities,” scolded Zevran.
“Really Alistair, like that was a hard job for me and Zev,” laughed Leliana.
“Yes of course, sorry.”
“Alright all of you head off and get those naps in and make sure all of you get something to eat.”
Finally it was just myself and Irving.
“Ok, Irving let’s find those buckets and get this done as fast as we can.”
Maker! How in the world was he supposed to drain a blasted dragon? Duncan I wish you were here, I’m flying by the seat of my pants here. Draining a dragon hadn’t been part of my Templar education at the Chantry. The best course of action might be similar to collecting blood like he had been taught with mages. Instead of phylacteries they would be using buckets.
I’ll just have to start cutting into the dragon and hope I get lucky – hitting an artery or something then grab a bucket and collect as much blood as I can.
“Irving do you have that lyrium ready.”
“Yes, I have several flasks right here.”
“Alright then, let’s get started.”
Alistair approached the dragon and decided the best place would be trying the neck area. He took his sword and sliced into the dragon’s neck. Hmm, no such luck. He struck again, in a different area within the neck. “Yes,” grabbing a bucket he titled the bucket to get as much of the blood as he could.
“Irving,” before you get near that blood make sure you’ve cast every protection spell that you have on yourself.”
“Yes, excellent idea,” replied Irving.
Irving cast his spells of protection, then he approached the first bucket of blood and popping the cork on a flask of lyrium he poured the clear blue liquid into the bucket of blood. No reaction whatsoever. Taking another flask, he poured this into the blood. There was the flash he was looking for. The bucket of blood was now preserved.
“It appears that two full flasks are needed per bucket of blood. With a phylactery of a mage’s blood it usually takes just a few drops.”
Alistair was filling another bucket. Irving and Alistair worked to drain as much of the dragon’s blood that they could. It took them longer than Alistair had anticipated, he was so tired and his perception of time was starting to be affected.
Finally standing Alistair wiped the sweat off of his brow.
“We need to collect blood from the various types of darkspawn as well, so we can have a few flasks on hand in case they are needed.” Alistair and Irving set to this task.
The blood that Alistair had collected would have to be enough for centuries possibly. It wasn’t everyday that an Archdemon was killed. He set to work collecting blood from the various darkspawn. If he could get more buckets they might be able to get more blood, but they were running out of time. He would have to get down to the courtyards soon and get moving clearing the fort and hopefully the Alienage by morning. I’m already drained thought Alistair and getting ready to use my Templars skills would drain me more. I have to keep going – no rest for the weary. I want to check on Bell and I have to talk with Kylon and the Elven leaders before the cleanup in the Alienage can even begin. I might get to take a nap in a couple of days. I’ll have to drink a couple of flasks of lyrium too. I hoped I don’t become addicted to the stuff.
Now where to hide this blood until Irving and I can gather phylacteries, funnels, and ladles to transfer the blood into them. Blast it, the warden compound in the city would have to be checked as well. He knew there was a vault inside and hopefully the blood could be stored there. Bell was the only one who knew the combination, great something else to do. Since Leliana and Zevran had hidden the buckets behind some of the ballista that might work. The ballista on the other side of the roof away from the dragon might be better. Uh huh, that might just work. Gathering up the buckets one by one Alistair proceeds to hide them on the other side of the roof behind the ballistas.
This task was on the back burner for now. He had to get moving, check on Bell, and get to the courtyard.
“Well Irving are you ready to get going?”
“I’ll be glad to rest these old bones.”
“Once we get back downstairs go on back to the Commander’s room and get a nap in. You and Wynne both need one.”
“Do you wish for me to help in the fort setting fire to darkspawn?”
“No Irving, you’ve earn a rest, you fought on the roof. Get something to eat. After a nap, will you see to the injured dwarves in the fort?”
“Of course, Your Highness.”
“Let’s be off then.”
Alistair and Irving headed for the entrance to the roof taking the stairs down.
“Irving you go on ahead, I need to speak with my guard.”
Irving nodded, he was too tired to give a reply.
“Allen, make sure you’re men continue to guard the doors to the roof and not allow anyone up here.”
“If anyone tries to get through here, kill them.”
Allen blinked at Alistair’s orders.
“As you say, Your Highness.”
With a nod Alistair made his way back downstairs to Bell’s room.
“Any problems?” asked Alistair of the two guards.
“None, Your Highness,” replied one of the guards.
“Good,” responded Alistair.
Alistair knocked and Wynne opened the door to him. Walking into Bell’s room he saw Irving had made it to the other bed and was already preparing for a little nap.
“Alistair I have a soup of vegetables and broth, we couldn’t find much else except for apples and cheese to go with it. Would you like a cup of soup?”
“I’d love some. I guess I could do with a short break.”
“Uh, did you say cheese?”
Wynne laughed, knowing about Alistair’s love of cheese. Alistair was in fact a fanatic about cheese.
“Yes, a wheel of smoked cheddar was found and sliced for everyone. Thanks to Zevran and Leliana, we do have this meal. They are all in the room next door getting naps in as you ordered them.”
“You look like you could use a break, sit down at the table and I’ll get you a cup of soup with the cheese of course, would you like an apple to go with that?”
Wynne left the room to go across the hall where the kettle of soup had been set up over a cooking brazier.
Alistair unstrapped his shield and weapons from his back; he gathered his shield and sword placing them on the floor out-of-the-way. Relief, he thought. Next he took off his gauntlets and laid them on the table. Standing he walked over to the other bed and looked down at Bell. She still hadn’t moved an inch from the last time he was here. She seemed to be resting comfortably; she was so pale from blood loss. It was apparent she was still deep in the fade. Alistair pulled back her eyelids to check her eyes. Hmm, not as milky as they were earlier, she also didn’t have a fever. Yet, she seemed colder to the touch. I wonder why, he thought. Alistair also noticed that a second blanket had been added to her bed and the brazier in the room was warming the room, it was actually very warm. He was starting to sweat from the warmth since he was still in his armor.
Wynne opened the door coming in with a cup of soup, a few apples, a large chunk of cheese and a small loaf of bread and a small mug with something to drink on a tray.
“Here you go Alistair.”
“Thank you,” said Alistair as he walked over to Wynne.
Alistair took his meager meal and walked back over to the table gently sitting down, so he wouldn’t disturb Irving. He popped a piece of the cheese into his mouth. Irving was snoring slightly behind him.
“Mmm,” the cheese had a wonderful smoky flavor. He chewed slowly enjoying the taste and texture.
He was starved, he knew he had to take his time eating, and not gulp everything down. It would make him sick if he didn’t. He wanted to rush and get the next tasks before him started.
Wynne seated herself on a stool next to Bell’s bed and resumed her vigil of their leader. She was reading one of the books that Bell had given her.
Since Bell and Irving were asleep, and Wynne was reading, Alistair concentrated on eating his meal. He didn’t feel much like talking anyway, he ate his meal in silence. Wynne was right the soup was very watery, but at least it was something and it was hot. The apples must have been from last year’s harvest, they were on the mushy side when he took a bite. I think I could eat anything right now, even the sole of my boot; I’m starved thought Alistair finishing the apple in record time. This was a snack compared to the large meal that a warden could eat.
Time to get moving, Alistair stood and wiped his hands on his trousers under his armor. He hoped Wynne hadn’t seen him do that. He really didn’t want a lecture right now. Next stop the courtyard and probably back to the roof. He was running behind schedule. I guess as King I can do that. As a soldier it bothered him.
Alistair placed the empty cup back on the tray. Wynne looked at him. “Alistair, where are you going? Aren’t you going to get some sleep it is late?”
Alistair was in the process of attaching his weapons to his back. “As much as I want a nap right now, I can’t Wynne….my duties remember. The army is amassing in the courtyard below and I’m late, I have to get going. I probably won’t return until the morning, unless there are changes with Bell, don’t forget to send me word if you need me.”
“In about an hour will you please wake all of our companions up and send them to me. I’ll be in the courtyard of the fort or the palace district or on the roof. I’ll have need of them. Leliana is going to relieve you when she is done with the job I have for her. You make sure you get some rest Wynne. I can’t have you getting sick on me now, especially with you being Bell’s caregiver.”
“I promise I’ll get a nap in when Leliana returns.”
“Glad to hear that.”
Alistair walked over to Wynne and gathered her in his arms and gave her a good long hug before releasing her.
“I love you almost Grandmother.”
“And I love you child.”