Alistair and Eamon made their way back to the roof of the fort. Alistair walked over and looked down at the corrupted dragon and the massive hole in its skull. How in the world had she lifted a greatsword with her injuries? It had to be her sheer force of will, there was no doubt she was strong-willed. It was truly a miracle that she had killed the dragon and all of them had survived to tell the tale.
Alistair saw Bell’s sword Starfang and her dagger a short distance away; he went to retrieve her weapons. Walking over Alistair picked up Starfang, its balance as true as ever even though the sword was going to need some work. He hoped Levi and Mikhael had fared alright at Warden’s Keep. Mikhael was probably the only armor master who would know how to repair the sword, since he was the one who had crafted the beautiful sword for her. Her dagger was in sad shape as well. Alistair took out a cloth and cleaned the weapons to get as much blood and gore off of them as possible, before they started to rust. Alistair had even used Starfang in their travels. The blade was truly unique along with his father’s sword they had uncovered during their return trip to Ostagar. Alistair placed both weapons in the sheath on his back with his own weapons. He couldn’t wait for her to wake up so he could give them back to her.
The battle of Ostagar seemed so long ago compared to now. It had been a little over a year that Ostagar had happened. So much had changed within the year. Now, in this place and time, it was finally over; the fifth blight ended with the death of the corrupted dragon named Urthemiel – known as the Old God of Beauty. From his vantage point the dragon certainly didn’t appear beautiful to him, rather ugly in fact. Loghain brought to justice for leaving the field at Ostagar where he allowed Cailan and Duncan’s deaths without any help or any hope of survival. None of this would have been possible without Bell; she had brought the entire nation together for these victories. He would see to it that she was declared the Hero of Ferelden.
Even though Cailan’s bodyguard had told them Cailan knew there would be no victory at Ostagar, how did Cailan know this? Cailan had ordered him and Bell to the Tower of Ishal for more than just lighting that torch. They had been kept out of the battle for a reason, even though they had run into darkspawn and fought their way through the tower, but why? Alistair had time at camp over the course of the past year to think on this question. He still didn’t have answers to his complete satisfaction. He did know why Flemeth had saved him and Bell from that tower. He wasn’t happy having that answer; he could have spent the rest of his life not knowing.
Instead of being just a Grey Warden and former Templar as he had been at Ostagar…he was now king, Bell had placed him on his family’s throne. It was a position he hadn’t wanted at first, but; he felt he was the better person for the position than Anora. Anora would have to be dealt with and he was not looking forward to the decision he would have to make regarding her if she even survived the Battle of Denerim; plus all of the men he would have to hunt down who had been her supporters, Bann Loren and Bann Ceorlic especially. Never mind those at Gwaren.
If his history lessons from the Chantry were to be believed, the long dead Banns Loren and Ceorlic had also had a hand in the murder of his own grandmother – the Rebel Queen Moira Theirin; these men and a few others had tricked her and murdered her in cold blood – making his father run for his life. Apparently, their sons had not kept true to their oaths of fealty to his father or Cailan after all, since they sided with Loghain and Howe. More dirty business would have to be dealt with then the cleanup of darkspawn.
Loghain’s betrayal of: Ferelden, Cailan, Duncan, and his father’s own legacy cut him deep. They had uncovered clues at Ostagar, but Alistair felt there was more to the story. Would anyone truly know why Loghain had turned on the entire kingdom? Loghain, being the Hero of River Dane had helped his father free Ferelden of the Orlesian occupation and why Loghain had turned…there had to be more to the story, something that went deeper for a man such as Loghain to turn traitor. Alistair felt it had to be more than just Howe’s influence as well. This was a mystery that had to be solved. He would order an investigation and have Gwaren completely searched for any further clues. A contingent of soldiers would have to be sent to Gwaren and Anora’s quarters at the Palace searched. The Teyrnirs had to be brought under control and secured as soon as possible along with the Imperial Highway and the docks. It might be a good idea to send some soldiers to the border along Orlais just in case.
Why had Bell picked the fight with Loghain and his soldiers instead of settling the Landsmeet with just a duel? During the battle for the Landsmeet, why had Loghain gone right for Bell and not me? I was the threat to Anora’s throne not Bell, so why did Loghain try to kill Bell at the Landsmeet instead of me? Alistair had an uneasy feeling Bell had known more than she had ever revealed. He doubted he’d get any answers from her on the topic; it was obvious she wasn’t talking to him.
Hopefully her mood had changed with the death of the Archdemon and the blight ended and they could move forward being the friends he hoped they could be. He couldn’t imagine running this country without her even if she wouldn’t be able to be his queen, could he make her his mistress, would he even do that to her if she was willing? He truly didn’t want to let her go, not deep in his heart. The decision he had made still left a pain in his gut, but he had to do what was right for his kingdom. He may never be able to sire a child and he was fairly certain Bell and him being Grey Wardens…they’d never have children. It had torn his heart apart to make that decision. He might have a child out there in the near future if Morrigan had told the truth. That was something he didn’t want to ever think about; but he had to think on the repercussions of that decision and what it might mean for Ferelden in the future. Bell might have trusted Morrigan, but he didn’t, and he never would.
The whole situation went right back to the night Bell’s parents were murdered. He had surmised that her parents were murdered for more than being a possible threat to Anora and her throne after Cailan’s death at Ostagar.
There had also been the retainers from Highever that Bell had seen when they made their escape from Fort Drakon after our capture. If he remembered correctly the woman had been the Chantry Priestess assigned to Highever and the man had been a childhood friend of Bell’s who had been captain of the Highever garrison, the man had grown up with Bell. Why would Loghain and Howe bring those people all the way to Fort Drakon and have them tortured when Loghain and Howe both knew that Bell and me were alive because of Zevran’s failed assassination attempt, probably someone had turned them in when they left Lothering. The bodies of the Highever retainers…they had been recently killed, their bodies still fresh when Bell and me had come upon them. Bell had been horrified when she recognized them. He’d only had time to ask her if she knew them and she had told him they were retainers from Highever. Bell never had a chance to discuss their findings at the fort. They had been too busy uncovering evidence in the Alienage and preparing for the Landsmeet. He had meant to ask her the night before the Landsmeet, they had gotten occupied with making love instead. They had celebrated Wintersend as a couple rather festively, then the Landsmeet the following day. He had ended their relationship that evening following the Landsmeet and her decision in making him King. He had hardly spoken to her since. She was keeping her distance, and it was his fault that she was doing so.
Alistair also knew Bell’s father – Teyrn Bryce Cousland could have taken the throne after his father King Maric died, but he had declined the offer. There had been a lot of talk about this even in the Chantry after Maric was declared dead. Instead the Teyrn had continued serving the crown and supporting Cailan and Anora, so why was the Teyrn and his wife murdered? Teyrn Cousland and his wife had been loyalists to the crown and to whoever set on the damn throne, yes there was more here than meet the eye. This was a promise he made to himself and to Bell even if she didn’t know it – finding out the real reason the attack and massacre had happened at Highever. It had to be more than just Howe’s greed. He wasn’t a complete fool.
Duncan had told him that Cailan had been planning on turning the army north to head for Highever to bring Howe and his men to justice for the murder of Teyrn Cousland and his wife and all of their retainers after the battle at Ostagar, which never occurred with the death of his brother. Was Bell’s brother even alive? Time will have to be taken later for him to think on these matters, and what to do about them, for now he had other pressing concerns.
Time to start being the King that she had made him; it was time to get to work.
“Eamon, we have to set fire to this dragon as soon as possible and burn its carcass. We can’t allow its body to remain here, because of the darkspawn corruption; it will have to be burned. All dead darkspawn in the city and the entire country has to be burned. I’m afraid the work for the armies isn’t over just yet. The burning of the dead darkspawn is now the priority or the land will become even more blighted. I need to see Sir Greagoir and The Grand Cleric as soon as possible and all of the commanders as fast as they can get here. Even though night is falling we can’t stop and rest, we have to push forward now.”
“Alistair are you sure this can’t wait until tomorrow?”
“Yes Eamon I’m sure, I’m telling you as a Grey Warden we have to get started on this now, it can’t wait. The ground where a darkspawn has fallen will corrupt the very ground it lies on. Even the stone floor of this roof will become corrupted; we have to get started on burning this dragon right now, and this can’t wait.”
“Didn’t Warden Commander Lady Cousland destroy the corruption in the dragon when she killed it?”
“In a manner of speaking she did, I’m sorry Eamon I can’t tell you anymore than that except to say there is still corruption within the carcass, it has to be burned as soon as we can build wood around it and set it on fire. I can’t give you any more of an explanation than this because this is getting into an area of Grey Warden business that civilians are not privy too. Just take my word, the carcass has to be burned and the sooner the better.”
“I think Sir Greagoir is still on the roof, I’ll bring him to you and most of the commanders for the various armies should start arriving any minute.”
“Eamon, I’d like to wait until everyone is assembled before I speak with them.”
“As you wish your Highness,” Eamon bowed to Alistair then made his way to find Sir Greagoir on the roof.
Alistair walked over to the nearest battlement, placing his hands on the battlement he leaned over the wall and looked out over the city that had come close to being destroyed. Smoke and fires burned as far as the eye could see. The skies still hadn’t cleared from the smoke. What I wouldn’t give to see rays of sunshine right now, thought Alistair. The clouds were filled with blood magic that the dragon had used. What a mess, but it could have been worse Alistair thought. There was so much to be done. He was already dead on his feet and he could just imagine how everyone else felt.
The dead darkspawn, the dead of the armies and civilians, camps set up for the remaining army and shelter for those now homeless and injured. The Alienage was a mess, the elves couldn’t return to the Alienage until it was cleared of the dead darkspawn. Blast it, the whole thing might have to be set on fire, the way he saw it that was the best solution for the Alienage and then it would have to be rebuilt. He knew the city elves would balk at the idea. The conditions in the Alienage before the battle were deplorable, he wouldn’t even allow Morrigan to stay in such a place, and that was saying something. The City elves couldn’t return to even look for loved ones or items that might have been left in their homes. This was going to be a major battle; he hoped the elders would see sense in this. He hoped that Vaughn’s estate was usable and with any luck the bastard was dead, if not maybe Zevran would have a solution in dealing with the bastard. Zevran would take satisfaction in finding a solution to the problem of Vaughn he was sure. The Arl of Denerim’s estate was big enough it might help provide room for the City elves. He didn’t know if the Dalish elves could be depended on to help their city cousins. He knew the countries nobles wouldn’t like that idea one bit.
He probably should send Sten, Shale, Oghren, and Thor to guard Bell’s camp and all of the equipment still left at camp. He really hated doing this to their companions but it had to be done until they could find a place for all of the equipment that Bell had amassed. A couple of wagons could be used and pulled to Eamon’s estate tomorrow until further arrangements could be made. Since Zevran had fought on the roof with Bell, he should probably get some rest and also stay to guard: Bell, Wynne, and Leliana. I’ll bunk with the others in the room next to Bell’s or find another room in the fort. Enough time to move to Eamon’s estate tomorrow if it was in any condition to be used. The palace would have to be checked and all of the surrounding buildings. The Market District, The Alienage, Palace, and Fort seemed to have taken the most damage. He was going to need a report on what condition the docks were also in.
Hopefully, Lay Sisters of the Chantry had survived and they could help round-up some women to get started on fixing some stews to feed people. The water supply had to be checked. He’d have to make sure the Chantry well was blessed and cleaned. All thanks to our fearless leader. Alistair smiled in spite of himself. The things Bell had done to get them here and to win these battles. She hadn’t liked doing a lot of them but they had to have coin to survive and outfit the army she had gathered. He’d have to come up with a good lie over that too, he didn’t think the Grand Cleric would appreciate the fact that dead bodies were rotting in the water of her well. Cleansing Ice and Fire would have to be cast on the water in the wells, and then blessed. There had been wells in the Palace commons; those would have to be checked. Plus the water supply in the Alienage. These problems had a ready solution for the short-term.
Now what to do about setting up units for the task before them for the fire cleansing of the darkspawn that they needed done? Depending on how many Templars and Mages had survived the battle a unit could be formed with: one Redcliffe Knight or garrison soldier, one Mage and Templar. Hopefully one dwarf, maybe the Dalish and City Elven archers could work to clear the Alienage. If only Ser Otto hadn’t been killed by that demon, he would have been the perfect Templar for the cleanup in the Alienage. I guess this leaves me since I’ve been through the Alienage twice now and the elder knows me. Two to stand guard and be on watch with the other two dealing fire damage to the dead darkspawn. Then a Templar to cleanse the area after the fire damage. It was going to be some task, but it had to be done.
Messengers and additional units needed to be sent to start clearing the country of the dead darkspawn to inform the people in other towns, villages, and freeholders that they had to burn the dead darkspawn and not touch them. He had to find out how much lyrium the Chantry had on supply. The Mages and Templars were going to need more. The country couldn’t wait, or the blightlands might spread and they had to have clear land to be ready for farming, since it was nearly time for the spring planting season. His country would face a famine if they didn’t get on this. Thank the Maker they weren’t in the middle of the harsh winter weather that Ferelden could experience, even though it would be extremely chilly tonight, with any luck it wouldn’t rain for a few days. They had to deal with all of the dead, and they would need fires to do that.
They also had to start formulating a plan for the burial traditions of each race. He was certain the fires for the pyres could be started tomorrow with the blessing and rites given for humans. The dwarves would probably want to take their dead back to Orzammar to be interred within the stone. He didn’t know what the traditions for elves were and how they handled their dead; did they burn them or bury them whole without the burning? Nothing for it, he’d have to get advice from the various commanders on how to do this; plus, the leaders of the City Elves and Dalish Elves. He should send a messenger to Orzammar and let Behlen know that the battle had been won, the blight defeated.
Wow, my head is spinning. Maker! How did Bell keep all of these decisions in her head and how did she know when to make the right decisions and decide what they needed to do next? Bell was an amazing woman and she would have been the perfect Queen for me. I can’t allow myself to think about her like that anymore, it was going to be hard to keep my thoughts on the straight and narrow where she is concerned. He didn’t know if he had the will to do it, even with his Templar training.
All I want to do is go back downstairs and crawl into bed beside her and just hold her, wrap my body around hers and sleep for a week and forget that all of this ever happened, then wake up beside her and make her mine once more. I’d been with Morrigan last and I so wanted to cleanse myself of the witch with Bell’s goodness and her clean fresh scent of roses and vanilla. I don’t think I’ll ever get the smell of Morrigan off of me or out of my nose.
“Your Highness, Sir Greagoir is here,” Alistair’s thoughts being interrupted by Eamon, before turning around to face everyone, Alistair took a deep cleansing breath.
“Sir Greagoir, do you know where the Grand Cleric is?” I need to speak with her Reverence, Irving, and you right away.”
“I’m not fully certain, but I think the Grand Cleric and the rest of the Denerim sisters took refuge within the lowest level of the Chantry. I can go and escort her Reverence back to you.”
“That would be appreciated. I also need to know from her Reverence the amount of lyrium that the Chantry has on stock, we’re going to need all that we have and I might need to send to Orzammar for more. Also, have her Reverence bring all of the Lay Sisters with her; I have need of them as well.”
“May I inquire Your Highness on why you need to know how much lyrium the Denerim Chantry has in stock?”
“Once you bring Her Reverence to me I’ll explain to all of you what needs to be done, once everyone is assembled.”
“On my way, Your Highness.”
Sir Greagoir and Sir Cullen left to retrieve the Grand Cleric. “I wonder what that is all about, the deal with the lyrium, touchy subject.” Asked Cullen.
“I don’t know, but I’m certain we’re about to find out,” replied Sir Greagoir.
“Eamon, will you please stay here on the roof, I’ll be right back, and I’m going to get Irving.”
“Alistair, are you sure that is a good idea, Mistress Wynne said she’d let you know about the commander if anything should happen.”
“I’m aware Eamon, I won’t be long – nature calls if you get my meaning, and by then hopefully the commanders and everyone will be assembled by then.”
“Also Eamon, if there are any capable dwarfs here on the roof – can you please get them started on gathering wood into a huge pile. I don’t want the wood placed around the dragon just yet, but we need to get started on that. I will also need archers from: Redcliffe, Orzammar, and the Dalish armies when I return, see that they are assembled here as well.” Alistair turned on his heel and started walking away before Eamon had a chance to stop him.
His personal guard fell in behind him to follow.
That was going to take a bit of getting use to – being followed around and guarded like some prize. He was going to take a few pages out of Bell’s playbook and get creative on sneaking.