As much as Alistair would have liked to stay in Bell’s room and get a nap he knew this wasn’t likely. There was so much to do. The small meal that he had just eaten had revived his strength. The future King of Ferelden made his way down to the main hall of Fort Drakon stepping over the bodies of dead soldiers and darkspawn alike. Bell and her crew had fought some battle in this old fortress. He spied Eamon at a desk in a room just off of the main entrance to the fort. The room had once belonged to Fort Drakon’s Commanding Officer. Hopefully, Eamon had those letters written and they could begin with the task that would take months if not years of cleanup to the country.
Eamon glanced up from his task of writing. “Your Highness, there you are. I’m just finishing the last of the letters that you asked to be written, all they will need is your signature and signet.”
Alistair felt the weight of the signet ring upon his right hand, just under his right gauntlet. He had yet to show it to Bell. The ring had once been his father’s and also Cailan’s for their use to sign official documents for the country. Eamon had taken it off of Anora when the Landsmeet had ruled against her and before she entered her cell. She had worn the heavy golden signet ring around her neck on a heavy chain under her gown. Since the ring officially belonged to Cailan and it had been too big for her own fingers.
The ring was heavy and Alistair still wasn’t comfortable with the weight on his finger. The ring was made of solid gold. The back of the ring had a wide band. The mounting for the large emerald within was square cut. The emerald itself was flawless and cut so the emerald stood slightly above the setting. Two gold mabari war hounds in opposite pose were mounted on top of the emerald, above them a small gold crown. When pressed into hot wax the outline would show the square of the emerald and the two mabari war hounds, with the crown above them, the Official Seal of Ferelden and her ruling monarch. Eamon had also taken Anora’s own signet ring off of her hand for the Queen. One day Alistair would have to place that ring upon his future wife’s hand. Pain and remorse stabbed at his heart that it couldn’t be Bell.
In his mind he remembered Eamon giving him the ring just after the Landsmeet and after Anora had been escorted to her cell. He also recalled when he first put the ring on it had fit perfectly. Like the ring had been made for his hand. A strange feeling had come over him when he put the ring on that he was meant for this destiny of becoming Ferelden’s ruler. He had been born for this reason. Alistair also knew he had fought against this destiny his whole life and of not being acknowledged and loved. He had carried years of bitterness within him at not being acknowledged as Maric’s son and especially over Isolde’s treatment of a small boy who only wanted to be loved and accepted. Then Goldana’s harsh words and he didn’t think without Bell’s help he could have carried on. After Ostagar he had been drained and beaten down.
The only place he had ever felt he had been accepted was when he was with the other Grey Wardens along with Duncan, and because of Loghain they were all dead and gone. Just like his brother. A brother who had learned about him and that he was to become a Templar. Becoming a Templar had guaranteed that Alistair would never have heirs to threaten the throne. Eamon had explained that when Cailan became King, Eamon had told Cailan that he had a half-brother who was actually a bastard born to their father.
Alistair also recalled Cailan coming to the Denerim Chantry once. He had taken a tour and watched the Templars in their training exercises. Alistair had known that Cailan’s visit had been an opportunity for him to get a look at his younger brother. A brother he had never known about for most of his life. Alistair would have been happy with just having a few words from his older brother, anything in the way of a small acknowledgement. Even just a small hello would have offered some comfort.
Eamon had finally set him down and explained to him that his father had loved him but he had wanted Alistair to have the chance to forge his own destiny and not be saddled with the life at court. The irony of it all had not been lost on Alistair. He had really wanted to ask Eamon how he was to forge his own destiny being sent to the Chantry. Look where he was soon to be, sitting on that golden throne that had once been his father’s. Alistair thought one could say he had come full circle.
Alistair picked up the vellum that was on top and started to read through the missive. It was the one that would be sent to King Behlen. The message read that The Legion of The Dead and the Dwarven Army had done their country proud in helping to defend the surface against the blight. His Royal Highness thanking them for their service in honoring the Grey Warden treaties and was also requesting from King Behlen how the war dead of Orzammar should be handled. Ferelden’s Templars and Circle would need more lyrium. Hmm, interesting that Eamon had added in that request. Alistair filled that little tidbit away for future reference. Why didn’t Eamon trust the Grand Cleric when Alistair had already assigned the Grand Cleric this task? He didn’t have time to get into a discussion with Eamon over the lyrium. They had other more important things to do. Alistair removed his right gauntlet and laid it down on the desk that Eamon was sitting at, and then he picked up a quill and dipped it in the ink well and signed the missive at the bottom in the lower right hand corner.
Eamon lit a candle with a flint and started to melt wax to prepare the official seal.
Alistair picked up the next missive and read. This one along with the other three copies would be for the: Arls, Banns, and Free Holders that the four units that he wanted sent out into the country to inform those that hadn’t had large enough garrisons to join the army that the blight had indeed been ended and the Archdemon slain by the Grey Wardens of Ferelden. This missive also had the instructions that he wanted included about burning the darkspawn. The four units could leave in the morning to begin their task. They would also need gold and supplies. Alistair also knew that Eamon already had the keys to the treasury.
“Eamon, would you please write up another one for the Dalish Elves and their clan leader – Keeper Lanaya. Informing her also and see that it is sent by way of a Dalish messenger, the Dalish will be found off of the west road near the Brecilian Forest. Offer the same acknowledgment of the Dalish for their help just as you did with Behlen and ask for assistance on how the Dalish war dead should be handled.”
“Right away Your Highness.”
Eamon pulled open a drawer within the desk and took out the last piece of vellum and began to write. As Eamon set to his task, Alistair set to work applying his ring to the wax that had been dripped on the pieces of vellum. There it was done, his first official act as King of Ferelden. Even though he hadn’t been crowned yet and he had no idea when his coronation would take place. He was sure it would be sooner, rather than later.
Finally, Alistair and Eamon had the official documents all ready.
“Eamon, did you get some soup from Enchantress Wynne yet?”
“I did Your Highness. It helped restore my strength and focus.”
“Good, come along then, let’s head to the courtyard.”
Eamon stood and gathered up all of the documents. They had been rolled and sealed with the official seal of the Kingdom from the King’s ring. Eamon blew out the candle. Leaving the room in darkness, the King and his Chancellor made their way to the main door of Fort Drakon.
Alistair opened the main door to the Fort and stepped outside with Eamon following close behind. It was fully dark now. There were fires from buildings burning and smoke was still in the air. The destroyed city was being illuminated from the fires throughout giving off odd silhouettes. The smell of rotting and decaying flesh was also in the air. The air was thick with heaviness to it. Alistair was sure if he hadn’t been used to such smells he would have probably gagged. There wasn’t a place that a person could look without seeing bodies from all races and darkspawn lying in puddles of blood. Destroyed buildings for as far as the eye could see. The sight weighed heavy upon him. How was he ever going to get this city and country back on its feet? How was he going to do this without Bell at his side?
He saw the commanders milling about the patio and he walked to them. When the commanders saw him they bowed and came forward. I guess my instructions to stop bowing at me every five minutes weren’t being adhered too. This was something I’m just going to have to get accustomed too and allow people to show their respect to me as their King.
I am the King and I still can’t believe it at times. The man who was King had come a long way from the little boy who used to sleep in the stables at Redcliffe with the: horses, dogs, and other animals amongst the hay. The little boy once his duties were done for the day would climb a tree and find a comfortable spot amongst its branches and cry about why he wasn’t loved or accepted by his father.
Often times he would be joined by his favorite cat. That old female tabby cat was the only living soul to offer him comfort, in those lonely days of his youth. He remembered he had cried himself to sleep when that old cat had finally died of old age; just before he was shipped off to the Chantry. He had seen that she was buried under their favorite tree. Alistair shook off his thoughts; he had no time for youthful reflections to remember such things of the past. He had a job to do.
“Commanders, what is your status?”
The commander of Eamon’s troops stepped forward, he had been with their party at camp, and Alistair recognized him. “The units that you requested have been formed Your Highness. The four units that will be traveling to the areas within the kingdom await your orders for them to depart.”
“I’d prefer for them to head out in the morning, once all of them have rested. These four units can find sleep space here within the fort. I will want to see them before they head out in the morning and its best if all of them remain here within the fort.”
“As you wish, Your Highness.”
“Currently we have: four Mages, eight Templars, four Dalish archers, four Dwarves, four Redcliffe Knights, and four Redcliffe garrison soldiers. Do these soldiers meet with your approval Your Highness?”
“Yes, these soldiers will be fine.”
“Do you have the units formed to begin in the Alienage and within the Fort itself?”
“Not yet, we’re currently working on a list, Your Highness.”
“Alright, but we need these units formed to begin in the Alienage and other areas of the city within a few hours.”
“I understand Your Highness. We’ll have units formed for these tasks very soon.”
“Do all of these soldiers have rune weapons that have fire ability and do the mages that are going have fire spells?”
The commander for the Mages and Templars spoke up. He was a tranquil and had also been a member of their party camp. Alistair also recognized him.
“Yes, Your Highness, the mages all have been trained in the school of primal. All soldiers going have already had their weapons fitted with fire runes, they are prepared, Your Highness.”
“The Dalish that will be going they have fire arrows for their use?”
“The Dalish commander spoke up, they do Your Highness, and they’re preparing more as we speak.”
“Yes, this will do, you’ve done well sirs in your assessment and planning of the task that I set you.”
“Thank you, Your Highness”, they all replied and bowed to him once again.
“Do they have enough supplies for their journey?”
“They will need funds for more supplies along the way; they will also need medical supplies and lyrium for the Mages and Templars that will be going.”
It seemed the commander from Redcliffe had been chosen as spokesperson.
“Have each unit check with Enchantress Wynne; she is upstairs with the Warden Commander Lady Cousland seeing to her care. I will send her instructions to prepare injury kits and health potions for each unit and they will probably be available to each unit in the morning, she will also have lyrium but I’m not sure how much she still has.”
“Chancellor Guerrin will see that each unit will have coin for future supplies to be purchased. Make sure each unit has a couple of tents, and cooking utensils that might be needed and each person within the unit has a bedroll. They will also need a couple of axes to cut wood for cooking fires. I’m sure the Dwarves and Dalish will have these supplies, but the Templars, and Mages might not. Your own soldiers are probably already outfitted?”
“Yes, Redcliffe knights and soldiers were outfitted by the Warden Commander. She was most generous in seeing that her armies were outfitted.” The three remaining commanders all nodded in agreement.
“Yes, the Warden Commander did an excellent job preparing the armies. She will be well rewarded for her service to our nation.”
Hmm, how would she be rewarded wondered Eamon. He had no idea what Alistair had in mind. He was sure Highever would be restored to Warden Commander Lady Cousland but beyond this? Eamon felt it would be a good idea to keep his thoughts to himself at the moment.
“Commanders, I need archers, from each army at my service on the roof of Fort Drakon along with each of you. We have a dragon to burn and tell them we’ll need as much wood as they each can carry and if anyone could find some oil that would be helpful.”
Cheers erupted from the soldiers standing around at the king’s words. Alistair grinned, he couldn’t help himself.
“Pick those that displayed heroism on the battlefield. They will be given this honor for their part in winning this difficult battle and to bare witness to the dragon’s defeat. Also, include archers from the City Elves, they helped the commander defend their homes in the Alienage, they too should take part. Meet me on the roof in one hour.”
Grins split all of the commanders faces wide, all except the Mage Emissary.
“Permission to speak, Your Highness.”
“Permission granted, speak your mind sir.”
Eamon’s commander stepped forward and bowed to him, again. Alistair was really going to need to do something about this. It was already getting on his nerves. “Your Highness, we’d like to inform you and if you’d be willing to pass along to the Warden Commander that you’re companions actions that fought with you and the Commander, helped preserve the lives of over half of the entire army storming the gates to the city and defending the city itself. Our losses haven’t been as high as we’d feared. It was an honor for all of us within the army to fight at your sides. Talk has already started within the ranks at the deeds many witnessed on the battlefield of those of your traveling companions and the lives they helped save. We thought you should know.”
Alistair was stunned; they had achieved the impossible it seemed. Bell’s little war party had made a name for themselves. Alistair grinned. This was indeed good news.
The future King of Ferelden bowed to the Commanders of Bell’s army that she had gathered. “On behalf of our companions, The Warden Commander and myself, I’d like to say it was an honor and a privilege to defend those that make up this great nation called Ferelden.”
More cheers erupted at Alistair’s words.
Eamon slapped Alistair on the back. “Well done, Your Highness.”
Maybe this king thing wouldn’t be so bad after all, thought Alistair.
Just then Eamon spied Teagan making his way through the mass of soldiers gathered at Fort Drakon.
Alistair saw him too. Alistair and Eamon waited for Teagan to reach them. He was accompanied by even more Redcliffe Knights and Soldiers. A grin split Teagan’s face upon seeing Alistair and his brother.
“I’ve good news,” spoke Teagan, after they had bowed to Alistair. “The estate is in excellent shape, hardly any damage. The staff has already started getting everything back in order. They did suffer minor injuries from falling debris in the cellars where they took refuge. Many of our soldiers are already within and have the estate well in order and under guard. The estate staffs are already hard at work seeing to the needs our people. Even those who are citizens of Denerim that have been injured are being taken and cared for near the entrance.”
“Your butler Eamon should be given a position as general within the ranks of our soldiers; he is doing a tremendous job of putting the estate back in order and seeing to everyone’s needs and directing people on what they need to be doing.”
“Isolde and Connor are both safe, and they too are also helping gathering supplies and tending to injuries. I informed Isolde and Connor that His Highness and you indeed survived the battle. Isolde asked that you send her word when she should expect your arrival so she can have baths and food prepared for both of you.”
It was strange for Alistair to hear that Isolde was preparing a bath and food for him. He guessed she would now try to make up for all of those years where she had made him sleep in the stables. He held no malice towards her for former actions. He could finally put the past in the past where it belonged where she was concerned.
“The Grand Cleric has also bid me to bring Your Highness word that the Chantry is also set and prepared and is now seeing to the tasks that Your Highness bid her to do. The injured were being taken into the main hall of the Chantry and all wandering children are being taken inside and looked after by the lay sisters as I left to make my way here. The Grand Cleric has also set Templars to gathering and breaking wood from the surrounding fallen buildings to be used for the funerals on the morrow.”
“She did have to send Templars to the Circle Mage Tower and Orzammar for more lyrium and she doesn’t see this arriving for another two weeks. She wished me to apologize to Your Highness; but this was the best that she could do in regards to the lyrium, the Chantries supplies are depleted at this time. The Templars having already passed out the remaining lyrium to mages to help them with healing spells for the injured.”
Alistair had already suspected this would be the case, they would have to make due, the Mages and Templars that would soon be starting on the clean up would just have to rest often to replenish their mana on their own. I’ll have to do this myself. Damn, I hope Wynne had enough to send with the four units that would head out tomorrow. They would all probably have to start their cleanup efforts starting near Lake Calenhad or Orzammar. They would have to go to the Circle Tower and see if they could get any remaining lyrium that the Circle might still have in stock. He might have to delay in sending them. He knew that Bell had a large supply of lyrium potion on hand for Wynne and Morrigan’s use. He was sure Wynne and Morrigan both would have gone through a couple of hundred flasks being in the battles with Bell through the Market District and everywhere they had fought. He was sure there was more at their campsite. He had to get the men on their way to secure that campsite. He hated to send them off but it had to be done. Their companions deserved a rest more than anyone. As a traveling war party they had all done more than their share and they deserved the break. He knew that Bell would only trust those that had been in their party to secure their campsite. With luck the retreating darkspawn hadn’t come across the hidden camp; even though their camp wasn’t far from the cities gates.
He was also going to need reports on the retreating darkspawn. They would still fight until they reached the holes that they had climbed out of. How had the darkspawn come to the surface without going through Orzammar? They had to have hidden tunnels, maybe all over Ferelden for all he knew. This was something that would need to be investigated as well. He remembered Morrigan saying they had come from deep within the Kocari Wilds after the battle at Ostagar at Flemeth’s hut. Just myself and Bell, the only Wardens in all of Ferelden and this was something they would have discuss later.
“I need a message sent to Ser Greagoir at the Chantry that I desire his presence on top of Fort Drakon, since he is the Commander of the Templars and he should represent the Templars. I don’t want to burn that dragon without him.”
A Redcliffe soldier stepped forward. He came before Alistair and knelt on his knee before the future king. “Your Highness, with your permission may I do this task? I saw my mother and sister being carried to the Chantry and I didn’t have permission to leave my post. I would like to learn of their condition. I was waiting for permission – for those of us in the lower ranks for orders to stand down. I was waiting to ask permission from my Captain to head to the Chantry to check on their welfare, and to learn if our home still stands.”
Alistair looked down at the soldier kneeling before him. The boy was just a young lad, not long past his age to his majority. He had probably joined Eamon’s garrison to provide for his mother and sister. The lad was covered in blood and gore and it seemed he had fought bravely in the defense of his city.
Alistair reached down and placed his hand on the lad’s shoulder. “I’d be honored for you to carry out this task for me. See to it and once you are done checking on your mother and sister, make sure you return to Arl Eamon’s garrison. Inform Ser Greagoir that I need him as fast as he can get here.”
“I will do as Your Highness commands.”
“Be off with you then young soldier of Redcliffe.”
The young soldier jumped up and with a bow to Alistair he sped off to do as he had been bid.
“Commanders gather your archers and meet me on the roof.”
“Has anyone found Sergeant Kylon and the City Elf Leader? I need to speak with them as soon as possible.” Just as Alistair had spoken, he could see Sergeant Kylon and the City Elf leader walking off the road into the entrance to the Fort’s courtyard.
“Ah, here they come.” It took several minutes for the sergeant and the elf leader to make their way to the King.”
“Your Highness,” both men bowed as they came upon Alistair.
“Happy I am that you both survived, your leadership in the coming days will be most welcome.”
“How can we be of service your Highness?”
“Hahren Valendrian, where are the City Elves currently?”
“Many were able to escape when the Warden Commander defeated the darkspawn within the Alienage. Many of our own Elves being natural bowman helped her defend the Alienage, per her request. Once the battle was over and the chance to escape presented itself, I directed my people to gather just outside of the city gates. Where we saw the army approach. The only reason any City Elves are even alive is due to the gate being down in the Market district when the darkspawn arrived. The Warden Commander saved us, it’s a miracle.”
“Hahren Valendrian, I hate to inform you but the City Elves won’t be allowed back into the Alienage at this time. It is to full of dead darkspawn and the corruption will spread. I do have plans in motion to clean the Alienage of the dead darkspawn. Until the Alienage is cleansed this is the way it has to be for now. Will you be able to make your people understand this?”
“I don’t know Your Highness. They are looking forward to getting back to their homes and getting started on cleaning up from this battle and the damage done in the Alienage during the riots. We have little as it is. Many would like to get home and get to any food that they have stored there.”
“You’re saying that in keeping our people out of our homes at this time is for their own good?”
“Yes, if I allow them back in at this time, many could become sick with the tainted sickness associated with darkspawn, if an elf or any others that we suspect become tainted – then these people will have to be put to death for the greater good. It’s best that they stay out. I’m speaking to you as a Grey Warden and not necessarily as the King. Do you understand what I’m telling you Hahren Valendrian?”
“Yes, with the uttermost clarity, Your Highness.”
“I promise you as soon as the Alienage is cleansed of darkspawn and their bodies destroyed I will try to get the City Elves back to their homes.”
“I must warn you Hahren Valendrian, the situation in the Alienage might be beyond hope, and the conditions within are deplorable at this time; I will not allow any of my subjects to linger in such filth. I can’t in good conscious allow it. I hope you try and make this clear to your people. We are not trying to run them out of the Alienage and that they have no place to go. This is a matter of safety and public health. Once the Alienage is cleaned I will allow them back in.”
“It’s good that your people have a meeting place outside of the city gates to gather. That was very wise. Have your people get fires started and I’ll see about getting some food sent. I can’t promise tents, but I’ll see what I can do. I don’t know if any are available.”
“This is a trying time for us all, and we all must share our resources with one another.”
“Have your people gather on the south side of the North Road, the dwarves will be setting their encampments on the north side.”
“How are relations between the City Elves and the Dalish Elves?”
“Not very well Your Highness, many of the Dalish look down on us.”
“I thought as much, I have a Dalish Emissary here with the Dalish Army, I will speak to him and see if the Dalish will be willing to share their resources and all of you help each other. I’ll also plan to have the docks checked and maybe your people can do some fishing to help provide themselves with food.”
“We’ve done this many times – fishing off of the docks. Fishing would help us supplement our food sources,” replied Valendrian.
“Hopefully, by daybreak we’ll be able to see what shape the docks are in for your people to see if they can catch any fish. I seriously doubt there are very many ships at anchor within the harbor right now. I’m sure there will be room for your people to fish.”
“I’ll see if the Dalish can help with hunting and gathering game to be used in stews to feed this mass of people within the city.”
“I can’t promise everything will run smoothly Hahren Valendrian and it might take a few days to clear the Alienage, but we’ll get it done as soon as we can.”
“I’ll await word from Your Highness when we’ll be allowed back. Is there anything else Your Highness?”
“Yes, Hahren Valendrian, will you please send me five of your archers that helped defend the Alienage and have them meet me on the roof here at Fort Drakon. I’d like to include them to represent the City Elves who fought to help defend our city.”
“When do you need them Your Highness?”
“As fast as they can get here.”
“Your Highness, I will send them along as soon as I get back.”
“Thank you Hahren Valendrian.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.” Valendrian bowed to His Highness and stepped back.
“Sergeant Kylon, a few words Ser.”
“Your Highness how may I assist you?”
“I know you’ve suffered heavy losses, how many men do you have left? I have need of them to guard all entrances to the Alienage. Do you have enough men to handle this job?”
“There are very few guards left within the Denerim Garrison, most of them were killed trying to defend the city before you and the Warden Commander showed up with your army. I do believe I have enough to cover the entrance to the Alienage. It’s my understanding that the other bridge is out to the other entrance. Do you wish for the fallen bridge to be under guard as well in case someone tries to find another way over?”
“Yes, I want both entrances covered.”
“If you feel this will be enough men Sergeant to deal with this task, then yes? Will you have enough for watch changes? If not, then guards from the Redcliffe garrison will be sent to assist you.”
“I have been able to find ten guards thus far and they are slowly making their way back to our barracks, at least the barracks that are left standing. I believe I have enough men to guard the entrances to the Alienage, Your Highness.”
“Sergeant Kylon, let me make myself clear, nobody is to get in or out of the Alienage without my say so. If your men see anyone besides the group I’ll be sending in to start the darkspawn cleanup then these people are to be killed immediately, do you understand?
“Regardless of who they are.”
“Aye, Your Highness, I understand.”
“I’ll be personally entering the Alienage to start on clearing the darkspawn there myself. I’ll let you and your men know so they don’t fire upon me and my men going in. It will be a few hours before we start so you’ll have time to get your people into position. Also, start passing the word around that nobody is to touch the body of any darkspawn. If you or your men see anyone that touches a darkspawn, they need to be detained for observation. The inside of the Fort is in fair order, and there are still cells within in case you need them. If you don’t have enough men or need more guards send word to Arl Guerrin and we’ll get Redcliffe soldiers to help with this task.”
“Also, you and your men can seek medical assistance at the Chantry or at Arl Guerrin’s estate. That will be all Sergeant, I’ll see you in a few hours.”
“Very good Your Highness.”
“Hahren Valendrian, I’m sorry, something just occurred to me. If any of your people are injured they too can seek assistance at the Chantry or Arl Guerrin’s Estate. It might be a good idea to send your women and children to the Chantry for a cup of soup that the lay sisters of the Chantry will try to provide for the people. I’m not sure how much the sisters have so it might be a good idea for you to check with the sister’s on your way back, before sending your women and children. It won’t be much but it might help. If you have any problems, please seek my assistance or send word to Chancellor Guerrin and we’ll try and seek a solution to your problems.”
“That will be all gentlemen.”
Sergeant Kylon and Hahren Valendrian bowed and took their leave.
Alistair slapped Eamon and Teagan on the back. “Let’s go gentlemen; we still have a lot of work to do this night.”
The future King of Ferelden turned and made his way back into Fort Drakon. He would have to stop by and gather their war party; he wanted to check on Bell while he was at it. Their own war party would shot arrows into that dam dragon which still lay on the roof. He couldn’t wait to watch that foul beast burn.