They all stood and watched as the fire consumed the dragon. The flesh was starting to bubble, leaving ashes to float away into the wind. Everyone on the roof was so quiet. There was relief in the faces of the people all around him, and just like himself, they were all too exhausted to utter a sound. The quiet offered up a slice of peace, even though killing the dragon only offered a short reprieve. There were still darkspawn roaming until they all made it back to the deep roads. At least for Denerim they were on the run back to that hellish place.
I have to get some sleep Alistair thought, just a few hours at the most. He was getting even dizzier and his stomach was rolling, the taint in his blood was rolling like lava. He was going to be deathly sick if he didn’t get off of this roof and away from the dragon. What an odd reaction.
It was hard to gauge the time. Was it morning yet as he gazed at the sky. Hard to tell, the sky was still red from the blood magic and the smoke. Fires still burned throughout the city, nobody doing anything to put them out. Most of the buildings that were on fire will be lost causes, not much to salvage. It was probably best that they burned to the ground. He hoped someone was keeping an eye out and not allowing the fires to spread if they could help it. He’d have to get information on this tomorrow and what was being done.
Alistair decided that going back to Eamon’s estate was going to be too much; he didn’t think he could make it. He’d just bunk in the room with all of his other companions here at the fort. There was one other room down from Bell’s that had a few beds. They could bunk in there if the Arl choose to stay with him. He hoped that Eamon would go home and give him a break. He needed time alone and sleep.
“Eamon, make sure you post soldiers up here to keep that fire going until the flesh from that dragon is completely burned off. Also, tell them to keep their distance as much as they can, and just keep throwing wood on it to burn. I’m going downstairs and find a bunk to collapse in for a few hours.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea Your Highness? Isolde is expecting us.”
“I’m sure Eamon, you and Teagan go on ahead. I’ll see you in the morning; I’ll be by to break my fast and we can get started in the Alienage. Tell all of the units waiting to stand down and we’ll get started a few hours from now with burning the darkspawn in the Alienage and here in the fort. I think all of the troops need to rest. I know that I need a few hours sleep.”
Alistair wasn’t about to tell Eamon he was getting sick with the reaction from the taint and the dragon burning.
Eamon started to protest; but, Alistair beat him before he could say anything and held up his hand to stop Eamon before he spoke.
“Eamon, I’ll be fine, my guard is here and I’ve got my entire group of companions close by, I’ll be fine and perfectly safe. No need to worry.”
“As you wish Your Highness.” Eamon didn’t like it, I could tell. Alistair really didn’t give a damn. I’m not a little boy anymore Eamon, thought the King. Alistair gave Eamon a manly slap on the back in farewell. “I’ll see you both in the morning.”
Teagan was nearly asleep on his feet from fatigue.
“Your Highness,” Teagan bowed as he walked by.
Alistair turned and headed for the lower floors of Fort Drakon. He could hear his guard and the others following him downstairs. He finally came to the door of Bell’s room. “Any problems?” he asked the guards that he had stationed outside her door.
“None Your Highness, all is quiet.”
Alistair knocked, and then he opened the door and went inside.
Wynne was sitting next to Bell’s bed, she looked up when he came in.
“Any change?” Alistair mouthed since Irving was sound to sleep in the other bed in the room.
“None, I’m afraid,” whispered Wynne, looking up at Alistair as he walked over to Bell’s bed. “She is still very cold to the touch. I’m certain it’s due to blood loss, plus what we discussed before. Her eyes are still white but not as bad as before, this is the only change that I’ve noticed. She hasn’t moved at all.”
Alistair walked closer and looked down at Bell. He took his gauntlets off and gently stroked her forehead with his fingertips. Oh Bell, please wake up, all of this won’t matter if you don’t wake up. He sighed deeply. Just for a few minutes, please open your eyes my love.
“Wynne, stretch out next to Irving and get some sleep. Leliana is coming in a few moments and she’ll sit with Bell so you can rest.” Alistair whispered to his favorite mage.
Wynne nodded, she stood up and walked to the other bed in the room which was closer to the door. She eased herself down on the bed, she took her slippers off and gently lay down. She turned on her side away from Irving, and Alistair could tell she was instantly asleep. Poor Wynne, he thought, she is exhausted. It worried him because of her age. She had deep dark circles under her eyes.
Alistair sat down on the stool next to Bell’s bed. He tired to be as quiet as he could. His armor gave off a few clinks as he sat. She was so very pale. He took her hand in his and gently rubbed his thumb across the top of her hand. Her hand had cuts all over it’s surface. Her nails were broken and torn. Alistair slowly brought her hand up and gently kissed it, she was ice cold. He took his other hand and enclosed her hand within both of his and he gently laid his forehead against their hands. His elbows resting on his thighs as he leaned over.
There was a soft knock on the door. His guard stepped in and quietly said, “there is a Mistress Leliana here, she said…she is expected.”
Alistair raised his head and nodded yes.
He saw Leliana walk through the door and his guard softly closed the door behind her. He gently laid Bell’s hand down and stood up as Leliana came closer. She too looked down at Bell and there were tears in her eyes. Alistair could see that she had brought her journal with her and probably what amounted to a very dull piece of lead to write with.
“She is so pale, Alistair.”
“I know Leliana.”
Leliana wrapped her arms around his waist and they both hugged each other for a moment. Alistair released her and stepped back.
“Wynne said there has been no change.”
“If you need any help get Wynne up and come get me if you need too. I’m going to be in the room next door taking a nap. Get Wynne a blanket will you and allow her to sleep as long as she will.”
“I will Alistair.”
Alistair nodded, and then he turned and left the room.
“If there are any problems, I’ll be in this room getting some sleep, when the guard changes have someone get me up.” These were his instructions to his guards before he stepped into the room of his companions.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
It would have been all men in this room except for Shale. Their traveling companions could use a few more hours of sleep, but they’d have to wait until they got back to their camp. He was sure Sten and Oghren wouldn’t mind sleeping in their tents back at camp. Zevran and Shale probably would.
Thor came up to him and nuzzled his hand. He bent down and rubbed the hound behind his ears.
“You ok boy that is a nasty cut above your eye?”
Thor gave Alistair a happy bark, letting him know that he was fine.
“Good to know.” Alistair laughed then he stood up.
“Wynne cleaned the wound and put some salve on it. Sten had to get bossy with him. We think Thor thought she was planning on giving him a bath and he wasn’t having it,” said Zevran. “It was funny to watch actually, that dog can be stubborn when he wants to be.”
“He does need a bath, with all of that blood mated in his fur.”
“Hey, hey now, don’t yell at me, I’m not even going to try and give you a bath.”
Thor gave Alistair a look that said he wasn’t sure he should believe him.
“So Alistair what is this mission you plan on sending us on?”
“I’m really sorry to have to ask this of all of you but it’s necessary. I’m not asking on my behalf but Bell’s.”
Zevran raised his eyebrows and crossed his arms. “Really, do go on Your Highness.” Zevran had replied with a slight sneer in his voice.
Alistair gave Zevran a narrow look. What he wouldn’t give to run his blade through the Antivan; Zevran was probably thinking of doing the same thing to him.
“Well get on with it already, we’d like to get this out of the way and get back to our beauty sleep if you don’t mind,” spoke Oghren.
“Yes, about that, would you guys please go back and get our camp secured? In the morning Zevran will you return to Arl Eamon’s and we’ll get a second wagon to help Bohdan get all of our equipment at camp and get it secured at Arl Eamon’s.”
“Well shit, we all forgot our gear at the camp. Hopefully, we haven’t been robbed blind. “The boss gave me a fine bottle of brew the other night, and I forgot all about that, sure don’t want that to come up missing.”
Sten grunted, probably in agreement that they had all been robbed blind by now.
“Yes Oghren, I’d like all of you to get back there right away and take Thor with you. Shale and him can pull guard duty outside you’re tents once you get back. After a few more hours of shut eye get up and start dismantling camp.”
“Ok, who is in charge?”
“I’m sure you guys can figure that out on your own.”
Sten grunted again and rolled his eyes.
“Yup, I suppose we can.”
“Grab your gear and let’s get going, the faster we get there, the faster we can get some sleep.” Oghren was grumbling under his breath.
“One more thing, if you will.”
“What now,” sassed Oghren?
“Keep your eyes out for any escaping darkspawn and pay attention to the conditions around the city and to the army. I’m going to need some eyes on the ground. Oghren make sure you pay attention to any heraldry that might be out of place within the ranks, and if you guys would make a note of who fought in this battle alongside us.”
“Seeing who showed up to support us, right?”
“Exactly, and who supported Bell as well, don’t forget she still has enemies out there since we don’t know who might have been in cohorts with Howe. Keep your eyes open.”
All of them nodded in understanding.
“Guys, be careful, if anything happens to any of you, she will be greatly grieved when she wakes up to find out you got killed after surviving the battle.”
“Let’s go then,” grunted Sten.
“Wait, Zevran, I’d like you stay here and remain in the shadows out in the hall. Leliana is sitting with Bell now, as I’m sure you know.”
“You want to make sure nobody is slinking around to get access to Bell? You think trouble is on the horizon since she can’t defend herself right now.”
Alistair nodded his head in the affirmative.
“Yes, I see the wisdom in this. Very well, I will watch her room from the shadows.”
“Leliana does have daggers on her, even hidden. She was sure the guards might not let her through the door if they could see them. I’ll also bet money they didn’t check Leliana to see if she has any weapons on her.”
Alistair blinked at Zevran. Zevran was probably right. “Zevran, make sure the Templar guards don’t see you. They won’t like it if they spot you.”
“As you say, I will keep watch from the shadows.” Zevran snorted, as if they would see him.
“I think we need to remain vigilant where her safety is concerned. Anora hasn’t been dealt with and I’m still uncertain what to do with her. I’ve got my Templar guards from the Chantry to help protect and guard me; but, Bell has only all of us. Once we get Bell moved to Eamon’s estate it won’t be as hard to protect her.”
“Yes, well good ideal actually.” Zevran had to agree with Alistair. He should have thought of this himself. He was going to have to go back to his old Crow ways, he was getting soft.
Alistair watched as all of them picked up their swords and packs and left to go back to their camp and for Zevran to go on guard duty out in the hall, to back up the Templar guards. Alistair shut the heavy ironbark door behind them.
Finally, he was alone. His legs shook from fatigue and dizziness he was experiencing. He reached behind him and unstrapped his sheaths and released his shields and swords off of his back. Maker that felt good. Now which bunk to catch a few hours of sleep? He knew that Oghren had been in one of the lower ones. No way was he getting in that one. He’d probably pissed in it.
Alistair sat down on the edge of a bunk, the one back against the wall from the door. He took his father’s sword and the blade called Topsider’s Honor and placed them on the floor just within hand’s reach under the bed. He also unstrapped the dagger from his side and placed this under the pillow. He leaned Duncan’s shield and the Redcliffe Elite shield against the wall next to the bunk, along with Bell’s sword Starfang and Duncan’s dagger that she had used.
He finally got all of his armor off and placed this on the floor except for the breastplate. He still held this in his hands. His brother’s armor, rubbing his hand over the piece in a circular motion, he couldn’t help but not think of Cailan. He had so wanted to end the blight. He finally placed the breastplate on the floor with the other pieces. He removed all of the under padding. He’d stripped down to his linen shirt and kept his heavy linen trousers on. He took his boots off and his wet sweaty socks. He wiggled his toes to get some circulation back into them. His feet and ankles hurt terribly. He was as bruised and battered as everyone else. He would have to get Wynne to sew up a few wounds on his body. They had stopped bleeding; he didn’t want to remove the rest of his clothes until he climbed into a tub of water to loosen them first. They were stuck to his body with his blood now dried.
He’d always had weak ankles since he had jumped out of the hayloft when he was a kid and sprained his ankles. He’d gotten his ass busted for that too, nothing like a sore ass and sore ankles all on the same day. He’d done it on a dare.
There was a light soldier’s blanket at the foot of the bed, he grabbed it opening the blanket and spread it over himself. He laid down, with one arm over his stomach and the other over his eyes.
The tears finally came.
We did it Duncan, we finally ended the blight.
This was his last thought before drifting off to sleep.