Ser Perth guided his horse through the rubble of fallen buildings which was the City of Denerim. He had to go slow so he wouldn’t injure his horse. The horse chewed on the bit between it’s mouth as the horse walked along, side stepping rubble all around as they picked their way through. The horse sensed the need for caution the same as he did. For as far as the eye could see the dead lay everywhere. Elves, Dwarves, and Humans scattered on the ground, with their nemesis the darkspawn. His horse snorted at the smell and shook its massive head. He reached out and gently rubbed the neck of the horse to calm it. He was coming within sight of Fort Drakon. The ride hadn’t been very long. If he had been on foot it would have been another matter.
The Arl had been lucky that most of his horses here in Denerim had made it through the battle. A few had suffered a few injuries from the debris that had fallen on them within the stable from the stone ceiling above, the stables being under the Arl’s estate. A few heifers hadn’t been so lucky. They’d been killed and maimed badly when heavy stone had fallen on them. When he had gone to the stables to saddle up, they were being put down as he rode away.
He guided his horse to turn right which would lead to the courtyard of Fort Drakon. He along with other Redcliffe knights had fought another battle in the Palace District once the Warden Commander had fought her way through. Ser Perth remembered their own battle within the Palace District had been just as fierce with Arl Eamon punching through the darkspawn, trying to make his way to the fort to aid the Warden Commander since he hadn’t wanted His Highness in danger. His Highness had been frantic to reach the fort and find the Warden Commander once the second battle for the gates was over. Ser Perth had fought alongside his Arl, with Bann Teagan ordered to stay behind and protect the King and the rest of Denerim’s citizens at the gates all around the city. While the Arl told the King he would go to the aid of the Warden Commander himself. The First Enchanter of the Circle of Magi had already fought his way inside the fort and had made it to the roof to lend support to the Warden Commander, with the Arl and himself close on his heels. They had heard the horn and members of the Legion of Dead were running right along with them in fighting their way through to reach the Warden Commander since she was already on the roof fighting the Arch Demon. Ser Perth was thankful it was all over, the battle over and victory won. He didn’t envy their new King and the task that lay before him and the rest of the country.
Ser Perth also figured with Arl Eamon possibly becoming Chancellor that he would remain with the Arl in Denerim. Ser Perth was hoping he’d get the chance to go back to Redcliffe for awhile at least. There was a lovely village girl whom he wanted to make sure had survived the blight. Maybe it was time to settle down. He hoped the young lady would have him. After surviving the battle it was time to think on the future. He might ask for leave once the coronation was over. He knew the Arl would grant him leave if it was really necessary. He had meant to talk with the Arl before about asking for the young lady’s hand; but, he hadn’t wanted to say anything to the young lady or the Arl with the future looking so dismal.
He had also taken notice of the beautiful bard that traveled with the Warden Commander. She was a lovely little thing. Yet, she was a bard and probably wouldn’t consider settling with the likes of him. Not to sell himself short, he was a Knight of the Realm. He had saved enough coin to buy a small cottage in Redcliffe, maybe have a child or two that would also go into service to the Arl.
Arl Eamon had been good to him. He was totally devoted to the Arl and his family. He had served the Arl most of his life and he had been born at Redcliffe. He had grown up in Redcliffe the same as their new King and he had played with Alistair as a small child when their duties were done. Fishing and swimming in the small creeks around Redcliffe or running along the many golden fields trying to catch fireflies at dusk. Splashing in mud puddles when it rained, running and sliding on ice in the winter. He’d always liked Alistair and he could never understand why the Arlessa had been so mean to him. Then Alistair had been sent to the chantry, and he’d been so sad to see his boyhood friend forced to leave. Many of the children at Redcliffe had been mean to Alistair but the boy had held his own and stood his ground when he needed too.
Ser Perth and his horse had made it to the entrance road of the fort. He could see other Redcliffe Knights on duty at the entrance and a few from the Denerim garrison. He walked his horse though the debris here. He finally came to a spot where he could tether his horse. He got off of his horse and tied the reins to a pillar at the base of the steps. The horse wasn’t pleased since there was no grass left in the area fit to graze. His horse snorted out his displeasure. Ser Perth patted the horse’s neck again.
“Don’t worry, I won’t be long and you can get back to your stall for your morning oats.” The horse shook his head once more in response.
Ser Perth walked up to the entrance. The other Redcliffe Knights stood at attention and they saluted him, since he was a captain in Arl Eamon’s ranks. He saluted back and walked inside the fort. He knew the Warden Commander’s room was on the second floor. He set out for the long walk inside the fort stepping over the dead as he went. He finally made it to the entrance to the second level and took the stone steps two at a time. He rounded the corner and saw the two Templar guards at the Commander’s door.
They turned to study their intruder ready to go on the defensive. They soon realized who he was, one of Arl Eamon’s Knights of Redcliffe.
Ser Perth crossed his arms over his chest and bowed to them and they returned the gesture. “Good Morrow Ser Templars.” “I’m here on the orders of Arl Eamon.” “I’ve been sent to retrieve one of the mages within the Commander’s room.” “His Highness has an injury that needs to be tended too and He has requested His mage Enchantress Wynne of the Circle of Magi or the First Enchanter Irving.” “I’m of the understanding they are here with the Warden Commander.”
“Wait here,” spoke one of the Templars.
The Templar softly knocked on the door, and then he opened it and went inside.
Ser Perth stood patiently for the man’s return, hopefully with one of the mages he had been sent to retrieve.
Leliana looked up as the Templar stepped into the room and softly shut the door. She stood up and walked over to him. The Templar crossed his arms over his chest and bowed to her. “Yes, Ser Templar, what can I do for you,” she asked.
“My lady, Ser Perth is here to ask that the First Enchanter or Enchantress Wynne of the Circle of Magi return with him to Arl Eamon’s estate.” “It seems that His Highness has an injury that needs healing.”
“Of course, I’ll wake Wynne immediately.”
Wynne and Irving both were already stirring, since the voices had awakened both of them.
“Leliana, what is it?” Wynne had asked the question rubbing sleep from her eyes as she sat up in bed.
“Alistair is injured and he needs healing, Ser Perth is here to take one of you back to Arl Eamon’s estate.”
“Injured?” “Maker’s breath, he didn’t say anything when he was here.” “I suspected he was injured but he had said it wasn’t bad.” “I should have insisted that he allow me to check him over.”
“I’ll go, spoke the First Enchanter. “ “I’ve had more sleep then you Wynne.”
“You know Alistair is going to want one of us to stay here with Bellavalia.” “Are you sure Irving?” “Yes Wynne, I feel a lot better and completely revived.” “I’ve been asleep for several hours.”
“Tell Ser Perth that I’ll be right out.”
The Templar bowed and left the room.
Irving was putting his boots on and searching around for his pack and his staff. Once he had gathered his personal items he left the room to go with Ser Perth.
Bellavalia stirred in her bed. Leliana rushed to her side. Wynne also sprang up from the bed and rushed to Bellavalia’s side. Bellavalia had opened her eyes, they were still white but not like before. Wynne reached out and checked her pulse and checked her eyes. She was still very cold to the touch.
“Easy Bell, it’s all right, you’re safe,” Leliana cooed to her when she took Bell’s hand within her own.
Wynne sat down on the stool beside the bed.
“Bellavalia whispered ever so faintly…Alistair?”
“He is alright child, just a small injury that needs tending.” “He is safe and for the most part unharmed.”
Wynne’s response seemed to be what Bellavalia needed to hear.
Bell turned her head slightly then she slipped back into unconsciousness, as she drifted back under, she had the thought that Alistair, Wynne, and Leliana had made it. Where were the others? Were all of her friends alive? Had she actually killed the Arch Demon and lived or was she in the fade?
“Wynne, why don’t you go back to sleep for a little while longer.” “The rest of us have had more sleep than you.” “If anything happens I’ll awaken you.”
“I think I could use a bit more sleep, wake me if you need me.”
“I will,” whispered Leliana.
Wynne got up from the stool beside Bellavalia’s bed and returned to her own and lay down and went back to sleep. Leliana sat on the stool to take up her vigil once more.
Outside in the hallway the First Enchanter told Ser Perth he was ready to leave with him and both men set out for Arl Eamon’s estate. They came to the Arl’s estate within a short period of time, the horse obviously wanting to get back to his stall for his breakfast. Ser Perth dropped the First Enchanter off at the main entrance. He turned the horse back out of the main entrance to seek the back entrance of the estate for the stable access. If he was lucky he could return to his small room within the barracks and get back to sleep. He was still exhausted from the battle. He had just gotten to sleep when Master Dolan had awakened him. He was sure the horse was eager for his breakfast; the horse was prancing along and happy to be heading back to his stall.
The First Enchanter walked into the entrance and Master Dolan meet him at the door.
“I’m First Enchanter Irving of the Circle of Magi and I’ve been summoned to attend to His Highness.”
“I’m Master Dolan, head butler to the Arl and Arlessa.” “They are expecting you, please follow me.”
Master Dolan led the First Enchanter through the entrance hallway to the grand staircase and led him upstairs where they turned right. He knocked on the door to the room His Highness and the Arl were in.
Arl Eamon bid them enter.
Master Dolan announced the First Enchanter.
“Your Grace, the First Enchanter is here to tend to His Highness.”
“Come in Irving quickly.”
“Master Dolan, will you send up more water for the First Enchanter and more for His Highness.”
“Yes Your Grace, I’ll see it done.”
Master Dolan left the room.
“I hear you’ve an injury Your Highness, that you didn’t bother to tell any us about, let’s see it then.”
Alistair was still sitting within the bathing pool on a stool, with the Arl still pressing a towel to Alistair’s side.
The First Enchanter walked over and took over. He took the towel from the Arl and removed it from Alistair’s side. It was a deep gash and was still bleeding slightly. Alistair was getting pale. It had bled more than Alistair had let on. The First Enchanter probed the wound with his fingers. Hmmm, fairly deep he thought. Alistair flinched at his touch. Hopefully, they had gotten to it in time. Irving was sure if Wynne had been the one to come, His Highness would be getting a lecture in not telling her of his injury.
“I’ll need to disinfect this with an elfroot potion and stitch this up.” “It will be better if you get fresh bath water and bathe the rest of the blood off you with soap and water then we’ll flush the wound out with clear water, then the disinfection solution before I stitch this up.”
“While we wait on the water, here drink this.” Irving took out a flask of health potion from his pack uncorking it and handed this to Alistair.
Alistair drank the liquid down. I’d like to have a sliver for every one of these that I’ve drank down over the past year, he thought.
Elves soon returned with more water for the king. Once again the bathing pool was full of fresh water. Alistair washed himself with Irving and Arl Eamon’s aid. Irving wouldn’t allow him to lower his arm or sit directly in the hot water.
Irving grabbed one of the silver pitchers and told Alistair to lean over in the opposite direction. Irving poured the cooled water directly into the wound. Alistair hissed.
“Maker, that stings.”
If you will Your Highness you can towel off and it would be best if you lie down on the bed so I can stitch this up. Alistair stood and toweled himself dry once again with Irving and Arl Eamon’s help. He was still lightheaded and he wrapped a towel around his loins and tied it around his waist. He stepped out of the bathing pool and went to his bed and lay down on the side that didn’t have the wound under his arm.
Irving grabbed some more towels to mop the excess that would follow pouring the elfroot solution into the wound. He withdrew his surgical tools out of their oil cloth within his pack, laying them on the table next to the bed. Irving unwrapped the surgical tools from the oil cloth, he took the curved needle and with a pair of very long tweezers he walked to the fire and holding the needle with the tweezers he sterilized the needle. Returning to the table beside the bed he laid the needle down on a clean towel. He took out a small flat glass jar with a lid and poured some of the elfroot solution into the flat glass jar. He also took up the thread with the tweezers and placed the thread inside the solution for sterilization. He removed the thread from the solution to dry on the towel. He took another flask and went back to the bathing pool and poured elfroot solution all over his hands.
Coming back to Alistair’s side, he picked up the thread and proceeded to thread the needle, knotting the end. He uncorked another small flask of elfroot and before Alistair could react or tense up he poured the solution directly into the wound.
Alistair nearly comes up off the bed, hissing as he did so.
“Maker! that stung.”
“I’m sure it did Your Highness.”
“Are you ready?”
“Yes, go ahead.”
Irving stitched up Alistair’s’ wound under his arm, while Arl Eamon held his arm up. When Irving was done he took out a fresh health poultice laying it directly over the wound and with clean bandages the elves had brought up he wrapped the wound once Alistair sat back up. Wrapping the material around Alistair’s chest and finally tying it off. Irving
gathered up his surgical supplies and packed them away.
“I’ll need to change this bandage every day until it heals.”
“It’s going to itch like mad, isn’t it?”
“I’m afraid so Your Highness and whatever you do don’t scratch it.”
The conversation that Alistair had with Wynne on the road traveled through his mind about another wound he once had.
Irving also reached up for his staff and he cast a heal spell over Alistair.
“Thank you Irving.”
“You’re most welcome Your Highness.”
There was another knock on the door and another servant came in with the King’s breakfast tray. The tray looked as big as the poor small elf that carried it. The elf set the tray down on the table within the room. He bowed and left the room.
“Alistair, if you don’t mind I’d like to have my morning meeting with my steward and the head butler to hear reports on the condition of the estate.”
“Go ahead Eamon, I’ll eat and get dressed and I’ll see you in a bit.”
“Irving, would you care to join me for breakfast?”
“I’d enjoy that Your Highness.”
Alistair got up from the bed and he looked around for his new clothes; he had been laying on them. They were slightly damp from the elfroot potion. No matter. He grabbed his clothes off of the bed and walked to the screen in the room.
“Go ahead Irving and get started.”
“Thank you Your Highness.”
“Call me Alistair.”
“I’d be honored to do so.”
Irving walked to the table and sat down; he still waited for Alistair to join him. He realized that he was famished.
Alistair found the small clothes actually fit; he was soon pulling up his new dark linen trousers and buttoning his new very white shirt. He walked around the screen and picked up the stool inside the bathing pool and sat it on the floor. He sat down on it and pulled on his new clean socks. This is heaven he thought. Clean socks. He got up and went in search of his boots. He returned to the stool, sitting down he finally had his boots back on and laced up. He ran his hands through his hair, it was still wet. It could wait since it was obvious Irving wasn’t going to eat until he sat down and joined him.
Alistair joined Irving at the table. He lifted the silver lids off of the serving dishes. Holy Maker, the food on the tray, his taste buds were tingling.
Alistair handed Irving a plate and they got started on the spread before them. On the tray was: a large stack of hot cakes, a large dish of scrambled eggs, sausage links, ham slices, toast, and hot porridge with fresh baked bread. Crocks of jam, butter, syrup, and honey rounded everything out with a streaming pot of very hot tea.
“Irving I don’t recall the last time I had really good hot cakes, I think I’ll start with those.”
“I think I’ll have a serving of that myself, laughed Irving.”
Both men filled their plates. Alistair forked up a large bit of hot cakes. Both men offering their approval of the feast with yummy sounds all around, both men laughed. They ate in silence for a time.
Irving was already full with two hot cakes, and a couple of sausage links and a cup of tea. Alistair was still eating, with an amused Irving watching.
“I’ve heard a Warden has a large appetite.” “I’ll be able to say I’ve witnessed this first hand.”
“We do indeed Irving.”
“How is Bell this morning?”
“She was still unconscious when I was summoned and she still hasn’t awakened to my knowledge.”
Alistair frowned slightly.
“Wynne and I will change her bandages later today and see how she is doing.”
“I have a meeting with a few folks this morning with the Arl and I need to head over to the Grey Warden compound here in the city and see if it still stands.” “If it does, you and I will have to get that blood stored there and a guard placed on the compound.”
“I’ll see if I can round up some funnels and flasks to help you.”
“This might be a good project for Wynne while she sits with the Warden Commander.”
“Good idea,” said Alistair as he forked more food into his mouth.” He had nearly finished off the rest of the food on the tray.
“I’ve a favor to ask of you Irving, when Arl Eamon’s son goes to the Circle Tower for his training will you look out for the boy?” “I will consider this a personal favor.”
“Of Course Your Highness, I’d be glad to do so.”
“I’m hoping the boy can stay with his parents until my coronation is over, and then send him.”
“I’ll let Ser Greagoir know your thoughts on the matter Your Highness.”
“Thank you Irving.”
“I wish the Chantry would allow mages within our care the time to visit with family members, under Templar supervision.” “I never thought it was right for the young children especially that are sent to the tower, to not be allowed to see their mother’s again.” “This is something that has always bothered me.”
“When I trained as a Templar Irving, I never thought it was right either.” “Mages are people just like the rest of us.” “I always felt the mages should be allowed visits with their families.” “I’m going to try and make this request to the Divine once I’m crowned and ask that she take this under consideration.” “Even Novice Templars and Lay Sisters are allowed visitors at the Chantry.”
“We both know that Mages can be placed in special hand restraints that would still allow safety for all during possible visitation.” “The reason the Chantry hasn’t allowed this is due to them believing that all mages will try and escape with their families help.” “This isn’t true; you and I both know this.”
“I agree spoke Alistair, while helping himself to the scrambled eggs.
“Many of the mages from the tower are comfortable with the knowledge that the Tower and Templars protect them, such as Wynne.”
“There will always be those that want their freedom.”
“My thought has always been once a mage has passed their harrowing, and had their blood taken for their phylactery they should be allowed to leave the tower to go into service to the crown or other nobles in the realm.” “They should be allowed to open up their own shops for healing and be able to help those in need.” “With a unit of Templars assigned to check on the mage a few times a year to see if all is well.”
“Mages like Uldred hamper our efforts to get the Divine to see these needs.”
“That situation was unfortunate.”
“I’ll always be thankful Your Highness that you and the Warden Commander helped us.” “I don’t believe I’d be alive today if it wasn’t for both of you.”
“Don’t forget Wynne, laughed Alistair.”
“I won’t Your Highness, I’d never forget Wynne.”
Alistair looked over his plate at the First Enchanter. So that is how it is, thought Alistair, the First Enchanter was in love with Wynne. Well he’ll have to get in line to see Wynne’s glorious bosom. Alistair just caught himself before saying so. That would be awkward to explain.
“Might I ask a personal question Your Highness?”
“Sure, go ahead.”
“Do you miss being a Templar?”
“Not in the least Irving.” “I was thankful for my recruitment into the Grey Wardens.” “I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Duncan’s recruitment.” “The Grand Cleric had a hissy fit, which made my day.”
Irving laughed. “I’ll bet it did.”
“You knew Duncan well didn’t you Irving?”
“I did, he was a good man.” “He was always welcome at the Circle.” “I was glad when he found recruits at the tower.” “It is a Mages only chance for any semblance of a normal life to be offered a post with the Grey Wardens.” “They’d at least have a bit of freedom.” “We had one Mage that turned down the opportunity and he regretted his decision his whole life.” “He died when the Circle was under attack by Uldred, one of our finest Senior Enchanters.” “I’ll miss him.”
Alistair and Irving both would have people they were going to miss. Alistair knew he couldn’t dwell on his and Bell’s circumstances.
There was a knock on the door.
“Enter, spoke Alistair.”
In walked the elf servant Rolfe. He was carrying large pieces of Dragon Bone Armor. He bowed to Alistair.
“Your Highness, Arl Eamon has sent this armor for you to wear until the cart from your camp arrives with the rest of your equipment today.” “Your armor from this morning is still being repaired; he figured this would be the suit that would most likely fit you.” “Master Dolan also sent word a basket of foodstuffs is on the way to the fort and the message requested be sent.”
“Thank you Rolfe, just place the armor on the bed.”
“Will you need help Your Highness?”
“No, I can manage, but thank you.”
Alistair stood up and gave the elf another silver piece.
“Rolfe bowed, thank you Highness.”
“You’re welcome Rolfe.”
“Are you finished with your meal Your Highness, I’ll take the tray if you are?”
“Irving are you finished with your meal?”
“I am Alistair and thank you.”
Rolfe went and collected the tray. “If you need anything Your Highness, just ring the bell on the table beside your bed and I’ll be right along to see to anything you need.”
“Alright Rolfe, I’ll do that.” Alistair had no intention of doing any such thing unless it was to order water and wood for his hearth. Alistair would prefer to see to his own needs, he also knew they weren’t going to allow him to do that.
Rolfe carried the tray out the door. Irving also stood and bid Alistair farewell and said he’d see him at the Fort later.
Alistair walked over to the bed and examined the armor. It was one of Eamon’s own suites of armor that he had seen him wear on occasion. It would be a little snug, but it would do. Alistair started getting himself into the armor. Closing buckles and tying laces as he went. He was soon fully dressed. He picked up is swords and shields and made his way out the door to look for the Arl and to speak with the units he wanted sent out this morning. It was going to be another long day.