I opened my eyes slowly; the light blinded me even though I could feel the coolness of the room and knew there was no sunlight in my room. Where was my room and whose bed was I in? The flash from killing the Arch Demon still resonated behind my eyes. The pain behind my eyes was sharp with a pronounced throbbing.
I hurt everywhere. I can feel pain in every nerve ending. I wonder how badly I’m actually hurt. Hurt is good, it means I’m actually alive or the fade is playing a horrible joke on me. I moved my left hand feeling the bandage that covered my chest and shoulder. I tried to pull myself up. A very loud gasp escaped my mouth. Holy Maker, my legs were on fire, this also set off another wave of pain inside my head. The pain was traveling over my entire body rippling in waves from my legs to settle behind my eyes. I groaned loud enough to wake the dead.
I heard a door open and a rustle of material. I knew without asking who it was. It was Wynne rushing to my side.
“Bellavalia,” I heard Wynne softly speak my name even though it sent another wave of pain through my head.
My vision was still a bit blury and I didn’t understand why. I most have taken a blow to the head.
“Wynne, where am I?”
I could hear Wynne sit down; I’m guessing there is a stool by my bed. She gently took my hand where she checked my pulse on my wrist. She seemed satisfied with the results that she was checking for. She also reached over and turned my head to look closely into my eyes as she brought her face closer to mine.
“That bad,” I tried to joke. My mouth was so dry.
“Be quiet young lady, while I look you over.” She pulled the covers off of me and I could feel her magic swirl around me. The cool healing magic was a blessing to my body which was on fire from pain. Every nerve throbbed. Her hands hovered over my legs for a long time. The pain wasn’t going away entirely in my legs which could only mean one thing. My legs were badly injured. She brought her hands up and held them over my lower abdomen. I nearly sucked in my breath. She has to know I thought. Has she told Alistair? Maker, I hope not, I thought to myself. Her hands hovered for around a minute over my abdomen, she and I both knew what she was checking for. Her hands continued upward. They also hovered along time over my chest and shoulder. I could feel the healing magic penetrate my body and the tiny fibers of my body react and settle as they slowly knit back together a little more. I had experienced this healing countless times over the year since Wynne joined our little war party. She had truly been a blessing. She moved her hands once again and settles them near my eyes and I could once again feel the coolness. The throbbing behind my eyes eased slightly, it was still there. I felt Wynne’s magic slowly dissolve around me.
“Would you like some water?”
I just nodded yes.
Wynne brought a wooden cup to my lips and I drank deeply as she supported my back lifting me slightly to drink. My mouth and throat was so dry.
“Are you hungry?”
No, I nodded.
“You need to eat something, even if it is to drink some beef or chicken broth.”
“Later,” I managed to croak out.
“I want you to go back to sleep and rest, you’re body will heal quicker with plenty of rest.”
I just nodded that I’d heard her. I still couldn’t see her, there was a white light blinding everything that I tried to view.
“You’re in Fort Drakon on the second level in one of the former soldiers’ bedchambers.” “You’ve been drifting in and out for nearly a week.”
“My injuries, how bad am I hurt?”
“I’m not going to lie to you Bellavalia, you were hurt badly.”
“You’ve multiply factures to your legs and I’m guessing they will take the longest to heal.” “You have a deep burn on your back from an emissary getting you in the back with a bolt of lightning.” “I’m confident your armor protected you.” “It’s still a bad burn.” “You have deep gashes across your chest….” Wynne had paused.
“What else?” I asked, fearing that I had lost my babies.
“Your right breast was nearly torn completely off; Irving and I were able to stitch it back into place.” “You’ll have a nasty reminder of fighting the Arch Demon.” “Your body is covered with lacerations and contusions all over.”
“The good news….you’re alive.”
“How soon until I’m fully healed so I can get up and walk?”
“Are you in a hurry to leave?”
Actually, I was in a hurry. I wanted to leave Denerim as soon as possible and go….where exactly. I had no home to go to. Where did a lone female Grey Warden go? I was alone now; Alistair would no longer be by my side. He belonged to Ferelden now. I belonged where? I just knew that I wanted to get as far away from Alistair as quickly as I could. I knew I never wanted to see him again. I also knew this wasn’t going to be possible, at least not yet. The sooner the better though. I also knew that I had to get to Orlais as soon as possible or get a message sent. The reasons where my own and I wasn’t going to share them with anyone. That was something that I had to do in secret.
I ignored Wynne’s question and asked one of my own.
“The others, they all survived?”
“Yes, Bellavalia, we all made it.”
Relief washed over me to hear this. Ferelden would have her king and Alistair would take the throne.
It’s done Cailan; I achieved what you asked of me.
“The Arch Demon and the blight…it is over?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Only bits and pieces, flashes of what I thought were dreams.”
“I assure you it wasn’t a dream my dear.”
How could I explain to Wynne what had happened to me once I drove the sword through the dragon’s skull? I had no words to even describe what happen. How did I describe to Wynne being suspended in time where I fought for my soul? I remember ramming the sword into the dragon’s head and being swept away into the fade.
My soul had been called forth to do battle. Where each bolt of magic Urthemiel threw at me was tearing my soul apart. I could actually feel my soul being ripped apart as Urthemiel and I fought, to fully defeat him I had to fight him in the fade. I knew exactly where I was too because of the greenish light that surrounded both of us. With each slash of Starfang and Duncan’s dagger we fought. With every bolt that he had hurled from his sword as he struck, I lost more and more blood; he was draining me of my blood slash by slash, and using my own blood against me in the fade. I felt the burn of the taint with each slash of our weapons as we inflicted wounds on each other. He could feel it too. I could tell when he grimaced as I struck. Slash, parry, thrust, block, twist, and turn. With each slash I could feel the rolling burn of the taint flow in my body causing tremendous pain but also giving me tremendous strength and stamina. Without the taint I would have already been dead.
This was a blood magic battle. I remembered his wicked laugh as he taunted me. He was one of the most handsome men that I had ever seen. He almost had a feminine beauty. He was built as a warrior. He is an Arcane Warrior I thought. How is this possible as I swung my dagger to strike at him, while blocking with the other. I was nearly certain if he just spoke with me I’d stop fighting and listen. I was actually being filled with lust for him, not the blood kind either. He laughed as if he could read my thoughts. He was the strongest mage that I had ever encountered and he was a blood mage, there was no doubt. Blood mage, yes he could read my thoughts, he grinned at me.
“No my dear, as much I as I’d like to use you in that way, we will fight with swords, you have proven yourself a worthy opponent against all of the darkspawn I sent to stop you.” “You even killed two of my most powerful generals.” “I was truly impressed.” “Here we are finally, and I’m going to enjoy this.” “I will enjoy being inside your body once I bring you down, and enjoy that handsome blond warrior king of yours once I possess you.” “I know how to feign death too, how do you think I whisked you into the fade?”
I gritted my teeth against his taunt. I was nearly drained of my blood; this is how the Grey Warden dies. He was using my blood to keep himself alive in the fade and in the real world in his dragon form. If I didn’t kill him here in the fade now, I could just imagine the havoc he would heap upon the real world. It was a matter of who was going to strike the killing blow, him or me here in the fade.
He is a shape shifter I thought, just like Morrigan and Flemeth. “Indeed, I am a shape shifter, daughter of Bryce Cousland.” “Ask yourself my dear lady…is Urthemiel a real dragon with human shape shifting abilities or the other way around?” He laughed again as he drove me back. Maker, he was powerful.
“Don’t you use his name to me dear lady, he stuck me under the chin and I fell back.”
We circled each other seeking our next openings.
“So, all of the Gods had a big fight and the Maker got over on you.”
“Something likes that, my dear, alas I can’t tell you the truth, one Old God to another, and our confidences, and you understand I’m sure.”
He changed his tactics.
“You feel that lust growing do you not, that is my lust for you.” “If I wasn’t tainted in the real world and been bound with chains under the earth until the darkspawn freed me, and I still knew my own mind in the real world, Alistair – bastard son of King Maric, would never have had you and betrayed you, I would have taken you for myself.” “I’ve watched you from the fade for a very long time, since your birth actually.” “Your spirit called to me.”
“Hmmm, if that was true, wouldn’t you really be dead by now if you weren’t tainted.” “Oh, that’s right you’re lies won’t work on me, I’m a Grey Warden.” “Also, Alistair isn’t betraying me; he will be doing what is right for Ferelden.”
“You keep telling yourself that,” he sneered.
“Oh dear, you’ve forgotten so soon, I’m a dragon and we live a very, very long time.” “I am alive in your time as we speak, you only saw me in dragon form from your world, not as I actually am here in the fade, the man you are actually fighting.”
I struck him in the leg as I went down to carry forth a cripple strike.
“You little minx, you really are a little wild cat aren’t you?” He jumped back before I could strike back on the upswing as I used all the strength in my legs to stand back upright.
“I love it actually.” “The fire and passion in your soul was wasted on Alistair.” “You need a stronger man, pity you won’t live to find one.”
“It’s been my experience that all blood mages are liars.” I used the tip of my dagger to make my point, slicing down.
“What I wouldn’t give to prove you wrong my dear, alas, we don’t have that kind of time.”
He laughed again as he stuck me across my chest, his sword sinking deep into my flesh and tearing into my breast. That was the worst blow yet.
“The children you and I could have had if you had been born in my time, the thought is causing the blood to pump to my loins.” “If you had been by my side I might have said no to the Council of Archons and denied them the use of my magic and blood to enter the Golden City.”
We both heard an echo of disgruntlement.
“I don’t think somebody liked it that you said that to me.”
“Oh yes my dear, it would have happened.” “Remember my strong, beautiful lady; I’m also a blood mage, not just a dragon.” Driving his point home he drained more of my blood and used it to heal himself.
“So, the Archons tricked a wise all knowing dragon, don’t you feel a bit foolish, they used your own magic against you.” “So, tell me who actually imprisoned you, them or the Maker?”
“How do you know I’m not The Maker or a small piece of him?” “You know the Golden City is blackened and all of that rot.”
He almost had me as I thought it through as he struck another blow to my other arm.
I was getting so weak. Careful old girl, he is trying to distract you while he looks for an opening. Remember your old training master. What did he used to say….only talk with your opponent as a last resort and always maintain eye contact with them.
I remember thinking as I drove him back with a slash to his arm, those that had killed the other Arch Demons gave all of their blood fighting the Archons of Trevinter as well as the dragons, and they had been the ones to cause all of this. The people in Trevinter had worshipped Dragons. He laughed again. “Now, now, you must never ask an Old God such as me to reveal his secrets.” He pressed his advantage and put me on the defensive, forcing me back.
I felt a surge of lust pull at my core as a distraction, the power of it. I wanted to give in to him too; it was stronger than anything that Alistair had made me feel for him. I also knew it was being used to distract me. With Alistair it had been real; with Urthemiel it was only magic. My soul knew it too.
He raised his arm bringing his sword to bare down upon me to cleave, to strike me again, I felt a surge of power come from somewhere and a strange white light pour over us both, I felt the power surge through my body, as I thrust Starfang in my right hand to run him through, something turned Starfang slightly to the right, as if drawn to a place on his chest, someone else was controlling me, to strike that area, who? Morrigan I thought, she has to be guiding me here in the fade, but how? She had known what I needed to strike at and why. I used my other dagger in my left hand to block his strike. His arm was raised and so was mine, his sword and Duncan’s dagger embedded to the hilt. We were body to body; I was close to being done in. He was draining me of the last of my blood. I couldn’t hold him back any longer. If I didn’t hit true, I was going to die, this was the moment. No, it wasn’t his heart but something else; it was a rune of some kind hanging from a pendant around his neck. I realized it was also attached to chains that bound him; the chains were magical in nature. I had been too busy fighting him to notice. I broke the magical rune with my strike. When Starfang connected the rune shattered with extreme force and magic. Blue sparks flew everywhere around us. I felt the magic expand and the blinding white light burst forth. His chains where falling away from him and down around his feet, as the last of my blood was drained from me. I was dying in the fade as I feel to the ground from the force of the rune being destroyed. I felt the burn of the taint leaving me.
I saw a transformation take hold of Urthemiel, he changed and the evil sneer that had marred his features was gone. A peace flooded his features, the blood magic dissolved around us both, then the blinding white light that surrounded me was pulling me back out of the fade, it was Morrigan somehow pulling me back, she didn’t want me to kill him or Urthemiel to kill me, she only wanted me to free him in the fade. I was suspended between the land of the living and the realm of spirit, and I could feel my real body in the real world falling to the floor of Fort Drakon, just as I fell in the fade. I felt my heart stop inside my chest. I could only see Urthemiel standing before me in the fade, looking down at me. Blackness was narrowing my vision, as it crept along.
He smiled at me and told me thank you for freeing him of the blood magic that held him. Urthemiel bent down and lifted me into his lap. My eyes in the real world had been sightless, since I had actually died. I was so cold. I was a heartbeat or two from dying in the fade. Urthemiel reached out his hand to my heart, and healing magic came from him. He surrounded me with magic; my spirit in the fade could feel it. This was more powerful magic than Wynne or Morrigan had knowledge of in the real world. Then I felt the beat of my heart in my chest. I opened my mouth and gasped for air. Urthemiel’s magic had healed me in the fade, and sent me back to the real world. My soul and body were once again united. Urthemiel had used enough magic to keep my heart pumping in the fade, just enough to keep me alive to make it back to the real world. Then blackness overtook me completely.
“Bellavalia,” it was Wynne, she was touching my arm, trying to gain my attention.
“Are you alright?”
I just nodded my head. I was getting sleepy again.
Wynne stood up.
“I’m going to send a message and let Alistair know that you’ve woken up.”
I grabbed her arm to stop her. I looked up at her.
“No Wynne, I don’t want him to know that I’m awake.” “I really don’t want to see him.”
“Bell, he is going to want to know, he told me to send for him right away once you woke up.”
Wynne sat back down, “why not Bell?”
“Wynne, I can’t, I just can’t take seeing him right now.”
“Bell, this isn’t right.” “He is worried sick over you.” “He has come and sat with you each night.”
“I don’t want him near me; he doesn’t need to come here.”
“BELLAVALIA,” it was a stern warning from Wynne. “He is the king and you can’t stop him from coming, he loves you.”
I would have sworn Wynne’s voice was my mother’s if I didn’t know better.
Oh yes I can, I thought, I’m a noblewoman in my own right and I know just how to do it. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when I tell him too. He might be king, but I knew how to play the game. Arl Eamon will fully agree too. Alistair didn’t understand the rules the nobles played by, not yet anyway.
“Really, he had a funny way of showing it, by telling me that we couldn’t be married and he ended our relationship or did you forget?”
“No, I haven’t forgotten, but he might change his mind and you need to give him that chance.” “He is afraid that he will fail as King and he has a lot of pressure on him right now.”
“Awww, the poor royal bastard, I feel for him I really do.”
“Bell you’re being childish.”
I was being childish and I couldn’t seem to help myself.
“Stop making excuses for him Wynne.”
I crossed my arms in agitation. Ouch that hurt, I felt the pain in my breast from my movement and quickly uncrossed my arms.
“Second chance, are you insane Wynne?” “No way in hell, am I giving him a second chance, he made his decision and now both of us have to live with his decision.” “He wants to find his own wife and one to give him children that might not be tainted.” “You heard him say it the same as I did.” “I was good enough to fuck, but that is all and it’s my own fault for falling for him.” “You did warn me.”
Wynne felt a bit of shame surge through her for being a meddling old lady and for being reminded of it now.
“Wynne for once don’t my feelings count?”
“Yes, they do, but this is different.”
“Different,” I gasped.
“He ordered me to stay away from him so he could get over me, he can’t waltz in here and think everything is fine and dandy.” “Do as I say, not as I do, really isn’t working for me.” “I can’t change how I feel.”
“I don’t believe he meant it in that way.”
“HE DID MEAN IT”, I hissed. He meant every word of it.”
“Don’t you dare act Wynne as if you know the depth of our relationship and what it meant to both of us?”
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to imply that I knew more than both of you about your relationship.”
“He wants you to remain friends.”
“That may be something that he wants, but I don’t want a friendship with him.”
“Bell, you’re just hurt, you’ll change your mind later, and I promise this will happen in time.”
“I can’t do it and no it won’t change with time, I’m not you Wynne.” “He is just going to have to get over himself and play by his own set of rules.”
“All I’m asking for Wynne is a bit more time.” “I just need time to mentally and emotionally prepare myself before I see him.”
“I’ll promise that I’ll let you tell him that I’m awake in a few days.”
“I’ll give you a few days Bell, but this is all, I have to tell him.”
“Fine Wynne, a few days are all that I’m asking for.”
“Now, if you don’t’ mind I’d like to go back to sleep and will you please leave my room so I can.”
Wynne nodded, and then she stood up and left my room.
Second chance….not bloody likely I thought to myself as I drifted back to sleep.