A Message I Want To Hear About

“Your Highness,” I have a message for you from Enchantress Wynne.

Master Dolan handed Alistair the message that Wynne had sent to him.  His hand shook just slightly when reaching out for the scroll.  He knew before he unrolled the scroll that it had to be about Bell.  Thank the Maker, she had finally awakened.  It had been two weeks.

Alistair unrolled the scroll and read the simple message.

She’s back with us.

This is all that the small scroll said.  Relief washed over him.  Finally, he thought.

“Master Dolan, please have my armor sent for.”  “Also, inform the Arl I’ll be heading to Fort Drakon for the morning and to cancel all of my appointments for the morning.”

“Very good Your Highness.”

“Has Teyrn Cousland returned yet?”

“Not that I’m aware, I’ll send him to you once he returns.” 

“That won’t be necessary, just tell him that his sister has awaken at the Fort.”  “I’m sure he’ll want to see her right away.” 

Alistair waved his hand.  “That will be all Master Dolan.”

“Of Course Your Highness.”

Alistair got up from the desk in his room where he had been studying the proposal that had been drawn up for Bell to become the Commander of the Grey here in Ferelden.  

He walked to the window and looked out over the city.  A lot of progress had been made in two weeks. The dead had been dealt with and the elves were now back in the Alienage.  He really didn’t want them back in the Alienage; he had wanted to burn the place to the ground.  Eamon had told him it was for the best and to leave things as they were for now.  They really didn’t have anywhere to house the elves at this point.  Eamon had totally rejected the idea of moving them to the Arl of Denerim’s estate. 

It had taken a bit of time to clean the Alienage and Palace District of darkspawn and the dead.  Slowly, but surely the city was getting back to normal.  Well as normal as it could since the battle.  At least there wasn’t any dead lying in the streets now.  It had been a hellish two weeks for everyone.   The harbor was open and ships were once again arriving with trade flowing.

There had been a constant convoy of wagons bringing supplies from the Dalish camp, and Redcliffe.  Dwarves from every clan and their wagons were clogging the roads returning to Orzammar or coming from Orzammar bringing fresh replacements soldiers and to take their dead home to bury them in the stone. 

Behlen had also sent word asking for him to be in attendance to honor the dead of Orzammar once Alistair was crowned King; for Alistair to attend to represent Ferelden.  He had agreed.   Behlen would be coming here for his coronation.  Keeper Lanaya had arrived yesterday and she had decided to stay with the Dalish camped outside the city gates.   Eamon had offered a room at this estate and Alistair was sure from Isolde’s nasty look this was the reason that Lanaya had declined.  The Keeper would plant a tree for the Dalish and City Elves in the new burial ground for the elves who had died during the battle just outside the city gates.   He planned on attending this ceremony as well.

The Dalish Keeper had been very upset to find out that Bell had been injured so badly and she hoped she would be able to see the Hero of Ferelden very soon.  She had also offered any healing magic that might be required to aid the Hero of Ferelden or anyone else in the city who was in need.   I had assured her that Bell was being well cared for and Lanaya would be able to see Bell soon. 

 I had introduced Keeper Lanaya to the Hahren Valendrian.  I knew that Lanaya was being kept busy in the Alienage with the injured and sick elves there.   She was probably the first proper healer the city elves had seen in years.  He had his fingers crossed that they would take advantage of her kindness.   I had also warned her to be careful in using her healing magic within the city because of the Templars.  She had assured me she would only use her healing magic inside a dwelling. 

Alistair had come up with the idea to give the Grey Wardens a permanent base here in Ferelden.  He was going to give them Arl Howe’s old keep, The Vigil.  Bell would become the Commander of the Grey there.  He wanted her close yet they still needed distance.  He felt the Grey Warden Denerim compound was too close and might be too much of a temptation for him with her being so near.   He also knew Bell well enough that she would run if given the chance.   Deep in his heart he knew it.  At least the Vigil was close to Denerim.  Only a couple of days ride, three at the most in case he wanted to visit her there.   He also knew that Eamon would frown on this.  She would be out of sight from Eamon this way.   He also knew she would figure out that it was Eamon and Riordan both who had told him he had to break off his relationship with her, since he was to be crowned king.

The crown would also give a handsome amount of gold for the order to be rebuilt in Ferelden.  Thanks to Loghain they had found the gold from the sale of the elves sold into slavery.   Loghain hadn’t had time to use this money to hire more mercenaries.  He and Eamon had come to the conclusion that Loghain had filled the ranks of Gwaren and the Arl of Denerim’s estate with these men, making them actual soldiers for Ferelden.  They had also discovered from papers found from the palace many of these mercenaries had been hired from the Free Marches.   Luckily, many of them had died during the Battle of Denerim.  It was a terrible thing for him to think, yet for Ferelden security he was glad.  Maker forgive him for his thoughts. 

Other papers were uncovered from the palace once it had been sweep clean of darkspawn and something very revealing had been uncovered.  Loghain’s soldiers, many of them from Gwaren had run away from the service of the Teyrn when he had turned his back on Cailan at Ostagar.  This had been the reason that Loghain had to hire mercenaries to refill his ranks.   Especially, when the rest of Ferelden had also not fell into line with Loghain when he made himself regent or when Anora appointed her father as regent.  He and Eamon both were still unclear how this happened.   The civil war had cost Loghain more than he ever let on.  Eamon and I had been shocked to discover this.  Ser Cauthrien had been ordered to kill any of these soldiers if she ran across any of them. 

Teyrn Cousland was in the process right this minute of getting rid of more mercenaries that had been housed at the Cousland Estate here in Denerim.  Bann Teagan, Bann Alfstanna, and the Bann of Dragon’s Peak with their soldiers were also involved in removing these men permanently from the Cousland Estate.   Each Bann had been eager to the remove the stain that Loghain had left on Ferelden with these men.   His orders had been if these men fought, then they were to be killed without mercy.   If any laid down their weapons they would be escorted out of the country with Teyrn Cousland seeing them off to their boats personally.    Fergus had been pleased to fulfill this mission for the crown.   

All of these Banns would also escort Fergus home to Highever and help him secure Highever.   There was no telling what would be found at Highever.  Alistair had no idea if more of Howe’s men were at Highever.  It was likely that many of these men were still there.  None of Howe’s men had fought in the blight from the reports that Eamon and I were hearing.  Oghren, Leliana, and Zevran had not spotted any Howe heraldry.  They had been on the lookout as they shopped and played in the city which had been their mission.  Even Sten had been on the lookout for the Howe colors once they were described to him when he took Thor out.  

He’d wanted to secure Highever himself.   The City of Denerim had been more important and in need of his help than Highever.  He wanted to do this for Bell before she arrived back at her home.  He was also curious about Highever and what it looked like.  He knew Highever had a large port and was important to Ferelden due to the sea traffic and shipment of goods.  He also knew the castle wasn’t very far from some of the highest cliffs in Ferelden outside of the Frost Backs.  The castle was also very old and was open to the elements and various parts of it were connected by massive walkways.   He also wanted to see it for this reason.

Sten, Oghren, Thor, Leliana, and Zevran were also having a bit of fun helping Fergus remove these men from the Cousland property here in the city.   Zevran and Leliana had figured out the men were inside the Cousland Estate and had been sneaking out at night to rob those on the streets that were only trying to survive.   These mercenaries didn’t have much choice since both of their benefactors had gone to their deaths by Bell’s hand.

Something that bothered Alistair was the fact that Bell had never once mentioned that her family had an estate here in Denerim.  She had kept this information to herself.  Why had she done this?  This was something that he wished to ask her.   It was also odd that Eamon had also not mentioned this.

Alistair was going to have a longer wait in finding out what was going on at Gwaren.  He had sent soldiers out this morning for them to secure Gwaren.   Since Anora was under arrest and with Loghain dead, they had no idea what was happening at Gwaren.    In three weeks time and after his coronation, he and Eamon both would be traveling to Gwaren to search the large property and see if they could uncover any more information on why Loghain had betrayed Cailan.   A whole battalion was on its way to Gwaren right now, they would be traveling under the new king’s colors, a sunburst similar to the Chantry.   His heraldry as King would still be the Royal House of Theirin.  He still didn’t understand why he needed all of this heraldry.  Ser Perth was in charge of this battalion.  Their orders were to secure the Teynir and help any survivors since the blight had destroyed so much of the south.   These areas were now being called the blight lands by survivors.    A small group of soldiers from this battalion were also to check the area of Lothering and search for more survivors. They were to also check the conditions of the King’s highway and other areas and report back.  He didn’t expect a report until just before his scheduled trip. 

Alistair had also heard from the units that he had sent out with his instructions and they were making progress and his orders were being followed in the burning of the darkspawn by his country.  The Orlesian wardens had also helped with this job for the City of Denerim.  This freed others up for the task of dismantling the various buildings that had been damaged in the battle.  Things were starting to look up for the city, which he was thankful for.   

He still didn’t have any word on Goldana and her children.  This worried him.  He would still help her if he could, even if she was a shrew.  He also knew that Eamon was going to be against this.  Alistair didn’t plan on telling him.    He was sure Leliana would help with this, if he got any word on Goldana’s whereabouts.  Her home had been totally destroyed.  As of yet, the debris still hadn’t been checked for any bodies.   Leliana had promised she would watch for this when it happened with the residence and she would be close by in case any bodies were found to let him know. 

“I hear our Hero is awake.”  It was Eamon; he had come in while I had been lost in thought.

“She is, and as soon as my armor gets here I’ll be leaving to go see her.”

Eamon knew keeping His Highness away from Bellavalia wouldn’t be wise and it was better to get it over with.   Alistair had been so worried about Commander Cousland, and he had spent several nights at her side guarding her while she was unconscious.   Eamon hoped one day Alistair would be able to move on and get over her.  Once she was moved to Highever and when she took her command of the Wardens this would help keep them apart.   Alistair would have enough on his plate to keep him busy once he was crowned King of Ferelden.  With any luck he would find someone new and soon be married and with heirs for the Kingdom soon to follow. 

“Are the details on the proposal for the new Warden base to your liking?”

“Bell is going to need a smith and I have someone in mind for this job.”  “I’d like to offer Master Wade a chance to rebuild and I think paying him to go to the Vigil will be just the thing.”   “It will ease my mind that she has a good armor master there.”   “For the most part the details have been worked out and I’ll get this signed once I’m crowned, and Kristoff can get this sent to the First Warden.”   “She is also going to need healing mages.”  “I’ve yet to think of a solution to this so the chantry won’t feel I’m stepping on any toes?”  “I was going to wait until she decides how she wants to handle this.”

“I think it might be better for her to deal with the Chantry on this issue instead of involving you.”

Alistair already knew that Eamon would see it this way.  He guessed he really couldn’t argue the point and it was best if he stirred clear of the Grand Cleric for now.

What he didn’t like was the First Warden insisting on his own hand appointed administrators.   It seemed like a slap in Bell’s face after what she had accomplished.  The First Warden wouldn’t bend on this issue.  He had wanted Bell to appoint her own staff and make her own discussions.   Maybe it was just the difference of how Duncan had run things.  He had done his best for her.

“Ferelden will pay the Wardens a monthly income of 200 gold sovereigns. “  “Bell can break this down how she sees fit for her wardens and the supplies for the Vigil.”  “If I know Bell, they won’t have any problems with supplies.”  “The two carts full of armor and equipment here is proof enough she is very resourceful.”  “She will also have the income from her Arling as well.” 

“I think it would be a good idea for the Wardens to travel with Fergus and Bell.”  “They can stay a few nights at Highever and then travel on to the Vigil.” “They should have six months to get the place into order before her arrival.”  “This will give her enough time to recuperate before she takes her command.”

 “Don’t you think Alistair it would be wise for some of my troops to go with them?” 

“No Eamon that won’t be necessary.”  “Howe’s men won’t stand a chance against Wardens if they try to stop Wardens from securing the Vigil.”  “Remember Eamon, Wardens are elite fighters, they are the best in all of Thedas.”  “I think it would be wise to send a group of your soldiers with Fergus to secure Highever and make sure all of Howe’s men are gone from Highever.”  “They won’t be needed at the Vigil.” 

“Have we had any word yet on the rest of the Howe family and where they might be?”  “Not yet, once I have word on their whereabouts I’ll let you know.”  “I do believe the oldest son was killed in the Battle of Denerim, this has been confirmed.”   “This leaves the younger son and the middle daughter.”  “I have no information yet on their mother and what has happened to her.”  “I do know that the former Arlessa, her family was from Kirkwall in the Free Marches.”  “The younger son was sent for his training in Kirkwall to an uncle there I believe.”  “Nathaniel is his name, and he is the one that we most likely need to watch out for.”   “The wife’s family I’m told by Isolde was filthy rich.”

“Which suggests that he might have unlimited resources at his disposal to harm Bell if he chooses to go this route.”

“He might, we’re not certain at this point.”  “It’s been years since I’ve seen the lad; I always got the impression him and his father never got on that well.”  “Rendon was always very hard on the boy and his heir Thomas was rumored to be a drunk.”

Master Dolan came in with a servant bringing the King’s armor that had been repaired.  It was nice and clean and very shiny.   Master Dolan and his servant helped Alistair into his armor and got him strapped in.   This was the blood dragon armor set.   Alistair would see to it that this armor was returned to Bell since she had paid for it.  The other armor sets that they had used and traveled with were also being repaired.  Alistair could not believe how much equipment she had actually amassed.  There were two full wagons of their camp equipment.  This didn’t include all of the equipment that she had sold along the way.  Eamon had been astounded when he saw the wagons.  Eamon had joked that if she got the Arling up north secured she could open her own armor shop.  Alistair agreed with Eamon.  

“Your personal guard is waiting outside Your Highness; they are ready when you are.”

“Thank you Master Dolan, I’ll be on my way shortly.”

Master Dolan and his servant bowed and left the room.

“Eamon, I should be back before the afternoon meal.”  “I’ll see you then.”

“Give the commander my best wishes for a full recovery.”

“I will Eamon.”

Eamon watched as Alistair confidently strolled down the large hallway to the stairway.

Many of Eamon’s servants bowed to him as he walked along, making his way to the main entrance of the large estate.  He came to the main doors and the guards opened the door for him and he stepped out into beautiful sunshine.   It was wonderful to be outside in the fresh air.   Alistair took a deep breath.  It was also good to see children running around playing in the market district off in the distance.  He smiled to himself.  Ferelden was full of amazing people.  They were already getting on with rebuilding their lives and businesses.   His people were strong and they were also a proud lot.

His personal royal guards came to attention and the coronets on the battlements sounded.   All of this still gave him a strange feeling and was still difficult to get accustomed too.  He placed his helmet on his head and walked to Ser Allen.  The man turned into step with him and they were off.  Those in the market district all bowed to him as he walked by.   There were twelve guards in total along with Ser Allen and himself. 

“You wished to walk Your Highness?” 

“Yes, I’m used to being outside, not stuck inside all the time.”  “I haven’t ridden since I grew up at Redcliffe.”  “Eamon has already made arrangements for me to have lessons to renew my skills.”  “I’m actually looking forward to this.”  “I always enjoyed being in the stables with the horses when I was young and with the war hounds of the Arl’s.”   “I was around the horses a lot and really enjoyed my time in the stables.”  Alistair didn’t offer that he had been sent to the stables to sleep there under the care of the Master of the Horse for Eamon.  At least this had given him some freedom away from Isolde at the time.

“We’re going to Fort Drakon Your Highness?”

“Yes, Allen, this is my destination and I think we’ll stop by the Alienage on our way back to see how things are moving along there.”

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, Your Highness, in case you haven’t noticed, there are Master Archers following our progress in case there is an assassination attempt on your life.”  “When we reach the fort I’ll have more sent to the roofs of the Alienage.”  “We will have guards watching from above anytime you are out and about in the city.”

“Oh.”  Was all Alistair could think to say to any notion of an assassination attempt.  He wasn’t used to all of this.  He was used to being a free man walking around at will and doing his own thing or as close to his own thing as a Templar and Grey Warden were allowed to do.  This new concept was rather unnerving.  This meant he wouldn’t be able to just walk outside now and go on his merry way whenever he liked.  It seemed a lot was involved with his security, more so than he first realized.

“So I need to inform you where I’m going when leaving Arl Eamon’s and soon the Palace itself?”

“Yes, Your Highness, I’m afraid so.”

“It’s also my duty to inform the Knight Commander of Denerim that you will be walking or riding through the city so they can alert the city guard and have their archers on the battlements also watching your progress to help keep you safe.”

“I see.”

Alistair rounded the corner of the market district stalls and came to Master Wade’s armor stand.  He saw Wade working away at his forge.  Herren was busy setting a new armor piece upon a display stand. 

Alistair cleared his throat to alert Herren that he had a customer. 

Herren turned around and he bowed to Alistair.

“Good morning Your Highness.”

“Good morning Herren.”  “How is business?”

“I’m happy to say that business is booming Your Highness.”  “We’ve more work coming in everyday with everyone getting their weapons repaired and buying new equipment.”

Alistair could hear Wade over at the forge fussing about something to do with rust droppings.  Alistair smiled.

“Master Herren, is it possible for you and Wade to meet with me at the Arl’s Estate this evening, around the seventh bell of the evening?”  “I have a business deal for you and I’d like to discuss this.”

“We’ll be there, have no fear Your Highness.”  “We won’t turn down any business sent our way so that we can have the funds to rebuild.”  “Seven it is Your Highness.”

“I’ll leave word with Eamon’s head butler you will be arriving for a meeting with me, just tell the gate guards you are expected.”  “I’ll see you this evening.”  “Good day Master Herren.”

“Good day Your Highness.”

Well everything was moving along as he had hoped for.  Soon all of the arrangements for getting the Vigil up and running would be done and then it would be on to the next task of getting his kingdom rebuilt.  That task will likely take years and his first step will be to ride through his kingdom and see the damage for himself and determine the best course of action for his country.  This task would take months if not a full year to determine the damage to the entire country.  The second stop planned on his progress through the country would be Highever.  He wanted to give Fergus and Bell time to mourn their family and then he would make the trip.  He really wanted to see Bell’s home and where she had hailed from.  He also wanted to see Highever because of Duncan too.  Duncan had told him his father had been from Highever.   He thought Riordan had also mentioned that he was from Highever too. 

Alistair and his party were soon nearing the Fort after a good long walk.  He could see the soldiers that were stationed here going about their daily activities.   Some were drilling and some working on the clean up still being done at the fort.  There were dwarven engineers working and drawing up plans to get the needed repairs started on the fort where the Arch Demon had burned and completely destroyed several towers.   He was waiting on their recommendations for the rebuilding of the Fort, Palace, and the bridge to the Alienage.   The back part of the palace had been heavily damaged.   The Landsmeet hall had very little damage done to it and it was still standing.  It was going to need to be cleaned from the small fires and soot that had drifted through it. 

There was a blare of trumpets sounding from the battlements and the massive gate to the entrance of the fort was opened as his arrival was announced.  All within stood at attention and as one they all bowed to their future king.   Alistair and his party walked on to the main entrance of the Fort.   He had ordered the main gates to the fort closed and all entering and leaving had to go through the guard gate.  He had done this to help with Bell’s security.

The courtyard had finally been cleaned and the bones of the drakes that Bell and her party had killed during the battle were now gone.  Piles of dirt and new stone pavers were being delivered for the repairs of the courtyard.  Dwarven engineers were busy surveying the courtyard and taking notes. 

The Knight Commander of Fort Drakon came out of his office to greet Alistair and his party on the portico of the fort.  The man was newly appointed since he and Bell had killed the other commander during their escape from the fort.  The other commanders were all dead from the battle with the darkspawn that had taken place here.   Alistair had been sorry in killing the man and his soldiers.  They’d had no choice in the matter.   The commander would have killed him and Bell.  It was a matter of life and death.

Commander Rader bowed to Alistair.  “Good morning, Your Highness.”

“Good morning Commander, how goes everything here at the fort?”

“We’re making very good progress in the cleanup.”  “The soldier’s barracks are nearly all back in order and the cells cleaned out.”  “All of the dead have been dealt with and the religious rites given.”  “The kitchens in the basements have been cleaned.”  “They are up and running with supplies from various merchants being delivered daily.”   “The water system is running well with the aid of the dwarven engineers.”  “It won’t be fully operational until parts of the fort are repaired but we’re making due.”

“We’re still working on getting the files back into place so our records will be accurate.”  “I’m really uncertain at this point how many prisoners were housed here before the battle and what actually happened to these men and women.”  “We didn’t find any in the various cell blocks.”  “I’m going to assume they were let out to fight during the battle and given the chance to fight for their lives.”  “It’s going to take some time until I have the records back in order and have a report for you.”  “The Grand Cleric has sent members of her own staff to help with this due to the chantry that is here inside the fort.”  “They are helping with their own records and we’ve got a combined effort going on.”   

 “Take your time Commander, I want accuracy, not a rush job.”

“Of Course Your Highness, it will be done with the utmost care.”

“I’m sorry to be the one to inform you; but, the Revered Mother for the Fort was killed during the battle and the Grand Cleric of Ferelden will need to appoint someone new once the chantry is back in operations here at the fort.”  “I’m sure there will be a ceremony of some kind to reopen the chantry.”

“I didn’t know that she had been killed, thank you for telling me.”  “I’ll have to pay my respects to the sisters and the Chantry.”

“The roof is still secured?”

“Yes, Your Highness it is and guards are still posted at the entrances to the roof and only the Grey Wardens have been allowed on the roof per your instructions.”

“Once the Wardens and I decide what to do with the dragon’s carcass on the roof I’ll let you know so that you can be prepared to assist them if the need arises.”

“As you say, Your Highness.”

“Just so you know Commander we’re actually waiting on instructions from our order on what the First Warden wants done with the carcass.”  “It will take time for communications to be sent back and forth.” “I’m going to assume the carcass will be crated up and sent to the main headquarters of the Wardens in the Anderfels for their scholars to study the bones.”   “Guards will need to stay on duty at the entrances to the roof until I’ve news on what needs to be done.”

“Of course Your Highness.”

“Is there anything that you need Commander or anything that I can do for you?”

“No Your Highness, nothing that comes to mind at this time.” 

“If you need anything send a message to Arl Eamon and we will see that you have what you need.”

“I’m on my way to visit with the Warden Commander.”  “I’ll be on the second floor if anyone needs me.”

“Very well Your Highness.” Before Rader could bow the king was already on his way through the fort.

 Well His Highness certainly didn’t let grass grew under his feet.   His Highness had dismissed him just that fast.  Rader knew His Highness was just eager to check on the Warden Commander and if the rumors were true, the commander was the lover of their future king.  Rader could forgive the man his rudeness.   If she was his lady, he’d be making haste himself.  Rader chuckled to himself.

Alistair and his party moved on with the commander of the fort looking after them.

Well that was odd, thought Rader.  Never in all of his years of service to various nobles had he been asked if he needed anything by any of them.  Maybe there was hope for a common man and soldier such as himself with their new king in charge.   Since the Arl of Denerim couldn’t be found he had been told to report to Arl Eamon and he had done so.  The Arl had instructed him to send a weekly report to the King to keep him updated on the progress at the Fort.   He really hadn’t had a chance to get a report ready and it had been unnecessary since his Highness was here at the Fort often checking on the Warden Commander. 

Rader returned to his office.  Every surface of his office was covered in paperwork that had been collected throughout the fort sorted in various piles.  It would take him days to come up with a file system and get all the paperwork back into some type of order.  More paperwork was arriving by the hour with supplies being delivered.     He also had prisoners arriving and their paperwork to deal with.   Captain Kylon was doing his duty keeping the rift raft off of the streets.   Good man Kylon, he looked forward to working with him. 

Alistair had made it to the second floor with this entourage in tow.  He spied Wynne bending over a kettle checking the fire underneath and he saw her add a few more coals to the cooking brazier.  She was probably making herself a cup of her favorite tea. 

Wynne heard the guards and soldiers on duty behind her come to attention and she knew without turning that Alistair had arrived to visit Bell.  This was going to be interesting she thought. 

“Would you like a cup of tea Alistair?”

This would give Alistair a chance to calm himself before going in to visit with Bell.  Wynne also knew Alistair would want an update on her condition.  Since he hadn’t been here himself in the last few days, and it was apparent that Arl Eamon was keeping him busy with duties to the Kingdom. 

Alistair walked over and seated himself at the table that had been set up and his guards took up residence along the walls.  The Wardens on duty outside of Bells’ door bowed to him as well.  

“Enjoy a cup of tea with my almost grandmother and spend some time in her company?”  “Yes, I believe I’d enjoy both.”

Wynne smiled at him.  “You like honey and cream both.”

“You remembered?”

“Well of course I did, don’t be silly.”

Alistair watched as Wynne set about making their tea and to his surprise she gathered a small plate and filled this with cookies and set them before him.  He looked up at her with a big grin on his face.

“How in the world did you hide these from Sten?”  He asked as he reached for some cookies.  Yay, these were shortbread cookies too, one of his favorites.   He started munching away.   The buttery taste of the cookies melting on his tongue as he savored their flavor was heaven to him.   Leave it Wynne to think of such a thing. 

 Bell used to do things like this for him too.  She’d surprise him with a special treat in their tent sometimes.  Something she would buy from a stall just for him and her to share.  Cheese, crackers, and a stoneware bottle of ale when she could sneak it past Oghren.   This didn’t happen a lot, but when she had a little extra coin she would make the effort.   It was times like those that he would miss the most.  Those special times shared just between her and him, shared alone together in her tent.  They would giggle like two naughty children with a tremendous secret. 

“Well it wasn’t easy, let me tell you.”  Wynne had come and set down at the table with him and brought their hot steaming tea mugs.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t.”   “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone with a sweet tooth like Sten.”  “He told us they had no such food in Seheron.”  “We should pity them for that alone, no cookies; I couldn’t imagine life without them.”

“Nor I,” said Wynne as she sipped her tea.

“Did you have sweets in the Chantry often Alistair?”

“On special high feast days we would each get one cookie or small square of cake.”  “We’d all take our time eating our special treat to make it last.”   “We didn’t get them that often.”   “I’d always save mine and eat it just before going to sleep.”  “Sometimes it was the only thing that I had to look forward too.”

“What about you Wynne at the Circle?”

“I guess we were luckier than most Circles in Thedas.”  “Our tranquil always made fresh-baked goods on a daily basis for our meals.”   “When we had the time off from teaching, senior enchanters would help in the kitchens.”  “Many of the lay sisters from the chantry who lived at the tower would teach the new students how to cook and sew for themselves.”  “Many were taught how to pot garden.”  “We grew our own vegetables and fruit trees in large pots in the kitchens.”  “All of our herbs for cooking and potion making.”  “Fresh meat was brought in from the outside.”  “We ate a lot of salted fish in chowder and stews in the winter.”  “I used to be sick of fish by the time winter ended.”  “When the lake froze over it was hard to get supplies to the tower.”  “We had to make due with what we had on hand, sometimes our meals got lean as winter went on.”  “We always had fresh-baked bread and ale if nothing else.” “We were self supportive for the most part.”

“At our circle they did try to make it like a home and give the sense of family.”  “I don’t believe this is the case at other circles from what we’ve heard through the years.”  “The circles at Starkhaven and Kirkwall being more like prisons than a home.” 

Alistair and Wynne both sat in silence as they finished their tea and cookies. 

“How is she Wynne?”

Wynne knew Alistair was going to ask. 

“She is doing well; she is healing, slow but sure.”  “She is sleeping a lot, which is normal considering her injuries, especially to her legs.”  “Her right leg has me a bit concerned.”  “It’s not healing like it should, but it was injured the worst.”  “I think as long as she does what I tell her she will be fine.”  “I started her out with some broth and tea with a few small pieces of bread and butter.”  “She did well with these this morning.”  “She has lost a lot of weight since she has been unconscious.”  “This is also normal.”  “She grows tired very quickly.” 

“What about her mental and emotional state?”

“With the rest of us she has been happy-go-lucky like she used to be.”  “With you I imagine she will be more reserved.” 

“So all of you have been in to see her?”

“No not all of us, just Zevran and Leliana, which I was able to sneak past the wardens.”  “Since they have those hidden shadow abilities.”

“I also haven’t taken Thor in to see her.”  “He whines to be near her when he is here.”  “She has been asleep when he has been in her room.”  “I think she will want to make sure that Thor is alright for herself.”  “We will have to careful that he doesn’t jump on her too much.”

“The wardens at first didn’t understand that Thor is her Mabari war hound and it took us a few tries to make them understand Thor is her dog and a warrior both.”  “They had heard of the Mabari breed but never seen one.”  “They are cautious of Thor.”

“Well they should be considering what he can do.”   “He can drag a man or darkspawn down and kill them before you can blink an eye.”

“Thor really scared them, he got the door to the barrack room open and walked over and planted himself in front of Bell’s door right between the Wardens.”  “We think they were scared to move a muscle.”   “All of us got a good laugh the next morning when we found him sleeping soundly between the two wardens and the look on their faces.”  “I nearly fell over him when I opened the door to come out and get a kettle on for morning tea.”

Wynne continued.

“She wanted to know if everyone survived and if everyone was alright.”  “I assured her that every one of us made it and with hardly any injuries to speak of.”    “I believe she was relieved to hear this.” 

Wynne was going to say especially about you; but, she decided against telling Alistair this. 

“Are you ready to go in?”

“I’ll go in to see her in a moment.”

“You told her I was coming?”

“Yes, I don’t think she expected you to come.”  “She is really eager to see her brother when we told her he was alive and right here in Denerim.”  “She wanted to know where everyone was at this morning and I told her they were securing the Cousland Estate here in Denerim.”  “She was unusually quiet and just nodded her head over this.” 

Why would she think he wouldn’t come to see her when she awoke?  Just because he ended their relationship didn’t mean that he still didn’t love her or cared about what happened to her?

“When did she wake up Wynne?” 

Maker, forgive me for this little white lie thought Wynne.

“She woke up late last night for a short time.”   “I had her drink some broth and tea and she went back to sleep until this morning.”   “She was awake before I was this morning.” “She was sitting in bed twiddling her thumbs.”

“Twiddling her thumbs?”

“Yes, I think she is bored out of her mind.”  “I don’t think she likes being chained to a bed.”  “She is being an excellent patient.”  “She seems to want to heal up and be on her way.” 

“You don’t think she wants to stay for the planned celebrations and my coronation?”  “She’s the reason that I’m sitting on my father’s throne.”

“I think if she had her way about everything, she would have left when she woke up.”  “I’m certain of two things that stopped her.”  “One being her legs and the second seeing her brother.”

This isn’t what he wanted to hear.  He was dreading this meeting with her now; he had been so relieved just over an hour ago knowing that she was finally awake.

“Wynne, I’m ready to go in now.”

“Alistair, don’t react to her bruises, her entire face and her whole body is one massive bruise.”  “It might scare her.” 

He nodded, it was now or never.

Chapter 24  

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About knightowl123

I’m a pet owner, love to cook, and I’m an OSU Buckeye Fan. Go Bucks! A couple of years ago I got into playing video games such as Dragon Age, and NWN so I'm big fan. I also like to bowl and love movies. I'm also retired. Yipee!
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