Maker! All of this stuff was boring, as I tossed the reading material aside and rubbed my eyes. I already knew how to supply a castle or military post. I’d learned this stuff growing up at Highever being trained all of my life as a Teyrn’s daughter who would one day help train the monarch’s troops. The manuscripts that Kristoff had given me to read just detailed: how to set up accounts and the proper handling of the reports and documents on each Grey Warden that I would be responsible for. Which included their payment of wages, their barracks and their supplies, healing of the wardens and all of their support troops, their food, clothing, weapons, etc, etc, etc. I sighed out my frustration.
I wanted out of this room more than anything.
Duty, it was always about duty and I was sick of duty. Father, I hope you can forgive me my thoughts; but now, my life won’t ever be my own. I belonged to the Wardens now. I’m sure if you’d known the truth of Wardens, you would never have agreed. My life had been destroyed starting years ago in Orlais over duty. My hatred over all of it was festering just under the surface as my wounds were festering under the bandages of my war-torn body. I wanted to rage against all of it. I wanted to vent my anger, to strike out at something or someone, even though I knew this was childish.
I threw back the covers and looked at my bandaged legs. The bandages all over my body, despair filling me. I’m alive was my thought as I looked down at my damaged body. I also hated and resented the fact that Morrigan had been with Alistair that last night before the battle. I knew the depth of mine and Alistair’s relationship and I’m sure he would have sought me out that last night even to just talk. We both knew we were facing the end. We would have wanted each other’s reassurance, the look in each other’s eyes. We’d face our end together on the battlefield and allow fate to decide our course.
He can fool himself into thinking he can get over me and me over him at the drop of hat. I knew from his reaction of not finding me at Castle Redcliffe that night when he and Morrigan were finished that he knew I hadn’t been at the castle that night. He had been angry that I couldn’t be found. Was it jealousy on his part or something else? Perhaps he thought the Commander-of-the-King’s troops had just walked away and he would have to lead? He had the ability to lead; I’d seen it in him. He had placed every decision on my shoulders and I’d also resented this. He never had a problem telling me if he felt my decisions didn’t line up with the honor of a Warden. At least he won’t be with me further to shake me over the coals, if he didn’t like my decisions. Well now, it might be worse getting shook over the coals with him as the new monarch! Well he wanted things this way and so he would have them.
It doesn’t matter now; I had a life to get on with. I had an order to rebuild in Ferelden and I’d have to rebuild without Alistair at my side. A life that I never wanted and all of it would change on how I dealt with the situation in Orlais.
Maker! What in the bloody hell am I going to do? Shit… what a mess. I was the only person left in Ferelden who knew of the Orlesian threat and I couldn’t tell anyone. Without revealing the whole truth and I couldn’t do this to Alistair and the people in Orlais that I still needed to protect. I had to get word to them that I’m alive. It might take me a year to even reach Orlais, until I stabilized the Wardens here in Ferelden. If I had my way, I’d leave for Orlais right after Alistair’s coronation. Fergus would find it strange that I wouldn’t want to go with him and help him face what is left of Highever. No, I couldn’t do this to Fergus; have him face what is left alone.
I was getting impatient and I still needed to get moving on getting to Gwaren. There was also the need for the Grey Wardens to interview me. I couldn’t wait for this to happen; I thought sarcastically.
I moved my legs over to the side of the bed closing my eyes against the pain. I could feel the pain from deep in the bones. The rest of my body seemed to be healing fine. My legs were another matter. I eased myself out of bed gently placing my feet on the floor and stood up. Fire once again shot up my legs. I sucked in my breath and stepped forward. One foot in front of the other and I started the walk around my room once more. I’m going to need to do this for hours and hopefully work up more of an inner rage to help me do what I need to do. I don’t have any other choices, just as in the past and my stupid decisions and my folly set me on this path a life-time ago. I wish now I could take it all back, all-of-it. I wouldn’t be standing here now in this room healing from this battle and my life being dictated by others. I had nobody to blame but myself. I couldn’t fully even blame Alistair and if he finds out what I’m about to do, he’ll likely hate me. For his sake, mine and that of our child or children, I’ll just have to risk it.
I’m a rogue, that’s what we do. We take risks, we hide in the shadows, and we are: deadly assassins, musical bards, rangers, and scouts for our Kings and Queens. I’m one of many who always helped protect their kingdoms and our personal interests. I’m all of these things and more now. I’m also a rogue who is now and will always be a Grey Warden. A Grey Warden who will die alone and forgotten in the deep roads, there wasn’t any way to change this lonely fact. I always figured that Alistair and I would see our end together and now this too had been taken away from me, by my own choice. Just as Alistair’s fade dream revealed. I could understand Alistair’s despair over it and his own life situation. What we would face in the end. Not a pleasing thought. I felt tears fill my eyes. I will not cry I told myself. I won’t. I have to be strong and face it all alone. When I walk that lonely path then the truth can be left behind for others to decide. Until then, I will do all within my power and to my will for the truth to remain hidden for the sake of others.
My life wasn’t going to work out as it had been planned for me by my parents. It looked like I wouldn’t marry for love either. Sorrow filled me once again as I continued to walk my room. Since the battle, the ever-present fire burning within my legs, and not just from my wounds, which I ignored; but, the burn from the taint, forever in my body for the rest of my days. I hated it. I resent it. I’d always secretly raged against it since Ostagar. Alistair thought my rage had been all from Howe, this was only partly true. I also raged against being a Grey Warden, for being lied too. I understood the lie, that didn’t mean I had to like it. Do my duty….yes, as I’ve always done. I’d rather have remained a spy for the monarch. I didn’t hate Grey Wardens. I knew and understood their need for the sake of humanity. I just wished I’d been given other options of being a Warden supporter, and not just a Warden. Damn you Duncan and damn you Howe for what you both did to me.
I continued to walk my room, feeling the healing power of the taint surge through my body. The renewal healing that all Grey Wardens possessed – the fast healing process. I wished that the taint could heal my heart over so many lost futures, hopes, and dreams. All gone now, my feet placed on a new path for the future and regardless of how well I fulfilled my duty or lived the rest of my life, the ending for me would never change. As a Grey Warden, my future was already determined. I’m so afraid and I have nobody for support any longer, just me, alone in the world now.
There was a knock at my door.
Kristoff opened my door. “Commander, you have a visitor, a man by the name of Fergus Cousland.”
“This is my brother, Warden Kristoff, please show him in.”
“As you wish Commander, I’ll send him in.”
I heard Fergus enter my room. The sounds of his chain mail clinking with each of his steps as he walked into my room. The sound of his spurs scraping against the flagstones of the floor in my room, which proved his rank as a Knight of the Realm, and also a lord of noble birth. The familiar smells that were my brother were a welcome comfort. The smells of: horse hair, leather, and oil; the smells of home. His armor smelled of the forest. These smells which I thought never to smell again because I thought my brother dead, the same for him over me.
I was slowly making my way back to my bed when I felt my brother’s hand and arm slip under my knees and his other hand and arm go around my waist and he gently lifted me in his arms tight against him where he kissed me on the forehead, giving me a firm but gentle hug.
I wrapped my arms around his neck and buried my face in the curve of his neck and hugged him right back. I started to cry from relief more than anything. The safety and security that only my big brother could offer, the welcome relief of knowing that he too was alive and had survived both of our ordeals.
“Tink, I’ve been sure I’d lost you too.”
“Oh Fergus, I was sure that I’d lost you as well.” I started to cry even harder and squeezed him tighter. Fergus walked back to my bed where he sat down and held me in his lap. We held each other for a time. Comfortable in the knowledge that all was not lost, when I’d finally stopped crying, he stood and tucked me back in bed and pulled the covers back over me.
Just like he used to do when we were kids and I’d been sneaking about the castle at night and he would find me and take me back to my room and tuck me back in bed. Chuckling over my adventures at night and gently scolding me because I’d be sleepy the next day for my lessons with our tutor. Which in turn would lead to a punishment of some kind, generally I’d be required to write out a few hundred times ‘I will not fall asleep in class again’. Over and over on a chalk board for hours at a time, I’d always wondered why I’d never fallen asleep at the blackboard. Then supper in my room alone for added punishment, if Fergus hadn’t found me in the night and got me back to my room safe and sound.
Fergus had spoken his special name for me. He and only one other person in all of Thedas had called me Tink.
Fergus reached over and dried my tears with his fingers. “No, enough tears, alright?”
I nodded as I wiped the remainder of my tears away.
He sat on the edge of my bed, facing me.
“Fergus, what happened to you?” “I knew I should have searched for you at Ostagar.”
“You wouldn’t have found me.” “I was scouting in the wilds when darkspawn ambushed us.” “All of the men with me were killed, and I woke a few weeks later inside a Chasind Hut being cared for.” “I’d been out for weeks due to my injuries, one of which was a good size wallop to the head, along with a broken leg and arm.” “By the time I finally got out of the wilds, you and the army that you gathered were marching on Denerim.” “Imagine my surprise and finding out you were alive and that you’d become a Grey Warden.” “Father and mother would be so proud, and so am I.”
“How did you find out?”
“Me and a few men of ours who survived Ostagar meet up in the Brecillian Forest and made our way to Redcliffe.” “They filled all of us in on what has been happening in the country while all of us were hiding in the forest.” “Our men hiding in the forest got word from travelers on what happened at Highever and when we all met up I didn’t feel it was safe to go to Gwaren after Loghain’s betrayal of Cailan.” “I really didn’t know what was going on until I reached Redcliffe.” “Apparently, I’d just missed you by a week.”
I was very thankful that my big brother hadn’t caught up with me at Redcliffe given the situation now between Alistair and me.
“I tried to get word to Highever and I’m sure you can imagine how that went.”
I nodded, and once again a small tear made its way down my cheek.
“Fergus, I’m so sorry…..for Orianna and Oren.” “They were already dead by the time I got to them.”
More tears started to fall. This wasn’t true and I knew it. I couldn’t leave the documents hidden in my room for Howe and his men to find. This had stopped me from saving Oren and Orianna.
“Don’t, it’s not your fault,” spoke Fergus as he once again reached out and wiped my tears away. “Howe was a greedy bastard; I just wish I’d been here to help you kill him.”
“I’d tried for years to make father aware that Howe couldn’t be trusted and was a risk.” “I think father always knew, he just never thought that Howe would attack Highever from the inside and so directly.” “Father already knew that Howe was involved in smuggling in Amaranthine and we don’t know what other connections he might have had.” “Father was trying to gather proof of his smuggling and illegal activities and have him removed as Arl.”
“I figured he would challenge me for Highever once father and mother were gone.” “Not kill them outright to take Highever.”
“Was Thomas, Nate, or Delilah involved?”
“Nate was sent to the Free Marches before I was sent to Orlais.” “I didn’t see Thomas, or Nate when fighting through the castle that night with mother.”
At the mention of our mother, complex emotions went across Fergus’ face. Fergus knew that mother had also been a warrior in her youth.
“So, you and mother did manage to fight your way to father?”
“Yes, mother and I with a few servants and castle guards that we managed to save.” “They all died Fergus: seeing Duncan, Thor, and I safely away.” “I’ll never forget the look on Rory’s face.” “He saved my life Fergus.” “They all did, I don’t know if there are any survivors left at Highever, I’ve never been back since that night.” “I don’t know what we’ll find when we go home.”
“Mother wouldn’t leave father Fergus, I tried to get her to come with us, and she refused.”
“Tink, you know she wouldn’t leave father hurt and with no defense.” “They would have wanted to go together and they did.” “A tragic, yet mixed blessing for the both of them.”
“Don’t fret; it’s not your fault on what happened.”
Fergus reached out and took my hands and squeezed them.
“I’m just thankful all of my family isn’t dead, we still have each other and I’m also happy to hear that Thor made it out with you.”
I smiled. “I don’t think I would have survived without him.”
“Duncan and I fled to Ostagar and Cailan was told what happen.” “Cailan was going to turn the army once the darkspawn were dealt with and go after Howe, then, well….I’m sure you know the rest.”
“Yes, a sorry tale to be sure.” “All of those dead at Ostagar.” “All of our men are dead Bell, they died with honor.” “It was a massacre.” “I’ll never understand Loghain’s retreat?” “Do you know why he abandoned Cailan?”
“No, not fully, it has something to do with Anora and Loghain being in disagreement with Cailan over something?” “I’m not fully sure what it was all about.” “Howe was Loghain’s right hand man, he did all of Loghain’s dirty work; Howe did terrible things Fergus.” “Loghain also granted Howe the title for Arl of Denerim.” “Loghain may not have realized this, but it was just a matter of time, before Howe would have turned on Loghain.” “My opinion anyway regarding those two horrible men.”
“So, you were at Ostagar was well?”
I nodded. “Yes, this is where I became a Grey Warden a few days before that final battle.”
“When we found father near the hidden entrance in the larder, father asked the Grey Warden Duncan to take mother and I to safety.” “Duncan asked a favor in return.” “I’d have to become a Grey Warden and father agreed to my conscription.”
“Duncan and I arrived at Ostagar and then I took my joining to become a Grey Warden, after scouting in the wilds.”
“Scouting in the wilds?”
“Yes, a final test in becoming a Grey Warden.” “So you weren’t the only Cousland in the wilds.”
Fergus cracked a smile, “I wish I’d known that, I’m sure the darkspawn wouldn’t get the drop on you being a rogue and they wouldn’t have ambushed us.”
I smiled back, “uh, no, I did a few ambushes of my own.” “You wouldn’t have gotten ambushed if I’d been along.” “See, it pays to have a rogue with stealth skills in your party big brother.”
Fergus chuckled, “I’ll remember this in the future little sister.”
“Well I’ll have to employ or find a few new rogues since my favorite rogue is going to be busy being the Warden Commander of Ferelden.” “That is quite the honor and achievement, little sister.”
“I suppose it is.” I shrugged my shoulder and winced with the pain once again.
“What?” “You’re not very happy being named the new Warden Commander of Ferelden and also the Hero of Ferelden?”
“I could have done without the hero-worship and the new command.” I replied.
“You earned this little sister.” “I knew you’d make a great soldier and leader one day.” “I’m just a little put out that you won’t be helping me rule Highever anymore.” “It won’t be the same now without you.”
“I’d give anything in the world Fergus to help you rule Highever, as it was meant for us to rule together.” “I guess everything has now changed with me being a Grey Warden.”
“I suppose so.” “I’m sad and happy for you all at the same time.”
We both sat in deep thought for a minute or two, reflecting on the changes to both of our lives.
“Now tell me, how are you feeling?” “Wynne tells me that you are on the mend and I’m elated that you’ve finally woken up?” “You had us all worried.”
“As well as can be expected since I got the chance to look a dragon in the eye.” “I’d say about 50 feet in-the-air, quite the view actually.”
“Only you would joke about such a thing.” Fergus laughed.
“So tell me what’s it like being a Grey Warden?” “I still can’t believe that my little sister is the new Warden Commander of Ferelden.”
Fergus nodded his head, “yes, I’d really like to know.
“As a member of the order, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.” “I’m changed as a person forever.” “I’ll never be the same or have the life I thought would be mine to live.” “My life will be totally different now.”
“I imagine it will be full of excitement and adventure.”
“I’m sure most people see the life of a Grey Warden in this way.” “Trust me; it’s not all glamour and glory.” “I assure you, it’s not this way.” I grinned. “A Warden does get knocked around a bit.”
“I heard; I guess it’s to be expected fighting darkspawn and dragons.” “I’m sure you can and will be able to handle your duties.”
It was nice to hear that Fergus thought so at least, when I was still so unsure of it all. Alistair must also feel the same way or he wants me out of or close to Denerim. I still couldn’t decide which and what he was actually thinking. Nor would I be asking him his reasons for giving the Warden’s their new home base for Ferelden in Amaranthine. I really wasn’t looking forward to my command. I’d make the best of it and do my duty as quickly as possible.
“I’ll be allowed to visit won’t I?” “I can’t imagine you being that close and both of us never seeing each other.” “At least you won’t be far away and I’m thankful to our new king for this.” “It’s amazing that Alistair is Maric’s bastard, he sure looks like his sire doesn’t he.”
“Of course you can visit as along as you let me know you’re coming.”
“As for Alistair,yes he does look like his sire.” “I noticed when I first meet him at Ostagar.” “I sort of put it together before he told me.” “He’s had a hard life Fergus.” “I guess Lady Isolde thought he was Eamon’s bastard son.” “She was horrible to him as a little boy.” “I couldn’t imagine what Alistair has gone through.” “To keep the peace in his own castle, Eamon sent Alistair to the chantry when he was ten years old.” “It must have been bad.” “I wonder if Maric had anything to do with sending Alistair to the chantry?” “I’d love to find out actually.”
“Well she’ll have to grovel at his feet now, won’t she?” Fergus mentioned laughing.
I smiled at my brother and nodded my head in agreement.
“Hmmm, she will.” “I wish I’d been a fly on the wall when she found out that Alistair was actually Maric’s son.” “What an expression her face must have had.” “Ah well, I guess I missed that meeting.” “She’ll be falling all over herself to placate him when he is crowned.” “I have no doubts on this whatsoever.”
“Did father ever know that Maric had another son or did you ever hear anything about it?”
“There were rumors, that father and I both heard, nobody had any proof and as we’ve all learned now, the rumors were true.” “This is actually good for the kingdom with Maric having two sons, and not just one with only Cailan.” “It was actually wise of Maric keeping Alistair hidden due to Orlais.” “So the line of Calenhad has been preserved.” “As the new Teyrn of Highever, I see this as good news,” responded Fergus.
“Tell me, what is Alistair like as a person?” “He seems easy-going.”
“He is; he is good and honest.”
I wanted to choke on this statement; but, my brother needed to have a good opinion of our new King, since both of them would have a close working relationship.
“He loves cheese, so remember this when bringing the new monarch gifts!”
“Ah, insider information, from my dear little sister,” smirked Fergus.
“For your ears alone big brother,” I wiggled my eyebrows and Fergus laughed.
“Anything else I should know about him?”
“He loves ale but not in the way to get rip-roaring drunk.” “He can’t cook worth a damn, his cooking almost killed all of us on the road and we sort of had to stop him from doing this.”
“Really!” “That bad!”
My eyes got real big and I nodded with a very serious expression.
“Very, avoid his lamb and pea stew at all cost.”
Fergus chuckled. “Good to know.”
“He can build an excellent camp fire.” “He likes being an independent person, seeing to his armor and that sort of thing.” “He was trained as a warrior and a Templar and he is an excellent fighter, he won’t take kindly to being kept out of the fighting if the need arises and he is also a Grey Warden in case you come across darkspawn on the road.” “Watch his back and you’ll have a friend for life.” “Don’t hold him back from doing his duty as a Warden.” “He won’t like this, he values being a Warden and he thinks highly of the order.” “He isn’t going to like being cooped up in the palace all the time.” “When he is out on progress, allow him to build his own fire and pitch his own tent and see to his own needs.” “He won’t like having servants do these things for him, king or not.” “At least not at first, ease him into the transition of Monarch.
“Fergus, you must stop Eamon from smothering him to much or he will be miserable.” “He is an outdoors kind of guy.”
“I do see Eamon doing this to him, so I’ll keep an eye out.”
“I think once he has the chance to learn how to rule he will do well.” “He’ll want to do the right thing and he’ll want a lot of information before making any rulings as monarch.” “He will not make his decisions lightly.” “He has a good and generous heart.” “He was raised in the Chantry so he will most likely favor the chantry with any rulings, except where mages will be concerned.” “He has a soft spot for Wynne.” “Also, he is witty and very funny.” “He also stands firm in his beliefs and he won’t be swayed from them at any cost.” “He will stand firm in his rulings and I’m sure he will deliver swift justice if anyone doesn’t follow his rulings.” “He is a law and order kind of guy.” “He won’t be deterred if he makes his mind up on something.” “He is a gentleman Fergus and I see him doing very well once he learns proper court protocol.” “He can also be very bashful and shy.”
I had stopped talking and was deep in thought.
“Is there something you’re not telling me?”
“I’m worried that people will take advantage of him until he figures out the ropes, so keep an eye out for him.” “I think you’ll like him once you get to know him.”
“Well he has my vote already for winning you over as his friend; since you seem to like him, I’m sure I won’t have any trouble getting to know him.” “I’d say some card games, ale, and some wenches will do wonders for our relationship.”
“Hmmm, I seeing a trip to the Pearl with the new monarch in your future, would I be wrong on this.”
“All good gents of the kingdom make it to the Pearl, dear sister.” “Men have a lot to discuss and the very place where men can be men.”
I rolled my eyes, promise me you’ll watch his back Fergus and you won’t allow anything to happen to him, he matters to me.
“Is there more to your relationship than just friendship?”
Fergus was watching my face very closely. Damn it. What has he heard already?
“No big brother, Alistair was always a gentlemen on the road, he was raised in the chantry remember.” “He saved my life as much as I saved his, he means a lot to me and now both of us will have vastly different lives then being only Wardens.” “He is a special friend and I’ll miss him is all.”
“I promise to watch his back for you.”
“Thank you Fergus.”
“No telling him any funny stories about my childhood….ok?”
Fergus put his hand on his chest affronted. “Are you serious?” “No way, I’m promising that, talk about a party pooper!” “Where is the fun in that?”
“Well I’ll have to tell him a few in case he asks me.”
“I’ll just tell him the really funny, embarrassing stuff.”
I groaned. “You do have a well of stories to draw from too.”
“Indeed I do.” Since my little sister has been a troublemaker since her tender years.” Fergus was smirking at me.
I rolled my eyes at him once again. “You’re one to talk,” I replied at him.
“Don’t I know it too!” Fergus smiled, his eyes crinkling in the corners.
“How long have you been in Denerim and what have you been doing since you got here?”
“Well I first arrived a few days after the battle.” “I tried my best to catch up with you.” “No such luck.” “I would have loved fighting in the battle for the city.”
I was relieved that Fergus hadn’t fought in the battle for the city, he wasn’t a Warden; thank the Maker for small favors. I don’t think I would have liked my first official duty as Warden Commander of Ferelden making my brother a Warden in case he had become infected with the taint.
“When I and the few dozen men of ours with me arrived in the city I made my way to Eamon’s estate.”
“I’ve been helping with the cleanup in the city and taking turns guarding you at night while you’ve been out like a log.” ”You’re very helpful friends Leliana and Zevran, whom I find very streetwise and also very funny were very resourceful in determining that some of Howe’s men were in residence at our estate here in the city.” “With orders from our new monarch, and the help of all of your new friends and some other Banns, we’ve retaken our estate once again.” “I’m happy to report we’ve routed the lot.” “Some laid down their weapons and soon I will escort them personally to ships to take them out of Ferelden with a warning for them never to return if they know what is good for them.” “I’ve just come from there.” “Word reached me that you’d awaken.” “Once the estate was secured, I made a beeline here to see you.”
“I thought I was the busy one.”
“Well it’s good to know you didn’t do everything and thanks for leaving me something to do.”
“Oh you’re very welcome.” “I wish I could have joined in the fun.”
“Next time, you can join in the fun.”
We grinned at each other.
“How fairs our estate here in the city since it’s been in Howe’s hands?”
“Stripped of anything of value and I’m sure it’s the same at Highever.” “The servants weren’t harmed to badly, not like the reports I’m hearing out of Highever, and they continued working for food and shelter if nothing else.” “They were happy to see the heir of Highever forcing his way inside his own home.” “I’m sure we’ll have an influx of new servants with babies to care for or the chantry is going to get some new charges before long.” “I don’t think the female servants were treated to kindly.”
“Anora couldn’t have turned a blind eye to servants being slaughtered here in her city now could she?”
“Not like at Highever far away and out of sight.”
“The servant’s gossipy grapevine….a force that nobody better mess with!”
“Rats, you beat me to that line.” I scrunched my eyebrows together in a frown, just for fun and teasing my brother.
Fergus chuckled, pleased with himself. With a serious comment he stated…“no, there would have been an outcry from others in the servants’ guild and they would have made known what was happening to servants at the Highever estate and nobles would have called on Anora to do something. The scam would have been up or Anora and Loghain would have had a really good lie ready to cover for Howe. Killing and abusing our servants wasn’t going to fly here in the city.
“Will you stay there while you’re here in the city?”
“Yes, since Eamon’s estate is crammed full of people.” “I’ll move the remainder of our men to the estate and see what we can salvage.” “I don’t know what I’m going to do about funds, since I don’t know how much Howe has stolen from us.” “I’ll need to go over the books if I can find them at the estate and those at Highever once we go home.”
“Don’t worry about funds; I have a few coins in case you need them.”
“How much of that did you steal?” Fergus inquired with raised eyebrows.
“I’d say half and the other halves from any fool dumb enough to stick a sword in my face.”
I could have told them not to mess with you; they’d lose their lives along with their goods and their gold. Fergus wiggled his eyebrows at me. “I’ll beat you’re pick pocketing skills got a workout on the road?”
“Well I did have an army to supply.”
“What a handy excuse, I’ll remember that.”
I gave my big brother a lopsided grin.
“I’ve amassed a small fortune.” “As long as you have food for the servants I’m sure they will wait awhile to get paid until you have a chance to get everything back in order.” “A faithful lot our servants.” “Just let me know what you need.” “You can pay me back later, once Highever is profitable once again.”
“Alright, and I’m thankful for your help sister and that of our servants.” “Our family has always been lucky in having the servants that we’ve had.”
I wasn’t so sure, yet I didn’t want to add more of a burden on Fergus’ shoulders, at least not yet. One of our so-called faithful servants had to let Howe’s soldiers into the castle from the barracks. Or it was our houseguest and possibly one of her servants. My money was on Iona, the female ladies maid that was visiting. I would be hunting her down as soon as I was able. I had not seen her or Darrien’s bodies when fighting through our estate. I remember thinking she was to friendly with me and she had hinted at me to have a good time with her. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t into women. I remember thinking she had been to forward in her comments to me over: our home, my dog, and my duty. Had she been a diversion?
“It’s the prestige brother working for a noble house such as ours.”
“Most likely this is the case.” “I’m still thankful that we haven’t lost everything.”
“So am I brother.”
“I don’t mean to change the subject back to Alistair, but I was impressed with his decree that the marauders be killed if they put up a fight.” “No mercy was his order if they fought.” “I was happy to fulfill our new King’s order over our estate.”
“Did he now?” “Order their deaths?”
“Indeed he did and he also ordered Arl Eamon’s troops along with Banns Sighard and Alfstanna to lend a hand.” “Wasn’t much of a fight with all of that man power at my back” “It was actually fun to be intimidating.”
“Oh Fergus, I’ve seen you be intimidating before.”
“Well I’ve had a lifetime of practice over your beaus Tink.”
I laughed. “I guess all of that practice came in handy after all.”
“I guess it did at that.”
“Well little sister I better get back and see to the new management of our estate and get on with my own duty.” “I’ll be back to visit, don’t worry.” “When the estate is cleaned up, I’ll see about getting you moved over there.” “Back in one of your own rooms at least.”
“That would please me Fergus, and also all of my companions as well.”
“Of course, Tink, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” “All of them are a good lot as I’m coming to find out and I’m glad they were with you on the road and they helped protect you.” “They will always find shelter at Highever.” “I’m also eager to learn where you picked up your own personal golem, but we’ll have to wait for more time for that story.”
“It’s an interesting tale.”
“Personally, I can’t wait to hear all of these stories and adventures you’ve been on.”
“I’ll look forward to hearing some of yours as well.”
“It’s a date then?”
“It’s a date,” I agreed.
“Thank you Fergus.”
“It’s the least I can do for them.” “Alright, give me a kiss and let me get back to my duty.” “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Fergus leaned over and gave me a peck on the cheek and I did the same for him. He waved goodbye as he left my room.
I sent up a prayer to the Maker for saving my brother’s life as I watched Fergus leave my room. I wasn’t entirely alone; at least I had some family left.