The Next Morning

My companions still hadn’t returned by the time the evening meal was done yesterday, and I’d just gone to sleep instead.   I was antsy today to be sure.  I was going to send a message to Alistair requesting my sword and daggers.  I’d also send Leliana and Zevran to find me a suit of leathers to wear for my interview with Kristoff.  There was no way I’d sit through that meeting in my bedclothes.   I was going to be up and dressed looking the part of the new Warden Commander of Ferelden if it killed me.  After my meeting with Kristoff, I also wanted to take a walk inside the Fort for more exercise.  I knew I’d meet with resistance over this too.

Wynne and I had actually woken up at the same time this morning to both of our amusement.  We’d had a good laugh over it.  Wynne, Alistair, Leliana, Morrigan, Sten and even Thor were all early risers.    Zevran and I had been the sleepy heads in our group.  Wynne was currently off getting breakfast for the both of us, and to see if our other companions had returned from helping my brother.   I was eager to see all of them.  

I was in need of new small-clothes.  All I had in the way of clothing was my sleeping shifts which Leliana had purchased for me from the market.  Both of my female companions had seen to this for me and I was grateful.  The sleeping shifts were very thin and the cloth didn’t leave too much to the imagination.  No wonder Kristoff’s eyes had bugged out of his head yesterday when I’d opened my door.   

I had no idea what size I would need for new small-clothes, after the damage to my chest from the Arch Demon and also given the fact I was also pregnant.   I was going to have Leliana measure me to find out.  I was dreading the deed.   Leliana was also going to need my measurements to have a gown made for the ball after Alistair’s coronation.  I’d give anything to get out of going.  Since I’m now the official Warden Commander of Ferelden, this would be unlikely and I’d have to go even though I didn’t want too.

Since I’d been traveling with my friends for the past year and a half we all knew what each other looked like in various states of undress.  Washing and dressing in rivers and lakes didn’t give any of us much privacy unless I’d gathered enough coin to stay at an inn; which had been rare.  When I had the coin, I’d purchase two large rooms; with, all of the men in one room and the women in the other, when we could afford such a luxury.  I think we’d stayed at an inn twice maybe three times.   We’d taken refuge in a small inn near Rainesfere, when we’d been leaving the Frostbacks on our way to Redcliffe.  It had been too cold to camp in the woods.  I remembered a terrible snow storm had started out of nowhere in the mountains when we left Haven and we’d been caught in it.  My companions couldn’t take another night in the elements.  Even Morrigan had been appreciative of our room and the warm fire brazier to help warm our room.   I’d also opted for the room because of Wynne and her age.  She’d been really drained fighting the High Dragon that we’d encountered when we left the temple.   We’d all had to hunker down in Wynne’s tent for body heat alone that awful night before we got down off the mountain.   It’d been rather crowded. 

We had also stayed in the temple for several days, because Alistair had been injured fighting the dragon and he needed a few days to recover.  I had been so scared I’d lose him.  I had already developed feelings for him even though I’d never told him by that point.  It was hard to imagine that had been a year ago.

I got up from my bed and walked over to the small brazier in my room where Wynne had hung a small kettle with water that had been heated for washing this morning.  I took the small tin cup and filled the water basin on the small table next to the brazier.  I bent over the basin and with my hands I dipped and scoped water over my face.  It was wonderful.  I dried my face with the small cloth lying there.  I picked up the small jar of baking pumice that Wynne used to clean her teeth.   I picked up the small jar and opened this leaving the lid on the table. I was sure she wouldn’t mind me using this.  I dipped the cloth I’d used to dry my face and damped a corner and scoped out a small amount of the baking pumice on the cloth and proceeded to clean my teeth.  I felt a sense of accomplishment just doing these small things for myself.  It was good to be up and out of bed.  With my hand I dipped water into the lukewarm water and rinsed my mouth spitting the remains of the water inside the small cloth, with this chore done I went back to my bed and made my bed.  Just for something to do.

Wynne came in a moment later with a tray of food.  Fantastic, breakfast was at hand.  I was starved once more.  Kristoff closed our door behind her and I noticed that he keep his eyes averted from my person, which was good since I only had on a sleeping shift.  Wynne walked to the larger table in our room and set the tray down.  She lifted the lids off of two plates full of food.  My mouth watered.

“Hungry?” She asked me.

I chuckled. “You know I am.”

“Let’s eat then.”

I pulled out one of the wooden chairs from the small table in my room and Wynne pulled out the other.  We both sat down and she handed me a plate which was crammed full of goodies.  I grabbed my knife and spoon and went to work.  Fresh fluffy scrambled eggs were heaped high on my plate with sausages, fried potatoes smothered in a cheese sauce and fresh-baked bread with cherry jam and fresh churned butter on my plate.  

“Leliana is brewing up some tea for all of us and she said she’d bring this in when it is ready.”

“So the others are back?” I asked her, popping a large mass of eggs into my mouth.  Oh Maker!  I was in heaven.   I could taste fresh cream that the eggs had been mixed with to scramble them with just a hint of pepper and salt on my tongue.  I might have to have a second plate of these if there was anymore.

“They are; Kristoff was going to send in Zevran last night when we discovered you were sound to sleep.”

I just nodded my head since my mouth was full of these delicious fluffy eggs.  I’d actually fallen asleep from bloody boredom.   I wasn’t going to stay in that bed a moment longer if I could get away with it.  I grabbed a piece of the fresh-baked bread that Wynne had sliced and put on my plate and with my knife I smoothed a big dollop of butter and jam over my bread and took a large bite.  I chewed with enjoyment.  It had been so long since I’d had fresh jam.  I used to help Nan make jam every year at Highever when the berries and the fruit started to ripen.   This was a good memory and one that I wouldn’t allow myself to be sad over.  I’d love Nan as much as my own mother.  Many had found her to be a cranky old woman but I had always known better.  There had always been that heart-of-gold underneath the rough exterior.   Next I dug into the sausages.  The sausages had been browned just right which brought out the flavor in the meat.  Redcliffe had some fine cooks.  I’d give the Arlessa that much – she had a good staff.  They weren’t as good as Nan but I would always have a biased opinion in this area.  I buttered another slice and dug into the fresh bread with gusto.  I was licking the butter and jam off of my fingers when I looked up and noticed that Wynne was being as big of a pig as I was.  She’d always liked breakfast the best it had seemed on the road.  Wynne was eating just as hearty as I was.  For an old lady she could pack the food away when she wanted to as well.  We continued to eat in silence.  I was just wishing Leliana would hurry up with the tea when there was a knock and Leliana came in with a small pot of tea, mugs, and honey on a small tray. Wynne got up from the table and helped her.  

“I see you look better than the last time I saw you.”  “How do you feel?”  She walked over to me and gave me a gentle hug.

I grinned up at her.  “I believe I’m on the mend thanks to Wynne’s excellent care.” 

“Wonderful.”  “Then you won’t mind if I get your measurements?”

I rolled my eyes at her and she totally disregarded my expression.

Wynne handed each of us a cup of tea that she had poured.  Leliana and I both took ours and Wynne passed the honey pot around.  Once our tea was sweetened and we’d each had a sip we got back to the conversation that Leliana had started.  Wynne sat back down to continue her meal.   Leliana sat with her small hip perched on the side of the table and sipped her tea.  I dug into the fried potatoes smothered in cheese sauce.  These were delicious as well, with onions and bacon bits mixed in.  Leliana watched me eat with a smile on her face.  She giggled.

“Well I see you have your appetite back.”

“I do indeed, I’m starved actually.”

“Well you really haven’t eaten anything for nearly two weeks.”   “Finish your fast and we’ll talk when you’re done.”  She went back to sipping her tea blowing on the hot steam.

We all finished our meal and I sat back in my chair full and happy as a lamb.  I wiped my hands and mouth on my shift with Wynne frowning at me.  I just shrugged my shoulders at her and grinned.  She just smiled and finished her own meal.

“Have all of you had breakfast?”

“Yes, we just finished out in the hall.”  “They boys are washing up right now getting ready to come in and see you.”  “Sten and Oghren are both giddy to finally be allowed in to see you.”

“I’ll be happy to see them as well.”  “Thor is with them?”

“He is and he is also getting a quick wash up.”

“Is he now, how did you all manage to pull that off?”

“We bribed him with a Mabari Double Crunch biscuit.”

I laughed, “So, all of you finally figured out that he can be bribed to do your bidding.”

“Yes, we finally realized what he was doing in being stubborn.”

“Thor knocked your brother clean off his feet, when he spotted your brother and he charged Fergus at a full-out run.”  “Sten had to pull him off your brother.”  “Your brother was too busy laughing to have much effect in getting the big lug off of him.” 

“I must say you’re brother is indeed a handsome man.”

“He is isn’t he?”  I smiled up at her.  “Give him time Leliana, I don’t think he could take being in a relationship so soon after Orianna.”  “Oh, it’s not like that, I just noticed he is very handsome.”  She flipped her wrist to punctuate her words.

“In case you’re wondering, Zevran and I have purchased you a new suit of leathers.”  “So I’ll go get them so you can get dressed.”  “You’re other Drake Scale Armor set is being oiled and shinned up by Master Wade, for Alistair’s coronation.”  “Alistair took that set to Wade and gave him instruction to have it all shinned up, and any repairs that your leathers needed.”  “Master Wade said he’d send word when your suits of leathers are ready for Alistair’s big affair for you.”  “I wasn’t exactly sure what you’d planned on wearing.”  “I think you should wear a day dress.”

“No.”  I said.  Geez, I sounded like Sten.

“I’m sorry, Leliana, I didn’t mean to sound so harsh.”

“I didn’t think that you did, it’s alright.”  She smiled in that understanding way that she had.

“It’s just that being recognized as the ‘Hero of Ferelden’ is sort of like a military title.”  “I don’t think a dress will do.”

“But, the ball in the evening to honor the new King of Ferelden will be a grand occasion yes?”

“I suppose it will.”

“I shall see you outfitted to look your part, yes?”  I frowned at her.

Leliana threw her head back and laughed that delightful laugh that she had.  “No worries, Mia Bella.”  “Our Enchantress here has already given me my orders, no lace and frilly bits.”  “Just shoes to match your gown, are your wishes, yes?”

“Yes and a dark color.”

Leliana wagged her finger at me.  “I think no dark color for you for this grand occasion.”

“Leliana,” I warned. 

She bent down and took my face in her hands, looking me right in the eye and I her.

“Have no fear; you’ll be dressed fitting for this special occasion and that of your station.  I swear this by Andraste that you will.”  “No lace and filly stuff, I promise you.”  “Ferelden’s are conservative in their dress and I know this.”  “Unlike the nobility of Orlais, I do understand, Mia Bella.”

I still wasn’t convinced.  I had to trust her since it seemed I wasn’t allowed outside at the moment.  I trusted Leliana with my life yes, dressing me for a formal occasion……no.  I’d probably have nightmares of lace monsters until I knew what my gown would look like.

“Shall we get started with your measurements then?”

“Yes, I guess we should.”

I stood up and pushed my chair back into the table.

Leliana reached into a hidden pocket inside her leathers and removed a small piece of vellum and a lead pencil. 

“Wynne, will you write while I measure our hero here?” 

“I shall,” replied Wynne.  Leliana passed Wynne the writing materials and then she proceeded to pull out a tape measure. 

“Ok, where did you get a tape measure?”

“I pinched it from the market of course.”

“Of course you did, silly me.”  I laughed.

“Alright, raise your arms if you can.”  “I’ll try to do this as fast as possible and as gentle as possible.”  “I know this is going to hurt you some.”

I did as Leliana asked me and she quickly placed the tape around my breast and read the tape, telling Wynne my bosom measurement.  Wynne wrote this down on the vellum.  I lowered my arms with a hiss.  Any pressure or movement of my chest hurt like mad and my chest had been itching like crazy.  With the movement, the itching started anew.  This also brought to my mind the conversation that Alistair had had with Wynne over one of his injuries and it itching.  I really have to stop reliving the past I thought.

“I’m sorry my friend I know that was uncomfortable for you.”

Next she measured my: waist, thighs with both legs, my shoulders from across the back. Next were my arm lengths from the top of my shoulders down to my wrists.  She measured the inside of my legs from my crotch down.  She also measured my wrists and each thigh separately. 

Leliana pulled out two larger pieces of vellum.  She sat these on the floor.  “I need you to step on each piece so I can trace your feet for the shoes I’ll have made for you.”  I did as she asked and stepped on each piece of vellum with each foot on a piece of vellum.  I got dizzy and nearly fell over, she had to steady me.

“Are you alright?”  She eyed me with concern.

“I’m still a little unsteady on my feet is all, don’t worry Leliana, I’m fine.”

Maker, please don’t let me throw up my breakfast, I thought.  The cat would be out of the bag if I did.

“Leliana, please hurry, I think I need to lie down.”

The room was starting to spin and I was starting to feel a bit clammy.

Wynne stood up with concern clearly written on her face.  She took a hold of my arm to steady me.  “Leliana, quickly, I think she is going to faint.”

My vision was starting to turn black and I was indeed getting ready to faint.  Leliana jumped up from tracing my feet.  She grabbed my other arm helping Wynne guide me back to my bed just before I completely passed out. 

I came to a few minutes later.  I really felt like I had to vomit.  Wynne had placed a cool cloth on my forehead.  Wynne and Leliana both were bent over me eyeing me with concern. 

“I don’t think you’ll have any visitors today.” 

“I’m sure it will pass Wynne.”

“You will do as I say young lady.”  

“All of us can visit with you tomorrow.”  “We just want you well again.”  “They will understand, I assure you,” spoke Leliana.  She took my hand in her’s.

“It’s not that, Kristoff is going to interview me today for the First Warden, they need to document my view of the events of the blight.”

“I’m afraid not, spoke Wynne.”  “I’ll handle Kristoff; you’ll have to do this another time.”

Stubbornness crossed my face; I knew it, another delay in my plans.  Rats.

“Pout all you like dear, but you’ll still do as I say for your own good.”

I sighed.   “Fine,” I said.

“Good, Leliana and I will leave you to rest.”  “Don’t you get out of this bed again, young lady, unless I’m here to help you?”

Great, I thought, I really needed to see Zevran.  The morning had been looking so bright with hope.   

“Ok, Wynne, don’t scold me anymore, I get it.”  “I’d still like to see Zevran, today.”

“Maybe this afternoon a short visit can be arranged.”  “I’ll let you know, once I check on you again.”  “Now, I want you to go back to sleep.” 

“Wynne….”

“Yes Bell, what is it?”

“Warden Kristoff plans on interviewing all of you as well.”  “The Wardens would also like all of you to tell in detail the events that happened as we traveled together fighting the blight.”  “I thought I’d better let all of you know, the interviews are coming.”

“It’s nothing that we can’t handle; I assure you, don’t worry.” 

I nodded.

Wynne stood up walking back to the table where we’d had our breakfast.  She and Leliana gathered up the dishes placing them on the trays to carry them out of the room.  Leliana winked at me as she stooped to pick-up the tracings of my feet on the vellum.  She took the other vellum on the table and she placed all of the notes in her hidden pocket with her tape.   She grabbed one of the trays and told me goodbye and she’d see me later, then her and Wynne left my room.

I sighed heavily, thanks kids for reminding me that I’m going to be a mother in about seven months.  I placed my hands on my stomach.  Ok, since we’ve had breakfast and it seems that both of you would like a nap, and then I guess a nap is what we will have.  I promise I’ll try to be the best mother that I can be.  I pulled the blanket around me and snuggled into the covers and drifted off to sleep.

Outside of Bellavalia’s room Wynne and Leliana had placed the breakfast dishes on the hall table.  “I’ll get Zevran right away and have him check to see if her food was poisoned.”   Wynne nodded.  She had a terrible look on her face.  She had thought it strange that a special tray and been sent for Bell and her instead of the large dishes of food that had been delivered.  She waited patiently for Leliana to get Zevran.

Leliana walked into the room next to Bell’s and she saw all her male companions look up at her. 

“It is time to see her then?”  Zevran had asked the question and his eagerness died on his face when he really looked at Leliana.

Sten, Oghren, Thor, and Zevran all went on the alert.  “Zevran, come quickly, Wynne and I think Bell’s food might have been poisoned.”

“Brosca,” swore Zevran furiously under his breath.  “Yes, quickly, let me examine the remainder of her food.”

All of the companions hurried out of their room and into the giant mess hall.  The Warden’s sensed something afoot and joined them. 

“What is going on asked Kristoff?” 

“We’re not sure,” responded Leliana turning to Kristoff.

“Show me her plate and eating utensil’s commanded Zevran.”

Wynne and Leliana both pointed them out.  Zevran picked up Bell’s plate and begin to sniff the remaining crumbs of food left on her plate. 

“Did either of you get sick, dizzy, or have any sensation while eating?”

“Nothing from my own plate and Leliana brewed the tea herself?”

“Alright so it’s not the tea.”

“Not so fast my lovely, I’m not done with my examination just yet.”

“The food came from Eamon’s estate; it’s delivered three times a day for everyone here, for all of us only.”  “The fort is now back to having deliveries made, so our food isn’t coming from the kitchen’s here.”  “Are you thinking it was the tea, Zevran?” Leliana had already pieced together that someone working in the Arl’s kitchens had poisoned their friend’s food.”

“Not necessarily, no.” 

“Wait, all of you think someone tried to poison the Commander?” 

“Yes, we do spoke Leliana.”

“What has happened?”  Kristoff demanded to know.

“We were eating and afterwards Wynne and I were measuring her for new clothes when she became clammy, and she lost her balance, she passed out just as we got her back in bed.”  “She wasn’t out for long.”  “She came to a few minutes after Wynne put a cold cloth on her head.”  “She looked like she needed to vomit.”

“Her legs could have caused this; they are badly injured are they not?”

Wynne answered Kristoff, “yes, they are, but they wouldn’t have caused this unless there is an infection deep down in the bone, which I haven’t detected.”  “It’s possible.”

“Let me continue to examine her food.”  “She ate with a knife and spoon?”

“Yes Zevran.”

“Was anything else odd about her meal which you noticed Wynne, anything off or different today?”

“It was strange that a plate had already been prepared for us both on a separate tray.”

“What do you mean?”

“All of the meals sent over to us by Eamon’s staff have been placed in large crockery bowls for me and Leliana to serve all of us from.”  “Leliana and I, and all of you know, we just set the table and all of you help yourselves.”  “I always fix a plate for her and take it in to her.”  “This is what was different today.”

“Well, it’s obvious then that someone working on Eamon’s staff has been paid a lot of money to poison our precious jewel.”

Oghren spoke up next, “Well, Miss Ice Queen is still in the dungeon in Eamon’s estate isn’t she?”

“Alistair,” they all said in unison.

“I’m on it” spoke Leliana and she took off to get to Alistair before anything happened to their new King.

“Sten, go with her please, we don’t know what she’ll encounter.”  Wynne looked at the big giant with pleading eyes.

“No wait, stay here Sten, Leliana will be able to get to Alistair quicker if she is alone.”  “With you along, both of you will be stopped and told to wait.”  Zevran said to all of them.

“Yes, it would be best.”  Sten nodded to Zevran in agreement.

“What do we do now?”  Oghren asked in general to the group gathered.

Zevran had picked up the spoon that Bell had eaten with; he brought it to his nose and sniffed.  “Ah, here is our little friend.”   “The spoon has been dipped in a not so potent poison and the spoon left to dry with the poison on it.”  “See the difference in the metal.”

“Aye,” said Oghren eyeing the spoon, “its darker then the knife.”  When Zevran picked up both and held them side by side.  “Yes, my friend it’s darker.”  “This is a Crow poison, not a very strong poison, just enough to make someone sick.”  “Anyone doing business with our Crow friends in the market could have purchased this.”

“So we watch for someone from Eamon’s estate to go back to the Crow stall and bingo we get to give them a good ass kicking.”  At least Oghren was hoping so, he hadn’t gotten to kill anything or anyone in a few weeks time, and he didn’t want to get rusty with living the good life in Denerim.

“Was there enough on the spoon to harm her?”  Kristoff asked.

“No, we are dealing with no professional here.”

“I’m not sure what their aim was, maybe to get her sleepy enough for her to pass out, then perhaps they planned on just taking her after knocking you two out while standing guard at her door. “  “While the rest of us were out today, and out-of-the way, while we continued to help at her family estate here in Denerim.”

“I’ll get another two Wardens on guard with us said Kristoff.”

“What do we do about her food?” 

“We cook it ourselves, is what we do,” said Sten.

“Well at least you can cook better than Alistair.”  Oghren glanced over his shoulder at Sten addressing him.  Sten just shrugged his shoulders. 

“Well this is my chance to finally show you Ferelden’s how to cook a proper meal, yes, finally.”

“You keep going on and on about that, time for you to step up to the plate there elf.”

“I’ll take that challenge my short fire-haired friend.”

“Hey, stop commenting on my hair.”

“As you wish my friend, I meant it as a complement.”

“Hmmm, sure you did.”

“You wound me my friend,” said Zevran

“Boys, boys, enough, we need to decide what to do.”  Wynne said in her bossy voice.

“We wait until Leliana returns to see if anything happened to Alistair and see if someone tried to poison him too.”  “Then we’ll decide,” spoke Zevran quietly.

Zevran had not said anything to anyone on Bellavalia’s plans to escape Fort Drakon for her to get to Gwaren, and someone else had anticipated her plans and acted.  They had tried to slow her down for a day or two, slowing her recovery so she wouldn’t be able to leave for Gwaren as she had planned.   Whoever this person was, they wanted to get a head start on Bell.  So someone had seen him gathering their supplies and they had acted.

Wait, until I catch up with you, thought Zevran, you’ll pay for this.  I’ll see to it that you do.

“Wynne, could this poison have been meant for you?” 

“Me?”  “Why would someone want to poison me?”  “I’m nobody important.”

“I beg to differ,” spoke Kristoff.

The companions all turned to look at Kristoff.  “What do you mean Warden?”  Wynne asked with a puzzled expression on her face.

“You’re helping to heal the new Warden Commander of Ferelden and you have access to her room and you are the only one allowed in to see her without asking our permission.”  “The King himself has ordered that you remain her primary care giver because you are her friend and he trusts you.”  “You alone and nobody else can get past this door without our permission.”  “The poison could have been meant to knock you out stealing your mage uniform to gain access to her.”  “Anyone watching all of us would have already determined that you are the only one that gets by us.”  “It wouldn’t be abnormal to see someone with white hair wearing a senior enchanter’s robe, going in or leaving her room.”

“That still doesn’t explain how they would get past you Wardens.”

“They would have done the same to us.”  “Most in the fort do not realize that we are Wardens.”

“This is why you don’t talk every much.”  Zevran had spoken up.

“Yes, so they won’t realize our accents and we talk in hushed tones.”

“We are dressed in ordinary leathers and armors native to Ferelden instead of the Regalia that Warden’s normally wear in other countries.”  “It would have been easy for them to place two of their own guards on her door for the mage imposter to get inside.”

“I see your point Warden.” 

“What do you plan to do Kristoff?”

“The other Wardens will be hidden in this room from now on where nobody will be able to see them watching her door.”  “’We’ll go on as before as if everything is normal.”  “As for her food, we’ll just dispose of it and we’ll see that our food is only served to her.”

“All of you would give your life for her wouldn’t you?”

“Aye we would,” spoke Oghren.  “She has changed all our lives for the better, we’d do anything for her.”

Kristoff looked at all the traveling companions of Warden Cousland and he saw they all meant what the short dwarf had spoken.   Kristoff could see it in their eyes.  How his interview with each of them would turn out, he didn’t know.  He knew one thing for certain; they’d lie for her if they had too.

“I’m going to go in and sit with her.”

“Good idea Wynne, the rest of us will wait here for Leliana to return.”

The men sat down at the large wooden table and Zevran produced a pack of playing cards and they settled into a game to wait.

Kristoff went back to stand guard at the Commander’s door and conferred with the other warden.  The other Warden went to inform the others what their new orders were to be.   Nobody would gain access to the Commander, not even the new King, thought Kristoff, not without his say from now on.  He had a job to do for the First Warden and he meant to do his duty, protect the new Warden Commander at all cost until they found out how she had survived the killing of the Arch Demon.  Then he’d have to wait for new orders to kill her if the First Warden decided to order her death.  The other Warden finally returned and he took up his post once again outside the Commander’s door. 

For all intents and purposes they were all carrying on as usual.  Then they heard footsteps approaching.  They all looked up to see Fergus Cousland coming toward all of them.  Zevran knew he had to intercept the Teyrn before him and Kristoff got into a confrontation at Bell’s door.

“Ah, my friend there you are?”  Zevran had risen from his chair and he nearly ran to Fergus offering him a warrior’s handshake and drawing the Teyrn in for a hearty pat on the back, while Zevran whispered for the Teyrn to play along.  Fergus got the message loud and clear.

“Well I came to visit my sister of course and to see why all of my free help hadn’t arrived back at the estate yet.”

“Your sister is taking a nap after her large breakfast this morning,” She’ll likely be asleep for hours yet, so join us in a few hands of cards, we’re stealing all of Oghren’s coin at the moment.”  “All of us were to see her today and she didn’t feel well and Wynne made her go back to bed.”  “So we’re still waiting.” 

“Free coin you say, who could pass up such an offer.”  “Deal me in.”  “I’ll join you all in a few hands and hope my pampered sister wakes up soon.”  “I could use a break; I’ve been hard at work since the wee hours of the morning.”

“Yeah real hard work you had to do, sitting on your horse while you escorted all those mercenaries to the docks this morning.” 

Fergus grinned at Oghren, “I was only fulfilling the King’s orders Oghren and somebody had to supervise.”

“That wasn’t a job that was a candy ass job.”  “A real job would be busting their heads while escorting them to the docks.” 

“I thought we already did that.” spoke Zevran.

“Eh, would give them another ass kicking have been so bad, that’s how we do it in Orzammar.”

“I wouldn’t have minded, but I think the king would have.”

“Who cares what he thinks.”

“Diplomatic relations Oghren, Alistair’s orders were the right ones.”

“Bah,” said Oghren.

Fergus joined the other men at the table after he placed his sword and shield next to his chair. 

“I’ll deal; spoke Zevran as he gathered all the cards from the last hand.”  Zevran shuffled the cards and then he dealt each of them their hands.”

“I’m in,” spoke Fergus after examining his cards. He threw in a few silvers to get the pot going.

“I’ll have to have a go at that pot as well.”  Oghren’s coins landed on the table matching the Teyrn’s bet.

Sten was in deep thought regarding his cards.  He threw his cards on the table.  “I’m out.”

“I’m in and I’ll raise you five.”  Zevran added his own coins to the pot.

“Well, I’ll have to see those cards.”  “Here is your five.”  Oghren threw some more coins on the table.

“I’m with you Oghren, here is mine, and I’ll raise you both another five.”  The Teyrn matched and raised his bet.

“Very sporting of you all I must say.” “Here is my five and I’ll raise you another ten.”

“I say you’re bluffing elf.”

“Maybe so, you’ll to pay to see however.”   More coins landed on the table from Oghren and Fergus.

Cards gentlemen? 

“I’m good said the Teyrn.”

“Hit it spoke Oghren.”

Zevran drew the card from the top of the deck and turned it over on the table.  The draws and bets are over gentlemen, we have the Angel of Death; this hand is at an end.   Each of the men laid their cards face down on the table.

“Will you look at that, the Teyrn had four Queens.”

“I had three reapers” and they all saw Oghren did indeed have three reapers.  Then they all viewed Zevran’s hand.  He had four Kings.  “I believe this pot is mine gentlemen” and Zevran scoped up the entire pot of sliver off the table.  All of the men at the table knew it was rare to get these hands in regular play.  The message from the cards was directed at Fergus.  Fergus understood the message.  Bell’s companions had not come to the estate because something was going on here at the Fort with Bell in danger and they were staying put to protect her.  The Kings out of the deck were a message that Alistair was in danger.  The Reaper, Angel of Death, King and Queen cards all coming up in this round, not bloody likely. Yup, something was up. 

“Ah stroke of bad luck there Oghren.”

“Aye, for the both of us it seems – another hand Teyrn?”  “We might bet our coin back.”  Sten, Oghren and Zevran were watching the Teyrn closely to see if he got the message.”  “I’ll play a couple more hands, and then I’ve got to go fill Alistair in that his orders have been carried out.”   

“It’s your turn to deal Teyrn.”  Double meaning there thought Fergus, because it wasn’t his turn to deal it was actually Oghren’s turn.   The message was not lost on Fergus; it was time to move his sister to their estate in Denerim.  He also knew her friends would fill him later on what was going on. 

“So it is, here we go then.”

The men all played a few more hands and Fergus finally bowed out, taking his leave where he left to go to Eamon’s estate to check and see if their new monarch was in danger.   He knew his sister would be safe with the Wardens and her companions guarding her door.  He would also have to remember to never play cards with Zevran again.  He’d lose his shirt if he did.

Chapter 29

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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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