I opened my eyes to find Wynne keeping a close watch on me. What now, I thought. I stretched and raised myself up in bed. My nap had done wonders for me. I felt terrific. My children seemed happy at the moment too. Thank the Maker for small favors.
“Wynne, why are you here?”
“Making sure you’re alright.”
“Why wouldn’t I be alright?”
“I’m just making sure dear.”
“Spill it Wynne.”
“I don’t want to worry you.”
“Worry me?” “Maker, something has happened to Alistair and you don’t want to tell me?”
“No, as far as I know His Highness is just fine.”
“Then tell me why you are here instead of doing your rounds?”
“I am, so spill it, what is going on?”
“We think someone tried to poison you and me this morning.”
“WHAT!” “Are you sure Wynne?” Fury raced through me. Outward I remained calm.
“Yes, Zevran checked the remains of your breakfast this morning and found the poison on a spoon used by you and it could have also been meant for me.” “You did get dizzy this morning and had an upset stomach?”
“Yes, I did slightly; it was nothing that would indicate to me that I’d been poisoned.” I had attributed my fainting spell and upset stomach this morning from being pregnant. A topic Wynne and I seemed to be avoiding. If she didn’t wish to discuss the fact I was pregnant…. fine by me.
“Wynne, you know that Zevran, Leliana, and I are well acquainted with poisons. We all know how to prepare them and their ingredients and their varied uses.” “I didn’t get this impression at all.”
I was instantly on the alert. “Ok, why would someone take the risk and not see the deed entirely done?” “This doesn’t make any sense?” “Does Alistair know?”
“Yes a very good question as to why they went to the trouble of putting poison on your spoon and no, I don’t think he does.”
“Good, let’s keep it this way.”
I threw the covers off of me and started to climb out of bed.
“Bell, what do you think you are doing?”
“I’m getting up and getting dressed is what I’m doing.”
“No, young lady, you’re going to stay in that bed.”
“No Wynne, I’ve had enough of staying in this bed.”
Proving my point, I got up out-of-bed and walked to the privacy screen in our room and used the chamber pot. Well that felt better. I guess this is what woke me up; I needed to relieve myself. Since I was up and the day was still early afternoon, I was going to get up and take a walk through the fort, and I really didn’t care who liked it. I was going to show whoever had done this that I wasn’t down and out just yet. Just in case they had other plans.
“Wynne, I’d like to see Zevran right now.”
“I don’t think that is a good idea.”
“I don’t care what you think Wynne.” “Just get him please.”
I could tell by Wynne’s face she knew what I was planning. So, someone had tried to poison me and possibly Wynne. I knew who had done this and why. My trip to Gwaren could no longer be delayed. I had to leave by tomorrow night. I was leaving and nobody would stop me or they’d have to deal with me personally. It was time for Zevran and me to finalize our plans for our trip. I hope he had everything gathered.
I would also need to see my brother because moving to our family estate here in Denerim would be easier to sneak out of then here at the fort. This fort was a place where prisoners were held. I was sure by now that the criminal element had already started working the streets and back alleys of Denerim once more, and if caught they would be brought to the fort to await their turn with a magistrate. I really did need to see what defenses were currently in place in case Zevran and I would have to sneak out tomorrow night.
I came out from behind the screen to find Wynne still sitting where I had left her. She was going to refuse to get Zevran for me, I could tell. She could get him or Kristoff could get him for me. I really didn’t want to involve Kristoff.
I walked back over to my bed and sat down facing her. She had a stubborn expression on her face. Wynne could be difficult when she felt she was in the right about something. She was as stubborn as Thor and Alistair at times. I had to do this with or without her help.
“Wynne, I really do need to see Zevran.”
“What are you planning exactly?”
“I just need to talk with him nothing more.”
“For some reason I don’t believe you.”
“If you recall Wynne, I do have Zevran working on a project for me.” “This is what I need to speak with him about.”
“You’re not planning on doing anything over the events of this morning?” “I truly find this hard to believe, especially out of you.”
I was making plans, and she didn’t need to know to what extent though.
“Well of course I’ll talk to him about this.” “I want to know his thoughts on the subject of someone trying to poison you and me.”
“So what really happened?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Well of course I remember.” “I was eating breakfast with you this morning and Leliana came in to measure me for my party clothes.” “I got dizzy and passed out.” “I’m assuming you and Leliana got me back into bed.” “I don’t recall that part.”
“We barely got you back in bed.”
“As you can see I’m fit as a fiddle.”
Wynne was giving me that look!
“Check for yourself then.”
Wynne didn’t hesitate. She raised her arms and cast a spell over me. I could feel the magic swirling around me. I felt it enter my body. The magic was searching for any signs of distress in my body. I felt it course threw my body and return to her hands.
“Honest Wynne, I feel fine.” “Will you please get Zevran for me?” “As the Warden Commander I don’t think it would be a good idea to run around the fort in my sleeping attire.”
“What do you mean running around the fort?”
I ignored her question and answered with one of my own.
“Do we have any vellum and ink around?” “I have a few letters and notes to be written.” “I’d also like to get this done today.”
Yes, I believe there is some that I placed in the desk over there.” “Help yourself if you like.”
“Excellent, I’ll get started on getting those letters written.”
“There is no talking you out of seeing Zevran is there?”
“No, there isn’t.” “If you don’t want to get him, I’ll understand.” “If you don’t, then I’ll have to do this myself.” “Also, I’ll inform Kristoff that all of my friends can come in to see me this afternoon or better yet why don’t I join all of you for our dinner in the main hall outside my room.”
“Let me guess, this will show if someone is watching that their plan didn’t work.”
“Yes, they won’t get away with spoiling my fun.”
“Bell, promise me that you’ll be careful.”
“Careful is my middle name Wynne, you should know this by now.”
“Need I remind you young lady all the times that I had to heal you on the road?”
“No, you don’t need to remind me and it wasn’t just me you healed along the way.” “I believe you healed all of us.”
“You and Alistair always got the worst of it most of the time.”
“Hmmm, yes we did. “We are Wardens, Wynne that was to be expected, and thanks to you we are still alive.” “I’ll be eternally thankful Wynne for what you did for all of us.”
“Well don’t go making all of my hard work for nothing will you?”
“I promise to be careful.” This seemed to satisfy her.
“Wynne has my brother been by?” “I’d like another visit with him too.”
“He was here this morning and he was on his way to visit with Alistair he said he would stop by later today to see you.”
“Good, how would all of you like to move to our family estate here in Denerim and get out of this fort?”
“I’d like the idea just fine, if Alistair approves.”
“Why would Alistair need to approve of me going to my own home?” I felt a shot of anger rush through me. As if he could stop me from going home. I’d really like to see him try that. Now my brother on the other hand was a whole different problem to tackle if he said no. What kind of mess did Howe’s men leave at our estate? I had to admit I was dying to find out. I wanted to sleep in one of my own beds and see if I had any other clothes left at the estate. Also, to make sure our staff was doing alright and if they needed anything and to see who might be new on the staff.
“For your security of course, she said.” “This fort is locked down because of you.” I really didn’t like the sound of that.
“Wynne, where is Leliana?”
“She is checking to make sure that Alistair is alright and make sure someone didn’t do this to him.”
“Well, I’m glad that all of you thought of this.”
“We’ve all sort of become our own little family from traveling together and I think we’ll have lasting friendships for the rest of our lives.” “In doing so, we’ll always protect each other, so we naturally thought one of us should check on Alistair.”
“It seems that we have developed lasting friendships among us.”
I could probably stomach being friends with all but one or two people. I hoped that Leliana didn’t tell Alistair what had happened to me. I have a strange feeling that she did though. I wonder how he handled what happened this morning and will he do anything about it? It was my own vanity that wanted a reaction out of him. A woman’s fool pride and I knew it.
“Wynne, Zevran, please, and tell him to bring me my new suit of armor will you?”
She started to fuss again until she saw the look on my face.
“As you wish, she grudgingly replied.” She got up and left our room to get Zevran.
I got up and followed as she was leaving. When she opened the door Kristoff saw me in my night clothes once again. Who could take me seriously being the Warden Commander when I couldn’t get anyone to bring me any damn clothes?
“Yes Commander, what can I do for you?”
“I’ve asked Wynne to get my good friend Zevran for me; I’d like a private word with him and to let you know he is expected.” “Afterwards and when I’m dressed, I’d like a word with you Kristoff over this morning’s events.”
“As you say Commander, I think it would be a good idea to talk as well.”
I shut my door and went back to the small writing desk in the room. I opened the draw and just as Wynne had said there were writing materials. I sat down at the desk, feeling the chill from the cold wood underneath me. I’d be happy when I had armor to put on. I took out the vellum, ink, and quills. It didn’t appear there was any wax. Not that it would do me much good, since I didn’t have any of my seals. I had been fortunate that my mother had removed my father’s signet ring from his hand; she had offered it to me moments before Duncan and I fled Highever that night. I had been heartbroken to accept my father’s ring. I would give this to my brother, if I ever got all of my gear in one place.
I took a piece of vellum and laid it in front of me. Next I picked up a quill and examined the tip, it looked sharp enough. I then reached for the small vial of ink and uncorked this replacing the small vial back down on the desk. I gently dipped the quill into the ink. I was ready to write my note. I began.
Your Royal Highness, Alistair Theirin of Ferelden
It has been brought to my attention that you are in possession of my ‘Starfang’ sword and my daggers where you found them on top of the fort. Would you be so kind and see them returned to me as soon as possible. It would be most appreciated.
Ever Your Servant,
Warden Commander of Ferelden, Lady Bellavalia Cousland
There that was done, now to have my small note sent off to Alistair and hopefully this wouldn’t cause too much of an uproar. I folded the vellum. I really needed wax to seal this. I had to find some. I got up from my desk and went to my door.
Kristoff came to attention immediately. “Yes Commander, what do you need?”
“I’d like some sealing wax if you happen to have some Kristoff, I have a few notes to write and I’ll also need them delivered at once.”
“I have some sealing wax that you can use and I’ll see that your messages are delivered.” “I’ll get the sealing wax from my room Commander and bring them back to you in a minute or two.”
“Thank you Warden Kristoff.”
I shut my door and walked around my room waiting on Kristoff to return. I was also wishing that Zevran would hurry and show up. I was wondering where he was? It couldn’t possibly take this long for Wynne to get him.
A knock sounded on my door, and I went to open it. “I have the sealing wax that you asked for Commander.” I took the wax kit that Kristoff offered. “Thank you, I’ll have the messages ready in a few moments.”
I shut my door and returned to the desk to seal the message to Alistair and also write one to my brother that I needed to see him. I opened the small case of traveling wax that Kristoff had given to me. I picked up a small stick of blood red wax and held it to the candle flame of the small candle that sat upon the desk for reading. The wax finally warmed. I held the wax over the vellum and with the index finger of my left hand I held the folds of the vellum closed in place where I had folded the small letter a moment earlier. With my other I held the small stick of wax over the vellum and allowed the drops to slowly drip onto the vellum. After a short while I finally had enough wax drips for the seal. Looking inside the kit once more I discovered Kristoff’s seal kit also included the seal for Grey Wardens. How appropriate I thought. Instead of sending a message to his Highness that he might take for a personal note, the Seal of the Wardens would make the note official. I picked up the solid bronze seal by the beautiful engraved handle and firmly pressed it into the hot wax. I held the seal in place making sure to get a deep impression in the hot wax. I slowly lifted the seal and viewed my work once the wax had cooled. Perfect. One down, one more to go I thought. I grabbed another piece of vellum and went through the same process of writing a quick note to Fergus.
I got up from the small desk and went to give the messages to Warden Kristoff to have them delivered. Just as I opened the door there stood Zevran with Kristoff. I grinned.
“Well Mia Bella, I see you are up and about.”
“I must say I do so enjoy the way you open a door for visitors.”
I groaned. I forgot I still had my sleeping shift on.
“Damn you Zevran, you better have my armor.” He chuckled and nodded that he did, he held his arms up for me to see.
I motioned for him to come inside and he strolled into my room with an arm load of gear, as I stepped aside to allow him by.
“Warden Kristoff, will you see that these are delivered to Arl Eamon’s estate?”
“I will commander, is there anything else?”
“No, but don’t leave your post, when Zevran and I are done with our discussion then we’ll talk.” “I’m not to be disturbed by anyone, is that clear Warden?”
“As you say Commander, I’ll have Warden Olaf deliver these to the Arl’s estate right away.”
“Thank you Warden.”
I closed my door and turned to see Zevran lounging back on my bed where he had made himself comfortable.
“I see I finally have some clothes to put on.”
“Indeed, but do you have to put it on now, I’m enjoying the view.”
“It’s nothing you haven’t seen before.”
“Not so, my beauty, you do remember that your fair prince never allowed me to see you as such.”
“I don’t believe he is my prince any longer.”
“Ah yes, the stupid fool, Ferelden’s new monarch.”
“If you had been mine, I would never have treated you in such a fashion.” “Women are to be loved and cherished, especially one such as you.” “I would never have allowed you to get away.”
“Flattery won’t get you anywhere Zevran.” I walked over to him.
I watched as Zevran held his hand to his chest, Mia Bella, you wound me.”
“Tis true, you are wonderful in every way imaginable.” “What warrior such as me or any other could resist your charms?” “You are beautiful inside and out.” “You are brave, courageous, highly skilled, and you put others before your own needs.” “You would make a fine Queen, he is a fool.”
I walked over to the bed and sat down next to Zevran. I sat for a long while and he allowed me to do so without conversation. I lifted my head and looked up at him.
“Yes, Mia Bella, he had taken a hold of my hand and was gently caressing my hand. Almost like Alistair used to do.”
“I think there must have been someone else, someone that he loves more than me, someone he didn’t tell me about.” “Maybe he thought he was going to die to end the blight and he’d never have the chance at love.” “I’m so hurt over what he has done.”
“I know, Mia Bella.”
The tears started to fall and I couldn’t help it.
Zevran rose up and gathered me to him and held me while I cried. There was no emotion behind my tears, just the sadness that I felt as my tears slowly dripped down my face.
Finally, I wiped the tears from my face and gave Zevran a hug and pulled out of his arms. Zevran was the only one of our group I could share my true feelings about Alistair over. He was the only one who would keep my confidence. I knew I could tell him anything and he would be my friend, not matter what I did or the decisions I had to make or those already made.
“I can find out for you if this is true.”
“No, if it is true, then I really don’t want to know.” “I don’t think I could bare it Zevran.”
“All right, if this is your wish.”
Zevran knew if it was true the news would reach his friend’s ears eventually and with luck she wouldn’t be here in Denerim. Hopefully, she would at her command in the Vigil. The truth of Alistair’s actions towards Bellavalia would be something he would watch for regardless of her request.
I just nodded my head. I stood up and turned to look at the equipment that he had brought. I picked up the leather chest piece of the leathers and examined them. The leather was exceptional, the craftsmanship superb. The chest piece was also ruined with the highest quality ruins. The ruins embedded in the armor would offer: protection against fire, and Ice. They would also provide added dexterity and defense. I was astounded. The leather was dyed a dark green and swirls of a deep sapphire blue, with gold embroidery in a beautiful design depicting scenes from nature. There were also pearls sown into the garment. This was Dalish made armor. I knew the Dalish were skilled and they didn’t share their secrets of their crafts.
“Zevran, where did you get this armor, it’s…beautiful.”
“You’ll look stunning in it.” “In answer to your question it’s a gift from Leliana and me.”
“Oh Zevran, I don’t think I’ve ever received as fine a gift as this.” “I love it.” “Thank you.”
I looked up to see Zevran blush with pleasure.
“Well, we wanted to get you something really exceptional.” “We saw it in the shop of one of the Dalish armor masters camped outside of the city walls, and we both knew it suited you perfectly.”
I threw my arms around Zevran and gave him a big hug. Just at that moment my door flew open again for the second time this day, with a bang, and in stormed Alistair with a face full of fury.