I sat in my chair and wondered what Kristoff thought of my answers. He and I both knew… I was lying about being alive. I also knew the Wardens would most likely not let this go. I’ll just have to wait and see what they have planned for me. I didn’t believe they would go after Alistair since he was now a political figure. No, they would come after me, not him, since it was I that took the killing blow of the Arch Demon.
I sat at the desk drumming my fingertips on the desktop in my agitation. I made a concise effort to stop my fingers from tapping; my actions weren’t like me at all. I laid my hand flat on the desk. I was normally a calm and very still person. Especially, after the years and years of rogue training had taught me to be still. I felt more at ease in the shadows then out in the open. I being Warden Commander might hamper my style if I wasn’t careful.
I turned in my chair and looked at the door to my room here inside the fort. I knew when I got up and walked out that door, my life would change once again. Nan, used to say, when one door closes another one opens. So far her little saying had come true for me. I sighed heavily. I continued to sit there for a while longer. Not really thinking of anything. I concentrated on my breathing like I had been taught as a rogue to calm my nerves. Alistair wasn’t the only one to have breathing exercises to practice. Finally I calmed.
It was time to talk with Zevran and find my brother. I walked over to my bed and picked up my badly damaged sword and daggers placing them in the scabbard on my back. I gathered my bags and secured them to my waist. Grunting from the weight and pain they caused me. I stood still for a few moments allowing my body to adjust to the extra weight of my bags. The weight pulled at my back and chest muscles. Especially the muscles under my arm where the Arch Demon had taken a large chunk of my flesh that wrapped around to my back.
I walked over to my desk and gathered up the wax seal kit to return to Kristoff. I walked over to the door and taking a deep breath; I opened the door. Kristoff came to attention immediately. As was custom he saluted me as his Commander. With a nod of my head I acknowledged his salute.
“Warden Kristoff, here is the wax kit that you loaned to me; I’d like to thank you for its use.”
Kristoff held up his hand, keep it Commander, I can borrow one from one of the other Wardens if I need too.” “There will be a higher ranking Warden arriving at the Vigil for your official welcome and to bring you the crest of your office.”
I really didn’t know what to say, so I just nodded my thanks.
I walked past my doorway and heard two familiar voices and also felt the ground shake.
“There ye are!” I looked to my left and saw Oghren and Shale coming out of their room, walking toward me. Zevran was following close behind. I didn’t see Leliana anywhere. I also spied Wynne across the massive hall where she had set up shop so-to-speak. She had a frown on her face watching me. I knew what she was thinking too. I shouldn’t be out of bed.
“It is finally awake; shouldn’t it still be in bed, like all squishy things need to do when injured?”
I chuckled at Shale’s remark even though it hurt to do so.
“I’ve been in bed for the last two weeks Shale; I wanted a bit of fresh air and had need of a different view.”
“Well it is good that giant bird didn’t eat you and poop you out afterwards.”
“Well I can’t argue with you there, my friend.”
All of them had made their way to me.
“You gave us a scare for certain.” “Are you sure you should be up?” It was Oghren asking with clear concern on his face. I noticed that Zevran was watching me closely. I was sure he had been a fly on the wall in my room and had probably been in the rafters watching my exchange with Alistair and Kristoff.”
Come to think on it, he had probably seen me getting dressed too, the sneaky devil. I looked at him and he gave me a cheeky grin. So he had watched me getting dressed. I’d have to come with a proper pay back for his snooping. My eyes told him so and his replied bring it on!
I’m just going to do a small walk about today.” “Nothing more than that, I promise all of you.”
Zevran had kept his face void of emotion at my statement. I eyed him, one rogue to another. Because he knew I was lying to my companions.
“Come Bell, sit at the table and get off of your feet.”
It was Wynne bossing me around. She really didn’t like this idea at all. Well she did have a point. I nodded and slowly walked over to the large massive table and Zevran pulled out a chair for me since he had been right on my heels. Zevran leaned down whispering in my ear. “Be careful what you say out here.” I slightly nodded that I had heard him.
I felt the ground shake as Shale and Oghren walked over to the table. Shale came to stand behind me once I was seated. I knew why she had made her choice to stand where she was. In case someone meant to shoot an arrow in my back. Oghren took a seat across the table from me and so did Wynne. Wynne had brought her staff and placed it on the table beside her and she gently kept her hand on her staff. Oghren had slowly taken out a throwing axe and laid it in his lap just under the table out-of-sight with one hand and also at the same time with his other he had slung up his pouch of booze. When the axe was settled in his lap he finally opened his home-brew and took a swig. He offered the rest of us a drink which we all declined at my amusement.
Zevran took up a space on my right, watching the entrance to the massive hall from both directions left and right. With him standing so near me, I knew he’d take his foot and knock my chair out from under me and push me down under the table in case we were attacked. His back was facing the wall on the far side of the room, and he had a clear view of all directions. Oghren and Wynne would have the other direction and the Wardens were also near to the left of us. They would not leave their post at my door even while I was away from my room. So nobody would gain access to my room.
I knew they had all been taking their meals in this large hall. I noticed Wynne had set up her work table on one of the tables against the wall, and I saw the small cooking brazier. The other Wardens were also on guard to the entrance and exit of this floor. Someone really meant no access to me, that someone being the future King. My little group and the Wardens had virtually taken over the floor of this fort, well at least this hall and the soldier’s rooms off of the hall. With luck when I found my brother we’d be moving over to my family estate and the soldiers here in the fort could have their bedchambers back. I had a slight sense of discomfort since the last time I recalled being in this massive room, I’d been searching and hunting for supplies on my way to the roof to meet up with the Arch Demon – plus, fighting darkspawn in the process.
We all sat in silence; my companions were waiting on me to speak. I was actually already exhausted from walking the small distance. I was ready for another nap. I shook this off.
“Where are Sten, Thor, and Leliana?”
“Since Alistair arrived here just a while ago, I’m sure she is still on the hunt for him.” “Sten has taken Thor outside to do his doggie business and they should return any moment.” Wynne had answered my question. She was also eyeing me critically. I was getting weak and she knew it.
“All of you were not injured to badly I hope?”
I eyed all of them, looking at all of them expectantly.
“Bah, no need to worry about any of us,” spoke Oghren. We all made it through the battle with minor scraps; Wynne has already patched all of us up, and we’ve been doing help in the city since you’ve been asleep for nearly two weeks.”
“I believe you got the worse of it lass.”
I smiled at Oghren for his concern.
“What kind of work?” “How bad is it out in the city?” I was itching to see the city with my own eyes.
“A lot of destruction, the Arch Demon tore this city up.” “Denerim is lucky it wasn’t razed to the ground, it could have been worse if we hadn’t arrived when we did.” Oghren shrugged his shoulders.
I just nodded my head to his response.
“Well Alistair declared all the darkspawn had to burn so we’ve been helping him take care of the dead, and helping clear debris.”
“Well he was right about that, all of you know the darkspawn have to be burned, as we’ve all done this on the road.”
All of my companions nodded that they understood.
“Alistair was also out working and clearing the dead darkspawn?”
“Yes, why do you ask?” It was Wynne who responded to my question.
“I’m surprised that Eamon allowed him to do this.”
“Well Alistair doesn’t go anywhere now without his royal guard tagging along.”
“He has already started issuing orders and he seems to have jumped right into this king thing.”
“We even got to burn the dragon on the roof.” Oghren said this with pride.
“The dragon’s bones are still on the roof?” I really wanted to see the dragon’s remains. One more place to visit and hopefully sometime today. I really wanted to see the remains of the dragon that I had killed. Also, knowing that I had indeed survived the battle and to see firsthand, my nemesis was in fact truly dead.
“Yes, we burned that bastard but good. Nothing left except for its bones.”
I just nodded; I really didn’t know what to say or how I felt about that. I remember Urthemiel from the fade and would not continue the thought. Not a good place for my thoughts to go.
A lot of buildings were burned. A lot of dwarven engineers are working with Alistair right now and drawing up plans for his approval on the new bridge to the Alienage and I guess Alistair wants something done with the Alienage since it is in such poor shape. The nobles are going to balk at that.”
“Yes my friend,” spoke Zevran. The elves are always the last to get any resources or any help, we all know this to be true; yet the city elves do nothing to improve their lot.” “They are weak to accept their lot in life.” “I’ve already broken up a few fights between the City and Dalish elves, things have calmed down since the Keeper arrived and the Dalish are keeping to their camp just outside the city.”
“We’ve also been sent out in the city to keep an eye out for who was here to fight and who wasn’t.”
I just nodded, Alistair would need to know this information, and he was already making good decisions so far. It would be just a matter of time for the infighting to start between all the nobles with Alistair standing as judge over their squabbles. He would find many arguments funny I was sure.
“I’d have to agree Zev, the city elves seem to do more complaining than anything else.” “Hopefully, their lot will improve once it becomes common knowledge that they did fight to defend the Alienage.” “I don’t believe that we’d have won that battle if they hadn’t been at our backs.” “I’m going to make the suggestion for Alistair to allow many of them to join the ranks of Denerim’s soldiers, which I think will be good.” “I’m also going to make the suggestion that they be allowed to sell their produce in the market district.”
“I don’t think the nobles could get too bent out of shape if they are being productive members of society and paying taxes like everyone else.” “I’d say the real challenge will be getting the merchants guild in allowing them to join the guild.”
“Change will not happen overnight in regards to the elves.” “I’m also planning on recruiting from the Dalish and City Elves and also from the Circle Tower.” “They’re some of the best archers I’ve ever seen.” “Keep in mind, my mother was a master archer so I know what I’ll be looking for in regards to archers for the Wardens.”
I saw my plans meet with the approval of Wynne and Zevran.
“Oghren do you think many of the casteless would be interested in joining the Wardens?”
Oghren was quiet for a few moments as he thought on my question. He scratched his beard in thought.
“Aye, you might be able to recruit a few here and there.” “Just be prepared in taking on the Carta in case they are not happy with your recruitment efforts; because, you’ll be taking away recruits for the Carta so keep this in mind.” “You might need some gold to grease some palms.”
“I expected as much.”
“If you plan on returning home for a visit, will you have a look around and send me a list of names for possible recruits.”
“Aye, I’ll see what I can come up with.” “Should I send the information to the Vigil?”
“No, send me a message through my brother for now at our family estate here in Denerim, once Alistair’s coronation is over.” “Once I’m at the Vigil then there of course.”
“Wynne will you and Zevran each do the same?” “Consider any mages in the circle tower for recruitment into the Wardens?” “Make me a list and send it to me.” “I’ll also be interested in Templar’s as well, especially those that haven’t taken their vows yet.”
“Zevran if you know of any Crows who wish to leave your special organization and would like their freedom as well, do the same.”
“Remember they have to be the best in their field and training, only the very best ever get the chance to join the Wardens.”
All of my companions nodded their heads in agreement.
We all sat in silence for a few moments.
Then I heard the sound I’d been waiting to hear, the happy bark of my precious Thor.
Thor was bouncing through the door, his stubby little tail going a mile a minute. He raced right to me.
I laughed and turned in my chair to greet my beloved pet. He jumped up on me, his front legs on my shoulders and gave me a hearty doggie kiss in the face. I rubbed him all over, looking for any signs of severe injury to him. I hadn’t seen my dog, since I left him at the city gates.
“That’s my boy, I’d told you I was coming back.”
Thor barked a happy response and gave me another doggie kiss. I laughed. “Let me check you over and see how you are.” Thor stood still for me to check him. Well as still as he could he was wiggling in happiness all over. I bent over to examine him. My hands rubbed him all over looking for any injuries. The only one I spotted was the one over his eye. I lightly touched this. Thor whined a little.
Wynne spoke up. “He was the lucky the blow didn’t cut his eye and I’ve tended the cut, he will be fine.” “As you can see it’s nearly healed.” “The only injury that dog got, he was the luckiest of us all.”
“Aye, a blasted Vanguard was getting ready to cleave his head with a two-handed when I took him down, saved the pooches life I did.” Oghren took another swig of his brew.
“Thank you Oghren for saving him, I’d be lost without him.”
Thor wagged his tail in happiness. He was sniffing around my packs.
“Oh I think I know what you want.” I reached inside my bag at my side and dug out a Mabari treat.
He woofed really loud and everyone at the table laughed. I handed Thor his snack and he gulped it down in one bite, his tail set to wagging again. I bent down and whispered in his ear.
“I’ll bet it was you saving Oghren….right Thor?”
Thor gave me a cheeky grin which told me the truth.
“I thought so, I whispered in his ear, good boy.”
Thor wagged his tail again in answer to me.
“Well the lady pooches will be happy to know you’re a proven warrior.”
Thor turned his head to the side and uttered “hmmmm.” His expression made us all laugh.
Thor barked again in response. He sat down beside my chair and placed his head in my lap and I continued to rub his head.
“It is good to see you again Kadan, you are better?”
I reached up my hand and held it in mid-air. I sighed, “Sten this is a greeting in my country to shake one’s hand.” Sten flushed slightly which was hard to tell because of his golden skin. The large Qunari warrior reached out and took my hand and lightly shook my hand. His skin was so soft, smooth, and very warm. Which I found very intriguing because I would have expected his hand to be: rough, hard, and cold. My hand was small compared to his large beefy hand.
“I’m well enough for now Sten, not back to 100% but a lot better, at least I’m awake now.”
The large warrior nodded and he went to stand at Shale’s side guarding my back in his normal stoic fashion. His feet across, and his legs spread wide with his arms crossed over his chest. At least he wasn’t pacing like he used to do in camp all the time. So I took this as a sign he was relaxed. His arms were just above my head and I could see them if I glanced up.
I glanced back over my shoulder at him and said, “You know Sten you do make a dashing figure in that Juggernaut Armor Plate, which I see you have all shinned up.”
Sten raised his eyebrows at me, “I don’t understand?” “Its armor, it serves its purpose.”
“Man don’t you get it, she is flirting with you,” stated Oghren shaking his head at Sten.
“Flirting, I don’t know this word.”
We all laughed at Sten’s confusion.
“We really need to take him to the Pearl, don’t you agree Oghren?”
“Aye my friend sounds like a plan to me, chuckled Oghren in response to Zevran’s comment.”
“NO,” was Sten’s reply and we all laughed harder.
“Are we having a party?”
It was Leliana, as she practically danced through the doorway of the massive hall, once the Warden’s motioned and allowed her through. We all turned to look at her.
She laughed when she saw me and she bounded over to me and gave me a hug and a kiss on the check.
“You are up, is this a good idea?” “Shouldn’t you still be in bed?”
“I just wanted to be up for a while, and to see what has been going on and talk with all of you.” “If I get to tired I’ll go back to bed, I promise.”
“Alright, you still need your rest Mi Bella.”
“I know love; I promise I won’t do more than just walk around for a bit.”
“You checked on Alistair?”
“Yes, I just spoke with him downstairs, I told him not to come here and he didn’t listen I see.”
“You two spoke, yes?”
“Yes, we did, and he assured himself that I’m fine.”
“Is that all you two talked about?”
“I don’t want to discuss it Lei.”
She waved her hand,” fine then.”
I waved my hand over my new armor set. “Leliana thank you so much for this wonderful gift.” “I love it.”
“You are most welcome and it was the least Zevran and I could do for you.” “I’m pleased that you like it.” “I picked it out.”
“She did,” nodded Zevran at me.
“I knew you’d look stunning in it.”
“You do,” Zevran nodded at me again.
It’s a beautiful armor set Leliana, where did you guys find it? Wynne was being nosey as ever.
“We found it at one of the armor masters stall’s in the Dalish encampment.”
“A beautiful choice for our leader, you both did well choosing it for her.”
“Thank you Wynne.”
Leliana looked around at everyone else, “so what are we doing?”
“Talking about taking Sten to the Pearl, laughed Zevran.”
“NO,” was Sten’s response once again. All of us smiled.
Leliana laughed, “Well if you pull that off, I want to be there to see.” Leliana smiled up at Sten. As far as we could tell he smiled back at her.
Leliana reached inside her pocket and pulled out a large cloth which let off a very pleasing aroma.
We all yelled, “Cookies,” and we all laughed as she passed the cookies around.
Sten got the biggest portion.
“For my softie” spoke Leliana to Sten.
The big warrior just winked at her as he munched his mouthful of cookies. Thor barked, for one as well.
Leliana bent down to him and rubbed him behind his ears. She laughed her tinkling little laugh.
“Of course you get one too, as she handed Thor a cookie to munch as well.
We all sat and enjoyed our little treat of soft sugar cookies. The sweet confections reminded me of the cookies that Nan used to bake for Fergus and me when we were small. It was a good memory and one I would always cherish.
My mother upon occasion would make a sweet cookie made with coconut and topped with a candied cherry as a very special treat during the high feast days of Andraste. My father in his travels would bring back the special coconut. My mother and Oriana would spend hours in the kitchen with Nan making them. It was a family recipe of Oriana’s family since Ferelden was to cold a place to grow the exotic fruit coconut came from. A large lump formed in my throat thinking of my former sister-in-law. I missed her so much and my nephew Oren.
The desire of home came over me strong. I wanted to go home to Highever. I had not seen my home since that horrid night. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing the damage to my home. I knew I would have to be strong for Fergus when we both made the trip north. North…the thought just occurred to me that I needed to go to Warden’s Keep as well and clean out Averness’ lab there and also have Mikhael see if he could repair Starfang for me. I was going to need my sword when I took my command of the Vigil.
I started to fumble around in my bags, placing the wax kit inside one of them and reaching for one of them behind my back. Leliana reached down and helped me. I smiled my thanks to her. I reached inside the one that I wanted. I had a surprise for my companions. I pulled out the small leather bags. Each bag had a string attached with a vellum note attached with a name of each of my companions written on the small slips of vellum.
I dumped the small leather bags on the table and the sound of coins jingling could be heard all around.
My companions eyed me with curiosity.
I found the one for Leliana. I handed a small bag to her and to each of my companions.
“What is this?” Leliana asked.
“A small token of my appreciation for all of your help, my way of saying thank you.”
Inside each small leather bag were 100 gold sovereigns.
“It’s not as much as I’d like to give all of you; but, hopefully enough to cover your expenses for any traveling you’ll be doing in the future or for whatever you need”
“I don’t know what to say,” spoke Leliana.
“Alistair has already seen that we have been paid for our services to the crown and to Ferelden.”
I smiled. “I expected him to do that if everything worked out alright.”
“I made these up before the battle for the gates incase…..” My voice faded, I didn’t want to say the words.
“In case you lost the battle and your life?”
“Yes Wynne, in case all of you broke apart as a group and a retreat was called so all of you could escape on a boat if you had too.”
There was one bag remaining on the table – the one for Alistair, it was a just in case thing for him. Since he now would have unlimited resources being the King. I guess he wouldn’t need it now. I snatched his little bag up and put it back in my pack. Inside of Alistair’s was a letter to him as well. A letter I meant to destroy and soon, when I was alone.
Oghren laughed with delight. “Aye well with these extra funds, I believe we’re all in need of a small celebration for our little group.” “Drinks on me at the Gnawed Noble, what do you all say?”
“The Gnawed Noble Tavern, didn’t that get destroyed?” I remembered seeing the destroyed building when I was fighting my way through the market district.
“Aye it did, but they are back in business, tables are set-up each night after the work is done during the day in the city.” “Alistair told them they couldn’t open for business until the evening prayers had ended.” “To keep the drunks off the street while recovery efforts are still going on.” “The same declaration was issued to all the bars, tavern, and inns.”
“I thought Alistair’s idea was an excellent one, the guards have enough on their hands at the moment just keeping order.” Wynne spoke offering up her opinion on Alistair’s decision.
I just nodded my head.
“How about we wait on that Oghren until I’ve spoken with my brother and we’ll have a grand feast in my family estate instead.” “Where we’ll be able to drink all night and have a place of safety to sleep it off.” “Plus, I’m sure our estate will still have plenty of ale and strong drink on hand and you can spend that coin on something better.”
“Aye fine, as long as I can still go to the Gnawed Noble tonight.”
“Have a hot date tonight Oghren?”
“Teagan keeps challenging Oghren to drinking games, laughed Zevran.”
I laughed, “I’m sure Oghren is winning too.”
“Aye, don’t be daft woman of course I am.”
“I won twenty gold pieces betting on Oghren, Wynne offered.
“Nice one Wynne, and Teagan let you sucker him out of that bet?”
“No that was just from the onlookers.”
I chuckled, “good to know they’re an easy crowd.”
“Ha, you’d think dwarves would have known better –betting against one of their own.”
I raised my eyebrows, “they were dwarves?”
Everyone chimed in a “yes.”
“From the smith caste,” offered Oghren.
I laughed hard, really laughed, like I hadn’t in a long time.
I was going to miss all of my companions badly. I didn’t want to think about not seeing any of them again. All of them had become my family.
When I was able to talk…”let me guess they were all drunk and you all suckered them out of their gold?”
Wynne smiled at me. “Of course, we did learn a few tricks from you and have been keeping the trade up for you.”
“I hope I was a good teacher?”
“One of the best, Leliana said.”
“I’m flattered Leliana that you think so.”
“Yes, well, Zevran and I both want to know how you beat Isabela at Wicked Grace.”
“It will take a long time to teach you both that trick.”
“I’m game for learning this card trick if being relaxed and naked is part of it.” “I see myself with you and Leliana.” Zevran laid his finger on his chin considering. “T’would be a most enjoyable evening, yes a most enjoyable evening. Shall it be a date then?”
“How about we keep our clothes on?” “I’d be better able to teach you with good food and wine with a roaring fire instead; and a nice parlor to learn in? “A nice comfortable bed to sleep in after our learning session is over.”
“You have somewhere in mind I assume?”
“Well of course Zevran,” “My family’s estate.”
“You’re big brother will be there?”
“I’m assuming so, yes.”
“Well then, I’m out.”
Leliana giggled. “I don’t think he wanted your big brother to be around to get us naked.”
I smiled up at Leliana. “I know Lei; I was trying to see if he’d weasel out of it.”
“Now if he wishes to be included I have no objection with that.” Zevran said with a wave of his hand.
“I would have objections to that of course.”
“I know my beauty.” Zevran chuckled, winking at me.
“Well Zevran, I believe a challenge has just been issued by the young ladies to see how well your skills of subterfuge are and your other skills we’ve heard so much about on the road, getting these two lovely ladies undressed and taken advantage of while Bell’s brother is around.” “Are you up to the challenge Zevran?”
“My lovely sliver haired goddess, are you taking bets then?”
“I am indeed.”
“Ha-ha, well my gold is on the women, I’m in, chimed Oghren.”
“Alright how much are we betting here?”
“I’m in for ten that the women win and beat Zevran at his own game, as long as Wynne holds the pot.”
“Which is what exactly my friend?”
“They will keep their clothes on while getting you entirely undressed and trussed up like the feast day turkey.”
“You honestly think they will out do me, the great Zevran, the lover of all and Master of the Crows?”
“Master of the Crows?”
Leliana and I looked at each other speculatively, she had caught Zevran’s slip the same I had.
“I’m in, spoke Sten as he threw his 10 gold on the table.”
“So who you betting on, asked Oghren?”
“The elf,” replied Sten.
“Thank you for your vote of confidence my Qunari friend.” Zevran nodded toward the big warrior.
“If you lose I’ll break your arm.” Sten gave Zevran a stern look.
Zevran sighed with his usual flare, “this is not the type of evening I would have planned.”
“We know, Leliana and I both spoke and laughed at the same time.”
We both looked at each other pointing our fingers at each other. “Jinks,” we both spoke again and laughed again.
“When will this event take place, our learning session as you called it?”
“I’ll get my brother to join us for cards one night after the dinner hour.”
“All of us will be in attendance?”
“Of course, we’ll all be there.”
All but two I thought. Morrigan would have called the game ridiculous and Alistair would have berated me for trying to get Zevran undressed. The game being a rogue challenge actually, which I don’t think he would have understood. Leliana would see this as a challenge, as a way to sharpen her skills-same as me.
“I’m not allowed to participate in this event?” Shale asked.
“Hey if it’s three on one then I’m out, that is unfair, said Oghren, winking at Shale.”
“I’m not amused dwarf.”
“Bah to your sense of humor then,” Oghren took another swig of his home-brew frowning at Shale.
“I can crush it into a fine paste if it would like?”
“Hmmm, I want to see you try that,” said Oghren.
“How is this bet fair to you and Leliana?” Zevran asked wagging his finger at both of us.
I looked at Leliana and she returned my look.
“I’m willing to share the pot if you are.”
“Yes, I have no problem with sharing.”
All of us threw our gold on the table and Wynne scooped it up and counted it out.
“A nice size bet of seventy gold.” We all watched as Wynne tucked the gold away in a hidden pocket of her mage robe.
I giggled and shook my head at her.
“What dear?” She asked.
“It always amazed me how much you could carry in those tiny mage pockets.”
“Well they are magic pockets after all.”
I laughed. “True”.
“Fine a game of cards one night at my estate.” “Speaking of which, I need to go find my brother and since we’ve all got time on our hands and I’ve errands of my own to run. How about we all go shopping in the market?”
“You want to go shopping?” I don’t think that is a good idea. Leliana said with a furrow between her brows.
“You mean the events of this morning; well I’m not concerned at all.”
Thor whined at me. I looked down at him and rubbed him behind his ears again. “All will be fine, I promise.” Thor laid his head on my stomach. I knew he could hear the heartbeats of my children and he was looking at me with speculative eyes. Thor had sensed the change in my body a month back. He would watch me all the time and he never left my side even to go hunting for goodies anymore without my say. Thor knew and understood he had more to guard than just me now.
All of my companions had puzzled expressions on their faces, then Zevran’s face relaxed.
“You think they are long gone by now that you and Alistair both know someone tried to poison you.”
“It won’t make a difference if they are gone or not.”
“Why is that?” Leliana asked with her brows drawn together still.
“Because all of us will buy and cook our own food and I’ll screen the servants at my estate once I go home.” “I’ve also instructed the Wardens here they are not to allow anymore food from Eamon’s estate through to us.”
“So let’s be off, I have a need to visit the Arl.”
“That is where Anora is being held for now, in the Arl’s dungeon.”
I’m not going there to see her; I’m going to make arrangements to have all of our equipment sent to my family estate and to thank him for his kindness of feeding and sheltering all of us.”
“Well are you all up for a little shopping and snooping this afternoon?”
“You’re not going to see Alistair either?”
All knowing eyes turned to look at me.
“No, I have nothing more to say to him except in an official capacity.”
“I really don’t see how you two are going to stop your so-called-relationship?” Zevran made his inquiry with raised eyebrows.
“Our relationship is over and you all know this.” I said sternly. I didn’t want to speak of Alistair. I had other worries.
“It won’t be easy for you or him.” Leliana offered.
“You don’t think I don’t already know this.”
“What’s done is done and there is no changing any of it.”
“Please, I appreciate all of your concerns for my welfare.” “I know it will take time to get over him, I will do it however.” “I’ll have my work as a Warden to keep me busy.” “Maybe fortune will smile on me and I’ll find love in time, someone I can truly be with.”
“The man is an idiot to let you go.” Zevran said this with force in his voice.
“Zev, please, let it go for my sake.” I placed my hand on Zevran’s arm.
He looked down at me. I could see the pain in his eyes staring back at me that someone had hurt me and there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
“Please, I don’t want any of you to not be friends with Alistair over his decision.” I looked at all of my companions. I could tell they wanted to give Alistair a piece of their minds.
“He made the right decision for Ferelden.”
“I don’t believe that, I’ll never believe that, whispered Leliana.”
“Trust me Leliana; he did make the right decision.” “He made the hardest decision, I couldn’t have done it and he knew that.”
“As a noblewoman born of this realm he did make the right decision.” “I hope he finds a good wife and they have children as heirs to the kingdom.”
“You don’t mean that?”
“Yes, I do mean it.” “I’m at peace with his decision.”
All of my companions looked so sad for me. I felt their sadness. I knew better than any of them. I just had to walk out of this fort and get on with it.
“Enough, sadness today, let’s go find our supper and find my brother.” “Let’s go find some trouble to get into.”
“Sounds like a plan to me,” spoke Oghren as he stood lifting his big war ax.” He swiftly tucked away his throwing ax.
“As you say,” said Wynne as she stood.
“We’re with you all the way said Zevran with Leliana nodding in agreement, even though we will both be working for Alistair.”
“So Leliana told you of his offer Zev?” “You’ll accept his offer?”
“What else am I going to do?” “I’ll work for him for now until something better comes along.”
“Good, I’m glad Zev.”
“How about you join the Grey Wardens Zev?” “You’d be a perfect Warden.”
“There are some body fluids I will not exchange, so no, thank you for the offer my beauty.” “It is a pleasure knowing I was asked to join the ranks of the Wardens.”
“Alistair is your best bet then Zev.”
“If you say so,” was Zevran’s snappy reply. Zevran didn’t look like he was impressed with Alistair’s offer. He would do it for me because he knew I’d worry over Alistair’s safety… royal guards or no.
“He wants to talk with me as well spoke Oghren.”
“I believe he has employment for you as well Oghren.”
“Aye, well I’ll consider his offer, mind, I might take him up on it and I might not.” “I could go to the Free Marches and be a surface dwarf there as well.” Oghren shrugged his shoulders once more.
“Work for the Carta?”
“Oghren, no, take the job with Alistair.” “If you go to the Free Marches, how will you see Felsi?”
“Well you do have a point there.”
Thor jumped up from his place and barked at me. I bent down and whispered in his ear. “Don’t’ leave my side for anything, do you understand.” Thor wagged his tail letting me know that he had understood my instructions to him. If danger lurked near me, my dog would sense it before my companions. I slipped him another Mabari treat, which he wagged his tail after munching it down.
“Let me guess I get to be package carrier?”
“If you don’t mind Shale, being the person who carries our packages, who is going to steal from you in the market?”
“Not a soul if they are smart.”
We all chuckled at her reply.
“Ok, what do you all want for supper so we know what to shop for?”
“Cake.” We all laughed because we knew who said that!
We all stood up and made our way to the door leading to the first floor of Fort Drakon. The first time I’d left the fort since coming here two weeks ago to kill the Arch Demon. I guess I was truly on my way to my next adventure. I had literally, metaphorically, and figuratively walked through a door.