“Well Mi Bella, you sure know how to show a guy a good time.”
I laugh, “I’ll see what I can do for your entertainment on the rest of our journey.”
“Promises, promises.” Zevran smirks at me.
“Are you alright he asks me?” His face getting a contemplative and serious look all of sudden.
I smile at him to reassure him. “Yes.” I answer him even though this is not the case. My leg is killing me. The stress of the last hour or so has taken a toll. Exhaustion overwhelms me and I want more than anything to go to sleep. Will my right leg ever heal? It should have healed by now, given I’m a Warden and we heal so fast. I just don’t understand what has happened to me and why the taint is taking so long to heal me.
“How did you know where we were?”
“I doubled back and made it to the rooftops; I saw you and Leliana go with the guard to the Pearl. I stayed to the shadows and knew that Alistair had been at the fort and I figured he would realize that you were gone. I knew he’d send his guards to find you and sure enough the one who found you and Leliana was one of his royal guards. I recognized him. I made it into the Pearl and the other two Wardens with me. Kristoff told them to stick with me until we found you and helped you escape from Alistair.”
“Did you talk with Alistair at the fort?”
He grins at me. “Si,” he nods. “You two were leaving out the back alley and he was coming in the front of the fort when I was leaving.” Zevran grins.
“Wow that was close then.”
“So how did you wiggle free from His Highness?”
“I told him I had a lovely lady waiting on me in the Alienage and I had a hot date! Zevran winks at me.
“I can’t believe – he believed you.”
“I don’t think he did, he was hoping I’d led him to you, I’m sure.”
I nod at him and suppress a yawn.
“How long do you think it will take Leliana to get free?”
“Not long I’m sure, she’ll find a way to escape from Alistair was well.”
I’m nervous. I really want to get moving, but we’re stuck until Leliana makes an appearance.
“Mi Bella, why don’t you take a nap and when Leliana gets here we’ll be on our way.”
Zevran removes his daggers from his back, removes his backpacks from his waist placing one under his head as a pillow, and stretches out on the floor of the aravael, making himself comfortable, and then wrapping himself in his cloak.
“You look like you could use a nap and I’m sure before our journey is over we’ll need the rest. Let’s take advantage while we can.”
I know that Zevran is only making himself comfortable and he will not sleep in case I doze off. I also know that he is coiled with tension and he won’t relax until my mission is over. I also know that he won’t allow any harm to come to me. I’m also fearful, that Zevran has guessed my secret even though he has not said anything. It’s the way that he keeps looking at me and he is often times lost in thought when looking at me. Zevran even if he has guessed will keep my secret, this is just the type of guy he is. I’m unsure if Leliana has figured it out or the rest of my companions for that matter. I’m fairly certain that Wynne knows.
I lay down on the small bed within the aravel, my feet hanging off the end of the small bed since the bed is actually made for an elf. Which is slightly uncomfortable and causing my leg to continue to throb. I place my arm over my eyes and before I know it, I relax a little.
“Yes, Mi Bella.”
“Why is Alistair sending me mixed signals on how he feels?”
“I was afraid he’d do this.”
“Do what?” I ask.
“Not keep his distance from you. It would be best for the both of you if he did.”
“Zev, how long will it take for me to get over the hurt feelings?”
“That is hard to say. I’ve never fully gotten over Rini; she is a part of me Bella. She is always there in the shadows of my mind. There is not a day of my life that I don’t think about Rini, and the same will happen with you over Alistair and him with you. The difference for you and him is that both of you are still alive. It will be the same for you and Alistair, even though you are apart now; you will always have a piece of the other to treasure in the quiet alone time and to remember. Once you take your command of the Vigil I’m sure it will get easier because he will be learning to govern the kingdom and you the Vigil, you will only see each other for special appearances at court.”
“I don’t plan on coming to court Zev.”
“I figured this would be your game plan. You know this will anger him.”
“I couldn’t bare it Zev, especially when he marries. Besides I have the perfect excuse and one he gave to me.”
“The excuse of fighting dark spawn, to avoid court, he will know that you are avoiding him and he may well come to the Vigil to see you.”
“Well he did put me in this position as the Warden Commander, and one I didn’t want.”
“He can demand you appear at court, you know this.”
“You forget Zev, I’m the daughter of a Teyrn, I’m well aware of the games at court.”
“You will leave Ferelden once you bring order to Amaranthine won’t you?”
“I don’t know what the First Warden’s plans are for me. If the situation arises I will ask for a different post outside of Ferelden.”
“Mi Bella, please ask for Antiva, the things you and I could do there….”
“Will you go back one day Zev?”
“I’m not sure yet, Mi Bella, this gig with Alistair being a spy for him… it will be good and fun; but, yes – one day I will go back. The Crows will need to pay for killing Rini.”
“I’m so sorry Zev.”
“Don’t’ be my beauty, you have helped me more than you know about her death, you have helped me see I do have a future even though it will be without her, my time and work is not yet done. Then Maker willing, I’ll see her again when I leave this world.”
“What do you plan on doing?”
“I mean to kill the Crow Master who ordered her death.”
“I thought so, if you need my help, you know you only need to ask.”
He looks up at me and smiles, “they would not stand a chance against the two of us.”
“I return his smile, no Zev, they wouldn’t.”
“As much as I’d love you to fight at my side Mi Bella, this is something I need to do on my own.”
“I understand Zev, but if you need me or a place to hide out…”
“I know my beauty; will that mean hiding in your bed?”
I roll my eyes at him and he laughs. Part of me wishes that I could erase Alistair from my mind and body with Zev, but it wouldn’t be fair to either of us and he is my friend and I won’t use him that way.
“I’ll look forward to it.” His grin gets wider. He knows I’m teasing; we have that way between us. I think he has finally accepted my feelings for him that I feel for him like I would Fergus.
Both of us remain quiet. I drift in and out of a fitful nap. Finally I give up and just lay awake and think. It’s been about an hour and a half since Leliana and I parted ways or Alistair parting us.
Zevran is right, I will need to leave Ferelden once my duty is done at Amaranthine. Where in the world am I going to go, and how will I keep my children safe and hidden from Alistair and the Wardens? The thought weighs heavy on my mind.
It seems like forever before there is a knock on the door. Zevran grabs his daggers and slides the peephole door open to see who is outside. He turns and grins at me, unlocking the door, he opens it and Leliana comes into the aravel grinning like a fool. Zevran and I both sigh with relief.
“Miss me, she asks innocently.”
Zevran and I both laugh, “But of course my red-haired goddess, the sun doesn’t shine if you are not around.”
Leliana giggles. “I love it when you are so charming Zev.”
Zev takes Leliana in his arms. “Is that all you love about me Leliana?” Zev asks her in a husky voice and tries to nozzle her neck and she laughs and pushes him away.
She looks over at me with concern.
“I see you made it, Alistair is really pissed that he can’t find you.”
I shrug my shoulders as nonchalantly has I can.
She gives me a knowing smile.
“So how bad is it?”
“Bad,” she responds.
“They are checking everywhere for you, all of the city watch and even Templars. They will check these wagons, but I think the Keeper has a trick up her sleeve.”
“Oh.” I raise my eyebrows at Leliana.
She grins wickedly at me. I’m sure a few Keeper spells will do the trick.
“Such as?” I reply with raised eyebrows.
“I hate it when you do that,” I say.
“I know,” she giggles.
“I hate not having a backup plan in case something goes wrong.”
“Miss Preparation herself,” Leliana rolls her eyes at me. “I’ve never seen anyone plan like you and I thought I’d been taught by the best in Orlais.”
Shit she is fishing for information again. I’m beginning to wonder if she heard of me or knew of me in Orlais. I don’t remember knowing her during my time in Orlais. She could have seen me in a tavern honing my craft late at night, when any respectable noble woman should have been safe in her home abed.
“Just the way my parents taught me Lei to be prepared at all times.”
She doesn’t believe me, shit!
“Ladies, come now, let’s us relax and let the Keeper handle this.”
I feel like I have ants in my pants. I have no idea what is going on outside in the Dalish camp outside the city gates. I’m so close to getting out of Denerim.
Leliana starts dumping her gear on the floor and she takes her cloak and lies down in the other bed across from mine. Zevran returns to his stretched out position on the floor between the two beds, and we all make out that we’re all cool, calm, and collected. Such is the façade of rogues, even though all three of us are coiled like wire. Each of us listening to the night sounds outside. The croaks of the frogs and the settling of the Dalish camp for the night trickle their way into the aravael.
I feel it a short while later; the use of magic all around us. I’ve been like this since the battle with Urthermiel. I can sense magic so easy now, when it is being used, and I don’t understand how this is possible. Alistair would have this ability, not me, and then it hits me… our child. This is how. Oh Maker! I hope our child isn’t a mage. I think in horror to myself. What will that mean? I don’t even want to consider the possibility, give my child up to a circle. No! I scream in my head.
I hear voices and all of us tense up. Even though to look at the three of us one wouldn’t suspect this.
“Don’t move when the door opens or make a sound,” whispers Zevran.
A Templar opens the door and looks inside the aravel. I’m coiled with tension, why can’t he see us? He seems satisfied nothing of interest is to be found. The Keeper is outside fussing at him. He explains it’s by the King’s order that all wagons must be checked. Lanaya keeps fussing as the Templar checks the next wagon. The Dalish are playing their part and letting it be known they are not happy with a ‘Templar’ checking their campsite. When the Templar tells it’s by Alistair’s order there is still some huffing and puffing going on but the Dalish stand aside and allow the Templar to do his job. What seems like an eternity passes and then Lanaya opens the door and steps up into the aravel. She smiles that lovely smile of hers.
Zevran gets off the floor and bows to her. She smiles at him. Leliana and I rise up and look at her also. Me with my eyebrows raised in inquiry.
“Well Commander, are you ready to undertake this journey?”
“The cost is clear for us to leave?”
“It is she says, and smiles once more.”
“How did you make the Templar not be able to see all three of us?”
“The Halla assisted, and I as well, it’s an old spell from the school of allusion that the chantry does not teach.”
I’m astounded. A school of magic that I’ve never heard of, well it worked so all is well I suppose. I still need to ask if the Templar will be alright.
“The Templar will be fine?”
“The spell has already dissipated when he turned to shut the door.”
“How did he not notice the feel of magic about him?”
“The school of illusion is to hide or to change, we’ve played this game with the Templars before, they suspect Keepers of having magic and we steer clear of them mostly.” I just cast enough magic over the three of you so he couldn’t see you, the dazed spell.” “All he saw when he looked inside were unmade beds and cabinets, candles, a small table with chairs, things in any household.” “Not enough magic to prick his curiosity.” “He probably figured it was time for his dose of lyrium.”
“We will need to make a few stops to rest the Halla so don’t be alarmed when we stop.” When we set down I will cast the same spell and nobody will see us until I’m certain nobody is around to undo the spell.” “The spell will also cover us as we fly.” “Nobody from the ground will see us.” “I’ve also arranged for Dalish hunters and archers to follow us, they will keep to the hills and forest as much as they can and out of sight.” “Their objective will be to give us ground cover if we are attacked when we land.”
“How do you want to approach Gwaren?”
I think for a few minutes before I answer, “this will depend how close you get us.” The front of the castle faces the sea and the ports at Gwaren. It sits on top of a small mountain or hill. It’s been so long since I was at the castle that I can’t remember. We will need to come in from the back, still within the forest but also hidden, from the southeast if possible, not directly south. I’d say set us down a few hours walk still inside the forest if possible.”
“There is a very small clearing near Gwaren, a small deer path that the Dalish use, I think it’s a two-hour walk to Gwaren, will this do?”
“Yes Keeper it will.”
“Very good then, this is where we will aim for.” “There are foodstuffs and skins of wine in the latched cabinets, please help yourselves.” “We’ll set down in a few hours time to take a small break before the sun rises, this will place us just near Dragons Peak, where you’ll be able to relieve yourselves and tend to any needs you may have.”
“How long will it take us to get to Gwaren?”
“In about three days time Commander, and you should rest, so go to sleep, if there is any danger I’ll tap on the door for all of you to ready yourselves if the need arises.”
She really should be a rogue I thought… well she is a rogue mage come to think of it, which in reality she is.
“Where will you be Keeper?”
I’ll be riding with the driver at the front of the aravel. So I can communicate with the Halla and get him to understand our need, he is willing to help since you saved him by communicating with his mate in our camp. You saved his life when you discovered his illness from the werewolf attack.
“Commander, one last thing, do you have the ring that I gave you?”
“Yes I do, why do you ask?”
“I’ll be able to sense you once you make your last leg of your journey, so if you need any assistance we can get there to help you, but you must have the ring on for me to do this.”
She smiles once again. “Lie down and sleep children and we’ll get underway.”
I nodded my thanks as she left the aravel.
We could hear Lanaya giving orders. Then we felt the sway of the aravel as the keeper and the driver climbed on the front bench at the front of the aravel. It had to be a high climbs since the aravel was so tall. I smiled to myself at her calling us children. With the Dalish elves it was hard to tell their age. Even with Zevran, you really couldn’t tell his age. He appeared so young, as does Lanaya. Zatharian really didn’t show his age when we came upon his clan in forest. He had been centuries old yet still had a youthful appearance.
With a jolt the aravel started down the road leading back to Dragons Peak and soon I felt the magic again and we could all feel the wheels of the aravel leave the ground. I was getting queasy, what a unique sensation. Zevran seem to be unaffected and Leliana was looking alittle green around the gills as we looked at each other, sharing this same experience of flying and not walking on the ground. This took a bit of getting used to. We both started laughing.
“Don’t you wish we could see outside and what it looks like up here?”
“You can, spoke Zevran.”
“Really?” Leliana squealed with delight.
Zevran laughed “want to see?”
“Oh yes, show me.” Leliana got up, pulling me up and Zevran kneeled on Leliana’s bed and moved a small panel aside, when he did we could see: the moon and the stars, and clouds were revealed to us. Leliana and I awed at the sight as we both looked out the small panel.
Zevran went to my bed and pulled another panel open then he stood up and reached above his head and opened another small one.
“Come commander back to bed with you.” “You can lie in this small bed and star gaze until you fall asleep.”
I nod and climb back onto the small bed. Zevran took my cap and covered me up. “Sleep commander, you’ll need your energy and soon.
I watched as Leliana did the same as me. I could just imagine the songs she would write on this experience or what a tale she would weave. I sighed to myself. Zevran settled back down and wrapped himself in his cap. I doubted he’d go to sleep.
I turned my head and watched as clouds and stars drifted by and with the lulling and sway of the aravel; I curled up bringing my knees up, and placed my hand on my stomach and drifted to sleep. I was soon dreaming of a black-haired little boy and a golden-haired little girl.