The rain was finally coming to a slow drizzle, a fine mists blowing about. The skies above where still cloudy and overcast, grey stormy rain clouds drifted by as if in a rush to get wherever they intended in a quick hurry. They rolled and swirled above us. It had been over an hour since their deluge had commenced.
“Come on, let’s get going,” I told Zevran.
Both of us crawled out from the rock hangings that have lent us shelter. We gathered our equipment and snuggled back down into our fur-lined cloaks. I put my leather helmet back on and pulled the hood of my cloak up. The rabbit fur lining felt wonderful against my face. I’d bought myself and all of my companions’ heavy fur-lined cloaks from a merchant in Haven. It had been freezing cold up on the Mountain and we’d traveled to our destinations in the heart of winter. All of us had been miserable and it didn’t help we’d had to kill nearly all of the villagers which had been members of a dragon blood cult group. The merchant included.
Sten had taken great exception to our journey in such conditions and I’d had to use every trick I could think of to get him to agree what I was doing was right. I hadn’t been so sure of myself at the time, I just knew I needed Arl Eamon’s armies and I had to find Andraste’s ashes which I had accomplished to gain his troops.
It had been a good thing Wynne had been handy with needle and thread. I had to purchase two cloaks for Sten which she managed to combine the two cloaks into one for the massive Qunari warrior. Morrigan had helped her. Sten, like Zevran didn’t come from this cold climate. Neither of them was used to the cold here in Ferelden; it hadn’t seemed to haze Leliana. Oghren would grumble once in a while on the weather which also seemed to be the attitude of Morrigan and Wynne also.
I still pondered over Alistair’s reaction. He had been amazed that we had found the prophet’s ashes. He had made a good point – how did the ashes regenerate? It was beyond my knowledge that was for sure. I’d read the tales and been told of Andraste all my life even though I’d played dumb on our adventure. I’d had the best mages and chantry scholars for my education. Being the people they had been I’d never lacked for the education on the prophet’s history and her life getting prejudiced opinions on who was teaching me at the time. If I had my way I’d would have been happier reading about dragons. Oh the irony of it.
Zevran and I finally made it back to the small clearing which wasn’t all that far. I looked around in disgust. Well there was no way to burn the remaining darkspawn now, the ground was to wet. Hopefully, the Dalish warriors could take care of this when it got dry enough to try again. I commenced to rummaging and I heard Zevran groan.
“You’re doing this now?”
“Why break old habits I replied?”
I went through all the darkspawn and I didn’t really find anything of use. A few coppers and silver, they did have plenty of equipment, which I just didn’t have the energy to carry with me. I did find some deathroot and a few more herbs that could be used for poisons. I handed these to Zevran after I cleaned the darkspawn blood off of them.
Zevran was looking at the ground and following tracks from the battle. “Looks like all of them went this way. Come,” he motioned to me and I followed him.
I really hoped Morrigan wasn’t with them. I really didn’t want to talk to her, I was too mad over Alistair; but, I was a big girl and would just have to pull up my big girl pants and deal with it. Maybe it was a good thing she was here being a mage and all.
Soon we came to the lean too, which Zevran and I both recognized hidden in the trees. Sure enough there was everyone and all of them too had sheltered out of the rain with Morrigan’s help. I guess in her way she wasn’t all bad, it still hurt and it always would. I couldn’t deny this fact and it was just going to take some time for me to get my feelings under control. I would never get over it, never. Could I forgive her? I honestly didn’t know. Was my life worth my hate?
Leliana jumped up when she saw us walk to the shelter.
Morrigan looked up but didn’t say anything.
The Dalish soldiers seemed to be alright. Aneirin had bandaged them up. He was a healing mage just like Wynne, which was certainly coming in handy right now. Maybe it was a good thing he was here too.
“Are you both alright she asked?”
“We need to talk,” said Leliana
“I know, give me a minute.”
“Alright.” Leliana looked at all of us. She really wasn’t sure what to expect.
I walked over to Morrigan and she crossed her arms in that defensive manner that she had.
She nodded and looked me in the eyes.
“I know you’re hurt, and I hope one day you will forgive me,” she quietly said.
“I’ll always consider you my friend, never doubt it.”
“I just hope one day you will tell me why.”
She looked away from me and said “perhaps one day, now is not the time.”
“Is that stew I smell?” Zevran’s stomach rumbled and a few of the Dalish joined in the chorus of rumbling tummies. They all laughed.
“Tis rabbit stew; we should have enough for everyone.”
“We’ve bread and wine and I guess this will make a fine meal. I take it all of you are starving just like I am?”
“True enough” said Leliana.
“The stew will take a few more hours to cook, will be ready close to nightfall when it is done and the meat is tender enough to eat.”
All of us sat back down and cramped ourselves under Morrigan’s shelter. There wasn’t much to do except check on equipment. Everyone stretched out as best they could and many decided it was time for a good nap. Zevran included, with others settling down with books to read. Morrigan busied herself with salve making or whatever she needed for herself and set to the task. Mixing salves and potions, many of the same vials she had always carried with her were among the clutter on the small table with books and velum close at hand. It appeared she was working on her own book of spells. She was deeply involved in her task which gave her the excuse to ignore all of us.
I finally set down on the opposite side of the shelter far away from her, still keeping her in sight. I really shouldn’t leave my back to the open forest. Leliana sat down and faced me. I knew before she started what she was going to ask.
“I’m sorry,” she began.
I looked at her and shrugged.
“It is what it is Leliana.”
“I…I know you didn’t want anyone to know and I understand how hurt you must be. I was once in a similar situation with Marjolaine.”
“If it wasn’t her then it will be others sooner or later. I guess it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. I can’t change the way he feels Leliana, I tried to talk to him.” I shrugged my shoulders to hide the hurt.
“He was right you know, he has his duty and I have mine. There is no changing it.”
Leliana reached out and took my hand in her own and gave it a squeeze.
“I still believe all of this will change one day.”
“Well you keep the faith for both of us then: I don’t have the energy right now to spare or to cry over him anymore.”
“Is it true, Morrigan asked your permission to sleep with him?”
I squeezed her hand. “Leliana what she did is hard for me to accept, but trust me when I say it was necessary.”
“This is what I don’t understand, why?”
I stayed silent for several minutes trying to gather my thoughts on what to tell her.
“It concerns me and Alistair as Wardens. She had a spell to save our lives in fighting the Arch Demon to assure that we would live, and I don’t know how she did it. She wouldn’t say except that she needed Alistair to be with her that night. I still question – did they actually sleep together or was that a ruse for my benefit? Did she just need his blood, is it because he is a Theirin?”
“I did ask her that night why not Riordan and she said she needed a freshly tainted Warden and Riordan was too far gone for the spell to work and I don’t know what she meant by that.” I did know but I couldn’t tell Leliana.
“I have no idea what type of spell she crafted; how she did it…saved me. All I know is that she needed a male Warden newly joined to the order.”
“Leliana, I wouldn’t have allowed her to do it if not for….”
I started over with my explanation.
“I’m so young only twenty years old; I was scared to death and I didn’t want to die.”
“I shouldn’t have done it, brought her offer to Alistair and just died killing the Arch Demon. What I did was wrong Leliana and I’m ashamed for what I did. You and I both know she used blood magic, even Alistair knows she would have used it, he is totally against blood magic being a Templar; I imagine he hates me now for it.”
She reached over and pulled me into her arms and whispering in my ear.
“No, he does not hate you, don’t think that. I believe he will always love you.”
“You did what anyone would have done, and being a Warden is hard and most of you don’t live very long. It is a miracle that all of us are alive. I don’t blame you for trying to save your life, anyone would have.”
I pulled back out of her embrace.
“No, Leliana, I don’t believe that, the Wardens who all killed the Arch Demons before me died doing their duty, I ran from mine, I was a coward.”
She pulled me back again, hugging me tight.
“No, no, don’t say such a thing. You are the last person I’d ever consider a coward, you didn’t run from your duty, you killed that demonic dragon and you saved us all and I’m so very happy you are alive.”
“You’ve killed thousands of darkspawn and saved how many people from every culture?”
“No mia petite, you are a hero and always will be for what you did.”
“Those are kinds words Leliana, I do appreciate them, but I don’t feel much like a hero.”
“Have no fear, the ballads I will write and tell – all will know of you and what you did.”
“No, I want no praise Lei, truly I don’t, and I’m a Warden this is what we do.”
“You will still have it.” She smiled mischievously.
“I will have my way, yes!”
She patted my hand.
“Come rest awhile.”
She pulled me down and laid my head in her lap where she sang a soft song to me, which wasn’t necessary but I let her have her way. I knew fighting her was useless.
I lay there for a while, and then I finally sat up. I was starving and hoped the stew would hurry and get done.
“All will be well, you will see.”
I just nodded; I really didn’t want to talk about this anymore.
“No one from Gwaren has ventured close?”
“Not as yet, no. Maybe they are busy all killing each other.”
I shook my head and laughed, “Most likely I imagine.”
“Will you go on tonight?”
“Yes, I must, the sooner I get this over with the sooner the better, and I’ve been delayed time and again.”
“What is it you are really looking for?”
“Documents I knew Loghain had.”
“What type of documents?”
“Documents that Alistair will need against Anora.”
“Him having these will lead to what?”
“Hopefully they will lead to her very painful execution.
Oui, so we should be on our guard for her supporters?”
I nodded yes.
“This is serious then. How do you know of them?”
“My father had spies in Loghain’s household and it would appear he had spies in ours.”
“Ah, I imagine he did, it seems you Fereldens learned a few things from the Orlesians, yes?”
“Yes, it seems we did learn how to play the game after all.”
“When will we leave then?”
“Well, I’m not going to pass up rabbit stew are you?”
“No, she is a good cook and she offered it freely, it would be most rude of us if we didn’t partake of her fare, might make her mad, yes?” Leliana’s eyes twinkled with this remark.
I just shrugged my shoulders.
“We can’t do anything just now, and I don’t think we’re that far from Gwaren so we may as well eat and rest up for the night’s adventures.”
I glanced up and saw Morrigan coming toward us.
She sat down in-between Leliana and me.
“I’m going to make some new arrows so I’ll leave both of you to talk.”
“How thoughtful of you,” Morrigan looked up at Leliana as she got up to leave.
Leliana ignored her and went back to her equipment and got to work. She looked over at Zevran whom we both knew was fooling nobody in the fact he was playing at sleep; he was playing possum, which both of us knew.
“What do you want Morrigan?” I tried to keep my voice steady and not show any emotion at all.
“Why are you headed to Gwaren?”
“Business,” was my curt reply.
“What kind of business, don’t be evasive with me.”
“It’s just something I need to do Morrigan.”
“Can’t the king’s troops manage on their own?”
“I’m sure they can, this isn’t about backing up the king’s troops.”
“How do you know they are in the area?”
“Well they do tend to make a lot of noise marching through the forest, all that clanking armor they wear. They came through yesterday and I’m sure they are at Gwaren by now.”
Surely Erlina had also made her way there was well. She had an excuse to be there being Anora’s personal maid. I didn’t have that luxury.
“What are you really after, a fact-finding mission, who in your case always leads to mayhem of some kind?”
“Not always. In answer to your question, there are documents I need to retrieve from there on King Cailan’s behalf; which I told him I would retrieve once the blight was done.”
“How would you have done this if you had died?”
“I guess me being in the fade and if I found him there might clue him in on the fact I didn’t get the chance being dead an all.”
“Indeed, so it appears I’ve helped you other ways then?”
“Yes, it appears that you have.”
“Are you sneaking in or just walking in the front door?”
“Why does it matter?”
“Well it matters a great deal.”
“I don’t believe Gwaren is just going to open up for our new king’s troops, being the former home of their queen.”
“That is their problems not mine.”
“I don’t see you allowing the deaths of Arl Eamon’s troops.”
“In this instance I must.”
Hmmm, said Morrigan.
“Why is that, after you saved countless lives in Denerim?”
“Aren’t these humans just as important?”
“Yes, but, once again that is not my concern.”
“I don’t wish for any of Alistair’s or Eamon’s troops to know I was here.”
“What I’m most interested in is if Anora’s maid had made it there and got to those papers before me?”
“Why do you need them?”
“Surely, Alistair’s men will find them, unless there is something you don’t wish for other’s to know.”
I just shrugged my shoulders.
“I see, this is important to you personally and you don’t wish for Alistair to know.”
“Erlina has already made her way there and was just a few hours before Alistair’s and Eamon’s troops. So if I were you, I’d leave the Dalish and Leliana here to see if they can spot her. I will help you if you allow me too. I’m sure she is here to do the same as you, so this is a race of who gets there first?”
“Yes it is.”
“Well I’m sure she is probably on her way back now.”
“No, she won’t make her way back until she can leave the castle under the cover of darkness, if she has already made it inside then I have to catch her for she will have gained the documents that I need. My guess is she will hide in the keep until she can make good her escape sight unseen. She knows the keep, since she has been Anora’s personal maid since she was a child.”
“She was on this deer path?”
“Yes, I saw her through the trees while hunting for food.”
“So being an elf she knew of it.”
“How can you help me?”
“By turning into a giant bird and plucking her from the forest if need be; I have a far better chance of getting her than you do.”
“Why are you willing to help me and since when are you able to pluck anything from the sky?”
“Because someone with more powers than you and I wishes me to do so, say as in the brother of your children.”
“How can you be so certain?”
“The blood of their father calls to me and my child’s.”
“I knew when you conceived; Wintersend seems to have been merry for many this year. Ferelden needs the growth populace, or wouldn’t you agree?”
I didn’t rise to the bait or wasn’t sure she was speaking in just generalities of the populace as a whole, or she meant other things, which I certainly didn’t want to know about or discuss with her.
“I won’t turn down your help as long as there aren’t any strings attached.”
“None, I already got what I came for.”
With that she got up to leave.
I sat stewing. In ways she had changed and in others she had not. Her mouth was as sharp as ever.
I untied the string to one of my packs and settled down to read in Duncan’s journal to see what I might discover. It seemed I had a few hours on my hands to kill time.
After two hours I looked up and saw Morrigan tend to the stew. I noticed she went back to her small work table-turning to mix something. Now that my stamina was back I activated stealth and slide up beside her to watch what she was doing. She was mixing what looked like a blood-red substances and had added what looked like flour to it the fusion which had lyrium in it. I could see the tiny blue flecks sparkle. She shook the small glass vial vigorously. She turned to add this mixture to the stew. I reached out and gripped her arm, coming out of stealth as I did so. I leaned in and whispered “what are you doing Morrigan?”
“Do you wish for your fellows to fall to the darkspawn taint; the ones who just fought a battle with you in these very woods?”
I let my eyes do my talking for me.
Total mistrust for her was in them.
“Very well, I’ll explain.”
“Please do,” I said.
“This potion is a special formulation that the Chasind and the Dalish have known about for several centuries. It helps to ward off the darkspawn taint so all humanity has a chance against the disease or at least those who drink this. I also gave the formula to Wynne. She and I both have been adding this to our meals when we fought the blight so all those fighting with us wouldn’t fall to the taint and I included.”
“Is this another formula of your mother’s?”
“Of course it is she has known of these recipes for centuries, where you think the Dalish and the Chasind got them?”
“Those in the forest are more likely to see darkspawn than those within the cities against just small war parties that come up from the surface from time to time. Now that the blight is over there will be less and less of them. That is until the next old god captures their attention and the darkspawn will turn their focus to their master to free the next Arch Demon and help it rise.”
“None here will be harmed by this?”
“No, twill help them fight the taint, strengthen them, just as the joining gives you stamina to fight the darkspawn, this has all the same properties except for the darkspawn blood.”
I nodded to allow this.
Morrigan walked back to the kettle and added in the potion and gently stirred the stew. I prayed I had not made a mistake in allowing her to do this. If I had it would mean the lives of those here except for Morrigan and me.
“The stew is nearly done, where is the bread and wine?”
I called to Leliana. “Leliana will you bring the bread and wine?”
She looked up and reached for one of her packs and lifted out two nice loaves of bread and two bottles of wine. It was the least we could do was to share. She brought the bread over. Zevran joined us and he set to opening the bottles of wine. Leliana and I sliced the bread and made trenches out of the thick slices. Leaving the plucked bread chunks for those to use to mop up the gravy with, to gain every last drop of the delicious smelling stew Morrigan had prepared for us. It did smell good.
Aneirin and the Dalish all gathered around bringing with them a small wheel of cheese to also share. Soon Morrigan spooned out the stew as we all got in a line for her to serve us. We each found a place to sit and enjoyed our meal. The stew was filling and warmed us. The two bottles of wine were soon gone and everyone was happy to be so full. I helped myself to some cheese and finished devouring the last of my bread trencher which the stew had soaked into.
We sat longer still for our meal to digest.
I had wasted enough time. Supper was over and the supplies packed away again. I motioned for everyone to join me. All of them gathered around me.
I looked at the Dalish, “it seems my target has possibly gained Gwaren already. I still need to go to try to catch her. I’m going to leave Leliana here with all of you in case she comes this way. Don’t allow her to pass, stop her at all cost and keep her bound and gagged until I come back if you chance upon her before me.”
“You’re sure, I need to stay, and how do you know Erlina has made it there by now?”
“Yes, Lei, you know what she looks like and Morrigan has already seen her here in the forest making her way to Gwaren, she was only an hour or so ahead of Alistair’s troops, so she has made it there.”
“I don’t think she will try to leave the castle until she has the cover of darkness to hide her.”
“Morrigan has agreed to help?”
“Are you sure about this Mi Bella?”
“Yes, Zevran, Morrigan and I have many things to work out but she is still one of us.”
“As you wish,” he frowned.
The Dalish and Aneirin nodded their understanding.
“One more thing,” I said looking at the Dalish again.
The dead darkspawn in the clearing must be burned when the forest floor is dry enough to burn them. Whatever you do, don’t touch them. Set fire to them with arrows. Stay a good distance back and see that the forest doesn’t catch on fire. That is all that we’d need. Leave nothing, burn it all. Stay hidden and out-of-sight of anyone and stay as silent as possible. Only take Erlina if she comes by, if the king’s soldiers come this way don’t alert them to your presence.”
“We’ve already been burning those that we’ve managed to find and kill of the darkspawn.”
It was one of the Dalish warriors who had answered me, “our keeper told us too.”
“It’s the right thing if you want the forest to live.”
“Would one of you bowmen be willing to come with me?”
“I will one of the men answered.”
“Thank you.” I said to him.
“Alright, get you’re gear together and meet me at the edge of the forest. We move out now. We’ll all meet back here at Morrigan’s shelter, which seems to be hidden.
“It will not be noticed by anyone, tis ruined, so no one will find it.”
“Alright Morrigan, good enough then, let’s go.”
How in hell did she ruin a whole camp to keep it hidden?
I got up and went to retrieve my gear. Attaching it all back where it needed to be. All straps, leather cinched, and buckles tightened. I checked my swords. They were still sharp; I lifted them into the sheath on my back. I walked to the edge of the forest facing south once again. The others soon joined me. I took point this time in case we stumbled into any more darkspawn. I walked with light steps into the dark forest with the others close at my back.
We came once again to the clearing with the dead darkspawn still lying about along with the few remains of their victims. We made our way around them and headed once again into the forest going south. In approximately an hour or so, I could see the glow of lights and knew that the small village of Gwaren was just ahead with the Castle in view just behind it. We walked ahead further and stayed to the tree line to help hide us from view. Finally we managed to get close enough to have a look.
I could see the village on fire or what remained of it. I could tell right away this wasn’t from darkspawn. I saw none of their bodies or any of them running around. A small battle had taken place here? Did this mean all of Gwaren was in revolt or just a few willing supporters of Anora being foolish or dumb enough to attack the King’s troops?
I got down on my belly and the other’s followed my actions. It was time to just lay low and watch for a while on what was going on. After a time I finally saw Alistair’s and Eamon’s troops rounding up many of the villagers. They didn’t seem to be in the mood to fight they were all tied together into a line and they were being moved to the castle. The town’s people were being taken into the castle for Sir Perth to tell them about their disposed Queen and to assure them that their new King meant them no harm as long as they fell under his banner. Which was all well and good, since it was vital that Alistair got both Terynirs under control and as soon as possible. I continued to watch the fires in the village making it easy to see.
I knew I had to move on toward the east to bypass the village, then turn back south and try to find the postern gate and get inside. I kneeled back up on my knees and motioned for everyone to follow me. I activated stealth and Zevran did the same behind me. Hopefully our black shadows would help conceal Morrigan and the Dalish Bowman with me. Oh my legs hurt something terrible, the damp weather was making them ache and my wounds from moist bandages where causing me discomfort. I pushed on heading east. We were about ½ mile east of the village when I turned to head south again to come up against the castle walls from the south.
Still in the tree line, I scanned the walls not too far ahead of me. I lay down once again on the forest floor and watched. I could see Alistair’s and Eamon’s troops on the battlements and the flag of the royal banner flying from the battlements. I still couldn’t make out any hidden gate. I didn’t see a bush or tree in sight that might hide its whereabouts. So it was truly hidden. All I could do was wait to watch the guards and how they moved from one post to the next as they keep guard. I had to determine their movements. I had no idea what time it was. We’d have to wait and watch for the watch change and make a run for the walls. The sky was still overcast and I had no help from the moon to determine the time and how close the watch change might be. I looked at Zevran and he shrugged his shoulders slightly he hadn’t spotted the postern door either. We’d wait then.
We waited I was sure nearly four hours. My cloak and leathers were damp once again from the cold wet ground. I wasn’t as cold as the others because of the taint. I knew they had to be freezing. It didn’t help that the heavens looked like rain again and was about to pour again any moment.
I heard the bells sound. There was the sound I had been waiting for. I keep close watch on the battlements for the guards to change so we could make a run for the cover of the walls far below the guards while they brought each other up to speed on orders. I just prayed nobody saw us from a window or some other structure I couldn’t see for the trees. I was just about to get up and make a run for it when Zevran poked me in the side. I looked over and he pointed down to the west of us. A small door had opened just a few spaces from one of the battlement towers mid way in the north wall which actually was the back of the castle. The front of the castle faced south and the ocean before it. All of us watched as a dark cloaked figured eased outside and gently closed the door. This person stood in the shadows for a long time making sure nobody had seen or heard their escape. I knew this had to be Erlina or some other castle servant. I nodded and motioned to the others to follow me.
I had turned in a north by northeast direction to intercept this person. We had hard brush to get through to achieve this and remain quiet at the same time, no easy feat. Zevran took the lead, using his natural abilities to move branches out-of-the-way back in my direction until I handed the branch off to Morrigan behind and she in turned handed off the branch to the bowman behind her. Slowly we started to advance on the figure keeping said person in our sight. This person didn’t want to be detected anymore than we did. They too skirted the village keeping out of sight. My party did the same trying to follow as closely as we dared. Zevran was gaining ground on the person; he had to keep moving forward to keep up. He was slowly pulling away from the rest of us. I allowed him to go. We keep allowing the fleeing cloaked figure more and more time to get deeper into the forest and away from the castle and small village; I was sure still had Alistair’s troops inside looking for more villagers so they could ensure it was secured with no surprise attacks coming at them.
We traveled deeper into the forest away from Gwaren. I looked and saw that Zevran was not far behind the person fleeing. Soon I thought he would tackle this person to bring them down. I hoped we were far enough away and no troops were on patrol in the woods to hear us when we engaged. Zevran turned to look to see how far we were. Morrigan was right on my heels. Zevran slowed from time to time to allow us the extra movement to catch up. He kept looking ahead keeping track of our target. He looked back once more and I nodded. He went for it and started running at full speed. Soon the cloaked figured realized they were being chased and they fled with all their might. Zevran right on their heels, he soon brought them down with a crash in the bushes, none to silently. I started to run to catch up to him with Morrigan, the Dalish bowman held back watching our flank.
Zevran and the cloaked figure were in a struggle, which wasn’t much of one. Zevran soon had the person flung on their back with his knife at their throat. A knife had landed close by on the forest floor. I went and picked it up and came to stand behind Zevran.
“I believe we’ve caught a spy a city elf spy at that.”
“Andraste, please I beg of you don’t hurt me.”
I finally stepped into her view and her eyes widen
“Andraste no, tis you, it can’t be, your to be inside Fort Drakon.”
I spread my feet and crossed my arms and looked down at her.
“Well Erlina one thing about us Wardens is that we heal really fast.”
“How did you know where to find me?”
“I laughed; surely it was not that hard to figure out. Don’t forget I’m a Cousland remember and a Warden.”
She spat, “ah yes, a Cousland.”
“Well I’m sure by your reaction that you have a reason to spit, would those reasons be that your mistress didn’t get to kill all of us?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about, she would not do such a thing, and she respected your family.”
“She didn’t respect us enough to allow any of us to live did she? Commander Grey Warden Duncan foiled her and Howe’s plans and got me out of Highever and my father sent my brother ahead of him. She got away with killing my parents; but, my brother and I survived just as my parents planned.”
“That was all Howe I tell you.”
“No it wasn’t.” I stated in a matter-of-fact manner.
“No, you are wrong it was all Howe.”
I laughed again.
“Set her up Zevran.”
He grabbed her none to gently and jerked her up.
Morrigan had come up beside me and looked down at her.
“Ah yes, I remember her. Oh, help, my mistress has been taken by Howe Morrigan’s imitation of Erlina was spot on. You do know that none of us were convinced of your little performance?”
“He did take her; I swear before Andraste that he did.”
I looked at Morrigan, “oh yes, and then Alistair and I land in Fort Drakon the guest of the false regent.”
“Loghain was the true regent.”
“No he wasn’t I said again.”
“I have a copy of Cailan’s will, I know better than you do.”
“Are you sure about that, I was at Ostagar and am a survivor of Ostagar are you a survivor of that bloody massacre? Where you called to a private meeting with our beloved king after his war council, which I was also called too. Did you watch in horror as a mighty ogre tore our beloved king apart? Where you there to see Loghain and his troops leave thousands of people to die on the battlefield?”
“Did you watch in horror as darkspawn feed on the flesh of the dead and those who were still dying?”
“Are you the one who returned to Ostagar and saw our king’s body off to the Maker?”
“No you didn’t see or witness any of these things. King Cailan’s brother whose name is Alistair and I did along with Morrigan here who can also vouch for those facts she was there too.”
“No, what you say is a lie.”
“No Erlina, I’m not the liar, but your mistress is one.”
I knelt down and pushed her cloak away with my dagger drawn at her throat. The dagger in my hand was wicked looking which had plenty of poison on it and I let Erlina watch as I waved it back and forth in front of her face.
“Please she begged.”
I ignored her.
“Zevran bind her writs and gag her.”
I never took my eyes off of hers. If she moved she was dead. I was thinking a nice trip to Par Vollen would be just the thing for her and get her out of Ferelden.
He did as I ordered him.
When he was done I went through every pocket on her person and in her cloak which I found a hidden pocket.
“Well what have we here?”
I removed a roll of documents, which I unrolled and with Morrigan’s help from the soft purple light of her staff, I scanned several of them and was shocked to see that Anora did know of that which was most precious to me in Orlais and exactly where they could be found. I felt faint. There was the letter to Loghain from Anora’s mage on her injuries just what I came for. I also discovered a letter of agreement between Howe and Anora. Which stated once Anora retired her father, Howe would rule nearly all of Ferelden once he had done her dirty work for her. Oh yes, it was more than enough. More than I had ever thought. I wanted to jump up and down with glee. I took the one document which revealed a great deal about me and folded it nice and neatly. I cut my finger and dripped my blood on it sealing the folds. I blew on it and watched it dry. I handed the folded document to Zevran. “Guard this with your life and if anything happens to me before I ask for it back see to that my brother gets this and all of my papers hidden behind a stone in Fort Drakon in my room there.”
“Do you understand Zev?”
He looked at me in shock. “Si Mi Bella, I will do as you ask.” He stuffed the document inside his armor.
I searched in one of my packs finding a piece of oil cloth. I rolled the documents up in the cloth and stuffed them in my armor between my breasts.
“Well, you certainly have a few secrets of your own, smirked Morrigan.”
“I believe you do as well, Morrigan.
Erlina’s eyes widen to the size of two big dinner plates in her head, I had Anora now and Erlina knew it. I bent down and whispered in her ear, “soon Erlina she will pay for her crimes against Ferelden and my family and I’m going to love to see her swing.”
“Soldiers are coming whispered the Dalish bowman behind us.”
Morrigan snuffed out the light from her staff.
“Zevran I whispered.”
“On it,” he whispered
He took the pummel end of his dagger and stuck Erlina hard on the side of her head and she fell into Zevran’s arms. He hoisted her up over his shoulder. I motioned and we took off, trying to get away from Alistair’s soldiers without giving them knowledge on our location. We couldn’t run with Erlina slung over Zevran’s shoulder.
“They are coming closer whispered Morrigan.”
We weren’t far from a fairly good rushing stream ahead.
“Just keep going,” I whispered.
“They are gaining on us the Dalish bowman whispered back.”
I turned and looked around us. It was Erlina or all of us, and I couldn’t be found here. She’d lie to Alistair anyway to save Anora and herself.
“Zevran follow me.” I’d spied several large ferns on the other side of the fast rushing stream. They were tall enough that they might give us time for what I knew needed to be done and hide us from view. If the soldiers searched we’d have to kill all of them. I hated the thought of doing such a thing to innocent men, it was me or them. I’d never talk my way out of this and the Grey Warden’s would be furious that I was once again meddling in political affairs. I had more meddling to do in Orlais.
I started at a slow jog and stepped into the stream. I was lifting my foot to step forward when my ankle turned on a slick moss-covered large hidden rock in the stream and I went down, my shin connecting with hard slimy rock. I felt the bones in my right leg shatter all over again. I tried to muffle my scream against the pain. A high girlish shrill escaped my lips. The waters around me were changing color with my dark black tainted blood. I rolled over and grabbed my leg and rocked against the pain. The water was pouring all over me and rushing on through my armor as well. I was now chilled to the bone in the icy water which sent shards of pain throughout my entire body.
I pointed to the ferns up ahead and Zevran got Erlina there and hidden out of sight. Morrigan and the Dalish bowman grabbed me by the arms and hauled me up on my good leg and tried their best to hustle me out of the water as fast as they could. I couldn’t hold my moans of heartfelt torture. Morrigan slapped her hand over my mouth. They dragged me into the ferns with Zevran and Erlina.
“Do it Zevran.” I ordered.
I rolled over and vomited in the grass.
I heard Zevran take his blade and the sound of the slash as he opened Erlina’s throat, he had connected with her pendant around her neck. Her blood gushed all over him.
“We have to get her out of here” Morrigan said.
I couldn’t answer I was still throwing up all over the place.
“Oh Mi Bella this is bad.”
I already knew my bones were once again sticking out of my leg. I could feel them. The blood was pouring inside of my boot.
I could also hear Alistair’s troops not so very far behind us.
Morrigan took matters into her own hands.
I then heard that awful sound when Morrigan shape-shifted. It was worse than I’d ever heard it, the snap and crackle of bone and flesh tearing and contorting with her shift.
I heard Zevran and the Dalish bowman both gasp with horror and then I heard a roar of a dragon.
She didn’t I thought. She did I answered myself. The pain in my leg was raw fire searing my flesh as I rolled around having the sensation that I needed to vomit again. Next I heard the flap of wings and she lifted in flight and her awful screech sounded throughout the forest. My eyes were shut tight against the pain.
No Morrigan I thought, don’t kill them. They are just doing their jobs. I heard the shouts of the soldiers as they realized a high dragon was in the area. I’m sure they were pissing their pants by now. Before I finished my thought I felt the swish of air all around me as her wings flapped. Next thing I knew I was ensconced within her mighty claws and taken up higher and higher into the air. Don’t look I thought.
Oh so now she can turn into dragon? I heard Urthemiel laugh inside my head.
“No my lady tis a new development, she has use of my powers if I allow her too.”
“Sleep now” he said and I felt and saw the white and blue light descend on me.
“Wait I said inside my head, Zevran and the Bowman.”
“The Halla are coming for them.”
“Where is she taking me?”
“To Denerim, my lady to your estate there, I assume this is where you wish to go?”
“Yes,” I whispered before passing out.
It didn’t seem very long to me until screams and shouts had awaken me and I jolted in her massive claws which were holding onto me tightly. I could hear Morrigan’s roar. I thought for sure my hearing was gone for good. My ears were ringing. I glanced down and we were flying over Denerim. People were running around like ants on the ground. Screaming in holy terror, make it stop I thought, oh Maker, please make it stop. I wasn’t sure if I was wishing away the pain in my leg or the roaring in my ears.
Morrigan dived low and circled the city taking arrows in her flesh as she did so. Oh Maker, no don’t kill her I thought. She flapped her wings and I felt the strength of the muscles in her flesh work, outstanding strength and movement. The wind whistled in my ear and whipped my face and hair stinging my eyes as my hair tangled in front of my face. We glided on the air, zooming past battlements. I could hear the twang of bow strings as they let loose.
Soldiers on the battlements of estates and city walls were taking aim at her. She swooped down low and they realized a person was in her claws. I could hear more screams of horror and shouts as they all took aim. I was sure all able-bodied bowman in the city was aiming a shot at us and they would not hesitate. Great just what I needed an arrow in my arse.
We came around again and I felt her dive with me once more and I saw the ground come hurtling up to meet us. We landed with a mighty thud and I wasn’t sure if I had any teeth left the jarring was so hard and new pain and agony tore through my leg once again. She dropped me out of her claws. I landed on the ground with a thud.
She stood over me and roared. She gathered her wings flapped them and took off leaving me on the ground. I could hear screams and shouts. I was in the open center court-yard of our city estate. All I could do was lie there in agony.
“Oh, Holy Maker!” I heard someone shout. “It’s Lady Cousland.”
“What the bloody hell, damn you Tink, I heard Fergus scream.
I glanced up and could see him on the battlements. He looked down and horror marred his face. He must be on his way down since he left my view.
I could hear people running to me.
“Oh my lady, you’re badly hurt.”
“I know, don’t touch me.”
“My lady, please.”
“You can’t, I’m a Warden now, and you just can’t. I need my mage from the fort and my brother now I screamed.” I rolled over again and vomited once more.
“Tink, Tink, I could hear my brother calling to me, my childhood nickname. Hang on damn you.”
I’m not going anywhere I thought unless it was to the fade. I wanted to laugh, and I couldn’t muster the strength to laugh. Oh, this is really bad, well more bed rest once again. Maybe I’ll miss His Highness’ crowning ceremony and the bloody ball after all. I rolled back over on my back and screamed from the pain in my leg.
Fergus had finely made it down from the battlements. He was out of breath running toward me. It had taken him a bit of time.
“Don’t touch me Fergus; whatever you do don’t touch me.”
There was blood all over me how that had happened I had no idea.
“I have too,” he said.
“Send for Wynne, now.”
“You can’t just lie here?”
“Yes, I can. I’m ok for now, just send someone for Wynne and let me lie here until she gets here.”
Fergus looked around and spied one of his knights, “get to Arl Eamon’s estate and bring the mage here now.”
“Aye my lord and he took off running.
“What is she doing at Eamon’s?”
“With the King who is trying to determine where you might have gone.”
“Yes, well about that, call everyone back away from us now.”
“Just do it Fergus.”
He looked up at the people surrounding us.
“All of you move back, give her some air.”
We both heard the shuffle of feet.
I motioned for him to lean down.
“I have the papers I whispered, they are in my chest armor.”
Fergus’ eyes widened.
“You’ve been to Gwaren then?” Fergus whispered back.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“Hopefully they are still in my cloak and I hope I didn’t go through all of this for nothing.”
“And it seems nearly killing yourself in the process too. He is going to be furious with you, hell he already is, he’ll come to you know.”
“What can I do?”
“Nothing, just sit here and be with me.”
“I can do that sure.”
“You’re in a mess you know that right.”
“Do you mean physically or royally?”
Fergus laughed, “I’d say both.”
“I’m sure your fellow Grey Warden’s won’t be any to please either.”
“Well if one is going to piss everyone off then do it right and make the whole lot of them mad all at once.”
Fergus laughed again.
“Yes, Tink, what is it?”
“I need to go to sleep, will that bother you?”
“No, go ahead.”
My eyes were already drifting closed.