I hopped out of bed and grabbed my big husky brother and engulfed him in my arms. I hugged him tight. Losing his wife and child had been so hard on him and here I was worrying him further. I would hurt him a lot more when I left Highever sooner than the expected six months. I had no choice. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him.
He was doing his best trying to manage everything. He had to step into our father’s shoes way before he should have. Howe had killed everyone at Highever except for those who were able to escape. If it hadn’t been for Warden Duncan I too would have been dead.
I knew Fergus needed to mourn the loss our parents, his wife and child. He’d had the luxury of the unknown about their deaths probably for several months. For me it had been instantaneous. I had been there live when it had all been going on, fleeing when we became overrun with Howe’s troops. My parents begging me to run and live.
I’d have to live with the guilt over my sister-in-law’s and nephew’s death till my dying day. I’d had a choice and I couldn’t choose them to my everlasting regret. I also couldn’t tell my brother this. He was all that I had left in this world too. The possibilities would always exist that he would find out, and if he did, then the worst of my secrets would be known. That could never happen.
He kissed me on my forehead and pulled away. He tucked my hair behind my ears like he used to do when I was a small child and had gotten my feelings hurt because he wouldn’t let me tag along with the boys, then he’d try to explain why boys wanted to be on their own and not always have little girls tagging along.
In getting even when I was in my early teens and to work on my rogue training I used to sneak out of the castle, taking Thor with me of course and set to work on my skills. I was determined to be better than the boys being trained as warriors. I soon learned to best the boys who were also training as rogues. I had an unfair advantage being trained my masters from good King Maric’s coin.
“You’re not suppose to be out of bed.”
“That is not what Wynne said.”
Fergus raised his eyebrows.
“Alright sis, let’s hear you spin this tale.”
“Just a sec, let me go get my spinning wheel.”
Poor Fergus, he tried so hard not to laugh.
“You don’t have one. If I recall you got mad and busted the thing and damaged father’s sword badly using his.”
“Yes, and I got my bum paddled for my behavior too.”
“You took your punishment well if I recall.”
“Why fight it?”
“Father, Mother, or Nan would have just paddled me harder.”
Leliana was giggling behind me.
“Did you really do that Bell?”
“I did, Delilah Howe made fun of my embroidery stitches and I was sick of sitting in that hot room with a bunch of gossipy women. I couldn’t get my mother to understand needlework just wasn’t my thing. Maker! They’d sit there all bloody day. I couldn’t be rude and leave to work on my swordplay until they left. I never had to do needlework again.”
Fergus was laughing again.
“The reason for that was because mother’s friends were too afraid to return to the sewing circle incase you got mad and decided to stab them. Mother excused you so all of them would return so she could go back to being the gracious hostess of Highever.”
“I wouldn’t have done something like that Fergus.”
“My mother was highly embarrassed and the word was she was a powerful Teyrna who couldn’t control her daughter.” I said with twinkling eyes over at Leliana.
“Ah well, mother started sending me to the kitchens instead to help Nan when the sewing circle came to call.”
“Yes, you not only got you’re bum paddled but ended up making tea and cakes for the old ladies of the realm.”
“Well I learned how to become a good cook out the deal.”
“You are a good pie maker, so I guess I’m glad you busted your spinning wheel.”
“If there are any apples when we get to Highever, I’ll bake you a pie.”
“Hear that Leliana, I’m in for a treat if she does this.”
“Bell makes the best pies in all of Ferelden.”
“Nan was better.”
“Oh, I don’t know sis, she taught you to make them, so I guess we’ve not lost all of her. She was a good nanny to the both of us.”
“Yes, she was.”
“What in the Maker’s name are you doing out of bed?”
“Don’t say I didn’t tell you so?” Fergus whispered in my ear.
“Shut up Fergus.”
“Wynne, I’ll be up tomorrow anyway getting fitted for my gown when the weavers circle gets here tomorrow.”
“I assume this is who is coming, they always made mine and mother’s gowns for us.”
“Yes, this is who the Orlesian lady in the market said to use.”
“They are good Leliana, trust me.”
“Alright, you know Ferelden better than I do.”
“Wynne you have enough coin for a new Mage Robe?”
“Yes I’m fine dear. Between the gold you gave me and what Alistair gave all of us, I’ve a nice nest egg.”
“I’ll be making my own.”
“Do all of you make you’re own robes?”
“Yes, as a mage we do, certain runes are necessary for our individual protection, and of course we need runes for certain schools of magic that each mage specializes in. Apprentices are taught early how to make their own robes, so sewing is taught early.
“Ah, so this is why Alistair asked you to mend his shirts.”
“Yes, he knew being a Templar, I was taught to sew.”
“That cloak you made for Sten was something and you did it so fast.”
“Wynne laughed, it was easy really once all the cutting was done.”
“Would you like to spend the rest of the evening with me and Leliana going over patterns?”
“I’d love too, nice change of pace, as long as you get back in that bed.”
“Well that was easy.”
“Ladies I need to find my bed, tomorrow will be another energy draining day, good night ladies.”
Fergus kissed me on the cheek, “sleep well sister.”
“What dress patterns aren’t you’re ideal of having a fun evening?”
“I”m getting while the getting is good, I’ll leave that to you ladies.”
I kissed him back, “rest well brother.”
“Good night, your Grace.”
Fergus bowed to us and left. Closing the door softly behind him.
“He is very handsome.”
“Yes, my brother is very good-looking, many a lady in Ferelden were heartbroken when he married; he has charm and a great sense of humor. It was the last social event before King Maric left on his voyage.”
“Ladies man then.”
“Yes, I guess he was for a while, then he meet Orianna and that was that. He fell head over heels for her. They were made for each other.”
“From where in Ferelden was she from?”
“She wasn’t from Ferelden, Leliana, she was from Antiva.”
“Ahhh, wonder if Zevran knows of her family?”
“He might, I’ve never thought to ask him.”
“You’ve been to Antiva I take it?”
“Yes, many times.”
“You knew about the Crows then.”
“Of course, I didn’t want Zevran to know at the time that I knew anything about them.”
“Orianna’s family are noble born merchants out of Antiva and they have Crow connections. One does not do business in Antiva and not have them.”
“This is true.”
I scampered back to bed and realized Wynne was looking at the pieces of jewelry on my bed.
“They were my mother’s.”
“The set is beautiful and you’ll look lovely wearing them.”
“Molly saved them.”
“She is a jolly soul.”
“She is, and one of the best cooks we’ve ever had at Highever besides Nan of course.”
I’ve heard you mention her before.
“Yes, she was my nanny and then once I was grown my parents wanted to keep her on, so she was given the position of head cook for Highever. She taught me so very much and I’ll miss her dearly. My mother and I found her body just before my father, that night. Nan and the entire kitchen staff had been killed as they were finishing in the kitchens. If they had gotten done sooner, they might have made it out alive. They were all so close to the hidden door in the larder. I just wish mother and I had gotten there sooner to save them.”
Wynne hugged me. “You saved who could Bell, and it was the Maker’s will child.”
“Enough of this talk, let’s move on to something else.”
Leliana went to the fireplace and added a few logs to the fire, the glow of the fire was warm and inviting. Soon my bed was littered with drawings of gowns that Leliana had brought with her.
“Did you draw these?”
“Yes, when I was in the chantry at Lothering and was alone in my cell. I missed Orlais and the fashions and my old life and was wondering if I made the right decision.”
“You can always continue to do the Maker’s work Leliana.”
“I..I’m friends with one of the Grand Clerics in Orlais. I haven’t heard from her in a while, I miss her. ”
“What is her name?”
“She is Grand Cleric Doretha, rumor has it in Orlais that she might become the new Divine once Her Reverence is gone to the Maker. She used to be a bard, the same as me. She has been through many tragedies being a bard and playing the game. Like me she sought refugee in the Chantry and eventually took her vows, changing her life.”
“She is the one who saved me and helped me escape my imprisonment when Marjolaine betrayed me, she nursed me back to health from the torture in the prison. She was the reason I became a novice. Marjolaine betrayed her also, so we have several things in common.”
“She is a beautiful woman, she is filled with compassion for those of us in the life and she has tried to save many of us through the years and gave us shelter and guidance. I’ll always be thankful to her. I wrote to her on what happened in Lothering with the other sisters and she told me nearly the same as you that I can serve the Maker in other ways.”
“I believe you can Leliana.”
“The Grand Cleric here has asked to speak with me, and I’m not sure if they want me to return as a novice sister.”
“You’ve changed you’re mind on taking your final vows now that the blight is over?”
Leliana was sure of herself when she affirmed she had decided to wait awhile longer.
“Yes, I wish to explore other opportunities before I make my final decision.”
“That’s wise Lei.”
“I don’t want to take my final vows and not be sure, being a Reverend Mother is a life long commitment and I want to do the right thing.”
“Have you thought of becoming a Templar.”
“I thought of it because of my skills, that is not for me. Alistair and I talked about the training; I don’t think I could do it. I’d have to kill mages if they don’t pass their harrowing. I understand now why Alistair was grateful in not becoming a full Templar and the use of lyrium they must use, this scares me. They could stick me at a Circle of Magi anywhere in Thedas and I’d never see the light of day again. I’d be forever stuck and not have the freedom to roam.”
“This hints you understand the position mages of the Circle Tower face everyday.”
“I believe the Chantry Wynne and their guidelines for mages. Fighting the Blight has shown me mages should be able to have family visit them at least.”
“I my case I don’t remember my parents, but it was very hard dealing with children who had been torn away from their parents, I preferred the older teens to the younger when instructing.”
“You’ll find the right path Leliana; in the mean time, you can work for Alistair, he certainly will need the help and he will be a ruler of a Andrastian Country.”
“Yes, the birthplace of Andraste, I think this is why I love Denerim so much. I do miss Lothering and the simple life of a novice there. It’s sad the town is gone now.”
“They will rebuild it if the land will support it.”
“I hope so Wynne, it’s was a lovely little place.”
“Yes, it was.”
“You’ve been to Lothering Wynne?”
“Oh yes, being a Senior Enchanter, I’d get called out to help with birthing, or healing when they asked for a healer. Of course a couple of Templars always escorted me. The tavern had the worst ale I think I’ve ever tasted.”
“It was on the watery side.” I offered in reply.
“I think Irving was right, you like being outside of the tower.”
“Living in the tower wasn’t always as bad as other mages claim, it was my home and the only one I’ve ever known. I had no family that I remember. I think it would help for the younger children peace of mind for their mothers to visit. Those children are taken way and their parents have no rights to them any longer. It’s very sad.”
“Your lucky Wynne at least you came to terms with it.”
“The Circles are needed, so that mages can learn to use their power in the proper way, and help to serve and prove we are not monsters.”
“I think you’ve set a fine example Wynne for other mages to follow.”
“Yes, this is what I’ve been preaching for a long time to be given the chance to prove our worth to society, that we can be trusted outside of the Circles for other things besides fighting wars.”
Leliana stifled a giggle on Wynne’s use of the word preaching. Wynne did have a tendency to offer her advice sometimes when it wasn’t needed or wanted. I knew deep down she meant well. Once in a while it got on my nerves, but this was just Wynne.
I got up out of bed, I wanted to check something. I went to one of the new armories in my room, opening the cabinet I found it full of new clothes.
“Your brother thought you might want to have a change and not wear your armor all the time.”
“I’m more comfortable in my armor.”
“I know what you mean; but a lady can’t wear armor all the time.”
“This was thoughtful of Fergus; but, soon I won’t have need of such things.”
“Oh Bell, you never know, as Warden Commander of Ferelden you’ll be called to court and you’ll need to dress for those occasions.”
I wasn’t going to tell Leliana, I had no intentions of coming to court once I took my command of the Vigil. I couldn’t with my belly being rounded now could I. I didn’t have to attend unless I wanted to as a noble. I’d have to make sure I could wiggle out of this as Warden Commander. It was now Fergus’ job to represent Highever at the Landsmeet.
I didn’t answer, I was looking over the new clothes my brother had made for me. He shouldn’t have done this, we need the money for our people at Highever. I could sell them I guess and not tell him and give the money to the female staff at Highever. I couldn’t let him know it would hurt his feelings.
I reached inside and pulled out a light blue silk gown for day wear. I turned to Wynne, here try this on.
“Bell, I can’t.”
“Come on Wynne, just for fun, who is going to know except me and Lei and we certainly aren’t going to tell.”
“It is certainly a lovely gown.”
“Come on Wynne, let’s see you in it.”
Leliana helped me and we got Wynne into all of the finery. Leliana even did her hair. She was a beautiful older woman and her silver hair went well with the gown which matched her eyes.
“Oh Wynne, you look lovely, I wish you could wear a gown to the ball.”
“I wish I could too; but, I’m a mage. At least, this once I can be just a woman for one evening.”
She preened and walked the room for us with Leilana and me laying on the bed drinking hot chocolate and nibbling on cream cakes that Molly had brought up and egging Wynne on with hilarious results. All of us exchanging stories of people we knew and balls we attended and Wynne adding life tidbits from the Circle of Magi. We made Wynne try on several more and just had a good time being girls again. We spent the rest of the evening laughing and giggling, it was nice in a way to get to know Wynne and Leliana as women and not just as mage and bard. We are three women with deadly skills. We poured over dress patterns and designs, fabrics, discussed jewelry design and Leliana had some fantastic stories of jewels she had stolen in Orlais playing the game for the nobles.
My brother had done a fine job of picking out new fabric for gowns for me. He’d always done the same for Oriana. One problem for me was that my gowns were snug. My body had changed with the joining. This was the first dress I’d tried on since becoming a Grey Warden. I still had a nice feminine figure, more athletic now. I had muscles now where women didn’t normally have muscles. Especially a refined high-born lady as myself shouldn’t have had.
We spent the rest of the night indulging in girlish fun. Soon all three of us were asleep on my big bed with Thor guarding us on his new fur beside my bed. I had slept a few hours; but, being a warden meant I didn’t always get a full night sleep. So I just lay there and watched the silver sphere in the night sky slowly drift by. I softly ran my fingers through Thor’s fur over and over, and he too finally drifted off into doggie dreams reversing our roles of night’s watch. Once-upon-a-time I would have been happy and safe and warm in this house and sleep would not have been an issue. That was then, this is now. That little girl was gone forever. I would miss her too.
Just before dawn broke I finally drifted back to sleep, lost in my thoughts and plans for what was to come. I was very hot for some reason and didn’t feel well. I couldn’t throw the covers off of me because of Wynne and Leliana, so I kept still. I was uncomfortable. If I moved to much I would wake them up. This was likely the most rest all of us had gotten in over a year and half so I forced myself to listen to the sounds of those sleeping around me to help me drift off again just before dawn broke.
I felt Leliana stir first as the birds started to chirp outside my window and the sounds of the castle coming to life with the dawn of a new day.
“Good morrow Leliana, sleep well?”
She stretched and her flaming red hair was all tousled from her sleep. She wiped the sleep from her sparkling blue eyes and corrected the braid in her hair to the correct side.
“Oh yes, I wish I could stay in this warm cozy bed forever. It’s been so long since I slept in a proper bed. This one having a feather mattress with the fire is heavenly.”
“I know what you mean, big difference from the rock covered ground we’ve all slept on since just recently.”
“It wasn’t so bad at times.”
“I guess it wasn’t, we’ve seen so many things over the past year, grown as people, helped where we could and made enemies where we needed and saved countless lives, so I guess we need to just enjoy the next couple of days.”
“Yes, let’s have a grand old-time.”
“You didn’t sleep much did you?”
“I’ve a lot on my mind and to be honest I’m scared Lei.”
“Your scared, of what?”
“I can’t imagine you being scared of anything.”
“Becoming Warden Commander for one.”
“If anyone can do that job, it’s you, you’ll be fine.”
“I’m not so sure.”
“Why, what’s on your mind.”
“Well the people I’ll rule are Arl Howe’s serfs and Bannerman.”
“You think they’ll cause trouble.”
“I would in their place.”
Leliana giggled and she turned over to face me. Since I was on the edge of the bed with Leliana in the middle and Wynne on the other side of her.
“Yes, I guess this is just the way of things when one lord is ousted and another takes their place.”
“It’s not the Wardens you’re worried about?”
I was, but couldn’t tell Leliana.
“I’m sure there will be good people who will be relived that they no longer live under Howe’s direct rule but others will have thrown their lot in with his and they all lost. Many will not like the idea I’m sure, they will cause trouble for me in Amaranthine.”
“Come enough of this I’m starved and I’m sure my dog has needs.”
I got up and went behind the screen to relive myself, as I was taking care of my morning needs I heard Wynne get up.
“Good morrow Wynne, did you sleep well?”
“These old bones did indeed get a good night sleep.”
“You didn’t sleep very well, did you?”
“I slept well enough for a Warden.”
“How do you feel this morning?”
“Bell I’m going back to my room for a change of small-clothes, do you want to let Thor out.”
“Please Leliana, the castle staff or my brother will let him out into the courtyard.”
I heard Thor bark his happy reply to Leliana.
I came around the screen and Leliana and Wynne were getting their clothes on.
“Both of you will join me for breakfast won’t you?”
“Here or downstairs?”
I looked at Wynne
“I need to check you and I also need a change of small-clothes.”
“Of course, and I guess that means back to bed with me.”
“Yes, young lady that is what that means.”
“Alright, I’ll ring for breakfast to be brought up while you two go get fresh clothes and I’ll wash up and get back to bed until the weavers get here.”
I looked at Wynne conveying my thoughts to her and she knew Leliana had to leave for her and I to talk privately.
“I’ll check you now, then change.”
I nodded as I got back in bed and pulled the cord by my bedside.
“I’ll be back in bit, then, come Thor,” called Leliana. She smiled at me and Wynne and patted Thor on the head as he came up beside her wagging his tail at her. “You’re the best Mabari in the whole world.”
Thor barked his full agreement. Leliana with her arms full of the drawings and journals, and Thor left my room as the young girl came into my room.”
“Breakfast and wash water my lady?”
“Yes, please. Mistress Leliana and Enchantress Wynne will also be joining me.”
“What is your name?”
“My name is Arial.”
“Thank you my lady.”
She walked over to the fire and started to sweep up the ashes that had gathered over the night and added them to the ceramic pot next to the fire-place. Once done she took the poker moved the logs around to make the flames rekindle then she added a few more logs.
“You’ll be needing more wood.”
“See to it one of the male staff helps you with that Arial and you can restock the wood later this evening.”
“Do you wish for anything special my lady for breakfast and will you be getting dressed today or are you still to remain in bed?”
“No, whatever Molly has decided for breakfast will be fine. I won’t be getting dressed and the only thing I’d ever need help with is the buttons on my gowns or my hair when it needs to be up for court.”
“I’m easy to serve Arial, just make sure I’ve water and wood for a fire and soap in my dish with fresh towels and we’ll get along fine.”
“As you wish my lady, I’ll be off to get your breakfast.”
“Thank you Arial. Have you eaten yourself this morning?”
“Yes, my lady.”
“Alright then, Arial.”
Wynne and I watched as she finished her duties and left my room.
“Alright, young lady what is wrong.”
“Wynne, my leg is all red and I’m really hot.”
“What, when did this start?”
“In the night, I think I have a slight fever.”
She jumped off my bed, and jerked my covers off of me. I pulled up my nightgown for her to examine my leg. I’d already taken off the bandages behind the screen. My leg was flaming red and swollen where the new break had happened. Wynne’s healing had me back up walking but it seemed that my accidental swim in the stream might have caused an infection and I knew Wynne would have made sure all the debris was out of the wound. It looked really bad.
Wynne’s expression hardened when she touched and examined my leg. I felt the cool healing magic from her hands pour over my leg. She moved her hands over me. Hovering over the worst of the red streaks in my leg. I had a new scar to add to my growing collection and my leg looked worse than the scars on my chest.
“I’ve thought for some time there is something deep down in the bone in your leg and I’ve been unable to find it. I was afraid this would happen.”
“Well I guess slipping and falling in the stream might have its advantages then.”
“Don’t be flippant girl. This is serious.”
Her hands moved to my abdomen.
“This fever is dangerous for you to have, not just for you. You should have woke me and told me last night.”
“I wasn’t fully certain it was my leg or all us snuggled in my bed under the duvet with all of our body heat or just the Warden taint.”
I’ll get the salve from my room and a few potions I’ve been working on and fresh bandages. I need you to drink a lot of liquid today and see if we can flush this infection from your body. When the fresh water gets here I’ll have to reopen the wound again and flush it out once more.”
“We have to get this done before the weavers get here.”
“I’m Teyrna of Highever Wynne, they wait on my convience, not the other way around.”
“So I have your permission to get drunk today?”
“You do indeed.”
“Good, I’ll need the wine to deal with the weaving circle, they can be opinionated in dressing noblewomen.”
This healing magic should keep you comfortable for a time. I’m going to my room to get my supplies, we have to reopen that leg. I’ll need Leliana’s help.
I saw the concern etched in her face.
I knew this was bad, I might have made a mistake and should have woken her last night. Wynne and Leliana looked so peaceful in their sleep and after everything we’d been through they also needed their rest. They’d done so much to help me end the Blight.
I felt slightly better; I knew it wouldn’t last. I just had a feeling. I wasn’t as concerned for me as for my children. If I lost them, it would be blow and one I’m not sure I’d recover from emotionally. Which was a sad thought especially being here at home and my mother had wanted new grandchildren badly to spoil.
A knock sounded and my door opened, it was Arial returned with two other servants. They brought in our breakfast and set the tables up. She hung a black kettle over my fire and from the wood buckets they’d carried in filled it for my wash water to heat.
She looked around and realized the people she was to serve were not in the room with me.
“It’s fine Arial. We’ll serve ourselves. Will you ask Molly to make sure there are refreshments for the weavers when they arrive.”
“My lady, Molly is decorating the petite fours now and she will have tea and wine to go with them.”
“That will do nicely Arial. Give her my thanks. Return to the head housekeeper and I’ll ring for the dishes once we’re done.”
“As you wish my lady.” All three servants bowed and left my room.
Wynne and Leliana both came back in.
I could tell by the look on Leliana’s face Wynne had told her.
“I’ll be alright Leliana.”
“I hope all our hard work to keep you alive has not gone unnoticed by the Maker.”
“I’m sure He has more plans for me Leliana and if it is His will I’ll be over this fever in no time.”
“Come let’s get this done, it might be best if we are eating breakfast incase the weavers get here and it’s better if my leg is bandaged again so they don’t see it.”
Leliana helped Wynne get her supplies laid out.
“Here drink this, it will dull the pain when I cut into your leg again.”
She gave me a flask of elfroot and I popped the cork and chugged the nasty tasting liquid. I knew in a few moments it would take effect, it was potent stuff, but tasted horrible.
“Are your ready?”
“Yes, Wynne, let’s start.”
“Hold her leg Leliana.”
With a determined look. Leliana climbed on my bed and positioned herself over my bad leg sitting back on her knees, with her hands she held my leg down. She gasped when Wynne lifted my nightgown off of my legs. The gash on my shin was more inflamed than it had been just a while ago. Puss was oozing out of the wound on my leg. My leg had never healed since fighting the Arch Demon and my splash in the stream hadn’t helped it. It was growing hotter by the moment. I had confidence in Wynne’s healing to help me.
Wynne took a flask of elfroot and walked over to the wash basin in my room, she poured the potion over her hands and her small knife she used to dress wounds. Next she walked over to the fire and held the small knife in the flames. She returned to my bedside, she looked down and determined she needed to be on the other side of the bed, once to the correct side, she placed her hand on my knee and held my leg down. “Look at the canopy on your bed.” I did as she bid me. I felt the slice of the knife into my flesh. I grunted and squeezed my eyes shut and gritted my teeth. Oh the pain as she sliced into my flesh. I felt the cooling magic from her hands as she probed the wound. I felt Leliana’s hold on my leg tighten. I tried with all my might to be still but it was difficult. I couldn’t help it a cry escaped my lips.
“Hold her still Leliana.”
“I’m trying,” as Wynne took the knife and probed deeper into my flesh.
Agony coursed through my body from the pain.
I heard my door slam open.
“Bell….what the hell?”
“It was my brother.”
I heard him rush to my beside.
“Maker, I heard him exclaim.”
“Here, let me.”
I felt Fergus and Leliana trade places and felt my brother’s strong hands on my legs, holding them down.
I couldn’t help it the pain was becoming to great and Wynne probed deeper, closer to the bone. I screamed and started to thrash.
Leliana get her arms.
“When did this start?”
“During the night,” Wynne answered my brother.
“Her leg is infected?”
“Yes, it appears so.”
Sweat started to cover my body from the pain. Wynne cut the wound open more. Then I felt her hand reach down inside my leg and move round. She was searching for an object that was causing the infection. Most likely a piece of metal from the battle with the Arch Demon, or a piece of wood, or stone from the stream.”
I tried my hardest to keep still, I couldn’t do it, my body’s natural defense wouldn’t allow it. I felt the surge of the taint and my muscles reacted. The strength of a Warden from my entire body pushed them all back.
“MAKER!” The strength in your body lil sis.
It was all Fergus could do to hold me down.
“Stop for a moment and get Kristoff.”
“No need, I’m already here when I heard you scream Commander.”
Kristoff and another Warden had charged into my room. Weapons drawn. They came to my bedside and saw the wound on my leg. “Here, let us hold her down, blast and damnation Commander.”
“This infection is bad, when did this start.”
“In the night.”
“Your just now tending to this he accused Wynne.”
“Not her fault I gasped, enough Kristoff.”
The other warden held the upper part of my body down turning his head from the smell of my wound. Kristoff changed places with Fergus. Kristoff gazed up at me.
Wynne reached her hand into my leg again and I cried out as Kristoff and the other warden held me down. They had a warden’s strength to do what Fergus and Leliana could not do. It had taken Sten and Oghren and Shale to hold Alistair down when Wynne had to stitch the wounds on his chest from the High Dragon battle. Wardens were not push overs. The taint gave us superior strength and stamina.
“Whatever is causing this has to be deep in the bone and I can’t get to it.”
“What are you saying?”
“If I can’t find whatever is causing this, the fever will get worse.”
Kristoff and I looked at each other. We both knew what this meant. If my fever raged for to long, being a Warden and because of the taint I’d have to be put out of my misery.
“The First Warden and the King have to know about this.”
“No, I whined.”
“I’m sorry Commander, they have to know. Darkspawn are still roaming the surface and they have to be told, in cause you don’t make it.”
“Give it time, I gasped.”
“Alright Commander for now, if this doesn’t work and Enchantress Wynne can’t find what is causing this infection and you die, a new Warden Commander will have to be named for Ferelden.”
“The King…we can wait to tell him. The First Warden, we can’t and you know it.”
“If I don’t get any worse wait until after the coronation.”
“For the Wardens to be honored here in Ferelden, for the people and most of all for my Warden King.”
“As you say Commander.”
I didn’t think Wynne would ever get through. She took a ladle of warm water from the kettle over the fire in my hearth. She added elfroot to the water in the wash basin and picking up a snow-white cloth for me to wash with and she dipped the cloth inside the basin with the mixture in it. She washed the puss from my wound away from around the opening with me grunting at intervals. She got up, emptied the basin out the window. She returned to the hearth and added more water to the washing basin, with more elfroot and the ladle grabbing a few more small towels and returned to the bed. Motioning to Kristoff, he lifted my legs for Leliana to place the towels under them. Then Wynne took the ladle and poured the elfroot infused water directly into my open wound on my shin. I withered in pain. With another towel she dabbed at my wound as gently as she could to dry it. She reached down and picked up the jar of salve, opening it she dipped her fingers into the herbal infused salve and filled the wound in my leg with the salve. She then took the fresh clean bandages and redressed my leg with Leliana and Kristoff doing what they needed to help her, with my brother looking on with worry etched in his face.
I heaved a sigh of relief that it was over. Kristoff got off my bed which would now need to be changed from the dirt and the water. They allowed me to lay there for a few moments catching my breath.
I still needed to wash and change into a clean shift and small-clothes.
Wynne reached down and the cool blue healing magic erupted from her hands once more. The pain was starting to lessen just a bit. I could feel the wound inside the bandage knit close again. It was amazing that healing mages could do that.
“Better?” Fergus asked as he sat down beside me taking my hand in his.
I nodded. I wasn’t hungry now. The pain had dampened my appetite.
“I’m sure I’ll be fine. Wynne is the best healing mage I’ve ever seen.”
“That strength, this is what it’s like to be a Warden?”
I just smiled at him, my brain was still to pain fogged to think of a snappy reply. In hindsight I guess it was good I’d been out for two weeks when Wynne and Irving had stitched me up after my fight with the Arch Demon.
I was also to busy turning the thoughts around in my head that if the Wardens had to put me out of my misery, they might have to fight my brother to do it. He won’t understand not being a Warden himself. Alistair might not be able to stop Fergus from retaliation if I died. Would Alistair be able to make to Fergus understand the need. My brother wouldn’t give me up without a fight. For the Wardens it would be a mercy kill from one warden brother/sister to another. We understood the need, a lay person wouldn’t understand because of the taint. Sometimes being a Warden was nasty business.
“When will the weavers be here?”
“Before noon, I was told; I still have time to send a messenger to cancel the appointment. It looks like you’ll get out that session with the weavers after all.”
I patted Fergus’ hand. “Don’t cancel, I’ll still need that gown, you’re going to learn how fast a Warden heals big brother.”
“Bell, I don’t think….
“Wardens do heal fast your Grace. I think if the Commander hadn’t fought an Arch Demon recently and due to her previous severe injuries, I’m sure she’d likely be healed completely by now, just one of the many features of being a Warden your Grace, you’ll see.”
Fergus looked to me for confirmation. I nodded it was so.
“Would all of you mind; but, I need a few moments alone with my brother.”
Kristoff gave me a hard look. I knew what he was thinking. I’d tell Fergus why a Warden really heals fast. I valued my brother’s life to well to tell him.
“Family business Kristoff.”
“As you say Commander.”
Everyone shuffled out of my room. When the door was closed I jumped right in to what I wanted to know.
“Is it done?”
“It is, the packet of information is being sent to Alistair as we speak, it’s up to him now, and you’re good friend Zevran is following the little lass all the way. The packet will not be out of his sight.”
“Zevran will see she makes it safely into the presence of our future king.”
“We can depend on Zevran have no doubt. I hope Alistair’s Templar and Chantry training don’t get in the way.”
“I doubt Eamon will allow it. Eamon will see to it His Majesty is persuaded that she has to hang and of course I won’t hesitate to offer my words on the subject, since it was my wife, child and our parents, and our thousand retainers at Highever that she allowed to be slaughtered to keep her secret.”
“Hopefully, this part will soon be over.”
“What do you mean this part?”
Oh Maker, what slip of the tongue on my part.
“I just meant Fergus, that it will be wise for us to watch our backs until Alistair cleans up the rest of the trouble that will arise with the Bannorn once she is hanged.”
“They will have to go along with it, she has no defense, it was flat-out treason. You’re right, her symphonants will try to revenge her later on, I’m sure, so we’ll both have to be careful. The Chantry is not going to allow one of their own who sits on the throne to be harmed. They have a stronger hold on Ferelden now that Alistair will be king. Will the Grey Wardens fill the same.”
“The Chantry, I agree with you, the Wardens are another matter. I’m not sure what they would do if Alistair is threatened, I’ve not been with the order long enough to know their feelings on the subject. As a rule Wardens are not to allowed to involve themselves with political matters.”
“You two have been hip deep in political matters since Ostagar.”
“If Loghain hadn’t left Cailan to die on the battlefield, then none of us would be in this situation. I’m in deep trouble over that with the Wardens as it is. I explained as best I could and hopefully any reports from Riordan will help with the situation. How they would react to Alistair being threatened is hard to say. He is a Warden, even if he will be a king.”
“Alright Fergus, we’ll have to finish discussing this later. I’m sure Leliana and Wynne would like their breakfast and I need to change and call for the servant to come change my bed. I also need to wash and get dressed before the weavers get here.”
Fergus kissed me on the forehead.
“I’ll let you know at once what happens, I’m sure being the only Teyrn in Ferelden I’ll be sent for, I need to go get my armor on to make the trip to Eamon’s.”
“I’ll check back on you as soon as I can.”
“Don’t worry Fergus, Wynne is here and the Wardens are still on guard at my door are they not?”
“I’ll do my best little sister. See you soon.” With that he was gone.
Wynne, Leliana, and Kristoff returned once Fergus had left.
“Do you need anything else Commander?”
“Not right now Kristoff. just know that I have ladies from the weaver’s circle coming just do the normal checks and allow them in.”
“As you say Commander.”
“Well this has surely been an eventful morning.”
“Seems normal to me as a Warden.”
Leliana gawked at me. “Only you would say that.”
“Oh I don’t know, I’m sure if Alistair was here he’d be more sharp-witted on the whole matter then I. He has that way about him. Come on let’s eat, our breakfast is probably cooled by now.”
All three of us sat down at the dining table in my room and helped ourselves to the huge feast, it was still slighty warm, something could be said for silver serving dishes.