Maker! I couldn’t get enough to drink. I knew I still had a fever. I was gulping down another cup of wine. I was feeling slightly tipsy. I’d have to switch to hot tea very soon or pass out during my fitting, which I’m sure would give the weavers circle plenty of gossip to spread.
They had been going on and on about their fitting session with our new king. I endured this discussion with as much grace as I could muster, since they were fawning over the man I loved. I ignored Wynne and Leliana’s glances of sympathy. I answered the weavers circles questions regarding our new king to the best of my ability as any loyal noble would do, and just encouraged them that he was a fine gentlemen and would be as honest and fair as he could be, and that I felt he would rule justly.
When they nearly swooned over their discussion of his body I really wanted to scream that I knew that body better than they did, but I held my tongue and gnashed my teeth together as jealousy coursed through my veins. Oh, the tales that would have spread if I had joined in that discussion. I keep my eyes downcast and just drank more wine. Leliana, Wynne and I assured them priority had been observed in regards to getting dressed in camp. We ladies had dressed in our tents. His Highness and the rest of the men had dressed in the bushes. I also explained that His Highness preferred to sleep when the weather was good under the stars. I sighed softly with relief that Leliana and Wynne had gone along with my little fib.
Unfortunately, Leliana and Wynne were embellishing their tale in regards to the massive scars on our monarch’s chest from battling a High Dragon. One of the ladies did nearly swoon right off a stool as she had a dreamy-eyed expression and commented that he was like the legends of old. I turned my back and I rolled my eyes and wondered if there was smelling salts in my room. If they kept going on about his body of which I had truly imitate knowledge we’d likely need them. I wasn’t sure if it would be from swooning or me punching their lights out.
I glanced at Leliana and she knew exactly what I was thinking, soon she had the ladies in a heated discussion on Orlais vs. Ferelden fashion. I nodded to her gratefully and soon the discussion of our monarch’s body came to an end. Maker be praised.
I was sitting in front of my hearth waiting to see if the weavers needed to make any further adjustments or more measurements. They did have to be persuaded to go with the choice of the design that Leliana and I had chosen for my gown. So I allowed them more leeway in regards to embellishments with my dress slippers, and cape which Leliana seemed to approve of. Wynne was also finishing up her new mage robes. She was also keeping a watchful eye on me. I’m sure she was trying to puzzle out if my flush was from the discussion of Alistair, the wine, or my fever. Pity I couldn’t reassure her which of the three it was.
Scrapes of material, thread, tissue paper, dress patterns, glass beads and various sapphire, diamond, and emerald chips were scattered throughout my room. Leliana’s gown would be embellished with garnets and citrine. All of the cutting had been done and now it was just a matter of the final fitting for any further adjustments. They would need to also make adjustments to some of the clothes that Fergus had made for me, they were just to snug.
“Alright my lady we’re ready to pin, once pinned then we can start on the sewing.” The head weaver spoke to me and directed me to the dias.
I was dutiful and stood up to stand on the small circular dias in my room. The four head weavers with their pin cushions and chalk makers in tow brought forth the various cuttings of my gown and started to pin them together. This was the part that I hated. Being stuck with pins. I endured it without squirming too much. They checked for their seam allowances, making sure I had room over my amble bust that seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds. I was slightly more endowed, which didn’t help me at all since I was well portioned in this area to begin with. The change in my body from being a Warden and soon a mother-to-be. My gown would be fitted closely at my hips and thighs, and bell out from there so I could walk in the gown. The backside of my gown would also highlight that part of my anatomy that I was also famous for, it would be extremely tight on the backside. Lovely I thought. I hope I could bow in the blasted thing and not rip the backside out. However, that might make the whole affair of honoring our new monarch a well-remembered occasion, especially if I went panty less and without a chemise. I wanted to bubble with laughter but held myself in check not wanting to explain myself and insult the weavers on their fine work.
Alright my lady, I think we’re done.” I raised my arms and they gently removed my gown which was inside out, over my head I sagged with relief. These ladies had done well and they hadn’t stuck me with to many pins. They had been horrified at my scared bosom and graciously did not comment. The slashes to my chest from the Arch Demon had been bone deep. Even I had to admit, it was a gruesome sight. The wounds were healing nicely and Wynne had said it was time for less bandages and allow more air to get to my gored flesh. This too was welcome news. My gown had to be extended across my bust to allow for my bandages. They weavers had taken great care to be as gentle as they could be in my bust area.
“My lady, do you wish for extra lace on your chemise?”
I shook my head no and a wave a dizziness zipped through my head. Thank goodness I wasn’t still on the dias. Extra lace would just make me itch. Mine and Wynne’s chemise would be full length and both of them would be made with the softest silk. Mine would be an oval cut from the throat down to barely cover my breast with thin straps at the shoulders and fall to just above my ankle. Leliana’s would be from her waist down and she would not be able to wear a small-clothes band at her breast due to the bustier which would help keep her breast in place.
“Just use a length of satin please. I hate lace of any kind on my small-clothes.”
“As you wish my lady.”
The day wore on as they nipped, tucked, and sewed. Their were 12 weavers in all and they were making good progress on our gowns. I watched and I knew I’d have to stand on the dias a few more times. Leliana and Wynne took their turns as well. The weavers at first were leery of Wynne being a mage. Wynne put them right at ease once they realized she was a healing mage from the circle and not an apostate and my own personal healer.
I returned to my chair, first slipping into my robe in front of my hearth and refilled my wine goblet with watered down wine.
“My lady, your slippers.”
I nodded graciously and stood up once again. I slipped my hosed feet into the slippers. The cobbler glanced up to determine if I was satisfied as she had kneeled at my feet to help me with the slippers. I stood up and walked across my room in my new heels. I remembered my lessons and kept my head up and looked straight as I walked. My back was perfectly aligned as it needed to be to balance in heels. They would pinch slightly being pointed at the toes. Silver ribbons would be threaded through on the sides for them to be secured to my legs so no danger of them slipping off to dance in. The heel seemed to be at the correct height, not to high and not to low; I’d guess around two inches. The fine doe skin leather was very soft. I’d have preferred a new pair of boots. I returned to my chair; the cobbler weaver helped me slip my new heels off and I nodded that they would do. She was pleased that I approved. The fit had been perfect and now she was allowed to cover them with the silver cloth, and apply the glass beads and silver trim once I approved the design she would make out on tissue paper for the beadwork placement. My shoes would be finished first.
Leliana was on the dias and she would look stunning in her gown of black damask which sported a bustier with stripped gold in various shades from dark, medium and light in a diagonal pattern. The gown showed a very Orlesian theme. The gown from the elbow down was made with fine black lace with gold buttons on the sleeves at the wrist on the black band of material. The shoulder sleeves puffed out gently showing a balloon shape. Her underskirt was also the same gold stripped pattern and would show when she walked. The gown was split down the middle in the lower front for the underskirt. She was going to go with a silver underskirt and I talked her out of it due to her hair. The black gown was extremely low-cut which I’m sure the men would appreciate. Leliana had lovely skin and no blemishes could be seen on her chest. Her hair would also support a gold comb studded with garnet, diamond, and onyx chips, with her hair brushed back on one side with the comb in place. Her shoes would also be embellished with gold beadwork and gold silk ribbons and covered with the same fabric as her gown. She would be stunning.
I stood up and pulled my bell cord.
Arial came to my room and I requested more wine and hot tea. More pastries were also delivered with dainty finger sandwiches of light brown bread with the crust trimmed, buttered and cucumber slices. A small platter of cheese cubes and berries was also added. The petite fours that Molly had made would be devoured all through the day.
I called for a break and all of us enjoyed a light mid-day repast which was short-lived since the weavers had to get back to work, they were on a time schedule. They would take mine and Leliana’s gowns and do the gem and glass bead work over the night. Tomorrow was the big day. Once I dressed, they would make any adjustments that were needed.
With the friendly chatter that ladies so enjoy while doing such work, it had turned into a relaxing day. It was good to relax and enjoy the company of women and I allowed myself this small joy. Nostalgia fluttered through my head from time to time as memories of my mother would glimmer with reflection as at times I caught myself staring into the past. I had the feeling she was there with me. She would have loved this day.
Leliana was giggling and talking with the ladies while I walked over to my window and looked out at the sky and was lost to the past. I took another sip of wine.
How excited my mother had been when my father and Cailan had finely accepted and finalized my marriage to Christian of the De’Charny family from Orlais. I was to become a Grand Duchess in Orlais and unite Ferelden and Orlais. As well as be a spy for Ferelden within the Orlesian Court. A Grand Duchess being the same as a Teyrna in Ferelden. Until my husband and I returned to Ferelden to live at Highever forever; my King nor my father would relent on this during our marriage negotiations. My father wanted to bequeath to us a thousand acres of Highever land to build our own castle to live in and raise the next generation of Couslands. Once, I returned to Ferelden; I was to be Fergus and Cailan’s bodyguards when the situations warranted my involvement. When Cailan was to leave Ferelden on affairs-of-state I would go with him as his personal bodyguard along with his personal royal palace guards. It would just appear to others that I was just a member of the royal court in service to my king. If his royal guards were all killed in protecting him, it was to have been my job to get him safely back to Ferelden by stealth. This is what I had been trained for.
My mother had been overjoyed and had already begun planning my wedding which was to have taken place in the Grand Cathedral of Val Royeaux. With Cailan and Anora along with Empress Celene in attendance. Christian’s mother and mine had already begun their correspondence with very little input from me about my own wedding. It would have been a very grand affair with two royal families marrying with two sets of Monarchs looking on. My marriage wouldn’t have been political. I had been in love with Christian.
The banns had not been posted and I was very thankful for that one small blessing. The image and horror on my father’s face has never left my mind, not once when I had to explain to him… why I couldn’t marry Christian and what had happened. His grave disappointment, and horror on what had happened and as always – my loving father had eased my pain and went along with what I wanted. He had saved me from harsh humiliation and scandal in two countries.
I squeezed my eyes shut tight as the pain of that awful day coalesced in my memory. If only I had never walked into the De’Charny’s barn that day; I would have still been in Orlais married to Christian and I’d wouldn’t be a Grey Warden now. I’d never have met Alistair at Ostagar and Ferelden would have had Loghain as regent and most likely our country wouldn’t have survived the blight. The Arch Demon would have utterly destroyed Ferelden and all who lived within its borders.
Mother Mallory words echoed in my head. “It’s the Maker’s will child when bad things happen.” Looking back now, I have no other explanation for the tragedies that have unfolded since. I said a silent prayer to the Maker that Christian was alright. I had to find Christian sooner rather than later.
I was also edgy today because at this moment I knew that my little messenger was on her way to have an audience with our soon-to-be-king. With Zevran, Slim, and Captain Kylon making sure she got to Arl Eamon’s estate gates and escorted into Alistair’s presence. This little outing had cost Fergus and me, 100 gold sovereigns. We’d had several greasy palms to slick.
My brother would soon be called and he had informed me this morning that the mage was safe and secure in Cousland Court where he would escort her into the presence of Alistair and Arl Eamon so she could confirm that she had indeed informed Loghain of Anora’s condition and she was indeed the author of the letter. It had been a nightmare keeping her alive and moving her all over Thedas. From Orlais with the De’Charny’s to Antiva with Orianna’s Family and sometimes she had to pose as a serf in Rainesfere then she would be shuffled off again and again. My father had done an amazing job keeping her alive.
Father, mother and I also had other reasons for keeping her alive. This was something else that was on my plate and I had to take steps to get her to the Vigil where I would protect her from here on out. I prayed that nobody recognized her being from the Circle of Magi, she was now considered an apostate and for my sake she had to remain one. She didn’t only have Anora’s tale to tell but mine as well.
She had freedom of a sort with us and she knew her life was always in danger once she informed Loghain of Anora’s condition. We had gotten her out of Gwaren and whisked her away to Orlais for a time. I prayed that Wynne didn’t get a glimpse of her. Wynne would recognize her I was sure. It had not been easy getting into the Circle of Magi to destroy her phylactery. I’d known about the Circle Tower more than I had ever let on.
The rest of the day wore on and I soon join in with the good cheer and gossip, approved the gem and beadwork for my gowns while waiting for news from my brother.
Meanwhile in the Market District across from Eamon’s estate….
The little imp standing with Zevran in the market district was eyeing him with vivid curiosity.
“Why is your face painted?” She shyly asked.
Zevran knelt down to eye level with her. She was a sweet little thing and she would grow into a beauty one day. He had no doubt.
“Do you like the lines on my face.”
“They are pretty she whispered.”
He grinned at her.
“Well now, for such a delightful compliment I’ll tell you why they are there.”
She nodded eagerly, waiting patiently for his explanation.
“I was born a Dalish elf. You know of the Dalish, yes?”
“When we reach adulthood we go through a ceremony and have a task to do for the honor of the markings on our bodies. Once the task is complete, we announce who we wish our patron God to be who watches over us through our life. When the keeper accepts our choice, the symbol of the chosen God is permanently marked on our faces with blood.”
Her little pink mouth popped into a very large oval at her surprise.
“With blood she whispered.”
“How do you keep the blood in place,” she asked so innocently.
“The blood is placed with needles into the skin.”
She inhaled a little breath.
“Did it hurt?”
“Yes, it did, but only for a little while.”
She nodded gravely.
“What did you do to earn your marks?”
“I slew a pack of wolves who were killing the small Dalish children.”
“Were many Dalish children killed, she asked.”
“Yes, I’m sorry to say.”
“I’m glad you killed the wolves then.”
“Do the Dalish children like to play games like we do?”
Zevan ruffled her red/gold curls. She had beautiful light green eyes, with red freckles over her little nose, a little pink mouth. Her curls fell down her back in waves and she had bangs she constantly had to push aside. She was barefoot and her dress was nothing more than patches of material which made up her little dress. This child is in need of shoes and her body no more than a rake of bones.
“Yes, they do.”
“I wish I had more girls to play with, the boys are mean sometimes.” She weaved a furious frown on her little imp face.
“Well if they are and you see me, I’ll take care of them for you.”
“Yes, my little mi bella I would.”
“What’s a bella?”
“It’s means my little beauty.”
She gave him a dazzling smile. It nearly took his breath away. She was so sweet and innocent. Her mother had been killed so her brothers and her were earning silver being messengers.
“Do you have a safe place to stay at night?”
She nodded yes and pouted. She pointed over to the Chantry.
“Why the pout mi bella?”
“They make me get a bath before I’m allowed to eat,” she huffed out.
“Well now, a bath is good, and makes you into an even more mi bella.”
“Ohhhhh, she giggled.
“Than I shall have a bath everyday then,” she stated with absolute determination with a sassy shake of her little red/gold curls.
Maker she would be a heart breaker when she grew up, Zevran thought. One good thing about Ferelden, they had beautiful hearty lasses with curves in just the right spots. For a split second his mind fluttered to the saucy wench at The Pearl.
“Will this make me get a good husband one day, I really don’t want to do laundry the rest of my life, like my momma, her hands bleed.”
Zevran blinked. It just occurred to him, this little imp might not be leaving Arl Eamon’s estate. He was sure this was one of Goldana’s children. He looked at her more closely. If Alistair didn’t catch on, he’d tell him.
Two shadows fell over them. Zevran glanced up to Slim and Captain Kylon.
“What is your name little one?”
She placed her tiny little hand over her heart and said, I’m Tara.
“That’s a beautiful name for a beautiful mi bella.”
She gave him a dazzling little smile, that included dimples.
“Are you ready to earn that pocketful of silver little one? It is a most important task.”
“Will I get a painted face too, once I’m done?”
Zevran tapped her nose, “no my beauty that is only for the Dalish.”
“Oh” she pouted. “I guess,” she grumbled and moved her tiny foot in the dirt between the cobblestones.
“Can I touch them, your markings?”
“Yes you may.”
She reached out her little hand and touched the curved lines tattooed next to his left eye. Her touch was feather light, she examined her little finger and was amazed there was no color on her little finger. She gave off a little giggle as she looked him in the eye.
Zevran smiled at her again. “This is a good friend of mine and he is going to walk you to the entrance of Arl Eamon’s estate.”
She eyed Captain Kylon, not sure if she could trust him.
“He will keep you safe little one, with me and Slim following close behind you.”
Her little gaze drifted over to Slim. He smiled at her. She bit her tiny little lip as she peeked up at him through her little lashes and her bangs. Zevran would beat a gold piece that she thought Slim was a giant, he was a huge man after all in width and stature with carrot colored hair.
“What are you to tell Arl Eamon’s guards?”
“I have an important message for Prince Theirin and I most give the message to him and only him.”
“Yes, that is correct little one.”
“Do not give the pouch to anyone else. Captain Kylon knows who Prince Theirin is and he will go inside with you. I’ll be right behind you, but you won’t be able to see me for a short time. Once you meet Prince Theirin, I’ll show myself then.”
“What are you to say when they ask you what the person looked like who paid you to deliver this pouch?”
“A well dressed red-haired man and he talked funny.”
“Very good, little one, remember it is our secret that it wasn’t me who gave you the pouch and if you do very well, maybe even a new pair of shoes.”
She nodded that she understood, “our secret,” she whispered.
“Are you ready?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
Zevran stood up. Captain Kylon stepped forward and she grabbed hold of Zevran’s legs. He touched her shoulder and she looked up at him with frighten eyes.
“You most be brave little one, can you do this for me?”
She nodded after a few minutes of thought.
“Good, now take Captain Kylon’s hand and he will escort you.”
She timidly placed her small little hand in Captain Kylon’s. Zevran handed her the pouch she was to give Prince Theirin.
“Off you go then.”
With a little shake of her bouncy curls she followed along beside Captain Kylon. Slim gave the signal and their lookouts and men posted moved with the little party out of sight. Zevan cast himself in shadow and followed right behind them.
Soon they entered the estates entrance. Guards posted at the massive doors.
One of the guards stepped forward when he recognized Captain Kylon. The guard noticed the little red-haired girl standing beside Kylon.
“Good day Captain, please state your business.”
“Good day sir, this little one came up to me in the market district and stated she has a message for His Highness. She had no idea where to find him.
“Does she now. What is your name lass?”
The child looked up into Kylon’s eyes. “Tell him your name child.”
“I’m Tara, sir.”
“Your one of the messengers in the market?”
“I’ll take the message to his Highness.”
“No. I was paid to give this to Prince Theirin and only him.”
“Can you take me to him?”
“Who paid you to deliver this?”
“A red-haired man, sir. He didn’t tell me his name, just gave me a hand full of silvers and told me to give this to Prince Theirin only. I didn’t know where to find him, sir.”
The big man scratched his chin. “You’ve seen her in the market Kylon?”
“Aye, she and her brothers are part of the messengers for hire in the market.”
“Wait here.” The guard went inside for a short time. When he came back out he nodded to Captain Kylon. You can go in, His Highness is in Arl Eamon’s study, Master Dolan will escort you.”
“Thank you sir.” Both men bowed to each other.
Kylon tugged on the little girls arm and they went inside. Her little eyes were big round saucers at the lush furnishings she was seeing. Her little head was turning all around trying to seeing everything and she held onto the brown oil pouch tightly with her little hands as she stood with Kylon. Master Dolan was walking down the long entrance hall. Soon he came abreast of the two visitors to Redcliffe Estate.
“Good morning Captain and to you too little miss.”
Tara looked up at Master Dolan and gave a little impish smile.
“How goes things in the market Kylon?”
“It’s been rough Master Dolan, with the city being in the mess it is in, not been to bad of late, to my surprise.”
“Ah well, that is good news then. Come His Highness is this way, follow me.”
They walked along several long corridors on the first floor and after a very long walk and talk of events in the city, they came to a massive set of double wooden doors carved with the heraldry of Redcliffe.
“Wait here Kylon, I’ll announce you.”
Master Dolan, knocked on the massive doors. Dolan heard Arl Eamon call enter and Dolan stepped inside the room and shut the door behind him. After a few minutes, one of the heavy wooded doors opened and Master Dolan announced him and the messenger. Kylon took Tara’s little hand and walked her inside Eamon’s large study.
Inside they found His Highness sitting at Eamon’s desk reading various reports. His Highness and Arl Eamon looked up to watch them enter. Kylon stopped with Tara and he bowed to Alistair and the Arl.
Kylon whispered “bow child.”
The little girl performed an awkward bow trying to imitate Kylon and stood back up with uncertainty and looking around at the wealthy furnishings of the Arl’s study.
Alistair had spoken and his name had held a question as to the little girl’s presence.
“Your Highness, good morrow to you?”
“And to you Kylon, what brings you by with this little girl?”
“She came up to me in the Market and told me she had an important message for you Highness but she didn’t know who you were or where to find you.”
Alistair nodded and glanced at Eamon who was eyeing the pouch with interest.
“What is your name child?”
She stuttered a little, “my name is..is Tara sir.” The little imp seemed to understand these two men were not like lay people out on the streets.
Alistair just realized that Zevran was standing in the shadows of the door. Alistair nodded to him and thus alerting Eamon to his presence. Alistair stood up and came from around the large desk. He knelt down in front of the little girl. She looked half-starved to death and her clothes were no more than rags.
“My name is Alistair.”
“Your not Prince Theirin then?”
“Ah, let’s start again, my full name is: Prince Alistair Theirin, Son of King Maric.”
“Do you know who King Maric was?”
“He was King Cailan’s father.”
“Yes, that’s right he was, and my father also.”
“You’re a smart little lass, who taught your history lessons.”
“Where is your momma right now?”
The little girl dropped her eyes. “She died, when the dragon attacked.”
“I’m so sorry Tara, what happened to her?”
“When the big dragon was flying – fire started in our house and momma screamed at us to run to the chantry, the house fell on her. My brother yanked my arm and made me run, I was so scared and I was crying.”
Alistair took the little girl in his arms and gave her a hug and he stood up with her in arms.
“I was scared too Tara when the dragon was flying.”
“Did you fight the dragon too?”
“Yes, I did.”
She nodded her little head.
“Your face is rough.”
Alistair laughed heartily, “Aye, little one I didn’t have time to shave this morning to make it smooth.”
“Does your papa shave little one?”
“I don’t have a papa.”
“I’m sorry Tara.” Alistair gave her another slight hug. “My father is dead too.”
Alistair pointed to the pouch she still clutched in her little hand tight as could be. “Is this for me?”
“Yes sir,” she nodded.
“May I have it?”
She leaned back and handed him the pouch. Alistair walked to the desk and dropped the pouch on the desk with a soft thump.
“Who gave this to you Tara?”
“A well dressed, red-haired man and he talked silly.”
She glanced over at Zevran and he smiled at her.
“He gave me a hand full of silver to give this to you and told me to deliver to Prince Theirin only.”
“Well Tara, you have done such a fine job, I’ll reward you also.” Alistair reached into his pocket and handed her a gold sovereign.
Her little green eyes went round when she took the coin from Alistair’s hand. She immediately bit it.
Alistair grabbed her little hand, “careful Tara, you don’t want to break your teeth.”
“I have to sir, my brothers told me to always test the coin, so people don’t cheat us.”
“Do you think I’d cheat you Tara, I’m a Prince after all.”
Tara regarded Alistair for a few minutes when she finally said, “you might.”
Alistair shook with laughter and glanced over at Zevran. “I think she’d make a fine rogue.”
“I was thinking much the same thing. And you should ask her who her mother was?”
Alistair eyed Zevran then nodded.
“What was your mother’s name Tara?”
“That is a pretty name too. Alright lass down you go. Are you hungry little one?”
“Zevran will you take our little messenger to the kitchens and she that she is feed and washed up while I see what the little miss has brought me to read. Stay with her until I send for both of you.”
“Aye, on it.”
“Come Tara, let’s find something for you to eat.” Tara walked to Zevran and took his hand. “Come we must bow and say goodbye to His Highness. Do what I do,” and the little imp nodded that she understood.
” Your Highness,” and he bowed. Tara followed and bowed also. She waved goodbye to the Prince Theirin.
“Be a good lass.”
She nodded to Alistair, and the little imp followed Zevran out the door.
“Is there anything else Kylon?”
“No Your Highness, good day to you sirs,” and he too took his leave.
“Cute little thing isn’t she?”
“Yes,” said Eamon with a bit of chagrin on his face. Alistair was sure because of who her mother was.
“Alright Eamon, let’s see what was so important that someone sent me a pouch by way of a little street urchin.”
“You sent her to the kitchens incase you need to question her further.”
“Yes.” Alistair sat back down at Eamon’s desk and unwrapped the string tying the pouch closed. Once untied he opened the leather flap and looked inside then removed a few vellum parchments also tied with string. He untied these and started to read.
Alistair once done reading, sat back against the chair.
“Well it seems the proof you always wanted to prove that Anora might be barren has miraculously arrived at your very doorstep. Read for yourself.” Alistair slid the parchments over to Eamon.
“I rather doubt that.” Eamon took the papers and read himself. He looked at Alistair, if this is true, then this is treason.”
“Yes, Eamon, it was.”
“It does have Loghain’s seal.”
“I hope this mage is still alive. I can’t imagine Loghain would have allowed her to live.”
“What do you want to do?”
“Anora, will have to be examined Eamon; I see no other way.”
“Yes, and I’d suggest having the Grand Cleric present when it’s done.”
“I wonder who our ally is?”
“That is a very good question Alistair, any ideas?”
“You understand the nobles better than I, Eamon.”
“If I had to guess…”
“The only nobles I know of with red hair are part of the bannorn.”
“Bann Cheswick. Yet, he rules a small tract of land in the very southern portion of the bannorn, unless….”
“He was Bryce Cousland’s bannerman.”
“You think this is what she really went for?”
“I’m unsure, and what I don’t understand is why she didn’t want me to know it was her.”
“We need to question Fergus and see what he knows. Commander Cousland was the trained rouge, not her brother.”
“Eamon….I don’t want either of them to suspect we know it might have been her.”
“You really have to ask that Eamon. She loves me remember, she’s saved my life time and time again. If not for her, I’d never have survived the blight, she has to have a reason and I will trust her judgment. She might suspect something else and she doesn’t have the information to bring it forward yet. Having this delivered by a messenger instead of her or Fergus bringing this to me allows for me to deny the information came from the Couslands. Bellavalia is very shrewd, and is fully aware of how this might look if this comes out I received the information from her. She is the one who decided the Landsmeet in favor of me.”
“I’d imagine this might be why Bryce and Eleanor Cousland were murdered because they knew about this. I’d heard rumors that they had spies inside Gwaren. I’m sure Loghain had spies at Highever,” said Eamon.
“Eamon you suspected yourself she was barren.”
“I never expected because of an accident riding her horse. Some women seem to be unable to bare children.” The barb found its mark true. Alistair shifted in his seat uncomfortably. This was a sore topic with him because of Bellavalia.
“I’ll also want my own wife examined before I marry Eamon, to be sure.”
“Aye Alistair, I see the good in it. We might consider putting this before the Landsmeet to vote on Alistair and make it law, then Ferelden has some protection on knowing if an heir is legitimate. It won’t solve the entire question which is impossible of course.”
“Eamon, it might have the opposite effect, some might question my own legitimacy, after all I’m a bastard as well.”
“We’ll check the law books, and see what we come up with, don’t forget you need to get a nap in today, you have your vigil at the Chantry tonight.”
“Yes, hours on my knees in penance; I hope the Grand Cleric doesn’t make it to hard – given I wiggled out of her grasp becoming a Grey Warden, really not looking forward to spending all night on my knees in full dress armor.”
“It’s tradition Alistair.”
Alistair sighed. “I know, send for Fergus.”
“Of course, Your Highness.”