Michelle sat quietly and patiently not wishing to draw any attention to herself. Observing the gentlemen conversing with each other. They’d all been waiting for nearly a half-hour for the Grand Cleric and the others to make their appearance. Michelle had to admit she was nervous seeing Greagoir and the First Enchanter again after so long and what their reactions might be to her reappearance. I know Irving will fight for me once he hears my tale, this was his job. It was the Grand Cleric and Greagoir she had to worry about.
She remembered meeting the Grand Cleric of Ferelden once when those who had passed their harrowing were honored at a yearly ceremony at the Circle with the Grand Cleric in attendance, praising and welcoming all of those who joined the ranks of official Enchanters of Ferelden’s Circle of Magi. I remember her being a middle-aged woman, if it was the same Grand Cleric, will she remember me? We only meet the once.
Many within the circle always looked upon the circles as prisons. Several mages never realized that earning trust to leave the tower, was the only means of escape. Templar escorted which wasn’t always such a bad thing. The fights within the fraternities didn’t help matters at all. I’ve always agreed with Wynne’s philosophy on mages earning trust. I never officially joined a fraternity while I was at the circle. I’m unsure if this will help or hinder what they will decide to do with me. Wynne always had hope, one day, that more and more mages would be allowed to leave the circles to seek employment with nobles like the Couslands or for the Monarchy. Wynne seems to have done well, fighting the blight and me healing villagers at Gwaren. Wynne seems to have fared better than I have, Michelle thought; but, it hasn’t always been bad. I’ve used my skills and magic to help those in need. I’m proud of this. I just pray to the Maker they don’t make me tranquil. Maybe they will allow me to go back and become an instructor? Michelle looked down at her hands and continued to wait with the others.
I was fortunate she thought, having the Templars who guarded me at Gwaren. They had been good honest men just doing their duty and they had treated her kindly on occasion. Even though they had been her guards and they would have killed me if I turned to blood magic, which was their duty. I’ve thought of them often and they had given their lives doing their duty keeping me safe, from people who were afraid of mages. They had fought Loghain’s men and lost their lives because of me. This has weighed heavy on my heart all of these years. At least Knight Commander Greagoir will learn what happened to his four men who had been sent with me all those years ago. Their remains will finally be moved to Val Royeaux.
Maker, please spare me. Please let her ladyship whisk me away to safety again. Could I really go back to a life within the Circle? Do I want too? Being behind those walls again? If it’s the Maker’s will then I need to prepare myself for this possibility. I wish Teyrn Cousland had given me the chance to speak with Bellavalia before coming here.
Taking her mind off her troubles, Michelle observed the Prince more fully. He’d kept a watchful eye on me. He was a strong-willed Templar, and a very observant one. I wonder where he trained, Michelle thought. I have no idea if he trained here in Ferelden,or the Free Marches, surely not Orlais. I’ve been gone from this country for so long. How did King Maric’s son become a Templar and a Grey Warden? In becoming a Templar he had to be inside the Chantry and their order. Was the Prince a full anointed Templar? How could he become the Monarch if he was a Templar? How is this possible? When joining the order a Templar gave up all rights to lands and titles, if I’m not mistaken the Grey Wardens do the same.
The Prince, sensing her eyes upon him turned and checked on her. Michelle could still feel his Templar skills working. He’d refreshed the mana drain on me while Arl Eamon and Teyrn Cousland continued to talk and they had no idea what was going on in the room. This was the world of Mages and Templars and only those within knew what it was really like.
A loud knock sounded on the door.
Finally, thought Michelle, this is it.
Master Dolan entered and bowed. “Your Highness, Her Reverence is here along with Knight Commander Greagoir and the First Enchanter as you requested.”
“Send them in Dolan,” spoke Prince Theirin with authority.
Michelle watched and tensed up just a bit as she saw and listened to Master Dolan signal to the people in the hall to enter the study.
The Grand Cleric entered first. Prince Theirin rose to greet her and bowed to her in kind. As did Arl Eamon, and Teyrn Cousland. Michelle realized she was the same Grand Cleric just older now with snow-white hair pulled back into a bun and she wore the official robes of her office.
While this was going on. Greagoir and the First Enchanter entered. Both of them, their eyes falling on Michelle. After a moment recognition filling their eyes. Irving’s were more curious while Greagoir had a murderous look in his upon seeing her after all of these years. Michelle was sure if they had been at the Circle she would have been clapped in magic resistant irons immediately, another wretched device of the Templars.
The door clicked softly closed behind them, as Master Dolan left those in power to their own devices and he got on with his day until he would be summoned again to fulfill the needs of the nobles within the household.
Michelle watched was the Prince and the other two nobles talked with the Grand Cleric. The Prince offered her a seat next to Michelle. The older lady turned and smiled at Michelle obviously not realizing who she was, as Irving and Greagoir had recognized her. Michelle smiled in turn which was the polite thing to do. The Grand Cleric has no idea what she is in for thought Michelle.
The Grand Cleric jumped to it turning to face the Prince.
“We’re all here Your Highness, just as you requested.”
“Yes, thank you for coming your Reverence.”
“What is this about?”
Well the Grand Cleric didn’t seem to care, it was the Monarch’s leeway to begin the meeting. Tsk, Tsk, thought Michelle. If I’d done this at the tower, I would have spent a week in solitary.
Prince Theirin cleared his throat, “I requested an audience because I need your help Your Reverence on a very sensitive matter.”
Michelle wanted to laugh. Ah, a Templar addressing his superior. You might want to learn how to use a poker face Your Highness, thought Michelle and assert your own authority if not the Grand Cleric will control this meeting.
Alistair glanced up at Greagoir and Irving who had some inkling of what this might be about. It was their mage and Templars who had been missing all of these years.
“The Chantry will do what we can to assist Your Highness, does this have to do with your Vigil this evening? I assure you, all is in readiness Your Highness.”
“Uh, no, this is another matter that has come to my attention and began several years ago.”
The grand cleric turned in her chair. “Knight Commander Greagoir do you know what this is about?”
“In part Your Reverence, but not all.”
“Your Reverence,” spoke Prince Theirin. Drawing her attention back to him.
“I’ve requested your presence because I need you and senior mages of the Circle of Magi to perform an examination upon our former Queen Anora.”
The Grand Cleric clapped her hands together in delight.”I’d be honored Your Highness. Does this mean you are considering marrying Anora Mac Tir and bringing our country together once and for all?”
“I’m afraid I won’t be marrying our former Queen and it is impossible now even if I was willing to do so. Which I’m not willing squeaked the Prince in a high-pitched whine, waving his hands in a final motion over the desk, making his point clear on the matter and doing a piss poor job of hiding his revulsion at the idea.
“I don’t understand Your Highness.” The Grand Cleric had a frown forming in-between her eyebrows.
The Prince signaled and Arl Eamon stepped forward, placing documents on the desk for the Grand Cleric to read. “I see, she said, once she finished reading.”
“How do you know all of this is true and who is this Michelle of the Ferelden Circle of Magi.”
“That would be the lady sitting next you, Your Reverence spoke Irving.”
The Grand Cleric turned to Michelle. “Are you the mage who went missing at Gwaren?”
Michelle nodded. “I am, Your Reverence.”
“Well then, I believe some explanation will be in order mage.”
“I’d like to know what happened to our Templars from Gwaren as well,” spoke Greagoir, with malice in his voice.
“Easy Commander,” spoke Teyrn Cousland. “The Cousland Family has known for years what happened to those Templars and where their remains are buried.”
Greagoir stepped forward, “BURIED! They are dead?”
“I’m afraid so and I know who ordered them murdered, my father also knew.” replied Fergus.
“Please Enchantress Michelle, tell the Grand Cleric, Knight Commander Greagoir, and the First Enchanter what happened all those years ago,” requested Prince Theirin.
Michelle told her tale with Teyrn Cousland jumping in to back her story up and verifying that she had been under the protection of the Cousland Family all of these years, where she had been, and what she had been doing. When she was done she waited patiently in the shocked silence of the Chantry representatives. The Grand Cleric finally spoke.
“Well this is a grave matter all the way around. I assume Your Highness, you want us to verify that Anora Mac Tir is indeed barren.”
“Yes, Your Reverence and once you do, then it will be the first order of business before a special Landsmeet that I will call for, once I’m crowned. They must decide what they want to do and then I’ll decide her fate.”
“You want me as a witness?”
“Yes, your Reverence.”
“Of course, but first I have a few questions for our mage.”
Prince Theirin nodded his assent.
“Why did you remove Anora’s womb?” The Grand Cleric asked Michelle turning to face her.
“If I hadn’t dissolved her womb she would have bleed to death under the horse. I had no choice in saving her life. I was scared to death Loghain would kill me if she died.”
“Our Templars wouldn’t allow that to happened Michelle.”
“I know Your Reverence, they died doing their duty honorably.”
“Irving, would this have been the proper way? The Grand Cleric turned her head to look up at Irving.
“Most likely Your Reverence but the healing arts are not my specialty school of magic.”
“Is Senior Enchantress Wynne nearby?”
“She is one of most skilled and talented mages of the healing arts next to a mage called Anders at the Ferelden Circle.”
Michelle saw Greagoir roll his eyes at the mention of this Anders person. I’ll beat Anders gives the Templars a run for their money, most likely a mage who is in trouble all the time.
“I’ve already sent for her,” spoke Alistair. Eamon had not been aware of this by the look on his face thought Michelle. No sooner had she thought this when Master Dolan knocked on the door again. He stepped inside to announce Wynne.
“Show her inside Dolan.”
Wynne walked through the door. Never giving away that she had recognized Michelle the moment she entered. She bowed to the nobles and the Grand Cleric then stood and waited for why she had been called. Already knowing this would have something to do with Michelle.
“How is my almost grandmother today?”
“I’m well, Your Highness.” Wynne smiled at the Prince with genuine affection.
The Prince beat the Grand Cleric taking charge finally. What did the Prince mean by ‘almost grandmother’ wondered Michelle.
“And the Warden Commander?”
“She is doing fine, Al…um, Your Highness. Bellavalia and Leliana are trying on gowns and such and having a splendid time. Leliana the most of all.”
“Bellavalia will be fine for the ceremonies tonight and tomorrow.”
Alistair nodded. “Good, this is best news I’ve heard all day. Wynne I need you to answer a few questions for us as a healing mage. Would you mind?”
“Not at all, what is it you need to ask?”
“If a woman has had her uh…umm….
Alistair was squirming for a good way to ask. The grand cleric took pity on him and jumped right in.
“If a woman’s womb has been injured and she is bleeding to death would it be the proper choice to dissolve her womb to stop the bleeding?”
Wynne thought for a moment, then said. “Well, that depends.”
“Depends on what exactly?” asked Prince Theirin.
“How did she sustain the injury, and the circumstances, as an example this happens during childbirth at times and needs to be done. Is this what you are asking?”
“No, let’s say a horse and the female rider fall together and the horse lands on the woman and blood loss is heavy, what should a mage do?”
“Has the horse been moved off the patient?”
“No, the horse is now dead and it’s weight still on the woman.”
Wynne nodded her head in understanding.
“In saving the woman’s life if a healing mage is close by, then the only way would be to dissolve the womb to stop the bleeding before the woman or young girl bleeds to death. Then see to her other injuries.”
“I’m assuming the horse crushed her.”
“Yes, you’ve assumed correctly Wynne.”
“Your Reverence, your next question for Enchantress Michelle.”
“Why didn’t you let Knight Commander Greagoir know of his men and inform the Chantry what was going on, and did you run away from the Circle and Gwaren willingly?”
“I can answer that Your Reverence,” spoke Fergus.
“The Cousland Family told her she had to go to Highever.”
“You understand Teyrn Cousland this was a matter for the Chantry to handle and no noble may interfere in our duties?”
“We keep her hidden all of these years for her own safety and protection against Loghain and Anora, Your Reverence, and to assure our witness was in our control if we needed her. Because Anora Mac Tir ordered the attack on Highever because our family knew she was barren, she murdered my entire family except for my sister and she would have murdered my sister if not for the Ferelden Grey Warden Commander Duncan who was at Highever when the attack occurred.”
“Did Loghain’s men really kill our Templars, Michelle?”
“I assume he ordered it done Your Reverence, and Loghain had ordered their bodies be dumped in the forest and not even buried, they were left out in the open. If not for Teyrn Bryce Cousland’s aid, I wouldn’t be alive today and those dead Templars not even in a grave.”
“Maker, Oh Maker this is awful,” sighed the Grand Cleric.
“My father ordered their bodies moved and buried in the Brecilian Forest and the Couslands have hired Chasind to watch over those graves for years ensuring no disturbance.”
“Yes, the attack on Highever was a terrible thing. I had no idea that the Mac Tirs were responsible and I’m not at all pleased that Loghain ordered our Templars killed. I’d like to know what happened to that man.”
“Don’t forget the Templar Knight Lieutenant Irminric Eremon, Bann Alfanstana’s brother,Your Reverence, in regards to what happened at Redcliffe, Alistair reminded the Grand Cleric.
“I haven’t forgotten Your Highness and I was surprised Bellavalia Cousland didn’t make mention of this during the Landsmeet.”
“Commander Cousland felt that was a private matter for the Chantry to handle if Loghain was allowed to live.”
“Seems she already decided the matter for the Chantry – which she didn’t have a right to do when she beheaded Loghain. After hearing the evidence against him and finding out from your companion Leliana afterward that Loghain also interfered with the Templar’s duties and imprisoning him without Chantry knowledge….well, like I said, I’d really like to know what happened to Loghain to turn away from Ferelden as he did. Bellavalia Cousland took the opportunity out-of-my-hands and I’ll never have the chance to question Loghain on behalf of the Chantry. I’ll never understand his thinking and why he did what he did. I also don’t understand why Bellavalia said Loghain had to die?”
“He had to die for my brother’s death for not upholding his sworn oath in protecting his king, and all of those men and women who died with Cailan at Ostagar. For the lives of Ferelden’s Grey Wardens and declaring myself and Bellavalia Cousland outlaws for being Grey Wardens is why,” spoke Prince Alistair with annoyance. “She did these things, because these where my wishes. Sadly, Your Reverence, none of us will ever understand why Loghain did what he did, it doesn’t make any sense. But, he couldn’t be allowed to live. Loghain wouldn’t allow the Orlesian Wardens into Ferelden to defend against the blight and all of Ferelden would have suffered for it, everyone in this country would be dead if Loghain had remained as regent.”
“I still would have liked the opportunity to question Loghain as to his motivates in regards to the Chantry.”
Prince Alistair was further annoyed, “I’m still a Templar, Your Reverence, trained under your own hand, and do you think I’d lie about all of this?”
Stubborn as the Grand Cleric could be, she backed down. “No Your Highness, I’ve always known you to tell the truth, even if it meant you got sent to the kitchens to scrub more pots.”
Prince Theirin smiled at the memory.
“If it pleases, Your Reference, I’d like for Michelle to remain under my protection with Templar supervision, until the Landsmeet, and then for her to be escorted back to the Circle and I ask for mercy on her behalf,” spoke Alistair. “She truly isn’t at fault for what happened.”
“Before I agree to any terms, Greagoir, test her for blood magic and if she is clean, then I’ll consider your request.”
“Very well,” agreed His Highness.
Wynne looked at Michelle with curiosity. Out of all the mages I’ve trained, Michelle would have been the least one to run. What is going on here thought Wynne? Where have you been all of these years Michelle?
“Do you want me to do this here?”
“Yes, Greagoir, if Arl Eamon agrees, this is his study after all.”
“It would be best if Teyrn Cousland and Arl Eamon leave the room.”
“Of course, come Fergus let’s allow them to do their test, we’ll wait in the hall, Your Highness.”
Fergus gave Michelle one last look which said, be strong Michelle, before the door closed behind them.
“Please stand up Michelle and let’s get this over with,” demanded Prince Theirin.
Alistair had also stood and went to join Greagoir. They whispered to each other on how to proceed.
Maker, please help me she prayed. Two Templars to test me.
Irving and Wynne both remained silent and still. They both knew this would be painful for Michelle and she couldn’t react when both Templars attacked her. She had to remain perfectly still. The Grand Cleric got up to stand next to Irving and Wynne, getting herself out of harms way.
Prince Theirin walked over to the wall and took down a Redcliffe shield and sword.
He nodded to Greagoir.
Greagoir had also removed his and advanced on her, he raised his sword and swung the blade stopping inches from her throat. Michelle just looked Greagoir in the eye and didn’t flinch. She knew if she moved, or made any attempt to defend herself, she’d die, right here right now. Prince Theirin observed then repeated Greagoir’s actions,nodding to Irving and Wynne. Irving raised his hands and Michelle was struck with an electrical lighting bolt. Greagoir had stepped back out-of-the-way. Michelle gasped in shock. She was next hit with a small shot of fire from Wynne. Around and around the attacks went with Prince Theirin observing her every moment as she finally fell to the floor in agony and was frozen solid from a shot from Wynne’s hands. Michelle was crumbled on the floor pain racking her body, yet she was able to hear.
“Are you satisfied Greagoir? Do we need to inflict more pain upon a fellow mage?” Irving demanded of Greagoir.
“It’s up to you Greagoir, you’re the Knight Commander not me.”
“Aye, she is clear, any demon would have attacked us by now with blood magic.”
Greagoir returned his weapons to his back. He looked tired, worn out, sad.
“I’ll make sure your men are recovered Greagoir, I give you my word as a Templar and you’re future King and as a Grey Warden.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.”
“I thought for years she killed them to escape.”
“I understand Greagoir, anyone would have thought the same.”
“We always wondered what happened to Michelle, Wynne said.”
“Your Reverence are you satisfied?”
“Since my Knight Commander is satisfied and the First Enchanter then I accept their judgment on this matter. Irving, you and Wynne will see to her injuries when she comes out of the spell?”
“Yes, of course.” Wynne kneeled down and was hoping she’d get this chance. She slid a small vial of lyrium into Michelle’s hand. She felt terrible testing Michelle in this way. Wynne was proud of Michelle – she’d done well. Praise the Maker, she was going to be alright. I can’t wait to find out her story thought Wynne.
“Would it be alright to return her to the Cousland Estate until the Landsmeet?” Alistair asked.
“Greagoir, and Irving, your recommendations please.”
“Under other circumstances I’d request she be taken back to the Circle immediately. Since,she might be called upon by the Landsmeet and the Chantry is overflowing as it is now, I have no objection.”
“I see no harm. Wynne is there and can inform us of any troubles.”
“Very well, then I have no objections Your Highness, as long as you see that she is handed over to Greagoir and Irving to escort her back to Kinloch Hold once the Landsmeet is over.”
“You have my word Your Reverence.”
The Grand Cleric nodded.
“Once she is back at the Circle, we’ll decide her fate then.”
“As you wish Your Reverence,” spoke Irving and Greagoir.
“Alright Your Highness, when do you wish us to examine Anora?”
“Immediately, Your Reverence since you’re here.”
“Of course. Irving and Wynne, you will do the examine and I’ll be there as a witness.”
“I’d like a few other noblewomen in attendance as well Your Reverence.”
“Who are they?”
“Bann Ceorlic and Bann Loren’s wives and of course Arlessa Guerrin, they are here now.”
“Very clever young man.”
“I thought so, Your Reverence,” replied Alistair with his charming smile.
“You know, Your Highness, I don’t think many really realize what a clever mind you really have.”
“Why would you say that Your Reverence?”
“I’ll explain during your Vigil tonight Your Highness.”
“As you wish Your Reverence.”
“Don’t be late, young man.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“See that you do, it won’t look good if the Prince of Ferelden is late to his own Vigil before the Maker.”
“Well now,shall we get the other part under way.”
“Of course, just a moment more.”
Alistair walked to the door and when Eamon and Fergus walked back in. Fergus went right to Michelle’s side.
“What have you done to her?” demanded Fergus.
“She’ll be fine Fergus I promise you. When Wynne heals her,you’ll escort her back to Cousland Court and keep her under guard until Greagoir sends Templars to take over.”
“Will she be allowed visitors, she wants to see Bellavalia.”
“As long as Templars and Wardens are present I don’t see the harm.”
“Would you object to me being that Templar and Warden?”
“As much as I’d like to object, I better say no.”
Alistair slapped Greagoir on the back.
“Wise decision Commander.”
“Eamon, are the ladies here?”
“Yes, Alistair, they are being entertained in the solar, they have no idea, what they are going to be called on to do.”
“You’ve sent the request from me – I’d like them to stay here as my guest.”
“Yes, they’re husband’s won’t like it.”
“I know, but I see no other way.”
“Led the way Eamon.”
“Follow me please.”
Arl Eamon, Prince Theirin, The Grand Cleric, Irving and Wynne left the study and made their way deeper into the city estate. The Arl finally led them to a set of doors which were locked and guarded by Redcliffe elite knights. When they saw the party, one of the guards unlocked the door. Eamon turned the handle, opened the door and went inside with the other’s following.
They found Anora Mac Tir setting at a desk writing. She looked up with a sour expression on her face. She set her pen down. “How kind, visitors. I hope all of you have come to your senses.”
“Come now, your Grace, I could have entertained you in the dungeons of this castle, but instead you’ve been afforded every luxury of your station.”
“Last I recall Eamon, my rightful station being the Queen of Ferelden, was within the palace with my own staff and guards. Not this pigsty you and Isolde call a home.”
Eamon let the insult slide.
Alistair stepped forward, picking up the vellum she’d been writing on. Anora tried to grab it before Alistair but he beat her to it. Alistair read her letter then looked over at her and smirked.
“As you can see Anora I’ve brought the Grand Cleric; but, I don’t think you’ll find the reason of her visit the same as the plea in your letter.”
“Give that back to me,” Anora demanded and which Alistair held just out of her reach. This is almost as fun as teasing Morrigan, he thought.
“Yes, do tell, why are you here? Have all of you come to beg my presence at your ungodly crowning ceremony tomorrow?”
“No Anora, as much as I’d like your presence there and to appease your supporters, I’m afraid we’ve had a dire consequence brought to all of our attention.”
“Is that so? Have you already figured out, in the past few weeks just how unskilled you’d be at ruling and you’ve changed your mind? I’m sure Bellavalia will be delighted, does this mean you’ll make an honest woman out of her.”
“That’s enough Anora. She is one of the finest ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and she is my friend, nothing more.”
Anora snorted. “Indeed, Alistair Theirin.”
“Well that is the problem isn’t it Anora, I’m a Prince of the blood and you’re just a widow of the blood.”
Anora sneered. “You’re a fraud,Alistair Theirin.”
“You’d love for that to be true Anora, unfortunately for you, I do resemble my brother, your dead husband, you do recall your dead husband?”
“You’re not fit to rule this kingdom, and don’t you speak his name, bastard.”
“I am indeed King Maric’s bastard Anora I never denied this. The Landsmeet sided with Me, not you Anora, which is why we are here.”
“If you think you can cart me off to the Chantry without my supporters raising a rabble, you’ll find they won’t agree for anything less than me being installed at Gwaren.”
“As much as I entertained that idea you being Cailan’s widow, I’m afraid your fate will be decided once the Landsmeet learns the truth Anora and once I’m crowned in the morning. I will decide your fate. I was going to be lenient because of Cailan. Now I’m afraid that has been taken out of my hands.”
“Truth, what truth are you talking about? You only know lies Alistair Theirin.”
“Indeed, Your Grace, I see a liar before me, and the other was your father.”
“How dare you, my father was a great man.”
“At one time I might have agreed Anora, but his actions during the blight and now with more evidence, I’m unsure what to make of Loghain Mac Tir.”
“Evidence? What are you talking about, what is this really about, the reason you’re here exchanging barbs with me Alistair Theirin.”
“Do you deny the fact, you married my brother knowing full well you are barren Anora, and you have to know since you were Queen of Ferelden, this is treason.”
She gasped and went pale.
“You have no proof of that.”
“I’m afraid I do, Anora.”
Do you remember your healing mage, Michelle, from the Circle of Magi who served you at Gwaren. She told me a very interesting tale this morning, and I have a letter written by her to your father about your accident when you were a young woman Anora.”
“Is it Anora? I’m afraid Erlina did make it to Gwaren, unfortunately her whereabouts are unknown at this time. However, this letter made its way here by messenger sent by someone entirely unknown. You can imagine, mine and Eamon’s shock. Loghain’s lies and all for you, Anora, all on your behalf, the woman who claimed her father had lost his mind.”
“Where is my maid, what have you done to her? I’ll see you hanged Alistair Theirin if you have harmed her in any way.”
“I’m afraid Anora you have no such power in Ferelden any longer, and no I’ve not harmed her, and I wish I knew where she was. I’d like to question her on what she really knows. This letter was written to your father by Michelle Senior Enchanter of the Circle of Magi of Ferelden informing him of your accident with the horse, that left you barren. We’re here to examine you Anora to find out if this tale is the truth or a lie of someone else’s own making.”
“Never, I’ll never allow you to humiliate me in such a manner. How dare you. I will kill you for this.” Anora jumped up from the desk and backed into the shelving of books behind her.
This was the first time Eamon had ever seen Anora lose her composure.
Eamon spoke up, “I’m afraid Anora this has to be done. For the sake of Ferelden we have to know the truth. If you’re not barren, perhaps with time, you and Alistair might come to an understanding to settle this peacefully. Alistair is King’s Maric’s son Anora, you know it and I know it. Cailan didn’t deny him, nor did King Maric, we’ve been through their private papers. Were you aware Anora that when Cailan returned from Ostagar he was going to acknowledge Alistair as his brother incase you never conceived? So the royal line would go forth with Alistair when Cailan died.
“Cailan was thinking about it, he’d not made a decision before he left for Ostagar.”
“I’m afraid he did make the decision Anora. Alistair retrieved some of Cailan’s papers from Ostagar. We have them, Cailan did acknowledge Alistair as his brother and I would have used them at the Landsmeet if Bellavalia had failed to win the Landsmeet for the Grey Wardens.”
Anora laughed bitterly, “so way didn’t you use them?”
“Eamon and l felt it was better to bring them out after my coronation and when the blight was well and truly over. The Landsmeet was never really about you and me Anora, it was about the Grey Wardens winning for the sake of Ferelden and our people.”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“I’m still a Grey Warden Anora, and it does take a Grey Warden to kill an Arch Demon. You spoke with Bellavalia and you seemed to believe her at the time.”
Anora snarled at Bellavalia’s name. “She told you about that?”
“No she didn’t Anora, I heard about your talk from others.”
Anora glanced over at Eamon. He didn’t react to her glare.
“Of course I believed her, my father was wrong regarding the Grey Wardens. He just couldn’t accept the fact their Orlesian Chevaliers were coming with them, here into Ferelden. None of us could change his mind. I tried, she whispered. I’ve read the legends of the Grey Wardens, I believed.”
“Your Grace, please let us get on with this, spoke the Grand Cleric.”
“How could you, after all the Mac Tirs have done for the Chantry.”
“I have no choice, your Grace. If you and your father lied, I pray the Maker forgives you.”
“NO, I won’t allow this,Anora shouted. She reached behind her and throw a book at them, with tears finally falling from her eyes. I loved Cailan, how dare you.”
Alistair blocked the book from reaching the Grand Cleric with his arm as Irving stepped in front of the Grand Cleric, protecting her.
“I’m sorry Anora, we have no choice” as Alistair grabbed the former Queen of Ferelden, his brother’s widow. He really didn’t want to do this. Yet, they had to know the truth, he couldn’t begin his reign with this lie. I have one on my soul over Morrigan ,which was one lie to many for him.
Alistair finally got ahold of Anora’s arms as she fought him and he finally pinned her arms behind her back as gently as possible. She was stronger than she looked, still no match for a warrior such as himself. He nodded to Irving who came forward.
“Please Your Grace, don’t make this harder than it has to be.”
Irving cast a sleep spell over Anora and she went limp in Alistair’s arms. He picked her up and carried her over to the large bed in the room and gently laid her down. He walked to the end of the room and turned his back to the bed.
“You’re not possibly staying Your Highness?” The Grand Cleric looked at Alistair’s back horrified on behalf of Cailan’s Widow.
Alistair crossed his arms over his chest and prepared to wait until this awful ordeal was over and done with.
“Please get on with this and do hurry.”
“Alistair, surely, it would be better if you wait outside.”
“No Eamon, I won’t, I’m the one who has to stand before the people of Ferelden and give them this news. Not you, me. Get on with it.”
“As you wish Your Highness.”
The Grand Cleric shook her head in dismay and signaled for Irving and Wynne to get Anora undressed to her shift.
Eamon went to the door and as planned there stood Isolde with the other two ladies. He motioned them inside.
Lady Ashley and Lady Herminie followed. When they saw Anora, they turned to Isolde. “What is the meaning of this Isolde? Is Anora ill?”
“Ladies, I’m sorry, you’ve actually been brought here to be witnesses.”
Lady Ashley spoke up, witnesses for what exactly Arl Eamon?”
“To bear witness on Her Grace Anora Mac Tir’s physical condition?”
“Has she fallen ill, what has happened?”
“No, she is not ill, just asleep by way of a tea, we’re all here to learn if she… if she is truly barren.”
“Is she to marry Prince Theirin?” Both of the ladies had noticed Prince Theirin the moment they walked into the room and were slightly miffed he had not acknowledged them. He continued to ignore everyone in the room.
“We’ve yet to determine if this will be the proper course, are you willing to be witnesses for the nobles and the people of Ferelden on this matter?”
Both ladies looked giddy with excitement. They both looked at each other and nodded agreement.
“Very well, The Grand Cleric will be in charge of this examination.”
The ladies bowed to her Reverence who acknowledged them with a slight nod of her head. She then turned her back on them, and signaled for Wynne and Irving to begin. Wynne and Irving looked at each other and Wynne gently raised up Anora’s shift and exposed her lower half. Eamon walked towards the back of the room to join his Prince, both men, looking very uncomfortable.
The Grand Cleric motioned for the three women to come forward. They did and got right next to the bed at the foot. Wynne slowly removed Anora’s small-clothes and proceeded to examine Anora from the outside, then Irving did the same. All three women watching with interest as the first enchanter examined their former Queen. “Wynne her inside now,” said the Grand Cleric. Wynne’s hand glowed a light blue and her magic ran over the lower half of Anora’s body. She stopped then glanced up at Irving. Irving’s hands glowed a deeper blue as his magic swept over Anora’s body. When he was done he looked at Wynne. “We’ll try again, to be sure.” Wynne nodded and repeated her actions. Sending her healing magic deep into Anora’s body and Irving did the same, both probing to find her womb. There wasn’t a womb and they both knew it. Both mages stopped. “Well?” asked the Grand Cleric. Wynne pulled Anora’s small-clothes back up and then the bedding to cover her.
“She is barren Your Reverence.”
All three of the women gasped.
“You’re sure, there is no doubt,” asked the Grand Cleric.
Wynne and Irving both nodded in the affirmative. “We’re sure, replied Irving, she’ll never conceive.”
“Your Highness, Arl Eamon.”
Both men turned around. Alistair just looked at the floor. Finally he looked up. He walked to Isolde with the other ladies. “Thank you, ladies, please keep this to yourselves until you are called to verify what you witnessed.”
All three women bowed to the Prince, nodded and left the room.
“How long will she be out Wynne?”
“She’ll come around in just a few moments Alistair, this won’t be pleasant.”
Alistair nodded, “I know Wynne. What did you learn?”
“Her womb is gone Alistair, Michelle told the truth.”
“What now Your Highness?”
“She’ll be tried for treason before the Landsmeet. Eamon this will be the first order of business for the Landsmeet, send the announcements out – an official Landsmeet will convene the day after the fealty ceremonies and the ball. Don’t say what it will be about, just official Ferelden business, all nobles must attend, no exceptions.”
“Your Reverence do you wish to stay with her?”
“I can stay for a short time Your Highness, we’ll comfort her as best we can.”
Alistair and Eamon left the room and before they got to the end of the hallway they both heard Anora screaming and crying with fury.
“Double the guards Eamon, they’ll know, we know, for sure.”
“Aye,” replied Eamon sadly.
They finally returned to Eamon’s study and Fergus had helped Michelle into a chair. Michelle had done some minor healing on herself, but not enough because of Wynne slipping her some lyrium.
Alistair, walked over to Michelle, “I’m sorry” he said, “it was the only way to get the help of the Grand Cleric.”
“Are you well enough now to return with Teyrn Cousland to Cousland Court and wait until Wynne returns to fully heal you? She is currently busy with Her Grace, Anora.”
“I’m well enough, I’m sorry for all of it Your Highness.”
“Your not responsible for Loghain and Anora’s actions Michelle, I’ll speak on your behalf and I’d like to speak with Warden Commander Lady Cousland on this matter as well. Fergus, both of you are free to go.”
“Just a moment Fergus, here is a summons for you and Bellavalia for the Landsmeet regarding Anora.” Eamon handed Fergus both envelopes.
Fergus nodded, “I’ll give Bell’s to her.”
“Are you ready Michelle?” The mage was already tying her cloak at her throat. She nodded she was ready. She bowed to Prince Theirin and Arl Eamon.
“The Maker watch over you, Your Highness.”
“May he watch over you as well Michelle.”
Fergus and Michelle left with their guards. Outside Michelle breathed a sigh of relief. Neither of them spoke as they walked back to Cousland Court. When they arrived, Michelle was escorted to her room and locked inside. She sat down on the bed and cried from the tension of the afternoon and her injuries. Sometimes she wished she was just a normal person and not a mage.
Fergus made his way to his sister’s room. He found her sitting on her balcony, watching the sky. He handed her the envelope.
“Almost,” was Fergus’ grime reply.