Highever, after the Death of the Archdemon:
Fergus and Thor continued climbing the stairs that would lead them to the highest tower within Highever Castle – one of eight towers that were left standing. Wanting a place of solitude for his thoughts and emotions. Reaching the top of the stairwell Fergus pushed open the heavy ironbark door. This tower, with the only access point through his parent’s bedchamber. It had been his parent’s private tower and balcony. Complete privacy for the Teyrn and his lady to have their own space when they needed to get away.
Stepping out on the battlement was the first time in two weeks that Fergus had any time to spend alone. The devastation that he had found upon his return to Highever had been overwhelming. Fergus walked to the wall just ahead of him, leaning on the battlement he looked out over the lands and fields of Highever. Allowing the breeze and solitude to sooth his soul. He watched as the sun was ready to set for the evening. The battlement was still covered with debris from the battle; the lovely rooftop garden his mother had created was in tatters. All destroyed…all gone, broken, lost forever.
Everywhere Fergus’ eyes focused he could see canvas tents with their companion cookfires, which dotted his lands as far as the eye could see. Many of the fires belonged to his villagers, banns, and freeman – several dozen had escaped from the castle and made their way to the Bann of Waking Sea. The entire population of the castle, and the village of Highever had been slaughtered in the original massacre by Howe and his men. Tomorrow the fires will burn to lay my parents, wife and child to rest. Then their bones buried on the family plot high on the cliffs.
With the help of Bell’s companions, the Orleasian Grey Wardens and full-fledged knights from: Redcliffe, Waking Sea, Dragon’s Peak, and the remainder of my own – even small Bannorn Banns sent who they could. The Legion of the Dead, and Lady Lanaya’s Dalish elves all banded together and fought our way inside Highever. Decimating all of Howe’s sycophants. Highever was once again in the hands of the Cousland Family.
When the survivors of the massacre heard Highever had been restored to the Couslands’ nearly all that had left and survived came running so they could return home. Elves also came up from the south for the Highever Alienage which was the best in all of Ferelden. Fergus was grateful for all of the loyalty – folks thought enough of the Cousland name to return, battling and beginning the process of rebuilding. He was also grateful that the alienage was still standing and in good shape. He didn’t have the mess on his hands that King Alistair had in Denerim to deal with.
Dwarven engineers from Orzammar would soon arrive and their objective will be making their recommendations on rebuilding the defense of the new castle. Highever would never be an open courtyard castle as it had once been. Fergus would see that the castle along with the inner and outer baileys would be enclosed as an addition in the defense of the coastline of Ferelden in the future. The crown would help in the reconstruction.
The biggest problem facing those of us at Highever currently is shelter before winter sets in and getting crops back in the ground. At least Howe had the good sense not to burn the barns. Fergus had no idea where the horses were that had been here. Most likely in the bellies of those starving. The few horses in Ferelden had been here and at Gwaren. Those returning to Highever to resume their lives could take shelter in the barns for the time being, until the village was rebuilt. The docks were open and commerce was starting to flow. Many from the south who had lost it all were seeking shelter, and the chance to start anew and placing their hopes in Fergus’ hands.
Fergus, with Bell’s companions, and the Orlesian Grey Wardens had spent the day walking the fields and trying their best to capture as many of the lost and wandering farm animals that they could. Fences needed to be repaired for dairy and beef cattle. Chickens and hogs to pen up, there was so much to do. He shook his head with weariness. The armory needed stocked and it seemed his sister would be able to lend a hand with this. A small smile split his face just thinking of all the weapons that Bellavalia had amassed in her journey.
Wade – one of the best smiths in Denerim was traveling north and had offered his own services, for a price of course, to make new weapons for Highever to get the men equipped for defense. Once done here then Wade and Herren would travel to the Vigil’s Keep to become Bell’s armor for the Grey Wardens. Alistair had paid a hefty sum to get Wade to come up north since the smith’s business had taken a hit when his armory had been destroyed by the darkspawn and Archdemon in Denerim. Alistair wanted Bell to have the best since she would be securing the North until Highever was back up and running.
A large portion of the armies that Bell had gathered to defend Ferelden were also below, they had seen their hero home safe. Below him in the tent city were people from all walks of life waiting to hear of news about his sister – if she lived or died. Fergus couldn’t believe he might lose her still. She was so sick and had been since the night she went to visit Anora.
In order to bring Bellavalia home to Highever; Fergus had a few battles of his own to fight. He’d had to convince: King Alistair, Arl Eamon, Bell’s motley crew of companions, and the Grey Wardens from Orlais. In the end he had gotten his way.
If Bell was going to die, then she would die on the land that had birthed her. Her ancestral home that she’d helped defend against the Archdemon and darkspawn. Her battles with Loghain and Howe, plus the civil war – then securing the Throne of Ferelden. The whole country owed her a debt of gratitude in Fergus’ eyes. Fergus had taken great pleasure in reminding all of them of these facts.
If Bell died, her ashes would burn from the cliffs of Highever and her bones buried with all of her family and if anyone didn’t like it they could just kiss his arse, because he was bringing Bell home. The King had finally agreed. Fergus wasn’t too worried about Eamon, it was the King that Fergus worried about in excess.
Alistair restored Highever to me and agreed for Bell being moved to Highever as long as I sent him a weekly report on her condition. Alistair had stalled for a time, and Fergus couldn’t understand Alistair’s attitude. Perhaps protocol of the Grey Wardens which I’m not privy too? It wasn’t his or Bell’s fault that their family had been murdered, and the largest portions of their ancestral home destroyed. Half of the castle was gone, burn to the ground or heavily damaged.
At least he’d caught a break with the kitchen and larder untouched. Molly had taken things in hand and hired new workers, she was working around the clock to get the kitchens up and running, so we aren’t starving at the moment. Wynne, Leliana, and Zevran were also lending a hand in the kitchens. Fergus had to admit Zevran made a delicious fish stew. Best I’ve ever had, Fergus thought.
The great hall was intact and their family quarters. Fergus still couldn’t bring himself to sleep in the bedchamber that he’d shared with Orianna, nor his parent’s room. Right now he was camping out with Bell’s crew in the great hall and the Orlesian Wardens. Two wardens guarded Bell’s bedchamber door at all times. Two on, two off, for twelve-hour shifts. It was unnerving to see guards outside of his sister’s bedchamber.
It is hard to believe my sister is now a Grey Warden; they are warriors of legend and had been for centuries. Only the best became Grey Wardens, it was extremely difficult to join their secret order of warriors. Female Wardens were rare, but they did exist. I’ve seen several on my travels with father in: Orlais, Antiva, and the Free Marches.
If Alistair hadn’t restored Highever to me, then I would have been at a loss on what I should have done, fight for Highever…yes, even if Anora was still on the throne. Fergus needed Bell on her feet to help him understand what had taken place while he had been recovering in a Chasind’s hut in the Korcari Wilds. There was political intrigue going on and it involved Bell, Alistair, Me and Highever. Fergus was at a disadvantage until he spoke with his sister. Fergus had the impression there was more going on from what he’d been told. Fergus had taken his father’s place as Teyrn of Highever whose castle was steeped in historical legend and lore within Ferelden and was the highest noble house just under the crown within the borders of Ferelden, with Gwaren being second. His proud noble house and legacy now lay in ruins: his villagers, banns, and freeholders many of whom had been slaughtered during Howe’s betrayal of his parents.
The massacre begun in the evening after I and the Knights of Highever, along with most of our garrison of soldiers had ridden off to join King Cailan for the Battle of Ostagar in the south earlier in the day. Father and Howe were to march the next day and combine our troops at Ostagar for the King. Fergus and his men were only a few hours away when the massacre had taken place. If I’d known what was happening at home, I would have turned my men around and returned to take the life of Howe with all of his men who had murdered: my parents, my wife, and my beloved child Oren in cold blood. Bellavalia and I are now the last of the Cousland line. I had no idea that Bell was even alive until I’d heard she was leading the army to fight the Archdemon and she had become a Grey Warden. Hightailing to Redcliffe to try to catch her.
The rage that Fergus felt would not subside. Nothing seemed to soothe his tortured soul. The bitterness ate away at his soul over the loss of his son Oren. Fergus and Oriana were hoping for more children and had planned on trying for more upon my returned from the incursion of darkspawn in the south. Oriana felt that Oren was old enough and it was time for a baby brother or sister.
Fergus would never hold his beloved Oriana in his arms again and give her the next baby that she eagerly anticipated having. Like all mother’s, she’d been praying for a sweet little girl. He would never have the chance to give her that child or any others that might have been born to them. I’ll never tease and enjoy the light banter with my lovely wife, a prelude to our lovemaking. Fergus exhaled and rubbed his face and tired eyes, trying his best to hold back the tears that creep into his eyes over thoughts of his wife.
My sweet Oriana, I burn for you and I’ll never know your sweet kisses again, thought Fergus. Fergus choked down a sob and shook as the bitterness continued to burn and the storm continued to rage inside him and his thoughts deepened.
Now it was all gone, all of his hopes and dreams. There would never be time with his father to learn more on how to run a noble house as large as Highever. His father and mother had taught him well along with his sister on what their responsibilities were to be one day for Highever. I will never see the joy in mother’s face at becoming a grandmother again.
Howe took away my rights of fatherhood. Never will I know the joys of boyhood with my son in reading and teaching Oren the legends and tales of the land, taking him fishing and hunting. Teaching Oren the things that a father teaches his son. Oren would never train as a page, then squire, and train for his knighthood. He would never know what skills or special warrior talent training his son would have excelled at. How tall he might have grown when reaching his manhood. Would he continue to have my dark hair or would Oren’s hair have lightened to the color of his mother’s? I’ll never know, gone, all gone.
Oren would never hear advice from me as his father on kissing a girl for the first time; attend his first ball, go to court which would have been his right being a son of the powerful Cousland Family. Fergus would never see his oldest son marry and have children of his own to secure the line for their noble name. It was all gone except for the burned castle, his lands, and his titles. It would be up to Fergus to rebuild his home and restore what had been destroyed. These are the things that Howe robbed me of when he murdered my family. Bellavalia escaping with her life all due to the Warden Commander of Ferelden, Warden Duncan.
Would his sister – The Hero of Ferelden, Hero of Redcliffe, now Teyrna of Highever and Gwaren, and Grey Warden Commander, survive to help me rebuild our childhood home and legacy? Maker! she is only twenty-one years old. Fergus still couldn’t believe all that Bell had done, it made him weak in the knees standing here thinking of it all. He couldn’t believe he had joked with her on becoming a Grey Warden before he had ridden out. The memory pained him.
Bell had to survive, his sister was the only thing holding Fergus together and keeping his hope alive. By the Maker he would do everything in his power to see her restored to herself and have the opportunity to talk with the woman that she had become, hear about this fantastic journey and how she became a Grey Warden and then a Warden Commander. I have part of the story, but not all of it. Fergus still had a difficult time coming to grips with everything his sister had been through and the things his little sister had accomplished in little over a year and a half. Bell was the silver lining in an otherwise stormy cloud that continued to rage. I can’t lose her too, I just can’t.
Fergus hadn’t been able to talk much with Bell, her injuries were too severe, her traveling companion Enchantress Wynne had advised him it would be better for Bell if she was kept in a deep sleep to make the trip North to Highever. Fergus had several questions to ask his sister on what had happened at the castle that night and what had happened to her. They’d had little time to talk while in Denerim.
From the little that he had gathered, the Grey Warden Duncan had helped her escape Highever that night; at least she had gotten away with Thor at her side. Duncan had died with King Cailan at Ostagar. Bell had been in the battle at Ostagar and she was more of a survivor of that battle than me even. How had she survived the massacre there and gotten away?
Fergus was also floored to discover that another of Bell’s traveling companions had been the bastard son of the late King Maric by the name of Alistair who was a former Templar and a Grey Warden. Hidden away by Arl Eamon until Alistair was sent to the Chantry at the age of ten. His parent’s had known about Alistair through Eamon once Maric was declared dead. Few of the nobles in the land had known of Alistair, my father did know thought Fergus. How is the Chantry involved in all of this, did the Grand Cleric of Ferelden know that Alistair was King Maric’s son? She had to have known so why did she throw her lot in with Loghain? Fergus just couldn’t figure all at stake here, being too tired.
King Maric had kept Alistair’s birth a secret. There was no doubt that Alistair was Maric’s son. Alistair favored his half-brother King Cailan and his father King Maric. It was obvious to anyone who had known the late King Maric. Alistair looked more like Maric than Cailan had. Who was Alistair’s mother? He didn’t want to be rude and ask the new king to his face. Rumors said a serving wench from Redcliffe, yet Fergus had never bought that story. Maric, just didn’t seem the type to dally around with serving wenches. What do I know he thought to himself. I was a teenager back then, had just come into my own manhood when King Maric had been declared dead. Cailan had been close in age with Fergus and we spent time together as friends. I never heard Cailan speak of any affairs that his father might have had. So, the new King had to have been born just before Queen Rowan died or soon after. Fergus would place his bet on being after.
Fergus also learned Bell and Alistair had been deeply in love, for some reason their relationship ended. Maker’s mercy he thought, his sister had a broken body and a broken heart as well. I better not find out that Alistair slept with her either, if he did, the King had a talking too coming. With luck the new King being raised in the Chantry gave him hope the king had acted as a gentlemen. Since Bell was a Grey Warden could she even get married now?
Fergus’ thoughts turned to Christian D’Charney. Bellavalia why did you end your betrothal? What happened, what changed? Father was going to tell me at Ostagar. We never got the chance to talk about your upcoming marriage. Little sister your life would be so different today if you had married Christian. I hope Christian and his family are well, Fergus thought. The Grey Wardens had told Fergus, darkspawn had gotten over the border into Orlais. They had split from their companions to reach Denerim and still didn’t know the outcome of the battle in southeastern Orlais.
Bell along with Arl Eamon removed Anora from the throne and placed Alistair on the throne instead, this was just one of the many questions that Fergus had for his sister? How did all of that come about? If only he had made it back to Denerim in time for the Landsmeet. Anora was Cailan’s widow; did she honestly think she would continue to hold the throne without a vote from the Landsmeet? She’d been a fool if she thought that. Fergus would never have guessed Anora being such a fool, icy bitch yes, fool no. Was it any wonder Cailan had cheated on her, or so the rumors went? All of the higher nobles in the land had always wondered who the woman had been.
Fergus had more questions than he had answers, and his sister was right in the middle of all of the political intrigue that had torn the country apart. He had uncovered a lot of the tale, and was fairly certain he had the full story; he still wanted to hear what Bell had to tell him. Especially how Howe had overtaken the Castle. Had Thomas been involved? I know that Nathaniel was sent to the Free Marches, was he still there? Arl Eamon heard that Thomas had died in the battle to save Denerim. Fergus hadn’t heard where Delilah was or if she had even survived the blight. If Nathaniel had any part in the massacre – I vow that I’ll hunt him down and kill him.
Then to top all of that off were the members of Bell’s now famous motley crew: an Antivan Elf who just happened to be a Crow Assassin by the name of Zevran and a Orleasian Bard Spy – her name Leliana, they had pulled him aside and told him to be wary of the former queen and Eamon.
Anora was no longer a threat, having been hanged, the day before I brought my sister home. I’d stood right in front of the scaffolding and watched her swing. True to form Anora had been a haughty bitch right to the end. Spouting some nonsense that Calilan had a child and her followers would find him and bring him home to his rightful throne. As far as Fergus knew Cailan had no bastards. No matter, Ferelden had a Theirin heir on the throne. Cailan having a bastard wouldn’t make any difference as long as the country accepted Alistair’s rule and judgement, giving the new King a fair chance. Thus far the new King of Ferelden was doing just fine.
Fergus also had a Senior Enchanter of the Circle of Magi – Mistress Wynne, a Qunari called Sten, a drunken dwarven warrior from Orzammar by the name of Oghren, and an honest to goodness stone golem named Shale and twelve Grey Warden guards all keeping residence in what was left of Highever Castle. Fergus also understood there had been another mage who was an apostate by the name of Morrigan, she had survived the battle but the other companions had no idea where she was or why she had left so soon after the battle.
It was all too much. Fergus was beside himself with worry; the stress and strain was taking its toll. Tomorrow, he would bury the remains of his family that had finally been found. He didn’t know if Bell could make it down the steps and get outside for the memorial or not.
Thinking of his family members that were now lost to him and the possibility of his sister dying finally broke the dam and the tears flowed and the sobs tore from his throat.
Thor whined beside him and muzzled his hand. Fergus sat down beside Thor and hugged his sister’s war hound to him and cried his heart out over the losses. Thor licked Fergus’ tears away and half lay in Fergus’ lap and did his best to comfort Bell’s brother.
Morrigan watched Bell’s brother from her perch high up in a tree. She’d hung around the castle since Bell had been brought home and followed the progression of the large crowds to the north to take Ferelden’s hero home. One blond-haired mage had caught her eye on the road. She’d been curious about him. Handsome fellow with his blond hair. A Circle mage who had not returned to the Circle after the battle of Denerim. Morrigan was certain of this and the Templars would be looking for this mage. Her curiosity would have to wait finding out about him later. My current focus is Bellavalia and the coming nightfall. I’m not going to allow my friend to die. My son’s soul was demanding that I act to help my only friend and so I will. Tonight during the dark of the moon. Morrigan settled in her bird form on the branch of a tree hidden in the leaves for nightfall to arrive.
The sun finally fell into slumber and the creatures of the night commenced to come out and play. Beginning their nightly scavenger to find prey and feed. Morrigan was no different, she was starving, soon she thought,very soon. Stretching her feathers out she flapped them getting the stiffness out. Craning her neck she pecked at the centipede inching its way toward the cherry blossom tucked in for the night. Delicious, an itty-bitty snack. Well… it will have to do for now. Morrigan swooped down and gobbled the delicious morsel into her beak.
Morrigan spied Bellavalia’s window which she had been observing all night. Inching along the thin branch she came to the end and lifted up taking flight. Landing smoothly on the edge of the ledge. With her beak pecking to knock on the window. Thor jumped up on the ledge, his tail going a mile a minute. With his mouth he opened the window. Morrigan flew inside and shifted into her mortal form. Thor jumping and wiggling around he was so excited to see her.
“Alright settle down now, I’m here to help her. Calm down you fool dog.”
Morrigan smiled at Bellavalia’s war dog giving him a good scratch behind his ears. Thor flopped down at her feet and was in heaven from the attention. Morrigan reached into her backpack hidden in her skirt.
“I see you’ve kept her safe and for that you will be rewarded.” Pulling mabari treats out she tossed them to Thor who gobbled them up and just for good measure Morrigan tossed him some elfroot that the fool dog just seemed to love. “How elfroot doesn’t make you sick is beyond me, truly.” Patting Thor affectionately once more.
“Alright, that’s enough time on you, let’s see how your master is doing?”
Morrigan scratched Thor behind the ear once more when she got to her feet and came over and sat down on Bellavalia’s bed. She studied her friend’s face. Morrigan reached out and touched Bellavalia’s face. Hmm, she is too hot, way to hot. Sweat trickled down Bellavalia’s brew and Morrigan gently wiped this away. She felt her child move in her womb. Moving her hand to Bellavalia’s tummy the connections triggered an electrical current between both mother’s and their children who shared the same father.
You will live my friend, I swear it, for what you gave to me, which broke your heart to do so. I will always watch over you. Always, even though you hate me right now.
Morrigan removed a glass phylactery from around her neck. She held the glass vial up to the light and watched as the magic properties within the blood sparkled and swirled. ‘Dragon’s Blood,’ the most powerful substance known to Witches of the Wilds. This would cure any ailment.
The Dragon from whom she had retrieved the blood had been honored to assist, since Bellavalia had saved Ferelden and her offspring. The female had been grateful when Morrigan had explained the situation to her. The Dragon also knew Bellavalia was the one who had killed her arch rival at the urn of sacred ashes and assuring her eggs would hatch and with the destruction of the darkspawn sending them back to the hell that spawned them. The mighty female had been honored to help such a hero, restore said hero to health and because said hero was carrying the heirs to the Theirin Bloodline, whose blood held magic properties to help save dragons if the need arose. The majestic female had been honored to be asked to help such a person.
Morrigan wiped the sweat off of Bellavalia’s brow once more. She knew she had to hurry before Wynne came to cheek. Pulling the cork out of the phylactery she raised Bellavalia up and gently pried her mouth open and drizzled the potent liquid down her friend’s throat. A strong hand grabbed Morrigan’s arm holding it at bay. Both women with deep dark eyes eyeballed each other.
“Tis I. You need this my friend, or you will die and your children with you, is this what you want?”
“Why?” I croaked, my voice so weak.
“One day I’ll be able to tell you, now is not the time. One day you will understand, please let me help you. If you don’t, the fever along with the taint will kill you, is this what you want?”
“What price will I pay this time for your help?” Bellavalia croaked out.
Morrigan didn’t blame her friend for her thoughts or feelings knowing she was the cause of them.
“Nothing, I promise you. My friend you will die if you don’t drink this. The blood and the taint in your blood tell you so. Is this what you want? Do you think he deserves this, your children?”
“You know very well whom I mean. Also, I don’t wish for my child to be alone in this world.”
Bellavalia let go of Morrigan’s arm.
“Why should I believe you Morrigan? You lied to me before.”
“I didn’t lie to you.” Morrigan said.
“Yet you won’t tell me the truth.” I said Eyeing her.
“You don’t know the full truth do you?” I asked her.
“When I have the full answers then you’ll have the full answers. I swear it.” Morrigan said. “Bellavalia, please drink the rest of the blood. It’s the only thing that will save you.”
“Fine.” Morrigan helped me sit up and I drank the remainder of the blood. Tangy, and sweet at the same time. Coolness settled in my belly, then an explosion of warmth. No pain. A huge difference and experience from the cup of blood I was forced to drink which made me a Warden. There were still days that I felt the echo of that pain from the silver chalice required for my joining ceremony.
“They will be fine, I promise you, this blood will strengthen them.”
“If not, I will hunt you down and kill you Morrigan, if I survive this.”
“There is one more thing?”
I raised my eyebrows at her.
“There is pain coming.” She said.
Before I could question her, the pain hit my lower leg and the pain nearly blinded me it was so great. I gasped.
“Finally,” Morrigan grabbed my leg tearing the bandages off. My leg was swollen, with red streaks running all the way up to my thigh. I groaned as Morrigan felt along my leg. Right where the break in my leg occurred. She took a knife from her belt and sliced my leg open. She said an incantation and the healing magic that I had seen Urthemiel use on me in the fade burst forth from her hands as she ran them up and down my leg. She stopped and dug her knife into my leg. When did Morrigan become a healing mage? Or was this her child…Urthemiel?
“Yes, I think my child has found the problem.”
I felt her hands inside my leg as she worked. I was gritting my teeth as the nausea and pain rolled through me. I felt her lift a muscle inside my leg. She finally pulled out a broken piece of arrow out of my leg from a darkspawn bow. My relief was instantaneous. I collapsed back on my bed.
“Isn’t that dangerous for you to handle?” I asked her as I panted for breath.
“My child will protect me.” Morrigan confidently replied.
Before I could say another word she passed her hands over me casting a sleep spell and I drifted away. It seemed I was sleeping my life away.
Morrigan cleaned the wound with elfroot and bandaged her friend’s leg back.
“Be well my friend, live well. I told you true, once my child is born and he is able to direct me, I’ll send you any information that I might find.”
“Guard your master well Thor, by morning she will be feeling more like herself. Stay with her.” Morrigan spoke to the war dog petting him one last time before she flew out the window as a black raven into the night.
I woke before dawn made its glorious appearance across the sky. I took a deep breath. My leg still hurt but wasn’t as painful or as swollen. My fever was gone, finally broken. I had clarity which I hadn’t had since the battle for Denerim. I’d been in a foggy haze since I woke up in Fort Drakon. I never mentioned this to anyone.
Morrigan had left me a present on my nightstand. The remains of the broken arrow-head from a darkspawn bow. The metal work was similar to humans. Crude in it’s making though it was. I flicked the broken arrow-head in the air, closing my eyes I caught it in mid-air. I smiled. I could still do this. This had taken me years to learn and was a valuable skill as a rogue. As a rogue one had to catch things on the fly at times such as: knives flying through the air before it punctured an eyeball!
I vaguely remember the journey to Highever. I’d been in and out. Wynne would force an elfroot potion down my throat and weave a sleep spell and I’d be out again. I…I was in my room at Highever. Little had changed within my room. I was stunned actually. Thor nudged my hand. I patted my bed and my mighty war hound jumped on my bed and laid his gigantic head in my lap. His tail going a mile a minute.
“I see your one happy camper this morning. I’ll bet Morrigan gave you more elfroot to eat. How that stuff doesn’t make you sick is beyond me and you saw your friend and got a scratch on the ears too.”
Thor raised his head and barked at me. Letting me know I was correct. I laughed and rubbed his head. Thor sighed with pleasure.
“Well whatever Morrigan gave me it worked, I feel great.” Thor wagged his tail in response.
“Well, do you think I should chance it and get up?” I asked my faithful war hound his opinion.
Thor jumped on me knocking me flat, giving my face a wash. I giggled. “Enough, Thor, enough now.” I was trying my best to shove him away and not being successful in my endeavors. I really didn’t mine though.
My bedroom door opened and it was one of the Wardens I’d never meet before. Our eyes meet.
“Commander, I see you’re feeling better this morning. I’ll get your healer and be right back.”
“That won’t be necessary. I’m fine.”
“Forgive me commander, I was told to get her if there was a change.”
“Alright. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I should hope not,” he said. Shutting my door and doing his duty.
“Looks like I’m held prisoner once again. At least I’m out of Denerim.” Thor growled his displeasure. “You really don’t like Alistair do you.” Thor growled again. “I see you have the same opinion as everyone else. “Everything will work out, I’m sure.”
I continued to rub Thor all over, he was shimming and wiggling all over my bed. Looking around I didn’t see one thing in my bedroom that had been changed. Thor finally settled down and laid his head over my tummy, he sighed as he nuzzled my belly. Keeping my babies safe. He was on duty even if he pretended otherwise.
My door flew open and my room filled up rather quickly. My brother and my companions. Shale being too big to get through the door, so she took up residence on the outside. “I see it is awake.”
“Yes, I am, Shale and I feel just fine.”
“I can’t believe it. You’re up and glowing with health. Did the Wardens give you something?” Asked my brother as he came and sat down on my bed. He had tears in his eyes and looked like he hadn’t slept in days.
“I’m fine Fergus, honestly.”
My brother grabbed me and hugged me to him. Squeezing the stuffing out of me. “How are you, you look tired. Sorry I haven’t been up helping you, like I planned.” I said.
He squeezed me one last time then let go of me. “I’m going to be just fine now that I know you’re going to make it.”
I heard collective sighs. I looked over at my companions. All of them had relief on their faces. I glanced at Wynne.
“I suppose this means you have to check me.”
“Yes, I’d feel better knowing how this all came about.” Wynne gave me an odd look.
I returned her steady gaze. Wynne had her suspicions I’m sure. I couldn’t tell her or anyone else. The other Wardens would just think it was my healing abilities. How very wrong they will be. Yet, I still couldn’t correct them. Why did you do it Morrigan I wondered?
“Mi Bella you are like yourself once again. I’m so very happy you are restored.” Said Zevran.
I placed my hand over my heart. “I can’t believe all of you are here, with my brother and I. I…I don’t know what to say. Expect I’m very grateful.”
All of my companions just smiled at me. Leliana came forward, “Where else would we be except by your side. You’ve made sacrifices for all of us, and we’re not the only ones. Your army is here as well. Those that could come.”
“All of them?” I asked with disbelief in my voice.
Leliana smiled at me. “Yes, very nearly your entire army, they wanted to see their hero home safe and your home restored to you and your brother. They all took up arms and helped us fight our way inside this magnificent ancestral home.”
I imagine you’re having a wonderful time hearing all about the legends of Highever and how it used to be the home of ‘Flemeth.’ How her legend originally started here.”
“Yes to be sure, I’m already working on a few new ballads from the tales I’ve been told.”
“I can’t wait to hear them Leliana.” She smiled me.
“Thank you all. I feel so blessed that all of you are here.”
“Doesn’t His Majesty need you and Zevran.” I asked her.
“You are our first assignment, making sure you got home, and to help your brother retake Highever. We’ll be returning to Denerim once we know you’re going to be alright. We’ll stay for however long you need us.”
“If all of you don’t mind, my sister and I have some things to discuss.” Fergus said to everyone.
All of my companions bowed to him, they smiled and said their goodbyes to us. “Wynne do you mind waiting outside for a short time.”
“Not at all Your Grace, I’ll just wait outside.” Wynne closed my bedroom door behind her softly.
I looked at my brother. He looked at me. I could tell he was exhausted.
“For what Tink?” He said.
“I…I meant to be in on the battle to retake our home.”
Fergus laughed, “I think you’ve done enough as it is, and you deserved the rest.”
Fergus spied the darkspawn broken arrow point that had been in my leg. “What’s this?” He started to grab the arrow-head. I grabbed his arm stopping him.
“Fergus don’t touch it. It’s from a darkspawn bow, you can get the darkspawn sickness from it.”
“Will it really kill me if I touch it.”
“Yes, I’m afraid so. Please don’t, I couldn’t bear it, I really couldn’t. There is no cure brother.”
Fergus, nodded. “I’ve heard the legends and rumors the same as you, all of our lives, so it’s true.”
“Yes, it’s all true.”
“Yet, as a Warden your immune and is this why you’re fully restored to health.”
“Yes, I told you I was going to be fine.”
“I was so scared Tink; I thought I was going to lose you too. How are you immune?”
I looked away from him. “Brother, there are some things I’ll never be able to tell you and this is one of them.”
“Fergus, I’m going to be fine, you’ll see, I promise you.”
He just nodded.
I took his hand in my own and squeezed his for reassurance. “Fergus, are you alright? This is so much harder on you right now than me. You weren’t here that night. Did you find them and how is the castle, is it badly damaged?”
“Yes…I found all of them. We are going to have their funerals today, will you be able to get down the stairs, I’ll see you carried down if you’re up to it.”
“Yes, I want to be there. Shale or Sten can carry me. You still didn’t answer my question brother.”
Fergus closed his eyes and I could see the pain. I was unsure how I could help him. I’d never really had the time to mourn except for that short time with Duncan on the road as we fled Highever that night. I was too busy fighting for my life on the road to Ostagar trying to get to Cailan and what it would really mean on becoming a Grey Warden. I’d at least had Alistair when it got bad for me. Fergus was only going to have me for a short-time. Not the full six months like he thought he would. I hated this, but I had no other choice.
“I don’t think you and I will ever be over this.”
“No, I don’t think we will either. I do know we’ll both do our best, like mother and father taught us. We’ll give our all, sometimes we’ll both make mistakes being responsible for this many people. I’m just as scared as you are Fergus.”
Normally, my brother would have offered a wisecrack and when he didn’t I knew deep in my heart he was suffering. I knew being here where all our loved ones deaths occurred weighed heavy on him. He’d lost his wife and child along with our parents.
“Fergus, there aren’t any words that will make the pain any easier to bare, only time will lessen it. I think it is going to be worse for you than me in so many ways. Because you’ll be here and I won’t.”
“You do plan on coming home from time to time won’t you?”
“Yes, of course I will, but it won’t ever be the way it was supposed to be.”
He rubbed his thumb back and forth over my scarred hand. “You know I’m so very proud of you; but, I’m going to miss you so very much.”
“I’ll miss you too. Very much.” Both of us hugged each other. When we separated, Fergus looked at me. You look so much better, is this the healing of a Warden you were telling me about. I nodded yes, “it is,” I said. “Do you think you’ll feel up to the funeral this evening for everyone, do you feel like you can make it downstairs?” “If not, then Sten or Shale can carry me, of course I’ll be there.”
“I don’t think I could do this without you Tink.”
“We’ll do this together brother.”
He nodded, “alright then; I still have arrangements to make and I’m sure your friends will like a visit.”
So it was the remainder of the day. I spent the time with my friends and they told me stories about our travel up north that I had missed. Wynne of course examined me once again and was completely bamboozled to discover that my leg was weak and other than this I was fully healed. Leliana and Wynne helped me dress when it was time. Shale carried me downstairs to cheers from everyone. She even carried me out and up the steep hill where our parents and Fergus’ wife and child would be cremated. Since Mother Malloy was also gone Highever didn’t have a reverend mother any longer. Leliana did the honors.
I motioned for Shale to let me down and she did. Fergus lit the fires to burn our family members. Highever Knights lit the other fires to the remaining pyres to burn our faithful servants and knights who had defended Highever that night, which was so numerous, fires burned as far as the eyes could see. I knew Cory’s body was among them. If it hadn’t been for his sacrifice I’d be burning right along with the rest of my family. My tears fell down my face, Thor nuzzled my hand and whined. Fergus came to stand at my side and he took me into his arms. The Highever pipes played their mournful tunes and all those who loved the former Teyrn and his lady were present. The fire was beautiful against the cold chilly clear night sky as we watched our love ones souls be released from this mortal coil to join with the Maker into eternity. Their bones will be buried before the sun rose the next morning; Fergus would bury our parents, Oriana and Oren which was custom for the son to do. All I could do was be a comfort to my brother and stroke Thor’s head and remember my family and how very blessed I was to have them in my life.