|Murder at Vigil's Keep
Author: Hot elf PM
A Dragon Age whodunit. Loghain returns to Vigil's Keep two years after the Blight. When Commander Morena Amell dies under suspicious conditions it falls to him to lead the investigation. Everyone is a suspect, and as more and more secrets come to light, Loghain realizes that no one is truly innocent...Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery - Loghain M. & Nathaniel H. - Chapters: 12 - Words: 17,318 - Reviews: 130 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 10-22-12 - Published: 08-03-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8389288
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 1 - Return to Vigil's Keep
The snowstorm caught up with him when he was less than a mile away from Vigil's Keep, but even so he was lucky to make it there before the visibility became too poor. A particularly strong gust of wind made his horse stumble, and Loghain cursed violently. His frozen fingers just barely kept their grip on the frosted reins. When the huge gates finally closed behind him, and he was safely within the protective walls of the old fortress, he breathed a sigh of relief. The gatekeeper was struggling to wedge them shut against the snowdrifts. No one else would be entering or leaving the Keep for at least a week, if he was any judge of the weather.
As soon as a messenger boy had been sent to inform the Warden Commander of his arrival, he set out for his quarters to get out of his freezing cold armour. After almost two years in Orlais, he welcomed his return to the cold Fereldan weather, the rougher life on the road and the rustic charm of the wayside inns. Still he was glad when, having stripped down to his breeches and washed, he returned to his sitting room to be greeted by the welcome sight of a crackling fire and the spicy aroma of a bowl of hot stew.
He had just finished wolfing down the rich, thick soup, when the door opened, letting in a cold breeze that raised gooseflesh along his naked chest.
"Loghain. You're back." The sensuous tone of her voice made him shiver for entirely different reasons.
He got up in a fluid motion that belied his years and greeted the Commander with a wary smile. "Morena. It's good to be in Ferelden again."
She looked exactly as he remembered her. Her proud, beautiful face was just the same, her smooth dark skin unlined and those sparkling dark eyes as vivacious and passionate as ever. Her slim, petite body was clad in the customary velvet mage robes that hugged her curves tightly, only now they were blue instead of blood red. No, she hadn't changed a whit since the day she had spared his life, only to make him a Warden afterwards. A death sentence of a different kind, yet he had been grateful.
And he'd had even more reason to be grateful when she had invited him into her bed only days later, when he was pacing the draughty palace corridors, tormented by nightmares that made him restless and aggressive. He had found a strange kind of peace in those brief, heated encounters, as well as a curious satisfaction derived from the knowledge that he had replaced Maric's bastard pup in every possible way. At her side when they took down the Archdemon. In her War Council when they discussed how to rout the remaining darkspawn. And in her bed. He was certain he had given her no reason to regret her decision.
"How was Orlais?" Her lips turned up in an ironic smile. "Did you kill any chevaliers with that fierce glare of yours?"
He didn't bother to answer, just growled at her and pulled her close. She didn't resist when he began to untie her belt, but there was a trace of mockery in her expression even then. It drove him wild, as she knew it would.
"You'll have a full report tomorrow." He carded his hand in her long black hair and pulled her head back, baring her neck to his hungry kisses. "Tonight I'm off duty."
She smiled like a cat. "Ah, my dear, a Warden is never off duty. You will answer to your Commander, even here."
Loghain knew a challenge when he heard one. And he had to admit the ensuing power struggle excited him just as much as it did her. When she finally cried out under him, her haughty features made soft by her arousal, it was a triumph just as sweet as any he'd ever known in battle.
She got up immediately afterwards and began to get dressed. He rolled on his stomach and watched her, admiring her firm, young body.
"Any news from the witch?" He tried to sound casual, but she wasn't fooled.
"Morrigan?" Her head snapped up and she paused for a moment. "Why do you want to know? Are you concerned about the welfare of your little bastard?"
He flinched at her deliberate cruelty, but he kept his voice even. "I would like to know how she and the child are faring, yes."
"Don't kid yourself, Loghain." She resumed dressing. "This is no child. It's an Old God, and there's no telling what dark plans our lovely Morrigan is hatching."
"Yet you were eager enough for me to accept her proposal." His tone was scathing. "Was that the reason you dropped Alistair without as much as a shrug, Morena? Because he wouldn't do the ritual, and you didn't want to die?"
"I didn't want either of us to die," she corrected him. "But yes, that was part of the reason. That, and he would have made a lousy king. Your daughter is far better suited to the task than he ever was. And since he refused to marry Anora..." She raised an eyebrow. "Plus, it would have been a waste to kill you. You are an able commander, Loghain, even if you are a sour-faced old bastard."
He shrugged, refusing to be baited, and she sighed. "There are rumours that Morrigan was seen near Flemeth's hut. I plan to check up on them as soon as the weather lets up. As for Alistair..." There was a curious expression on her face, one he couldn't quite make sense of, something between amusement and pensiveness. "Let's talk about him some other time."
When she left, he lay back on the bed, watching the flames die and reflecting on her words. So reasonable. So cold. So calculating. In all the time he'd been with her, she'd never made a single decision that wasn't to her own advantage. She might have saved Ferelden but she had never hesitated to sacrifice other people's happiness for her goals. And she'd never bothered to soften the blow either. No wonder she had plenty of enemies.
He wondered briefly if she'd always been like this, whether her character was the result of her upbringing in the Tower or a reaction to the horrors of the Blight Year. It would be interesting to know more about her past. And of course he was curious to hear about the events of the past two years. Rumours of sentient darkspawn, broodmothers and worse had reached him even in Val Royeaux.
But then the long day on the road took its toll and his eyes dropped shut. There would be more than enough time to talk to Morena tomorrow, he thought as he drifted off to sleep.
This was written for a CMDA challenge and owes a lot to mille libri's fantastic "Whodunit". Hugs and thanks to zevgirl for all her help!