When I first met Nalissa Cousland, neither of us were really at our best. She was all but lost in the camp at Ostagar and I was being penned into a very awkward situation with a mage that was all too aware I had once trained as a templar.
I got a little snippier than I should have, but it was all in good fun. Unfortunately, most of the mages that had come to the front lines didn't really seem to have a sense of humor.
Nalissa did, though, because when I turned to her with a sarcastic observation, she shot a sarcastic reply right back. And it was right around then that I realized I had no idea who in the world I was talking to.
Once she introduced herself, we set off back through the camp, trying to make small talk on the way. But I'm pretty bad at that, and since I had already told her about my upbringing in the Chantry, I made the grand decision to ask where she was from.
There was a moment's pause before she replied that she was from Highever, and of course I remained completely oblivious to the fact that that might mean she didn't want to talk about it.
"Oh, Highever? I think that's where Duncan's from too. Did you know him there?"
"I… didn't really leave the castle much unless we were traveling to Denerim or one of the bannorns."
That threw me off a little. "The castle? Did you work for the teyrn?"
Nalissa tried to smile, and finally I saw the sadness in it. "No, I can't say my father really let me do a lot of work."
"Your father? What do you…" I looked at her again, and this time I saw it. The pale skin, the smooth raven hair, the way she carried herself as if she were used to crowds parting before her—how had I missed that she was bred from nobility? "You're Teyrn Cousland's daughter."
She looked away, seeming to inspect the studs in the leather of her gauntlets. "It doesn't matter. I'll be a Warden now, nothing more."
I sensed I should probably let it drop, but curiosity got the better of me. "Did you not want to be a Warden?"
If anything, that just made her smile turn sadder. "No, I did. I'm the youngest and a girl, so my father would leave me at home to manage the castle while he rode with my brother. I hated having to wait with the servants, not able to help if they needed an extra blade, just listening for weeks to Mother trying to convince me to marry Arl So-and-So's son and give her more grandchildren."
"But you miss it," I said, probably unnecessarily.
"More than I knew I could miss anything."
I didn't know what to say to that, but then we reached Duncan's fire and I was too busy being embarrassed that my mentor had found out about my conversation with the mage to try to figure it out.