As it turned out, the Inquisitor had been in Val Royeaux dealing with, interestingly enough to Amalya, a man who had claimed the title of Warden, but had never undergone the joining.
Amalya stood quietly in the back as the Inquisitor passed judgment on the offender. Apparently he had been a traitor. He had caused the death of a lot of people for his own selfish purposes.
Something she was all too familiar with. Her vice had been love and loyalty not gold, but in the end the results were the same Betrayal and a lot of death.
In the end it was decided that the false warden, who called himself Blackwall, would be sent to the wardens to complete the joining once Corypheus had been defeated. Inquisitor Trevelyan had looked to where Amalya was standing as if asking for permission before passing this judgment. At Amalya's nod it was made official.
Amalya had not missed Leliana at the railing overhead with a bow notched. Leliana took betrayals of friends very badly. Amalya knew it would be only by a tight thread that Leliana was kept from sinking an arrow into this man's heart.
Marjolaine had seen to her hatred of false friends.
When the man, Blackwall, left the hall, Amalya pushed away from her post and followed him. It was rude perhaps not to stop and speak to the Inquisitor first, but this was now a Warden manner and she was the most senior Warden here. Unless one counted Fiona, and technically Fiona was no longer a Warden.
She followed Blackwall all the way to a tavern where they took up seats at a long table. She noticed a Qunari watching her. She would definitely have to get news from him soon.
"Commander." He said flatly without turning around.
"I am not your Commander, Blackwall." Amalya replied.
"Ah, of course… I never underwent the joining." His voice was strained.
"No, I mean, rightfully… I am not anyone's Commander. That would now fall to Nathaniel Howe, if he accepts. He has been doing the work anyway, and Weisshaupt is in no position to tell me who to promote." In fact Weisshaupt had been a mess when she had left it, full of in fighting and intrigue, but that was hardly something she was prepared to discuss in the open with a recuruit. "He would be your Commander, as a recruit."
"I… see. Are you certain you still want me after everything?" He pulled out a bottle and poured two glasses of amber liquid, sliding one to her.
"You did the work of a Warden without benefit of the Joining. You took up the mantle of a man who died fulfilling his duty. Why wouldn't we want you?" she drank back the whiskey in one deep swallow.
He sighed "Not many would cast me in such an flattering light. I betrayed my men and caused the death of innocents."
"You aren't the first to do that and you won't be the last. I will make you a deal, I will tell you my story, if you tell me yours." She motioned to the serving girl to bring more alcohol. She was going to need a lot for this.
"Mind if we join you?" She looked up to see Varric, the Qunari and an elven mage.
"It is a long story, but I have no objections." She felt they needed to get a measure of her as well as understand what drove Blackwall.
Blackwall just shrugged.
Amalya started talking. She started with the night of her Harrowing all the way through to this very night. How she had betrayed Jowan and Lilly to Irving.
Their own betrayal at the hands of Teryn Logain.
How they had left Lothering knowing it would be destroyed by darkspawn, but rescued Sten, now the Arishok on their way out.
The Circle and the sloth demon. She never mentioned Cullen by name in her tale.
The horrors of Amaranthine. Her friendship with Justice.
Kirkwall and her failure there. Varric called for more drinks at this part of her story.
How she had slain Anders more for what he had done to Justice than any other offense. She noticed the elven mage look at her closely as she related this.
How she had returned to the deep roads and Orzammar, and of her intent to die there or find a cure for the Calling.
Then her return to the surface when Leliana called.
It took hours. By the time she was done talking the entire tavern had surrounded her. She had never even noticed.
"Is all of that true?" A young elven woman with a Ferelden accent asked.
"Every word of it." Leliana spoke up. Amalya had not even noticed her enter. "I was there for most of it personally." Leliana laid her hand on Amalya's shoulder and Amalya laid her cheek on her friend's hand.
"My… my story is not as long, nor as glorious I assure you." Blackwall began and then filled them in on how he had been approached to take out an enemy of the Duke, but had never told his men of the true mission, nor that there would be women and children present.
How he thought he was doing it for Orlais, but in the end, it had become about the gold.
How the real Warden Blackwall had found him, but been slain when they needed to get darkspawn blood for the joining. Amalya nodded at that, well she remembered her first mission. And how they had lost both Javeth and Sir Jory.
The audience had thinned out by the time he was finished, but Blackwall's traveling companions remained. And they looked a little more forgiving when he had finished.
Good, Amalya thought. It would be lovely to leave healed wounds instead of destruction behind me for a change.
Only those closest to both of them noticed how Cullen had entered and never taken his eyes from the Warden. While she had never said, it was clear to those who knew them best who the templar in her story was. And for those who were paying attention why she had really come to Skyhold.
Of course Leliana and Oghren had always known, and both wanted to shake the pair. There were no Circles now. There was no reason for either one to continue denying their love for one another.
When Blackwall finally stood to leave, Amalya finally noticed Cullen in the corner. She looked down, blushing at his intense gaze.
Cullen pushed himself away from the wall and started to make his way towards her but was interrupted by one of her many admirers.
"umm… Warden? My name is Sera and I… I wanted to thank you." Cullen had never seen the little mischief maker looking so serious.
"Thank me? Whatever for Sera?" Amalya smiled kindly down at the young elf.
"I was in Ferelden when the Archdemon came.." Cullen had not known that, the young woman had clearly been through a lot.
"I am so sorry we could not get you out in time…" Amalya sounded so sad.
"No.. wait, this is going sideways!" Sera interrupted her apology "There we were, no where to go and hide, but you and your army arrived and saved us. And before that I had just been playing with painted boxes and…"
"Painted boxes…?" Amalya started laughing "Red Jenny! I always wondered who was behind that little slot in the door!"
"Wait… That was you?" Sera also started laughing. "I always wondered who brought my box back to me!"
"Well now we know." Amalya shook the young woman's hand.
"It was my pleasure to save you then, Sera. I am glad you came away from there safe and sound." Amalya stood up.
"Well, safe anyway, Warden. I am not sure about how "sound" I am." Sera looked at her shoes.
"Don't dwell on it. You are alive and here. Sometimes that is all we can ask of life." Sera nodded at her hero.
As Amalya was starting to leave Sera called out to her "Hey, thanks for helping Blackwall. He may not be a real Warden, but his is the realest Warden I ever met. Besides you, of course!"
Amalya smiled and nodded at the young woman.
The next day she was summoned to Lady Montiliyet to discuss what she would be wearing to the party, and did she prefer tarts or petit fours and should they serve venison or wild boar.
By the time they were finished Amalya wished that she could have fought another Archdemon instead!
Afterwards she went to find Morrigan. One might be tempted to think the witch would seek her out, after all, they were practically sisters, but that was not Morrigan's style.
She found both her and Kieran in the gardens.
"Auntee Amalya!" Kieran cried and ran to her. "Did you see the Inquisitor? Did you see the fade portal in her hand did you…"
"That is enough, little man, allow your Aunt to breath." Morrigan interrupted Kieran's enthusiasm.
"Yes Mother." Kieran dutifully replied, but continued to grin at Amalya.
"Hmm… what could be your true intentions in way laying me first?" Amalya teased the young boy. "Could it be all of the books you think I brought you?"
Kieran's grin grew wider "May I Mother?"
"Oh, very well, as you wish. You spoil him too much Warden." Morrigan pretended to be annoyed with them both, as she always did. Amalya had spoiled Kieran shamelessly since she had first laid eyes on him at the Orlesian Court.
"It is my prerogative as his favorite Auntee! Oghren and Nathaneal have your books Kieran." They both laughed as he ran off.