p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"It was the night before the Battle of Ostagar, and Gregory Lestrade was quite frankly span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"terrified. /spanBlood-red cracks streaked the sky, and it seemed to the knight-captain as if the world might shatter at any second. Even if by all accounts the Grey Wardens would win easily to-morrow. Even if it was just a small battle in Ferelden, largely inconsequential to the war that raged across Thedas./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"No—as he led his men into the tents where they were to make their final preparations, something told Greg that this would be the last time they were all together. He hoped only that the losses would be minimal./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Greg looked around, trying to read the expressions of the other soldiers. Everyone seemed merry, laughing and chattering as they toasted each other. Knight Commander Gregaoir was deep in conversation with Greg's men. King Cailan's armor shone bright gold to match his flaxen hair, tied back in a neat tail. He was speaking to one of the Grey Wardens, Duncan (surly as usual, but Greg had always liked the man) and two bright-eyed new recruits—a warrior and a mage. Cailan's voice carried loudly as he spoke of glory and victory, but Greg saw his näive overconfidence for what it was. Advisor Loghain stood by his side, looking as if he'd just swallowed sour grapes. Greg had never seen him look otherwise, and let his spirits lift for a second at the thought of Loghain as a stringy-haired, scowling child. /p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""To victory!" First Enchanter Irving cried to one of his senior enchanters. Irving's hand trembled, and Greg suspected it was not his first toast of the night. His gaze turned to the senior enchanter. Greg had seen the man often, making his rounds in the circle. He'd always had a soft spot for bookish men and redheads, and sometimes he doubled back to the Circle library on walks just to steal another glance at Senior Enchanter Holmes. Watching him sit quietly with a book in the Circle library with his hair illuminated by the crackling fire was always a highlight of Greg's long nights patrolling the Tower./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"The expression on Enchanter Holmes's face in that moment was far from peaceful. Greg watched as he smiled tightly, face inexplicably drawn as he tossed back a span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"long /spandrink. Holmes's icy grey eyes locked on Greg's for a second, and the men exchanged a look. span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"To-morrow will be a day that none of us will come back from...only no one seems to know it but us. /spanHolmes inclined his head, holding Greg's gaze, and then Irving whisked the enchanter off to meet with the other mages. /p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Greg sank back down in his seat, exhausted. Duncan strode briskly towards him, knives swinging in their holsters./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Ah, Captain Lestrade. Are your men prepared?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Not enough." Greg's tone was light, only his heart was anything but./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Duncan half-smiled. "You should have joined us. In war, victory. In peace, vigilance."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""In death—sacrifice." Greg finished the motto for him./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""It will be an easy battle, to-morrow. The darkspawn have very nearly been stamped out. This is the beginning of the final push, and then the war will be over."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Greg wanted to tell him that no one could be sure, except he was interrupted by the blonde warrior recruit before he could speak./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Our very first battle, Camille. Finally some action...although I suppose you did just complete the Joining. span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"I'm /spanexcited, in any case. Are you?" His manner was easy and boyish, and Greg liked him immediately. He remembered the anticipation he'd felt before his own first battle, and hoped tomorrow would be all to the recruit that he imagined./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"The girl spoke quietly. "I am ready, Alistair, but I don't know that I am excited."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;"Greg frowned. He looked closer, and saw that she couldn't be much older than a teenager. Behind her calm exterior lay abject terror—he could smell it on her. What was she doing here?/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "Camille has just completed the joining...and as such she will not be fighting to-morrow. It is too soon, and she needs time to recuperate. Alistair, you will accompany her."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "What? You want me to babysit?" Alistair was incredulous./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;""Alistair—" Duncan warned./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "Yes, yes. No whining. Fine, I'll stay. But you know I'll fight span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"sometime. /spanYou can't protect us from that forever."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "As it happens, you are needed for an important task. You have to light the beacon that signals the final attack. I am not protecting you...merely reminding you that our responsibilities are many, and not all of them are glamorous. We fight, yes. But we are Wardens and we must see to everything that role entails./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" The warning nudge Camille gave Alistair did not escape Greg's notice. "Yes, Commander Duncan. We'll light the beacon tomorrow, just tell us what we have to do."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Duncan's nod was approving, but something about the lifelessness in Camille's tone worried Greg. Wardens were strong and respected leaders, not...this. She wouldn't make it a year. She shouldn't have to./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Before he could give the girl further thought, she too had been brought away by Duncan and he was alone once again./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "Right, don't mind me," he muttered. "I'll just...sit here. Alone. With ale I'm not even going to drink, because shouldn't we be span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"sober /spanand span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"not hungover /spanif we're going to be fighting?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" A clipped voice spoke into Greg's ear. "After weeks of fighting, I suspect we might well find ourselves more dexterous while inebriated."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Greg whirled around. It was the handsome senior enchanter. "Enchanter Holmes! I thought the mages were in the other tent discussing tactics."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Holmes narrowed his eyes. "I could say the same of the templars."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Greg realized with a jolt that their tent was suddenly vacant. "I, um, got caught up?" The statement came out like a question. "I should go find them."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "Wait." Holmes caught his arm, and Greg felt his cheeks heat up./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "Yeah? I mean—yes, sir?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Holmes was quiet for a second./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "Does it seem to you that to-morrow will be not at all as they imagine?" Even as Greg registered the ominous words, he couldn't help but think that Senior Enchanter Holmes had an incredibly attractive voice./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Greg shook his head to clear it, and nodded. "Yes. But what can we do but head into battle to-morrow, hoping that we come out whole?"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Holmes smiled humorlessly. "We will not. And I propose that we do not fight at all."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "But what of Ostagar? The darkspawn will take it in a heartbeat!"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "They will take it regardless," Holmes said steadily. "But Cailan and Irving and Duncan and the rest will fight. Cailan isn't going to let this battle go. No, I propose that span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"you and I /spanstay behind. If they are right, hope against hope, the both of us will not be missed. If Ostagar is to fall, two more men won't change that reality. I heard Duncan speaking with the recruits earlier. They will need assistance in the event that things go astray."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "You're asking me to abandon my post. To leave my men behind."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "You have trained them well. I suspect they are able to lead themselves capably."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Gregory couldn't deny that fact. His men were as capable in his absence as they were standing behind him. Still, he rankled at the idea of just leaving them. They were in this together. "I have to fight, Senior Enchanter. No matter what." Curiosity overcame him. "Why me? Why not Duncan, or Irving, or Knight-Commander Gregaoir? I'm far from the most powerful person here, or even the most powerful templar. You don't even know me."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" The forcefulness of Enchanter Holmes's reply took Greg by surprise. "I've watched you for a while, Gregory William Lestrade. Enough to see that you're a good and strong and brave man, and those recruits are going to need you when the world comes crashing down. We don't have a chance in hell of surviving without you. span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"I need you./span"/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Greg shook his head with regret. "I wish I could help, Senior Enchanter. But I have to fight."/p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" "Then I leave you with this." Holmes leant down, and Greg felt his breath hot against his cheek. Soft lips found his, and they kissed him tenderly. Then Holmes straightened again, and he was gone./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" Greg pressed a finger to his lips./p
p style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-size: 15.119999885559082px; font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'GNU Unifont', Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 1.286em auto; padding: 0px; line-height: 1.5; color: #2a2a2a;" span style="border: 0px; outline: 0px; font-style: oblique; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; list-style: none; margin: 0px; padding: 0px;"Maker's breath, what was that?/span/p