The Goddess Revealed
The lady was dying.
They tried to hide it, and there was silence throughout the castle, as though speaking the words would cause her to finally leave the physical realm. People Ceridwen didn't know came and stood at the lady's bedside during her final hours.
"She should not have married you." A blonde elf told the King pointedly. Ceridwen found this strange because she did not think elves were treated all that well in human societies, but this elf here stood beside the King like his equal, like he wasn't afraid of anything. "She should have come to Antiva, with me. Then she wouldn't be dying because of your child—"
"Shut up." The King growled, and it was the most fearful noise Ceridwen had ever heard him make. "Shut up, Zevran. Don't—don't you dare blame me for this…"
"Why not?" The elf asked arrogantly. "It's your child that's killing her. That taint of yours—"
"Oh, be quiet, Zevran!" The elder woman, the mage, yelled. "Both of you! I'm trying to keep her alive and the two of you won't stop fighting! Stop this, at once!"
The King paled. "But—but she's—"
"Dying? She might be. She might not be. If you two don't shut up and let me heal her then I guarantee that death is in her near future." The old woman looked rather fearful, and she kept pouring light magic into the dying lady. A Quanari man held her limp hand tightly, and a dwarf stood at her bedside, watching her with baited breath. Mother was helping her heal as best she could.
No one was paying any attention to Ceridwen, just one room over.
No one was paying any attention to the baby, either.
It was strange, Ceridwen thought. All this fuss over the thing, and now that he was here no one cared—they were all too busy trying to save the life of a beautiful lady who should have known better than to conceive a child with the taint running in her veins.
Kill the child. A dark voice whispered into Ceridwen's mind. He's in your way. Kill him, and the lady, then you will inherit the throne.
Ceridwen shook, but the voice continued to whisper dark things into her mind. Things she never once thought about now echoed in her mind.
Maybe she should kill the chi—
No! Why would she do that? To kill a child, a defenseless baby—
Ambition. Power. You may not want these things now, but I can see into your soul, your future. Kill him, and you shall be the heir, and all of Fereldan shall bow before you.
"Who are you?" Ceridwen whispered to herself, and hoped the dark voice would respond.
I am you. You are me. We are one in the same.
"Are you a demon?" Ceridwen accused. "From the Fade? Come to trick me into letting you into the mortal realm?"
Ha! Silly little girl, I do not come from the Fade, nor am I a mere demon. What I said before is true—I am you.
"But you can't be." Ceridwen shook her head. "You want me to hurt the baby. To hurt the lady. I don't want to do that."
But you will. You are my vessel, child, the dark one born of the taint. Your essence calls to me, like it calls to all the dark ones. Can you not hear them? Listen closely: listen past the sound.
She listened. She tried to do what the dark voice told her to do, and listen past the sound. To hear the darkness calling to her.
She could hear the baby's thoughts.
"He's sad," she whispered. "He's only a few hours old, but he misses his mother dreadfully. He wonders where she is, why she isn't holding him. He's...cold." She leaned over and smiled into the newborn prince's crib. "Why didn't you say so earlier, baby? I'll get you a blanket."
"No." Ceridwen declared to the voice. "You are a very bad voice, stay away from me!"
"Who are you talking to?"
Ceridwen whirled. Standing in the doorway was a dwarven girl, with red hair and an amused expression on her face. She was only a few years younger than Ceridwen, actually, and she seemed curious about what was going on.
"Nothing! Nobody! Er, myself. I mean, well, no, I--I am not doing anything—wait, who are you?"
The dwarf laughed. "I'm Adora, silly. Most people just call me Dora, though, keeps things from getting too confusing."
Ceridwen frowned. "That—that's the same name as the lady. Are you--?"
"Of course it's the same name!" Dora grinned. "I was named after her. Daddy said that as a girl there was no better role model for me than the lady who saved the entire kingdom from a Blight. Says he hopes I'll be a strong warrior, like her."
Ceridwen frowned. "Who is your father, exactly?"
"My father is General Orghen!" Ceridwen stared at her blankly. "You know, the only dwarf to achieve the position of general in the king's army? …One of the heroes of the last Blight? …The red-haired man with the bushy beard?"
"Oh," Ceridwen realized. "The dwarf. The one who smells like rotten ale."
"Yep, that's Daddy alright!" Dora glowed with the pride of misinformed seven year old. "So what are you doing in here all by your lonesome? And who were you talking to?"
Ceridwen looked around aimlessly. "I—I guess I was talking to the baby."
"Oh! Is that the baby in there?" Dora squealed as she leaned forward and looked into the cradle. "Aw, look at him! He's like a little baby doll!"
Indeed, now that Dora had said something, Ceridwen noticed that the baby did look a bit like a doll. His cheeks were round and rosy, and his tiny patch of strawberry blonde hair poofed magnificently on the top of his head. He had the Queen's beautiful round blue-green eyes, but otherwise he resembled the King. He was adorable.
"He's cold," Ceridwen said softly, and grabbed a blanket off the shelf. If she closed her eyes, she could still hear him, could hear the thoughts of the tainted ones in the next room.
"NO! No, not her! Maker, please, don't take her from me, please, I beg you—"
"And I think he's sad. He probably wants his mom."
"Yeah," Dora said quietly, staring at her feet. "She's not doing so good, is she?"
"No no no no. Wynne, do something! Why aren't you doing anything? Why isn't she breathing?"
"Let's wrap him up and then go see for ourselves, shall we?" Ceridwen suggested before swaddling the newborn gently. Despite whatever the voice had said earlier, she did not want to hurt him, truly.
With the prince now warm, the two little girls snuck into the next room, only to find it erupt in chaos.
"She's dead." The quanari whispered softly, his eyes very sad. "My ka'dan, she has left us."
"NO!" The king screamed, and fell to his knees in anguish. "Why? By the Maker, why?" The mabari beside him howled in grief, the two noises searing as one. And while Ceridwen did not know the lady half as well as the people in the room, she felt sad, for the lady had been kind to her. The baby would not have a mother now—Fereldan would not have a Queen, the King would be alone.
You can bring her back, you know.
"You again?" Ceridwen whispered to herself. "What are you talking about?"
You and I, we transcend things. Life and death have little meaning. We are better than that, we control that. Though it is foolish, we can bring the lady back to the living.
"Can we, really?"
Yes. Though we must be strong. Are you ready?
And with that, Ceridwen collapsed, and entered the realm beyond the Fade.
More character guides:
Orghen: Stayed on the surface, married Felsei. Was awarded the title of general, the highest position a dwarf has ever received in the King's army. Has one daughter that he named after Adora, feeling it was the least he could do to honor his dear friend.*
Zevran: Went back to Antiva and opened a tavern. Still occasionally assassinates people if the money is good enough. The only person he ever really cared about lives in Fereldan and serves as their Queen. Serves as a spy for Fereldan and passes information along to the Fereldian government. **
Dora: Orghen's daughter. Seven years old, and already training to be a warrior. She is a bit girlier than either parent expected.
Sten: Went home. Came back. Travels back and forth per the wishes of his leader. Still holds a soft spot the current rulers of Fereldan—well, at least their Queen.
Sparks: A very old mabari war hound. He has served faithfully at Adora's side for fifteen years. He is getting quite old, though.
Prince Duncan Bryce Theirin I: Exactly what it says on the tin. The first born child of King Alistair and Queen Adora, and the current heir to the throne.
*Canon. I kid you not. That's what it says in my epilogue.
**Not canon. I made stuff up because in my actual game, Zevran betrayed me and died. I decided to let him live in this version.
I'm glad to see everyone has liked the story so far. I'm hoping to update soon!