Standard disclaimers still apply. Opening lyrics from "The Trapeze Swinger" by Iron and Wine.
This is the first of a few shortish interludes that will be dispersed throughout the story.
Please remember me
And how it lost me all I wanted
His head was swimming as he lurched from the Landsmeet chamber.
Had she just...? No. She couldn't. She wouldn't. Not after the murder of her family. Not after the slaughter at Ostagar. Not after the Alienage. Not after all the words spoken, promises made.
But she had, and she did.
He pushed his way blindly through the crowded marketplace and ignored the greetings of the guardsmen at the city gates. Riordan's words had been a complete shock; the man might not have seen the massacre that had taken place at Ostagar, but he knew the facts. He knew what had been lost that day. Setting aside even Cailan and Duncan --two men for whose individual deaths alone Alistair would have willingly exacted bloody revenge-- an entire army and the country's entire regiment of Wardens had perished on the field that day. Thousands of deaths that could have –would have– been prevented had Loghain not deserted them. Riordan knew all this, and still made his proposal.
Worst still, she knew all this, and she accepted it.
Alistair stumbled over a stray root just outside the edge of their camp and landed hard on his hands and knees. For a moment he didn't move. He breathed deeply, in ragged gasps, and dug his stiff, gloved fingers into the damp earth in a desperate bid to regain control.
He did not know, did not care to know, what drove Loghain to his actions. Ambition, revenge, fear, or sheer madness; it made no difference to the dead men and it made no difference to Alistair.
He scrambled to his feet, leaving deep impressions in the ground where his hands and heavy knee guards had pressed. It took him only a moment to tear through the scant contents of his tent and the depths of the large supply chest, pulling out the absolute essentials from amongst his belongings and leaving the rest. He stood, shaking, in front of the embers of the fire, taking a mental inventory of everything he had: plain clothes, some food, the armor he wore, the shield strapped to his back, longsword at his side and dagger in his boot. The rest could stay.
"And what are you doing?" asked the third-last voice Alistair wanted to hear at that particular moment.
Son of a twelve-penny whore, he'd forgotten Zevran had stayed behind to guard the camp. Fine job he was doing, come to think of it, if he only just now noticed something amiss. But the lacking observational powers and competency of a backstabbing, effeminate elf was hardly Alistair's problem anymore.
He turned and fixed a glare on Zevran. "Oh, I don't know. I was at court and suddenly, somewhere between the mudslinging at the beginning and the part where Riordan and Elissa lost their Maker-forsaken minds and decided to pardon a treasonous executor of genocide at the end, I was struck by the inescapable desire to see the world. Travel, you know, because I never do that! Maybe I'll cross the sea and visit your precious Antiva. Maybe go north to the Anderfels. Oh, or maybe I'll convince the dwarves to seal me in on the business side of the deep roads. Not that it's any of your sodding business, but I don't give a damn where I end up as long as it isn't here."
When Alistair's sarcasm was spent, Zevran did not look impressed. He crosses his slender arms over his chest and met Alistair glare for glare. "Are you drunk? Addled? Possessed? No? Just being a fool then. Why am I not surprised?"
Alistair gave a harsh, humorless laugh and turned toward the trail leading to the road. "I wouldn't expect you to understand. Little things like loyalty and honor are lost on your kind."
Zevran stepped into Alistair's path, his expression hard. "No, I believe I understand perfectly," he said coolly. "Things do not go your way, there is a decision of strategy made which you do not agree with, and you storm away like a spoiled child, run away from all you have fought for. Run away from your sworn duty and leave your people to their fate. Run away and leave the woman you claim to love to fight this archdemon alone, without you."
It took every iota of self control Alistair possessed to not hit him, to keep his clenched fists at his sides. Instead, he took a step forward and leaned in close: angry, menacing. "I won't stand by while the memories of our fallen comrades are dishonored. I won't stand by while the integrity of my Order is besmirched. And I will not call that monster my brother, when his cowardice and treason are what cost my true brethren their lives. I am done talking to you."
He shouldered past the elf forcefully and strode down the pathway.
"Alistair, stop for a moment and think," Zevran called after him, weary. "You do not have to do this."
Alistair kept walking. "I have no choice."
"You'll break her heart," Zevran said, so quietly that the words were almost lost to the wind.
But Alistair heard. He stopped for just a moment, the bitterness rising like bile in his throat. "Then maybe one day we'll be even," he said, and then he was gone.