This contains heavy spoilers for not only the game but also the two prequel novels; The Stolen Throne and The Calling. If you haven't read them and don't want to ruin the surprise, then flee now. It also may not make a lot of sense if you haven't read them, since it assumes you know some . . . things.

Also, you may want to get out of here if you can't bear the idea of feeling any sympathy for Teryn Loghain. But after finishing the novels . . . well, it all makes sense to me now. I don't excuse the Teryn for what he does and what he lets happen, but I think I understand it now.

How undeniably heartbreaking to set aside everything you ever believed in for vengeance; for a love that could never be . . . .

Loghain sat in his tent fuming. He was leaning forward with his forehead in his hand, trying to stop the incessant throbbing in his temples. His eyes were closed. This was all going to be the death of him, he was sure of it. And there was a part of him that welcomed the idea. He only wished it would get on with it already.

Once more day of dealing with Cailan's unrelenting optimism was going to make him completely mad. Yes, he was his father's son indeed, but at least Maric had the decency to always be unsure of himself. Except when it really mattered, anyway. But his whelp knew nothing of failure and struggle, so he was insufferably cheerful. It was like staring at the sun with a hangover.

He felt sick.

He wondered if he was truly going to allow this all to unfold. He had spent much time allowing Arl Howe to weave his schemes. Loghain was not proud of the treachery he was about to set into motion, but Cailan had left him no other choice. And unless he had also inherited his father's uncanny luck, which it did not appear he had, it all would have to be . . . as it had to be. Loghain simply could not permit all that he had fought so hard for to crumble back to nothing. Orlais would not have Ferelden again, not if he still drew breath.

Loghain only hoped that Cailan would see reason and stay off the front lines as he'd asked. And instead send that problem of a half-brother of his. Although he knew that Cailan had not spoken to the man, Cailan did know the truth of his father's bastard get. And if this half-brother wished to play at being a Gray Warden, then he should be on the field with them. Theirin bloodlines be damned.

He was still angry at Maric for it. Running off into the Deep Roads with the Wardens and again getting himself tangled in the arms of an elven woman. This one a mage and a Gray Warden to boot. And, instead of listening to Loghain and sending the boy so far away he would never be a threat, this Alistair was running about Ostagar as flippant and brazen as Cailan himself. Loghain only hoped that he would die on the field with the other traitorous Wardens and take his claim to the throne with him. Besides, if the truth was ever known, that Maric had a second son who was not only illegitimate, but had elven blood . . . .

Alistair too wore Maric's face, just as Cailan did. And just as this Alistair seemed to have taken his eyes from his mother, so did Cailan. Cailan's face swam in front of Loghain's closed eyes. Slowly, as it always did, Cailan's eyes remained and reappeared on his mother's face. His strong, beautiful mother. The lost Queen of Ferelden, the true force behind it all. Rowan.

He could see her in his mind so clearly. That first moment, when she tore off her helmet, her long chocolate curls floating around her face, damp with the sweat of battle. Her blue-grey eyes flashing. Her laugh. Even at that first moment, he felt his heart break a little. Perhaps it hadn't been so at the time, but he always remembered it that way.

Always Rowan.

Loghain's breath hitched in his chest. He could still hear her voice in his head. Even after all these years since she'd been gone, her voice was as clear as if she stood beside him. He remembered everything about her, no matter how hard he willed himself to forget. Her spirit, indomitable, unquenchable, unstoppable. And forever willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good. Her deft dance with a sword, her flashing smile. Her love . . . .

"How can you do this?" he imagined her saying to him. "He is my son, Loghain. And Ferelden's future, like it or not. I love you Loghain, you always knew that. But I gave you up, as you asked me to, for Maric and for Ferelden. I died; we all died a little to make this happen. How can you consider this? How can you consider leaving my son to die?"

Loghain sat up suddenly, his eyes snapping open; pale blue eyes as cold as ice.

"Your son," he whispered. "Your son and Maric's."

Outside the tent, he could hear Cailan returning, his voice high spirited as always. He spoke to one of his guards in an animated, ecstatic tone.

"Did you see her?" Cailan said. "A more beautiful Gray Warden has never existed! If I was not a married man . . . ." Cailan laughed. "If I already did not love the Gray Warden's through legend enough, to imagine an unbelievably gorgeous elven woman in their ranks. Be still my heart!"

Loghain growled deep in his throat.

"Your son, Rowan," he said to her ghost. "Your son, and Maric's with his same deviant fascination with elves, ready to betray my daughter on the eve of battle. And the eve of his own destruction, perhaps."

Loghain had tried to hate Maric. Yet he had been a very hard man to hate. He had a soul of pure gold, just as Loghain's soul was made of cold steel. But he did hate Maric breaking Rowan's heart with Katriel, even if his betrayal was the only thing that led Rowan into his arms. Even if that one single night in Rowan's arms had been the happiest and most content of Loghain's entire miserable life of duty and sacrifice.

Perhaps he could hate Maric for that at last. And Cailan would pay the price for his father's unfaithful heart. Because if it had never happened, Loghain wouldn't have a shard of ice for a heart now.

"Your son Rowan, and Maric's," he spat between clenched teeth. "And instead, he should have been mine."