The Wardens promise to return as soon as they have a cure for Eamon's condition, and burst into the night. Teagan watches them leave from the gates of the castle, and has never felt more alone. With Isolde dead and Connor quieter than usual, he is left to his thoughts as he stalks through the grounds. It had been a very strange time, he thinks, feet leading the circuitous path around the castle. The people of the town, though mourning, would rebuild and prosper, he has no doubt. Rainsfere, his own province, has mercifully been spared the worst of the tragedies, though the few men he brought with him were all lost to the dreadful events. All lost, he thinks sadly, his thoughts turning from those loyal few to the other dead: the intolerable barkeep, the doomsayer.. and Murdock. Teagan's fists clench. Murdock, the damnable mayor who had seen far too much of the dark side of the world. If there was a contradictory position to an argument, Murdock would have been there, if not for the fact that he would rather be out training the young folk of the village to hold a sword. He would have gone to Ostagar himself, had it not been for duty – a shouting match between the two men that had been heard across the courtyard of the castle. They had still been frosty with each other when the attacks had started, and Teagan realises that he had never apologised properly to the man before he..

"DAMN IT!" he yells suddenly, lashing out at a crate that bounces off the wall and breaks on the stone flags. Resting his forehead on the cool wall, he sighs deeply. The incorrigible man is gone. Teagan would never forget him, even if time does. Behind closed eyelids, the memory of that first time, when Murdock had grabbed him and pushed him up against the stables, kissed him with such ferocity, almost torn his britches.. his hot skin had been a welcome relief from the winter outside, and Teagan could still remember the feel of his calloused hands on his young face. Opening his eyes, he looks around – where in the grounds has he ended up? Spying a doorway, he walks in to discover the cells, and -

The mage. What was his name again? Jowan, that was it. He looks barely out of boyhood, tears streaking down his face and all hunched up in the small cell, his shoulders slumped in defeat. There is little room in Teagan's heart for pity today, but a small tendril of sadness at the sight of this broken man flares up inside him. He leans against the metal door, exhaling deeply, and Jowan jumps to his feet, wiping his eyes and stammering apologies. Teagan examines him carefully, and Jowan squirms under his gaze.

"Mage. You understand that your fate is to be decided when the arl awakens again, yes?"


"His wife is dead at your hand. The circumstances will be explained, of course, but.."

"Her blood is still on my hands," whispers Jowan. "And I can not expect forgiveness. I know. I do not wish for it." The bann pauses.

"Why not?"
"I.. have done many bad things here."

"Yes, you have." The anger in him rises up again. "You poisoned my brother, led my nephew into temptation and caused the death of my sister-in-law. Because of your presence here, good men in the village died." Murdock's face appears, unbidden, in his mind. "Good men whose lives were worth a lot more than yours." The mage's gaze falls to the floor, and Teagan can almost count the number of eyelashes that he has. Reaching through the bars, he cups Jowan's cheek, wiping the tearstreaks with his thumb. "Why can I not find hate in my heart for you?" he murmurs, before pulling the boy's face to his waiting lips. Hands grasp at his clothes, awkward around the barrier between them, but he can feel the apologies on the mage's lips, can taste the sorrow and pain, and wants to take them away, just for this moment -

Behind him, footsteps break into his awareness, and he pulls away from the cell door quickly, eyes fixed on the doorway. The captain of the guard walks in, startled by the presence of the bann. He apologises, backing out of the room, but Teagan waves him back in.

"I'm done here," he murmurs, turning to look at Jowan. The mage is holding onto the bars, but his eyes are still bright. He does not expect the bann to come back again. As he walks away from the dark room and into the night, Teagan wonders if he will.