IX. Stray

I left him at the gates.

You put the crown on my head and the throne under me and expect me to lead, but now you do not take me with you. He paced back and forth, gloved hands opening and closing, an attempt to understand.

I refuse to be your mabari bitch, to howl when you bid, to charge where you command. I retorted. Even if you are king.

That made him cold, made him turn instead to the darkspawn. I felt those jagged edges, what was impossible to put back together.

Wynne said once: You may be forced to make a choice... I knew that if he so much as stumble, if I hear his cry, see him bleed, then I would drop everything and rush there, because I loved him and because he would do the same for me. I would give all of Ferelden to save his life.

It was easier to march to my end, knowing he hated me.


I carried all of them, their stories and their futures, fuel for my vengeance and my song. I carried them with me, those I left behind and those who stayed. This was my final performance as I was pulled into the centre of Wynne's storm, my steps sure and my voice pure. We fell the darkspawn that came together, Sten with his reunited sword, Shale and her crystals of nature and spirit. We fell ogres and emissaries, their Hurlock grunts and Genlock archers. I could feel their fear, as their end approached. Even their dim minds knew what it meant to have their essence removed, become smoke and non-existence.

When the archdemon's neck arched back, its wings struggling limply to lift too heavy a body, I knew it was time. Through my exhaustion, I pulled from my inner reserves, the last remnants of what it took to push myself forward, make muscle move and spring, clench and tighten. The sword was not my chosen weapon, but it felt sure in my hands as I threw my body into gutting the dragon, so that the Blight would end and for Ferelden to finally know peace.

It shuddered and groaned and the earth rolled underneath me. I was thrown about as its body opened and released pillars of light that illuminated the battlefield. What should not have substance gained form, entered my body in many places, a pain that burned and froze interchangeably. I shook as I hung there in the air, pierced by lances of light. The archdemon's soul spoke of eons, the ancient knowledge of its shaping, its wrath at being confined to such a useless mortal vessel. It told of its hunger, of what used to be and what was and what is to come. It was furious and ravenous and ready. It filled me and I was weighed down by it, the immensity of my final burden. What evil or benevolent power Thedas might have seen, if Morrigan was heavy with the child knowing no conscience or humanity. What years of love I might have known, as his queen or mistress, the two of us alive and thankful for the twist of fates that brought us there. I lived all those futures and none of it, blinded by possibilities and what I could have been.

There was a great release, as if pieces of me were taken by feathered creatures, towards the corners of the known earth. Tears came unbidden, choking my throat and filling my eyes. I found forgiveness there. Oh, Alistair, in another time, another place - and Death welcomed me, his favoured child.