Disclaimer and Author's Note:
This story occurs before the events in the sequels, Dragon Age - Broken Dynasties and Dragon Age - Incarnations . This is a narrative of the game, using the basic story from the game and embellishing upon some of the vague references and plot lines. There have been some changes made, but the gist of the story is the same. This is your official Spoiler Alert! I have this in PDF and EPUB formats as well. Message me if you would like the link.
Dragon Age: Origins belongs to Bioware, along with all recognizable characters.
Dragon Age Origins: The Fantom Edit – Human Noble Origin
Chapter 1 : The Second Battle at Ostagar
Duncan watched the darkening horizon with such great intensity that Alistair was afraid to approach him. Alistair gripped the reports of the last battle in his hand. It was good news, but he knew it wouldn't please Duncan. King Cailan would certainly see this as confirmation that this was not a blight—Cailan was sure that it was just another minor uprising of the darkspawn. Alistair was well aware Duncan felt differently. Although Alistair had not been a Grey Warden for very long, even he couldn't misinterpret the insistent buzzing, itchy feeling of the taint coursing through his veins.
Alistair cleared his throat gently. Duncan had been so deep in his own troubled contemplation of the stark reality that faced him that he hadn't noticed the young Warden's approach until now. When he saw it was Alistair, his eyes softened. Ever since Duncan had conscripted Alistair from the Chantry he had felt paternally for the young man; this despite the fact that he hadn't met Alistair until he was 25. Most initiates took their sacred vows as early as they could, but Alistair had delayed undertaking that binding, sacred oath as long as the Chantry would allow. It had been painfully clear to Duncan that Alistair, despite his playful nature and undeniable charisma, was unhappy with the seemingly unalterable course life had set him on. Duncan had only met with Alistair briefly, but in that short time Alistair's courage, loyalty and spirit prompted Duncan to recruit him for the Grey Wardens.
Alistair felt becoming a Grey Warden was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Although he was ambivalent about most of the theological teachings of the Chantry—he had evened questioned the existence of the Maker on more than one occasion—there were times he felt that perhaps some power, fate maybe, had finally set him on his proper path in life. Or perhaps it wasn't fate… perhaps it was just Duncan. Alistair's loyalty to and belief in the man were absolute and unwavering. After Duncan rescued him from a lifelong servitude he had been unwillingly forced into, Alistair couldn't help but lionize the man. Lacking a father figure for so many years in the Chantry, Alistair quickly grew to love and respect Duncan in that capacity as well. Alistair wanted so badly to impress Duncan, to make him proud, to see him smile again. But the days of late had not been happy ones, and Duncan's mood only seemed to fluctuate between brooding and grimly stoic.
"What news do you bring me this evening, Alistair?" Duncan said, trying to disguise his dread and softening his mood for the sake of the young man. Duncan could tell Alistair's spirits were low and he knew Alistair would need all his strength in the coming days. Duncan couldn't bring himself to tell him everything just yet. Alistair had already borne so much. Duncan knew he would eventually have to tell Alistair, and soon, about the ultimate duty that a Grey Warden undertakes to turn back a blight.
I have delayed telling him too long, thought Duncan, I must tell him when I return… let him have a few more days without this burden.
"Once again we have held the line and pushed the darkspawn back. You'd think the darkspawn would try a new tactic. This whole running headlong into our blades strategy isn't working to well for them," Alistair said smiling.
Duncan couldn't help but be amused at the young man's relentless jocularity. It was Alistair's humor that kept many of the Grey Wardens smiling through these dark days.
"Well, I hope the battle hasn't gone to the King's head. He all but believes we're chasing the darkspawn away for good," Duncan said turning back to the horizon.
"Yes well, from what little I remember of Cailan from my youth, it doesn't surprise me one bit. He is easily distracted by shiny things, you know. It's quite possible he's here on the battle field because he likes the way his new sword glints in the light," Alistair said with a smirk. "I have the battle reports, but I'm guessing you're not really interested in them."
Duncan looked down at Alistair's hand and shook his head.
"No, but I'm glad you came up here. I have to travel to Highever. I need to talk to Teyrn Cousland, and what I have to ask will be... difficult, so I need to concentrate on it completely. I'm hoping you can keep things running smoothly here," Duncan said his voice turning serious.
"Wait, what? But I'm the junior Grey Warden here, I don't think I can...,"
"Alistair, you are much more capable than you give yourself credit. I trust you, and that should be enough for anyone else. The other Wardens will follow your guidance."
Alistair sighed. The thought of any kind of responsibility terrified him. But this was his chance to impress Duncan.
"Oh all right. Just make sure Daveth knows who's in charge. I've been trying to get him to stop terrorizing the women, but last night I caught him making a lurid joke involving a dwarf, a mage and a rather well endowed ogre, to which he then compared himself. He thinks he's flirting with them, but honestly, does he really think that works?" Alistair asked. "I mean, it doesn't, right?"
Duncan smiled at him, "No, I don't suspect it works very often for Daveth. But he's probably the type of man who casts a very wide net, and gets excited by any old leather boot he pulls out. Personally, I prefer a more precise method. Use the right bait for right catch," Duncan said thoughtfully.
"Exactly," Alistair said confidently. Then he frowned a little and added, "What is the right bait exactly, not that I have found the er... catch that I want or anything, but you know, the bait thing. How does that work?"
Despite his best efforts, Duncan couldn't restrain the deep, full-bellied laugh that escaped him. Alistair's face fell a bit. Duncan quickly recomposed himself. Duncan knew how sheltered Alistair's youth had been, so it wasn't all that strange for a man his age, in his position, to ask these sorts of questions. Alistair had an innocence about him that made him all the more likable.
"I'm sorry Alistair. I'm not laughing at you. It's just, I'm not used to having these kinds of conversations," Duncan said has he gripped Alistair's shoulder reassuringly, "To tell you the truth, I think when you find the one you want to catch, you won't have any trouble doing it. You're a fine young lad, and any woman would be lucky to catch your eye."
Alistair blushed deeply and turned his eyes away from Duncan. Not many people had openly complimented Alistair, Duncan was the exception.
"Thanks," Alistair said quietly.
Duncan patted Alistair on the back and looked back out on the horizon. The moon had finally begun to rise.
"I'll be leaving first thing tomorrow morning. I'll be traveling fairly quickly, so it shouldn't take longer than five or six days for me to return."
Alistair's interest was piqued.
"The Couslands, eh? I've heard of them. I think I might have even met one, Fergus I think. Is that who you're recruiting?"
"No, there is a... a young knight there. He's all set to come, so it shouldn't be any problem."
Alistair looked confused. "Wait, you said this would be difficult, didn't you?" Alistair was curious why someone would need to be escorted personally by the senior Grey Warden.
Duncan smiled softly. There were some who thought Alistair was a bit simple, but underneath his unassuming demeanor lurked a highly intuitive mind.
"Yes, well Ser Gilmore is mostly an excuse. I have been trying without success to get Teyrn Cousland to let me recruit his youngest. I don't really want to use the Right of Conscription as the Teyrn is not only a personal friend—he is also helping us wage this war against the blight quite willingly. In fact, he's one of the few that I have convinced that this is only the beginning. I don't want to lose his support. I hope if I can meet the youngest Cousland personally, perhaps I can persuade her to appeal to her father."
"Her? A female noble as a Grey Warden? I mean, I guess I don't have a lot of experience with female nobles, but if she is anything like the Arlessa, she'll be more interested in what the current fashion is in court than fighting darkspawn," Alistair said with some disdain.
"Well, to be sure, your experience with female nobles probably put you off them. And truthfully, I would not normally expect to find a recruit among the gentry. But, Lyssa Cousland is not your typical young woman. She regularly goes out into battle alongside her brother, so she is a seasoned fighter. And from everything I hear, she must disdain the noble life as much as you," Duncan said.
"How's that exactly?" Alistair asked
"Well, I hear she is quite beautiful indeed, which I can believe. I met her mother long ago. A woman just half as lovely as the Teyrn's wife should be married by now. But here she is, 24 and still, from what I've been told, obstinately single. A noble with her background and beauty would be quite the catch. She must have turned away dozens of suitors by now," Duncan said.
"Ah, well, your forgetting one thing," said Alistair with a small smile.
"She could just be a raving bitch. I'm sure that would turn away even the most stubborn of courters," Alistair said with a smirk.
Duncan chuckled, "Of course there is that possibility. In any case, it is her skill in battle that impresses me. She is trained in the ways of a rogue, and I have heard there is not one who could best her in the Highever tournaments. I will meet her for the first time in a couple of days and I will know more then. With luck we will have three Grey Warden recruits for the joining when I return."
"Well, just keep in mind that if you do end up bringing back a raving bitch, I won't be responsible for the things I might say in her presence," Alistair said with a laugh, "I would enjoy watching Daveth take her on though."
Duncan laughed and turned toward the tents and the glowing fire that lit up the camp.
"Get some rest, Alistair. If I don't see you tomorrow morning, I will see you when I return," Duncan said as he headed off towards the tents.
Alistair turned back to look out at the horizon.
A woman Grey Warden, he thought. It would be strange for him, as all the Wardens he had traveled with had been men. He hoped if she was indeed recruited, and she made it past the joining, that she wouldn't change things too much. Alistair loved the camaraderie of the Wardens. It was something he had never really experienced in the Chantry. He was also still not entirely comfortable around women, since he'd had so little experience with them for most of his life. Those stubborn Chantry rules, he thought ruefully.
Then the dread crept into him again and he stared hard toward the horizon, imagining he could see a sea of endless darkspawn. He crossed his arms and hugged himself against a chill that only a Grey Warden could have felt. He forgot all about the possible new recruit as he stared out at the misty Korcari Wilds.