Chapter 18 : Legacy
Lyssa stood in the royal chambers in front of a set of drawers. She stared down at the top drawer, half open in front of her. One hand rested in the drawer, touching the simple leather sheaths that rested inside for a moment longer. Then she slid the drawer closed and sat down at her nearby vanity. She looked at herself in the polished metal and put her head in her hands. Everything was finished. Duncan was on his way back home, and would likely be back in Denerim within the hour. The people had pretty much accepted everything Alistair had to say to them. Despite the fact that everything that had happened over the last several days had been perpetrated by one of the highest ranking members of the Chantry, the people only seemed to more fervently believe in the power of the Maker. The word that traveled from one citizen to the next was that the Maker himself had intervened on the King and Queen's behalf. The Maker saw what the Grand Cleric was doing in his name, and he smote her.
Lyssa sighed as she thought about it. She mused that the one good thing about this rumor was that the templars also seemed to believe this. Now, when Alistair said "jump," the templars asked "how high?" Lyssa did not want devotion from her people, and the feeling made her uncomfortable. She thought on that morning in Cullen's room and was sick to her stomach. Never in all her life had she tortured a man. She had known going in that templars were famous for their ability to resist pain. But she also knew Cullen, and his fears, and she had taken advantage of that.
When she had gone back to the little room in Jona's, Cullen had not moved from the place on the floor where she had left him. He was still there, shivering and seemingly mute. When Cullen saw Lyssa, he flinched. It had taken Lyssa twenty minutes of soothing words to get the poor man to move to his bed. Then he had done something strange. He reached out and grabbed her hand, kissing it gently and then pressing it to his forehead.
"I have been led astray," Cullen had said. "The Maker has guided you to me, to put me back on the righteous path. You did what had to be done, to set me straight. Sometimes the Maker requires great sacrifices from his subjects. I have been wrong. I am a templar no more. I will accept whatever punishment you give."
Lyssa was shamed and felt rotten. She placed her hands on her vanity and waited to regain her composure. She had only told Alistair a little of what had occurred. She had to leave out Morrigan's part in the act of course, which had made the telling more difficult. Alistair had turned away from her when she told him cryptically that she had "had to do certain things to break Cullen."
Alistair had been very forgiving though.
"I am also a ruler of Ferelden Lyssa. My actions affect all of our people. I cannot say that I would not have done the same were I in your place. In fact, I know I would have, given the resources at my disposal. We carry a heavy burden we cannot share with the people we protect. That is part of the job," Alistair had said.
Lyssa opened the little door crammed with letters she had received over the years from Morrigan. The little flowers and plants each contained were a hint about Morrigan's location. Each time Lyssa had received one that had a plant she recognized, she sent Gildre off in search of news of Morrigan. Only once had he ever brought back news of the child Morrigan had asked for.
When Lyssa had seen the blades of Highever grass in the envelope she had sent Gildre off immediately. In Highever, the people talked to Gildre easily. Yes, they had seen a dark haired woman, and yes, she did have a child with her. But that was all the information they could give. It was the only proof Lyssa had that the ritual that night so long ago had actually worked. That, and the fact that both she and Alistair lived of course. But she was never sure. Sometimes she thought the truth was she didn't want to be sure.
Lyssa closed the drawer of letters when she heard a soft knock at the door.
"Come in," she said standing to face the door.
Duncan opened the door and walked in. He smiled at Lyssa as she approached him, her own smile widening as she saw him. She knelt down and looked into his face. He was getting tall, she thought. And he looked so much like Alistair. She brushed his hair off his forehead with her fingers. He stepped forward and hugged her.
"Mother, it is good to see you well," he said.
"And you Duncan. I hope this all wasn't too much of a burden on you," Lyssa said.
"I think you got the brunt of the burden this time," Duncan said, "But I did what I could to help."
Lyssa led Duncan to the couch and sat.
"What you could?" Lyssa asked.
"Yes. Oghren was most helpful. As soon as I figured everything out, I knew I needed to send him to Denerim. I do hope the fleet is repairable. I would hate to think my actions put us in any danger." Duncan said placidly.
"You sabotaged the boats?" Lyssa asked disbelieving.
"Not directly, but yes. As I said, Oghren was most helpful," Duncan said.
"You figured it all out, on your own then," Lyssa said looking down at Duncan admiringly.
"As you would have had you my information," Duncan said.
"What information did you have that we did not?" Lyssa asked perplexed.
"For many years the Grand Cleric studied me. She may be well versed in deception, but she underestimated my own skills of observation terribly. It was easy to see what she was thinking when I had so much access to her. And it is simply put amazing what people will say freely around children. An advantage I will soon no longer have. Let's hope that no more high ranking officials plan to take over the throne," Duncan said.
"I'll second that," Lyssa said, "but if you suspected the Grand Cleric, why did you never say anything? We would have believed you."
Duncan looked at Lyssa steadily for a while before speaking, "As you often say, rulers must make difficult decisions. It is an unfortunate truth. I did not realize how far the Grand Cleric would be able to take this, but I knew the people would never accept my word against hers were I to accused her of treachery. You know this well mother. It is why you knew you had to bring that poor man to the council to speak out against the Grand Cleric. And you are the Queen. To the nobles, I am just a twelve year old boy."
Lyssa stood and looked out the window. She could not deny he was wrong, but the idea that her son could have saved her and Alistair this despair came as a bit of a shock to her. More of a shock was the calm demeanor he conducted himself with as he spoke of it. She had pondered her son's strange detachment from the world, but she had just assumed it was a quirk of being born as he was, with the taint. But now she began to wonder if there wasn't something else as well. Duncan came up to stand beside her and held her hand.
"I do not wish to upset you further," Duncan said.
"I am not upset Duncan," Lyssa said turning to face him, "I... I simply do not fully understand you is all. You are something of an unusual entity. The mere fact that I know I can say that and not worry about hurting your feelings just emphasizes complexity."
"I am aware of how you and father feel about me. Believe me when I say I understand. In time, I think you will feel differently. As will father. I should go see him now. Then I must go to Sten to thank him for my birthday present," Duncan said.
Lyssa tousled his hair and walked him to the door.
"We will talk more later then," Lyssa said as Duncan stepped out into the hallway.
Duncan turned and smiled up at Lyssa, "Yes. I look forward to it."
Alistair came into the royal chambers and sat down next to Lyssa who was staring at her feet.
"You know what Duncan told me? He said Oghren sabotaged the ships! Can you believe it? So... apparently we owe him a lifetime supply of ale. Which considering the recipient, means we may have to institute a new tax," Alistair said putting his arms around Lyssa.
Lyssa laughed and curled up in the crook of Alistair's arm, letting herself relax.
"You know," she said, "I think we should go to Amaranthine for a while. I forgot how much I missed being a Grey Warden. I think staying there will feel a little bit like old times."
"Amaranthine? You want to holiday in Amaranthine?" Alistair asked surprised.
"Well, it is beautiful there, coastal town and all. And... it is quiet. No one will bother us for days at a time even," Lyssa said smiling up at Alistair.
"Oooh, I like the way you think," Alistair said, "but let's wait until tomorrow. I am pretty sure no one will bother us tonight either."
The Landsmeet's investigation determined that General Bativa had known nothing of the plot against Lyssa and Alistair. The Grand Cleric had played upon his loyalties to the Chantry. When she saw Eamon in the castle that day after she had received word from the Arishok that he had the queen, the Grand Cleric had immediately imprisoned Eamon in Fort Drakon. She had her templars sedate him heavily.
When Bativa came to the Grand Cleric asking after Eamon, she explained she had questioned Eamon out of concern for the queen. A concern Bativa shared.
"He confessed to me that he conspired with the Q'unari to kidnap the Queen. He said he was doing it for the good of Ferelden. The poor man has deluded himself into thinking this was the best action for our country. It is a misplaced gesture, to be sure. But it was a confession before the Maker. He said he wanted to be cleansed of his sins. He will never admit to this before the nobles for fear of earthly punishment. Normally I would never divulge such a confidence. But such a crime, I cannot in good conscience let it go unpunished. But I am in a difficult situation. Not only will the council be wary of accepting this as evidence against him, but they will question my position as a confessor. Many members of the council seek me out for confession. If I did this thing, I would not longer be trusted, and I would no longer be able to serve Ferelden," the Grand Cleric had said sadly.
Bativa had paced around before speaking, "Tell them I questioned him. My word should be good enough."
Bativa never suspected that everything the Grand Cleric had said was a lie;, he trusted the Grand Cleric completely. When she asked Bativa to serve as commander of the Ferelden army as they marched upon Seheron, he readily agreed. Anything to avenge his queen, he had said.
The council of nobles found Bativa guilty of misleading the Landsmeet. It was declared his actions undeniably helped the Grand Cleric complete her scheme, regardless of whether or not Bativa was aware of it.
Lyssa asked for leniency on his behalf. She suggested that he be allowed to spend out the remainder of his days as a Chanter. Bativa readily accepted this sentence. Lyssa asked that a new Chanter's Board be put up in the Alienage, where she thought it could do the most good. Bativa remained at his post as Chanter in the Alienage until he passed away many years later.
Cullen was also judged to be guilty of treason. But because his testimony was instrumental in implicating the Grand Cleric, the council left the sentencing to Lyssa and Alistair. Lyssa could not bring herself to suggest anything, as she was still haunted by the memory of what she had done to Cullen. The guilt she felt made it extremely difficult for Lyssa to be responsible for Cullen's punishment as well. Alistair thought about giving Cullen back to the Chantry to deal with, but could not bring himself to do it. The templar was following orders. Alistair knew all too well that that was what templars did.
In the end, Alistair didn't have to decide; Cullen had managed to kill himself in his cell. He left a note explaining his actions. Alistair asked the guards to burn the note and instructed them never to speak of it. When Lyssa asked about Cullen's fate, Alistair simply said the templar had been put to death in a painless manner. He never told Lyssa about the note or its contents.
Author's end note
First off, I'd like to say thanks for all the reviews! I am going to reply to each of you individually to thank you, if I haven't already. And for the anonymous reviewers who I can't send a reply to directly, thanks. :)
I have finished the next part of this trilogy. If you are wondering, it follows the progression of Duncan's life. He plays a much larger role in the next fanfic. Alistair and Lyssa are still major players in the next part.
I am so glad everyone felt the characters remained true to the story. I tried very hard not to let them stray from the source material too much. I'm glad everyone is enjoying reading this. I loved writing it!