9:41 Dragon, Harvestmere; Southwest of Kirkwall, Planasene Forest
The word from Kirkwall was not encouraging.
Not that anything had been encouraging in recent history. It wasn't that prior to the last five years Kya had been treated like a precious jewel certainly – being a mage was to be distrusted at the best of times – but with all this talk of rebellion and a huge upsurge of blood magic from the Free Marches? It had degraded quickly.
There had been rumors for years about Kya in Amaranthine. Whispers that her magic was dark and of course, they were hardly unfounded. But at the same time, she knew blood magic was hardly the bogey man the Chantry feared. It was a tool and a dangerous one, but so was a sword and they weren't sending people to the gallows simply for owning one. Whatever her opinion was, she knew eventually being a Grey Warden and the Hero of Ferelden wouldn't be enough to stop the angry villagers and their pitch forks.
She and Nate had managed to stay at the Vigil for almost seven years already, which was a minor miracle in and of itself. She had actually expected they'd have to flee after the incident with Anders, but that was years ago. She managed to convince the replacement seneschal (specially picked by the first Warden and sent to spy on her, she was sure) that the corpses weren't necessarily Anders fault…it was just as likely that they encountered an emissary and then the darkspawn dragged Anders' corpse away…she didn't believe it, but he did and that was good enough. She had no idea where Anders had gone, but she knew he wasn't dead. Those other Wardens died at the blast of his spells – and she just let him go. He'd been through plenty for one lifetime. Maybe he'd find happiness out on the run. He'd been running away forever after all.
Anders and dead Wardens notwithstanding, eventually the rumors reached Weisshaupt, and she received a letter just as Loghain had all those years before. It requested that she relinquish command of the Grey Wardens of Ferelden and report to Weisshaupt. But the letter also suggested that if maybe she didn't arrive at Weisshaupt, well, that was okay too. It sounded like a dream come true.
But Nate got a letter too.
His offered the same ending, a one way trip to Weisshaupt, but there was a detour required. Apparently there was a word of some horrific lyrium artifact having been discovered in a lost thaig. And the rumor? The rumor said the lyrium was tainted. And no, not just your run-of-the-mill magical curse taint, but the Tevinter magister strength, power used to propel themselves into the Fade and darkspawn curse from the damned Maker taint.
Kya thought it was a fairy tale most of her life, that raid on the Golden City nonsense, but she didn't discount things like that anymore.
So Nate was to go find this thing with a small group of Wardens and then bring it to Weisshaupt. They made it very clear that Kya was not to accompany him. After all, both Loghain and Sigrun had disappeared into the Deep Roads on their Calling already so the fact that she had not … not to mention that she still lived at all after facing an Archdemon?
They didn't trust her. She was getting used to it.
So they parted ways at Amaranthine and even the memory of that moment sent a pang through Kya's chest. Seven years was a long time, after all and what Kya had with Nate wasn't some momentary passion that would burn hot and then burn out when not fed with more fuel. She felt Nate in her blood just as much as she felt the taint – maybe even more. Maybe he was the reason she didn't just fall apart…but she couldn't tell that to the first Warden. She also couldn't tell him that she'd been dreaming about Morrigan lately and then daydreaming that maybe Morrigan would have…knowledge that Kya desperately wanted.
Kya saw the way Nate looked at the children that ran screaming through the courtyard. She also knew about the taint…but she also knew that Morrigan….
When they parted, they planned to find each other outside of Kirkwall and travel together to Weisshaupt or somewhere. Though less dour than he was when they met, Nate was still a realist. He made no promises and no vows, but he said he would try. He did however promise to love her, and then turned toward the docks and the waiting ship as Kya turned south towards the Korcari Wilds.
She went to find Morrigan first.
And Kya found her eventually, but it didn't turn out at all like she had hoped. Surprisingly, Morrigan did understand Kya's pain. She said it was a curious thing, but it turned out she was not like her mother after all. She loved her child and did understand why Kya would desire one – though she only referred to 'her child' and refused to give any more details. But in the end, there was nothing she could do. Morrigan explained that she had only been able to conceive Loghain's child due to the newness of the taint in his blood and a significant amount of blood magic…and she herself did not carry the taint as Kya did.
Morrigan was honestly regretful she could not help her friend, but in the end she could only walk away. She did promise Kya she'd love her child and make sure that child knew the deeds of Loghain Mac Tir before Kya could even ask. Morrigan admitted her child had Loghain's eyes after all. But no, Kya could not meet her child. It was not to be. And then, with damp eyes, Morrigan walked away through the Eluvian and out of Kya's life for good.
Kya made her way out of the Deep Roads and said farewell to the companions that joined her in her search for Morrigan. She turned north again, traveling alone towards the spot she stood now, to wait for Nate's return. She had hoped to only be sad for what was not to be, for the child she wouldn't be able to give Nate, no matter how much she wanted to. Instead, she was frightened.
It had been three years since they had walked away from the Vigil and said goodbye. She'd searched longer for Morrigan than she had expected. There was no guarantee that Nate had even remained in Kirkwall although word when she arrived in the area said Nathaniel Howe had been spotted in Kirkwall recently – Delilah and her family had left Ferelden to start over where the stigma of her name was no longer such a burden. They were well known and respected in their new city and all still alive at last news, but last news was before the earth shattering blast and the flare of violet light that had burst in the distance.
There were a few horrifying bits of info she'd gotten from refugees since then, none of it good.
A mage had destroyed the Chantry, killing the Revered Mother and all the Sisters, along with many Templars and innocent bystanders. And then, then some Champion of Kirkwall person had come to the mage's aid? This woman, Maire Hawke, had helped him and the Circle of Magi rebel, and then the city exploded into war.
There was no word about Nate.
Kya wanted desperately to charge into the city to find him, but she knew that couldn't lead anywhere good. She was a mage after all, and even if it was only half as bad as she heard, even if the mages were winning? She would hardly be a welcome sight at the gates of the city. And since Kirkwall had some of the most famously secure gates of any city she'd heard of? All Kya could do was wait.
She made herself a camp just off the road, if one could call the dirt lane winding through the forest a road, far enough away that her little fire would be unobtrusive, but close enough that she could hear any comings and goings. It was late and her little fire had burned to nothing more than coals. The full Harvestmere moon hung overhead, but it was still warm so she didn't bother to feed the fire. Her eyelids were heavy; sheer exhaustion was overcoming her worry. That was when she heard the voice.
Not Ferelden or even Free Marches, a touch of an accent and …elven maybe?
"We are foolish to be on this road Hawke," the voice said, annoyed but with a surprising undertone of affection. The man snorted. "But no more foolish than taking … him…with us." There was exactly no affection when he said that. Hawke? Could it be the same one the refugees mentioned?
A woman sighed in reply; Hawke apparently. "Not now Fenris," she said with a tone of frustration. "I don't need you two carping at each other now."
Kya had seen plenty of people come through here since the explosion, but these were different. They were speaking in hushed tones and traveling in the dead of night. She heard the distinctive clank of weapons. These weren't average travelers. But they also weren't templars. Mages or their supporters perhaps? Allies if she was lucky.
They walked in silence for a little bit and Kya crept to her feet, moving forward to get a look. She didn't want to pop out and surprise them; Nate had taught her enough of stealth that she didn't trip over her own feet. She'd also long ago stopped wearing plate mail and robes, switching to the lighter leather armor Nate preferred. He had this set made for her before they parted ways. She was never without it.
"I'm sorry I dragged you into this," a raspy, sullen voice said, breaking the silence. It was another man, and his voice gave Kya a strange feeling. She felt like she should know this voice, but it didn't sound entirely familiar. Kya could just barely make out their silhouettes then, but she could see when this Hawke woman, or so Kya guessed, in robes with a staff and a slouching pale haired elf at her side stopped dead in their tracks. A mage, Kya thought to herself.
"You're sorry?" Hawke said as she whirled around. Her robes billowed out around her. "You're sorry? You say you're sorry when you step on someone's toe, not when you blow up the fucking Chantry and start a war!" The pitch of her voice escalated as she continued.
"Hawke please," the man said, one of his hands coming to rest on her shoulder. The elf tensed. "I did it for us, for all mages. You don't know how it was, you were never sent away to a tower…I just… I'd tried everything else already. Maker knows I tried. You were there! Someone had to take the first step. If not me, who else?"
The elf started toward him, but Hawke held him back. Her voice was the epitome of empathy. "I know your heart was in the right place Anders, but I'm not sure about your brain."
"Anders?" Kya popped up and blurted it out before she could stop herself. She realized what she'd done just as the elf spun around and she found herself at the business end of a ridiculously enormous sword. She put up her hands, trying to look harmless.
"Anders," she repeated. "It's me. It's Kya."
Kya wasn't sure what to expect. Would he hug her or tell the elf to skewer her? She knew he'd come to resent her before he disappeared. Being a Grey Warden wasn't the freedom he'd hoped for. It was the only freedom she had to offer; the only option she had to spare him from the wrath of the templars, but she always felt that he forgot that bit.
What she didn't expect was the deep voice from the shadows. "Back off Fenris, she's with me."
That was a voice she recognized immediately. She stepped out around the sword and the elf, the wicked sharp blade slicing off a lock of her hair. Kya didn't even flinch. That voice belonged to the one person in Thedas she wanted to see more than any other.
"Nate?" she barely whispered it, not trusting her voice.
Three years; would he even still want her? They'd never made any promises, or said any vows. As pragmatic as Kya told herself she was, as much as the years had tempered her anger and her passion, she still led with her heart – and when it came to someone with so much power over her heart?
Nate's voice had come from behind Hawke's companions, including Anders who looked...different and somehow haunted like he'd never been before. He forced a smile at her, but it was painful. At his side a tiny Dalish elf woman and …. Isabela? Kya didn't have time to be shocked before Nate appeared out of the shadows smiling broadly.
"Kya Amell," he said, striding towards her with long loping steps. Kya heard Hawke repeat her surname questioningly, but she couldn't bear to look away. There was a smudge of soot on his cheek and his dark armor was different, but it was him.
"Nathaniel Howe," Kya replied, hearing her voice hitch but not able to help herself. He frowned a little but reached out his hand. He looked as hesitant as she felt, but that's when she saw it. There were vows between them, unspoken vows that neither of them seemed interested in breaking.
Kya took his hand and then before it even registered what was happening, she was holding him and he was holding her; she wasn't sure who moved or if he kissed her first, but suddenly he tasted like smoke and everything in the world was right again.
Kya though her heart might leap out her chest.
"I'm guessing they know each other," Hawke said, chuckling. "And you know her too Anders? Wait…this is the Commander of the Grey Wardens then?" Before he could reply, Kya heard Isabela's voice.
"I know her too, Hawke," she laughed. "She and the King of Ferelden both."
"Maker, Izzy. Is there anyone in Thedas you haven't bedded?" Hawke chortled.
"Haven't gotten you and Fenris yet, but give me time."
"Don't hold your breath Rivani," Fenris growled.
"I hate to break up this fine moment," a new voice interrupted, "But since we're on the run, maybe we should consider, oh I don't know, running?" Kya finally came up for a breath, looking over at Hawke and her companions. It had been a dwarf that had spoken – a blonde dwarf with no beard and an impressive display of chest hair.
Something new every day, Kya supposed. She looked carefully at the motley band; Hawke, the elf Fenris, Anders and the dwarf, Isabela, a Dalish elf, a pair of guards in plate mail who were holding hands. They all looked quite a bit worse for the wear. She turned her eyes back at Nate.
"I get the feeling you've got some things to tell me about," Kya said, raising her eyebrows at him.
He shrugged, his eyes merry despite what seemed to be some pretty dire circumstances. "It's been a hell of a three years. But whatever its been, whatever's coming, please tell me we aren't going in different directions again. I've had more life than I care to have without you already."
"I didn't have anything planned," she replied, feeling relief wash over her. She wanted nothing more than that.
"Good," he said quickly, punctuating with a kiss on her forehead. "Good. Actually..." He looked back. "Isabela, I have a question for you."
"What's that kitten? Are you hoping I'll help you welcome your dear Warden? As I recall she was quite enthusiastic the last time."
Nate flushed a bit. "Interesting though that might be," he cleared his throat as Kya giggled, a bit of questioning flickering across his expression. "I actually had something else in mind. I've heard ship Captains can perform weddings."
"We can, since you never know when... oh," Isabela stopped and grinned. "Well then."
"If you can restrain yourself until we've at least thrown off pursuit, I'll make Blondie give away the bride myself," the dwarf quipped, gesturing to Anders with a shake of his own blonde hair. "You okay with that Blondie? But let's try not to be dead first." He paused and put his hands on his hips. "That's if the bride says yes of course. I didn't hear a proposal."
Nate looked down at Kya.
"So?" he asked.
Kya grinned up at him. "Why not?"
As he leaned down to kiss her Hawke piped up. "That's it? That's your proposal?"
Nate shrugged fluidly but didn't stop to reply. He kissed Kya fiercely then slipped around behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and burying his nose in her hair.
Hawke shook her head. "Guess having a thing for taciturn men must be an Amell family trait."
Kya looked over at the woman, cocking her head. Now that she was standing closer, the moonlight revealed they had the same golden red shade of hair though Hawke's was cropped short and something about the shape of their faces seemed oddly similar.
"You know other Amells?" Kya asked. "I don't know any of my family."
"You do now," Hawke replied. "My mother was an Amell." She grinned at the admission. Long lost cousins and Grey Wardens and soon to be husbands all in one day. This was working out better than Kya had expected. "It's a long story, but it sounds like we'll have time to talk about it. If we don't all get killed by rampaging templars first."
"About that?" Kya asked.
"Longer story," Anders piped up finally. "I'll tell you before the wedding, promise."
"That is," Hawke continued, "If you are both coming with us."
"Like I said," Kya smiled. "Didn't have any other plans, other than spending the rest of my rather short life with Mister Talkative." She laughed. "Tall, dark and stoic. I guess we Amells do have a type after all."
Nate rubbed his chin on her hair. "You wouldn't have it any other way."
"No," Kya replied with absolute sincerity. "No, no I wouldn't."
Once upon a time, the future King of Ferelden told Kya Amell that it didn't have to be deadly serious all the time. That was a lesson it took Kya longer to learn than any other. She'd not been built for happiness after all. All her life the Chantry and the Circle told her she was a weapon to be sheathed, a dangerous thing born to kill. And she was that – especially now – she'd ended a Blight, destroyed the Mother, loved a King, a Fallen Hero and a Pariah.
She killed an Archdemon and lived because of love; Morrigan's love, hers for Loghain and his for her. Now, she was on the run with a man that had tried to set another Exalted March into motion, a true apostate and an much to her surprise, some sort of abomination.
But now, of all times, she was planning on learning how to be happy with whatever time she had left. Now she was going to say a vow that would take her further than the last she spoke.
She understood the code of the Wardens well enough, and this new vow had the same ending. But this one, this one would bring more than bitterness and duty and pain. This one would give her a reason to keep fighting until the end.
It wouldn't be a fancy Chantry wedding, but all marriages have one thing in common.
Everyone plans on them being forever.
She promised the Wardens she'd end the Blight, she promised Alistair she'd honor Duncan, she promised Loghain she wouldn't live a life of bitterness and now she'd promised to love Nathaniel Howe until the day she died.
Kya Amell was a lot of things; mage and malificarum, apostate and Grey Warden, pretty and pragmatic. Despite her deeds, there wouldn't be any statues in her honor and no one would sing her praises when she was gone. But she wasn't the sort of person that went back on her promises and she wasn't about to start now.
A/N I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who held on until the end. I think I just didn't want to let Kya go, so this last chapter just refused to be written. I hope it was worth the wait and I hope you enjoyed joining Kya on her adventures. I can't promise we'll never hear from her again, but I think it's safe to say that she's finally going to live happily ever after, at least as much as people like Nate and Kya can. But I know they are happy together in their own way, and that's all anyone can really hope for.