As Per usual Bioware owns all, I just play in their playground.

This was released some time ago, it was in sore need of revision, my thanks to my beta reader BrownCoat for helping me out.. you rock!

Alone. I was alone. I'd chosen the path that I was on right now. So many choices over the past eighteen months had been made for me, or I had made them for the greater good. This choice was purely selfish and all mine. I'd left Denerim a hero and had run out on my duty, as well. I did make sure that I used the boon Queen Anora gave me to help my people. Shianni had been named the Bann of the Denerim Alienage.

My father had stood behind me with his hand on my shoulder, while Leliana and Zevran each held one of my hands, while they burned his body. I had silently wept. Oghren had been of course drunk. Wynne just looked at me and allowed me to grieve.

Leliana was gone; she had left shortly after the "Celebration." She mentioned an expedition for the Chantry. Zevran wanted to follow me, but I told him he could not come where I was going. I could barely look him in the eye when I did that. He seemed to know though and his eyes were so sad. Oghren, well, Oghren would be fine. I think I remembered Wynne stating that she was going to travel to Tevinter.

I left as soon as I was able to pack my belongings. I strode into the Alienage to see my father and tell him goodbye. I had a dark cloak on over my armor, still a fully armed-elf was still a spectacle. However, I was so well known now that I could not go anywhere without being noticed.

I quietly let myself into Cyrion's house and was relieved to see him.

"My daughter, what brings you here and armed so?" he asked with a questioning look.

I motioned for him to sit, and I dropped my pack on the floor by the door. "Father, I am leaving, and I wanted to tell you that I love you." I forced myself to look into his eyes while I told him. I could see that he was beginning to understand that this was my final goodbye.

"Oh, more Grey Warden business, then, is it?" he asked hopefully.

"No, father, I am not going to return.. . and I wanted to say goodbye." I got up from the chair, strode to my pack, and pulled out my mother's dagger and my helm. "Father, I want you to have these." I also pulled out my purse and shook out most of the coin. I had acquired a small fortune over the last year and a half, and I had also sold every piece of armor and every sword that was not needed. I gave him 100 gold sovereigns. I knew this was a fortune to him.

"I want you to do what you will with the money and the helm. I wanted to give you back mother's dagger, because you don't have anything to remember her by." My voice was cracking, and I could feel the tears beginning to slip down my cheeks.

"Aranel, what are you doing?" "You just saved the world and you are going to run and hide?" My father raised his voice and pounded his fist on the table. His blue eyes were lit with a fire I had rarely seen since my mother had died.

"Father, I am already dead… I am just going to finish it, Please know that I love you, and take care of yourself." I stood stiffly and turned my back on him. I heard him come up behind me, and I allowed him to turn me to face him.

"You think I don't know how you feel?" "When Adaia died I died too but I had you to hold on for." He paused and looked down and I saw tears begin to flow. "Where are you going?" His voice cracked.

"The Deep Roads, All Wardens go there sooner or later; I am just going sooner." I pulled off my gauntlets and grasped his hands. "Please father, know that I was happy, I had love, and in the absence of that love, I am nothing. I would rather die now than go on without it." I wrapped my arms around my father, and then I let him go. I put my gauntlets back on and threw my cloak over my shoulders. I walked back to the door and slung my pack back on. "Father, I will see you by the Maker's side." Then I turned and walked out the door.

xXXXXx

I had nearly reached the gates to Orzammar when I stopped for a moment to take in the forest before going underground for the last time. It was cold; my breath blew out in puffs and my armor had frost on it. I closed my eyes and just listened to the and the birds twittering in the trees. I inhaled deeply and savored the smells of the forest. I turned my face up to the sun, opened my eyes and took in the blue sky. Last night in camp I had said goodbye to the stars, now I said goodbye to the sun.

When I reached the gates to Orzammar, I was warmly welcomed. "The Hero of Ferelden! Have you come to search for new recruits?" the sentinel asked.

"My business is my own, good man," I stated, and tried to muster a smile as I requested entrance.

"Atras Vala Grey Warden." the sentinel replied as he granted my access to Orzammar.

I made my way directly to the Diamond Quarter, and once I reached the royal palace, I requested an audience with King Behlen. He, of course, already knew about my being in Orzammar and immediately granted me my audience.

I strode purposefully once more into his personal study. "What do you require of me, Grey Warden Aranel? I am, of course indebted to you, as it was you who helped me secure my throne." Behlen gestured for me to be seated in one of the chairs across the desk from him. He appeared to be sizing me up, as I was well armed, in full armor and alone.

"Your Majesty, it is time for me to go to my Calling. I cannot wait for the other Grey Wardens from Orlais to arrive, and I ask that you allow me entrance into the deep roads." There I said it; I sealed my fate. I pulled off my gauntlets, ran a hand through my black hair, and looked him in the eye, waiting for his answer.

Behlen continued to size me up and then made a gesture to his guards to leave the room. "Warden, you know that I would not deny you what you are asking of me." He then paused and looked at me thoughtfully. "What I wonder is why?"

I pursed my lips and held eye contact, surprised to see that he actually cared. "You may not have been aware of this, but the other Warden and I… we were close. When he died striking down the archdemon, I, in a sense, died as well." I could hear my voice shaking, and Maker, I couldn't even say his name.

Behlen sat back in his chair and rubbed his face. He turned back to me and stated, "I see. Well, I will have my own honor guard escort you to the gates tomorrow morning, Grey Warden. I also want you to know that you go with honor into the deep roads. May the stone keep you."

"Thank you, your Majesty. I hope you have a long and glorious rule." With those words, I stood, put my gauntlets back on, and left his study.

It was already late, but I reasoned that one last night in a bed would not be so bad. I found a room easily enough at Tapsters Tavern. I stripped down to my smallclothes and then put on one of his shirts to sleep in. It still smelled like wood smoke, sweat, steel, and that familiar smell that was all his. I then set about to clean my armor and take stock of what equipment and supplies I would need for tomorrow morning's journey. My juggernaut armor glimmered in the firelight, and I set down Starfang and turned to Maric's blade. Both swords were so light and etched with runes, almost a shame to leave them down here underground. They were enchanted so that the darkspawn would not pick them up wherever I fell. "It will be like a treasure hunt for whoever comes upon you two."

I stared into the fire and allowed myself a brief moment for remembrance for when we'd found Topsiders Honor down in the deep roads. It was a beautiful sword; he had been using it that final day. I still couldn't bring up his name, not even in my mind. I reached up and grasped the amulet that hung around my neck, his amulet. It felt warm to the touch, and I liked to think that it meant he was there with me. If that were true, though, I wouldn't feel like this. Like half my body, half my soul was missing. I dropped my hands from the amulet and went back to polishing the golden, runed sword.

When my armor and weapons were tended to, I surveyed the rest of my provisions. I looked to be set for the few days I would have left. I then lay down in that tiny dwarven bed, for once happy I was elven and fell to sleep.

xxXXXxx

I awoke with a start and realized it was just before dawn. I was thankful for the dreamless sleep that I had just gotten, and certain that where I was headed I would be getting no such reprieve from my nightmares. I slowly got up and went over to the wash basin and washed the sleep from my eyes. As I looked into the mirror, I traced the tattoo that graced my face from just above my right eye and contining down my cheek. Closing my eyes for a moment, I could almost hear his voice and feel his calloused hands on my face, kissing me one last time, his fingers absent mindedly tracing the pattern. "Soon, soon I will join you soon," I said to myself. Soon, I won't be alone anymore.

I entered the deep roads with little hesitation. Good to his word Behlen's men were there to see me off. I thanked them and was relieved when I heard the sound of the heavy doors close behind me. This was nothing like my prior foray into the deep roads. No drunken dwarf making lewd comments to Leliana about her Chantry skirts. No witty one-liners from him. Just blackness and the stench of corruption. I could barely sense any darkspawn. "Well, blast, I am going to have to walk all the way to the deep trenches, aren't I?" I huffed to nobody.

I made it to the deep trenches in what I thought was about three days. I slept when I was exhausted, ate when I had to, and walked, hunting darkspawn. By then I could sense them, and I was pretty certain they could sense me as well. I'd had minimal resistance up until that point, but then my skin began to crawl with the closeness of their taint. I yearned for them to show themselves, to end this wretched existence.

I did not have long to ponder that thought. I felt the tickle of dark magic sing up my spine as an emissary prepared to launch a spell at me. I then heard the screams of the shrieks. My instincts kicked in, and I smote the emissary, then bashed him with my shield, then whirled around and relieved him of his ugly head. By that time the shrieks were on me, and I dropped Duncan's shield in exchange for Maric's blade. My blades flashed through the air, blue and golden fire and darkspawn blood spraying. Once the shrieks were down, the onslaught began.

I do not know how long it lasted, or how I was able to fight so long past the point of exhaustion. My heart had long since died, but my body persevered and put up a valiant fight. I am certain that if my mother could have seen me, she would have been proud. I was standing on bodies and screaming in rage when I felt the blade sink in through my back. I looked down and saw the end of the blade sticking out of my chest.

I always thought that it would hurt a lot more, that killing blow, but I was numb. I felt my hands go numb, and I heard my swords clatter to the ground. I heard the hurlock's laughter as he put his foot on my back and pulled his sword out of my body. I collapsed to my knees, and I could taste the blood in my mouth. I opened my arms wide, leaned my head back, and then I was gone.

He was there, and I was finally not alone.