Eriana shifted uncomfortably in front of the dais at the front of the Landsmeet Chamber as she watched the Revered Mother crown Alistair King of Ferelden. She felt quiet uneasy standing there as the nobility of Ferelden gathered around her, waiting to celebrate Alistair's ascension to the throne and Eriana's efforts to stop the Blight. It had only been three days since she had woken up from her comatose state, but the attention that she had been receiving from everyone had been quite overwhelming for the young elven woman who preferred to remain in the background. In fact, she was more than a little envious of Zevran and Leliana who were no doubt lurking in the shadows at present, remaining blissfully out of sight. But this was a celebration for her too, and, try as she might, there was simply no way to slink off into the shadows, not today.

His Royal Highness, King Alistair Therin of Ferelden rose and turned to face the assembled nobility, and with a confident and relaxed smile on his face, he asked Eriana to join him on the dais. She felt her stomach flip-flop as every eye in the chamber turned and fell on her. Taking a deep breath and trying hard to keep a confident look on her face, she mounted the steps and took her place beside her friend, the King. She knew what to expect; Eamon had spent several hours walking them through the ceremony for honoring a hero. Alistair would laud her accomplishments then offer her a boon to show the nation's appreciation for her efforts. They had even worked out the details of her request. She would request freedom and equality for her people; he would declare Shianni the new Bann of the Elven Alienage, giving the elves a voice in the Landsmeet. Then she and Zevran would begin the process of rebuilding the Wardens while her family rebuilt the alienage.

It was all going according to plan until Alistair dropped a bomb on her. She was so nervous that she almost missed what he was saying. "Let it be known that the Arling of Amaranthine, once the land of Arl Howe, is now granted to the Grey Wardens…"

"Wait, what?" Eriana thought as Alistair continued, "Did he just give me an arling, Howe's arling?" She tried her hardest to keep her jaw from hitting the ground. This definitely wasn't part of their plan, and judging by the look on Anora and Eamon's faces, she suspected that Alistair had come up with this on his own. Anora, for the most part, managed to maintain her emotionless mask, but the small crease between her eyebrows suggested that she was unhappy about this. Eamon, on the other hand, made no effort to hide his anger. He looked absolutely furious by Alistair's revelation and was glaring at Eriana with a look that screamed of disgust. Eriana fought off a grin when she realized that Alistair's decree just put her on the same social tier as Eamon. Taking a deep breath, Eriana turned to face Ferelden's nobility, wondering who among them would now be considered her vassals. "This may be bad," Eriana thought, "very bad."

The moment she stepped of the dais, Eriana cut through the crowd, making her way to her father and cousins. "Congratulations, da'len," her father said as he kissed her forehead then cheek. "Did I understand the King just now; are you an arlessa?"

"Well, he gave the arling to the Wardens, and I'm the only Warden in the nation, so, yeah, I guess so."

"This will be really hard for Eamon to swallow," Zevran whispered in her ear as he appeared behind her. "If his looks could kill…"

"I know, Zev, but there's nothing he can do about it now, so he'll just have to accept it." She groaned," but now's not the time to worry about him. I have to go be paraded in front of all of Ferelden."

Cyrion laughed and patted her on the head like she was a child. "I am so proud of you, my child. Your mother would be proud too if she were here. I know you don't like to be the center of attention, but you serve as an example for all of Ferelden, human, dwarf, and elf alike." He brushed a wayward hair off her forehead. "Besides, if I remember correctly, you will be back on a dais in front of people again soon, right?" Eriana looked confused for a moment. "Unless, of course you two plan to sneak off and get married in some small chantry by yourselves."

"Hum," Zevran said, wrapping his arms around Eriana, "that does sound attractive. It lessens the chance of an assassination attempt during the ceremony, yes?"

Eriana turned and looked at him, a big smile on her face. "Once we're settled in Amaranthine?"

Zevran nodded. "Sounds perfect to me, amora," he said, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead. "Do you remember what I said to you when you first spared me?" Eriana shook her head. "I swore to you that I was your man without reservation. I'm afraid, my dear, that you are quite stuck with me. I am yours."


"Forever. Now let's get this celebration over with so we can move on to the after party, yes?"

Eriana smiled as she made her way to the doors to greet those waiting for her. No matter what uncertainties her future held, there was one thing that was certain; she wouldn't be facing it alone. No matter what, she was certain that she and Zevran would be together, and that was all she could ever ask for. She had begun this journey amid so much pain and heartbreak, but she had found peace and security in the arms of her Antivan Crow.

Highever: Six months after the fall of the archdemon

Eriana listened as the morning glories sang outside her window in the early light of morning. In a few days, she and Zevran would be in Amaranthine, and it would be back to work for her. Her seneschal was sending a new Warden recruit to meet them in Highever and escort them back Amaranthine later that day. But for now, she was enjoying her short respite in Highever as she visited Cousland brothers. Unfortunately, it hadn't been all peace and relaxation, she remembered as she absentmindedly felt the slowly-healing wound in her side. "I hope that there's a healing mage among the Orlesian Wardens; I never realized how much I'd come to rely on Wynne," Eriana said, rolling over and reaching for Zevran only to discover that she was alone in the bed.

Sitting up quickly, Eriana looked around the room, expecting to see him by the fire, but he wasn't there. In fact, the door leading from their room was still bolted shut. A growing feeling of unease and confusion began to well up in her stomach as she glanced toward the corner where her pack was resting by its self. Then something on the pillow beside her caught her eye. It was a folded piece of parchment with her name on it; her hands shaking as she opened it and began reading. Her eyes passed over the words without comprehending what was being said. Only a few choice phrases caught her eye. "I'm sorry, amora." "I hate to leave like this." "It is for the best." "Don't try to follow; I'll be gone before you wake."

Without thinking, Eriana threw on some clothes, grabbed a pair of daggers and took off into the city, running as fast as she could toward the docks, praying she was fast enough. She ignored the strange looks she was receiving from strangers as she barreled through the market place. It seemed like it took an eternity, but she finally made it to the port. "Please," she breathlessly asked the dock supervisor, "Do you have a ship leaving for Antiva?"

"Not for at least a week; you just missed the last one. It left just before sunrise," he said, nodding toward the open sea before moving past her to tend to his duties.

Eriana rushed to the end of the dock just in time to see a ship disappear over the horizon. "Zevran," she whispered to herself as her strength finally gave out and she collapsed to the deck, dissolving into a mess of tears.

Zevran was gone, and she was now alone.

To be continued…

Well folks, that's all for this one and a little taste of my Amaranthine story "Picking Up the Pieces." Thanks for the support and for reading, and I hope you decide to follow the sequel.

I wanted to say a special thanks to everyone who added alerts and reviewed from the beginning. I don't know if I would have ever finished if it hadn't been for the regular reviewers. Thanks again and hope to see you in the next one.