A Glorious Duel

Yes, this is what happens when Prisoner (who wrote Cailan – I knew she'd been wanting to steal him from me) and I (Anora and Nathaniel) procrastinate. The story is ripped pretty directly from my much longer bit of fiction, Diplomatic Relations, so if you haven't read it, this isn't likely to make much sense. (And if you haven't read it, really, it's much better than this. Why haven't you?)

Dear Nathanial,

Suck it, Howe! I win. Now that Anora knows what a villain your evil family are, she will come back to me and she and our child are going to live gloriously ever after as we ride on unicorns or maybe griffins (or maybe both!) into the sunset.

Sincerely,

Cailan Theirin, Sekrit Genius

To his Majesty, King Cailan Theirin,

You do win, and I concede defeat. I am writing this from exile, and it pains me to think of what may have befallen Anora and her unborn son or daughter. I am glad to know that you will be taking good care of them and "riding unicorns or griffins" into the sunset with them. It seems like a kind fate. Please inform me as to how all of this works out.

Sincerely,

Nathaniel Howe

Dear Spoilsport Nathanial Howe of the Evilest Family Ever,

What? You can't just *concede!* How am I supposed to have a glorious duel with in the middle of the courtyard in front of all of the nobility to romantically defend my wife and baby's honor if you leave already? I've already practiced my victory dance in front of the mirror! Must you Howe's ruin everything? What kind of villains are you? I demand that you return so I can gloat in your face!

Sincerely,

A Very Perturbed and Miffed Monarch and Sekrit Genius.

Dear Cailan,

I fail to see how dueling me in front of the kingdom would defend anyone's honor. Plus, it might result in your death, which could be messy for Anora and the baby, or my death, which would be messy for me. Either way, I do not see the benefit in a duel. And while being gloated at would be considerably less uncomfortable than being killed, I am currently very far from Denerim, and do not particularly wish to return just to be gloated at (and possibly killed). However, if you would like to join me in the Free Marches, I'm sure that we could arrange a duel and/or gloating session. Particularly if you also chose to bring Anora and the baby with you.

Sincerely,

Nathaniel Howe

Dear Nathanial,

Maker's breath, man! How can you not understand how dueling in front of the kingdom is necessary? Don't tell me that you're one of those pansies who actually listened to Loghain when he was giving boring lectures about things like "land management" and "revenue enhancement through progressive models of taxation." It was your duty as a young man of privileged and noble blood to ignore those boring and useless lessons and read copies of the truly important stuff such as "How to Kill the Dragon and Save the Girl" and "Griffins or Unicorns, Which is the Better Steed?" If you had done your duty and read these very important tomes, you would realize that the only way the Hero (that's me) can properly defeat the villain (that's you) is by dueling in front of the entire kingdom, and not in some boring and drab place such as the Free Marches. Therefore, I must insist upon your immediate return.

Sincerely,

Your most glorious archnemesis, King Cailan

Dear Cailan,

Let me try to understand what you are saying. You are asking me to return to Ferelden, so that you can kill me. Forgive me if I am disinclined to undergo a lengthy journey that will result in my death. In addition, has it occurred to you that I might win the duel? In that case, what would be the result? Would I get the girl, become king, and live happily ever after? If I can get you to agree to that outcome in writing, I might consider returning. Although I fear that even if you think that this would be a fair outcome to our duel, that the bannorn might not agree and could possibly reverse the decision at a very inopportune moment.

Sincerely,

Your rather practical antagonist, Nathaniel

Dear Nathanial,

Oh no, my plan is not to kill you! For one thing, it would really cramp my ability to gloat and shout "In your FACE!" after I defeat you and you would miss my awesome victory dance. Also, bloodstains might tarnish my gloriously golden armor, and that would never do. And of course you would not win the duel. I already told you - you are the *villain* and I am the *hero.* Anora is my One True Love, and thus it is your destiny to lose to my awesome skill and heroics as I defend her honor.

But as you are a sensible man, you must surely already know this (no doubt she already mentioned how I was her One True Love many times while you were married). Thus the only reason I can think of for your continued refusal to return is that because of your inattentiveness and lack of study about the important things in your youth, you are ignorant of the protocol of a proper villain and are afraid of embarrassing yourself in front of the kingdom.

Don't fret. Here's what you do. You must show up wearing all black armor and a black sword and a black cape. And - now pay attention because this is *very* important - you must also grow a mustache. Not a beard or a goatee, but a mustache that you can twirl with your fingers as you cackle evilly and declare that "KING CAILAN WILL MEET HIS DOOM." If you do this, we will have the most *glorious* duel ever. Doesn't that sound awesome? Surely that's worth returning from the Free Marches for?

Sincerely,

Your glorious and hopeful monarch who has the best plans ever, Cailan

Dear Cailan,

I think you have made your plan clear, and it seems like a reasonably good one that I could see participating in under the right circumstances. I still have a few questions, though, before I under take a long journey that will result in public humiliation.

1) What happens to me after you do your victory dance? Do I just get to repent and be given the Arling of Amaranthine, or will I be imprisoned in a dark, cold cell until I die?

2) What happens to you, Anora, and 'your' child? I want to be absolutely certain that after their honor is defended, that they will in fact live happily ever after.

3) How do we ensure that no one dies in the duel? Are we to cap our blades? Wear special armor? I want to make sure that all goes according to plan.

Sincerely,

Your reluctant archnemesis, Nathanial Howe

Dear Nathanial,

Most excellent! I am so glad that you have agreed, otherwise I would have had to send my army out to come bring you back and Anora would have made her mad face, which is sort of cute for awhile, but tends to be followed up by a lack of sex until I "apologize." Women.

Anyway, to answer your questions:

1. After the duel, we go out and drink and wench together, of course! For after my glorious victory and follow up dance, even my archnemesis must be impressed at my amazing awesomeness, which will cause you to apologize, swear loyalty to me (and to never lay hands on my One True Love ever again), repent your evil ways, and thus become my right hand man! That is how these things work!

2. Anora and our unborn son (for it must be a son, as my seed is super extra manly), will all parade through the city with me to the cheers of the common peasants. The only real question here is whether Anora should ride a unicorn or a griffin. Personally I think girls should ride unicorns, but since the unborn baby is a boy then maybe she should ride a griffin instead. As you can see, this is a subject that will require much thought and study.

3. I have heard that the amazing dwarven smiths have come up with a brand new material to forge their weapons out of. It is springy and light and using it in a duel will not result in those pesky bloodstains that can tarnish my glorious golden armor. They call this wondrous material "Nerf" and I will commission a pair of "Nerf Swords" to be forged at once (yours will be colored black of course, and mine golden with sparkles to catch the sun!), so that they are ready by the time you return to the city in your mustache, black armor and cape.

So as you can see, genius that I am, I have thought of everything. Hurry back so we can get the most glorious duel ever started.

Sincerely,

Your very excited Monarch who cannot wait to perform the victory dance, King Cailan

Dear Cailan,

Have you ever bothered to think of the implications of your actions? If you bring Nathaniel back for your "glorious" duel, most likely he will be seized at the border by Eamon's armies, imprisoned, and killed. Do you want this to happen to him? I think not. You'll never get your duel, and you and your arch nemesis will never go out drinking and wenching. Instead, some nameless guard will get the honor of killing him, and you don't want that, do you?

If you really want to be able to duel Nathaniel and live happily ever after with me, I would recommend these actions:

Marry me again and make sure everyone knows that I am Queen. Things go so much better when I'm in charge.

2) Issue Nathaniel Howe a full pardon and restore his lands. Then he can travel in relative peace to Denerim for the duel, and go drinking with you afterwards.

3) In the interests of giving our son or daughter a younger brother or sister, I would strongly recommend regular visits with your archnemesis. After all, you need to keep an eye on your right hand man. Moving him into Denerim so that he can stand by your side as your advisor would be a good first step.

4) I have no strong preferences as regards the matters of unicorns or griffins. I do want mine to sparkle, however. The sparkles are necessary.

Love (the woman who is not your wife, but is totally into the idea of getting married as a way of fulfilling her ambitions),

Anora

Dear Anora,

Oh no! I don't want some nameless guard killing my archnemesis! That would ruin all of my plans. You are so smart. This is why I need you around and why you shouldn't have left in the first place. But I forgive you now, my love and it's all good.

Also, don't worry about Uncle Eamon, I will talk to him right away and tell him about my awesomest dueling plans and assure him that it is for the good of the nation. I'll ask... no, *order* him not to interfere! Maybe even issue a royal edict as this is really important and not all boring like those stuffy trade agreements you're constantly talking about.

But just in case Uncle Eamon forgets my edict (which he seems to do a lot, really), we should have a backup plan. Therefore Nathanial will have to return in disguise! Maybe even travel with a circus as a clown or dress up as a chantry sister. Won't that be fun for him? How exciting!

In the meantime we should remarry, and make our griffin/unicorn choices before his return to the city, just so we are prepared for the most glorious day ever.

Love, the man who totally forgives you for forgetting about our One True Love, Cailan.

Dear Cailan (or if you would prefer, "Love of my Life" or "One True Love"),

I did not forget about our One True Love. It is as we discussed. Eamon cruelly made you divorce me. I was secretly pregnant with your child, but could not admit it because I was afraid of what evil Eamon would do to me and our beloved son or daughter. The only way for me to legitimize the child born of our chaste and pure love was to marry Nathaniel Howe. I did not know that he was evil at the time, and in fact thought that he was good, as he promised to raise our child as though it was his, and did not even consummate our marriage, because he wanted to keep me chaste and pure for you. But alas! He turned out to be evil, and very much NOT my One True Love. Fortunately, he ran away and let me annul our marriage (for non-consummation, if you can recall?), and you let me know that you have forgiven me for marrying such an evil man, despite that I had no choice in the matter. And wasn't actually married to him, anyway, seeing as the marriage was annulled.

Remember? We discussed this at length.

I'd also recommend not talking to Eamon. Remember? He is evil. He is the one who wanted to ruin our love in the first place. I'd recommend not letting him know anything about your glorious duel, as he's likely to try to ruin it. And our love. And everything else. Really, what you should do is marry me in secret, declare me Queen of Ferelden, and then, at the dinner we use afterwards to celebrate, get Eamon very drunk and let me sit next to him. After a few months, I can almost assure you that nothing will stand in the way of your glorious duel or our love. Especially Eamon.

Then Nathaniel can return, be beaten in a duel, and swear to be your right hand man forever and ever. He can live in Denerim, even at the palace!, and be your best friend in the whole wide world, where he never even bothers to get married, as he realizes that doing this might distract him from his far more important duty of being your best friend forever.

We can meet at your earliest convenience to discuss unicorn and griffin preferences. As I agree that these are of up most importance for that glorious day,

Love (your soon to be bride and once more, Queen of Ferelden),

Anora

Dear Anora,

Now that you mention it I do remember you talking about something. It seemed like it was probably really important from the serious expression on your face and your very serious tone (you're so cute when you get like that), but I was too busy looking at your boobs to really listen to what you were saying. In fact, as I was reading your letter I sort of zoned out for a few minutes as I imagined your fantastic cleavage and so I am still sort of confused about everything you said. No matter, you are back! And we have truly important things to discuss. How about I call you my "One True Love" and you call me your "Love of my Life?"

Also, I already told Uncle Eamon of both the glorious duel between me and my archnemesis and of our intention to reaffirm our True Love and passion with the institution of marriage. He turned a shade of red and ran off quickly, no doubt because he was overcome with joy for our intended reunion! He's probably already making fantastic plans for our wedding, which of course must take place in front of all of Ferelden so everyone can witness our eternal devotion to each other. I have also decided that the duel must come before our nuptials, and then Nathanial can stand as my best man. Because who would make a better best man than a former archnemesis?

See? No need to worry, my love! I have taken care of everything!

Love (your One True Love and Sekrit Genius)

Cailan

Dear Cailan (also the Love of my Life),

Oh, you shouldn't have told Eamon! Now you have completely spoiled the surprise, and you know how much Eamon loves surprises, don't you? You ought to tell him that you were just pretending, so that he can be overjoyed and surprised yet again when the joyous day occurs. And while I agree that all of Ferelden should witness how much we love each other, secret weddings are just that much more romantic, don't you think? You can always later affirm our love in public, after the vile traitor has been defeated in a duel and is now your right hand man. In fact, we can get married yet again at that date. Because who doesn't want two weddings? One of which being legally binding, and gives me power to rule the country, the other one being flashy and pretty and involving lots of dresses and feasting? This, too, would get rid of the whole "pregnancy" problem. You see, up until the child is born, I really won't fit into normal wedding dresses. But then again, we don't want the child to be born a bastard, so really, I ought to be married to you before that date. So if we go with that plan, not only will I be married to you just that much sooner, but also, our child will be the legitimate heir to the throne *and* I'll still be able to wear a pretty dress as we declare our love in front of the kingdom with most solemn vows.

Besides, it may take a bit for Nathaniel to make it back from the Free Marches, and do we really want to wait for him to return? I don't think so.

Love and kisses (and looking forward to consummating our marriage which will NOT happen until we are secretly married an I am back in power),

Anora

Dear Anora,

You are right, of course. Secret married are oh so romantic, and I don't want to have to wait. We will do things as you ask. Won't Eamon be surprised when I tell him that you're my beloved Queen yet again? I bet he will! I can't wait to see the look on his face!

Your One True Love,

Cailan