A/N This chapter was not meant to be published. After BioWare announced Anders 2.0, I was so shocked I decided not to post this. But thanks to my dear beta and Nastrandir, I took some reconsideration and...well.
Epilogue – Gwaren, Ashes
The small neck pouch, made of treated deerskin, lay innocently within the palm of his hand. It was so light and so little; it was hard to imagine its contents wielded such a magnificent power. If he had not witnessed Arl Eamon's miraculous recovery in Redcliff himself, he wouldn't have believed that power.
"Two Grey Wardens come all the way down here just to escort this?" Levyn arched his eyebrow at the blond mage beside him, could not believe what he had just learned.
"Hey, these are Andraste's Sacred Ashes we are talking about." The blond mage who stood next to him smirked, stroking a small tabby cat resting on his shoulder. "You can't be too careful, no?"
"Humph…." The blood mage nodded wordlessly and continued to stare at the small bag in his hand. To be honest, he was surprised King Alistair actually granted his request; considering the circumstances they met each time.
"It was a boon the Warden Commander – ahem, the former Warden Commander – requested before she resigned." As if reading his mind, the blond mage cast him a side-glance. "She heard about what happened here, thought this is the least she could do to help her only friend at the Tower."
"Neph…." Levyn murmured, then frowned. "What happened to her?"
"She left." The blond Grey Warden's face seemed to sadden for a minute. He looked up at the piercing blue sky above them and sighed, before he turned around and gave him a tooth-baring grin. " Pursuing her happiness. The last time I heard from her, she was in some remote fishing village at the boarder of the Free Marches."
The blood mage nodded half-heartedly. He remembered during their time at the Tower, how the small elven mage always had this hint of gloom glow in her eyes.
"Didn't really catch your name." Levyn reached out his hand.
"My name is Anders." The mage smiled.
"I know you." Levyn blurted out. "Or…I've heard of you. You were that mage who—"
"Suppose I am famous in the Tower, huh?" Ander chuckled. "Well, pleased to meet you, Levyn. Though last time I heard of you, you had a different name."
"That name belonged to the past." The blood mage stared at the Ashes again. "A past that shaped me, but no longer haunts me."
"I see." The Grey Warden lowered himself to allow the tabby cat off his shoulder. The small animal meowed and rubbed its head against his fingers, before running off chasing birds on the square. "Ahah, here they are."
Levyn allowed himself to grin broadly toward the group walking toward them. Among them were Gladys and the other Grey Warden. Without thinking, he walked off the stone steps and grasped the Chasind girl's hands. The blind girl blushed, but smiled brilliantly.
"Is it true?" she whispered, almost disbelievingly. The girl could not keep herself from trembling hard. "Is it true what the Grey Warden has…has brought….?"
"Yes." The blood mage squeezed Gladys' shoulder slightly. "Yes, my love."
"Andraste's Sacred Ashes." Jethro was right behind them. "The Sacred Ashes I kept hearing about when talking to one of those Chantry sisters?"
"You will see," said the apostate earnestly. "I was fortunate enough to witness its power once. I totally swear by it."
"Here we thought you might have gone all the way to Denerim to fetch the lady!" Anders on the top of the steps sniggered. "Maker's breath, you call youself a rogue, Nate?"
The dark haired Grey Warden approached his companion and gave him a side-glare, before he turned his attention to Levyn. "Is the Revered Mother ready?"
"Yes." The blood mage inclined his head and gestured them toward the Chantry's wooden door.
The Revered Mother, Ser Ciaren and Wolf already stood by the altar in front of the statue. Under the glowing hue of the brazier behind them, they all looked visibly excited. Levyn scanned around the room; Mihi sat in a corner by a bookshelf. Arms folded, she gave the mage a slight nod.
"Who's that?" Anders' eyes twinkled. "Care to introduce us when this is all done?"
"Of course." Levyn chuckled.
"Maker's breath! Never thought I'd live to see this moment," the Revered Mother exclaimed, and kept pressing her chest to calm her nerves. "Andraste's Ashes…it does exist…. what an honor…."
"Now we are all here," Ser Ciaren cleared his throat. "Shall we get started?"
"Oh, yes." The Revered Mother smiled. "Come here, my child." She pulled Gladys over gently and had her stand in front of the brazier. "Wolf, ready when you are."
"We might need your help here, if you may." The senior Templar inclined his head toward Levyn and Anders.
"No worries." Anders arched his eyebrow. "Let us know what needs to be done."
"Right." Wolf cleared his throat. He exchanged an acknowledging look with the Revered Mother before he reached out his gloved hand, closed his eyes and began to recite the Chant.
"Let all repeat the Chant of Light, only the Word dispels the darkness upon us." The Templar's quiet voice echoed throughout the Chantry, vibrating every corner of the room. As he did this, the Revered Mother untied the drawstring and poured the contents out of the pouch. Wolf's every word resonated as her hands moved above Gladys and sprinkled the Ashes on the top of her head.
"Blessed are they who stand before the corrupt and the wicked and do not falter.
Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just." The senior Templar continued to read out the holy words.
"Levyn, Grey Warden," Ser Ciaren suddenly turned his head toward the mages. "Now it's your turn. We need you to cast the strongest healing spell you know."
"Right," Chorused Anders and Levyn. Their staves drew out in perfect unison, forming two beautiful arches. Silver lights beamed out from the tip of their staves and quickly covered Gladys' entire body. Sparks glittered from the Ashes.
"Though all before me is shadow, yet shall the Maker be my guide. I shall not be left to wander the drifting roads of the Beyond. For there is no darkness in the Maker's Light and nothing that He has wrought shall be lost." The Revered Mother carried on Wolf's verses in a more stern tone.
As the whole Chantry was gradually bathed in the milky-white light, for a moment, Levyn suddenly saw the jade pool underneath the Tower. Glittering under the hint of sunlight from the small patch of sky above, draped with soft moss and vines. The blood mage's heart tightened, then relaxed, feeling an overwhelming sense of peace.
"Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow. In their blood the Maker's will is written. " The Revered Mother finished the Chant.
The light reached its peak and started to fade. As their eyes were slowly able to see what was around them, they saw Gladys stood in front of the brazier, with her hands clenched. Her eyes were shut, and her face emotionless. For a while, the whole room remained silent as everyone paused and held their breath, waiting for the Chasind girl to open her eyes.
And they did.
Slowly, they fluttered open, a hint of nervousness climbed onto Gladys' face. First, she shut them again, seeming to not want to face the outcome. Then the curiosity overtook her, and the Chasind girl made another attempt.
Under lush, long lashes, Levyn no longer saw the opaque, pearl, enchanted artificial marbles. Instead, he saw glittering emerald orbs, shimmering with love and joy. Those were the eyes he met only once, in the Fade, when demons and monsters were around them, when fear and uncertainty filled part of their hearts.
Now, he saw them for real, as bright as day, in front of him.
"Gladys!" He exclaimed softly.
The Chasind girl glanced across the room, before her eyes locked with his. Her lips curled up, and her eyes were filled with tears.