They are all dead. Every last brother he has known for the last six months is dead. The king... his actual blood relation, his half-brother. Dead. Duncan. The man who gave him freedom from a life of piety. Maker, Duncan is dead. And the Witch will not. Stop. Talking.

"Oh come now... surely you are not still moping around like a child, Alistair? We are almost out of the Wilds, I should expect you to be nigh-on-jubilant that civilisation is at your doorstep!"

Across from him, the other survivor rolls her eyes but says nothing. She has resigned herself to the fact that the Witch clearly will not be silent. But more than that, thinks Alistair... more than that, she does not feel the loss as keenly as he does. It makes sense, of course; she had known Duncan for a matter of days, maybe a week, and she had never met her brothers because of the circumstances they had found themselves in. She would not jump to protect their honour the way he craves to. The rational part of his mind points out that this is not unreasonable, but the rational part of his mind is losing the battle.

"Tis wondrous at all that your boy king managed to tie his own bootlaces in the morning if he though that such a tactic was worthwhile. Oh, but he probably had a servant for that, did he not?"

There was a templar, back when Alistair had been a recruit, who had a mage for a sister. A shy thing, by all accounts, fearful of her own powers which had been compounded by the Circle – so her big brother had followed to protect her. Alec was friendly and cheerful, and he had always ruffled Alistair's hair whilst chuckling, but at the mention of his sister he would always be rapt and serious. In the end, he had served at the Tower, to be closer to her.

The story had found its way back to the recruits – she had never been a happy soul, but even the senior enchanters had been surprised when she had succumbed to a demonic temptation and emerged as an abomination. Alec went mad – truly and irreversibly mad. He defended her to the teeth, killing two of his brothers and injuring another three before he had been stopped and the demon slain. He had screamed, much more haunting than the sound of the dying spirit, and the Knight-Commander put him out of his misery there and then.

The recruits were sharply reminded that day by their commander that humans were but one moment away from insanity, and that to become a good templar was to lose that moment, lock it away in a cold place and never acknowledge it again... for the good of the faithful. Alistair had never been good at that. He wanted too much to be human, to keep his heart intact, though he had nothing to love, no family to lose his sanity for.

But now?

"I have a wonder, Alistair..." That insipid voice that practically drips from her thin lips, cutting across his thoughts and making his hand tighten on the hilt of his sword. He makes no other move to acknowledge her, but there is a glint in her eyes and for a moment he half-fancies that she is pushing him on purpose.

"Morrigan..." The other Warden's voice is edged with warning, but the Witch does not heed.

"Oh, I was merely going to inquire after the supposed intelligence of the Grey Wardens. Surely your precious leader must have known it was a fool's plan, and yet he did not challenge the boy king. This Duncan cannot have been much of a -"

Her words are cut short with a stuttered gasp. At the mention of his mentor's name in such a harsh light, the anger wins out finally and he stands, sword already swinging free of its sheath. With a low roar he grips the hilt with both hands and lunges forward, the blade piercing through the Witch's clothes with almost no resistance. She lets out another gasp that fades into a soft sigh, her eyes wide and unblinking and staring into his. He can still see that glint. He twists. Her body shudders and she is wracked by a silent cry. He pulls out, and she crumples to the ground, blood spilling forth like water from a cracked barrel.

For a moment, there is only the slow drip of blood from the tip of his sword, and his laboured breathing and his heartbeat drumming in his ears, urging him on.


The dog growls, low and protective, as the man – yes, not a templar, never a templar, not even much of a Grey Warden it seems – turns to his companion, sword still firm in his grip. She freezes, completely unsure of him; the dog is positive. This man is a Threat. And so he protects his mistress, snarling and leaping through the air to rip out the friend-but-not-friend's throat.

With a flash of steel and a yelp that cuts through the air, the mabari lies quivering, dying, in a pool of spittle and blood, and the female Warden scoots back off the log and tries to scramble out of his range. But he is quick, and in one leap he pins her down, the sword swinging over his head. She looks up at him with those huge, fearful eyes and opens her mouth to scream -


He blinks.

The dog yawns by the fire, and feeling starts to filter back into his hand as he unfurls it from the hilt of his still-sheathed weapon. Morrigan has turned her attentions to his shortcomings, and sneers at him, some comment about his lack of attention. His fellow Warden rests a soft hand on his cheek.

"Are you alright? Maybe you should get some rest." He nods mutely, staggering to his feet and turning to his bedroll. He throws himself down without another word, though sleep is impossible to come by.

It did not happen. The realisation is stark, however – the want was still there. He still wants to break something. I'm not a templar. I don't have that moment shut away. But I have to work towards the greater good, like the templars do. He can hear the other Warden by the fire, murmured conversation with her faithful hound. The words 'brave' and 'worried' and his name... she thinks he is coping. He could laugh until he was sick. Coping?

He has to, though. Has to cope, to stand up straight like Duncan and do his appointed tasks, to stop the Blight at all costs... even his own sanity. Is that what you are, Alistair? Decide now. Are you just another human, or are you a Grey Warden?