The Woes of Ser Cauthrien

Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Age.

Ser Cauthrien, ever-loyal knight in the service of the Teyrn and regent Loghain Mac Tir, hadn't quite known what to expect when she had been called by Anora's frantic Orlesian maid (how was Loghain okay with his daughter having an Orlesian maid around anyway?) over to the Howe's new Denerim estate. She hadn't quite expected to find the Dalish Grey Warden and Eamon's candidate for king standing with several others and literally drenched in blood. What exactly had they been doing here? Clearly, quite a few people had died in this estate today and given that Teyrn Howe was nowhere in sight, chances were good that he was one of them.

"Warden! In the name of the regent, I am placing you under arrest for the murder of Rendon Howe and his men-at-arms," Cauthrien declared. "Surrender and you may be shown mercy."

"I didn't do anything wrong," the Warden claimed.

"So you didn't slaughter your way through the Arl's estate and then kill Rendon Howe?" Cauthrien asked skeptically.

"Well…I did do that," the Warden admitted. "But I was just claiming my blood rights! That pretender Howe killed my parents, my nephew, my sister-in-law…I asked Loghain to do something about it when we first got to the city but he refused to."

"Is this about you being convinced that you're a Cousland again?" Cauthrien asked incredulously.

"What do you mean by asking if I'm 'convinced' that I'm a Cousland?" the Warden asked suspiciously. "I am Laiarda Cousland and neither Howe's treachery nor my status as a Grey Warden can take that from me!"

"You're not a Cousland," Cauthrien said flatly. "You can't be. Teyrn Cousland was a human. His wife, the Teyrna, was also human. If either of them – let alone both – were your parents then you wouldn't be an elf."

"I'm not an elf," the Warden – possibly named Laiarda – said, sounding shocked.

"Yes, you really-" Cauthrien started to insist.

"Pardon me," Maric's bastard, Alistair, spoke up. "But I would really recommend not getting into this argument with her. You will never convince her."

"How does she not realize that she's an elf?" Cauthrien demanded.

Alistair shrugged. "I really don't know. She thinks she's a lot of people, actually. Just go with it."

"Alistair, stop spouting gibberish," Laiarda ordered.

"Even if you had the right to claim blood rights, you still need to have that approved by a Landsmeet or the ruler of Ferelden," Cauthrien explained. "You can't just say 'Blood rights!' and murder the Arl of Amaranthine, Arl of Denerim, and Teyrn of Highever in his home."

"I tried getting approval, remember?" Laiarda asked. "Loghain pretended he couldn't hear me."

"Be that as it may, you broke the law here and, as a Grey Warden, you're an outlaw anyway," Cauthrien pointed out. "As such, it is my duty to take you in to Fort Drakon."

Laiarda's eyes widened. "Fort Drakon? I got locked up in there for illegal sword possession down at the Alienage a few times. They have torture racks there!"

Cauthrien thought about pointing out that if this Dalish girl were really a Cousland – which she wasn't – then her having a sword in an Alienage wouldn't have been a big deal but decided that it just wasn't worth it. Laiarda seemed unwilling or unable to stray from her multiple-choice past. "And we don't use it on everybody the minute they arrive! You would have your items and armor taken from you and await the regent in a cell. No harm would come to you until at least after meeting with Loghain, I promise you that. I'm even willing to let your accomplices go as you and Alistair are the only ones we're really interested in."

"That does sound like quite an offer," Laiarda mused. "Except I have some pretty bad memories of Fort Drakon and no desire to return. If we were to, hypothetically of course, reveal that we only broke into the estate because we were told that Queen Anora was here and in need of rescuing and Arl Howe was killed in the process of rescuing her, would it make a difference?"

"It might," Cauthrien said carefully, hoping to avoid a fight. She had far more men then the Warden did and so if it came to a straight-out fight in this room than she should win. The crown had been having budgetary problems, as evidenced by the fact that elves were being sold into slavery, and so her men were only barely being paid enough to follow her here and certainly not enough to chase the Warden down if she left the main room. "But I would need proof to substantiate your claims, Anora would need to be returned to her father, and you would still need to go to Fort Drakon for Loghain to decide your fate. I'm sure he would take extenuating circumstances like that into account, though."

"Well…I suppose that's better than nothing," Laiarda said with a shrug. "Hey, Anora's right there." She pointed at a guard that was a bit too short.

Cauthrien examined the previously overlooked guard closely. "Anora?"

"Thank goodness you've come, Ser Cauthrien!" Anora cried out. "This brigand just tried to kidnap me!"

"The hell? I just rescued you!" Laiarda protested.

"You can't possibly have just rescued me," Anora sniffed. "Because if you had then you would have known that I would have specifically told you not to reveal my identity."

"No, you really wouldn't have," Laiarda argued. "You would have just explained why you were in disguise but not given me any instructions, specific or otherwise."

"I am absolutely certain, Warden, that I would have said 'If Howe's people find me, I'll be killed. And my people will insist on escorting me back to the palace...where my father may also have me killed' if I really thought that I was in any need of rescue," Anora countered. "Which, of course, I didn't. But if I did then how much more specific would I have needed to be? Should I have added 'And me dying is something I would really rather avoid?' That seemed to be implied."

Cauthrien raised an eyebrow at this. Loghain, killing his only daughter? She couldn't possibly actually believe that. What kind of game was Anora playing at?

"It would have been helpful," Laiarda agreed. "I know you probably didn't expect Cauthrien to be here but if you really wanted to make sure that I knew not to reveal your identity ever you should have said something like 'Even if this is the only sensible way of getting any of us, including me, out of here alive, you should still keep your mouth shut and trust that I'll magically go unnoticed, while you'll be kept in the least secure prison in history.'"

Cauthrien felt that she had to step in here. "Fort Drakon is not the least secure prison in history!"

"Sure it is," Laiarda replied automatically. "I've broken out…" she trailed off. "I mean, I've dreamed of breaking out often. I never quite managed it in reality, however."

"Assuming that I was being rescued and really in fear for my life, what good would revealing me possibly do? If my people would take me to my father then you can be certain that my father's people would as well!" Anora exclaimed.

Laiarda shrugged. "I guess I would have figured that I would have had a better chance if you ordered Cauthrien to stand down or at least tried to talk her down and explain all about how I was saving you then if I had to try to fight my way out or hope to not be killed on my way to or at Fort Drakon. And I would have thought that you would have better luck with your father than as one of my expendable companions or if this did come out to be a fight."

"I might be queen but Cauthrien is my father's right-hand woman! I can't override his orders," Anora protested. "And she wouldn't listen to me above him anyway and would absolutely insist on bringing me to him. And if I were worried that he might have me killed – which I'm definitely not and I don't know where she got that idea – then I would probably stand a better chance NOT having my identity given away and trying to sneak away."

"If you can't even talk one fanatical Loghain supporter down then what good are you?" Laiarda asked, disgusted.

"I'm not even going to answer that question," Anora said, rubbing her forehead in exasperation. "Now, Ser Cauthrien, I hope you don't mind if I take my leave of you all. I fear staying around my would-be kidnapper wouldn't be good for my mental health for numerous reasons." With that, she stormed towards the door and left.

Cauthrien just shook her head. "Will you go quietly or will it come to a fight?"

Laiarda gave a put-upon sigh. "I guess I'll come. Don't worry about me, guys, I should be back within two hours."

As Cauthrien gave the signal for Laiarda and Alistair's arrest, she decided that Loghain was really quite lucky that she was so loyal to him. She really didn't get paid enough for this either.

Review Please!