This story comes from Fluid Consciousness series of one shots entitled "The Dragon Medley", the chapter entitled "Isolation". She had breathed life into the city elven warrior, Sorcha Tabris, which I had asked her to write a pairing with Jowan for. She did such an awesome job that I decided to carry on with it. In order to get a feel for this story, I strongly suggest reading this chapter in the above series. Actually, I strongly suggest reading all the chapters. It is really, really good.

This chapter fleshes out the events at the Landsmeet, brings you, the reader, to the final battle, and then to the events for the end of Origins. Some may seem rushed, but it is merely to get to the feelings of what is happening at that time, not the actual events themselves. Subsequent chapters will be set in Awakenings. So, ah, be aware that there are spoilers. You know, just in case you missed that. *grins*

As always (I'm going to lament this to my dying day), I own nothing. BioWare owns it all. All of it, you hear!

From Isolation

The Landsmeet and its Aftermath

He stood staring at the blood pooling under the body of the man who had been the Hero of River Dane. The Regent. Father to the Queen. Loghain Mac Tir. His eyes drifted upwards, watching as Sorcha Tabris, the elven leader of this motley crew, stood ramrod straight, her breathing coming to her in great gasps, her blade - Starfang - dripping with the once great man's blood as her shield arm hung limply at her side. There were shouts and gasps, calls for order, and a stronger voice calling for a decision, but he could not focus on any of those words. His main focus was that of the elven woman, her dragon scale plate splattered with blood, her auburn hair pulled tightly from her face. A face that was blank, devoid of emotion.

Alistair, the bastard prince, moved closer to the elf, whispering something to her that the mage could not hear. His golden armor - once worn by his half-brother, King Cailan - shone brightly and clean against the many torches held in sconces along the walls, a sharp contrast to Sorcha's blood spattered and disheveled figure. Sorcha raised those magnificent green eyes to the human and then offered him a weak grin. She almost looked as though she was about to be ill, but she quickly recovered, and turned to face the nobles who stood gaping at the elf covered in the nobleman's blood.

Jowan took one look at Alistair, who stood by Sorcha's side. The man - the bastard son of King Maric - avoided looking at Jowan. The mage - the blood mage - glanced back toward his other companions. Wynne was watching the pair of Wardens with great concern. The others - Sten, Oghren, Zevran, Leliana, and Shale - merely stood to the side, watching and taking in everything going on around them. Even Sorcha's warhound, Shartan, was watching everything and everyone, snuffling at the air every now and again, sneezing at the smell of blood that permeated the chambers. Only Morrigan's interest in the Wardens seemed a bit strange to the mage. She seemed almost disappointed at the tension between the two. A disappointment that seemed more personal than it should have been.

Jowan shook his head, turning his attention back to Sorcha. What would he, a Circle Mage turned Maleficar know about reading people or their intents? His experience with the outside world had consisted of trying to run away from the Circle, being captured by Loghain's men, convinced to poison the Arl of Redcliffe, and then being conscripted into the Grey Wardens by Sorcha. Barely a year out of the Circle, and that was all that had occurred to give the once sheltered mage any insights into the human nature.

Not much really for him to go on. Especially when he considered that the person closest to him was an elf.

He gave a mental sigh, watching as Sorcha turned to Alistair, proclaiming her fellow Warden (Jowan was not certain if they were friends at this point) King of Fereldan. Anora was to be confined to Fort Drakon, and Sorcha appointed Commander of Fereldan's armies. He watched as an almost shrewd expression crossed Alistair's face as he declared her general. Sorcha, however, missed it, having turned her attention from the King's face and watched as the senior Grey Warden, Riordan, approached her side, whispering something in one barely pointed ear. She gave him a brief nod, and raised her eyes, searching the crowd.

Those green eyes settled upon Jowan's face, and she gave him a weak smile. He returned it with one of his own, and thought he saw something pleading in her expression. Then she and Alistair were both lost in a sea of nobles as everyone in the room strove to garner their attention or offer well wishes.

A soft hand grasped his forearm, and he turned into the smiling blue eyes of Leliana. The bard was one of the few companions who had accepted him into their midst with no fuss or argument. Her own background - both as a bard and as a Chantry sister - had given the young woman an insight into a person's soul. Like Sorcha, she understood the need for second chances. The mage offered his friend a slight smile, and she pulled him away from the mayhem. The group stood in the antechamber, and waited to be joined by their leaders.

DA:O

She was exhausted. Muscles and joints hurt from her duel with Loghain. Despite his age, the man had been as fine a warrior as they come, and the elf - many pounds lighter with many years fewer in experience - had been hard pressed during her battle with him. Alistair had protested her decision to duel the man herself. She had quietly reminded him that he was going to be King, and that it would not do to have him fight Loghain. She remembered how his eyes - eyes she had once been able to get lost in - narrowed at what he thought was disparagement of his battle prowess, and she had quickly corrected that mistake, telling him she had no doubts of his skill, but merely a concern. Without him, they would have to rely upon Anora as queen, and the elf was not willing to take that risk. After a moment of staring into her eyes, his face had softened and he nodded his assent.

It was over. The Landsmeet had been won. Alistair was now king. And they could get on with the real issue of defeating the Blight.

She began to strip the heavy armor from her body, placing the bloody pieces upon the armor rack nearby. She would have to clean it soon, but she could not bring herself to do so at this time.

Sorcha wanted a bath. A bath, clean clothes, and a good night's sleep. However, they had a joining to perform, and she dreaded it with great intensity. If she could, she would undo Jowan's conscription, but she knew she could not. It was the only thing keeping him alive and free at this point. She rubbed a calloused finger along the bridge of her straight nose, trying to push aside the feelings she had for the human mage.

When had things become so complicated?

She knew when, exactly the moment that things had changed irrevocably. It was as their little rag tag band of misfits, seeking to stop a Blight, stood in the great hall of Fereldan's most powerful Arl. The man had declared his intentions of putting Alistair forward as king, something her fellow warden had not wanted. She found herself agreeing with the Arl, however. Under Anora's rule, there would be no changes to better the lives of the elves living under Fereldan's rule. Under a man like Alistair, who knew of hardship, who was a good and honest man, loyal and honorable, there would be significant changes. So, she agreed with Arl Eamon and sought to reassure her friend - the man who had wanted to pursue a romance with her - by placing a hand upon his arm, speaking in soft, gentle tones. She remembered his smile, the very last, truly genuine smile Alistair had graced her with before everything had fallen apart.

When the Arl had asked for her to help him decide the fate of the blood mage that had tried to poison him, by Loghain's orders, her decision had been quick. Although at first glance it would seem that the lives of a mage and an alienage elf were as disparate as could be, in truth they are far closer than thought. Isolation was the key element in both existences. An isolation that was, in many ways, imprisonment.

And Sorcha herself had done terrible things in order to survive and protect those she cared for. In her mind, Jowan's own actions were much the same.

So she uttered the words that would forever change the relationship she had with Alistair.

"I hereby invoke the Right of Conscription."

She found herself smiling slightly at that. Her relationship with Alistair may be irrevocably changed, but it started another with a man she had come to care greatly for. Someone who understood her and had some empathy for where she came from, what she had done in her life for survival's sake. As good a man as Alistair was, he had lived a relatively sheltered existence, even when he was among his fellow wardens. He did not know, truly, what it meant to have to actually fight for one's existence, merely for the fact of the circumstances of their birth.

As a mage, Jowan understood that. As an elf, Sorcha understood his desire for freedom.

She grimaced down at the dirty linens she wore under her armor. As she moved to the armoire, seeking out clean clothes, the door to her chambers swung open, slamming against the wall behind it. Startled, she gripped Starfang, turning to face the intruder.

Alistair stood in his clean, shiny armor, looking bright and golden. He looks like a king, she thought, allowing the pride she felt for her friend - and she still considered him her friend - to flow through her heart and warm her body.

"Hello Alistair," she greeted, putting a small smile on her full lips, trying hard to force some sincerity into the gesture.

"You went ahead and did it," he growled out, irritation in his voice, and he began to pace in her room. "You made me king of all things!"

Confusion marred her porcelain like skin, and she frowned. "Alistair, that was the plan all along, remember?"

He stopped, spinning about to glare at the elf. "Yes, I remember. I remember how you and Eamon decided to make plans regarding my life!"

Exhausted, tired, dirty, afraid…Sorcha allowed a hiss to escape from between her teeth. "I suppose you think Anora and Loghain would have been the better choice?"

"Loghain is dead, thanks to you," his voice softened slightly at that. He was, after all, very grateful that the man was dead. He had also been worried about his fellow warden - he wanted to still consider her a friend - during the duel.

"Still makes Anora his daughter." was the elf's quick reply.

"She ruled alongside Cailan." came the human's prompt retort.

"Alistair," Sorcha stepped nearer the other warden, tentatively placing a hand upon his shoulder. She took it as encouragement he did not shrug it off. "We already had this argument before. I thought you agreed…?"

Alistair sighed, running his hands through his hair. "I know. I did," his voice raised slightly. "I know its duty and all that, but…" he stopped here, his face scrunching up a bit.

"But what?" Sorcha pressed, concerned.

"I wanted to continue being just a Grey Warden. To keep fighting the darkspawn," here he raised his eyes, fixing them firmly upon Sorcha's own. "By your side, as we've done since the beginning."

The elven warden was speechless. Never, since her conscription of Jowan, had she expected to hear anything even remotely echoing the friendship the two of them had forged in the early days of their travels. The tension that had stiffened her back since he entered her room vanished, and without a thought she embraced Alistair, pulling him into a fierce hug. A sobbing chuckle escaped her lips when Alistair returned her hug three fold.

After a few moments, with both wiping their eyes, they pulled back from each other. "Things won't ever be as they were before, will they?" Alistair asked, hope clearly in his eyes, but so, too, was realistic understanding.

Shaking her head, Sorcha replied. "Too many things have passed between us," she replied, reaching up to tug gently at a lock of hair that had fallen in his face. "But, as long as we can be friends, Alistair, all is right with the world."

The man was silent for a moment. "I've missed you, Sorcha."

"Me, too, Alistair," she grinned at him, the smile lighting her face.

"Want me to help out with Jowan's joining?" the ex-templar offered.

She frowned up at her friend (and it felt good to be able to think of him as such), who met her frown with a lopsided grin. "Why?" she asked, drawing the word out. "Hoping to see the blood mage perish from poison?"

Alistair's eyes widened slightly, and he almost - almost - responded with a sharp reply. However, he could understand her question, and they had just started making amends. Defeated, he shrugged. "No," he drew the word out even longer than Sorcha had hers. "I actually hope he survives it. Riordan has some things he wishes to discuss with us, and he seemed pretty pleased there was a warden recruit to put through the joining."

"Any idea what those 'things' are he wants to discuss?" Sorcha asked as she turned back to the armoire to pull free clean clothing.

"Nope, not a clue," Alistair responded. "He's already pulled Jowan aside and asked that we join him in his chambers are soon as possible."

"Hmmm…" Sorcha paused, fingering lightly the tunic she held in her hand. "Tell Riordan I need to bathe. I," she tapped Alistair's shiny metal chest. "did not get to stay all nice and clean and shiny while someone else had to fight that demon of an old man." Alistair chuckled as he walked passed her.

"I'll tell him," he promised as he stood in the doorway, the knob to the door in his hand. He looked Sorcha over once more, a thoughtful expression upon his face. She looked over at him, one straight brow raised upwards.

"What?" she asked, a little irritated her bathing was being delayed further.

"Nothing," the young king shook his head, a rueful expression upon his face. "I…well, I'm just glad we're friends again." And with those words, he pulled the door closed, leaving the elf to her own thoughts.

DA:O

Alistair remained outside her door for a moment or two, listening as she paced the room to the bath she had prepared. He knew that the rift that had grown between them was partially - mostly - his fault. If he could have only talked with her about his concerns…instead, he had accused and ranted, and each day that passed where he said nothing only caused the rift between them to widen and deepen.

He turned, walking to his chambers, eager to change from the armor that had been his half-brother's. He was now king, but without the woman he loved. Yes, damn it! He loved her. To him, Sorcha Tabris was everything he wanted and needed: she was loyal, despite his thinking her so very disloyal mere weeks before. She was strong, proud, eager to help others, and had a sense of humor as warped as his own. They had gotten along splendidly since the first day they met back in Ostagar. Was it really a year ago? He shook his head, stopping to stare at the door to his chambers.

He was arguing with the foolish mage, arguing over what, he wasn't really certain. After all, he was merely passing on the message that the revered mother wanted to speak with this obstinate mage. Why was it his fault?

The mage brushed rudely passed him, actually calling him a fool. Okay, well, maybe he should not have provoked the mage by insinuating that he was grumpy. But, Maker damn it! He was!

Chuckling, shaking his head, he turned as he spotted another figure approaching him.

This one was an elven woman, and he stopped as he took in her appearance. Tall for an elf - heck, tall for a human woman - she approached wearing mismatched splint and chain mail armor. A heavy sword was strapped to her back along with a large shield. Her short auburn hair was tied back in a series of small braids. Her face was plain, lacking the delicate bone structure one normally saw in elves, but she was definitely an elf. Her ears, although not nearly as pointed as most, attributed to that fact. His eyes went to her full lips, that tongue slipping out quickly to moisten them. And her eyes…okay, he decided. She was not a ravishing beauty but those lips and those impossibly green eyes…a man would die for those.

"One good thing about the Blight," he remarked as he stepped nearer to her, smirking at the confused expression that crossed her face. "is how it brings people closer together."

Her eyes widened briefly, and then a playful smirk crossed her lips. "I know exactly what you mean." She tilted her head to him. "It's like a big party…" she began.

"We'll all just hold hands and dance in a circle. Won't the darkspawn be surprised?" Alistair finished, smiling back at her, feeling like he had just found his long lost best friend.

He lost her, his best friend, just weeks ago, because she saw something worth saving in a blood mage, something he just could not bring himself to accept.

With a heavy sigh, he turned the knob to his room, entering the quiet space, carefully closing the door behind him.

And he had lost her. The relationship between Sorcha and Jowan had grown, and Alistair had to watch, nursing his own hurt feelings, ignoring the possibility that their budding love could have been salvaged if he had only set aside his hurt pride and spoken with her. Instead he hurled accusations and careless words at her, reveling at each emotional blood the verbal darts had drawn. He had conveniently forgotten what she had endured before their first meeting, the reason why Duncan had conscripted her into the Grey Wardens.

He had lumped her in as a murderer as he had Jowan.

Idiot, idiot, idiot, he chanted as he rapped his head against the marble wall of his room.

And now he was expected to cheerfully initiate that same blood mage into the ranks of the Wardens?

He turned, pulling off that golden armor, pulling free clean clothing to change into.

He would never consider the maleficar as a brother. Riordan be damned; Sorcha…pausing, he turned to gaze out the window, staring out at the trees obscuring his view. He had told Sorcha he did not hope Jowan would perish during the joining, but he knew he had lied. Some small part of him, that nasty little part that held on to the hope that he and Sorcha could be together, hoped that the poison that would be in that chalice would undue the mage. He wanted to see Jowan fall to the floor, lifeless, just as poisoned, just as harmed as he had tried to do to Arl Eamon. For the young king, that would be justice.

He pulled his tunic over his head, running his hands over his hair, straightening it. That larger part of him, that part that was the honorable and good man Sorcha had said he was, however, railed against the vindictive little voice.

Never would he like Jowan. Never would he call him brother. But, if he survived, he would be a Grey Warden. If he survived, chances were that he and Sorcha would be together. The thought bothered the young man, even as he knew that he and Sorcha could never be together. Even had they somehow could have known the love he knew grew between the elf and mage, as king he could never be with her in that sense. She was an elf, and an elf would never be accepted as Queen or consort to the King of Fereldan.

She was a Grey Warden, and as such could never provide the kingdom with an heir.

His head started to ache, and he quickly pushed those thoughts aside. What did they matter now, anyway?

There was a light rap at his door. Moving with grace that belied his size, Alistair pulled the door open. Clean, her auburn hair hanging loose about her shoulders, Sorcha stood, dressed in a green and brown tunic and breeches. Her full lips pulled up into a smile, those forest green eyes lit with friendship. He stood back. He knew that Sorcha was no great beauty, especially for an elf. But, she had strong features, open and friendly. Matched with thick, auburn hair, greenest of eyes, fullest lips and an easy smile, and to Alistair, she was the most beautiful woman to ever grace Thedas. Stepping from his chambers, he decided that he would never do anything again to hurt her. If being her friend was all he could be, by the Maker he would be her friend.

Even if it meant offering up support to welcome a blood mage into the ranks of the Grey Wardens.

DA:O

His first thought as he strove to open his eyes was surprise that he had survived.

The second as his eyes opened was that he had never seen a more beautiful sight than the elven woman who sat next to him, a cool cloth in hand pressed to his forehead. He raised a hand, tracing the contours of her cheek, marveling at the smoothness of her skin.

Fear and concern marked her expressive face, and then she told him why the Grey Wardens were needed to defeat the Archdemon.

It had been a nasty surprise for himself, and for Sorcha, who had not known of it until Riordan told her as she waited for Jowan to regain consciousness.

Now, hours later, holding her in his arms as she slept in an easy, exhausted slumber, all he could think of was how unfair it was for him to find love with this marvelous woman, only to face the possibility of losing her so soon.

He shook his head, his violet eyes settling upon her face. In sleep, her features were relaxed, softer. She was not the terrible warrior woman she tried to portray herself as whenever they faced their foes. Jowan had to stifle a snort at that. Despite her physical attributes - tall as a man, muscled enough to carry around heavy armor all day, strong enough to smash in a hurlock's face with her shield - Sorcha was an easy going, sweet woman who, if left to her own choices, couldn't hurt a fly.

He tightened his embrace of her body, feeling the heat of her curling around him. They had professed their love for one another this evening. It had been so easy, the words and emotions just pouring from each other. It had never been so easy for him before, even with Lily. He only wished he had voiced his feelings earlier.

With a heavy sigh, he kissed Sorcha's forehead. Pulling her tighter to him, he settled down against her back, breathing in her clean scent, letting her steady breathing lull him into a peaceful sleep.

DA:O

"You are a fool to pass this offer by," Morrigan hissed at the elf, anger driving her words.

But Sorcha merely gazed at the witch, a smirk upon her plain features as she shook her head. "What consequences would we be facing in a few years, then, Morrigan? What consequences would our children be facing because I was a coward and accepted such a bargain?"

"Coward?" Morrigan scoffed. "You are being a coward now. Either Alistair or your pet mage would do this for you. You know 'tis true." The witch forced herself to calm and took a step nearer the elf. "There be no need for anyone to die."

But the elf merely stared at the human, and again shook her head. "Morrigan, we have never been friends. And, truth be told, I do not trust you. And I certainly do not trust this ritual you speak of. This is too convenient, and I'll not have it." The elf stood closer, standing as tall as the human woman. "I'll not force another Blight upon the world when all I had to do was die to stop it."

"You are as much a fool as Alistair is!"

"So you have told me on numerous times."

Yellow eyes narrowed, and that raven head raised imperiously. "Very well, then, Warden," Morrigan scoffed, turning away. "If you are not to take me up on the offer, than I shall leave. I've no use for fools, and I shan't fight a battle that never was mine to begin with."

"So who is the coward now, then, Morrigan?" Sorcha asked calmly, her green eyes impassive as she studied the witch.

"Coward or not, I shall live," the witch retorted. "Go see to your glorious death, Sorcha. Know that I shan't mourn you."

And with those words, Morrigan turned into a black wolf, and made her way away from camp.

DA:O

"Ah, mi a mica," Zevran purred, slipping an arm across Sorcha's broader shoulders. "You ask too much of me, no?"

"Zev…" the elven female began, twisting around to look at her friend. "Please…I…I can't explain it all to you, but I need you to promise…"

The elven assassin frowned, lines marking his face as he did so. His eyes, a honey gold normally dancing with pleasure were now hard and serious. "I do not like what you ask, my friend." He sighed heavily here, turning away from the elf who was closer to him than anyone had ever been. Her need to save souls had saved his; gave him a second chance to be more than just some tool used by the Crows. She had offered him freedom, a freedom he chose to take while remaining at her side. He had pledged to protect her, yet she had protected him far more than he her. She now asked a favor of him. But, could he truly carry through with it? Knowing what little he knew?

Of course he could. He nodded, "Si," he acquiesced, trying to smile up into her own wide, normally infectious grin. "I shall do as you ask, Sorcha." He smirked as her eyes widened. He never had called her by name before.

Recovering, the elven warden bent forward, placing a warm kiss upon the assassin's smooth cheek. "Thank you, my friend," she whispered, her breath hot against his skin.

He sighed dramatically, wrapping her in a tight embrace before releasing her. "See? This is what I do. I am yours to command, my dear Warden," he then waggled his eyebrows playfully at the taller elf. "Command me…" he purred, grinning as a bright blush colored her cheeks.

Sorcha pushed herself free of the elven male's embrace and rose to her feet. "I know I can count on you, Zev." Then, with a lingering look and wide smile, she turned and walked away. Leaving Zevran to watch as her tall figure vanished around the corner of the courtyard.

DA:O

"What?" Both men demanded at the same time, casting glares at one another before turning their unified glare upon the woman. It was Alistair who recovered his voice first.

"You cannot leave me behind, Sorcha," his voice was hard, strong, without any hint of pleading.

"Oh, yes I can, Your Majesty," her voice was even harder, firmer, and far stronger than anything Alistair could produce. "Need I remind you that you are King? You need to survive this. If, for some reason, Riordan and I can't defeat the Archdemon, than you are more than welcome to give it a go. In the meantime…" she stepped forward, her dragon scale plate gleaming in the sunshine. "I order you to hold the gates."

"You can't order me," Alistair insisted, "I'm the king."

"And I am the Commander of your armies, and the Warden Commander," Sorcha reminded her friend. She smiled softly to take some of the bite out of her words. "And as a warden, you are bound to obey me. Understood?'

Alistair offered her a glare, a scowl upon his fine face. Finally, he nodded, once. "Fine. Just…come back, okay?" This last part came out far weaker, more whinier than he intended. Taking a breath, he leaned forward and lightly kissed her cheek before turning away.

The elf then turned to the mage, who stood staring at her, dumbfounded. "You can't do this alone," he managed to get out as he stepped closer. "You need more wardens with you than Riordan." He continued, putting his hands on her arms, moving closer so that mere inches were between the two of them. "Riordan said…"

"Jowan," she placed a gauntleted hand to his cheek, smiling at the man she loved. Her heart almost burst at the love she saw emanating from his eyes. "As I told our illustrious king," she smirked, "if we fail, then it's up to you and Alistair. If we are all together, that just gives the Archdemon an easier target." It was a lie. She knew Jowan knew it as well. But, it was a lie that was difficult to argue against.

But Jowan was going to give it a try.

"Riordan is going in one direction," he said, pointing in the direction the warden from Orlais had gone. "You in another. That you leave two wardens together by the gates makes no sense. Take one of us - me - with you."

"I have given my orders," Sorcha said, trying to harden her voice against him.

"You're trying to protect me," the insightful mage countered, taking another step closer, so close he could feel her breath - warm, fresh - against his face.

She smiled brighter then, leaning in to kiss him gently upon the lips. "And you are trying to protect me." she whispered. "Do as I order, Jowan. The Archdemon dies today."

With another kiss, she turned, motioning for Zevran, Sten and Wynne to follow her. Shartan barked, bounding after his mistress, leaving Jowan behind to bemoan how he, too, wanted to follow after her.

DA:O

Hours had passed, and they had secured the gates. No more darkspawn, save the occasional straggler, emerged passed their defenses. Over the course of the day, they had received reports from various runners that the Warden and her group had been sighted, battling darkspawn first in the market district, and then again in the Alienage, and that they were heading to Fort Drakon. Jowan and Alistair exchanged looks of concern, but neither spoke to the other. The only thing - other than the taint that flowed in their veins - they had in common was their concern for Sorcha.

Jowan turned his gaze toward Fort Drakon, recalling how Sorcha had, briefly, been imprisoned therein. He hated the place for that reason alone. Now, the woman he loved with all he was would be facing the Archdemon without him, and that thought nearly drove him crazy. He glanced around him, making certain no one was watching. Alistair, it seemed had other things to occupy his time, and for once was not watching the blood mage like a hawk. Taking the opportunity, he slipped away from the group, and carefully made his way toward the Fort.

Bodies lined the streets and along the stairway to the Fort. He stumbled his way through the massive doorway and raced up the stairs, somewhat amazed at the lack of interference as he made his way through the decimated prison. He was mildly astonished when he ran into Sandal, Bodahn Feddic's rather eccentric son. With barely a nod, the mage scampered passed the young dwarf, making his way further up the stairs, and to the roof of the massive, ancient fortress.

The sheer destruction and death that waited at the top of the tower nearly floored the young man as he burst from the door onto the roof. Darkspawn bodies lay scattered upon the flat surface, intermingling with the bodies of human, mage and warrior, dwarven legions and elven archers. An emissary was standing, surrounded by several darkspawn, preparing to throw a spell. Growling out his own words, Jowan completed his spell first, sending an electrical tempest into the midst of the darkspawn. He did not watch the final effects of his spell, but turned to seek out the one figure - the one person - he desperately needed to ensure lived.

He raced, turning around one platform, stumbling to a halt as his eyes settled upon…her, them…it! Before him lay the majestic might of the Archdemon. Its near skeletal dragon form spread out, head raised as a shriek of agony erupted from its great maw. He watched in horror as Sorcha raced toward the great beast, her armor impossibly bent and torn and bloody. She had lost or abandoned her shield. Her hair was loose and danced wildly about her shoulders as she raised Starfang over her head. A great war cry issued from her lips, and she danced passed the sweeping tail of the gigantic monster. With a leap, she landed upon the ancient creature's neck, clamping on with her legs and thighs, raising her sword high over her head. Then, without a look up, she drove the blade downward with all of her strength, driving it deep into the thick skull of the dragon.

The beast reared its ugly head, swinging it to and fro, trying desperately to dislodge its unwanted rider. Sorcha held on with the tenacity he knew so well, and Jowan screamed out her name, racing forward, oblivious to the danger that still lurked around him. His only thought was to get to her before the beast died, to take that killing blow so that she would live. If he died, who would mourn? Only Sorcha would feel his passing. If she were to die…no. He could not allow it. He could not live without her.

He was so close, and suddenly he was lying upon the ground, strong arms wrapped around his waist, a weight holding him down. Warm breath caressed his ear, and he recognized the voice that was telling him to remain down, to let what had to happen be. Angry, the blood mage screamed at the Antivan elf, demanding he let him up. Where he found the strength to shake the agile elf from him he would never know. But he was suddenly scrambling back to his feet, pushing the elf back. He looked up to see that Sorcha's green eyes were fixed upon his face. She shook her head, driving that damnable blade deeper, further into the Archdemon's skull. Zevran was now upon his feet, and had wrapped his arms around the mage's arms and waist. Jowan saw Sorcha - his Sorcha - give the other elf a grateful smile. She turned to him, mouthing the words 'I love you', a sad, wistful smile upon those beautiful lips of hers.

And then everything exploded in a great wall of white light. The elf and mage were thrown back. Sorcha's auburn head jerked up, her eyes and mouth wide open. From the ground Jowan watched it all, and then suddenly everything went black.

DA:O

My love,

This is the way things had to be, you must know this. I have absolutely no regrets. The love we shared is what kept me going. After what happened, I didn't think it possible to care for someone so deeply. Both of our lives were filled with pain, and we were cast aside by society for something neither one of us had control over. I think this is why we so easily fell in love with each other, our ability to understand each other.

I know you must be angry with me for running off and dying the way I did, and I hope that one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me. It was a sacrifice that needed to be made, and it was my duty to make it. I will be with you in your dreams, and in the memories we made together. I'm not sure what happens when we die, but if there is something beyond all of this, then I know I will eventually meet you there.

Remember what I told you that night: I love you. Always.

Yours forever,

Sorcha

He wanted to tear the note in two, hurl it into the fireplace. She had planned it, all along. Even enlisted Zevran to help in her plan.

Her plan to die.

Her plan to leave him alone.

But, he didn't tear the note in two.

He could not hurl it into the fireplace.

It was the very last gift she had left for him, wrapped gently around the Warden's Oath pendant she had worn since becoming a warden. She had promised him one of his own, but had never had the opportunity to craft one for him. He clasped the pendant to his chest, fighting against the rising tears. After many moments, he brushed his eyes, wiping away the evidence of his sorrow. With heavy hands he raised the pendant and slipped the strong silver chain around his neck, settling the pendant at his breast. The note he picked up and, after neatly folding it, tucked it safely into the breast of his new robes. He bent his head down, taking deep breaths. Then, picking up his staff and carefully slinging it to his back, he walked out of the room he had so briefly shared with Sorcha, and made his way to the Landsmeet chamber.

It would not due for the Commander of the Grey Wardens in Fereldan to be late for the King's coronation.