In the months following the Blight's defeat and his coronation, King Alistair spent a great deal of time at court, learning the art of governing and how to rule fairly, much to the surprise of his advisors. He proved to be quite a popular ruler, his humor and grace winning people over as much as his willingness to sneak out of the castle and mingle in the lower-class taverns. His betrothal to the popular, wealthy and shrewd Bann Alfstanna proved a popular choice with the people; six months after the Blight's end, the king and his betrothed were wed, taking a long tour of the country, travelling to all parts of Ferelden to give their people something to lift their spirits and help them forget the bitter memories of blood, battle and monsters with the promise of rebuilding and future prosperity.
Arl Eamon stayed on as an advisor to King Alistair, handing over rule of his own domains to his brother, who was surprised to find himself well liked and loved by the villagers, who had never forgotten the long nights the Bann had spent defending them. Eamon eventually abdicated his arling of Redcliffe in favor of Teagan, a decision met with the approval of the townspeople. In time, Arl Teagan would marry, his arlessa a villager from Redcliffe by the name of Kaitlyn, who had grown rich by investing a small amount of gold given her by Arthur Cousland into a fortune by building a foundry and assisting in the rebuilding efforts following the Battle of Denerim, becoming extremely wealthy in the process.
Following months of effort, the tower of the Circle of Magi was finally cleansed of the last spirits to slip through the Veil. No further abominations were created, and First Enchanter Irving was pleased to declare the Circle safe. All that could be saved had been.
Several months after the Blight's end, the Chantry mounted an expedition into the Frostback Mountains to investigate Brother Genetivi's claims, and secured the Urn of Sacred Ashes. The temple swiftly became a holy sight of extraordinary significance, with pilgrims from all over Thedas coming to give praise to Andraste and partake of the Ashes's healing powers.
In Denerim, with the Tevinter slavers destroyed and a new bann in the Landsmeet to represent them, the city-born elves found a better lot than ever. New law gave the elves more trading rights and their own militia within the Alienage; though some protested the freedoms being granted to the elves, in time their complaints and small-minded bigotry were swept away. In time, Shianni became the Alienage's next elder; her outspokeness often caused trouble with the authorities, but served her people well.
The Dalish became more respected due to their part in the Battle of Denerim, with many clans, along with a great many of their city-born kin, choosing to move to the new lands allocated to their people. Their connection with humans will steadily improve, but tensions between the two races eventually rose again, elven and human resentment reopening the old wounds. It fell to Lanaya and others like her to ensure the peace was kept as much as possible, a task they performed admirably.
In Orzammar, King Bhelen quickly proved himself a reformer; trade with the surface lands increased and caste restrictions were loosened. The casteless were permitted to take arms against the darkspawn in exchange for new freedoms. For the first time in generations, the line in the Deep Roads was pushed back, and a few thaigs were reclaimed. Bhelen's reforms quickly made him enemies within the warrior and noble castes, however, and after several assassination attempts, the Assembly was dissolved. The king then ruled alone-some say as a tyrant, others as a visionary determined to drag Orzammar into the modern world.
Despite the destruction of the Anvil of the Void, interest in Caridin's research refused to dissipate. A group of dwarves from both the Shaperate and the Smith Caste pieced together what they could and created a new Anvil, using it to build a new golem, powered by a spirit from the Fade. The golem promptly went berserk and killed several Shapers before it was finally destroyed. After that incident, Caridin's research was branded excessively dangerous and all further study into it was banned. Interest never fully waned away, however.
With the assistance of the mage Wynne, a dwarven scholar authored a comprehensive theory of how lyrium vapors relate to the supply of magic. It gained a great deal of attention and inspired mages from other parts of Thedas to establish a new circle in Orzammar itself, one that has ready access to dwarven lyrium... and lies outside the Chantry's power completely. The willingness of Orzammar to harbor apostates sparks outrage that begins whispers that the Divine is contemplating a new Exalted March.
Morrigan vanished without trace after the Battle of Denerim, her disappearance hidden by the chaos of the darkspawn's rout. A few weeks later, a dark haired woman was later seen traveling through the Frostback Mountains alone, and she may well have been with child. Several years later, tales out of Tevinter began to whisper that a strange dark-haired mage had insinuated herself into the court of the archons.
With Flemeth seemingly dead, there was no way to track her. One cannot help but wonder, however: What became of the child? What were Morrigan's plans? These questions must remain a mystery... for now.
Zevran disappeared from Ferelden after the Blight's end and the death of Arabella Amell, looking to distract himself from his grief, but those who'd known him knew the carefree, fun loving elf he'd been was gone, replaced by a much more sombre and severe man. Zevran left without a word of farewell, returning to Antiva where, after a lengthy war against his former employers from the shadows, he rose to become leader of the Antivan Crows, though it is said the victory brought him no joy, and though Zevran took many bedmates in the hope of forgetting the face of the one he wanted, he never truly loved again. Every year on the anniversary of the Blight's end, a wreath of Antivan orchids would be found to have been laid at the foot of the Warden Monument in Denerim. The dwarf Oghren travelled about Ferelden for a time, exploring the surface world, before eventually settling down with an old flame and taking an officer's commission in the Ferelden army.
Arabella Amell was buried at Weisshaupt Fortress with full honours, her mortal remains placed in a tomb beside those of Garahel and the other Wardens who had died to end previous Blights. In time, a great statue of her was erected in the Wardens' new holdings in Amaranthine, commemorating one who made the ultimate sacrifice that others might live.
With his sword returned to him and the Blight defeated, Sten made his way home to Par Vollen, to bring the answer to the Arishok's question. When other qunari asked him if he encountered any of worth in his travels, Sten would reply he had met two.
Leliana lingered in Denerim for a time, enjoying the company of her lover and composing an epic ballad in commemoration of Arabella, the Grey Wardens and all those who gave their lives to bring an end to the Blight. But in time, word came to her from the Chantry, an invitation from an old friend, that she did not feel able to refuse. The bard soon departed, leaving Arthur with a farewell kiss and a promise to return to him in time for the birth of their child. Her part in his tale was far from done...
Despite their defeat at Denerim and the death of the archdemon, the remnants of the darkspawn horde, many thousands strong, still lingered on the surface. While most slowly but surely slunk back into the Deep Roads to lick their wounds, replenish their numbers and begin anew the search for another Old God to taint, many others remained, gathering into packs under command of the strongest and most brutal of their kind, leading raids up and down the northern Ferelden coast, or finding their way through the Deep Roads as far as Orlais or even across the Waking Sea into the Free Marches. It would take months, or in some cases, years before all such creatures were put down and the last vestiges of the Blight laid to rest.
But those are tales for another day. This tale ended when Arthur Cousland led the armies of Ferelden to victory and Arabella Amell drove her blade into the archdemon Urthemiel's skull to destroy it and end the Fifth Blight. Whatever else was to come, two things were certain; that her sacrifice would not soon be forgotten, and that it was far from the last Ferelden, or indeed Thedas, had heard of him...
5 months after the Battle of Denerim…
"Message for you, m'lord" the elf servant said, placing the letter in Arthur's hand. The Warden muttered his thanks and closed the door of the palatial suite they'd been given. The manor they were staying in belonged to that of an old friend of Leliana's- a high-ranking Grand Cleric who was away on business in Val Royeaux- that they'd been allowed to stay at. Leliana expected to rejoin Grand Cleric Dorothea in Val Royeaux in a few days time, but tonight, this place, this manor belonged to no one but them and nothing outside its walls mattered. The evening together was a pleasure their duties had long denied them and they had no intention of wasting even a second of it. After all, it was supposed to be their honeymoon.
Leliana lay on the bed, the silken sheets pulled up to her neck to cover the fact she was completely naked under them, her eyebrows raised in feline interest as she watched Arthur pull the dagger from his discarded belt and use it to slit open the wax seal- white wax, stamped with the griffin sigil of the Grey Wardens- before opening the letter and scanning its contents.
"What is it?" Leliana asked, her expression one of concern at the uncertain look on Arthur's face. Inwardly, he could not help but wonder; why was he called? Do they know? Had they found Morrigan, did they know what they had done? Or was this to do with something else altogether?
"I am summoned to Weisshaupt Fortress" he replied. "It says here the First Warden has a proposition that is be of great interest to me"
"Does it say when you have to be there by?"
"Well, it can wait until morning, can't it?" Leliana replied with an impish grin as she threw back the sheets to expose herself. Faced with the sight of his wife's naked body, her voluptuous curves, her full breasts, the swell of her belly now that her pregnancy was well into its growth, Arthur allowed himself to be distracted from his worries and drawn to a more more pleasing option. It was something the bard had always been so proficient at.
At long last, the ship pulled into the docks of Minrathous, Morrigan letting out a sigh of relief. It had taken her long to get this far, and there had been far too many close calls- storms, Rivaini corsairs and Qunari prowling the waters, and that had just been trying to get to Tevinter. She'd fled Ferelden into Orlais, stowing away aboard a trading galley bound from for Kirkwall in the form of a cat, subsisting on sailors tossing her bits of fish and the odd rat she could catch. Upon arriving in Kirkwall, she'd remained in feline form, not wanting to reveal what she was in a city that was the heart of Templar power in the Free Marches, sneaking aboard another ship, this one sailing to Llomerryn. It was not until the ship docked in Rivain and its more liberal views on magic, not to mention far from the Templars, the Chantry and Arthur that Morrigan dared to assume human form again, looking for a suitable 'partner' to fund her and her still-growing son's plans, to keep them safe from those who would destroy them and their destiny and allow her to begin her schemes. Fortunately, she'd made a good catch.
"Ah, it is good to be home again. I'm sure you'll come to agree, Lady Livia, when you get to spend some time in my fair city, the heart of civilisation in Thedas, just how much Minrathous has to offer you"
Livia. That was the name by which her new companion, Aelius Sejanus, magister of the Imperium, knew her; Livia, the bastard daughter of the late Caladrius. Behind her new companion, the magister's bodyguard, a hard-faced man with salt-and-pepper hair by the name of Myles Torrence clad in dragonbone plate armour with a broadsword and a gladius of silverite sheathed at his waist and a kite shield with the sigil of a black dragon coiled around a tower on a red field hanging from a strap over his back watched the pair. She'd happened upon the pair in Rivain, waiting to take ship back to Tevinter; she'd felt the magister's eyes on her back in the docks as they'd entered the same tavern waiting for the tide to turn so the ship could depart, looking at her in the same manner all men had looked at her since she turned from girl to woman, as she had developed curves and her breasts had budded. Allowing the magister to sidle up next to her, a few drinks to smooth things along, a brush of her hand against an arm, permitting the other arm to slide around her waist, a few candid questions about her condition, a few compliments exchanged by both, Morrigan laughing at a joke of the man's (despite the fact it wasn't funny) to bait the hook, and then she had let him bite down, mentioing the fact that she was on route to Minrathous and subtly allowing the magister to invite her to an extended stay at his estates in Tevinter that they might 'continue to enjoy the pleasure of each other's company'. Morrigan knew full well Sejanus probably only saw her as a suitable concubine to take his pleasure with and her son at best perhaps an heir and potentially an apprentice until the mage had a legitimate child of his own blood, at worst something he could make use of as a sacrifice. Morrigan could see it in his eyes, but she was not about to disabuse Magister Aelius Sejanus of such notions...yet.
'Men are always willing to believe two things about a woman; one, she is weak and two, she finds him attractive'. Oh, she couldn't deny Sejanus wasn't handsome, still relatively young, with his strong chin, short black hair, his pale green, gold-flecked eyes always brimming with some hidden knowledge, albeit tinged with the arrogance and veiled malice endemic to all of Tevinter's elite; if she had to make use. As with Arthur, Sejanus was nothing but a tool; one whose wealth, power and influence would be invaluable in helping her son claw his way to his true destiny. She had no intention of telling Sejanus that he would be cast aside as soon as his usefulness was over, though fortunately for him, that was a long time off. As Morrigan had long ago discovered, she had ways of keeping men pleasantly distracted from what they needed to see until it was too late.
Morrigan had chosen Tevinter for three reasons; first, even though the Imperium was but a shadow of its past power when the mage-lords had ruled most of the known world at the behest of the dragon-gods, there was still strength here, the magisters still a force to be reckoned with, a force even one like Flemeth, who Morrigan didn't doubt was still out there, watching, biding her time for the right moment, would pause to cross. Second, even though the Imperium claimed to be under the auspices of the Chantry (albeit a corrupted version), the attitude to magic was far more relaxed here. Given what she was, Mordred could not be anything but a mage, and she had no intention of her son being dragged off or slain out of hand by a pack of Chantry zealots before he could come into his power, before he could take what would be his. Thirdly, even though for the most part their worship had died out, Tevinter was still the greatest source of knowledge regarding the Old Gods; their strength, history, abilities and other facts and information besides. There were volumes of books, treatises and other texts about the Old Gods, both in their original forms and after they had become archdemons and Morrigan intended to devour every scrap of knowledge on the subject she could get her hands on, in the hope it would help her chart the course of her son's growth and development.
Morrigan felt that she was perfectly suited for the back-biting, power mongering and scheming that the powerful of the Tevinter Imperium; the back story she'd told Sejanus to keep him from realising what she truly was- that she'd assisted the Grey Wardens in rooting out her 'father' in exchange for a child- Sejanus had been more quick to disparage Caladrius than be appalled by the fact his presumed bastard daughter had had a part in his death. Based on the fact the first thing her magister companion had said after she'd told her tale was "Damn Caladrius. Greedy, stupid bastard should have known better; Tevinter learned a long time ago, don't mess with the dog lords unless you want your throat ripped out", Caladrius hadn't been a popular or respected individual, and her magister friend seemed to suggest the Imperial elite might be glad to see someone else take his place. The fact that Sejanus didn't gainsay her claim about being Caladrius's bastard seemed to suggest the late magister had been a private individual who kept his personal goings-on to himself, and since anyone in Caldarius's staff in Ferelden who might have contradicted her story had been murdered by an elven lynch mob in Denerim, there were none who could challenge her claims. Now all she had to do was secure what was 'rightfully' hers and simply wait for a few more months. There was nothing more she could do for her plans until Mordred was actually born.
"Shall we, my lady?" Sejanus said with a wry grin and an extended hand, motioning for her to disembark from the ship. Suppressing the urge to roll her eyes at the foolishness of even powerful and intelligent men around beautiful women, Morrigan graciously accepted the hand and allowed Aelius to guide her down the gangplank even as she heard Torrance shouting at the elven servants carrying their luggage.
'Well, I suppose there are worse things than a magister for an adoptive father'; there is much Aelius can teach Mordred that I admittedly cannot' Morrigan mused. 'And if I have to endure his posturing, his groping and fondling me and assist in his ambitions until Mordred is old enough to supplant him, so be it. If there is at least one useful thing I learned from Flemeth, it was patience. If I have to wait a year or twenty to get what is rightfully ours, my son, I can wait. Time wears everything down, and when it has worn our enemies down to nothing, we will be waiting'.
Still, as she felt Sejanus slide an arm around her waist and the hand slide down towards her backside, she mentally urged her growing son to hurry up coming to full term. 'Even my patience has its limits...'
An abandoned thaig in the Deep Roads, below the arling of Amaranthine, Ferelden
The figure rapped on the door of the chamber with a gauntleted hand, the light illuminating it. The figure was clad in heavy armour of dwarven make, old but still in fine condition, which was more than could be said for its wearer. The figure was a dwarf...or at least had been one. Its emaciated face had more in common with a genlock than a dwarf, scraps of auburn hair clinging to its pallid scalp, its thin mouth and withered lips peeled back into a near permanent scowl, baring a mouth full of rotted, yellowed teeth filed to points.
"Enter" a soft, sibilant voice hissed and the armoured figure opened the door and stepped into what had once been a study for a dwarf lord, the only things of note a number of bookcases along the walls packed with parchment scrolls and old books, many rewritten and repaired with painstaking and loving detail, and an ornate desk at which the thaig's ruler would have sat centuries ago. The study had a much more different occupant now.
The creature sat at the desk was clearly an emissary, but different in appearance to others of its kind. It was taller and more human in proportions than even a hurlock, clad in a set of purple and black robes fashioned from silk, much finer than the usual mish-mash of cloth and armour fragments most emissaries wore. Its twisted, mutated visage was hidden behind a bronze mask fashioned in an expression of serene repose and its long fingered hands clutched a scroll marked with hastily scrawled words. The emissary let out a sigh of relief, and then crushed the scroll into a ball, a glowing spark passing from the tip of a clawed finger onto the paper, setting it ablaze. Letting go, the emissary watched as the parchment blackened and curled up as the fire consumed it, then finally turned its attention to its guest.
"It is done" the emissary whispered in a quiet voice like a snake's hiss. "I had hoped...no, it is pointless to dwell on what might have been. I should not have risked...at least the Wardens have undone the greatest consequence of my folly. Perhaps, with the Blight long over, Utha, you former comrades will be inclined to listen to what I have to offer. Perhaps, they will be more inclined to listen when they see what my kind can be when not in thrall to the likes of Urthemiel and his ilk"
The short figure stood behind it nodded, armour rattling as it moved. The emissary got to its feet and placed a hand on the shoulder of its subordinate. "Enough time has passed now, I think. If I am to fulfil my promise to you, Utha, we must begin again, and swiftly. Leave me. And send the Withered. I have a task for him"
Author's note: Well, it wouldn't be right to end this without at least one reference to 30 Seconds to Mars, particularly since it was the song 'This is War' that got me into Dragon Age in the first place!
Arthur Cousland will return...