Imperfect Creature;

or, Nine Ways of Looking at a Warden


one: the witch

She watches the woman Warden, and wonders.

They do not like each other. There is a measure of grudging respect, and their skills are complementary. But Kathil Amell (and her mother knew another Amell, once upon a time, but that is neither here nor there, is it?) is a Circle mage to the bone, raised to know nothing more than cold stone and colder obedience.

Morrigan is an apostate, and she frightens the little Warden.

Well does she know it, and well does she use it. She is too useful to dismiss and too powerful to safely leave behind, and so they bring her with them. Denerim, Haven, Orzammar; all of these places Morrigan goes, crow-black and crow-avid.

The moment approaches, though it is not here quite yet. Flemeth whispered into her ear and said, go. And she wonders if Amell suspects.

Surely she knows something. Because she is here in Morrigan's room in Eamon's estate, and she is wearing a path in the carpet. Morrigan has been ignoring her.

"She looks at me like she thinks I might make a nice pet." Amell's voice is murderous, and low. "I did not think—after all these months of traveling with you, you'd think I'd be used to it by now." She does not face Morrigan. Instead, she is staring into the fire.

"And why do you care? You plan to betray her anyway." This has not been discussed, but Amell's only reaction is to tighten her lips. She is long used to Morrigan's ability to pick out meaning from the smallest of cues.

Little does she suspect the circumstances that necessitated the development of that discipline. If Morrigan has her way, she never will.

"I expected better of her." A pause; a soft exhale. "I don't know why."

Because the Queen is beautiful, and she is alone, and somewhere deep inside that cracked and craven little heart of yours there is a woman who wants badly to ride to the rescue.

But Morrigan says nothing. Let her stew. Let her wind herself up in emotion; it will make what comes, what must come, easier. Morrigan will keep her clarity, even when all around her are floundering in the tidal floods of grief.

Kathil turns to her. Her chin lifts; she breathes in. "Do you ever worry about what happens, after the Archdemon?"

Yes.

"Why would I? 'Tis not my concern, this country of yours. All things bleed, and all things die." Morrigan closes the book that she has been pretending to read. "Though I am not sure why you care. You've seen the opinion most of the people you meet hold of you."

The crackle and pop of the fire fills the silence of the room. Amell's face twists. "Some day, Morrigan, I hope you learn what it means to love something that is incapable of loving you back."

Then she is gone, walking out of the room and away.

Ah, but I do know, my Warden.

All her life, nothing she has ever loved has returned her regard. The creatures of the forest fled; Flemeth regarded her as a tool, nothing more. And Amell—

I will save your life, little Warden. And you will never thank me, or forgive me.

Morrigan refills her cup of water from the flask and opens her book once more.