Disclaimer: Dragon Age Origins/Awakening belongs to Bioware and EA Games
AN: I am so sorry for not updating for so long! An explanation will be at the end of the chapter.
Chapter Summary: Gwen and Riordan go through the Warden Compound, argue with the King, and find an old friend from the Tower…
See Who I Am
Chapter 3 – The Departure and Finding an Old Friend
The missive from the First Warden plagued Riordan's mind for the next few days. It was implied that if it was found out that the survival of the two Ferelden wardens was due to something sinister, he would have to execute both Gwen and Alistair. That was something he did not want to do. Alistair is turning out to be a fine monarch for the country and Gwen…
Well, Gwen was special.
During the time he was recovering from his injuries, the tiny elven woman would make sure he was comfortable. She showed him kindness and compassion, something that some close-minded people would not believe a mage was capable of showing. She had regaled him with stories of her time in the Circle and while travelling with her motley band of misfits to defeat the Blight.
Riordan sighed softly as he left his room in the Palace and made his way to the kitchens to grab a quick snack. It was early morning and the Warden was usually up by this time, practicing her forms in the training grounds. He wanted to speak to her about going through the old Grey Warden compound in the Palace. He smiled to himself as he though back to the first time he saw the elven mage spar with the Antivan. She was something else…
He heard a few loud voices as he approached the exit to the training grounds. As Riordan pushed the door open, he spied Gwen, dressed once again in her drakeskin armor, having a heated discussion with what looked like a Templar. He quietly crept closer so he could hear what they were arguing about.
"It was well known that you, Jowan and Anders were the best of friends in the Circle, Surana," the Templar groused loudly, his eyes narrowing.
"Ser Jensen, you are an ass to think that I would know anything Anders would do," Gwen retorted hotly, her lavender eyes flashing angrily. "So this is his seventh escape attempt? Even if I did know where he was, I would not tell you!"
Jensen looked like he was about to go for his sword, causing some concern in the Orlesian Warden's mind. "You helped a blood mage escape the Tower and we know that Jowan was in Redcliffe. You let the maleficar get away yet again! I have half a mind to have the Grand Cleric declare you an apostate so you can be dragged to Aeonar!"
The silver haired mage laughed loudly, but it was far from being mirthful. When she finished, her eyes darkened dangerously, causing the Templar to take a step back. "Who do you think you're talking to, Templar?" she asked in a low voice. "Do you think that I'm still just a scared little apprentice to fall in line to your inane rhetoric? I have seen horrors that would make your soul wither. I have done things that would make lesser men cringe in fear. I did all of this to make sure that Ferelden stays standing…I did this for all, be they human, elf, or dwarf." Gwen took in a deep breath and then stepped closer to Jensen, causing the man to move backwards again. "And remember, I am the Warden-Commander of Ferelden. I do not answer to the Chantry…and most of all, I do not answer to their Templar lapdogs. Now, before I lose my temper even more and see how well your armor conducts lightning, I suggest that you leave. IMMEDIATELY."
The Templar hissed slightly, his hand on the hilt of his sword. "This is not over, Warden." At that, the big man turned abruptly and roughly pushed Riordan away. The dark haired Warden sighed and walked over to the seething mage. He gently placed a hand on her shoulder. He saw that her body was shaking from the confrontation and wanted to calm her down.
"Are you okay, lass?" he asked kindly, knowing that she was not really okay.
Gwen looked down at the ground and closed her eyes. "I will be in a few minutes, Riordan. Thank you for asking though." She shook her head for a moment and breathed softly. "No matter what I have done for this country, all I will always be just a filthy mage to those Templars and Chantry zealots. It just…hurts."
Riordan had the urge to take the young woman into his arms to comfort her, but he knew that would not go over well. Instead, he gently placed a finger under her chin and lifted her face up so he could see into her eyes.
"Do not let those people bother you, lass. You are far stronger than you give yourself credit for." He thought for a moment and then smiled at the elf. "Actually, I came here to ask if you wish to go through the old Warden compound here in the Palace. I'm sure that we can find some things that we can take with us to Amaranthine."
Gwen's eyes lit up and she gave the other warden a genuine smile. "I would like that, Riordan. Do you think that there may be some spell books there?"
Riordan chuckled softly and gestured for her to follow him. "I do not see why not. There were a couple of Wardens that were mages…"
The Orlesian Warden smiled inwardly as he watched the tiny mage sift through the weapons, armor and other sundries that were still in the old compound. It was almost watching a child finally getting a toy that she had always wanted. He picked through some of the items that were left behind by Teyrn Loghain and sighed. Most of the more valuable items were already taken, but there were still some good pieces still there.
The items that were deemed usable, he had them packed up in crates and sent ahead to Vigil's Keep. He also had some various supplies, such as health potions, lyrium potions, and the like sent as well. He was not sure on how well stocked the Keep would be and he just wanted to be prepared, just in case.
After two weeks went by, Riordan decided to take one more look around the compound to make sure that he and Gwen did not miss anything. He walked down the empty corridors, putting his hand on a wall every now and then. A small, sad smile graced his features as the memories he did have of this place went to the front of his mind. He remembered his Joining with Duncan, and he was there for Alistair's Joining as well before he returned to Jader. He shook his head to free himself from memories of the past and wandered around a little bit more.
Just as he was about to head back to the main room of the compound, Riordan heard a delicate tune being sung through the hallways. It was like a gentle whisper of a breeze gently caressing his ears. It was one he had not heard for a very long time; not since the days of his youth back in Highever when he was just a wee lad. A small smile graced his face as he followed the ethereal tune to its source, passing by empty rooms and corridors.
The Orlesian Warden stopped in front of a doorway that led to a small, but well-stocked library. Earlier that day, he and Gwen went through most of the books and decided that they should stay here in Denerim. He glanced about the room and spotted his fellow Warden sitting in a plush-looking chair. It was rather large and it made the elf look even tinier. The smile on Riordan's face became softer when he realized that Gwen was the one singing the tune as she read from a rather large tome..
"You have a lovely voice, lass," Riordan stated as he entered the library, chuckling softly as the elven mage jumped at the sudden sound. She gave him a sheepish expression and closed the book.
"It's something that I barely remember from before I was sent to the Circle," she replied, standing up and showing her fellow Warden the book. "Whenever I get caught up reading a book, I always sing it. It's the only song I know of that I don't butcher with my voice. I've been told I usually sound like a banshee."
Riordan laughed softly at the grimace the elf made and then glanced at the title of the proffered tome. "It's about…battlemages?" he asked, being a little curious about it.
"Oh yes," Gwen answered excitedly, her eyes sparkling. "I've read about battlemages back when I was just an apprentice. They seemed so fascinating to me, but there weren't any real books on how to become one. I'm so glad to see this book here! I'm going to study this while we travel to Highever and then to Amaranthine. Maybe I'll learn some of the spells that's listed here."
The older Warden laughed again, his eyes showing his amusement. This young mage made him feel youthful again and it was a rather pleasant feeling. He held a hand out to the elf to help her stand. Instead of taking his hand, Gwen plopped the large book in the offered hand, a cheeky grin on her pale face. Riordan looked at the book and then at the grinning elf and shook his head, a soft smile on his face.
'A prankster, are you lass?' he thought to himself. 'After these past few months, I think I'm starting to finally see the real you.' He then gestured with his free hand towards the door. "I daresay that we have done all we can, lass."
Gwen nodded in agreement as she stood up from the plush chair and looked at it longingly. "Yes, I agree. I wish we would take that chair with us, though." The mage pouted. "It would be perfect in front of a fireplace."
Riordan was already at the doorway when he heard his fellow warden mention the chair. He turned around and saw the young woman's pout, her bottom lip sticking out. The innocent expression made the Orlesian Warden's breath hitch. She looked so appealing that for a moment, he thought that he felt the stirrings of something deeper within his soul. He shook his head free of that and chuckled softly.
"I'm sure that Vigil's Keep will have similar armchairs, lass. Come, we should let King Alistair know that we will be leaving for Highever shortly." Riordan's small smile widened at the mage scrunching her nose. It was adorable.
Gwen stomped her booted foot on the floor before pushing the other out of the way, clearly annoyed by the man's amused expression. "I'm sure that His Majesty will be pleased to be rid of us."
Two hours later, the two Wardens found themselves inside the King's study. Riordan did most of the talking while Gwen kept her arms crossed in front of her chest. She listened to the two making arrangements for more supplies be sent to Amaranthine for the Wardens. The elder Warden was making a comment about needing some possible new staff additions when the mage decided to finally speak.
"If it is possible, Your Majesty, I would like the elven servant Marigold be given leave to serve at Vigil's Keep," Gwen broke in. "She has been efficient in her duties here and I have read up that one needs to keep up the appearance of being practically a noble. She would be my, well, let's just call her my lady-in-waiting."
Alistair stared at the tiny mage for a moment and nodded. "I agree to this request of yours. I'll have her sent with a compliment of people being sent to Amaranthine. That will include masons, armor and metal smiths. Will that be satisfactory, Commander?"
The tone in his voice made Gwen inwardly flinch. She knew that he was being stiff and formal with them, but she did miss how they used to be friends before they had become lovers. "Yes, that will be more than satisfactory," was her leaden answer.
The former Warden wanted to be with his mage, but knew that circumstances forced the two apart. The past few months was hard on him because he would see the elf out in the training yards sparring with Zevran, or one of the off-duty guards. He sighed for a moment.
"The two of you are heading to Amaranthine tomorrow then?" he asked, his gaze flickering between Riordan and Gwen, gauging how close the two were standing to one another.
Gwen nodded. "Yes, we plan on leaving at first light. But first, we will be going to visit Teyrn Cousland in Highever…"
"What?" Alistair exclaimed, moving out from behind his desk to face her. "What do mean, visit Teyrn Cousland?"
The Warden mage unconsciously took a step back at the anger that seemed to pour out from the king. "He sent a missive asking for the presence of the remaining Grey Wardens to visit Highever and see the memorial that is being built."
Completely ignoring Riordan, Alistair stood in front of Gwen and brazenly grabbed her left shoulder. "You're sleeping with him, aren't you?" he nearly shouted. "Is it that easy to go and fu-"
SLAP! The king staggered back at the force of the slap that Gwen gave him, surprised that a tiny elf would have such strength.
"How dare you!" the young woman cried out, her lavender eyes flashing with anger and hurt, unshed tears forming. "You were everything to me and now I see how little I truly mean to you! You think that I'm so base as to sully the memory of what we had together? You do not who I am…maybe you never really knew me. Goodbye, Alistair…may the Maker forgive you because I will not." At that, she turned around and left, leaving Riordan alone with the monarch.
Riordan narrowed his eyes at the other man and shook his head. "In our talks together, Warden Surana always spoke well of you, Your Majesty. I'm sorry that you have not lived up to her, and my, expectations. Good day to you, King Alistair."
Alistair watched the elder Warden leave and he leaned against his desk, emotionally drained. He closed his eyes and let the tears fall down his cheeks. He had messed up the best friendship, and love, he ever had. He decided that he had to try and fix things…he just had to figure out how.
Riordan and Gwen had been on the road for almost a week since leaving Denerim. The elven mage decided to keep wearing her drakeskin armor, and not her robes, for travelling. She kept conversation alive with the other Warden, telling him some stories of her time in the Circle and during the Blight. The other knew that she did this to keep her mind off of what happened back in Denerim before they left. He saw how hurt his companion was after the altercation with the king and tried his best to keep her entertained with his own anecdotes of his time in Jader and as a warden in general.
They were leading their mounts by the reins, walking along the well-worn road to Amaranthine. Gwen was laughing at one particular funny story that involved Riordan and a Warden named Kristoff running away from a group of darkspawn in nothing but their smallclothes.
"…and then Kristoff turned to me and stated that he will never drink dwarven ale again," the brown haired Warden chuckled. "And then…" He stopped and looked around, feeling a familiar sensation form in the back of his head.
"Darkspawn," Gwen replied, her lavender eyes darkening as she led their horses to some high bushes for cover. Once she was sure that they would be okay, she drew Spellweaver out, the weapon crackling slightly with lightning and grabbed a dagger in her left hand. The two Wardens then headed in the direction where they felt the vile creatures. As they got closer, they heard sounds of fighting and Gwen recognized the sound, and feel, of magic being used. The magic felt familiar to her and she tried to remember where she had felt that particular magical aura. As they stepped on top of a hill, the silver haired mage breathed in quickly. Fighting the darkspawn was someone she never expected to see again. Her best friend…
Jowan brought his staff down hard on a genlock while shooting a fireball at more genlocks threatening a caravan of wagons. He was intent on killing these horrors before they got to these refugees. He knew his mana was getting low, but he swore to protect these innocent people from facing death, or worse, to those beasts. He felt something in the air and spotted a darkspawn emissary. It saw the apostate and started to draw its own magic to battle. Jowan couldn't let this thing attack and drew in more of his mana and sent out a Crushing Prison, trapping it if only for a moment.
The dark haired mage checked his belt and realized that he only had one lyrium potion left. Knowing that the spell will wear off soon, Jowan drank the potion quickly, feeling his mana reserves fill up quickly. He got out a Winter's Grasp and then followed it rapidly with a Stonefist spell, shattering the emissary. He then closed his eyes for a moment, muttering some sort of prayer. His eyes reopened and energy seemed to begin to coalesce around his hands. It was his, and the caravan's, last chance. He was going to try a spell that he only studied, but never cast…
Gwen watched in fascination at the young man gather the rest of his mana for one last spell. She glanced quickly at Riordan and then back at her friend. Memories of their time together in the Circle came to the forefront of her mind…
"Hi, I'm Jowan. You're new here aren't you?" A dark haired boy asked the scared little elven girl. Her light purple eyes showed fear, but that didn't deter the boy. He shyly held out his hand to the three-year-old. "Don't worry…I'll take care of you."
Gwen was five when she saw Jowan come back into their shared bunk, his eyes full of tears. The seven-year-old boy saw his friend and sniffled, giving the young elf a clear view of a black eye. She already knew it was done by one of the Templars and she gently brushed a lock of his brown hair away from his eyes.
"It'll be okay, Jowan," she whispered as she cast her first successful healing spell on her friend. "I'll take care of you too."
Gwen was six and Jowan was eight when they first met a blonde haired boy. The nine-year-old boy had a defiant look in his amber eyes. The silver haired elf tilted her head to one side and held out a hand. The new boy looked at her with a bewildered expression on his face. He hesitantly shook the tiny hand.
"You're tiny," the boy stated, his head tilted to one side to get a better view of the two younger children in front of him.
Jowan giggled while Gwen pouted. "I'm an elf. I'm suppose to be tiny." She then stuck her tongue out at the new boy and poked him with a finger.
"Hey, watch the poking, munchkin!" the blonde huffed, a look of mock anger on his face.
Before a fight could take place, Jowan went between the two, one hand on the flaxen haired boy and the other on Gwen's shoulder. "Hey, no fighting. We should be friends." He let go of the two and crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"You can call me Anders," the new boy stated, looking down at the floor. "You both really want to be my friend?"
Gwen nodded enthusiastically, grabbing Jowan's hand and Anders' hand. "You bet, Anders! The girl beside me is Jowan." She got a smack upside the head for that and they all laughed. "And I'm Gwen. Jowan and I will take care of you."
Shaken from her reverie, the silver haired mage watched as her dark haired friend cast a massive Firestorm. It was something she didn't think was possible for the apostate. He somehow directed it at the darkspawn in front of him and did not let it ignite the wagons. She was impressed by his control considering that he always had some trouble with fire spells. She could tell that his mana was dropping to dangerous levels, but she thought that he would get most of the grotesque things with the spell. But then…she saw a hurlock archer fire an arrow into Jowan's shoulder…
Gwendolynne Surana, the Ferelden Commander of the Grey, literally saw red. "JOWAN!" she cried out and started to run from the hilltop. She fired lightning spell after lightning spell, frying darkspawn as she ran. She slashed one in the chest with her sword and stabbed another with her dagger. She then let a current of energy run through her right arm and into the sword. She swung the weapon in an arc and let the energy loose. It struck several darkspawn, killing a few of them and knocking more onto the ground.
Riordan watched the tiny elven woman rush into the darkspawn horde, her weapons moving gracefully to kill the creatures and her magic decimating even more. Her movements for a second entranced him and then he ran after her, his own swords drawn. He killed whatever darkspawn was near and the ones that were knocked down by the elf's blast.
After making sure that all the darkspawn were dead, the Orlesian Warden wiped his blade clean on the grass and glanced around. He saw the refugees starting to come back to the wagons and gather those that were killed. Sheathing his blade, he went to help the poor people collect the dead. He kept thinking back to the look on Gwen's face when a darkspawn arrow struck the other mage.
The elven woman was more than furious, Riordan remembered. She was hell-bent on rescuing her friend and killing anything that got in her way. It was rather awe-inspiring to watch the tiny mage use magic and swordplay to defeat her foes. It was then no wonder she was able to defeat the Archdemon. That, once again, brought to mind the missive he received from the First Warden. How was he going to get the information on how Surana survived?
"Wake up, Jowan, you bleeding little girl!" Gwen shouted, shaking the downed mage and causing people to look over at her. "You're healed now, so stop pretending to be unconscious. Do you want me to burn your eyebrows off again? On purpose this time?"
"Maker's breath, Pip, do you ever shut up?" came the response. Jowan managed to sit up and rotated his shoulder a bit, no longer feeling the wound from the arrow. He then looked in the direction of a very familiar voice. That sweet, dulcet sound that always managed to screech the most obscene things in his ears during their childhood. "Gwen? Is…is that really you?"
As soon as he said something, the brunette was tackled back to the ground by a silver haired blur. "When I saw that arrow hit you…I don't know what came over me," Gwen cried in the crook of Jowan's neck. "You're my best friend, my only family other than Anders, and to see you hurt like that…I killed them, Jowan. I killed most of the darkspawn."
Jowan sat back up and embraced the tiny elf fiercely. He never thought that he'd see her again after Redcliffe. The almost-templar with Gwen did not want him to go because he was a blood mage but she let him free because of their friendship. She wanted her friend to be free from the Circle, free from the Chantry…those were dreams that she, Anders and he had shared since the three of them met all those years ago.
Riordan watched the two mages embrace, tears running down both of their faces. He smiled softly at the scene. He felt that Gwen needed someone to help her forget what had happened back in Denerim. Maybe this friend of hers will be able to help in that regard. Although, this apostate mage showed a degree of skill that not many mages possess, other than the Warden-Commander herself. An idea began brewing in his brain at the possibilities…
Two days later, Jowan, Gwen and Riordan set up camp near a small stream. Their food supplies were starting to get a little low so the two mages set up the necessities for staying the night. That left Riordan to go hunting for that night's dinner. As he approached the site with a couple of hares he already skinned, he heard Gwen and Jowan talking.
"What are your plans now, Jowan?" Gwen asked as she checked the kettle on the fire. "I don't want to hear about how the Templars caught up to a dangerous maleficar. I don't want you hurt."
The brunette sighed and poked a long stick in the fire, make it spark a bit. "I'm not sure. Ever since Redcliffe, I had been going by the name Levyn and helping out whenever I could. The people I helped, they didn't see me as a 'dangerous maleficar' or a possible blood mage…"
"But you are a blood mage," the elf pointed out. "And you know that once you use blood magic, there is always the greater danger of being possessed by a demon. Finn showed me a book about that."
Jowan snorted. "As if Flora had anything useful to add…remember when you said you used one of his precious books in a fire experiment?"
The laughter that came out from the silver haired elf was musical. It was a happy sound and it made Riordan's heart feel lighter. But it also made him feel something else…it was similar to what he felt back in the Warden Compound back in Denerim. He pushed that thought aside as he entered the campsite and set to putting the two hares on a roasting spit. He assessed his options and decided that now was the time to let the other two know of his idea.
"I have an idea for you, lad," Riordan began as he watched the two hares begin to roast. He looked into the brunette's pale eyes and then into lavender orbs. "If the Commander here agrees, I would like to recruit you into the Wardens."
Jowan's eyes widened in shock. "Me? A Grey Warden?"
The Orlesian Warden nodded. "Yes, you. I saw your skill while defending that refugee caravan from the darkspawn. With the Blight now over, it will be harder to have people join our ranks. Especially those with considerable skill."
"Are you sure?" the brown haired mage asked as he stared at the male Grey Warden. "I'm an apostate, a maleficar…a blood mage. Do you really want me in the Order?"
Gwen placed a gentle hand on his arm and smiled. "It would be perfect, Jowan, just think about it. You will be able to help so many people this way. You also have immunity as a Grey Warden. The Chantry can't touch us…those damned Templars can't touch us. Duncan, the previous Warden-Commander, conscripted me into the Wardens. I know I was angry at you for awhile for not telling me about your dabble into blood magic, but in reality, you saved me. Well, you did in a roundabout way…I got my dream of finally leaving the Tower because of you."
Jowan thought for a moment and glanced at the two Wardens. His best friend, a tiny silver haired elf, wants him to join. This Riordan, this Orlesian, thought that he was skilled enough to join. With nothing left to lose, he smiled and nodded.
"Yes, I will join the Grey Wardens."
AN: I do apologize for taking so long to update this story. When DA2 came out, I was hooked and played it nonstop whenever I was off from work. There are elements in the game that I may add to the story, but I'm not sure of that yet. Anyway, I hope this chapter came out okay since I have no beta…that reminds me…
I would like a beta for this story, but I don't know how to go about getting one and how to work with one…eh heh heh… (embarrassed laughter)
Music for this chapter:
I listened to the soundtrack of Tron: Legacy while writing this. Rinzler and The Game Has Changed were tracks I listened to while writing the argument between Alistair and Gwen. The darkspawn fight with Jowan and then with Gwen and Riordan were written to the tracks Derezzed, Fall, Disc Wars, and C.L.U.
The ending of the chapter was written to New Divide by Linkin Park.