Author's Note: Okay... You are going to notice a big change so allow me to explain. Having finally gone thorough my Dragon Age saves, I found my main play through and the character's name was Persia. I was struck by it and inserted the name into this story, replacing that of Scarlett thinking it fit better with what I was trying to do. I hope this doesn't cause you much disturbance while reading. Also, quite a few of my reviewers have found Zevran to be particularly in character and I realize now that I subconsciously used Rudolph Valentino as a reference for him. Any fans out there? Or am I the only one? Well. If this chapter has mistakes let me know, this is rather rough. Trying to update more frequently.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
Anaïs Nin

The Long Walk

While she hadn't been treated quite like a prisoner on The Blessed Sophia, it still remained to be seen if she would be treated so on dry land. Anders and Persia had passed the last week sleeping in the cargo hold with mattresses of stuffed hay and a bath promised when they made port.

Persia stood up on the deck and watched Denerim come into view as the ship glided into port. It wasn't as breathtakingly huge as Val Royeaux and while the marketplace smells wafted over the water and had a propensity to smell of fish and meat rather than spices and perfumes, it still felt like a homecoming to her.

"Ah, wet dog," Anders waggled his eyebrows at her, "Home."

Quinn stepped up before she could reply to him with two large men in tow, and introduced them as Pate and Max. Pate had coloring similar to Quinn with a large tuft of brown hair on his chin and unruly hair with silver beads threaded throughout, while Max was the smaller of the two with bright pink cheeks, orange curly hair and a disagreeable expression on his face. Of the two, she thought, Pate might be nicer. Quinn's admonishment brought her back from her scrutiny of the men, "These two are to deliver you. Do them a favor and go willingly."

Persia hoped he felt guilty for giving her no real option. She raised her chin up and nodded with as much Cousland pride as she could manage, which she suspected wasn't much. Pate and Max gripped one arm each and guided her down the makeshift board steps to the docks. Closing her eyes she heard the murmurs of Antivan, Tevinter and Ferelden accents blending together more melodiously than she could have thought possible as they lead her through the mud.

Earlier she had said her goodbye's to Anders who had expressed hope that they might meet again, but she didn't expect she would since he had spoken about going to Kirkwall to meet a friend. When questioned he had been deliberately vague about which friend.

Denerim had more mud that Val Royeaux, perhaps even all of Orlais, and this was something she hadn't missed as it squelched beneath her feet and gripped as she pulled her leather boots free. Pate swore under his breath when he almost lost a boot to it. She had expected the tittering voices of gossips to follow her through the streets, but they did not, instead there was only the sounds of voices bartering, begging and swearing.

"Maker!" The word was pulled from her as her feet hit cobbled street, it was just beyond the very last market stalls that it started. Someone had been hard at work on this and it had been completed recently.

"He must be taking a page from Empress Celene's book." Pate muttered to Max as they paused for a moment to wipe their boots off on the rough rocks.

"But it's not nearly as good as Orlais." Max countered considering Persia's carefully schooled expression. Indeed, she was surprised that Alistair would do this. The man she had known while appreciative of aesthetically pleasing things, had at the time such a dislike of the Kingship that she'd assumed he'd be too busy trying to govern and itching to be free than to try and improve Ferelden this way.

"You should hear what else he's been trying to build!" Pate exclaimed and Max smiled, he knew she had her attention as he slyly turned his head toward Pate.

"No, what?"

"Fountains and water pipes that bring water to the castle. I guess his majesty wants hot water that the elf servants don't have to carry about the castle." Pate's grip on her arm loosened a bit as he continued on, "Talk is, his advisers aren't happy about his ideas and that the plans are so similar to the Orlesian design."

Persia gathered that Pate had spent a good deal of his time in Orlais and wasn't the typical pirate. Regardless of that fact, he was blissfully unaware of Max's intentions. Luckily a passing cart of supplies derailed Pate's current thinking and he started on about the Summerday festival and it would take some time to get Pate back to Alistair's reign.

This was enough time for her to critically compare the King's improvements to that of Orlais and wonder where she was exactly being taken. Surely not the dungeons she hoped, but she wasn't expecting to be placed in a nice room and treated like an honored guest. Fort Drakon had been freezing and a disaster trying to escape from. The words were out before she could stop herself, "You aren't – I'm not being taken to the dungeons, am I?"

Max squinted at her, his muddy brown eyes skeptical as a rather nasty smile spread across his face, but Pate interceded, "No. We were told a delegate would be meeting you at Arl Eamon's city estate."

At this news her stomach knotted. Eamon had always been nice enough and grateful to boot since she and her companions had saved him, but he was more than a little conniving beneath his calm expressions and relaxing words. And who was the delegate to the king? Leliana? Fort Drakon now seemed like a much easier stay than facing Eamon or Teagan.

Pate began again about various reconstruction projects and renovations that either had been planned or were actively being discussed by the bann's and arl's. The knots were tightening in her stomach and Pate's words pounded in her head right along with the hammering of her heart. Vaguely she wondered how Pate could know so much about Ferelden when he traveled so extensively with Quinn.

Max's grip tightened and she was thrown forward by the force of their sudden stop. Looking up, she saw the estate looming before her and behind the gate Zevran smilingly wickedly at her.