Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Dragon Age universe but my games and strategy guides. This is just me making a mess in the sandbox.
The fires at Ostagar were still burning.
They had been the first thing Alistair had noticed after he'd stumbled out of the unfamiliar hut with little more than a rough blanket for modesty's sake. His eyes had gone immediately towards the ruined spires and then he had fallen to his knees as the flash of the darkspawn charging onto the top floor of the Tower of Ishal ripped through his mind. One hand had clawed at where he knew an arrow had pierced his armor, finding only a scar there to mock him.
Then there had been Morrigan behind him and her explanation that they had been the only ones her mother could save.
Somehow he'd found enough coherency at that point to rise and follow her back into the hut, eyes wide as he watched Flemeth put Karre Cousland back together. Then he'd stumbled after the younger witch as she mentioned clothes and his armor, too stunned and broken to blush when he'd dropped the blanket in his haste to don the familiar splintmail.
Alistair had been drawn back outside after that and he sat on a log near the edge of the pond, his boots half-buried in the murky water. His mind briefly came up with the scenario of some creature coming up from the depths and dragging him down but even that didn't move him. Part of him ached for such a quick end.
"How many dead?" he found himself asking Morrigan at one point, never dragging his eyes from the rising smoke.
"Tis a large number. More important to you, I think, is that all of your Wardens are dead."
Faces flashed through his mind at the words and he tried to shove them away, to not think about them and his six months of happiness. Duncan's face lingered for the longest and Alistair swallowed a sob for the man who'd saved him from the life he'd never wanted. He'd been given a family made up of a whole slew of brothers for six months and he would never forget that.
A face so similar to his own was recalled then and he almost locked his jaw, not wanting to ask.
He had to know though.
"And the King?" Oh Maker, where did the sudden strength come from to keep his voice even, to not let it break?
"Dead," answered Morrigan and part of Alistair broke. Tears welled in his eyes and he was suddenly on his feet, rage and sorrow battling in his heart.
"You lied!" he shouted towards the smoke and the ruined spires. "It was goodbye, you bastard!" Alistair then started giggling madly and collapsed back onto the log, burying his face in his armored hands. "I'm a bastard by birth and now you're a bastard for dying. Look, Cailan, now we really have something in common!"
He could feel Morrigan lurking behind him but the witch was leaving him alone. Probably thinking he was mad and that they should just get rid of him. He wouldn't mind either really.
Duncan was dead.
And so were all of his brothers.
A keening cry rose in his throat at the thought that he would never see any of them again. Never be witness to Duncan laughing after Gregor out-drank every Warden who challenged him. The tiny little elf Corbin would never again steal everyone's socks and (by some mysterious means) hang them from the rafters of the main hall of the Denerim headquarters. Tate would never tell the obviously over-the-top stories that made him blush no matter how often he'd heard them. He'd never hear Roger turn Warden history and lore into songs or watch the faces of his fellow enraptured by the power of the man's voice. And…and –
There were so many never agains.
More painfully though was the other never.
Cailan would never construct some reason for him to visit Denerim and see the King. He would never stare back at a face so like his own without a mirror in front of him. Never have the older man fumble his way through trying to be an older brother while he tried to be a younger. Never argue over nothing. Never spar for the fun of it. Never, never, never.
A hundred-thousand never agains between all of his brothers and Duncan.
"Why, brother?" choked out Alistair as his entire body began to shake like he was fit to fall apart. "Why did you have to ask me to go to the Tower? I would have fought. I would rather have died with you. With them. With Duncan."
"Tis none of my business but –" Morrigan's voice threw him for a loop for a moment then he realized what she was saying and roared to his feet.
"It damn well is none of your business!" he snarled as he spun to face her, water flying up from where his boots splashed in the pond. She blinked calmly back at him from where she bent over a fire and a cooking pot then laughed harshly. Alistair's eyes narrowed at the sound that felt so wrong this close to where too many good men and women had died and he growled, "So stay out of it."
The witch pursed her lips as she straightened, arms folding over her waist. She looked at him for a long moment, hawk-yellow eyes assessing, then smiled.
"One would think you would be happy to live and kill the man who betrayed you," she said ever so smugly and he had to choke down a sudden urge to wrap his fingers around her throat. "Tis your brother's general who turned his back."
"Loghain," he spat venomously and the rage suddenly burned through his veins as potently as the taint. Alistair recalled Karre mentioning the Hero of River Dane not being all that impressed with the Wardens or Cailan's plan of attack. He hadn't figured as much from the times he'd either heard about his brother arguing with the older man or when he'd actually witnessed the shouting matches. Tate had compared them to an old married couple and that had been the last thought he'd had on it.
The man had known Cailan since birth and he'd as good as murdered him.
Morrigan's quiet chuckle brought his attention back to her and she shook her head before leaning over the fire again. "Revenge tis a much better focus than grief, is it not?"
Alistair's mind shut down at that and he looked away from her back towards the spires of Ostagar with a heavy heart. Then he glanced towards the hut, where Karre still lay unconscious with no word on if she was going to survive, before bowing his head.
"Not if I'm the only one left," he said simply and sank back down onto the log. She sighed in irritation behind him but Alistair ignored her, his eyes focused on the still burning fires. Then he closed them for a moment, just long enough that the shades of the Wardens and his brother didn't flash before his mental eye, and clasped his hands together.
Let her live, he prayed in true earnest for the first time in years. Maker's mercy, if there is anything good left in this world, let her live.
I can't do this on my own.