Outside of Denerim's gates, the air had seemed lighter, somehow. As if the weight of the city life inside of the country's capital had somehow even affected the weight of the sky on the people below it. Kallian had never been out of the gates for any long periods of time, nor had she ever been so far away from the city as she was now. In any other circumstance, she would have enjoyed the open spaces and the freedom that came with being outside of the city's walls. But she wasn't happy, and she never would be.
Amaranthine wasn't far away. She had already traveled far to get there, walking almost non-stop from when she started out of the Alienage to now. She should have been exhausted from the hard traveling, but Kallian was far past the point of tired. She was in a state of numbness now, the past few days having been enough time to let the anguish of the city consume her and drown out all of her other emotions until there was nothing left but the need to keep moving. So that's exactly what she was doing.
There was a vague idea in her head that she would get to Highever. She'd heard that Basher was back in the country and had holed up with his brother, Teyrn Cousland, but Highever seemed very far away to the bone-weary elf. She would stop in Amaranthine, then, and hopefully the Wardens wouldn't mind if she crashed for a few days in the barracks or something. Theron had said that wherever the Wardens were she'd be welcome. She hoped that was still true. It had been a month since she'd seen him, but the invitation to come to Amaranthine was offered anew every time he visited the Denerim Alienage. But things changed. Or they didn't, depending on which side you were looking from.
The Vigil's Keep of Amaranthine loomed out of the red skies of sunset by the end of that day, though Kallian barely noticed. She was simply putting one foot in front of the other at this point, going for the sake of walking and with barely a thought to what she was doing or where she was headed. The patrol of Wardens went completely unnoticed by her when she passed them by. Nathaniel Howe was the first to spot her, initially confused as to why a lone elf would be trudging the roads at near night. When he reported the sight to Theron however, the lone elf girl suddenly found herself surrounded by Wardens that to her tired mind had simply materialized out of the golden twilight that encompassed the rolling Amaranthine hills.
"Kallian! By the Creators, what are you doing here?" He asked hurriedly, his rolling Dalish accent in full force as he came upon her, touching her shoulder briefly.
Her smile was small and slow in coming, the exhaustion of her trip clearly displayed in her eyes. "I'm glad to see you too." In the next breath she collapsed and only through Theron's cat-like reflexes did she not hit the ground.
Startled and worried, Theron looked at the others staring just as curiously at the sight. Gently he gathered the unconscious girl in his arms and lifted her, cradling her slight form against his chest. "Nathaniel, finish the patrol. I'll take her back."
The human Warden nodded, though lingered a moment instead of heading off immediately. "Are you sure that you want to go alone, Commander?"
Theron shrugged Kallian into a more comfortable position, bearing her weight easily. "If I get killed a hundred feet from my own doorstep, then I probably deserve it. Finish the patrol." Nathaniel snapped off a salute in understanding, took the others in their party, and left to finish the last leg of their patrol before they were to turn in for the evening. With an unconscious Kallian in his arms, Theron could only wonder what exactly had happened to drive her so far from the city that she never left.
It was a bright light that woke her. Underneath a window in the Vigil's Keep of Amaranthine, Kallian was struggling to stay asleep when the sunbeams of mid-afternoon were trying to dictate to her otherwise. Groggily she reluctantly woke, only to find herself in a strange place. At first she panicked, reaching for her weapons to find them not on her person. Wildly she looked around and saw all of her things piled neatly on a stand next to her bed, which was definitely not a product of the Alienage that she had grown up in. The bed was moderately sized and not uncomfortable, which was saying a lot. She was more than used to the thin lumpy hole-in-the-wall that she normally stayed in, and this spacious room with its narrow stone windows was a drastic change from her little homey hovel.
It was only after a moment staring at the walls and out the windows that she remembered she had left Denerim entirely. A flash of Theron's face staring at her worriedly against the backdrop of golden twilight crossed her eyes, and she relaxed somewhat. She had made it to Amaranthine, at least, though her feet were protesting even the thought of continuing to walk the way to Highever. Her decision made by her aching soles, Kallian decided she would weasel a couple days of room and board out of the Wardens before continuing on to Highever.
Before she could begin to wonder where the nearest source of food would be, there was a soft knock at her door and the Hero of Ferelden cautiously poked his head in. When he saw that she was awake and decent, he came in the rest of the way, leaving the door cracked behind him. "You gave us all quite a scare, lethellan." He said gently, walking to the side of her bed and checked her over briefly with his eyes before perching on the edge of her bed near the foot. "I had Velanna give you a once-over. What happened? She said you were badly injured and patched you up the best she could."
For the first time, Kallian realized that it wasn't just her soles that were sore, but her sides and her arms as well. Touching her wrists out of nervous habit, she looked away from Theron's dark gaze, out at the sliver of sky she could see through the window. "Shianni's dead."
The quiet confession was made with a break in Kallian's voice. Theron stilled hearing that, his eyes widening in surprise. "How long ago?"
"How long have I been walkin'?" Kallian asked bitterly, turning her eyes back on him, revealing for the first time the tears that shimmered in her green gaze. "As soon as they killed her… I ran. I tried to stop them, but it was just…" The first tear splashed on her arm and Kallian ducked her head, folding up her knees and buried her face against them. "Maker, why?" She hissed through choked off sobs, struggling valiantly against the urge to break down, though it was a losing battle.
At first, Theron didn't know what to do, then he stood and came to her side, placing a hand on her shoulder and suddenly found himself with his arms full and simply held Kallian as she shuddered with grief and rage. "T-t-they dragged her outta the Alienage." She finally managed through her sobbing, her fists tightening until her knuckles turned white. "Things were goin' so well. It- it was fine. Then the humans- there was a riot." She was speaking brokenly as fast as she could through sobs, unwilling to lift her head to look at him. "They killed Valendrian. He- he only wanted them to stop. Shianni, she got so angry. We all did. But they were just… And I tried. Maker, I tried. To stop them. But they grabbed me too and it was just like that wedding all over again. And they- they-"
The intensity of her emotions got the best of her and she finally broke down in a crying heap, holding onto the front of Theron's shirt as if it were the last tangible thing in the world. The Hero was struck dumb and had nothing to say that could possibly ease her pain. He simply held her and waited until she calmed down, her sobbing becoming tearful hiccupping. "Th-the others t-tried to save her." She stuttered through her tears, squeezing her eyes shut tight against the scene playing out in her head. "But the g-guards came too late. They got Shianni, stoned her to death in front of the Hall. Maker, the screaming! And the boys, I- I told them to run. To get out while they could. But they fought. We'd been fighting for so long… we forgot how to run. I-" She paused, inhaling deeply. "Oen, Rido, Sticker, Elai, they all tried. But the guards… Maker, and they just wouldn't listen. And the shems were screaming for blood and the King's men came but it was too late…"
She shuddered again, harder this time and rested her forehead just under Theron's collarbone, tugging on his shirt once. "I… I'm the only one left. All the rest…" She drifted off and Theron made no attempt to make her finish the sentence.
"You'll be safe here." He finally said, absorbing her story and piecing it together. Theron hadn't heard of the riot in Denerim. It was possible that Kallian was the first of many messengers he would get of the situation. As the only other elf on the Landsmeet council, Theron and Shianni had been close allies in the political ring. It was easier to change policies when the Hero of Ferelden was backing the proposals, and the Denerim Alienage had seen some justice following her appointment as Bann. He'd come to know the Alienage elves a little better, though hadn't spent as much time with them as he'd have liked. His duties as a Warden always seemed to supersede his duties as an Arl, and so had no time for cordial diplomatic visits with the elfin Bann and her hot-headed cousin.
He'd been hearing rumors for months of the unrest in the human population of Denerim, but no one had seemed to think that it was ever going to get as bad as it had. It seemed that they'd all be fooled, and Shianni had paid the price. He would have to talk to Alistair and see what was going on in the capital for something to happen like this, and he would have to increase the security in his own hold for the elves that lived in the Arling. If he could help it, there would be no repeat performance under his watch.
Kallian finally let go, seeming to have cried as much as she was going to cry for now and folded her hands in her lap, her head hanging low. "I can't go back to Denerim. Never again. There's… nothing left for me there."
His heart broke to hear Kallian sounding so defeated and reached out to put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "You can stay here as long as you need." He said quietly into the silence that had elapsed between them. "Amaranthine could use someone like you here. I could use someone like you here."
She lifted her gaze, studying his face carefully before finally nodding. "I'm… not really plannin' on goin' anywhere. Thanks. For lettin' me stay."
"Any time, lethellan." Theron replied and gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze, standing up and letting his hands drop to his side. "If you can stomach the thought of food, then follow me. They're serving lunch in the mess hall for the soldiers off patrol."
She spent the rest of the day after lunch on tour of Vigil's keep, meeting the other Wardens that happened to be around at the time as well as some of the soldiers outside of the Grey Warden's order that protected Amaranthine. They did a short patrol around the outer walls before she was finally allowed to turn in, tired from the day's events. The next day was much the same, and Kallian began to notice the trend. Theron was doing everything in his power to keep her occupied. She was left with little time to dwell on what she'd run away from in Denerim, and a small part of her silently thanked him. Dwelling was not one of her favorite past times, and between attaching to patrols and sparring with either Theron or other willing participants, she found her days full of something besides dwelling to do.
Before she'd even realized it, a week had passed at the Keep, and now that she was recovered from the superficial wounds she had sustained during the Denerim Riot, Kallian was getting antsy. It was twilight, and she was walking the walls with Theron, the two sharing an easy silence as they walked along.
"I think I'm gonna head on to Highever tomorrow." She finally said, breaking the silence.
Theron didn't react immediately, instead seeming to think quietly to himself before speaking. "I'll come with you. Aedan's free leave from Orlais ends in another two weeks. I was going to have him come back to the Vigil before his leave ended, but I can accompany you to Highever instead."
Kallian looked at him out of the corner of her eye, then smiled to herself. "It's weird, you being in charge of Basher."
"One of the many benefits of being a Hero." Theron replied dryly, though it was with a small smile of his own. "I get to order around dispossessed nobility. Between Nathaniel and Aedan, I can hardly contain myself. Although I will admit; it is my goal to get one son of every major Ferelden noble family into my command."
Kallian's laugh echoed through the stone keep. "Didja just make a joke? I never knew you had it in you." She shot him a devilish grin to which the Dale responded in full with one of his own, and the quiet companionable silence returned for a moment. "Shianni really appreciated it, you know." Kallian said, her voice gone somber. "The two of you workin' together in the Landsmeet, I mean. She had it rough, but she loved it. Up until the end, anyway. She thought that there could be real change for once, an' you helped."
Theron inclined his head slightly. "Before I met you, I never would have imagined myself trying to help the elves of the city in any way, save if they came to my clan of their own free will. You are remarkable that way, lethellan."
Kallian's answering smile was timid and she clasped her hands behind her back to keep from fidgeting nervously. "Thanks, I think. I didn't do much. Just punched you in the face a couple'a times."
His laugh caught her off guard. "Yes, well, that does seem to be the most common reaction I get out of women." Their patrol had come to an end, the two standing in front of the large doors that would lead to the main hall of the Keep. "If you are not up at dawn, then I will come wake you. We'd best be off as quickly as possible tomorrow."
She nodded her understanding, pushing open the door and letting herself inside, Theron following along shortly after. "I'll see you at dawn, then." The two went their separate ways, Theron to find either Nathaniel or Oghren and alert them that the Keep would be in their capable hands while he was gone, and Kallian back to her room to ponder everything that the Warden had said.
The next day she found herself in the company of not only the Warden, but his dog as well. Falonfen seemed overjoyed to see her again and she got the traditional Mabari greeting from him. Falonfen had knocked her over, pinned her to the ground, and was laying waste to her face with his big slobbery tongue, stubby tail wagging all the while. Eventually Theron came to save her, his usual grim mask of duty cracked by a small grin.
"Stop looking so smug." Kallian grouched, getting herself up and wiping her face on both her sleeves, but still felt a bit sticky. And smelly.
"I don't know what you're talking about, lethellan." Theron replied in a neutral tone, though the smile was not gone from his face as he stroked the big mabari on the head.
She shot him an unamused glare and was about to let Theron know exactly what she thought of his smug attitude when Nathaniel interrupted them.
"Commander." The human Warden dropped a respectful nod in Theron's direction, sparing Kallian a quick searching glance. "The others have been informed. They all wanted to wish you a safe journey."
"Thank you, Nathaniel." Theron replied with a returning nod. "Make sure that Oghren doesn't drink himself dead. I'll be back in a week or so."
A ghost of a smile twitched at Nathaniel's lips at that and dipped his head once. "Of course, Commander. See you in a week."
Goodbyes exchanged, Theron escorted Kallian outside the walls, and then the two elves were out on the road alone together. Most of the time Theron talked about life at the Keep and Kallian listened without comment, partially lost in her own world. When the sky began to darken she kept herself busy with setting up camp, silently dreading having to put down for the night. Keeping her mind off things was easy enough when she was awake, but the nightmares were another story, and seemingly unavoidable. She ate in silence, Theron watching her like a hawk the whole time, and the two shared an uneasy quiet around the fire afterwards, Falonfen curled up near the woods and snoring quietly.
"Hey, Theron, do you ever jus' sit an' wonder What If?" Kallian asked when she could finally bear it no more, her head tipped back to look at the stars.
Theron tried to catch her eye, but Kallian would not look at him. "I wondered that almost every day in the beginning." He replied quietly, turning his gaze to the fire instead and draped his arms across his raised knee. "But in all my wondering, I've come to find that wishing does not have the power to change the past."
Kallian closed her eyes and suddenly flopped backwards, her arms spread out on the grass. "Yeah, I guess. There are a lotta things that I wish wouldn'tve happened if I could just un-make 'em." She fell silent then, the sounds of the night and the crackling of the fire the only noise to be had.
"Long ago, when elves were immortal, they would choose to enter the long sleep. It was not death as we know it, but it was treated as such for the eldest of the race who went into an endless dream. Uthenera." Theron said idly, looking away from the fire to meet Kallian's curious gaze. "That was before the shemlen, too. But then when the quicklings came and the Elvhenan of old intermingled with them, our lives grew short. Uthenera is no longer an option for our race, but I like to think that one day, when I die, I will wake up beside those who went before me, as if from a dream."
"That's sort of sweet." Kallian mumbled, lacing her hands over her stomach and closed her eyes. "I just… didn't want it to end like this."
"Then do not think of it as an end." Theron replied, turning away from the fire completely. "Perhaps it is the beginning."
Kallian was quiet, then drew herself up into a sitting position. "A beginning, huh?"
"Yes, another start. After Highever, come back to Amaranthine with me." As if reaching for a frightened animal, Theron took one of Kallian's hands and held it gently. "It is not easy starting over." He said quietly, tones of sincerity and sadness ringing in his voice. "But it is easier if you have someone there with you when you feel most alone. I had Alistair, even though I think I was comforting him most of the time. I will be there for you, lethellan, if you let me."
Kallian's gaze was searching as she quietly appraised Theron, then she took her hand back and stood, walking next to the fire. She could feel Theron's eyes on her back but she didn't turn to make eye contact. Instead she worked at the knots of the red gloves on her hands, taking both off and holding them in her palms, the scars of her wrists silvery in the firelight. "A new start…" She mumbled to herself, and then tossed the two wrist guards into the campfire.
Once the material caught, it burned quickly, the thin fabric rapidly eaten by the voracious fire. Kallian turned her back to the flames and sat down next to Theron so that their shoulders touched. She reached out until her fingers brushed the area on his arm where she knew the huge bite-shaped scar was and met his curious gaze with a surprising amount of conviction. "I'll come back to Amaranthine with you."
Theron's answering smile was both surprised and relieved at the declaration. He was even more surprised when Kallian willingly leaned her head against him, cuddling against his shoulder. "We've had fun these past three years, right?" She asked quietly.
"If you call causing shemlen trouble fun, then yes." He replied with a slight smile and put his arm around her shoulders, drawing her close. She squeezed her eyes shut tightly and made a small noise in her throat that sounded suspiciously like she was choking back on a sob. Theron dipped his head and quietly put a kiss on her temple. "I will protect you until you can hold your head high and smile earnestly again, lethellan." He whispered against her hair. "Until then, we can be each other's clan."
She shivered and nodded, tangling her fingers in the side of his shirt and blinked away the tears gathering on her lashes. "Thank you."
The city of Amaranthine had only started getting used to the idea of peace and tranquility when rumors of ghosts that would prowl the roofs at night began springing up in all corners of the Arling. Strange rumors of shadows in the night were on everyone's lips, and some even whispered that perhaps the rogue elf Kallian Tabris had something to do with it, but there was never any proof. Miraculously, despite the sudden apparent haunting of the city, the rate of crime plummeted almost over night.
With an elf as their Arl, the human citizens became uneasy and there were rumors time and again of a rebellion stirring among the people and the nobility. Other elves from all over Ferelden began to flock to the city however, hopeful that at the very least, having an elf in charge would make their lives easier. Under the merciful watch of The Hero of Ferelden, the city elves saw some justice denied to them in other cities. Some humans left, but those who stayed witnessed a transformation unlike anything that had ever occurred before. The elves, given more rights, used their vast pool of craftsmen skills to make Amaranthine a wealthy city, becoming a hub of trade in its own right.
Though there was never an official wedding between Warden-Commander Mahariel and the mysterious Kallian, it was widely understood that there was no other woman that would turn the Hero's eye. When he suddenly disappeared, Amaranthine mourned the loss of its Arl, but continued on as always. Rumors put him in the Free Marches, seeking out his clan, but there was no word if he found them or not. Whatever the Warden-Commander's fate, Kallian shared it, following along as tightly as his shadow.
So, this one was a little bit of a mashup for what happens if you get a City Elf Warden, and the results of the various choices that you can make during the Boon sequence. Shianni did not become a Bann immediately in my version. This Epilogue takes place very close to the Qunari attack on Kirkwall (within a couple of weeks either before or after), and so a handful of years have elapsed since the end of the Blight. Shianni was only recently made a Bann in the court, like a few months to a year ago previous to this Epilogue, and so tensions were running high already when the food shortage happened and the riot in Denerim occurred. There is no happy ending for the elf Banns of Denerim, unless it is the Warden that takes the title. So, Viola. Sad unhappiness for poor Kalli, followed by an excellent example of how she's the hardest character to romance, and why poor Ther-bear has been having such a rough time despite blatant flirting.
And that, my friends, is the end! I hope you enjoyed the ride, because I certainly did! For those of you who watch me as an author, be on the look out for the alternate endings of Heirs of Honor, which I'll publish separately to this story. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who reviewed, watched, favorited or simply looked at this story. I really couldn't have done with without your guy's support, and it meant a lot to me and really inspired me to keep writing despite life, writer's block, and whatever else kept me from updating. And now onward to DA3, yes?
P.S. I have a story in the works right now that follows Derik and his adventures after the Blight. The first chapters of that will probably start appearing in a couple of weeks. Due to it's nature, it will be M rated. So, anyway, end of the announcements.