Denerim – Victory
It was over. When the Archdemon died, the darkspawn horde crumbled, scattering to the winds. They were still a threat, but that's what the Wardens were for, yes? We destroyed the Blight, so we could take care of the little bands that popped up.
We got a message from the First Warden, expressing incredible surprise and high expectations for me. Yes, me. Alistair was being crowned King and Serenity was going to be his queen. I know they'd help, but ruling a war-torn kingdom was a hard enough job. So, they were stepping down as Wardens.
I was watching the coronation now, not really paying attention to what was being said, but rather what was being felt. It required less thinking.
Alistair, confident and strong, greeted the joyous and welcoming crowd with a bright smile. Serenity, calm and smiling, moved to stand by her fiancé and was greeted with a kiss, to the amusement of everyone.
The "Guests of Honor", consisting of most of our main party, were being introduced now. Alistair made sure to introduce everyone with an amusing, yet touching, speech. It was really hard to keep track of that, though. I really should be back in bed, but I had wanted to attend.
I had wanted to confirm that Morrigan truly had disappeared.
According to Serenity, Morrigan left as soon as it was confirmed I'd survive. She left me a small gift, a gold handheld mirror. It looked similar to the one I gifted her way back at our first Denerim visit. She apparently also left Serenity something, but Serenity actually flushed red and refused to answer what it was. I'd get it out of her later.
Speaking of her, she was smiling at me, subtly making a 'come here' gesture. I guessed I was being introduced.
Holy Andraste, these people could cheer loud. "What did he say?" I mumbled, already leaning against her. Revas, at my feet, licked my hand, trying to send me a little more strength.
I was so going to need it.
"Just declaring that you are the Hero of Fereldan," she explained. "Now, smile, darling." I obeyed. She knew these things better than me.
I looked over the crowd again. Valendrian, Dad, and Muriel were near the front, smiling proudly at me. Muriel was holding Dad's hand. Yeah, I was leaning more and more towards that 'adopting Muriel' idea Lanaya suggested. Shouldn't be hard. Lanaya said that her clan had basically adopted me, so the only trouble would be on my side of things.
Speaking of Lanaya, she was near them along with Keeper Marethari. Marethari's First, a small, child-like elf with a fascination with a broken piece of mirror, was staring in wonder at everything. I wondered how shocked they were going to be when Alistair declared later that the Hinterlands were going to be gifted to the Dalish as thanks for their help.
Not far from them were Irving, Solana, and Alim. It was the first time in years that a group of mages was allowed outside their towers without templar escorts. Greigor said that they were needed at the Tower and he could trust the three to behave. Strong words from a Templar. Maybe Alistair's plan to grant the Circle more autonomy would actually go through.
On the other side of the room were the surviving dwarves. A Kardol from the Legion of the Dead was near the front, chatting amicably with Queen Rica, Bhelen's diplomat. If I recalled correctly, Alistair was going to promise them additional aid.
Quite a few changes being planned, all told.
The Chantry called this age the Dragon Age, destined to be rife with violence and battles. But maybe we'd come out the better? That would be nice.
Another gleeful roar jolted me out of my wandering thoughts. "I missed something again."
Serenity laughed softly. "You are now the Arlessa of Amaranthine."
You have got to be kidding me. "How did that happen?"
"Amaranthine fell to Fergus after the death of Howe," she explained, still laughing. "However, Fergus doesn't want it, so it went to the Wardens."
Ugh… "I have to learn politics," I whined.
"I'll help," she promised. "Don't fret so much."
"So, I'm Hero and Arlessa?" She nodded. "What are you?"
"Queen of Fereldan, Teyrna of Gwaren, and, for some reason, Fereldan is adopting my dwarf-name: Lady Unifier." She rolled her eyes, but smiled slightly. "Do not forget, dear, you are also the Warden-Commander."
Right, forgot about that. The First Warden bestowed that title on me as soon as he found out I was still alive. The message also demanded an explanation for how in the Void I managed to survive, but I felt like keeping Morrigan a secret. I owed her that much, at least.
Another cheer and a small nudge told me that it was time to mingle with the crowd. Joy.
Here's hoping Revas could keep an eye on me. Apparently, that filter I've built up over the past year crumbles when I'm tired.
I slowly walked down as everyone began to mingle, deciding to talk to the first person I saw: Arl Eamon.
"It is over," he said as his greeting. "I can barely believe it."
"Same here," I replied cheerfully. "Except for the aches."
"I noticed you were leaning on Serenity." He paused, then sheepishly continued with, "Ah, it will take some time to get used to her title as Princess-Consort."
I blinked, confused. "Not Queen?"
"Not until she is married," he explained. "Until then, she is Princess-Consort Serenity Cousland, Teyrna of Gwaren and sister-heir to Teyrn Fergus Cousland of Highever." He chuckled. "Almost funny. Loghain had been working with Bryce to have either her or Fergus inherit. He didn't think Anora would be up to it."
"She's certainly not up for it now." Anora still refused to give fealty, so she remained locked up. I already had plans to talk to Zevran (or the Crows) to have her killed. Alistair and Serenity have too much to deal with to worry about a power-hungry bitch who refused to see that she's lost.
…Yeah, my filter's gone.
Arl Eamon chuckled and smiled. "It is regrettable that you will not be able to stay permanently at the capital, but it is understandable."
"I'll be back from time to time," I replied. "Alistair mentioned giving the Alienage an actual Bann." I couldn't wait for the nobles' reactions. "But, for now, I'm needed with the Wardens and, apparently, Amaranthine."
"You will have advisors and I highly doubt Serenity will leave you without her help." Meaning that when Serenity's done, all the problems will be taken care of and I'll have nothing to worry about. Yay. "I will remain here to help Alistair. He's thinking of many changes, even more than his father." Yeah, I'm aware of that.
"I can't wait!" I laughed. "But what of Redcliffe?"
"Teagan will take over for now," he explained. "I still do not know of all that happened, but…" He smiled warmly at me. "I cannot thank you enough for saving my wife and son. They are the joys of my existence."
I actually blushed. "I'm glad to have helped. Is Connor all right?"
"Very quiet, but otherwise, I think he's well." Still, Arl Eamon looked worried. "Ah, you have more people to greet besides this old man. Go, before your body cries for more rest."
As I nodded and walked off, I noticed Serenity chatting with Fergus and introducing Alistair to the blonde noble from the Landsmeet. Fergus waved and mouthed 'Sorry for the Arling'. I mimed hitting him and he grinned.
"I don't suppose you could chase him later for me, Revas?" I asked sweetly. Revas contemplated for all of a second before nodding eagerly. "Good boy."
"Hiya!" someone shouted as they barreled into my leg.
Laughing, I patted Muriel on the head. She had arrived after the battle, apparently sitting up with me while I was unconscious. Because Serenity insisted on gifting her a dress, she was now clad in dark green, matching her eyes and ribbons.
Of course, Muriel wasn't the only one Serenity decided to give gifts to. Dad and Valendrian were actually wearing clothing of the same quality as the attending nobles. Shianni and Soris, hidden somewhere in the crowd, did as well. Serenity had given them the clothing when she went to Valendrian to discuss what would happen to Amethyne, Iona's daughter. The end result was that Amethyne was now being trained by Erlina (still happily a Queen's maid) as a Lady-in-Waiting.
"Did you give a proper greeting to Valendrian earlier?" I asked. She widened her eyes and looked down guiltily. "Go do that now."
"Yes, ma'am!" She smiled and skipped off just as Dad walked up.
"She's adorable," Dad commented as we watched Muriel greet 'Elder Valendrian' formally and ask for a story later.
"Then you won't mind me adopting her?" I asked. "Keeper Lanaya suggested it and I'm liking the idea more and more."
He laughed. "Probably the only way I'd get a grandchild, with you being so independent."
"Yeah, well…" Thanks for reminded me that I've got people after me when I have no clue why or what to do about it.
He grabbed me in a hug. "I'm so proud of you, Agrona," he murmured into my hair. "I'm sure your mother is too."
"Thanks," I murmured, feeling like I was about to cry.
I think he felt the same as he pulled away. "Well, there's people who want to talk to you. I'll come by later to check in on you."
I nodded and walked off. Revas nudged me one direction while going the other. I was about to ask what in the Void he was planning when I practically ran into Leliana.
"Are you all right?" she asked, concerned.
"Tired, but otherwise, yeah." I smiled.
"This is a fine little party," she commented, looking around the area. "A good ending."
"This isn't a play," I chided. "The story goes on."
"That it does," she agreed. She looked like she was going to say something, but changed her mind. "I can't help but think of my vision. Whether or not it was truly the Maker who sent it." She shook her head. "Foolish thoughts. I believe it to be and that it was a very good thing."
"Yeah, who cares what it really is?" I grinned. "It's how you interpret it that matters. That's why stories are told, yes?"
"Yes, indeed!" She laughed before bending down to kiss my cheek. "Be sure to rest soon?"
"Considering I had a Wynne calmly explain to drag me back to my bed if it were required…?" I shuddered and she laughed. "Yeah, I'll be resting soon." I paused, thinking. "Speaking of her, I'm going to say 'hi' and see if I can charm my way into some leniency."
"Good luck!" she laughed before letting me go.
When I went to find Wynne, though, I found her in deep conversation with Irving. I wondered why.
"King Alistair requested a mage advisor," Alim explained, walking up. "The First Enchanter is trying to convince her to take the job."
"She should," I agreed. "We're all conditioned to listen to you by this point. Especially when she has that 'mom glare'."
"Oh Maker, that glare!" Solana complained, joining us. "She doesn't even have to say anything. Just level it on you."
"I hate it and I've only seen it once, when it wasn't even directed at me," Alim commented. "It was directed at Anders, for being sarcastic."
"Again." Solana laughed before smiling at me. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired and achy," I responded. "But alive." Which, if not for Morrigan, I truly wouldn't have been.
"It's good to see you standing," Alim said, smiling warmly. "We've been worried."
"Yeah, mister stoic here was fretting worse than a mother hen, while I tended to you," Solana teased, laughing when Alim shot her a glare. "Speaking of which, you have a check up in about thirty minutes. So, get moving."
"Great," I groaned. "More bed rest." Yes, I was tired, but I was also getting tired of looking at the same four walls.
"I could come by and tell you of some antics we got in at the Tower," Alim suggested hesitantly. "If you want, I mean."
"That sounds perfect!" I smiled and became baffled when he flushed. "Hey, why are you going red?"
"I'll check for fever," Solana reassured, sending a knowing look Alim's way. "You go speak to the others before you collapse."
"You might also want to fetch your wolf," Alim commented, pointing to a corner. "He's playing with a mabari."
Ah, so, he went to go find Kaiser. "Thanks!" I chirped before heading towards where Alim had pointed.
I found Revas and Kaiser messing around and Sten watching them curious.
"They call you 'hero'," Sten commented when he noticed me. "I am not certain of the word's meaning, but I believe I know the intent."
"Oh?" I looked away from the playing mabari and wolf and blinked up at him.
"The Arishok, on occasion, can declare a Qunari to be a Qunaron Vehl, one who sets an example to others," Sten explained. "The declaration is always after death, though, as a living one would become too proud."
"I promise to not let it go to my head," I replied with a wry grin. I knew very well that I was only alive thanks to a couple of witches.
"I believe some allowance can be made for you, though." He smiled. "What the two customs share is the celebration." He shook his head ruefully. "It is one of the few occasions we Qunari are allowed to act so madly and chaotically."
"That would be a sight!" I laughed, having the strangest mental image of Sten acting like… like Oghren!"
"Kadan has gifted me a ship to return to my people," he told me. "As I will no doubt leave before you are allowed to leave the healers, allow me to say this. I shall speak praise of you and Kadan to the Arishok. You two are Basalit-an, worthy of respect. You have a place of honor among the Qunari, as a Beresaad and Ashkaari."
More than a little surprised, I asked, "Beresaad is what you are, right?"
He nodded. "Beresaad are the Vanguard, the arms of the Qunari. Ashkaari are those who seek." Meaning he was essentially adopting us.
"Thank you, Sten," I murmured, smiling warmly. "You have a place of honor here. You are friend and family. Do not forget that, Sten, no matter what happens in the future."
His smile widened. "Thank you." With that, he nodded and went over to separate Kaiser and Revas.
I decided the best thing to do was to move away from the canines who could accidentally rip me apart and accidentally bumped into someone. "Sorry!"
"You almost made me spill my ale!" a familiar voice groused.
I laughed and turned to face him. "Hello to you too, Oghren."
"The surfacers have a better taste for spirits than I thought," Oghren mused, downing what some people nearby labeled his seventh mug. "Orzammar ale tastes like dirt in comparison. Of course, it actually uses dirt, so maybe that's it."
"I see you're already enjoying yourself," I teased.
"After everything we've gone through?" Oghren offered me a mug. "We've earned it."
I reluctantly shook my head. "Alas, Wynne has forbidden me from drinking. Something about not dealing with drunk me."
"Shame," he sympathized, downing the mug he had offered me. "Well, I'll go find some good stuff and sneak it to you later."
"You're one of a kind, Oghren," I laughed, about to walk off.
"Go talk to the elf," he told me seriously before I could. "He seems moody about something."
Zevran? Moody? "I'll see what's up," I promised, heading straight for the former Crow.
"I will be relieved when the pomp and circumstances are over," he used as his greeting, smiling slightly. "Such events are perfect for assassins. So much so, that I keep expecting the Crows to appear."
"I'd welcome the chaos," I admitted with a grin. "Even if I can't really participate, watching it would be a nice break."
"That it would," he laughed. "This is why I like you. Always game for a little fun."
"It's a shame that my idea of fun is so radically different from everyone else's," I quipped.
I expected him to follow up on the joke, but instead he lapsed into an uneasy silence, looking strangely serious. Was this the moodiness Oghren mentioned?
"So, you are to become Arlessa?" Zevran finally asked, looking conflicted about something.
"Sounds like it," I replied with a shrug. I didn't really want to talk about it. "I'll also have to worry about commanding the Wardens."
"And if I said I was planning on leaving, what would you do?"
Why do I get the feeling he was actually asking something else? Must be my imagination. "Well, just because you leave doesn't mean you can't return, right?"
"That is true," he replied slowly before smirking. "So, if I return with some Crows on my tail, be a dear and kill them for me?"
"You'll probably purposely plan on that!" I laughed. I was about to ask him about the kiss he gave me before the Denerim Battle, but ended up swaying instead.
He caught me immediately. "You are heading to bed now, yes?" he asked, looking concerned.
"Nope." I'll take this as a sign to not bring it up. I didn't really want to deal with it, anyway. "I've heard I have to put on an appearance."
He looked aghast. "You're swaying!"
"And the crowd is growing restless," Serenity added, walking up. "You ready, Agrona?"
"Together, right?" I almost-whined. "I'm tired."
"Of course." She smiled. "We started this together. We might as well see the conclusion together, yes?" She nodded at Zevran. "Can you go tell the others that they need to get ready? We two will head on ahead."
"As you will." He nodded, kissing my cheek and Serenity's hand before rushing off.
Chuckling, Serenity and I exited the room to the terrace outside, waving and greeting the cheering people.
Commander and Queen, ending their tale as Wardens…
Or so we thought.
All right. This ends the Origins part of the Warden's Tale. Not quite sure when I'll have the first chapter of Awakening. I'll say it'll be a while and then find myself with a bunch of free time and nothing to do! XD It'll be up when it gets written.
Anyway, let me just say, I've enjoyed writing this and I'd really like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and review this story. Thanks so much for making this a fun experience.