Sunbathing

Sturdy stone at her back, warm rays of the sun on her belly. Nemain enjoyed the moment, brief as it would be. Had Gorim told her she would like to be outdoors only one year ago, she would have laughed at his face. Or smacked a fist in it. Inadvertently she smiled about the picture of her small fist crushing in his broad face. Not that Leliana would call Nemains hands small, strong and calloused from sword wielding as they were. But the bard was not a dwarf and so missed the right scale.

The thoughts must have shown on her face. "Memories, my grey warden? Nice ones? Or more the type of getting violent?"

An amused voice disturbed her pleasant moment and compelled Nemain to open her eyes only to see that damned elf sitting two steps apart, showing his knowingly smile. She hated it, every time thinking he could see too deep into her soul. After the past days the dwarven swordmaiden had the nearly overwhelming impulse to strangle him. Days in Ozrammar, her old home, which could never be her home again as even the lenient shaper had made clear. Thanks to her treacherous brother she was a barely tolerated outsider here, no more Lady Nemain Aeducan but only the „Grey Warden".

On the way from Lake Calenhad to the Frostback Mountains on every step she thought about Bhelen. How she would split his skull with a neatly placed swordblow. Arriving at the door she had a cool greeting from the keeper, barely polite enough for her new grey warden status. In the city quarters the reactions were mostly as expected. The more a person had known and liked her before her killing Trian, the more they reacted disappointed and abhorred. Seldom there were friendly words and Nemain had to collect all her inner strength to remain composed.

Hearing of the haggle between Harrowmount and Bhelen, it was clear for her from the beginning which side to choose. Speaking with Dulin Forender she had been already ahead thinking about how to topple down her intensely beloved brother.

And then: enter the enigmatic elf. Rambling about how weak Harrowmount was and Ozrammar needing a strong leader. How could he dare? To suggest an alliance with murderous Bhelen? Nemain teeth grinding, feeling her carotid artery swelling in memory of the scene, gave Zevran a sinister glance. The assassin hold composure, but barely, showing that he knew it had been a close call, nearly overstepping the line. To be right in his opinion did nothing to calm Nemain, shaking with anger, clenching her fists, nearly … very nearly … giving in to the urge of killing him on the spot.

Breaking off the discussion with the already irritated Dulin, she left Ozrammar, her furious face making clear she wanted to be alone. Throwing stones, chopping trees, smashing a pair of stupid bandits … thinking her an easy target … to bloody pulps, it cost her hours to calm down. To realize that this son of a whore had an astonishing grasp of Ozrammar politics.

Harrowmount was a good man. A niece uncle so to say. Fair, tolerant, cordial. But as a leader? In wartimes? Blight threatening it would be a very possible outcome Ozrammar to be eradicated with a weak leader on its top. Bhelen on the other hand … he had proven to be clever, strong and ruthless. There was nothing nice on him, nothing soft. But he would be a king Ozrammar needed in these times. Nemain shivered, thinking about statues erected in his honor. But she had to admit that neither she nor stupid Trian would be nearly a king as Bhelen.

Arriving at the camp, she surprised Zevran with decision to follow his opinion. It was the first time since declaring to let him live after the attempted murder that he clearly hadn't been sure about her reaction. Alistair dropped a coin in Morrigans hand, clearly regretting something. Losing the bet? Furthermore be pressed to endure Zevrans presence? Nemain mused what Alistair would say if he knew about his part in her decision on that road weeks ago? But that were thoughts for another time.

To say that Bhelen was surprised to see his sister without drawn weapon would be a grave understatement. Clearly there was no love between them, but after some long discussions he accepted that Nemain saw him as the new king and was ready to help him succeed father on the throne of Ozrammar.

Swaying some nobles to Bhelens side, killing some bandits to show his might. She'd won the tournai in his name, as much to further his aims as to show Bhelen that it also could have been other way round. It was a short-lived triumph, for it was clear that Bhelen accepted her as the better warrior since the beginning. Else he'd never chosen his treacherous route to eliminate her as a concurrent.

Now it would be an expedition to the deep roads. "Find Branka and sway her to support me. Or make sure she won't come back." They would be underground for days, perhaps weeks. Strange for her after months on the surface, how would Zevran fare with it? She sends an absent-minded look to Zevran, then braced her up and walked back to the stone doors of Ozrammar. Nemain hadn't to look to see his knowingly smile.

Oghren surely waited at the tunnels impatiently.