Duncan hadn't come for the new recruit in time?
... the dog hadn't found the Warden?
... Leliana hadn't found her way out of her cell?
... Flemeth had claimed Morrigan's body, Loghain had brought his soldiers onto the field, or Jowan had never taken up blood magic?
... Zevran had been caught by the Crows for his failure, or Anders had never come to the Tower?
Some short vignette answers to these questions and a few others - some happy, some... not.
The crown prince of Ferelden grins at the king, a hand on his sword hilt, and raises an eyebrow. "'Glorious'? Tell me you're kidding. Messy, terrifying, maybe, but glorious?"
Cailan sighs, and there is something unfamiliar behind his eyes for a moment. Then it is gone, and he is smiling. "Morale for the troops, dear brother."
Alistair rolls his eyes as he sees Cailan's gaze set on the Grey Wardens, as usual. "You're obsessed." The grim, steady warriors scare him a little, he has to admit.
Cailan shakes his head. "Simply respectful. Come."
He makes that annoying, imperious hand gesture, and they walk onto the battlefield together.
There is something about him, they say, that saddens people; oh, the Chantry accepts those from all walks of life, and he is not the only one that fought its laws, but the kitchen staff still talk of the smart-mouthed, good-natured little boy who was forever at the sink with the pots. They do not talk about the miserable templar who barely speaks in the dormitories except to make the odd bitter joke, and whose mouth twists whenever he sees a portrait of King Maric.
As the cold sets in at Ostagar, the lone mabari walks, pads pained by the cold stone floors; it looks up, whimpers, as it feels the new connection of its human severed like the last, and then growls at the hurlock that finds it.
The sound echoes throughout the ruins.
The bard is still limping slightly from Raleigh and his men's "fun" as she is led to the noose, full lips set, no tears in those pretty blue eyes. She looks once at her audience, as if to ask them how they can stand and watch this, and some even look away, then she grits her teeth and steps forward, onto the platform.
Such is the punishment for treason.
It has always unnerved Irving, seeing the Rite of Tranquility; he knows, somewhere inside him, that the frightened boy who clung to his robes like he was drowning is still there, and that boy screams at the sight.
A light seems to go out in their eyes, he thinks, as the apprentice stands tall, facing the templars and glaring into their faceless helmets. It fascinates him, horrified as he is, and he can't help looking into that face, the chin tilted defiantly and the eyes narrowed, as the necessary acts are performed.
He still watches the eyes at the end, and something inside him twists when the spark flickers out.
As Morrigan looks at her mother, she can only think that she should have listened to her. "Everything has its price," Flemeth had said, and her childhood was no exception. She glares at her, golden eyes meeting similar gold. Then there is a gentle hand on her cheek, she knows no more, and Flemeth stretches those long-fingered hands - so like the girl's father's - and swallows. It is foolish, this sentimentality - Morrigan would certainly have agreed - but she misses the strong-willed, naïve woman-child. Just as she missed all the others, at first.
The templars find Flemeth before the demons do, and her screams echo through the night.
The smite narrowly misses him, and Anders forces out a swear through gritted teeth as he runs, the ominous clank of armour too close behind him for comfort, ducking into the woods.
When he has been hiding for half an hour, he realises he's lost them, and, grinning in spite of why he is here, begins to run to the nearest village. He has no robes, no staff, no Tower bed, only the magic.
He keeps going; he will double back to his family, soon enough, and then they will run. Anywhere but here.
The bells ring out over Highever, many of its people standing in solemn silence as they hear the sound: seven rings for the servants and family's friends, three for the family by marriage, and four for the Couslands themselves - one of them was at Ostagar, he, too presumed lost after the tragedy.
Teyrn Rendon Howe tries to hide a smile, remembering the slaughter, as the final bell rings for the youngest Cousland.
The elf smiles as he feels the cold steel of the dagger at his neck. "Ah," he says, Antivan accent caressing the words. "So you have found me." It is no surprise - this is his payment for his failure.
Before the world slips through his fingers, he thinks he hears the Crow laugh.
Jowan cannot keep the smile off his face as he clutches her hand, his blue sleeves tangling with hers; she looks to him and grins, then, showing perfect teeth - he can't help it, either, when he pulls her in for a kiss, ignoring the glaring Chantry initiate and the book he's never dared read on the shelf.
Cauthrien looks to her commander, the greatest general in Ferelden, and just for a moment, she's the hopeful farmer's daughter who played war with her brothers in the fields.
Loghain looks into her eyes for a moment, sighs, and gives her a smile that is little more than a baring of teeth; they nod, seeing the same thing in each other's faces, then they march onto the fields of Ostagar, the soldiers close behind.
The hand on his arm is firm, and Tamlen looks back at his companion.
"This is a terrible idea. Look at the monstrosities we have found here."
Mahariel's eyes are beseeching as they meet his, and he nods; turning away from the mirror, he puts an arm round the other elf, and they stagger out of that cursed place, together.
As the last hurlock falls, Duncan looks at the king. There have been losses, but surely it was worth it, for Ferelden? He need not have worried - as the sounds of battle cease, Cailan's grin lights up his face, and he looks to Loghain's men and the burning beacon.
Elsewhere, coming out of the Tower of Ishal, a Grey Warden with shorter hair but an identical grin looks to his comrade. "I still think we should have been allowed in the battle." He sees the other Wardens walking back to the camp, spots Duncan, Loghain and the king - his brother, he tries not to think - and looks again to the new recruit. "Come on."
Side by side, the taint thrumming in their veins, they walk to meet their family.