Chapter 20

The army was still running around like agitated ants well into late afternoon and evening, as Hawke and Sebastian directed their men to various tasks. Some gathered the dead of their own armies, which were relatively few in number, and prepared funeral pyres for them, to burn their bodies to ash just as Andraste herself was millennia ago. The handful of priests that accompanied them from Kirkwall and Starkhaven were administrating last rites to the fallen, which was one of the few things they could do in Protectorate or Alliance territory at this point.

After Hawke had slaughtered Meredith and banished the Templar Order from Kirkwall, the Chantry's power in south-eastern Thedas had been utterly destroyed. In the days after he had become Viscount, Hawke had taken even further steps to crush the power the religious group held, his efforts ranging from completely removing the Circle of Magi from Chantry control to hiring literate citizens to serve as dictators for the illiterate who wished to send letters and communicate in place of the Chantry sisters, and everything in between. Grand Cleric Elthina had protested his actions, but he had ignored her just as Meredith and Orsino before him. Eventually, he had even gotten a letter from Divine Justinia V herself, requesting an explanation for his actions and that he begin setting things back as they were.

Garret had never replied. And when the Circle of Magi declared itself independent of the Chantry in 9:38 and the Templars quickly following suit, he had received no further trouble on the matter from anyone, allowing him to sink the roots of his radical new society deep into his territory. Sebastian had committed similar actions in the Starkhaven Alliance, though not nearly to the same extent that Hawke had.

Turning away from the funeral pyres, Garret looked back to the newly set up refugee camp, housing the surviving population of Tantervale. From what he could tell, barely a tenth of the original population, around ten thousand people, had survived both the Templar army and the massive demonic invasion that had followed after the Lyrium Sword had torn open the Fade. Compounding the problem was that neither Hawke nor Sebastian had made plans for providing for such a large group of people; they were now responsible for half again as many people as they were when they were setting out. Garret had ordered his men to cannibalize the now abandoned Templar army camp for food, tents, and other supplies to provide the refugees, but there was little to find that was usable and unspoiled. They did find a great deal of loot and bullion that had been taken from the previous looted cities, particularly in the tents belonging to high-ranking Templars and other leaders in the "liberation" army. Hawke had given strict orders for a great deal of this wealth to be placed together and guarded, so as to be used to purchase food and other supplies for the refugees and the army as soon as possible once they had returned to friendly territory. He would have liked to have used all of it, but numerous nobles and men-at-arms had protested that order, as it meant no plunder for them, and he had been forced to make concessions.

Around a quarter of a mile from the burning funeral pyres, a very different scene was unfolding. That was where Hawke had taken every single surviving Templar that had been captured by his and Sebastian's forces that day, and who were having their throats slit. It was long, grueling work, as there were a few thousand of the crazed soldiers to execute. Already, Hawke could see, from his vantage point at the top of the hill, what was quickly becoming a lake of blood.

He felt nothing as he watched the prisoners writhe on the ground as their life blood spilled out of them in torrents; Garret Hawke, Viscount of Kirkwall and High King of the Kirkwall Protectorate, had long since stopped feeling pity or mercy for any willing member of the Templar Order. He had tried, many times, in the past to rationalize their behavior, that they were only doing what they thought was right and that they had been ingrained with the Chantry's insane dogma and propaganda from birth. His sister, Bethany, still believed it, and to some extent it was correct; some Templars had deserted their standards to fight with the mage Revolutionaries and still more had remained behind in the initial Second Schism, as it was quickly becoming known, to defend the Chantry. Even in the Rebellious factions of the Order, this had proven true in some cases; the Knight-Divine commanding the majority of Templar forces in Nevarra had willingly set aside his prejudice and worked with mage forces to bring the Tevinter Imperium's forces to a halt in that country. When Hawke had set out with his army to come to the aid of Tantervale, he had even heard rumors that this same Knight-Divine was considering suspending his campaign against the mages, rejoin with the Chantry, and allow the magic users of the country to live in peace. And this was to say nothing of Thrask and his men, who had been nothing but assets to his own city.

Still…

After 2 years of constant raids and attempted coups by blood thirsty fanatics, and now given this new atrocity, Garret vowed never to allow any leniency to the bucket-heads ever again. Beyond the fact that any of their number who had any real sense of morality seemed to have already jumped ship once they saw what their less scrupulous leaders were planning to do, those that remained were obviously either completely accepting of the genocidal campaign or simply did not care either way. And these people could not, and so long as he was in charge would not, be given clemency. There was only so much that he was willing to forgive on the grounds of background and what one had been force fed as a child. If those among the Templar ranks were still committed to following their commander's orders, even after seeing the results of what they entitled, than he had nothing but contempt for them. He only wished that he could kill them all himself. Slowly, he felt his anger rise again, faintly aware of the small puffs of smoke coming out of his nose.

"Hawke?"

Snapped out of his thoughts, Garret turned his head to find Sebastian, Fenris, and Anders approaching from behind him, with a group of the Prince of Starkhaven's personal guard. The mage had apparently finished with his healing session from his battle wounds.

Taking a deep breath, and reining his anger in, Hawke smiled slightly, and turned fully to face his friends and allies. "Sebastian, Fenris," he said, inclining his head to the prince and the elf. "Good to see you too, Anders. Are you alright?"

"Just a little stiff," the Spirit Healer commented. "I should make a full recovery. I won't be back in battle-ready condition for another few days, though." A cheeky grin spread across Anders's face then, a feature that had been seen more and more since Hawke's rebellion. "Of course, given how good looking my nurse was, I may fake being in recovery longer than necessary."

Fenris groaned at his arch-rival's comment, muttering, "Oh here we go again."

"Hey," Anders snapped in return. "You're just jealous that she was more interested in me than you!"

"I am not!" Fenris said, voice raised with ire. "Why do you always play at something so childish?"

Hawke leaned over to Sebastian, and whispered, "Do you have any idea as to what we are watching right now?"

The Prince of Starkhaven smirked before saying, "It's a game Anders invented to needle at Fenris; turning every time he meets a woman into an all out war over which of the two will win her affections. It has never failed to get the elf's hackles up."

Garret snorted. "Oh please," he said. "As if such a thing would ever catch on in the real world."

Upon hearing the argument between the two archrivals heating up, with Fenris shouting something about Varric's new line of… "romance" novels, featuring a brooding, tattooed elf as one the main characters, Hawke decided to intervene.

"Alright, that's enough, you two," Garret half-shouted. Once Anders and Fenris had simmered down, he continued.

"Since you two apparently have so much free time and energy on your hands, perhaps you can do something useful instead. Start spreading the word to the army commanders to make camp; executing… them," he spat, gesturing to the mass of defeated Templars currently being put to death, "is taking longer than I expected, and we won't be able to move the army out until it is done, which will probably not be until nightfall."

"Or we could show them mercy, keep them alive, and bring them with us," Sebastian slowly put forward, clearly unsure of how Hawke would react to his suggestion.

Garret barked a short, humorless laugh. "Very funny, Sebastian," he said to the Prince with a positively feral grin, before turning and walking down the hill towards the army and refugees, shouting orders to nearby group of runners as he did so.

Behind him, Sebastian turned pale, and then green, at his ally's blatant ruthlessness. He turned his gaze to the other two members of the group, desperately looking to them for support.

"I wouldn't look at me, my Prince," Anders said, an ironic, though paper thin, grin on his face. "A mage revolutionary possessed by an enraged spirit of Justice, even if he has mellowed out in recent times, is not the kind of person who you can draw sympathy for Templars from. Even if I wasn't either of those things, I would probably not be in favor of it."

"As much as I hate to admit it," Fenris said, the words sounding as though they were being dragged from him with rusted fish hooks, "the mage is right." Pausing, he turned his gaze back to the burning city. "Anyone who orders this done, or willingly participates in it, does not deserve life."

For a short time, the trio stood silently as they looked over the once-proud city. Then, one by one, they turned to follow Hawke down the hill, the screams of Templar soldiers waiting to bleed out following behind them.

oo-00-oo

A few weeks later, back in Kirkwall, Merrill was engaged in a far less dangerous and more mundane, but some would say just as messy, task; trying to get her sons, not even a year old yet, to eat their food properly, without it spilling down their chins and onto their laps.

"Come now, Da'len," she half cooed, half begged to Carver as she held a spoonful of mashed vegetables up to his lips, which were pressed as firmly shut as possible. "The sooner you finish, the sooner it will be done." If her words made any impression on her young child, it did not show; the only thing that changed was that Carver leaned back away from her, trying to get as far away from his breakfast as possible.

Lowering the spoon, Merrill sighed heavily, head held in her unoccupied hand. Why must this boy be so difficult, she groaned in her mind. Looking to the side, to the next seat at the dining table, she saw Orana feeding Carver's brother, Malcolm. The main difference between the two was that Orana was not being forced to beg and plead with her charge; Malcolm was eating his meal, if not happily, than at least obediently.

Catching Merrill's gaze, Orana smiled slightly, and asked, "Would you like to trade, Lady Hawke?"

Caught off guard by the title, which even after over a year she was still not used to hearing, Merrill hesitated before nodding. Standing, the two elven women switched positions, and resumed feeding the two small children. As much as she hated to admit it, their mother was immensely relieved by taking over Malcolm's feeding; Carver's seemingly endless stubbornness drove her to the ends of her patience at times, but Merrill hated showing favoritism towards her two sons, fearing that she would plant the seeds of jealousy in her slightly younger child.

Hearing a sound that was somewhere between a snap and a tear from further down the table, Merrill turned to see Feathers ripping into the lamb leg she had given him with gusto. Garret had told her, in no uncertain terms, that she was not let her beloved griffon chick eat at the dining table… but what he didn't know wouldn't hurt him.

"Feathers," she snapped at the animal, now twice the size of when he was first found, who immediately stopped and looked up, the juices from meat coating the fine feathers on his checks. "Please, slow down; you are going to chock yourself. And teach my children awful table manners." Feathers cocked his head, peeped his reply, and went back to his lamb leg, though much more slowly this time.

Not too long after this, Bethany entered the dining room, dressed in her old Circle Enchanter robes. While the College of Magi in Kirkwall had completely changed its wardrobe from the Chantry's mandated uniforms, as another sign that the religious figureheads had lost their hold on them, Garret's sister had grown fond of them and still wore them when she was at home. She and Orsino had returned from their honeymoon just after Kirkwall's army had marched to join the other levies of the Protectorate and Starkhaven Alliance; Hawke had tried to keep word from the couple of what was happening, so as not to ruin their time together, but they had found out anyway.

"Good morning, Merrill" her sister-in-law said in greeting, giving her a hug and Malcolm a kiss on the head. As she turned to take her seat at the table, however, she paused, and took a closer look at the elf.

"Are you alright, Merrill," Bethany asked, pointing to the slight bags under her eyes.

Glancing up from her job, Merrill answered, "I didn't get much sleep last night, Bethany; that's all. No need to worry yourself over it."

Her sister-in-law, smiling sadly, put a hand on her shoulder, and said, "Don't worry about Garret; we got his letter almost two weeks ago; he is fine, and should be back in Kirkwall any day now."

"I wasn't kept awake because I was worried about Hawke," Merrill explained, flushing slightly as she began. "I couldn't sleep because of you and Orsino. If you two are upset that your honeymoon was cut short, you go on another one; I'm sure Garret won't mind."

At that, Bethany did a double take and turned red from her neck to her hairline. Immediately, she ducked her head, and scooted down the table, where Bodahn served her breakfast.

Eventually, Orsino and Leandra came into the dining hall, and began eating as well. The entire group fell into content silence, apart from the occasional noises from the babies and the squelching from Feathers ripping the meat from his bone.

Leandra, taking a last sip of her drink, looked over the room at her family; Merrill, feeding her grandchildren, her daughter sitting with her husband as they ate, occasionally meeting each other's gazes and giving each other the heartwarming smiles newlyweds often did. There was only a single thing that spoiled the start of this day was the fact that one of their number was not present.

Setting the glass down, however, she noticed the strangely shaped shadow coming down from one of the high windows. Looking up, her eyes very nearly popped out of their sockets. Garret Hawke, her son, was perched atop the sill of the window, looking over the lot of them. After seeing that his mother had spotted him, he held a finger up to his lips, smirking wickedly. Leandra glared at him with disapproval, but that didn't keep the slight grin off her face.

Looking over the table again, to make sure that no one was paying attention, Garret spread his wings and gently glided down to the far end of the room; Bethany was the only one that felt the gust of air as he sailed down, and she simply looked to her left, wondering where the draft had come from. Landing softly as a possible, he quickly spun around, pleased to see that the only one aware of his presence was his mother, still giving him the same look of amused disapproval that he had seen whenever Leandra had come across either he or another of his siblings about to pull a nasty prank on another.

Silently walking up to the table, he noticed that, in spite of the switch, Carver was no more willing to be fed by Orana than by his wife; the stubborn infant simply refused to open his mouth, and whenever their servant managed to sneak some of the massed vegetables into his son's mouth, almost all of it ended up on his chin or lab, drawing sighs of frustration from even their usually infinitely patient servant. Eventually, setting the small spoon she was using aside, she turned to his wife, and said, "I'm sorry lady Merrill; he is simply not cooperating."

This was simply too good of an opportunity for him to pass up. "Here, Orana," Garrent said, holding his hand out for the spoon she was holding. "Let me try my hand at it."

At the sound of his voice, the poor elven servant practically jumped out of her skin, leaping up and began stammering out an apology for not noticing his arrival, but she was immediately drowned out as Merrill had come running up to him and tackled into him, nearly knocking him off his feet.

"Why do you do that, Garret," she shrieked at him even as she gave him hug so tight he was sure his ribs would shatter. "Could you not give us even a day's notice that you would be home? Now you've shocked us all half to death, you've made Orana panicked, and you've… you've… you…" Spluttering into silence, she finally made a sound somewhere between a groan and a wail, and buried her head into his chest. Chuckling, Hawke, returned her embrace and closed his eyes, gently rocking his wife side to side, ecstatic to see her again after so many weeks. Around him, he heard chairs scraping against the floor as his mother, sister, and brother-in-law came to greet him as well.

As he opened his eyes, however, Garret's gaze drifted to the far end of the table, whereupon they sprang open fully, and the rest of him went stock still.

"Merrill…" he muttered, using the same tone of voice used whenever he caught her picking flowers out of the Hightown gardens or something similarly unsociable. When the elf lifted her head to look at him, he pointed a finger at what had caught his attention. "What. Is. That?"

Turning, Merrill saw the subject of her husband's ire; Feathers, still at the dining table, and still eating his lamb leg. Looking up, the griffon chick gave another peep, not understanding what the fuss was about.

Immediately, his wife went bright red to the very tips of her ears, and gave a very nervous, very embarrassed laugh. Narrowing his eyes in only half-mock amusement, Garret extracted himself from her arms, marched down to the end of the table, took the plate with the leg from Feathers, ignoring the chick's indignant cries, and set it back down on the floor well away the table. After that, he motioned for the chick to continue eating, who gave him an annoyed harrumph before continue his meal.

Turning and walking back to his family, Garret shock his head, and said with exasperation, "How is it that I can go to war against the Templar Order, a group of people that are trained from childhood to fight, and yet feel like it is my wife's antics that will be the death of me?"

And, to small chuckles, he rejoined his family, as Bodahn brought out another plate for his breakfast.

A.N.

Wow! It has been over a year since I wrote anything for this! I had to reread the thing at least twice to remember my own plot. And it didn't help that my laptop decided to stop working right when I was halfway through writing this. Or that I now have a job AND go to college.

Anyway, I have recently gotten into Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice And Fire, and eventually decided to brave George RR Martin's ire and check out their sections on this site. As it is want to do, my imagination began running wild, and I came up with two ideas for a fanfic in this book series.

1. Taking place during Robert's Rebellion, right after the Battle of the Trident. Ned Stark goes to King's Landing, finds Tywin's army sacking the city, and makes his objections known with Ice instead of words. Afterwards, his bannermen declare him King of the Iron Throne.

2. Tyrion fails to recognize Catelyn on the road back to Winterfell, and Ned, disgusted by Robert's recent actions (you know what I'm talking about) stops his investigation into Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen's parentage, is dismissed as Hand of the King by Joffery, and sparks war with the Lannisters after protecting Gendry from Joffrey's thugs.

If you are familiar with the series tell me what you think of my ideas. If not, well, just a review would be nice.