Chains of the Flock

Calenhad Tower – Duncan's Quarters, two weeks before the battle of Ostagar

Darya stared at the mirror in the guest quarter Duncan had been allowed to use for his stay at the tower. Looking at her insignia she wondered as always these last weeks that they still belonged to her. She didn't regret her rush actions in the least, but had never expected that Greagoir would simply stay silent about it. Hadley had implied that his silence was in part of remorse and to prohibit gossip about Bryce's behavior, the man's deeds smearing a stain on every Templar in Ferelden.

Whatever the reason had been, she still had her position as knight-lieutenant and Bryce was away. Greagoir had sent him to Denerim and following the rumors Bryce had left the order silently. 'By mutual agreement' they called such an event. Darya nearly laughed about it. His two companions had been ushered away to a minor church in the Bannorn, the rest of his 'band' blamed for their misbehavior by Hadley.

She never had spoken about the incident but only a single night later everyone from Irving down to the plainest kitchen hand knew about it. The reaction had been very diverse. Especially around the Templars there had been many who thought her to be a kind of a traitor, but Hadley had been Darya's strongest supporter. Around the mages she experienced widespread enthusiasm, even a kind of hero-worship from the apprentices. It had made Darya uneasy and more than once she had tried to explain to them that she had only done her duty and that this duty still encompassed her to watch out for signs of blood magic and demon pacts. Until now she had been unsuccessful in quenching the rapture.

The Templar turned as the door opened as Duncan entered. As the warden commander realized his visitor a puzzled look crossed his face, replaced by a friendly smile after some seconds. "Good evening. I'm sorry to admit but I think I'm at a disadvantage and don't know your name."

Darya bowed slightly. "I'm Knight-Lieutenant Darya, happy to meet you, Warden-Commander Duncan."

Awareness showed on Duncan's face. "Ah, I see. The Templar who defended a mage against his comrades."

With disgust in expression and voice Darya corrected him. "The Templar who defended a fellow elf from three nauseating swine which happened to wear a uniform at that time which they never had the honor and right to do in the first place. To my regret Cullen was there and had the mind to hold back my sword, prevent me from killing the dirty swine. But I didn't come here to gibber about that."

Duncan bowed his head in agreement and sat down on a chair. "So what would it be you wanted to talk about?"

Ostagar – Duncan's Campfire, two days before the battle of Ostagar

Darya sat on a log by the fire and rubbed her sword clean with an old rug. Looking at the smear, a mix of filth and black darkspawn blood, she allowed her face to express a modicum of disgust. The abominations in Kirkwall had been more fearsome, but certainly she didn't like to fight darkspawn. But that would be her duty now, at least until the blight was over. Throwing the rag into the fire she watched it burn away crackling.

The lithe frame of Kailli neared the fire and the young elven mage sank down to her knees. After a moment of silence she addressed the Templar with a weary voice. "I never really thanked you for what you've done."

"You don't have to thank me. It was my duty to protect you and I'm sorry that my help was needed in the first place. I hope you're alright now?"

Kailli smiled weakly. "I am. Sometimes … I dream about it, but it gets better by the week. And duty or not, most Templars wouldn't have helped me. And surely not like you did."

Darya glared shortly at Alistair, the young ex-Templar following the conversation of the two women with a puzzled look. "Don't you have something to do?"

"In the moment? No, sorry. I'm only waiting. And asking me what could have happened that an apostate is thanking a Templar …"

"Shut up. Kailli is not an apostate; she is a harrowed mage of the circle. And as you surely know it is the duty of the Templars to protect the mages. I only regret, Kailli, that you see it as something special that a Templar truly tries to follow his duty. And that you have some reason to think so."

Kailli padded Darya's knee and her smile deepened. "I'm sure you'll change that at least a bit."

Ostagar – Old Temple, two days before the battle of Ostagar - Evening

"What is the reason of this? I thought we made enough tests and now this joining ritual. Duncan said that we could die from it." Jory was more than a little nervous and Darya understood that he was not so afraid for his own life but for leaving his wife and child behind. Her thoughts that it was a stupid idea for a married man to join the wardens she left unspoken.

"What do you think, Kailli? Do you still want to become a warden?" Darya asked the mage.

Kailli shrugged. "I don't fear the ritual, if it is that what you mean. Even if I don't die from the ritual I could be dead in a few days, killed by darkspawn. And it is too late for that question anyway, as Duncan said."

Alistair nodded but before he could say something, Darya interrupted him. "Duncan lied. I understand why he didn't say something about the dangers but it is dishonest to hide it from candidates. It is only your decision. If you want to go thru with the ritual, I'll stay too. If you want to go back, I'll try to make sure that Greagoir behaves towards you."

"Err … you can't simply leave. It is really too late for that. Duncan won't allow it to happen." Alistair tried to intervene. He only got a scowl for it from Darya. "He can certainly try to deny Kailli her rights. It would pain me to kill him because he seems a competent warden leader to me. I only despise his morale, not his abilities." Alistair blinked, not a bit unsure about the will of this woman to really defend the mage's rights with sword in her hand. This was so against all he knew about Templars, that he not even got angry about someone threatening Duncan's life.

"Nobody has to die, Darya. As I said: I want to finish the joining. It is really okay. But promise me something please: survive. It would be hard to watch over me if you're dead."

Ostagar – Training Ground, one day before the battle of Ostagar

"Maker, what are you doing there? Hold back." Alistair stepped between Darya and Kailli, hindering the Templar from smiting the elven mage anew.

"Go away, puppy, you're disturbing our training." Darya hissed. Chamelle, Kailli's new Mabari really seemed to smile at these words. Perplexed Alistair looked at Darya. "Training? This is …"

Sighing Darya agreed. "Yes, training. You know, like weaving swords and wagging sparkle-fingers. Kailli tries to burn and chill me and I smite her, so that we both learn how to defend."

"Err … do you think this is a good idea? I mean to teach a mage how to defend against Templar abilities?" Alistair wondered.

Darya only shrugged. "Why not? She is a warden now in the first place. And Kailli has experience with dishonorable Templars. Next time she will give them a run for their money. I trust her to never attack an honorable Templar and the other kind …

By the way: you should train your own abilities too. You may be a warden now, but that doesn't mean you have to forget the past. If you want I can help you how to train."

"I would like that."

Korcari Wilds, two weeks after the battle of Ostagar

"You're very odd, do you know that?" A bit surprised Darya looked up. Morrigan had been very reluctant to talk to her, even if she spared her from the spite she threw at Alistair.

"Why do you think so? I'm not that special."

Morrigan shook her head, the puzzled look not leaving her eyes. "You know that I'm an apostate but you never said something negative about it. And as I used my shape changing abilities – something that is forbidden by your chantry – you didn't lecture me as Alistair did."

Darya sighed. "I'm not very happy about your life as an apostate or your stories about Templars hunting you and your mother. But I'm sure: if you had been forced to join the tower, there would be dead. First some of the more conservative mages and Templars would die and in the end you too. You're like Anders. He is a fee-spirited mage too. As Kailli and I left the tower he was imprisoned for trying to run away, his seventh time or so. We hope that he's free now."

"Err … YOU hope he's free, YOU a Templar?" Morrigan blinked heavily.

Darya smiled. "Yes, he's simply not meant to live in the tower. And there are certainly more dangerous things in the world than a good-hearted healer on the run. And like you he despises blood magic whole-heartedly. What you said about shape changing: Yes, it is forbidden. And yes, the chantry says many stupid things about it. But we both know the reason behind this ban: shape change makes it much harder to control a mage. What good do high affixed windows and the tower surrounded by water if you can simply switch into the body of a bird? I really can't agree with that ban. It is only a chain to bind the mages.

But to make something very clear for you: if I ever learn that you lied to me, if I ever see you using blood magic or making a pact with a demon, you're in deep trouble."

Morrigan smiled. "With that promise I can live."

Circle of Magi – Entrance – four weeks after the battle of Ostagar

"I'll leave him in your custody, Captain Hadley. Please watch over him. If we're successful in the tower, Irving should be able to help Connor. He is a boy and deserves a second chance. And if someone wants to intervene remember the political aspect: to slay the only son of an Arl is not something to be done lightly."

Darya hadn't to say the name Greagoir to make it clear whom she meant. Hadley ensured her: "He'll be secure. And about Jowan: we'll guard him until Irving and Greagoir decide what to do with him."

She sighed. "He should be asked about it, asked if he wants to die or made tranquil." Pushing aside the thoughts about Jowan, she shortly wondered how Isolde felt at the moment. Connor's mother could only wait and pray for her son's safety. And even if all went well, Connor would never return to Redcliffe but live in the tower.

As Alistair, Leliana, Kailli and Darya went to the entrance door, Kailli whispered: "Have you heard? Anders is on the run again." Darya nodded only and hide her smile.

#####

"Are you mad, Darya?" Petra gave the Templar a horrified look, unable to comprehend what had happened. Only seconds after Wynne opened the barrier which had protected Petra and the children for some days, Darya had attacked her without provocation, smiting her into unconsciousness.

"Shut up and cater for her. Make sure she is roped for some hours. You said yourself that the fight against that demon nearly killed her. If we would take her with us, she would die from exhaustion or killed in the coming fights. We need her; she is too precious to die now. I saw no other way; she is too stubborn."

"Hey, what's with me? Wynne is too precious to endanger her but I …" Kailli glared at Darya with a hidden smile.

The Templar sent her a haughty look: "You're only a worthless elven bitch with more good looks than taste or talent. If you die I'll have at least a modicum of leisure time for me."

Kailli gave her a rabbit punch. "You only want me out of the way so you have more chances with the men." The exchange was answered with a quizzical look of Petra and a hearty laugh of Alistair.

#####

"That book …" Kailli hastily put the grimoire back into her backpack. "You took it from Irving's study."

Kailli looked at Darya with pleading eyes. "It belonged to Flemeth. Morrigan bade me to look for it. Will you … will you mention it to Irving … or Greagoir?"

Darya pondered a moment; then she shook her head. "No, I won't. But make sure that you never regret to give it to Morrigan. I do not fully trust her, not as I trust you. Be careful."

Kailli smiled thankfully. "You're very kind to me, Darya. I'm not sure that I deserve that. But I'll be careful, I promise.

Waiting for the ship to take them back to Redcliffe Darya was grateful for the outcome of the last days. Not only had they been able to clear the tower from demons – her experiences from Kirkwall being invaluable – but they saved Irving and Cullen from Uldred's clutches. And Connor was alive. Isolde would be pleased. Kailli had been able to prove her worth in rescuing Connor, battling the demon in the fade. Even Greagoir had been less grumpy after that. He said something about "not so bad that you saved her back then". But Darya had been sure that the Commander would be back to his normal behavior in no time.

Redcliffe – ten weeks after the battle of Ostagar

The small amulet depicting Andraste's sword of mercy sent streams of joy thru Darya's heart. It was a present from the sentinel at the old shrine and now her dearest property.

The others often spoke about Haven, about the powers of the dragon cultists and marveled about the battle against that Andraste-imposing High Dragon. They had only been able to slay that creature thanks to the magic of Morrigan and Kailli, a new proof of the worth of magic.

But Darya only really remembered those steps, those last steps she took to pass the fire and to reach the urn. She had hesitated, hesitated for the first time in her life. The Templar had been unsure about her worthiness to touch that holy relic. The stories at the chantry about the maker smiting the infidel for their deeds had crossed her mind. But then Kailli had grasped her hand, pushed it gently and showed Darya a smile full of trust and belief.

As she crossed the wall of fire something … happened. Darya was unsure of the nature and the others couldn't tell. Had she been glowing? Even Morrigan had been unable to decline that it had been somehow very special. The Templar inherently didn't feel special but actually her powers had increased. She hoped it was only a consequence of that spiritual experience but anyhow she had to restrain herself from using her full powers in the training with Kailli. A few days before she had nearly killed the elf with an outburst of her smite and Darya was very sorry about that.

Irrespective of that Darya felt relief, relief that Andraste had seen her worthy to touch her ashes. No, she would not be a second prophet, no savior of Templars and mages. But the doubts she sometimes felt about her actions were sorely diminished now.

When the blight was over, she would work again for mages and chantry in the name of Andraste.

Smiling she went to Kailli, dragged the mage into her arms and embraced her heartily. "Thank you, Kailli, thank you." The elven mage leaned her head against Darya's shoulder. "I'm glad to help you."

Denerim – Landsmeet, eight months after the battle of Ostagar

Eight months had it been, eight months on the road to build an army. Mages, Templars, Dalish and Dwarves united with the humans of Ferelden. Only one last step and Alistair would be able to command the gathered army against the blight. But this last step was hers to do. Anora would never marry Alistair if he was the one to fight and kill her father. And just that had to be done now. Darya readied her weapon.

"Teyrn Loghain, you're accused of treason, regicide, attempted poison murder on Arl Eamon thru a blood mage and selling fellow elves into Tevinter slavery apart from countless other crimes. Defend yourself and may Andraste show you mercy."

Alistair had spoken about using Cailan's sword and shield in this battle. They had found both on the battlefield together with the corpse of Cailan months before. Apart from their quality they certainly would have a psychological impact on Loghain. But Darya didn't see herself as Cailan's avenger. She fought for her believe and for the united races of Ferelden, for their chance to stand together against a fearsome and merciless foe.

So it was her old Templar armor, brought to Denerim by Cullen, together with an axe presented from Kardol of the Legion of Dead and the round shield blessed to Mythal the Keeper she found in the Brecilian Forest that would accompany her thru this fight.

Fort Drakon – Battle of Denerim

"Darya, please, let me do it." Kailli's eyes begged Darya to allow her the killing stroke. The Templar already had lifted her weapon to pommel the mage into unconsciousness.

Her face an expression of pain Darya responded. "But I swore to protect you. We need Alistair as king and you … I can't allow you to die."

Kailli padded the Templar's cheek. "Nobody has to die. Morrigan promised it. I trust her."

A cry of anger and pain permeated the roof of Fort Drakon. Darya clenched her fists, closed her eyes; she barely felt the soft hands of Kailli on her temples, the mage trying to soothe her. "Please let me. Even if Morrigan erred it would be something great, another elf killing an Archdemon, a sign for my people."

Long moments Darya locked eyes with Kailli; then she nodded weakly, pushed her sword into the mage's hand. Kailli smiled and turned, walked to the Archdemon to end this blight forever.