Part 1, Childhood
Chapter One- "Birth of Legends"
Early Dragon Age; Summer
Theirin Royal Estate, Denerim, Ferelden
Henrietta Maria, elven maid-servant, lay withering in the dirty sheets, upon the bed within her servants' chamber, hidden deep within the stone walls of Denerim's royal palace, home of the noble King Maric and beloved Queen Rowan. About her hovered the mid-wife, a fellow maid-servant, an old physician, and one disdained faced young man standing at the door, who averted his eyes modestly to the more than exposed Henrietta. All of them there either to ensure a safe delivery or to witness the birth of an already infamous bastard son, belonging to both the maid and her once-lover of nine months past, King Maric himself.
Elsewhere within the palace King Maric paced up and down, praying silently. He was riven with anxiety, not only because the previous night he had received word of Henrietta's labor, but also due to the fact that it had become dangerously close to his wife's attention.
Fortunately, come the sun rise, he had persuaded Queen Rowan to visit the local Chantry for the evening and to spend her day in pray. Just one relief to the fair haired man, while his thoughts constantly went to pondering what conspired within the servants' chamber, where his son was being born that very hour. The longer the wait, the more his hands wrung together in his vigorous strut. The intangible passion he may have once felt for the exotic elven woman, Henrietta, utterly faded within the brillant new surge of curiosity and want he felt towards the child they made.
Maric paid no heed to the two men watching him, lest they notice his irrational thinking of actually holding onto something as scandalous and preposterous as a bastard child.
A young Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir sat observantly, while his friend fret, none the wiser, sitting in complete ease across the chamber-room, delicately tracing the arm of his chair. Next to the chamber door stood Arl Eamon Guerrin, not so oblivious. Brother-in-law to the notorious Maric, he saw more than the Teyrn; the nervous tremor running up Maric's legs, the constant unclenching and clenching of his fingers.
Everyone waited. Nothing could be dealt with until the child was delivered. And as Henrietta cried out, arching her back, matted sweat-drenched hair pressing into the sheets, the child slid free of her. Blood hemorrhaged from between her thighs the same moment, sending the physician to a flustered amount of work. The child swept into the mid-wife's arms, disconnected, cleaned, and wailing.
The stationary man at in the doorway sprinted from the birthing room at the sound, hell-bent on reaching Maric's chambers of privy, the clock chiming noon the moment his flushed face peeked through the doors.
"Well?" demanded Loghain.
"It is a healthy son," said the man, breathless.
This caused a shadow to play over both Loghain's and the Arl's face. A son. A threat. A competitor to the throne or to a real heir of King Maric's and his wife. Any glimmer of hope that it may be a girl, who could easily be swept into the arms of a nurse maid, had vanished.
As their minds lingered over the dark, King Maric reeled to capture just how this will go. He knew he had a duty and the boy will need to be sent away as quickly as possible, but the surge of curiosity consumed him. He was a man who had always done things for the better of his home-land, Ferelden, especially after he rid them of the Orlesian. Except now he found it exceedingly difficult to do what was right.
"And the mother?" he asked, dutifully.
"Not well," answered the man. "She was weak from the start. There is only so much that can be done. Thus I came quickly, she may be drawing her last breath this very moment, Your Majesty."
Somewhat jumpily Maric and his entourage ushered themselves from the room. The three other men stood close at his back as he entered into the servants' cramped chamber-room only to be met with a waft smell of blood so strong it overwhelmed their sense. Laid beneath sheets, with blooms of scarlet smeared across it's white coloring, was the stiff, cooling corpse of once-liked Henrietta. Many hard looks were shared between the men as the physician regrettably muttered her passing to the Maker.
"Your son," the mid-wife said, drawing the men's eyes to her, stationed sadly at the side.
Maric studied the baby, swathed in her arms, then held out a arm towards it, motioning for her to hand him over. The mid-wife's eyes turned alarmed.
"But, Your Majesty, he-he's in good hands here. I assure you I can watch a child and up-hold my duties to the palace. It's what she would have wanted. He will never know, no one will. D-Do not hurt him, Your Majesty, of this I beg you." Her arms around the infant tightened, if anything, concealing it's face even further from the King.
"Perhaps, we should only send him away," said Loghain, exasperatedly. "Maric, I say this as your closes companion. You can not have him around. This will not bode your reputation well at all, rumors will only increase and how could you bare it if her Ladyship Rowan caught wind of this? If you can not think of the well being for your image, think of your wife's delicate nature. It will crush he-"
"She is no fool, Loghain," Maric said sharply. "I will not be surprised if she already knows of the child, let alone fully informed about my mistresses. Do not make a mockery of my wife, when I know you have met her fiery side just as fully as myself. She will not sink to jealousy."
Arl Eamon stood in the doorway, lips pressed together firmly as his mind franticly tried to connect Maric's snapping tone and the look of gentle in his eyes as he gazed at the child. With one loud order Maric had the child handed to him from the trembling mid-wife and he shifted back the blankets to take in the infant's face.
"Maker!" exclaimed the king and looked fleetingly back at Henrietta Maria. "There is no wonder he has injured her beyond a physicians reach!"
Everyone looked down at the child.
By Andraste's grace, thought Loghain, his mask slipping. Look at the size of him!
He was a giant, surely, with great strong limbs and a head of wispy blonde curls. Maric reached down a hand and, as he did so, the baby reached up his right and snatched at the golden crown embroidered on Maric's sleeve.
"Observe!" said the physician, his wise-old voice filling the death stained chamber. "He was born a king, truly! No bastard at all. See how he grasp for what shall be his!"
"It will not be his!" hissed the startled Loghain. "He is but a bastard child. Maric, get rid of him."
"Do not be too rash, my friend," laughed the carefree Maric, a grin splitting his face. Although there was worry etched into his eyes, he looked to the physician with humor. "He is but a old man, clearly ailed and without his wits. Since when has an old physician's talk ever frightened you, Loghain?"
Feeling mocked Loghain merely scoffed as the physician shakes his head sadly. Still, Arl Eamon remained silent and leaning into the door frame.
Maric's amusement ended at the moment the mid-wife cried out, of which Maric joined into, for the baby's hand tightened about the crown and tugged at it, tearing it away from his father's sleeve.
Any lightheartedness in the room was squelched as they all stared in disbelief at the blue-eyed child with the shred of fabric clutched firmly within its fingers. Uneasy, but trying to break tension, Maric forced a laugh. "I shall have to watch my back, surely. In case this boy of mine decides to snatch my crown."
"You can not be considering letting him...grow up," said a increasingly worried Loghain. "It will come back to haunt you. It is like letting a Bloodmage live in you very home. Deceit will surely come from it." He gestured harshly at the child's fist. "Is that not omen enough?"
Maric looked contemplative. "I suppose you're right," said the king, with a torn motive. Part of him wished to keep the boy at arms length. To raise him, to give him words of advice. Bastard child or not, it was his first one and it brought out foreign emotions he was not quite ready to channel.
"Your Majesty!" cried the mid-wife, clearly disturbed by their talk. "Give him to me, I will watch him. Henrietta was my dear friend, please. You can't harm a child. Andraste would surely disapprove, we are all creations of the Maker. Have mercy."
"Hold you tongue, servant," said Loghain, shouldering to the king's side. He sent the infant a reproachful glare. "I can have some of my men carrying him out of the palace this very hour, if they must. No one will be the wiser. Drop him in the Waking Sea and not even the body will resurface to–"
"Brother," Eamon interrupted, speaking for the first time. He possessed a voice that demanded their attention, and inevitably everyone's eyes drew to his. "Give him to me. I shall raise him within the confinements of Redcliffe. No one will be the wiser, there is no need for the child to suffer. It is not he who brought about the unfortunate scandal of his birth."
There was a edge to his voice hinting to the disappointment he felt at Maric's habits, that had resulted on him cheating on the Arl's sister, the Lady Queen, to create the boy in the first place. Although there would be no outright scolding for it, because it is so common among the nobles, Eamon was the kind of man who would stand against the needless death of a child. Especially with the fresh corpse of it's mother so close by.
There is no need for two pointless deaths, he thought darkly.
There was silence for a long time as Maric stared down at the bastard son. Meanwhile, the mid-wife stepped forward, prying the torn piece of material out of the infant's fist, and he began to wail unbearably, bringing back the uneasiness from before.
"You shall surely die a beloved, aged king," murmured the worn-faced physician. "It is no omen to be feared." But there was a sliver of doubt flashing across his gray eyes, that he lowered to the floor.
"Of course not," said Maric, looking self-assured, eyebrows kitting together as he turned to face his bother-in-law. "I trust that Redcliffe is far enough away, Loghain, that he will be nothing of a nuisance. You'll raise him right, Eamon." The child was transferred arms, and almost every one in the room shivered with dread as it bawled louder in response. "I trust your wife won't detested him too much?"
"No one shall know he is of your kin," the Arl dutifully replied.
There were very serious looks passed among the three official men of the room; King Maric, Arl Eamon, and Teyrn Loghain. This was a silent transaction. It was agreed this child did not exist, over the body of the infant's dead mother and as they swept from the room, the mid-wife suddenly flung herself forward, clutching Eamon by the arm.
"She named him!" the woman gasped. "Henrietta, on her last breath, she told me what she wanted him to be called. If, sire, you could just give her this much–"
"Very well," said Maric, waving a hand in impatience. "What is this name?"
There was a moment where she hesitated, faltered and then murmured, nearly inaudibly, "Alistair."
Four Years Later
Early Dragon Age; Spring
Lake Calenhad Docks, Ferelden
A young woman hurried along the pathway of mud and sopping grass, scanning the surrounding area for people. The rain had stopped falling half an hour ago but the gray clouds had yet to clear on the horizon and her thin, ragged clothes were soaked to the bone. There was an child held against her chest, in the same shivering state as the woman, and she hastened to clutch it closer.
She paused to draw in a deep breath once she reached the base of a hill. To her right was a battered building, with a loosely applied wooden exterior. The sign protruding from it's side screeching against the rusty nails at the wind's harsh influence.
One fell swoop sent it crashing into the wall, and the woman cringed, looking up franticly, before settling once more. Thank Andraste, she thought, relieved she was not discovered.
Tactfully, she had been waiting all day for this opening of no persons. All throughout the morning she stood behind the rows of trees for this specific opportunity. Fatigue had gotten to the Templar working the docks and not but five minutes previously, the man had sauntered into the pub, thinking that it would only be one drink. While unknowingly he had just given the desperate and starving twenty-five year old the one thing she had been standing through the rain for.
"Forgive me," she whispered to the child as she paced across the creaking dock.
The girl was asleep, but even with her lids closed the young woman could see the startling blue depths of her eyes in the forefront of her memory. She would never forget the child. No matter that the girl was only but two years old.
Regret cut through the woman like an icy knife, when she laid the child into the seat of the small boat that was tied to the dock. Although at the same time, she could not deny how light the kid felt or the way the child's cheekbones protruded from her gaunt-featured face.
She's starving, the woman knew. There was a pang of failure in her heart. Tears glazed her eyes that she struggled to keep at bay. The now ever-familiar emptiness in her gut churned at the thought of hunger. Knowing her own frailness as well she tried to stop the shaking of her hands as they withdrew from around the child.
We're starving, she corrected mentally. This is for the best. For both of us.
At that thought a wind swept across the surface of Lake Calenhad. Her gaze turned to the water, then inevitably to the tower set in its middle, casting a shadow so dark along the water it seemed to loom dark, black... corrupted.
A chill worked its way along her spine. Not from the frigid current, but as a result to all the rumors she's ever heard of about The Circle of Magi.
It is a terrible place, she thought. With Templars who loved to tear down mages. With overpowering, snide First Enchanters who even hold prejudice to their own kind. A lingering awful feel of being trapped and suffocated, always watched and constantly being assumed untrusting.
It was the curse of magic. One that the child had been blessed with, resulting in the life of running, fighting for their next meal, and avoiding the city with its job infested mists all because of the continual fear of apostate hunters.
Sadly, she blew the child a kiss. The woman had told herself that she would never do it. She had tried, tried so hard, to keep the child out of the Circle, but it was to no avail. Being put into the Circle, into the hands of Templars and scholars who can teach her of her curse, was far better than dying of starvation or hypothermia.
"Alright, alright! I'm going," echoed a slurred voice, causing the woman to leap to her feet.
A thrill of terrifying emotions ran across her flesh. The Templar on duty was backing out of the door, shouting and laughing to someone within the pud; The Spoiled Princess. A new sense of urgency clutched the woman. Fearing to be caught she streaked off the dock, heading for the nearest coverage.
Halfway there she remembered something important.
Heart pounding and her eyes on the man as she sprinted back, she pulled something from her pocket. It was tattered and stained with wine, but it was meaningful to the woman. It was her last piece of hope. Somehow, someway, the child would make its way back to her. She just knew it. Her heart would have burst with grief and pain if she did not believe this.
She reached the child, and the man entered the pub once more, much to her utter relief. Knowing she had not very long, she knelt down against the wood and had one last look of the child's face; ivory skin, scarlet curls, supple features. The woman's tears shed, no longer able to hold them back.
"Maker bless you, and grant you sweet dreams," murmured the woman, and place the parchment just next to the child's neck. In a way that someone will notice the note, instead of easily dismissing it. The lady very well knew she could have taken the child to any Chantry across Ferelden, that in turn would bring it here, but this seemed better. It seemed more proper in the sense that someone would get when leaving their child with anyone else.
When separating with someone close to your heart, you don't take them halfway to where they're going. You see them all the way through their journey, through the rough patches and tears and hardships, until they reach their destination.
The goodbye was shortened by the sound of the pub door. The woman bee-lined to the forest and had disappeared into the blurs of pines and shrubs, just as the Templar turned. He took his leisurely time walking over to the dock, woozily pacing the edge of the water.
Once upon it he noticed a flash of color in the boat. He rushed over, hand on the hilt of his sword, suddenly somber. When he saw the child the air rushed from his tense form, relief evident in his face. The man was slightly mystified. He took notice to the parchment and plucked it into his fingers, scanning the surrounding area for signs of who could have left it.
Coming up empty, his eyes dropped to the words of ink.
Her name is Tera Amell.