Chapter Two- "Age Three"
Redcliffe Castle, Ferelden
Seated within his throne, Arl Eamon, sighed heavily a hand lifting momentarily to press into his eyelids, as if to ward off a bright light. When he withdrew the hand his eyes fell past the rows of Redcliffe citizens, standing within his courtroom, and zoned in on the sight of a nurse-maid, standing with her back pressed against the far wall, a small boy seated at her feet. He was regarding his toes as if they were the most fascinating things in creation.
His tired frown suddenly tilted into a smile.
This action did not, however, go unnoticed by the woman seated on his right. In a throne, much smaller than the Arl's and placed further back from the head of the chamber, Arlessa Isolde sat less tiredly and instead on the very edge of her seat, eyes narrowed. Isolde was trained enough in the ways of the Orlesian nobles, due to heritage, to know that in leaders, or of anyone of higher status in the presence of others, it is key to hide anything amiss. Burst of emotions are considered improper. Fits are a matter of embarrassment. Childish possessiveness would drop her respect rating to zero.
She knew all that, but it did not stop the sudden suspicious bloom of jealousy and indignation inside of her breast as she watched her husbands eyes trace over the child as if he adored it beyond herself. To her knowledge the boy's name was Alistair, he has been within the household for three years. Years of wails echoing out of the servant's chamber. Months of the thing moving from the arms of every member in the household staff to even as far as the guards about the halls. Isolde witnessing left and right moments where even the Arl would pause and give it soft words, press a hand into it's cheek, partake in the attempt to teach it to walk or share with it a new word that it'll eagerly repeat.
She shifted in her throne, the same old thoughts and doubt gnawing into her mind. Bitterness arose in her gut, burning like bile up her throat and searing within her mouth. Her dainty hands clenched around the arm of the throne as she forced her face to be seamless. Any of the citizens or nobles present for court this morning would not even had known the turmoil overtaking the young woman.
It's not his, she willed to herself. He wouldn't do that to me.
As much as she repeated this statement to herself over the past three years it did not stick. Eamon was just too compassionate for his own good. It was obvious he cared for the child. Isolde had been told it was the child of the maid-servant standing over him, with her porcelain skin and thick curling black hair.
Her stomach knotted, causing her to sit suddenly straighter and almost immediately she gave up her pretending. The fatal blow of her ego, left her feeling vulnerable. Especially as she stared across the chamber straight into the face of the child that shouted, screamed, her husbands break in loyalty. To her the child was just the evidence to the Arl's betrayal.
She felt foolish. She had thought that Eamon would be different, not like all the other high society males. There was no doubt in her heart that she loved the man dearly. He was few of many in Ferelden of who would help spare Orlesian within the lands, practically saving her own neck when King Maric expelled all Orlesian rule within the nation. The Arl was her savior.
And then he slept with another woman.
It was like a slap in the face. For him to lie to her on top of it, was even worse.
Abruptly Isolde stood. Many drew their eyes to the Arl's wife as she walked across the floor, heading down from the head of the chamber, and in a forcibly calm nature stepping up to the woman and child standing just to the side of the door.
The maid-servant looked startled, curtsying and mumbling a soft, obedient welcome to Isolde.
The Arlessa merely stared at her evenly, hiding her glare with effort and unexpectedly crouched down to the child. She felt like a hand was wrapped around her heart, squeezing it. Every breath coming in painfully, with a hard-pressed constriction that threaten to choke her with hatred.
She hated the child with his wide, blue eyes.
"Silly, whoring mother," Isolde cooed under her breath to Alistair. Her voice was only loud enough for the child to know the words, but about the chamber her soft, hushed whispering seemed to be motherly. "Don' even look a'thing like her, do you? No, of course not. You have blue eyes...like Eamon."
One of her hands moved to him, ruffling his short blonde waves almost curiously. Eamon wasn't blonde, nor was Alistair's mother. For a minute Isolde was distracted from her bitterness to become perplexed.
The maid-servant cleared her throat softly. "Is there something you needed, Lady Guerrin?"
"No, nothing," said Isolde, her Orlesian accent heavy. She stood, looking around the room quickly to find that many were curiously watching her, as to see what she was up to. Eamon was talking quietly to Bann Teagan, Isolde's brother, and she felt another pang of despair and bitterness resurfacing.
Imagine, she thought, if Teagan knew, albeit if he does not already know, my inability to keep my husband within my own bed.
Her cheeks flushed with equal embrassment and anger. Suddenly wanting to flee, as to resist the savage urge to slap the whoring maid-servant across the face, who had the audacity to still even speak to her, let along meet her gaze, she also felt an outburst at her husband could be a very real possibility and knew that it would be best saved for more confidential environments.
With the peoples stares still watching she knelt back to the child, pulling from her clothes a red ball made of finely combed sheep's wool. It was something she had of Orlais. They were very fashion oriented there and her mother had taught her many years ago as a girl how to knit. From time to time she would pull out similar special bought balls of wool, that Eamon got for her, and knit, but now everyone across the room saw her giving these gifts to the boy.
Alistair lifted his eyes from his toes and regarded her with solemn orbs of blue. Isolde waggled the ball at him, and the boy smiled, and reached out his hands.
"What an ugly boy, you are," said Isolde, using her nurturing tone to disguise the true nature of her words. "I'll give Eamon a better son. Stronger, fitting to our heritage, handsome."
Now the boy laughed, because her lips curled up into a sneer that he found much like the faces the housemaids would make at him for his own amusement. He grabbed at the ball, rolling it around between his palms.
"You'll see," Isolde continued, "I will have your stain in this house gone before you even know it."
With that last statement–no, promise–the Arlessa stood, nodded a goodbye to the maid-servant and muttered a soft excuse of leave to the guard at the door to pass along to her husband. Alistair remained on the ground, blissfully unaware, intrigued with the ball of red wool that he tangled hopelessly about his wrists.
Ferelden Circle Of Magi, Apprentice Quarters, Ferelden
"She's so little!" cried an apprentice. The same apprentice that had, ulterior to her outburst had been hard at work, hand flying across parchment as she dutifully recited all mental magic techniques her mentor had been training her with. The ten-year-old Petra looked up from her studies though, to find with utter disbelief sitting on the floor not two feet away from the steps to the Senior Mage Quarters was a girl.
A small toddler, of no more than three years, makes a face at the apprentice. For a moment Petra was frozen and then in a second flat she flung herself to her knees before the child, probing it lighting in the chubby thigh.
"I've never seen someone so young here before," confessed a voice. Petra looked up to meet the gaze of a curious, wide eyed teen boy. He leaned over the arm of his chair, seated not far from the apprentice and the toddler. The boy's name was Finn and he tossed aside the book of ancient elven magic, that his mentor forced into his studies, while cautiously joining the ten-year-old Petra before the child.
"I've never seen one at all!" said Petra. Having been in the Circle of Magi since the age of six, there was no memory within her mind that matched up to a face so round or eyes so big. Petra's curious and gentle side poked out when she smiled at the toddler, only to find it wrinkled it's nose with distaste in return. She cocked her head to the side, then grinned wickedly, tickling the stubborn toddler into submission. It gave a shriek and withered until Petra withdrew her hands, smirking. "What's your name?" Petra asked the young-ling.
"I doubt she can talk," Finn said softly. They both stared at the girl, who upon being tickled bashfully buried her face between her chest and arms. It was obvious the child was shy. Under exposed. Petra and Finn exchanged worried glances, just as another person came sauntering into the room.
The two older children hid the toddler from view, hurriedly jumping to their feet to stand shoulder to shoulder, with their backs to the small girl. They clamped both hands behind their backs in respect, out of habit and sudden guilt. Their legs hid the toddler from sight.
"Finn, how many time do I have to tell you? I'm going to quiz you over the enchantments of the Dalish tomorrow, and if you don't get that down soon, then how do you expect you'll be ready for any sort of Harrowing in a few years?"
"S-Sorry, Senior Enchanter Sweeney," said Finn fleetingly. "I g-got distracted."
The mentor paused in his walk and lifted his eyes from the pages of the book propped up in his hands. Suspicions very clearly shone in Senior Enchanter Sweeney's eyes and with one quick snap his book was closed. "Perhaps Petra should be getting to her own studies?"
"Oh, no I-I just finished," Petra lied feebly. "I was..."
"Just off to find," smoothly put in Finn, "Senior Enchanter Wynne, to tell her."
Petra nodded, enthusiasticly, but Sweeney pursed his lips together, eying the two intensely. "I see," he grunted. "Shall I get her then? I'll save you the trouble, I am heading to the second floor anyway." He paced forward, towards the stair case and walked around the odd acting apprentices.
Petra panicked, and franticly tried to maneuver the toddler behind the nearby desk, while Finn moved to step in the way on the other side. The plan might of worked, aside the child suddenly lurched forward around Finn's legs and grabbed onto Senior Enchanter Sweeney's pants leg.
The man gave a startled hmph, and the small girl tossed back her head, calling with a lisp, "Swweeen."
Sweeney jumped at the sight of the red-headed toddler. "Maker's breath, child! How in the world did you get down here? Isn't Irving watching you!" He shoved the book in his hands at the stationary Finn, and scooped up the girl. "Did you crawl down here all by yourself? Where are those other Enchanters? Knight-Commander Greagoir would have a fit if he found out..."
Petra pouted to herself as she watched Sweeney retreat to the top of the stairs, disappearing with the child his scolding voice fading the faster he climbed. The two apprentices all but forgotten.
"You don't think the Circles letting in kids below six now, do you?" Finn whispered.
Petra's eyes widened, and she swung around to face the older boy. "Are they allowed?"
"I don't know. Maybe it's some sort of test project, to see if they can handle it, you know?"
"Doesn't look like it, if she's slipping away."
There was a long pause, then, "Maybe she's special."
"How?" Petra mocked him, rolling her big blue eyes exaggeratedly. "She's like,three. How much magic can she really channel?"
"Well why else would they have her here? Locked up on the Senior Enchanter floor? The only reason they don't take kids until they're six is because that's when they start to show signs of being a mage and become dangerous to the peoples. You know that, it's the first thing we ought to learn."
"Or," countered a suddenly annoyed Petra, "she's a kid of a mage and they didn't want to give her up to the Chantry." She took on a tone to imitate his 'you should know that' one. "It's a law! That's the first one you ought to learn." She stuck her tongue out at the boy, obviously not keen on being chided.
Finn scoffed, but nonetheless took her statement seriously, as it did hold a substantial amount of logic. Then he laughed. "You know he's really gonna send Wynne, and you haven't even started on your reading assignment."
Petra's face blanked, and then she dropped her stubbornness, throwing herself back over to the desk. The moment she began to write furiously Finn slumped back into his arm chair, boredly overlooking the elven magic book once more.
A few weeks later, submerged in books and writing and rules, the two apprentices quickly forgot their meeting with the strange red-headed toddler.
A cabin, edge of Korcari Wilds, Ferelden
The woman was beautiful. She had thick, black hair that twisted down her lithe form and when she smiled her face was like the shadows of the stars; blinding, captivating, loving. And when she walked, the way she talked... oh, everything. All of it drove him completely and totally mad.
"Oh, flowers!" she exclaimed, when she looked up at him, noticing his approach. "Arnold, you really shouldn' have." And all the same she took the handfuls of red and purple blooms from his arms.
They smelt like lavender and roses, and nutmeg, and sugar.. everything good in the world, and she knew. Her glinting amber eyes raised slyly back to her lover's blue ones and she smiled roguishly. "This is a new spell," she commented, leafing through the flowers and trying to chose her favorite one. She couldn't.
"Twas only an enchantment, really." He shrugged and she drew him closer by an arm finding his waist. At the same time she kissed him, he wondered how he had found such a marvelous woman; beautiful, loving, delicate and devilish in nature, and to top it all off, an apostate. Just like him.
They were a couple deeply in love, Arnold Barink and Brianna Cote, and nothing in the world would separate them. Since they were teenagers they had known each other, both because of the Templars hunting each other. Once, she had tried to deal away an arrest by giving away Arnold's known hide out. And twice, he had given himself up to help her escape. They always found each other, somewhere in Ferelden during those years. And finally... finally, after whispered words, sweet kisses, and a late night, she had agreed to settle somewhere with him. He was ecstatic, of course, when he received her letter sealed with a kiss, but had not anticipated the friend she had brought with her to the cabin they'd built on the edge of the Korcari Wilds, far, far from Templars.
It was a small guest, no taller than his knee, a head of wooly black hair and almond shaped amber eyes, just like Brianna's. "Flower," she told Arnold her name was. "Her father was a florist, and she loves anything pretty. Keep all your shiny things hidden." Then she giggled and he could never have cared about past mistakes.
Brianna loved her daughter passionately, the same way she loved everything. Sometimes Arnold wondered if she was born that way or if a hard life of prostitution before they met had taught her that one must accept everything, if she was to make decent pay.
When they finally pulled away, flushed of face and breathing heavier, Arnold tilted his lips and glanced down at the flowers. "Actually, I really hadn't, you know. Twas for Flower that I made the enchantment."
Brianna rolled her eyes, shoving him playfully in the chest with the bouquet. "Then go give them to her, you thief. Stealing a poor wench's kisses, and taking back gifts... it is a wonder that I moved here." As he laughed and cradled the flowers between forearm and shoulder, he watched her go back to her knees and get to work on turning the dirt of their gardens. Winter had just ended and Brianna loved to prepare the soil for another year come, readying it to plant the food they would need come harvest. Two apostates with an apostate daughter never dared to venture far from the Korcari Wilds.
The sun was high in the sky that afternoon, sweltering those on the ground. Arnold felt sweat cling to his mage robes on his neck and back, so he hurried his walk toward the polish wooden cabin to the left. Brianna had worked a cooling charm on its interior, where Flower could play safe and comfortable within, and he was eager to share the feel.
Then he reached the door, and his hand flinched away from its blistering heat.
Something was wrong, he knew immediately and tossed the flowers aside, kicking door open with his foot. But the moment he caught a look at what was inside, a feeling of dread sank into his stomach, looking the staff of another mage right in the face.
His cheeks flushed with anger, seeing a old woman behind the weapon, clutching Brianna's two year old daughter by the hand. "Move, and you shall not be harmed," croaked the lady.
Arnold could not understand what he was seeing. As far as he knew there were no neighbors near their isolated cabin. If he thought anyone would come to abduct Flower, he thought only of Templars, not other mages.
By then, Arnold refusing to step down from the doorway and Flower silently, obediently standing with her hand in the stranger's, Brianna began to notice a dilemma. She rose slowly, wiping dirt from her hands on the front of her pants, and her heart stilled at the sight, hands flying to her staff on the ground a few feet away. Arnold lurched toward the women, but was flung backwards by a shower of flames.
He screamed, withering on the ground and Flower's eyes widened in horror. Finally, she began to struggle with the old lady that came to her with whispered promises and pretty jewels, but no more than she began to tug on her hand, did the woman drag her out past Arnold's place and pull her swiftly toward the trees.
"Flower!" Mother screamed for her, and she began to kick and wiggle harder. Then all at once both her and the old lady were bombarded by a fist of stone.
Most of it was blocked by the woman's ward spell, but it was enough to knock Flower's tiny body breathless. She was dizzy, when she saw her mother draw closer, furious, beautiful face now a mask of a fierce wild cat's. "That's my daughter, hag," she spat, and Arnold struggled to his feet far behind her.
"Terribly sorry, but I have need of her." The old woman cackled at the next threat that spewed from both the little girl's parents, adopted or no, and then she flung Flower to the ground a few yards behind her.
A battle ensued. One where Arnold was found without staff and Brianna tried her desperate hardest to wield hers. But the old woman was stronger. There was no doubt the couple was more agile and quicker, but less powerful by half, as they were bombarded with spells they never dreamed to learn. Flower, struggling with vines and fallen leafs, crawled over the tree's roots to watch the fight, and sat abject with terror, uncertain. Wanting to help, but not knowing how or who or why. She was too young to know, too young to even remember...
When both beautiful woman and doting man lay dead, amongst the clearing in front of their love shack, the old woman placed her staff along the length of her back and turned to Flower shaking in terror. "Oh, child, hush. I mean you no harm, remember? I only want to teach you. I'll teach you better than they could, sweet, sweet faced girl." She crouched down to the girls height and stared her down with those strange illuminant eyes. Her arms opened toward her. "Come, to Flemeth, child. I'm your mother, now."
Flower hadn't come as easily as the others, Flemeth found. The famous Witch of the Wilds, was forced to drag home a kicking and screaming little girl, and it took many days before the child seemed at ease around her.
Weeks later, she forgot the face of her old mother. There was only the new one; Flemeth.
Months later, she grew so used to Flemeth calling her Morrigan, she forgot her name was Flower.
Years later... a traveler came across a strange cabin, and discovered two charred piles of bones in the front lawn. It was a nice, yet aged cabin, but still.. he moved in. Upon opening the door, he came across a bouquet of flowers hidden among over grown grass. They were enchanted flowers, though, constantly in bloom, smelling like Andraste herself, surely, and he kept them on his kitchen table.
Then, one day, they were dead, and the blight had come upon Ferelden.
A/N: The chapters will go by age and every new chapter will get another character in it. (I knew nothing about Morrigan's parents so I improvised.) Thanks for reading, sorry for typos, please review! -Taryn(: