Disclaimer - All BioWare's property, I'm just playing with their toys.

A/N - Another all-Origins story, just not all-Wardens. Other Origin characters show up later/DA2 characters if they fit. (Trying to bend the time-line, without ignoring it.)

'Amazing how some things don't change', Alistair thought to himself as he crossed the camp. 'Still running around at the Revered Mother's whim...' He looked over to notice Gregor approaching.

"Alistair, where are you going?"

"I was asked to deliver a message."

The larger man shook his head, "The Mother can find an actual runner, you need to get the recruits prepared for the Joining."

"We aren't waiting for Duncan?" "No – I've no idea how much this weather's going to delay him, and the Taint is getting worse for that Elf he had you bring here."

"You're right – perhaps he's thought better of travelling to Highever, and turned around at Denerim."

Gregor nodded, "The King's already antsy enough without the troops from Redcliff, Highever and Amaranthine, let's hope Duncan's not far out. The recruits are waiting by the south gate; I'll leave it in your hands."

Alistair turned, returning to the main camp 'Five untested people to wrangle, one of them sick – great, maybe that whiny knight can take over after I get stuck up a tree.. Probably without pants, somehow.'

He quickly found Daveth, failing another conquest while Jory stood to one side frowning at the display. "Never know who you'll know, without trying, I say" the rogue smirked "so, where are these mysterious others – all I know so far is one's an Elf."

"I met a Dwarf recruit earlier – he seemed to trade food to a prisoner for something."

Daveth nodded, "I think I saw him he was sniffing around the Mage camp before they shooed him off. Speaking of which, those three are watching us. Perhaps the girl is who we want?"

"Don't get your hopes up; all today's recruits are male Even the Dalish."

Jory's face dropped at the idea of a spell-caster "A Mage? I didn't think..."

'Restrained sigh counter: 12 points for Ser Knight' Alistair inwardly groaned as a male Mage walked over. He suddenly stopped and gave a final wave to the female Magi. "Later days, Wynne. Surana, I'll try to write... if the world isn't too big".

"Do try to not get lost from your new duties, Anders" the elderly Mage replied with a set gaze. Laughing, he reached the others. "So then, shall we move on before the exemplary Templary get ideas about taking me back?"

"Dalish? No doubt, that charming fellow who threatened to gut the quarter-master, when he spoke to him as a servant earlier?" Daveth asked, pointing to the Mabari kennels. "Over there." They stopped by the fence, as the Dalish archer muzzled a hound.

"How very difficult..." he muttered, exiting the pen. Joining the group, he frowned as the Hound-Keeper spoke up. "If you're going into the Wilds, don't forget that flower I mentioned. We can see about imprinting him, if you like?"

Recognising Alistair, the Elf glared "Show me a proper task, before some other useless Shem comes asking me to wipe their rear."

'Amazing how he can still get so dark in anger, while so pale from sickness... just move on, Alistair'

"5 coppers and some plant leaves? Who needs this locked up?" the Dwarf asked, showing the contents of a chest he had forced open before they found him.

"Same person who left a chest in that dank little corner, and not the actual camp?" Daveth offered.

"Hmm – probably makes sense to Cloud-Heads." Dropping a lock-pick back into his belt pouch, he looked around the assembled group.

'Better make sure I've got the names down.' Alistair thought. "Let's get basic introductions done, if we need to call out to each other." He pointed to each recruit. "Daveth, Anders, Theron, Ser Jory, and our latest friend here is Faren."

"Just call me Brosca." They all nodded and headed for the gate.

'This is taking forever... do we try finding the scrolls, or head back before its dark?' Alistair wondered, watching in frustration as Jory made another pass at scooping his flask through the blood puddling from a Hurlock's body without getting any of the liquid on his gauntlet. Daveth stood above him, groaning openly "It's going to dry up at this rate – just shove your hand in there!"

Brosca joined Alistair on the log. "How'd you get stuck on this job? You enjoy herding Nugs as well?" he laughed, handing over his filled vial.

"It's just the joys of being the junior Warden, I guess."

They both turned as Theron finally spoke, leaning against a tree. "A Dwarf, An infected Dalish, a leashed Mage, a pickpocket and an imbecile – Creators forbid that those high and mighty Shemlen back in camp do anything dangerous themselves." He waved to get Alistair's attention back from the tree-line. "Are those branches interesting, are they?"

"Sorry, I thought that… forget it."

"I agree with the Dwarf's question – you seem sane enough, for a Shem, how did you get stuck here?"

"Duncan recruited me from the Templars before I finished training – and I'm glad to be a Warden" he added, pointedly.

"So our leader's a Mage-Hunter? Better watch yourself, friend" Daveth joked to Anders, as they handed over three bottles. "Got one for you as well" he told Theron, who simply nodded in thanks.

"We gave up, and shoved him out of the way" Anders said, as Jory finally walked over. Alistair wiped the dripping bottle off with a rag, and added it to the others while bracing himself for Jory's complaints about the state of his gauntlets. Before he could say anything, they all turned at the sound of Theron collapsing to the ground.

'Damn – better get him back to camp while there's still time.' Alistair tipped out his bag and rummaged through the heap for bandages, while sending Anders off to collect two of the crude staves from the Emissaries they dispatched earlier. Realising his intent, Brosca crouched down and began unrolling the bandages. Anders returned, placing down his find, and they began wrapping them in several spots to fashion a crude stretcher. "Daveth, Jory, you carry him. Brosca, you take the lead."

Anders sighed, and handed over his gloves to cut off Jory's moan about being bare-handed after ditching his blood-soaked gauntlets. "I'll keep him topped up with healing spells… Alistair?" he tapped the Warden on the shoulder, who just kept his eyes on a tree.

"Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm sure that squirrel has been watching us the whole time…"

"It's probably just waiting for us to leave" Anders offered.

"Maybe – it's just… creepy. Like it's planning something."

"What – you expect woodland rodents to swoop down at its signal?"

"Well, swooping is bad… Just forget it" Alistair muttered, stuffing dropped items back into his bag.

The squirrel watched the Humans gather up the last of the loose gear. 'Responsive, resourceful and perceptive? Perhaps that one 'tis not so dim-witted after all' it thought, moving up the branch for a view of the others. As the robed Human joined the procession, the squirrel turned back in time to notice the last Human stare down at a piece of cheese in the grass. He glanced at the unwatching group, and retrieved it. Dusting it off and then taking a large bite, he slipped the dried chunk into a pocket.

Taking another look at the squirrel, he muttered "Don't you judge me" in between chewing and headed off towards his companions.

'Ugghhh….. Seems my first impression was correct after all', the squirrel shuddered, before heading deeper into the Wilds.