Prologue


For the third year in a row, the Cousland family was heading from their ancestral home at Highever Castle to Redcliffe for the village's annual Summerday festivities.

Nine-year-old Elissa Cousland was looking forward to spending the week with her friend Alistair. Alistair was an orphan who lived as a ward of the Arl of Redcliffe. His mother had been a serving girl in the castle and had died when he was very young. The Arl let Alistair live in a room above the stables out of respect for the years of his mother's service to the Arling.

The two youngsters only saw each other twice a year, though they wrote often in between each visit. Their annual visits were during the Redcliffe summer festival and her mother's annual party in the spring. The friends had met three years prior, the first time Elissa actually remembered coming to the annual event at Redcliffe with her parents. They had come on other occasions too but those she could not recall. She guessed she had been too young at the time to remember those other times.

The sun beat warmly down on the young family as they made their way happily along the well-warn road. It was a small party traveling, only one wagon, in which Lady Cousland rode with her lady-in-waiting. Roderick Gilmore, one of Highever's squires and Elissa's older brother Fergus' best friend, was driving the wagon itself. Fergus rode his own horse, while Bryce rode with Elissa sitting perched on the saddle in front of him.

Castle Redcliffe was the home of Arl Eamon and his Arlessa, Isolde. Her father was taking care of needed trade negotiations during this trip. Usually when father travelled for business, he went alone with only a small retinue of guards. However, with Redcliffe situated on Lake Calenhad, he thought it nice if they spend some time travelling together as a family. Redcliffe's Summerday festival was a bonus for them.

The soil changed in color from the regular Ferelden browns and blacks to the fiery red the area was famous for the closer they got to their destination. Elissa looked happily up at her father from her position sitting in front of him. She chatted constantly and asked questions the entire time they traveled.

They were playing a game as they rode. The rules were simple, try to identify as many different things about the scene as you could from memory with your eyes closed – but you only got the point if you were able to list the benefits or dangers of the item, and what it could be used for; if anything.

The most common plants and animals were covered very quickly, and after the first day, they are both searching the landscape for things that looked a little different; a cave for shelter or rocks for climbing. The game was only really limited by applying their knowledge to their imagination, which is one of the reasons why Elissa excelled at it.

Bryce Cousland smiled down into the excited blue eyes of his youngest child. She had his eyes, but the face they sat in mirrored his wife's exactly. His precious little girl could melt his heart even faster than his wife was able to. He chuckled to himself. "Yes my darling daughter, that puts you at what? Three points ahead of Fergus now?"

Elissa gasped at her father in indignation. "No Ser! I am thirteen points ahead now father!"

This was something they played often as they traveled together. For the children it was only a game, which helped them pass time. However, it was also testing their lessons, teaching them and preparing them for their responsibilities once they became of age.

She heard her father chuckle deeply in his chest. "She has you there Fergus. I am starting to believe that you are asleep for most of your lessons with Brother Aldous."

"No father," Fergus said from his own horse just behind them. "I learn my lessons. Elissa is just to bloody quick, that's all!"

"Fergus, watch your language!" Eleanor Cousland scolded from her position in the wagon alongside them.

"Sorry mother," Fergus replied quickly with an apologetic smile.

Bryce smiled at his oldest son. "Sorry my boy, your sister takes after her mother that way. Your mother has always been one step ahead of me."

Eleanor smiled lovingly at her family as Bryce leaned over from his horse to grab his wife's hand and kiss it lightly. "That's what your father would have you believe, but he's always held the reigns to my heart."


Elissa could hardly contain herself as she recognized the final bridge that announced the next turn would put them at Redcliffe. The castle was on the left and up the hill while the village was to the right and down the cliff.

From her position in front of her father, she could look down over the edge of the cliffs and see the village below. Decorations were everywhere as people prepared for the annual Summerday celebration. Elissa was excited to head down there to play in the village with the other children.

The Couslands despite their titles were very down to earth people, who took their duties rather seriously. They truly believed theor duty was to serve the people and look after them; their safety and well-being were their paramount responsibility. Even if that responsibility was making sure their people knew how to look after themselves.

She looked up at her father from her position in front of him. "Can I run down and see if Alistair is at home now Father?" She pleaded.

Bryce chuckled. He should have known Elissa would have wanted to see her friend as soon as they arrived.

It was her mother replied though. "Not just yet Elissa. Wait until we properly greet out hosts, then once we are settled in our rooms and you have unpacked everything away neatly, then you may go find your friend."

Elissa gave an exaggerated sigh but bit her tongue. She had always had very good manners, wast hey were something drilled into her since birth. Bryce and Eleanor always taught their children they were no better than any anyone else, and that basic manners and respect were always necessary for her.

Respect and show kindness to all, no matter what their station in life my girl. Her father always told her.

The Teyrn worked hard to ensure no one went hungry in Highever. The Couslands helped to fund and supply a Chantry run orphanage, including teachers and mentors who could help the children learn a trade as they grew older. They did not waste their time like many noble families did, jockeying for position to get closer to the throne; which ironically, helped to make them closer to the king than anyone.


Elissa personally thought getting past all these boring necessities was taking far too long. The Arl and Arlessa walked outside to greet them personally in the courtyard with smiles and waves as they entered through the main gates. Someone must have been watching their approach from the castle.

Once had all their belongings had been brought inside, Eamon and Isolde left the family alone so they could settle in and rest. There was a promise to see them at dinner that evening.

Elissa threw everything from her trunk into the drawers and closets in a manner that would be described as anything but neat. Eleanor had taken one look at her daughter's attempt at unpacking and told her to pull it all out and do it again. The dresses would wrinkle and then someone would have to spend a lot of time removing the creases before she could wear them.

She did as she was told, this time taking more care. I do not want to wear these stupid dresses anyway, she thought to herself. Elissa also knew that arguing with her mother over this was not going to get her anywhere, so she bit her tongue.

Once she was finally finished, she asked her mother if she could be excused. Elissa knew she must attend dinner tonight with her family and visit the Arl and Arlessa, but this afternoon she was free until she had to go get dressed in one of those horrible dresses her mother kept insisting she wear.

Eleanor looked at her daughter. She was dressed as she had been traveling; in a casual blue tunic with black tights and sensible boots. It was hardly very ladylike, but the attire was appropriate for an afternoon playing at the stables with her friend. She would be happy enough if she could get Elissa into an actual dress for dinner with their hosts tonight.

"You may go," Eleanor held up a hand to stop her daughter from taking off immediately. "However you must be back with enough time to bathe and put on a dress before we have dinner with our hosts tonight."

Elissa grinned and nodded. "I promise Mother," she said and kissed her mother's cheek quickly before running out the door.

Eleanor returned to the room she shared with her husband. He was sitting at the desk overlooking some paperwork, working already. Bryce looked up as she entered the room and smiled at his wife. She turned and locked the door behind her.

"Elissa is gone for the afternoon, and Fergus is amused with the Redcliffe knights," she said in her quiet gentle way as she walked over. Eleanor stood behind Bryce, and started massaging the tense muscles found there. She bent over and kissed his neck. "We are on vacation and the children are occupied elsewhere, put the paperwork away Bryce."

The Teryn stood up, took his beautiful wife into his arms and kissed her deeply. He loved his Eleanor more and more each passing day. He had not known that even possible at the time they were married. He thanked the Maker each day for the blessing of his family in his life; so he did not need telling twice.


Elissa practically flew out of Redcliffe Castle as she ran and made her way down to the village along the lake below. The Castle stood at the top of the cliffs across a small bay from the village. The village of Redcliffe itself was built both into the cliffs and down along the shore of Lake Calenhad.

As she came across the first stone bridge across one of the fresh water rivers that ran into the lake, she stopped and looked down at the buildings spread out below her.

Nothing had really changed from when she was here last year. From her vantage point she could see people's homes, the Chantry, the store and her goal; the stables for the farrier that were attached to the smithy. Her friend Alistair lived in a room that was built above the stables.

She could see the stables clearly now. Someone was shoveling hay and filling up feed bins. It was Alistair. She would recognize his reddish blonde hair anywhere. She smiled and quickened her pace down the road that lead to her to final destination.

Alistair had gone back inside by the time she managed to cover the rest of the distance. With his back to the door, he did not hear or see her approach. She stood in the large open doorway and leant against the wooden door jam, watching him hang up various rigging and implements back to their proper location.

"Are you almost done there or do you need some help?" Elissa asked with a grin.

Alistair was surprised when he heard someone behind talking to him, most people in Redcliffe just ignored him for the most part. He turned around and saw a girl leaning against the doorway smiling at him.

"Elissa!" He exclaimed as he hung the pitchfork he had been using earlier. "You timed that well, I just finished actually. When did you get here?"

"Few hours ago. Mother made me visit with the Arl and unpack first before I could leave." She made a face that displayed exactly how unimpressed that had made her.

Alistair smiled; he always looked forward to this time of year when she visited. "I think I'm finished. Let me check with Bralton if I can go." Bralton was the farrier that Alistair reported to for his work at the stable.

The elder man let Alistair off early. He always felt sorry for the young boy. Alistair did not have many friends, and the girl that came each year to Redcliffe with her parents was about the closest thing he had. The Arl did not like the boy having much to do with other people for some reason; the girl had always been an exception. Most likely because she was the Teyrn's daughter, the Arl could not very well say no to a man that so obviously outranked him.

Elissa complained as they walked side by side down to the waterfront. "I only have an hour or so this afternoon unfortunately. I have to go get some stupid dress on to go to dinner tonight."

"It can't be all that bad," Alistair replied. He personally would love to have a family dinner to attend. He had never had any family to speak of.

"Oh it's not dinner with my family that I mind," she said quickly, always conscious of another's feelings. "It's wearing those awful frilly dresses," she sighed. "They are so uncomfortable."

"I'm glad I don't have to wear them," Alistair agreed with a grin.

Elissa giggled as she imagined her friend in one of her dresses. They had reached their destination; the long wooden docks that were along the edge of Lake Calenhad. Without really discussing where they were going, the two headed walked to where the docks did not cover the shore and the lake met the red earth.

Once at the water's edge, the two youngsters jumped from rock to rock as they talked, catching up on the year's happenings and sharing their adventures. Redcliffe had a lot of docks and jetties because the shoreline was not sand, but a red mud that was usable as clay. It was sticky and dried hard, and often used in construction in the village itself.

Elissa's footing slipped on the next rock she was trying to land on. She fell over backward and landed with a loud squelch in the mud behind her. Then, in her attempt to stand up and move forward out, her foot became stuck and her shoe came off, resulting in her now falling into the mud once again, this time face first. Alistair tried not to laugh, but just could not help himself. He wiped the tears running from his eyes as offered his other hand to help her up.

Elissa grinned slyly and grabbed his hand, then yanked her arm, pulling him in too. He landed next to her, arms outstretched face first in the red mud. Now she started laughing uncontrollably also. As he struggled to sit up, she reached down and grabbed a handful of mud and flung it at the back of his head.

As it hit him, and the cold wet mud slid down his back she could hear him mumur. "Oohh, you are so going to pay for that!"


Bryce Cousland was out for a walk that afternoon stretching his legs with young Teagan Guerrin, Arl Eamon's younger brother. The Teryn had always liked Redcliffe village with its decks and pathways around the lake. It was beautiful scenery and a relaxing pace to visit. Apart from needint to travel for business, it was one of the reasons the Couslands made the trek each year. He made a mental note to bring Eleanor walking with him the following evening.

Elissa looked from her seat in the mud to see her father approaching with someone she had been introduced to earlier that day, Bann Teagan. Alistair noticed them at the same time, and the two children froze as her father caught sight of them.

Her sky blue eyes even more outstanding due to the fact her face was entirely covered in the dark red mud the village was famous for. She smiled at her father, teeth flashing white in her muddy face.

"I fell in," she said before he could ask.

Bryce took in the scene before him. His daughter looked so ridiculous with her big red white and blue smile. He started chuckling, and was soon laughing so hard he could not stop. The Teryn was bent over, clutching his sides, struggling for breath, unable to hide his mirth. Teagan slapped him on the back, but he too was laughing at the scene before them.

Once he had himself under control, Bryce walked carefully toward the two children and leant over so he could lift his daughter out by her underarms. She came free of the mud with a loud suction sound. He lifted her, holding her out before him, making sure no part her touched his clothing. Then walking back to the docks he dropped his darling daughter unceremoniously into the lake.

Elissa landed with a loud splash and disappeared under the surface before emerging out of the cold, crisp water sputtering. Even Alistair was laughing at her indignant reaction and the furious look on her face. However, by the time she cleaned off the majority of the mud, and climbed back out onto the dock the frown was gone and she was smiling also.

Alistair in the meantime, saved Elissa's shoes from the mud, then jumped into the water to clean himself off. Bryce turned to the soaking wet young lad as he climbed back onto the dock. "It is good to see you again Alistair," he said with a wide grin.

Alistair bowed awkwardly to the Teryn. "It's good to see you too Ser," he looked around him and stammered as if trying to find words to explain what happened.

Bryce shook his head and smiled. "I have no doubt it was most likely Elissa who started this?" He stated quietly.

Elissa crossed her arms and looked at her father seriously. Bryce bit his lip to stop laughing at her. She looked just like Eleanor when she did that, and he found it absolutely adorable. However, not taking her seriously made Elissa very angry. "Yes Papa, but as I said, I fell in," she smiled, her big blue eyes successfully melting his heart when she looked at him. "So since I was already dirty…" she shrugged.

He looked at his daughter, and nodded at her logic. He kept his grin to himself. "Well, your mother still will not like that reasoning as you know, so let's try and get you mostly clean before she sees you."

Elissa waved goodbye to Alistair. "I'll be back tomorrow. I'll help with your chores so you can finish early," Bryce's heart swelled with pride at his daughter's comment. Eleanor might complain she was not lady-like, but their daughter was growing into a person he was proud of, frilly dresses or not.

They left and she walked slushily back to the castle holding her father's hand.


The next morning after breakfast, Elissa, Fergus and Rory went to meet Alistair down at stables. One of the Highever guards always followed them. However, the guard was disguised plain clothes as not to stand out too much.

Alistair still had his daily chores to do, cleaning out the stables, filling the feed bins, watering the horses and various other tasks that needed completing. It always surprised Alistair at how nice the Couslands were to him. All three willingly offered and helped Alistair with the work that needed doing. With four people doing it instead of one, they had everything completed by mid-morning and he had permission from Bralton to take the rest of the day off.

They walked around the village market and watch some of the entertainers. Fergus bought everyone a skewer of roasted meat as they watched a group of travelling acrobats performing in the village square. Elissa was entranced by their act, she watched enraptured wondering if anyone could learn how to perform such feats.

After the entertainment cleared out, the Revered Mother stepped forward. Four Redcliffe couples were being wed on this day. It was tradition for weddings to take place during the annual celebration; even they did take place at other times also. Weddings were tradition for many on this day to blend in with the other festivities.

"I am never getting married," Elissa declared as they watched the wedding ceremony unfold before them.

Fergus laughed and disagreed. "You know that's not true. You will be married and chances are you will not have a say who you are marrying. It's not like we'll get a choice."

Elissa sighed, she had always known what Fergus said to be true.

Alistair looked at her frowning. "Why don't you want to get married?" He asked his friend. As someone who never had a family but always wanted one, he had trouble understanding why she would not want those things also.

Elissa looks sad for a moment. "It's not that I don't want to get married. I just want to marry someone I love, like our parents did."

"Then do that," he replied, which he thought was normal, and did not really understanding the situation that noble families found themselves in.

Elissa shook her head. "It doesn't work that way Alistair. My marriage will most probably be arranged for me. I will not have a say in the matter, and most likely, I will not even know the person."

"Really!?" He exclaimed.

"Marriages in nobility are usually arranged in political business deals. Mother has always told me this," she paused for a moment, fear of the unknown showing on her young face. "She said it is good for me to know now in order to be prepared for my duty in the future."

Alistair thought it strange that his friend could talk so easily about duty over happiness. It was then he realized that Elissa was actually a very pretty girl. It was as if he was truly seeing her for the first time, even though they had been friends for years. For some reason realizing this made his heart beat a little faster.


They spent the entire week together. Alistair visited the castle on occasion, but mostly Elissa spent her time in the stables helping him; or they simply walked, talking and enjoying each other's company. Only one thing marred their time. The Arlessa of Redcliffe did not like Alistair at all. There were rumours in the village that Alistair was the Arl's son. It was not true, but the Arlessa hated these rumours and made the boy's life miserable. It was easier just to avoid her entirely and go nowhere near the castle.

The week passed quickly, and before long it was the final evening before the Cousland family returned to Highever. The evening was celebrated with a dinner party for the Teryn and his family. It was a rather large affair, the Arlessa Isolde taking advantage of the occasion to show off her household.

Elissa found the entire evening dull and boring. She stayed as long as she could possibly stand before deciding on a course of action for escape. Grabbing one of the large elegant napkins from the table, she grabbed a plate and wrapped up a huge bundle of food to take with her. She looked around furtively, and thinking no one was paying attention to her, she snuck out the nearest exit and made her way back down to visit her friend again.


The two youngsters sat at the end the dock, legs dangling out over the water, the plate of food between them. Not much remained, and Alistair had consumed most of the cheese himself. Elissa lay on her back staring up at the stars, feeling full and content.

"I wish you lived closer," Alistair said.

"I wish you lived closer," Elissa countered. It was a common joke between them when their time together was drawing to a close.

"Hey Alistair?" She asked after a few moments of silence.

"Hmm?"

She pointed up at the sky, excited by her idea. "Do you see that really bright star just left to the moon?" He nodded. "Even though we live far away and don't always see each other, we still see the same stars every night," she sat up and turned smiling at him. "Each time you look up at that star; know you have a friend that's also looking at it and thinking about you. That way you won't ever really be alone."

Alistair looked at her, this was the first time he had noticed she was wearing an actual dress. Once again he thought how pretty she was. His heart started beating a little faster and before he really thought about what he was doing, he leant forward and kissed her softly on the lips.

He pulled back blushing, wondering to himself what on earth was he doing kissing his best friend. She was just staring at him, her eyes went wide as one of her fingers touched her lips where he had just kissed her. "You look very pretty in your dress," he stammered.

She blushed and thanked him. Meanwhile her mind was racing as quickly as her heart was. He kissed me! Elissa had never been kissed by a boy before, it was suddenly like her friend was an entirely different person. She leant towards him and this time she kissed him. He shyly took her hand.

They sat together in the dark evening holding hands and talking before Alistair walked her back to the castle. The guard that had been following Elissa that evening headed to Arl's study to make his report.


Eamon was not impressed with this latest turn of events. This situation between the young Cousland and his ward would simply not do. Alistair had to be controlled. Becoming involved with a Cousland was inappropriate and could only elevate they boy's position further. It could not be allowed. He knew the two visited as friends each year, but it had to be stopped now before things developed further.

Isolde had been pressuring him to put the boy into a Chantry orphanage since they were married. Eamon knew she did not really believe the boy was not his son.

The Arl had also overheard Bryce and Eleanor talking about Alistair and Elissa during the party that evening. The two actually though it would be a good match. Bryce admitted to his wife that Alistair's father had mentioned something when Elissa was born regarding the two, but he went missing in action before the details could be further ironed out.

Eamon could not tell the Teyrn to stop visiting with his family, so the easiest way was to make Alistair 'disappear'. He had been thinking this solution for a while to help ease tension with his wife, but the current situation and what he saw tonight had finalized the decision for him.

His mind made up, Eamon called his man servant.

Alistair would to be sent to the Chantry and placed in a monastery. Tonight. There he could train as a Templar, take full vows of poverty, chastity, and pose no further threat. It also took care of the other problem they did not want to crop up eventually. Alistair having a family and even more illegitimate heirs appearing. He would talk to the Grand Cleric personally next time he was in Denerim.

The Arl and Arlessa were waiting for Alistair in his small room when he returned from escorting Elissa back to the castle. His belongings, meager as they were, were already packed into a trunk. One of the Redcliffe guard's, Ser Donal,l was sitting in a small two-person buggy in front of the stables, ready to leave.

The young boy was both confused and scared when he saw all his belongings gone from their usual locations. His greatest fears were being realized. They were sending him away.

Isolde stood frowning at the young boy who she thought her husband should have sent to an orphanage years ago.

"No please!" He begged Eamon, tears streaming down his face. "Don't make me leave!"

Eamon looked away, determined to remain unmoved. This was for the best.

Isolde frowned at the boy unmoved. "You are nothing but a commoner, what did you expect to come from all this?" Then she struck a final blow. "Now we have to send to the monastery at the request of Teryn Cousland. They no longer want you influencing their daughter in this manner."

Alistair was both shocked and angered by her comment. He started turning red in the face and yelled. "I don't believe you!"

Isolde sneered. "Get him out of my sight."

The young boy now glared at Eamon, who had been quiet throughout the entire exchange. Alistair was so angry he, grabbed at the amulet he wore around his neck and threw it against the wall where it smashed. He turned his back on them and walked outside into the night.

The next morning Elissa woke up early so she could run down and say one final goodbye to her friend. She ran into the stables and climbed the ladder up to his room, but Alistair was gone. The only thing there was an amulet, smashed on the floor. She recognized as the one he always wore, it was the only thing he had of his mothers. She picked up the pieces and wrapped them in her handkerchief, tying the knot securely. She promised her friend silently to fix it and return it to him later.


It was a few weeks past Alistair's seventeenth birthday. For the past year, he had been in Templar training here in the Denerim compound. Today, he was standing at the wall that separated the Chantry from the market district. He did not actually do anything at this post; the Chantry just liked their Templars to be visible. To make any mages wondering around the square nervous he assumed.

He was only half listening when he heard an angry feminine voice say from behind him, "Andraste's holy knickers Roderick! How often do I have to tell you to call me Elissa when it is just us! We've known each other too long for this My Lady crap."

Roderick Gilmore smiled at his best friend's younger sister. "As you wish, Lady Elissa."

Alistair heard another male laugh. "Roderick you shouldn't tease her so. Next bout in the ring you're likely to find yourself with your armor straps cut and your breeches around your ankles."

Rory laughed. "You know Fergus; I believe she would at that! I'm sorry Elissa," he did not sound very sincere in his apology at all.

Elissa, Fergus and Roderick? Alistair started in surprise his heart started beating quicker at the thought of seeing his childhood friends again. It must be the Couslands.

He realized they seemed to be walking in the direction that would bring them in out directly in front of him. He had not seen the young girl who had been his friend since the night Isolde sent him to the Chantry.

Alistair had never truly believed Isolde when she said the Couslands had wanted him sent away from their daughter. They did not seem that type of people no matter what hateful things the Arlessa had said. However, the roots of self-doubt had been sown deep within Alistair over the years. He knew was not good enough for her, he never was.

He saw Elissa as she came around the corner first, followed closely by the two young men walking behind her. The trio was deep in conversation.

"You certainly spent enough time dancing with the Bann," Fergus said teasingly.

She waved him off, used to her brother's teasing. "He is a friend Fergus, nothing more."

Fergus smiled at his sister. "To you perhaps. I happen to know he wants more than friendship from you little sister. I believe he's already spoken to father."

Alistair's heart broke a little as he heard Fergus and Rory tease her about the anonymous Bann. Elissa insisted she felt nothing for him and nothing was going on, but the looks the two men exchanged spoke volumes.

Elissa simply laughed at Fergus' statement. "They always talk to father. But thank the Maker he is actually willing to take my opinion into the matter."

She sent Fergus a withering glare. "I will not be auctioned off to the highest bidder like a piece of meat at a cattle sale. If I cannot choose whom I will marry, I will not marry at all."

Alistair smiled under his helmet. That was the Elissa he remembered. Smart and outspoken. He desperately wanted to say hello to his old friends, but it was always made clear to him that he was not allowed to let anyone know who he was, under any circumstances. That meant no contact with friends or family. Something he found rather easy as he had no family and no friends to speak of anyway.

Alistair left his post, and followed them at a discreet distance as they moved further past the Chantry. He would not be missed for a moment or two. It was not as if he was a full Templar yet anyway.

His Elissa had grown into a stunning young woman. If she had not been with these two and if he had not heard their names, he might not have recognized her or even believed it was her. Although, her pale blue eyes would probably have given her identity away. He had never seen anyone else with eyes like them. They were so pale blue that they were almost silver in color.

The awkwardness of youth had gone, and was now so graceful Alistair thought she almost floated as she walked. She had filled out in all the right places, but was toned and fit from her daily fighting and drills. Her black hair was long , curly, and flowed down to her waist. It floated around her as she went about her business. She seemed to be completely oblivious to the heads of men that turned as she them passed by.

She went to the normal market places buying only small items such as fruit, some sweets, along with small toys and dolls. Placing them in the bag she carried, she then detoured to the poorer parts of town where she proceeded to hand them out to the children in the area.

Alistair was so focused on their activities that he did not notice a giant golden colored Marabi running toward Elissa from behind him. The dog, always playful, had been entertaining itself with a group of children at the Chantry. Now Elissa was in view, the dog came running from behind Alistair to greet his owner.

The hound, excited to see his mistress again, promptly ran beneath the legs of the young Templar, knocking his knees right out from under him. Alistair went flying over backwards and unceremoniously landed in a giant crash of plate armor.

He lay on the ground trying to gasp air back into his lungs as he stared through his visor at the sky. He saw Elissa's gorgeous blue eyes appear in the line of vision through his helmet, looking at him with both humor and concern. Her voice was musical, and she sounded like an angels as she was apologizing profusely and asking if he was all right.

Alistair felt a tug on his arms as Roderick and Fergus helped pull him to his feet.

"I am so sorry about my dog Ser," Elissa was saying.

Thanks to her mother's insistence, Elissa was wearing a blue dress that fitted snugly around her torso, accenting her small waist and generous curves before flaring out and down around her ankles. As Alistair got to his feet, he brushed himself off and looked down at the girl he had known since childhood. His Elissa had grown into one of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

Alistair smiled underneath his helmet. "I am unhurt… Lady Cousland," he added, made bolder by the fact he was anonymous in his armor. "I should be thanking your dog for allowing me the opportunity to speak to such a beautiful woman as yourself," he bowed.

Elissa flashed him a smile so brilliant it could have melted stone. "You have me at an advantage Ser. You know who I am, but I do not know your name."

Alistair paused for moment before brushing her question off politely. "My name is unimportant my Lady as I am of but one of many," he saluted her and bowed again as Fergus and Rory lead Elissa off to look at something else.

As he watched the trio walk away, Elissa glanced over her shoulder and looked at him before they disappeared into the crowd. Their eyes met briefly and in that moment he felt his heart start to race and the heat rush to his face; then the reality of his life hit home once more. He walked back to the Chantry more resentful of his situation than ever.


Author's Notes: Thanks to everyone that decided to read my little story. Which in the end did not turn out so little after all. I absolutely love the Dragon Age Origin game, and the story lines and dialogue that goes along with them. To those that stick with me throughout this journey, I hope the story pleases you and holds you until the end. This is a romantic fluff piece with some heavier parts thrown in.

Please take the time to post a review. :)

I wanted to write this story so it could stand alone as a story on it's own. Whether or not you had played the DA games. As such, codex entries have been included in some areas, and parts that avid gamers might think are redundant have been added anyway to help contribute to the story itself. It's my plan to print it for my own personal use and reading pleasure once finished. I just hope some others will enjoy my story as well.

Thanks to those that favourited me, have read this, and or already posted reviews. I appreciate anyone that takes the time to come visit my world. Bioware and EA of course own all rights, characters and all that general disclaimer stuff. Now back to my Alistair fan girl fantasy. :) That is the entire driving force behind writing this, and the reason the prologue was created.