Disclaimer: I do not own Dragon Age: Origins, or anything else associated with the Dragon Age franchise. BioWare owns it, more or less. And I am in no way affiliated with BioWare. So please don't sue me; trust me, you wouldn't get any real money out of it.
Chapter 1: The Start of it All
"I am afraid I must leave, for the time being." Duncan explained to her, as he packed his gear. "There is one more trip I must make before I conduct your Joining, Gwendolyn. I have some business with a Dalish Clan in the Brecillan Forest, and hopefully there I can also gain another recruit. Until then, you are free to mingle and chat with your fellow recruits and the other Wardens, if you so desire. I promise that I shall not be long."
And with that, Duncan rode away from Ostagar, leaving Gwendolyn Tabris alone with her thoughts. And over the coming days, she had a lot of time to think.
Much had changed for her, in the span of less than month; not long ago, she had been a simple City Elf in Denerim, preparing to be wed to her newly arrived betrothed. But with a single act of malice and hate, that all changed. The Arl of Denerim's son, Vaughn Kendalls, had barged into the wedding ceremony, and abducted all the women of the bridal party, including Gwendolyn herself, and her cousin Soris' bride-to-be, Valora. What followed...
Gwendolyn did not care to dwell on that horrible event. In the end, a lot of people had died, including her own betrothed, and her cousin Shianni had been raped. It was a day that would be burned into her memory for a long, long time. But, if Gwendolyn had any comfort about that horrific day, it was the fact that Vaughn Kendalls had been among the dead. In fact, she had run him through herself, with a sword taken off of one of his dead guards.
Later, after they had arrived back at the Alienage with the rescued Elves, the City Guard had shown up, ready to find a scapegoat for all the chaos and death that had been wrought that afternoon. The only thing that had saved her from being arrested by the City Guard, after Gwendolyn had outed herself as Vaughn's murderer, was the timely intervention of the Fereldan Grey Warden Commander, Duncan. He had Conscripted her on the spot, and from there, she had left her home and family of eighteen years; off to join the Grey Wardens in their battle against the Darkspawn at Ostagar.
Overall, Gwendolyn was rather thankful that Duncan had been there. If he hadn't, she shuddered to think what might have happened. Likely, she would have been arrested by the Guard, and taken away to rot in some dungeon, and then taken to be executed for her 'crime' at some unspecified date. Or, perhaps her rampage through the Arl of Denerim's Estate wouldn't have been successful at all. After all, it was Duncan who had loaned his sword to Soris and her betrothed. Without the added benefit of that life-saving weapon, would they have been able to kill those first few, powerful, guards at all?
Well, whatever the case, Gwendolyn was very thankful that Duncan had been there to save her. Without his help, she doubted that she'd even be alive right now.
Over the next few days, she spent less time thinking and more time getting to know her fellow recruits, and the Wardens of Fereldan. Daveth was an alright sort, she supposed. Sure, he was a pickpocket and a thief, but she'd certainly done that and worse in her own days at Denerim. And he wasn't racist, either. Or at least he was smart enough not to call her Knife-Ears to her face. That was an added benefit.
Ser Jory...he was civil enough, Gwendolyn admitted, but he hadn't been much more than that. The man was much more focused on the wife he had left behind; and that was certainly understandable. Still, Gwendolyn hoped that working with him wouldn't be too much trouble. She didn't want to make any enemies here. Especially after that nasty business with Vaughn...
As for the Grey Wardens themselves, so far she had a decent impression of them. They were friendly enough to her; especially a City Elf named Illan that Duncan had recruited at Gwaren seven years ago, and the former Templar recruit Alistair, whom had Joined the Order less than six months ago. Those two people in particular Gwendolyn had taken a liking to; they didn't care at all that she was an Elf. That fact wasn't shocking coming from one of her own kind, of course, but it was especially surprising coming from Alistair, a Human himself. He was definitely one of those few, incredibly rare Shems who didn't care at all if you had pointed ears. She'd definitely get along just fine with him, Gwendolyn predicted.
Overall, a fine group of warriors to fight alongside. There wouldn't be any trouble with them, if Gwendolyn could help it. But, if there was anything that she found troubling about the Grey Wardens...
It did vaguely bother her that she hadn't seen any other women in the Order. But, perhaps it was not too surprising? Men soldiers tended to outnumber women soldiers, after all. Did they not? In which case, couldn't that be the same for the Grey Wardens? And considering that those in Ferledan numbered so few, maybe it wasn't too surprising that the Wardens had no women soldiers or archers or what have you.
At least, that's what she tried to rationalize to herself.
At any rate, the Grey Wardens of Fereldan seemed like a decent lot to her, so Gwendolyn didn't mind Joining them at all. She just hoped she could prove herself useful to them. After all, an Elf from the cities didn't have much to offer to these group of brave and powerful warriors. At least her knack for swordplay would come in handy, though.
Gwendolyn Tabris had been at Ostagar for nearly a week and half, when Duncan returned from his visit with the Dalish, a new recruit in tow.
"Gwendolyn, I'd like you to meet Calethor. He is a Dalish warrior that I came across during my visit with the Dalish Clan. Calethor, this is Gwendolyn. She is a City Elf that I recruited in Denerim." Duncan introduced them. Gwendolyn nodded her greetings to the Dalish Elf, though her gaze soon became fixed upon the curious set of tattoos that covered half of the Elven man's face. It was a very mesmerizing sight, Gwendolyn admitted to herself, though she swiftly tore her gaze away from Calethor's tattoos, least she embarrass herself.
The Dalish Elf known as Calethor regarded her as well, and despite her best efforts Gwendolyn found herself shrinking beneath his intimidating gaze. The eyes that looked upon her were not broken or cowed by years of human abuse and propaganda; no, they were eyes of an incredibly proud, unshakeable nature. Nothing like Gwendolyn had ever seen, amongst the City Elves. Not even Shianni, her feisty cousin, had ever held such a gaze.
Though, now that she looked closer...didn't Calethor look somewhat sickly? He was rather pale, at the very least. Was something wrong with him, then? Gwendolyn hoped not.
Her musings and concerns were brought to an abrupt halt, however, as Duncan continued talking.
"Now that you've both been introduced, would the two of you mind going to find Alistair? Now that I'm back at Ostagar, there are some preparations I need to make for your Joining, and Alistair will be invaluable help for that. While you two are off finding Alistair, I'll gather Ser Jory and Daveth, myself."
"S-Sure, that sounds fine with me," Gwendolyn quickly replied. Calethor gave his own agreement as well, and Duncan was soon off, leaving them to their task. Calethor looked over at her, and Gwendolyn did her best—and succeeded, this time—in not shying away from his gaze.
"I know where Alistair is, so it should be easy to find him." Gwendolyn informed him, hoping that she didn't sound nearly as nervous as she felt. She didn't know why she felt so much awkwardness and nervousness from a fellow Elf; it was odd, to say the least. Something about Calethor's baring, about the way he looked at her...about his Dalish upbringing in general, really, frightened her, and she just didn't know why. Gwendolyn just hoped that he wouldn't take notice of her odd behavior...
And, it appeared he did not, for the Dalish Elf gave her a curt nod, and said, "Very well. Lead the way."
And so, feeling very relieved that her fear of Calethor stayed a secret, Gwendolyn turned around and, with only one backwards glance at her new companion, started leading Calethor of the Dalish through the throngs of the camp at Ostagar. As they made their way to the Grey Warden Alistair, Gwendolyn hoped that she would soon get over her irrational fear of the new recruit; she didn't want to antagonize a fellow Elf, unintentionally or not.
And that's it for now! Not much, but it's a start, I think. This should be an interesting journey, I daresay. Very interesting indeed.
So, just to lay down a few ground rules. The main focus of this story will be the relationship between the Dalish and City Elf Origins. How they interact with each other, how they interact with their future companions, how they change as people, and everything inbetween.
The focus of this story won't be on the Fifth Blight itself, necessarily. It will still factor in and be a big element in the plot, of course, but it won't be under the spotlight. What will, are the fascinating characters of Gwendolyn Tabris and Calethor Mahariel, and the journey they undertake to defeat the Archdemon and Regent Loghain.
So, that's that. Just wanted to be clear, so I don't disappoint anyone looking mainly for action and adventure. Such elements will still play a part, but as I said, the main goal of this fanfic shall be the fascinating relationship and interaction and overall change between an Elf who has spent his entire life free from the yoke of Humanity, and an Elf subjugated by the Shemlen for most of her life.
I hope you all enjoyed the first chapter! More shall come soon, I hope. I honestly have no idea how long this fanfic will be, or how long it'll take to write and complete, but that shall be intriguing to find out, no?
Please don't forget to review! I appreciate the thoughts of all my readers, good or bad.