A/N: Thanks for all the support. Just a tiny glimpse/tease of what the future could hold.
War of the Laurels
"Seven days?" He dispelled the two words out with utter disbelief. It seemed like so much. Not that he was complaining, because it sounded like so much fun. I can't wait!
"That's right," Uncle sounded amused. "So don't fill up on sweets and other tasty treats on the first night, because we don't want you getting a sick tummy so soon. Think about what you'll be missing out on."
"A lot," Oren smiled.
Uncle agreed and returned the smile. "That's right, a lot." He moved from where he was sitting to Oren's side of the table. "You see, every day we want to celebrate one of our allies," His fingers moving carefully through the vellum, flickering and pointing as he talked. "If we can remind our people of our victory, celebrate our alliances, make it a tradition," Uncle seemed to be talking as much to himself as he was to Oren.
About how every ally would be getting their own day during the Festival to be honored and celebrated. That included the Dalish and templars, dwarves and mages, city elves and Grey Wardens. "How did you decide who gets which day?" Oren was getting a headache just trying to think about all the meetings and sessions needed to plan and arrange for all of it, not to mention all the different voices and opinions.
"A royal secret," Uncle winked, when he looked down at him. He pulled a piece of vellum out from a separate pile, "We're not sure if we'll stick to the schedule for next year or switch the days. This is as much a trial as it is a triumph, but it will be a tradition. It has to be. We need it to be."
Oren only nodded. He knew how important this was to his Uncle and Aunt. At how determined they were to make this festival succeed. This celebration would take place over a period of a week to commemorate the one year anniversary of their victory at the Battle of Denerim and the ending of the Fifth Blight. According to Uncle, it would contain games and plays, shows and banquets and other fun events to honor all those involved.
He had seen the preparations being made throughout the city as workers built stands and stalls to brace themselves for all the visitors and guests who'd be arriving in Denerim for the festivities. Oren also heard there would be celebrations thrown in other towns and cities throughout Ferelden, but he was glad he was going to be in Denerim. This will be the biggest and greatest one. He was so excited for it to start. A whole week of fun games and delicious feasts? It sounded to him like the best idea ever.
He knew that it hadn't been an easy year. It had been hard and long for many throughout Ferelden. The darkspawn hadn't just vanished after Denerim. They had remained a problem in the months after the archdemon's death. Oren couldn't forget how dangerous the roads and lands had been within the Arling of Amaranthine. They had become so perilous that they put at risk large swaths of land in their own teyrnir.
It was one of the reasons why Oren was happy to be back in Uncle's company. He hadn't been able to see him in months. The darkspawn weren't the only reasons for delaying this reunion, Uncle traveled throughout Ferelden along with Aunt Anora to personally help and oversee where they could as well as listen to the problems of their people. A royal progression, that was what Papa had called it. Uncle had also spent time trying to assert Royal authority on Brandel's Reach and Alamar. Fighting, Papa didn't call it that, but Oren knew that was what he meant. It had been hard to sleep for those weeks while his Uncle was so far away and at risk with all the fighting. Just like before, he had thought numbly, when it had just been him and Uncle during the Civil War. Oren had foolishly thought those days and worse those sleepless nights of him sick with worry for his uncle were over, but he had been wrong...
That was when the doors swung open to show Oren's aunt, the Queen of Ferelden. Her sudden arrival helped to disperse those dark reminders from settling. While her warm voice uprooted the cold coil of dread that had come with those unpleasant memories.
"There you are, husband."
"I wasn't exactly hiding."
That earned him a soft cuff after they embraced and an eye roll from Aunt Anora. She then turned her smile to him. "Oren, I have something for you." she presented him with a small box sealed by a little gold ribbon.
"Thank you," Oren was cautious and polite since he wasn't exactly sure what he was getting. That all changed when he carefully opened it to reveal that it was chocolate! "Thanks!"
Anora chuckled, while her eyes twinkled. Clearly aware of the gift's improved reception once it was opened. "You're very welcome."
"What about me?"
"I brought myself," Anora then put her hand on her swelling stomach, "Or should I say us ."
"Oh," Uncle's immediate response fell flat, "I mean I could ask for nothing sweeter or finer." He threw in a smile at the end to try to salvage himself.
"Good recovery, darling," she observed dryly and unimpressed. "Did you look over the missive I sent for you?"
"About the Dalish?" Uncle sounded relieved that his wife had mercifully decided to change the topic. "Yes,-"
Oren was only half listening to the conversation between his Uncle and Aunt. He was too busy chomping down on the sweet, gooey chocolate to try to pay attention to the details that they were trying to secure about the visitors and travelers coming to Denerim including the Dalish Clans and Queen Valda's retinue. There was talk about Grey Wardens and mages too, Ferelden and Orlesian. Alistair, Solona, Fiona, Clarel, Wynne, and other names flitted around Oren's mind, few sunk into his thoughts, most just skimming or scraping before disappearing out of mind as swiftly as they were heard.
"Captain Kylon believes it shouldn't be a problem," Uncle finished with his long winded response just as Oren was nearly finished with his delicious treat.
"Will you be joining us for supper, Oren?"
He eagerly nodded, "Papa too."
Anora smiled, "Good, I'll inform the kitchens. Nathaniel and Alfstanna will be joining us too." Oren thought she said that more for Uncle's benefit, as if to remind him of their other scheduled guests. She hadn't taken a seat at her desk, but by Uncle's. "Are you excited about Antiva, Oren?"
"Yeah!" Oren picked up the leftover crumbs from his chocolate bar. Him and Papa would be traveling there after the Ferelden Celebration Festival was over. Mama's family still lived in Antiva and they were going to visit them including Mama's Mama and Papa. He couldn't wait.
"Where is my brother?" Uncle had gotten up from his seat, and pulled it around to move himself closer to his pregnant wife.
"At your beck and call, Your Majesty," Papa answered, leaning in the doorway.
Uncle snorted before muttering. "I wish."
Oren had scurried off his seat to greet Papa, who enthusiastically hugged him before swooping him up into the air with a grunt. "Oh! You're getting heavier and heavier, Oren."
"Must be all that chocolate."
Anora raised an eyebrow at Uncle before turning to them. "How did it go with the Banns?"
"As you expect," Papa jostled Oren in his arms while he moved them both towards the chairs.
Uncle sighed. "There won't be any problems?"
"I don't think there will be," Papa's sigh sounded as tired as Uncle's.
Sarim had gotten himself out of his bed and lazily ambled towards them. He settled by Anora's side, nudging his large head against her belly before leaning back to watch intently for a reaction. She stroked his ears while switching her attention between Uncle and Papa.
"The Festival will go off without a hitch," she declared confidently, "It will be a momentous week for our people as well as to show the rest of Thedas our strength and unity."
"It will," Oren declared confidently. It just had to with his Uncle and Aunt behind it. Everything's going to get better. He just knew it.
I chose to end it with an Oren pov because I wanted to capture his optimism as well as his ignorance of not fully understanding all the new politics, but still being hopeful about them for his family and Ferelden's sake.
This has been a long journey and thanks so much for sticking with me and supporting this story. Since this is the last chapter, I hope you'd consider leaving a review if you enjoyed the story. Hearing your encouragement and positive feedback would mean a lot to me. Thanks for your time.