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Fables from Ferelden

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9:32 Dragon

It only started because of the crying.

At least that was how Morrigan justified it to herself, later on. She had been utterly perturbed by the unusual and incessant noise, and so it was in a state of high dungeon that she traipsed to the wooden cradle that held her infant child.

Morrigan picked up the baby. The child immediately focused her clear, blue eyes upon her mother, and continued to cry.

"Cease this noise at once," Morrigan commanded, to no avail. She tried offering her child nourishment and solace. She tried conjuring sounds and rhymes to captivate and beguile. Despite all her efforts, the child remained inconsolable.

"This is most unseemly," she grumbled. The infant continued to ignore her, her tone becoming more and more wheedling, like an insistent plea. Eventually, Morrigan came to her hope of last resort.

"Do you... want a story?"

The crying stopped abruptly, and the silence that remained was almost deafening. Morrigan sagged in defeat.

"Very well," she relented, settling into a chair, her child cradled in the crook of her arm. The infant burbled happily, her chubby face settling into a beaming, glorious smile. "'Twill be short, mind; the day is not yet long, and there are many chores to be done - do you understand?"

In response, the child tugged at her mother's fingers with evident delight as she settled into her arms. Morrigan sighed, thinking of the million and one tasks she had given herself to accomplish today (replenishing her store of elder wort, sharpening her set of knives, cleaning out her best cauldron), but clearly, her child would not be denied.

"Once upon a time..." Morrigan began, settling into the rhythm and cadence of the tale with an ease that disquieted her.

.

.

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The Foolish Templar

Once upon a time, there lived a foolish templar. He was fair of hair and tall in height, and was not entirely displeasing to the eye, were it not for his persistent incompetence. He had been doomed from birth to be altogether lacking in intelligence, and clumsy of wit. It is an unfortunate truth that many such individuals exist in this world, and will undoubtedly cross your path sooner or later, and have cause to give you grief.

(A templar, my dear child, is a scion of the Chantry, trained to capture beings such as you and I, and then to torture and kill us. Have I not explained this to you before? The warden may tell you more, as she lived under their watchful gaze for many a year. I do not doubt that she will have many instructive stories to share.)

As events transpired, it became clear that this templar was not particularly skilled at his training. His tutors lamented his lack of focus, his poor discipline, and his remarkable ability to be distracted by a pretty face or the scent of wafting food (concentration, my dear one, is an ability required for even the most simple of cantrips, and is a trait that is highly prized amongst mages. You would do well to cultivate this talent for yourself).

He was expelled from his Order in disgrace. Alas, thought he, no longer will I be able to unjustly persecute apostates. No longer will I bathe in the blood of innocent maleficarum! According to templars, the blood from the babies born to magi of the Circle Tower (that was what they called their prison for mages, where the warden was raised - hence her very distorted outlook on life; you would do well to regard any of her advice with due suspicion) - the blood was said to improve the shine on their very shiny armour, and so they bathed in it regularly. This was all nonsense, of course. No blood possesses such properties, but the templars were a very vain Order, and so any advantage they could use to impress their peers was readily seized upon.

(Had I borne you in the Circle Tower - perish the thought! - the templars and their Chantry whores would have taken you from me, or at least made the attempt. But you shall never, ever be subjected to their rules and prohibitions, my sweet, fear not. No templar shall ever bathe in your blood, I can promise you that.)

This hapless templar, bereft of the duty and honour that he held so dear, was forced to join another group to assuage his self-esteem. It so happened that he Joined the Order of the Grey Wardens.

Amazingly, he did not perish from the process, but instead rose again, like a pestilent weed. This was to be a recurring feature of his later life. Many times he and myself and the warden would face remarkable odds, against all manner of bandits and demons and darkspawn. The foolish templar, clad as he was in only metal (and not protected by magic), would somehow always pick himself up after a devastating fight, no matter the number of his injuries or the severity of them. Truly, his level of endurance was... remarkable.

Perhaps I digress. I see you are growing impatient; however, I assure you that grousing at me will hardly improve matters.

There. If you will only settle, and behave yourself, then we may continue. Yes?

I came upon them in the Wilds (not these Wilds, my child, but the Korcari Wilds of Ferelden - altogether a much more swampy land, infested with Chasind humans and, at the time, much overrun with darkspawn). The foolish templar was joined by two other men of no significance, and Sylvanna, whom you know. They were searching for some papers, ancient treaties that pledged assistance to their Order from many varied sources: elves, dwarves, humans and the pitiful, templar-bound Circle of Magi.

He was the senior of the two wardens, but obviously inept at his role. 'Twas the elf accompanying him who drew my eye, despite all her failings and obvious discomfort with the outside world; I... was intrigued.

But this is not her tale, my sweet. This is the tale of the foolish templar.

I led them from the Wilds, in time, and joined them on their long journey to defeat the Blight. Many and varied were the pointless tasks we faced on the way: helping strangers with their petty problems, with no hope of any gain for ourselves, settling minor disputes, even (and this is the truth) defeating a demon that had possessed a cat. A cat, my darling. 'Twas a preposterous waste of time.

Before too long, it became obvious to me that the foolish templar had his eye set upon the elven warden, but she was clearly insensible to his charms (and rightly so). Having no courage in the ways of the heart, the foolish templar could not bring himself to act upon his emotions, though the Antivan in our party (not to mention the dwarf) encouraged him on numerous occasions. Truly, 'twas a delight to watch him suffer and stew in his own ineptitude.

During our journey, the foolish templar was forced to reveal his dreadful secret - that he was a bastard prince, begotten by the old king Maric unto a serving wench. 'Twas laughable, to think of him as king, ruling the nation (he could not even darn his socks without assistance), but it made him eminently more useful to the elven warden. She saw straight away how she could use his heritage to her advantage, and prevailed upon him to marry his brother's widow and ascend the throne. This fate did not suit the foolish templar at all, but so used to following orders was he, that he accepted without much demur. Such is the fate of all fools and lost princes: to be used, and then discarded. 'Tis a lesson you should learn well, my dear.

'Twas in the chapel at Redcliffe castle when I came to him, close to the eve of the Blight. I came to him at great personal cost, having just been grievously wounded. No, do not question how it occurred. I wish not to speak of it.

I came to him. I gave him no choice in the matter. I am not proud of it, but there it is; time was of the essence, and there remained no other options. I would not be denied the chance to free you, to take the purity of your soul and to grant it a new body. That is the truth of it, I swear; that is the degree to which I yearned to bring you into this world.

I stole away with your spark in my belly, near the end of the Blight. I needed to keep you safe from the others. I knew that they would not understand.

You may wonder why I am telling you this story - why I am emphasising your father's flaws. Perhaps you think that I am being overly unkind to him. I assure you that I am not.

I am telling you this, not to mock him, (he is more than capable of eliciting mockery without my aid), but to show you that it does not matter whose seed you sprang from. His blood may run in your veins, yes, but it need not bind you to his mediocrity. I am more than confident that you will rise far above his humble beginnings, and prove to the world whose child you truly are.

You wish to know how it ends? What happened to him?

I must confess that I do not know. The last I saw of him, he was preparing to wed that vapid cow, Anora, and to assume the throne. There was much work that needed his attention, and I suspect that he is still safely ensconced within Ferelden's capital, dealing with a country ruined by both civil war and the Blight.

Perhaps you will meet with him one day, when you steal his country away from under his nose. Perhaps he will stand in your path, and you will be forced to obliterate him. That would not be such a bad end for him, my dear. He could certainly do worse than to be crushed beneath your might.