Of Heroes and Champions
When the Warden-Commander of Ferelden hears the news of his death she is stunned silent for less than a minute before she starts to cry. Sitting at her desk with a handful of wardens scuttling around the complex outside her door, she doesn’t even bother hiding her anguished sobs; she buries her head in her arms instead.
Her right hand crumples the letter she’s received from Leliana she lets it fall to the floor. She pulls her arms in tighter and is frozen with her grief. One more compatriot fallen; one more friend committed to the hands of the Maker and gone from Thedas forever. She wishes she were home in Denerim; that she could crawl into bed with her husband and continue to cry out this loss.
But, she is alone. Elissa Theirin nee Cousland, Queen of Ferelden and Commander of the Grey, allows herself just moments that turn to longer minutes to grieve for Anders. It has been ten years since Anders received his transfer orders and was taken off to Weisshaupt. Ten years since she kissed his cheek and hugged him tight and told him to write as often as he could.
A whole decade of long and somewhat boring years spent between Amaranthine and Denerim without a sassy comment to lift her spirits after particularly bloody days. She thinks this is why it hurts so much. He never wrote before the incident with the cat and after, on the run, she never expected he would drop her a line to say hello.
And now he’s dead from causes yet unknown.
On the floor, the crumpled note rests and waits for her to finish it. She does, wiping the tears from her eyes and straightening out the paper. Her eyes widen at the description of the Chantry explosion and the subsequent fallout. She checks the date.
Just over a week ago Anders blew the Kirkwall Chantry sky high with the Grand Cleric inside. A cold steals over her at the description of the devastation and she wonders how she hasn’t heard of this before. She’s got tendrils in every major city on the continent and beyond these days. Alistair can’t know or he would have sent word. So how is it that Leliana knew and she did not? Who has informed Leliana? Surely the bard wasn’t present or she would have stopped Anders. This smacks of a cover-up and Elissa can’t even comprehend who would have the power to keep an incident like this from leaving Kirkwall and the Chantry itself.
She notes that the cause of Anders’ death is significantly absent. The bard does not share who killed him, only the eventual outcome. Kirkwall in flames and Anders dead on the steps of the city.
Elissa has heard of the troubles in Kirkwall; Alistair had come home with worrying stories. The cold and unforgiving Knight Commander he’d described had made her shudder and had almost reminded her of Loghain. No, not Loghain. She’d been reminded of Howe. Power-crazed and uncontrollable Howe who knew no end to his own depravity. Leliana makes a passing remark in the letter about the Knight Commander meeting an unfortunate end at the blade of the Champion of Kirkwall.
There will be very serious repercussions throughout Thedas. She has absolutely no uncertainties about this and this is disturbing to her. Alistair has been grumbling about the problems with Orlais for almost a year now and after that close call in Antiva . . . Elissa knows. She knows that this situation will bring war.
She is desperate to prevent this though. She has lost and fought and rebuilt from one war. The war to end all wars, so they’d all thought. She cannot even envisage, now after only a few summers of true peace in Ferelden, doing it all over again.
There’s a burning in her stomach. She can recognize this familiar twist of anxiety and she makes the choice. She needs to find out what happened to Anders and the Chantry and find out how she can fix this problem before it destroys everything.
She folds up Leliana’s note. It contains the names of key players in the incident. First Enchanter Orsino, driven mad with desperation. Knight Captain Cullen, holding his own men back from aiding his commanding officer. Knight Commander Meredith, slaughtered on the steps of the templar headquarters. And Marian Hawke, the Champion. She thinks back on the pleasant description Alistair had provided of the woman, Hawke; she plans.
It is a matter of moments before Elissa has collected a few necessary items. Not even bothering to pen a note to Alistair, to let him know she’s off on another adventure, she locks her office door behind her. She has some travel arrangements to make.