Chapter 1: Go Wake Up The Commander
In which the world can no longer be ignored.
“Do you feel that?”
“That’s a lot of activity.”
“It’s too organized and out of the way for it to be Darkspawn.”
“But what would so many Grey Wardens be doing here?”
“I… don’t know.”
“Go wake up the Commander.”
“I’d rather deal with that green thing that was spewing out demons again than wake up Sira.”
There was a long silent pause before Sira heard cloth being moved aside and felt the warmth of the sunlight pouring in.
“Hey Commander…” Oghren’s gruff voice called out. Sira felt a slight pressure on her arm, to what she assumes to be Oghren’s attempt to try to carefully wake her. She had gained a reputation of being… grumpy when woken up; other’s preferred to call her an absolute terror but to each their own.
“I feel them Oghren. Wasn’t really asleep anyways.” She yawned, sitting up and stretching. Taking a glance at the chests in the canopied wagon she was resting in, she sighed. It had taken a year to gather the small amount of information, codes, and clues her small group did in the hunt for a cure from the calling. A long two years away from her husband Alistair, and they still had no concrete answer; only clues that led to more questions that lead to tiny tidbits of information that just ended up leaving even more questions than answers.
Sighing inwardly, she grabbed her daggers and hopped out of the wagon, shielding her eyes from the evening sun and took in their surroundings. There was a lot of… activity around them, which was confusing. Why would there be such a large number of Grey Wardens in this part of Thedas? Sure they were on the Imperial Highway, but there wouldn’t be anything of interest near Cumberland. If there were, they would know. Maker knows they’ve been scavenging for any news regarding warden history, and there wasn’t anything of significance on this stretch of
Thedas. Maybe they knew something they didn’t, or maybe they could even explain the lack of contact between her and the Vigil in Amaranthine, or even between the main Warden keep in Orlais. She had been so focused on her mission to find a cure, with the calling constantly there reminding her of everyone’s premature end, she didn’t exactly try to keep updated in current events.
“Well on the bright side, we might be able to get some answers from them.” Bethany said, hopping off the front seat of the wagon to stretch.
“With our luck, it’ll probably just lead to more questions.” Nathaniel snorted.
Sira made a non-committal sound while trying to identify how many exactly they were dealing with. “I say we go ask questions anyways, Sira.” Bethany said grabbing the staff from her seat. “I’m curious about the lack of response from… anybody.”
“I agree with Sunshine, Commander. Been hearing some real strange things recently. They might be able to tell us if Thedas has gone to shit again while you were away.” Oghren inputted.
“After running around in circles for a year, I’m ready to finally get some answers.” she agreed. “Besides, it would be nice to find out some news about those rumors we’ve been hearing about.” The rest of them agreed. “Nate, I’m going to grab one of the horses and head into the forest toward their direction. You and Oghren stay with the wagon and try to find an easier way through.” They both nodded, and Oghren made his way onto the bench beside Nate. Sira walked to her favorite Ferelden Forder, Archdemon, and began to untie the leather straps from the cart. “Bethany you ride with me. Better to greet them with two pretty faces than just one.”
“Oh I don’t know, I think Oghren’s face is rather pretty, Commander.” Bethany smiled.
Sira chuckled, and climbed onto Archdemon. “But not pretty enough. Sorry Oghren.” She shot him a sympathetic look.
“No offense taken, princess.” He shrugged.
“I think these might be Orlesian wardens, and I want information, not scare them off. Well not right away at least.” Sira said while Bethany hopped onto the horse, situating herself behind her. “You ready?”
After some more wiggling into place, Bethany grabbed Sira’s waist to hold onto with one hand and her staff in the other. “All ready.”
“Alright. We’ll meet up again in a bit, boys.” She said before riding off the beaten path to head towards the group of wardens.
“Halt!” yelled out the further most Warden from what they assumed to be the warden’s campsite for the night. “Explain yourself. Why were you separated from the rest of us? Are you from the Inquisitor’s group? Has something else happened?” he asked, Orlesian accent thick.
“Inquisitor’s group?” Bethany repeated. “Why would the Inquisition have a group of Grey Wardens?”
“And why are there so many wardens travelling this stretch of the Imperial Highway?” Sira inquired after Bethany.
“What do you mean why? Wait, I don’t recognize either of you.” The Orlesian said reaching to unsheathe his sword.
“We’re from Ferelden. Of course you wouldn’t recognize us.” Sira stated as she felt Bethany’s arm tense around her waist. She looked from the man’s face and saw a crowd gathering, probably to see what was causing the commotion.
“Bethany?” came a voice from the crowd.
“Sister?” Bethany asked breathlessly. Sira quickly looked behind her to look at Bethany’s face, then towards the direction of her eyes. It was a woman, with a stunning likeness to Bethany. Their hairstyles were down in a similar fashion, and both have the same beautiful raven hair, but their eyes were a different color, Bethany’s was a warm brown to the other woman’s icy blue. However their faces were much the same and there was no confusing the resemblance.
“What are you doing here?” they both asked at the same time.
“What am I doing here? What are you doing here? I’m the Grey Warden here!” Bethany exclaimed, hopping off the horse. Before the sister, the Champion of Kirkwall apparently, had time to answer, Bethany threw herself into her in a tight hug, which was just as eagerly returned.
“Andraste’s flaming knickers, I’m so glad you stayed out of this mess.” Her sister said while pulling back to see Bethany’s face. She then looked towards Sira, the smile on her face diminishing a little. “Then you must be…” she trailed off, waiting for affirmation.
Sira nodded reassuringly to her. “Yes. I am Warden-Commander Cousland.” She announced looking at the crowd of wardens that gathered, murmuring at her reveal, and noticed that there were some familiar faces mixed in. “What are some of my Warden’s doing here? And, what is the Champion of Kirkwall doing travelling with such a large group of Grey Warden’s?” she asked looking back down to her.
“Ah… yes, that. You seem to be quite out of loop, Warden-Commander.” The Champion said, as Sira slid off her horse.
“What do you mean? What’s happened and really what are you doing here Ellie?” Bethany asked her.
“Oh you know me. I love getting involved in matters that have nearly nothing to do with me and then saving everyone’s ass.” Hawke laughed, and Sira snorted.
“That’s something we have in common.” Sira said giving Hawke a wry smile. “Now, I’d really appreciate if you could provide us with some answers about what’s been going on in my absence.”
“Yes. Right. You might actually want to come with me and find a place to sit down. This one’s a doozy.” Hawke said, hooking her arms with Bethany’s and leading the way towards a tent.
Sira felt a headache coming on, and moved her hand to rub her forehead. “Because of course the world would absolutely try to tear itself apart when I left.” She thought.
Hawke just finished explaining everything that happened: the breach in the sky, the brand new Inquisition, the ancient magister Darkspawn and his pet Archdemon, and the utter stupidity that was the Warden’s reactions to the mass Calling. She felt herself scowling again, and the more it sunk in, the more infuriated she felt. Why would her reaction be the only relatively normal one? “Mass amount’s of Warden getting their Calling? I should find the cure! Meanwhile Clarel absolutely loses her fucking mind and starts creating a demon army through blood sacrifices from other idiot wardens, and binding the mages to demons. What in Makers breath were they thinking?” she thought to herself.
“So now we’re headed to Weisshaupt to see what they are doing to handle it.” Ellie Hawke stated. “I came to help see this through, and the Wardens needed someone to follow. With Stroud sacrificing himself at the end, they had no one proper to look to for leadership.” She continued then paused, allowing for another moment for the information to digest.
“Maker’s breath.” Bethany said looking at nothing in particular.
“Yeah no kidding. But, look, now you’re here! The great Hero of Ferelden, conqueror of the fifth Blight and all that. Between the both of us we should be able to piece this mess back together.” Hawke offered. Sira stared at her and Hawke wavered. “Not to mention that you are actually the Commander here.” She continued.
“No.” Sira finally said. She then put her hand on her forehead and slowly moving it down her face in frustration and sighed. “No, you’re going to continue to take these warden’s to Weisshaupt, as you were. The old traditionalist bastards won’t take kindly to you, but you won’t take any of their shit, and these warden’s seem to be fine with following your lead. Not to mention you know everything that has happened, personally. You’d be far more useful there then I would be.” She said finally looking at Hawke.
“Then what are you going to do?” she asked.
Sira paused to think. “I’m going to go handle the Warden’s under the Inquisitor’s care. I’m going to ask if they can be released to me, and offer to do what I can to help put an end to this madness. After that… I don’t know. Probably join you at Weisshaupt depending on what happens.”
“Alright, sounds like a plan.” Hawke agreed after considering what Sira proposed. She then stood up and stretched. “I’ll get some people to empty out a tent for your other two in your group to give you guys some space to sleep for the night. I’m pretty sure dinner should be done, seeing as how you people eat like it’s your last meal.” She gave them both a tired smile, as they stood up as well.
“Thank you.” Sira said putting her hand reassuringly on Hawke’s shoulder. “The world would literally end without us it seems.”
Hawke laughed “At least this time we’ve some experience in how to save Thedas from itself.”
Sira smiled then turned to exit the tent as Bethany started asking Hawke questions about their companions from Kirkwall. The night was in full swing and the smell of roasting meat was in the air when she stepped out of the tent. “So Thedas did actually fall apart while we were gone.” Nate said walking up to her, his arms crossed over his chest, and a smirk on his face.
“Things can just never be peaceful can it?” she groaned.
“Why would this ever be easy?” he chuckled.
“Where’s Oghren?” Sira asked.
“On a hunt for ale.”
“How in character of him.”
“So what now?” he asked.
“We go to the Inquisition, and we help. There’s a magister Darkspawn with a pet Archdemon running amok, and I can’t just stand aside and let them handle it themselves.”
“What about the Wardens here?”
“They’re headed to Weisshaupt with Hawke. We leave for Skyhold at first light.” She answers, Nate making a sound of affirmation. “But first I am absolutely going to rip these Warden’s apart.”
Chapter 2: Letters Outgoing I
Do you think the Commander is awake?
This work is unbeta'd and all mistakes are my own.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Spymaster of the Inquisition,
That’s quite an interesting new title. How many do you have now, Sister Nightingale? Not that I can actually say anything about a list of titles without being a complete hypocrite, but I digress.
I’m now going to preemptively apologize and beg for your forgiveness. Can you please please please find it within your heart to graciously accept my apologies for your very extremely treasured friend and not try to murder me for not contacting you for so long? There are reasons as to why, of course, some of it including the fact that apparently the wardens went completely insane in my absence, which I had nothing to do with, but I’d rather save time explaining what has been going on from my end personally than through letter. So guess who’s coming to Skyhold?
By Andraste’s grace,
Seneschal Varel of Vigil’s Keep,
You have some explaining to do.
I’m also currently on my way to Skyhold and will send a message when I safely reach there. You have until then to think up the greatest possible way you can to explain to me why my wardens left, how you let it happen, why nobody was notified, and what the current status of the keep and the arling is.
- Warden-Commander Cousland
Chapter 3: An Offer of Assistance If They'll Have It
In which there are reunions and introductions.
“That’s Skyhold? This is the fortress they just found sitting about in the ass end of the Frostback Mountains?” Nate asked as they rounded a corner from the trail and caught their first glimpse of it. “Maker’s breath.” he added breathlessly more to himself than anything.
The group was exhausted after their long travel to the Inquisition’s base of operations, wanting to reach it as quickly as possible in an effort to get there just a moment sooner. They even passed up resting for the night at the small but growing village just outside Skyhold, likely full of the families of soldiers and servants that attends to the fortresses daily needs and looking for a safe place to stay during the chaos.
Dusk was just settling over Skyhold and it gave them quite the view, both from the natural beauty of the pink, purple, and orange hues in the evening sky, and the promise of a safe place to sleep, fresh food, and most importantly hot baths. Nate was leading their wagon full of the group’s supplies and the spoils of their research, with Sira next to him dangling her legs from restlessness. Oghren sat at the back, watching the rear with Bethany who crawled her way to the front to peek at the fortress between Nate and Sira, eyes widening and mouth agape.
“Eh, you’ve seen one castle, you’ve seen ‘em all.” Oghren shrugged, clearly unimpressed. “What’s really important is the size of their cellar.”
“And the larder.” Sira added. “Their larder has to be a sight to behold if they can house as many people as I assume they do plus Grey Wardens.”
“Maker’s breath…” Bethany whispered barely audible.
Nate snorted and looked to her “My sentiment exactly.”
They weren’t the only ones to cross the bridge trying to enter before the last of the day’s light disappears to envelop the world in darkness. Various other weary merchants, and people searching for refuge were around them, making the group wait to gain entry. Torches were soon lit, giving them a surreal sense of safety and it painted its surroundings with orange light and a surprising amount of warmth given they were high up in the mountains known specifically for its unforgiving wintery bite.
“Name, and purpose for being here please.” A guard said walking up to them with a clip board and quill in hand, not bothering to look up at them.
“We’re Grey Warden’s sent by Hawke. Uh Elizabeth Hawke, Champion of Kirkwall.” Replied Nate.
The guard finally looked up and took in their uniform. “Right. Did you come with a message? Has something happened?”
“Not particularly. Just decided our services were better provided to the Inquisition than Weisshaupt.” Sira shrugged. Another group of guards approached their wagon to inspect it after Bethany and Oghren moved away from it to stretch.
“You have a tavern or somethin’ around here kid?” Oghren asked. “I don’t know about them but I’m starvin’.”
“That’s an understatement.” Nate added.
“Yes, we do actually. As soon as we can get the current head of the Warden’s to verify you, you lot can head off to the ‘Herald’s Rest’ and go about your business.”
“Current head? Who could that be?” Bethany asked confused.
“A Warden called Quint. He took up the mantle of leader after the Inquisitor took in the Wardens who wanted to help clean up the mess you people made.” The guard said with a hint of distaste in his voice.
The group looked at each other. “Well that’s not that surprising actually. I mean he was the person I left in charge back at Amaranthine.” Said Sira.
“I thought he died during that shit they were trying to pull.” Oghren remarked.
“His explanation as to how they winded up in that mess better be damned good.” Sira muttered crossing her arms.
After another few moments, they moved past the gates to stand off to the side for the other dwindling merchants and travelers wishing to go through check-in and pass through inspection as quickly as possible. “Wardens.” Called out a man who was approaching them. He was a tall, sturdy looking man with short medium brown hair. There were dark circles under his eyes, and it looked like he aged visibly since the last time Sira saw him. She would have felt sympathetic towards him, had she not been so furious over what happened under his charge when she left. When the group all looked towards him, he froze in place recognizing their faces.
“Quint.” Sira smiled sweetly, taking a step towards him. His brown eyes darted to her green ones and his face lost the remaining color that was in it.
“W-Warden Comma-” he started before Sira raised her hand to cut him off.
“My, how lovely it is too see you here at Skyhold, and not in Amaranthine.” Her voice rang, trying to make it sound as if she were genuinely happy to see him and not rip him apart. She noted his flinch and began to slowly circle him, moving her arms behind her back. “I mean really, imagine my surprise learning about what has happened in my absence, and it was quite a lot to absorb, by a person unaffiliated with the Warden’s no less.”
“Commander I-” he started.
“Will be dealt with tomorrow.” She finished stopping in front of him, the smile no longer there. He closed his eyes and took in a slow deep breath before nodding. “Good. Now as you can imagine I have many things to deal with, now that I am here to clean up yet another nearly disastrous mess. Could you please be a dear and tell those nice soldiers that we’re clear to enter?” she asked without asking.
“Yes ma’am.” He said saluting her before walking off to do just that.
Oghren chortled as Quint walked passed him. “Did you see the look on his face when he saw you? Thought he was gonna pee himself.”
Sira smirked then sighed putting her hand on her forehead, rubbing it. “We’ll start dealing with everything tomorrow. For now you guys can head off to wherever the tavern is and get some food, and I’ll go try not to get murdered by Leliana and work out lodging.”
“And a hot bath.” Bethany added, making Sira chuckle.
“And a hot bath.” She agreed.
Quint returned with confirmation that they were free to roam Skyhold, and they could leave their wagon off to the side, protected until they could get their rooms squared off. The group then eagerly separated after the direction of the tavern was pointed out leaving Sira and Quint alone to travel up the stairs to the main hall.
“Commander I…” Quint started and paused. He stopped climbing up the stairs, raising his hand to comb his fingers through his hair.
Sira stopped a few stairs above him and looked towards him. “And that is precisely why I’m giving it until tomorrow to talk about. You need time to formulate your excuse and I need the strength to try and be level headed about it.” She paused and sighed. “I will say, for now, that there isn’t much need to fret over my reaction. I’m enraged, yes, but what’s done is done. Now it’s just trying to make clear of this…” she makes a vague gesture with her hands “mess. And Quint?” she asked now continuing up the stairs, Quint quickly following her.
“Not a word about my presence to the other Wardens just yet. Just spread word that there is to be a gathering, or a meeting, or whatever in the morning.” If she was going to chastise them all like children, she was going to do it all at once.
Once they made it to the lobby, he saluted her again and walked off to follow his orders. She shook her head and then looked at the lobby. It was still under construction, but looking quite put together after it being abandoned probably for ages. There were Inquisition banners along the walls, and the building permeated warmth, and carried the scent of perfumes from the nobles remaining within it.
Her next priority was to find Leliana, but asking one of the nobles was out of question in chance of any of them recognizing her. The chance was small, but one she didn’t want to take.
Sira then looked to her right and saw a dwarf at a table near a fireplace concentrated on writing. There were traces around him that gave away that he was in the area often, which meant that he was strategically placed there, and always able to see who comes in and out of the hall. He seemed to have noticed someone staring towards his direction because he looked up and met her eyes. After waiting to see if any recognition would cross his face, and there was none, she decided to ask. She smiled politely and walked up towards him “Hello. I was wondering if you could tell me where I could find Sister Leliana?”
He took in her appearance with an easy smile “Sure. I believe she’s still in a meeting with the Inquisitor. Should be ending soon though ‘cause they’ve been going at it for a while.” He said pointing towards a door where she assumed the meeting to be taking place. “But I could never really tell with them.”
Just then the door opened with a tall blonde man, a warrior she assumed with his build, wearing a scarlet jacket with feathers lining around his neck probably to combat the cold of the Frostback. He held the door for a woman, maybe about a head shorter than him with medium length red hair, to walk out laughing. “Oh would you look at that. I was right this time.” The dwarf said mostly to himself. The red head turned around talking whomever yet to walk past the door, taking a few steps back.
Sira thanked the dwarf and started making her way towards them, “Excuse me!” she called out. Both Red-Head and Feathers looked towards her direction, with Red-Head immediately putting on a polite mask, and Feathers looking at her uniform.
“Is there something wrong, Warden?” Feathers asked, concern etching his face. A very nice face she noted to herself now that she was closer to them and could see more detail. His eyes were warm amber and it reminded her of Alistair; a reminder she felt she couldn’t handle right at this very moment so she quickly looked to Red-Head.
“Not particularly. I was just wondering if you could tell me where I could find--”
“Sira?” another voice from past the door asked. She quickly came into view and Sira recognized her immediately despite half her face covered in shadow from her purple hood.
“Leli!” she exclaimed, feeling a joy she hadn’t felt in such a long time.
Leliana immediately ran towards her, hugging her tightly. They both laughed, Sira relishing the familiar embrace of one of her closest friends and greatest allies. Leliana pulled back from the hug, her hands grabbing Sira’s face making her look directly into her eyes. “Do not mistake this for forgiveness for not contacting me for so long. Do you realize how worried I was for you? I thought you were… I thought you--”
“I’m sorry.” Sira cut in, not allowing her to finish. “I know. I should have tried to keep in touch, but I’m here now. I’m here to help. Better late than never right?” she laughed weakly, tears building up.
Leliana smiled and kissed her cheek then hugging her tightly again. “I am still angry with you.”
Sira chuckled; hugging her back then noticed the look of shock and confusion from Red and Feathers, as well as a new face in an odd shiny gold shirt that puffed in several locations on her sleeves, who probably came to see what the commotion was about. The woman then quickly composed herself “We should take this inside my office, yes?” she suggested, her voice carrying an Antivan accent.
Leliana then straightened up, grabbed Sira’s arm, and pulled her into the room they were all standing in front of, the other three people following behind them, closing the door.
“Alright. I’m curious as to who in Thedas could elicit such a reaction from you Leliana.” Red laughed, crossing her arms. Feathers said nothing, but looked at Sira with a look she could only compare to as someone who was trying to put a name on a familiar face.
“Yes, I haven’t quite seen you like this in quite some time. It is rather refreshing.” The Antivan woman said with laughter in her voice. “I am Josephine Montiliyet, Ambassador to the Inquisition.” She said offering her hand.
“A pleasure to meet you Lady Montiliyet.” Sira said taking her hand and shaking it.
“And this is,” she gestured to Feathers “Cullen Rutherford, Commander of the Inquisitions forces.” He nodded and Sira politely smiled back. Josephine continued and gestured towards Red. “And this is Kaira Trevelyan, the Inquisitor.”
“A pleasure to meet you, Inquisitor.” Sira said shaking her hand as well.
“A pleasure to meet you as well Lady…” she trailed off.
“Oh right. I am Sira Theirin, and I’ve come to offer my assistance to the Inquisition if you’ll have it. ”
Chapter 4: Break Another Night
In which introductions are made and Queen's aren't as put together as they would like.
The three of them stood there for a moment staring at her with blank faces as if waiting for the end of a joke. Sira glanced at Leliana who looked like she was a moment away from laughing out loud from the reactions of her… friends? Did she consider them friends? That was something she was going to have to ask later when they were alone and had time to really talk.
She then felt the Inquisitor grab her hand with both of hers with pure delight written all over her face. “The Hero of Ferelden. I’m standing in front of the Hero of Ferelden!” she exclaimed. Leliana finally broke and laughed, starting from withheld giggles to full out laughter. The Inquisitor then looked to Leliana with confusion and awe “And Leliana’s laughing!” She added giggling while watching her.
Sira looked at her confused. What did she mean by that? Her thoughts were interrupted when the Ambassador, Josephine, suddenly bowed. “Your Majesty please forgi-“
“Woah. Hold a moment please.” Sira quickly raised her free hand to stop her. She looked to the three of them, Feathers, or rather, Cullen’s hand covering his mouth as full recognition was clear on his face. “If you could note the Warden uniform I’m wearing?” she asked pointing to it, “I came specifically as Warden-Commander. I know I just offered my services, but my actions cannot reflect The Crown, officially, until I notify the capital and the King at the very least.” She explained.
“Of course.” Josephine said straightening “However you are still the Queen and I cannot just simply ignore that.”
Sira made sound that resembled a groan, then her attention was brought back to the woman still holding her hand, a smile plastered on her face. “I can’t believe I’m getting the chance to meet you.” She said excitedly then noticed her grip on Sira’s hand and let go, and taking a step back looking embarrassed. “Ah, sorry about that. I just- I was-” she shook her head and taking a deep breath. “You were, or your story was my inspiration, as a kid.”
“A kid?” Sira laughed. “Merciful Andraste, I’m barely breaching thirty.”
“Oh no! No, I didn’t mean like you were old or anything. I was just, I mean I was thirteen when you defeated the blight. Young. Impressionable. I was shown that even women who come from the most noble of houses could explore the world, defeat evil, and come out victorious.” She explained. “I’m… I’m really sorry. I know how this must feel. And so suddenly too. You probably get this a lot anyways. I’m babbling.” She stopped then, a red spreading across her face.
Sira looked to Leliana who was still very amused at the entire situation and shrugged. “She did this to me too.”
She looked back to the Inquisitor and smiled reassuringly “It’s fine, Inquisitor.”
“Kaira.” She said quickly. “Please. I dislike being called Inquisitor in situations where it’s not absolutely necessary.”
“I absolutely agree with you on that, Kaira.” She laughed, and Kaira smiled again. “And I give you all official permission to simply refer to me as Sira.”
“I don’t think I would be able to do that.” Josephine muttered.
“Well as long as you don’t “Your Majesty” me to death it’s fine. Maybe Commander Cousland? Or no wait ‘Commander’ is… Ser Cullen yes?” she said looking to him for confirmation.
He looked at her, then quickly looked away and nodded. She then tilted her head to the side in question, a flash of sudden familiarity surging forth. “I’m sorry, but have we met before? I think I recognize you but even your name doesn’t really make a connection.” She asked knowing that this would bother her if she didn’t. Suddenly the room was filled with awkward tension, and she looked around. “Did I say something wrong?”
“No. I apologize.” Cullen said quickly. “It’s just… we have met before. Just not in the…” he paused trying to find the right words “Just not in the best of circumstances.” he paused and Sira waited to see if he would elaborate and was about to inquire when he began to speak again. “I was, uh, one of the Templars that was in the circle at Lake Calenhad during the blight. One that you happened to rescue.”
Sira looked at him still confused, until suddenly it clicked together. “Oh! You were the one in the-” she stopped herself suddenly. That would explain his reluctance to talk about it. She cleared her throat and began again. “I’m sorry, my presence probably wouldn’t be the best thing to be suddenly thrust upon would it?”
“No!” he said quickly raising his hand as if to stop her, then looked at it and rubbed his neck. “I mean it’s not, uh, it shouldn’t be taken that way. The fact that you’re here willing to help the Inquisition is a blessing.”
“Yes, the Commander has a good point. So Sira, why did you suddenly decide to come here? And where were you? And why was I unable to contact or even just find you for such a long period of time? Did you have any idea how worried I was?” Leliana questioned her.
Sira raised her hands up in surrender and smiled weakly “I really am sorry about that last part Leliana. I was…” she trailed off, trying to gather her words together.
“Would you like to sit?” Josephine suddenly asked. “And maybe a snack? Or would you rather have some rest and pick this up again tomorrow?”
Sira smiled at her. “I will take you up on your offer of a seat and a snack Lady Montiliyet. However I should explain my absence and why, exactly, I’ve decided to come here myself, and get it over with.”
“Very well.” She said nodding then walking to the exit of the room.
“I should actually leave as well.” Cullen said looking at Kaira apologetically.
“What? Why?” she asked confused.
“I have, uh, reports! Yes important reports I need to tend to. In my office.” He said with a blush spreading across his cheeks, when he noticed that everyone was giving him a skeptical look. “It was a pleasure meeting you again, Lady Sira.” He said quickly before escaping the room.
Kaira looked like she wanted to chase after him but she shook her head and gestured to the sofas in front of the fireplace. Sira looked at Leliana quizzically, who just shrugged in response.
“Have you eaten yet Sira?” Leliana asked to change the weird atmosphere that was left, and also knowing full well the extent of her appetite.
“No. But I’ll try and get something from the tavern when we’re done here. And probably get lodging out of the way.”
“Oh you could stay in a guest suite.” Kaira said sitting down.
“No, you could just throw me in wherever you have the other Wardens. Also, I didn’t travel by myself.” She said looking to Leliana, who was sitting next to her. “I did have people with me. Three others. I’m not sure how doable lodging a surprise group of four Grey Wardens would be.”
“Please don’t say that to Josephine. She’d have a fit at the idea of ‘throwing you with the rest of the Wardens.’ Trust me. I speak through experience.” Kaira joked.
“Three others?” Leliana asked, expecting elaboration.
“Well who are they? And more importantly, are they really fit to be traveling with you for such a long period of time?” she prodded.
“Leli, are you questioning my almost famous judgment of character?”
“No, of course not. Well maybe a little. Sira, you’re one of the last people I trust without question. And you disappeared on me without a trace. Could you just give me some reassurance?”
“Yes, I’m about to explain that to you am I not? But… fine. What is it you wish to know exactly?”
“Names, who they were before the Wardens, how long they were under your service before you decided to go missing.” She began listing.
“Basically anything she could use to find information on them.” Kaira added. “She’s a very good Spymaster.”
Sira looked back to Leliana questioningly before deciding to put those thoughts on hold. “Ok then.” She said beginning to count them off on her fingers. “Oghren, was a resident drunkard in Orzammar, thirteen years.” She said smiling when Leliana lightly pushed her with her arm.
“So he’s here then? I haven’t seen him since your wedding.”
“Yes, as is the others. And he’s still exactly the same as when we found him. Has a kid now though.”
“Really?” Leliana asked genuinely surprised.
She nodded then continued on. “Bethany Hawke, born in Lothering, younger sister of Elizabeth Hawke, six years.”
Leliana’s eyebrows rose, and Kaira chuckled. “Small world.”
She smiled at her in agreement. This next one was the one she thought might give her the most problems. She cleared her throat and turned back to Leliana looking her in the eyes. “Nathaniel Howe, a childhood friend who was sent off to squire in Kirkwall before returning to Ferelden after the blight, and serving the wardens faithfully for ten years.”
“What?” Leliana exclaimed standing up. “You mean to tell me you recruited a Howe? I know you mentioned something like this before, and I’ve heard the rumors but… really?”
“Leli.” Sira said calmly “Nate would not be the first person who has joined my side after attempting to kill me once before.”
“Is that supposed to make me any feel any better?”
“No but you’re supposed to trust my judgment.” she stated, making Leliana waver. “Believe me when I say I was exceedingly wary when he was first recruited. But he did join of his own free will, and apparently there was a misunderstanding on his end, with him believing his father wasn’t the snake he was, but he has, obviously, since proven his worth and is currently one of my closest allies. If you’re not going to trust him then trust me.”
Leliana just stared at her before sighing and sitting down again. “Very well.”
“How?” Kaira asked to fill the silence. “How could you recruit someone who tried to kill you before? On multiple occasions even!”
“Well, it honestly depends on the circumstance. For the first person, it wasn’t personal. He was hired to do it and even then he didn’t really expect to live through battle. I was also hard pressed for allies at the time, you know with a blight constantly looming over my shoulders, and the bounty on my head.”
“Oh believe me, we had words for the both of them when she brought it up.” Leliana said looking at Sira who returned the look with a smirk. “Plus he was an assassin. Yes, everyone in the party at the time made sure to threaten him if he were to try to do something idiotic. He never did though, and became a great ally.”
Josephine returned then with a small plate of various small pastries and handing it to Sira who took it with great enthusiasm. After taking a large bite of one that was filled with a creamy cheese, and making a sound of approval, Josephine took a seat at her desk and began writing.
“Lady Theirin, I must apologize for the lack of proper hospitality fit for a woman of your status and importance. If you could-” Josephine began.
“Josie do you remember when I told you about the possibility of someone important coming to Skyhold and preparing rooms just in case?” Leliana interrupted.
“Yes, but…” she trailed off then gasped. “Do you mean to tell me that the person you were referring to was the Queen of Ferelden? You mean you knew?” she accused.
“I was given some… warning, yes.”
“Lady Montiliyet,” Sira interjected before a rebuttal came, “Anything you might have prepared would absolutely be more than enough for myself and my party. And I feel I must remind you that I am not here as Queen, but as Warden-Commander.” She said looking back to the Inquisitor.
“Which brings me back to the first point of business. While on my journey, I ran into Hawke’s group of Wardens and heard the story from her. I am terribly sorry that you were made to deal with any of that, and it is regretful that my brethren believed, even for a second, that making a demon army would help anything.” She said making a face. It was still hard to believe such a large amount of people were foolish enough to believe that even if the mages were brainwashed. “But you did, and I am eternally grateful that you decided to house the Wardens who wish to atone for their idiocy instead of exiling them for their regrettable mistakes.”
Kaira shook her head at that. “I would never have done that. Some people might have forgotten, but we do need Grey Wardens. I mean we literally just had a blight on our hands twelve years ago. Plus we’re dealing with an ancient talking magister darkspawn and a pet archdemon. Exiling them wouldn’t have made much sense even with what they did. It’s also important enough to mention that at least all of the blood sacrificing remained within the Wardens and not innocents, and that I put a stop to it in time before anything could really be done with the demons.”
Sira sighed as she let her words sink in and rubbed her forehead again. It was still hard to believe that a large group of people would think that that was their best plan to stop any of the upcoming blights. Dropping her hand to her lap she looked back at Kaira, whose gold eyes were showing sympathy and understanding for attempting to make any sense of anything that was happening in this last age.
“I plan… or rather I want to formally ask you, Inquisitor, if you could release the Grey Warden’s back into my hands. In exchange, I offer any information I could provide that would prove to be helpful with dealing with this Corypheus, my personal assistance until the threat is gone, and allowing Leliana full permission to use my name, and all titles associated with it, to the benefit of the Inquisition.”
The women looked at Sira surprised. “That’s quite the offer for something I would have granted you for nothing at all.” Kaira spoke first.
“Would truly trust us with using your titles just like that?” Josephine asked from her desk.
“Well it’s not so much a matter of trusting you as much as it is me trusting Leliana to protect my name more than I probably would.” Sira shrugged. “Oh, and once I can let Denerim know that I’m here also in part for Ferelden’s general wellbeing, I can be an ally on the front as well.” She added then turning to Leliana. “Unless Alistair has already made one? I don’t want to undermine his authority.”
“No we haven’t actually really made an alliance with him. I’ve helped him with… dealing with Venatori that snuck into the castle.” Leliana said cautiously.
“Venatori?” Sira asked confused.
“The crazed ‘Vints that are trying to get on Corypheus’s good side.” Kaira explained. Sira stared at her with her mouth slightly agape. “I’ve also met with him once,” she continued trying to lighten the mood some, “when we went to the Hinterlands to recruit the mages. He wasn’t exactly in the best mood, with Arl Teagan being kicked out of his own castle by a time altering Magister. He basically kicked out all mages from Ferelden.” Kaira giggled nervously. She was babbling again and she was absolutely sure she just made something worse.
Sira remained still for a moment trying to push words from her mouth but that was almost too much information in one unexpected shot. She looked to Leliana who was giving her an apologetic look, then looked back to Kaira. Lunatics from Tevinter? In the castle? Where her heart was supposed to be the safest? Teagan being kicked out by a Tevinter Magister that would alter time? Alistair expelling mages from the country? What?
“Sira. Look at me. Breathe.” Leliana said grabbing her shoulders and forcing to look directly into her eyes.
She didn’t realize she had stopped breathing. She reached for her throat trying to coax air to get passed through it. Suddenly a wave of emotions she’s been holding off for such a long time washed over her. She heard herself sob then covered her mouth closing her eyes. “Not here.” She thought. “Not now. Not in front of people who need to only know of the strong unbreakable woman they expect me to be. Later. When I’m alone. By myself. Not yet. Don’t shatter yet.” After taking another moment to will herself to calm down she opened her eyes to meet Leliana’s concerned one’s, and gave her a small smile. She looked to Kaira and was slightly surprised to see Josephine now standing next to her, concern on their expressions as well, though Kaira’s was a touch more apologetic.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t even think about- No that isn’t an excuse, I’m usually at least a little more tactful than… than that. I’m so sorry.” Kaira babbled.
Sira raised her hand to stop her and give her a reassuring smile. “It’s… fine. It was just a lot to take in at once. Maybe I should have taken up that offer to give it a day first.” She laughed tiredly. Kaira didn’t look like she bought it, but she nodded.
“Yes, maybe we should pick this up again tomorrow.” Leliana said rubbing Sira’s arm softly. Sira nodded in agreement, and Leliana then looked to Josephine. “I’m sure Josephine has rooms ready at your disposal, yes?”
“Well yes, but they would only be temporary until we can provide something more suitable for you. Preferably closer to the Warden’s if we are to take you up on your offer?” she asked more to Kaira than Sira.
“Yes! Of course. The Wardens are rightfully yours, and you could probably do more with them than we ever could. We could talk more details about our new alliance tomorrow?” Kaira said standing up, offering her hand to Sira.
Sira took it, standing up then shaking it. “Yes, that sounds like a plan. Would it be too much to also ask for a hot bath? Four, more specifically.”
“Of course not my Lady.” Josephine said. “I’ll have them set up as soon we can. Do you have any belongings that need to be brought into your rooms?” she asked, Sira nodding again in confirmation. “Good, just tell me where they are and I’ll have them brought up. If you could follow me to show you to your rooms?” she said gesturing to the exit.
Leliana then stood up, and the four of them made their way to the main hall. “Who’s that talking to Varric?” Kaira asked, breaking the silence.
Sira looked towards the direction she was referring to, and saw the dwarf she momentarily spoke to earlier, and Bethany. They were both quite excited with Bethany hugging him and talking to him animatedly. Wait a second did she say Varric? As in Varric Tethras? Well, that would make sense then. “That would be Bethany meeting her old friend, if I assume correctly.” Sira smiled. She doesn’t see Bethany that happy often and it always warmed her heart when it did. She was always under the impression that Bethany never really liked being a Warden much.
Kaira hummed then cheerfully walked up to the both of them. “Varric!” she exclaimed.
Leliana then grabbed Sira’s arm bringing her attention away. “I will come by later. I need to see to some things first.”
“It’s good I didn’t have to coax you into dropping by then.” Sira smirked. Leliana gave her a small smile before disappearing past the door next to the one and only Varric Tethras.
“Sira!” Bethany called out, a large smile on her face. Sira smiled in return and Varric turned to look at her, his brows rising in surprise.
“Well, I’ll be damned. This is the warden-” he started. Sira raised a finger to her lips. He nodded then gestured to Bethany. “Imagine my surprise seeing Sunshine out of nowhere, I thought I was finally losing my shit after staring at that for so long.” He said waving his hand towards a stack of papers.
“Oh that’s right. I saved you some food. Well pastries mostly, they happened to have some of your favorites.” Bethany said picking up a large plate covered with a cloth, handing it to Sira.
She smiled in thanks, grabbing the plate, and then looking to Josephine who was talking to an Inquisition soldier. “Lady Montiliyet was just about to show me to the rooms and is hopefully talking to that man about getting baths.” She explained.
“Oh. Do you want me to come with you?”
“No. You can get directions or something later, and stay here with your friend. Maybe tell Nate and Oghren?” Bethany looked like she wanted to say something and then decided against it, squinting her eyes slightly. “I’m fine. I’m just… more exhausted than I originally thought. Perhaps it’s just my old age catching up to me. I’ll see you tomorrow morning. Enjoy yourself.” She said putting her hand on Bethany’s shoulder reassuringly before walking off to join Josephine and to her room.
Sira laid on the edge of her bed, freshly bathed and fed, dressed in light cotton breeches and a snug cotton shirt, her arm over her eyes. Taking long even breaths she began thinking about what the Inquisitor revealed earlier. Evil Tevinter lunatics invading the castle, and Alistair asking for the Inquisitions help. Teagan being evicted from his own castle by the mages Alistair housed in hopes of things remaining as peaceful as possible. Sure she’d heard some stuff while on the road but knowing the events were hitting so close to home made her realize how real it was. How her people were suffering, and how she wasn’t there to help protect them. Some Queen she was. Off on her own mission to end the calling. It wasn’t as if she had any major leads in finding the cure, and if it were to be easy to find it, they would have done so ages ago. But it wasn’t as if it was unheard of, and she’s done the impossible countless times before.
What else has she missed? What else has the Inquisition been doing for Ferelden in her place? The position she put herself in, the country she would die for to protect. Protect? How could she protect her country if she was off on a near impossible mission while a tear in the sky was pouring demons out from Maker knows where. She groaned and rolled to her side. Couldn’t the world just stay saved?
And then there was Leliana. She’s changed, Sira noted in the short amount of time she was around her. Not that change was a bad thing, and of course people change in a decade, but she seemed… darker. Being a Spymaster must be taking its toll on her. And then she lost Dorothea… Sira wondered if Leliana ever had a chance to mourn, or to even just be herself. The Inquisitor and group looked so surprised just to see her laugh. She’d have to talk to her about that.
There was a knock at her door, and began sitting up when the door opened and Leliana walked in, the hood she had on earlier down showing her whole face. Sira raised a brow questioningly and Leliana smirked, closing it behind her. She was holding two wine glasses and a wine bottle and walked towards her. “I’m assuming it won’t be that easy for others to enter?” she asked with a smirk.
“Obviously not.” Leliana smirked back before clicking her tongue.
“Your hair.” Leliana said gesturing to her. Sira automatically reached up to her auburn hair still damp and wavy from the bath.
“I was letting it dry…” Sira said with almost a pout.
“You know your hair gets crazy when you don’t do anything to it after a bath.” Leliana giggled. “Here. Let me.” She continued, putting the wine bottle and glasses on an end table near the bed. She then took off her gloves, placing them next to the bottle and gestured for Sira to turn so she could work while sitting down behind her.
With an over exaggerated sigh Sira did as was told and Leliana began to comb her fingers through her hair and started plaiting it. They were both silent as she did it, enjoying the simple companionship of it. After a few moments Leliana finished and patted Sira on the back before reaching out to grab the glasses, handing one to Sira,
and popped the bottle open. Leliana poured a rich red wine in it, then handed the bottle to Sira, who did the same and put the bottle back on the end table.
They sipped the wine both unwilling to break the easiness of the moment. Leliana looked…exhausted, both physically and emotionally, and Sira’s heart clenched. “Are you alright?” She asked quietly.
Leliana took another sip while considering all her options. “Are you?”
Sira snorted. There was another moment of silence.
“Where were you Sira? Do you have any idea how worried I was? You couldn’t have written a message to me at all? Leliana began. “I’ve…” She started before stopping herself, seeming to fight a battle within herself. “I’ve lost too much. You’re the most important person I have left, and I had no idea if you were even alive.” she said, her voice broken and empty.
Sira downed the rest of the wine and placed the glass of the floor and moved embraced her. “I’m sorry.” She breathed. She truly was sorry to have worried her so much. Just another thing on her growing list of regrets. Leliana grabbed onto Sira, her face on her shoulder and Sira felt her beginning to tremble. Soon she could hear soft crying and after another moment Leliana was sobbing in her arms.
“Another night then.” She thought. She could break another night. Right now she needed to be a long needed friend, and that’s exactly what she was going to do.
Sira is gonna have a mental breakdown if the world doesn't chill in the next five seconds.
Chapter 5: Prove Me Wrong
In which companionships are formed and confrontations are dealt with.
Sira felt like she had been walking for an eternity, slowly making her way down this impossibly long stone hallway. It was eerily empty; something she wasn’t used to.
For her entire life, people constantly surrounded her.
It was always by her parents, soldiers, teachers, or the caretakers from Highever, then it was the second family she formed when she had lost everything she held dear; a family that grew together through all the war, blood, merriment, jokes, pain, arguments, and somehow resounding love. Then she was married, and was again surrounded by the hustle of court life, and just when she was getting used to it again, it was taken away from her when she was officially named Warden Commander of Ferelden.
Even with all the trials that that came within the first half of the year, she created yet another family. It was a struggle for life and death nearly every day but she never had so many people to rely on before, and was thankful for meeting every single one of them, even if two of them merged together and sparked a war that was coming regardless.
She then heard a soft song, no it was more of a hum, a familiar tune she couldn’t place but was always there. She turned to see if she could find where it was coming from when she was faced with Alistair.
“Alistair!” she gasped, excitedly ready to fling herself to him. Oh how she had missed him dearly.
He took a step back, bringing out his hand to stop her. “Sira. This would never be easy to say but…” he trailed off avoiding her eyes.
What? What was wrong? Wasn’t he happy to see her?
“Eamon was right.” He finished.
“Right about what Alistair? I don’t understand.” Why was he being so serious? Had something happened?
“I think I should find a mistress, to… to carry on the Theirin line.” He explained. She looked at him horrified. “I wanted to wait, to see if you could find the cure, but we both know that was just a fool’s mission. And as much as I love you, I must carry out my duty as King. We’ve waited long enough as is.”
“I don’t understand, it’s not like I’ve deemed it impossible yet. I’ve certainly accomplished more difficult tasks than this.” She said feeling panic seep through her core. Sure Eamon had been pressing it, but Alistair had never given it much attention before. And yes maybe she had been gone for some time, but she would never have thought Eamon would have the balls to truly try and coerce Alistair to agreeing to that. Alistair had made it clear it was a taboo topic. “Weren’t you the one who said you wouldn’t want anyone else to bear your child? Just… just give me some more time, Alistair, I swear I can give you a child, o-our child. I just need to find a cure, a cure for the both of us, for all wardens. Please.” She begged, but each step she took towards him, he took a step back. Why was he doing this? Why was he avoiding her? Why wasn’t he looking at her?
“I’m sorry.” He said with finality and turned around and walked down the impossible corridor they were in.
No this couldn’t be happening, not when she had sacrificed so much. She wanted to yell and scream his name, call him back, but she was frozen in place, unable to move. She felt the world crashing in, the space around her growing smaller and darker. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move; she couldn’t even feel anything. Then suddenly everything was on fire and this time she recognized where she was at, back in Highever to the night when Rendon Howe took her entire family from her. She could hear the screams again, as if it happened just a few hours ago and not thirteen years in the past.
“No!” she screamed at everything and nothing, falling to her knees and clasping at her ears to block out the sounds of shrieking and cries of agony, and clenched her eyes shut in hopes of blocking out the red and oranges of her life blazing away in front of her.
“Sira.” She heard her name echo through crisp and clear despite her attempt to drown out any and all sounds.
She opened her eyes and saw a horde of Darkspawn in front of her, blood soaked daggers in her hands. She was in the deep roads, and looking around she saw the dead bodies of her comrades, her friends. She felt tears running past her cheeks and then she could hear that blasted song again, growing in volume. The horde was getting closer. She needed to get up, but she was frozen in place, her limbs not moving. Then appeared a shadowy figure in the background, a silhouette through the flames, but she didn’t recognize it. The likeness reminded her of the Architect, and as it came closer, the song got louder. It was headache inducing, and all she wanted to do was fight it, but she still couldn’t move. She couldn’t do anything, she felt… helpless.
She opened her eyes, gasping for breath and sitting up immediately. She looked toward the person she felt next her, and moved, ready to attack. The figure raised both hands up in surrender, and slowly she finally remembered where she was. She put her hand over her erratically beating heart, trying to slow her breaths. “Sorry.” She said, her voice cracking.
Leliana very slowly brought her hand to Sira’s face to wipe the tears from her cheek. She was crying? She moved away from her touch and brought her own hands to wipe the remaining tears from her face, and then got off the bed to the desk that held a small basin with fresh water in it. Leliana remained patiently silent as Sira washed her face. When she looked up she finally saw her reflection. Her green eyes were clouded over with exhaustion emphasized by dark circles and heavy bags, bronze skin rough and dry from years of harsh travel and mistreatment, but her auburn hair was in nearly perfect, probably due to the expert plait Leliana did for her last night. With a sigh she wiped the remaining water off with a small towel, and turned to face Leliana who was sitting at the edge of the bed concerned.
“I was looking for a cure.” She started. Leliana’s brows raised but said nothing. “A cure for the calling.” she elaborated, then sighed, running a hand through her hair. “That’s why I was missing. I’m sure you’ve heard that that was the Warden’s reason for panic? The sudden… mass calling?” she asked. Leliana nodded, and Sira walked back to the bed and sat next to her, staring at nothing. After another long pause she continued again. “I’m no exception either. I… feel it. It’s always there. Sometimes I can ignore it but… but then Alistair…” her voice cracked when she said his name.
Fragments of the nightmare rushed back into mind. The look of his face when he told her he’d find another woman to… no. She needed to focus. It was a nightmare. Fake. It didn’t happen…yet.
“Alistair said he felt it too.” She continued. “And I got… It scared me, and then I figured, it’s been done before, sure no one knows how, but it’s not impossible. I’ve done crazier things, been on impossible undertakings, and followed hunches when there was proof I was on a fool’s mission. If anyone could do it, it’d be me, you know?” she asked rhetorically.
Leliana gently grabbed her arm and Sira looked at her hand then to her. “You didn’t have to drop all communication. I could have helped you. I could have-” Leliana started.
“No. Your place was to be here, evidently. And about the no communication, it was more the fact that Vigil’s keep had apparently been abandoned than it was me trying to keep people at a distance. Of course it wasn’t like I was really trying to stay in touch either, and sure I could have questioned the lack of communication, but I was so focused on finding a cure… finding something, anything, that I just ignored the rest of the world. Stupidly.” She sighed again, and then looked at her hand. “And in that time Thedas was falling to pieces again.” She thought.
“So did you find anything?” Leliana asked curiously. She gestured to the trunks in the room, stacked away in a corner.
“I’ve found small things here and there. Nothing definite, and everything is its own damned puzzle to even try to comprehend. Just things giving me more questions and no answers.” She said feeling aggravation crawling through her again. Well she never expected it to be easy, but it was still unforgivably frustrating.
“Well… now that you’re here, I can help you.” Leliana stated simply.
Sira gaped at her for a moment. “No. I’m almost positive the Inquisition has other more important things to use its resources on.”
“This is important Sira.” She insisted. “This mission you’re on, if successful could change everything about the Wardens. Make it less permanent, and the sooner a cure could be found the better. Not to mention the two rulers of Ferelden are Grey Wardens. No, I absolutely insist you allow me to help you.” She said with determination in her eyes.
Sira considered it. With the Inquisitions resources, and seemingly vast and growing reach, it would certainly prove useful. Not to mention it wouldn’t put a complete pause on the search while she was here helping until the latest worldly threat was exterminated. Leliana jumped up. “You agree!”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“No, but you got that look in your eyes. The one where things click together in your mind.” She had a look? Leliana suddenly hugged her tightly, and then grabbed her face, smiling. “You’re staying. I’m helping, and nothing can be done about it.” Sira opened her mouth to find nothing coming out of it and then closed it. Leliana spoke with such finality that she didn’t really feel like disputing it.
She felt herself beginning to smirk, and then quickly hid it with another sigh. “Fine.” She relented.
Leliana hugged her again and they held it for a long and comfortable moment. “I have to leave now. It’s almost dawn so there’s no point in trying to go back to sleep. We can talk in more detail later, yes?” she asked stepping away and grabbed her long chainmail tunic.
“Yes. Later, after I get another chance to explain it to the Inquisitor.”
“Right, I think she’s going to try and get all of her inner circle into the war room so everything could be explained at once.” Sira looked at her questioningly. “Don’t worry. They’re all trustworthy and some of them you might want to rely on for your search regardless. Oh, there’s also a Grey Warden by the name of Blackwall in our ranks.” Leliana explained.
“Blackwall? That name doesn’t come up often…” Sira said trying to remember the last time she even had to think about that name. Then she felt her stomach rumble and Leliana snorted.
“Breakfast isn’t ready until about an hour past dawn, so you’re just going to have to bear with it for now.”
Sira groaned. “What the point in being in a giant fortress if there isn’t food to go ‘round at all times?”
Leliana laughed then walked towards the door. “I’ll see you later.” She said fixing the hood over her head and leaving, closing the door behind her.
The room was deafeningly silent, and as soon as Sira started hearing that faint song in her mind, she quickly decided she’d rather roam about Skyhold than stay in the silence.
After all the standard morning rituals, Sira left her room, locking it behind her and tried to remember her way out. She walked past the doors where her comrades were sleeping and decided to let them rest because they probably stayed up way later than they should have, not to mention the fact that it wasn’t even daylight quite yet, and that they deserved it.
Once she managed to navigate her way out the mini labyrinth, she saw a small amount of bustle around the courtyard. It was workers getting an early start on their long day and the view of it made her smile. She missed being around this, she realized.
The crisp mountain air proved to be refreshing, and it distinctly reminded her of cold Ferelden mornings. “You can take a girl out of Ferelden…” she thought to herself, amused.
She ended up walking aimlessly around the battlements, taking in the view of the mountains as the first of the pastel colors started painting the background beyond them.
It was breathtaking. “I can’t believe they just found this lying around discarded. Who would have ever abandoned this place?” she mused to herself. After another few moments, she spotted Commander Cullen by himself staring off into the distance.
She quietly made her way towards him until she stood directly next to him. “Good morning Commander.”
He immediately jumped, his hand quickly reaching for the pommel of his sword when he looked at her. She raised a brow, and he flushed an adorable shade of red. “Lady Theirin.” He managed to squeak out.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you quite like that Commander.” She laughed.
“You didn’t- I mean you did, but… I shouldn’t have left my guard down like that.”
“Well I am very good at sneaking, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise.” She said looking out to the scenery.
Cullen eyed her before looking back out towards the mountains, his hand rubbing his neck. After a few moments of awkward silence between them, Sira decided to confront him. “I know I asked you this yesterday, but does my presence make you uncomfortable Commander?”
He quickly looked at her again, shocked. “No! That’s not what I… I mean it isn’t you it’s…” he made a vague gesture with his hands becoming frustrated. “I’m sorry. Words just do not seem to be my gift.”
“I can see that.” She chuckled.
He makes a strangled noise at that, and she gives him a few moments to gather his thoughts. “You saved my life that day when you came to the Circle. I had been… well you know, but I never got the opportunity to thank you. I just gave you untoward words and…”
“All completely understandable. You were under no circumstance to be polite, nor do you need to thank me.”
“I most certainly do.” He said turning to her, his face serious. “I may have disagreed with you then but you still saved my life, and every other innocent who survived that horror. So let me say it now while I have the opportunity.” He then bowed, making Sira step back in surprise. “Thank you for saving me. I owe you my life, as does Ferelden and the entirety of Thedas for all that you have done.”
“Please rise.” Sira said, unsure of what to do. Despite the gratitude many people had showed her that first year or so after defeating the Archdemon, not many still thanked her for much. When he straightened again she saw the strong resolution in his eyes. It was unwavering, and it made him look every bit the Commander he was. “You know…” she started, leaning against the stone half wall. “The words you told me that day stuck with me. ‘I hope your compassion doesn’t doom us all.’” she imitated. “It shaped a lot of the decisions I made after that.” She said looking out towards the mountains again.
“I always had to ask myself if I could live with the fact that I chose to be more compassionate about things rather than the easier route. It usually worked out, but sometimes it didn’t, and I had to live with those choices because I did choose to go more on feelings than simple manipulation. It helped me become more at peace with some of those decisions.” She said. He silently stood next to her, watching her speak. She then turned to look him in the eyes. “And for that I thank you.”
He looked shocked at first, which then melded into bashfulness, and then finally dejected. “I cannot accept that gratitude. Those… were the words of a broken man.”
“That may be so, but the fact still remains that those words helped me cope as a leader. It’s also worth noting, Commander, that despite what you were, you are a completely different person now. From what I can tell, you have grown to be quite the honorable man. Quite a long way from the boy I met all those years ago.”
“Your words are kind My Lady, but I haven’t always been ‘honorable’.” He denied.
“So? The fact that you are here now, in front of me, as Commander of the Inquisition speaks more than any excuse you could give me about the journey you went on to get to this point. The fact that you seem to have acknowledged any misdoings you may have committed, and that you regret them makes you leagues better than most people I have met, and I’ve met a lot of people. This should be celebrated, not an excuse to hold you back.”
He stood there, openmouthed and surprised. He never thought he would ever be getting a pep talk from one of the people he admired most, and for her to sound so absolutely sincere about it. “I… thank you.” Was all he could tumble from his mouth.
She smiled and gently put her hand on his arm. “I believe you to be a good man Commander, and I hope I can get the chance to be around you enough to learn this to be fact.”
“Of course.” he quickly agreed. “Wait, this means you are staying here then?”
“Oh right, you weren’t there. Yes. The Inquisitor has kindly relinquished the Wardens back under my command, in exchange for an official alliance with me, and various other things yet to be fleshed out. So you’ll be seeing quite a bit of me until we defeat this Corypheus character. I’ll try not to wear out my welcome.” She joked.
“No of course not. You being here would be, or rather, is a great help. You’ve experience none of us really had with… the world teetering on its end. I’m sure everyone would gladly welcome your help.”
“You’re too kind Commander.”
“Please call me Cullen. It feels a little odd, not to mention the fact that we both bare the Commander title after all.”
“Sure, but only if you call me Sira.” She bargained.
Cullen wasn’t sure if he’d be able to do that. Despite wanting her to rid of the title, she was still the Queen of his homeland and more importantly, the person he had admired for years. “I’ll… promise to work on it Lady Sira.”
She smirked. “Well it’s better than ‘Your Majesty’.” He smiled but said nothing. “Speaking of commandeering, I’m going to be doing quite a bit of that today. Well sort of. I’m pretty sure it’s just going to be me yelling at a bunch of grown adults like children, and then setting up training drills straight from the darkest part of the deep roads.” She laughed. “I’m not quite sure where the Warden’s here reside yet, but is it possible to work out a schedule between use of training grounds between your recruits and my Wardens?”
“Of course, but might I ask why? The Wardens are perfectly capable soldiers.”
“Well sure, to you, but they’re not up to my incredibly high and nearly impossible standards.” she said, with Cullen giving a chuckle. “I heard from Hawke that your soldiers were able to cut down many Wardens who were too far gone for common sense. I do not mean for this to sound as insulting as it probably will, but the fact that you and your soldiers didn’t have nearly a hard enough time bringing them down as they should have tells me that these Wardens need much more training.”
“Or maybe my men are just that good.” He said suddenly like a proud father.
Sira smirked again, and crossed her arms over her chest. “Oh of that there is no doubt Commander. You’ve apparently done quite the job, and it’s very admirable. However Grey Wardens are supposed to be in a league of their own. Otherwise, other than being able to not die immediately from taint, and some other super-secret Warden stuff, we’d be no different from you normal people.”
“Normal?” Cullen asked with mock offense.
“Yes. Normal.” She laughed. “As in, people who aren’t granted superior strength and stamina.”
“Color me unimpressed then. I’m sure, while it might be a bit of a challenge, I could take on some of you Wardens.” He bluffed.
She decided to call him out on it. “Is that a challenge then Commander Cullen?”
“Perhaps it is Commander Cousland.” He said grinning. She liked his confidence; it wasn’t cocky, and that was something she didn’t see often.
“Then how about a little wager then? You seem to be under a misconception about Warden Prowess and I very dearly wish to rectify this.”
“What are the terms?”
“Just you and I. After all, an army is as only as good as it’s General. Or in this case, Commanders.”
“A one on one match against you? The one who slayed an Archdemon?” he asked skeptically. But it wasn’t as if he didn’t want to take up the challenge. Being able to try and duel her could prove to be a memorable learning experience. It was something he shouldn’t even really be risking passing up.
“It wasn’t as if I killed it all by my lonesome. I did have people fighting by my side.”
“True… and what if you’re the one severely underestimating my skills?”
“I never underestimate people’s skills; that’ll get you killed. But we can decide my prize when I win at a later time.”
He laughed at that, genuinely laughed. It caught Sira off guard but she ended up joining in, his laughter contagious. “Very well then Lady Sira.” He said offering his hand. “I will take up your challenge.”
She grabbed it firmly and shook it. “I look forward to it.”
“As do I. When will we do this then?” he asked.
She hummed in thought. “I could attempt to press my luck and try to get you to agree to a joint training session? You know, show them how it’s done? Maybe in a fortnight?”
A joint session? Against strong warriors such as Wardens? That actually sounded more beneficial to his soldiers than it did to hers, but he certainly wasn’t going to argue against it.
After that, a couple soldiers found Cullen and he excused himself to start his day. By that time, the sun was already peaking over some of the mountaintops, so Sira decided to follow the scent of food. It was still a tad too early for there to be much presence in the dining hall, but when cooks noticed her Warden uniform, they gave her little fuss about how early she was, and gave her a beautifully large amount of various foods. Her plate consisted of warm fresh rolls of bread, slices of different cheeses and meats, and various fresh fruits.
She sat down at an empty table and enjoyed the peaceful buzz of people running about and having their own conversations. When she was mostly through with her meal, she saw her little entourage find their way in and smiled. They looked groggy, but being so used to early mornings, they probably couldn’t really sleep in. After getting their plates, they made their way to her and they had a peaceful chat about absolutely nothing, enjoying the fact that they were safely eating fresh anything.
“There you are!” someone yelled out. Sira turned to see where the yell came from and saw Quint walking up to her. “I should’ve known you’d be where the food was ma’am.” He smiled wearily glancing at everyone’s empty plates.
“Quint.” She greeted. “Have you eaten?”
“Ah, no. I was preparing for… today. You did say first thing. The Wardens are ready whenever you are.”
“Wait, so you mean to tell me you already rounded up a group of hungry, probably tired, and confused Warden’s that are waiting for me?” she asked. He nodded and she smiled standing up. “I’ll admit I’ve forgotten how capable you were Quint.”
Under different circumstances he might have smiled at the praise. “Yes. Well…”
“Alright let’s get this over with.” She said, the rest of them standing up, grabbing their plates, and putting them in the designated disposal area and followed after Quint.
“So how many wardens remained with the Inquisition?” Bethany asked.
“Fifty-two. Well fifty-six now. Twelve of them are at the Western Approach, dealing with some Darkspawn problems. So there’s forty here now, including myself.”
“You wanna bet how many will shit themselves?” Oghren asked. Nate snorted and Bethany smiled.
“There will be no betting in my presence.” Sira said looking at Oghren, then back to Quint. “I hope you’re prepared Lieutenant.”
“As much as I will ever be, Commander.” He sighed.
She hummed and continued following him until they reached a small stadium. “Oh, so you guys do have a place to train.” She stated.
“Uh, yes. The Inquisition was kind enough to give us our… own little corner I guess you could say. They were very generous considering our actions.”
“What else do I now have in my disposal then?” She asked curiously, ready to cross things off her mental checklist.
“Sufficient amount of space in the Barracks, and a few rooms that we treat as administrative space, not that many of the remaining Warden’s had high enough ranking to be trained, so we’re not as organized as we once were, but we’ve… managed.”
“So you were put in charge because you were one of the highest ranked left?” Nate asked.
“Mostly, yes. I did have leadership qualities that they seemed to rely on…” he said trailing of, while looking at Sira a bit cautiously. She just stared at him and he continued. “And knew more or less how things should be run, seeing as how I was… uh…”
Sira huffed, feeling agitation creeping through her again. “Let’s just quickly get through this so we can all move on.” Quint nodded and then they made their way to the stands of the stadium. In the field, the Wardens were standing around talking and waiting for whatever the sudden meeting was about.
“There you are Quint. What in Andraste’s blighted knickers was so important that you had us here at the damned crack of dawn?” asked a warden as Quint came into view. Sira stood a few paces back to observe how many in the field were hers, and how many were from the Orlesian faction. The majority of them were from Ferelden, she noted. Which either meant more of hers survived, or many of the Orlesian’s went with Hawke to Weisshaupt. The one who asked him the question was an elf, one whose joining she remembered presiding over. Oh what her name again? Tallinn?
Sira took in a breath of air and put on her all-important Commander mask, pushing her shoulders back and came into view. The other Warden saw her and put a hand over her mouth giving a small gasp. Sira glanced at her and walked to the railing, gripping the top of it. Nate, Oghren, and Bethany stood on her left, eager to see what was going to happen.
“Wardens.” Sira bellowed out to catch their attention. They all quickly quieted and some stood there completely shocked, and some lost color in their faces. Others looked on curiously, wondering who she was, and probably agitated because they were hungry and confused.
“Warden-Commander…” Tallinn breathed before straightening and saluting her. Others quickly followed in suit, leaving a handful of very confused Wardens.
Sira regarded her, and then gestured to the steps that led to the field. “You may join them as well Quint.” He nodded then joined the others who were falling into line.
After letting a silent moment pass Sira cleared her throat and began. “Good morning. I recognize many of your faces, but not all. Please allow me to take this moment to introduce myself. I am Warden-Commander Cousland of Ferelden.” She announced, her eyes scanning the group. When she said her name many stood at attention, and some gaped. She raised her brow at them and they soon stood at attention as well. “Can you all imagine my surprise when I learned about how you all did one of the most incredibly stupid things I’ve ever heard?” One began to speak up but she raised her hand to silence them. “It was a rhetorical question. Now before I begin, I wish to express the extreme disappointment I have in the ones who I know should have known better.” She said making eye contact with the ones she recognized, some of them quickly looking away in guilt. “I mean really, what in Andraste’s name were you all thinking?”
“We were scared Commander.” A Warden spoke up. Sira looked at them but said nothing.
Then Quint stepped forward. “We were all hearing the Calling, and we… I didn’t know what to do. There was a building panic with no answers, and then some Orlesian’s made contact and said Warden-Commander Clarel had a plan. It was more than the nothing we had, and sure the plan was questionable but-”
“But nothing!” Sira interrupted. “I left you in charge for a damned reason Quint. And that reason wasn’t so you and the others could blindly follow another Commanders orders to build a fucking demon army! I left a way to communicate to me if something were to happen. I left people I thought could handle taking over while I was gone. I didn’t leave just to have you all join another group of warden’s because you were scared.” She yelled, all the frustration she held in starting to flood out. “What the hell were you all thinking? I just can’t wrap my mind around the lot of you agreeing to this. And then you were sacrificing- how many good men and women have we lost to this? Allowing themselves premature deaths and sacrificing their lives to bind competent mages to demons. Demons!” she yelled again raising her hand in the air. The Wardens remained completely silent and Sira walked down the stairs to get on their level so she could look these people in the eyes. “We’ve lost too many well-meaning people to Clarel’s stupidity.”
An Orlesian looked miffed at her last statement. “Clarel made a choice she thought was-” he began to rebut in a thick Orlesian accent.
“It doesn’t what matter what she thought.” Sira rounded to him, walking to his face “She was supposed to have better judgment than that. You all trusted her. She was your leader. She was out of her blighted mind to think even for a moment that it was a good idea. Her error cost too many lives, too many good people, for it to matter ‘what she thought.’” Sira began poking him on his chest to emphasize her point. “As a Commander she should have realized that sacrificing anyone in a feeble attempt to get rid of the other old gods was a senseless and irresponsible plan. You can try to protect her dignity as a loyal subordinate all you want, but you can’t stand there and tell me that what she led you all to do wasn’t beyond absurdity.” She said staring the man down, his face red, from either anger or embarrassment she didn’t know and frankly she didn’t care.
After a pause with him not saying anything in return she turned around to look at other various faces. “But now you are all here to make up for what you did yes?” she asked. No one responded, and she put her hands on her hips. “I asked you all a question.”
“Yes Warden-Commander!” They all said in unison. She hummed, then crossed her arms and sighed, calming down.
“While there are no positives about what happened, I will admit that at the very least it was good that it was kept amongst the Wardens, and that the Inquisitor put a stop to it before it was taken much too far. Also, that you are all here to both atone, and to help with the Corypheus threat, proves to me that you all of you do, at least, have your hearts in the right places.” She admonished, walking to the front of the group.
“Starting today you’re all back under my command. The Inquisitor has so very kindly agreed to relinquish you back under my control, and if any of you have a problem with that, speak up to me now or leave to find Hawke.”
She stared every one of them down, and noticed the one whose face she was in before. He looked as if he wanted to say something, so she focused on him, daring him to say something. She was not a small woman in any means, but that man dwarfed her. However, being accustomed to facing things much larger than her to begin with, it didn’t faze her in the slightest, and then she saw him decide to take up her silent dare. She might’ve damaged his pride, getting into his face like she did, but she kept her gaze leveled and face blank to show that she was un-intimidated.
“And how do we know to trust you? I heard you just left your Warden’s. How are we supposed to know you weren’t off doing-” he started but she didn’t care to let him finish.
“First of all, I don’t actually have to explain my actions to you. And secondly, I didn’t just up and leave. I left people in charge and I left things with a proper system in my absence in case something were to happen to me on my journey.”
“You ask us to follow you, yet you don’t explain why you abandoned your people during a time where many are confused?” he questioned.
“Yes, because what I left for is above your rank, Warden.” She said, dropping her hands to her sides.
“And how would you know what my rank is? You weren’t here.” He argued. Sira glared at him and faintly noticed some of the other wardens backing away some.
“Obviously.” She said humorlessly. “Are you trying to get at something? Because right now you are doing a terrible job at picking a fight, and all I can see is you trying to point out what you believe to be flaws. Of what though? That I left? That’s been established already. Do you have anything else, because that’s weak.” she challenged.
His face turned red as a tomato, and this time she was sure it was because it was out of anger. He wanted to have a fight? So be it. “You dog lord bitch.”
And that was all she needed. She charged him, sliding to a stop to ram her elbow to his chest, hard enough to do damage, but not crack anything. He bent over slightly to reflexively grab his chest, and she took the opportunity to take a step back and punch him square in the jaw. He staggered a few steps, looked at her enraged, and growled while lunging toward her.
And he called her the dog lord? She allowed him to grab her by the collar, easily lifting her up, then she immediately swung her body and hooked a leg over the arm lifting her up, then the other, and used the momentum from the sudden shift in weight to lunge them both to the ground, flipping him, his back to the ground. She immediately grabbed a dagger from her boot and placed it to his neck. He opened his eyes in panic and looked at her.
“It’s Warden Commander Dog Lord Bitch, you uncreative imbecile. Learn a new insult.” She said, lightly pressing the blade to his neck. “Have you got this all out of your system?” she asked. He carefully nodded. She stared at him for another moment before removing the blade from his neck and standing up, offering him a hand. He hesitatingly took, and she pulled him up.
She looked around and saw bewildered expressions, and Oghren a pace away from her, looking as if he was ready to start another fight. She then looked up and saw Nate halfway down the stairs and Bethany in position to provide back up. She also saw the Inquisitor and Varric looking both shocked and excited and Leliana looking like she was ready to dismantle the Warden to pieces. When did they get there?
Suddenly there was loud chatter around them and Oghren walking past Sira and pushing the other Warden back.
“That was your one and only chance, son. I don’t care who you think you are, if you try any shit like that to Sira again, I’ll rip your damned head off myself.” Oghren said, angrier than she’s ever seen him. Sira laughed in surprise and he immediately turned around and she covered her mouth with her hands to hide her grin. “No one gets to try to throw you around like that again Commander, unless it was training. I was ‘bout ready to cut ‘em in half.” He looked back at the Orlesian and took a threatening step forward. “Got it?”
The Warden nodded, and Oghren made a gruff sound. She’d have to hug him later, he’d hate it, but this was probably one of the cutest things he’s done. Then Nate was by her side, clearing his throat. “It’s also worth noting…” he trailed of, pointing towards Leliana’s direction and the Warden flinched.
“What is your name?” Sira asked.
“Christophe, Commander.” He said rubbing his jaw.
“Well Christophe, I hope you’ve learned whatever lesson there is to be learned here.”
“‘Don’t touch the Commander’ should be it.” Said Oghren, his arms crossed. Christophe nodded, and Sira considered her options.
“Everybody gather around please.” She said just loud enough for the surrounding people to hear her. They did as told and she sighed. “I was not, and am not, immune to the Calling either, despite what you all seem to believe. The mission I left for was to find the cure for it.” She explained, her voice still low. She didn’t know who was lurking around, and didn’t exactly want to announce it to the entirety of Thedas. Though the effort might be futile, now that she was enlisting help.
Some wardens gasped in surprise. “Is that even possible?” one asked.
“It’s not impossible.” She responded. “Grand-Enchanter Fiona is a well-known example of someone inexplicably having the taint completely removed from them.” She wasn’t the only source of hope, but that was classified. “And I’ve done more impossible things, honestly. I’m only telling you all this to avoid more miscommunication with me going off during a time of unrest. I did not abandon the wardens.” They were silent, some looking at her in awe and others in disbelief. Whether they chose to believe her or not was up to them.
“How far did you get?” Quint asked.
“Not… as much as I would have liked in the amount of time I was gone, but I still have hope and that is enough reason for me to continue my search.”
“Does this mean we’re leaving?” Tallinn asked.
“No. This means it has been put on hold, mostly, until the talking magister darkspawn and pet archdemon is dealt with. Then… I’ll continue on the search. If what the Inquisitor believes is correct, this faux calling should go away with Corypheus’s demise. But the problem lies that we have a serious weakness to be dealt with. I don’t promise anything, but I will absolutely try my hardest. This cannot happen again.”
“It won’t Commander.” Quint said resolutely. Tallinn agreed and then others joined in all with earnestness in their expressions. It made Sira smile and take in a breath of relief. She could count on them now.
“Now.” She said loudly, walking from the center of the group of Wardens, her hands behind her back. “Apparently the Inquisition was doing a wonderful job at taking down wardens, and I have a problem with that.” She said now at the front of the group, turning around, her voice raised. “Grey Wardens are supposed to be the elite. We are granted great strength and even greater stamina. The fact that people who do not have these things could put up a good fight with you all, is absolutely appalling and something that is going to get fixed immediately.”
Many of the wardens accustomed to Sira’s heavy training drills groaned, knowing exactly what was coming. Sira smirked at them. “Oghren, Bethany, and Nate could you please come here?” she asked. They did as was told and lined up next to her. She gestured to them. “These are your superiors. If they order you to do something, you do it. If they say they are speaking for me, they are. They are my eyes, ears, and voice. Got it?” she asked, and continued when they all confirmed. “Good. They are also about to embark on personal missions to make your training a living nightmare. I need Wardens in optimal condition and right now every single one of you is substandard. If you believe otherwise, then prove me wrong.” She challenged them. “I will be working with both the lot of you, and with whatever the Inquisitor needs me to assist her with, so I won’t always be around. I need you all to prove to me, that if trained well enough, you could give any army their asses handed back to them.” She smiled while some grunted in approval. “Quint, I’m going to need a list of all the names of the Warden’s now under my charge, what class they’re in, their positions and assigned tasks by the end of the day, and we’ll go from there.”
“Good. Starting first thing tomorrow, we’ll begin making your lives miserable. Please spend this day tying up any loose ends that would keep you preoccupied from focusing on exactly what I want you to do.” She waited a moment to let it sink in. “Dismissed.” She announced and when the Wardens saluted, she turned around and started to make her way to a very angry Spymaster joined by a smiling Inquisitor and an impressed looking dwarf.
Fight! Fight! Fight! Jk he had no chance.
Chapter 6: Something Important Always Needs To Be Handled
In which things are explained, another unexpected reunion is had, and suspicions are raised.
“What was that?” Leliana asked as Sira made her way to them, her arms crossed over her chest.
Sira shrugged and looked back to the Wardens, some who were off to do as told and some who were talking to her companions. The camaraderie was still there between those who were hers originally and it was good to note that there were plenty of people who were used to her antics and knew what to anticipate.
“It was an opportunity to show I can fight better than they do, and can kick their ass if need be.” It was easy enough to agitate him into making a move. “Anyways…. Um Christophe was it? He seems… simple. Honestly, it’s probably what made him an outcast in Orlais, and wardens like to recruit outcasts. He’s definitely built for battle.” She said looking back to Leliana, whose brow was raised.
“So you just let him grab you? To prove a point?”
“Leli, I’ve fought things multiple times larger than him since the blight began. Things like size don’t really faze me anymore. And I had everything under control didn’t I?” she asked gently putting her hands on the sides of Leliana’s arms, and making eye contact to reassure her.
Leliana hummed, squinting her eyes slightly. “Fine. But if you have any problems with them, or anyone for that matter, tell me immediately.”
“I promise to put your offer into consideration.”
Leliana smirked and then sighed “Which means you won’t.”
“It means I’ll consider it. You’ve apparently built up quite a terrifying reputation, and I’m not sure petrifying anyone who gives me problems into submission will do me any good.”
“I don’t know about that. It’s really come in handy from time to time.” Kaira chimed in. They both looked to her and she raised both her hands in surrender. “Whoa, I didn’t realize I was interrupting anything.”
They both smirked, and Sira took a polite step back from Leliana. “You weren’t.” she assured her, and Kaira relaxed again. “So what brought you all here anyways?”
“I came because I was curious as to why the dining hall was empty when it was supposed to be full of grey wardens trying to out eat each other. Wow that could have been worded differently.” Kaira said, a chuckle from everyone following after. “I’ve been told it was a ‘Warden thing’ but Blackwall doesn’t eat nearly as much as the rest of you do.”
“Oh yes. Which one was he?” Sira asked gesturing to the field. She’s heard a lot about Blackwall and always sent back the most interesting recruits. She was eager to put a face to the name.
“Actually I didn’t see him.” Varric said looking out to the field. “Which is weird because he’s one of the more devoted ones. He probably didn’t get the memo.”
“What? Now that he’s working with the Inquisition, he’s too good for us wardens?” Sira jokingly asked.
“His loss.” Varric shrugged. “He missed quite the show. One that I’m probably going to tell tonight at the bar, ah, with your permission of course.” He added.
Sira put her hand over her heart. “The great Varric Tethras asking if he could tell a story about me? I’m honored.”
“Just don’t expect it to be anything like what really happened.” Kaira laughed.
“Maybe just some minor embellishment. Don’t worry, I’ll make it a point for you to remain as regal as possible.” Varric shrugged, and Sira laughed.
“Why thank you, kind ser. It just wouldn’t do if the people were to assume I wasn’t anything less than the majestic ethereal being I am.” She joked and they both grinned at each other.
“Since you seem to be… kind of done here, I wanted to bring you to the war room for the morning meeting. I spread word to my inner circle that everyone is to attend so you only have to explain things once, and everyone can ask questions, and blah blah something about efficiency.” Kaira explained. “I just happened to run Varric and he said he wanted to tag along.”
“I wanted to see the great Hero of Ferelden’s first meeting with the wardens who went… awry. I wasn’t disappointed.” Varric said.
“What can I say? I aim to please.” Sira laughed.
“Although Leliana was already here when we arrived…” Kaira trailed off looking towards her. Sira did the same and raised a brow in question.
“I have some information that might interest you, but we can speak of it later.” She explained.
“All right, then I believe we have a meeting to attend.”
“…Which explains my disappearance and… sudden reappearance. I hope I can prove to be a useful ally to the Inquisition, and I look forward to working with you all.” Sira concluded. She tried to simplify everything as much as she could, but it still ended up quite a mouth full, and some of them still looked a little dazed. She sighed inwardly, and then looked around. They were all quiet, probably letting everything absorb, and after another moment she glanced to Kaira, suddenly unsure of what to do or say next.
“Right, so I guess I should introduce everybody then?” Kaira said, breaking the silence. Sira gave a small smile at her and looked at the first person she gestured to.
“Inquisitor!” someone yelled, bursting in suddenly. They were panting and looked like they just trekked a long journey and nearly jumped back when the entire room looked to them suddenly, most likely surprised from the amount of people in the room.
“What is it?” Kaira asked.
“Uh- yes right.” They said, standing up straight to report. “We found the missing soldiers. They were found in a bog called Fallow Mire. They’ve been captured by a group called the Avvar and demand to meet you, the Herald of Andraste, if we want them returned to us alive.”
“The Avvar?” asked Kaira.
“They’re an old nomadic tribe.” Sira explains, crossing her arms. “They usually aren’t much of a problem and typically don’t involve themselves in problems that aren’t theirs. The fact that they’ve captured your people is very… surprising.”
“Why would they want to meet the Herald? Are they Andrastian?” Josephine asked.
“No. They’re not.” Sira answers. “Why were your soldiers at the Mire, if I may ask?”
“We’ve gotten reports of rifts there and they were sent to investigate.” Leliana replies.
“Then perhaps they just wish to see if your abilities hold true, Inquisitor. I know that they have some of their religious symbols there that have remained mostly untouched due to the miserable weather there.” Said Sira.
“Do you have any advice to dealing with them?” Cullen asks.
Sira takes a moment to contemplate. “I suggest taking them seriously. They’re a barbaric tribe and very strong. Do not underestimate them, but as far as I’m aware they’re usually very reasonable. The fact that they’ve captured your soldiers simply to talk to you is very uncharacteristic.”
Kaira nods then looks out to the window. “We have plenty of daylight left. We’ll leave for the Mire today. Bull, Solas, and Cole get prepared to leave within the next hour.” After their affirmations, Kaira looks to Sira with an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry to leave you so quickly after you’ve arrived.”
“Oh please. If anyone can sympathize with you about constant crisis’s to attend to, it’s me.” Sira smiles in return. “Since it seems you’ve urgent matters to deal with, I’ll take my leave.”
“Yes, of course. The rest of you can leave as well.” She says before turning back to the war table and looking to the map, the soldier from before, stepping up to her, pointing at it.
While the other members are filing out, Leliana gently grabs Sira’s arm and leans into her ear. “Come up to the rookery above the library when the sun sets. I’ve found something you might want to look at.” She whispers.
After a confirming nod, Leliana lets go and returns to the war table, and after a moment Sira leaves, closing the door behind her.
“So…” someone says suddenly beside her.
“You’re the Hero of Ferelden? Truth be told, you look nothing like the rumors said.” The man says.
“If you’re referring to the lack of horns, height, and lightning from my eyes, those only appear when I’m in battle or in the deep roads. Sadly, any time other than those, I only look like a regular human.”
“Oh I still wouldn’t describe you as a ‘regular human’. Still, though, it’s odd to have a face to a legend. Tell me, you wouldn’t happen to secretly be a mage would you?” he asks.
She laughs and shakes her head. “If I were, it would be a secret even from me.”
“A pity. Tevinter would so love to have someone with a reputation as yours be a mage.” He sighs.
“Ah yes. Dorian of house Pavus, most recently of Minrathous. It is a pleasure to meet you.” He said with a flourished bow.
“A mage from Tevinter? Here? Helping the Inquisition?” Against an ancient Tevinter magister fashioning himself to be a god? She finished in her head.
“I assure, not everyone from my homeland wishes to see us revert a thousand years.”
“I see. That is rather reassuring actually.” She said starting to walk again. “I just hope more people from Tevinter think your way.”
“Ha! Then I wouldn’t be such a pariah, and I do so enjoy being one.” He joked.
“Tell me- Dorian was it? What is your opinion of an ancient Tevinter magister aspiring for godhood after apparently seeing the golden city himself?” she asked curiously.
“That much of what we’ve been taught is simultaneously true and untrue and that I’m unsure which one should scare us more. And that either way, he must be killed and the fanatics that support him must also be taken down.” He said frankly.
Sira hummed in agreement as she opened the door to the ambassador’s office.
“Lady Theirin.” she was suddenly greeted. The woman, short hair and sharp features, stood next to one of the wooden pillars closest to the door she entered from. “Oh. Dorian.”
Sira glanced to her side and saw him smirk. “I beat you to the punch, I’m afraid.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The woman said defiantly. She had an accent Sira wasn’t too familiar with, but the woman was definitely a warrior.
“May I help you?” Sira asked politely.
“No, this wasn’t for anything important. I did, however, want to properly introduce myself- since we didn’t have proper introductions. I am Cassandra Pentaghast, Seeker and-”
“The right hand of the divine! Maker’s breath!” Sira interrupted excitedly. “I had honestly thought I would never get a chance to meet you seeing as how we’re both in entirely different positions and it’s not even like I could ever really meet Leliana, the left hand, with her being just as busy as I was and I just need you to know that I used to, well not idolize you, but I looked up to you and that you were partly the reason why I took training as a teen to seriously, which turned out to be a good thing not only for just me but for the whole of Thedas apparently and…” Sira paused taking in a deep breath before covering her reddening face. “I suddenly understand Kaira’s response and I need to be stopped. I’m sorry.” She finished.
“What?” Dorian said with a growing chuckle.
“I am an embarrassment.” She groans overdramatically.
“What?” Cassandra asks this time.
“Please stop saying that.”
“If you think I would just ignore whatever that was from a woman with an incredible reputation such as yourself, you are sorely mistaken.” Dorian laughed.
“You’re right.” Sira said taking another deep calming breath and looked at Cassandra who looked incredibly confused. “I apologize for that… outburst. It’s just that you meant a lot to me as a young adult, and now I’ve finally met you.”
“Aw. There’s no need to get all boring now.” Dorian sighed.
“Dorian we are not here for your amusement.” Cassandra said dryly before looking back to Sira with a kind smile. “And I’m honored to have had such an impact on your life, especially since you’ve accomplished something far greater than I did. Many times over if any of the tales are true.”
Sira laughed and shook her head. “I couldn’t even begin to tell anybody which parts are over exaggerated or which ones are not. But, yes. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with you and I hope we get along well during the upcoming endeavors.”
“This is much less fascinating than it started.” Dorian sighed dramatically.
“I’ve to maintain some of my dignity I think.” Sira said, and then paused thoughtfully. “At least for a week, or maybe a fortnight. Or until someone convinces me to drink.”
“Can’t hold your liquor, Your Majesty?” he asked.
“Oh I can hold it just fine. The problem lies in my sense of competition and horrifying need to win.”
“You should be careful with words like that My Lady. Those would be dangerous words if people like Varric heard them.” Cassandra said wryly.
“Please just call me Sira. There’s no need for formalities, especially when we’re just talking as equals.” Sira said for what was absolutely not the last time she suspected.
“Of course.” Cassandra nodded.
“Now if you’ll both excuse me, I’ve some things to attend to. Unless you had something important to discuss?” Sira asked.
“No, I just wanted to meet the woman behind the myth. And introduce myself of course.” Said Dorian.
“As did I.” Cassandra agreed.
“Then I look forward getting to know you both.”
“Mm?” Sira hummed, not looking away from the papers in her hand. She sat behind a large desk covered in piles of documents, reading over written reports from various soldiers about what happened at Adamant and the lead up to it. The Inquisition was wise to have the wardens write them down, she thought. They were mostly the same, but reading this from various viewpoints helped her gain concrete ideas of what they were dealing with. The one she was focusing on was the Archdemon everyone claimed the dragon was. Sira silently went along with it, but she was honestly unsure if what they were saying was true. An Archdemon meant there was a Blight, but what they were experiencing was nothing like what it was during the fifth. But the reports all say that it looked like a blighted dragon…
Sira finally looked up to the man, Quint, and sighed. “What?”
“There’s someone here to see you. A mage. Claimed that you would want to see him too. He was very persistent about it.” He said gesturing to the door behind him.
“Already?” she asked, leaning back in her chair. She knew this was going to be something she was going to have to deal with once word spread around of her appearance, but she didn’t think a mage would be the first one to try and capture her attention. “Very well. Let him in.” she said looking back down to the report.
“Yes, Commander.” Quint said, opening the door. Another set of footsteps entered the room and stopped near the front of her desk.
“I’m a very busy person Ser mage. I do hope for both of us that this is worth my time.” Sira said, grabbing another report.
“U-um. I’m very sorry to bother you, I know you’re busy, but I had to see if the rumors were true and-” the mage started but cut himself off when Sira looked up at him.
“Connor?” she asked, standing up.
He breathed a sigh of relief and smiled. “Yes.”
Sira raised her hands to her mouth staring at him, before running around the desk and hugging him tightly. “Maker’s mercy, you’re alive!” she all but cried into his neck. She tried not to think of it when she heard the news of the circle’s falling and about the mage rebellion, but it was always in the back of her mind. “And safe, and whole, and- and here?”
Connor gave a small laugh, hugging her back. “Yes. Thanks to the Inquisition.”
“Of all the nightmares to be had from this, I’m glad you’re not one of them.” She said moving back some to look at him. “Look at you!” she smiled, cupping his face. “You’ve grown so much since I’ve last seen you.”
“Of course I have. It’s been four years since your last visit to Kinloch.”
“I guess it has… I’m so sorry about that, I promise you it’s because I’ve been busy.” She tried to explain.
Connor just shook his head and hugged her again, which she gladly returned. Sira had grown quite attached to him after she saved him, his entire family, and the whole of Redcliffe, from the demon back during the blight. She figured her fondness of him was a mixture of pity for the things he experienced, a deep agitation that his parents were who they were, and on a deeper emotional level she didn't like to dwell on, that he was about the same age Oren would be. It made her more protective of him than she thought she had any right to, but he never seemed to complain about it. Sira had made sure to write to him as often as she could when he was sent to Kinloch Hold, and visited him and the circle when she had the time, which was not a lot. He always seemed to appreciate it, and that was more than enough reason for her.
After a few moments, they separated after she gave him a final squeeze. She walked back around the desk to sit down after telling Connor to grab one of the chairs from the corner of the room and waited for him to settle himself. “So you mentioned the Inquisition?” she asked.
“Yes. I had nowhere to go after the mages rebelled and Grand Enchanter Fiona brought us to Redcliffe. I went because, well it’s home, but when I found out about Alexius and the alliance I was enraged. Luckily the Inquisitor arrived when she did, but it was… a little too late. By the time anybody could get a handle what was happening, Alistair had banned mages from Ferelden and the Inquisition took us in as allies.” He explained. He was going to continue going until he noticed the surprise in Sira’s face. “…What?”
“No that was just…” she closed her eyes and sighed. “That was a lot to take in at once.”
“You mean you didn’t know?” he asked shocked.
“I had been… very briefly told the absolute minimum about it. Yesterday. For the first time.” She admitted. “I hadn’t given it much, or any thought honestly.”
“I see.” He said.
“I suppose that’s yet another thing I need to read up on.” She sighed, looking at the pile of papers on her desk.
“What is all that anyways? You just got here.”
Sira gave a small laugh and rubbed her forehead. “Accounts and reports about what happened with the wardens.”
“Oh.” He said simply.
Sira looked at him and noticed that he was fidgeting. Interesting. “What’s wrong?”
He immediately sat up straight “What? Nothing’s wrong.” He lied. Sira raised a brow at him and after a moment he deflated.
“I don’t know what to do anymore. I can’t go back home, and I don’t really have a place here with the mages or the Inquisition, and now that you’re here I was starting to wonder if… if maybe this was a sign to join the Grey Wardens.” He said.
“Hold a moment. You want to what?” Sira asked confused.
Connor took in a deep breath and looked at her in the eyes. “I want to join the Grey Wardens.”
Sira stared at him, unsure of what to say.
“And before you say anything, this decision wasn’t made on whim. Mages have an equal place among the warden’s and they get to do some good. Well, actual good, especially now that you’re back. Since I’m not allowed to have land or titles, it’s not like I could really go to my father or even uncle Teagan, and I can’t allow myself to be an exception to a rule and I don’t have a place with the mages here. I think I could even do some good with the wardens! I’m not the greatest fighter but I’ve never had the opportunity to really train. I could learn! I’m also a pretty decent healer. I could help with that. Just give me a chance to-” he stopped when Sira raised her hand to silence his rambling.
Sira leaned forward and placed her elbows on the desk, resting her chin on top of her clasped hands. Connor? A warden? Eamon would never let her hear the end of it. Nor would Teagan for that matter. Alistair would be the only one to empathize with him. Then again, Connor was his own man now and able to make his own decisions, more or less, and he wanted to see if he could find his place with the wardens. That’s enough cause for most people, but she didn’t know those people, or their families. Not to mention the fact he might not even make it past the joining. Speaking of the joining, Sira wasn’t even sure if they had the supplies for it in the first place. That was something she hadn’t even considered yet despite the huge loss of wardens in both Orlais and Ferelden.
If what they were dealing here was in fact an Archdemon, and if there turns out to be a surge of Darkspawn as a result, she would need to conscript more wardens. If there was a need, she couldn’t be picky.
This was why she didn’t like getting to know recruits before their joining.
Connor began to fidget under her gaze and Sira watched him for another few moments. “I’ll consider it.” She said finally.
She saw his shoulders slump for a moment before straightening up again and looking at her defiantly. “Is this because you know me? Because you think it might be too dangerous?”
“Partly yes.” She admitted, and began again before he could rebut. “But not the only reason. First of all, I am unsure if you’re even fit to join the Grey Wardens. Secondly, and most importantly, I’m not even currently sure if I could conscript you even if I wanted to.”
Sira sat back and sighed. “For two reasons. One being that yes, while you are a mage, you are still the son of a high-ranking royal advisor to the King, and the nephew of an Arl. An Arl I respect greatly.”
“And not my father?” Connor smiled.
“Your father can go suck on an egg.” She responded dryly and he chuckled. “But he’s still important. It’s also not a blight. Probably. I can’t use the Right of Conscription unless there were true pressing needs for me to. The second reason is super secret but it basically boils down to ‘I’m not sure if I have the supplies or not’.”
“The stuff that makes the wardens special.”
“Oh.” He said simply.
Sira crossed her arms and her leg. She could try to test him in battle or see if he had any practical skills the wardens could use. The problem was that she was unsure of what to look for in a potential recruit anymore, and also the fact she may be a little biased. Or that would be something anyone who knew who he was would claim. Maybe she could ask Blackwall for his advice or to test Connor himself, since that was all he did that she knew of.
“For now though, I think I’ll just assign you to a mage for you to shadow and so that she may be able to see if you have what it takes as a mage. I trust her opinion and if she believes that you do have Grey Warden qualities, then I will consider recruiting you seriously.” She decided.
Connor smiled widely and stood up. “Really?”
“Don’t fool yourself Connor. This is very serious and being a Grey Warden is often times not as cracked up as people are made to believe. It’s hard and incredibly dangerous work.” Sira warned.
“I’ll do my best to prove myself, I swear it.” He pledged.
Sira finally smiled back and stood up and offered her hand, which he clasped. “You better show me what you’ve got. There’s no going easy on you.”
“In the meantime, I’m going to ask that you tell me everything you know about what happened in Redcliffe.”
“So what was this important thing you had to show me, oh great Spymaster?”
“Oh good. You’re here.” Leliana said, standing up from the table near the stairwell. “Come.”
She silently followed her to a small corner near a stature of Andraste and saw Leliana pick up a piece of parchment. “I’m getting a little worried about how secretive this matter may be.”
Leliana finally looked at Sira and gave her a small reassuring smile. “It’s not something to be greatly concerned about now or… yet.”
Sira raised a brow then crossed her arms. “Alright let’s hear it.”
“I have some suspicions about the warden Blackwall that I think you should know about.” Leliana said quietly.
“I have reason to believe that he is hiding something. Something important.”
“Leli, most warden’s have something to hide. It’s almost a requirement at this point.”
Leliana shook her head. “No that is not what I meant. I’m led to believe that he’s not who he says he is.”
“Yes. I have heard strange comments about him that don’t match up at all from things I heard from himself, various companions of the Inquisitor, and Kaira herself. Things that I know can’t be true because of things I picked up on both my travels and just personally knowing you, a Warden-Commander.” She started to explain. “Now obviously I have no way of knowing for sure, but I thought that with you being, well, you could see if you could pickup on any falsities or red flags even just to ease my mind.”
Sira nodded. “If you think I have reason to be suspicious or at least cautious, I’ll take your word on it.”
“Good, but I also want you to read this.” She said, handing Sira the parchment of paper, a letter, she grabbed.
The news is dire. There are rumors that our Warden brothers and sisters in Ferelden have all perished. Without the Grey Wardens, the Blight will take Ferelden. Then it will undoubtedly spread. It will go north to Nevarra and the Marches. It will come west to Orlais. At the head will be an Archdemon, and in its wake will come thousands upon thousands of darkspawn. We must be ready to stare squarely into the eyes of oblivion.
Many of you have asked why we remain here when such threats are mounting in the east. The problem, you see, is not a new one for us. Politics. To say Ferelden and Orlais have been at odds is an understatement. These two are like dogs and cats. We Wardens are Orlesian by address only, but that does not seem to matter to Ferelden's leaders.
Word is that the King of Ferelden is dead. And his successor, Loghain Mac Tir, decrees that no Warden set foot in the country. Mac Tir, a national hero who helped expel invading Orlesian forces from Ferelden, seems to have it out for our Order, too. Maybe he doubts our abilities. Maybe he is more foolish than the history books make him out to be.
This is why we must wait, even as Ferelden willingly welcomes its fate.
—An address by Warden-Constable Blackwall of Val Chevin to his recruits, 9:30 Dragon
Sira felt a large wave of annoyance wash over her. While he was not wrong, the fact that they would have just waited for the Blight to consume Ferelden irritated her greatly. She looked up to Leliana, handing the letter back to her.
“This address is another one of the reasons my suspicions are raised. This implies that Blackwall knows exactly what he is doing and has proper warden knowledge. The fact that he says things to contradict that belief while remaining incredibly vague about everything about his past is why I wanted to make sure I talked to you about my concerns.”
Sira nodded. “I suppose I could start investigating myself.”
“Please be delicate with it. While I’m unsure what his intentions could be, he seems to be quite dedicated to the cause. I’ve heard he is a good man, but he could also be playing everyone for a fool. Do not underestimate him.” She warned.
“Of course I’ll be careful. Who do you think I am?”
“Hey now, I distinctly remember you once saying that you considered yourself a Ferelden.” Sira laughed.
Leliana smiled and shook her head. “Hey.” Sira said reaching to grab one of Leliana’s hands, and giving it a gently squeeze. “We’ll get to the bottom of this.”
Leliana sighed and squeezed back. “You’re right. You’re also the most coercive and eloquent Ferelden I know. Thank the Maker you’re her Queen.”
Sira chuckled at that. “Do you know where I could find Blackwall? I heard he doesn’t stay with the other wardens, and I’ve yet to meet him.”
“He likes to stay in the stables. I think it’s to differentiate himself from the others as a member of the Inquisition. It could also be because he doesn’t want to surround himself with the other wardens so he doesn’t get exposed but I could also just be exaggerating.” She said.
Sira hummed and they both stood silently in thought.
“Oh, and another thing, about your search, Grand Enchanter Fiona, is here. She can usually be found in the library right below us. I’m sure she has many things she could tell you about what happened with her and why she’s no longer a warden. Especially since you have authority.” Leliana added.
“Actually that's incredibly convenient. Hopefully she could at least provide me with clues if not answers.” Sira said. “Also, I would like to personally ask what in Andraste’s dirty knickers she was thinking back in Redcliffe.”
“She should still be there now if you go look for her.”
“No. I’ll leave that for another day, once all this information digests. Speaking of digesting, it’s time to eat. Come with me.” Sira said, tugging on Leliana’s hand.
“I can’t, I have work to do.”
“And you can get right back to it once we’re done. We’re only going to, where, the tavern? Yes let’s do that.”
“Sira!” Leliana smiled.
“What? We didn’t talk much last night and now’s our chance to do that over a good meal, drinks, and a good atmosphere.” She tried to reason. “Besides your people will know where to find you if something important happens. You’re coming with me.” She decided and started pulling Leliana with her.
With a roll of her eyes, Leliana began to follow before Sira suddenly stopped and looked back to her. “It just occurred to me I don’t even know where it is yet.” And they both laughed.
“Connor did?” Leliana gasped.
“I know! I felt so bad, and I didn’t know what to do. He practically gave me the puppy eyes.”
“Isn’t the joining dangerous.”
Sira paused before answering with a solemn “Yes.”
Leliana shook her head reaching for a goblet of wine while Sira continued eating. They were on the second floor of the tavern, to avoid as many curious eyes as possible. It seemed to work, with everyone being to preoccupied with themselves to notice two people in a corner. Sira ripped a piece of her fresh bread and dipped it into her flavorful stew. “I’ve missed this.” Sira said after a moment.
“Actual food. And plenty of it.” She smiled.
“Maker and here I thought you were going to say ‘my company’” Leliana smiled.
“That too! But you should remember what it was like constantly traveling with two wardens that were always hungry and always wanted almost too much food. And you know I’m horrible at cooking. Honestly if it weren’t for Bethany and Nate I would have probably died of malnutrition and starvation.” She joked.
“I can see it now. The great Hero of Ferelden, conqueror of the fifth blight, slayer of dragons, felled by her stomach. I can hear the tales now.”
“Hey that’s a real possibility you’re spouting off there.” Sira laughed.
“I see you ladies are enjoying yourselves.” Someone suddenly said. Sira turned and saw none other than Cullen.
“We are. Would you like to join us?” Leliana asks.
“Oh, no I couldn’t possibly-”
“Nonsense. Grab a chair and join us. I insist.” Sira says with a wave of her hand.
“The Queen has spoken.” Leliana chuckled, taking another sip of wine.
With a reluctant nod, Cullen does as was told while Leliana moved closer to the wall. Cullen places his chair next to hers and sits down. He looked at the both of them nervously, unsure of what to do. He flinches a bit when Sira laughs at him. “Relax Commander.”
Cullen sighs and leans back into his chair. “You’re right.”
“I usually am.”
Cullen eyes her wearily and Sira returns it with an innocent smile. “Of course you are.” He responds dryly. Sira’s smile widens and gives him a wink before returning to her stew.
A waitress then comes over to their table with a pitcher of ale and a bottle of wine. “Commander Cullen! What can I get for you?” she asks before taking his order.
“Um, whatever the- Lady Sira is having.” He said correcting himself.
The woman nodded then quickly trotted off.
“Leli, do you think it would be too much to ask Josephine if she could invest in ciders for me?” Sira asked.
“I think she’d be elated if you asked her to do anything for you, honestly.”
“She might even jump for joy.” Cullen added.
“You may be right about that.” Leliana giggled just thinking about it.
“But the only the good kinds. Speaking of, autumn is upon us which means apples are finally in season again. I missed baked apple sweets. Apple anything really.” She sighed.
“You have an apple obsession?” Cullen asked curiously.
“I’d call it an addiction.” Leliana muttered.
Sira rolled her eyes and looked at Cullen, ignoring her comment. “Yes. I always have. My Nan used to bribe me with them all the time to make me do things. My mother said it was spoiling me rotten, but it wasn’t like Nan ever gave me them for nothing.”
“So if I wanted to ask you for a favor, I’d have to bribe you with hard cider?” he asked her.
Sira laughed. “Do you need something from me, my good Ser? “
“Not yet. I have to ease you into it first.”
“Oh? Commander Cullen taking a tactical diplomatic approach?” Leliana gasped.
“I mean I’m still openly bribing her.” He said cheekily.
They all chuckled.
“So, Cullen, I know near nothing about you.” Sira said, chewing her last piece of bread.
“Why ask me? You could ask Leliana, I’m sure she knows more about me than I do at this point.” He joked.
Leliana smirked, and Sira nudged her with her leg under the table. “I’m not asking her though, I’m asking you.”
“Fair point.” He said shyly, rubbing the back of his neck. “What do you wish to know?”
“Let’s start with the basics. Where are you from?” she asked.
The waitress returned with a bowl full of stew and a pint of ale. Sira gave the woman her empty bowl. “I know I’m being a bother at this point, but do guys happen to have anything sweet?” she asked.
“Oh, you’re no bother at all, I assure you My Lady- Your Highness! I will go check and see right away.” She said and Sira caught her arm before she dashed off.
“If there isn’t anything please don’t fret alright? I only want some if there is some easily accessible.” Sira insists. The woman nods her head multiple times before Sira lets her go and sighs shaking her head. “Sorry.”
“Do you get that a lot?” he asks, ripping off a piece of bread and dipping it into the stew. Leliana raises her brow and Sira snickers. “What?”
“I told you it was a Ferelden thing.” Sira smiles. It was Leliana’s turn to roll her eyes. “The bread thing.” She explained, going the motion of ripping and dipping.
“Oh. Anyways. Im from a small village in the southwest called Honnleath. There wasn’t anything significant about it, well except maybe the golem statue we had. Though I heard it was lost during the Blight.”
Sira sat up straight and looked at Leliana surprised. “Wait wasn’t Honnleath where we found Shale?” she asked her.
“I’m sorry, what?” Cullen asked.
“The Golem. Her- it… no wait. Their? I was ‘It’…” Sira said trailing off in thought. Cullen looked at her absolutely confused and Sira waved it off. “The golem statue you’re talking about. I… brought it back to life in a way.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Cullen asked again.
“Long story. The short of it is I had to rescue a small girl from a demon possessed cat to get a magic password from her father so that this broken control rod I got from a merchant could bring the statue back to life, who was originally a golem named Shale who then helped me defeat the Blight.”
“How do you think Shale is anyways?” Leliana asks while Cullen sat there dumbfounded.
“I’ve no idea. Do you think you can find them if you tried?”
“I should be able to. All I have to do is follow the trail of dead birds.” Leliana joked.
“You’re both having me on.” Cullen suddenly said, squinting his eyes at Leliana suspiciously.
“We most certainly are not.” She said in mock offense.
“I assure you I spoke the truth.” Sira said as sincerely as she could without smiling.
Cullen turned his skeptical stare to Sira. “Forgive me if I find this tale a bit farfetched.”
“It’s true though! You could ask Oghren, you know the grumpy looking dwarf that smells like a brewery on a good day? “ Sira said looking off to the center of the room. “He should even be in here somewhere.”
“You don’t trust me Cullen?” Leliana asked with a sly smirk on her face.
“I trust you to defend your friend’s wild tale to get me to believe some preposterous story.”
“Cullen,” Sira interrupted, “That isn’t even remotely the most unbelievable story I could tell you. I mean I found Andraste’s sacred ashes. And that’s not even the craziest thing I’ve done!”
“What could possibly top that?”
“That I then gave some to Eamon!” she laughed. Sira’s mind then flashed to the nightmare from earlier. Her smile quickly vanished as she reached for her mug, and took a gulp of ale. “No seriously, he can kiss my ass.” She muttered.
Leliana looked at her inquiringly and Sira shook her head. I don’t wish to think of that now, she thought.
“Royal ass.” Leliana added.
The girls snickered.
“It’s a shame Kaira had to leave. I have a feeling the both of you would get along effortlessly.” Cullen grumbled.
“Yes well, there’s always next time. We must quickly get on that whenever we have the opportunity though, because there will always be something important that needs to be handled.”
“Commander!” someone suddenly yelled out. Sira turned her head and saw Quint walking up to them, and she groaned. “Oh. Commander Cullen, I meant-”
“We know who you meant Quint. What do you need?” Sira said dejectedly.
He glanced at Leliana and Cullen before looking back to her. “I did as asked and we have found that we do have, um, the base needed for recruitment.”
“Oh.” Sira said surprised. She honestly hadn’t expected that they would. How would they- no best not to question it. She thought.
“Also, the preparations for tomorrow have been made and the Constables are waiting for your approval. There are also… a few other things you must oversee.” He listed off vaguely.
Sira looked at Leliana and Cullen apologetically, and stood up. “As I said.”
“I should get back to work as well.” Leliana said, standing up as well.
“Enjoy the rest of your dinner, Commander.” Sira called out from behind, Quint following after her.
Leliana patted his shoulder and walked off leaving Cullen by himself.
A moment later, the server girl returned with a small plate of pastries and a look of surprise then dejection. When she turned around, Sira was walking back with a smile on her face, grabbed the small plate, and traded it with a sovereign and walking off again. Cullen chuckled at the look of delight from the woman, and continued eating his supper in peace.
The codex the address is referring to is [Codex Entry: A Fine Time To Close The Border] found in the Rookery across from Leliana.
Chapter 7: Letters Outgoing II
"Yikes better contact the fam" -Sira probably
King Alistair Theirin of Ferelden,
I write this letter to inform you that I have adjoined myself with the Inquisition. As the sole remaining Warden-Commander in southern Thedas, I found it my duty to take responsibility of the actions both the Orlesian and Ferelden Wardens have made in my absence and also to obtain an alliance with one of Thedas’s, quickly growing might I add, strongest forces. This means I am asking for official permission, from the crown, to work together with the Inquisition also as Queen on behalf of Ferelden. I have been made aware of some… questionable occurrences that have taken place in our home that the Inquisitor has personally dealt with in our place. I will have a messenger, a trusted one that the Inquisition’s Spymaster has promised me will be trustworthy, bring documents pertaining to things that needs to be brought alight to the nobles at Denerim’s court after your review.
I am sure the alliance I will make will be successful and promising to both parties involved, and will provide copies of it, in detail, once I can get it all straightened and finalized. Enclosed with this letter is another unofficial letter to be read at your leisure.
Trust in me,
Chief Bastard of the Dog Lords,
I miss you. I miss you more than I thought possible and this isn’t even the first time we’ve been apart. We’ve been apart too many times for much too long, and I wish Thedas could just stay safe so I could spend my days simply yelling at you for indulging in too much cheese. Oh, how I wish I could live in a luxury of being mad at you for menial things. All I can think of is being held in your arms once more and actually feel safe and protected and whole and loved. I so dearly miss being loved by you and showing you that love in return. I miss looking in your eyes and knowing, no matter what, that I am lucky enough to be married to a man that is a blessing to this world. I miss your cheesy jokes, and your ridiculous sense of humor. I miss your kindness, your smile, your voice, laughter, the roughness of your hands and its warmth when it was in mine, or on my skin. Maker’s breath I miss waking up to see you asleep next to me, or sometimes even awake and looking at the complete adoration in your eyes that I hope I successfully showed back in turn. Maker’s breath but I love you Alistair.
Sadness and longing temporarily put aside, I’m sorry. When I heard what happened with the Wardens (I’m not sure if you know what actually happened or have just heard rumors, and don’t worry I was very far away from all of it) I knew I needed to step in. So I did. The Inquisition has been extremely accommodating thus far, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s because of who I am, to whom I am married to, or that I’m best friends with the apparently terrifying Spymaster. People change huh? Anyways, I will be working with them until the newest threat is dealt with, and in exchange Leliana has offered to help me with my search for the cure. Hopefully with their rapidly expanding resources I will be able to find it all the more quickly so that I may finally be able to return to you, dear heart.
I have also heard that Leliana sent some of her people to deal with a “Venatori” problem that our own should have been trained enough to deal with. I need a full detailed explanation as to why our people weren’t competent enough to protect the most important person on this forsaken land, and needed to enlist outside help. Minimum of 6 pages. If it’s any less then there should have been no reason our people couldn’t confidently handled it on their own.
With insurmountable love,
P.S. – How do you think the Guerrin’s would feel if Connor became a warden?
I am alive, despite anything you may have heard… or haven’t. I’m sorry for that, I truly am. I have been busy on a journey that has incidentally kept me away from all the insane things that have been happening in my absence. I’m currently at Skyhold with the Inquisition, and it’s where you can contact me should anything arise. Speaking of, has there been anything that has happened (like demons pouring from tears in the very air. Adequately normal stuff right?) that I need to make the Inquisitor aware of? How is Highever faring? How are you faring with my precious niece? Tell her I wish her a happy belated 4th birthday, and I’ll try to make it out to see you all myself once doom is no longer glooming over Thedas again.
Of course with love,
Seneschal Varel of Vigil’s Keep,
I have safely made it to Skyhold. You can start forwarding letters to me directly here. Let the explaining begin.
-- Warden Commander Cousland
We arrived at Skyhold safely and the Inquisitor readily agreed to put the wardens back under Commander Cousland’s control. I admit I was a little worried about what would happen if the Inquisitor didn’t and what the commander would do, but I feared for nothing. You should have seen the faces of the other wardens though! It was like they were staring down at an Archdemon, they were so terrified. I’ve always loved watching Sira yell at people who weren’t me. It’s always very entertaining. I’m glad she’s the person she is, though, I believe she will put us all back on the right track and return the good name of us wardens back to Thedas. I trust her in this implicitly. Also, Skyhold is a palace! How did anyone ever lose a fortress as this? It’s incredible and what confuses me the most is how warm it is, not that I’m complaining of course.
Anyways, for now Sira has apparently agreed to assist the Inquisitor until the Corypheus threat is finished again. I don’t think I’ve talked to her about my experience with him yet, and I should probably do that sooner rather than later. I have a feeling I won’t be seeing too much of her if she decided to travel with the Inquisitor rather than stay here at Skyhold (she’s always been a hands-on person). But fret not sister, I’m staying within the walls unless there’s pressing matters Sira tells me otherwise. She’s put me, and the others we were traveling with, in charge of handling the wardens and their training in her absence, and according to Nathaniel I’ve got my work cut out for me. Apparently Sira’s training regimen is infamously difficult and now that she’s angry with all of them it’s only going to be worse.
Please keep in contact with me. I worry about you, especially now that you’re caught up in all of this, also we need to know what’s happening in Weisshaupt and if they know about what’s happening here. I will always be reachable here until I tell you otherwise.
I hope this letter gets to you. Sorry I couldn’t keep in better contact with you but we’ve been busy like I said I was going to be when I accepted Sira’s offer to join her.
I don’t know if you and the nugget are still angry I asked the Commander if it was okay to relocate you guys here so that I know you’re both as safe as you can get. There’s a whole village here that you could stay at, and since I’ve been ordered to stay here until all this sodding demon garbage is dealt with so you can yell at me when you get here if ya want.
I asked the ambassador of the Inquisition and she has agreed to the request. I wholeheartedly urge you to come. Not only will it be safer, but like Oghren has said, I’ve told him to stay here to oversee the wardens under my command. I don’t know if you and your son have remain unscathed from the mage/Templar war, and I pray that this letter does reach you. (Also Oghren proposed this idea. He is awfully sorry about not staying in contact and the blame is mine, not his. If you’re to be angry at someone please let it be I and not he. He’s truly worried for the both of you.)
I’ve arranged for a job for you if you so choose to take us up on this offer, schooling for Temdrin to attend, and a small cottage for the both of you to live in. I’ve also attached, a map, and a letter signed by Lady Josephine Montiliyet as verification for yourself when you arrive. The extra coin is to assist your travels whether you choose to join a caravan or travel yourselves to make it easier for you both.
I pray that you are safe, sister, and that you and your family is left unscathed from the war and the demons. What a time we’re living in! I am all right, and currently at Skyhold with Sira overseeing the Grey Wardens. She told me to send her regards and well wishes and if there that if you have been affected by either of those things, to let us know, and she’ll see what she can, and I quote, “Persuade the Inquisition, the King, or her brother, to do.” Needless to say, it’s very easy to forget that Sira has as much influence as she does until she says things like that and actually mean it.
Sadly, though, this does not mean we’re done with our mission; just that it has been postponed. Things have gotten quite… complicated. I can’t tell you much but know that this is serious and that you need to keep your ears open and stay alert and prepared. I know you’ve many questions and I’ll answer what I can. For now I just wish to know if you’re safe.
"Yikes better contact the fam" - everyone apparently
Chapter 8: Who He Speaks Of
In which authority is asserted and memories are refreshed.
The days just blended together. If he wasn’t constantly reminded what the dates were, he was sure he wouldn’t ever remember. It had gotten easier, but no less painful. Some days, like today, he would be full of contemplative melancholy, and some days he was just angry. Angry at the situation he was in, angry at the situation she was in, angry at the Maker and His bride, angry at her.
And then he’d feel an awful mix of misery, loneliness, anxiousness, and guilt. She’d explained to him why leaving was the decision she’d made. Many times. And they argued over it. Many times. But she was too stubborn. Too prideful. Too dutiful.
Maker did he love her for it though. And though it frustrated him to all ends when it was turned against him, he still could not fault her. It was an impossible mission she wished to embark on. Mad.
She was maddening. But he understood. He had to. It scared him as well. It was too soon. He knew forever wouldn’t have been long but this was still too soon. And if anyone could find it, it would be her.
His beautiful, unrelenting, stubborn, prideful, dutiful wife.
Alistair suddenly returned back to reality and noticed everyone staring at him expectantly. Again. He did it again. He held back a sigh and was about to start an apology to Bann… something about damages to his bannorn caused by the mages and Templars until Eamon burst into the room, a serious expression on his aging face.
“I apologize for the interruption, but something urgent needs your attention My King.” He said walking up to him, parchment in hand. He gently placed them in Alistair’s while leaning in to quietly mutter. “From your wife.”
Alistair stared at him, unbelieving, until it all rushed into his brain that Eamon would never joke about this and grabbed the parchment, standing immediately. The rest of the room rushed to stand with him, but he could barely be bothered saying an apology before rushing out of the room to head immediately to his study.
How long had it been? Too long. Far too long. Worryingly long. Long enough for Eamon’s words to have been heard about how long it’s been and to start considering-
No. If this was true, if this was from her and if she was still alive, then it was words that meant nothing. For now. He was in love, but not naïve. But it was a worry that he preferred to spend no time contemplating. Especially now. Now that he had his hands on what could be confirmation of her success, her return.
Please let that be what was written in his hands.
Alistair practically threw himself in his plush chair and ran a hand over his face, taking in a deep steadying breath. Not that it helped much, he noted, because his hands were apparently shaking.
He opened it, the wax seal already broken. Of course it was. Not important. He opened it and noticed another parchment folded with it, the seal unbroken. Good. That was good. At least he could have words that were meant for only him.
He took another deep breath and began to read.
She hadn’t found the cure. Yet. She wasn’t coming home. Yet.
But she was alive.
At Skyhold. With the Inquisition. At the edge of Ferelden.
That was close enough to have a trip to right? It wasn’t as if he would be leaving the country.
He looked at Eamon who looked expectant. “Yes. Right. I trust you have already reviewed the documents she was referring to?”
“I haven’t yet, no. I read just that first letter and knew that you would want to be notified immediately.” Eamon said cautiously.
Alistair sighed. Eamon was skirting around something, and that only happened when he was going to bring up something he knew Alistair wasn’t going to like and when it was specifically about his wife. “What is it Eamon.” He stated more than asked.
He cleared his throat and looked as if trying to find a way to word a difficult concept to a child. Alistair hated when he did that, especially since it wasn’t as if he was unreasonable. Sure he may have deserved it sometimes when he had just started wearing the crown but it had been years. He had grown and matured since he decided that this was a responsibility he wanted to take. He worked hard to understand and learned things the moment he had convinced Sira all those years ago that being King was something he could and would do.
“What about the matter of allowing her to negotiate an alliance on behalf of Ferelden?”
“Granted. Of course.”
Eamon raised his brows in surprise. “Are you sure Alistair?”
Alistair clenched a fist. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“She left. Alistair. She’s been gone, and has no idea what’s happening in our country. She doesn’t know the struggles we have been facing, the ties we have already been pulling, and the politics we have been balancing. How could we leave something as important as an alliance to a growing army that is loyal to no country, allegedly, to a woman who abandoned her own country for a foolish mission?” Eamon said in one long wind, looking more defiant the longer he went.
It took all of the training Alistair had learned in the years of ruling to be able to not see pure red by the end of it.
Eamon and Sira had always had a hard time seeing eye-to-eye since the beginning. He always knew that in the end they both were always concerned in the greater good but there was always an underlying animosity between them. It started when Sira was called to be Warden-Commander, but they became amicable when he was no longer there to be a buffer when he left to find his father. However as time passed and they had yet to conceive Eamon had become increasingly pushy to start considering the ramifications of not producing an heir. After that, whatever cordiality they had begun to erode.
But because of his loyalty towards Eamon, Alistair had always mostly tolerated it. Eamon never truly said anything unreasonable, and Sira understood that and was always quick to remind him that what was happening between her and Eamon was strictly between the two of them. They always tried to keep Alistair out of the crossfire, and he always tried his best to remain neutral in return.
But this? He wouldn’t let this pass.
“You forget who you are speaking about, Eamon.” Alistair said with a calmness that surprised him.
“I know exactly who im-”
“No.” Alistair interrupted loudly. He sat up straight in his chair and raised his head the way Sira had taught him when he needed to assert his authority. “You forget. Eamon.” He bit out.
Eamon’s demeanor changed but instead of being cowed he remained defiant.
“You forget who she is and what she’s done for this country. I don’t care for the little feud between the both of you, but clearly it has fogged up your memory and opinion of her in your old age. So here, let me remind you about the woman you have forgotten about.” Alistair said while rising.
“I am speaking.”
Eamon clenched his jaw shut.
“You speak of a woman, who immediately after witnessing first hand a personal and deep tragedy that any lesser person would have rightly fallen to a near crippling grief to, fought in a battle she would have never originally had a part of and nearly died to. A woman who after surviving a battle she was betrayed yet again to, took the reins of a near hopeless situation simply for the greater good of both this country and Thedas. A blight, a massacred family, a broken country, a mad man as regent who declared her a traitor, no allies, and enemies everywhere, and what did she do? She saved the damned world.
And while we’re speaking of this let me remind you of what you were doing. Which was? Oh yes. Nothing. Because you were in a magically induced coma while your people were being killed by reanimated corpses. And who saved them? Oh yes. Sira. What about the people in your castle who were under the will of your son who was possessed by a demon? Oh yes! Sira saved them. And yet still what about you who were still in that coma? Oh right! Sira yet again. She took it upon herself to go on a ‘foolish mission’ to find Andraste’s fucking sacred ashes just to revive you. And she did it. She woke you up, convinced you to help her end the civil war in the face of something greater, convinced the Bannorn to unite under her and support my claim to the throne, convinced the elves that the blight was everyone’s problem, ended the dwarven civil war, placed a king on their throne, and then convinced them to fight against the blight with her.
In the span of a year.”
Eamon had the sense to look contrite. Good.
“And you talk about her like she’s abandoned her country?” He continued, walking towards Eamon. “The country she’s saved twice? Because the other time she ‘abandoned’ her station as Queen that’s what she was doing remember? Risking her life, again, on a ‘foolish mission’ to save our country, again, from darkspawn. A talking darkspawn. Now doesn’t that just sound familiar from the reports we have gotten from trusted sources in the Inquisition?”
Alistair now stood in front of him, staring him down. “And, also, for some reason, you also think that she’s inept at politics? A woman who was born a high noble, raised in politics, held the throne incredibly proficiently in my absence, and has never, not once, shown an incapability at it.”
They stared at each other in a tense silence, Alistair letting his monologue sink in.
After a moment with no response from him, Alistair turned to stand in front of the fire place, the crackling of the wood the only sound in the room. “Now setting my personal feelings and convictions aside let us think about this rationally, yes? Both Ferelden and Orlais has been torn asunder, and demons are falling from air. There is a talking darkspawn with sightings of an Archdemon. Now this is a problem that goes beyond our countries.”
Alistair folded his arms behind his back and Eamon finally moved to stand beside him.
“The Inquisitor is the only one who can close the tears in the veil, but what about the other greater problem? She has quite the team of advisors and allies working with her, but none of them know quite what to do about the darkspawn, let alone the Archdemon, and the only one there who has any kind of experience in even comprehending it is their Spymaster.”
“And Warden-Commander Sira Cousland is the only capable living being that could even possibly be of assistance to them.” Eamon finished.
Alistair looked at him, schooling the surprise from his face and inwardly gave a sigh of relief. “Yes.”
“And Her Majesty the Queen Sira Theirin is the best person to understand how this all works and how to help make an alliance to both the benefit of her country and the Inquisition.” He continued.
Alistair looked back to the fire. They both stood in silence for a moment.
“…It seems as though I did need to be reminded who I was speaking of.”
“Eamon, out of respect and loyalty to you I have always allowed you to speak your mind, and out of respect and loyalty to my wife I have always let whatever was between the both of you remain between just the two of you as she asked. You have always tried to steer me in the direction you believed was best and Sira had always begrudgingly respected that about you. But this- disrespecting my wife as you did, will not happen again.”
Alistair turned to look at Eamon again. “Have I made myself clear?”
Eamon looked at him for a moment before bowing his head. “Yes Your Majesty.”
“Is the messenger that delivered this still here?” He asked walking back to his desk.
“Yes. They were under orders to wait to deliver the response back to the Frostback.”
“Good. I want to send some people to help Sira get updated on the recent events happening in Ferelden that needs to be brought to her attention… and maybe her lady-in-waiting to ease some of the duties that she will no doubt need help with; especially since her main goal is decidedly not politics.”
If Eamon was surprised about this, he didn’t show it.
“That was all for now. You are dismissed.” Alistair said, opening a drawer to grab a sheet of parchment.
Eamon turned to leave but as he grabbed the handle of the door he paused. “You have grown to be a greater King than your brother was.” He said before leaving.
Alistair sat back in his chair and gave a long sigh, raking his hand through his hair. He sat there a moment and thumbed his wedding ring. With another sigh he looked at her letters again then reached for a quill.
our boy being a king :')
This was originally going to be shorter than it was but then i wanted to expand on him being a protective husband still in love but also showcase how much hes grown and matured as well. It really came to light when we saw in in dai how different his entire demeanor is when we meet him at redcliffe and I hope that came across here.
Also Eamon annoys me greatly.
Chapter 9: Letters Incoming I
Firstly I would like to start off with letting you know how relieved I am to simply know that you are alive. And that you are well if you are chastising me before anything else.
Secondly, I am no warden. Nor do I officially have any control over them, which was made explicitly clear to me when I was confronted by a large amount of them about leaving. And not just any wardens- your wardens. Wardens that were picked and approved and were trained by you. And like you, they were filled with such a sense of determination and righteousness, what could I have possibly done to have stopped them?
Things have been wildly hectic since then and only ever got worse over time and while I did send missives that you clearly never received, I have had my hands full with keeping up as much peace in the Arling and sanity in my mind.
I apologize, of course, but I was only ever supposed to be in charge of the Arling. Constable Quint was the one you left in charge of your wardens therefore I believe the one you should be directing your attention to about it is him. It has been hard, but thank the Maker that most of the war never truly reached here. We have plenty of refugee’s and I have tried petitioning to the King to ask for help but because our situation is not dire, I feel they have been putting us off in favor of places that have been affected most by both the war and demons? I am still unsure of how to feel about those stories.
I am getting far too old for this my friend.
You’re damned right that it’s you who I’m mad at, but I will take your offer. I’ve heard a lot about the Inquisition, and I don’t know how much of it is true, but there should be some merit in them in if you’re throwing your shoe in with the lot of them. It also sounds reasonably safer there. But most importantly that offer of a job immediately and also school for my son was music to my ears.
For what it’s worth, I do understand Oghren’s loyalty towards you and I respect it. I also never really expected much from Oghren as a father figure to begin with. But… he is trying harder than I would have ever given him credit for and the coin he sends our way when he can always help. The letters he sends to our kid always cheers him up and I know for fact that all this is because of your influence no matter how much you typically tell me otherwise.
Don't tell him any of this.
I’m taking up the offer. When I get there, you better not keep me waiting, you worthless copper-plated sword-caste.
Senior-Warden Nathaniel Howe,
I truly wish I were angry enough to pretend that I didn’t know who sent me this letter but I’m just so relieved to know that you’re alive! I’ve heard so many rumors about the wardens I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t even know which ones I could even believe. There’s such a wide set of unbelievable tales, but there were so many of them I knew there was a touch of truth in it somewhere. I’ve been a worried mess about you.
Nonetheless my family and I are fine. The Seneschal has been doing such a great job in Sira’s absence, though I know he’s been struggling to maintain order as there are so many refugees here now.
And yes it is easy to forget how powerful our old friend is. Sometimes when I do remember all I can do is laugh because I immediately also remember the mud pie incident when we visited Highever as kid’s all those years ago. I’d never seen Thomas so red with embarrassment! Father was so furious and Teyrn Bryce could barely contain his laughter. What a simpler time it was for us as children. But there is no need for Sira to exercise any of it on my behalf. I just want you to remain whole and alive and visit me and your nephew when you can.
With love, Delilah
Chapter 10: Recruits, Fake Blights, and Emotions
In which plans are made and feelings are talked about.
This one is dialogue heavy, but necessary for story advancement.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“They’re coming along nicely.”
Sira turned to see Nate step beside her, his arms crossed, and stared out into the field where the wardens were currently training.
“Mm. Ours came up to speed quickly enough but the Orlesian’s hover just above struggling to keep up.” She says looking back out to the field.
“A pity about all the mages that were lost.”
“Indeed. But our girl is doing incredible work training the ones that flooded in.” Sira said looking back to Nate.
His eyes were trained onto Bethany who was teaching the mages who, after hearing about Connor’s possibility of joining the Grey Wardens, wished to be recruited as well. There was quite the process of weeding out the ones who wouldn’t make the cut, but Bethany said there were many who showed potential, Connor being one of them.
This annoyed Sira at first, but the fact that they were missing many experienced wardens, and the fact that they had a severe deficit in acolytes relieved some of it.
Still, though, it wasn’t as if she put out a recruitment poster.
When she asked Connor about it, he just shrugged and said “They finally got a taste of being out in the world and enjoyed it. And like me, they believe that joining the Grey Wardens would be the best and most respectable way to keep doing it. Especially now that you’re back and everything.”
Not that being one was easy. Or a luxury. Or really a freedom. Which was something she had to reiterate with increasing near over-dramatic warnings to ward away the ones thinking it would be a free pass.
“You should probably get her something nice.” Sira said, nudging Nate’s arm with her shoulder.
“Me?” he asked looking at Sira incredulously.
“Yes, you. Obviously. Don’t think I haven’t notice the both of you making eyes at each other.”
Nate spluttered, cheeks reddening, and Sira laughed.
“We’re not- Maker preserve me. We’re not ‘making eyes’ at each other.”
“Oh come off it Howe.”
Nate scowled and glanced back towards Bethany who was correcting a mage’s stance. When he looked back to Sira, she was smirking. Nate rolled his eyes and looked back out towards the field making a point to avoid Bethany’s direction.
“She’s cute- beautiful really, smart, talented, kind, patient, snarky when she needs to be which is a lot, and most importantly makes eyes back at you.”
“…Has she said anything to you?” he asked after a moment.
“Not at all. But she doesn’t have to. I have great people skills.” Sira said with a faux-haughtiness.
After silently observing him for a moment longer, Sira turned to face him fully and gently placed an arm on his shoulder, the grin gone from her expression. “Seriously Nate. If it is truly something you wish to try, if you wish to pursue her, I urge you to do so. Maker knows I’m dragging the both of you down a sad and near hopeless road where we are in almost constant danger, but if the both of you can find happiness, even if it should be with each other, then I wholeheartedly give my blessings.”
Nate looked and observed her. “There isn’t an anti-fraternization rule I should be aware of?”
She laughed at that. “Not at all.” Then looked off in thought. “Well actually there might be, but I wouldn’t know. I never exactly had a superior to tell me otherwise, and I very well couldn’t enforce it seeing as how I fell madly in love with a fellow warden as well. It would make me a hypocrite and I do so hate hypocrites.”
“But even if you weren’t ogling each other, it would still be a very nice friendly gesture to make.”
“So why aren’t you going to something for her?”
“I am! For starters, I’m trying to convince a certain tall pale and broody individual to try to woo her after a hard days’ work.”
Nate rolled his eyes again, but he couldn’t hide the tells of a smile. Sira took that as a victory and decided to quit while she was ahead.
“I finally got word from Varel.” She said to change topics.
Nates brows rose. “Is he and Amaranthine alright?”
“It seems that way, though he is apparently having a rather tough time keeping things under control. The wardens were an imposing force and I’m assuming that lack of protection and reassurance is causing yet another layer of grievances for him.” She sighed.
“Why isn’t the King helping?”
“I’m thinking it is less Alistair not helping and more unavailability of funds and his attention having to be forced elsewhere with the freeholders that have been more seriously and negatively affected by the chaos of everything.” Sira says crossing her arms in thought. “I might try to bring this to my brother’s immediate attention, seeing as how Amaranthine is still technically under fealty to the teyrnir. If he doesn’t have his hands too full, he should be able to help.” She said then put fingers over her temples. “Honestly now that all the wardens are gone I feel horrible about leaving all of it to Varel. Even though he’s quite the capable Seneschal, he’s getting old and has no family. The arling needs and deserves a proper dedicated Arl; Maker knows what a terrible Arlessa I’ve been.”
“Quite the rant to have with a Howe.” Nate joked. Sira backhanded his chest with her free hand.
“I’m also concerned about the power vacuum this causes. Ferelden has been in turmoil due to outstanding circumstance, so it’s keeping the nobles busy but there will be a point where some banns or arls will try something to gain more power. Clearly the Grey Wardens will not be a reliable and constant presence; at least not in the same continuous way a new arl would be…” she trails off in thought.
“I’m sure there are many banns that would jump at the opportunity; even some that have already shown loyalty and competence to Fergus.”
“True enough.” Sira sighs. “It is small moments like these where I wish I was at home in Denerim so I could bring this up in court or in a Landsmeet and be done with it all that much quicker.”
“Still, a letter to your brother and husband should suffice for now. At least it will be brought up soon enough for them to contemplate about it, and then proceed with whatever they come up with when things calm back down again.”
“Are you sure Delilah has no interest in-”
Sira tilted her head back and groaned.
“Is this a bad time to interrupt?”
They both looked back to the voice and saw Kaira approaching them with an easy smile.
“Not at all Inquisitor.” Nate said with a polite bow of his head.
She responded in kind and then to Sira who smiled and nodded.
Kaira gestured out to the wardens. “Quite the amount of recruits you have here.”
“Not all of them are recruits.” Sira pointed out.
Kaira looked back out surprised. “They all look so miserable though!”
Both Sira and Nate chuckled, but it is Nate who replies. “The Commander here is quite the demon when it comes to training.”
“Grey Wardens are supposed to be a superior and elite group of soldiers.” Sira huffed defensively. “I’ve said this to your Commander Cullen, but your soldiers really shouldn’t have been able to have fought through the defenses of the wardens so easily, though in this case it was for the best. If they’re to be under my control again, then I expect nothing but the best of the best. And if I must be viewed as a demon taskmaster straight from the fade itself to get that, then so be it. They’ll be thankful for it later.”
“That’s fair, but what about the new recruits?” Kaira asked.
“A taste of what is to come. I don’t need people, especially the mages, to join simply because they’ll be out of the circle… or whatever it is they’re escaping from now. Being a Grey Warden is no simple matter. It’s hard, dangerous, and often unrewarding. If they don’t prove to me or my Senior-Wardens that they have what it takes then the earlier they get the boot the better.”
“Speaking of,” Nate said suddenly, “Did you get the stuff from Varel?”
“No. I wanted to verify he was alive and that Amaranthine was still standing first. I was actually thinking about sending you there to verify in person what the situation is and escorting the stuff back here.”
“And you were going to tell me this when?”
“Today, so you could go tomorrow or the day after. The sooner the better.”
“Well originally I had considered for you to be joined by maybe Bethany or Oghren, but Bethany has proven incredibly efficient at handling the mage recruits. Oghren has also been doing surprisingly well with handling the others, but I also want him to be here when Felsi and Temrin arrive.”
“She agreed then?”
“Yes, and Oghren was very excited. It was cute.”
“So you have no plans to go anywhere then?” Kaira asked.
“Not at the moment. Why? Has something come up?”
“Yes. There are a handful of darkspawn problems that I need to bring to your attention. And also… something else too. But I would like to call a council meeting to discuss plans that need to be made for the, uh, immediate future.” She explains almost timidly.
“Of course Inquisitor. What time would you like me to arrive?”
“At about five?”
“Then I will be there.” She smiles.
“Good, good. Um.” She begins nervously making Sira tilt her head curiously. “Also, I would like to ask if… it would be okay to consider you part of the team? I mean as a counselor. Or advisor. Advising the Inquisition. And me, by extension. Of course.”
Sira held back an amused smile. “It would be my honor, Inquisitor.”
“Okay! Good. Yes, very good.”
“Is something the matter, Kaira?” Sira asked. “There really shouldn’t be much of a reason for you to be so nervous around me still.”
“No! No. Just, um, still not used to talking. To you, I mean. And then asking you for things.” She stumbled out awkwardly.
Sira and Nate glanced at each other.
“I’m going to, uh, go now. Before my face becomes permanently red.” She squeaked out before quickly turning and walking away.
It took a moment before both Sira and Nathaniel finally laugh. “The Inquisitor sure is something.” said Nate, shaking his head.
Nate mumbled an agreement before looking at Sira. “I forgot to ask, but have you gotten any word from Alistair yet?”
Nate watched as the mirth drained from Sira’s face, and he felt a pang of regret for asking.
“No. Not yet at least. But that is to be expected. Even at the earliest I shouldn’t really expect to receive a message until at least three more days. ”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he came to give you the reply personally.” He tried to joke.
“He better not. Ferelden needs him the most right now. Leaving Denerim just to come here wouldn’t be… it wouldn’t be the wisest.”
“If you say so.”
“Oh don’t act like you don’t know this as well.”
Nate smirked and shrugged before deciding that it would be best to change topics. “So, Amaranthine?”
“Yes. Take three wardens with you. Think about it wisely because they’ll be reassigned to be under your command as Senior-Warden. I have a feeling I’m going to need send you out for special missions again and rather frequently.”
“Not that I particularly mind, but why not Quint?”
“Because he’s already my Constable and the other wardens are used to his leadership. I need him here to maintain order and continuity in my absence. Also, you are most efficient out in the field.” She explained then smirked. “Don’t worry your broody little head though, you’re still my favorite.”
Nate rolled his eyes. “Thanks.” he said dryly. “We’d better move along then.” He said before turning to walk back out to the field.
Sira watched him for a moment, then the wardens and sighed. “I better get to it.”
“Warden-Commander! May I have a moment of your time?” Fiona called out as Sira passed her.
Sira looked back, suddenly feeling a twinge of guilt. Though she had been here for just under a month, she was always so busy that she never had the time to approach what could be a key to the cure. Luckily for now though she did in fact have a moment to spare, seeing as how she was on her way to just have a chat with Leliana before the meeting with the Inquisitor.
“Of course, Grand Enchanter Fiona.” She replied courteously.
“Oh don’t worry so much about that title. I’m not much of a Grand Enchanter now that the Circle has been abolished.”
“Ah, yes. That whole… debacle.” Sira said looking off to the side in thought. She then shook her head slightly and looked back to Fiona with a polite smile. “I apologize for not talking to you sooner. I have been quite… busy.”
“Yes I can imagine.” She chuckled. “But that brings me to why I have asked for your time.”
“Actually, may I ask you something first?”
“Of course, Warden-Commander.”
“What in the Makers name were you thinking when you joined with a Tevinter Magister? And then assisted him when he kicked Arl Teagan out of his own home?” Sira asked, just barely concealing a sudden burst of agitation. Grey Warden she may be, but she was a born and bred Ferelden noblewoman and a particularly close friend to the Arl himself.
This topic had been floating in the back of her mind, and she decided now would be the time to finally put some answers and closure to it; there wasn’t anything she could do about it now anyways seeing as how it was already done and dealt with.
Fiona, for her part, looked surprised and then ashamed for a brief moment before she straightened her posture and looked directly into Sira’s eye unwaveringly. “I am not proud of my actions but we were afraid. We were scared and tired and desperate. I knew it was only a matter of time before the Templars came, and like I told the Inquisitor, I believe that was when the Tevinter mages snuck in and started whispering assurances and ideas of how it might be best we joined with them.”
“Did you not think for a moment that that course of action would lead to more dire consequences?” Sira challenged.
“More dire than death? Because that is what was waiting for us. Now do not get me wrong, I agree that the choice that was made, and the events it led to, was short sighted and foolish, but if had to go back I would make it again. After all it did lead us here, safely with the Inquisition, by the grace of the Inquisitor, did it not?”
The two stared at each other for a moment before Sira relented and sighed inwardly. What’s done is done.
“Very well.” She conceded. “There was something you wanted?”
Fiona’s shoulders visibly relaxed and nodded. “Yes. As I’m sure you’re aware, I used to be a Grey Warden myself. Therefore I have much knowledge about… how things work. I was wondering if you could tell me what you are planning on doing about what could be another blight.”
Sira studied her for a moment, contemplating her answer. She was unsure of what she should say both to a woman who was technically no longer one, and also very aware of the fact that she was out in a very public location. It also did not escape Sira’s attention that there was a mage very intent on making sure he was not looking like he was eavesdropping.
“The most I could tell you at the very moment is that I do not think this is a true blight. Yes there is a… strange surge of darkspawn, and yes I’ve been told an Archdemon was spotted. But… as someone who’s very first experience as a Grey Warden was during a Blight this…” she trailed off in thought before closing her eyes for a moment. She took a breath in, and compares the quiet hum of the calling to the mind tangling chaos that was the sound of the Archdemon and his minions. Sira opened her eyes again and looked at Fiona with a grim seriousness. “This does not feel remotely the same.”
Fiona nodded in understanding. “I see.”
Sira smiled reassuringly. “That does not mean I’m not taking this seriously. It’s just that I do not wish to cause more undue panic than is already here.”
“Oh trust me Commander, I understand. But that was all I wanted to know at this time. I’m sorry to have delayed you from your duties.” She politely apologized.
“Oh no need to apologize. I wasn’t being pulled from anything important. But… actually while I’m here, did you know that I was actually on the hunt for a cure?”
Fiona’s eyes widened slightly. “No I cannot say I did.”
“I see. Well, I was. You are a living example of that somehow it is possible, and I… I need to find out how. I need to find out what caused it and if it can be redone. Not just for myself but, for everyone. Now it’s to my understanding that even you don’t know how or why, and that before you left the Wardens research was done, but I would like to ask if, at a later time of course, you would like to sit with me so I could ask you some questions of my own.”
“I’m not sure how much I could help, but I would love to be of assistance.” She agreed.
Sira breathed a sigh of relief and smiled at her. “Thank you so much.”
“Of course, Commander.” She smiled back.
“I’ll make sure to contact you as soon as I find out I have time to spare.”
“I will see you then.” Fiona nodded before Sira turned away to walk up the staircase to meet with Leliana.
When she reached the top of the stairs, she saw Leliana leaning against the wall looking out the window with a carefully blank expression. Sira observed her for a moment before quietly and slowly approaching her.
“What’s wrong?” she asked lowly as soon as she was close enough.
Leliana looked at her almost bemused. “And what makes you think something is wrong?”
Sira stared at her flatly. The small smile that was on her face then vanished before she crossed her arms and looked out the window again. Sira decided to lean on the wall on the opposite side of the window and waited patiently.
“Being around you again has had me feeling… nostalgic.” She began, voice almost as soft as a whisper. “I have been thinking about that year when I joined you for the quest against the blight. And how much I’ve changed since then.” She continued before looking at Sira again.
“Which is… a lot.” Sira notes.
Leliana gave her a sad smile. “A lot has happened. But you have largely stayed the same, despite all the hardship and struggles you have had to experience this last decade.”
Sira watched Leliana carefully. “I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you are about to compare what you perceive as me not changing to your change, and remind you that the me you met in Lothering all those years ago was vastly different from the me even the night before the…” she stopped and clenched her fist. Talking about that night was never any easier. Whoever said time heals all pain was full of dung and lies; it just made it easier for other things to take precedence in your mind. “The night when everything changed.”
Leliana’s eyes widened a touch before looking down. “I will admit I hadn’t thought about that.”
Sira reached out to grab her hand. “Probably because you’re wallowing in whatever is stewing in that mind of yours. So I ask you again,” she gave a slight squeeze to her hand, “What is wrong?”
“Right before Corypheus attacked Haven, some of my agents went missing.” She started, moving closer to Sira, and held her hand with both of hers and looked at them, fingers entwined, instead of Sira. “I pulled them back to see if I could get more information. After the attack, I have spent some time thinking about how many people I could have saved had I not done that, and also how many agents I could have saved had I not done that one thing here or made a move there.”
Leliana looked up at her, a hardness in her eyes that caught Sira off-guard, and clutched her hand tighter. “Do not get me wrong, I make sure I have people who know that they are doing and that they know what the risks are. And I always make sure that when I send them off to missions, they are going for good reasons- as good as it could be anyways. Reasons that are important to us, to the Inquisition…” she trailed off, loosening her grip, eyes softening again. “…But sometimes I get wrapped up in a surge of melancholy thinking about all the good people we have lost, and will continue to, for the good of the Inquisition.” She finished in a whisper.
Sira moved her free hand to Leliana’s forearm and gave it a gentle squeeze in hopes of giving her a small comfort. “That is the worst part of being in a leadership position, and something no one can truly prepare you for.”
“I know it is something that I must learn to accept-”
“Incorrect.” Sira interrupted quickly, clutched her arm tighter and gave her a firm look. “The deaths of the people under your command must never be ‘accepted’. They are tragedies. Their deaths are unintended and are to be learned from so that you may try to prevent it- adapt and learn. Why? Because I know you and you are better than those who use their people as expendable pawns.”
Leliana stared at her silently before a sudden breathless huff of laughter escaped her mouth. Sira tilted her head as a silent question and Leliana shook her head, and hugged her tightly instead. The hug last for only a moment before she released her and took a step back.
“You’re right of course.”
“But this wasn’t the first time I was told that. You said it much more passionately, but still. It was the same message.” She said as she crossed her arms and looked off with a small smile on her face.
“It was… the Inquisitor. After we found Skyhold. ‘We are better than Corypheus’ she said.” Leliana sighed then looked back at Sira amused. “You know, I believe that she is destined for great things,” she said her amused smile turning into something more genuine “because she is remarkably similar to one of the greatest people I’ve ever met.”
Sira smiled back then shook her head and linked her arm with Leliana’s. “Come, I believe we have a place where our presence is wanted.”
Sira stood to Kaira’s left, looking down at the Ferelden map on the war table with her arms crossed. While the amount of markers on the map disgruntled her a bit, she was thankful that none of them were for reasons that were too serious. For all want of her presence there, there really wasn’t much she could do; her three advisors all worked together seamlessly.
After they finished their last bout of back-and-forth’s Cullen brings attention to a marker placed near the Storm Coast. “We are reports of darkspawn activity here.” He said, catching Sira’s attention. “As you well know, even though the area is sparsely populated, travelers are under serious threat as well as our own soldiers.”
“And if they branch away from there, villages further inland may be at risk.” Kaira finished.
Everyone looked to Sira. “I already have a team of wardens preparing to head east in Ferelden to Amaranthine. I could tell them to detour to the Storm Coast to handle it.” She said.
“Perfect.” Kaira said, pleased.
“Do your reports tell you where they’re escaping from specifically?”
“No.” Cullen replied.
Sira sighed. “Very well then.”
“Lady Theirin,” Josephine started, “The Inquisitor and I have a small favor to ask of you that would require you being both Warden-Commander and a monarch of Ferelden.”
“We have received a message from Orzammar from King Bhelen officially declaring his support for the Inquisition and I would like to send a delegation as soon as possible to cement the alliance.”
“His support does not come at a surprise, I suppose. He’s been dragging the dwarves from their traditionalist ways kicking and screaming since I crowned him.” She smiled.
“Yes, the benefits we have gained from this have been quite substantial.” She agreed. “But I would like to ask if you could provide a letter your intentions to also aid our cause, to help provide reassurance to both King Bhelen and the dwarves of Orzammar that this would be a wise decision to make the forging of the alliance as smooth and painless as possible.”
“If you believe it will help, then of course.”
“Also one more thing while I have your attention?”
Sira gestured for her to continue.
“Now that we have the Grey Wardens back and they’re under competent control, I feel I must bring up the fact, again, that we face a darkspawn magister who command something that looks suspiciously like an Archdemon. This, coupled with the influx of darkspawn sightings outside of the deep roads, leads me to believe that we are dealing with yet another Blight.” She said with determination. Both Sira and Leliana glance at each other. “We have Blackwall’s treaties, and we-”
“You what?” Sira interrupted, shocked.
Josephine looked at her confused. “We have the Grey Warden’s treaties.”
“That’s not important.” Kaira cut in, sensing sudden tension, bringing Sira’s attention to the Inquisitor. “What is important is that we have them and that we agree that conscripting more wardens would be for the best.”
Sira stared at her for a moment almost too long before sighing. She placed a hand at her forehead, rubbing it, before looking blankly at the map on the war table. “This is not… a blight.” She finally said, dropping her hand down to her side.
Sounds of confused surprise escaped from all but Leliana who remained silent. “With respect, Lady Sira, we saw an Archdemon attack us and our people at Haven.” Cullen urged.
“And to reiterate,” Kaira adds, “There have been more darkspawn sighting than there should be.”
“They’re not organized.” Leliana pointed out.
“What do you mean?” Kaira asked.
“During the Blight, they were far more organized in their attacks; presumably because they were receiving orders from the Archdemon. But these sightings and attacks are sporadic.” She explained.
They all looked to Sira again. “Leliana is correct. This… it baffles me. While, yes, it is understandable for you to assume this would be another blight, it’s just… not.”
“I’m confused. How is it not?” Kaira asked.
“The moment, the event, that solidifies the fact that there is a blight upon us is the Archdemon. It is the leader- the general. It is what commands the darkspawn to go from sporadic attacks to lethal and organized outbreaks. Grey Wardens have a… link to the darkspawn hive mind during this time. During the Fifth I could feel the commands of the Archdemon. This time, right now, there is no such thing occurring. But from what I have been told, this Corypheus is in control of the Archdemon, and if he controls the darkspawn it is not in the same way the Archdemon is not in control of them.”
They all stood there absorbing the information. “I’m not sure if this is better or worse.” Kaira said to cut the silence.
“Neither am I.” Sira agreed.
“So if this isn’t a blight, we cannot use the treaties to conscript?” Josephine asked.
“With the urgency you wish to apply? No. However, I’m not arguing against the need to conscript more wardens; we do need them. A lot were lost to their… indiscretions. And I happen to already have a small handful of potential recruits who have asked to sign on as well as mages.”
“Really?” Kaira asked in surprise.
Sira nodded. “However, the joining is not guaranteed and I lack… the proper supplies for it.”
“Well what can we get to help?” Josephine asked, her quill ready to write.
Sira shook her head. “Nothing that I could tell you. However, I did mention earlier that I had already planned to send out some wardens to Amaranthine?” at their nod she continued, “I have plans for them to get the materials to begin the process of conscription.”
“Oh. Well that’s good then.”
“Would you like assistance to help conscript more soldiers?” Cullen asked.
Sira smiled and shook her head. “For right now, it is fine. I’ll take you up on your offer should I need it, however. As I said, the Joining is not assured.”
He nodded and everyone looked to Kaira.
“Alright, next on the list is...” She trailed off looking to Leliana who smirked.
“Sira, my dutiful wonderful friend.” She began.
“Remember when you gave me permission to use your name and titles to the benefit of the Inquisition?”
“When I get permission from the crown, yes…”
“As if Alistair would deny you anything.” She laughed. “But… we have use for it- and you of course.”
“Empress Celine if holding peace talks with her cousin Grand Duke Gaspard under the guise of a Grand Ball where every noble in the Empire will attend. A ball of which the assassination of Celine is being planned. If this happens, Orlais with be thrown into chaos leaving it an easy target for Corypheus, and we cannot let this happen. ” she explained.
“…And what, exactly, does that have to do with me and my titles?” Sira asked warily.
Leliana and Josephine shared a look. “We are arranging an invitation to attend.” Josephine explained.
“We must find the assassin and stop them ourselves. We have already tried sending messages to her but she never got them. They were all intercepted.” Kaira added.
“Which brings us to you. We want you to attend as well.” Leliana said.
“Why in Thedas would you, or anyone want that? I have no hold in Orlesian politics or their game. I have no place there as neither a warden nor a queen!” Sira argued.
“Actually…” Josephine started, “As easy an assumption that could be, that is where you are wrong.” Sira’s face hardened with annoyance, and Josephine quickly continued. “You, Lady Theirin, are a remarkable woman who has a vast amount of influence. Far more than I think you believe you have. With you being the Queen of Ferelden, the outcome of the peace talks directly impacts your relationship with the Empire of Orlais.”
“Even if I did agree, which I have not, how would you even convince the Orlesian court that my attendance would be a good idea Lady Montilyet?”
“I already have.” She said confidently.
Sira’s annoyance turned into dismay.
“Empress Celine believes your attendance would be beneficial.” Leliana quickly cut in.
“To her, of course. The both of you have an amicable relationship, and she is genuinely trying and has been trying to keep the peace between your nations. Between your influence, social standing in Ferelden, and your position in the wardens for both Ferelden and now Orlais, your support would be substantial among the nobles.” Leliana explained.
She was about to argue before Kaira took the moment to add her piece. “Your presence would also be the distraction we need while we investigate the palace and hunt for the assassin.”
Sira looked at the women before her eyes landed on Cullen, who immediately raised his hands in surrender. “Don’t look at me, I’m also being forced to attend.”
She pursed her lips for looking at Leliana who smiled as if she had one final card she was about to play. “You could also use that time to personally ward off Gaspard from his notions of waging another war with Ferelden.”
Sira’s face darkened with that. She heard whispers of it, and with Leliana now outright confirming those rumors were true, she took pause. Regardless of what happened at the palace, Gaspard was a chevalier and had their support. If he truly had designs to conquer Ferelden land after they just gained their independence back, she wanted and needed to put him back in his place before lives were lost.
“Fine.” She finally relented.
Kaira and Jospehine both sighed in relief and Leliana looked incredibly pleased.
“Please do not worry about procuring a gown and accessories. I have preemptively spoken to Enchantress Vivienne, who is up-to-date with current Orlesian fashions, and she has agreed to help assist us with your preparations for it.
Sira looked at her warily. “Oh joy.”
“Moving on!” Kaira quickly said with a clap of her hands and then gestured to an area over the map of Orlais. “The final topic of today’s session is the reports of darkspawn in the Western Approach. They are attacking soldiers at Griffon Wing Outpost and disrupting the venatori research there. This is something that I must deal with personally and I was hoping I could ask you, Warden-Commander, to could come with us.”
Sira held back a sigh. “When would we depart?”
“Two days’ time. I’m waiting for a shipment that comes in tomorrow afternoon and want to leave the morning after that.”
“Very well then. If that is all?”
“Yes, that is it for today.”
Sira nodded and promptly exited the war room. Leliana quickly rushed after her and gently grabbed Sira’s arm. She looked back at her with a carefully blank expression.
“Sira we would not ask this if we didn’t think it were necessary.”
“You are upset.”
“I’m just… not looking forward to it.” She said, tugging her arm from Leliana’s grasp. Sira looked away, “I’ll be what you all want me to be when the time comes. Don’t worry about it.” She said before she started to walk away again.
She only made it a few steps before Leliana grabbed her wrist and started pulling her forward.
“Leliana what in Andraste’s-” she started in genuine agitation.
“Just come with me.”
Sira tried pulling against Leliana to make her stop but Leliana continued pulling, her grip tightening. Reluctantly giving in, Sira allowed herself to be led. Before they reached the main hall they turned right down a set of stairs and continued forward until they entered what looked to be an ancient library that was caked in dust and cobwebs. Leliana pushed Sira in before turning around and closing the door behind her.
“What. Is. Wrong.” Leliana almost bit out.
A flare of indignation swept through Sira. “I already told you that I am fine!”
“You’re not fine!”
“And how, pray tell, could you tell me what I am and am not feeling?”
“Because it is obvious! It has always been obvious! At first I believed it was because you were exhausted, and missing Alistair, or simply that you were just overwhelmed. And it could very much be all of those things but there’s more. I know there is.” She said before squinting her eyes slightly and moved closer toward her. “I’ve been watching you, and you keep face when you believe you are being watched but you slip sometimes. You look so sad and alone. I wanted to wait for you to come to me, and since that isn’t going to happen, here we are.”
Sira stared at her dumbfounded. Then looked away from her piercing stare. “…Now isn’t the time.”
“So when is?”
“I don’t know!”
“If it were up to you, that time would never come.”
“Would that be so wrong!?” Sira yelled. “I don’t have time for it! There are too many more important things happening all the time, constantly!”
“Then you must make time!” Leliana yelled back.
“Why!?” she continued to argue, tears of frustration forming in her eyes. “Why can’t you just let me be for the time being?”
“Because you would never let me.” Leliana said with a solemnity that caught Sira off-guard. Leliana grabbed onto Sira’s shoulder and brought her face inches away from hers. “You would never let your friends continue to torture themselves over something. The very evening you arrived, you let me cry. You have always made it a point to hear me out and I will be damned if I never did that for you.”
Sira squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head.
“Im scared.” She admitted, her voice just a whisper.
“Scared of what?” Leliana asked, voice just as soft.
“Everything. Not being enough. Not being able to handle this anymore. Of the Calling. Losing Alistair. That I will never be able to see him again.”
Unable to say anything she felt would be enough to comfort her, Leliana hugged her tightly. That seemed to have been what was needed because she immediately started sobbing into her neck.
“I’ve been away for so long Leli! I miss him so terribly and now I have been sidetracked because the world just couldn’t fucking have stayed saved. And here I am, a week’s travel away, being asked to show up to a rival country that wants nothing more than to devour us, as a queen I haven’t been. A queen I have no right to be!” she continued crying.
“Two damned years I have been away from his side and all I could do was send a letter! As if that would ever be enough. I shouldn’t have married him. I should have broken his heart so he could have the chance to fall in love with someone who could have stayed by his side; someone who wouldn’t run off to play as a hero.”
Leliana hugged her as tight as she could, tears falling from her own eyes as Sira continued sobbing into her neck. They stayed together like that until Sira’s legs gave out and Leliana gently lowered them to sit on the cold cobbled floor, still holding on to each other. They didn’t know how long they stayed like that until Sira’s tears eventually stopped and the only sound that could be heard was her stuttered gasping for air, trying to catch her breath.
“I should have just died with the Archdemon.” She finally said with no emotion left, as if she had cried them all out.
“But you didn’t.”
Sira huffed out a humorless laugh. “At a cost.”
Leliana made an inquisitive hum and Sira just numbly shook her head. “I don’t want to talk about it.” Just another insecurity. “I’m a farce.”
“And how could that possibly be so?”
“I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never known what I was doing. I just did what I had to do. ‘A Cousland always does their duty.’” She said finally moving from Leliana’s embrace until she was leaning her back against the bookshelf behind her. Her head rested against some books as she wiped her face with the back of her hands. I must look a mess.
“You look like a mess.”
Sira huffed out another laugh but this time it was laced with actual amusement. She opened her eyes and was surprised to see her friends’ eyes red. She raised her hand and gently cupped Leliana’s cheek, her thumb rubbing at the remnants of her tears.
“And what in Andraste’s name were you crying for?” she asked concerned.
Sira tilted her head, eyes searching hers, before she dropped her hand. Leliana grabbed it and moved to sit next to Sira, her back against the hard wooden shelf.
They both stayed quiet for a while before Leliana squeezed Sira’s hand. “I have said this before but you are the only person I trust left without question. You were the brightest light I could follow when I needed it at Lothering, and you are the brightest light I would do everything in my power to maintain now.” She confessed looking at her.
“Such dedication should be dedicated to your cause.” She said, avoiding her eyes.
“And who says you are not my cause?”
Sira finally looked at Leliana.
“You say you are a farce, but I do not see how that can be so. So you have doubts? So you get scared? Everyone does. You are a person with feelings, though you try so hard to pretend you’re not. What make you special, what makes you larger than life, is what you have done despite that- because of it even.”
Looking away again, she moved to hug her knees and rested her head on them.
“Honestly, how is it that you can chime out wisdom with grace and charm and confidence to others and not to yourself?” Leliana sighed moving her arm to wrap it around Sira’s waist and leaned her head against her shoulder.
“And if Alistair got word of anything you said about him he would be in a tizzy. He probably wouldn’t have heard a word of it.”
“How can you know for certain?” she mumbled into her knees.
“Because if I were the lucky soul in his place, it would be exactly how I would feel.” She said with a genuine honesty and wistfulness that gave Sira pause.
She slowly raised her head and looked at Leliana and met with eyes that showed her vulnerability at this confession.
“Oh don’t give me that look.” She said looking away. “That time has passed and Maker knows how devoted you are to him.”
“I’m so sorry-”
Leliana laughed and looked back to her. “Don’t be. I’m not. I have the honor of being one of your closest friends.” She said, nudging her with her shoulder.
“I have just confirmed something about you though.” She continued. Sira watched her questioningly and Leliana sighed. “You never noticed the amount of people that vied for your attention.”
“It can’t be that many people.” She said in denial. “I would have noticed.”
“Sira I’m sure everyone in your inner circle has been or is currently a little in love with you.”
She looked at her skeptically.
“Even Sten warmed up to you by the end. Oh, what was it he called you?” she asked looking away in thought.
They both sat there thinking but the word wouldn’t come to mind. Leliana shrugged. “Either way you are apparently blind to everyone’s affections because you only have eyes for Alistair. Just as he only has eyes for you.”
Sira sighed and rested her forehead against her knees again.
If she’s right, it’s only going to make the topic of getting a mistress more difficult.
The thought made her hug her knees tighter.
Leliana noticed the action and lightly pressed on Sira’s waist to reaffirm her presence. “So you’re on a personal mission? You saved Ferelden- if not the whole of Thedas. It is not as if you’re away frivolously. You are trying to find a near impossible solution to a serious problem that needs to be solved. And if that is not a good enough excuse for you; you are back. You are here. Willingly. Top help. To do the duty that is so important to you.”
Sira turned to peek at her. She was right. Sira knew it inside. She still felt guilty, but after that sob-fest the amount was significantly less so. Actually she felt a lot better. She was still a mess on the inside but it turned out talking about it did help. It figured. She should probably listen to her own damned advice.
“Thank you.” She finally said sitting up.
Leliana smiled and leaned in to kiss her forehead. “I will always be here for you.”
“And I, you.” She said moving to hold her tightly to her. While she could always rely on Nate, Bethany, and even Oghren, there was something – a connection – that she always had with Leliana that was just different.
Leliana hugged her back and held it for a moment before releasing her and standing up. She offered her hands, which Sira took, and pulled her up. “Now come. I think the next wisest thing to do is to put some food in you. Luckily we’re right next to the kitchen.”
Sira smiled. “Wise indeed.”
Sira does so hate hypocrites.
This was also significantly longer than originally intended but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Queen Sira Theirin of Ferelden,
It is quite fortunate that you have stumbled upon the misgiving happening currently in Thedas, and have so decided to join the group formed specifically to counteract it. The kingdom has already established a consensus that an alliance with the Inquisition would be most fortuitous both for our people and for our land and would wholeheartedly welcome their assistance. However, due to the chaos that has arisen during the tragic and confounding events that have occurred, our attention has been solely directed to helping regain stability and control to ensure the safety and well-being of our people.
Therefore we have determined that negotiations that are to be made in Ferelden’s benefit would be best suited to the person who has the means to dedicate the most time and cause to it, and that person is, of course, you.
You have full permission from myself, ruling monarch King Alistair Theirin, to proceed with forging an alliance we are greatly assured would become most beneficial to both sides.
Along with this letter of permission, we are sending someone we feel would be best able to assist you with your courtly duties whilst you also attend to your Grey Warden ones.
With confidence and gratitude,
King Alistair Theirin
Dear precious beautiful powerful and wonderful wife I am mildly upset with,
Thank the Maker you are alive. The extended period of time that I have not heard from you nearly threatened to break me. While I would never abandon the duty you have entrusted me with, I am completely miserable about it. So yes while I am eternally relieved you are still alive and well, I am incredibly upset that the Inquisition can be with you and enjoy being around your you-ness while I, your dedicated handsome husband whom you claim to love so much, cannot. It is tragic and wildly unfair.
It goes without saying that I miss you beyond what words could possibly say, and each day you are away does not pain my heart any less. I admit, knowing exactly where you are now is making me… antsy. I know if I said I would temporarily drop everything just to “have an official visit to Skyhold to determine what kind of growing army it is that is currently sitting atop our border and maybe help solidify an alliance”, I know you would just be upset because of how busy it is right now and how much Ferelden needs my leadership. Don’t worry. I’ve already gotten the speech from Eamon about it. I will freely admit, however, that I would much prefer to be chastised by you instead.
It is also very reassuring that you are there helping out. I am sure the Inquisitor is competent and all, but knowing that you’re there makes me more confident that things will turn out for the best and that the things that need to be dead will become very dead very soon.
I also want to let it be known that the main reason why I asked for the Inquisitions help for the venatori problem, was explicitly because Leliana is their spymaster. She may like me well enough, but I knew she would never let anything happen to me specifically because of her loyalty to you. They also had the expertise about venatori that we do not. I felt asking for help was the most prudent decision to make and also to help reassure the people that we can trust this new growing army. I am not disagreeing that we should have been able to handle it our own, and I know this is something that is probably worrying you greatly, but it all turned out perfectly fine. Some of Leliana’s spies have been teaching our own what to look out for now and it has turned out for the best overall.
Trust in me, my love. I’ve not sat through lessons and lectures since my place on the throne was decided for nothing. I know you’re just prone to worrying and overthinking, but I will not let you, myself, or my country down. I promise you this with everything that I have.
Also I selfishly hope that the Inquisitions resources helps you find a cure that much faster. I can, but I desperately do not want to be here without you any longer.
Is Connor truly with you? We have not heard any word about or from him since the rebellion started and I know this has been bothering not only me, but also Eamon and Teagan greatly. Though… I’m not so keen on telling them about him wanting to be a warden. That is ultimately his (and yours too technically) choice, and I can relate greatly to why he would want to. Also, with you in charge it would truly be a great opportunity for him should he survive the joining. I know he has been rather depressed for understandable reasons and I know and relate to why he would find purpose with the Grey Wardens. I did too after all. I was miserable too and having Duncan and something noble worth fighting for was everything to me. This could very well be the same for him situation for him, and I already know you both have a fondness for each other. I just pray he will be able to survive it. If this is indeed the path the both of you are deciding to make, I will restrain saying anything about him to his parents. There is no need to tell them that he is in fact alive just to lose him again. Should he wish to write them after, then that will be up to him. And if he does, and Eamon or anyone decides to throw a fit about it and should they direct their ire to you, I will deal with it.
Sira I could honestly go on about how much I miss you and all the countless reasons why but there is not enough time or parchment in the world. I am also not the greatest wordsmith as you well know, but I just need you to know that there is never a day that I don’t wish you were here safe and by my side.
I love you.
I love you. I’m in love with you. I will always be in love with you. So please finish this quickly and return so we can both be where we belong; right next to each other.
P.S. I told Tristan that you were safe and alive and he just barked as if he already knew this. It must be that famous mabari connection he has with you. He’s still rather glum though, but we have gotten along much better in your absence. Probably out of necessity. I’m certain he wishes to be reunited with you as much as I do.
I want to come to Skyhold, but don’t tell Sira. If we can bring this into fruition I want it to be a surprise. Because if she was told she would yell at me. So tell me what I have to do and when we can do this.
Adventurous and Trouble-Finding Sister of mine,
It is no surprise to me that you would find yourself in the thick of trouble once again. I had always thought this was a bad habit you would grow out of, but to my dismay the trouble you keep finding yourself keeps escalating. Was a blight truly not enough? I am, of course, relieved (an understatement) to know that you are safe and was (at least temporarily) away from all the horrors I have heard happened.
As for demons and tears in the sky, Highever has remained mostly untouched by them. I have been doing my best trying to keep a head on all of the horrors that occurred elsewhere. I would update you in a more specific manner, but you are busy with other things and I need not have you worried over things that both I and your husband can handle. I already know that if you knew too much, you would try to fix everything and anything and we apparently need you focused on what you already have at hand Pup.
You can also tell Elissa whatever you wish yourself. Which means if you don’t want her thinking you’re neglecting her, you better come and visit sooner rather than later. If blackmailing you is the only way to get you to visit then so be it.
I know it is hard, but it is still your home.
Stay safe sister,
tfw people are reminding you that they are in charge for a reason and are then politely telling u to stay in ur lane