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No Salvation

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The walls of the Orzammar royal dungeon loom more sternly than usual today, their stones rougher, the heavy ceiling pressing in. Or so it seems to Pyral Harrowmont as he walks down the corridor, flanked by half a dozen guards, keeping his distance from the cells, from the prisoners who call his name and try to catch his eye. He is here for one purpose alone, and he wishes to complete that errand and then be gone from this place as soon as possible. Quickening his steps, he turns a corner; a door slams behind him, muffling the cries for mercy, and for a moment, he can breathe again.

He sees Gorim first. The young warrior has been allowed one last visit before his banishment begins, and he turns, bows, then steps aside to reveal the one for whom Harrowmont has come: Sereda Aeducan. No-- Pyral corrects himself, she was Princess Sereda Aeducan, once. Now, she is only Sereda, a nameless, casteless exile who will be dead soon, and his heart aches at the thought.

Sereda stands in the center of her cell, still glowing with beauty despite her dingy clothes and the bruises on her face, incurred when she fought arrest, shouting her innocence and cursing her brothers, and the knife in Pyral's heart twists a little more. She lifts her chin, defiant to the end. "Why are you here? You could share in my fate if you're caught talking to me, you know."

Pyral crosses his arms and lowers his gaze. "Now, for once and for all. Did you kill Prince Trian?"

She shakes her head, fiercely. "I tell you, I'm innocent. Bhelan set me up. By the stone, Lord Harrowmont, don't you know me well enough by now to believe that I would never do such thing? Both you and--" Her voice chokes before she can say his name, but they are both thinking it as she looks away, a blush of grief and rage staining her cheeks.

I could stop this. The thought rings clear in his mind, as he imagines setting her free, taking her home, making her his wife. As her husband, he could shield her, keep her safe until Endrin's mind clears, until he is no longer blinded by his grief for Trian. Pyral pictures her in his estate, in his arms, in his bed -- images he has pictured before, in the depths of the loneliest nights following his first wife's death. Sereda is so beautiful, so full of life, and he aches to reach out to her, to take her hand and give her a future. He would have offered marriage years ago, had she not been too young, a princess, his dearest friend's beloved daughter. But now...

Now, it is too late.

The only help he can give will be miles away from enough, but he gives it regardless, accepting her claims of innocence and presenting her with a fine sword, better than any Deep Roads exile has the right to expect. Perhaps, with its aid, she will find the Legion, or the Grey Wardens, and live to fight another day; more likely she will die, but either fate will take her from him forever. He speaks the words while barely hearing them, whatever reply she might have made failing to register as he turns and hurries away, out of this oppressive place, back to his King and his duties, resolving with each step to put her a little further out of his mind.