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Missives To A Missing Brother

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Dear Fergus,

I am writing this in the firm belief that the Maker has kept you safe and whole. It would simply be too much if you were gone too.

There is no good way to give you this news, so I will just say it plainly. Mother, Father, Oriana and Oren are dead, murdered by that rat-bastard Howe the night you left with our troops for Ostagar. After everyone was abed and asleep, his troops infiltrated the keep and murdered everyone they encountered, including most of our men-at-arms and household staff. I am so sorry to be the one to tell you this.

I woke in the night to the sound of Fidelius growling fearsomely. Thank the Maker for the mabari's warning! I would not be alive to tell you this, but for his sharp senses. I took my dagger with me to check outside my chamber door and was immediately attacked by an armsman in Howe livery. I slashed his sword arm and stabbed him in the neck, sending him to the floor, but still I would have died if not for Mother's skilled archery. A second attacker in the common room fell to her arrows. She helped me armor up and we went to find out what was happening.

Our first stop was your suite, where we found Oriana and Oren. Their throats had been cut. I can only pray that they died quickly. Lady Landra and her son Dairren were also dead in their chambers, though it looked like Dairren at least had a chance to put up some resistance. We thought to find Father in the Hall, and made for it as best we could, gathering our surviving armsmen as we went. There were very few of them, Fergus, showing how successful Howe's treachery had been. Ser Gilmore was in the Hall, attempting to hold off more of Howe's men by denying them access through the Hall doors. He said that Father had been wounded and left the Hall, thinking to meet us by the servant's exit in the pantry. Ser Gilmore stayed to delay the enemy for as long as possible to give us a chance to escape.

We fought our way past the invaders in the passageway to the kitchen, and found Father in the pantry. He had been run through and was dying of his wound, Fergus. He urged Mother and me to leave him behind and make good our escape. Mother refused. The visiting Grey Warden, Duncan, came into the pantry, saying that Howe's men were on their way. He offered to see Mother and me to safety in return for my agreement to join the Grey Wardens. Again, Mother refused to leave Father's side. Both of them ordered me to go with Duncan, to become a Grey Warden, and to get word to you and the King about Howe's treachery. I didn't want to leave them, Fergus. I should have stayed and died defending them. They both sent their love to you as I was leaving. My last sight of them was Mother standing over Father, arrow nocked and pointing at the pantry door.

Duncan led me away from the keep, and once we got far enough away to rest for a space of time, I am ashamed to say that I fell apart. I have sparred and worked the pells, but that was the first time I had ever used a blade in earnest. I don't know how many men I slew, and all the blood and death caught up to me in that moment. I wept and puked and shook like a leaf in a gale. Duncan was very patient with me, only urging me to be as quiet as I could about the whole business. Is it like that for everyone after killing? I no longer envy you the combat you face, big brother. No matter how I scrub my face and hands and armor, I still see the blood on them.

We finally arrived at Ostagar today, only to miss you by a matter of hours. We arrived midmorning to find you and your scouting party left at dawn. They tell me that you won't be back for several days and that there will be a battle with the darkspawn before then. Duncan left me to explore the encampment and find the other two recruits who had come on ahead, along with another Grey Warden named Alistair. To my total surprise, Fidelius went with him willingly while he saw to other matters, and left me free to seek the others. There is to be some sort of Joining ritual (you can hear the capital letter when the ritual is mentioned) before nightfall. One of the other recruits believes it involves going into the Korcari Wilds. I guess we will all know soon enough.

I have seen some interesting sights here at Ostagar. I met a mage, a Tranquil and an Ash Warrior. You may think these to be nothing unusual, but I have never met their like before. The mage seemed serious but kind. The Tranquil was decidedly odd but seemed very content with his lot. The Ash Warrior knew more about mabari than anyone I've ever known - even more than old Rufus who ran the kennels Fidelius came from.

Maker grant this finds you whole and healthy, and keep you safe from harm. I will write again as opportunity permits.

Your sister,