So many events have passed so quickly that I hope you will forgive me if they get a bit disordered in the telling. I am sitting outside the hut of Flemeth, the Witch of the Wilds as I write this (yes, Fergus, THAT Witch of the Wilds!) and must admit that some of the steps leading me here are quite out of my reach.
Alistair and we three recruits were indeed sent out into the Korcari Wilds. We were to obtain three vials of darkspawn blood, which was easily done, as I am sure you would know. The creatures are thick as fleas everywhere in the Wilds. We were also required to recover some treaties from an abandoned Grey Warden outpost. When we arrived there we found the broken chest that was supposed to have contained the documents, and a woman named Morrigan. She is an apostate - a mage outside the Circle of Magi - according to Alistair. She took us to meet her mother, Flemeth, who she said had taken the treaties from the chest. She and her mother are both notably lacking in social graces, such not being in much demand in the Wilds, I suppose. In any event, Flemeth had the treaties and gave them to Alistair, who stowed them in his pack. Morrigan then escorted us back out of the Wilds.
We returned to Duncan with our vials and the documents, and were told that the Joining would begin right away. The ritual is secret, and now I understand why. Suffice it to say that I would not willingly undergo it again. The other two candidates were .... found unsuitable. I am the only one of the three to become a full-fledged Grey Warden. I have been changed by it in some deep way that defies explanation.
Duncan took me with him to meet King Cailan and Teyrn Loghain, at the king's request, for a final strategy session before the battle that night. Cailan was a very handsome fellow, very outgoing and enthusiastic, and utterly confident that the darkspawn would be defeated again, as they had been for the past several nights. He was so sure, so vibrant, that it made me feel hopeful that a Blight had not come, and that this whole affair would be over soon. I told him of Howe's treachery, and he promised that, once the Blight was dealt with, he would turn his armies north and return Highever to our family.
Teyrn Loghain was far more serious, almost bleak by comparison. He is much older than Cailan, and has little respect and less use for the Grey Wardens. The battle plan he developed seemed sound to me, but then strategy has always been his greatest strength. Cailan requested that Alistair and I be the ones assigned to light a beacon on the Tower of Ishal to signal Loghain's forces to sweep up on the flank of the darkspawn army. It was a small but critical task, he said, that he felt would be best handled by Grey Wardens. When Alistair found out that he was not to take part in the coming battle, he was rather upset. Personally, I was just as glad to be behind the lines. The attack on Highever is only four days behind me, and I had spent the day hunting darkspawn and documents, followed by the Joining. The prospect of a night of battle after all that was rather daunting, so lighting a beacon sounded like a great way to participate in the battle to me.
But things are never that easy. Somehow, the darkspawn came up inside the Tower and overran it, killing all the troops stationed inside. We had to fight our way to the top. You should have seen Fidelius! He was a fierce warrior in his own right. I was very proud of him. We made it to the top of Tower and lit the signal beacon, and watched in shock as Loghain withdrew from the field. Then we were swarmed under by darkspawn. I remember taking an arrow in my right shoulder, and then a blow to the head knocked me out.
My next clear memory is waking up back in Flemeth's hut. Morrigan was there, tending my wounds, which were mostly healed. I was a little confused and woke with a headache, but other than that I felt quite well, all things considered. Then Morrigan told me what happened. Loghain's troops quit the field and left Cailan, Duncan and the army to be slaughtered by the darkspawn. Alistair, Fidelius and I were rescued by Flemeth. I do not know how she did this, and I don't think I want to know. She used her magic to heal us all.
Alistair has taken Duncan's death very hard, alternating between anger and despair, and seemed most relieved to see me when I came out of the hut. Alistair was born fatherless, and his mother died birthing him, so he had no family before Duncan recruited him. Duncan was like a father to him. I really didn't have time to get to know him well, but Duncan struck me as dedicated to the GreyWardens, and a kind man when opportunity permitted. Rather like Father, in many ways. I shall miss his quiet confidence and strength.
It seems that Alistair and I are the only remaining Grey Wardens in Ferelden. It falls to us to try to rally forces to battle the Blight. Two new Grey Wardens against an entire Blight - doesn't sound like a fair fight, does it? We have the treaties that were stowed in Alistair's pack. These compel the Mages of the Circle, the Dalish elves, and the dwarves of Orzammar to provide troops and support to the Grey Wardens in the event of a Blight. Alistair also feels strongly that Arl Eamon of Redcliffe will help us. His troops were not at Ostagar, and so are intact. I remember Father saying that Eamon was a wise and honorable man. Perhaps we should seek him out and hear what advice he has to offer. Alistair is still coming to grips with his grief, so I will make the decision on our immediate course of action. Maker guide me in the path of His choosing!