Morrigan has been sent with us by her mother, to be our guide and a companion in arms for the duration. She has resigned herself to this with rather poor grace but admirable obedience to her mother's wishes. Alistair seems to think she is more a liability than a help, because she is apostate. He was training to be a Templar before being recruited into the Grey Wardens, and I think that colors his reaction to Morrigan very strongly. He is not happy about her joining our company. To be honest, I find Morrigan to be rather grating on the nerves at times as well, but she can certainly fight, and she knows her way around in the Wilds. She also has a poison tongue and a biting wit that do not suffer fools gladly, and she considers no one to be more a fool than Alistair. I swear the biggest challenge I face will not be gathering an army and defeating the Blight, but keeping the two of them from killing each other before this is all over and done.
We left Flemeth's hut this morning and went to a town called Lothering. Morrigan said that we could rest and resupply there. Wrong on both counts, I'm afraid. Lothering has refugees from the south, fleeing the darkspawn, on pretty much every inch of open ground. Black marketeers are driving food prices to unimaginable heights, and desperation is a palpable presence in the air. We cleaned out no less than four bandit groups preying on the refugees, and were attacked by some of Loghain's men when we entered the local tavern for news and supplies. It seems Loghain has put a price on our heads, accusing the Grey Wardens of killing King Cailan. A lay sister named Leliana aided us during the attack, and asked if she might join our group. Apparently, she had a vision from the Maker, telling her to go with us. I really felt funny about her request, but she was very capable in the little melee with Loghain's men, so I gave her leave to come with us for now. I will look more deeply into this "vision" when I get the chance, and can still send her away if she is too unstable.
A far more promising addition to our group is a Qunari warrior named Sten. He stands accused of butchering an entire family of farmers with his bare hands. He is a strange man, very quiet, but he is huge and immensely powerful. He has sworn himself into my custody until the Blight is defeated, and says he seeks atonement for his actions in this quest of ours. It's a strange thing, Fergus, but I believe him. He is truly sorry for killing the family, and his honor will make him keep his vow of service. He has combat experience and looks to be a supreme soldier. There is something sad about him that I can't identify, beyond his regret over the crime that saw him imprisoned at Lothering. Perhaps as I come to know him better, it will become clear.
It is hard to imagine a less likely group for raising an army and fighting a Blight, but there it is. Somehow I have been elected leader of this merry band of misfits. Wish me luck, big brother!
We had some disturbing news from Ser Bryant, head of the Lothering Templars. Arl Eamon is seriously ill. We had hoped to obtain his aid against Loghain and the Blight, but if he is as sick as they say, he is in no condition to help us. Alistair grew up in Redcliffe and is very worried about the news. He wants to go there and find out what has happened. I am inclined to agree with him.
Alistair seems to be coming around from his grief, but is quite content to leave the decision making up to me. Even Morrigan noted that, while he is the senior Warden, he defers to my judgement in matters of destination and companions. I am perhaps better trained in handling staff than he is. After all, I was taught how to run a keep. This is different in degree and mobility, but there are points of similarity. Maker willing, I won't make too many costly errors while I put my training into practice. Tomorrow we will set out for Redcliffe.
I miss you, brother mine. I trust the Maker to keep you safe, and to bring us together again in His own good time.