Maker's breath, where to begin? I am almost afraid I will awaken and find it was all a dream. I can still scarcely believe what happened even though I witnessed it myself. Oh, Fergus, my fondest wish has been granted, and I am ecstatic!
Arl Eamon went ahead to the Council Chamber at the palace in the morning to make sure all was in readiness for the Landsmeet. My people met to break our fasts together, and never had our gathering been quite so quiet. Morrigan was distinctly uncomfortable, being an apostate mage in the middle of a city full of Templars and Chantry priests ranting against magic. Oghren had discovered the ale barrels in Eamon's cellar and spent the previous night trying his best to empty them, so that by morning he was not feeling very well. I suspect Zevran had a busy night entertaining any number of the estate's elven staff. At any rate, he looked satisfied if exhausted. Wynne elected to stay abed late, making the most of the comforts of civilized living before the war against the Blight takes her back into the field. Sten was his usual taciturn self. Alistair and I were both sunk in our own thoughts and could not bear to look at each other, on my part for fear of losing what composure I had managed find.
As the noon hour approached those of us designated to attend the Landsmeet prepared ourselves to face the assembled nobility of Ferelden. I suspect our procession must have looked to observers as though Alistair and I were marching to our own executions. Wynne walked beside me and was, I think, attempting to raise my spirits by reminding me that I come of one of the noblest bloodlines in the land. She said I should hold my head up proudly and face the Landsmeet without fear. Her words stayed in my mind, and were at least partly responsible for some of what followed.
When we entered the Council Chamber, Eamon and Loghain were already fencing with words. Loghain took our entrance as an excuse to accuse the Grey Wardens of selling out Ferelden to the Orlesian branch of the Order. I told him that Orlais was not the issue but the Blight most certainly was. A number of the nobles approved of my words, but that did not slow Loghain. He stated that Eamon and his supporters were dividing the country at a time when unity was most needed. I asked him if he believed that selling Ferelden citizens into slavery was contributing to national unity. I then challenged him to prove that poisoning Eamon was done to advance the cause of unity. Lady Alfstanna was able to provide witness to the truth of the accusation, having taken her brother, the Templar Irminric, out of Howe's dungeons and hearing the story from him first hand. The Revered Mother was not pleased to learn that Loghain had interfered with a Templar in the pursuit of his duties.
Then Loghain tried to accuse the Grey Wardens of kidnapping his daughter, Anora. I will give the lady this much - she knows how to make an entrance. It was as these words came from Loghain's mouth that she appeared and calmly told all assembled there that she could speak for herself, that she would not be alive but for the rescue the Grey Wardens had given her. She stated baldly that the man who stood before the Landsmeet was no longer the hero of River Dane and that her father had gone mad for power. She urged the nobles to stop his attempt to usurp the throne from their rightful queen. Someone, I am unsure who, called for the Landsmeet to vote.
Oh, Fergus, it did my heart good to hear the voices calling out in support of the Grey Wardens! One after another the Arls and Banns pledged their support to us, to Eamon and to Alistair. There was only one or two who stubbornly stayed behind Loghain. When the voting was done, I bade Loghain to accept the decision of the Landsmeet. He refused and challenged me or my champion to a duel. I was only too happy to accept. The terms of the duel were a fight to the yield, and I fought Loghain to a standstill. He is not a young man any more, and my speed and stamina were more than he could match.
I asked the Landsmeet to sentence Loghain for the crimes he had committed. The sentence of death was passed upon him, and I carried out the execution on the spot. Anora witnessed it, and while she seemed shaken, she was not as disturbed as I had thought she would be.
Eamon announced that, in keeping with the decision of the Landsmeet, Alistair was declared king. Alistair, who has never made any secret of not wanting the throne, blurted out an objection, saying that 'no such thing had been decided, had it?' Anora leapt upon his words, insisting that he had refused the throne and that she was queen once again. The whole Landsmeet threatened to degenerate into a shouting match, when Eamon turned to me and requested that I make the final determination between the two. I took a moment to speak privately with Anora. I asked her if she was still willing to take Alistair as her king, and she made it clear that if he was the price tag on the crown, she was willing to accept him. Then I spoke to Alistair. I asked him if he was prepared to take the throne. He looked uncomfortable but agreed that if Ferelden needed him on the throne he was willing to do it. Then I asked him if he wanted to marry Anora. The pain in his eyes gave me all the answer I needed.
That was when Wynne's words came back to me, Fergus. I realized that she was absolutely right. My pedigree was as good as or better than anyone in that chamber, and there could be no doubt that I would be a far better partner for Alistair than Anora could ever be. I might not have her years of experience, but I was trained to run an Arling. A kingdom was not that much bigger a stretch. I declared to the Landsmeet that Alistair would be king and that I would rule by his side as his queen. The whole chamber erupted in cheers. Alistair wore a look of total disbelief followed shortly by a crooked grin. He didn't want the throne, but it seems the side benefits made the job worthwhile after all!
As you can well imagine, Anora was not pleased by this turn of events. Eamon rounded on her, demanding that she renounce her claim to the throne and swear an oath of fealty to the new king. She flatly refused. Alistair ordered her arrested and held in Fort Drakon for safekeeping until we can decide what to do with her.
He then ordered the nobles to prepare for the battle against the Blight. Troops are massing at Redcliffe, as that is where our scouts have reported seeing the largest concentrations of darkspawn. There are some administrative details that we must take care of before we leave Denerim, but then we will be returning to Redcliffe as well. It is such a relief to know that civil war will no longer hamper our efforts to defeat the Blight! Ferelden is truly united once again, and Alistair and I are back together. All we have to do now is survive the coming battles and we can get on with the happily-ever-after part of our story. I half expect to see you in the marketplace crowds here, Fergus. It would not surprise me much because nothing seems impossible for us right now!