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Becoming - Chapter 11

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Literature Text

Title: Becoming
Author: Freckles04
Game: Dragon Age: Origins
Character: Alistair
Disclaimer: Originally posted on BSN and FF.net. The world of Dragon Age belongs to Bioware, and many thanks to them for encouraging community creations.

Chapter 11: Preparations

Alistair stood behind Duncan as the Commander seated himself before the King's desk. Every muscle in his body seemed to have seized and he held himself rigidly, not meeting his half-brother's gaze. Apparently as the junior member of the Ferelden Wardens, he was obligated to accompany Duncan to meetings as a messenger, if necessary. Lucky him.

"Duncan!" Cailan greeted the older man with a warm smile. "I'm glad to see you made it back in one piece. What news do you bring?"

"Dire news, I'm afraid, your Majesty," Duncan said with a slight nod. "A darkspawn horde gathers in the south, within the Kocari Wilds."

"You jest, surely." Cailan's smile grew and he leaned back in his chair.

"If only, your Majesty. We had two teams scouting at the edges of the Wilds, and there is no doubt that this is indeed a horde. A large one."

"Truly? Like in the tales?" Something glittered in Cailan's eyes, a strange fire. Glory-hunting idiot. Alistair's lips twisted as he kept the thought to himself.

"I suppose, your Majesty. There is a good possibility that this is the start of a Blight."

"Just like the old tales then!" Cailan exclaimed. "Glorious. You saw the archdemon?"

"Not...exactly, your Majesty," Duncan admitted. "But that means little. It could be biding its time, waiting until its forces on the surface are strong enough before it appears."

"That would be the prudent course of action, wouldn't it?" Cailan raised a brow. "What counsel do the Grey Wardens offer, Duncan? I would be glad to hear it."

"Ferelden's armies should be gathered, your Majesty. I would also recommend contacting any international allies that Ferelden might have." Duncan hesitated only briefly before continuing. "If we are to defeat this Blight before it can decimate Ferelden and extend into other nations, we will need help. I will call on our brothers in Orlais for assistance."

Some of the light in Cailan's gaze dimmed. "That will not go over well with Loghain, I'm afraid."

"But it is necessary, your Majesty." Duncan crossed his arms. "If this is a Blight--and I believe with every fiber of my being that it is--it is a threat to the entire world. I cannot emphasize this enough. We must put aside our differences and seek out assistance from whoever can provide it."

Cailan chuckled. "Oh, you don't need to convince me, Duncan! I've read enough history books to understand what a Blight means and what it can do. I will begin preparing our forces immediately. Let me summon Teyrn Loghain, and we can discuss our strategy."

"An excellent plan, your Majesty." Duncan looked over his shoulder. "Alistair, will you tell Lieutenant Cedric to prepare a missive to the Wardens of Orlais?"

Alistair bowed slightly at the waist, his arms crossed over his chest. "Certainly, Duncan."

He left the room, feeling a bit like he'd escaped a jail cell. Hopefully they'd have new members soon, so he'd be able to pass on his messenger duties. That was two too many meetings with his brother.

###

Preparing an army for war takes time. In Ferelden, the King had his own royal army numbering in the thousands, but each of the teyrnirs had their own soldiers, and the bannorn as well. Organizing everyone into a cohesive force was not something that had been done in recent memory. Maric's army that had routed the Orlesians thirty years ago had been little more than a large band of misfits and farmers, with enough actual soldiers peppered through it to make winning less of a long shot. But marshalling actual armies to march to war? It was a new experience for many.

Alistair could tell that the delays in readying the troops wore heavily on Duncan. As a month passed and stretched into two, the Commander sent out regular patrols to help combat the darkspawn raids in the south. The horde itself hadn't acted, but smaller groups of darkspawn were getting increasingly daring, attacking large farmsteads and one or two villages. Each sortie lasted for roughly a fortnight, after which time the team would return and fresh Wardens would depart in their place.

Alistair had yet to serve on one of the patrols, and he was beginning to wonder why. But he kept his mouth closed for once. Duncan had enough to concern himself without adding any childish accusations of protectionism to the list.

Instead, he threw himself into training. Both to distract himself from the coming battle--no one had really talked about it yet, but it loomed over the Wardens' compound like a shadow--and to keep himself from obsessing about his sister.

He could scarcely believe it. A sister. He tried to squash the tiny kernel of hope in his chest, but it refused to die. Maybe...maybe she would be the one to accept him, like his father and brother never had. Maybe he'd finally have the chance to have a real family. Would she be proud of him?

The archivist's assistant at the Chantry had suggested that the Goldanna in the records might be the same one who worked as a washerwoman in the Market District, so he'd done some checking. It appeared that she was. Every time he thought about seeing her, though, he balked. Maker, what could he say? Hi, I'm your secret brother who happens to be a bastard prince; would you mind being my family?

The thought of writing her a letter was just as awkward. He'd started half a dozen times, only to toss the paper into the fire. He crushed the seventh attempt in his hand, and it met the same fate as the others. Maybe he should just give up on the idea. She was living her own life, and he had his now. He already had a family, of a sort; the Wardens certainly understood him far better than anyone else in his life had. They'd welcomed him without reservation, laughing at his jokes instead of chiding him for them, and his skills in battle did seem to be appreciated, even if Duncan hadn't yet assigned him to a patrol. Maybe...maybe it would be best just to leave this Goldanna alone.

"Feeding the fire, I see," Duncan said as he stepped into the library, amusement coloring his voice.

"Er..." Alistair gave him a crooked grin. "I suppose so."

"Penning a ballad, perhaps? Not turning out as you'd like?"

Alistair chuckled. "Nothing so grand. Just...a letter."

"Ah." The Commander nodded and settled into a leather chair near Alistair's desk, his eyes on the fire. "The armies march for the ruins of Ostagar at first light. Teyrn Loghain and the King have decided that is where we will battle the horde."

"Finally," Alistair breathed. He laid the pen on the desk. "We'll be accompanying them, I assume."

"Cedric will lead the Wardens alongside the King's army. I will not be with you."

Alistair's stomach clenched. "Duncan, you're not--"

The Commander shook his head with a smile. "No, lad, it's not my time yet. I'll meet you in Ostagar, but I need to seek out new recruits. We need them desperately. I've heard some news of a rather talented young woman in Highever by the name of Bryn, though I'm not sure her father will acquiesce to her recruitment."

"You allow women in the Wardens?"

"If they have the skill and the mettle to fight the darkspawn, certainly."

"Oh," Alistair said. "It's just...there aren't any right now."

"Not in Ferelden, no. Our numbers are so small, it's not surprising." Duncan shrugged. "If you're curious, there are pictures in the dining hall of some of the Wardens of old. I believe you'll find some women amongst them."

"Fair enough." Alistair leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. "So, why are you concerned about gaining her father's permission? Can't you just conscript her?"

"Conscripting the nobility often has dire consequences, my boy," Duncan replied. "She's the youngest child of Teyrn Cousland."

Alistair raised his brows. "I can see where that might be problematic. We can't all be bastards that the family would rather ignore, right?"

A laugh jolted past Duncan's lips. "Just so, lad. Just so."

The silence stretched between the two men, not uncomfortably. After a few moments, Alistair spoke, his voice soft. "Duncan, you once asked what I wanted out of life."

"I recall," the Commander said.

Alistair's eyes flicked to the older man's stoic face, then back to the fire. "You were the first person to ever bother to ask me that, and I--I wanted to thank you. And to tell you I've figured it out."

"And what is it that you want out of life, Alistair?" Duncan smiled, his eyes crinkling.

The ex-templar returned the Commander's grin. "To be a Grey Warden, of course."

Duncan rose and clapped a hand to Alistair's back. "You'll do fine, lad. You'll do just fine."
Alistair, bastard prince and former templar, embarks on a new life as a Grey Warden.

Previous chapter: [link]

Thank you so much for reading my take on what might have happened in the six months preceding Dragon Age: Origins.

If you'd like to continue reading about my Alistair and Bryn, their story continues on FF.net:

Catharsis: [link]
Bryn Cousland and would-be king Alistair struggle to to figure out what it means to be in love when the whole of Ferelden is depending on them.

Repercussions: [link]
Bryn Cousland deals with life in post-Blight Ferelden. Both she and Alistair, her love, survived the final battle with the archdemon, but that doesn't mean their future is certain.

Separated at Satinalia: [link]
Bryn Theirin misses her husband during Satinalia at Vigil's Keep.

I hope you enjoy!
© 2011 - 2021 Freckles04
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