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Becoming - Chapter 2

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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 2: A Warden's Welcome

Lothering was a tiny place, smaller even than the village of Redcliffe. Its two largest buildings were the Chantry on one side of a small bridge, and the tavern on the other. Boisterous conversations and music erupted from behind the inn's closed doors, while the Chantry stood silent, like a vigilant templar. Alistair smiled as they passed the quiet building, eager to experience the revelry of the tavern instead.

"I'll speak with the barkeep to arrange for a room," Duncan said as they paused at the entrance. "Find a seat, if you can, and get yourself a plate of dinner."

"That sounds like an excellent plan."

Duncan swung open the door, and Alistair's smile grew. A real, honest-to-goodness tavern, filled with villagers drinking and celebrating and otherwise making merry. How wonderful it was to be surrounded by noise, for once. To not feel like screaming because the silence was so oppressive.

"You're all right?" Duncan frowned, trying to read the expression on Alistair's face.

"Perfectly all right," the younger man said, and stepped inside.

It was easier than he thought to find an empty seat. He sat at the end of a bench, and the other occupants made way for him good-naturedly. The man sitting closest to him looked Alistair up and down, as if trying to figure out what he was.

"Soldier?" he said finally.

"No." Alistair opened his mouth to say more, but was distracted by an ample female chest intruding on his line of sight. He swallowed past a suddenly tight throat.

"Aye, lad, what can I get you?" The serving girl gave him a wide smile and Alistair found his lips stretched stupidly in return.

"Dinner," he said. "And, er, something to drink?"

"Right, lamb and pea stew it is, and a tankard of ale," she said, sashaying away.

Ale? No, that wasn't a good idea. He'd never had ale, and now wasn't the time to experiment. "Wait..."

"So, if yer not a soldier, why're you wearing armor, eh?" his bench companion asked.

The serving girl slapped a tankard of lukewarm ale on the table with a wink and continued on to another customer. Alistair sniffed at the beverage, then took a sip. Not as bad as he'd feared. They probably watered down the swill to make it last. One tankard surely wouldn't hurt, then.

His eyes darted to the man sitting next to him and Alistair realized he was waiting for an answer. "I'm a Grey Warden," he said, a tingle of pride rippling through him. "Or, I will be soon."

"A Grey Warden, is it?" the man roared. "Well, now, congratulations to you! Emma, another round for the lad, when you can. He's a Grey Warden!"

Alistair's cheeks heated. "Oh, no, that's quite all right..."

"Nonsense. If we can't celebrate that with you, then what can we celebrate?" He stood and clanged his pewter spoon against the tankard to get the rest of the tavern-goers' attention. Alistair groaned and sucked back a mouthful of ale.

"Lads and lasses of Lothering," the villager began, swaying slightly. "We have amongst us tonight an honoured guest! This chap is a new recruit into the Grey Wardens, ready to fight the darkspawn to ensure our safety. Three cheers for him!"

"Maker's breath," Alistair muttered, taking another swig as the room erupted into cheers. He raised a hand and waved self-consciously, barely noticing as Emma replaced his tankard with a full one.

The heat remained in his cheeks as newfound friend resumed his seat. In fact, Alistair's neck and face both felt rather flushed. He drank another mouthful or two of the ale, wishing it was cold. But wet worked...it soothed his dry throat, anyway. He picked up his tankard again and frowned. It was full...again. Wait, how many mugs did that make now? A giggle bubbled out of his chest.

"Making friends already, I see."

Alistair's face split in a grin. "Duncan! Hey! What took you so long?"

"The innkeeper had some interesting news to share, and I--" Duncan's brows drew down. "Maker's breath, are you drunk?"

"No!" Alistair shook his head, but...funny...it felt like it would just keep on shaking, and maybe detach itself from his neck to tumble to the floor. "I am most certainly not drunk." His brow furrowed as he regarded his new village friend. "Am I?"

"Oh, aye, lad, you're definitely drunk." The villager nodded sagely.

"But...I've only had one tankard..."

"Three," the villager corrected.

"Three?" Alistair frowned. "Seriously?"

"You're not much of a drinker, are you, boy?" The villager chuckled. "It takes most men half a dozen mugs to get drunk off of this horse piss."

"Well, I was raised in the Chantry..."

"Aye, that would explain it."

Duncan closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Have you eaten anything yet?"

"Um." Alistair tried to remember, but his thoughts had gotten rather fuzzy. "No?"

Duncan strode over to the serving girl and spoke quietly to her. In moments, a bowl of stew materialized in front of Alistair.

"Eat," Duncan ordered, sliding onto the bench opposite Alistair. "Maybe the food will soak up some of the alcohol. If not, there's the trough outside."

Alistair paused, his spoon partway to his mouth. His mind supplied an image of Duncan forcing his head underwater, and he shuddered. "Right. I will do my utter best to sober up, Duncan. Though...can I just point out that I got drunk accidentally?"

"Just eat. The sooner you're done, the better." Duncan's expression darkened. "We have work to do."

"Work?" Alistair shovelled a spoonful of stew into his mouth and spoke around it. "What kind of work?"

"Grey Warden work. There are reports of darkspawn south of town." The Grey Warden's eyes grew unfocused for a moment. "A good number of them. We need to check it out."

Alistair took a breath, his heart thudding loudly in his chest. "I'll be ready," he said.

Duncan's lips thinned. "I hope so."
Alistair, bastard prince and former templar, embarks on a new life as a Grey Warden.

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kitiaramajere's avatar
Heh. I don't know who I feel for more, Alistair or Duncan.
Freckles04's avatar
Thanks for the comment!