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Becoming - Chapter 8

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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 8: Differently

The next day, Duncan summoned the order into the grand hall at mid-morning. Riordan stood at the head of the room beside Ferelden's Commander as the two dozen Wardens arranged themselves in lines before the two senior members.

"I've spent the last few days looking over bits and pieces of news we've received from the south," Duncan began. "We've reports of darkspawn attacks from human farmholds, and the Chasind and Dalish have spread word of increased activity as well. As Alistair and I travelled from Redcliffe, past Lothering, I was able to sense a large group of darkspawn far to the south, possibly as far as the Kocari Wilds. Something is afoot."

"Surely...not a Blight?" Jon queried with a slight shake of his head.

"No, my friend," Riordan said. "We will all know should a Blight be upon us. We would hear the archdemon."

Alistair's shoulders tensed. Hearing the archdemon didn't seem like a good thing. Seeing darkspawn in his dreams was bad enough. But a giant, evil dragon? No, thank you.

"Riordan will travel back to Orlais with what little news we have," Duncan said.

The Orlesian Warden nodded. "We will begin preparations to help Ferelden, should it be required."

"Meanwhile, we will discover what is happening in the Wilds. Jon, you will take Erik, Taramel, Lucas, and Declan in one team," Duncan instructed. "I will take Gregor, Tate, Stephen, Felix, and Garth in the other. We leave in an hour. Dismissed."

Alistair pushed through the retreating Wardens to reach the front of the room. "Duncan," he said through a gritted jaw, "might I have a word?"

"Certainly. Safe journeys, Riordan," the Commander said, clapping the Orlesian on the shoulder.

"Maker watch over you, my friend. Farewell."

Alistair gave the senior Warden a distracted smile and slight bow before turning to Duncan. "You're taking Garth? Not me?"

"I've seen what you can do, Alistair. Garth was brought here by Riordan, and I have yet to see him in action. I have no doubt that Riordan chose well, but I like to observe our new members in battle when I can."

Alistair frowned. "And that's it? That's the reason?"

"Should there be another?" Duncan arched a brow.

The younger man rubbed a hand through his short hair. "I just thought...you were keeping me out of the fighting on purpose, that's all. Treating me differently."

The accusation hung in the air for a moment before Duncan spoke again. "No, lad. That's not it."

"Good." Alistair took a breath and let some of the tension fall away. "Good."

The Commander laid a hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry, lad. Your time will come." He squeezed Alistair's shoulder briefly, then started for the door.

"Right. Duncan..." Alistair shook his head as the words he wanted to say, needed to say, wouldn't come. "About what I said, before...the other night...I'm sorry. I was angry, and I--"

"No harm done. We've all been through it, Alistair."

"Yes, I know. It can't be easy, having to share that news with new members," he said, softly. "For what it's worth, this is still far, far better than the Chantry."

Duncan's serious face cracked into a grin and he chuckled. "I'm relieved to hear it."

Alistair returned his smile. "Maker watch over you, Duncan."

The Commander inclined his head. "Maker watch over us all."

###

He'd thought that running into Cailan could be awkward? Awkward didn't begin to describe it.

The King stood on the estate's steps. Alistair remained, frozen, just inside the door, his companion--Kirk, another Warden about his age--at his side. Of all the things he could have expected to see as he pulled the door open, on his way to purchase that sword he'd seen in the Market, his half-brother wasn't one of them. He'd nearly convinced himself that he would never meet up with the King, accidentally or otherwise.

Oh, the Maker was surely laughing at him now. Or maybe this was punishment for his ill-advised trip to the Pearl.

Cailan was the first to recover, forcing the shock out of his expression and pasting on something of a placid smile. "You're one of the new Wardens, then?"

Alistair snapped his gaping mouth shut. Kirk smiled and dipped his head, stepping forward when it was obvious Alistair wasn't going to answer. "Yes, your Majesty," he said smoothly, casting a look at Alistair. Probably thought the new Warden was star-struck or some nonsense, Alistair thought, but he couldn't speak regardless. "This is--"

"Alistair. Yes, I know. I'd...heard." His smile widened. "What an honor for you, being one of the fabled Grey Wardens! I'm pleased to hear your order is growing. Tell me: is Duncan about?"

And...dismissed. This time in favor of a person rather than a room full of swords, not that it mattered. Disappointment shuddered through Alistair, but he kept it from appearing on his face.

Again, Kirk answered. "No, your Majesty. He left this morning. Should I take you to the Lieutenant?"

"No, no, there's no need. I'm sure he's busy enough taking care of things in Duncan's absence without worrying about humouring me." Cailan chuckled. "Though perhaps you could ask him to see me when he has a moment?"

"Certainly. Good day to you, your Majesty." Kirk crossed his arms over his chest and bent slightly at the waist. Alistair mimicked the movement, his limbs stiff.

"What in Andraste's name is wrong with you?" Kirk hissed as the King strode away, his guards falling into place behind him. "The King pays us a visit, and knows your name, and you stand there like an idiot?"

Alistair schooled his expression to show nothing, and shrugged. "I've never seen a King before," he said.

"Maker's breath, but you are an ass. Come on, then." Kirk grabbed Alistair's arm and shoved him out the door. "Let's go get that bloody sword before the Empress of Orlais shows up."

###

More than a month passed before the scouting parties returned. Alistair kept himself busy--sparring in the ring with the other Wardens who'd been left behind, or studying in the library, or resuming the daily meditations that had marked his time in the Chantry. Not that he wanted the reminder, but the time alone with his thoughts was necessary to maintain the mental discipline required to use his templar talents. Surprisingly enough, the darkspawn dreams he'd suffered through nearly every night since his Joining faded almost immediately once he revisited the familiar routine. A welcome bonus to the one activity from the Chantry that he'd actually enjoyed.

It was during one of his meditations in the compound's courtyard that he heard the shouts of welcome. He returned to awareness slowly, then rose and stretched. He made his way to the estate's front entrance, a smile blooming on his lips. Maker, it would be good to see Duncan again. The Commander wasn't a friend, not really; Alistair knew far too little of the man to consider him such. But he respected the older Warden, and, beyond that, the compound just didn't feel the same without him there.

The happy greeting he'd been prepared to voice as he walked into the front hall died in his throat. It took only a few glances at the Wardens gathered there to know that something was up. Something bad.

"What, let me guess." Alistair crossed his arms over his chest. "You found two archdemons instead of one."

"Shut your trap, boy," Jon snapped, his eyes sparking.

Duncan laid a hand on Jon's arm, holding him back. "Enough. Both of you." He turned disappointed eyes on Alistair. "We lost Garth and Erik."

Andraste's ass. "Duncan, I--"

The Commander held up a hand. "I think we could all use some free moments, followed by a pint or two. Or five."

There were grunts and mumbles of agreement as the travel-worn Wardens moved further into the estate. Alistair watched them go, his fingers digging into his biceps. When would he ever learn to keep his fool mouth closed? He rolled his eyes skyward, then trailed after Duncan.

He found the Commander in his office. Duncan's dark skin seemed less robust, his eyes duller than they'd been a short month ago. He looked...old, Alistair realized with a start. He tapped the doorframe and waited to enter until the Commander's eyes met his.

"I apologize for my comments earlier, Duncan," he said, stopping in front of the desk. "They were...inappropriate."

"It's fine, Alistair." The Commander waved a hand. "You couldn't have known. It was just you...being you."

"Um, thanks." Alistair frowned. "I think."

"Tell me: has your sleep improved?"

"Immensely. Apparently templar training is good for something other than smiting mages. Who knew?"

Duncan smiled, but the expression didn't quite reach his eyes. "I've--" He broke off, then shook his head. "I've started having the dreams again."

Alistair's breath caught in his throat. "But...doesn't that mean--"

"My Calling grows near." His smile grew rueful. "I thought I'd have a few years yet, but I suppose the Maker has other plans for me."

It felt like someone had punched him in the gut. He couldn't quite take a deep breath. "Maker, Duncan...I'm so sorry."

"Don't be, lad. I'm not heading off to the Deep Roads tomorrow. There will come a time that I will...need...to go, but now is not it." He leaned back in his chair. "If you don't mind, I'd like a few moments before we gather in the dining hall."

"O-of course," Alistair stammered. "I'll see you there." He stepped back, and headed for the door.

"Alistair."

The ex-templar paused in his retreat. "Yes, Duncan?"

"Like you, I would prefer not to be treated differently."

Alistair nodded. "Understood."
Alistair, bastard prince and former templar, embarks on a new life as a Grey Warden.

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© 2011 - 2021 Freckles04
Comments4
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Friesan-Pirate-Lady's avatar
Can't wait to read more. :)
Freckles04's avatar
I'm glad you're enjoying it!
kitiaramajere's avatar
*sniffs* aw, Duncan...
Freckles04's avatar
Yeah. :( Even if he'd lived at Ostagar, he had the same fate awaiting him in the Deep Roads.