The Story So Far: (It might make more sense to read all of the information below before reading the story in Italics.)
The last few days have been the most awful and memorable of my life. I'm a different person now. Changed, in more way than one. If you had told me just a week ago that I would be one of the few that Ferelden is relying on to save them from the darkspawn, I would have thought you were crazy. Now, here I am; leading a small group of people around the country to try and unite them for battle.
I suppose everything started the day that my brother, Fergus, left our home with father's men to help fight the darkspawn in Ostagar. Father had promised to follow behind him, but would wait and join Arl Howe's men when they arrived at our castle. Arl Howe had been staying with us and promised that they shouldn't be more than a day away. There had been another visitor at the castle that day too. Duncan - a Grey Warden. I had no idea at the time how important a role he would play in my life.
Hunter, my Mabari hound, had woken me in the middle of the night, barking at the door before it had flown open and one of the servants fell through, an arrow in his chest. That traitorous bastard, Arl Howe, had called an attack on the castle while father's men were on their way to Ostagar! Mother, who had always been strong, had fought her way to me only for us to find Fergus' wife and son murdered in their rooms. My nephew, only a child, and the closest person I had to a sister. Dead. I'd had to drag mother from the room. It was clear that Howe wanted to kill everyone in the castle. He wasn't even taking prisoners.
Mother and I had raced through the halls in search of father, taking down as many of Howe's men as we could. We found him at the servant's entrance - the only way out now that the Arl had the castle surrounded. He was bleeding so badly, Maker, I don't know how he'd managed to get drag himself there. We tried to get him to his feet but he pushed our hands away and told us he wouldn't make it outside, let alone to safety. I got angry, as I always do when I'm upset. I told him to try; that he couldn't just give up.
Duncan had arrived then, covered in almost as much blood as father, though he seemed unhurt. He promised father he would get us to safety, providing that he be allowed to recruit me as a Grey Warden.
"Anything," I'd told him. "Just help us."
Mother started objecting. She insisted that she stay with father while he died; that she'd kill anyone that walked through the door to give us time to escape. I couldn't believe what she was saying. I couldn't leave them both here! They'd be dead within the hour!
"Someone needs to tell Fergus what happened," Mother insisted, pushing me back to Duncan. "Howe needs to pay for what he's done."
I still can't believe what I did next...really, I can't. I told them both I loved them and I left, letting Duncan drag me out of the servant's entrance and out of Highever. It fills me with shame when I think back on it. I should never have gone. I should have stayed to fight. Maybe mother would be alive still if I had only stayed and protected her. Or I should have sent her with Duncan. How could I have been so selfish to leave them to die there?
I will kill Arl Howe for what he's done.
It took two days to get to Ostagar. I was calmer then, not so filled with hate and grief. Duncan had mostly left me to myself while we'd traveled and I was able to gain a handle on my emotions again and think about finding Fergus. Maybe he'd leave the fight against the darkspawn and we'd hunt down Howe together, I'd thought, but my plans were not to go ahead. As soon as we arrived in Ostagar, Duncan and I met the King. I told him what had happened to my family and he promised that Howe would pay for his betrayal. I liked King Cailan almost right away. He did deliver some bad news, however, that Fergus had been sent to patrol the Wilds for darkspawn and was unlikely to return anytime soon.
Duncan didn't give me much time to feel sorry for myself. He sent me to find another Grey Warden called Alistair, before joining him again to begin preparations for the ritual I would have to undergo to become a Warden. I'd never heard of a ritual before, and later on it became apparent why. He took Hunter with him, and I headed in the direction he pointed out.
I found Alistair mid argument with one of the mages. Right off the bat, I took a liking to him. He was being cheeky, and glided along the Mage's harsh words with sarcastic humor, not letting any of it effect him. It didn't really hurt that he was handsome, too. Once the mage had left, and the argument was over, Alistair turned to me and grinned.
"You know, one good thing about the Blight is that it brings everyone together," he said sarcastically. It caught me off guard, and I laughed for the first time in two days. I quickly sobered up, however, when the guilt set in that I was laughing while my parents were laying, dead, in our family home. He asked if I was Duncan's newest recruit and introduced himself before telling me that he would be accompanying me and two other recruits while we prepared for the joining.
"You know," he went on, as we made our way back to Duncan. "There have never been many women Grey Wardens. I wonder why that is." He sounded thoughtful, and looked ahead of him while he spoke.
"You want more women in the Wardens, do you?" I asked, teasing him a little. I figured it wouldn't hurt to make a friend. Especially a Grey Warden friend since I would be spending all of my time with them, now.
"Would that be so terrible?" he asked, grinning again, before backtracking and looking a little flustered. "Not that I'm some drooling lecher, or anything. Please don't look at me like that."
I'd smiled and waved him off and he'd looked relieved that I'd only been teasing him. The rest of the conversation was light and we soon joined Duncan again. There were two more recruits, two men, and the three of us and Alistair were sent out into the Kokari Wilds. There we had to battle some darkspawn - I'd never seen any before - and retrieve three vials of their blood. Duncan also asked if we could search for the Warden's treaties that had been lost in the Wilds. These papers were written promises from all parts of Ferelden, that should there ever be another blight; every region of Ferelden should offer their aid to the Wardens. It wasn't necessary but if we happened across them, we should bring them back.
The darkspawn were pretty terrifying. I'd never seen anything so hideous and frightening in my life. They took a bit of an effort to kill but we found that the more we killed, the easier it became. We managed to get three vials of the blood, though it had been really difficult without actually touching any of it, and on our way back we stumbled across the ruins of the tower that Duncan had mentioned. We'd found the chest that was supposed to hold the treaties, but it was smashed apart and empty. A woman had appeared, out of nowhere, and questioned us as to what we were doing here. She was very beautiful, but obviously not pleased that we were here. One of the recruits said she could be one of the Witches of the Wilds. I hadn't heard much of the story but I gathered it wasn't a good thing. She introduced herself as Morrigan. Alistair, who seemed to hate her almost as soon as he laid eyes on her, informed her that he was a Grey Warden and she asked if we were here for the treaties. Alistair accused her of being "a sneaky witch-thief" - which she teased him about - but she insisted that it was her mother who had taken them, not she. Reluctantly, we'd taken her up on her offer to find her mother and ask her for the treaties, instead.
When we arrived at the hut in which Morrigan and her mother lived, we were met by a very old woman who claimed to be expecting us. After teasing Morrigan and saying some ominous things, she did hand over the treaties, claiming she had been protecting them. We thanked her and left, escorted by Morrigan back to the entrance of Ostagar, where she left us.
We'd found our way back to Duncan and gave him everything we'd collected, before moving to the Tower of Ishal to wait for the ritual to begin. Alistair had waited with us, looking more solemn than usual. When Duncan returned he was holding a chalice. He told us that we could not go back now and that we had to go through with the Joining, no matter what. He explained that we must consume the blood of the darkspawn to become a Grey Warden. This shocked the three of us. Darkspawn blood is poisonous! It was a death sentence. Duncan insisted we continue, not giving us any other options. He asked Alistair to speak before we began. Something of a tradition, I think.
"Join us brothers and sisters. Join us as we stand in the shadows, vigilant. Join us as we carry the duty that cannot be forsworn, and should you perish, know that your sacrifice shall not be forgotten...and that, one day, we shall join you."
Daveth was the first recruit to drink. He didn't show any fear and I had admired his bravery. He soon went down on his knees, however, clutching his head and screaming. His death was quick, but painful. I couldn't believe he'd died so easily. Maker's breath, how my hands had shook with fear as we looked down at his body.
"I am sorry, Daveth," Duncan had murmured, before turning the Chalice towards Ser Jory. He had backed up, terrified, claiming there was no glory to be had here. He begged Duncan not to have him drink; that he had a wife and child at home, and had drawn his sword. Duncan had taken out his own blade and killed him. If I had been shaken up before, I was like jelly now. Death seemed to be the only thing happening here. Still, I didn't have a choice. When Duncan had held out the chalice to me, I took it and drank. The pain was blinding, white hot and filled with nightmares of a dragon. It had only when I had opened my eyes and saw that Alistair and Duncan were looking down on me that I realized I had passed out. And survived. They had helped me to my feet and Alistair gave me a vial of darkspawn blood to wear around my neck. The Warden's Oath, he called it, to remember those that did not make it. I was officially a Grey Warden.
Duncan had been called away then to hear the decision of the meeting between King Cailan and Loghain, who was Cailan's father in law and battle adviser. King Cailan and the Wardens would step into battle against the darkspawn, first. They were fast approaching and we needed to prepare at once. Alistair and I were to go to the top of the Tower of Ishal and light the signal, signing for Loghain to bring his men into the fight, next. Everyone had believed there would be more than enough men to make the darkspawn back off Ostagar. Alistair had been upset that he could not fight alongside his brothers, but it turned out to be the best option for the both of us. It's the only reason that we are still alive, today.
Though there had been an invasion of darkspawn in the Tower, Alistair, Hunter and I had made it to the top without too much difficulty. We had lit the signal and watched out of the window, waiting for Loghain's troops to march in. Only...they didn't. They Warden's were going down. There were too many darkspawn now that Loghain's men had not joined the battle.
Then we were ambushed by darkspawn. I hadn't been expecting it and I was shot down, three arrows in my shoulder. The last thing I had seen was Alistair rushing towards me.
When I had woken, Morrigan was sitting on the bed I was laid in. She had explained that her mother, who was now claiming to be Flemeth - from the legends - had saved Alistair and I from the tower. Morrigan had teased me when I asked how she had done that, by claiming she had turned into a giant bird and plucked us both out of the tower; one in each talon. I had been so relieved that Alistair had survived, and Hunter too if the barking was anything to go by. I had dressed, quickly. My wounds were all but healed, though I had been out for almost three days. Morrigan had told me that Alistair, which she described as "the suspicious, dim-witted one" , had been awake since the day before, and was not taking the news of the battle well. Morrigan confirmed that Loghain had quit the field and all the Wardens had been massacred, along with King Cailan. I had dressed quickly and made my way outside to find him.
"See, here is your fellow Grey Warden. You worry too much, young man," the old woman, Flemeth, spoke as I had stepped up to the fire.
Alistair had turned around, looking like hell, but seemed relieved to see me. Morrigan had been right. He really wasn't taking it well. There were red marks under his eyes and his face was drawn and pained.
"You. You're alive. I thought you were dead, for sure," he had whispered and took a step towards me. "Duncan's dead, the Grey Wardens, even the King. They're all...dead. Oh, this doesn't seem real. If it weren't for Morrigan's mother...we'd be dead on top of that tower."
"Do not talk about me as if I am not present, Lad," Flemeth scolded and Alistair apologized. I thought it was unfair of her to pick on him when it was clear he was about to break down. Still, she had saved us so I supposed we couldn't complain too much. She had told us that, now, it was up to us to slay the Archedemon and end the Blight. We were the remaining two Grey Wardens and only we could do it. Of course we couldn't do it alone, and Alistair had suggested that we use the treaties go create an army big enough to take on the Blight. I had asked him if we could find other Wardens, outside Ferelden, but he had shook his head and told me that they were too far away and that even if we did locate them, it would be too late to save Ferelden. So, it seems, we're on our own for now.
We had just been about to leave when Flemeth had stopped us and insisted we take Morrigan with us. Morrigan had not been happy with this, but it seemed she had little choice. Flemeth insisted that without her, we would fail to rid Ferelden of the Blight. Alistair was reluctant to accept this, but I had insisted that we need all the help we can get.
And that is how we ended up in Lothering.