Dragon Age: Origins ~ The Wardens’ Journey

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction for my personal entertainment (and maybe yours). Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II and all related characters and locations are the property of Bioware Inc. RATING: Grown ups.

Allaré Cousland was used to elves being submissive servants in noble households and therefore, while she didn’t treat Mardelle Mahariel poorly when she arrived at Ostagar with Duncan, she certainly didn’t pay her any attention and was often genuinely surprised when the Dalish elf spoke out. This did nothing to improve Mardelle’s opinion of humans, but thankfully, she had Alistair and Duncan to temper her hatred and fear of shemlen. When Loghain’s betrayal forced them on their new path, the two women maintained only a grudging tolerance for each other.

Mardelle spent most of her time in Morrigan’s company, finding a kindred forest spirit. Despite their shared heritage, Mardelle took no interest in Zevran and did her best to ignore his charms, thinking him not much better than a flat ear. Meanwhile, Allaré grew close to Leliana, but it was her interest in Alistair that caused the Grey Warden women their greatest conflict. Mardelle suspected that Allaré was only interested in Alistair because of his claim to the throne, and in truth, having lost everything to Arl Howe, that had been Allaré’s initial motivation, seeing Alistair both as the key to her vengeance and an opportunity to return her noble status. Everyone could see that Alistair was smitten with Allaré and Mardelle took it upon herself to try to protect him from the woman’s machinations. When she rescued Alistair in the Fade, Allaré had a change of heart, realizing that he was truly a good man and didn’t deserve to be used in this way. Soon enough, she fell for him in earnest, though Mardelle still didn’t believe her.

In spite of this conflict, the two women could see the greater picture and could put their differences aside when it came to dealing with the Grey Warden treaties. They would defer to each other where one’s skills or relationships were more suited than the other’s. In battle, they worked together almost flawlessly.

Mardelle was finally warming up to Zevran when they encountered the guardian of Andraste’s ashes, who revealed her inner conflict over her former lover, Tamlen’s disappearance.

After restoring Arl Eamon’s health, it was proposed that they work towards putting Alistair on the throne, to which Alistair and Mardelle strongly disagreed, angering Allaré, arguing that they needed a united Ferelden against the Blight and that what Alistair and Mardelle personally wanted did not matter if the darkspawn won.

Later, their camp was attacked by darkspawn and Mardelle was forced to kill her former love to free him from the corruption. Alistair comforted her and Mardelle realized that Allaré was right: they all needed to sacrifice to save Ferelden and the people they loved and she expressed this to Alistair. Over Tamlen’s funeral pyre, she confirmed that their goal was to defeat the Blight and that required a united front, with Alistair as king. Across the flames, Allaré caught Mardelle’s eye and nodded, understanding and acceptance silently passing between them. Whether or not Mardelle accepted Allaré’s motivations, she was willing to set that aside for the sake of ending the Blight.

In Denerim, Mardelle and Zevran were attacked by Zevran’s former Crow companions. When the prospect of him returning to them seemed possible, Mardelle suddenly realized that her heart couldn’t allow that and they gleefully took care of their enemies, then made love on the rooftops. Meanwhile, the others rescued Anora and Allaré had her revenge against Arl Howe. Later, the elven alienage was freed from the Tevinter slavers and Mardelle made Alistair swear to end the mistreatment of the elves in the city. Anora presented her proposal to Mardelle, who flatly refused her and went to Allaré, Alistair and Eamon to discuss the need for Alistair to have a queen to share the throne. This prospect greatly pleased and relieved Alistair and bolstered is resolve. At the Landsmeet, he spoke for himself and, when a consensus could not be reached, fought and slew Loghain to earn his crown, presenting his future queen, Allaré, to the nobles.

The victory moment was brief, as they still had a great warto fight. Morrigan approached Mardelle, who in turn, convinced Allaré and Alistair to accept her ritual, despite the risk and awkwardness. If there was a chance they could survive, they wanted to take it. They each had too much to live for, now.

In the final battle against the archdemon, they brought it down, but a Grey Warden had to deliver the final blow. Allaré, severely wounded, was unable to do so. None of them were certain that Morrigan’s ritual would work, but Mardelle refused to let Alistair do what he intended, loosing an arrow into his thigh as he ran towards the archdemon. Mardelle kissed Zevran and turned to Allaré to say only “Protect the king; love him always,” before taking Allaré’s great sword, Starfang, and slaying the archdemon herself.

*** 

Alistair was crowned King of Ferelden and named Allaré Cousland, his betrothed, Commander of the Kings Army, and Mardelle Mahariel Acting Commander of the Grey Wardens of Ferelden. The Orlesian Grey Wardens that Loghain had turned away were found and a quarter of the group remained to aid Mardelle with rebuilding the Wardens and dealing with the remaining darkspawn hordes that continued to harass the surface and the Deep Roads.

At the coronation, Mardelle made one request of the king: give the Dalish lands and put an end to the poor treatment of elves within the city. Alistair had seen the alienage well enough to know something had to be done without her telling him so. When a replacement arrived from Orlais, Mardelle relinquished command of the Wardens and returned to Ostagar with Zevran to help the Dalish clans and alienage elves settle, though Grey Warden duties often called her away.

Six months following the end of the Blight, Alistair and Allaré were married in a joyous, but modest celebration. She was walked down the aisle by her brother, Fergus, who had rebuilt the Cousland estate with reparations from the Howes.

Alistair left much of the rebuilding of Ferelden to Arl Eamon and Allaré, preferring battling darkspawn, dealing with the gangs in Denerim and being amongst the people to politics, yet, over the next few months, Allaré would often find their bed strewn with books, Alistair lost among them, intent on learning how to be a good King. In time, it was Alistair who would preside over trade negotiations with King Bhelen of the dwarves and granted the elves land and rights. It was a sore point for many, but Alistair stood firm in his decision and dealt justly and decisively with all issues that arose from these and many other agreements.

Leliana remained at court, earning the title of the Royal Bard. She composed many popular songs and poems about their adventures, and, despite her fame, served as a very capable and inconspicuous spy. She was very much loved by both the King and the Queen and often shared their bed. Beautiful strawberry blond twins, Duncan and Eleanor, were born three years into Alistair and Allaré’s reign and their three parents raised them with love, temperance and wisdom.

Though not a Grey Warden, Zevran never passed up an opportunity to remain at Mardelle’s side and soon enough, they were making plans to be married. Unfortunately, Mardelle suffered the loss of her left hand on a an encounter with The Architect. No longer able to use her bow, she became depressed and sedentary. Zevran went to the king and queen, who made a suggestion that he hoped would help Mardelle as much as it would help them: Find Morrigan. Alistair gifted Mardelle with a modified bow that worked with her maimed arm. She hesitantly accepted both the mission and the bow, but with Zevran’s persistence, her spirits eventually lifted and in time, they did find Morrigan, though not the child. They allowed Morrigan to pass through the eluvian and after sending a message to the king and queen, decided to continue their adventure, traveling to Antiva, where they were married in a lavish affair.

As expected, they found themselves in trouble with the Crows, and, after some bloodshed and mayhem, escaped to Kirkwall, where they discovered Alistair was visiting, offering Lothering refugees an opportunity to return to Ferelden. From Caleya Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall, Mardelle learned that her Dalish clan resided on Sundermount. Caleya offered to guide them, not realizing that Merrill, despite Caleya’s refusal to aid her, had gone ahead with her plans to fix the eluvian with the help of a demon. They arrived too late to save Marethari, who bestowed her title on her former First before she died. Mardelle condemned Merrill, but left her fate in Caleya’s hands. Now, keeper, as her father was before her, Mardelle took the Sabrae clan back to Ferelden on Alistair’s ship.

When they arrived, they discovered that serious problems had arisen between the Dalish and the humans near their settlement. Lanaya’s pleas to the King’s court had gone largely unheard during Alistair’s absence. Furious, Mardelle confronted the king and queen, demanding they deal with the situation. Unfortunately,  Allaré explained, their attention was on the grave issues with the Circle of Magi and the Chantry that was spilling over from the issues in Kirkwall.

While Mardelle was at court, yet another battle broke out between the Dalish and the humans, resulting in the death of Lanaya. When word reached them, Mardelle and Zevran flew to Ostagar and exacted revenge, killing many humans. The incident caused a great rift between Mardelle and Alistair and Allaré. She became keeper to the remaining Dalish and they became wanderers once again.

Many years later, the Clan received a visitor. Wynne delivered a message from the king and queen to the keeper. Zevran’s pleas, Wynne’s wise counsel and the Calling convinced Mardelle to heed Allaré and Alistair’s request to meet them at Soldier’s Keep, where Avernus shared with them the results of his years of research: he had finally learned how to prevent the taint from overtaking the Grey Wardens, but he needed to test his ritual on live subjects.They agreed to be the subjects of this test, knowing that either way, their time had come. The ritual worked and the knowledge was passed on to the Grey Warden Commanders. Putting their past behind them, they reaffirmed their friendship and again attempted, this time successfully, to work together to allow the Dalish to settle in Ferelden.

They were all relieved, but Alistair still had troubles of his own. Despite proving himself to be a good and wise King and friend to the people, Alistair’s self doubt always ate at him. A decade after the end of the Blight, he received correspondence from Antiva. His consequent brooding was of great concern to Allaré, but he refused to speak of it. Allaré asked Zevran and Leliana’s help to track down who might have sent the correspondence and what it might be about. Angered by her prying, Alistair confronted Allaré, finally revealing his intention to find his father. Allaré accused him of abandoning his responsibilities to go on a fool’s errand that would get him just as lost as his father. She angrily stormed out of the room, only to return shortly with tears, a kiss and a request that he promise to return when he finally found what he needed…

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