INTO THE ETERNAL SLEEP
A DRAGON AGE FICTION
Leliana stirred and woke from her slumber, the sunlight beat through the windows of her cottage. A small place out in the countryside of Crestwood. Not too far from civilisation, but far enough to allow her some privacy, her and her mate.
It was then she realised, she was alone.
Getting up she drew a silk gown around her naked form and went to the window to see Selina, saddling her horse, her sword in the saddle. At first she thought her lover was going to see Captain Ryan at Griffon’s Peak, but then she saw her sag against the saddle.
Leliana frowned and quite suddenly an uneasy wash of dread flooded through her. She hurried out of the room they shared and out into the courtyard. Without a word the Bard ran to her lover and span her round, stepping back as Selena's appearance shocked her more than any spy report ever did.
The once beautiful face was now gaunt, almost sunken, black rings under the eyes and the criss cross of dark veins. Her eyes a gorgeous grey were now almost silver.
“Maker....when? When did it start?”
“A few days ago” Selena whispered “The nightmares have been coming thick and fast, I am...finding it harder to resist.” She turned her head, not wanting Leliana to see the tear that fell from one of her eyes “It is time Leli” She almost had trouble getting the words out.
Leliana shook her head, denial coursing through her like a tidal wave, it had not been the allotted time, they still had a few years together, not this, not now. “Maker no! This is, there has to be some trick...maybe you are feeling the fake call, we don't know how long that will reverberate for....”
Selena took the spy masters hands in hers and shook her head, but Leliana wouldn't hear of it. Her denials came thick and fast, and for only the third time in their lives Selena raised her voice.
“Sister Nightingale” She snapped, causing Leliana to stop in mid tirade. Selena regretted it the moment she said it but she had to make Leliana understand, this was no corrupt magic, if it were then she would know, this was no twisted Darkspawn Magisters work. This was what it was. She put her hand to Leliana's face and cupped it round her cheek, “It is my time Leli, we both knew this would come, we both knew that one day I would succumb. I've had a good life, I have no regrets”
“Where will you go?”
“Where we all go” She sighed “Orzamarr”
Leliana nodded and went back inside. Selena thought for one moment that she had hurt Leliana more than Marjolaine ever could, or the death of Justina ever did but, soon after Leliana emerged in her battle armour and brought her own horse round.
“I am going with you.”
“You can't come with me into the Deep Roads, I won't allow it especially after I nearly lost you the first time we went in there looking for Branka!”
“I know I cannot come with you, but I can be with you until you have to go...does this mean that Oghren will be there too?”
Selena nodded and handed Leliana the message she had received that morning. Oghren, Nathaniel, Valaana had all heard the calling and would meet their commander on route. She also saw that Alistair was on route, and he would be here by noon. Leliana handed the message back and took her lovers hand.
“You will not leave me behind to wonder if you made it to Orzamarr.” she kissed her softly “Are we clear no?”
“Clear” Selena looked at her hand, a magical spark filled the centre of the her palm, but it was erratic and she closed it off as quickly as it had been summoned. She reached into her cloak and took a letter marked for Cullen. “When I have gone into the Deep roads I want you to go back to Skyhold, you have friends there Leli and I do not want you to mourn me alone. Would you see that Cullen gets this, its long overdue and I think he needs to know I never bore him ill-will, those were....desperate times.”
Leliana touched her cheek “You have always held his hurt as personal”
“Wouldn't you? Those were my brother and sister mages that subjected him and his brothers and sisters to all that...not that it matters now but, well I am the Hero of Ferelden the only mage who has ever held land, the only Mage that installs a sense of wonder and not fear. The same cannot be said for others, not since Kirkwall and not since that incident with Corypheaus” Selena moved Leliana's hand gently “That was the first time I saw why people feared us and it scared me Leliana. Because I knew that somewhere, deep inside me, had I been in the Tower and had Duncan not conscripted me into the Wardens I might have become one of those maniacs, and Cullen was one of the only Templars who went out of his way to be nice to me...even if there were young raging hormones at work.”
Leliana sniggered and set her bow in its place on her saddle. “When do we leave?”
“When Alistair arrives...oh I can't even imagine what Anora is going through”
“Will she be here?”
“No. She is Queen of a kingdom, and needs to be there, although I believe there is going to be an announcement made after he has gone.”
Leliana looked at the sky, they still had a couple of hours she took Selinas hand and led her inside the cottage and into their room then shut the door.
Alistair rode silently alongside the women, he shivered a little and it wasn't the cold. It was funny how he had never really wanted to marry Anora, now he was glad that he had, for he knew that their kingdom would be in safe hands, and their child, the only one they had, a handsome son would be a fine King when he grew up. He was only three but it seemed to make it all the more...poignant for him. The fact that he was Calens son and not Alistairs had never come into it
The Maker had a sense of humour it seemed. He was unsure if he would ever be a father and the one time he was, the calling comes upon him, denying his wish to see his child grow. He glanced at Leliana, their reunion had been a tearful one. He had followed the Bards exploits with interest and had seen that no matter what had befallen Leliana in the years following the blight, she was determined and loyal to not just him and their friends from that day, but to her love.
Zevran was master of the Crows now, even the thought of Zevran brought a smile to Alistair’s face, for all his innuendos, the elf had been a good friend and ally, even doing some work for Alistair when it was required. Oghren would be there beside them when they walked into the deep roads. So he was sure that belching farting foul mouthed shrimp would see them through it all.
He had no idea what had happened to Shale, but Leliana had said she was around somewhere and that the Tevinter mage who had helped her restore her form was her companion. Wynn had died in Orlais, Sten was Arishock now, well that was hardly a surprise really, Alistair had seen him once since they parted company and that was in the company of a dwarf called Varric and a pirate queen called Isabella.
Morrigan...he closed his eyes, Leliana had told him that Kieran was a happy boy, well grounded and polite. He regretted ever not being able to see his son, but he had made a promise, and it seemed that Morrigan had lost her nasty edge. He looked to the sky and stopped, there was a raven, which was not unusual but when they stopped it stopped.
He leant over and rested a hand on Selena's arm “We are being followed it seems sister”
Selena glanced back and smiled to herself “I think someone wishes to join us.”
“Not for my benefit I can assure you of that” Alistair muttered.
Selena raised her arm and the raven settled happily on her wrist then moved to the Warden Commanders shoulder and looked at Alistair.
“I knew it. She's come to gloat to finally say goodbye and good riddance, bloody sneaky witch thief twitchy...” his barb however did not have the same punch it once did and the yellow eyed raven cocked its head a little and then hopped on his shoulder “Fine Morrigan, but crap on my armour and you are cleaning it off.”
The Raven squawked but said nothing more. Leliana sniggered a little but her gaze remained on Selena's face, although her eyes flickered gratefully to the Raven and the bird bobbed its head a little.
They would not be alone.
They were three days from Orzamarr when Morrigan resumed her human form, she helped Leliana set up the fire and brought some rabbit for the meal. The two Wardens were waiting for their comrades giving the two women time alone.
“When did you hear about it?” Leliana asked.
“Kieran told me it was time. He said he could feel his fathers growing call so, I left Kieran in the care of some Dalish friends and said I would see that his father made his destination. It didn't take me long to work out that Selena and Oghren would also be with him,” Morrigan looked at her “You?”
“I think Selena was planning to leave without me. But I would not have let that happen,”
“Worry not bard, I would have come for you” Morrigan replied and set the spits up with the rabbits that she had expertly skinned and gutted. She closed her eyes a little “I will miss her Leliana, she has been the sister I never had, our debates have been like fire and ice, like raging tempests but our love is earnt. If I could have found a way to aid her in her hunt then I would have done, I swear to you I would have found a way to stop this from taking them away from us...from you”
Leliana rested a hand over Morrigans and for once Morrigan did not shrug it off “Perhaps” She whispered “When I return to my home after I have been to Skyhold to deliver a message, you and Kieran would like to come and stay with me. I have the room”
Morrigan looked at her and for the briefest of moments Leliana saw the golden eyes dampen, then they looked away “I cannot impose...”
“It would not be an imposition, the stronghold of the peak is nearby and there are merchants. Some of the farms are back in use so there are young people for Kieran to associate with, and I could use the company of a friend.”
Morrigan looked at her once more “or perhaps a sister?”
Leliana nodded and smiled. “Maybe Kieran would one day get to meet Maric”
“Oh I don't know about that, wouldn't want Anora to think that there was a challenge to the throne would we.”
“She wouldn't” Alistair sat himself down and warmed his hands “I told her about Kieran when I found out about him. She knows he is the reason Selena and I survived the Arch Demon in Denerim. He is welcome to visit Morrigan,” Alistair met her gaze “Anora told me to tell you should I see you, Maric has a brother, she has no wish for it to end up like me and Calen. Kieran is my son in all the ways that count and he has a right to meet his brother”
“That is very generous of Anora” Morrigan was shocked “I will put it to Kieran and let him decide. He is 16 now and a grown man almost.”
“Selena said he has you hair”
“He has your temperament Alistair, and your eyes” Morrigan took a small locket from her pocket and handed it too him “When you are in the Deep Roads, keep him by your side as he keeps you by his”
Alistair opened the locket to see a small picture of his son, and the resemblance between Kieran and Maric was unmistakable. He was a Therrin there was no doubt. He went to put it round his neck, but his fingers trembled too much.
Morrigan got up and did it for him, she planted a kiss on his cheek and patting his shoulder walked to where her best friend stood, waiting.
“I will keep my promise old friend. Leliana will always be under my protection.”
Selena looked at her and nodded, not saying anything. She didn't need to even now Morrigan could sense the blight taking hold of her friends. Alistair hid it better but it was there. The two women stood in silence and watched the moon, Morrigan rested her head against her friends shoulder, her arm around her, to anyone else it was two close friends saying goodbye, but Morrigan was ensuring that the Hero of Ferelden had someone to help her remain standing and for once, gave her some strength that others had taken from the Warden.
It was time that someone other than Leliana shoulder that responsibility, after all, Thedas owed these Wardens that now headed to their own end more than anyone should ever wish to believe.
By dawns early light the other three Wardens joined their Commander and their King and headed to the Dwarven realm.
They stood at the entrance to the Deep Roads, Leliana watched as the Legion of the Dead came to meet the Grey Wardens, and when they saw who they actually were all of the Legion bowed their heads and moved to one knee. Sigrun had died several years earlier. There were some words spoken that neither Leliana or Morrigan could hear.
Selena looked back and handed her staff to Nathaniel then walked back to where the two women stood with Bheln beside them. “When our time has come to an end, the Legion will send word to you both and to Denerim and Amaranthine. Leli, Amaranthine is no longer a major Warden stronghold, but it is still my Arling, it is now yours” Leliana stared shaking her head a little “I think it is time that you did what you do best and maybe if Morrigan is willing, allow Kieran to become our heir, he is like a Nephew to me and as we have no children” Her voice trailed a little.
“Would it not revert to the Crown?” Morrigan asked as Alistair joined them with Oghren.
“There is still a Warden presence, but we are separate from the main order now and we are more armed protectors than Wardens” Oghren explained. “This was discussed before Sel went to be with Leliana, We just needed your permission Lady Morrigan”
Morrigan could barely believe that Oghren was being official, no burbs, no farts and no expletives.
“I already agreed to it” Alistair took Morrigans hands in his, the poor woman was too shocked to even draw back “My – our son will have what is due to him unlike myself. He will be acknowledged as my son and he will have a place in the Royal household. This is the best way we could do it without those idiots at the Landsmeet shitting on it as in their eyes he is like his father, a bastard son of a king”
“And that is the truth of it” Morrigan whispered and lowered her hands “I thank you Alistair, it will be good to have a place we can call home without eyes watching us all the time.”
“You and Leli will rule in my stead and when Kieran is of age, he will become the new Arl” Selena glanced at them and after they said their goodbyes she was left with the silent bard. “Live for me Leli, be happy and if you should meet someone who stirs your heart...do not hesitate, take it with both hands and live.”
“No one will ever replace you my love” Leliana held her head high but the tears flowed.
“I should think not” Selena smiled, a weak one but it was there “But you do not deserve to be alone my love.”
Selena kissed her, it was a long passionate kiss and when they drew back she bowed her head and walked towards her Wardens, those that had been there for her and with her through thick and thin and without looking back walked alongside the dwarves into the deep roads....
A letter arrived for Leliana, one for Morrigan and one for Queen Anora, another for Felsi and one for the Howes and the Dalish clan that had long settled in the Amaranthine lands. It was from the commander of the Legion of the Dead, and was dated six months after they had gone into the Deep Roads and read as follows:
“It is my solemn and honoured duty to inform you, that the Grey Wardens Nathaniel Howe, Alistair Therrin, Oghren, Valaana and the Hero of Fereldan Selena Amell, fought a host of Darkspawn that had infested the Cadash Thaig once more.
It was a battle to glory of the Ancestors and the Maker himself, they stood back to back as brothers and sister, and allowed us to collect out wounded and our dead. They died with honour and dignity their peace with the Maker made.”
At the bottom of Leliana's note was an adenum. “The Commander of the Grey wished me to convey this to you. Never has she loved anyone as much as she has loved you. You were her reason to go on and you were her reason to fight every evil that came her way. You will one day be by her side in the Makers sight, until then....remember her and live.”
Leliana's heart broke.