Tahlmus Fan Fiction

Several years ago I started playing video games. My favorite (or rather the easiest one I could play) was Dragon Age. Being naive in the video game playing world, I was unaware that the character I was playing (a male character named Tahlmus) could romance the other characters. Imagine my surprise when after a conversation my character was kissing Flemeth’s daughter, Morrigan. Of course at the end of the game she leaves my character no matter what choices are made along the way or how much she “loves” my character.

This was very upsetting to my character and even myself as I had become intrigued with the romance storyline. My friend, who also enjoyed the game laughed at my emotional state, but said she would write me a story with a different ending. This eventually turned into, not really a competition, both of us writing a story in which Morrigan comes back to my character. We probably spent two to three years bouncing ideas off of each other until she moved on to another task, and I finished mine.

I created a deeper background for my character, which included having a sister who fought by his side. I also delved deeper into specific relationships and emotions that were not present in the game, and of course in the end, the “hero” gets his girl.

The basis of the story,  however is not of my own creation. It follows the storyline of the Dragon Age: Origins video game, which does include some key dialogue from the game to make the story line progress. This is in no way for money, it is only a way for me to share a different take on my Warden character and his adventures in fighting the blight.

Pick your chapter below or just scroll down to start reading.

Chapter 1      Chapter 2      Chapter 3      Chapter 4     Chapter 5      Chapter 6      Chapter 7     Chapter 8      Chapter 9      Chapter 10    Chapter 11   Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14   Chapter 15    Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18   Chapter 19    Chapter 20    Chapter 21   Chapter 22    Chapter 23    Chapter 24    Chapter 25   Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28
Chapter 29    Chapter 30    Chapter 31    Chapter 32   Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35   Chapter 36

Chapter 1

The Brecilian Forest was as old as the land. At least, that is what mother told me, and mother knew all. She was the only other being besides animals that I knew. She told me I was different from other people, different from her even, I was special. I had been conceived in order to save a man’s life; so he could slay the arch-demon and live.

The man was the Hero of Ferelden, and my father. Mother never really talked about him unless I persistently asked about him. She would then start her story, “Your father was a powerful mage. Probably the most powerful mage in history. More powerful than I think he ever realized. For all that power and knowledge, he had, he never used it to his benefit. No matter his emotional want or need. Your father always did the right thing.” Mom would usually stop there and tell me to go play so she could be alone.

I had been born a mage, and mother had started to teach me how to handle it at an early age. I learned about the fade, and how to safeguard against demons. She taught me spells that would allow me to defend myself against men she called Templars. She told me Templars were evil, and that they would try to take me away, lock me in a tower, and control what talents I could use. I learned old magic which her mother had taught her, complex healing spells, and how to change my form.

One morning while she was out, I broke into her personal chest. I hoped to find something that would help me learn more about my father. I found two daggers, and a lot of notebooks. I picked up the daggers, a certain energy passing through me. I liked how they felt in my hands; better than the wooden staff mother had me use to cast spells. I then picked up one of the notebooks and started to read through it. I realized it was a diary, and not just any diary. It was my father’s diary. It was odd though, instead of keeping track of events, it told of spells, and the history of the Dalish clan. From what I could gather my father had descended from a long line of powerful elf mages, going back to the time where the elves had their own homeland.

I had sensed that my mother was close to the hut. A talent I was slowly becoming aware of and used to. I grabbed a couple more notebooks, locked the chest back up, grabbed the daggers, and snuck out the back door just as mother walked through the front. I ran into the forest and hid my new found things in a tree. Then I went back to the hut to see my mother.

Over the next year, I would go into the forest and read through the notebooks I had taken. They told of spells to use with the daggers, which I practiced continuously. They also told of special protective spells which I would practice on a small scale, since the notebooks warned that trying to conjure a protective spell that required more power than the mage possessed could kill him.

As I continued to practice and learn the spells from the notebook I could feel myself getting stronger. I found the lessons with my mother were getting easier and didn’t take as much energy. Mother noticed too, especially when she taught me new, more powerful spells. She never questioned my lack of fatigue, and never brought up the missing daggers or notebooks, if she had even noticed they were missing.

On my 10th birthday, mother told me I was ready for my very own staff. She handed me a dark wooden staff that had a spider carved in the top and the words, “I will always love and protect you” etched along the base of the staff. I felt a small surge of energy flow through me as I took it from her. It felt the same as when I had first taken the daggers.

With wet eyes my mother told me, “Your father made that staff for me. He gave it to me the last night we spent together, told me it was enchanted it so only I or someone of my bloodline could use it. Since you are so much like him, I felt you should have it.”

“Is that why I felt the small surge of energy? Because of that magic?”

“Yes Tahlmus, the staff was recognizing you as mine, and as its new owner.”

“Did my father enchant the daggers too?”

My mother gave me a hard look, almost a glare. Then her eyes softened. “Five years,” she said softly. I gave her a questioning look. “I knew you took them, and some of the journals. I kept waiting for you to either come take the rest, or admit it to me so I could give you the rest.”

“I don’t understand. You wanted to give them to me?”

“The daggers belonged to your father, and his father had enchanted them so only those of his bloodline could use them. He gave me the daggers and notebooks the night before our final battle with the arch-demon. He gave them to me in case our son, like himself liked daggers better than a staff. I was hoping it would be another year or two before you found them. It seems however my unwillingness to talk about him has inadvertently brought out some rogue talents that your father possessed.”

I was too stunned to say anything as she opened her chest and gave me the rest of the notebooks. I took them and started to learn about my father through his magic. I discovered that mom had been right. He had been a really powerful mage, and knew how to do almost everything.

Now at age 12 I felt like I knew my father magically, but I wanted to know him better than that. I wanted to know what he was like. I needed to know why he just let my mother go. If he had ever thought about me. Why he never bothered to look for us. I wasn’t mad at him, but I had so many questions, and mother wouldn’t answer them.

I decided I needed to find my father. So I set off as a wolf after mother went to sleep. I made my way toward the Brecilian forest, hoping to find the Dalish clan my father had been a part of. He might not be among them, but they might be able to point me in the general direction of where I could find him. I travelled all night as a wolf to the forest, and then spent all morning searching for a Dalish clan. By mid-day I hadn’t found a single elf and I was exhausted. I changed back into my own elf form and sat with my back against a giant oak tree.

Pulling out the necklace I had hidden under my robes, I played with the ring that was attached to it. Mother had given it to me two years ago. She told me to wear it at all times. It was enchanted so that if I got lost or disappeared she could find me. She told me she had given my father the same type of ring when they had travelled together.

I sat there now and wondered if mother was using her magic to locate me. I hoped she hadn’t yet noticed I was missing. I wondered if my father still had his ring; if all those times mom asked to be alone if she had tried locating him. Soon my eyes closed. I started to dream about meeting the famed Hero of Ferelden, my father.

Just as I was about ready to tap this red-headed elf on the shoulder I could feel someone or something shaking me awake. The image faded away. My eyes opened to see an older female standing above me. Her hair was whiter than the first snow; her face displayed a faded green tattoo. She smiled politely before speaking to me, “I am the Dalish Keeper, Merathari. Are you lost young man?” Her eyes never strayed from my face, her own slowly losing its normally peachy color to an off white. I wasn’t sure how I should respond. I had never talked to anyone besides my mother. “I…I don’t think I’m lost. I came into the forest hoping to find a Dalish clan.” The Keeper looked like she was going to pass out. “Are you feeling alright?”

“What? Oh yes boy I am fine. You just look exactly like my apprentice, only a few years younger and a clean face. Did you run away from the city? What is your name?”

My head started to spin a little. Mother always said I looked like my father and he had been an apprentice before the blight. “Had he gone back?” I wondered as I blinked trying to clear my head. “No, I live in the Kocari Wilds with my mother. I ran away to find a Dalish clan because I hoped they’d be able to lead me to my father. My mother named me after him, I’m …”

“Tahlmus.” The Keeper finished for me. “Your mother is Morrigan, daughter of Flemeth, the witch of the wilds.”

“Well, yes she is, but how did you know…” I was stunned. Mother always claimed to not know anyone from my father’s clan.

“After the blight ended, your father came back to be my apprentice, when he wasn’t busy with his duties at the castle in Denerim. He has told me about his lost love, Morrigan. How he wishes to seek her out, but doesn’t because of a promise he made her before battling the arch-demon.”

“So he loved my mother,” I thought but the rest didn’t make sense. “What promise? Mother has never spoken of this. If he loved her, why did he let her go?”

“She never told you,” the keeper said sadly.

“Told me what?” I was confused and almost angry at this point.

“Come with me Tahlmus, and I will tell you about your father.” I took her outstretched hand, and followed her back to her clan’s camp. We sat down by the fire and she began her story. “I guess the best place to start is the beginning.” She started telling it, “Tahlmus was the first born of my first apprentice, Theron, and his wife, Karia. They were able to name him before his first birthday, which is unusual for most elven children. He had showed an affinity for daggers, and by the time he was three he was starting to show signs of magic.” By this time, I was actually watching the story play out in front of me.

Six months after he turned three, Tahlmus helped invite his baby sister into the world. Not two years later Tahlmus was taking lessons from his mother in navigating the forest with stealth, picking locks, and wielding daggers; and getting lessons from his father in ancient elven magic that had been passed down from the beginning of time, and how to concentrate his magic into his daggers for deadlier blows.

His sister earned her name Tavain, and had started to show signs of being a rogue. Theron and Karia were proud of both their children. They had matured, to this point, faster than other elven children, which was rare. Theron and Karia knew Tahlmus and Tavain were destined to do some amazing things.

Chapter 2

On Tahlmus’ 7th birthday his parents told him he was far enough into his training he could start carrying weapons.

“Here Tahlmus,” said his father, “I made this staff out of some ironbark I found in the forest. It is light and yet powerful. It should serve you well when using more powerful spells. At least until you come to full power at which point you will no longer need a staff. I have enchanted it so that only you or someone with your blood can use it.”

Tahlmus felt a small surge of energy pass through him as he took the staff from his father. He couldn’t wait to show his friend Tamlen. “Thank you, father.” Theron nodded at his son.

Karia then stood in front of Tahlmus, “traditionally Tahlmus I would give you my own blades. They’ve been handed down to the first-born rogue in my family for several generations. However, with you using magic with the daggers mine would not have held up for you. So, I had master Illen make special blades just for you. Your father has enchanted these as well.”

Tahlmus’ eyes lit up again as he felt a small surge of energy flow through him as he accepted the daggers from his mother. “Mother these feel perfect. So light, yet the material is so strong. Thank you so much.” Karia smiled as her son wrapped her in a hug, and then carefully put on the sheath made to carry both daggers and his staff.

“Now why don’t you go find your sister and play with her.”

“Yes mother.”

His father interjected, “And Tahlmus, don’t let her get into any more trouble today. We don’t need a repeat of what happened before breakfast.”

“Of course father,” said Tahlmus smiling. “You can count on me.”

“I hope so Tahlmus, otherwise you will be the one to collect wood for the poor family that Tavain chooses to pick on. Understood?”

Tahlmus’ smile disappeared instantly, “Understood sir.” Tahlmus then ran off to find his sister.

Lucky for Tahlmus, Tavain didn’t cause any trouble. He had found her just inside the Brecilian Forest drawing in the dirt with sticks. She jumped up and wrapped him in a hug. “Will you draw with me big brother?” Tahlmus nodded, finding his own stick to draw with. He drew with her until he noticed the sun starting to fade from the sky.

“Alright Tavain, it’s time to start heading back to the tent.” Tavain pretended not to hear him. She wanted to keep drawing in the dirt. “Tavain… Tavain look at me, please,” pleaded Tahlmus. She had been good all day, he didn’t need her to cause problems now.

Tavain slowly looked up at her big brother and smiled. If her brother had one weakness it was that he loved her too much to be able to tell her no.
“Oh Tavain, don’t look at me like that. You know we have to go. I don’t need to get into trouble like last time.”

It was true, last time Tavain convinced him to stay out later than they should, father had punished Tahlmus, making him gather wood for the fire, wash the dinner dishes, make all the beds, and help the keeper of the hala by cleaning out the pens and making sure they had fresh water for two weeks. And that was on top of getting in his lessons with their mother and father.

Tavain made a pretend sniffle, “But, but I want to draw one more picture.”
Tahlmus had to look away from his sister’s face. He fell for it every time. “Tell you what, I’ll race you back to the tent. If you win, I’ll bring you right back out here so you can draw some more, but if I win you have to tell mother and father why we are a little late.”

Tavain smiled. She enjoyed racing with her brother, he always gave her a head start, and the race always ended in a tie, even though he could easily beat her. “Alright big brother, but I get a head start.”

“As always sis, I’ll count to ten. You get going.” Tavain took off while Tahlmus counted to ten. He reached ten then took off after her. He was a little slower than normal. He was not used to the weight of his daggers and staff. Catching up to Tavain he slowed his pace so that they stopped in front of their tent at the same time.

Tahlmus sensed something was wrong. Mother’s eyes were wet, as if she had been crying. His father was concentrating on a spell. Tahlmus opened his mouth to ask what was wrong when a scream erupted behind him.

Tahlmus turned and saw fellow clan members running towards the forest. Then he saw them… the shemlen. The humans had swords and bows, and they were attacking the clan. Tahlmus turned back to his parents awaiting instructions. He fought his urge to run.

Karia picked up her daughter, whispered “I love you” in her ear, and then placed her in her brother’s arms. “Tahlmus take your sister and get into the forest with the rest of the clan.”

“But mother what about…” Tahlmus started before his father interrupted.

“Tahlmus, listen to your mother. Get to the forest. Protect your sister.”

“Yes, father.” And with that Tahlmus took off running. Halfway through the camp Tahlmus heard a familiar voice yelling for help. He paused looking at the source of the cry and saw a shemlen dragging a six year old elf, his best friend, back towards the shem’s city.

Tahlmus shifted his sisters weight so he could hold her with one hand while he used the other to cast a stun spell at the shem. Stunned in mid stride the shemlen fell to the ground, releasing his hold on young Tamlen, who was too scared to move. Tahlmus ran over, grabbed his friend, and started running towards the forest again.

They had just about reached the clearing when Tahlmus felt a searing pain in his chest, almost as if he had been stabbed. The pain was so great he fell to his knees. He gave Tavain, who was now screaming to Tamlen. Tahlmus told him to get to the forest with the rest of the clan.

As he watched them go, trying not to think of Tavain’s screams, he felt his chest where the pain was. There was no dagger; no arrow there. He didn’t understand it. He forced himself to stand up and looked back at the camp. He saw a whole line of shemlen coming towards the forest, towards the clan, and his sister who he had promised to protect. Pulling out his staff he prepared to cast a protective shield over the clan. He ignored the searing pain he felt of being stabbed again as he concentrated on finishing the spell. Tahlmus tapped his staff on the ground to finish the spell, feeling energy drain out of him. His world then went dark.

As Tahlmus started to regain some sense of still being alive, he felt a small warm body curled-up next to him. There was also a cool damp sensation on his forehead. He slowly opened his eyes. He saw Keeper Merathari and his friend Tamlen learning over him, watching him. With a little difficulty he managed to sit up and found the small warm body he had felt was that of his sister. She jumped into his lap and wrapped her little arms around his neck. He hugged her back.

“Tavain, I’m so glad you’re safe.” Tahlmus was happy his sister was still alive. He had come through for mother and father, but he sensed that something wasn’t right. He could see it in the keeper’s eyes when she looked at him. He could see Tamlen had been crying.
“Tamlen, what’s wrong?”

Tamlen sniffled trying to dry his eyes before he spoke, “My parents never made it to the forest. Keeper went out looking for them once it was light out. She found them in our tent, dead.” The silent tears down his friend’s face made Tahlmus want to cry.

“They weren’t the only ones who didn’t make it Tahlmus.”

Tahlmus looked at the keeper, “What do you mean they weren’t the only ones?”
In the back of his mind Tahlmus knew the keeper was talking about his parents, but he didn’t want it to be true. His mother was the clan’s best warrior, his father a very powerful mage.

“Your parents,” the keeper started, “they didn’t survive the night Tahlmus. They are gone.”

Tahlmus got up, trying to stop his head from spinning, “Your wrong keeper. You have to be.” With that Tahlmus took off running back to camp.

“Tahlmus!” shouted the keeper, “Tahlmus come back here.” But Tahlmus couldn’t hear the keeper over his drumming heart and pounding feet. He had even failed to hear his sister who was trying to run after him; her stubby little legs not allowing her to keep up with him. “Big brother! Wait for me. I want to come too.” Tavain realized her brother couldn’t hear her, but she kept shouting anyway.

Tahlmus found his parents’ bodies lying in front of the tent where he had left them. Both had stab wounds in the chest. He could feel his anger rising as he dropped to his knees between his parents. Placing a hand on each of them, he concentrated everything he had into the reviving spell his father had taught him. He even closed his eyes, hoping it would help.

He was still trying a couple minutes later when he felt a pair of tiny arms wrap around him. He opened his eyes and looked in his sister’s soft brown eyes. “Tahlmus, when will mommy and daddy wake up? I’m hungry.”

Tahlmus looked from Tavain to their parents, back to Tavain before speaking, “I… I’ve been trying to wake them Tavain. I’m hungry too.”

Tavain looked at him disapprovingly, “You had your eyes closed. How does that help them wake up?”

Tahlmus wasn’t sure how to explain that their parents were dead, especially when he could hardly accept it. “I was trying a spell father had taught me Tavain. It’s supposed to be able to wake up anyone that the gods don’t want to be permanently sleeping.”

“Then you must have gotten it wrong big brother. Mommy and daddy didn’t wake. Wake them up please.” She smiled her sweet smile at Tahlmus. Some more tears found their way to the tip of his nose. He smiled back at his sister. She had almost convinced him that their parents were just sleeping. He slowly stood up, taking his sister into his arms.

“I…I’m sorry Tavain. I did what I could, but I… I guess the gods decided that mommy and daddy need to sleep for a really long time.”

Tahlmus started to carry her back to the forest, when she started crying. As he got further from the bodies of their parents Tavain started to punch her little fists into Tahlmus’ chest reminding him of the stabbing pain he’d felt the night before, and the stab wounds he saw on his parents. Tavain then started to scream at him, “Stop! Stop Tahlmus. Stop. We need to go back and get mommy and daddy. Tahlmus stop walking away. Stop Tahl…”

His name became muffled as he pulled her closer, and lightly pushed her head into the crook of his neck. This made it easier for him to whisper to her, because the lump in his throat wouldn’t let him talk any louder.
“It’s ok Tavain, I’m going to take care of you, and I’ll protect you. We’re going to be alright.”

Chapter 3

Tamlen went under the care of a couple who couldn’t have kids of their own. Tahlmus and Tavain stayed with their Aunt Eria. Eria blamed Theron for her sister’s death. Theron had convinced Karia to hone her talents as a rogue and encouraged her to learn more. Eria felt had Theron not convinced Karia to become a rogue and hunter, Karia would have ran into the forest, instead of attempting to fight off the shem with him and dying. She made this very clear to Tahlmus that evening after he had managed to get a crying Tavain to sleep.

“Tahlmus get over here we have to talk.”

Tahlmus didn’t like her tone but he obeyed, “Yes, Aunt Eria.”

“Now you listen to me and you listen to me good. You are your father’s son and under different circumstances would not be allowed to stay in my tent. Tavain, however, will not let you out of her sight. She will not listen to anyone but you which forces me to let you live here. Otherwise you would be going to another clan. I cannot change the fact you are a mage, but I can make sure Tavain stays safe by never learning Karia’s talents. With that said, I forbid you to teach her anything.”

Tahlmus could feel his anger rising. He had overheard his parents on a few occasions discuss possible lessons for Tavain. His father had told him to protect his sister. Tahlmus was going to do that by teaching her what rogue talents he knew, whether his aunt liked it or not.

“Do we have an understanding Tahlmus?” His aunt’s words broke through his thoughts, and he just looked at her.

Eria grabbed her nephew by the ear, “I asked you a question Tahlmus. Do we have an understanding?”

Tahlmus managed to look her straight in the eye as he spoke, “I promised my mother and father that I would protect Tavain and that is exactly what I’m going to do. No matter what it entails.”

Tahlmus cast a spell that made him disappear from his aunt’s sight, and reappear next to Tavain. His sister seemed to sense his presence because she curled up next to him. Her little hand took hold of his robes. He wrapped his arms around her and whispered, “I love you Tavain. I’m going to take care of you,” then he himself fell asleep.

Two n a half years later Tahlmus found himself sitting in his aunt’s tent alone. She had caught him, for a third time that week, teaching Tavain their mother’s skills. She had drug him home by his ear and banished him to the tent til morning. The hair on his neck stood on end as he sensed something moving outside the tent. The flap moved and in came Tavain.

“I brought you supper,” she smiled.

Tahlmus smiled back at her. “How’d you get that past Aunt Eria?”

“I’m sneaky,” she giggled in reply

Tahlmus laughed as he accepted the food. “I’m proud of you sis. Thank you.” Tavain smiled her sweet little smile. “What do you want Tavain?” he questioned.

“You started teaching me to use weapons today…” she paused.

“Yes,” Tahlmus nodded. “Go on.”

“So that means you’re satisfied with my other skills,” she continued.

“You’ve perfected them at the simplest level, yes,” Tahlmus replied still not sure where she was going with all this.

“So, does that mean you’ll teach me to unlock the unlockable chest?”

Tahlmus looked sideways at his sister for a few seconds before it dawned on him what she wanted. He smiled. “I’m not teaching you how to get into my chest,” he replied.  Tavain frowned at him. “When you’re old enough, I’ll let you see what’s inside.”

“When will I be old enough?” she questioned.

“When I’m old enough to know when you’re old enough.”

“Big brother…”

Tahlmus held up his hand. “You better get back outside before Aunt Eria catches you in here.” Tavain nodded and went back outside. Tahlmus finished eating while formulating a plan.

Tahlmus was up with the sun. He went into the forest to find a nice open space where Tavain would be able to safely learn how to use a bow and arrow. After finding what he felt to be the perfect spot, he went back to camp to seek out his friend Tamlen, who was getting his training in archery.


“Yes, Tahlmus.”

In a soft voice Tahlmus asked, “Tamlen would you teach my sister how to use a bow and arrow?”

“Sure, but I thought your aunt didn’t want Tavain learning that sort of thing.”

“She doesn’t. Which is why you’ll meet me at the entrance to the forest after lunch. We’re going to practice in the forest.”

Before Tamlen could answer a scream erupted from one of the tents. Tahlmus looked expecting to see shemlen. Instead he caught a glimpse of his sister slipping behind a tree, a wild grin on her face. Wondering what his sister had done this time he slipped away, leaving Tamlen to think about his request.

“Psst. Tavain.” Tavain was startled by her brother’s sudden appearance. “Tavain what did you do this time?” whispered Tahlmus.

She smiled innocently at her brother. “I didn’t do anything harmful.”

Tahlmus slumped against the tree, “You put frogs in the cook ware again didn’t you?” Tavain nodded. “Tavain, you really shouldn’t do that.”

Tavain smiled, “you going to turn me in big brother?”

Tahlmus sighed, “Not when you look at me like that. However, you will have to work harder at your lesson this afternoon.”

“You’re still going to teach me? But Aunt Eria knows all of our training spots now.”

“Maybe within the camp she does, but we’re going to be going into the forest, and Tamlen is going to teach you under my supervision.”

Tavain made a sour face, “Ewe, why Tamlen?”

“He’s my only friend. I couldn’t go to anyone else and he can teach you archery. I realize it’s not the best way. None of your lessons have been the way they should have been, but without mother and father I’m doing the best I can.”

He could tell Tavain was about to cry, he was too.  “I know you are big brother. I…I miss mommy and daddy.”

Tahlmus wrapped her in a hug as tears stung his own eyes, “I know you do Tavain, I miss them too.”

“Promise me big brother. Promise me you’ll never leave me.”

“I promise sis. I promise I will never leave you. Now let’s get back to Eria’s tent before she comes looking for us.”

Chapter 4

On his 10thbirthday the elders let him tattoo his face signaling adulthood. He chose the same tattoo his father had with markings around his eyes, under his mouth along his chin and the middle of his forehead. This had caught the keeper’s attention, who sent him out on patrols with the hunters. This meant lessons had to be scheduled around patrols, but the young elves made it work. Tavain and Tamlen both excelled under Tahlmus’ supervision. Tahlmus himself grew stronger as he learned from his father’s notebooks.

The keeper watched the three orphaned elves sneak off into the forest. She had watched them do it for the past three years. She had sent a couple of hunters after the children the first time, but the children came back before the hunters did.  She had grown accustomed to it. She also knew with his from his work on patrols, and his facial tattoo’s that Tahlmus could go where he pleased. On this day however, the keeper was curious as to where they always went.  She tried to follow them.

Tahlmus sensed someone was following them. He whispered orders to Tamlen and Tavain, “You guys keep walking, but slow your pace and stay alert. Someone is following us. I’m going to circle around behind.”

The two younger elves nodded and slowed their pace as Tahlmus slipped into the dense brush. The keeper was confused after she saw Tahlmus slip away, but she slowed her pace to keep her distance from Tamlen and Tavain. Tahlmus’ words startled her, “Keeper? Why are you following us?” Tamlen and Tavain turned around at Tahlmus’ voice ready to draw their weapons. They saw the keeper and Tahlmus holding his blades at his sides.

“Oh, Tahlmus, you surprised me.” started the keeper, “I was…just out for a walk. That’s all. What are you doing out here Tahlmus you’re not on patrol.”

“Forgive me keeper, but you’re lying. You are following us. I’ve sensed your presence since we left.” The two younger elves’ mouths dropped into perfect circles. No one ever accused the keeper of lying. “So why were you following us keeper?” Tahlmus asked again as he put his blades back in the sheath.

“You’ve been bringing these two into the forest for three years now Tahlmus. Even after receiving the facial tattoo signaling your adulthood, the forest is still a dangerous place. You shouldn’t be out here alone with two children.”

“The forest is only dangerous to those who can’t navigate or respect it Keeper. All three of us know how to do both.”

“Tahlmus the only person who could navigate this forest was your mother and for…”

Tahlmus interrupted the Keeper, making Tamlen and Tavain wince. No one ever interrupted the Keeper either. “You’re right Keeper, my mother was a master at navigating this forest. She was the only one to ever enter it alone” His voice became a little softer, “And she taught me all she knew about it so I could navigate through it.”

“But Tahlmus why endanger…”

He interrupted the Keeper again, “I’m not endangering anyone Keeper, but you endangered yourself by thinking you could follow us. However, since you are out here you can either come with us and observe, or you can go back to camp.” He walked past the Keeper towards Tamlen and Tavain, “let’s go you two, we have a lesson to see to.”

The two young elves quickly obeyed Tahlmus and started for the clearing where lessons were held. Besides Tahlmus, she had not seen that kind of discipline in young elves before. The Keeper quietly followed thinking of how Tahlmus was so much like his father. Theron had been the first, and last until now, to ever question her authority. That was what had made her pick him as her apprentice. She had just found an apprentice, Merril, a 15-year old female from one of the sister clans, but there was no rule stating she couldn’t have two.

The lesson the keeper got to observe was an odd one. Tahlmus turned each of their fears/weaknesses into real life situations, and they had to make the right choice. Tavain and Tamlen made it through with little difficulty, but Tahlmus didn’t do as well.

There was a shem lost in the forest, that had insulted Tamlen. Tahlmus had to keep Tamlen from killing the shem, while Tavain played Tahlmus’ conscience, reminding him of the shemlen who killed their parents. Tahlmus let Tamlen kill the shem the first attempt. He tried again. She watched him clench his fists to try to hold back his anger. He succeeded in his second attempt, but the Keeper could tell it had a strong emotional drain on him.

With the completion of the lesson, Tahlmus told Tamlen and Tavain to head back to camp, and that he would follow shortly. Tahlmus found a rock to sit on. The keeper watched him slowly run both his hands through his hair before burying his face in his hands. The Keeper walked over to him, and gently placed her hand on his shoulder.

“Tahlmus are you alright?”

Tahlmus looked up at the Keeper, a single tear fading from his cheek. “I’m fine keeper. I just needed a few minutes to reflect is all.” Tahlmus ran his fingers through his hair again, “I just… I hate the humans so much.” He clenched his fists as he felt the burning in his eyes again.

“I’d be worried if you didn’t, Tahlmus,” the keeper spoke softly.

The Keeper noticed Tahlmus’ eyes haze over as he spoke, “It will be 5 years tomorrow. I’ve taught Tavain as well as I can. Taught her what I thought mother and father would have wanted her to know.” Tahlmus looked down at the ground. “I just hope I haven’t let them down or disappointed them in any way.”

“From what I saw tonight Tahlmus, you’ve trained Tavain well. Your parents would be proud of both of you. I’m proud of you too Tahlmus.”

“Thank you Keeper. You’re too kind.”

“It’s long overdue Tahlmus. Now why don’t you run along back to camp.”

Tahlmus got up from the rock still in thought. “Keeper I’m sorry for how I acted earlier. I shouldn’t have pointed out you lying or interrupted you, especially in front of other clan members. I’ll accept whatever punishment you deem appropriate.”

“Thank you Tahlmus. I will think it over.  Now run along quickly.”

Upon returning to camp, Tahlmus watched his sister unlock Merril’s personal chest, and place a couple of toads inside. She then relocked the chest and slipped away unseen. Tahlmus smirked, speaking to his sister through thought, “Tavain, you know that placing toads in chests is not the best use of your skills.” She looked around until she spotted her brother, then shrugged. She saw him smile and shake his head before he went up to Merril. She hoped Tahlmus wouldn’t rat her out.

“Excuse me, Merril.”

“Yes Tahlmus.”

“I was wondering if you could teach me some of the elven history that the Keeper has taught you.”

Merril smiled, “I’d be more than happy to. Just let me go to my chest and get my journal.”

Tahlmus smiled politely as he nodded. Tavain was surprised. Her brother was helping her with the prank. She saw Tahlmus give her the thumbs up signal, just as Merril let out a loud shriek. She turned to see Merril scooting in the dirt away from her chest. Then she slipped away to go to their aunt’s tent.

Tahlmus was trying to suppress his laughter but found he couldn’t. He fell to the ground, unable to stand. He hadn’t laughed this hard in years. He rather liked it.

“You!” shouted Merril, “you knew those toads were in my chest. You put them there.”

The Keeper heard a scream come from the direction of her tent as she had entered the camp. She ran over to see what had happened. She found Tahlmus struggling to stand, tears running down his face still laughing, with Merril glaring at him, her arms crossed.

“Merril,” The Keeper was slightly out of breath, “What happened?”

“Tahlmus broke into my chest, placed a couple of toads in it, then asked me to tell him about some elven history; knowing I would go to my chest.”

The Keeper looked at Tahlmus who was still sitting on the ground. “Tahlmus, do you have anything to say for yourself?”

Tahlmus wiped the tears from his face as he caught his breath. “I did know the toads were there, but I did not place them there.”

“Then who did place them there Tahlmus?”

Tahlmus smirked as he got to his feet. “That keeper, I’m afraid is between me and the person who did it.”

“Alright then Tahlmus, if you will not tell me, then I’m afraid I have to take you off patrols.”

Tahlmus smiled, “I guess I’ll be learning some of my aunt’s skills then. Have a good evening Merril, Keeper.” He nodded at them both before walking over to Aunt Eria’s tent. The keeper stared at him. He was very much Theron.

He joined Tavain by the fire. “So, sis who else do you enjoy pranking when I’m not around?”

She looked at her brother’s smiling face and giggled. “Everyone, but Merril is my favorite target.”

Tahlmus laughed as he looked through the fire and saw one of the hunters picking up sticks. He poked Tavain in the side and whispered, “Hey watch this.” The hunter went to pick up another stick, but it moved just out of his reach. The hunter stopped scratched his head, then try again to pick up the stick, which as before moved just out of his reach. Tavain giggled as she watched her brother continue to move the stick away from the hunter making the poor guy go in circles. The hunter finally just gave up, and went back to his tent to throw what he had, on the fire.

“Tahlmus, I’m a little disappointed that you would use your magical talents for such tricks.” The Keeper startled Tahlmus. It was unusual for anyone to sneak up on him. He could always sense the presence of people, animals, or objects.

“Keeper…I… I can explain.”

“Oh? I’d like to hear the explanation.”

“Well, you see I… I was… I mean.” Tahlmus stuttered, “Ok, maybe I can’t explain.” Tahlmus ended softly, his head hung in shame of being caught. Tavain wanted to come to her brother’s aid, but before she could think of something to say the keeper spoke.

“I hope you won’t feel that bored training as my apprentice to feel the need to do things like that.”

“Your apprentice? But Keeper, I’m not old enough. What about Merril?”

“Age is just a number. I’ve decided to keep two apprentices, and I’m afraid you don’t have a choice in the matter. You will be at my tent bright and early tomorrow.”

“Yes, Keeper.”

Tahlmus was frozen in place. Had the Keeper really just asked him to be her apprentice? He was only twelve; apprentices were usually at least fourteen or fifteen years old. Tahlmus did as he was told though and reported to the Keeper’s tent the next morning.

Chapter 5

Merril didn’t look happy to see Tahlmus, “What are you doing here?”

“The keeper told me to come. She told me I’d be training as her apprentice along with you.”

“What!” Merril was outraged. “You’re not even old enough.”

“Age is relative Merril,” the Keeper started as she looked from Merril to Tahlmus. “It is the skill that matters.”

“But Keeper, what skill could he possess? You told me his father and mother died when he was 7, and no one else ever started teaching him.”

Tahlmus winced at Merril’s words, but said nothing. The Keeper also kept quiet. She motioned for the two apprentices to follow her, leading them into the woods. This seemed to bother Merril because she wouldn’t stop talking about how dangerous the forest was. Tahlmus tuned her out as he sensed they were being followed. He stopped to look hoping to see something. Nothing caught his attention at first, until he saw a little head poke out from behind a tree and grin at him. He smiled back at his sister. She continued to grow in her talents, and seeing her actually made him feel a little better about being an apprentice.

“Keeper,” whined Merril, “he’s not even following anymore.”


Tahlmus turned around at the sound of his name, “yes Keeper.”

“Why did you stop? Is something wrong?”

“No Keeper. Nothing is wrong. Guess my senses are a little jumpy this morning. I’m a little nervous.”

The Keeper studied Tahlmus unsure of how true his statement was. “Come along then we’re almost there.” She turned and kept walking. Tahlmus looked back one more time. His sister was giggling. He rolled his eyes then ran to catch up with Merril and the Keeper.

The Keeper stopped by a little pond near the clearing Tahlmus had been using for Tavain’s lessons. “Now,” the Keeper stated, “we are here to test your abilities, and we will have these types of lessons once a week. Merril you will go first since you are the oldest.”

“Yes Keeper.”

“I want you to create a protective shield over the three of us; one that will not allow anything or anyone in or out of the area of the shield.”

Merril took her staff and started to concentrate while she muttered a few words. A minute later Tahlmus could see a bluish tinted dome around the three of them. Curious he tried to reach his hand outside the shield, but found the bluish tint to be hard as stone. He felt the Keeper’s gaze as he examined the shield. He then heard a tink type sound. Looking he saw an arrow fall to the ground just outside the dome. He looked up and saw his sister sitting in one of the trees. She had hidden herself well. Tahlmus had only seen her because he knew what to look for.

“Very good Merril, but it took you a little too long to get the shield up. Take it down now Merril.”

“Yes Keeper,” replied Merril. Tahlmus noticed she was flushed and beads of sweat covered her forehead. He watched the bluish tint slowly disappear.

“Alright Tahlmus, your turn. I want you to do the same thing.”

Tahlmus took a deep breath, but didn’t bother pulling out his staff. He held his right hand out in front of him, closed his eyes, and muttered two words. He opened his eyes as he felt the magic pulse from his hand. He nodded at the Keeper when it was done. The whole process took less than fifteen seconds.

“Are you sure you’re done Tahlmus?” The Keeper was surprised. If the shield was indeed in place it was not able to be seen, which was good but rarely occurred for young apprentices, especially one that was as young as Tahlmus.

“Yes Keeper,” Tahlmus responded confidently. “You can have Tavain shoot her arrow.” The Keeper wore a slight look of shock on her face. She had asked Tavain to help in this. So she knew Tavain was there, but she had not seen a trace of Tavain except for the arrow. She wondered how Tahlmus knew.

Tahlmus looked up in time to see his sister’s arrow bounce off the shield and fall to the ground. Feeling the Keeper’s eye on him he reached out, again unable to go through the barrier.

“How did you know your sister was the one who shot the arrow?” The Keeper asked as she attempted to pick up one of Tavain’s arrows, which was hindered by the shield that was still in place.

“For one, the arrows. If you look closely you’ll see the letters T.K.T.T. etched in them. Also, I caught her following us Keeper. My senses weren’t off.”

“I see.” The Keeper was impressed. Tahlmus was more powerful than he let on. “Take the shield down Tahlmus.”

“Yes Keeper,” Tahlmus replied as he removed the shield. “Done.”

“Very well. Merril, now I want you to cast a protective shield around us that will allow us to attack our enemies but not allow them to attack us.” Tahlmus gazed at the keeper, wondering why this was the first lesson.

Merril stopped glaring at Tahlmus, who had made the last task seem so easy. “Yes Keeper.” Taking her staff in hand again she closed her eyes and concentrated while muttering under her breath.

A couple of minutes later, the three mages were surrounded by a blue dome. Tahlmus could just barely make out the outlines of the trees. He also took note that Merril looked like she was about ready to pass out before he felt a feather brush his cheek. He looked down. Tavain’s arrow was in the ground behind him. It looked like her outline was getting ready to shoot again, and the Keeper was busy coddling Merril. He tried to cast a spell to disarm her, but it rebounded off the shield knocking him to the ground instead.

The Keeper heard him fall and took the shield down just as Tavain let go of the arrow. Tahlmus was able to stop the arrow in midair just inches from his face; then let it drop on the ground. Tavain was stunned. She hadn’t seen her brother fall to the ground. She had been so careful to aim away from him. She could see red flash across his eyes, and waited for him to yell at her. His voice sounded in her head, “It’s not your fault Tavain. That was a perfect shot. The disarming spell I tried rebounded off the shield. It knocked me to the ground.” Tavain signaled to let Tahlmus know she’d heard him. He turned his attention back to the Keeper who now had Merril on her feet. She was still very pale, and unsteady on her feet.

“That was not good Merril. You made it backwards and it almost ended as a deadly mistake. In a circumstance that we were actually being attacked it would have been. I’m disappointed in you Merril. You should be strong enough to create that kind of shield in this small of an area.”

“Yes Keeper. I…I know. P… P… Please let me try again.” Stuttered Merril

“I’m afraid not Merril. You are not strong enough to try again right now. You’ll pass out for sure. Tahlmus it’s your turn.”

Tahlmus winced at the Keeper’s tone. “Yes keeper.” This time he pulled out his staff. He closed his eyes and silently mouthed what type of shield he wanted before muttering the same two words he had the first time. Fifteen seconds later a slightly green tinted shield was in place.

Tavain hesitated in firing her arrow. She remembered the green tinted shield. It had appeared around the clan in the forest right before she had seen Tahlmus fall in a heap to the ground.

“Tavain,” her brother’s voice broke through her thoughts. “Tavain, shoot your arrow before I disarm you.”

She looked down at her brother, he was flushed in the face, but still standing. She also saw him preparing to cast a spell. She quickly aimed and shot off her arrow. It bounced off the top of the tinted shield to the ground, just as Tavain felt a magical pulse that caused her to drop her bow. She scampered down the tree to collect it..

Tahlmus, satisfied his sister was safe, turned to the Keeper.  Merril had fire in her eyes. The keeper was deep in thought. “Keeper are you alright?”

She looked over at him as if coming out of a trance. “Oh, yes Tahlmus I’m fine. I need some time to meditate is all. Take the shield down. Lead Merril and your sister back to camp. The lesson is over for the day.” Tahlmus nodded to the Keeper and did as she asked.

Back at camp Merril cornered him. “How did you do that? It’s advanced magic and you pulled it off perfectly without exerting yourself. I demand to know how you did it. A deal with a demon perhaps?” She shoved him up against a tree. “Come on spill it, you’re only twelve, haven’t had a lesson since you were 7. Not even close to full power. How’d you do it?”

Tavain hid behind a tree, her arrow trained on Merril. Just in case Merril decided to try and hurt Tahlmus. She was still close enough to hear their conversation.

“It was no deal with a demon Merril. That’s the worst thing a mage can do. No, Merril, conjuring protective shields was the last thing my father taught me before he died. I also had the advantage of already having conjured a protective shield like the second one we had to create tonight. That night the shemlen attacked, I was told to protect my sister. I saw them following Tamlen, Tavain and I into the forest where the rest of the clan was. I knew I had to do something. Only thing I knew, was that shield. It took everything I had to conjure it. It almost killed me.

Tavain slumped against the tree. At least now she understood why she hadn’t been able to wake him after she had escaped from Tamlen.

Merril started shouting again, “so the Keeper put us through a test she knew you’d succeed at. What makes you so special for her to do that?” Merril’s eyes flared at Tahlmus.

Tahlmus shrugged. “Actually Merril, I never knew Tahlmus had been the one to cast the shield.” Merril turned around, stunned by the Keepers sudden presence, but still holding Tahlmus against the tree. “I always thought it had been Theron. His last effort to save the clan, since I had refused to listen to him.”

“W…what do you mean Keeper?” Tahlmus felt confused.

“Your father warned me of the attack. He wanted to put up a protective shield in the forest beforehand. When I asked him on what he based his warning… he told me that he had seen it. A premonition of sorts,” the Keeper spoke softly.

“B…but you didn’t believe him, so you told him no.” Tahlmus felt his blood start to boil, the familiar sting returning to his eyes. Merril had let go of him by this time. He took a step towards the keeper. “I…it’s your fault then. My father wanted to take a precaution to protect the clan, and… and you refused it. My parents are dead because you didn’t believe my father’s warning.”

“I didn’t believe him Tahlmus because I didn’t know how powerful he really was. Mages that had premonitions like that, were the most powerful of mages. That kind of power hasn’t been recorded or seen since the times of Arlathan.” The Keeper paused. “So when I saw the shield appear around us in the forest I assumed it had been your father’s work. Although knowing now that it was actually you, answers a lot of questions.”

Tahlmus had just slumped against the tree by this time. He looked over to the nearby trees where he knew Tavain had been hiding. Their eyes met. He could see the tears. She took off running. Tahlmus gave the Keeper one last look before he took off running after Tavain. He followed her back into the forest, slowly gaining ground. Tavain had become quick, but he could still outrun her when he needed to.

“Tavain,” he shouted after her. “Tavain please stop and talk to me.” Tavain didn’t want to stop. She wanted to ignore him like she had before their parents died, but she listened to her brother. She stopped running, turned to face him, and fell into his open arms. She cried into his chest. He let his own tears stream down his face.

Tahlmus conjured up a tent, and cast a couple protective wards over the tent. They would be invisible to anyone who came looking for them. The siblings stayed in the tent all night. The realization that their parents didn’t have to die crushed them.  It was the most alone either of them had ever felt. They went back to the camp in the early morning hours. Tahlmus no longer had any desire to be an apprentice, but the Keeper had chosen him. He felt it was his duty to show up for the lessons, even if he was angry at the Keeper.

Chapter 6

Over the next couple years, the Keeper made Tavain a hunter. She had flourished with Tahlmus’ guidance and had all but mastered her mother’s talents. At a very young age Tavain was the best rogue hunter the clan had. Tahlmus had grown as an apprentice. His knowledge and abilities as a mage rivaled that of his father’s.  The siblings worked well together. At times it was hard to tell where one started and the other began. Tamlen had also excelled as a hunter and a leader. The Keeper had no doubt that when she put the three young elves together on a patrol, the clan was in safe hands.

A patrol is what had the three elves wandering the forest today. Tahlmus, now 15, snickered as he watched Tavain poke an unsuspecting Tamlen. Tahlmus knew he shouldn’t be allowing his sister to play such tricks but they were in no immediate danger, and he never had the heart to discipline his sister. Tamlen, at 14, was in charge of the patrol. He squeaked when Tavain poked him. Tamlen had turned a bright red, then grumbled. At 12, Tavain was the youngest patrol member in the clan. She giggled at how girl-like Tamlen sounded. One of the many reasons she would delay bonding with him as long as possible.

“Tavain, why must you…” Tamlen was interrupted by Tahlmus.

“Shh… did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” whispered Tavain just as she heard a stick crack.

The three elves drew their weapons, and crept towards the muffled voices they now heard. A small group of Shemlen were huddled in a small clearing. It was obvious to the young elves by the arguing, that the shemlen were lost.

Tamlen, taking his role as leader, motioned for Tavain to move around behind the shem. He motioned for Tahlmus to take up a position to his right. There was a mountain to his left so Tamlen knew the shem would have no place to run. Tahlmus smiled as he crept into his position. He took pleasure in watching Tamlen and his sister excel in what he had taught them.  Tahlmus motioned to Tamlen once he was in place, then waited and watched. His sister motioned to Tamlen a few seconds later. It was time to begin. Tamlen crept out of the brush and confronted the group of humans.

“And just what do you Shemlen think you are doing here in Dalish Territory?”

Seeing Tamlen’s arrow trained on them they turned to run, but stopped short as they saw Tavain appear from the brush, her arrow also trained on them. “I don’t think you’ll be able to go this way,” she snickered.

The humans took off towards the trees, but froze in fear as they saw Tahlmus walk into the clearing, twirling his daggers, which were now flowing with electricity. He grinned, “I don’t think you’ll be going this way either, and you have a mountain behind you.” His grin turned into a sneer as the Shem looked behind them to confirm what Tahlmus had said. “Now I suggest you answer my friend’s question.”

“What makes you think we’ll answer anything you damn knife ears ask us?” the brown haired one snapped.

A zap sounded from Tahlmus’ blades. The ground by the brown haired shem’s foot was scorched. “I think you need to try again.”

The short blonde one started to stutter, “W… w…we w… were just trying to get back to the c…city to share o… our d…d…dis… discovery of ruins.”

“You’re lying,” shouted Tamlen.

“We’ve been in this forest longer than you.” Tavain joined in, “there aren’t any ruins in this area.”

“N-no, there r-really are…” The brown haired one started.

“Quiet Shem,” interrupted Tamlen, “you will die.”

Tahlmus watched Tamlen and Tavain both pull back on their arrows, preparing for release. “easy does it you two. I know it’s your call Tamlen, but I think we should let the shem speak.” Tahlmus wished he felt as strong and calm as his voice suggested, but he recognized the blonde haired shem. No doubt Tamlen did too, as it was the shem Tahlmus had stunned to save his friend 8 years ago.

“Fine,” Tamlen stated, wondering why Tahlmus was being so nice to the shemlen. Especially since these were the same shem who had invaded their camp years ago. “Speak fast shem. I don’t have as much patience as my red-haired friend here.”

The blonde shem spoke, “W…we found this ruin. I…it had all sort of relics. W…we only got this one before these monsters attacked us.” He threw the relic at Tahlmus’ feet.

Tahlmus picked up the relic and studied it closely. “This is elven. Tell me where you found this. Exactly where, and we might let you live.”

“It’s back that way,” the brown haired one pointed past Tavain. “At the fork you go left and come upon some ruins.”

“You better not be lying shem” came Tamlen’s harsh voice.

“I swear it’s there.” Replied the brown haired shem.

“Alright we have the supposed location.” Tavain stated, “now what do we do with these shem? Do we let them go back, tell their fellow shems about us and subject our clan to a possible attack, or do we kill them staging it to look like the bears got to them?”

“I say we let them go,” Tahlmus grinned as Tavain and Tamlen just gaped at him. “I sense the spirit of the forest is not pleased with them, they’ll never make it out alive. However, it is your call Tamlen, not mine.”

Tavain smiled knowing her brother had already done something to the shems to make sure they didn’t survive the forest.

Tamlen lowered his bow, “fine, get out of here shem before I change my mind.” The humans looked at each other then took off running past Tahlmus, who dispelled of the energy going through his blades. The three young elves watched the shemlen fall face first to the ground.

Tamlen stared at Tahlmus. “That was a bit disturbing,” he said. Tavain nodded in agreement.

Tahlmus just shrugged, “Their lives where sustaining the electricity in my blades. When I got rid of the electricity, their lives ceased to exist.” They watched several hungry animals close in on the Shem’s unmoving bodies. It was the first time the two young elves had seen anything other than an animal die. It was also a bit unnerving how calm Tahlmus had been about it.

“So…” Tavain started, “what do we do big brother? Is that relic really elven?”

“It is Tavain. Very ancient from the looks of it. The markings here,” Tahlmus pointed to some strange symbols, “I’ve seen them before. Dad wrote about them in his journal. They go back to the time when we elves had our own homeland.”

“So what do we do?” Tavain asked again.

Before Tahlmus could answer Tamlen spoke, “I say let’s check out these supposed ruins. We wouldn’t want to alert the Keeper to something that didn’t exist.”

“I agree Tamlen, but…”

“But what Tahlmus? You turning chicken on me?”

Tavain poked Tamlen hard with her bow. “Don’t talk to my brother like that. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him.”

“I didn’t mean it like that Tavain,” Tamlen said apologetically.

“Then how did you…”

Tahlmus interrupted the impending squabble, “I just have a bad feeling about this Tamlen, but you are right. We should check out the shem’s claim. See if there is any truth in it before running to the Keeper.”

Tahlmus placed the relic in his backpack, and the three headed off in the direction the shemlen had indicated. Taking a left at the fork, Tahlmus noticed a slight change in atmosphere. His senses were telling him that there were a lot of beings close by. He couldn’t distinguish what those beings were.

“Hey you two, stay very alert, I’m getting some bad vibes from this place.”

Tamlen nodded, but Tavain stopped. She’d learned to trust her brother’s senses. If he was sensing that something wasn’t right, it most likely was not and bad things could happen.

“Maybe we should go back then.” She said nervously.

“Go back?” Tamlen spat, “We can’t. We’ve come this far.”

Tahlmus put his hand on his sister’s shoulder, “He’s right you know.” Tavain nodded. Tahlmus whispered to her, “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” Again she nodded and they continued on into the ruins.

Tahlmus was in awe of the statues he found around the walls. They were of human make, but they were statues of the elven Gods. He was entranced by a statue of the God Fen’Harel when he heard his sister scream. He turned and saw giant spiders lowering themselves from the ceiling. Tahlmus stunned the spiders to give his sister time to get a safe distance away to start using her bow and arrow. If Tavain was scared of anything it was spiders.

A few minutes later the spiders were all slain, and Tahlmus was carrying his sister over their corpses. After setting her down on the other side of the room, Tavain punched her brother in the arm as hard as she could. “You said to be more alert.” She punched him again, and he winced. “Why didn’t you sense the spiders?” she punched him for the third time causing Tahlmus to grunt in pain. Her statement had given him pause though. “She’s right. I should have sensed them,” he thought.

“I’m sorry Tavain, I got dis…”

“Sorry?” Tavain interrupted, “I almost get killed by spiders, my least favorite thing in the world, and all you can say is sorry?”

“Well, what else do you want me to say?”

“Hey guys,” Tamlen shouted, “if you two are done arguing you should come check out this room out.

Tahlmus and Tavain ran into the next room. There were carvings all around the walls, symbols etched into the floor, and a huge mirror right in the middle. “An Eluvian room,” Tahlmus thought in awe. His father had written about them, but said they had all been lost when Arlathan fell.

Tamlen was already at the mirror and urged the siblings to join him. “You guys have to see this mirror… it’s so… odd.”

Tavain skipped over to Tamlen, while Tahlmus walked. With each step he felt something he couldn’t fully explain. It was an uneasy dreadful feeling which increased the closer he got to the mirror.

“Tavain get away from the mirror now!” Tahlmus shouted.

“But I…I can see…” she didn’t get to finish as Tahlmus grabbed her and pushed her as hard as he could away from the mirror.

Tahlmus then turned to Tamlen, “Tamlen come on get away from there.”

“I…I can’t look away. I just have to touch it.”

Tavain slowly picked herself up off the ground wondering what had gotten into her brother. She saw Tahlmus grab Tamlen’s arm in attempt to pull him away. Then there was nothing.

Chapter 7

Tahlmus struggled to open his eyes. It was so bright out. He sensed someone was next to him. He tried to reach out to them. His arm didn’t move. He heard a familiar voice in the distance, “Keeper, keeper, is he up yet? Please say he’s up.”

Another voice, next to him, “I’m afraid not Tavain. Your brother is very sick. My magic may not work.”

“But keeper it has to. Tahlmus wouldn’t leave me alone. He promised.”

“I’m sorry Tavain, I’m doing all I can. He is much sicker than you were.”

Tahlmus felt a pair of hands grab onto his robes and hot breath on his ear. “Tahlmus if you can hear me, this is Tavain. Please wake up. Please be ok. I need you.”

He then felt pressure on his chest as if something had been laid there. He tried again to move his hand. This time he got it to touch one of the hands that held his robe.

“Tahlmus,” Tavain got excited as she watched her brother’s hand move to hers. “Tahlmus can you hear me? Wake up, please.” She felt like she was begging. Her brother made no other movement, but she soon heard his voice in her head.

“Tavain, what’s going on? I can’t get my eyes open. It’s too bright.”

Tahlmus then felt himself being lifted by a set of unsteady arms. He could feel the person carrying him struggling with his weight.

“Tavain!” It was the keeper’s voice. “Tavain, what are you doing? You shouldn’t be moving him.”

He then felt himself be half set, half dropped onto a bed of blankets. “Now try big brother, it’s not so…”

Tavain’s voice was interrupted by the keeper’s “Tavain, of all the things you’ve done the last couple of days, why did you move him? He shouldn’t…” the keeper stopped short as she heard movement in the blankets. Tahlmus had gotten his eyes open, at least he thought they were open, and he was struggling to sit up. “Tavain? Keeper? What happened? Where’s … Where’s Tamlen?”

A strange male voice came through the flap in the tent, “Tamlen has been missing since I found you and your sister three days ago.”

His eyes finally adjusted to their surroundings. Tahlmus could now see the man that had spoken, long dark hair, a beard, armor; a familiar face that Tahlmus couldn’t place.

“What do you mean missing? He was by the mirror, and… and I told him to get away. I… I sensed… I … I had hold of his arm…”

“The mirror has been destroyed and Tamlen was nowhere to be found.”

“N…no. he can’t. I had his arm.”

“I only found you and your sister in the forest, both of you unconscious. I managed to get you both back here. It is only with the keeper’s magic you are still alive.”

Tavain watched her brother take in the information. His expression remained unchanged. He was taking it better than she had. Tavain had thrown a fit until the Keeper had given her permission to go back to the ruins to look for Tamlen. She had then argued with the human until Merril had used some magic to calm her down. At least now her brother was awake.

“Keeper can we take this shem’s word on Tamlen?” the ice in Tahlmus’ voice made Tavain shiver.

“Yes Tahlmus,” the keeper spoke softly, “Duncan is a grey Warden. Also two days ago I sent Tavain and Merril to look for Tamlen. He can’t be found.”

“Two days ago? But I just… keeper, what’s going on?” He struggled to keep the panic out of his voice. The realization of being unconscious for three days was sinking in.

“The mirror was tainted with darkspawn,” replied Duncan. “The taint erupted from the mirror, most likely when Tamlen touched it. It most likely took Tamlen and is the reason you and Tavain have been sick. But you more so than her… she was further away than you were?”

Tahlmus held his head, which was now in pain. “Yes, she was. I had pulled her away. I had sense something. I had then grabbed Tamlen … then it just went dark.”

“The only reason your sister and yourself still live, is because of the keeper’s magic. I know of a cure, but I must talk to the keeper first.”

Tahlmus had barely heard what Duncan said, his blood suddenly felt like it was on fire. By the time the feeling passed the keeper and Duncan were gone. Tavain was still standing in the tent with him. Watching him.

“Are you ok Tavain?”

“Me? Oh yeah, big brother I’m just peachy. Tamlen is gone, until now you were as good as dead, my blood randomly decides to feel like fire, and Merril is trying to cook again. Yes big brother all is well.”

“Well, at least you haven’t changed. Still causing trouble in camp?”

Tavain sat down next to Tahlmus and gave him a soft punch in the arm. “Don’t you ever fall asleep for that long of a period again.” Tahlmus noticed his sister’s wet eyes behind her strong voice.

“Don’t worry sis, I won’t do it again.” Tahlmus put his arms around his sister in a hug just as Duncan and the Keeper walked back into the tent.

“Tahlmus, Duncan says he has a way to cure you, but you have to go with him.”

“Go with him? Why? I need to stay here. And Tavain. You said Tavain was sick too. What about her?”

“Joining the Grey Wardens is the only cure,” replied Duncan, “and for that you must come with me. I’m afraid Tavain is too young and may not be strong enough to survive. I cannot bring her with us.”

“No, Tavain comes too. She’s my sister. I’m not leaving her.”

“I’m sorry Tahlmus she can’t come with us. She will have to stay here. The keeper will watch over her.”

“Listen shem,” Tahlmus was spitting venom, “I am not leaving my sister behind she…”

“Tahlmus,” The keeper’s voice was soft as she interrupted him, “I’m afraid you’ll have to go without her. Duncan needs more Grey Wardens and you need a cure. Tavain will be … fine.”

“But keeper,”

“This is non-negotiable Tahlmus. We have an obligation to the Grey Wardens in time of a blight. You must go with Duncan. He has recruited you. It is your duty to go.”

Tahlmus felt himself at a loss for words. He couldn’t just leave his sister behind, but he couldn’t ignore an agreement between the clan and the Grey Wardens.

Tahlmus hung his head in defeat, “Alright Duncan, I will go with you.” He felt his sister tug on his robes and turned to her. “You take care of yourself Tavain, and remember what I’ve taught you.” He watched a single tear roll down her cheek. He wiped it away as he pulled her in close for a hug.

He then whispered in her ear, “Follow us. I’m going to make sure you get this cure too.” As he pulled away from her he said for the benefit of the Keeper and Duncan, “I love you Tavain. Don’t you forget that.”

Tavain nodded, and squeezed her brother’s arm letting him know she understood what he wanted her to do. As Tahlmus managed to get to a standing position he spoke to Duncan, “I’d like to say goodbye to everyone first, if you don’t mind.”

“That’s fine. I will be waiting.”

Tahlmus really felt he needed to say goodbye to one person. He walked out of the tent past the Keeper and the man deemed a Grey Warden. Walking to the keeper’s tent, he found Merril. Over the last few years, he had notice her feelings change towards him. While his feelings were not mutual he had agreed to bond with her for the sake of the clan.

“Tahlmus, you’re awake,” she said with a hint of relief in her voice.

“Yes, I am,” his voice trailed off. He knew his news would crush her.

Merril stood and embraced him. “I was really worried,” she said

“I have some bad news,” he replied looking her right in the eye. Their light left. “The sickness that I have, it… it won’t allow me to stay,” he finished.

“What do you mean?” Merril asked as tears started to trickle down her face.

Tahlmus felt a pang of guilt. He may not have liked Merril enough to want to bond with her, but he felt horrible for making her cry. “I mean… The man, Duncan. He’s a Grey Warden. He says the only way for me to feel better is to go with him, and become a Grey Warden.”

“No,” Merril cried softly, “No you can’t go, you can refuse. You’re talented you can figure out a cure.”

“I’m sorry Merril. The Keeper is forcing me to go,” he wiped her tears as they started to flow harder. “She says it’s my responsibility to go.”

“But what about us?” Merril was sobbing now. Tahlmus pulled her into him. He couldn’t leave her like this. “Let’s sit,” he said. He gently pushed her to a sitting position. Taking his robes, he dried her face. “The Keeper said there was a blight. You remember studying those.” Merril nodded. “If that’s true, then it is my responsibility to go become a Grey Warden. It is the best way for me to defend the clan.”

Merril nodded. “It is,” she agreed. Tahlmus couldn’t believe he was doing it, but he lifted her chin, leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips. “You can do this,” he said as their lips parted. “If I am able, I will come back.” He saw a small smile cross her lips.

“Ok,” she whispered. “Go save us from the blight.”

“Goodbye,” Tahlmus said, kissing her cheek.

“Goodbye,” she said weekly, as she watched him walk away.

The rest of the clan had gathered in the center of camp. They said their goodbyes, and then Tahlmus started off with Duncan. He turned back one last time. He wasn’t fully saddened about having to leave the clan.  It hadn’t felt the same since his parents had died, but it was the only life he knew.

Turning back to follow Duncan, he caught a glimpse of Tavain moving swiftly through the trees following as he had told her too.

Tahlmus and Duncan travelled in silence for quite a while before Duncan spoke, “I’m sorry about your sister, but she was too young. The process of becoming a Grey Warden is too dangerous. It was for her own good.”

Duncan could hear a popping of electricity coming from Tahlmus. “I’m sorry shem, but you do not know my sister. You do not know what is good for her and what is not.”

Tavain had never heard her brother speak with so much ice and venom in his voice. She paused at a tree as her veins erupted in fire. She bit her lip to keep from crying in pain. She also watched her brother stagger while holding his head in his hands. The feeling passed and onward they went in silence until the sun started to set.

“We will stop here for the night Tahlmus. We’re about half a days’ journey from Ostegar, and you will need your strength for the joining ritual. I will go get some firewood, why don’t…”

“No,” Tahlmus interrupted, “I will go get the firewood. You can pitch the tent.”

“But Tahlmus…” Duncan watched Tahlmus disappear into the trees before he could finish.

Tahlmus found Tavain, who had sought refuge at a down tree by the creek. “You ok sis?”


“The pain is getting worse, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Besides that, I’m cold, and I’m hungry… And I stubbed my toe on that rock,” she pointed to a small rock not too far from where Tahlmus was standing.

Tahlmus took his backpack off and wrapped Tavain in the two blankets he had. “Here these will keep you warm while I make you a tent and get you wood for a fire.”

“Won’t Duncan be wondering where you are?” Before Tavain finished her sentence Tahlmus had magically put up a tent and had a small fire going, with a pile of wood nearby so Tavain could keep the fire going.

“He’s not even half done putting up our tent. Since I’m at least strong enough to use my magic, I’ll be able to gather plenty of wood and be back before he’s done.”

“I just want this to be over.”

“Me too Tavain, me too. Duncan says we’re half a day’s from Ostegar. You’re going to walk with us tomorrow. I’ll make sure that you can walk by my side and no one see you.”

Tavain nodded, as Tahlmus turned and walked back towards Duncan. He had the fire going and a nice pile of wood stacked neatly nearby just as Duncan finished getting the tent up.

“Well, you work quick.”

“Yes, well the sickness as you call it, has only weakened me. It has not taken away my ability to use magic.”

Yes, the keeper told me about you. Warned me, actually. She said you were the second most powerful mage she knew, very protective, and loyal almost to a fault. This is why I told her I’d recruit you for the Wardens. Your sister sounded very talented too, but she was too young for me to bring along.”

“Did the keeper tell you about the most powerful mage she knew?”

“Well, no, she didn’t. I only asked about you and Tavain.”

“He was killed along with his wife, over 8 years ago when Shemlen attacked the clan. They left behind their seven-year old son and three n a half year old daughter.”

“What…uh… what happened to the siblings?”

Tahlmus could tell by the look on Duncan’s face that he hadn’t quite put two and two together yet. He got up from the log he’d been sitting on, and magically put up a tent of his own as he spoke, “The young girl became the clan’s best rogue and hunter, just like her mother. The boy grew to be a powerful mage, just as his father was. The two siblings have never left each other’s sides, and they never will.”

Tahlmus then walked into his tent and shut the flap, leaving Duncan to think about his words.

At daybreak, they packed up camp, and started the last part of their journey to Ostegar. Tavain was by her brother’s side, invisible to Duncan.

Chapter 8

King Cailan greeted Duncan and Tahlmus as they entered Ostegar. “Ho there Duncan, I was beginning to think you’d miss all the fun.”

“Of course not your majesty.”

“Then I will have the mighty Duncan by my side in battle, glorious. And this must be your new recruit.” King Cailan moved to be stand in front of Tahlmus.

“Yes your majesty this is…”

“No need to be so formal Duncan, we will be spilling blood together after all. Ho there, I am Cailan. Might I know your name?”

“I am Tahlmus your majesty”

“Nice to meet you. You’re Dalish aren’t you?” Tahlmus nodded as he felt his sister lean on his shoulder. “I’ve heard of the Dalish great warriors, and healers”

“That’s a change your majesty,” replied Tahlmus. “Most believe we are more barbarous.”

“Duncan tells me you are an arcane warrior, a powerful one at that. You will be a great asset to the Grey Wardens.”

“Thank you, your majesty.”

The king went on talking about battles and glory. Tahlmus tuned him out and tuned into his sister’s thoughts. “You’re not losing your strength, are you?” He heard his sister’s soft smirk, then she whispered in his ear, “No, I was just making sure you didn’t attack the king.” Tahlmus suppressed a smile, “Was I that obvious?”

“Maybe not to Duncan or the King, but your fingers gave you away big brother.” Tahlmus smirked at his sister’s candidness.

“Do you have something to say Tahlmus?” the king asked, and Tahlmus looked embarrassed.

“No your majesty, your comments just remind me of some conversations I’ve had with my sister.”

The king smiled, “I better go find Loghain to talk strategy before he sends out a search party.”

Tahlmus and Duncan crossed their arms in front of their chests and bowed as the king left. “Alright Tahlmus, we will need to conduct the ritual soon. Feel free to wander the camp, I just ask you don’t leave it. When you are through find Alistair, he is a fellow Grey Warden, then join me at my tent along with the two other recruits.”

Tahlmus nodded his understanding then watched Duncan walk off. Tahlmus slowly made his way across the bridge, his sister still holding onto his shoulder. Although he sensed her grip was a precaution on her part. He had a feeling she was busy looking around, figuring out what sort of trouble she could cause, instead of paying attention to where she was walking.

As they entered the main camp Tahlmus’ thoughts went from the possible pranks Tavain would eventually try, to the magical power he sensed in the camp. He sensed several different skill levels, though none quite as strong as he expected.  He started off in the direction of the magic he sensed. He came upon a fenced in area, where he saw several human mages involved in some magical ritual he had never seen before.

He then heard Tavain whisper in his ear, “What are they doing in there? It’s colourful and kind of sparkly. Why don’t you make something that pretty?”

Tahlmus spoke softly out of the corner of his mouth careful not to let his lips move, “well, Tavain I don’t do that because I don’t know what it is. Although even if I could… I guess after mother and father died I spent more time teaching you instead of on fun things. I’m sorry.”

“You could make it up to me.” Tavain smirked.

“Oh? I could?” Tahlmus asked as he started to walk towards the human mages.

“Yeah you could…” but her reply was cut off by one of the men in odd looking armor.

“You can’t go in there. The mages are practicing and they mustn’t be disturbed.”

“Practicing what? Who are you?”

“I am a templar here to watch over the mages, make sure they do not act outside their means. That is all you need to know. Now move along.”

Tahlmus nodded and started to move away as Tavain whispered to him, “Why didn’t you tell him you were a mage? He might have let you in.”

“I considered it, but I got a bad sense about it.”

“Young man, are you talking to yourself?” an older human woman tapped Tahlmus on the shoulder. “Young man?”

“Uh, Yes ma’am. Uh I’m not exactly talking to myself. Why…uh.. why aren’t you in with the rest of the human mages practicing?”

The woman looked curiously at Tahlmus, “How did you know I was a mage?”

“Don’t all mages have the ability to sense other mages?” Tahlmus questioned in return.

“I have never heard of such a thing,” the woman replied.

“Oh, well I am a mage. One of my abilities includes being able to tell what sort of power is in others. I can sense that the man behind you once had magic ability but had it stripped of him. I can sense your magic ability. You are good at healing others, yes?”

“Well, yes I am. I do not recognize you. You are not from the Circle here in Ferelden? You are an apostate? Did the templars bring you here child? Have you been given a mentor?”

Tahlmus was confused, and apparently so was Tavain, “What is she talking about brother? What’s an apostate?”

Tahlmus shrugged, “First things first I’m not a child. Second I know nothing of apostates or templars. Thirdly my father was my mentor”

“Then you are an apostate… how did you get here?”

Tahlmus tilted his head. He was still confused, “I again do not know of this apostate you speak of. Duncan brought me here. He recruited me from my clan in the Brecilian Forest. I am Dalish.”

“Well, that explains why you do not know of the circle or of apostates. The Dalish elf mages have never been a part of the circle. You must have quite the talent if Duncan recruited you. He doesn’t recruit just anyone, but you look so young.”

“I’m 15, although from what I’ve been able to sense in you, I learned more from my father by age 7 than the circle would allow you to know. I think… I am glad to be Dalish.”

Wynn got a little red in the face, “Well now you must have much more important things to do, than stand here and talk to me.” Tahlmus nodded and started walking away.

“I think you made her angry big brother.”

Tahlmus grinned, “I know I made her angry, but I have a feeling I think I’d prefer being an apostate than going to the circle, although that didn’t sound safe.”

“So now what?”

“Keep wandering the camp I guess.”

“Ooo look, there’s a chest! Can I unlock it and put some toads in it. Please big brother, I haven’t played a prank in 3 whole days!”

Tahlmus smirked and rolled his eyes. “Tavain, no pranks, not yet anyway I don’t want to get kicked out of camp before I can at least get you cured.”

“Oh, alright big brother.” She then slipped the two toads she had collected into the pocket Tahlmus had in his robes.

Tahlmus almost jumped, “Tavain you can’t put those into my pocket.”

“Excuse me young elf, but who are you talking to?”

Tahlmus heard Tavain giggle and turned to see a human addressing him. “Uh… no one in particular I guess, I uh… was daydreaming.”

“I see, judging by the looks of you, you must be the third recruit. I’m Jory, former one of the Arl’s knights, until I got Duncan to recruit me. He was a hard man to impress.”

“That’s what I keep hearing. I’m Tahlmus, by the way.”

“Rare to see an elf. Have you heard anything about this joining ritual?”

“Only that it is dangerous.”

“I didn’t know there were more tests after being recruited.” Tahlmus shrugged and Jory continued, “I will see you at Duncan’s tent then.”

Tahlmus nodded and watched Jory walk off.

“Pssst, big brother can we go see the dogs?” Tahlmus rolled his eyes, but made his way over to the mabari hounds. He’d heard about them in stories the keeper had told. Never thought he would get to see them up close.

“Excuse me, do you think you could try muzzling this dog?”

Tahlmus turned, “Me?”

“Yes, I’ve tried, but he won’t let me.”

“Why are you trying to muzzle him?”

“He swallowed too much Darkspawn blood, and I need to try and treat him.”

Tavain gave her brother a soft poke in the ribs.

“Ok I’ll give it a try.” Tahlmus took the muzzle from the kennel master and walked into the fenced area with the mabari. He could tell the mabari was a strong creature. He also felt the pain the dog was in. The hound must have sensed the same thing in Tahlmus because the hound sat down and allowed Tahlmus to put the muzzle on him. He gave the hound a gentle pat on the head and walked back to the kennel master.

“Oh, thank the maker, now I can treat him properly. Might I ask one more thing of you?”

Tahlmus shrugged, “Sure.”

“Will you be going into the wilds? If you are there is a medicinal flower that would allow me to make an ointment to cure him.”

“I’m not sure if I’m going into the wilds or not, but if I do I will look for it. Uh… what does it look like.”

“It has a blood red center, with white petals. It’s very distinctive.”

“I will keep my eyes open for it.”

“Thank you.”

Tahlmus turned and started to walk away and he felt Tavain pulling on his robes. “Oh aren’t you such a sweet big brother.”

Tahlmus rolled his eyes, “Tavain, what do you want?”

“Well, if I’m good, and don’t pull any pranks, and survive this whole sickness thing… can I have a mabari?”

Tahlmus shook his head smiling, “I’ll see what I can do.”

“You’ll see if you can do what?

Tahlmus turned at the voice to see a man dressed in armor, but looking out of place. “Well, I was… uh.” He heard Tavain giggling. She was enjoying this. “I was just telling myself that I would have to see what I could do about possibly getting myself a mabari, that’s all.”

The man started laughing, “you? An elf? Get a mabari? I don’ think I’ve ever heard of that.” Tahlmus felt himself getting red in the face, but the man continued taking. “Oh, don’t take it personally. It’s just I’m not used to elves. My name is Daveth, one of Duncan’s recruits.”

Tahlmus sighed, “I’m Tahlmus, also a recruit of Duncans.”

“That Duncan saved my life he did. Recruited me before they could hang me. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. I’ve heard for this ritual they are sending us out into the wilds. Dangerous place that is.”

“Oh really? I hadn’t heard. I’m sure the wilds are safe enough. I doubt they’d send us out if it weren’t.”

“Maybe you’re right. Anyway, I might as well head over to Duncan’s tent I will see you there.”

Tahlmus nodded and watched Daveth walk away.

“He was an odd one I think,” Tavain whispered.

Tahlmus spoke softly this time, “yes he is. Although everyone here probably thinks I’m the crazy one. I am talking to myself after all.”

Tavain giggled, “I think it’s time you find Alistair, I’m ready to end this whole thing.”

“Me too.” Tahlmus started walking up to one of the ruins that was nearby. As he climbed the slope he heard what sounded like an argument.

“I am here by order of the king.”

“Yes, but the reverend mother would like to see you.”

Tahlmus stood back and listened to the argument between the blonde-haired man and the mage. He smirked when the blonde joked about naming his child grumpy after the mage. He wondered if this was the Grey Warden Alistair that he was supposed to be looking for. The mage finally gave in to the blonde man’s request, and turned around waking away. The mage practically shoved Tahlmus to the ground as he did so, “get out of my way elf.”

“Watch where you’re walking.” Tahlmus’ voice was icy.

“Don’t you dare talk to me that way elf,” the mage cast a stun spell at Tahlmus who easily deflected it. The mage stood there staring at Tahlmus, surprised an elf could deflect his spell. Tahlmus then cast his own spell. One that turned the mages skin blue. Tavain was giggling, things were always fun when someone picked a fight with her brother.

The mage shrunk back in terror, “What type of demonic magic is this? What kind of abomination are you?”

Tahlmus smirked as he removed the spell, “there’s nothing demonic about it. It’s simple child’s play, but assuming you are with the circle the other lady talked about, you wouldn’t know half the spells I’ve been taught.” Tahlmus paused for a couple seconds, “now weren’t you off to see the revered mother?” The mage nodded and took off running.

“You know, one good thing about the blight is how it brings people together. You must be the third recruit Duncan sent word about. Forgive me I can’t remember your name.”

“I’m Tahlmus, and you must be Alistair.”

“Yes, Tahlmus that’s right.”

“What was the argument with the mage all about?”

“The revered mother sent me to give him a message. No doubt she chose me because I was a former templar before Duncan recruited me. The mage picked up on that right away. I didn’t want to do it, but Duncan said we were all supposed to cooperate. I guess he didn’t get the same message.”

“I guess not,” Tahlmus smirked and heard Tavain whisper in his ear, “He’s cute.” Tahlmus rolled his eyes.

“What was that spell you did? I’ve never seen that before.”

“It was one of the first spells my father taught me as a kid. I had a good time changing the colour of my food to make it more appealing, or used it to entertain my little sister when she was young. I would change the colours of her clothes.”

“You have a sister? Does she know magic too?”

“Yes, but she is a rogue not a mage. A very hard-headed, but fun loving rogue.”

“I see, well no doubt we need to get on with this ritual. I will be aiding you and the other recruits.”

“Sounds great. I will enjoy working with you, but you have to tell me what a Templar is.”

“Uh… you will… I’m not used to that.  A templar? A templar is the chantry’s way of watching over mages, so that they don’t turn into abominations. As a templar, apostates are also hunted down, illegal mages that do not practice magic within the circle.”

“I guess then technically I’m an apostate.”

“Uh, yes, well shall we go find Duncan?”

“Yes, lets. I want to get this ritual as you call it, over with.” The three made their way back to Duncan’s tent. Tahlmus was eager to hear what the whole ritual entailed, although every time he thought about it he got an uneasy feeling. Not like the one he had gotten when Tamlen had found the mirror, more like the one he got when he knew Tavain was pulling a prank. He wasn’t sure how to interpret it.

“Good you’re all here, we shall start, if Alistair and Tahlmus are done riling up the mages.”

“Duncan I… I was just…” Alistair started.

“I apologize Duncan, I shouldn’t have retaliated when the mage shoved me.”

Duncan looked sideways at Tahlmus. “We don’t need to be angering anyone here. Is that clear?”

“Yes sir.” Alistair and Tahlmus replied together.

“Now for the ritual, you will need to go into the Kocari Wilds and get 3 vials of darkspawn blood, one each. Alistair will go with you for guidance.”

“The… the Kocari Wilds? Aren’t they dangerous right now? Full of darkspawn? Surely you could have procured some darkspawn blood before now?” replied Jory.

Tahlmus spoke up, “It’s part of the ritual Jory, don’t act so cowardly.” He then turned to face Duncan, “And if we need one each we will need 4 vials of Darkspawn blood.”

“You silly elf, you need a lesson in counting there are only three of us.” Replied Daveth.

Duncan studied Tahlmus, “Tahlmus why do you…” Duncan stopped short as a figure started to appear besides Tahlmus. Daveth and Jory backed away while Alistair just stared.

“Because Tavain will need one too.”

“But… Duncan didn’t recruit her” said Jory, “she cannot take part in this. It’s not fair.”

“He is right Tahlmus I didn’t recruit…”

“Because you felt she was too young. You remember that story I told you on our trip here. It was about Tavain and I. She’s not leaving my side. Just standing here I can tell she has more talent and guts than these two human recruits beside me. I will not try to fight an evil with cowards. She goes through this or I’m leaving.”

Duncan smiled, he admired the loyalty Tahlmus displayed towards his sister. It had been true the only reason he hadn’t recruited Tavain was her age. The keeper had described her as a very fierce hunter, and he knew she was tough as well from the run in at the ruins. “Very well Tahlmus, get 4 vials of darkspawn blood. Also there are some old ruins where we stored some old treaties. I would like for you to retrieve them Alistair.”

“Will do Duncan.”

“Very well, take care of your charges Alistair, get the blood and treaties and return quickly.”

“We will Duncan.” With that the group made their way into the Kocari wilds, after receiving a warning from the guard.

Chapter 9

Once in the Wilds Alistair stood back so the recruits could take charge. It was their mission after all. Daveth and Jory also hung back, both a little nervous after hearing the guard say it wouldn’t be safe if they were out too long. Tahlmus was out in front looking slowly from his left to his right, Tavain right beside him awaiting an order.

“What do you think big brother?” Tavain asked after she knew he was done surveying the immediate area.

Tahlmus removed hi blades from their sheath, “I sense animals up ahead, wolves I think, they are tainted, dangerous. They haven’t sensed us yet, but they will soon.” Tahlmus looked around again. “Go up on that hill Tavain. We three guys will draw them over here and you make sure we don’t get attacked from behind.” Tavain nodded and slipped off to her post. Tahlmus then made his way further up the path, casting a spell to get the wolves to sense them. Daveth and Jory both looked at each other, then to Alistair who just shrugged and drew his weapons.

A whole pack of wolves arrived shortly after. The guys went to work trying to slay the wolves at a close range, while Tavain monitored the fight. Her brother usually kept the wolves in front of him, but the other three did not fight so well and she found herself quite busy making sure wolves did not attack them from behind.  As Tahlmus went to stick his blade in the last wolf, Tavain noticed a straggler making a leap at her brother. She took her aim and put an arrow right through his head. She watched the wolf crumple next to her brother as he finished slaying the other one. Tahlmus looked to the wolf that had just fallen at his side, then up to his sister and smiled. He then motioned for her to join them on the ground.

“Well that was the last of them, at least for the time being. Let’s keep moving.”

The others nodded and Tavain took off running towards the swampy area. “Tavain, where are you going?” Tahlmus yelled at her retreating back.

Jory smirked, “We shouldn’t have brought her along.”

Tahlmus glared at Jory and waited for Tavain to reply. “The flower. I found…” Tavain froze as the body of a young man about Tahlmus’ age caught her eye. The body was face down in the water, covered in blood. Her eyes grew wide as an acute sense of terror started to fill her. “Uh… T… Tahlmus, I think you need to see this.”

Tahlmus took off towards his sister, “Tavain what’s wro… oh creators…” He used his magic to remove the body from the water and went through the satchel. He found a letter from the young man’s father, describing the path the son could take to find his father. Tahlmus read through the note twice before folding it up and putting it in his pocket.

“Grab the flower Tavain. We need to keep moving.”

“Are you just going to leave the body there?”

“Well, I was, but let’s do this…” Tahlmus cast a spell that caused the body to slowly sink into the ground. “That better?”


“Alright, let’s go.” Tahlmus resumed waking along the path, taking in everything and assessing different tactics if they were attacked. Tavain skipped behind him, while Daveth and Jory followed with looks of disgust. Alistair couldn’t take his eyes of Tavain.

Tahlmus started to get a bad feeling when he heard a faint voice, “Help me, please help me.” Tahlmus took off towards the voice. He came upon several dead bodies and saw a soldier attempting to get up. “Please ser, help me.” Tahlmus knelt next to the wounded soldier, looking him over.

Jory got nervous, “Maker, what happened?”

“We were attacked by darkspawn,” grunted the wounded soldier, “please help me, I need to get back to camp.”

“I have some bandages,” Alistair paused as he watched the wounds start to seal themselves up, and the blood began to slowly disappear. He looked at Tahlmus still kneeling over the soldier, his eyes closed, mouth muttering softly, and his hand slowly moving just inches above the soldier’s body. A few seconds later both Tahlmus and the soldier were standing.

“Thank you ser, now I must get back to camp.” Tahlmus nodded and watched the soldier walk off.

“You’re a healer?” asked Alistair

Tahlmus looked slightly confused, “A what?”

“You just healed that man.”

“Yes, I did. I know a great many spells Alistair. Healing spells are only a small part of what I know.”

Alistair shook his head, he was not used to mages knowing a variety of spells. Usually mages specialized in one. His thoughts were interrupted by a nervous Jory, “Darkspawn did this? Oh maker!”

“Calm down Jory, this won’t happen to us. We’ll be prepared.” Assured Alistair.

“These soldiers were prepared and look at them. How many Darkspawn can we fight off…10? 20?”

“Jory, you really need to calm down. I’m getting sick of listening to your constant whining. I’m beginning to wonder why Duncan recruited you.” The malice in Tahlmus’ voice holding everyone’s attention, except Tavain’s. She was annoyed with Jory and took the opportunity to slip a couple of toads into Jory’s pockets.

“You, elf…” Jory stopped as he felt something crawling in his pocket. He slipped his hand inside and screamed as he pulled out the toads.

Tavain started to giggle uncontrollably and Tahlmus found himself with a huge grin on his face. Daveth and Alistair were both suppressing laughter.

“We won’t be taken by surprise Jory,” started Alistair, “that is why I’m with you. As a Grey Warden you can sense the darkspawn. “

“See Mr. Knight at least we will be warned before we’re slaughtered,” replied Daveth.

Jory glared at Tahlmus and Tavain who both had smug grins on their faces. “As long as the darkspawn get rid of these two elves.”

“Well Jory,” Tahlmus was still smiling, “if you do not wish to be around myself and my sister, then where the path splits up here, you go to the right with Daveth and Alistair. You’ll come to an abandoned camp that will have some darkspawn for you to fight. Tavain and I will go left and fight off the two small groups of darkspawn we will find that way, and then if we all survive we will meet up back here.”

“How do you know what we will find?” asked Daveth.

“It is part of my mage abilities. You’re lucky I’m giving you a warning.”

Jory scoffed, “Fine, we’ll split up. Let’s get moving.” Tahlmus bowed rather majestically and then avoided the fist that Jory threw his way.

“Uh Tahlmus, it may not be the best idea to split up. I mean we three will be ok, but you with your sister against darkspawn. Are you sure?”

“Yes Alistair, I’m sure, and trust me Tavain and I will be able to ward off more darkspawn then you three. Now you heard Jory… let’s go.” The group walked on and where the road split, so did they, just as Tahlmus had suggested. He and Tavain went to the left while the other three went to the right.

“Big brother, are they really going to be ok? I mean it would be a shame if Alistair…” her voice drifted off.

Tahlmus put an arm on Tavain’s shoulder, “don’t worry sis, I put a protective shield around them. They’ll have no problem with the darkspawn.”

“Oh good… what are we going to do?”

“Well on the other side of this clearing there are some darkspawn. How about we sneak up on them? I stun them and you can get them with your arrows and I’ll cast a few fire spells on them. No sense in any close combat. What do you think?”

“I think that sounds marvelous big brother. Let’s do it.” The siblings cut through the trees, and snuck up behind a small group of darkspawn creatures. Each from behind their own tree, they attacked. Tahlmus first stunning them, then Tavain starting to pick them off one by one with her bow and arrow, while Tahlmus took care of a few others with a spell that caused them to burn from the inside out.

Once the last darkspawn fell, the siblings made their way to the center of the clearing where the darkspawn had been concentrated. Tavain stifled a cry when she spotted the dead body. The darkspawn had been trying to eat it. Tahlmus covered his sister’s eyes while he made the body sink into the ground. He picked up the satchel and started going through it. He found a note that linked this body to the first one Tavain had found. It told of a hidden cache at a camp that should be returned to his wife Jetta if he was to be found dead.

Tahlmus turned to Tavain, “Let’s go, we got one more small group to get rid of before going back to meet the others.”

Tavain nodded and they went off. They handled the second small group much as they did the first. Luckily this time there was no dead body to be found, just 3 vials of darkspawn blood. Tavain put the vials in her small satchel, and they walked back to where the soldiers had been attacked. They had a short wait for the other three to return. Daveth and Jory were flushed. Tahlmus didn’t doubt it was from exertion in fighting the darkspawn.

“What did you do to us?” Daveth asked through gasps of air, “the darkspawn couldn’t touch us.”

“I put a protective spell around the three of you to make sure you lived through the ordeal.” Daveth just kind of nodded while Jory growled. Alistair just stood back waiting for the next command.

“So, what now big brother?”

“Alistair. Did you find a cache by chance? It might have been hidden in the fire pit.”

“Uh, no we didn’t. Why?”

“Alright, then we go back to the camp first.” Tahlmus turned to Daveth and Jory, “did you two obtain any vials of darkspawn blood?”

Daveth smiled sheepishly, “No. I wanted to but Jory…”

“We were a little busy fighting darkspawn, elf,” interjected Jory.

Tahlmus ignored Jory’s remark and spoke to Daveth, “alright then, you can obtain at least one vial of blood while I retrieve the cache. Tavain and I found three, so we only need one more.”

Daveth nodded, and they headed off towards the camp. Once at the camp, Tahlmus went to the fire pit to look for a cache, while Daveth and Jory went to collect a vial of blood. Tavain got preoccupied with collecting small rocks and watching the birds fly. Alistair just stood back watching.

“Alright, I have the cache,” Tahlmus slipped it into his pack.

“We got the vial of blood,” sounded Daveth.

“Good, give it to Tavain to keep.” Daveth handed the vial to Tavain who placed it carefully in her pack. She then skipped off to catch up with Tahlmus who had already started walking on.

“Oh Tahlmus,”

“Yes Tavain?”

“Are we following that pretty bird?”

Tahlmus turned to his sister, “what pretty bird?”

“The one perched on that tree over there.”

Tahlmus followed his sister’s gaze, to find a sleek looking black bird with bluish tinted feathers. “Oh, that pretty bird.” Tahlmus studied the bird, getting an uneasy feeling about it. Then he heard Tavain sigh, “Oh big brother, and I thought I wasn’t good at paying attention.”

Tahlmus then whispered, “Well, in my defense I’ve been dealing with two blockheads, fighting darkspawn, and this taint isn’t exactly making me stronger.”

“You’re weakening too?”

“Yeah, rather quickly the more we have to fight.”

“But you could still multi-task. I do, watch… I look at the pretty bird, stare at Alistair, and then throw these pebbles I’ve collected at Daveth and Jory.” Tahlmus watched Tavain throw some of her pebbles at the other two recruits.

“Hey, where’d those pebbles come from?” whined Daveth.

Tavain giggled then started rocking back and forth on her heels, “big brother…”

“What do you want Tavain?”

“Can we keep the bird as a pet? Please!”

Tahlmus frowned, “Tavain, I’m beginning to think the bird isn’t really a bird.”

“Well it looks like a bird. What do you think big brother? Shape shifter?”

“Most likely.” Tahlmus cast a spell on the bird which made it float in the air and wouldn’t allow the bird to fly away. This caused the bird to start squawking and flapping its wings in an angry manner.

“Big brother are you sure it’s good to make the bird, shape shifter thing… angry?”

“I don’t think she will cause problems. She’s just mad we spotted her.”

Tahlmus set the bird on the ground and removed the spell. The bird stared at him.

“Are we just going to stand here and look at that damn bird?” growled Jory

Tahlmus smirked as he saw the bird start to hop towards Jory. “No I think the bird is going to have fun terrorizing you.”

Jory coward behind Alistair, “Uh, nice birdie, I didn’t mean it.”

The bird stopped and just cocked her head at Jory. She then squawked angrily at him. Tahlmus walked over and picked the bird up gently, allowing the bird to stand on his finger.  “Very pretty bird you are. I couldn’t convince you to come out of this form could I?”

The bird sneezed at Tahlmus then flew off and perched herself on Tavain’s shoulder. “Aww, look the birdie likes me more than you.” She grinned at her brother.

Tahlmus rolled his eyes, “So she does. Let’s keep moving. There’s more darkspawn on the other side of that bridge at the far end of the ruins. There’s also traps. Tavain do you think you could disarm them without being seen?”

“Of course big brother, not being seen is what I do best.” She turned and slipped out of sight while the bird flew off to a nearby tree. Tahlmus smiled as he watched his sister leave.

“Tahlmus, are you sure this is a good idea?” asked Daveth.

“If he wants to get his sister killed let him. One less elf to deal with.” Replied Jory. Tahlmus glared at Jory then motioned for the others to follow him. He led them to a spot where they could see the bridge and the traps.

“You three stay here until you see us start fighting.”

Before any of the guys could ask any questions Tahlmus had slipped away. He made his way into the marsh to get a better view of the traps. Staying out of view he watched his sister sneak onto the bridge from the other side of the marsh. She easily made her way from trap to trap disarming them. As she disarmed the last one Tahlmus spoke to her through thought, “Come off on the other side of the bridge. I’m waiting for you.”

Tavain finished with the trap, slipped off the bridge and made her way over to Tahlmus. “Didn’t think I could do it big brother?”

“Just watching your back. We are both getting weaker. Besides it’s more fun to watch you use what I’ve taught you than listen to those two blockheads.”

Tavain giggled softly, “So do we go back for the blockheads or just attack on our own.”

“I told them to stay hidden until we started fighting, so they should come. Move in behind those trees to our right and attack from there. I’ll slip to the other side. When I signal, you can start.”

Tavain nodded, and the siblings split, silently moving into their positions. As soon as he was in a comfortable position for attack, Tahlmus signaled Tavain, and he watched her arrows start flying.

The black bird watched from her perch in the nearby tree. She was impressed with the elves abilities to quietly slip through the marsh and trees. She was also impressed with their tactics. The female elf had positioned herself so her arrows could reach every darkspawn except for the ones in the hollow. The male elf was able to finish off each darkspawn the female hit, with a fire or ice spell. She could see he was powerful. He had a staff, but never pulled it out.

Alistair started to move out when he saw the first darkspawn fall, but Jory held him back. “That damn elf wanted to start this fight without us, he can finish it without us.”

“Jory, I don’t believe that’s why he told us to stay here. He had a tactic planned.”

“Who cares we don’t need either of those elves anyway. Those darkspawn should take care of them.”

“Actually,” piped up Daveth, “I think they pretty much have all of those darkspawn defeated.”

“What? You’re kidding.” Scoffed Jory.

“No, he’s very much correct. Let’s go now before they finish them all off,” replied Alistair and took off towards the bridge. The darkspawn were almost all but eliminated by the time all three of them arrived.

“There’s more darkspawn in the hollow over there,” pointed Tahlmus. “Why don’t you three go handle them and we’ll look for any trinkets that might be useful on the ones we’ve killed.”

Daveth and Alistair nodded and went off, while Jory just growled and then followed behind. The bird came back and perched on Tavain’s shoulder, “well, hello birdie. Nice of you to come back.” She then turned to talk to Tahlmus, but saw him walking up off the hill, so she spoke to the bird again, “I think he’s jealous you like me more than him.”

She then skipped off to catch up with Tahlmus, the other three having to run after her since they had just watched her disappear over the hill as they came back from the hollow. When Tavain caught up to her brother, he was looking through a broken chest. She stayed silent while he worked.

Tahlmus felt his sister’s gaze as he stood he spoke, “If this was indeed where the treaties were, they are here no longer. Not overly surprising, I can sense the magic that was used to seal the chest was not very strong. It didn’t last very long.”

The bird squawked, she was really impressed with the young elf mages abilities. He was more powerful than his age might lead one to believe. She then noticed the male elf studying her. He knew she was a mage and not a bird, but she wasn’t ready to reveal herself. Not yet.

“So, do you… have the…treaties,” Alistair asked all out of breath.

“They aren’t here. The magic wore off years ago.”

“So… w…what do we do? Duncan needs those treaties. We can’t…”

“Alistair… stop worrying,” scolded Tahlmus as he turned towards Tavain. “What do you suggest Tavain?”

“We could try asking the bird, if you are sure it’s a shape shifter.”

“I am sure she is…”

“Are we really going to try talking to a bird?” growled Jory. Tavain glared at Jory, while Tahlmus just shook his head, before turning to the bird who was still perched on Tavain’s shoulder.

“Please excuse the three human males, they do not know how to act in a female’s presence. I am also sorry for angering you earlier, but I was a little leery of why you were following us. With that said, do you think you could help us? These treaties are rather important, and I would hate to have to return without them.”

The group then watched the bird fly behind some of the rubble of the ruins. A minute later a beautiful woman came walking out. Sleek black hair done up in a bun, and robes that showed every curve of her body. Tahlmus couldn’t help but stare.

Tavain giggled and then whispered to Tahlmus, “Big brother you’re drooling.”

Tahlmus shook his head, “Huh? What? No I’m…” he touched his chin, “ok maybe I am.” Tavain watched her brother turn three shades of red.

The lady then spoke, “I’ve been watching you since you entered the Wilds. Where do they go I wonder? What are they doing I wonder?”

With her brother being tongue tied Tavain answered, “You could have just asked us. I’m sure Tahlmus would have been able to answer you eventually.” Tavain giggled while Tahlmus blushed a deep red.

The lady smiled and spoke again, “That would have required me to reveal myself before I was ready. Although you and Tahlmus? Figured me out rather quickly once you spotted me.”

“That was all Tahlmus. He’s good at that kind of thing. I just pointed out the pretty looking bird.”

The lady smiled. Tahlmus really liked how she looked when she smiled. Jory then decided to speak up, “She’s the witch of the Wilds she is.”

“She’ll turn us all to toads she will,” exclaimed Daveth.

Tavain threw more pebbles at Jory and Daveth. “If she is a witch do you really think it’s a good idea to say so?”

“But she must be a witch, she was just a bird,” shouted Jory.

“She probably stole our treaties too,” put in Alistair.

Tavain looked helplessly at Tahlmus, who cast a spell so the other three men could not speak. Tavain then turned to Alistair, “If you would remember Tahlmus told you that the magic wore off years ago. Anyone could have taken them.” Tavain was almost shrieking at this point. She could feel herself getting weaker, her blood felt like fire, and her feet were wet. She was slowly losing her patience.

Tahlmus finally found his voice and spoke to the woman, “I’m sorry for these fools. It seems unfamiliar scares them. I also apologize for my sister’s short outburst just now. It’s not like her.”

The lady smiled at Tahlmus while Tavain spoke, “Well you would shriek too if you were in pain and your feet were wet. I just want this to be over.”

Tahlmus turned to Tavain, “It will be over soon.” He then cast a spell to make his sister’s feet dry, “Is that at least a little bit better?” Tavain nodded.

The lady looked from one sibling to the other, “So you came to get the treaties that were once here? Well I did not take them.”

“Yes, we came for them … I’m sorry I don’t know your name.”

“You may call me Morrigan if you wish.”

“That’s a pretty name. It is nice to meet you Morrigan.”

“Such manners I am impressed.”

Tahlmus blushed and Tavain took that to mean she could jump in the conversation, “So Miss Morrigan, do you know what happened to our treaties? If they even still exist.” The siblings could hear throaty grumblings from the three guys, and Tavain threw more pebbles at them.

“Well,” started Morrigan, as she turned to Tahlmus, “You are right, the magic had worn off long ago, but I did not take them.”

“Do you know who took them?” asked Tahlmus.

“Yes. Twas my mother.”

“Would you be able to take us to her? Please.”

“Finally, a sensible request. Follow me if it pleases you.”

Tahlmus thought to himself, “Oh it most definitely pleases me.”

“Oh, big brother.”

“Yes Tavain?”

“You shouldn’t think to yourself so loudly.” Tavain giggled as she watched Tahlmus blush again.

Tahlmus then felt a constant tapping on his shoulder. He turned to see Alistair. Tahlmus removed the spell so that the Grey Warden could speak, “Do you really think following her is wise Tahlmus? She is an apostate.”

“We will be fine following her. She is more trustworthy than the two blockheads we have with us.” Tahlmus replied while pointing to Daveth and Jory.

“He’s right Alistair,” Tavain popped in. “Besides from what I’ve gathered from this talk of templars and apostates… Tahlmus is technically an apostate and you seem to trust him ok. I know he’s the most trustworthy person I know, besides maybe the toads you might and might not find in your bedroll this evening.” Tahlmus smirked while Alistair just fell into silence. Tavain continued on with her skipping.

“Mother we have guests.”

“I can see child. They came for their treaties, yes?”

“You stole them.” Shouted Alistair. Tahlmus watched Tavain smack Alistair on the head which drew smiles from both Morrigan and her mother.

“Don’t be daft boy, I was protecting them.”

Tahlmus jumped in before Alistair could respond, “I apologize for my friends’ lack of civility. Apparently, he’s afraid of magic users not brought up in the circle.”

“And you young one are not?”

“No ma’am. I am also a mage. I was a part of a Dalish clan. I have a respect for those who know how to use magic.”

“You intrigue me young man.”

“You may call me Tahlmus if you wish. May I ask about our treaties?”

“Well, Tahlmus, you showed manners not normally associated with those who enter these Wilds. Here are your treaties, all safe and sound.”

Tahlmus nodded his thanks.

“Big brother, does this mean we can finally get out of here? I want this pain to go away.”

“Yes, we can go now.”

“Yes, off you go now,” added Morrigan.

“Non-sense girl, these are your guests.” Came her mother, then she spoke more softly, “besides it is quite obvious this young man here likes you.” Tahlmus turned a rosy pink and Tavain giggled.

“Very well, I will show you the way out.” Morrigan said reluctantly.

Tahlmus started following Morrigan after having put the treaties in his bag. Alistair was soon next to him whispering, “Are you really sure this is safe?”

Tahlmus rolled his eyes, but it was Tavain who spoke, “Do we have to go over this again?”

“But she is an apostate, what of blood magic?”

Morrigan overhearing Alistair’s comment join in the conversation, “Are all human males so dimwitted?”

Tahlmus readily answered the question, “I only know these three. So… I’d have to say yes.” He was pleased when he saw Morrigan smile.

“Well here you are, back at camp safe and sound.”

Tavain seemed to perk up, “Thank you Morrigan. Big brother I’m going to see the kennel master.” Tahlmus nodded at his sister and watched her take off towards the mabaris.

“Thank you Morrigan. I hope to see you again.”

“Yes, well, good luck with your ritual.” Tahlmus then watched her disappear back into the Wilds. He turned and made his way over to the mabari kennels.

“Who are you? What happened to the young man I asked to get me that flower?”

“I’m Tavain, the young man’s sister. He’s a mage and snuck me into the camp. He was saying goodbye to the apostate we met in the Wilds. I thought I could bring you the flower.” The kennel master just gaped at Tavain.

“She tells the truth,” offered Tahlmus, “I had made her invisible to get her here and get the cure from Duncan for her. She’s the whole reason I came over earlier. She wanted to look at the dogs.

The kennel master relaxed a little, “Well, thank you. If you give me a minute I can make the ointment for the mabari.” Tahlmus and Tavain both nodded. They waited patiently for the kennel master to make and apply the ointment. The kennel master came back to speak to the siblings, “He’s already looking a bit better. I’m sure he’d thank you himself if he could.”

The siblings nodded, and Tahlmus turned to Tavain, “let’s get back to Duncan’s tent. No doubt he’s waiting for us.” Tavain nodded her agreement and skipped off.

“Bout time you two showed up,” growled Jory.

“I’m sorry. We offered to find a special flower for the kennel master to heal a tainted mabari. We went to deliver it to him.”

“A noble deed,” replied Duncan. “Now did you obtain the blood and the treaties?”

“Yes Duncan,” piped up Tavain. “I have the vials of blood right here.” Tavain took the vials out of her pack and carefully handed them to Duncan.

“And here are the treaties.” Tahlmus pulled them out of his pack, “A couple of mages…”

“Apostates. They were apostates Tahlmus.” Interrupted Alistair.

Tahlmus glared at Alistair. “As I was saying a couple of mages were holding onto them because the magic protecting them wore off a while ago.”

“Well at least they were protected. Tahlmus why don’t you hold onto the treaties for now.”

“Yes Duncan.” Tahlmus put the treaties back in his pack then magically sealed it to make sure no one but him could get to them.

“Let’s get on with the ritual then. Follow me.”

Tahlmus and Tavain glanced at each other before following Duncan. This was what they had been waiting for, but that didn’t make either of them any less nervous. They ignored Daveth and Jory who were letting their nerves show. Both siblings were tired of them; trying to wait patiently for the ritual to begin.

Duncan came walking up behind them, “So we’ve made it to the joining. Grey Wardens were founded during the first blight when humanity stood on the verge of annileation. So it was that the first Grey Wardens drank darkspawn blood and mastered their taint.”

“We’re going to… to drink the blood… of those creatures?” Jory interrupted, his nerves making him slow in his speech.

“As the first Grey Wardens did before us as we did before you. This is the source of our power and our victory.”

Alistair then spoke, “Those who survive the joining become immune to the taint. We can sense it in the darkspawn and use it to slay the arch demon.”

“S…S…survive.” Jory’s voice was high pitched. Tahlmus could detect his feeling of panic. Tavain grabbed a handful of her brother’s robes. He placed a trembling hand on her shoulder.

“Not all who drink the blood survive and those that do are forever changed. This is why the joining is a secret. It is the price we pay. We speak only a few words prior to the joining, but these words have been said since the first. Alistair if you would.”

The siblings turned to look at Alistair, “Join us brothers and sisters. Join us in the shadows where we stand vigilant. Join us as we carry the duty that cannot be foresworn, and should you perish know that your sacrifice will not be forgotten, and that one day we shall join you.”

“Daveth step forward.” Duncan handed Daveth a chalice to drink. Daveth took a drink. Duncan took the chalice back. Tavain stifled a scream, as they watched Daveth’s eyes roll back into his head. He started convulsing before he just fell face first to the ground.

“I am sorry Daveth.”

Tavain started to shake a little, and Tahlmus tightened his grip on her shoulder. He hoped it was calming, because it was helping him stand. His legs had just gotten very weak. “What have I gotten us into,” he thought.

“Jory step forward.”

“No, no there’s no glory in this. I have a wife and a child.” Jory drew his sword.

“There’s no turning back.” Duncan had now backed Jory against a wall, and drew his daggers. Sensing this would not end well, Tahlmus covered Tavain’s eyes as Jory swung his sword at Duncan who blocked it with one dagger and plunged the other into Jory’s chest.

“I am sorry Jory.”

Jory’s body then slumped to the ground. Tahlmus swallowed hard as Duncan walked back towards them. Tahlmus was shaking now too and wrapped an arm around Tavain.

“I thought you two might want to go at the same time, so I found a second Chalice. Are you two ready?” Tahlmus turned to Tavain and took her hand.

“Promise me you’ll still be here big brother.”

“I will if you will.”


Tahlmus and Tavain took the chalices that Duncan and Alistair offered. They looked at each other and then took a drink. Both siblings then felt extreme pain before passing out. A couple of minutes later both slowly started to wake.

“Welcome to the Grey Wardens.”

Tahlmus got himself to a sitting position while holding his head. Tavain was a little slower to sit up, but was also holding her head. “Tavain, are you… where are you?” Tahlmus’ eyes had not yet adjusted to his surroundings.

“I’m here… I think… Did you see…”

“The dragon?  Yeah, I did. Heard it too.”

Turning to his sister, Tahlmus held out his hand. Tavain grabbed it. The siblings pulled on each other so they both could get to a standing position. Tahlmus brushed some dust off of Tavain’s armour before Alistair came over to them, “Well, you two survived anyway. There was also only two of us that survived my joining. There is one last part to the joining, some of the blood gets put in a pendant. We keep it to remind us of the ones who did not make it.”

The siblings took the pendants that Alistair offered and put them on. “I…I still can’t believe,” started Tahlmus.

“Daveth and Jory…” Tavain finished.

“Take a few minutes if you need them,” spoke Duncan.  “Then meet me just down the stairs to the east, for a strategic meeting with King Cailan, and the Teryn.”

Both siblings nodded. They watched Duncan and Alistair walk off. “I don’t feel so weak anymore big brother.”

“Me neither. I just can’t believe we both survived. I wonder what we had that they didn’t. I’d say it was because we are elves, but none of the other wardens are elves.”

“I don’t know big brother. Maybe we survived because we had already survived so long with the taint.”

“I guess you’re right. At least we are both better now. Shall we go see what type of strategy is being developed?”

“Might as well big brother. Staying with these bodies isn’t exactly inviting.” Tahlmus agreed and the siblings headed off to the staircase to the east.

Chapter 10

“Ah, you are Tahlmus correct? I hear congratulations are in order.”

“Uh…yes, Thank you your majesty.”

“And who is this other elf?”

“Tavain, your majesty. I am Tahlmus’ sister.”

“Sister? But Duncan, I thought you had only brought him.” The king pointed at Tahlmus.

“I thought I had too,” replied Duncan. King Cailan looked at Tavain. She grinned as she turned to Tahlmus. Tahlmus looked at the dirt slowly moving his right foot in a small circle.

“She’s my sister, the only family I have had for 8 years. She was sick, as I was, and I wasn’t leaving her behind. I cast a spell to make her invisible and she followed me around camp until I removed the spell, before going into the Wilds.”

“So, when you were smirking and told me it was because I reminded you of a conversation with your sister, you were actually having a conversation with her?”

“Yes, your majesty.”

“Well, that clears up that. Did she go through the joining too?”

“Yes your majesty. I allowed it. Tahlmus can be very convincing.  Alistair came back with a great report on both of them.”

“So they both shall be great assets to your order. Wonderful.”

“Your majesty, Do you really want to send these children into battle?” A man the siblings had not met yet sneered at them.

“If you’d rather Logain we can wait for the Orlesian forces,” replied the King.

“We will not! I’m glad Maric is not here to see his son ready to turn our land over to the Orlesians,” replied Logain.

“Then I guess these children will have to do. Now go over this with me again, the Grey Wardens and I will draw the darkspawn…”

“And then you will give the signal to have the beacon lit, which…”

“Signals  you to start, I remember. So who should we have light the beacon?”

“Well, it’s very important. I…”

“Then we shall send our best. Alistair, Tahlmus and Tavain shall go.”

“But they are children.” Tahlmus glared at Logain, but remained silent. Tavain just rocked back and forth on her heels. Talk was so boring.

“They will light the beacon.”

“You depend on these Grey Wardens too much Cailan.” Replied Logain who then turned and walked off. After an exchange of good lucks Cailan wandered off too.

“So I will not be in the fight? Wouldn’t it be better if one of Logain’s men did this?”

“Lighting the beacon is a very important task Alistair, and the king asked for you to do so.” Replied Duncan.

“Well if Cailan decides he wants me to put a pink dress on and dance the remigold I am putting my food down.”

“Oh Alistair, you’d look so good in a pink dress.” Tavain punched her brother in the arm, and he grimaced.

“Yes I am sure the darkspawn would find it amusing. You can slay them as they stand there laughing at me.”

Tavain just rolled her eyes, “so how much time will we have?” she asked.

“You’ll have an hour to get to the Tower of Ishal on the other side of the bridge, where we came in.” replied Duncan.

“Can we join the fight after lighting the beacon?” asked Alistair.

“We will send word if we need you. Now you should get going.”

“Yes Duncan,” Tahlmus nodded as he watched Duncan turn and walk away.

“I can’t believe I won’t be in the fight. The only part I’m going to play in this thing is lighting a beacon.”

“Look at it this way…” started Tahlmus.

“At least you will live through the ordeal,” finished Tavain.

“Does your sister always finish your sentences?”

Tahlmus laughed and Tavain giggled, “no, not normally, but these are odd circumstances.” Tahlmus then turned and started towards the tower, “shall we get a move on then?”

Alistair shook his head in disbelief as Tavain skipped after Tahlmus, “We might as well.”

The trio headed off to the Tower of Ishal. Tahlmus in the lead. He was feeling much better since surviving the joining. He was also unsure of how he felt about Alistair. The human was decent enough with a sword, but very whiney, and untrusting of certain mages. He wasn’t sure if he could fully trust Alistair yet. Tavain was just skipping along. She was glad to be rid of the pain.

“Hey, could you slow down a bit? Do elves always walk this fast?”

Tahlmus grinned, “Yes, Alistair we do, best keep up.” Tavain giggled as Alistair grumbled under his breath. As they arrived at the tower they found the soliders there fighting darkspawn.

“You two stay here and help these soldiers. I’m going in a little further.” Tavain nodded at her brother while she got out her bow and arrow. Alistair just drew his sword and shield and went after a small group that had cornered a soldier.

Tahlmus went on in a little further, and found more soldiers in trouble. There was a lot more darkspawn here than at the entrance. Tahlmus hit the darkspawn with a stun spell to allow the soldiers that were still able to fight to regroup. He then cast a spell that made all the soldiers weapons glow with fire. It would help them cause more damage to the darkspawn. He then pulled out his own blades, which crackled with electricity. Tahlmus and the soldiers attacked the darkspawn as they started to come to.

Unfortunately for Tahlmus the soldiers were not in very good shape. Just as he thought they’d all be overwhelmed, he saw several darkspawn fall due to arrows penetrating their heads. He turned and gave Tavain a thumbs up. She smiled and continued shooting. Tahlmus then heard Alistair’s voice.

“Didn’t think we’d let you have all the fun did you?”

Tahlmus smirked as he slayed a hurlock. “No I expected you two several minutes ago. You’re late.”

Alistair laughed, “that would be Tavain’s fault, she tried to make friends with a dragonling.”

“A dragonling?” Tahlmus asked as he slayed another Hurlock. “Why were you trying to make friends with a dragonling?”

Tavain shrugged in between shooting her arrows, “I want a pet dragon.”

Tahlmus slayed the last genlock and turned to Tavain as he put his blades away, “Why in the name of the creators do you want a dragon?”

Tavain was about to answer when a knight and mage came running out of the tower, “Help! The darkspawn have invaded the tower.”

“How’d they get here already?” questioned Alistair.

“They came up through the old tunnels. You’ve got to help us. Please hurry.”

Tahlmus shrugged, “might as well get a move on. We have to get that beacon lit.”

Tahlmus ran into the tower behind the knight and the mage. Tavain skipped along behind him, with Alistair bringing up the rear.

The mage enchanted everyone’s weapons with fire, as they entered the tower and encountered more darkspawn. Tahlmus not fond of blazing weapons, removed the mages spell. His blades then cackled to life with electricity as he started fighting.

The group made their way level by level, slaying darkspawn.  Tahlmus and Tavain managed to pick up a few trinkets along the way. After they had finished off the darkspawn on the third level Alistair seemed to find his voice, “how did all these creatures get here? There shouldn’t be so many.”

“Weren’t you complaining about not getting to fight?” asked Tahlmus.

“Aren’t you ever happy?” asked Tavain.

“Yes, there are times I am happy, but I guess you’re right I was wanting to fight. Let’s keep going, we have a beacon to light.” Tahlmus rolled his eyes as he climbed the stairs to the door leading to the fourth floor. As he climbed the stairs the strange uneasy feeling started to come to him. He hesitated as he got to the door.

“What’s wrong big brother?”

“I’m not sure exactly. I’m just… I’m getting the same feeling I had with the mirror.” Tavain’s facial expression didn’t change but Tahlmus could detect the fear in her eyes.

“We have to light the beacon, proclaimed Alistair. “No matter what.”

“I know,” Tahlmus still hesitated. “It’s just…” He pushed the image of Tamlen and the mirror out of his thoughts. “Be more alert”

Alistair nodded, but Tavain looked worriedly at her brother. Her mind flashing bak to the moments before entering the cave. Tavain could tell it was the exact same feeling. “Hopefully history doesn’t repeat itself,” she thought.

Tahlmus pushed open the door. The group walked through to find an ogre hunched over, eating the remains of dead soldiers. Alistair closed his eyes, Tavain got the urge to throw up, and Tahlmus looked at the floor shaking his head trying to get the image out of his head. He cast a spell to paralyze the ogre. At least it made the ogre discontinue his feast. It would also allow the group to slay him without him being able to attack them.

While Alistair gave one last blow to the ogre, Tahlmus went over to the fireplace to light the beacon. Tavain went off to play with a chest she’d seen while they were attacking the ogre. The mage and soldier had moved towards one of the turret windows.

Meanwhile Duncan and the rest of the army were being overwhelmed by the darkspawn horde. An ogre had just picked up the King and squeezed the life out of him, as if he had just been a rag doll. Duncan had slayed the ogre, but was in terrible pain from a wound he had sustained. He had stumbled over to Cailan’s body falling to his knees. He looked up to the Tower of Ishal. The beacon flared up with flames. A glimmer of hope shown in his eyes before an alpha genlock swung its ax removing Duncan’s head.

At the sight of the beacon the Teryn turned toward his second in command and said, “Sound… the retreat.”

His second in command was confused, and for a split-second thought of disobeying her commander. An icy glare from the Teryn had her turning to the troops and telling them to retreat.

Tahlmus heard arrows flying through the air. He turned expecting to see Tavain messing around. Instead he saw a large group of darkspawn bearing down on them. He drew his staff as he watched Alistair fall and heard Tavain scream. As he went to cast a protective shield he felt an arrow enter his shoulder. Another one penetrated what little armour he had with his robes, and lodged in his chest. He felt himself falling backwards, but saw a green tint before his head fell against a broken pillar. “Just like the  mirror,” he thought as his world went black.

Chapter 11

Morrigan sat next to the bed where Tahlmus lay unmoving. She gently placed a cool cloth on his forehead. She stayed sitting for a few moments looking at him. He was handsome for an elf, and strong. Her mother had watched him put a protective shield up around himself and Alistair before he had fallen unconscious.

She got up and moved over to the cot where Tavain lay motionless. She had been stabbed in the abdomen, before a hurlock thought of trying to drag her off. Morrigan’s mother had swooped in, in her large bird form and taken Tavain from the hurlock’s grasp. This caused large gashes to be made in both of the young elf’s arms. She had lost a lot of blood by the time her mother had returned to the hut.

All but dead, Morrigan had carried the young elf into the hut, where her mother worked some magic to heal all three wardens. This young female was recovering the slowest. Morrigan pulled the covers up a little higher around Tavain and placed a cool cloth on her forehead.

Morrigan then went over to the fireplace arranging things on the mantel. Just as she was about done, she heard some movement behind her. She turned to see Tahlmus trying to sit up.

“Oh your eyes finally open, Mother should be pleased.”

“What? Morrigan? Where…where am I?”

Morrigan was impressed, “You remember me?”

“Yes, but… this is your mother’s hut, in the Wilds. What… why am I here?” Tahlmus shook his head slowly. Things were so foggy.

“You were injured. Mother rescued you. Do you not remember?”

“I…” Tahlmus closed his eyes resting his head on his hand which was propped on his knee. “I lit the beacon. I heard arrows in the air.” He squeezed his eyes tight trying to remember. “I saw the darkspawn… Alistair fell… Tavain screamed. I…” Tahlmus opened his eyes. Morrigan saw a mix of realization, anger and fear.

“Mother managed to save the three of you, though twas a close call. What is important is that you live. The man who was to respond to your call quit the field. The darkspawn won your battle. Those he abandoned were massacred. Your friend, he is not taking it well.”

Tahlmus closed his eyes for a minute, “M-my friend, who? Oh, you mean Alistair?”

“The suspicious dim-witted one that was with you before, yes. He is outside by the fire. Mother asked to see you when you awoke.”

“Why would she want to see me?” Tahlmus paused. His thoughts turned to his sister.

“I do not know. She rarely tells me of her plans.”

“I was badly injured? How long have I been laying here?”

“Yes, but I expect you should be fine. The darkspawn did nothing mother could not heal. You’ve been laying there for a little over a day.”

Tahlmus shook his head again, “And Alistair?”

“He is as you are. I suppose it would be unkind to say he is being childish.”

“Only if it were untrue. How is… is… I mean where…” Tahlmus kept faltering. He couldn’t bring himself to ask about Tavain. “Are we safe here?”

“We are safe for the moment. Mother’s magic keeps the darkspawn away. Once you leave, tis uncertain what will happen. The horde has moved on so you might avoid it.” Morrigan watched Tahlmus silently struggle with the information he was hearing. She then softened her voice, “your sister still has not awaken. She lost a lot of blood, but mother’s magic saved her life. She’s lying on a cot over there.” Morrigan pointed to where Tavain lay.

Tahlmus looked over at his sister’s unmoving body. He managed to swallow the small lump that had developed in his throat. This was all his fault. He had only wanted to cure her and now she may not make it anyway. He got out of the bed walking over to his sister’s cot. At least she was there. Not lost like Tamlen.

He had not noticed that he was kneeling by his sister’s bedside in his underwear. Morrigan however, found that she could not take her eyes off him. She had not yet seen a man so nicely toned. She watched Tahlmus pet his sister’s hand while mumbling to himself.

“Tahlmus I am not…” she stopped as she noticed his sister start to squirm ever so slightly.

Tahlmus continued to run his hand over his sister’s. He mumbled the words to an old healing spell he’d learned through his father’s journals. When he was finished, he watched Tavain. She was moving, slightly, but her eyes were not yet open. His gaze never strayed as he asked Morrigan, “Why did your mother save us?”

“I wonder that myself, but she tells me nothing. Perhaps you were the only ones she could reach. I would have rescued your king. A king would be worth a much higher ransom than you.”

“It’s so nice to see you care.” Tahlmus replied with a sarcasm he did not feel. “How did your mother save us?”

“She turned into a giant bird and plucked the three of you from a top the tower. Your sister and Alistair each in a talon, and then you were in her beak. If you do not believe that tale I suggest you ask mother yourself.

“I believe you Morrigan. Thank you for helping Tavain and me.”

“I… you’re welcome, though mother did most of the work. I am no healer.”

Tahlmus stood and looked again at his sister. She wasn’t squirming anymore and her eyes were not open. He now understood how she had felt when he didn’t wake after being tainted.

Tahlmus noticed Morrigan still looking at him. There was a softness in her eyes he hadn’t seen in anyone’s eyes in a long time, along with a hint of something he’d never seen before. He looked down at himself and realized he was only in his underwear. He could feel the temperature in his face rising. He wasn’t used to anyone seeing him without his robes on. Now here he was with a beautiful woman, and no robes.

“Uh… M… Morrigan, where might my robes be?”

Morrigan pointed towards the fireplace. Tahlmus looked. His robes were draped over a chest. He quickly went over and put them on. Morrigan was surprised when she found herself half wanting Tahlmus to take his robes back off.

“I… I apologize. I didn’t realize I didn’t have any clothes on. I guess I was really worried about my sister. Well, I still am…”

Morrigan wasn’t sure what to say, “I … apology accepted.”

Tahlmus forced a small smile. “Do you mind if I ask a few questions?”

“I do not mind. Take your time.”

“Would there still be darkspawn at Ostagar?”

“Only stragglers, the main horde is long gone. You wouldn’t want to see what is happening in that valley now.”

“What is happening?”

“Are you sure you want me to describe it?”

“No, but I guess I feel I need to know. So please do.”

“I had a good view of the battlefield. Tis a grizzly scene. There are bodies everywhere, and darkspawn swarm them. Feeding, I think.” Tahlmus had the image of the ogre eating a dead soldier flash through his head. He closed his eyes and continued to listen to Morrigan. “They also look for survivors and drag them back down beneath the ground. I cannot say why.”

“I’m sure whatever it is, it can’t be good and going down to save them would be out of the question.”

“Unless you are willing to run into the midst of the darkspawn horde.”

“I… don’t think I am ready for that. I guess then it might be good to see Alistair and speak with your mother.”

“I agree. Tis time you talk to mother, then be on your way.”

“But, Tavain, she’s not… I can’t leave without…” Tahlmus could feel the panic rising up in him.

“You have an army of darkspawn to avoid and eventually defeat. Tis best to get an early start. I will stay and make something to eat.”

“I…” Tahlmus wiped a tear off his cheek, “I guess you’re right, but…” Tahlmus gazed over at Tavain, “if she happens to awaken, will you please come get me?”

“Of course.” Morrigan started to feel what could only be described as guilt. She did not like having strange people around, but this one… it seemed this one had affected her differently. She watched Tahlmus put on the sheath that had been laying by the door, and then walk outside.

“See here is your fellow Grey Warden. You worry too much young man.”

“You… you’re alive. I thought you were dead for sure.”

Tahlmus sighed, “For what good it may do anyone, yes I am alive. It’s nice to see you had so much confidence in me.”

“I’m sorry but you were injured so badly.”

“Morrigan’s mother is a good healer.”

“This doesn’t seem real. If it weren’t for Morrigan’s mother we’d be dead a top of that tower.”

“Do not talk about me as if I am not present lad.”

“I… I didn’t mean, but what do we call you? You never told us your name.” Alistair managed to say.

“Names are pretty, but useless. The chasind folk call me Flemeth. I suppose it would do.”

“The Flemeth? From the legends? Jory was right you are the witch of the Wilds, aren’t you?”

Tahlmus rolled his eyes at Alistair while Flemeth spoke, “And what does that mean? I know a bit of magic, and it has served you both well has it not?”

“Yes,” stated Tahlmus. “Not only both of us, but my sister as well, even if she has yet to wake up.”

“I forgot about Tavain… I … I feel like an idiot now.”

Tahlmus looked at Alistair. He really wanted to say something like ‘only now’, but he kept those thoughts to himself. Instead he turned back to Flemeth, “What made you save us?”

“Well, we cannot have all the Grey Warden’s dying at once can we? Someone must deal with those darkspawn. It has always been the Grey Warden’s duty to unite the lands against the blight, or did that change when I wasn’t looking?”

“No ma’am. It did not. It just kind of got delayed,” responded Tahlmus.

“But we were fighting the darkspawn.” Exclaimed Alistair, “the king nearly defeated them. Why would Logain do this?”

Tahlmus shrugged but it was Flemeth that spoke, “Now that is a good question. Men’s hearts hold shadows darker than any tainted creature. Perhaps he thinks the blight is an army he can out maneuver. Perhaps he does not see that the evil behind it is the true threat.”

“The arch demon,” spoke Alistair.

“It is said that long ago the maker sent the old gods of the Ancient Tevinter Imperium to slumber in prisons deep beneath the surface. An arch demon is an old god awakened and tainted by darkspawn. Believe that or not. History says that it is a fearsome and immortal thing and only fools ignore history.”

“Then,” thought Tahlmus out loud, “we must find and slay the arch demon.”

“By ourselves? No Grey Warden has ever defeated a blight without the army of a half dozen nations at his back. Not to mention, I don’t know how.”

“How to kill the arch demon or how to raise an army?” asked Flemeth, “It seems to me those are two different questions. Have the warden’s no allies these days?”

“I… I… I don’t know,” stuttered Alistair. “Arl Eamon would never stand for this, surely.”

Tahlmus felt confused, “Arl Eamon? He is an important person I take it?”

“I suppose. Arl Eamon wasn’t at Ostagar he still has all his men, and he was Cailan’s uncle. I know him. He’s a good man, respected in the lands meet. Of course! We can go to Redcliffe and appeal to him for help.”

“Well, that’s a start I guess,” stated Tahlmus, “but I think we’re going to need more than just one man’s army. If he even helps us.”

“You have more at your disposal than you think.” Implied Flemeth.

Tahlmus thought a moment, and then tapped his satchel. “The treaties. Duncan had me keep them. I magically sealed my bag so I couldn’t lose them.”

“Of course!” exclaimed Alistair, “the treaties. Grey Wardens can demand aid from dwarves, elves, mages and other places. They are obligated to help us during a blight.”

“I may be old, but dwarves, elves, mages, this Arl Eamon, and who knows what else, this sounds like an army to me.”

“So can we do this? Go to Redcliffe and these other places and build an army?”

Alistair turned and looked at Tahlmus who was deep in thought. “Well,” he started, “I’m sure it won’t be easy, but we have to try. We really have no other choice. We are Grey Wardens after all.”

“So you are set then. Ready to be Grey Wardens?” asked Flemeth.

Tahlmus looked back at the hut. Neither Morrigan nor Tavain had come out. He felt a lump growing in his throat and forced himself to swallow it so he could answer, “I… I guess I’d have to be whether I really was or not. I don’t want to seem ungrateful for what you’ve already done, but you wouldn’t be able to offer us any more aid would you?”

“Now that you mention it, I do have one more thing to offer.” Flemeth paused as they heard the door to the hut close. Tahlmus felt a small glimmer of hope as he watched Morrigan approach. Maybe Tavain had finally awakened.

“The stew is bubbling mother dear, shall we have two guests for the eve, or none?” She turned to face Tahlmus and Alistair, and saw the light in Tahlmus’ eyes fade. She found herself feeling sorry for the young elf, so she didn’t fully hear all of what her mother said.

“The Grey Warden’s are leaving shortly girl, and you will be joining them.”

“Such a shame… wait what?”

“You heard me girl. Last time I looked you had ears.” Flemeth then laughed.

Tahlmus tried to force a smile, “That’s awfully kind of you Flemeth, but if Morrigan does not wish to join us… I do not want… I mean…” His voice faded as he thought of his sister still lying inside the hut, because of him.

“Have I no say in this?” asked Morrigan.

“You have been itching to get out of the Wilds for years. Here is your chance. As for you, Wardens, consider this repayment for your lives.”

Tahlmus nodded since he couldn’t seem to get his vocal cords to work. Alistair on the other hand was ready, “Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but won’t this add to our problems? Out of the Wilds she’s an apostate.”

Tahlmus hit Alistair in his arm and managed to say, “Away from my clan, so am I.”

“If you can’t accept help from us illegal mages young man, perhaps I should have left you on that tower.”

“Point taken.”

“Mother, this is not how I wanted this. I’m not even ready.”

“You must be ready. Alone these two must unite Ferelden against the darkspawn. They need you Morrigan. Without you they will surely fail and all will perish under the blight, even I.”

“I… understand.”

Flemeth then turned directly to Tahlmus, “And do you understand I give you that which I value above all in this world. I do this because you must succeed.”

Tahlmus nodded, “I… I understand.”

Morrigan then looked at him, “Allow me to get my things if you please.”

Tahlmus nodded and watched her turn to head back to the hut. He then spoke to Flemeth, “What… what about my sister?”

Morrigan stopped for a split second. The sorrow in the young elf’s voice brought a tear to her eye. “Why am I feeling like this?” she wondered.

“I’m afraid,” spoke Flemeth, “that I do not know when or if your sister will wake. You will have to leave without her. You must tend to the blight.”

He let the tears flow down his face. He knew Flemeth was right. “Can I go see her one last time?”

“Go lad, but be quick about it.” As Tahlmus walked to the hut, he pulled a piece of paper out of his satchel. He couldn’t find a pen while walking so he magically made his words appear on the paper. He folded it before entering the hut.

Morrigan was startled when she heard the door open and close. She turned quickly to see who it was. “I… I’m sorry I startled you Morrigan,” spoke Tahlmus. “I just wanted to say goodbye to Tavain.”

His face looked wet, and Morrigan felt embarrassed, “tis alright.” Was all she could say.

Tahlmus forced a smile before going to his sister’s bedside. He knelt next to her, taking the ring off that he had been wearing since finding it in the Wilds. He enchanted it. With a piece of string he’d found on his robes, he managed to tie the note to it. He then slipped the ring onto Tavain’s finger, maneuvering the paper under her hand. He didn’t want Flemeth to notice it.

Morrigan silently watched him. She could tell from a small sniffle she heard that fresh tears were creeping down his face. She turned back to her things trying not to listen to him as he spoke to Tavain.

“I’m not sure if you can hear me Tavain, but if you can… please know I’m sorry. I should have taken more precautions before we went through the door. I should have known better after the mirror incident.  At least kept a closer eye on you after we killed the ogre. Now I have to leave you so I can help Alistair build an army to fight against this blight.” Tahlmus started to rise to a standing position. “By himself, he will fail. I’m so sorry Tavain. I hope one day you will forgive me. I love you.”

Morrigan , who had been glancing over at Tahlmus while he was speaking, now watched him kiss Tavain on the forehead, wipe his eyes with his robes, and then quietly walk out the door. She wiped a small tear from her own face as she looked over at where Tavain lay. She couldn’t even begin to imagine what Tahlmus was going through. She silently cursed herself for allowing Tahlmus’ words to touch her like they did. She walked outside where she found everyone quietly waiting.

She walked over and stood in front of Tahlmus and Alistair, “I am at your disposal Grey Warden’s. I suggest a village north of the Wilds as our first destination. Tis not far and you’ll find much you need there, or if you prefer I should simply be your silent guide. The choice is yours.”

“I would prefer you to speak your mind, but I would like to ask you a question before we leave if you do not mind.”

“If you must.”

Tahlmus really didn’t need to, but he wanted to wait just a little bit longer. He was hoping Tavain would wake up. “Well, I was just curious besides the spells you know and shape shifting, do you have any other special skills?”

“I have studied history, and your treaties.”

“Can you cook?” interjected Alistair.

Morrigan sneered, “I.. can cook, yes.”

Tahlmus elbowed Alistair as hard as he could, “Please don’t listen to him. You don’t have to cook. I figured I would do that. I guess, if you are ready, we should be on our way.”

“Very well, farewell mother. Do not forget the stew on the fire. I would hate to return to a burned down hut.”

“Tis far more likely you will return to see this entire area along with my hut swallowed up by the blight.”

“I… all I meant was…”

“Yes, I know. Do try to have fun dear.” Morrigan nodded at her mother and then the three of them were on their way to Lothering.

Soon after leaving the Wilds Tahlmus heard barking and fast moving feet. A mabari then appeared running towards them. The dog jumped around then turned to look back at the way he came growling. Tahlmus sensed the darkspawn before he saw them.

“I guess we will battle sooner than I thought.” Said Tahlmus as he drew his weapons. Alistair and Morrigan did the same following the dog to attack the darkspawn.

The darkspawn were tough. Tahlmus felt his blows were a little weak, so he sheathed his blades and stunned the creatures. He used his fire and ice spells to help the others finish slaying them.

Once the last one fell the dog came back over to Tahlmus. “Hey there boy. You’re the mabari Tavain got the flower for aren’t you.” The dog seemed to nod his head.

“Are we really going to have this mutt following us about?” asked Morrigan.

“Yes,” said Tahlmus simply. “Tavain asked me if she could have one, so we are going to keep this one.” Tahlmus then spoke directly to the dog, “I think I’ll call you… Chewy. Kind of sounds like a name Tavain would like.” The dog barked happily.

Meanwhile in Denerim Teryn Logain was addressing people from the different areas of Ferelden.

“I expect each of you to supply these men. We must rebuild what was lost at Ostagar and quickly. There are those that would take advantage of our weakened state if we let them. We must defeat this darkspawn incursion, but we must do so sensibly, and without hesitation.”

“Your Lordship, if I might speak?” asked Ban Tegan. The Teryn nodded and Tegan continued, “You have declared yourself Queen Anora’s regent and claim we must unite under your banner for our own good. But what of the army lost at Ostagar. Your withdrawal was most fortuitous.” Mumbling started in the crowd.

“Everything I have done has been to secure Ferelden’s Independence. I have not shirked my duty to the thrown and neither will any of you.”

“The Banhorn will not bow to you simply because you demand it.”

“Understand this, I will broker no threat to this nation from you or anyone.” Logain then walked off the balcony to a back room and everyone else started to leave.

“Ban Tegan, Please.” Spoke Queen Anora.

“Your majesty, your father risks civil war. If Eamon were here…”

“Ban Tegan my father is doing what is best.”

“Did he also do what was best for your husband your majesty?” And then Ban Tegan walked away, leaving Queen Anora stunned.

Chapter 12

Just outside of Lothering the Wardens and Morrigan were stopped by a group of men that Tahlmus pegged as bandits.

“Forty silvers for you to pass.”

“Toll collectors?” asked Alistair.  Tahlmus smirked at Alistair’s question. He waited to hear the men shriek from finding frogs or toads in their trousers. His small smile faded when he realized he wasn’t going to hear that shriek as Tavain was still in Flemeth’s hut.

“Everybody has to pay the toll, even you, elf.”

Tahlmus really did not like hearing elf used in such a derogatory way. “Have you noticed how I’m dressed?” asked Tahlmus, “Do you really think it’s a good idea to try and intimidate me?”

“Ya know he’s right. Maybe we should just let them pass.” Spoke a slow-witted man to the leaders left.

“No. Everyone has to pay. They should be lucky we are not charging them double.”

“And you,” spoke Tahlmus as calmly as he could, “should consider yourselves lucky that I have not severed your heads. Now I suggest that you hit the road and never come back.”

The leader started to laugh, “You, an elf, sever our heads? Now that’s funny.” All the other men joined in their leader’s laughter. “Now, just for that your toll went up to two sovereigns.”

The laughter was stifled quickly as the sound of electricity could be heard, and Tahlmus himself was sparking with electricity. He pulled out his blades, the spark transferring to them. Tahlmus gave a small smirk, “I’ll give you to the count of three to start running.  One…”

“You think you can threaten us with some glowing weapons?” the leader asked, a twinge of fear in his voice.

Tahlmus just smiled, “Just like the shemlen in the forest,” he thought.  “Two…”

“Maybe we should run sir, this elf doesn’t seem to be in a forgiving mood.”


“We will kill this elf and his friends, then take their purses.” The leader reached for his sword, but found he couldn’t lift his arm above his chest. He looked at the rest of his men. None, could reach their weapons.

“I told you to run before I got to three. Now you bandits will get what you deserve.” Pure hatred sounded in his voice. Holding his blade against the leader’s throat he spoke, “You are going to tell me where you stashed all the coin you’ve collected; every last penny. And if I find out you’re lying…” Tahlmus moved his blade along the leader’s neck, careful not to draw any blood.

Seeing as none of the men could move their feet, they coins started falling onto the bridge. “There’s a chest of coins behind the wagon,” he motioned with his head. Tahlmus used a spell to collect all the coins that had fallen on the bridge. He removed the spell that had the bandits’ feet tied, “Now you can start running. I don’t ever want to see you again, or you’ll die.” The leader tried to stutter through a sentence, which Tahlmus found unintelligible, as the rest of his men took off running. The leader himself then took off running while Tahlmus dispelled the electricity from his blades. Like the shems in the forest the group watched the bandits just fall in a heap to the ground, as Tahlmus sheathed his blades.

Alistair was in shock, “W…what just happened?”

Tahlmus smiled as he went around to check the chest the leader had described. “It was a simple spell that connected their lives to the electricity flowing through my blades. When I ceased to need the enchantment, their lives ceased to exist.”

“W…was that r…really necessary? They g…gave you t…the information you wanted.” Exclaimed Alistair.

The dog barked at Alistair and Tahlmus grinned, “Necessary, no maybe not,” he shrugged.  “But they can no longer pilfer and torture poor folk.” Alistair just stood there with his mouth open. Morrigan, however, was impressed. She knew that Tahlmus had most likely done it in anger over leaving his sister behind. The more insensitive side of Tahlmus sparked a feeling in her that she’d not felt before. Tahlmus shrunk the chest to fit into his satchel, “Shall we continue on into Lothering?” Without waiting for a response Tahlmus took off for the stairs.

He paused on the small balcony overlooking the outskirts of Lothering, waiting for Alistair and Morrigan to catch up. Alistair looked out over the landscape, “Well there it is, Lothering. Pretty as a painting.”

“Ah so you’ve finally decided to rejoin us have you? Falling on your blade in grief seemed like too much trouble I take it,” Morrigan’s sarcastic air was thick.

“Is my being upset so hard to understand? Have you never lost someone important to you? Just what would you do if your mother died?

“Before or after I stopped laughing?”

“Right, very creepy. Forget I asked.”

“If you two are quite finished… was there actually something important you wanted to discuss?” Tahlmus’ voice reached a tone neither Alistair nor Morrigan had heard yet.

“His navel I suspect,” replied Morrigan. “He certainly has been contemplating it for long enough.”

“Oh, I get it, this is the part where we are shocked to discover you’ve never had a friend your entire life.”

“I can be friendly when I desire to. Alas desiring to be more intelligent does not make it so.”

The familiar sound of crackling electricity brought the argument to a halt. Alistair and Morrigan turned to look at Tahlmus. He hadn’t taken his blades out. He himself was  radiating with the electricity that usually flowed through his blades. “If all you two are going to do is stand here and waste my time arguing, I could have stayed at the hut and waited for my sister to wake up.”

Chewy stood by Tahlmus growling. Morrigan’s gaze softened a bit. She almost felt like apologizing to Tahlmus. Alistair, however, was better at opening his mouth, “Anyway I thought we should talk about where we intended to go first.”

“Well, since you’ve already seemed to denote me as the leader I was going to start with the treaties.”

“I agree. Have you looked at them?”

“I’ve skimmed through them, yes.”

“I also still think Arl Eamon is our best bet for help. We might even want to go to him first.”

“Yes, yes Arl Eamon.” Tahlmus felt frustrated, “Morrigan do you have any opinion on the situation since we’re throwing them out there?”

Morrigan nodded, “Go after your enemy directly. Find this man Logain and kill him. The rest of this business with the treaties can then be done in safety.”

“Yes, he certainly wouldn’t see that coming, and it’s not like he’s got the advantage of an army and experience and…”

“I was asked for my opinion and I gave it. If your wish is to come up with reasons why something cannot be done, we will be here until the darkspawn are upon us.” Tahlmus rolled his eyes and walked off down the last set of stairs. He wasn’t going to listen to the two humans argue.

As Morrigan and Alistair got done glaring at each other they noticed Tahlmus was no longer standing near them. Gazing out over the landscape and saw Tahlmus speaking with a farmer in front of Lothering’s entrance. They ran down to join him getting there just as Tahlmus bid the farmer goodbye. “Nice of you two to join me.” spoke Tahlmus as he headed on into town. Chewy ran on ahead barking happily.

“Excuse me sir, do you have some food to spare?”

Tahlmus turned to see a family of three elves huddled together. He could tell they were not Dalish. The young girl looked like a younger version of Tavain. He smiled at the child before speaking to her father, “I’m sorry, I do not have any food. What happened to you?”

“The bandits on the bridge, they took our money, and most of our belongings. We were trying to escape the darkspawn.”

“Well, I got rid of the bandits, you might be able to get some of your stuff back, and…” Tahlmus paused as he dug into his small purse. He dug out ten sovereigns and handed them to the father. “Take these.”

“Sir we cannot take this much from you.”

“It’s alright, I insist. Use it to get yourself as far away from here as you can.”

“But sir, won’t you need…”

Tahlmus held up his hand to stop the father, “It’s fine I swear.” He looked down at the young girl and pictured Tavain laying on the cot in Flemeth’s hut. Tahlmus slowly raised his gaze back towards the father, the pain and anguish evident in his eyes. “Please,” Tahlmus said as a tear rolled down his cheek, “take the coin, get out of here, and create a good life for your wife and daughter.” The man nodded in understanding. He carefully placed the coin into his pocket. The little girl came over wrapping her arms around Tahlmus’ waist in a hug. Tahlmus closed his eyes, thinking of how Tavain had clung to him after their parent’s death, as he gently hugged the little girl back. He then watched the family walk back towards the bridge.

“We’re feeling generous, aren’t we?” scoffed Morrigan.

“Yes,” came Tahlmus’ icy reply, “we are.” Morrigan shivered as she watched Tahlmus head towards the chantry. She disapproved his generosity. It was reckless, but she had seen the resemblance of the little girl to Tavain. She hastened her pace to catch up to Tahlmus.

Tahlmus recognized the man standing out front of the chantry as being a templar, and avoided him. It was bad enough the man in charge of the town was a templar; he didn’t want to talk to more than he had to. Especially if they were so quick to pass judgment on mages as Alistair was.  Going through the chantry doors, he took in everything. He heard a man giving orders to others that looked like templars. Tahlmus waited patiently until he was done giving orders, before walking up to him.

“Ser Bryant?” asked Tahlmus.

“Yes, are you one of the Arl’s Knights?”

“Well…” Tahlmus hesitated, “no, not one of the Arl’s Knights. I wanted to ask you about the bandits on the road…”

Ser Bryant sighed, “I don’t know how many more times I’ve had my men run them off. I’m sorry I will…”

“No, I just wanted to let you know they are dead.”

“Dead? You killed them?” Tahlmus shrugged as another templar walked up to the group and spoke, “They are dead. I checked on them after this elf left. The bandits turned to run then… then just suddenly all of them fell face first to the ground.”

Both templars looked at Tahlmus who shrugged, “I just told them to start running. I never wanted to see them again.”

“Then why did they just fall? Just die?” The two templars slowly started to back away.

Tahlmus shrugged again, “Must have been the maker punishing them. I had nothing to do with it. I have blades see.” Tahlmus turned so they could see the daggers in his sheath; the staff invisible to them.

“Oh maker,” spoke the young templar. “I must go… go see the revered mother. Excuse me.”

“We… didn’t mean to assume you were a mage. Please forgive us.” Said Ser Bryant.

Tahlmus shrugged, “Can’t say I blame you. I was quite shocked when it happened.” Tahlmus couldn’t believe how easily the lie came out. “I am one of two Grey Wardens passing this way seeking allies to build an army to defend against the blight. Is there any aid you could provide?”

“A… a Grey Warden? You realize that Logain has declared the Grey Warden’s traitors? There’s a bounty on your head.”

Alistair gaped at ser Bryant. Tahlmus’ expression remained unchanged, “Yes, I know, but I did a favor for you getting the bandits to leave, so now you can do a favor for me by offering some aid.”

Ser Bryant nodded, agreeing with what Tahlmus was proposing. “I can’t offer any physical aid, but here take this key. It opens the cabinet in the back, take what you need. We won’t be able to take it all when we try to leave, if we get to that point.” Tahlmus nodded as he accepted the key.

Ser Bryant bowed slightly in farewell. Tahlmus made his way back to the cabinet and unlocked it. Rummaging through the items, he picked out what looked to be elven made boots, and strong yet slender bow. He would enchant it later so he could give it to Tavain, if he ever got to see her again. Alistair finally found his voice, “Tahlmus did you know that we are now targets?”

“Yes and no,” he said turning around and heading out of the chantry.

“Wait, what do you mean yes and no?”

Tahlmus opened the chantry door, “I suspected that Logain would have something in place, just in case any of us survived. He really didn’t like the idea of us being there. However, I did not know we had a bounty on our heads until Ser Bryant just said so.”

“You are an odd elf,” spoke Morrigan, as Alistair just kind of shook his head in disbelief.

“At least it comes in handy.” Morrigan just nodded. “For someone who has been through a lot of trauma, he can still think clearly,” she thought.

The smell of squirrel aroused Tavain’s senses. She hid under the covers she didn’t recognize. It had to have been a dream. The darkspawn attacking the tower, a dragon picking her up, her brother leaving her… she clasped her fingers together feeling the ring and paper. Her eyes widened. That part had not been a dream. She took the covers off, managing to get the paper disconnected from the ring while letting her eyes adjust to the light.

“Ah,” spoke a raspy voice. “You awaken. The extra healing magic Tahlmus performed did help.”

“Y… you’re Morrigan’s mother. Then it wasn’t a dream.”

Flemeth cocked her head at the young elf, “There is a bowl of stew for you to eat at the table if you so wish. I have other things to tend to.” Tavain nodded, waiting til the door was closed before she opened the note.

Dear Tavain,

No words can express how sorry I am for leaving you here. I had to go help Alistair with the Blight. To leave him to his own devices would have been Ferelden’s demise.

We will most likely head north, but I enchanted the ring I left on your finger to show you the way. It will change color as you get closer to us. Red means you are in the same area. There’s also an arrow that appears so you know which direction to head.

I hope you will catch up with us soon, and that when you do, you will forgive me for having left you behind.

I Love You,


Tavain wiped a tear from her cheek. She made her way to the table, “might as well get a meal in. No telling when I will get to eat again.” Sheathing her bow she walked out the door.

“The others headed towards Lothering, a town North of here. If you hurry you can catch them there.” Morrigan’s mother spoke without turning around.

“Thank you,” spoke Tavain. “For everything.” She then slipped off into the wilds following the ring on her finger. It was times like this she was grateful for her brother’s intuition. She made it to Lothering slipping into the Tavern through the back door. She wanted to find out some information before meeting back up with her brother.

Morrigan turned to Alistair, “I’m curious, you are the senior Grey Warden and yet you follow the one that just joined.”

“If you are suggesting that I would rather follow than lead. … You’re right. Me leading would be bad.” Tahlmus smirked. From what he knew of Alistair, truer words had not been spoken. He made his way across the bridge and into a tavern he noticed on his right. He sensed someone was there waiting for him. He found Logain’s men.

“Hey weren’t we asking about an elf with this very description this morning and nobody had seen him? Seems we were lied to.”

“I doubt you were lied to,” spoke a familiar sarcastic female voice.

Alistair and Morrigan looked at each other. It wasn’t possible. Tahlmus smiled as the female voice continued, “My brother is pretty good at being invisible. Not surprising no one has seen him.”

Tahlmus then smirked as the men slowly turned to face the female voice. The soldiers were stunned, “There are two of you?”

“Actually,” started Tahlmus.

“There is only one of each of us,” finished Tavain.

The soldiers shook their head in confusion, “At least we have you all in one place. We will have to arrest you now. No point in trying to resist.”

Before Tahlmus or Tavain could do much more than nod at each other, a young woman had made her way over to the group to insert her opinion, “Surely, you’re mistaken,” she spoke to Logain’s men, “and these are simply more refugees fleeing the darkspawn.”

“Don’t get in our way sister.”

“That’s a little rude,” Tavain spoke as she received a shrug from her brother to her questioning eyes.

“I’m sick of this, said the leader. “Arrest these wardens and kill the sister.”

“Yes sir,” responded one of the soldiers. Alistair and Morrigan had already drawn their weapons in anticipation. The young woman had also placed her hands on her dagger, curiosity in all their eyes as they noticed that neither Tahlmus nor Tavain had made a move for their weapons. Both stood there smirking. A few seconds later they realized why. The soldier who had replied to his leader’s command tried to make a move towards Tahlmus, while a second soldier made a move towards Tavain. Only their arms moved in an effort to grab the two young elves. The tips of their fingers still inches away.

Tavain grinned, “What’s wrong? Feet turn to stone?” The other soldiers tried moving, and found that like their companions they couldn’t move. Fear entered their eyes.

“I suggest,” started a smiling Tahlmus.

“That you guys run on back to Logain,” continued Tavain.

“And let him know that he should watch his back,” warned Tahlmus.

“We will be coming for him,” finished Tavain.

The group moved their eyes between the siblings as they spoke. The two young elves never missed a beat. The soldiers managed to nod an understanding as Tahlmus removed the spell. “Now run.” The soldiers took off without daring to look back.

The young woman turned towards Tahlmus, “How did you…”

“Tavain!” exclaimed Tahlmus as he ran over to his sister completely ignoring the young woman. “I’m so glad you are alright,” he said as he wrapped his sister in a hug.

Tavain smiled slyly at her brother, then punched him in the arm. “That,” she said, “is for letting me get seriously hurt.” She punched him again in the same spot, forcing Tahlmus to grimace in pain, “And that,” she paused, “is for leaving me behind.” Morrigan let out a giggle. Alistair just starred.

Tahlmus hung his head. He tried to think of some way to apologize to Tavain. He then heard Tavain giggle. Next thing he knew he was laying on his back on the wooden floor with Tavain’s arms wrapped around him. Tavain giggled again as Tahlmus groaned, “I love you too sis.” She jumped to her feet, and held out a hand to help her brother up. Tahlmus gladly accepted her help to stand.

“Shall we get back to the blight now?” asked Morrigan, “or are we going to have more intimate family moments?”

“That depends,” replied Tahlmus with a sly smile.


“If you consider Tahlmus family or not,” interjected Tavain.

Morrigan stood there speechless while Tahlmus turned three shades of red. The young woman was confused. “Excuse me,” she spoke softly to Tahlmus, “but are you a Grey Warden as they said you were?”

“Yes,” replied Tavain. “The only living ones in Ferelden,” she bowed smartly, “at your service.”

“Oh, uh… well…” she was taken aback by the female elf’s reply.

Tahlmus smiled at his sister’s sarcastic reply, “I am Tahlmus of the Grey Wardens. This is my sister Tavain, also a Warden. Then there is Alistair, a fellow warden, Morrigan, our lovely guide, and the mabari is Chewy, Tavain’s dog.” Tavain squealed and ran over to Chewy who’s tail wagged fervently.

“I am Leliana,” the young woman spoke. “You are fighting the blight?”

“Yes we are,” replied Tahlmus.

“Then I am coming with you.”

Tahlmus gave Leliana a glance over. She was dressed in cloister clothes, but carried two small daggers. He sensed that she had some knowledge on how to use them, but there was something about her he didn’t trust, or like.  “Why do you want to come with me?” Tahlmus watched Leliana as she blushed.

“Well… the maker told me to.”

Tahlmus glanced at Tavain who shook her head over so slightly, then turned back to the cloister sister. “This must be where I just slowly start backing away.” Tahlmus had started to slowly back away as he spoke.

Leliana took a step towards him, “I know that may sound a little crazy…”

“A little?” interrupted Tavain. “Trying to sneak up on my brother while he’s sleeping with his daggers under his pillow is a little crazy. What you said is on a whole new level.”

Leliana cocked her head in confusion at Tavain’s statement. “I mean… I had a vision”

“That totally makes it way less crazy,” mumbled Tavain.

Leliana hadn’t heard Tavain, and continued, “A vision about the blight and this is why I’m going to come with you.”

“Aren’t we already full up on crazy?” asked Alistair.

“You need my help,” Leliana persisted.

“That…” hesitated Tahlmus, “is true.”

“Big brother you can’t be serious. She’s nuttier than Merril.”

Tahlmus winced at the mention of Merril’s name. He closed his eyes as he thought how he was going to regret his next words. Opening his eyes he looked at Leliana, “Alright, you can travel with us.” Leliana smiled and his companions gaped at him.

He turned to walk out grabbing Tavain by the arm, pulling her close and whispered in her ear, “Keep an eye on this Leliana. There’s something about her she’s not telling us.”

Tavain nodded, “then why did you say she could come with us?” she whispered back.

“Because we do need the help.”

Tavain sighed nodding in agreement. She then slipped around to the back of the group so she could keep an eye on Leliana. It also meant she could play with Chewy. She was happy that her brother kept his promise about trying to get her a mabari. Tahlmus started to head out of town, pausing by a cage. He sensed a very powerful creature was confined to it. He had not seen a creature like this before. “Hello,” spoke Tahlmus, “may I ask why you have been placed in this cage?”

“You are not one of my captors.  You’re an elf…”

“Yes, I am, you are very observant.”  Tahlmus felt annoyed, “why are you in that cage?”

“Your chantry placed me here, the why does not matter.”

“It is not my chantry. The why does matter if I shall try to convince them to allow you to go free. I find myself in need of some skilled help to fight the coming blight.”

The creature opened his mouth to speak, but Leliana was quicker, “He’s Sten, a qunari. He killed two farm families. I don’t think the revered mother would let him out, and …”

“Well, then” spoke Tahlmus cutting her off, “your first task in travelling with me is to help convince the revered mother to release Sten.”

Leliana stuttered, “uh… o… ok, but I don’t think he should…”

“Unfortunately,” Tahlmus said as he turned back towards the chantry, “you don’t get a say in the matter. You wanted to follow me, you will do as I say.”

Morrigan smiled smugly as she watched Leliana close her mouth and hang her head “He might be able to handle the position he was forced into,” she thought.

“Big brother, what’s a qunari?”

Tahlmus shrugged, “I don’t think I’m the one to ask.”

“The qunari,” spoke Leliana, “are a proud race, that live on a few different islands north of Ferelden. They are very… odd.”

Tavain muttered under her breath, “And I’m supposed to believe you’re normal?”

Tahlmus heard his sister and started laughing. Leliana looked at him confused, “Did I say something wrong?”

Tahlmus stifled his laughter, “No, no I just had a funny thought was all.” Leliana just nodded as they entered the chantry, and made their way to the revered mother’s quarters.

“Are you here to offer a tithe?” asked the revered mother as the group entered.

“Uh… what sort of tithe is acceptable?”

“Thirty silver is usually a good amount.”

Tahlmus dug through his pocket and pulled out thirty-five silver, “Will this do?”

“That is very generous child.” Morrigan scoffed in the background. “How might I help you?” Tahlmus did not like being called a child, but he shrugged it off as he turned and motioned for Leliana to step forward.

Leliana started wringing her fingers together as she spoke, “Revered mother…”

“Ah, Leliana, how are you dear?”

“I’m fine revered mother. I… well my companions and I were wondering if you might release the qunari…”

“After what he’s done, Leliana I’m surprised at you.”

As politely as he could Tahlmus intervened, “Excuse me, revered mother, if I may.” She nodded at Tahlmus who continued, “I am Tahlmus, of the Grey Wardens. I have the duty of trying to build an army to battle the blight. I was hoping you would consider releasing the qunari into my custody.”

“Then his next victims may count you and me as their murderers.”

“Uh, revered mother,” Tavain took a step closer so she could be seen.

“Yes my dear.”

“My brother, he has a certain way about him. If the qunari so much as thought of killing an innocent person, my brother wouldn’t allow him to live long enough to get near them.”

“And what makes you so sure?”

Alistair spoke up this time, “Tahlmus is a mage your reveredness. He has powers I have never seen another mage display. The qunari will not have a chance against him.”

“I see,” spoke the revered mother, “he is an apostate then? A malificar? And I should trust him with a murdering qunari?”

“As a templar,” spoke Alistair, “I can vouch for Tahlmus. He is not a blood mage nor an abomination. He never would have been recruited into the Warden’s if he were one.”

The revered mother sat in deep thought for a few minutes before replying, “very well, I will release the qunari into your custody young warden. May you succeed in your quest against the blight.”

Tahlmus bowed his head, “Thank you.” The revered mother nodded, and watched the group walk out.

“Thank you Alistair. I really didn’t think you liked or trusted me much.”

“I didn’t agree with what you did to the bandits but you are the most powerful and learned mage I’ve known. You make leading look easy. I would be dead without you.”

“Bandits?” quipped Tavain, “What bandits? What did you do Tahlmus?”

“There were bandits outside the town,” started Alistair.

“They were charging refugees to use the road. They angered your brother,” continued Morrigan.

Tavain nodded, “So what’d he do?”

“You remember the shemlen in the forest we encountered before all of this?”

Tavain rolled her eyes, “You’re using humans to power your blades again aren’t you big brother.” Tahlmus nodded.

“It was quite impressive,” stated Morrigan. Tahlmus blushed.

“I think I am confused,” came Leliana’s soft spoken voice.

Tahlmus shrugged, “All you need to understand is that they are dead.”

“You killed them?”

“Ah, Sten,” Tahlmus spoke ignoring Leliana’s question. “the revered mother gave me the key You will be released into my custody.”

“To be honest I did not think she would.”

“Before I let you out, let’s get one thing straight. You will do what I say when I say, and if you so much as think about killing an innocent I will kill you. Do we have an understanding?”

The qunari was amused by the elf’s threat. “I will follow you into the blight, and in doing so find my atonement.”

“Alright then.” Spoke Tahlmus as he unlocked the cage. “Let’s get a move on then.”

Everyone nodded following Tahlmus across the grassy area to the road. As they got closer Tahlmus drew his blades. Tavain followed suit taking out her bow. Leliana and Sten were both confused as Alistair and Morrigan also drew their weapons. Then they heard it, manly screams for help coming from the road ahead.

The group ran up the stairs to the road to find darkspawn threatening a dwarven merchant. It was only a small group of darkspawn, so they were easily defeated. Tavain went about looting the corpses, trying to teach Chewy how to do the same. This made Tahlmus smile as he turned toward the merchant, “Are you alright?”

“Yes, I believe my boy and I are fine. Good thing you came along when you did. Is there a way I can repay you?”

“We are going to travel a little further north before making camp for the night. Why don’t you travel and camp with us for the night? I’d like a chance to look through your wares. Do a little trading.”

The dwarven merchant nodded, “My son is also good with enchantments. Maybe he can work on some of your weapons.”

Tahlmus nodded, “It’s settled then. Tavain are you and Chewy done?”

“Yes, we are.”

“Then let’s head off. I’d like to put some distance between us and this town.” The others nodded in agreement and started off in a northerly direction.

Chapter 13

A couple hours later, the sun was starting to set. Tahlmus stopped walking. Leliana’s incessant babbling was getting on his last nerve. He nodded to Tavain who slipped off into the forest in the direction of her brother’s nod. The others waited patiently wondering what the two young elves were up to. Tavain returned quickly, “It’s perfect big brother.” Then she went back into the woods. Tahlmus motioned for the others to follow his sister.

“What’s perfect?” asked Morrigan who had hung back to walk with Tahlmus.

“The clearing that is up ahead. It will be a good spot for us to set up camp.” Tahlmus replied as he went about magically collecting wood.

“A clearing? How do you…” Morrigan paused as she walked into the wide clearing.

“After my…” Tahlmus paused, he wasn’t sure he was ready to discuss his parents with someone he barely knew. “Growing up I spent a lot of time in the forest. Just… kind of… looked familiar.” Morrigan nodded, though she thought Tahlmus was a rather odd elf.

“There is a small little cove in the south west corner,” Tahlmus pointed, “if you want privacy from the rest of us.”

“That..” started Morrigan, “would be perfect.”

“If you need my help setting up just let me know,” Tahlmus blushed. “I’d be happy to help.”

Morrigan gave a nod of her head and headed toward the cove. She started to set up her tent. It felt like she was being watched. She glanced up from her work and saw Tahlmus gazing at her. He quickly looked away when her gaze met his. Her heart raced for a minute. She was unsure what it was about him that caused her to feel this way.

Tahlmus was embarrassed Morrigan had caught him looking at her. She was so beautiful. He was so busy thinking about Morrigan he tripped over a log falling flat on his face. Tavain started giggling, “Usually you know when I’ve planted a trap for you.”

Tahlmus grunted as he picked himself up off the ground, dusting himself off. Luckily everyone else was so preoccupied with trying to make their own tent, no one saw him fall. “Oh big brother.” Tavain sang sweetly while rocking back and forth on her heels.

“What do you want Tavain?”

“You’re drooling again. Were you thinking about Morrigan?”

“Yes… I mean no… I mean…” Tahlmus was flustered and Tavain was enjoying herself. “Tavain I wasn’t drooling!” exclaimed Tahlmus.

“Oh you’re right you weren’t, but now I know why our tent isn’t up yet.” Tahlmus grumbled and used his magic to get the tent set up. “Aww, you’re sweet to comply so quickly. Maybe you can go teach Morrigan that trick while I cook up this squirrel I was able to catch.”

Tahlmus blushed slightly, but decided to go around camp talking to the other members. He wanted to get to know his companions. It would also keep Tavain from teasing him. He chose to talk to Alistair first. Talking to someone comfortable was a good way to start. “Need any help?”

“No, I think I almost got it.” Tahlmus watched as the tent collapsed when Alistair tried to tie the last rope to the last stake. “Or maybe I don’t.” Tahlmus used some magic and had Alistair’s tent up in seconds. “Well, thanks. I guess having an all-powerful mage can be quite useful.”

“You’re real funny Alistair.”

Alistair chuckled, “I try to be. Is there something I can do for you?”

“Actually, I was wondering if you were alright, or if you wanted to talk about Duncan.”

“Really? I guess I’m alright now. I shouldn’t have lost it like that. It’s just… The Grey Wardens were the closest thing to family I had. Now they are all gone.”

“I know this isn’t much comfort, but I know how you feel. And I’m not sure how much of a family a couple of Dalish elves can provide, but Tavain and I are here.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that.”

Tahlmus nodded, “I’m going to go talk to the others. Alistair gave a nod, and Tahlmus walked over to Sten.

“Why are we stopping? We are wasting time.”

Sten’s strong monotone voice intimidated Tahlmus. He felt like trying to hide in his robes. “We need to rest. This is a safe secluded area. We can get some sleep and be better prepared for tomorrow.”

“Sleep is a waste of time.”

“There will be plenty of times where we won’t get to sleep I’m sure, but we need to rest when we can. We need to be alert and make no mistakes. I’ve seen my share of things go terribly wrong because people foolishly decided not to rest.”

Sten was taken aback by the young elf’s fire. “Maybe,” Sten thought, “this elf knows a little of what he is doing.”

“Now,” spoke Tahlmus a little softer. “Is there anything I can help you with or get you?”

“Since we are stopping to rest, some food would be nice.”

“Go over to the fire, my sister is cooking.”

Sten gave a slight nod, then wandered over to have a seat by the fire. Tahlmus watched and mumbled, “What in the world did I get myself into.” He then decided to go speak with Leliana. Every muscle in his body told him not to, but he needed to learn about the people he would be leading. He wanted them all to survive the experience. “Excuse me Leliana.”

“Oh hello Tahlmus. This is a spacious clearing how did you know it was here?”

“More luck than anything. Do you mind if I ask you a question or two?”

“Go ahead. I will answer what I can.”

“You were a sister, in the chantry… why do you carry daggers?”

“I wasn’t always a part of the chantry. I travelled here from Orlais, and while sleeping one evening I had a dream and knew the maker wanted me to join the chantry.”

Tahlmus nodded slowly, “the same dream that told you to come with me?”

“No, it was different. I know it kind of sounds crazy, but I really did have a vision about the blight.”

Tahlmus nodded, he could tell that she wasn’t lying. At least she felt what she was saying was true. “Why did you come from Orlais?”

Tahlmus sensed Leliana’s hesitation, “My mother was from Ferelden. I wanted to come see where she was from.”

He saw the truth in Leliana’s eyes, but he also sensed that it wasn’t the true reason she had come to Ferelden. “What do you think of it here?”

“It’s alright, but the fashion here isn’t as good.” Tahlmus raised an eyebrow. “Oh listen to me prattle on. I’m sure you have more important things to do.”

Tahlmus nodded, “Supper should be ready soon if you are hungry.” Leliana grinned and almost skipped off to the fire where Tavain was cooking. It smelled delicious. Tahlmus heard his stomach grumble. “Tavain,” he spoke through his thoughts.

“Yes, big brother.”

“Is that squirrel almost done?”

“Almost. You still have time to go talk to lovely Morrigan before we eat.” Tahlmus blushed, but he did take her advice and walked over to the little cove Morrigan was using. She already had her tent up, and a small fire going. “Good evening Morrigan.”

“Hello Tahlmus. Can I help you?”

“I was wondering if I could ask you a question or two.”

“If you must.”

“Well, you were kind of forced to leave the wilds. Are you alright travelling with us?”

“We do have a blight to tend to. It is my duty to come with you. You have made leaving the wilds a little more … interesting. I will say that.”

Tahlmus nodded, “well if you need anything let me know. This is an odd group to travel with, and I just want everyone to at least be comfortable enough with the situation so that we can get through this.”

“Well, thank you, but I can take care of myself.”

Tahlmus winced at her tone. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply you couldn’t.” he hesitated, “Tavain is making up a squirrel dish for supper if you want to come get some, or I could bring a bowl to you if you’d rather not mingle with the others.”

Morrigan smiled. She approved of what Tahlmus was trying to do. “It would be nice if you could bring it to me. I would rather not have to hear Leliana’s voice again tonight.”

Tahlmus sighed, “You and me both.” He then turned walking back over to the fire where Tavain was dishing out a stew. He picked up two tin bowls and asked Tavain to fill them.

“Extra hungry tonight big brother?” Tavain giggled.

Tahlmus rolled his eyes at Tavain’s question and responded as sarcastically as he could, “Yes, yes I am. Good thing you made enough.” Tavain gave her brother a sly smile then watched him walk back towards Morrigan.

“Are you two ever serious?” asked Leliana.

“What do you mean?” asked Tavain.

“Neither of you pulled out your weapons against Logain’s men. You’re constantly being sarcastic, like you two are in your own little world.”

Tavain gave a look of annoyance. “There is a lot of things you have yet to learn about my brother and I.” Leliana shrunk back at Tavain’s harsh voice. “My brother is very serious, and very tactical. He is also talented enough to know, or predict how something will go before it happens.”

“That still doesn’t explain anything.”

“And I don’t have to explain anything to you.” Leliana shrunk back in slight fear from the icyness in Tavain’s voice.

“Here you go Morrigan,” Tahlmus held out the bowl of stew.

“Thank you.” Morrigan took the bowl and sat on a log by her fire.

“Do you mind if I sit with you to eat?” Tahlmus asked softly.

“I do actually.”

Tahlmus hung his head, “As you wish.” His voice just barely above a whisper.

Morrigan watched the young elf walk back towards the others. His outline was smaller, hunched over more than normal. “Why do I feel so horrible?” she wondered

Tahlmus silently crawled into his and Tavain’s tent, eating supper by himself. He cursed at himself for letting Morrigan’s response get to him the way it did. He also cursed himself for liking her as much as he did. They were here to fight the blight, plus she was human. An elf shouldn’t mate with a human… should they?

To get rid of the anger he was feeling at himself, he grabbed Tavain’s satchel and started going through it. Any coins he found he put in his purse. Then he found different things such as lyrium and health potions. He also found different herbs, some armour and a couple different weapons. He then poured out his own satchel to see what he had collected, gathered a few things together, and then made his way out to the fire. He sat on a log. He listed to everyone talk since no one had noticed his return.

“What I can’t understand,” Sten started, “Is why you would have allowed a woman into the Grey Wardens? Why would Tahlmus allow these women to follow him.”

“Actually,” replied Alistair, “Tahlmus convinced Duncan to allow Tavain to go through the ritual.”

“Because,” Tavain interjected, “Tahlmus wasn’t leaving me behind. He knows how well I can fight and I’m very good with disarming traps.”

“But women are not fighters, they are cooks, maids… They don’t fight.”

“Why not Sten?” asked Leliana.

“It is not the way of the kun. Women are weak. Tahlmus seems smart why would he allow women to help instead of finding capable men?”

While Sten was speaking with Leliana and Alistair, Tavain slipped around behind him and pulled out one of her throwing knives. “Because,” whispered Tavain in Sten’s ear as she held the knife close to his throat, “I can kill a man any way you want except by magic.” She then moved the blade along Sten’s neck carefully so as not to draw any blood. She put her knife away and took her place on the other side of the fire. Sten was left speechless.

“Tavain, how did you…” Leliana couldn’t finish her question. The young female elf didn’t come off as capable of doing what she just did.

“You spent a lot of time with Tahlmus growing up didn’t you?” asked Alistair

“Every minute he wasn’t on patrols,” sang Tavain.

“Didn’t you play with other… elves your own age Tavain?” asked Leliana.

“There weren’t many elven children my age,” spoke Tavain. “Tahlmus played with me though when we were really young. He also took all the responsibility when I did something wrong. He never yelled at me. Even after…” Tavain’s voice cracked

“Even after what?” Leliana had leaned forward. She was very interested in Tavain’s story.

“Even after she was old enough to go on patrols.” Tahlmus’ voice made them all jump.

“Where did you come from?” asked Leliana.

Tahlmus just grinned. “Here, try this armor on, it’s leather. Should be light enough for you, and provide a little more protection than that cloister clothing.”

“Well thank you.” Leliana took the armor, then went to try it on.

Tahlmus then turned to Sten. “I found some chainmail armor and boots for you to wear instead of those clothes, and…” Tahlmus paused as he walked back to his log, “this sword. It’s too heavy for anyone else, but I thought you might be able to use it.”

Sten took the sword into his hands, “It will do for now”

“Well that’s good, because that’s the only weapon of that type that we have right now.” Sten nodded, got up, and wandered back to his spot. Alistair then got up and did the same.

“So now what big brother?”

“Well the dishes should be cleaned, and the extra stuff laying on the blankets in the tent should be sold to the dwarven merchant.”

“I’ll trade with the merchant big brother. You can do the dishes.”

Tahlmus smiled, “sure thing sis.” He hated cleaning, but maybe it’d take his mind off things. He gathered everything up and headed into the wood just west of the camp.. If he remembered correctly, there was a small crick in that direction.  He found the crick.  Sitting on the bank he started cleaning the dishes.

Once Tavain was done haggling with the dwarf who’s name she found was Bohdan, she skipped over to the small cove to talk to Morrigan.

“Hi Morrigan,” she sang sweetly.

“Oh…uh… hi Tavain.”

“How was the stew?” Tavain asked as she picked up the empty tin.

“It… it was good.” Morrigan wondered why Tavain was talking to her.

“That’s good.” Tavain turned as if she was going to leave, then turned back towards Morrigan.

“Do you need something?”

“No, I just wanted to say something,” Tavain paused for a few seconds. “My brother likes you a lot. You are very beautiful. He also has a lot of respect for you because you are a mage just like he is. Which means he will do anything you ask him.”

Morrigan was at a loss, “What?”

“I’ve never been able to get Tahlmus to trip over a log I’ve placed behind him. He always knows what is going on around him. He’s never been that un-alert before. He melts around you. Don’t hurt him.” Tavain then went to go find her brother leaving Morrigan to ponder her words. Since she was still wearing the ring, Tavain easily found Tahlmus sitting under a tree by the crick.

“This isn’t getting the dishes cleaned big brother.”

“I was just waiting for you to bring Morrigan’s tin.”

“Well,” paused Tavain, there was something off in the way her brother spoke. She was unsure if she should press him or not, “here it is.”

“Thanks. Just set it down on that rock there. I’ll get to it in a little bit.”

Tavain set the tin down then turned to face Tahlmus again. He was looking blankly up at the moon and stars.  “Do you want to talk big brother?”

“Not really Tavain.” His eyes never left the sky.

“Can I say something then?”

Tahlmus lowered his gaze to look at Tavain. He gave her a small smile, “I’d rather you didn’t.”

She frowned, “then can I ask a question?”

His expression changed to one she hadn’t seen since their parents had passed away. “Sure.”

Tavain took a few steps closer to her brother, debating how to ask what she wanted to know. She didn’t want to anger him. “Do you think… I mean…” she paused. “What do you think things would be like if mommy and daddy were alive?” Tahlmus caught his sister wiping a tear off her cheek. He motioned for her to sit next to him, wrapping his arm around her.

“I think,” he paused, “that had mom and dad lived…” he paused again, “you and I wouldn’t have served on patrols together. The keeper would have stepped down a year later and let dad take over. He would have started training me as his apprentice, and mom would have started teaching you of course.”

“How do you know when daddy would have become keeper?”

“Because he already knew. It was written in one of the last entries I read in his journals.”


“Yes, I also think instead of both of us here preparing to defeat the blight, it would just be you. Maybe you and Tamlen.” Tahlmus sniffed wiping a tear off the end of his nose.

“What’s wrong big brother?” Tavain asked as she curled up closer to him.

Tahlmus looked back at the stars. “I can’t help but think this is all my fault,” he paused. “If I would have gotten you to go home sooner, maybe I could have convinced mom and dad to come with us, or we could have left sooner.”

“That’s not your fault big brother. You couldn’t have known.”

“That day in the forest,” Tahlmus continued as if he hadn’t heard her. “I should have made us go back to the camp, instead of going into those ruins. I was older, I could have easily made that decision.”

“Tahlmus that wasn’t your fault.”

“Then at the tower, I should have felt all the darkspawn, but I had no idea they were there. I…”

“TAHLMUS!” He brought his gaze down and met his sister’s. “None of this was your fault. You have to believe that.”

Tahlmus hung his head, “I wish I could.” Tavain went to open her mouth, “But…” he paused, “one good thing came out of this whole situation with the taint.”

“What’s that big brother?”

“I don’t have to bond with Merril.”

“What! Ewe! Big brother you’re not serious!”

“Unfortunately, I am. Before we left on patrol, the keeper told me that she wished Merril and me to bond. She felt it would be best for the clan since I had better control of my magic and Merril had a better grasp on the history. I objected strongly. The Keeper, made me feel guilty about objecting, so I agreed.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Tavain’s eyes were wide.

“I was going to after the patrol. I guess after being tainted and forced to leave… it didn’t matter anymore.” Tahlmus looked down at the ground while Tavain sat next to him quietly. “I’ll be 16 tomorrow, you know that?”

“Has it been a week already?”

“Yes, it has.” Tahlmus sighed, “and according to dad’s journals, by the age of 16, the first mage born son will have come to full power. I would have been given his staff.”

Tavain frowned, “I’m sorry big brother.”

He sighed again, “It’s alright Tavain. It doesn’t bother me that much. I barely use my staff anyway. I… I more wish that dad was around to teach me how to act towards a female, or what to do when I liked one. None of the mages in our family were forced to bond with someone. They all got to choose who they loved. Problem is, I’m not sure what love is, or what to do if I think I feel that way. I guess those things aren’t important at 6 years old.”

“You’re talking about Morrigan now aren’t you?”

“Yes, though I guess, humans and elves don’t really mix do they?”

“I bet dad and mom would have approved of her.”

“What makes you say that?”

“That week before…before…,” she couldn’t finish the sentence. “Mom told me stories. They were about a male keeper who married a human. A sort of peace would occur between the Dalish and the humans. They respected us more.”

“You’re making that up.”

“No, I’m not!” Tavain insisted. Tahlmus just shrugged. He couldn’t tell where the truth ended and the lie began. “Besides, Morrigan likes you too. I’ve seen her looking at you. I just don’t think she’s comfortable with it yet.”

“Well… I hope your right.”

“Just don’t let her interfere with your thoughts while we are travelling. You don’t fall very gracefully.” She giggled.

Tahlmus shook his head smiling. “I’ll keep that in mind sis. She’s the real reason you stayed and asked that question. You wanted me to talk about her.”

“I’ve been wanting to ask you about mommy and daddy for a while, but I hoped it would end with Morrigan.”

Tahlmus smiled and noticed the sun coming up. “I guess we better get back to camp. It’s about time to travel again.”

Tavain nodded, got up, and started gathering the dishes.

“Leave them, Tavain. I’ve got it.” As he stood he pulled out an old worn journal. “I figured at some point we’d discuss mom and dad. I think you are old enough to have this now.” He handed the journal to her.

“What is it?”

“It’s a journal that mom kept. She’d left a note with it saying she wanted you to have it when you were old enough to understand. I think that day has come.”

“What’s in it?”

“I don’t know, I never read it. Mom wanted it for you. So, you’ll have to tell me. Now get back to camp and wake those that aren’t up yet.”

Tavain smiled and turned to run off before turning back to face Tahlmus who had taken Morrigan’s tin in hand and had started washing it. “Big brother.”

“Yes Tavain.”

“Happy Birthday”

Tahlmus smiled at his sister, “Thank you. Now get going.” He watched her run off hugging the journal to her chest. Tahlmus had thought about telling her more. Tell her about Merril and Lyonna. His attempt to find the shemlen village. “I don’t want her to be like me,” he thought as he got up to walk back to camp.

He neared the camp, and he heard everyone grumbling. “Today is going to be a great day,” he thought.

“Well,” said Alistair sounding annoyed, “We have our stuff packed up what about…”

Tahlmus had rolled his eyes. Before Alistair finished Tahlmus had all his and Tavain’s things packed in a neat pile.

Alistair just shook his head. He had almost forgotten that Tahlmus was a mage. “So where are we going first?”

“I thought we’d go to the Circle of Magi first. Then we could go see the Arl. If that’s alright with you of course.”

“Uh… yes that sounds good.”

“Good then let’s head out.” Alistair nodded and they were on their way.

Chapter 14

Tahlmus was relieved when he saw the tower. Everyone was picking on one another. Leliana complaining about Tavain reading a book while riding Chewy. It was driving him mad. He slipped into the line of trees near Lake Calenhad, and quickly found a good place for camp. The others had followed slowly.

“Leliana and Sten why don’t you two stay here, set up camp, maybe find some food. Chewy, you stay here and watch them.” The dark barked happily.

“Alistair, Morrigan, and Tavain you will come with me. Let’s go” Everyone nodded as Tahlmus turned and made his way back out of the trees.

“So Tavain,” spoke Alistair, “Your brother is very powerful… where did he learn his magic? I mean I have never heard of elves being as powerful as he is.”

“Our father,” answered Tavain. “As far back on our father’s side as has been recorded, the first born has always been a male mage.”

“Always?” questioned Morrigan.

“Always,” confirmed Tahlmus.

“Stop! Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

“I am Tahlmus. I must speak to whomever is in charge at the circle.”

“I’m sorry no one is allowed to cross, Ser Gregior’s orders. Besides what authority does an elf have to speak with the Knight-Commander?”

Tahlmus sighed pulling out the treaty. “The seal on this paper gives me the authority.”

The templar looked, “a Grey Warden? You?” He laughed, “then I am the queen of Orlais.” He laughed some more.

“Well, your highness, you are pretty far from your kingdom,” Tahlmus replied.

“Did your husband cast you out because you got too ugly to look at?” Tavain asked stepping out from behind Tahlmus.

“You take that back!” Tahlmus just stood there, a small grin on his face. Tavain started to giggle, Morrigan tried to hide a smile, and Alistair grinned, shaking his head. The templar couldn’t figure out what was so funny until he looked at his hand. It was green.

“What… What is this?”

Tahlmus shrugged, “I guess the maker is unhappy with you for not allowing me to cross.”

“Well… I… I… please get in the boat I will take you to the Knight-Commander.” The group climbed into the boat and made it to the tower. As they entered Tahlmus removed the spell. The templar returned to his normal colour.

“I thought I told you that no one gets across.”

“Well… you did… but…” he stuttered noticing he was no longer green.

Tahlmus decided to come to the poor mans rescue. “I am Tahlmus of the Grey Wardens. I have a treaty here signed by the circle promising to aid us should we have need. With the coming blight, we have need.”

“I’m sorry, but the circle is in no condition to be able to provide aid.”

“What’s wrong with it?”

“There was a rebellion, and there are abominations all throughout the circle.”

Tahlmus mumbled, “I knew this was going to be a good day.”

“What if we could clear the circle of abominations?” asked Tavain. Morrigan rolled her eyes.

“It would be too dangerous for a couple of elves, a Templar, and a young lady to try to do.”

“Tell you what. You let us in. If we die, we die. If not we clear the circle and take care of your problem for you,” spoke Tahmus.

“Well when you put it that way… but I won’t take anyone’s word about the circle being safe except for First Enchanter Irving.”

Tahlmus nodded, “very well.” The Knight-Commander then led the group to the doors and bid them farewell as the group walked across the threshold. As soon as they were in, the doors closed behind them. Tahlmus heard a click of a lock being turned.

He started to walk down the hall, but stopped as his head started to hurt. He closed his eyes and had several visions flash through his mind. Then as quick as it started, it stopped.

“Big brother, are you ok?”

“Huh? … Yes, I’m fine… I just…” Tahlmus shook his head. “I had… I had some visions… I think…”

“Brother you’re sounding like Leliana.”

“Yeah…  I’ll discuss it with you later. Let’s split up, go through these rooms, and loot anything that might give us a clue as to what’s going on, money or better equipment.” The others nodded and went off. Tahlmus leaned against the wall as his head started to hurt again. He closed his eyes. The visions started again. There was more detail in these. Then it went away. “Creators, this cannot keep happening.”

“Brother, what’s wrong? You’re sweating.”

“I don’t know, Tavain. I really don’t know, but if we go through the door at the end of the corridor and Wynn is there with two other mages and children, I might faint.” Tavain cocked her head at her brother, following him down the corridor where they met up with Morrigan and Alistair.

“Find anything worthwhile?”

“Just some apprentice notes,” said Alistair. Morrigan and Tavain nodded in agreement.

Tahlmus held his hand out so he could take the notes, but fell to his knees in pain. He held his head in his hands. He saw Wynn taking down a barrier, and abominations that they killed. He saw a demon of sorts. Everyone in the party was sleeping. Then he saw two separate scenes, one where he too allowed the demon to put him to sleep, and another one where he fought the demon. He defeated it, but the others did not wake. Then it was gone. Tahlmus found himself on his hands and knees panting like a dog, sweat dripping off him.

“Tahlmus! Tahlmus are you ok?” Tavain’s voice was high pitched and scared.

He turned over so he was in a sitting position, allowing things to come back into focus. “I… I’m … fine.” He managed to say in between gasps of air.

“You don’t look fine Tahlmus,” spoke Morrigan softly.

“I just … need a… minute.” Tavain’s eyes grew wide as she opened her satchel and grabbed her mother’s journal.

“Tavain, this is hardly a time to read,” chastised Morrigan Tavain flipped through the pages until she found what she wanted. She read from the journal as Tahlmus got to a standing position.

“My date with Theron turned scary this evening. Everything was going fine. We were walking through the forest when he collapsed to his knees, holding his head in pain. He never made a sound and didn’t respond to me. A minute later he was wet with sweat, panting, standing on his hands and knees. When I asked him what was wrong he said he’d had a vision. That we ha to get up in the trees. I thought he was crazy, but did it anyway. Minutes later human hunters came by wondering where the two elves they had been following had gotten to. They had been trying to find more elven slaves.  Later Theron explained that young mages in his family could detect or feel when something wasn’t right. Then when they came to full power those feelings came with visions. They could actually see what the different outcomes could be. So they could avoid the bad things. He told me that in time it wouldn’t look like it did tonight. His father was teaching him how to deal with them so they weren’t painful. I hope it doesn’t happen again anytime soon.”

Alistair, Morrigan, and Tavain all starred at Tahlmus. “Well, happy birthday to me,” he mumbled.

“Big brother didn’t daddy write about this in his journals?”

“I didn’t think so, guess I’ll have to go back and look.”

“What did you see?” asked Alistair before the other two could speak.

“Wynn, the mage I met at Ostegar. Abominations and blood mages that we’ll have to kill. And…” he paused.

“And what?” asked Morrigan.

“A demon, he made everyone fall asleep, but I… I had a choice. I could fall asleep with you or slay him right there, but if I slayed him you all never woke up. If I fell asleep with you… I’m unsure… it didn’t show that any further.”

“So what are you going to do big brother?”

“Allow myself to fall asleep, then hope to figure out how to get us all awake again.”

“But what if you can’t?” asked Morrigan.

“I have a feeling…” spoke Tahlmus, “I’ll have another of these episodes, and it will become clearer. That’s how it’s happened so far. Let’s just go through this door here and talk with Wynn.” The others nodded following Tahlmus through the door.

“Don’t come any further, I will attack.”

“Calm down Wynn, we’re here to help.”

“Did Gregior send you?”

“No, I forced him to let us come in. I don’t know if you remember me, but I am Tahlmus. I was Duncan’s recruit at Ostegar.”

“Ah,” she spoke, “the Dalish mage. I remember you. What does Gregior intend to do?”

“He’s let me come in to try to save the circle, but he will only take Irving’s say so.”

“As you can see, I’ve erected a barrier to keep the children safe. If you wish to go on, I’m going with you.”

“Wynn, are you sure?” asked one of the apprentices. “You were so badly hurt before.”

“I’m sure child.” She then turned to Tahmus, “So the choice is yours. If you want to move on and help save the circle, I come along.”

“Are you really going to let this brain washed old lady come with us?” asked Morrigan.

“You watch your tongue young lady. What say you Warden?”

Tahlmus shrugged, “You will come with us.” Morrigan made a sound of disgust, but said nothing. The group made their way over to the barrier. Wynn removed it. In the library, they found a few abominations. In the next room, a few blood mages. As Tahlmus sheathed his blades, he felt the pain in his head come back. A picture of the demon flashed before him. Then it was over.

“It happened again didn’t it big brother.”

“Yes, it did, but nothing new as far as I could tell.”

“Big brother?” questioned Wynn.

“Yes, Tahlmus is my big brother. I was with him, though invisible to you, while we were at Ostegar.”

Wynn shook her head, “Are you an apostate too?”

“I really don’t like how you use that word to describe my brother,” spoke Tavain in a harsh tone.

“How do you know he’s your brother? He could be an abomination, or blood mage.”

“He still knows right from wrong, feels bad when things happen that he can’t stop. If he were an abomination could he make that distinction?”

“I have more power than a blood mage could ever have. It’s in my lineage. And no my sister is not a mage, she has rogue talents.” Wynn studied the two young elves as Tahlmus opened the door to the second floor and walked through. Tahlmus shook his head as he walked up to the first door, “She’s never going to get over the fact that I wasn’t raised in the circle,” he thought.

They made their way room by room through the second floor, getting rid of abominations and blood mages. One blood mage had survived the fight. Much to Wynn’s dismay Tahlmus allowed her to live. “How many floors are in the tower?” queried Tavain as they entered the main room.

“Four and then the Harrowing Chamber,” replied Wynn.

“So two…” Tavain stopped in mid-sentence. Tahlmus was on his knees again head in his hands. She could tell he was in pain, but again he made no noise.

“What’s wrong with him?” asked Wynn, “Is it a demon. He’s an abomination.”

Morrigan scoffed at Wynn, “Of course you would think that.”

Tahlmus found himself dripping in sweat and panting again. He slowly got to a sitting position. Morrigan and Tavain rushed over, “Are you ok?” they asked together.

“Yeah… Just give me a … minute.” He smiled at Morrigan.

“What did you see big brother?”

“The dream world. The demon put us into a dream world. There’s a way to get out of it. I saw all of us awake again, but I’m not sure how to do it. I just know I have to let myself fall asleep with all of you.”

“Is he… predicting something?” asked Wynn.

“Yes,” replied Morrigan and Tavain together.

“Sooo… this means we get to sleep on the job,” Alistair interjected.

Tahlmus forced a smile as he stood. “Yes Alistair. You get to sleep, while I figure out how to wake us up.” He hoped he sounded sarcastic but he felt so physically and emotionally drained.

They went through the door to the third floor. Tahlmus guided them through all the side rooms first. He then led the way to the main room where the demon awaited. Tavain grabbed onto his robes before he got his hand on the door. “Are you sure about this big brother? We haven’t exactly had good luck with these types of situations.”

Tahlmus licked his lips, “As sure as I can be sis.” She had never seen her brother look so tired before. The episodes the visions caused along with having been up all night had really taken their toll. She gave him a hug. “What’s that for?”


Tahlmus smiled, opening the door. The demon was in the middle of the room as he had been in the vision. “Ah,” spoke the demon, “more visitors. You look weary. Why don’t you rest?”

“Big brother, I’m… I’m so… so sleepy.”

“You must resist,” spoke Wynn, “We cannot fall into this temptation.”

“It’s ok,” spoke Tahlmus softly, “just fall asleep. We’ll be fine.” Alistair and Tavain fell to the floor, but Tahlmus made sure they had a soft landing. He did the same when Wynn collapsed.

“Are you sure?” Morrigan managed to ask before she too fell to the floor asleep.

Tahlmus knelt to the floor and brushed the hair off of Morrigan’s sleeping face. “I’m sure,” he whispered.

“That’s it,” spoke the demon, “just give in to sleep.”

“You won’t get away with this,” said Tahlmus before he allowed himself to be taken in by the demon’s powers.

Tahlmus found himself in the dream world by himself. He walked down the marble path and up the stairs. He saw two men who looked like Grey Wardens, one on either side of the stairway. He then noticed Duncan watching him.

“How have you liked your stay at Weissept?” Tahlmus raised an eyebrow. He had hoped the demon would at the very least make the dream world more believable.

“I’m sorry,” he said as he pulled out a throwing knife. He then proceeded to slit the demon’s throat. He avoided the arrows the other two shot at him. He drew his blades and finished them off one by one. Tahlmus found a pedestal and made his way over to it. He studied it before placing his hand on it. Smoke started to surround him, and as it cleared he found himself in another dream.

“Well, at least you were able to get out of that first dream. Most don’t get that far.”

“Excuse me?” asked Tahlmus. He hadn’t noticed the man standing there. He sensed this man was in the same situation as he himself was.

“Sorry, I’m Nial. I was trying to stop Uldred when the demon put me here in the fade, in this nightmare.”

“Nial? Wynn mentioned you, in between her grumblings about me. Do you know how to leave this nightmare?”

“Well, you can leave, there are four others. Each time I think I’m getting somewhere an obstacle appears.”

Tahlmus nodded, “Well, I am going to wander around.”

“Good luck. Maybe you will have more luck than I.”

Tahlmus turned and walked over to an odd rock formation. He found a portal of some sort. He was a little hesitant to try, but he thought of the others who were counting on him to figure a way out of this. He reached his hand out. Then stepped through the portal. He heard a small voice calling for help. He spotted a fire demon and a mouse. Pulling out his blades, he killed the demon.

“Thank you,” the voice came from the mouse, “but it’s too late for me. Here take my powers. Other worlds… other dreamers… other powers…” the voice faded.

Tahlmus felt a power surge through him. He concentrated on it, and found himself running around as a mouse. He ran over to the mouse hole he saw and made his way through it. He sensed demons as he came out of the hole and changed back into his elf form. He slayed the demons and went through the portal. It brought him back to where Nial was standing.

“What… what happened?”

“I slayed some fire demons, turned into a mouse…” Tahlmus shrugged.

“Then maybe… maybe you will have better luck in the other nightmares.”

“Possibly,” said Tahlmus. “How do I travel to them?”

“The pedestal right over there,” Nial pointed to his left.

“Thank you.” Tahlmus then walked over to the pedestal and put his hand on it like he did before. This time it brought up a map. He was able to pick where he wanted to go.

In the next world he visited he acquired the power of a spirit. This allowed him to see doors that were not normally visible to him. The spirit form however was very weak and slow moving. He couldn’t make it to the demon the dreamer spoke of because the door was blocked off by a wall of fire.

The next nightmare he visited he rescued a dreamer that gave him the power to become a “burning man”. Tahlmus found that this allowed him to walk through the fire that blocked the other doors and hallways. He couldn’t’ reach the demon that this dreamer had spoken of either because the door was too heavy for him to open. The dreamer also told him he had to defeat all the lesser demons to get to the sloth demon.

He chose to go back to the first world he had visited and defeated the demon. This time when he went to the pedestal, the map showed up and the world he was in had an odd marking on it. Tahlmus wasn’t fully sure what to make of it, but chose a new world to go to.

In this world. he gained the power to turn himself into a golem. This allowed him to open the massive doors. He made his way through the rest of the world and defeated the lesser demon that was residing there. Again, when he pulled up the map on the pedestal there as an odd marking over the world he was in. The one over the first world was also still there. He decided it meant these two were free of the lesser demons guarding the sloth demon.

He made his way back to where he’d received the “burning man” power. He defeated this demon. He slowly made his way over to the pedestal. All this changing and fighting was really taking its toll. “Having the vision episodes haven’t helped either,” he thought.  He pulled up the map again and saw that there were now two new worlds for him to go to, as well as the odd marking upon the world he was in.

Tahlmus decided to go to the final nightmare within the original five that he had not visited yet. He would then go talk to Nial. Maybe he would know about the extra worlds that were showing up. Tahlmus made his way through, and killed the demon. He noticed two more worlds show up on the map. He went back to the first world so he could speak with Nial.

“Nial, do you mind if I ask you a question?”

“Go ahead.”

“Well, first, is there a demon on this island?”

“I believe so, she guards the sloth demon who is in the center.”

“The center…” Tahlmus repeated to himself. Then aloud he said, “Now my companions were put to sleep too, but I haven’t found them.”

“They must be in other worlds.”

“Like the new ones that popped up as I got rid of the other demons?”

“Sure I guess so. What do you plan on doing?”

“Getting my companions and myself out of here alive.”

“I’m not sure that is possible, but good luck.”

Tahlmus nodded and then decided to try turning into a spirit. This revealed an invisible door which he went through. There he found the island’s demon slaying it. Satisfied he made his way back to the pedestal to look at the map. A world in the center now glowed. He wanted to find his companions first so he went to one of the other glowing worlds that had popped up after he had slayed the lesser demons.

He was surprised when he found Alistair surrounded by children and a young lady near him. “There you are!” exclaimed Alistair. “I’d like you to meet my sister Goldanna. She is a very good cook.”

“Your sister?” questioned Tahlmus.

“Will your friend be staying for supper little brother?” asked the young lady Tahlmus could only assume to be Goldanna.

“Oh you will won’t you?” Alistair asked as if he were a little kid.

“I’m afraid I can’t,” answered Tahlmus, “and neither can you Alistair.”

“What? Why not? I’m so happy here.”

“Because it isn’t real Alistair. Think about it. How did you get here?”

“I…” Alistair hesitated, “I don’t remember. Maybe… maybe I should come with you.”

“No, you will not take him from me,” said Goldanna as she transformed into her demon form. Some of the kids transformed too. Alistair and Tahlmus both drew their weapons and slayed all of them.

“Oh, this is weird,” spoke Alistair. Smoke started swirling around him. “Hey, where are you going?” then he was gone.

Tahlmus was unsure of what this meant, but he had to find the others. He ran back to the pedestal and went to the next one. There he found Wynn surrounded by dead bodies. “All this death,” she was saying, “and nothing I could do.”

Tahlmus was confused. He thought all mages recognized the dream world. “Uh Wynn, this isn’t real.”

“And where were you. I thought you were my ally, but you abandoned me.”

Tahlmus closed his eyes, “Wynn think about this, we were in the tower remember, then we ran into the sloth demon. Why would I have abandoned you?”

“I…” Wynn paused, “you wouldn’t have. Maybe it would be good to go with you.”

“No Wynn,” spoke one of the bodies, “Stay Wynn, please. We need you.”

“Stay back foul demon.” Wynn responded as she pulled out her staff and started attacking the bodies as they stood. Tahlmus joined in and the possessed bodies were soon slayed.

“This all feels so weird,” spoke Wynn as the smoke made her disappear just like Alistair.

“You’re telling me,” thought Tahlmus as he went back to the pedestal and chose the next nightmare. In this one Morrigan was chatting with Flemeth.

“You are a demon, not my mother, you cannot tell me what to do.”

The demon Flemeth slapped Morrigan, “You should not speak that way with me.”

“Well,” interjected Tahlmus, “at least you can tell this is the dream world.”

“What mage wouldn’t recognize the fade?”

“Wynn didn’t.”

“Why does that not surprise me?”

“Shall we get on with slaying this demon then?”

“I would love to,” spoke Morrigan as she pulled out her staff. After defeating Flemeth, Morrigan too had smoke swirling around her. “Oh not again,” she said before disappearing.

“Well,” said Tahlmus to himself, “that leaves Tavain.” Tahlmus hurried back to the pedestal wondering what he would find in Tavain’s dream.

He arrived in a forest of trees. It looked oddly familiar. “Too familiar,” he thought. He made his way through the forest, until he came to a clearing. It looked just like the camp before he and Tavain had left. The bad feeling started in his stomach. He started to make his way through the camp looking for Tavain.

“Tahlmus,” shouted a familiar voice. “Tahlmus I’m so glad you’re back.” Tahlmus turned to see Tamlen now next to him. He shook his head slightly. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost lethalin.”

“You’re… you’re supposed dead,” spoke Tahlmus. The bad feeling grew. He didn’t like where this dream was going.

“I know, Tavain is going to kill me if I don’t get her a bearskin soon, but since you’re back, I have to ask would you stand by me for the bonding ceremony of myself and Tavain?”

“What? What ceremony? My sister doesn’t have her tattoo’s. She can’t bond.”

“Big brother! I’ve been waiting for you to come back. Did you find a wife?”

“A wife? Tavain, what are you…”

“Aww, that’s too bad big brother. You’ll find one soon. Come with me. Mommy and daddy will be happy to see you.” She grabbed him by the arm, “Oh, and Tamlen, I’m still waiting for my bearskin.”

“I’m going,” said Tamlen. Tahlmus then watched him disappear into the forest. There was a tug on his arm. He let Tavain drag him along.

“Tavain,” started Tahlmus, “Tavain where are we going?”

“To see mommy and daddy big brother. Come on.”

“Tavain, mom and dad are…” Tahlmus stopped, his mouth forming a circle.

“Son, you’ve returned.”

“D…dad” Tahlmus faltered. He knew he was still within the dream world, but it had been so long since he’d seen his dad.

“Karia, come here. Tahlmus is back.”

“Is he with a girl?” Tahlmus felt a tear make its way down his cheek as he heard his mom’s voice. He had almost forgotten what she sounded like.

“No,” said Theron as he put his arm around Karia, “but he’s back in time for Tavain’s bonding ceremony.”

“M…mom, D… dad…”

“What’s wrong big brother? You haven’t been gone that long.” Tahlmus was shaking his head. He would not give in to the Sloth Demon’s dream.

“Tavain… this isn’t… this isn’t real.”

“Of course it’s real big brother. You’re just making that excuse because dad won’t keep teaching you until you’ve found a wife…”

Tahlmus closed his eyes trying to gain control of his emotions. “No Tavain… m… mom and d…dad are … they are dead remember? You and… and I are Grey Wardens.”

“Tahlmus your father and I are not dead we’re right here.”

Tahlmus tried to hold back his tears, as he opened his eyes to look at his sister. “Tavain… please… please think. We were in the tower. I was having visions… we found the demon….”

“Tavain,” Karia interrupted Tahlmus, “why don’t you go find Tamlen. Tahlmus needs some time alone.” Tavain looked at Tahlmus, confusion in her face.

“Tavain, I got the bearskin.” Tamlen held it up, but Tavain kept looking at Tahlmus.

“Tavain,” Tahlmus tried to keep his voice from cracking. “Tavain have I ever lied to you?”

“No big brother, you haven’t.” She hung her head, “ I do remember the tower.”

“Then you know this isn’t real.” Tavain just nodded with tears streaming down her cheeks.

“You will not take her from me,” Tamlen said as he turned into a desire demon. Theron and Karia stayed in their elven form, but drew their weapons against Tahlmus. Tavain withdrew a couple of her throwing knives, attacking the demon that had once been Tamlen. Tahlmus was a little slower in his attack. It wasn’t until he was forced to deflect a spell from the demon Theron, that he gathered his emotions and took out his weapons. He enchanted his blades with both electricity and fire to cause more damage. He slayed the demon Theron and Karia as quickly as he could.

The smoke started swirling around Tavain, “Big brother what’s happening?” Before he could answer she was gone. He fell to his hands and knees. Feeling beads of sweat mix with tears, he threw up. Having to watch the faces of his parents die, even if they were only demons, made him sick.

Forcing himself to push the image from his mind, he stood up. He made his way to the pedestal opening the map. He chose to go to the center island where the sloth demon awaited. “Time to get out of this nightmare,” he said.

He arrived on the island alone. Before the sloth demon started to speak Tahlmus heard Alistair, “Oh here I am, and there you are.” Tahlmus turned and saw all his companions now behind him.

“Rebels I see,” the sloth demon spoke slowly. “You must go back. I promise I will do better this time.”

“No, I will not go back,” spoke Tavain. “You messed with my head and heart once.”

“You are not going to do it again,” finished Tahlmus.

The siblings took out their weapons. “Then you will die here,” replied the demon. The fighting began. Sloth seemed to have several lives because whenever they thought they had defeated him, he changed forms. Just as Tahlmus started to feel like he’d collapse, sloth finally died.

The group then found themselves back with Nial, who told them to take the Litany of Andralla from his body when they returned to the physical world. After Nial spoke, the dream world started to dissipate and the group had to pick themselves up off the floor.

Tahlmus found himself also having to wipe the puke off his face. “At least it’s not on my robes,” he thought. He went over to Nial’s body and took the Litany. He hung it around his neck and made his way over to the stairs.

“Big brother wait,” Tavain half shouted. Her brother looked like a ghost.

Tahlmus turned to face Tavain, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, I just wasn’t done looting,” she said. “How is he still standing?” she wondered.

“Are you done now?”

“Well, yes, but…”

“but what?”

“You’re really pale Tahlmus,” Morrigan spoke for Tavain, “and you’re shaking.”

Tahlmus looked down at his hands. They were shaking. He looked back at the others, “Just took a lot of energy to get through that.” He continued up the stairs. Tavain knew he was lying, but followed him anyway. The others followed her. After crossing the threshold they found a templar behind a blue shield of some kind.

“Enough of your trick. Be gone.” The templar almost sounded crazy.

“I’m not playing tricks,” replied Tahlmus.

The templar closed his eyes, “I said be gone, I will not give in.”

Tahlmus studied the shield that was in place. He reached out to touch it, but Wynn knocked his hand down. “What do you think you’re doing? That could be dangerous.”

Tahlmus shrugged, “It’s a shield of some kind. We know he can’t get out so maybe…”

“You think it’s like Merril’s shield big brother?”

He reached out again, “I do.” The others looked confused as Tahlmus was able to put his hand through the shield and pull it back out.

“Why are you still here? Closing my eyes always …” the templar stopped as he watched Tahlmus pull his hand back through the barrier. “You… you’re one of them. But why didn’t you go away when I closed my eyes. What kind of magic is this?”

“I am unsure of the them you talk about,” Tahlmus paused,” but I think…” he paused again. “Alistair try to touch the barrier.”

“Have you lost your mind?”

“Not yet.” He looked towards Morrigan, “I want you to try to touch it too.”

Morrigan stared at him, “Tahlmus I…”

“You wanted me to lead. Now, both of you just humour me and try to touch the barrier.” Alistair and Morrigan complied. Alistair could touch it. His hand wouldn’t go through. Morrigan reached out. Her hand went through the barrier just as Tahlmus’ hand had. “That’s what I thought.”

“What is it big brother?”

“It’s a shield specially made to keep templars on whichever side they happen to be, but allows mages to come and go as they please.

“You are a demon. That’s what you are,” cried the templar.

“No,” replied Tahlmus. “I’m not a demon. I just come from a long line of powerful Dalish mages.”

He closed his eyes and starting muttering while moving his hand slowly over the barrier. In a few seconds the barrier was gone. The templar looked up at Tahlmus, a mix of fear and gratitude in his eyes. “W… who are you?” he asked.

“I’m Tahlmus, a Grey Warden.”

“A Grey Warden Mage… that’s… you must be safe then.”

“I am no abomination if that is what you are saying.”

“Yes… I… how did you remove that barrier?”

“Simple spell my father taught me a long time ago.”

“Then maybe you can stop Uldred. All the screams… they scream so loud… you have to kill them all.”

“Slow down, I’m not just going up there and start killing. I will kill any abominations and Uldred if he won’t listen to reason, but I’m not killing innocent people.”

“How will you know they haven’t turned their ways to blood magic? You can’t tell a blood mage by sight.”

“Actually,” piped up Tavain.

“I can,” finished Tahlmus.

“It’s a special talent he seems to have,” said Morrigan.

“And he’s very good at it,” added Alistair.

“So,” spoke Tahlmus, “why don’t you make your way back down to the first floor and wait for us there. We will get rid of Uldred, and find Irving.”

The templar just pointed towards the door, “harrowing chamber,” he said before slowly wandering off. Tahlmus led the way up into the harrowing chamber. There they saw Uldred and two abominations torturing a mage. Since they had gone undetected, Tahlmus cast a spell to protect the mage being tortured.

When Uldred noticed his magic was no longer working on the mage, he looked up. “Oh, we have visitors. Aww, but that means you’ve killed all my guardsmen.”

“Well, they really were no match for me. Abominations never were very powerful,” replied Tahlmus.

“Well don’t we sound so very confident.”

“I am. I can tell you’re no more powerful than Wynn here.”

Uldred laughed, “Young boy, how you lie to yourself.”

“I don’t lie,” lied Tahlmus, “I’m more powerful than you.”

“We will see about that,” replied Uldred. “You will soon be doing my bidding.”

Tahlmus smirked, “Fine, then you and I will have a magical duel.”

“Tahlmus are you sure about this?” whispered Wynn.

“Alright young elf, you have yourself a duel.”

Tahlmus took the Litany from around his neck and gave it to Morrigan, “Use this if needed. Tavain… he sends any abominations after me or any of the other mages, get rid of them.” Morrigan and Tavain both nodded. Tahlmus then turned to face Uldred. They paced in a couple of circles, staring at each other. Uldred took out his staff, and Tahlmus produced a flame to sit in his hand.

Uldred cast a spell, which Tahlmus deflected. With the hand not holding the fire, Tahlmus cast a lightning spell at Uldred. The spell knocked Uldred to the ground and the flame in Tahlmus’ hand shrunk slightly.

“So ,you think you’re tricky do you?” asked Uldred as he stood back up.

“I wouldn’t call myself tricky,” spoke Tahlmus. “I think clever is more like it.”

Uldred glared at Tahlmus then started to cast a complicated spell. His movements bored Tahlmus, so he extinguished the flame in his hand. Uldred fell to his knees.

“W… what… did you… just do?” Uldred managed to say between gasps of air.

“Your complicated motions bored me, so I ended the duel. Don’t have all day to watch you move your staff.”

“But… how?”

“You’re life was feeding the flame in my hand. When it ceased to exist, so should have you.

“Then what’s wrong with me?”

“Just a delay. There always seems to be a delay when I don’t use my blades. You’re still going to die.”

Uldred held his staff trying to cast as spell at Tahlmus. However, in the middle of it, he dropped to the ground. The abominations that had been standing by, turned back into mages.

“Boy, what did you do?” asked a haggard looking old man.

“Simple spell I learned long ago,” replied Tahlmus. “Are you Irving?”

“Yes I am. I guess I should thank you for doing away with Uldred.”

“It was no problem,” he replied while helping Irving to his feet.

“So these mages that had been abominations…” Irving trailed off.

“They won’t remember anything. They are back to their old selves. Well… mostly. Blood magic will never cross their minds.”

“I guess we owe you a lot then.”

Tahlmus just smiled. “Irving has no idea,” he thought. “Let’s go down and talk to Gregior first.”

“Yes lets, but I think I might need to lean on you for support.”

“That’s fine,” replied Tahlmus hoping he himself was physically strong enough to do it.

“Tahlmus,” started Wynn, “ how did.. what..” she trailed off.

“I’ll explain one of these days,” spoke Tahlmus as he took Irving under his arm and led him down through the tower.

First Enchanter Irving talked with Knight-Commander Gregior about the condition of the tower and Uldred being dead. Even though the young templar objected Gregior declared the circle safe. He told Irving to start rebuilding. Tahlmus patiently waited his turn, and Gregior finally turned towards him.

“With the circle appearing to be in order my templars will be busy. I am afraid we cannot offer aid, but if you talk to Irving I’m sure the mages will be able to. Tahlmus nodded an understanding and made his way over to Irving.

“Ah Gregior said he’d be sending you to me. You seek aid against the blight yes?”

“Yes sir, I do.” Replied Tahlmus.

“Consider it done. We will be ready when you call upon us.”

“Thank you.”


“Yes Wynn.”

“I ask permission to follow this young Grey Warden, if he’ll have me.”

“You always were one to seek adventure. What do you say young Warden?”

Tahlmus turned towards Wynn, “Are you sure you can follow a mage not brought up by the circle and watched over by the chantry?”

“You have more than proven your talents and abilities. I would be grateful for the chance to learn from you.”

Tahlmus nodded, “then if Irving says it’s alright, you can travel with us, Wynn.” Irving gave his approval and the group set off back to the clearing where Sten and Leliana had started to prepare supper.

Chapter 15

What took you so long?” asked Sten, “Were you not just going to remind the circle of their duty to you?”

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus. “That was the initial plan. Unfortunately, the tower had been overrun by rebellious mages. We had to take care of that.”

“That should teach you not to let your mages run amuck,” spoke Sten. Tahlmus opened his mouth to respond, but thought better of it.

“Big brother,” whispered Tavain, “are you really going to let him get away with saying that?”

“For now.” Tavain was beginning to wonder if Tahlmus really felt all right. “So, what’s for supper?” asked Tahlmus.

“Some lamb stew,” spoke Leliana. “The bartender had some lamb he was willing to give me. It will be ready in another 20 minutes or so.”

“Alright, that sounds good. By the way, we have a new member to our group. Her name is Wynn. You guys make her feel welcome. I’m going to go talk with Morrigan.”

The others nodded. Tahlmus took off to the slightly secluded area where Morrigan was quietly pitching her tent. He pulled an old worn book out of his satchel.“Excuse me, Morrigan.”

“And to what to I owe the pleasure of this visit?” Tahlmus cringed because she sounded annoyed. He took a few steps closer anyway.

“I found this book in Irving’s quarters at the tower. I thought you might like to have it.” He handed the book to Morrigan.

“Why would I have interest…” she paused as she recognized it, “Flemeth’s grimoire. You said you just found it? I don’t remember saying anything to you about it.”

“I found it in a chest at the tower. I just had a feeling it was something you would want.”

“Why yes, it is. I will start studying this right away. Thank you very much,” Morrigan smiled.

“You’re welcome,” Tahlmus blushed. He turned to leave, happy that he could make Morrigan smile.

“Tahlmus …”

“Yes Morrigan?” Tahlmus turned to face her.

“Would you like to eat with me tonight?”

Tahlmus smiled, “only if you want me to.”

“I would,” she said, “if you could bring it to me like you did last night.”

“I shall do that. I was told 20 minutes, so probably another 10 or so by this time.” Morrigan nodded, then watched Tahlmus walk over to the Dwarven merchant, who had made the decision to follow the group.

Tahlmus made some trades with the dwarven merchant then made his way back to the fire. He handed out armor and better weapons to everyone that needed it. He then wandered back to the merchant to sell off the old things he had collected.

He moved slowly. He was exhausted but it also gave him time to think about Morrigan’s request. It was completely different from last night. Her behavior was confusing. He wasn’t sure what would have caused the change. He was so deep in thought he hadn’t noticed Tavain tugging on his robes.

“Big brother,” she tugged on his robes, “big brother I gotta tell you something.”

“Huh? What?”

“Big brother, supper is ready.”

“Oh… ok.”

“You better go tell Morrigan so she can come get some.”

“I’m taking supper to her again. She asked me to eat with her.”

“She did?”

“Yeah, I’m a little confused on it after last night. I’m confused about a lot of things actually.”

“Me too big brother.”

“Well, you go off and get some food. I’ll be along in a minute.” Tavain smiled and ran off. Tahlmus got the old stuff sold off, then was met by Tavain again.

“I said I was coming.”

“I know, but…” she put two bowls of stew into her brother’s hands. “One for you, and one for Morrigan,” she explained to his questioning eyes.

“Thanks sis.”

“You’re welcome.”

Tahlmus watched his sister skip off before heading over to Morrigan’s tent. “Here’s your stew.”

“Thank you Tahlmus. Won’t you have a seat?” Morrigan pointed to a log next to hers.

Tahlmus sat on the log and gazed into his stew. Morrigan set her bowl on the ground, then turned towards Tahlmus. “I know my behavior between last night and tonight must have you confused.”

“It does,” spoke Tahlmus as he turned to face Morrigan.

“After today’s events, I found myself worrying about you. I started to feel like maybe I was a little harsh with you last night.

“That’s nice of you to say but…”

“I also wanted to ask you a question or two.”

Tahlmus knew there had to be a catch, “ask away.”

“You and Tavain are rather close… In fact, she doesn’t listen to anyone else. Only you,” Morrigan paused.

Tahlmus gazed back into his stew, “and you want to know why.”

“Well,” shrugged Morrigan.

Tahlmus thought back 9 years ago, when Tavain wouldn’t stop drawing in the dirt. The last time she didn’t listen to him before their world fell to pieces. “It wasn’t always this way. Tavain preferred not listening to me… getting me in trouble.”

“When did that change?”

“Nine years ago today.”

“You know the exact date?”

“It’s easy to remember when things change so drastically.” He could see the confusion in Morrigan’s eyes. “It was the events that lead to her finally listening to me, that were drastic not her actually starting to listen to me.”

Tahlmus knew what was coming next as he watched Morrigan give him a slight nod. “What were those events?”

“I would rather not discuss it now.”


Tahlmus stood up, “I’m sorry, I …”

“One more question please,” asked Morrigan, “before you walk away.”

He closed his eyes; her eyes had the same look Tavain’s did when she wanted something. “Sure.”

“If your father knew about the visions, why didn’t he tell you about them?”

“I wonder that myself.” Tahlmus turned to leave.

“Couldn’t you find him in our travels? Ask him how to handle the visions? The Dalish Elves are one of the groups in the treaties.”

He looked back at Morrigan, “You’re past your question limit.”  He walked off into the forest. Finding a small clearing, he sat on the root of one of the trees. The stew was cold by this time so he conjured a small fire under the bowl.

As it was heating he pulled out a journal. He didn’t know which one of this father’s journals he had been carrying with him, but he opened it and started reading. He quickly thumbed through the pages as he just skimmed them in hope of finding a hint that might help him with the visions.

He was about to throw the journal out of frustration when he came across an entry dated differently than the rest. The entry was dated as “One Week Left”. Tahlmus had not seen this before. He realized why he had been carrying this journal around. It was the last one his father had written. The only one he had yet to finish reading. He thought it would be like losing his father all over again, if he finished it. The dating though was like a beacon that called to him, so he started reading.

“I had a vision this morning, before Tavain came over to wake me up. This was different from most other visions. It first showed two paths I could take. Each path had many other paths each one could take. Each one led to a different outcome. None of the outcomes were good. I pondered on these choices all day. The conclusion I came to was to choose the path that had the best possible outcome for everyone; except my kids. It will cause my kids the most pain. After discussing it with Karia, we have agreed on a course of action. I hope my children will forgive us when they find out it was our choice that caused them so much sorrow.”

Tahlmus looked up holding back the tears that started collecting in his eyes. He turned the page, the next entry was dated Two Days Left. He started reading again.

“It is two days now before Karia and I will have to take the path to leave our children alone. Karia has become very upset, but has done well at hiding it from our daughter Tavain. She’s used this week to tell our little girl stories about the future. Hopefully Tavain will remember enough from the stories to help aid her brother with things I could not get myself to tell him. I have seen his suffering and I am not as creative as my wife, so as to give him the wisdom he will need. Tavain is as beautiful as her mother. It pains me to know I will not get to see the lady she will become.”

Tahlmus turned the page as he wiped a tear from his eye. This entry was labeled, TheLast Night. He took a deep breath before reading it.

“This is the last night that I get to spend with my children. I did the best to make the most of it before they went to bed. I really wanted them to know how much I love them. Tahlmus has just now fallen asleep. He’s so excited for his birthday tomorrow. I wish it didn’t hold so much sorrow for him. He has developed quickly as a mage. The keeper has even commented on his ability to control his power. I worked with him all this week on how to conjure special shields. He will need to do this tomorrow. Shields are hard enough to learn and control at the proper age of 12, when they should be taught. Tahlmus took the challenge well though. He is definitely one of the most powerful mages in our family line. I am sorry I could not teach him more. Although, if he is the one the prophecy speaks of, then his power and abilities will extend further than I could ever teach.

Tahlmus wiped his nose with his robe. His parents knew… he turned the page wanting there to be more. He wanted an explanation as to why… why his father hadn’t told him. He found an entry written like a letter.


You probably won’t read this until you are at least 16. Searching for answers when you start having visions. I’m sure after reading these last couple of entries you are a little angry that I didn’t tell you about what would happen. Please understand that I couldn’t tell you. If I had, you wouldn’t have listened to us when we told you to take your sister to the forest. We all would have survived. The land would have been swallowed up by the blight, even if we took the other path that led to you and your sister to be Grey Wardens. This was the only way.

I hope in time you can forgive me for keeping this from you. It was the only way. Tahlmus, you are a very powerful mage, even more so than I. I knew that when I realized I had to start teaching you earlier than I had started being taught myself. Looking back over our family history, you are the most powerful mage in our family. Don’t let all that power go to your head.

An ancestor prophesied about a powerful mage in our family. I now believe it is you. I wish I could explain, but my time is running short. The shemlen will be here soon. You will learn of the prophecy when you visit the dwarves. This path I have asked you to walk has not been easy I’m sure. It will probably get much harder before it gets easier, but take good care of your sister, and stay close. You will need each other to defeat the blight. As for the visions, I’m sorry I did not at least warn you about them. Trying to get them to hurt less just takes time and practice.  Your mother and I love both you and Tavain very much.

Love Always Your Father,


Tahlmus closed the journal looking up at the sky. He didn’t get to gaze long before he heard an unnatural rustling from the leaves. “Looking for me, Tavain?”

“How’d you know I was here?”

“The leaves gave you away.”

Tavain came out from behind the trees. She noticed her brother’s bowl of stew was still as full as when she gave it to him. “Big brother, you haven’t eaten anything.”

“Yeah… well…”

“Morrigan came looking for you. She said something about pushing too hard. That’s when I decided to follow the ring to you.”  Tavain noticed her brother wasn’t really listening.


“Yes big brother.”

“You said mom told you stories the week before they died about a male keeper marrying a human.”

“Yes, it was almost the same story every night that week.”

“Do you remember anything else?”

“Uh… I remember that the keeper had a little sister that liked to cause trouble, and that both of them spent a majority of their lives serving others. Why do you ask?”

“Dad spent that week teaching me how to conjure shields. Normally mages don’t learn that until they turn 12. I was only 6.”

“You were almost 7. What are you trying to say big brother?”

“Dad and mom knew Tavain. Dad had a vision. He chose the outcome that left us on our own. He discussed it with mom, that’s why she told you those stories, that’s why he taught me to conjure shields… they knew they were going to die.”

“Are… are you… you sure big brother?”

“I wish I wasn’t. I feel bad now for yelling at the keeper.” He paused, “here read these last three entries in dad’s journal.”  Tahlmus handed the journal to Tavain, already open to the entry dated “One Week Left”. He watched Tavain’s expressions change and caught her when her knees gave out on her.

“Why didn’t they tell us? … tell you? Why…” her voice gave way to sobs.

Tahlmus held her close as he too had tears streaming down his face. He managed to whisper to her, “Turn the page and read the letter dad wrote me.”

Tavain pulled away, wiped her eyes, and turned the page. She sniffled as she finished the letter, “Daddy knew we had to become Grey Wardens.”

Tahlmus nodded, “dad and mom sacrificed themselves, so that both of us would be set on this path to save the land from the blight.

“But I still don’t understand big brother. Why couldn’t they have lived and we still do the Grey Warden thing. What was it about their living that would have kept us from defeating the blight, or even keeping us from being Grey Wardens?”

“I don’t know Tavain. Maybe neither of us would have been on that patrol, maybe the mirror would never have been found… there wouldn’t have been a need for Duncan to be near the clan.”

“We wouldn’t be as close as we are now… would we?”

“Probably not. I guess the relationship is different when you’re all each other has.” Tahlmus used his robes to wipe the tears from his sister’s face. “Let’s head back to camp. After today we both need some sleep.”

Tavain nodded, “What about your stew big brother?”

Tahlmus looked at it as he stood up, “I’m not that hungry.” He wrapped his arm around Tavain’s shoulders, and they walked back to the camp.

Upon entering camp, Tavain made her way to their tent, and Tahlmus went to see Morrigan.

“Excuse me Morrigan, I…”

“Tahlmus, w…where were you? I… I wanted to apologize.”

He cut her off with a short wave of his hand. “I’m sorry I just walked off earlier. I wasn’t ready to discuss my past. Now I need some time to digest what I have just learned.”

“What you’ve just learned?”

“I’ll explain later, I promise. I just wanted to come and apologize before going to bed.”

“But… I…” Tahlmus leaned in and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He wasn’t sure why he did it. The action just seemed right.

“Why, I…”

Tahlmus blushed, “I’m sorry, I hope you sleep well.” He then turned and walked back to his tent leaving a very stunned Morrigan standing by her fire. Once in his tent, he gave Tavain a hug before he curled up on the blankets and fell asleep.

Tahlmus woke up in a cold sweat. He’d had a dream where he’d grown up without his sister and then his parents were killed by darkspawn.

“Big brother are you ok?”

“Yeah, just had a bad dream.”

“Well since you’re up, shall we pack up and move on?”

“Yes, let’s go. We start now we can get to Redcliffe by lunchtime.”

Tavain nodded, then crept out of the tent to go wake everyone else up. Tahlmus crawled out, and started taking down the tent. He could hear Tavain’s sing-songy voice trying to wake everyone up. It made him smile. He admired her ability to still be so child-like after everything they’d been through, and everything they’d learned. Everyone got their things together and the group went off towards Redcliffe.

Chapter 16

As they neared the village Alistair pulled Tahlmus aside, “Did I ever tell you exactly how I knew the Arl?”

“No,” replied Tahlmus, “but I suspect I’m about to hear it.”

“Well, he sort of raised me.”

“You’re his son?”

“No, my mother was a maid for king Maric … and…”

“So you’re the King’s son?  Heir to the throne?”

“Well, yes… I guess… but they didn’t want me threatening Cailan’s rule, so the Arl took me in. The Arlessa didn’t like the rumors that started about me being the Arl’s bastard son. So at age 10 I was sent off to the chantry.”

“You didn’t bother to tell me this why?”

“It didn’t really seem to matter. Duncan was the only warden who knew. I… I guess I should have told you sooner. I just didn’t want you to be like everyone else and treat me differently.”

Tahlmus shook his head, “You realize this changes how we will need to go about things right?” he sighed. “Thank you for telling me.”

Alistair cocked his head at Tahlmus, “You’re not mad at me?”

“Getting mad isn’t going to be of any help to us… no I’m not mad.” Tahlmus turned and started walking towards the bridge.

“What was that about big brother?”

“Just some planning,” Tahlmus replied out loud. Through thought he told her Alistair being an heir to the throne. He was about to tell her more when he got interrupted.

“Are you here to help?”

“Help with what?” asked Tavain.

“Hasn’t anyone heard about what’s going on?”

“Why don’t you tell us what’s going on,” spoke Alistair.

“There’s corpses coming from the castle at night. They’ve come for the last two nights. We don’t have the personnel to keep fighting them off.”

“Who’s in charge?” asked Tahlmus

“Bann Tegan. Let me take you to him.” Tahlmus gave a nod of his head and the young man led them down into the valley to the chantry.”

“Always a chantry,” muttered Morrigan. Tahlmus smirked but he too was becoming more and more uncomfortable with the idea of the chantry. They didn’t seem to think much of those with magical talent.

“Bann Tegan, some travelers came by. The male elf asked about who was in charge; I thought I’d bring them to you.”

“Thank you, Thomas,” replied Tegan shaking his head ever so slightly. He then took a look at the crowd Thomas had brought him, 4 humans, 2 elves, a qunari and a mabari. “Not normal travelling companions,” he thought. “What can I do for you?” asked Tegan.

“We were kind of hoping we could talk to the Arl,” quipped Tavain.

“But we were told of corpses coming from the castle,” continued Alistair.

“So I guess,” spoke Tahlmus slowly, “A better question would be what could we do to help you?”

“I am unsure what to tell you about the Arl, I’ve been told he’s sick. I also do not know what kind of help you travelers could offer.” Tavain opened her mouth to say something, but Tahlmus covered it knowing she would say something to get them in trouble.

“We’re Grey Wardens,” spoke Tahlmus, “At least, Tavain, Alistair and I are. The other are our companions aiding us against the blight.”

“Alistair? Is that… is that really you?” asked Tegan.

“Yes it is”

“You survived… I thought all the Warden’s had died. Would you and your companions be willing to aid us in the fight tonight? I’ve sent word for help, but no one has heard my call. We will surely perish without some extra help.”

“I would gladly help,” spoke Alistair, “but it’s not exactly up to me. I’m not in charge.”

“You’re not?”

“No, Tahlmus is.”


“That would be me,” said Tahlmus, taking a step closer.

“An elf? In charge… I…” Tegan then saw Tahlmus’ staff, “And a mage at that… Alistair do you think that this is wise to have him as your leader?”

The revered Mother overheard Tegan and made her way over, “A mage? In the chantry? The circle did not send word about any mages coming here. Is there a Templar with him?”

Tahlmus silently cursed himself for forgetting to hide his staff, as he felt his blood start to boil. Tavain realizing how angry her brother was getting, put a hand on his shoulder, “He’s not a mage,” she said.

“He’s carrying a staff,” the revered mother pointed out.

“He uses it as a walking stick. He doesn’t have any magical power to be able to use it any other way.”

“Why would a young Grey Warden need a walking stick?” asked Tegan.

“To test certain questionable areas of land when we are in unfamiliar territory,” said Tavain in a very matter of fact tone. “Especially with Logain’s men after us, no telling what sorts of traps they might try to set.”

“That’s… a very good idea,” replied the revered Mother. “I’m sorry for the accusation.”

“No harm done,” Tahlmus managed to say.

“Well, then… Tahlmus would you and your companions be able to help our village?” Tegan asked expecting a negative reply.

“Yes, we will,” replied Tahlmus without hesitation. “I’ll leave Sten, Leliana, and Alistair here with you to coordinate things here. I assume there is a commander for the militia whom I could talk to.”

“Yes kind of, the Mayor, Murdock is in charge. You’ll find him outside.”

“Thank you,” said Tahlmus as he turned to walk out. Tavain quickly followed along with Morrigan, Wynn, and Chewy. Tegan watched Tahlmus walk to the door, surprised by the young elf’s willingness to help a human village. By the door a young girl was crying. “What’s wrong?” asked Tahlmus.

“My brother Bevin, he ran away. Our mother was taken by those creatures. He’s all I have left and I can’t find him. I’m too scared to leave the chantry.”

Tahlmus gave the girl a hug and dried her tears, “Stay strong… I’m sorry I do not know your name.”


“Stay strong Katlynn, we will find your brother,” he said before turning and walking outside.

“Well, that was very nice of you,” Morrigan spat after they got outside. Tahlmus flinched, but kept walking toward the man he thought to be Murdock.

“Excuse me, are you Murdock?” he asked.

“Yes, elf I don’t have…” Murdock was cut off by Tavain.

“Bann Tegan said you were in charge of the militia. We came to see if you needed any help.”

“Oh… well I apologize, it’s been a zoo around here since the attacked started. I do need some help. Our weapons and armor are in need of repairs, but Smithy has locked himself in his house and won’t come out. There is also this Dwarf named Dwynn who would be very helpful, if only he’d agree to come out and fight.”

“Anything else?” asked Tahlmus.

“That would be it for now.”

Tahlmus nodded and walked a little ways away from Murdock. “Tavain why don’t you, Morrigan and Chewy go talk with Smithy. Do what you can to get him to repair the armor. Wynn, you come with me. We will go talk to Dwynn.” Everyone nodded, and then split, going their separate ways.

“Morrigan, why were you so mad at Tahlmus when we walked out of the chantry?”

“He hugged that girl, and dried her tears… I thought he liked me.”

Tavain stopped. “I thought you didn’t care for him like that.”

“Well, I…I…”

“He does like you,” interrupted Tavain.  “He likes you a lot. He gave that girl a hug and dried her tears to comfort her because he’s a nice guy. For you… he would die for you because he cares for you.”

“Oh,” Morrigan spoke softly and bowed her head, deep in thought. Tavain then continued walking to Smithy’s door, and knocked.

“Tahlmus… Tahlmus are you ok?” asked Wynn.

“I’m… fine.”

“Why did your sister lie for you… in the chantry?”

“Because she knew how angry I was. I spent a lot of time in the forest growing up. I guess I never had to deal with all the derogatory comments from people.”

“What about your parents? Didn’t they teach you…” Tahlmus ignored the question, as he knocked on Dwynn’s door. He received no answer. He sensed someone in the house, so he picked the lock. “Where did you learn to do that?”

“My mother,” Tahlmus replied as he slowly opened the door stepping inside.

“You are breaking and entering elf. I should slay you and the woman where you stand.”

Tahlmus held his hands up in surrender, “Are you Dwynn?”

“What if I am?”

“Well, I was hoping I might be able to convince you to fight with the militia tonight.”

“Now why would I do that when I can lock myself in here and survive.”

“Because you are a strong and noble warrior with a sense of duty.” Dwynn laughed. “And,” continued Tahlmus, “I could work something out with Murdock for you if you help.”

“Well, in that case elf, I’ll do it. But you better be out there too.”

Tahlmus nodded as Dwynn walked out the door. “That was easier than I thought.”

“You were expecting trouble?” asked Wynn.

“A little yes, but let’s go see how Tavain and Morrigan are doing.” Wynn nodded and they made their way to Smithy’s house, just as Tavain, Morrigan and Chewy walked out.

“So…?” asked Tahlmus.

“He’ll do it,” replied Tavain.

“But we have to go to the Castle and find his daughter Velanna if we survive the night,” added Morrigan. Chewy barked.

“Very well,” said Tahlmus. “Let’s go back to Murdock.” They made their way back to the mayor and told him what they had accomplished.

“That’s great,” said Murdock. “You might want to see Ser Perth He might need some help.”

Tahlmus bowed and made his way back up the hill, as Murdock had indicated that Ser Perth could be found there. Halfway up Tahlmus noticed a tavern to his left and a small general store to his right. He told Morrigan, Wynn, and Chewy to go check out the store while he took Tavain with him to the tavern.

Once inside Tahlmus took a quick look around. He got a bad vibe from the elf he’d spotted in the corner. He managed to catch the barmaids attention, “if you are wanting a drink you’ll have to talk to Lloyd.”

“Actually,” spoke Tahlmus; “I was wondering what you could tell me about the elf in the corner.”

“He’s a loner, says he’s waitin’ for his brother. I think he’s lying.”

“You’re probably right. … If you don’t mind me asking, why are you here instead of in the chantry?”

“I’ll get there before the attacks start. I would be there now if I didn’t need the money. Lloyd is a pig and… well you don’t need to hear my sad story.”

“Well, if we all survive the night, I’ll help you get out of here,” replied Tahlmus.

“Really? You’d do that? What’s the catch?”

“No catch, just don’t end up in a place like this wherever it is you go to.”

“Well, if we survive the night I’ll kiss every man in here,” she said before turning around and going back to work.

“Oh big brother,” sighed Tavain.


“You just have to help everyone don’t you.”

“Well, I am a Grey Warden, that’s what we do… yes?”

Tavain sighed, “Yes big brother it is.” She wished her brother would do a few things for himself. He’d been taking care of others without thinking of consequences to himself for too long.

Tahlmus walked over to the elf in the corner. “Go away, I have nothing to say to you.”

“I just wanted to ask a question.”

“What? You think that because we’re both elves that I should converse with you? No, I don’t have to tell you what they wanted.”

“They? Who’s they?” asked Tahlmus. Tavain however was bored of the stranger so she went to talk to Lloyd.

“I don’t have anything more to say to you.” Spoke the elf.

Tahlmus was tired of no one giving him a straight answer, so he silently cast a spell that caused the elf to be frozen in place. “Want to try your answer again?”

“No I…” the elf stopped as he realized he couldn’t move, “A man claiming to work with Logain… Howe, Renden Howe … came up to me and gave me 50 sovereign to come here and watch things.”

“Watch for what?”

“He didn’t tell me what, just to report any changes. I swear. I have the letter in my pocket if …”

Tahlmus took the spell off, “Let me see it.”

The elf quickly gave the letter to Tahlmus, “Now will you please let me go?”

Tahlmus read through the note, “Sure, but only if you fight with the militia tonight.”

“I will. I will,” the elf exclaimed as he got up and ran out the door. The bartender Lloyd was close at the elf’s heels. Tahlmus turned to see his sister giggling away.

Tahlmus walked over to Tavain. He was about to speak to her but was interrupted by the barmaid, “What did you say to him?” she asked, “Lloyd took off like a shot.”

Tavain giggled, “I told him he could either go fight for the militia or I would turn his skin the colour of the rainbow.”

“He bought that?” asked Tahlmus.

She giggled again, “Sure did when I showed him this.” She pulled out Tahlmus’ staff.

“You’re a mage?” the barmaid shrunk back.

“No, it’s just a fancy walking stick my brother made for me.” Tavain smiled her sweet smile. It took every muscle in his body for Tahlmus to keep a straight face.

“Oh,” the barmaid relaxed a little. “So this young male elf is your brother?”

“Yes ma’am. He is.”

“Is he single?”

“For now he is. Why?”

“He’s really cute.”

Tavain starred blankly. This was the first time she’d heard anyone speak about her brother that way. She didn’t like it much. Tahlmus coughed making it known that he wasn’t invisible, “I think we need to get going.”

“Right.” Tavain replied. They walked outside, and saw Morrigan, Wynn and Chewy coming up the hill.

“So what did you find?” asked Tahlmus, as the group met halfway.

“Just some barrels of oil, and this shopping list,” replied Wynn. Tahlmus looked the list over just to be sure then led the way back on their original path to the windmill where they found Ser Perth. “Ser Perth?” asked Tahlmus.

“Yes. You must be the Grey Warden Tegan sent word about. Is there something more specific I could call you? I’m not exactly sure how to address an elf in your position, and I do not want to be offensive.”

“You may call me Tahlmus. Is there anything I can do for you?”

“There is one thing, Tahlmus. If you would talk to the revered mother about holy protection, for my men, it would help a lot. “

Tahlmus nodded. He wasn’t sure what kind of protection the revered mother could provide, but he would ask. “How do you plan on using the oil in the general store?”

“There’s oil there?”

“Yes,” replied Morrigan “Quite a bit of it.”

“I see,” Ser Perth went deep into thought, “that could… be useful. Yes, I will send a couple of my men down to get it.”

“Is there anything else I can do for you?” asked Tahlmus.

“No, but if you haven’t seen Murdock I’d go talk to him.”

Tahlmus nodded then made his way back down into the village. “Tavain, why don’t you take Wynn and Chewy over to Katlynn’s house, see if you can find Bevin. Morrigan and I will go talk to the revered mother.”

“Ok big brother, just don’t forget to hide your staff this time.” She giggled before taking off. Tahlmus rolled his eyes at his sisters’ comment, but then made both his and Morrigan’s staffs invisible to all others around them.


“Yes, Morrigan?” he replied as he walked towards the chantry.

“I’m sorry if I sounded a bit harsh earlier. I just thought… that maybe you didn’t like me as much as I thought you did.”

“I’d lay down my life for you.” He opened the door and held it so she could walk in first. Morrigan wasn’t sure what to say. She just waited and followed Tahlmus back to where the revered Mother was preaching.

“Excuse me,” asked Tahlmus as politely as he could.

“Ah, young elf, we are very grateful that you defend a homeland that is not yours filled with people you do not know.”

“It’s difficult actually, but it’s the right thing to do,” replied Tahlmus.

“I would like to think it’s not that difficult,” spoke the revered Mother.

“Nine years ago, humans attacked my clan,” replied Tahlmus. “They killed my parents. It is hard to not want revenge, but protecting the village is the right thing to do. As a Grey Warden, it is what I need to do.”

“I… I am sorry,” said the revered mother. Morrigan’s mouth formed a small circle as so much about Tahlmus and Tavain fell into place.

Tahlmus shrugged, “Ser Perth would like some holy protection for his men.”

“I’m afraid I cannot do as he asks. I can pray for him and his men, but…”

“Couldn’t you just say the maker will watch over them or something? Moral is a big thing you know.”

“Well,” the revered Mother bowed her head in thought. “Have Ser Perth send one of his men down. I have some medallions that the priests wear. They can have those.”

“Thank you revered Mother.” She nodded and went back to her preaching.

“Tahlmus, I…” started Morrigan.

“We’ll talk later,” he replied. “We need to finish getting ready for tonight.” Morrigan just nodded as they walked back towards the chantry entrance.

“Have you found Bevin yet?” asked Katlynn. Tahlmus gave a nod towards the chantry doors as they opened and Bevin came walking through.

“Bevin,” she exclaimed, “Oh thank the maker. And thank you.”

“You’re wel…” Tahlmus’ words were interrupted as the young girl put her lips to his. He could feel Morrigan’s eyes boring a hold through the back of his head. Tavain’s jaw just dropped. Katlynn started giggling, and Tahlmus blushed… “It… a … it was my sister who actually found him. I… I just told her to look.”

“Well, thank you for offering to look.” She smiled, and then went about tending to her brother.

Tahlmus was frozen in place. Tavain came over to Tahlmus grabbing him by his ear, and dragging him outside. “What was that?” she almost shrieked.

“Yes, I’d like to know that too,” Morrigan’s voice was so icy it raised all the hairs on Tahlmus’ neck.

“I…I d…” Tahlmus started stuttering. He hung his head wishing he could just disappear, but knew he couldn’t if he was to help the village. Chewy barked and nuzzled his hand. Tahlmus pet the mabari absentmindedly. “I’m sorry… “ He managed to say, “I… I wasn’t… I wasn’t expecting that.”

Chewy barked again as if supporting Tahlmus. Morrigan’s eyes softened some. She knew Tahlmus didn’t ask for the kiss. Tavain felt bad for dragging him out by his ear, but he had just been standing there. “Well,” spoke Wynn trying to break the awkward silence. “Tavain talked Bevin into letting her have their family sword.

“She did?” asked Tahlmus

“Yes, I did,” spoke up Tavain. “I said we’d talk to his sister about paying her for it. Enough so they could go to Denerim. If we all survive the night.” Tahlmus nodded. Morrigan opened her mouth intending to speak. She closed it as she remembered Tahlmus’ comment to the revered mother about losing his parents.

“Are you guys ready?” asked Murdock who had come over to see what the group was doing.

“Almost,” said Tahlmus, “Just have to run up and speak with Ser Perth one last time.”

“Well, do it quickly then. I’d like to discuss strategy with you before night falls.”

“Of course,” replied Tahlmus.

As Murdock walked away Tahlmus grumbled, “I am beginning to dislike this messenger thing.” He then cast a spell that took him from the chantry steps to halfway up the hill leading to Ser Perth. He walked the rest of the way up the hill and told Ser Perth about the medallions the revered Mother said he could have. Ser Perth thanked him then sent one of his men to go fetch them. Tahlmus walked back down the hill, deep in thought about being a Grey Warden.

“You’re brother wasn’t very happy before he… uh… what exactly did he just do?” asked Wynn.

“He just cast a spell to transport him to where he wanted to go.”

“That requires powerful magic… doesn’t it?” asked Wynn.

Tavain shrugged, “He’s been doing it since he was 7. At least that’s when I first knew of him doing it. Then again,” she paused, “he’s been doing magic meant for older mages since he started learning magic.” Wynn was stunned. Tavain continued speaking, “And… I don’t think he was so much angry as he was embarrassed.”

“Embarrassed about what?” Tahlmus’ voice made them all jump.

“Big brother you really shouldn’t do that.”

Tahlmus ruffled his sister’s hair, “And you shouldn’t drag me by my ear. So we’re even.” He put on the biggest smile that he could.

Tavain giggled, “Bring back memories of Aunt Eria?”

Tahlmus shook his head, “Bad ones. But I guess I should go talk to Murdock. Why don’t all of you go back into the chantry and rest, I have a feeling this will be a long night.”

Tavain opened her mouth as if to protest. She thought better of it when she saw the pain and anger in her brother’s eyes. “Helping these humans is really messing with him,” she thought. She then ran into the chantry to catch up with the others.

Tahlmus went and discussed strategy with Murdock. It was decided that three of Tahlmus’ companions would stay in the village with Murdock, while the rest would fight with Ser Perth and his knights. With that settled Tahlmus went into the chantry to find the others.

“Don’t worry,” Alistair was saying to a group of people, “the village is in good hands.”

“He’s right,” Tahlmus decided to say. “There’s no need to worry about tonight, this evil will be defeated.” He saw the faces of the people brighten as he pulled Alistair away, “Where are the others?”

“Over there with Bann Tegan,” Alistair replied. “Tavain’s been grilling him.”

Tahlmus smirked, “Sounds like Tavain. Shall we go rescue Tegan?” Alistair smiled and nodded as they walked over to where the group was assembled.

“Ah, Tahlmus correct? I hear things are coming together,” Tegan spoke thankful for the timely rescue.

“Just about,” replied Tahlmus. “I just need to talk with my companions.”

“Of course, of course.” Tegan excused himself.

“So what’s he plan?”  asked Sten as soon as Tegan was gone.

“You, Leliana, and Wynn will stay here with Murdock and fight. The rest will come with me and fight with Ser Perth.”

“Well, it must be close to dark, shall we go get in position?” asked Alistair.

“Might as well,” replied Tahlmus. Everyone turned to go back out the chantry doors except Tavain. “What’s wrong sis?”

“You, big brother. You’re worrying me. Your eyes have been so full of anger since the first time you spoke with Murdock. Why?”

“I… I had something like a vision when I was talking to him.”

“What do you mean something like?”

“Listen can I explain it later. We kind of have a village to save.”

Tavain bit her lip, she didn’t want to let it go right now, but her brother was right; the evil from the castle would strike soon. “Ok, big brother, but I expect a full explanation.”

“I promise,” Tahlmus said as he put his arm around her and made his way to the chantry doors.

Tahlmus could hear soldiers yelling, “Hurry get to the chantry. It’s almost time.” He looked up towards the castle. A bright smokey shadow came out of the castle and started to come across the bridge. He heard screams, then pounding feet. Tahlmus pulled Tavain off to the side, “Hold onto my robes,” he told her.

She grabbed a handful of his robes, heard him mutter something, and then found herself on the hill just out of Ser Perth’s sight.

“Big brother, did you just…”


“So I just…”


“Will you let me fin…”

“No.” Tahlmus grinned.

“You’re not very…”

“I know.”

Tavain stomped her foot in mock frustration, which made Tahlmus laugh. “Well at least you are in a better mood,” she finally said.

“Shall we prepare to fight then?”

“Let’s get this over with, I want the explanation you owe me.” Together they ran the rest of the way up the hill to join the others in last minute preparations before the corpses breeched the gate.

“About time you two showed up,” spoke Morrigan.

“Had to make a dramatic entrance,” replied Tavain.

Since Ser Perth and his men weren’t paying attention Tahlmus took out his staff. “Big brother what are you doing?” Tahlmus held up a finger as he muttered a few words before tapping his staff on the ground. All weapons except for his were enchanted with fire.

“The maker must truly be with us,” spoke Ser Perth as he noticed the blazing weapons.

Tavain noticed a slight haziness around the knights, Alistair, and Morrigan. “You have no idea,” she thought as she realized that the haziness was actually bubble shields that her brother had cast over everyone.

She turned to say something to him, and noticed that he didn’t seem hazy at all. She opened her mouth to ask him about it when she heard his voice in her head, “Draw your weapons Tavain, and don’t worry about me not having a shield. I’ll be fine.”

Doing as she was told, Tavain took out her bow and an arrow. She watched Tahlmus take out his blades, fill them with electricity and watched him charge at the first corpses that had come around the corner. She heard Morrigan yell at Tahlmus, but he never turned around. The knights quickly followed Tahlmus and helped him in the close combat. They hardly noticed that the corpses weren’t able to touch them. Tahlmus however was beginning to question whether or not he’d be alright. The corpses were slowly figuring out, he was the easy one to get to so they were swarming him.

Morrigan, Tavain, and Alistair didn’t notice the trouble Tahlmus was in since they were busy taking care of the corpses that had wandered past the knights and Tahlmus. Knowing he was in trouble Tahlmus sheathed one of his blades, and pulled out his staff. He was done trying to hide that he was a mage.

As he got his staff out he felt something hit his shoulder, and heard his robes tear. He turned his head to look, which caused the sword tip of a corpses dagger to slice his cheek. He cried out in pain as he pushed the tip of his staff into the ground. A ball of fire erupted around him and rippled out in every direction. All the corpses burned. The knights looked around to find the sources of the blaze that consumed the corpses, but did not harm them. They saw Tahlmus on one knee clinging to what looked like a staff.

“Tahlmus,” shouted Tavain. She could see the blood on his shoulder and saw blood on his staff. She started running towards him, and quickly realized she wasn’t getting any closer to him. “Dang you big brother,” she thought, “I just want to make sure you’re ok.”

“You need to stay alert,” her brothers voice sounding in her head paused her thoughts. She watched her brother take a throwing knife out and cut a strip of his robes.

“What about you?” She hoped Tahlmus was still reading her thoughts.

“I just have to clean and seal up these two wounds… I’m ok.”

“Tavain, what’s going on?” asked Morrigan as she walked over to stand by the female elf.

“He’s healing himself,” replied Tavain who was, with everyone else, watching Tahlmus clean his wounds with the strip of cloth he’d taken from his robes. When he finished, eh stood, sheathed his one blade and his staff, then walked over to his companions.

“Tahlmus your cheek…” Morrigan’s voice trailed off.

Tahlmus thought he saw a glimmer of desire in her eye. He put on a smile, “It was a little deeper than I thought when I was healing it. I guess it will just be a scar now.”

Tavain opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by a militia man. “Grey Wardens you need to come quick, we need help.”

Tahlmus nodded, “Morrigan and Chewy stay here and help Ser Perth with stragglers. Alistair, Tavain, and I will go help the militia.” As Tahlmus finished speaking, Alistair and Tavain took off down the hill back towards the village.

“Tahlmus wait,” Morrigan spoke up as Tahlmus turned to follow the other two.

“Morrigan, I have to…” the rest of his words were lost as she kissed him.

“Just be careful,” she said as their lips parted.

“I will,” replied Tahlmus, standing there for a few extra seconds looking into Morrigan’s eyes. Then with a slight wave of his hand he disappeared from Morrigan’s sight.

“T… th… that elf is a mage,” Ser Perth stuttered.

“A very powerful mage that decided to help this village. If it weren’t for him you’d be dead,” replied Morrigan. Ser Perth nodded as things started to make sense.

“Tahlmus how’d you beat us down here?” asked Tavain as she and Alistair rounded the last corner into the village.

“Magic,” Tahlmus grinned. Tavain rolled her eyes. Her brother always picked the worst times for a joke. The group ran to the aid of the militia men as more corpses came up from the lake. Tavain noticed all the militia men and their companions had the bubble shields around them, but Tahlmus still hadn’t conjured one for himself. She didn’t have much time to think about it as she noticed three corpses make their way towards Alistair. She fired her arrows rapidly.

Tahlmus went off to help Lloyd the bartender, who didn’t have a weapon, but was trying to take on two corpses at once. Tahlmus finished off the corpses then pulled out a dagger which he gave to Lloyd, “You might have better luck with this.”

“You’re that mages twin,” Lloyd shrunk back.

“Actually,” Tahlmus stepped closer to Lloyd and put the dagger in his hand, “I’m the mage, and it was my little sister who tricked you to be here. She’s a rogue.” Lloyd fainted. “Serves you right, human,” Tahlmus thought as he made his way back to the main area of fighting

The corpses were attacking faster and with more numbers than they had up on the hill. Again the corpses seemed to figure out that Tahlmus was the easier target and began to swarm him. He was ready for it this time. Instead of pulling out his staff, he dropped to his knee, and hit the ground with the hilt of his dagger. This time a ball of electricity rippled its way through the corpses. The protection Tahlmus had put on the militia kept them from harm.

“What just happened?” asked Murdock as he watched the last of the corpses fall, and the energy disappear.

“Something I wish I would have known 9 years ago,” replied Tahlmus.

“Nine years ago?” Murdock questioned. His eyes then grew wide, “You… you’re that child mage elf… you… cast a green dome over the clan. We couldn’t get through but your kind could hurt us.” Tavain’s jaw dropped. She now thought she understood why Tahlmus had been so angry.

“And that spell has served each of you well tonight hasn’t it?” asked Tahlmus eyes now blazing with pain.

Murdock looked around; all of the militia were still standing. The only one with a scratch was Tahlmus, “You… you cast…” his words drifted off.

“Conjured a shield around each of you so the corpses couldn’t hurt you, but you could hurt them.”

“Well, then why… why do you have a cut on your face?”

“I didn’t conjure a shield around me. Someone had to go without to draw the corpses; otherwise they would have gone back to the castle. We would have had to fight two more nights before it was safe to go to the castle.”

“But you could have… you could have chosen any of us to sacrifice to those monsters, but you… you chose yourself…w…why?”

“Because it was it was the right thing to do,” replied Tahlmus. Tahlmus’ companions were confused, but Tavain finally understood. “The corpses for the most part are gone,” Tahlmus continued speaking. “So, Murdock why don’t you and your men go into the chantry get some rest. Sten Leliana, Wynn, and Alistair … go up the hill, tell Ser Perth that the corpses are for the most part gone. His men are to lay down and rest by the windmill. You guys stay awake and keep watch, just to make sure. Tavain and I will stay here. His companions nodded and made their way up the hill.

“How can you be so sure?” asked Murdock.

“It’s a talent I have as an elven mage. So go ahead and rest. I didn’t get this scar on my face to see the people of this village slain.” Murdock nodded. He and his men went into the chantry.

As the militia walked to the chantry, Tavain walked over to Tahlmus, “Big brother.”

Tahlmus sat on the ground and motioned for her to sit beside him. “The first time we talked to Murdock, I saw our parents standing behind him.” He spoke slowly to keep himself from choking up. “Then as I was walking to Dwynn’s I had images flash through my mind. Well it was one vision, split into two scenes. I saw mom and dad fighting and I saw us with Tamlen. A younger Murdock, stabbed our mother in the chest and that’s when I fell to my knees. I thought I had been stabbed, which is why I handed you to Tamlen.”

“You never told me it felt like you had been stabbed.”

Tahlmus continued as if she had not said anything, “Then he ran off towards the forest.” He paused, “He’s the one I saw running towards us, the reason I pulled my staff out.” Tavain put a hand on her brother’s shoulder as he took a deep breath before he continued. “Then in the vision I saw a young Perth stab our father, which was the pain I then felt before I passed out from conjuring the shield. I didn’t know until this vision that the pain I felt was our parents’ deaths.”

“That explains most of your behavior big brother, but what’s the real reason you didn’t put a shield around yourself?”

“To be honest, I’m not sure. A part of me didn’t want the shield. I wanted to die… be with our parents again.”

“You were going to leave me?” asked Tavain tears in her eyes.

Tahlmus hugged his sister close to him, “No Tavain, a bigger part of me wanted to live for your sake. But I don’t know… I just had this feeling I shouldn’t have a shield. It wasn’t until after I set the fire blaze up on the hill that I realized the corpses were smart enough to know when they were beat and go back to the castle. We couldn’t have that…”

“Because we need to get to the castle,” Tavain finished for him. “I guess those lessons you put us through in the woods paid off. You had your chance for revenge but you sacrificed yourself instead.” She used her brother’s robes to wipe the tears off her cheeks.

“Yeah,” Tahlmus sighed.

“I’m proud of you big brother,” Tavain replied as she managed to get her arms around him and give him a hug.

“Thanks,” he paused as he let his chin rest on top of Tavain head. “There’s about an hour before dawn breaks,” he conjured a pillow and some blankets, “get some sleep. We have a lot to do today.”

“But what about straggling corpses?” Tavain asked through a yawn.

“There aren’t any. I just wanted time alone to talk with you.”

“What about the others?”  asked Tavain as she curled up under the blankets.

“They’ve been sleeping.”

“But I thought you…”

“I did, but once they got up there, they felt extra sleepy and curled up on the pillows and blankets I provided.”

“So you put a spell on them?” Tavain noticed her speech was really slow and she was slowly drifting off to sleep, “like you are with me.” she said.

Tahlmus smiled, “go to sleep sis,” he said as he ran his hand over her cheek. Her deep breathing soon followed. “Sweet dreams,” he whispered.

He got up, and made his way over to the docks. Tahlmus sat down, tucking his knees to his chest. He wasn’t sure if the spirits of his parents could actually hear him, but he talked to them as he stared at the water. He spoke of the hatred he felt towards the humans, and how hard it had been to fight to save them. He also told them of the new anger he held for them for not at least warning him of the life he was to live without them. Tahlmus then let himself cry. He was mad at himself for the anger and hatred he felt.

“You are a very selfless and brave child.”

Tahlmus wiped his eyes before turning to see who had spoken, “Revered Mother… s… shouldn’t you still be sleeping? Or at least in the chantry helping people?”

“I had been up listening to the fighting, when the militia came into the chantry. Murdock came to me, told me of what transpired, and confessed to the evil he’d done to your clan. I then watched you put your sister to sleep, and walk towards the docks. I came out of the chantry and followed you.”

“So… you’ve been standing…” his words drifted off.

“You have nothing to hang your head for young man. From what I have heard you have great power, but unlike so many who have used it to further their own selfish wants; you my child have shown mercy. You have used your power to help those who had hurt you. If there is anyone who can help the Arl and save us from the blight, it’s you.”

“Even if I’m a mage not raised in the chantry?” questioned Tahlmus.

“I think the fact that you were not raised in the chantry, is the reason you will be able to save us. Mages study in the circle so we can manage their power; make sure they do not turn into abominations because the temptation for power is great. You were blessed to know and be able to do very powerful magic, yet instead of using it to rule over others, you use it help others. Even when those others are not deserving of your help. You are wise beyond your years my child. This is why you will be able to save us from this blight.”

“That means a lot coming from you revered Mother, thank you.”

“No, thank you for suffering some pain and saving the village.” She paused briefly, “Now, the people in the chantry should be waking soon and they’ll want to see the man who saved the village. Go wake the knights and your companions.”

Tahlmus stood and bowed his head, “Yes, revered Mother, and thank you again for your kind words.” The revered Mother then turned and walked back to the chantry while Tahlmus went to wake up the knights and his companions.

Chapter 17

“My friends it is my honor to stand in front of you today…” Tegan continued speaking.

Tavain poked Tahlmus, “Big brother, didn’t you get any sleep?” she whispered.

Tahlmus’ eyes popped open, “What? No, I didn’t. I had some things to take care of,” he whispered back.

“That’s a lie and you know it big brother.”

Tahlmus shook his head, “I was angry. I took some time to clear my head.”

“… and not one man, woman, or child lost their lives last night because of this young elf that stands up here before you. May we thank the maker for sending him in our time of need,” finished Tegan. The crowd cheered. The revered mother offered a prayer to the maker. Tahlmus sent up his own silent prayer to the creators.

“Now,” spoke Tegan, “I will go to the castle and seek out your Arl.” The crowd dispersed. The people went about cleaning up the corpses and other debris left from the fighting. “Tahlmus, I would like to talk to you about the next step. Meet me by the windmill at the top of the hill,” spoke Tegan.

Tahlmus nodded and watched Tegan walk off. He then went into the chantry to find Katlynn. Tavain had followed and he gave her a little nudge. “Excuse me Katlynn,” Tavain smiled sweetly.

“You’re the one who found my brother.”

“Yes, and I promised him to pay for the family sword.”

“You brought my brother back to me. I can’t put a price on that,” replied Katlynn.

Tavain pulled out seven sovereign, “here”,” she said as she placed the coins in Katlynn’s hand. “This should help you get started on your own.”

“Kaylynn looked at the coins, “This could get us a ride to Denerim. We have family there. Thank you so much.” She then wrapped her arms around Tavain in a big hug.

“Y…you’re welcome,” replied Tavain, unsure of how to respond to the humans embrace.” The group then watched Katlynn and Bevin run out the door.

Tahlmus laughed at his sister’s expression, “Now you have an idea of how I felt.”

Tavain rolled her eyes, and walked outside, “We do have one more place to stop, and I think you should handle that one big brother.”

“Well…uh… I think you’re better at it.”

“What else do we have to do?” asked Sten, “Aren’t we wasting time?”

“Well…” hesitated Tahlmus, “To get some helpful information, I promised to give the barmaid enough coin to get to Denerim.”

“You’re just into helping every one aren’t you?” chastised Morrigan.

“I…guess,” replied Tahlmus

“Big brother you forgot to mention that the girl thought you were cute.”

“Say what?” asked Morrigan her eyes blazing, “and what do you think of her?” Tavain couldn’t understand why Morrigan had become so jealous all of a sudden. She hadn’t given any hint that she cared for Tahlmus at all.

“She’s pretty,” he said slowly, “but she’s not my type.”

“And what is your type?”  asked Leliana, hope evident in her voice. The group paused outside the tavern waiting for Tahlmus’ reply.

“If I tell you, will you go in with Tavain and give the barmaid these coins?” he handed Leliana 6 sovereigns.

Leliana shrugged, “ok.”

“My type…” started Tahlmus, “is beautiful, dark haired, strongly opinionated, and a magic user like myself.” He watched Leliana’s face fall, then her and Tavain went into the tavern. Alistair, Sten and Wynn decided to follow.

“So does your type have a name?” asked Morrigan as the tavern door shut. Chewy barked and wagged his tail.

This made Tahlmus smile, “A very pretty one,” he replied.

“Do I know this person?” she asked.

“Better than anyone,” Tahlmus said with a smile. Morrigan opened her mouth to ask another question but was interrupted by the tavern door being thrown open.

“You kept your promise,” the barmaid came running out.

Tahlmus could see Tavain who just shrugged her shoulders. “Well… of… of course I did,” he stuttered as the barmaid threw her arms around him. “Help me” he mouthed to Tavain who was now giggling. He did manage to get his hand in front of his face before she kissed him. “You… You might want to rethink that,” he said pointing towards Morrigan.

“Why? You’re single. You’re cute. And I said I would kiss every man if we survived the night.”

“Well, yeah… but…” Tahlmus started, “she kind of likes me. She has the tendency to get jealous, and unlike my sister, she really is a mage.”

“Well… then…” the barmaid stuttered and she released her grip around Tahlmus’ neck, “I guess… thank you for the money.” She turned and slowly walked down the hill, into the village.

Tahlmus finally let the air out of his lungs, “Ok,” he said, “Let’s go meet Tegan.” The group followed him the rest of the way to the windmill.

“Tahlmus I’m glad you’re here. There is a secret passage that only my family knows about. I think it is our best way in.”

“Why didn’t you use it before?” asked Tavain.

“I had to stay and protect the village, but I think now the village should be safe. Plus with help from you, I think it will be easier.”

“Well, how do we..” Tahlmus was interrupted by a woman’s voice.

“Tegan, oh thank the maker you’re alive. Tegan you must come with me.”

“And why must he do that?” asked Tavain.

“What? Who are you?” Tavain opened her mouth to reply but Alistair used his hand to cover her mouth.

“Lady Isolde,” he greeted the strange woman.

“What? Alistair is that you?”

“Yes…” he started.

“Why are you here?”

“He’s a Grey Warden, along with my sister and myself. We came to seek aid from the Arl, but we’ve heard he’s ill. We also had to defend off a horde of  walking corpses,” replied Tahlmus. He was about to say more when Tegan spoke up.

“Lady Isolde, what is going on in the castle?”

“This blood mage, he poisoned my husband. He started all this evil. I don’t know why but he let me come find you Tegan. You must come back with me alone.”

“What aren’t you telling us Lady Isolde?” asked Tahlmus.

“I’m telling you everything,” she spat at Tahlmus before turning back to Tegan, “Tegan please…”

“No,” spoke Tahlmus, “you’re lying. You are not telling us everything.”

“Listen, it let me out to get Tegan. I must return with him and quickly.”

“I will go with you Isolde,” replied Tegan. “Just let me speak with my companions.”

“Please hurry,” replied Isolde, “I will wait for you by the bridge.”

The group watched her walk away. “Tegan this is a bad idea. Isolde is lying about the source of the evil. You’ll be walking into a trap,” pleaded Tahlmus.

“I have no choice. I must go. Here, take my ring. It opens a trap door in the windmill. The passage leads to the castle. You should be able to get in undetected. Whatever happens Eamon is the priority. Get him out. The rest of us are dispensable.”

Tahlmus shook his head, “Just don’t get yourself into trouble before I get there.” This caused Tegan to give a small laugh before shaking the young elf’s hand and leaving to meet Isolde.

“So now what big brother?”

“Well… we go in of course. Through the windmill passage, but…” he paused

“But what?” asked Leliana

Tahlmus opened his mouth to speak, but fell to his knees holding his head.

“What is he doing?” asked Sten, “haven’t we wasted enough time?” Morrigan and Tavain both glared at Sten as Tahlmus fell forward panting.

“Are… are you ok?” asked Leliana, who was a little frightened by the episode.

Tahlmus got to a sitting position and wiped the sweat off his face, “Well, it wasn’t as painful as before.”

“That’s a good thing… right big brother?”

“Yes,” Tahlmus managed to say as Tavain pulled him to his feet.

“What do you mean before?” asked Leliana.

“What was that?” asked Sten.

“What did you see?” asked Alistair.

“Questions, questions, questions,” replied Tahlmus as he took a deep breath. “Wynn, Sten, Leliana, and Chewy,” the mabari’s head perked up at his name, “go back to the tower, tell them we will need lyrium to go into the fade to help a young boy possessed by a demon.”

“We haven’t even gotten in yet…” started Sten.

“How do you know we will need that?” interrupted Leliana.

“Because the maker told me, now go. Bring back the lyrium and some mages.”

“We are on our way,” replied Wynn as she turned and headed off towards the circle. After seeing the episode at the circle she knew better than to question what Tahlmus said.

“Tahlmus, do you think it’s safe to send those three off like that?” asked Tavain.

“It’s alright, Chewy is with them. He will keep them in line.”

“How do you know the dog will keep them in line?” asked Morrigan.

“Because, he’s Tavain’s dog, sly and good at keeping people on their toes.”

“I’m not sure how to take that big brother.”

“Take it as a compliment,” replied Tahlmus as he entered the windmill.

“Now,” spoke Alistair, “if I were a trap door, where would I be.”

“Under all the loose straw over there in the corner,” replied Tavain as she worked at unlocking a chest she’d found.

Alistair cocked his head at her. “She’s right,” said Tahlmus who had already started moving the loose straw. He fit the ring into the little hole and turned it. He heard a click. Tahlmus was then able to open the door.

“I’ll go down first; make sure it’s safe,” he said as he started to climb down the ladder. He reached the ground. It was solid enough. It was dark and damp. He ignited a small flame in his hand so he could have a look around. Everything seemed to be alright in the stone tunnel. Tahlmus called up to the others as he found a torch. He lit it with the flame from his hand. Once the other three had joined him, he led the way on down the tunnel.

“Big brother,” screeched Tavain.

“What’s wrong?” Tahlmus spun around to face Tavain.

“T…there’s s…spiders.” She pointed to the wall.

Tahlmus rolled his eyes, “Just try to stay away from the wall. There really isn’t much I can do.” Tavain ran up and walked by Tahlmus as they continued on. Finally they saw some light up ahead. Tahlmus extinguished the torch. Lying it on the ground.  The light was coming through a small window in a door.

“Do you hear that big brother?”

“Help me! Get away!” The voice was frantic

“Sure did sis.”

“The siblings ran to the door, but found it locked.

“Help, someone please…”

“I got it big brother.” Tahlmus smiled as Tavain worked at picking the lock, “done” she said. Tahlmus opened the door, motioning for everyone to draw their weapons. The group found three corpses trying to get at a man in a jail cell. They quickly disposed of them.

“Thank the maker.”

“And who are you?” asked Tahlmus.

“I am Jowan.”

“And why are you in this cell?” asked Tahlmus.

“I am an apostate and blood mage that Lady Isolde hired to teach her son magic. When all the evil started happening she threw me in here. Had me questioned endlessly.”

“Why would Lady Isolde need a mage to teach Connor?” ask Alistair.

“He was showing signs of magic and she didn’t want him sent to the circle.”

“Did you do it?” asked Tahlmus

“Do what?”

“Start all the evil, or was poisoning the Arl the only thing you did?”

“What? How did you…?” Jowan’s words trailed off.

“I know certain things. I know it is Connor that’s been setting off the attacks, so really all I need from you is why. Why did you poison the Arl?”

“The Teryn. He told me I would be doing a service for Ferelden. He said he wouldn’t turn me over to the templars.”

“What will you do if I let you out?”

“Try to make things right.”

“Please tell me you aren’t seriously considering this?” asked Alistair.

“Not really,” said Tahlmus

“But, I want to…” Jowan didn’t get to finish his plea.

“You’re a coward,” replied Tahlmus. “You’ll stay right there until you are needed.” Jowan hung his head and nodded.

“You wouldn’t have really let a blood mage and an apostate out if he weren’t a coward, would you?” asked Alistair.

“To help us? Yes, I would.”

“But blood mage… apostate…”

“Minor detail,” replied Tahlmus as he walked through the door. Two corpses emerged from a small back room. The group easily defeated them. Tahlmus then walked up the stairs he found. He didn’t know the layout of the castle, so he entered every room; destroying shades and corpses along the way.

He was also trying to keep Tavain’s promise to Smithy about looking for his daughter Velanna. While Tavain tried to pick a lock on a main door with Alistair watching over her shoulder; Tahlmus and Morrigan continued on down the hall. They found Velanna, and she chose to run out by herself along the path the group had cleared.

“Big brother… I can’t pick the lock.”

“You can’t?” Tavain shook her head no. “That’s odd,” thought Tahlmus. “I’ll give it a try,” he said walking up to the door. Tahlmus tried several different ways to pick the lock, but he couldn’t do it either.

“Guess we’ll have to find another way.”

“I saw another door big brother. It led back downstairs, but I don’t think it led to the same area we came from.”

“Might as well try it,” replied Tahlmus. “Lead the way sis.”

Tavain led the group back to another set of stairs, which led to a cellar. They explored the cellar before taking a set of steps they found on the opposite wall coming out in the castle courtyard. The group fought a few more corpses before they were able to get into the castle.

Tahlmus heard some laughing, and made his way towards it. He entered the main hall and found Tegan was doing acrobatics for a little boy who was clapping. As the group got closer the boy spoke, “Who intrudes in my castle.”

“I am Tahlmus, a Grey Warden.”

“So you are the one that killed all my minions and ruined all my fun.”

“His voice sounds weird, big brother,” whispered Tavain.

Tahlmus squeezed Tavain’s arm letting her know that he agreed, “I killed the corpses yes. They were harming the people. I couldn’t let them do that.”

“But you ruined all my fun.”

“Connor,” spoke Lady Isolde, “I don’t think…”

“That’s right woman, you don’t think,” responded the boy.

“No one tells him what to do,” Tegan laughed hysterically, “no one.”

“Shut up uncle. You bore me,” replied Connor.

“Tegan what’s…” Alistair’s voice trailed off.

“The demon in Connor is controlling Tegan, Alistair” said Tahlmus.

“Connor is the demon?” asked Alistair and Morrigan at once.

“Yes, he’s the evil Lady Isolde spoke of.”

“He isn’t doing it on…” Lady Isolde was cut off by Connor.

“Silence, I will have my fun. You, elf and your companions will die.” At Connor’s last word Tegan drew his sword to attack the group. The knights also started to attack. Tahlmus watched Connor run off before fending off a blow from Tegan.

“Big brother, what do we do? Can we kill them when they are not of their own minds?”

“The knights have been under too long, we have to kill them.”

“Are you sure big brother?”

“Yes, I’ve already tried some magic to rid them of the demonic presence. It…” He grunted as he blocked another blow from Tegan. “It was too strong.”

“What about Tegan? Can you help him?” asked Alistair.

“I’m going to try,” labored Tahlmus as he blocked another blow from Tegan. “Just go deal with the knights.”

Alistair nodded, and started fighting with a knight who had slowly made his way over towards Tahlmus, who now focused all his attention on Tegan. He performed a spell to paralyze Tegan. He took a minute to gather his thoughts, then performed a spell to force the demonic power controlling Tegan to leave his body.

Dark purple smoke swirled out of Tegan’s ear. It made its way towards Tahlmus who cast another spell that caused it to disappear. He then removed the spell on Tegan as the rest had finished slaying the demonic knights.

“What just happened?” asked Tegan.

“Tegan, are you ok?”

“Lady Isolde… I am… better now that my mind is my own again.”

Lady Isolde looked over at Tahlmus as if really seeing him for the first time, “It’s you… the rude elf by the windmill.” Tahlmus clenched his fists but stayed silent.

“But he was right,” spoke Morrigan.

“You knew your son was the source of the evil,” continued Tavain.

“And you didn’t tell us,” finished Morrigan.

“That was a big mistake,” added Alistair.

“Why did you hire the blood mage in the first place?” asked Tahlmus wanting to corroborate Jowan’s story.

“A blood mage? What is this Isolde?” asked Tegan.

“Connor was showing signs of magic. I hired an apostate mage to come and teach him how to control it. I couldn’t let the circle take him away. I couldn’t lose my son.”

“Did Eamon Know?” asked Tegan.

“No, he would have done the right thing.”

“Sending him to the circle would have been better than hiring a blood mage,” spat Tahlmus.

“And how would you know?” asked Isolde, “You’re not old enough to know what it’s like to raise a child.” Tahlmus turned a rose pink as his blood prepared to reach it’s boiling point.

“I’m a mage,” Tahlmus said as calmly as he could, “that’s how I know.”

“Wait, the female elf said differently yesterday,” replied Tegan.

“Because everyone freaks out and gets scared of him when they learn he wasn’t brought up in the circle. He’s a Dalish elf.  They don’t get sent to the circle. The keeper teaches them magic unless the young elf is lucky, like Tahlmus was, to have a father very proficient in magic,” answered Tavain.

“And you know this because?” asked Tegan. Tavain rolled her eyes. It was easy to tell they were siblings. She couldn’t deal with the human stupidity.

“Because she’s my sister,” replied Tahlmus crossing his arms in front of his chest. “Now can we get back on the topic of Connor?”

“It’s not his fault. All this evil. He’s not doing it on purpose. Sometimes he’s still my little boy, and not the demonic monster,” sobbed Isolde, “It’s that mages fault. He started this.”

“Where is he now?” asked Tegan before Tahlmus could say anything.

“In the dungeon in a cell.”

“I’ll go get him and bring him up here. He’ll answer for this.”

“I already know how to solve this problem,” mumbled Tahlmus.

“What was that?” asked Lady Isolde.

“Oh nothing,” spoke Tahlmus, “Bring Jowan on up, it will be a little while before the rest of my companions come back anyway.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” she asked.

“It means, you ask too many of the wrong questions,” spat Tavain. She was liking this situation less and less.

The group stood in silence until Tegan returned with Jowan. “Now tell us mage, what you did to Connor,” Tegan ordered as he pushed Jowan in between Lady Isolde and Tahlmus.

“I…I didn’t do anything to Connor besides try to teach him some magic.”

“Then how did all of this evil come about?” asked Tegan.

“I… I don’t know, Connor must have made a deal with the demon that’s controlling him. All I did was poison the Arl.”

“He’s telling the truth,” Tahlmus said before Tegan could open his mouth.

“And how would you know?” asked Tegan.

“Which reason would you like to disbelieve first?” retorted Tahlmus, his fist clenched waiting for an excuse to hit Tegan.

“I could fix it,” interrupted Jowan.

“How can you do that?” asked Isolde.

“I know a ritual that would allow me to send a mage into the fade. That mage could then destroy the demon, without hurting Connor.”

“Then let’s do it,” spoke Tegan.

“There’s just one problem,” replied Jowan.

“And that is?”

“The ritual requires lyrium which we don’t have,” Tahlmus paused, “or”, he continued, “a person’s life would suffice if done by blood magic.”

“Then let it be me,” replied Isolde. “Take my life and save Connor.”

“No,” replied Tahlmus, “We will not use blood magic to fix this mistake.”

“But I can’t let you kill my little boy.”

“We won’t have to kill him,” replied Tahlmus.

“We have no lyrium,” said Tegan. “What else could we do?”

Tahlmus opened his mouth to answer, but heard Wynn’s voice instead, “Tahlmus, we’re back, and Irving is with us.”

“Thank the creators,” Tavain whispered.

“Tahlmus could you tell me why Wynn asked for me to bring lyrium and a few mages here to Redcliffe?” asked Irving.

“Eamon’s boy, Connor, willing gave himself to a demon, so his father might live,” replied Tahlmus.

“We need you to perform the ritual to send one of us into the fade and kill the demon,” continued Morrigan.

“I see,” replied Irving. “Allow myself and the mages a few minutes to prepare.”

“Of course,” replied Tahlmus.

“What are they…?  How did they…?” Tegan was too stunned to finish.

“Lady Isolde lied to my brother,” replied Tavain.

“Potentially threatening our lives,” continued Morrigan.

“He had a vision after you left,” added Alistair.

“He sent us,” Wynn motioned to Sten, Leliana, and Chewy, “To go get Irving and lyrium.”

“And so here they are preparing to save your son,” finished Tahlmus. Lady Isolde and Tegan gaped at the group.

“Young lad, we are ready to perform the ritual. The only problem is that we only have enough lyrium to send one mage into the fade.  We can only do it once. Who will go into the fade?”

“I will,” replied Tahlmus with more confidence than he felt.

“What? Send this elf into the fade to try to save my son? No, I will not have it. He’s too young. Irving is it?” Irving nodded to answer Lady Isolde’s question. “I would rather you go into the fade.”

“I’m afraid,” replied Irving, “that would be the wrong choice. Tahlmus might be young, but he is more powerful than I. He should be the one that goes into the fade.”

“But… but…” Lady Isolde wasn’t sure what to think.

“If for some reason I fail, you can imprison my sister,” replied Tahlmus.

“What?” exclaimed Tavain. “Big brother have you lost your mind?”

“Isn’t that a little harsh?” asked Leliana.

“Only if I fail,” replied Tahlmus with a grin.

“Tahlmus that’s not funny,” said Morrigan quickly wiping away a single tear from her cheek so no one noticed.

Tahlmus did notice though, “Don’t worry, I won’t fail,” he said more to Morrigan than anyone else.

“How can you be so sure?” asked Lady Isolde.

“Because the alternative is not an option,” his gaze met Tavain’s as he spoke. Tavain knew that even though Tahlmus’ body wasn’t going into the fade, if the demon managed to kill the part of him that was in the fade, his body in real life would be dead too. She also knew as much as Tahlmus talked about going back to the creators and their parents, she knew he wasn’t ready.

“It’s settled then?” asked Irving.

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus.

“Any last-minute questions?”

“No… I don’t think so.”

Tahlmus watched as Irving gave a slight wave of his hand. He felt the strong desire to sleep, just like when the sloth demon had cast his spell to put the group in the fade. Tahlmus let the feeling overwhelm him as he had before.

Tahlmus found himself in a place with a couple of gnarled trees. He heard someone yelling Connor’s name. He walked towards the voice, an older man starred at him. “Who are you? Where is my son?”

Tahlmus looked at the man, “I am Tahlmus,” he paused. “And you are Arl Eamon.”

“Yes, I am. What about my son? Have you seen him?”

“No, but I am here looking for him, trying to help him.”

“That’s what the last one said, and that one corrupted my son. No I will find him myself.”

Tahlmus rolled his eyes, “Suit yourself.”

Tahlmus turned and walked away. He found a purplish portal, like he’d seen in the sloth’s created fade. He carefully stepped through it. At first, he thought it was a trick because it looked exactly like where he had started. He followed the path anyway. Instead of finding Eamon as he had before, he found Connor, but sensed a demon’s presence.

“W…who are you?” the voice was soft and gentle like a little boy’s voice should be.

“I’m here to help you Connor,” replied Tahlmus.

“Can you cure my father?”

“I don’t know,” replied Tahlmus.

“Then you must die,” replied the demon as it revealed its true form. Tahlmus drew his daggers and slayed the demon. He waited a few minutes. The fade didn’t disappear. So he made his way back to the portal and went through it.

Again, everything looked as it did before, and again he followed the path to Connor.

“You should leave while you are ahead,” spoke a demonic voice from Connor’s body.

“I cannot do that, replied Tahlmus. “I promised to fix this and I will.”

The demon appeared before Tahlmus, “We can’t have that.” The demon threw a small fireball at Tahlmus, that knocked him off his feet, he groaned as he tried to stand back up, blocking the ice spell the demon had cast. Tahlmus then stunned the demon before pulling out his daggers. He stabbed the demon several times before cutting off its head to make sure the demon was dead.

He turned to go back to the portal but fell to his knees rocking back and forth holding his head; visions. When the pain stopped, Tahlmus found he was still on his knees holding his head. He was sweating profusely, but he wasn’t breathing as hard as was normal with these episodes. “I didn’t realize I could have visions while in the fade,” he thought. “Creators,” he realized as he thought about the images that had flashed before him, “The demon killed me. T…that can’t be right. He went over the images he had seen again. He shook his head, “No I can’t die. The vision had to be wrong,” he thought. “Wrong,” he said out loud. Tahlmus walked closer to the portal. The pain came back. This time when he managed to get himself to a standing position, he knew what had to happen.

“Tavain starring at him isn’t going to help,” spoke Morrigan, though she too had been glancing at Tahlmus’ motionless body regularly since Irving had sent him into the fade.

“But… but…” Tavain started stuttering, panic creeping into her voice, “h… he’s g… getting… turning pale. T… that’s not a g… good sign… i… is it?”

“I… I don’t know,” replied Morrigan. She was now a little more worried.

“I’m sure he’s fine,” spoke Alistair wishing he felt that confident.

Tahlmus slipped through the portal. He walked down the path into the circle of flat stones. “I’ve been waiting for you,” spoke the demon seductively.

“I imagine,” was all Tahlmus could say.

“Why don’t I make you a deal?”

“I’m not dealing with you demon. I am going to kill you.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way. We would have made a good team.”

The demon threw a fireball at Tahlmus knocking him to the ground. Tahlmus forced himself to his feet and drew his blades. He enchanted them and attacked. His blows seemed to do little damage to the demon, but he continued his flurry of attack. Slowing down only when he tried to deflect a spell the demon would cast. Tahlmus went to try and cut off the demon’s head, but his blades found only air. There were now 12 demons standing on the flat stones laughing at him.

“Regenerating herself,” he thought. He knew he had to find the real demon to get the regeneration to stop, but which one was she. His senses were going haywire. It seemed they didn’t work well in the fade. He couldn’t tell, which one she was.

He sent out an electric cloud, hitting every demon on every stone. He could only hope the second vision had been right. He smiled when he heard the demon scream. He watched as she combined herself back into just one demon. “At least she’s not healing herself anymore,” he thought as he put his blades away. They weren’t going to be of any help.

Tahlmus prepared to generate a fireball when he felt himself knocked to the ground. The demon had responded by using Tahlmus’ electric cloud against him. Luckily the demon didn’t have good aim, and it only hit Tahlmus’ right side. It had caused a nice gash and he was bleeding bad. Tahlmus forced himself to his knees as the demon slowly approached him. “You made a grave mistake in trying to battle me young elf.”

“No, spoke Tahlmus between gasps of air, “it… was… you… who made… the mistake.” His palm lit on fire. He concentrated on the spell he used to get rid of Uldred, and prayed it would work like the vision had shown him.

The demon laughed, “You should have made a deal with me.” She laughed before lunging at Tahlmus. As she did Tahlmus extinguished the flame. The demon vaporized. He let out a long sigh, as he felt himself fading. Tahlmus smiled, he had done it, but at what cost.

He heard his sisters voice before he felt the scratchy carpet against his cheek. “Big brother,” she screamed. “Big brother you’re bleeding.” Tahlmus struggled to turn over so he was laying on his back instead of his stomach.

“Tahlmus don’t move,” spoke Morrigan a few moments too late. She caught his head before it hit the floor.

“T… Tavain,” Tahlmus winced in pain caused by his speech.

“It’s… it’s ok big brother, you’re going to be fine.” She looked at Morrigan, “Can’t you do anything?” she whispered. Morrigan shook her head, “I’m not a healer,” she whispered back.

“T…Tavain… take my… take my hand,” he wiggled his fingers on his right hand, “and… move it… move it over… the cut.”

“Big brother, are you…”

“Just… do… it…” he grimaced in pain. Tavain took his right hand and started moving it over the cut as she was told. She watched her brother’s lips move, but no words came out. Tavain looked down at the cut in her brother’s side. It was slowly sealing up and the blood was disappearing.

“He… he’s healing himself,” whispered Morrigan. The group watched in silence.

“Mother,” came a little boys voice, “Mother what’s going on?”

“Connor, Oh Connor, my little boy.”

“Mother, who’s that elf on the floor? He was in my dream.”

“Connor,” spoke Tegan, “that wasn’t a dream. This elf is a Grey Warden, and he saved your life.”

“Is he going to be ok?” asked Connor.

“We hope so,” replied Alistair.

Tavain watched the wound finish sealing itself up, then looked at her brother. He stopped mumbling. His arm became dead weight in her hands, and his head tilted away from her. “Big brother… big brother, are you ok?” she waited for a response, “Tahlmus…” Tavain started flashing back to the forest; escaping from Tamlen, running, screaming her little lungs out at Tahlmus, telling him to wake up. Then after the mirror. Pleading with him for two days to wake up.

“Is he…?” Leliana choked up.

“No,” replied Morrigan, “he’s still breathing, barely, but he’s breathing.”

Tavain realized what was wrong. Like with generating the shield, Tahlmus had used all his strength to heal himself. She did the only thing she could think of. Tavain curled up in her brother’s arms as she had done that night so long ago.

This time however, she whispered some words to the creators, the spirits of her parents, the human god, whoever would listen, “Please help my brother wake up.” She closed her eyes tight. As she did, it felt like something flowed out of her.

She heard Morrigan say, “Tavain, what just…” As Morrigan’s words trailed off, Tavain felt an arm wrap her up in a hug.

Tavain lifted her head. Tahlmus was trying to smile at her. “Can’t get rid of me that easily,” he whispered. Tavain smiled back at him. “Help me up, will you?” Tavain complied with her brother’s request, and helped him to his feet.

“You saved  my boy,” cried Lady Isolde. “How can I ever repay you?”

“Don’t thank me yet,” replied Tahlmus. “Let’s go see how the Arl is fairing.”

Lady Isolde and Tegan led the way to the Arl’s room. He looked to be in a peaceful sleep, but would not awaken. Tahlmus spoke with the mages that were watching over Eamon. He then went over and tried a few healing spells the other mages didn’t know.

The one spell got the Arl to start twitching as Tavain had in Flemeth’s hut, but he did not awaken. “I’m sorry,” he said, “there isn’t anything more I can do at this point.”

“The Sacred Urn of Ashes is our only hope,” replied Lady Isolde.

“Ashes?” questioned Tavain.

“Andraste’s Ashes?” asked Tahlmus.

“You know of these ashes, big brother?”

“A little, dad wrote about them. Said they were to be able to cure any sickness, but that they had been made impossible to find so no one could exploit them.”

“So …they are more than just legend,” spoke Tegan.

“They might as well be legend,” replied Tahlmus, “I wouldn’t even know where to start looking.”

“Try Brother Genetivi in Denerim,” said Lady Isolde, “The knights have rumored that he has a lead on the urn.”

“I guess we’re going to Denerim then,” replied Tahlmus

“What will we do about Jowan?” asked Tegan.

“Keep him around to help Connor,” replied Tahlmus.

“Just keep a close eye on him,” added Tavain.

“At least until we get back,” finished Alistair.

“Well then, until you return with the ashes,” Tegan gave a slight wave. “May the maker watch over you.”

“And you,” replied Alistair. As the group made their way back towards the entrance, they were stopped by Connor.

“Mother says you saved me,” spoke Connor directly at Tahlmus.

“I was just trying to do the right thing.”

“Father says you should always thank those that help you.”

“Your father sounds like a wise man.”

“Thank you, for risking your life to save me and help my father. I am not able to pay you back for what you did, but maybe if you cure my father he will be able too.”

“Just don’t go making anymore deals with demons,” replied Tahlmus

“You have my word,” said Connor.

“You’re a good man Connor, your father would be proud of you.”

“Thank you, sir. I won’t waste anymore of your time.” The young boy hugged Tahlmus, then ran to his father’s room.

“You have such a way with children,” complimented Wynn.

“Yeah…” Tahlmus sighed, then continued walking to the door.

“What’s wrong with him?” asked Leliana, “He didn’t sound very happy about Wynn’s compliment.”

“You mean besides almost dying to save some rich man’s son?” asked Morrigan.

“Well… I…” Leliana’s voice trailed off.

“After wasting time to save a village and a boy instead of gathering an army, we are going to chase some pathetic human myth?” spat Sten.

“It’s not just a myth. Our father wrote about it,” replied Tavain.

“That doesn’t make it true dear,” said Wynn.

“Everything else that has come out of these journals has been true,” spoke Morrigan.

Alistair turned to Tavain, “Why don’t we find your father then?” he asked.

“yeah,” piped up Leliana, “Surely if he wrote about it he could help us.”

“We can’t,” started Tavain.

“Why not?” spat Sten, “if he’s as powerful as…”

Tahlmus cut him off, “Will all of you shut up,” he yelled as he whirled around scorching the ground in front of everyone. “We are going to Denerim to find Genetivi, then go from there.” Everyone nodded as he turned back around and walked away from Redcliffe.

Tavain slowly followed behind everyone else. She had never seen her brother so angry. Something was definitely wrong, but she would wait until they stopped to try talking to him.

Chapter 18

As the sun began to set, Tahlmus left the path, slipping into the forest. The others followed quietly. No one had said a word since Redcliffe. “We’ll camp here for the night,” said Tahlmus when he found the nice sized clearing he was looking for.

Everyone went about setting up their tents. Tahlmus went back into the forest. Tavain watched her brother walk away. “I’m not putting this tent up by myself,” she thought. Then she slipped off after him. As she followed him, she started to see familiar landmarks. She felt like she knew this forest. Tavain was so busy thinking about how familiar the forest felt she didn’t notice that Tahlmus had stopped walking until she ran into him, falling to the ground.

“What are you doing here Tavain?” She shivered as Tahlmus helped her up. She’d never had her brother’s anger directed at her before. It scared her.

“I…I was just… this forest looks familiar,” she finally said. “I wanted to explore.”

“Don’t lie to me Tavain. You were following me.”

“Well… ok… Yes, I was following you.” Tahlmus turned to walk away. “but I was worried about you.” She grabbed a fistful of her brother’s robes. Tahlmus spun around, and Tavain fell to the ground to avoid her brother’s hand that was headed for her face.

“What the hell was that?” she yelled, as she picked herself up off the ground.

“You aren’t doing what you were told,” his voice was as icy as ever.

“You didn’t tell me to do anything,” she yelled back at him.

“I told everyone to make camp.”

“Who died and left you in charge?” Tavain was screaming at this point.

“Mom and dad did,” his voice was still harsh, but had lost its iciness.

“No, they died so we could work together. Not so you could be an ass to everyone.”

“Go back and put up the tent.”

Fed up with her brother, Tavain screamed, ran and tackled Tahlmus. She proceeded to punch him in the chest as hard as she could. Still weak from being in the fade, Tahlmus managed to roll over so he was on top of Tavain. He pinned her arms to the ground. Tavain didn’t give up. Her knee made contact with his stomach forcing him to lose his grip on her arms. She shoved him off to her left so he was lying on his back.

Tahlmus got halfway up before Tavain was back on him, punching him. He slapped her, and she responded by biting him. Tahlmus cried out in pain as he shoved her off. As Tavain got up, she took out the sword she had taken from Bevin. Tahlmus took out one of his daggers, instinct slowly taking over.

He fended off several blows from Tavain before throwing a few of his own. Tavain blocked her brother’s attack. She then decided to try something her brother had only ever shown her. She took a swing, landing her blow close to the hilt of his dagger. She forced it down and away from him as fast and hard as she could. It had the effect she wanted. Tahlmus lost his grip on his dagger. It fell off to his right. He went to pull out his other one, but Tavain already had the point of her sword against his neck. Tahlmus held his hands up in surrender, but Tavain did not remove the sword.

She was breathing hard, tears running down her face. “Give me one good reason,” she said. “One good reason not to give you another scar.”

“This forest,” started Tahlmus looking around with his eyes, “is our forest.” He swallowed the lump in his throat before continuing. “That clearing is where dad always took me for lessons. It’s the same spot where we found the shemlen on our last patrol.”

Tavain slowly lowered the sword, looking at her surrounding more closely. “You were going back to the cave,” she paused. “Why were you going by yourself?” she had dropped the sword by this time, confident her brother’s anger, for the most part, had subsided.

“I needed time to clear my head.” He slowly brought his hands down to his sides. “I was also hoping to find answers.”

“Find answers to what?”

“To all the why’s… why I couldn’t save Tamlen … why I couldn’t save our parents… why I just left without forcing the keeper to let me try looking for Tamlen…”

“Big brother…”

“I know it’s not my fault Tavain, but like today… I could save some human village, and some human child. Looking back, I know there was nothing I could have done differently to get a better outcome. I look back on what happened with mom and dad; what happened with us and Tamlen… I had the power to do something. To do something to save them, and I didn’t.”

“Is that why you were so angry?”

“That was part of it,” replied Tahlmus. “No one listening to me just because I’m an elf. People scared of me when they learn I’m not a circle mage. Then add in Leliana’s stupidity, Sten’s constant criticism, and everyone thinking that finding our father would solve all of our problems… I just couldn’t take it anymore.” Tahlmus sighed, “I’m sorry I slapped you.”

“It’s ok big brother.” Tavain went over and hugged Tahlmus, “I’ll forgive you just this one time.”

Tahlmus held onto Tavain tightly, resting his head on top of hers. “At least I’ve done one thing right,” he managed to whisper as he blinked tears out of his eyes.

“And what was that?”

Tahlmus put his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes, “I helped my little sister develop into the person mom and dad would have wanted her to be.”

“You did a pretty good job at raising yourself big brother. Mommy and daddy would be proud of you.”

Tahlmus managed a smile, “Thanks sis.”

“Do you still want to go check out the cave?”

Tahlmus looked up at the sky, “No it’s getting too dark now. We’ll go back to camp and I’ll put up our tent.” Tavain nodded. The two headed back to the clearing.

“Tahlmus can I speak with you?” asked Alistair.

“Can you talk while I put up a tent?”

“Well, since we’re going to Denerim, I was wondering if we could make a stop. I mean.. I want to try and visit someone.”


“I guess I didn’t tell you, but I have a half sister, Goldanna…”

“The one from the sloth’s dream world. You really do have a sister?”

“Well, half sister, but yes. I don’t have any other family. I was hoping we could stop so I could see her.”

“Sure Alistair, as long as you know where she lives, and we’re not just knocking on random doors.

“Thank you Tahlmus. I appreciate it.” Tahlmus nodded as Alistair walked off.

“Tahlmus?” asked Leliana.

“Yes,” Tahlmus replied back.

“I was hoping I could talk to you.”


“Well, I kind of lied to you before… about why I came to Ferelden.”

“I kind of figured,” shrugged Tahlmus. “So what’s the real reason?”

“Umm…” she hesitated. “I was trained as a bard in Orlais by one known as Marjolane. I loved her and after a job warned her about the papers she had me get. She betrayed me. After I escaped from Orlais, I came here to Ferelden. I went into the chantry for refuge and never left… until I met you.”

“That explains the blades then… just don’t try any of those bard tricks on me.”

“Of course not,” replied Leliana. Tahlmus nodded as he turned to walk away. He wanted to go talk to Morrigan.

“Excuse me Tahlmus, may I have a word?”

Tahlmus turned around to face Wynn. He tried not to roll his eyes. “Sure, what can I do for you?”

“Are you doing alright? You seemed to be rather angry while we were in Redcliffe.”

“I’m doing better now.”

“What do you think of being a Grey Warden? I assume that is what has caused some of this trouble.”

“I think it’s testing me in ways I never thought possible. It’s also had me questioning a lot of things.”

“What sort of things?”

“My past mainly.”

“I’ve noticed you seem contemplative quite often when we are in camp or travelling. You and Tavain also speak of journals, instead of actual lessons your parents taught.”

“I contemplate the past; often wondering if I could have somehow changed things.”

“Changed what things?”

Tahlmus thought of mentioning his parents, but wasn’t sure he was ready. “Events in our past. And despite knowing we wouldn’t be here fighting the blight could I have changed those events; it doesn’t stop me from wishing I could.”

“You have given me some things to think about.” Tahlmus just smiled as Wynn turned to go back to her tent. He then continued his way over to Morrigan’s tent.

“Tahlmus, I’m glad you came over. Are you ok?” He could tell Morrigan was genuinely concerned.

“I’m better now, thank you for asking.”

“May I ask another question?”

Tahlmus rolled his eyes. Everyone had questions. “Sure.”

“Why didn’t you tell any of us, your parents had died?”

“Would it have made a difference?”

“We might not have had the ground in front of us scorched today.”

“Yeah… sorry about that. Guess I was a little angry.”

“That was a little angry? I’d hate to see really angry.”

Tahlmus chuckled. “My parents died when I was 7. For nine years I’ve wondered how it could have happened. The last four of those nine years I blamed the keeper,” he paused as he thought he saw a softness grow in Morrigan’s eyes. “I speak of journals because that’s all I have left of my dad. It’s how I learned all my magic. Everyone in my clan disliked me for it. I guess… long story short… we just don’t speak of it,” he finished softly. Morrigan was stunned. She wasn’t sure what to say. “Have you learned anything from your mother’s grimoire?” Tahlmus asked trying to break the awkward silence.

“I have. That’s part of the reason I was glad you came over. I need you to kill her.”

“You need me to do… what?”

“Flemeth has raised many daughters over the years, but I have never seen one of them.”

“They had an itch to get out of the wilds as you did?”

“No, they are all Flemeth. When she starts to get old and wizened, she raises a daughter. Then when the time is right, usually when the daughter enters her twenties, Flemeth takes over the body. Makes the daughters body her own.”

“That’s a little disturbing, but why then would she risk sending you with me?”

“It could be so I become more powerful. The more powerful the daughter is the easier it is for Flemeth to settle in. Or it could be that she does not want me around while she is preparing for it.”

“How much longer before Flemeth would try to…”

“I’m almost there now.”

“Then first thing tomorrow, we’ll go to Flemeth’s hut and kill her.”

“I cannot be with you when you do that. Flemeth could take my body right then. I must stay in camp.”

“Alright,” Tahlmus was deep in thought. “I will send you, Leliana, and Sten on to Denerim. You will try to find Genetivi’s place. After you find it wait for the rest of us in the tavern. When we get done with Flemeth, we will meet up with you, and you can take us to Genetivi’s house.”

“You’re going to send me with Leliana,” Morrigan spat in disgust.

“If you want Flemeth dead, I cannot take Leliana with me. She’s not strong enough. I’m sorry. I could cast a spell on her so she couldn’t speak, or at least make it so she couldn’t speak unless spoken to.”

“That would be great.”

“Alright,” Tahlmus grinned, “first thing in the morning.” Tahlmus turned to leave.

“Tahlmus,” Morrigan touched his shoulder, “wait. Don’t leave yet.”

He turned back around. He was thrilled that Morrigan didn’t want him to leave. “Is there something else I can do for you?”

“I was wondering if you might stay with me for the night.”

Tahlmus was stunned, “like in your tent until morning… type of deal?” he asked.

Morrigan giggled, he really liked hearing her giggle. “Yes, I would like you to stay with me in my tent until morning.”

Tahlmus was speechless.

“Big brother why are you so red?”

“I… I… Tavain what are you doing here?”

“I’m here to tell you it’s time to eat. Also, I need your help going through all the stuff I collected. I’m not sure, what or who can be upgraded, and what we can get rid of.”

Tahlmus smirked as he closed his eyes and slightly shook his head, “I’ll be there in a minute.”

Tavain smiled and skipped back towards the rest of camp. Tahlmus turned back to Morrigan who was now standing beside him. “Would you like me to get you a bowl of whatever it is we’re having this evening?” he asked.

His stomach fluttered as she gently ran her hand over the scar on his cheek. “I would like that very much.”

“O…ok,” he managed to say as he gazed into her eyes. They were smiling at him. She leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be waiting,” she said. Tahlmus just nodded as he turned to walk back towards the rest of camp.

“What is this?” he half screeched when he got to the fire and saw Alistair kissing Tavain on the cheek.

“Nothing,” replied Tavain, as she flashed him her sweet little smile.

Tahlmus opened his mouth, then closed it. Not only was he unsure what to say, but his sister’s smile was a weapon in its own right. He caved to her demands every time. Tavain just giggled as Tahlmus silently went about preparing two bowls of stew. She watched him walk back towards Morrigan’s tent.

“What just happened?” asked Leliana.

“I was prepared to hear him yell,” said Sten.

Tavain giggled again, “I’ve had Tahlmus wrapped around my finger since we were really young. All I have to do is smile my sweet little smile. He usually melts and goes along with it. I used to get him in a lot of trouble.”

“And he never got mad at you for getting him into trouble?” asked Alistair.

“Nope, he always took the punishment willingly. Mommy and daddy knew though. They knew I never listened.”

“How did they know? And how do you know they knew?” asked Wynn.

“Easy, daddy was a powerful mage, as Tahlmus is now, he knew Tahlmus was lying. I know they knew because daddy tried to trick Tahlmus into telling on me. Tahlmus was smart though, and he didn’t. He said he had been irresponsible and lost track of time; that he’d take whatever punishment our parents deemed necessary.”

“He doesn’t seem the type to be irresponsible,” interrupted Wynn.

“Because he’s not,” replied Tavain simply.

“Looks like lamb stew again,” said Tahlmus as he approached Morrigan.

“I think Tavain needs to go hunting for squirrel next time,” replied Morrigan as she took the bowl that Tahlmus offered.

He chuckled, “I’ll tell her you said that.” They ate in silence for a few minutes.

“So… Tahlmus…” Morrigan hesitated.


“When you told me, there were events leading up to Tavain listening to you… were you…” she paused unsure of how to phrase it.

“Referring to our parent’s deaths?” Morrigan nodded. “I was.” It was Tahlmus’ turn to hesitate. “That day I was playing with her. When it was time to go, she refused. I pleaded with her, finally got her to go… and when we got to the tent, instead of being questioned as to why we were late… mom was crying, dad was casting a spell… I… I then saw the shemlen… mom put Tavain in my arms… told me to run to the forest. Dad reinforced it… telling me to protect her. I did as I was told… I saved our friend Tamlen, along the way…  put Tavain in his arms when I saw shemlen following us into the forest. I cast a shield over everyone in the forest and blacked out because I wasn’t supposed to be strong enough to do it. When I woke up, Tavain was in my arms, and the keeper told me our parents were dead. I had just turned 7. Tavain was almost 4.”

“Tahlmus I’m …”

He waved his hand to cut her off. “I continued to learn magic through my father’s journals, and much to our aunt’s dismay, I taught Tavain our mother’s skills. She would listen to me because she liked me better than Aunt Eria.” Tahlmus had finished eating his stew by this time, and figured he better go help Tavain.

“You must think I’m horrible for wanting Flemeth dead.”

“No, but we’ll discuss that later,” Tahlmus said turning towards her. “I should go help Tavain before she comes looking for me.” He gently moved her bangs from her eyes. “I’ll be back in a little bit if you still want me to come back.”

She ran her fingers over his scar. He was beginning to really like that. “I think I need time to think over what you’ve told me.”

“As you wish,” Tahlmus replied as he started to stand up. As he did, he gave her a light kiss on the cheek. Then turned to walk towards the main camp thinking, “who would want to date an orphan?” He slipped in behind the group gathered at the fire and listened to the conversation.

“Why would he let your parents think of him as irresponsible?” asked Sten.

“To protect me I guess. The other elven children my age got picked on, and got in trouble. I never did. Tahlmus made sure of that.”

“Now you only listen to him. What changed?” asked Leliana. Tavain hung her head unsure how to answer the question.

“On my 7thbirthday shemlen attacked the clan,” spoke Tahlmus as he walked forward into the firelight. “Murdock and Ser Perth murdered our parents. We were placed in our Aunt Eria’s care. She didn’t like me because I was a mage like our father. She didn’t want Tavain learning our mother’s skills, but Tavain wanted to learn. I wanted to teach. When it came to lessons and patrols she listened. If I wasn’t around she pulled pranks.” The group was silent. “Tavain, come to the tent and show me the stuff you’ve collected.”

Tavain nodded and followed her brother into the tent. “I didn’t know if I could tell them or not,” she said as she unloaded her bag.

Tahlmus shrugged, “It’s ok, I wasn’t sure until I started to speak.” He emptied his pack as well and started going through everything they had collected. As he did, he would hand things to Tavain and tell her who to take them to. When he finished, he picked up the items he’d set aside for Morrigan, telling Tavain to sell the rest.

He walked over to Morrigan’s tent. “Tahlmus I thought…”

He cut her off, “I just brought you some different robes. These will provide a little more protection. Also, a pair of boots. They’ll be better for your feet.” He set them down next to her then walked back to his tent. Morrigan wanted to say something, but no words came.

“What are you doing?” asked Tavain as she walked back into the tent having finally finished trading with Bohdan.

“I found some blank journals. I’ve decided to do as dad did and keep some journals. Write down our history, and all the spelled I’ve learned, and tricks to those spells… you know in case I ever have a son I could pass them down to.”

“You will,” she said confidently.

“I will what?”

“Have a son.”

“Wouldn’t that require me to bond with someone first?”

“You won’t have a problem with that big brother. You’ve already had two women throw themselves at you and you have one playing hard to get.”

“I think I’m glad she’s playing hard to get,” he said as Tavain giggled. “So… what is up with you and Alistair?” he asked.

“Let’s just say…” she paused thinking of how to phrase it, “he’s like you and I’m like Morrigan.”

Tahlmus understood the comparison. He also knew she would probably treat Alistair as she had Tamlen. “Do you really like him? Or just enjoy playing hard to get?”

“I do enjoy playing hard to get, but I think he’s pretty cute. Not quite as annoying as…”

Tavain was interrupted by a shriek. Both her and Tahlmus ran out of the tent. Wraith and shriek demons were terrorizing the camp.

“What the…”

“Big brother, didn’t you sense this?” asked Tavain as she took out her bow.

“No… I didn’t,” he responded as he used his magic against the demons. “I have an uneasy feeling about this though,” he said as he watched Alistair kill off the last wraith.

“What’s wrong big brother?”

“Come with me.” Tavain took off after Tahlmus as he ran towards the edge of camp. Everyone else had settled back into their spots.

“Tahlmus what’s…” her voice trailed off. “T… Tamlen,” she stuttered.

“Lethaleen, please…”

“Tamlen, you’re alive?” questioned Tahlmus. He thought the figure looked more ghostly and dead than alive.

“Please lethaleen, you must do off with me.”

“Don’t say that,” Tavain’s voice sounded strained. “We can help you. Tahlmus… he… he can cure you.”

“No… the pain… it’s too much.”

“Please let me try Tamlen. It is my fault you are like this. Please let me help.”

“It is not your fault. You were a good friend and an even better mage. I should have listened,” Tamlen paused. “Tavain,” his raspy voice seemed to get softer, “I would have been honoured to bond with you whenever you would have been ready.”


“Please end this… or I will force you to.”

“No… Tamlen…” started Tavain. She could feel her heart breaking again.

“It would be merciful,” replied Tahlmus as he hung his head. “Go back to camp Tavain.”

“But big brother…”

“Go. Please,” he said. Tahlmus had always known Tavain’s true feelings for Tamlen. He couldn’t let her watch what he was about to do. Tavain took one last look at Tamlen before slowly walking back to camp. She didn’t get far before getting stopped by Morrigan and Alistair.

“Tamlen are you sure you won’t let me try to help you?”

“Always the protector,” replied Tamlen.

“It was my job, wasn’t it? I was older.”

“The keeper was right in choosing you as an apprentice. Please lethaleen, end this for me.”

Tahlmus swallowed the lump in his throat, “As you wish, Tamlen.” He withdrew a single small dagger he kept hidden in his robes for emergencies. He walked up close to Tamlen, “I’m sorry,” he whispered as he plunged the blade through his best friend’s heart. “I’m so sorry,” he said again as he watched the body fall to the ground. He kneeled and pulled the dagger out. He cast a spell so his friend’s body would sink into the ground. Looking at the dagger in disgust, he muttered a few words. The dagger turned to dust.

He turned back towards camp. He noticed Morrigan, Alistair, and Tavain standing on the edge of camp watching him. He walked towards them.

“What happened?” asked Alistair.

“It was an old friend,” replied Tahlmus as evenly as he could. “He had been tainted by the darkspawn. I did as he asked. I ended his suffering.”

“Are you ok?” asked Morrigan.

Tahlmus took a deep breath, “Yes, I’m fine,” he replied hoping his eyes didn’t reveal how he truly felt.

Alistair nodded, and walked back to his tent. Morrigan gave him a kiss on the cheek, before going back to her own tent. Tavain stood there studying him. “He’s good,’ she thought. If she wouldn’t have been looking for some sign that he was lying, she wouldn’t have been able to tell.

“What’s on your mind Tavain?” he asked noticing how intently she was looking at him.

“You lied.”

He motioned towards their tent. “Yes,” he said, “I lied. I’m not exactly fine, but it’s nothing to get anyone excited about.”

“All those times in the forest… when you sent Tamlen and me back to the camp…”

“I wasn’t as together as I let you guys believe.”

“Big brother why…” her words drifted off as they entered the tent.

“Because,” he replied, closing the tent flap, “I was the oldest. I was supposed to be watching over and protecting you. You didn’t need to be burdened with my emotions.”

“You were always there for me… I could tell you anything…”

“You still can, that hasn’t changed,” he replied sensing his sister’s need to talk.

“Seeing Tamlen tonight… well… it… it reminded me…”

“That you really did like him. That you would have bonded with him when you were ready, and not when you were told to.”

“Yes… how did you know?”

“I’ve always known,” he replied putting a hand on her shoulder. “Are you ok?” he asked.

His sister looked at him with sad eyes. “Could you have cured him big brother?”

Tahlmus slowly shook his head no. “I think he was too far gone. I would have tried everything I knew to try and save him, had he agreed to it.”

“So… what we… what you did… was for the best?”

“It was for the best,” he confirmed softly.

Tavain gave him a sad smile. “I’ll be ok,” she replied. “Knowing it was all we could do helps,” she replied as she tried to stifle a yawn.

“Go to sleep now,” he said pulling a blanket up over her.  “We have a big day tomorrow.”

“Ok big brother, but this time you sleep too.” She gave him a big hug.

“I will,” he replied. He finished tucking her in before he crawled under his own covers.

Chapter 19

Tahlmus woke with a start. Panting, and dripping with sweat, he produced a small flame in his hand. Tavain was still sleeping. He crawled out of the tent. Looking up at the sky, he realized only a couple of hours had passed since he’d fallen asleep. There was some rustling inside the tent. His sister’s sleepy voice could be heard. “Tahlmus. Tahlmus come back.” He looked in on her, noticing her eyes were still closed. “Tahlmus,” her voice sounded more desperate. “Tahlmus don’t leave me. You promised.” There were tears on her cheeks, but her eyes were still closed. He gave her a little shake.

“Tavain,” he whispered. “Tavain wake up, you’re having a bad dream.”

Her eyes popped open. “Tahlmus,” she said, relief written all over her face.

I’m right here,” he replied.

She hugged him, ‘that was the worst dream ever.”

As she finished her sentence, the siblings heard the unnatural swishing of the grass outside their tent. Tahlmus motioned for Tavain to stay still. He slowly poked his head out the tent flap. “Morrigan? What are you doing up here?”

The figure turned to face him. From the light of the moon, he could tell that Morrigan seemed to look relieved. “Tahlmus, you’re still here,” she said, the relief was evident in her tone.

“Yes, I’m here…”

“Can I join you in your tent? I don’t think I can fall back asleep myself.”

“I… I guess, but you know Tavain’s…” he watched Morrigan half crawl, half scramble into the tent, “in here too,” he finished more to himself than to her.

“I know,” she replied, but I had a dream… you went to kill Flemeth by yourself. She killed you then took me….” Morrigan’s breathing became more labored as she spoke. “It was so real… I had to check on you.”

Tahlmus wrapped his arms around her and whispered, “I’m still here, it’s ok,” several times into her ear.

“Y… you died in my dream too,” came Tavain’s panicky voice. “Except we went to Denerim, and Loghain’s men were waiting. You sacrificed yourself to save the rest of us.”

Tahlmus took one arm away from Morrigan wrapping it around Tavain. He held both of them as close to him as he could. He whispered, “they are just bad dreams. I’m still here and I’m not going anywhere.”

He soon heard slow deep breathing from them. “Never would have guessed I’d have this problem,” he thought, as he looked first at Morrigan then at Tavain. The two girls slept soundly the rest of the night in his arms. Tahlmus, however, didn’t sleep at all. He ran their dreams through his head, trying to think of every possible situation, its outcome, and any precautions that could be taken. He was still thinking when he saw the first light appear through the small hole between the tent and the ground.

He heard movement outside. He gently shook Tavain and Morrigan. “It’s morning you two,” he said softly. They both looked very groggy. “Let’s get everything around so we can start out. We have a lot to do today.” Both girls nodded and crawled out of the tent ahead of Tahlmus.

“Tavain, will you help me take down my tent? I’m not awake enough yet to do it on my own.” Tavain looked at Morrigan confused, but she was too tired to say anything.

Tahlmus magically packed up the tent, then went around helping the others finish up. Once everything was packed up, he got the groups attention. “Alright,” he said, “we have an extra errand to run, so we’re going to split up.” Everyone just nodded. “Morrigan, Sten and Leliana will travel on to Denerim. Ask around, find Genetivi’s house, and then wait for the rest of us at the tavern.” The three gave an affirmative nod of the head. “Alistair, Wynn, Tavain, and Chewy, you’re with me.” He carefully cast a spell on Leliana as he had promised Morrigan, and the two groups set off in different direction.

“Where are we going big brother?”

“We are going to Flemeth’s hut.”

“Why?” asked Alistair.

“She’s an abomination that must be killed.”

“Are you sure big brother? She did help us.”

“I’m sure,” he replied.

Tavain wasn’t satisfied with her brother’s answer. If Flemeth was an abomination he  should have sensed it when they first met. “Of course,” she thought, “he could have, but knew better to just leave well enough alone.” She decided to interrogate him later.

“Does Morrigan know?” asked Wynn.

“She does… we discussed it last night.”

“So we’re doing Morrigan’s bidding,” thought Tavain. She began wondering about Morrigan’s true feelings towards Tahlmus. One minutes she didn’t want him around. The next she cared for him, and now Tahlmus was doing something for her. “Maybe she’s just using him,” she muttered to herself.

“What was that Tavain?”

“Nothing big brother.”

Tavain hoped he hadn’t been cued into her thoughts. The group reached the hut by mid-morning. “So do we have a plan?” whispered Alistair.

“I put shields and healing spells around you, and just keep attacking. Most likely she will turn into a dragon. You and chewy will get behind her and attack from there. Tavain and Wynn will get as far to the side as possible and I will try to keep her focused on me.”

“Are you sure that’s the best way?” asked Wynn.

“It’s the only way,” replied Tahlmus thinking of the dream that had woken up him earlier. “Now I’m going to transport you exactly where I will want you for the battle. I will approach Flemeth by myself.”

“Big brother, is that…”

“I was up most of the night thinking about it,” he squeezed her shoulder. “It will be ok.”

Tavain shook her head, “let’s do it then.”

Tahlmus cast a spell to send the group to their positions. Then he approached Flemeth’s hut alone. Flemeth looked up from her work as he got near. “So, Morrigan has you dancing to her tune does she?”

“I don’t dance to anyone’s tune, but my own,” replied Tahlmus.

“Ah, but you would not be here had she not asked you.”

“I know your secret Flemeth, the one on how you’ve survived so many years.”

“I see, and how shall this end?”

“With you dead.”

Flemeth laughed, “Tis not a smart choice to try to take me on your own.”

“It’s my only choice.”

“I’ll give you another one,” spoke Flemeth, “take my grimoire tell Morrigan that I am slain.”

“So that you can take her later? No, I don’t think so. I cannot let that happen.”

“So much certainty and emotion in your voice. You’ve fallen hard young lad. Do you think it wise to be in love?” Tahlmus did not respond.  “If its’ a fight you desire… a fight is what you’ll get.” Flemeth walked up the small hill and changed shape to a dragon.

Tavain had to blink twice to focus on Flemeth. She had seen this form before.  She started shooting her arrows as the rest of the group started to attack. Tavain took a mental note that Flemeth didn’t even notice that she was being attacked on all four sides. She was only paying attention to Tahlmus who was now curled into the side of the hill, under Flemeth who was now breathing fire. She tried to shout, but couldn’t voice anything. “Dammit Tahlmus,” she thought.

“You can’t make any noise,” she heard in her head, “otherwise my spell that has her keeping all of her attention on me would be broken. Just keep shooting. I’ll be alright.”

Tavain did as she was told. A few minutes later she saw Tahlmus appear on the dragon’s head. He sunk he blade deep into the neck. He pulled it out and did it a second time. This time Flemeth, still in dragon form, fell to the ground, slain. Tahlmus was sent topping off the small hill to his original position.

Tavain looted the dragon’s corpse before going to check on her brother. The others were already there. “You ok big brother? She asked as he brushed himself off.

“Ask me tomorrow morning,” he replied as he awkwardly walked towards the hut. He worked at picking the lock then made his way inside.

“Now if I were a grimoire where would I be?” asked Tahlmus.

“In a locked chest,” replied Tavain in her sing-songy voice as she held out the key she’d found on the dragon’s corpse.

Tahlmus smiled, “Twas a rhetorical question,” he replied, “but since you have the key, why don’t you try the chests.” Tavain did. She was able to open the first chest she tried. She pocketed the change she found, and handed the grimoire to Tahlmus.

Tahlmus nodded his thanks. “Alright, let’s go to Denerim.”

The group walked out of the hut and started the trek to Denerim.

“I wonder why Tahlmus sent us separate ways this time,” spoke Sten.

“You find this odd?” asked Morrigan over the muted gurgles from Leliana’s direction.

“He is just odd,” replied Sten. “Sending us to get mages and lyrium he knew we’d need before even entering the castle. I just can’t read him.”

“He’s a powerful mage,” shrugged Morrigan. “He sometimes knows how things will go before they happen.”

“He is definitely a different kind of mage,” replied Sten.

“That he is,” smiled Morrigan

“You smile quite often when you speak of him,” stated Sten.

“I do?”

“You like him in a way I cannot understand,” he replied. “Is that really wise?”

“It has not affected what we are doing. Has it?”

“It hasn’t… yet… no, and from what I’ve been able to deduce about him, it won’t.”

“So, what’s your problem with my liking him?”

“He’s an elf, you’re a human… is that not problem enough?” Leliana started making frantic motions; tapping both Sten and Morrigan as constantly as she could. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t speak. Morrigan found this just as annoying as her speech.

“What is wrong with you Leliana?” asked Sten, forgetting about his question to Morrigan.

“I can’t speak,” she replied.

“You just did,” stated Sten.

“I did, but… I couldn’t before. I tried to ask Morrigan about Tahlmus but nothing would come out,” said Leliana. Morrigan muttered under her breath. Sten then watched Leliana’s lips move, with no sound. He was about to say something to Morrigan, but they had entered Denerim. His thoughts quickly changed to the task at hand.

“Where should we go first?” he asked.

“We’ll find the tavern. Someone there should know Genetivi,” replied Morrigan. They found the tavern, and convinced the bar tender to tell them where Brother Genetivi lived. Then the group found a booth to sit down at, and waited for the others.

“Oh, big brother,” sang Tavain a little over halfway through their journey.

“Yes, Tavain?”

“Morrigan asked you to kill Flemeth didn’t she?”


“Why? Flemeth saved us.”

“Because taking over her daughter’s body is how she’s stayed alive for so many years. She would or could have taken over Morrigan’s body at any time.”

“Is that what Morrigan told you? Or what you know?”

“Little bit of both,” he replied.  “I had my suspicions in our first encounter.”

“Don’t you think Morrigan could be lying? That she was just using you to get rid of Flemeth?”

“What are you implying Tavain?”

“Nothing… I just… I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

“A couple of nights ago you were all for it.”

“That was before we fought Flemeth.”

“Now you think she’s just using me?”

“Yes… I mean no… I…” Tavain felt flustered. Killing Flemeth made her leery of Morrigan; even with Tahlmus admitting to having had his doubts about Flemeth to start with.

“I’ve given some thought to your line of thinking,” he replied. “I’m hoping I am wrong.”

“You’re never wrong,” Tavain replied.

“I’ve never been in love before.”

“Just be careful big brother.”

Tahlmus tasseled Tavain’s hair, “Don’t worry about me,” he smiled, “you just make sure you keep that templar in line.” She grinned at him.

“Are you talking about me?” asked Alistair. Tavain giggled and Tahlmus laughed.

“I think there’s been enough talk,” replied Tahlmus as the group entered the Denerim gates. “Let’s stay alert. Find the city’s tavern.” The group nodded and wandered through the city. When they found the tavern, Tahlmus told them to stay outside while he went to get the others.

“So,” Sten started, “about you and Tahlmus,” he looked at Morrigan.

“Didn’t we go over this already?”

“Yes, but you’re a human, he’s an elf.”

“It could seem a bit odd, for an outsider, but tis not unheard of. I also find him more charming than any human man I have met.”

Tahlmus smiled at her comment. “She seems to genuinely like me,” he thought.

“Hey,” Tahlmus said out loud. “You guys find Genetivi’s house?”

“We did,” smiled Morrigan. “Tis right across the street.”

“Let’s go shall we?”

Morrigan stood up, “Yes, lets.” The group crossed the street to Genetivi’s house. When no one answered his knock, Tahlmus walked right in.

“Can I help you?” asked a young man.

“We’re looking for brother Genetivi.”

“He’s not here.”

“Do you know where he is?”

“No, I do not.”

Tahlmus could tell the man was lying. “Who are you anyway?”

“Weylon, Genetivi’s assistant.”

Another lie. “Then you should have an idea where he is,” replied Tahlmus taking a step towards the man.

“Well, I’ve heard the knights that I’ve sent in Genetivi’s general direction, have been killed. I didn’t want to send you to your own death.”

“Part truth, part lie,” Tahlmus thought. He noticed a door near the back of the room. “Tavain go check out that back room,” he said in her head. Tavain squeezed his arm to let him know she understood. She slipped away. “Well,” said Tahlmus out loud, “Why don’t you tell me where you’ve sent them. I’m pretty good at taking care of myself.”

“I don’t know,” the man hesitated. “Haven,” he blurted out. “Brother Genetivi’s research led him to Haven.”

Tahlmus casually glanced towards the door. Tavain was standing there mouthing the word’s “dead body” to him. “So when I go to Haven, will I find Genetivi alive?”

“I… I don’t know,” the man stuttered, “I haven’t seen him since he left here.”

“Ok,” replied Tahlmus in a menacing voice. “Then can you tell me who’s body you’ve got in that back room.” He pointed towards the door.

“How did you…” the man paused when he saw Tavain standing in the doorway waving at him. He turned back to Tahlmus. The man took a swing at him. Tahlmus ducked, then landed a punch on the man’s jaw. The false Weylon fell to the ground and didn’t move. Tahlmus magically bound the man’s hands and feet moving him into the back room.

“You are just full of surprises,” said Morrigan.

“Where did you learn to throw a punch like that?” asked Alistair. “I didn’t think you could fight like that.”

Tahlmus grinned. “Let’s just say… getting beat up by your little sister can have its advantages.”

Everyone except Tavain looked confused, but they didn’t say anything. Tavain, however, spoke up, “Are we just going to leave him there big brother?”

“Kind of. I’m going to tell one of the guards we saw on our way in about him. I’ll let them take care of him.”

“What will we do after that?” asked Alistair.

“We will go to Haven.”

“That’s like a two day journey, and it’s almost mid-afternoon,” exclaimed Leliana, the spell keeping her silent had finally wore off.

“We won’t be walking,” replied Tahlmus as he walked back out into the street.

“Then how will we…” started Sten.

“Magic,” replied Tavain and Tahlmus together before Sten could finish his question.

“And we’re going to do this in the middle of Denerim?” asked Alistair.

“No, silly,” replied Tavain.

“We’ll walk a little ways from the city first,” finished Tahlmus. He walked up to a guard and told him about the man pretending to be Weylon. The guard promised to take care of him immediately.  The group proceeded to head out of Denerim. Tahlmus found a nice spot where no straggling travelers could see them.

“Alright,” Tahlmus took a deep breath, hoping he had enough strength to transport everyone. “Tavain, Morrigan, and Wynn hold onto my robes. Everyone else hold on to one of them. Chewy come here” The dog complied and Tahlmus placed a hand on the dogs head. “Everyone ready?” They all nodded. Tahlmus closed his eyes and a minute later the group was standing outside of Haven.

“That was…” Alistair couldn’t finish the sentence.

“I didn’t like it any better this time big brother.”

“How can you handle doing that?” asked Morrigan

“Lots of patience,” he replied. “Now, let’s go find us a mythical urn.” They walked up into the village.

“You will go no further,” spoke a guard.

“Is that so?” asked Tavain. Tahlmus placed a hand on her shoulder.

“We don’t like outsiders.”

“Do you know a Brother Genetivi?” asked Tahlmus

“Can’t say that I do.”

“We were told he came here,” responded Tavain.

“Well, I don’t know. The only person who might know is the revered father, but he’s preaching at the moment, and cannot be disturbed.”

“Mind if I do some trading in your store?”

“Fine, but that’s as far as you go.”

Tahlmus nodded, “Fair enough. Where might it be?”

“Just up the hill. Be quick about it.”

“You’re help is much appreciated,” replied Tahlmus. He headed off up the hill towards the store.

“What are you thinking big brother?”

“That this place is creepy.”

“What are we going to do?” asked Morrigan.

“Go to the store. I’ll haggle, Tavain will snoop, you will stand there looking beautiful, and everyone else will wait outside… watch for crazy people.”

“You expecting something to happen big brother?”

“Just got a bad feeling… it’s too quiet.” Tahlmus, Tavain, and Morrigan walked into the shop.

“You’re not from here are you?” asked the storekeeper as Tahlmus walked up to him. Morrigan stood a few feet behind him. Tavain slipped into the back room.

“Is it that obvious?” asked Tahlmus, amused by the storekeeper.

“Well, kind of, can I do anything for you?”

“Do you know a brother Genetivi?”

“Can’t say that I do.”

“Have you seen any knights from Redcliffe?”

The storekeeper hesitated. “No… Can’t say… that I have.”

“Bingo,” thought Tahlmus. “Alright,” shrugged Tahlmus, “mind if I look at some of your wares?”

“Sure.” As Tahlmus perused through the weapons, and armour, Tavain found herself looking at a half decomposed body. She looked at the material around the corpse. It looked like the kind of stuff the Arl’s knights wore. She slipped back into the main room, and stood behind Morrigan as Tahlmus finished with the storekeeper.

“Thank you for your help,” replied Tahlmus, feeling that Tavain was done with what she was doing. He turned and the group walked out the door. Outside they found the rest of their companions fighting against some of the villagers.

“Looks like you guys had fun,” Tahlmus said once they were finished.

“It was,” replied Alistair sarcastically.

“What did you find?” Tahlmus directed his question at Tavain.

“A decaying corpse, with Redcliffe clothing. I think he had been a knight.” Tahlmus stood deep in thought.

“What do we do now?” asked Sten.

Tahlmus looked around, “We find this male priest and hope Genetivi is still alive.” He pointed towards another hill. They met more villagers before getting to the town chantry. Tahlmus didn’t want to kill them, so he just stunned them long enough for the group to get into the chantry. The revered father was preaching to a group of people. Tahlmus walked right into the middle.

“What do you think you’re doing? Interrupting our service like this.”

“I need to speak with you revered father.”

“An outsider, and an elf at that. What makes you think I would stop preaching to talk to you?”

“Because if you don’t, the whole outside world will know your secrets.”

“What makes you think you will leave Haven alive?”

“There isn’t an alternative.” The fighting began. Tahlmus pulled out his blades, crackling with electricity. He blocked a few blows, then dispelled the energy. All the enemies with blades, and the revered father dropped to the ground dead. The other villagers started to panic, and ran back outside.

“What just happened?” asked Leliana looking around at the bodies on the floor.

“Why can’t you do that every time we fight?” asked Alistair.

“Do what?” asked Sten.

“Sometimes,” spoke Tavain, “Tahlmus can link the lives of humans to the electricity he likes to enchant his blades with.”

“So then…” Leliana didn’t finish her thought.

“So when he gets rid of the electricity the ones providing the energy die,” said Morrigan. Sten nodded. Leliana seemed to be in shock.

“Still not answering my question,” said Alistair.

“It takes more energy than it looks,” replied Tahlmus. “And for some reason it works better with humans, than any other race. Never have figured out why,” he said a little softer. “With that being said, let’s try to find Genetivi.”

The others started looking around the main room and the room off to the left. Tahlmus found himself staring at a stone wall to the right. “Usually a chantry has chambers on either side of the main room,” he thought to himself. He then muttered a few words, while tapping on the wall. Some of the stones then moved away, revealing an open doorway. Tahlmus walked through. He found a man lying on the floor.

“Have you come to finish me off? Please just get it over quickly.”

“I’m not here to hurt you,” replied Tahlmus. “Are you Brother Genetivi?”

“Who are you then?” asked the man as he tried to sit up and look at Tahlmus.

“My name is Tahlmus. I’m a Grey Warden. I came to Haven looking for Brother Genetivi.”

“An elf… as a Grey Warden? There’s something you don’t see every day. Yes I am in fact Brother Genetivi. My quest for the Sacred Urn of Ashes led me here. These people locked me in here, and I heard them talking about killing knights from Redcliffe.”

“I seek the Urn so I might heal the Arl. Is it in fact here?”

“Yes, just a little further up the hill, but you need the revered father’s medallion. It is the key.”

“You mean this thing?” asked Tavain who had just entered the room.

“Yes, that is your key. Who are…”

“That is my sister, now tell me how to use this thing.”

“No, I must go with you. Please… I am so close. I must go with you.”

Tahlmus looked Genetivi over. He had a bad foot and wouldn’t be able to make the journey easily. “You’re injured,” he said, stating the obvious.

“Yes, but if you let me lean on you, I’m sure I could make it.”

The man was dedicated; Tahlmus had to give him that. “Alright then…” he knelt down by Genetivi, circled his hand over Genetivi’s ankle, while muttering a few words.

“What are you…”

“Try to stand now,” replied Tahlmus.

Genetivi stood. He found no pain in his ankle. He was able to put his weight on it just fine. “Maker, you’re a mage.” Tahlmus rolled his eyes.

“Can we just get going?” demanded Tavain. “We’re losing light and I would like to get this done before complete exhaustion sets in.”

Genetivi looked at the young female elf, “We’ll leave now then.”

Tahlmus tosseled Tavain’s hair as they followed Genetivi. “When did you get so good at giving orders?” he joked.

“Hanging around my big brother has its advantages,” she replied with a slight sarcastic tone.

Tahlmus laughed at his sister’s remark. “Now she’s mocking me,” he thought, “definitely have to finish this so she can sleep.”  He motioned for the others to follow Genetivi as he led them up yet another hill to an old ruin.

“Alright,” he said, “give me the medallion.” Tahlmus nodded, and Tavain handed it over. They watched the man manipulate it to look like a key. He then was able to unlock the door. Genetivi pushed it open and led the way in. He was awestruck, and started muttering to himself.

“Brother Genetivi…” said Tahlmus, trying to get his attention. “Genetivi” he said a little louder.

“Huh? Oh I was taken in by this vast beauty.”

“You need to stay alert.”

“Yes, but…” his voice trailed off. “I must begin taking notes, studying…” he said more to himself than to Tahlmus.

Tahlmus could tell Genetivi would be of no further use. “Sten, Leliana, Alistair, and Chewy stay here. Make sure Genetivi doesn’t get into any trouble. Tavain, Wynn, Morrigan… let’s go find some ashes.”

Everyone gave an affirmative shake of their head. Tahlmus then set off to go deeper into the old ruin. As the group made their way through the ruin, people Tahlmus could only assume to be cultist, attacked them. They finally entered what Tahlmus could presume as to be the final room of the old ruin. A group of men better armoured than the rest of those they had fought, stopped them.

“You have murdered our brethren and defiled the temple,” the leader said.

“I didn’t want to kill them,” replied Tahlmus. “I’m just trying to find the Sacred Urn of Ashes. I need them to cure the Arl of Redcliffe. Who are you?”

I am Kolgrim, the leader of the disciples of Andraste.”

“I am Tahlmus, a Grey Warden.”

“A Grey Warden eh? Yes… I see. You could get to the Ashes. If you help us, all your transgressions here in the temple will be forgiven.”

“Help you do what?” asked Tahlmus slowly.

“You take this vial of blood and pour it into the ashes. This will free our beloved Andraste and she will be able to live again.”

“But I need the ashes to cure a sick man.”

“You only need a pinch for that. Do this and you will receive unlimited power.”

“This man is delusional, and dangerous,” whispered Wynn. “You should not do as he asks.

“But more power is always a good thing,” whispered Morrigan.

“It is dangerous,” whispered Wynn again.

“Where are the ashes?” asked Tahlmus.

“You go through that door,” Kolgrim pointed to his left, Tahlmus’ right. “Cross the bridge and go into the other temple. There you will find the one who guards the ashes. You seem good enough to be able to get past him and to the Urn.  So do we have a deal?”

Tahlmus mulled the situation over in his head. He didn’t want to defile the sacred ashes if they were indeed real, but he didn’t want to kill any more people; which is what he would have to do if he refused the deal.

“I’ll do it,” replied Tahlmus. He heard Wynn muttering, what sounded like an excited squeak out of Morrigan, and he knew Tavain would be smiling and shaking her head.

“That is great friend. Here is the vial of blood. When you reach, the ashes take a pinch for yourself to heal your Arl. Then dump the vial into Urn, and you’ll be rewarded with power beyond your imagination.”

Tahlmus accepted the vial and slipped it into his robes. Kolgrim nodded towards the door, Tahlmus nodded to him and then went on his way, the others following silently. Once outside a dragon flew over their heads. They took cover by some old crumbled pillars. Tahlmus hoped they hadn’t been noticed. He wasn’t up for fighting two dragons in one day. The dragon landed on a ledge a little ways away. It curled up as if it were resting. It seemed safe, so Tahlmus motioned for the others to follow him.

“I can’t believe you made a deal with that man,” hissed Wynn, when they were halfway across the bridge.

“Easy Wynn,” replied Tavain. “Tahlmus was lying; which by the way big brother is not a good thing to be teaching your little sister.” Tahlmus laughed.

“But he took the vial.”

“You mean this vial?” Tahlmus pulled the vial he had taken from Kolgrim and showed it to Wynn. It was empty, the glass slowly disintegrated in his hand. Wynn gaped.

“How did you know he was lying?” asked Morrigan who was now facing Tavain.

“His fingers,” replied Tavain as if it was the most obvious thing one could see.

“I… see,” said Morrigan as she followed Tavain through the door Tahlmus was holding open.

Tahlmus led the group through the hallway into a great room. In that room stood a man in full armor. As Tahlmus approached him, he spoke, “I bid you welcome pilgrim.”

“Uh… hi,” replied Tahlmus. “Who are you?”

“I am the Guardian, the protector of the Urn of Sacred Ashes. I have waited years for this.”

“Years for what?” asked Tavain.

“It has been my duty, my life, to protect the urn and prepare the way for the faithful, who come to revere Andraste. For years beyond counting have I been here, and shall I remain until my task is done and the Imperium has crumbled into the sea.”

“How is it you’ve lived so long?” asked Tahlmus in slight awe of the man in front of him.

“I made a vow to Andraste and the maker. My life is tied to the ashes. As long as they remain, so will I.”

“So… How do I get to the urn?” asked Tahlmus.

“You must prove yourself worthy.”

“And I do that by … fighting you?”

“It is not my place to decide your worthiness.”

“Then how…” Tavain words trailed off.

“The Gauntlet does that. If you are found worthy, you will see the urn, and be allowed to take a small pinch of ashes for yourself. If not…”

“So the Gauntlet…” this time Tahlmus’ words trailed off.

“The Gauntlet tells the true pilgrims from the false,” replied the Guardian.

“How does it do that?” asked Tavain.

“You will undergo 4 tests of faith, and we shall see how your soul fairs.”

“Tests?” questioned Tahlmus.

“You will understand what it is when you face it.”

“Well then, may we go through this gauntlet?” asked Tahlmus.

“Before you go there is something I must ask. I see the path that led you here was not easy. There is suffering in your past. Your suffering and the suffering of others. You were able to pull your sister away from the mirror, but did not reach your friend Tamlen in time. Tell me Pilgrim, did you fail Tamlen?”

Tahlmus hung his head and swallowed the lump in his throat, as an image of Tamlen popped into his head. “I did fail him. I should have never let us go into that ruin. I was the oldest and should have known better.” Tavain placed a hand on her brother’s shoulder. He already knew what she had to say on the matter, it didn’t need to be said.

“Is there any religion that does not thrive upon guilt like a glutton at his lunch? No? I thought not,” said Morrigan.

“We must accept our failings, but not let them run our lives,” spoke Wynn.

“That is all I wanted to know,” replied the Guardian. “And what of those that follow you?”

“Ask your question Guardian, I am ready,” responded Wynn.

“You are a worthy advisor, ready with a word of wisdom. Do you wonder if you spout only platitudes burned into your mind in the distant past? Perhaps you are a tool used to spread the word of the circle and the chantry. Does doubt ever chip away at your truths?”

“You frame the statement in the form of a question, yet you already know our answers. There is no sense in hiding is there? Yes, I do doubt at times, only the fool is completely certain of himself.”

“You, Morrigan, Flemeth’s daughter, what…”

“Be gone spirit, I will not play your games,” interrupted Morrigan.

“I will respect your wishes. And Tavain, younger sister to the leader standing before me. Your brother gave up his childhood after your parents were killed to raise you. Do you blame yourself for this?”

Tahlmus turned to face his sister, “Certainly she cannot blame herself for that,” he thought.

“I know now that it might not have mattered, but Tahlmus sacrificed a lot to raise me the way our parents would have wanted… He was powerful enough. He could have helped our parents, but because I didn’t listen he didn’t get that option, because all I wanted to do was play in the dirt.” she finished in a barely audible whisper.

“The way is open. Good luck and may you find what you seek,” said the Guardian before disappearing. The door he had been standing in front of opened up.

“Tavain, you know…”

“Let’s just go,” she interrupted. “We have four tests to go through.” Tahlmus followed his sister through the door. He saw spirits in each little cove.

“What is this?” asked Tavain.

“I’m not sure,” replied Tahlmus as he walked up to the spirit on his right. When he got close to it, the spirit started speaking, startling Tahlmus. “The smallest lark could carry it, while a strong man might not.” Tahlmus just stood there bewildered.

“A tune,” replied Tavain without thinking.

“Yes,” replied the spirit. “I was Andraste’s dearest friend in childhood and always we would sing. She celebrated the beauty of life and all who heard her would be filled with joy. The maker himself was moved by Andraste’s song and then she sang no more of simple things.” The spirit disappeared.

“Well,” said Tahlmus. “I guess we have to answer riddles.”

“Let’s go to the next one then,” replied Tavain. Tahlmus nodded and they made their way to the next spirit.

“Echoes from a shadow realm, whispers of things to come; thoughts stranger sister dwells in night, is swept away by dawning light. Of what do I speak?”

“Dreams replied Tahlmus.

“A dream came upon me, as my daughter slumbered beneath my heart. It told of her life and her betrayal and death. I am sorrow and regret. I am a mother weeping bitter tears for a daughter she could not save.” The spirit vanished.

Tavain walked up to the next one. “I’m neither a guest nor a trespasser be. In this place I belong that belongs also to me. Of what do I speak?”

“A home,” she replied.

“It was my dream for the people to have a home of their own, where we would have no masters but ourselves. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and thus we followed Andraste against the Imperium. But she was betrayed and so were we.”

“Your turn big brother,” said Tavain as the spirit faded.

Tahlmus nodded, walking to the next spirit. “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The debt of blood must be paid in full. Of what do I speak?”

“Vengeance,” replied Tahlmus thinking of how he had first felt when he saw Murdock at Redcliffe.

“I am justice. I am vengeance. Blood can only be paid in blood. My husband Hessarian would have chosen a quick death for Andraste. I made him swear that she would die, publicly with her war leaders, that all would know the Imperium’s strength.” Tahlmus turned and noticed Tavain was already off to the next one.

“The bones of the world stretch towards the sky’s embrace. Veiled in white, like a bride greeting her groom. Of what do I speak?”

Tavain’s first thought was trees, “but they aren’t white,” she muttered. She got a chill, and thought it was too cold here in the mountains. “That’s it,” she mumbled. “Mountains,” she voiced aloud.

“Yes, I carried Andrasate’s ashes out of the Tevinter into the mountains to see the east where she could gaze ever into her maker’s sky. No more fitting a tomb than this could we find.” Tahlmus smiled as he went to get his next riddle.

“A poison of the soul, passions cruel counterpart, from love she grows, til love lies slain. Of what do I speak?”

Several emotions came to his mind, but none made sense. He then thought of the poisonous look Morrigan gave when the barmaid had given him a hug. “Jealousy,” he replied.

“Yes, jealousy drove me to betrayal. I was the greatest general of the Alamarri, but beside her I was nothing. Hundred fell before her on bended knee. They loved her, as did the Maker. I loved her too, but what man can compare with a god.”

“Last one for me,” Said Tavain walking up to the last spirit on the right.

“She wields the broken sword and separates true kings from tyrants. Of what do I speak?”

Tavain muttered the words over and over to herself. An image of Redcliffe popped into her head; where, she remembered, Tahlmus had the power to allow harm to come to the shemlen, but took the harm himself. “Mercy,” she finally replied.

“I could not bear the sight of Andraste’s suffering and mercy bade me end her life. I am the penitent sinner who shows compassion as he hopes compassion may be shown to him.” Tahlmus was impressed. He hoped he’d be able to finish it off.

“No man has seen it, but all men know it. Lighter than air, sharper than any sword. Comes from nothing, but would fell the strongest armies. Of what do I speak?”

Tahlmus’ stomach rumbled. “Hunger,” he replied. “Like right now,” he thought.

“Yes, hunger was the weapon used against the wicked men of the Tevinter Imperium. The maker kindled the suns flame, scorching the land. Their crops failed and their armies could not march. Then he opened the heavens and bade the waters flow, and washed away their filth. I am Cathoire, disciple of Andraste and commander of her armies. I saw these things done, and knew the maker smiled on us.”

Tahlmus heard a click, and the scraping of an opening door. “You two were quite impressive,” spoke Morrigan. Tahlmus shrugged and headed towards the door. Tavain followed with Wynn and Morrigan at her heels. Tahlmus and Tavain stopped abruptly after the door closed behind them. Morrigan and Wynn almost ran them over.

“Tahlmus… Tavain, you both look so grown up.”

“M… mom,” stuttered Tahlmus.

“You’re as handsome and beautiful as we’d hoped you’d be.”

“Daddy,” said Tavain her voice slightly strained.

“Tahlmus, hunny, where did you get that scar?”

“F… from a battle… a…at Redcliffe,” he managed to reply to his mother’s question.

“Why did you leave us?” cried Tavain.

“We had to sweetheart,” replied Theron.

“No, you didn’t,” she shouted.

“Tavain’s right… if you knew we had to be Wardens… why couldn’t you have lived and made certain decisions after that so it still would have happened? Tavain would have learned more from you…”

“Tahlmus could have had a childhood instead of watching over me!” Tavain was still shouting.

Tahlmus is partially right,” Theron said. “We could have lived and you could have still been Grey Wardens. But there wouldn’t have been a village to save at Redcliffe. Tahlmus would not be the leader that he is. You’d be disorganized. You wouldn’t succeed in gathering an army. Our deaths made both of you strong enough to handle this daunting task.”

“What did I get wrong?” asked Tahlmus, the lump in throat making his voice higher pitched.

“You were the best teacher for Tavain. She might not have listened to you, but she was always trying to be like her big brother,” replied Karia

“My big brother always knew how to do the coolest things,” whispered Tavain.

“Tahlmus having to raise you is not your fault Tavain. It was our decision. Even had you listened to him that day, it still would have ended this way,” spoke Theron. He knelt and took Tavain’s hand. “This is how it had to be, sweetheart. I hope one day you’ll understand.”

“We’ve missed you,” whispered Tahlmus, as he watched his dad stand again, longing to hug him.

“Here is a keepsake,” said Karia, as she handed Tahlmus a necklace. “Use it well.”

“Thank you,” started Tahlmus softly.

“We must go now,” said Theron.

“No, please…” started Tavain.

“One last thing,” said Karia, as she placed her hands on Tahlmus’ shoulders.  “Tavain was right Tahlmus. We do approve.”   Karia walked back to Theron, who nodded before they disappeared.

“Don’t go…” Tahlmus whispered softly. He looked down at the necklace, it was a locket. On the inside were two pictures; one of Theron and one of Karia. He turned to Tavain, then carefully put it around her neck. “You should have it,” he whispered.

“Why are you giving it to me?” she asked in a whisper. Neither of them could speak any louder.

“I have my blades, and my staff. The last gifts I received. This is for you.”

“But mom gave it to you, not me.”

Tahlmus cocked his head slightly at Tavain, “She’s always said mommy before,” he thought. “Because,” he said to her, “they knew you’d just give it to me. They gave it to me, to make sure it got to you.”

Tavain wrapped Tahlmus in a hug, “I’m sorry,” she said into his neck.

“We’ll talk later,” he whispered to her. “Let’s go get us some ashes now, shall we?”

Tavain nodded and the two walked on to the next room. Wynn wanted to ask more questions of the siblings about their parents. Morrigan wanted to ask Tahlmus about the last thing his mother had said. Both, however, followed the siblings silently to the next room. In this room they found spirits of themselves. These spirits attacked them. It was a difficult battle, but they were able to get rid of the spirits.

“Twas not what I was expecting,” spoke Morrigan after the last spirit was slain.

“Me neither,” agreed Tavain.

“Thankfully it is over with,” spoke Wynn.

“Let’s move on,” Tahlmus nodded towards the door.

Tavain went through first, “Big brother, I think we have a small problem.”

“That’s a small problem?” asked Morrigan who had followed Tavain.

Tahlmus walked in and saw the gaping hole in the middle of the floor. “Yeah,” he said a slight air of sarcasm in his voice, “that’s only a small problem.”

“These designs on the floor are pretty to look at thought,” said Tavain as she stepped on one.

Tahlmus heard a popping sound then saw a faint outline of a stone piece suspended in the air. “Uh… Tavain don’t move.”

She cocked her head, but didn’t move from her spot. She watched Tahlmus stand on a few of the designs, shaking his head. “What’s wrong big brother?”

“I… Morrigan go stand on the design across from me.” He noticed her frowning at him, “please,” he added. She did as he asked. “And Wynn, stand on the one… 3 spaces… to my right, Morrigan’s left.” Wynn did so.

As the two had moved to their spots, Tahlmus heard the popping noise again, and the first piece of the bridge became solid. At least Tahlmus thought it was solid. He went over and stood on it. “Definitely solid,” he thought.

“How did you…?” asked Morrigan.

“Just a feeling,” Tahlmus replied. “But I can’t activate any of the pieces. Only you three can.”

“How do we know which ones to step on?” asked Tavain.

“Good question,” he replied. “Why don’t you go stand on another one and I’ll see if I get a feeling like I did this last time in where to ask Morrigan and Wynn to stand.”

“I can do that,” sang Tavain, as she skipped to another design. This was the second time she kind of had an answer to the puzzle before Tahlmus did. Tahlmus then moved Morrigan and Wynn to spots he felt would work with where Tavain was. They continued to do this until four solid stone pieces appeared.

“Is it safe to walk across?” asked Morrigan.

“Should be,” replied Tahlmus as he slowly walked across it. “Are you going to join me?” asked Tahlmus once he reached the other side. Morrigan, Wynn, and Tavain ran across the bridge to join Tahlmus.

Well, I believe that was three tests,” said Wynn slightly out of breath.

“So there’s only one left,” offered Morrigan.

“Let’s get this done,” replied Tavain a hint of excitement in her voice. Tahlmus smiled and nodded in agreement. He then led the way to the last room. There was an altar, and behind it a line of fire.

“Uh… big brother… that doesn’t look… good.”

“No,” he paused, “it doesn’t.” He made his way to the altar. There was an inscription on it. He read it silently to himself.”

“What are you thinking about big brother?”

He replied by reading the inscription, “Cast off the trapping of worldly life and cloak yourself in the goodness of spirit. King and slave, lord and beggar, be born anew in the maker’s sight.”

“And just what does that mean?” asked Morrigan.

“It is another riddle,” replied Wynn. “I am unsure of its meaning.”

“Well, I got an idea…” replied Tahlmus. “Let’s hope it works.” He removed his staff and his blades. He then removed his gloves, boots, socks and finally his robes. He then approached the flames.

“Big brother what are…” she paused as he turned around. He noticed Morrigan looking at him, and he felt himself turn red.

“I’ll be ok,” was all he could manage to say. “I hope I’ll be ok anyway,” he thought as he turned back towards the line of flames, “not like its intimidating or anything,” he muttered to himself. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and walked through the flames. He felt a cooling sensation wash over him. When he opened his eyes he was on the other side of the flames, unharmed.

“You have proven yourself worthy,” came the Guardian’s voice. “You may approach the urn and take a pinch of the Ashes.” Tahlmus turned to face the Guardian, but he was already gone. So were the flames.

“You might want to put these back on,” said Tavain, holding his clothing out to him. “Morrigan won’t stop staring at you.”

“I’m not staring …,” replied Morrigan, a slightly embarrassed smile crossed her lips. Tahlmus looked at the floor blushing. He quickly put his robes back on. He finished putting on his clothes then carefully sheathed his blades and staff before approaching the urn.

He read the inscription, “These are the earthly remains of Andraste, Prophet and Bride of the Maker,” before he placed a pinch of the Ashes into a small pouch. He then stowed the pouch in his robes before joining his companions.

“Let’s get back to the others,” he said. The three nodded. He led the way back across the mountain and into another door he spotted down a slight incline. The door had a hallway that led to the main hall, where Genetivi was still taking notes.

“Have any trouble?” asked Tahlmus.

“No,” replied Alistair, “it’s been pretty quiet, minus Genetivi’s mumbling.”

“You’re back,” Genetivi had almost shouted. “Did you… did you find the Urn?” Tahlmus opened his mouth to answer, but Genetivi kept right on talking. “What was it like? Coming up to the Urn I mean. Please tell me everything.”

“We did find the Urn,” replied Tahlmus, “but it wasn’t easy. You have to prove your faithfulness with four tests. And that’s after out thinking some very eccentric followers of Andraste.”

“That is amazing,” replied Genetivi. “I must go to the chantry with this. They have to believe me now. We need to have an expedition…”

“Brother Genetivi,” spoke Tavain, “I don’t think that would be a good idea. After the eccentric crazy people, there’s a dragon you have to get past, and then you have to prove yourself worthy. If you fail at that, you’re dead.”

“But the urn belongs to everyone. It should be available for all those that choose to seek it out.”

“Cast off the trapping of worldly life and cloak yourself in the goodness of spirit. King and slave, lord and beggar, be born anew in the maker’s sight,” recited Tahlmus.

“And what does that mean?” asked Genetivi.

“It means,” replied Tavain starting to get annoyed, “that you better think long and hard about this because if you don’t get it right, you’ll get burned.”

“Am I supposed to be intimidated by a child?” asked Genetivi looking directly at Tavain.

Tahlmus put his hand roughly on Genetivi’s shoulder, “Watch what you say about my sister,”

“Well, she is a child isn’t she? Isn’t that what a clean face indicates to you Dalish?”

“How do you know we’re Dalish?” asked Tahlmus.

“You’re markings. It took me a while, but there was another Dalish elf mage. I think his name was Theron. He told me what he knew of the urn. I thought he had just been trying to get rid of me, but I guess he was right.”

“When did you speak to this Theron,” demanded Tavain.

“I will not discuss the Urn with an immature child.”

Tahlmus squeezed Genetivi’s shoulder, “then discuss it with me,” he demanded in a low tone.

Genetivi winced in pain, “Alright…” he said. “I had been wandering the forest, chasing different leads for the urn. Theron, and I think it was his wife… Karia if I remember correctly… found me. I was terrified. I had never met a Dalish elf before, but had heard stories. They told me to leave, but I started sputtering about the urn. Theron shared with me knowledge that he said had been passed down in his family since the beginning of the Tevinter Imperium. I made a mental note of all he told me, and then ran to the nearest village. There I found a man named Murdock and a man named Perth. I told them of my encounter with the Dalish elves. They said they’d take care of the problem. Later that night after returning from the forest claiming victory, Murdock was made Mayor and Perth a knight.”

The missing links all fell into place for Tahlmus. He understood the importance of his parents’ deaths. He pushed Genetivi’s back up against the nearest wall, “You don’t deserve to see the Urn,” he spoke low, malice in his voice. “You don’t deserve to live. You are lucky that I do not care to have more blood on my hands today. Apologize to my sister and then run. Run back to Denerim, tell your precious chantry about the Urn. And I hope that if Kolgrim’s men don’t get you, the Gauntlet will.” He let go of Genetivi as he finished speaking. Genetivi said a quick apology to Tavain, then ran out the doors.

“That idiot, coward is the reason we don’t have parents,” Tavain was almost shrieking. Tahlmus couldn’t reply, he just stood there clenching and unclenching his fists. The group stood awkwardly looking at the siblings.

Finally, Tahlmus spoke, “Let’s go set up camp for the night.” The other agreed. The group walked out of the small town of Haven and continued until Tahlmus found a clearing he was satisfied with.

Chapter 20

Exhaustion was setting in on Tahlmus as he put up the tent. He forced the desire to sleep from his mind. He still had many things to do.


“Yes, Leliana.”

“Is it really that dangerous to try and view the urn?”

“Yes,” he replied. Seeing her crestfallen face he continued, “but if when this is over, you still want to go… I will tell you how to survive the gauntlet. You will just have to find some companions that really know how to wield their weapons.”

“You’d do that for me?”

“You have good intentions and a pure heart. You would not exploit or harm the Ashes as many others might.

Leliana was smiling now. She almost seemed giddy to Tahlmus. “Thank you,” she said before she turned and pranced back over to her tent. Tahlmus shook his head ever so slightly as he smiled. He walked over to speak with Alistair.

“What can I do for you?” asked the templar.

“I just wanted to apologize for not taking the time to stop at your sister’s place. I promise we will get there before we are forced to fight the arch demon.”

“It’s ok,” replied Alistair, “I was a little too nervous to point out her house as we passed it. Maybe I will have more nerve next time we are in Denerim.” Tahlmus nodded then turned towards where the fire should have been started. He saw Tavain sitting there, staring at the wood she had collected. He walked over to her.

“I can’t get it started,” she said before he was able to open his mouth. Something in her voice told him she wasn’t up for talking. He just bent over, and magically put stones in a circle around the wood he was arranging. Once the little pit was made, Tahlmus produced a flame in his hand, using it to start the fire.

“Thank you,” she said without looking at him.

Tahlmus noticed two dead squirrels beside her. “You will let me know when supper is ready?”

Tavain just nodded. Tahlmus turned and walked towards Morrigan’s tent. She looked to be having problems putting it up. “Do you need any help?” he asked.

“That would be nice,” she replied, the exhaustion apparent in her voice.

“Those bad dreams have to stop,” thought Tahlmus as he magically put up her tent.

“Thank you,” she said as he finished.

“You’re welcome,” he replied. “Do you mind if we talk?”

“No, but I would like to sit down. I’m tired.”

Tahlmus conjured a log for her to sit on. Then he conjured one for himself. “I just wanted to tell you that I don’t think you are horrible for wanting Flemeth dead. I might have been a little jealous that you were able to grow up with a mother… I would give anything to get my parents back, but Flemeth was evil. There wasn’t any way I was letting her take you.

“That makes me feel a little better,” she replied.

Tahlmus pulled out the grimiore, and handed it to Morrigan. “This is probably painfully obvious,” he started as she accepted the book, “but I like you a lot. Maybe more than I should. That being said, I’m going to make sure no one has even the slightest chance to harm you. I will protect you with my life,” He paused, unsure of what else to say.

Morrigan moved over to the log he was sitting on. “I like you too,” she said in a tone he had never heard before. He liked it. He also enjoyed the adrenaline rush he felt as her fingers traced the scar on his face. He looked into her eyes, a strong desire to kiss her overwhelming him. He leaned in and kissed her on the lips. He was pleased when he felt her kissing him back. Their lips parted and he was looking into her eyes when he heard a forced coughing noise. He turned to see Tavain standing there. He felt his face getting hot, and knew it was probably a shade brighter than his hair.

“Supper is ready,” Tavain said in her sing-songy voice.

“Alright,” Tahlmus replied. He had noticed Tavain’s voice had sounded forced. “I’ll be there in a minute,” he said, recognizing that his own voice was slightly higher than normal.

Tavain just nodded and walked away. Morrigan giggled. Tahlmus smiled and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be back with some food,” he told her.

Tahlmus walked to the main part of camp. He accepted the two bowls that Tavain handed to him. There was no sarcastic comment, or sly smile as she had held out the bowls. Tahlmus was worried now. “I should have talked to her first,” he thought as he walked back to Morrigan’s tent.

They ate in silence, but Tahlmus was fine with that. Just sitting next to her was enough to get his adrenaline flowing. Morrigan had to force herself to eat at a normal pace. She couldn’t shake the strong desire she felt for this young elf. Flemeth had sent her for a very specific task, she knew this, but she found herself falling in love with Tahlmus.

She had taken her last bite of stew as Tahlmus put his bowl on the ground beside the log. “How was it?” he asked her noticing she was finished.

“It was much better than that lamb stew,” she replied looking into his eyes, and seeing the same desire she was sure he saw in hers. “Tahlmus… would you… I mean I know I’ve asked before, then retracted it, but…” she went silent as he put his finger to her lips.

“I must speak with Tavain this evening,” he replied. “But the next time we stop for the night, I would love to spend the night with you.” He leaned in and kissed her before getting up and walking back toward the main camp. Morrigan was left speechless. She just watched him walk away, desiring the next night to arrive quickly.

Tahlmus didn’t see Tavain by the fire with everyone else, so he slipped into their tent. She wasn’t there either. He stepped out of the tent, concentrating on her. He sensed her presence in the nearby woods. He made his way through the woods, and found her sitting under a tree by a small creek. “Shouldn’t this be the other way around?” he asked.

“How did you find me?” asked Tavain wiping away the tears Tahlmus had just noticed.

“I’m a mage,” he replied. “You can never fully hide from me if I concentrate enough.”

“I thought you were busy with Morrigan,” Tahlmus winced from the harshness her tone had taken.

“Is that what is bothering you?” Me and Morrigan?”

Tavain sighed, “No, not really.”

“Then what’s wrong?” he asked as he took a seat next to her.

“Today was just… it was just…” she couldn’t finish as a fresh wave of tears flowed down her face.

“I know what you mean,” he replied as he used his robe to wipe the tears away.

“I know I shouldn’t blame myself, but…” she choked up as she finally turned to face him.

“When did you start?” he asked.

“I kind of started thinking everything was my fault that night Aunt Eria caught us and drug you home by your ear.”


“Because you were taking responsibility and getting punished because of me. If our parents would have been around, you wouldn’t have had to do that.”

Tahlmus studied his sister. “Of course I would have,” he said. You’re my little sister. I would have taken on the responsibility anyway.”

“But you would have had the option.”

“Nah, no option. A good big brother will always look out for his little sister.” He wrapped his arms around her. “When did you fully start?”

“After the incident with the mirror, and you weren’t waking up. Over those couple of days, I realized how much you took care of. I also realized I wasn’t ready. You hadn’t taught me enough.”


“Then we became the only surviving Grey Wardens. We know little to nothing about being Grey Wardens. We have to try to gatherer an army large enough to defeat the blight. You’ve taken on that responsibility, and the responsibility of looking out for everyone in this group. Keeping them alive. All I’ve done is act like a child and make it harder for you. You haven’t been able to act like a child since our parents died, and I just…” Tahlmus wrapped Tavain in a hug. “How many times did I play pranks, and get what I wanted, while you took the blame, went on patrols, and taught me lessons? How many times have you disappeared into the forest because the burden placed upon you has been too much, but you’ve shouldered it anyway because of me.”


“Genetivi was right I am a child. Duncan even thought I was more of a child than an adult. I’ve been selfish and ruined your life.”

“Tavain look at me,” he gently held onto her chin, and forced her to look at him. “You didn’t ruin my life, and you are not a child.”

“How can you say that?” Tavain felt a fresh wave of tears coming on.

“Dad had to start teaching me magic earlier than most mages in our family. He was teaching me spells well above my age level.  I grew in strength and power more rapidly than most mage children. I always had more responsibility than other elven children my age.” He paused for a minute. “It seems since mom and dad died I’ve dealt with a lot of extra stuff, but nothing I wouldn’t have had to do if they were alive. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”

“Not even for mom and dad to be alive?”

“I would love for mom and dad to be alive,” he replied, “but knowing now that we wouldn’t have been as successful as we have been… helps a little.”

“I definitely haven’t been any help.”

“Yes, you have Tavain. Do you remember when I started teaching you?”

Tavain nodded, “Right after mom and dad died.”

“You were the youngest one to start learning those types of skills. You learned them quicker and could spend more time perfecting them. You were the second youngest of the clan to serve on patrols.”

“I was only on patrols because you convinced the keeper to let me come along. I still have a clean face, the mark of a child. Admit it, even out here I’m just a child getting in your way.”

“I convinced the keeper to let you go on one patrol because I knew you had the skills. You proved you had the skills, which is why you were sent on others.” He pulled Tavain close to him. “The only reason you never received your facial tattoos is because the elders knew you wouldn’t bond with anyone soon afterwards.”

“You hadn’t bonded with anyone.”

“Because mages in our family never bonded with just anyone. The mages in our family always went out in search of our partner.”

“That doesn’t seem fair.”

Tahlmus chuckled, “Makes up for the extra responsibility.” This made Tavain laugh softly. Tahlmus was happy to hear her laugh, even if it had been soft and short. “As for the Grey Warden thing… You’ve shouldered more responsibility than you realize. You’ve kept me in line when I start to lose my cool.”

“Well, someone’s got to,” she said with a smile.

“Do you believe now, that none of this is anyone’s fault?”

“I think so big brother. I guess the best way to look at it, is just that the creators had already set our paths, and nothing we did could have changed it.”

“Wisely said sis. Shall we go back to camp and sleep?”

“Yes,” replied Tavain, “I’m exhausted and I got some sleep last night. I can only imagine how you feel.” The siblings got up and made their way back to camp. Tavain went directly to the tent to go to sleep, but Tahlmus hesitated. When he had glanced towards Morrigan’s tent, he had noticed she was still awake. He walked over to see her.

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping like everyone else?” he asked.

“I saw you go into the forest earlier… I was kind of waiting for you to return.”

Tahlmus sat down beside her. “Yes, Tavain had wandered off to be alone. Felt I had to find her after everything that happened today.”

“Is she alright? I saw that she came back with you….” Tahlmus noticed Morrigan’s eyes dancing in the dying embers of the fire.

“She is better now,” he replied as he stood up. “It’s time to get some sleep,” he said as he offered a hand to help Morrigan to her feet. He then walked with her to her tent. “Is the invitation still open?” he asked.

Morrigan smiled. “Yes,” she replied as she went into the tent, still holding on to Tahlmus’ hand. He let her pull him inside.

His stomach was fluttering. His adrenaline started to flow again, as Morrigan removed her robes. She motioned for him to do the same. Tahlmus complied willingly. The embarrassment of her seeing him this way was no longer an issue. It was the first time, though, that he had seen a female in only her undergarments. Tahlmus couldn’t take his eyes off her. Morrigan pulled him down onto the covers next to her. She rolled into him, and he held her close. He liked feeling her skin against his. She gave him a long, slow, gentle kiss before both of them fell asleep.

Chapter 21

Tahlmus awoke with Morrigan in his arms. It was a comforting feeling. He gave her a kiss on the cheek before getting up and putting on his robes. “Leaving already?” Morrigan asked as she rolled over to look at him.

He kneeled back down to kiss her. “It’s time to get everyone up,” he replied. “We have to journey to Redcliffe. It will take a good portion of the day.”

“But what if I just wanted to lay here with you for a little while?”

Tahlmus smiled. He liked the idea, but knew they couldn’t. “You’ll just have to wait until tonight,” he said before kissing her again. Morrigan groaned playfully, before tossing the covers off and putting on her robes. Tahlmus slipped on out of the tent so he could wake everyone else up. Everyone he woke up seemed slightly annoyed. Tahlmus could understand, it wasn’t light out yet, but there was a lot he wanted to get done.

He crawled into his own tent to find Tavain already awake. “Good morning big brother,” she said cheerfully. “Where have you been?” she asked with her normal sly smile.

This made Tahlmus smile. It was good to see his sister back to normal. “I…uh… was with Morrigan,” he replied.

“And you are up and about this early? Surprising.”

Tahlmus laughed, “Trust me I would have loved to stay where I was, but we need to get back to Redcliffe, cure the Arl, and then I would like to try to get to the Brecilian Forest.”

“Why will we go back there again?”

“Try to find our clan, or one of the sister clans. One of the treaties is for the Dalish elves.”

“All the other clans were more mobile than ours, but Merathari was moving everyone north because of the blight. Do you think we’ll be able to find any of the clans?”

Tahlmus smirked, “Come on sis, give me a little bit of credit.”

“Alright,” Tavain grinned, “but only a little.”

Tahlmus tosseled her hair. “Ok, out of the tent. I’m packing it up,” he said as he walked out. Tavain quickly followed. He packed up the tent and then had a look around. Everyone else was only part way done. “Well,” he said as he started to fidget.

“Someone’s a little impatient this morning.”

“Maybe a little,” he replied. “Not sure why,” he lied. He really wanted to find a Dalish clan and talk to the keeper about Tavain getting her facial tattoo. Tahlmus was sure, under the circumstances that they’d say yes.

“You do too,” said Tavain interrupting his thoughts.

“I do too what?” he asked as he cast a spell to finish packing everyone else’s stuff.

“Know why you are feeling impatient. You are a good liar brother, but I know your tells.” Tahlmus opened his mouth, but he didn’t get a chance to respond.

“That makes things easier,” said Alistair interrupting the siblings conversation.

“Well, we really need to get going,” Tahlmus replied. “I have a lot I want to get done today.”

“Lead the way then,” spoke Sten who had joined the group.

“Alright then,” said Tahlmus as he started walking towards Redcliffe.

The group travelled silently for quite a while. This gave Tahlmus plenty of time to sort out everything he had learned yesterday. He thought of how his parents wouldn’t have even been in the forest to see Genetivi that day if he’d only watched Tavain more closely so she couldn’t have taken all the wood of the family camped next to them. If he’d only gotten up sooner to help her. He wouldn’t tell Tavain about these thoughts; he didn’t want her to blame herself again.

“So, Tahlmus, I have a question about something I heard yesterday,” said Wynn. “I would have asked you last night but you disappeared.”

“You can ask now,” replied Tahlmus.

“It was about something the spirits of your parents said. What did they mean when they said they approved?”

“I was curious about that myself,” said Morrigan

“It was just their way of saying that if they were alive, they would approve of me having a relationship with Morrigan.”

“Are you?” asked Wynn.

“Am I what?”

“In a relationship with Morrigan?”

Tahlmus glanced over at Morrigan. Her eyes were smiling at him. He opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by a woman who ran up to the group. “Oh, could you please help us? Our wagon broke.”

Tahlmus studied the woman, he didn’t trust her. “Where is it?” he asked.

“Just around the bend,” the woman pointed.

“Tavain, go up on the ridge, scope it out, I’ll be listening to your thoughts.” His voice sounded in Tavain’s head.

“How many are there?” he asked the woman.

While Tahlmus played twenty questions with the woman, Tavain made her way up the ridge and down near the spot where the woman had said the wagon was broke. “There is indeed a broken wagon,” Tavain said in her thoughts, “but there are a lot of armed people. Kind of looks like an ambush.”

“Stay where you are then. When they start fighting us, you monitor the fight. Shoot your arrows at anyone that gets behind us, just like you did in the wilds.”

“I can do that,” she replied through thought. She readied her bow, and arrows. She also checked to see if Bevin’s sword was still in the sheath; “Just in case” she mumbled to herself.

Tahlmus followed the woman to where the broken wagon was. As they rounded the bend he could sense where Tavain was. “She’s positioned herself perfectly,” he thought.

He saw the woman give a nod to an elf, who also gave a nod. Tahlmus heard a creaking sound. Looking up a tree was falling towards him. Feeling Morrigan beside him, he pushed her out of the way. “Well, I nev…” she started as she turned around and saw the tree hit the ground. “Tahlmus,” cried Morrigan. Her hands went to her mouth, covering any sound of anguish that might escape.

The elf, the woman had nodded to was laughing. “Keep laughing,” thought Tavain. “Now where are you going to pop up big brother?” she wondered. She had seen him disappear seconds before the tree would have hit him. None of the others had noticed. None of them had drawn their weapons.

The laughing elf turned to leave, followed by all his companions. “Now Tavain,” came Tahlmus’ voice in her head. She obeyed. Her first two arrows took out the two men who had pushed the tree over. She heard a short scream and turned her gaze to see the woman who had led them there lying on her back, blood covering her chest. A small throwing knife stuck out of her chest. “Very nice big brother,” she thought.

“Thank you,” he replied. “Kill everyone, except the elf. I will tend to him.” Tavain complied by shooting off more arrows, at the men who were now frantically search for the source of the knife. Morrigan and the others were in shock. They knew Tavain was shooting the arrows, but none had any idea where the knife had come from.

The elf was now searching too. He tried to run, but didn’t get far as he fell flat on his face. He felt a blow to the back of his head then nothing. Tahlmus then made himself visible to everyone as he tied up the elf’s hands and feet.

“Tahlmus, you’re ok,” cried Morrigan as she ran up to him.

“I am,” he smiled. “I’m sorry about shoving you.”

“Oh big brother,” sang Tavain before Morrigan could respond. “This piece of paper says he’s an assassin,” said Tavain pointing to the elf he’d just tied up.

“He obviously picked the wrong target,” said Morrigan as Tahlmus stood deep in thought.

“Logain must have hired him,” he said.

“Should we wake him up and see for sure?” asked Tavain.

Tahlmus conjured up a glass of water, “Would you like to do the honours?” he asked as he held the cup out to Tavain.

“I would love to.” She said as she threw the water over the elf’s face. Coughing and sputtering, his eyes opened. His muscles pulled on the restraints Tahlmus has placed on him. “Taking revenge on me in the after-life hmm?” asked the elf.

“No,” replied Tahlmus.

“This is reality,” finished Tavain.

“But…but that Grey Warden,” he pointed at Tahlmus, “the tree…”

Tavain laughed, “Yes, about that…”

“You almost hurt my girlfriend,” said Tahlmus. “You’re lucky I let you live. So you better start talking.”

“I was warned that odd things happen when dealing with you. I didn’t believe them. I guess I should have.” He pulled at his restraints again.

“Listening wouldn’t have helped you,” said Tavain.

The elf studied her, “You are friends with this Grey Warden?”

“We’re more than just friends,” replied Tahlmus. The elf cocked his head.

“That Grey Warden, as you call him, is my brother,” finished Tavain.

“Then, I guess I couldn’t convince you to let me out of these restraints.”

An evil grin crossed Tavain’s face, “Don’t count on it,” she replied as she twirled a small throwing knife. “I would suggest you answer my brother’s questions.”

“I will answer whatever you like.”

“Why were you trying to kill me?” asked Tahlmus.

“Logain hired the crows to kill any surviving Wardens. He specifically mentioned you,” he said nodding at Tahlmus.

“What’s a crow?” asked Tavain.

“They are assassins from the city of Antiva,” replied Leliana

“Not a very good one,” said Tavain.

“So it seems,” replied the elf.

“You should just kill him,” said Alistair.

“Might I propose something else?” asked the elf.

“Why specifically me?” asked Tahlmus.

“He did not really say. All he said was if I took out the male red-headed elf, then any other wardens with him would not be a threat.”

“Well, I…” Tahlmus held up a hand to silence Alistair.

“What is it you wanted to propose?” Tahlmus asked.

“You see, since I failed, I should be dead. At least as far as the Crows are concerned.”

“That can be rectified,” replied Tavain still twirling her knife.

“Yes, well I kind of like living, and you seem to be one that would give the Crows pause,” the elf himself paused at this point. “I was thinking you might let me travel with you; help your cause. I would swear my oath to you until you so decide to release me from it.”

“What’s to keep you from trying to finish the job?” asked Tavain.

“The Crows,” he said simply.

“Explain,” said Morrigan jumped into the conversation.

“It’s simple. I failed. I should be dead. Even if I had a chance of succeeding the second time, the Crows would kill me for failing the first attempt just out of principle.” The elf looked Tahlmus in the eyes.

“Go on,” replied Tahlmus.

“Well if I travel with you, I just might survive. I would like to live.”

Tahlmus stood there mulling over the situation. “What do you think Tavain?”

She cocked her head at him, unsure why her brother was asking her opinion. “We do need all the help we can get,” she replied, “but I don’t trust him,” she hesitated. Tahlmus motioned for her to continue. “I say…” she started, “We take him with us, but if the Crows come looking for him, we let them have him.”

“Those will be the terms,” Tahlmus said turning to the elf. “You will travel with us and follow my orders. If the Crows come after us because they want you, I’m handing you over.” The elf opened his mouth. “And,” continued Tahlmus with an after thought, “if you try anything to harm me or anyone else in this group, I will kill you.”

“Sounds fair enough. I pledge my service to you until such time as you choose to release me from it.” Tahlmus motioned for Tavain to cut the restraints still holding the elf. She complied still wondering why her brother had asked for her opinion.

“What’s your name?” asked Tahlmus as the elf stood.

“Zevran,” he replied.

“Alright Zevran, let’s go,” said Tahlmus.

“Keep an eye on him,” Tavain heard in her head. She poked him to let him know she was on it. They continued to Redcliffe. Morrigan walked with Tahlmus, holding his hand. Wynn had scoffed when she had taken his hand in hers, and Leliana had made a soft groaning sound. Tahlmus couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. Tavain wasn’t going to ruin it.

As they entered the gates to the castle, Morrigan slipped in behind Tahlmus. Once in the castle he went into the main hall, hoping to find Tegan. “You’re back,” exclaimed Tegan as soon as he saw Tahlmus. “Did you find the urn?”

Tahlmus thought Tegan sounded like an excited little child. He pulled out the pouch containing the ashes as Tavain spoke, “We did find it.”

“Let’s go see if the ashes have the healing power they are said to have.” Tahlmus nodded and followed Tegan. Tavain, Alistair and Morrigan followed Tahlmus. The rest stayed behind. Irving was in the King’s room when they group entered.

“I’m afraid,” he said. “that even if you have the ashes, we might not be able to use them. I have not been able to find a spell that goes with them.”

“What do we do now?” cried Lady Isolde.

“I think I know one,” replied Tahlmus as he dug through his pack. He pulled out the journal he’d been looking for and started flipping through it. “Here it is…” he muttered. “How to Heal With Andraste’s Ashes,” he read out loud. “Seems simple enough” he finally said after having skimmed through his father’s writing. He then re-read his way through it more carefully.

“Do you think you can do it big brother?”

“I believe so.”

“Please try,” begged Lady Isolde. After having saved her son, she had a lot more faith in the young elf. Tahlmus read through the instructions once more, then went over to the Arl. He took the ashes between his thumb and forefinger, and sprinkled them over the Arl while muttering the words to the spell he’d just memorized. When he finished, the group could hear the Arl groaning and starting to come around.

“What? Where am I? Where is Isolde… and Connor?”

“I am here my husband.”

“What about Connor?”

“He is fine. There is much to tell you.”

“That’s an understatement,” muttered Tavain. Tahlmus ushered the group out, so Isolde and Tegan could speak with the Arl. They made their way back to the main hall to wait with the others. Tahlmus was starting to get anxious when the Arl finally came in.

“Tahlmus,” said the Arl. Tahlmus quickly stood at attention when the Arl addressed him. “I am told that you are to thank for my son and wife still being alive; also for saving the village.”

“I had plenty of help,” replied Tahlmus as he motioned to the others.

“I would like to offer you a reward for your services.”

“I couldn’t take anything from you,” replied Tahlmus.

“Then, at least let me declare you and those travelling with you Champions of Redcliffe. You will always be welcome in these walls.”

“Thank you, my Lord.”

“Now, I believe the blood mage still lives.”

“He does,” replied Tegan, who then went off to fetch him.

“While Tegan gets the mage, I would like to discuss this matter with Logain. I can call a Landsmeet, and tell of Logain’s treachery, but we will need someone with a stronger claim to the throne than Anora.”

“Alistair was Cailan’s half-brother,” piped up Tavain.

“Alistair,” the Arl almost whispered as he picked the templar out of the group standing in front of him. “Yes, he has the Therin blood, which gives him claim to the throne.”

“Wait,” said Alistair, “do I not have a say in this?”

Tahlmus wasn’t fond of the idea, but it was the only non-violent choice they had. “Unless you want us to give ourselves up to Logain… I don’t think you really have a choice,” replied Tahlmus.

“So it’s settled then?” asked the Arl.

“It’s the only choice we have, isn’t it?” Tahlmus replied with a question.

“I cannot think of a better way.”

“Here is the mage,” said Tegan at a small break in the conversation.

“Do you have anything to say?” asked the Arl, turning to face the mage.

“Only that I am sorry and will accept whatever punishment you deem necessary.”

“I think I am a little too close to this to give a merciful judgement. Tahlmus you have had some dealings with him. What do you propose?”

“Hand him over to the circle. He’s a runaway, let them decide his fate.”

“Wisely said, let it be done then,” said the Arl.

“You are most kind,” replied Jowan before the guards led him off.

“Back to the Landsmeet,” said the Arl “It will take some time for me to get it together.”

“That will be fine,” replied Tahlmus.

“We have two more groups of people we have to get on our side,” added Tavain.

“Well then, once you’ve gathered your army, come back here and we will go to Denerim.”

Tahlmus  nodded, “We will do that.” He bowed in farewell, then walked out of the castle.

“That did not turn out well for me.” Said Alistair.

Morrigan laughed, “Ferelden is surely doomed.”

“Don’t listen to her,” said Leliana.

“You will make a fine ruler,” replied Wynn.

“Besides,” said Tavain, “Tahlmus will be there to help you every step of the way.”

“Maybe not every step, but I will make sure you are set up to do a good job”

“So where are we going now?” asked Sten, growing impatient with the mindless chatter.

“Back into the Brecilian Forest. We need to find a Dalish clan,” replied Tahlmus.

“Is our clan still there?” asked Tavain.

Tahlmus paused for a moment, concentrating. “No, they have moved on.”

“Oh,” replied Tavain in a soft slightly disappointed voice.

Tahlmus wrapped his arm around her shoulders, “Disappointed you won’t get to see Aunt Eria?”

Tavain made a face, “Most definitely not.”

“Then why sound so disappointed?” he asked though he was sure it had something to do with getting her facial tattoo.

“Nothing important,” she replied. Tahlmus knew better, but he wasn’t going to press. His little sister seemed to be going through some changes. He was going to let her try to work through them until she asked for his help.

“How are we going to find a Dalish clan?” asked Leliana. “I thought the elves were very mobile.”

“We are following Tahlmus,” replied Sten, who had decided to start trusting the mage elf’s instinct.

“How exactly will that work?” she asked.

“Easy,” replied Morrigan. “He senses things.”

“I’ve told you that before,” added Tavain.

Tahlmus suddenly went rigid. He grabbed Morrigan and drug her behind some brush. “Keep walking,” came his voice in his companion’s heads. The group was confused but did as they were told.

“Tahlmus, if…” he silenced Morrigan by putting his finger to her lips. A large group of templars came into view, and stopped their companions.

“We’re looking for a couple of apostates,” said the leader. “One is a young male elf, a red head. The other is a young black haired woman.”

“We haven’t seen them,” replied Tavain, unsure of why templars were hunting her brother. She hoped everyone would keep their mouths shut. They did. The templar started to play twenty questions with Tavain.

“They are looking for us?” whispered Morrigan around Tahlmus’ finger that was still by her lips. Tahlmus replied with a nod. “Why?” her lips asked.

“Logain,” he responded through thought. He watched the question marks form in her eyes. “I’m not sure what we’ll do. I only saw enough to know to hide in the brush,” his voice sounded softly in her head. He turned his attention back to Tavain and the templars.

“Well,” the leader was saying, “two of us will accompany you on your quest to find the Dalish.”

“Why?” asked Tavain doing her best to sound genuinely curious.

“Just in case the apostates come around. The elf is very powerful.”

“Our friend Alistair is a templar,” she replied before Tahlmus could tell her to say it. He smiled. She was better at this than she would ever admit.

“You will need more than one to handle them. That male elf knows more magic than the circle teaches. He could cause serious problems.”

“For you, maybe” thought Tavain. “Only one of you may travel with us,” she said out loud. Tahlmus was proud of his sister. She had handled it well, and without any promptings from him. He then watched all but one of the templars walk on past the group, and past his and Morrigan’s hiding place.

“Which way do I go big brother,” he heard her thought.

“Stay on the road,” he replied. He then watched as their companions continued to walk on.

“What about you?”

“Morrigan and I will travel through the woods. I will contact you later, and you can use the ring.”

“Sounds good big brother. Stay safe.”

“Same to you.” After the group, and the templars had all walked out from sight, Tahlmus stepped out of the brush. He put his hand out to help Morrigan.

“So we’re being hunted now,” stated Morrigan.

“Apparently so,” replied Tahlmus deep in thought. “That could put a small hitch in things.”

“At least you can control your visions now.”

Tahlmus chuckled, “the bright side to this troublesome situation. We might as well start walking,” he said. “We’ll follow the road for a little way before trekking off into the woods.”

“Will we be safe on the road?”

“You are with me,” replied Tahlmus. “You are safe. I won’t let anything or anyone harm you,” he repeated the promise from the night before, as he took hold of her hand.

“That’s a comforting thought,” she said smiling as they started walking down the road.

Chapter 22

The group walked in silence. None of them knew what to say. With Tahlmus and Morrigan in the wind they were unsure of how things would go. They just followed Tavain. They trusted she was somehow in contact with her brother.

“Alright, into the woods,” spoke Tahlmus, more so he could just hear something other than rustling leaves.

“Do you have a plan yet?” asked Morrigan.

“Not really,” he replied. “I need to talk to the keeper of this sister clan, of course. As for dealing with the templars. I am unsure.”

“I think this is the first time you have not known what to do.”

Tahlmus smiled. “I’ve never known exactly what to do, but how would the group respond to me if I always responded with that?”

“Well, you’ve done very well, even if you are rather cryptic at times.”

“Thank you,” he chuckled, “but I couldn’t have done any of this without Tavain’s help.”

“She has flourished under your guidance. We all have.”

They walked in silence for a while, before Tahlmus started to get a stronger sense of the sister clan. “We’re close,” he said. He headed towards the area where he knew his clan had been. He found three hunters guarding the entrance to the camp.

“Stop where you are,” said the lead hunter. Tahlmus and Morrigan complied, stopping quickly. They waited for the hunter to come speak to them.

“Who are…” she paused as she recognized Tahlmus. “Tahlmus?” she asked.

“Lyonna,” he said recognizing the hunter as the girl he’d gotten to play with when his father had taken him along to meet up with other sister clans. “How are you?” he asked.

“I’m… good. It’s been a long time.” She said.

“A little over ten years.”

“I am sorry about your parents. I cried when dad finally told me why I wouldn’t get to see you anymore.”

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus. He let a moment pass before he asked his next question. “Have you seen any templars in the area?”

“No. Is the shem chantry hunting you now?”

“I think Logain convinced them to hunt down both myself and my friend here,” he replied motioning towards Morrigan. She gazed at him wondering why he had introduced her as just his friend.

“We’ve heard rumors about this Logain… nothing good.”

“Would you take me to see your keeper… Zathrian, right?”

“Yes, he’ll want to see you anyway. And don’t worry about any templars. We will run those shemlen off.”

“Thank you Lyonna.”

“It’s the least I can do for an old friend,” she said.

“Lyonna, why do you bring strangers into our camp?” asked the keeper, as they approached.

“He’s no stranger Zathrian.”

Zathrian stopped what he was doing and looked closely at the male elf standing in front of him. “Tahlmus… Theron and Karia’s son.”

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus.

“My condolences, late as they are, for the loss of your parents.” Tahlmus nodded his thanks. “We grieved for them both as well.” Tahlmus was unsure of what to say. He was trying to remember why the two clans seemed so close. “Merathari told us, you were recruited by the Grey Wardens, and Tavain was suspected to have followed you.”

“She did as I instructed. She became a Grey Warden too. Actually, Grey Warden business is part of the reason I am here.”

“Right, the treaty we signed. I’m afraid we are in no condition to offer any aid.”

“Why am I not surprised,” muttered Morrigan. Tahlmus took her hand. From what he could remember Zathrian had a quick temper. He didn’t need it flaring up and getting them thrown out of the camp.

“Werewolves attacked our clan as we were travelling. Too many are infected. I cannot move my clan I also cannot risk any more of my hunters to look for Witherfang. If I could only get Witherfangs heart, I could possibly cure my people.”

“What if I did it for you?” asked Tahlmus.

“Do you think you could?”

“Yes, but I will ask for something in return.”

“Besides offering aid?”

“Yes, you see my sister still needs her facial tattoo.”

“I will alert the elders. When she arrives, we will take care of it.”

“I also would like to do some trading. Is Master Varathorn still the craftsman?”

“Yes, he should have anything you need,” replied Zathrian as he pointed towards the crafter’s tent.

Before Tahlmus walked off he said, “If any templars come around, tis better to tell them you haven’t seen me.”

Zathrian sighed, “That shem chantry always trying to force us into their ways. Do not worry dalen, you haven’t been here.”

“Thank you,” Tahlmus replied as he bowed to the keeper. He then turned to Morrigan, “Go sit over there,” he pointed to a log, “I will be right back.” Morrigan complied with his request. Tahlmus made his way to Master Varathorn’s tent. It was exactly where Master Illen’s tent has been. “It’s almost like our clan never left,” he thought.

The master craftsman looked at him, studying him. “Tahlmus is that you?”

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus with a smile.

“You’ve really grown since I last saw you. Of course, you were 6 going on 7.”

Tahlmus chuckled, “I remember, I turned your clothes green to show off my magical talent to Lyonna, while dad was busy with Zathrian.”

Varathorn now laughed, “Yes, much to my wife’s dismay.”

“I was wondering if you could make me some new blades. Mine can’t quite handle some of the magic since I’ve come to full power.”

“I would be honoured,” he replied.

“Would you also be able to help me make a staff out of iron bark? I’d like to be able to give it to my girlfriend.”

“So your dad was able to teach you a little about crafting before his unfortunate passing.”

Tahlmus nodded, “A little bit yes.”

“I would love to help you, but I currently do not have any iron bark.”

“I will be going into the forest. If I find some, I will bring it back.”

“That sounds wonderful. May I ask… how is your sister? I heard you took it upon yourself to raise her and teach her what she wanted to know.”

“She is well,” replied Tahlmus. “A great hunter and rogue, just like our mother. She should be here tomorrow, you can see for yourself.”

“What has you separated now? Merathari thought she had snuck away to be with you when you were recruited.”

“Templars are hunting me, and my girlfriend. We had to temporarily separate.”

“Oh, those shemlen and their chantry. Don’t worry they will not get you here.”

“I don’t doubt that,” replied Tahlmus with a smile as he bowed in farewell. He went back to Morrigan. “Time to meet up with Tavain,” he told her.

“How?” she asked. “A templar was left with the group.”

Tahlmus smirked. “Never underestimate Tavain’s sneakiness. I also have a place only her and I know about. Come on.”

Morrigan complied. She followed Tahlmus to the ruins where he, Tamlen and Tavain had all been tainted. “This place is very creepy,” she said.

“More than you know,” replied Tahlmus as he fought to suppress the memories. He concentrated on Tavain to see where she was at.

“Tavain,” her brothers voice sounded in her head. “Make camp, and then come to the ruins where we found the mirror. I’m waiting for you.”

“Ok big brother,” she thought. She took off into the woods without saying anything.

“Where are we going Tavain?” asked Leliana.

Tavain found the clearing where Tahlmus had killed the shems with his enchanting spell. “We’re going to set up camp,” she replied.

“Stopping so soon?” questioned the templar.

“It’s too hard to see here in the woods at this time for a proper search. We will start again first thing in the morning. We should have better luck finding the clan.”

The templar just nodded as he joined everyone else in setting up a tent. With his back now turned, Tavain slipped off on the path that led her towards the ruins. She didn’t realize she was being followed by the other templars, who had circled back to follow her and her companions. They stayed in the trees as she walked into the ruins. They waited hoping her brother would show himself.

Tavain made her way into the first room of the ruins, fighting off the memories that flooded her mind. “I wonder if Tahlmus had this problem,” she thought.”

“I did,” his voice came from her right. She turned. Both him and Morrigan were standing there.  “I’m so glad to see you two,” she said.

“I’m glad you were able to make it.”

“Piece of cake big brother. So what’s the plan?”

“The sister clan I was searching for is camped where our clan used to camp. You will go there in the morning.”

“And the two of you?”

“We’ll be there, it’s safer for us. I already warned them about the templars. The one with you most likely won’t be allowed to go in.”

“Good thing Alistair doesn’t dress like these ones do.”

Tahlmus chuckled, “Yes tis a good thing.”

“Will they help us?”

Tahlmus smirked. “We have to do something for them first.”

“Figures, none of these groups can be easy to get can they?”

“Twas my thought exactly,” said Morrigan.

Tavain noticed that Tahlmus was no longer listening, “What’s wrong big brother.”

“I have a bad feeling. A really bad feeling.”


“No. Are you positive you were not followed?”

“Pretty sure,” she replied. “The templar had his back turned towards me when I left.”

“I don’t like it,” said Tahlmus. “I haven’t had this feeling since the Tower of Ishal.”

“I can take care of myself big brother.” She swallowed hard, wondering why Tahlmus wasn’t having a vision. “I’ll be ok,” she replied with  more confidence than she felt. One look from Tahlmus and she knew he had her figured out.

“Ok, just stay alert and be careful,” was all he said.

“Always,” she replied as she skipped on out.

A minute later Tahlmus heard her scream. “Tavain,” he almost shouted. He went to run, but Morrigan caught his robes. He turned to her. The look in his eyes one she couldn’t discern.

“What if it’s the templars?” she asked.

“Then I’ll give myself up. I have to help Tavain.” There was desperation in his voice.

“He can’t be thinking straight,” she thought.  He saw the worried look in her eyes.

“Just stay here, you’ll be safe, I promise.”

“But Tahlmus…”

He leaned in and kissed her. “Trust me,” he whispered as their lips parted. There was assurance and confidence in his voice. He then turned running out of the ruins.  He saw a templar holding a sword to his sister’s throat. “Stop,” he shouted. “Let her go.”

All the templars turned to look at him. The one that had been holding Tavain just shoved her aside. “Tavain,” Tahlmus yelled as he tried to run to her. Two of the templars caught him by his robes, while a third one grabbed his hands and tied them behind his back. A vision played through his mind.

“Stay where you are,” the voice in her head was frantic. That wasn’t like her brother. She stopped moving and watched as the three templars who had captured him shove him over to the leader. She stifled a scream as she watched the leader throw her brother up against the stone of the ruin. Her brother grimaced in pain. His head had been the last part of him to hit. How he was still conscious, Tavain wasn’t sure.

“Where is that woman that was with you?” asked the leader.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” his words came out strong and calculated.

“At least he has composed himself again,” thought Tavain.

The templar slammed Tahlmus against the stone again. He felt blood trickle down his hands. “Sleek black hair, slender body, a beautiful woman,” said the leader. “Where is she?”

“I… don’t know… who… who you are … talking about,” he said trying to catch the breath that had been slammed out of him.

“Torch the ruins,” ordered the leader.

“No, don’t,” Tahlmus cried. He silently cursed himself for the  emotion in his voice.

“She is in there,” replied the leader, more of a statement than question.

“No,” replied Tahlmus forcing his voice to have a flat tone.

The leader shove Tahlmus into the stone, then watched him drop to the ground. Tahlmus gasped for air. “There… are human… and elven… artifacts… the… the chantry… might want… to study them.”

The templar picked up Tahlmus by the collar of his robes as he ordered two templars to search the ruins.

“Don’t make any noise,” came Tahlmus’ voice in Morrigan’s head. It startled her. “Some templars are coming to search the ruins. They won’t be able to see you. Follow them out. Stand by Tavain. She will be able to see you.” Morrigan began to worry, Tahlmus’ voice had sounded very strained. She watched the templars search the ruins, then did as she was told and followed them out.

Tavain watched the templar in charge shove Tahlmus up against the stone. This time he had a hold of Tahlmus’ throat, and her brother’s feet weren’t touching the ground. There was nothing she could do with so many templars around, but watch him struggle to breathe. “Oh, big brother, why don’t you fight back,” thought Tavain.

Tahlmus heard his sister’s thought. He tried responding, “Only way… to… protect… Morrigan…” he couldn’t finish the thought. He was now concentrating. Trying not to black out. He felt the templar let go of his throat. His feet hit the ground and his world started spinning. He tried to get some air, but the templars knee connected with his stomach. He crumpled to the ground, gasping for air. The pain in his chest making it difficult.

“Where is she?” asked the lead templar again.

“Where… is… who?” he managed to ask.

The templar kicked him in the ribs. Tahlmus grimaced in pain as he was sure he had heard a bone crack. “Don’t play cute with me Warden. We know the Witch of the Wilds is travelling with you. Logain has ordered both of your deaths.”

Tahlmus was unsure of why Logain would want Morrigan dead, but he would make sure Logain failed at that task. “The Witch… of the… Wilds…is dead… I… killed …her,” replied Tahlmus through clenched teeth.

The leader picked him up by his collar again, holding him so his feet weren’t touching the ground. Tahlmus was now able to see Morrigan standing next to Tavain. He felt a little relief flow through him.

“Why should I believe you?” asked the templar, determined to either get an answer or kill the young elf.

“What reason… do I have… to lie… to you?” Tahlmus replied in a voice that was just barely audible as he had used what energy he did have to cast a spell on the templars.

The leader had lost all patience and threw Tahlmus into the stone.  As the leader let go of Tahlmus, he and all the other templars turned stone.

“Tahlmus,” cried Tavain as she watched her brother’s head bounce of the wall of the ruin. His body then fell into a heap on the ground. “Tahlmus!” She yelled again as she ran and knelt beside him. “Please don’t be dead,” she whispered as she tried feeling for a pulse. She found one, but it was weak. She noticed the blood seeping through his hair, and his once very lightly tanned hands were now crimson.

“Get over here,” Tavain yelled at Morrigan who was trying to convince herself it was a dream. She followed Tavain’s orders without thinking. She was too busy trying to stem the tears that slid so unnaturally down her cheek. “Levitate him,” ordered Tavain as she finished untying her brother’s hands.

“I…I don’t know how,” stuttered Morrigan.

Tavain almost screamed. She rummaged in Tahlmus’ pack. She pulled out one of their father’s journals, hoping it was the right one. She thumbed through it. After finding the spell Tavain shoved the book into Morrigan’s chest, “This one,” she said.

Morrigan read through the spell, then tried it. She watched Tahlmus slowly lift up off the ground until his body was suspended in mid-air. “Now lead the way back to the elven camp,” said Tavain forcefully.

Morrigan complied. She felt clumsy at first as she moved Tahlmus along, but quickly got comfortable with it and moved faster. The glare from Tavain gave her plenty of motivation too. They made it to the entrance where Lyonna was still standing guard. “Creators, what happened to him?”

“I’ll explain later, just take us to the keeper,” replied Tavain more harshly than she intended.

“Of course,” Lyonna said as she turned and half walked, half ran to find Zathrian. Morrigan and Tavain followed as fast as they could with Tahlmus.

“Zathrian,” shouted Lyonna. “Tahlmus needs your help.”

“What does he need…” he stopped short as he turned and saw the group. Tahlmus’ once bright red hair was now almost completely crimson, his hands black with dried blood. “Is he alive?”

“Just barely,” replied Tavain. “Can you please help my brother?”

“Get him into my tent now. Tavain come in with me. You other two stay here.” All did as Zathrian ordered.

After what felt like hours, Morrigan saw Tavain emerge from the tent followed by Zathrian. “He’ll be ok, but there’s no telling when he’ll wake up,” replied Zathrian to the question marks in Morrigan and Lyonna’s eyes. “Tavain told me what happened. The fact this boy is still alive is a miracle itself. He really had some strong motivation,” Zathrian finished this comment by looking directly at Morrigan.

“What happened?” asked Lyonna.

“If you come with me,” started Tavain, “I’ll fill you in, but then you have to explain some things to me.”

Lyonna looked to Zathrian who nodded his approval. The two female elves walked off.

“Can I go in and just sit with him?” asked Morrigan softly.

“You may,” replied Zathrian before going back to tending the infected hunters.

Morrigan walked into the tent. There were bandages around Tahlmus’ head and hands. He even had bandages around his chest, with a blanket pulled up to his waist. She traced the outer edges of the bandages with her fingers. “You meant what you said,” she whispered, “I was with you and you kept me safe.” She sat there holding his hand until she fell asleep.

Tavain finished telling Lyonna everything that happened as they reached camp. It was then Tavain realized just how jealous she was of Morrigan and the love she had coveted from her brother. Tavain was still angry when her and Lyonna reached the companions camp.

“Tavain where have you been?” asked Alistair.

“What happened?” asked Wynn pointing to the templar statue.

“Tahlmus,” replied Tavain simply. “Now pack everything up.”

“But we just…” started Zevran.

“I said pack everything up.” Tavain noticed her voice had taken on the same venomous tone that Tahlmus’ did when he was angry.

“Is everything alright?” asked Leliana.

“If you found Tahlmus why isn’t he with you?” asked Sten.

“Because he’s lying unconscious in the keeper’s tent, from protecting that… that… that bitch,” she spat the words out like fire. “Now get packed we’re staying with the clan for the night.”

The group quickly complied not wanting to anger Tavain any further. Tavain didn’t fully understand why she was so angry. She knew Tahlmus loved Morrigan as much as he loved her. The fact she almost lost her brother because of some shemlen mage; that didn’t sit well with her. Tavain shook her head to try and clear it before turning to Lyonna. “Can I ask you some questions now?” she asked softly.

“Of course,” replied Lyonna.

“How did the keeper know my name?”

“You were never told?”

“Never told what?”

“I’ll try to tell you the basic idea,” replied Lyonna. “Your father, Theron, would visit our clan a couple times a year,” she started. “When I was about five, your father started to bring Tahlmus with him. Him and I would play together while Theron did whatever it was he had to do.” Tavain wondered why Tahlmus never mentioned this. “I always had fun when Tahlmus was visiting. He would use his magic to turn my things different colours and make my clothes look fancy. I would ask him to do all sorts of silly little things. If he ever tired of it, he never let it show. I think he enjoyed seeing me smile.”

“He did that for me too,” said Tavain.

“We’re packed,” interrupted Alistair.

“Alright, let’s go then,” replied Tavain who started walking back towards the clan. “Will you continue?” she asked Lyonna.

Lyonna nodded. “Theron had made it known that he also had a daughter. So members of the clan would always ask Tahlmus what he thought of his baby sister. He was always enthusiastic about it. He would brag about how smart his sister Tavain was. It was very obvious that he loved you very much.”

“He bragged about me?”

“He sure did. The last time I saw him, he was a month away from turning 7. We didn’t get to play much, because Theron had Tahlmus showing off some of his magical talent. But, when that was done, Tahlmus came and found me. He took me out into the woods so we could play without his father interrupting us. Since no one else was around, I confided in him my desire to be a hunter. Also my fears of the training. He encouraged me to do it. Told me I would be a great hunter just like his little sister would eventually be.”

“How could he have known that then,” wondered Tavain.

“I remember after almost a year of training, I was excited to see Tahlmus. I wanted to show him what I had learned. It was then my father broke the news to me that Tahlmus would no longer be coming because of his father’s passing. I was heartbroken, but I continued my training in hope that one day Tahlmus would come back, and I could show off my skills to him.”

“So… your want to impress my brother helped you to become a good hunter?” asked Tavain as they entered the Dalish camp.

“Helped me to be the best hunter in the clan.”

“I wanted to impress him too,”

“My hope to show off my skills to him was restored when I saw him earlier today. I had hoped…” she trailed off. “It’s said you were your clans’ best hunter.”

“Best one classified as a hunter,” she replied, wondering whether or not to ask about the sudden change in subjects. “I think Tahlmus was still better than me, but he was the Keeper’s apprentice.”

“Tahlmus was good at everything,” Lyonna replied.

“He was,” said Tavain softly. “Could you help my companions set up somewhere? I want to go see Tahlmus.

“Of course,” Lyonna hesitated. “Is it alright if I stop by when I’m done?”

“I think he would like that.”

Lyonna took the group off and helped them set up camp, while Tavain went to Zathrian’s tent. She slipped in, and saw Morrigan was asleep. “Good thing,” she thought. She quietly made her way to her brother’s side.

“Oh, big brother,” she whispered. “You had everything going for you. You were learning powerful magic, had a playmate from another clan, and apparently, you thought I was a great little sister. Then you pretty much lost it all… if that ever had any effect on you, you never let it show,” she paused. “The more I learn about our past, the more I wonder what kind of life you could have had and what kind of big brother I’d have now.”

“He might have had more laughter in his life. He might have been keeper,” came an old familiar voice, “but the happiest I saw him, even including when your parents were alive, was when he was teaching you and you mastered the task. He was always proud of his little sister.”

Tavain turned, “Aunt Eria? What are you doing here?”

“This is my true clan. Your mother’s too.”

“What? I thought…”

“I’ll explain when your brother awakens. He should hear this too.” She sighed, “He is very much like your father, but so much of your mother is in him too. I didn’t see that when you were growing up.”

“He was both for me,” whispered Tavain.

“And he did a wonderful job.”

“I thought you didn’t like him.”

“Tahlmus was your father.” Tavain looked confused. “Theron encouraged Karia to learn her skills. Her advanced skills meant she wouldn’t go into the forest to hide. I blamed Theron for her death. I knew Tahlmus would teach you. I feared that after learning the skills, you two would seek revenge and I would lose you,” Eria paused. “Then that Grey Warden came back, both of you slung over his shoulder and no Tamlen. You awoke. Tahlmus did not. You were so unhappy in those couple of days.”

“I was afraid of being left alone,” Tavain whispered.

“Then he was recruited and you disappeared. I became bitter again because I felt if he wouldn’t have taught you, you wouldn’t have gotten sick too. Merathari told me it was for the best because you wouldn’t have been happy here without him. I knew it was true, but I was angry because I was alone. When we ran into my old clan, I asked if they would take me back. Zathrian agreed. I’ve been here since.”

“Tahlmus warned us before we went in. Tamlen and I didn’t listen,” Tavain replied. “He was trying to save us,” she said.  “Tamlen and I were next to the mirror. He had shoved me away and was trying to get Tamlen when it did whatever it was it did. Tonight, in those same ruins, he had the same bad feeling. I didn’t listen. He heard me scream and ran out. He gave himself up to the templars to save me,” her voice had turned to a whisper. “Then he took the beating that left him like this to protect her,” Tavain motioned towards Morrigan who was sleeping.

“It’s in his nature,” said Eria as she ran her hand along Tavain’s back to try and comfort her. “Theron almost lost his life protecting your mother when she was pregnant with Tahlmus. When they love someone, they will go to any lengths necessary to protect them. And no matter how powerful they may be; they are not invincible.

“I don’t know how he does it,” said Tavain feeling tears in her eyes. “He had everything he could have wanted, then it was all taken from him. Now instead of getting to bond with someone, and be training to be keeper, he’s lying here in a coma as a Grey Warden saddled with the seemingly impossible task of uniting Ferelden and defeating the blight,” she sighed. “And he’s never complained, never seemed bitter…”

The tent flap rustled. Tavain and Eria turned to see Lyonna walk in. “I’m sorry am I interrupting?”

“No,” replied Tavain.

“We were just discussing Tahlmus,” said Eria.

A small smile crossed Lyonna’s face as she went back in time. “I always got away with everything, when Tahlmus came to visit. He always took the blame.”

“He did that for me too,” said Tavain.

“I overheard Theron and my father one night after I had gotten Tahlmus in trouble. They both knew I had done it, but couldn’t get Tahlmus to rat on me. I remember Theron saying something about the only other person Tahlmus never ratted out was his little sister.”

“That’s true,” replied Tavain. Eria nodded in agreement.

“My father had asked if it meant anything special. He was told it most likely meant that when Tahlmus was old enough to choose a mate, he’d probably choose me,” she let out a small laugh. “I remember thinking that it was disgusting. Tahlmus was my best friend. No way I would bond with him, but I guess what does a 6 year old know? Thinking about that now… I wish bonding with him would have been an option.”

“I remember Theron discussing you with Karia,” stated Eria.

“I wonder if Tahlmus knew what dad was saying.”

“I did,” he voice sounded through their heads. “Dad explained some of it to me anyway. I had asked him why I always had a female playmate. He told me it was the best way to find the one I’d eventually want to have as my wife. If I would have had a choice, Lyonna would have been that one.” Lyonna smiled.

“Then our parents died,” Tavain said out loud.

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus. Within 24 hours of turning 7, my life as I had known it had been shattered and turned to dust.”

“And you were forced to take care of me,” said Tavain.

“No, Tavain. I wasn’t forced. I wanted to. I found joy in raising and teaching you. Though even without me, you, like Lyonna, would have become the best hunter in the clan.”

“I kept hope my friend would come back, so I could show off my skills, maybe learn from him…” Lyonna’s voice trailed off.

“I wanted to come back. I tried to convince the keeper to let me come see you when she took me on as an apprentice. She wouldn’t let me… told me I had too much to learn and needed to concentrate on studying. Before Tavain and I became tainted she told me she wanted me to bond with Merrill, the other apprentice. I did everything I could to try and convince her to let me at least see if I could bond with you Lyonna. She told me she wasn’t taking another female from Zathrian’s clan.”

“I would have said yes,” said Lyonna, “if that is any comfort. But now I am with someone. Zathrian forced me to bond last week after discovering you were a Grey Warden.”

“Is he good to you?” asked Tahlmus.

“He’s not you, but we work well together.”

“He better take care of you, or he’ll have to deal with me,” replied Tahlmus.

“Beaten, bruised, and unconscious you’re still the protector,” Lyonna said with a small smile.

“It’s what I do,” replied Tahlmus.

“Why didn’t you tell me any of this big brother?” he heard Tavain asking in her thoughts.

“Because that life died with our parents, and you were more important,” he responded only to her.

“No, I…”

“You were all I had left, Tavain. I put all that time and effort into you because working with you was the only thing I had that made me smile. The only reason I had for living.” Tavain wiped a tear off her cheek.

Eria’s curiosity finally got the better of her, “Tahlmus, why aren’t you moving around, and only talking to us through thought?”

“I’m not sure,” he replied. “I could hear you three talking, but I couldn’t physically respond. For some reason though, I can use my magic to respond through thought. But that’s all I can do.”

“Then I could tell my story, if you want to hear it.”

“I would like to hear it, but it’s late, you all need sleep. Share it with us in the morning.”

“He’s in a coma and still telling me what to do,” said Tavain in as playful a voice as she could. She could see his lips form a small smile. Tavain then moved some of Zathrian’s things around so all three of them could sleep there. She curled up next to Tahlmus. “You are an amazing big brother,” she thought.

“And you are the perfect little sister,” she heard him say. She closed her eyes and fell asleep with a smile on her face.

Chapter 23

Tavain heard movement. She popped up looking at Tahlmus. He hadn’t moved. As her eyes adjusted better, she saw that Morrigan was in a sitting position. She heard more movement and watched as Eria and Lyonna sat up.

Lyonna stifled a yawn, “that didn’t feel like much sleep.”

“No it didn’t,” replied Eria.

“What are all of you doing here,” asked Morrigan in a resentful tone.

“I am Tahlmus’ aunt,” said Eria.

“He was my best friend,” replied Lyonna.

“I’m the sister,” replied Tavain in a very matter of fact tone.

“Everyone’s so talkative this morning,” Tahlmus’ voice entered their thoughts. “Aunt Eria, why don’t you tell your story now. The rest of the camp is still sleeping.”

“Well, it’s not much of a story anymore. When your father was being taken around to all the clans, as he was doing with Tahlmus… I was supposed to be his ‘playmate’. My sister, your mother, was always around though. She, of course, caught Theron’s eye. He also encouraged her to be a hunter. When it came time for him to choose someone to bond with, he came here to this clan and asked Zathrian if he might have Karia’s hand. Zathrian agreed. I couldn’t help but feel bitter.”

“Well, I understand why you weren’t fond of our father,” came Tahlmus’ voice.

Eria sighed, “After the bonding ceremony was complete, the area where the clans had gathered was attacked by werewolves. Theron told Karia to grab me and run into the woods. He no sooner said that than his father turned to him, and told him to run into the woods with us. Our father, mine and Karia’s yelled after him, to not let anything happen to us.

“Our father did just that didn’t he?” Tavain stated more than asked.

“He did. Shielded us as best he could with his body as we ran. Just as we got to the edge of the woods, Theron fell to his knees, holding his chest. Karia went back to him, but he told her to keep running. She obeyed him, grabbing my hand, we ran. Next thing we saw was a light green dome all around us and the rest of the clan members who had made it to the forest.”

“How old was dad?” voiced Tahlmus in his aunt’s head.

“Just like Tahlmus, when our clan was attacked,” said Tavain.

Eria nodded at Tavain, “Your father was 18, Karia was 17, I was 19,” she said running her hand over Tahlmus’ arm. Tavain looked over at Tahlmus as Karia continued. “When it was finally safe, we found our parents had been killed in the attack. Theron’s father had holes in his chest, which Theron later revealed was why he fell on our way to the forest.”

“I’m seeing a pattern,” came Tahlmus’ thought. Tavain thought the voice sounded slightly strained.

“Theron convinced Zathrian to let me go live with him and Karia. He said he had made a promise to our father and he was going to keep it.”

“Why did you hate me?” asked Tahlmus.

“I was afraid after your parents died. You were already destined to be keeper, but Tavain… I thought if you never taught her Karia’s skills, she would always be safe. But I was wrong. She has been safer knowing those skills than had she not learned them. And she’s been safer with you, Tahlmus as her brother, than she would have been with just me as her aunt.”

“Aunt Karia…” started Tahlmus.

She patted his arm to quiet him. “I could not change your fates.”

“We got tainted…” said Tavain softly.

“Yes, and my only living family was forced to leave,” said Eria wiping away a tear. “But you both were so much like your parents. I know they would have been proud. You’ve made me proud too.” Tavain hugged Eria. “When the keeper told me Duncan was taking Tahlmus, I knew that you, Tavain would end up with him. Everyone packed after Tahlmus left. We met my old clan as we traveled to escape the blight. I asked Zathrian to take me back. He agreed. It has helped me cope a little bit.”

“I’m sorry Aunt Eria,” replied Tahlmus only to her.

All she could do was pat his bandaged hands. “Now I will take my leave. Surely you kids have business to discuss and plans to make.” She quickly slipped out of the tent.

“I guess we were harsh in our judgment of her big brother.”

“Regretfully so. … but she was right, we have plans to make. Most of them involve the three of you.”

“The three of us?” asked Morrigan.

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus. “Tavain, Zathrian needs Witherfang’s heart. Witherfang I assume is a werewolf. Take Morrigan, Wynn, and Alistair with you.”

“Me?” Tavain asked. “Lead a group? Big brother I can’t…”

“Yes, you can. It needs to be done. I still can’t move. You need to do it Tavain, I have…” his voice stopped.

“Big brother,” Tavain grabbed his arm. She noticed his muscles were all tense… too tense. She saw sweat beading up on his forehead.

“Why did he stop talking?” asked Lyonna, a hint of concern in her voice.

“He’s having a vision,” replied Tavain.

“A vision?” asked Lyonna moving closer to Tahlmus and Tavain.

“He senses future events,” replied Morrigan, now biting her tongue so she wouldn’t say anything more.

Tavain felt her brother’s muscles relax. “What was it big brother?”

“Trouble,” replied Tahlmus, his voice sounded strained.

“What kind of trouble?” asked Morrigan.

“You can’t fight Witherfang. You must try and talk with this wolf.”

“But I thought we had to bring Zathrian, the heart,” replied Tavain.

“That is what he told me, but according to that vision, that won’t work because … because…” the frustration in Tahlmus’ voice became evident.

Lyonna took his hand in hers, “Take your time,” she said softly.

“Because why big brother?”

“That part wasn’t as clear,” his voice was calmer. “Give me a minute.” Morrigan sat there glaring at Lyonna, but the female elf did not seem to notice. Morrigan then gently took Tahlmus’ other hand, not wanting to feel left out.

“The curse, it started… it started with Zathrian,” Tahlmus finally voiced in disbelief.

“Tahlmus, that cannot be right,” said Lyonna. “Zathrian’s only been around since,” her voice trailed off as she realized what Tavain put words to, “since the curse has been around.”

“What do we do?” asked Morrigan.

“Talk with Witherfang. She should be able to tell you what needs to be done.”

“Are you sure we can’t wait until you’re awake big brother?”

“You need to do it, Tavain.”


“I know you can do it. You’ll be fine sis, I promise.” He said only to her. “Oh, and if you find any iron bark while you are out, could you bring it back please.”

Tavain squeezed his arm, “Let’s go Morrigan,” she said as she stood.

Morrigan looked from Lyonna to Tahlmus, then reluctantly stood, and followed Tavain out of the tent. “Well she seems rather concerned,” spat Morrigan once away from the tent.

“Relax,” replied Tavain. “They are just old friends.”

The two found their companions up and about. “Alistair and Wynn, come with me, the rest of you will stay here,” ordered Tavain.

“What about Tahlmus?” asked Alistair.

“Not awake,” replied Morrigan.

“So then what are we going to do?” asked Wynn.

“Follow me,” said Tavain simply as she headed to the Brecilian Forest. Morrigan, Wynn and Alistair quickly followed. As they made their way through the forest, Tavain found some iron bark. She collected it as her brother requested.

“Are we looking for anything specific?” asked Alistair after they had made their way deep into the forest. Tavain opened her mouth to answer, but didn’t say anything as three werewolves approached her.

“You should turn back,” replied the bigger looking one.

“And who are you?” asked Tavain. Her curiosity had the better of her now, she didn’t know werewolves could talk.

“I am Swiftrunner. I suggest you leave this forest now.”

“But I must talk with Witherfang,” replied Tavain.

“Zathrian sent you… you did not come to talk.”

“Zathrian, technically was sending my brother, but,” replied Tavain taking a step towards the werewolves, her hands up in front of her in a form of surrender. “My brother was suspicious of it. He sent me to talk with Witherfang.”

“Why didn’t your brother come himself?” asked Swiftrunner.

“He had to protect a companion of mine from some templars and they put him in a coma.”

“Then how could he send you? You are lying. You are trying to hurt the lady,” Swiftrunner bared his teeth.

“No,” replied Tavain, “My brother is a mage, he was able to send thoughts to me.”

“You are lying, only one mage is that powerful and he failed to help us 19 years ago. Back into the forest, it will protect us,” Swiftrunner said as he turned to leave.

“Wait,” Tavain half shouted as some things fell into place for her. “We know Zathrian started the curse. Theron failed and you took revenge on both clans when he married, but I’m more cunning than he was. If you let me…”

“How do you know Theron?” asked Swiftrunner, now standing in front of Tavain. His hot breath in her face.

“He was my father,” she replied softly.

“So then your brother… he’s…”

“More powerful than our father, but indisposed. He sent me to help, but I must talk with Witherfang.”

“Very well,” replied Swiftrunner. “You and your companions can follow me, but if you try anything we’ll kill you.”

“Understood,” replied Tavain as she followed Swiftrunner.

“I am beginning to wish things had been different,” said Lyonna softly after Morrigan and Tavain had left the tent.

“I’ve wished that more times than I can count,” came Tahlmus’ thought. “Tavain was the only thing that kept me going after our parents died.”

“That had to be hard.”

“I spent a lot of time alone in these woods, wandering, hoping to find answers. I understand now that it had to happen the way it did, but that doesn’t make it any easier. The more I find out about the past, the more I have to think about myself.”


“Take the dome in Eria’s story. I conjured one just like it, when I was 7. To protect our clan.”

“I don’t think I quite understand.”

“My dad was at full power and his protective shield still had a tinge of color to it. I shouldn’t have even been able to conjure a shield like that, but I did with only a tinge of color. My dad always said I’d be powerful. I just never thought or believed I was anywhere near as powerful of a mage as my father was.” All Lyonna could do was nod and pat the bandages around Tahlmus’ hand. “But,” Tahlmus finally continued, “I have a task for you.”

“Name it.”

“Zathrian is going to follow Tavain to these old ruins deep in the forest.”

“The haunted ones the elders talk about?” she heard Tahlmus chuckle.

“Those are the ones. I need you to follow him, and then provide any help to my sister that she might need.”

“I will do it,” she said as she patted Tahlmus’ hand and stood up. “I have one last question.”

“Ask away.”

“Are you and that human mage together?”

“As of last night, I believe we are… together,” he said.

“She’s good for you.”

“You really think so?”

“I think I would have liked the option of getting to bond with you, but I think you and her are better suited for each other.”

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus. Lyonna leaned over him and gave him a kiss on the cheek, then he sensed her walk out of the tent.

“So many paths my life could have taken and I was destined for this one,” he felt himself drift off to sleep.

“Tavain,” whispered Wynn, “how did you know the mage was your father?”

“Because, the mages in our family are the most powerful of any mages.”

“Then why is Tahlmus lying in a coma?” asked Alistair.

Tavain bit her tongue, “because sometimes…” she thought about her father, and then Tahlmus. “because sometimes, things are just supposed to happen a certain way.” She finally replied. Swiftrunner led them into the ruins. Tavain tried to be more alert, but thoughts surrounding Alistair’s question clouded her mind.

“So how close were Lyonna and Tahlmus?” asked Morrigan.

“What do you mean, how close?” asked Wynn.

Tavain rolled her eyes. “Long story short, had our parents lived, Tahlmus most likely would have taken Lyonna, the hunter that helped you set up camp, as a wife. As for how close they were, I don’t know,” said Tavain. “I assume at ages 5 and 6 they were as close as a brother and sister would be.”

“She wasn’t acting like a sister,” Tavain heard Morrigan mutter. She was about to say something when Swiftrunner spoke, “the Lady of the forest is through this door. Let me go in and tell her of you.” Tavain nodded, watching the werewolf walk through the door.

“Why was she in the tent last night?” asked Morrigan, her jealousy apparent.

“Because she wanted to see how Tahlmus was fairing.”

“That doesn’t explain why she stayed ‘til morning.”

Tavain felt like punching Morrigan. Unfortunately, Swiftrunner came back out, “The Lady will be happy to speak with you.” Tavain nodded and followed Swiftrunner through the door. The other werewolves growled as the group walked past. They fell in behind the group surrounding them. Tavain didn’t like the situation. She wished Tahlmus was there with her.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” spoke the human looking lady, with bark for hands and twigs for fingers.

“Waiting for me?” questioned Tavain, pointing at herself.

“Yes, the forest told stories of a young elf with a clean face, from Theron’s bloodline that would come along and end the curse.”

Tavain was in slight shock. She wondered if her brother knew this. “I am here to discuss the curse,” she said slowly. “I know Zathrian started it and was told you might have an idea of the steps needed to stop it.”

“And who told you that? It couldn’t have been Zathrian.”

“My big brother relayed it to me through thought. He’s in a coma, unable to do anything else.”

“It is as the forest says,” replied the spirit.

“Why did you attack the clan?” asked Tavain, unsure of why she asked, but felt she needed to know.

“Same reason the attack on Theron’s wedding occurred. We keep asking Zathrian to come talk. To come and end this curse. He continually ignores us. We had to get his attention.”

“But it didn’t work that first time. Why do it again so many years later?”

“We only killed 3 elves last time,” growled Swiftrunner.

“Out of respect for Theron’s attempts to help us,” finished the spirit. “This time we have cursed some of his clan. It will force him to take action.”

“Well it definitely did that,” replied Tavain. “He ordered my brother to bring him Witherfang’s heart.” Swiftrunner and the other werewolves growled. “But my brother told me to talk, to find the true way to end the curse, and cure everyone.” Tavain could feel the spirit’s gaze; looking her up and down. The same way so many had done with Tahlmus.

“Then bring Zathrian here to talk,” replied the spirit. “The door to the outside has been opened for you.” She pointed off to Tavain’s left.

“I will be back as soon as I can,” replied Tavain, bowing to the spirit. She then made her way through the door and up the stairs. This wasn’t the same way Swiftrunner had brought them. She wondered why. The stairs led to the ruin’s main hall. There the group found Zathrian studying some artifacts.

“Didn’t trust me?” questioned Tavain.

Zathrian turned to face her, doing the same once over the spirit had done. “Does Tahlmus hate it as much as I do,” she wondered.

“I was curious. You are Theron’s daughter. He sided with the werewolves all those years ago. Even after they killed his and Karia’s parents. He felt for them.”

“Would you have followed my brother?”

“No, he would have understood. He knows the pain, the suffering…”

“Why did you start the curse?” interrupted Tavain.

“Those humans, they killed my son, raped my daughter, and left her for dead. When she later found she was carrying the rapists child she killed herself. Those human’s deserved the curse. To be the savage beasts they were.”

“But that was centuries ago. The original ones who committed the murder are long since gone. Haven’t these people suffered enough?”

“Justice needs to be served. They are still savage beasts.”

“They aren’t…”

“Wouldn’t you have done the same if you lost someone that was your whole world?”

“I did lose someone that was my whole world. My brother was the replacement. He taught me my skills, and taught me to show mercy to those who have wronged us.”

“And what of your brother, surely he took revenge.”

“My brother had a seemingly perfect life stripped from him and was forced to raise me. Instead of allowing the very shem who killed our parents to die in an attack a few days ago, my brother now has a scar on his face. He sacrificed himself to save them. I think it’s about time you learned a little bit about showing mercy,” said Tavain as she moved around behind Zathrian and gave him a push towards the stairs.

Zathrian growled, “And will you protect me if they attack?”

“If it’s unprovoked, yes, I will.”

“Fine I will go see what they have to say.” Zathrian then walked on down the stairs without any further shoving from Tavain. Alistair, Morrigan and Wynn followed with Tavain bringing up the rear.

“Psst… Tavain,” came a soft whisper.

Tavain paused and looked around, “Lyonna?”

“Yes, may I come with you?” she asked as she walked out of the shadows.

“Sure,” replied Tavain, “but how… why?”

“Tahlmus,” said Lyonna simply.

“Of course,” said Tavain smiling. The two female elves ran down the stairs to catch up with the rest. They fell in behind Zathrian as he rapidly approached the werewolves and the spirit.

“I am here spirit. Talk.”

“She is the Lady of the Forest, you will address her as such,” said Swiftrunner as he growled in Zathrian’s face.

“Easy Swiftrunnner,” replied the spirit.

“You took a name spirit? And named your pets?”

Swiftrunner growled but the spirit calmed him. “They gave me the name,” replied the spirit as she motioned to the werewolves. “And their names are their own.” I help them discover who they are.”

“So what is it you want?”

“We seek for you to end this curse.”

“These beasts have gotten what they deserve. It is justice.”

“See my lady he is not here to talk,” said Swiftrunner.

“I just don’t see much point in it.”

“Then we should kill them all.”

“See,” said Zathrian, turning to Tavain, a small look of surprise when he noticed Lyonna, “they turn on you just as quickly.”

“You will end the curse Zathrian, even if I have to force you,” Tavain replied pulling out and holding Bevin’s Sword to Zathrian’s throat.

“And that is supposed to scare me? A blade in the hands of a child.” Zathrian asked. As he finished his question the blade came alive with electricity. Tavain smiled an evil grin. “Thanks big brother,” she thought.

“You’re welcome,” she heard him reply.

“Then y… you will die with them,” Zathrian slightly stuttered as he backed away from Tavain’s sword. Before he was able to pull out his staff, Tavain attacked him. She was careful to only leave flesh wounds.

Zathrian finally fell to his knees. “Stop, please stop.”

“You will end the curse then?” asked the spirit.

“I am too old to know mercy. I cannot…”

“We should just kill him,” growled Swiftrunner.

“Easy Swiftrunner. If we can’t have room in our hearts for mercy, how can we expect there to be any room in his.”

“You shame me spirit.”

“Then you will end the curse,”  Lyonna stated more than asked as Morrigan glared at her.

“I have lived too long. Are you ready to do this spirit.”

“I have waited a long time for this,” she replied. Zathrian then stood, and muttered some words, as he tapped his staff on the ground three times. He crumpled to the ground. The spirit slowly disappeared. Once the spirit was gone, the werewolves turned back into humans.

“Thank you so much,” said the man who had been Swiftrunner. “It feels good to be human again. How can we ever repay you?”

“Don’t go near any of the elven clans,” replied Tavain.

“Done,” said the humans before turning and running out of the ruins.

“Well, I guess I will head back and inform the apprentice that Zathrian is dead,” said Lyonna.

“Can you do something else?”

“Sure, name it.”

“I want to explore the ruins. I saw some artifacts Tahlmus might like. Can you go check on him and…” she paused as she rummaged through her pack, “if he’s awake can you give him this iron bark. He asked me to get it for him.”

“No problem,” replied Lyonna as she took the bark from Tavain. “I will see you back at camp,” she said as she turned and walked on out of the ruins.

“See you at camp,” mocked Morrigan in a low tone. Tavain glared at her before motioning for the others to follow her back through the ruins. She was able to collect several artifacts she thought Tahlmus might like. She carefully packed them all into her little bag.

Lyonna spoke with Zathrian’s apprentice about the events with the werewolves. The necessary steps were then set in motion for the apprentice to become the Keeper. Lyonna then walked back to Zathrian’s tent to see Tahlmus. She went to the covers, but Tahlmus was not there. She felt panicky, afraid someone had moved or harmed him.

“Tahlmus? Tahlmus where…” she stopped short as two hands came to rest on her shoulders.

“It’s ok, I’m right here.”

She turned and looked into Tahlmus’ eyes. “You’re awake,” she whispered.

He grinned, “Yes, but have only been so for a short while. Where’s Tavain?”

“She wanted to explore the ruins,” replied Lyonna.

“Sounds like her,” Tahlmus chuckled.

“She told me to give this to you,” said Lyonna as she pulled out the iron bark.

“Wonderful,” replied Tahlmus. “Would you like to walk with me to Master Varathorn’s tent? You can explain to me what happened.”

“Sounds like a plan,” smiled Lyonna. She gave Tahlmus the quick version of everything she’d seen. She stood and watched him make a staff, with very little instruction from Master Varathorn, with the iron bark.

“That looks wonderful,” she said when he was finished. “You’re so talented.”

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus blushing slightly as he put the staff into his pack. “Dad’s journals had a lot on crafting.”

“You learned well,” Lyonna smiled.

Tahlmus blushed again, “I’m going to put my pack in my own tent by my companions, then go meet Tavain. I have a surprise for her. Would you like to come with?”

Lyonna sighed, “I’d love to, but I should go see my husband. He’ll be wondering where I’ve been. Why don’t you, Tavain and Morrigan come by later for supper. I would love for you to meet him.”

“I think that is a great idea.”

“I will see you later then.”

“I look forward to it,” replied Tahlmus as he bowed in farewell. After pausing by his companions’ camp space to put up his tent and leave his things in it, he went to meet Tavain. He could feel that she was close to camp.

The group had gotten a little over halfway back to the camp before Morrigan found herself unable to hold her tongue any longer. “Why is that Lyonna spending so much time with Tahlmus?” anger and frustration apparent in her voice.

“Because they were old friends. Tahlmus inspired her to become a hunter,” replied Tavain, her voice even, but her blood slowly coming to a boil.

“She couldn’t take her eyes or hands off him this morning.”

“Neither could you.”

“She stayed with him longer.”

“To receive different instructions,” Tavain half shouted. Alistair and Wynn silently slipped past the two females, not wishing to see what happened next.

“Following us…” started Morrigan.

“Following Zathrian, and offering to aid us if we needed it,” interrupted Tavain

“Then why’d she leave so quickly?” Morrigan now close to shouting.

“To report back to the clan.”

“She was going to see him.”

“Because I asked her to.” They were shouting at each other now, faces just inches apart. “What is your problem?” yelled Tavain.

“That elf is trying to steal Tahlmus away from me.”

“You damn shem. Tahlmus didn’t fight the templars because it was the only way to protect you. He’s in a coma because of you. That should tell you how in love with you he is,” Tavain shouted before she tackled Morrigan to the ground. The two girls then rolled over and over, clawing, punching and pulling hair. A few minutes later they felt a magical pulse that knocked them apart.

“Ladies, ladies, why are you fighting each other? Aren’t the darkspawn enough?”

“Tahlmus,” shouted Tavain, relieved to see her brother awake. She tried running to him, but found she couldn’t move.

“You’re awake,” exclaimed Morrigan also attempting to run towards Tahlmus, but finding she couldn’t.

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus in a soft but stern tone. “I am awake. Now, why are you two at each other’s throats.”

“She started it,” the two said at once as they pointed to each other. Tavain grunted in disgust. Tahlmus crossed his arms and frowned. He was not in the mood for this.

“She tackled me,” accused Morrigan.

“You deserved it, you shem,” spat Tavain.

“I did not.”

“Did too.”

“Did not.” Tahlmus closed his eyes as he put his fingers from his right hand on the bridge of his nose.

“Did too,” shouted Tavain.

“Enough,” said Tahlmus harshly.

“Big brother, she’s just using you,” spat Tavain.

“Your little sister is just jealous she is not the complete center of your world anymore.”

“I am not,” shouted Tavain, the uncertainty was apparent in her voice. “I’m happy my brother has found someone he loves.”

“You have a funny way of showing it,” spat Morrigan.

“Because you’re being all jealous and manipulative.”

“You’re one to talk about being manipulative. You’ve got Tahlmus wrapped around your pretty little finger.”

“I’ve never asked him to kill anyone.”

“You’re just a child you wouldn’t understand.”

Tavain screamed, “I am not a child.”

“You have a clean face.”

“Because I was forced to become a Grey Warden before I could get my facial tattoo,” she said with more conviction than she felt.”

“So, you are still a child.”

“And you’re just a bitch.”

“I said enough,” interrupted Tahlmus, the venom and ice in his voice giving both females chills. “Now you two need to start getting along…”

“Choose,” interrupted Morrigan.

“Excuse me,” replied Tahlmus.

“You have to choose,” said Tavain. “Either me…”

“Or me,” finished Morrigan.

“The one you don’t choose will leave,” said Tavain, confident her brother would choose family over a witch. Tahlmus stood there with his arms crossed, his face like stone, but Tavain noticed a sadness in his eyes she’d not seen before. He shook his head while looking at the ground.

“What?” asked Morrigan and Tavain.

“I am not choosing between my sister, and the woman I love. I will leave.” He turned, and started walking away.

“Tahlmus,” said Morrigan slightly above a whisper.

“Tahlmus wait,” Tavain half yelled. He didn’t look back. Tahlmus had tears streaming down his face. He raised his hand in a slight wave. Tavain and Morrigan then watched him disappear.

“Where’d he go?” asked Morrigan, finding she was finally able to move from her spot. Tavain looked down at the ring on her finger. The color had not changed, and there was no arrow for her to follow. “He disabled it,” she muttered.

“He what?”

“The ring,” replied Tavain feeling a slight sense of hysteria as she shoved the ring in Morrigan’s face. “He left it on my finger when he had to leave me on the cot in Flemeth’s hut. It always led me to him. It’s not working now.” Frustrated Tavain took the ring off and threw it. “This is all your fault,” she yelled at Morrigan.

“My fault? How is it my fault?” she half yelled back.

“Tahlmus has been head over heels in love with you first walked out from those warden ruins. You have him wrapped so tightly around your finger that he would do anything you said. He’s so much in love with you; he’s willing to die for you. And you are too stubborn to see it.” Tavain stomped her foot as she finished then ran towards the elven camp. Morrigan slowly followed.

Chapter 24

Tahlmus found himself back at the ruins. The stone templars were now gone. They would have turned back to their normal selves, feeling as if they had been sleeping. The templars would go back to Logain assuring him, that Tahlmus and Morrigan were dead. The group would be safe to enter Denerim for the Landsmeet.

Tahlmus sighed. He had been ready to surprise Tavain when the argument broke out. He stood and listened to it before finally breaking them up. Several thoughts popped into his head as he stood there. “If I would have explained to Morrigan how much I loved and cared for her… how I knew Lyonna… why didn’t I try harder to finish that thought to Tavain… she would have understood then… known I was protecting her too… from losing me and from torture… why am I so stupid…”

He kicked one of the trees out of frustration. “I did what I had to. I did it to save both of you because I need you both in my life, and now…” he paused as fresh tears started. “Now I have neither of you,” he yelled at the tree before kicking it again. He then sat down on the root of the tree and buried his face between his knees.

Tavain entered the camp at a sprint. She headed towards her companions tents. “Is Tahlmus here?” she asked almost out of breath.

“No,” replied Sten. “He went to meet you and Morrigan.”

“Said he had a surprise for you,” replied Leliana.

“A surprise?” questioned Tavain.

“Tavain?” She turned to see an elderly elf standing behind her.

“Are you Tavain?” he asked.

“Yessss,” she replied slowly. “Why?”

“Come with me please.”

“But I have…”

The man held up a hand to quiet her. “Just come with me please.” She opened her mouth to argue, but just closed it again, knowing it was disrespectful to argue with one of the elders of the clan. Tavain followed the elderly elf. She wasn’t sure what to expect.

“Tavain, welcome,” said a man she didn’t know. “Tahlmus has said so much about you.” Tavain just stared at him confusion written all over her face. “Oh, forgive me, I am Master Varathorn. The clan’s craftsman. I also help out with facial tattoos.”

“I…” Tavain was shocked.

“What kind would you like?” asked the elderly elf.

“I… I can get…” her voice trailed off. “Why would they offer…” wondered Tavain, “surely Merathari told them about how childish I was.”

Master Varathorn interrupted Tavain’s thoughts. “Your brother said you were ready.”

“Tahlmus said… I didn’t really think…” she couldn’t voice the rest of the thought. “Did I really not trust my brother’s opinion,” she wondered.

“He told Zathrian you were past ready. Lyonna’s report about the werewolves proved your brother correct. Not that we really doubted him,” replied the elderly elf. “And your being a Grey Warden, negates the need to bond with someone.”

“So, which one would you like?” asked Master Varathorn.

Tavain didn’t know what to say. “It has to be a dream,” she thought, as she touched the locket around her neck. “My mother’s,” she finally managed to say.

“Excuse me,” replied Varathorn.

“I want the same tattoo my mother had.”

“Ah yes, I remember hers well. Come sit down.”

Tavain sat as she was told. “You have always made sure I got what I needed or wanted. Creators what have I done?” thought Tavain as Master Varathorn started his work.

Morrigan made her way to where her companions were camped. “Tahlmus isn’t with you either,” spoke Leliana interrupting Morrigan’s thoughts.

“What? No, he’s not. I was… I thought he was here,” she said hoping her voice sounded even enough.

“Tavain said that too…” replied Sten, “but he went to meet both of you. Did he not find you?”

“N… no… no he didn’t,” she managed to say as she hid her face before going to a little secluded area to put up her tent.

“Why did I have to fall in love with him,” she thought, “he’s only handsome, charming, and caring. Everything that makes one weak; yet he’s so strong.” She cursed at herself as the tears fell harder. She found herself longing for him to just appear next to her, wrap his arms around her, and tell her everything would be alright.

She turned away from her tent and looked at the ground. She closed her eyes and tried to conjure a log, like Tahlmus had done the other night. She opened her eyes, but there was no log. “How does he do it,” she wondered as she went off into the nearby trees to find a small log to sit on. Once she had one and was sitting down she opened her mother’s grimoire to start studying it. She tried to shake the memory of how readily Tahlmus accepted the task she had asked of him. She also had to push out the image of the blood that covered his head and hands from the beating he took to protect her.

After letting his face dry of the tears, Tahlmus transported himself to Lyonna’s tent. He had decided he would eat with them as he said he would. “Tahlmus,” said Lyonna as she came out of the tent and gave him a hug. “I was beginning to wonder. Where are Tavain and Morrigan?”

“In camp most likely looking for me.”

“I don’t understand.”

“They got into a fight on the way back to camp. I broke it up. It ended with them telling me I had to choose between them. I couldn’t choose, so I walked away.”

Lyonna brought her hand to her mouth, “that’s horrible.”

Tahlmus shrugged, trying to make it seem as if it didn’t matter. “So where is this husband of yours?”

“Soris, come out and meet Tahlmus.”

A lean, dark-haired elf emerged from the tent. He stood by Lyonna, wrapping his arms around her waist. Tahlmus studied him. His facial tattoo was not a Dalish one. “A runaway city elf?” he silently wondered.

“Soris, this is Tahlmus, and Tahlmus, this is my husband Soris.”

“Nice to meet you,” replied Tahlmus extending his hand. Soris nodded curtly at him.

“So, you’re the reason my wife did not come home last night,” spat Soris. “You forgot to mention how handsome he was Lyonna,” jealousy spilling from his lips.

“Soris, please… I…”

“Tis ok Lyonna. He’s right. I’ve been taking too much of your time. I do not wish to intrude. I will take my leave.” Tahlmus then turned and for the second time that evening, walked away. Words failed Lyonna. She glared at Soris before going back into their tent. “I have nothing left,” Tahlmus muttered. He wondered if his father had foreseen this. If he had, if he truly thought this was better than any other alternative. He transported himself to Eria’s tent. Tahlmus didn’t think it would be safe for him to be alone.

“What do you think?” asked Master Varathorn as he held a mirror up for Tavain to look into.

“I… it’s… perfect.” She said softly. She couldn’t believe she no longer had a clean face.

“I know your parents would have been proud.”

Tavain just nodded. “Tahlmus would be proud of me,” she thought. “Thank you,” she said in a little stronger tone.

“You are quite welcome.”

Tavain thought it looked like Master Varathorn had something more to say, but he wouldn’t open his mouth. “Is there something else?” she asked.

“You and Tahlmus are so much like your parents. You both picked the right tattoo,” he replied as he wrapped Tavain in a hug. She was speechless. “We’re counting on both of you to lead us through this Blight” he finished.

“We’ll defeat it,” replied Tavain in a confident tone. “As long as I can find Tahlmus,” she thought.

Morrigan finally tired of trying to make sense of the grimoire. The wording was a little odd and the spells very complicated. She wished she could ask Tahlmus for help. He had shown her some of his father’s journals. The later ones were written in the same way as the grimoire. “I’m just distracted” she thought. She then wondered how Tahlmus had figured it out at a young age. Another quality she admired about him. “I am such an idiot,” she thought as she crawled into her tent.

“Aunt Eria,” Tahlmus called from outside her tent flap.

The flap opened. “Tahlmus, what’s wrong?” she asked looking into his tear stained face.

“I have nothing left,” he said as a fresh tear trickled down his face.

“Come on in here,” she said. “Tell me what happened.” Tahlmus walked in and sat down. He wasn’t sure why, but he started sobbing. He spilled everything out, from losing his parents and having to raise Tavain, to walking away from Morrigan, Tavain and Lyonna.

Eria sat next to her nephew. She listened carefully to everything. When he finished, she did something Tahlmus never would have expected. She put her arms around him, pulling him close, so he was crying on her shoulder. He hadn’t felt anything like that in over 9 years. Eria gently patted him on the back. “I should have done this the night your parents died,” she said softly.

“It’s my fault,” replied Tahlmus through his tears. “I was a reminder of what happened so many years before.”

Eria gave him a squeeze, “No, Tahlmus. It was not your fault. I did not make things easy for you, and you have been put through a lot since then. You grew into a strong young man, dalen. You are your father’s son, and a Grey Warden. You’ve survived many challenges and burdens. And you will make it through this one too.

Tahlmus pulled his head off his aunt’s shoulder. “Do you really think so?”

“I do dalen. You have never walked away from responsibility, and you cannot do it now as a Grey Warden. The girls will come around. They will realize how much they need you in their lives and they’ll work things out.”

“I hope you’re right,” replied Tahlmus as he wiped his face with his robes.

“Everything will work out. Now go make plans for the next leg of your journey and get some rest.”

“Thank you Aunt Eria.”

“You’re welcome dalen.”

Tahlmus stopped by the tent flap, “Aunt Eria?”

“Yes, Tahlmus.”

“I’m sorry.”

“For what dear?”

“Being a pain. For not giving you a chance while growing up. And… I’m sorry that Tavain and I had to leave. I didn’t want to go.”

“It’s alright dear. You and your sister were destined for this calling from the day you were born. You needn’t apologize.” Tahlmus gave his aunt a hug before leaving the tent, and transporting himself back to the ruins.

After saying goodbye to Master Varathorn, Tavain ran off to find Lyonna. “Maybe Tahlmus went to visit her,” she thought. “Lyonna,” called Tavain. She watched Lyonna walk out of a tent, followed by a lean, dark-haired elf.

“Tavain, what… you got your tattoo,” said Lyonna.

“I did,” replied Tavain. “I…”

She was interrupted by the man that had followed Lyonna out of the tent. “You know this elf?” he asked.

“Yes, it’s Tahlmus’ sister…”

“That elf has a sister,” his tone was poisoned with disgust.

“You take that back,” Tavain half shouted as she took a step towards the male elf. Lyonna stepped in between them. “Go back in the tent Soris.” He opened his mouth as if to say something, but closed it and went back into the tent.

“Have you seen Tahlmus?” Tavain asked after watching the tent flap close.

“Not since he left here.”

“He was here?”

“Yes he was supposed to eat with my husband and me, but… Soris greeted him with so much jealousy. Tahlmus walked away. He didn’t want to cause any trouble. … and his eyes…”

“What about them?”

“They were so… so… I’ve never seen that much sorrow and sadness in one set of eyes.”

Tavain stomped her foot because she couldn’t think of anything else to do. “This is all my fault,” she said.

“What is?”

“Morrigan and I got into a fight. We said he had to choose. Whoever he didn’t choose would leave. He left instead… disappeared. “

“He told me about the choosing part.”

Tavain stomped her foot again. “Then he had to walk away from you,” she said slightly frustrated. Tavain then froze with her mouth open as a small realization came to her.

“What’s wrong Tavain?”

“Tahlmus has nothing now… no reason to stay…” she couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Tavain what are you implying?”

“I have to find him. I have to find Tahlmus.” A new type of panic creeping into Tavain’s voice. “Will you help me?”

“I… I can’t,” said Lyonna hanging her head. “I have to stay here. Try to work things out with Soris.”

“but… but… I… I understand,” Tavain managed to say.

“I really don’t like this guy,” Lyonna whispered, “but he is a city elf, not used to our ways.”

“It’s ok,” replied Tavain, hoping she sounded more reassuring than she felt. “Tahlmus probably just went to our companion’s part of the camp. I’m just jumping to conclusions. We’ll stop by in the morning to say goodbye before we leave.”

“Sounds good,” replied Lyonna as she wrapped Tavain in a hug.

Tahlmus sat with his back against the trunk of a tree. He had lit a candle. It was floating nearby giving him enough light so he could write. He was going to leave each girl a letter, if he ever finished. They were the hardest letters he had to write. Especially since he didn’t know if they’d make things better.

After watching Lyonna walk back into her tent, Tavain ran to where everyone else was camped. She only saw Wynn, who was preparing to enter her tent. “Wynn, wait,” Tavain said just loud enough to be heard.

“Tavain what… Oh you received your facial tattoo. Congratulations.”

“Yes… Thank you… Have you seen Tahlmus? Is he here?” the questions spilled out of her mouth.

“Tavain slow down. Why are you so excited?”

“I can’t find Tahlmus.”

“He hasn’t been with you?”

“No,” cried Tavain. “He interrupted the fight Morrigan and I were having.”

“That was probably a good thing,” replied Wynn.

“Maybe, except we told him that he had to choose between us.”

“He chose Morrigan then?” Wynn asked.

“No, he left. We said whomever he didn’t choose would leave. And he left… he disappeared. Lyonna said he was there until Soris got all jealous, and he walked away from her too. He didn’t want to cause trouble.”

“so you don’t think he’s in camp?”

Tavain clenched her fists, fighting back the tears that wanted to fall. “I don’t know where he is. Just that he has nothing left, and I need to find him. I was hoping he was here,” she finished in a whisper.

“I’m sorry Tavain. I have not seen him. Why don’t you get some rest. I’m sure he will turn up.”

“But…” was all Tavain could say.

“Go child. I see that Tahlmus put up your tent before leaving to find you and Morrigan. Go rest.”

Tavain wanted to argue, but Wynn had already gently turned her towards the tent. She crawled into the tent under Wynn’s watchful gaze. Tavain dug a candle out of her pack. She managed to light it. The illumination showed all of Tahlmus’ things lying in a neat order. She found a change of robes he had, and used them as covers. She prayed she still had a brother to find in the morning.

Chapter 25

Tahlmus woke with a start, groaning in pain. His hands, head, and ribs were crying out at him. Whatever spell Zathrian had used to relieve the pain had worn off. He shook his head gently to try and rid it of the images left over from his dream. “More of a nightmare than a dream,” he thought. He managed to get himself to a standing position, then held on to the trunk of the tree for support as lightheadedness overwhelmed him.

“Most wonderful start to my day,” he mumbled as he cast a spell to ease the pain from his physical wounds. He picked up the letters he had written. “Time to deliver you, I guess,” he said to the three pieces of paper. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the girls. All three were still asleep within the elven camp.

He thought for a minute, and decided he didn’t want to take the chance on waking Soris. So, he took Lyonna’s letter, folded it, and magically sent it to a pile of clothes in her tent. “Should be a safe place for it,” he thought to himself. He then transported himself to his companions’ camp area.

No one was up and about so he walked over to Morrigan’s tent. He found Flemeth’s grimoire lying open next to a log. “She tried studying,” Tahlmus thought with a smile. He folded her letter put it in the grimoire and closed the book, just to make sure the letter didn’t blow away. He went over and took a peak in the tent. Tahlmus saw her holding onto a tear-stained pillow. He wanted to go over and give her a hug, but he knew he couldn’t.

He walked away from her tent. Wiping his nose on the collar of his robes he made his way to the tent he had put up the afternoon before. Tahlmus opened the tent flap to look in on Tavain. He smiled as he saw she was still asleep under a pair of his robes. Crawling into the tent he made his way over to his stuff. He shrunk down his packs and placed them in his pocket. He sheathed his staff and the new blades that Master Varathorn had made for him. Tahlmus then folded Tavain’s note and placed it on her bow.

He crawled out of the tent. As he stood he looked at his sister one last time. She had rolled over. He could see her face more clearly now. “Our mother’s tattoo,” he whispered. A single tear made its way to the tip of his nose. “It is fitting,” he thought.

“Tahlmus,” came a voice from behind him, startling him.

Tahlmus turned around. “Wynn… I thought everyone was still sleeping.”

“I have been waiting for you.”


“Tavain told me what happened. She was frantic to find you last night.”

Tahlmus hung his head, hiding the few tears that made their way down his face. “I wasn’t going to choose between my sister and the woman I’ve fallen in love with.”

“Do you think it wise to be in love? You are a Grey Warden with grave responsibilities.”

“Born a mage, and orphaned at 7 by the very shemlen I saved at Redcliffe…” his voice had a slightly menacing tone, “I have always had more responsibility than anyone my age; even most older than me.”

“There could come a day where you have to choose between your love and the people you’re sworn to protect.”

Tahlmus shrugged, “There could be a day where I have to choose between saving my sister or the people I am sworn to protect. That doesn’t seem to concern you.” Wynn opened her mouth but no words came out. “And you better hope that never happens, because I will choose my sister over some shemlen every time.”

“But…” Wynn didn’t know what to say as she noticed Morrigan walking towards them, and Tavain crawling out of the tent.

Tahlmus felt the movement of the girls. “I must go now,” he replied.

“Tahlmus,” Morrigan and Tavain shouted together. He turned around to look at them before he disappeared from sight.

Tavain stomped her foot, “He’s gone.”

“Again,” finished Morrigan. Wynn stood there stunned as the two girls looked at each other.

“Tavain… Morrigan…” shouted a familiar voice. The two females turned to see Lyonna running towards them. “Have you seen Tahlmus?” she asked once she was standing in front of them.

“He was just here,” replied Morrigan.

“But he disappeared as soon as he saw us,” finished Tavain.

“What’s wrong dear?” asked Wynn.

“I wanted to know, how he knew.”

“How he knew what?” asked Tavain.

“He knew about Soris… something I didn’t even know.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Morrigan.

“Tahlmus left me a letter. In it he said that I was Soris’ second betrothed. The first he lost to some human lord, whom he later killed, which is why he’s now with us. I asked Soris about it and he told me it was true.”

“He just seems to have a way of knowing things sometimes,” replied Morrigan as she opened her grimoire to where she had been certain she had left it open. She unfolded the piece of paper she found. “I have a letter too,” she replied holding it up for the other two to see. She then started to read it to herself.

“I didn’t,” Tavain paused in thought, “wait,” she said as she scrambled back into the tent. She now noticed all of Tahlmus’ stuff was gone as her eyes skimmed over everything. Then she found it, sitting perfectly balanced on her bow. She snatched it and unfolded it, so she could read it.

“Dear Tavain,

I really screwed up. I’m sorry. Yes, I was protecting Morrigan by not fighting the templars. She would have ended up dead otherwise. But I was also protecting you. Had the templars not reported back to Logain his army would have been waiting for us in Denerim when we showed up for the Landsmeet. The others would have died. You would have been taken prisoner, and tortured; forced to watch me die. I couldn’t let that happen.

I’m sorry I never told you about Lyonna. She was, until Morrigan, the only one besides you I felt the need to protect. You are my sister, I will always love and protect you no matter what. I can’t live life without you. Morrigan is different and thrilling and… I love her. I have this urge to protect her like I protect you. She might hurt me in the end, I’ve considered this. I can’t ignore the feelings I have. I need her like I need you. If I do end up having to choose, it will be you, but please… please don’t make me choose Tavain.

I know since Haven, you’ve doubted your abilities and your role as my fellow Warden. You are every bit the hunter that mom was, and every bit the leader that I am. The Dwarves of Orzammar is the last group to get. Good luck. I hope I get to see you and Morrigan soon.

Love Always,

Your Big Brother


Tavain rubbed her eyes. “Why did I ever doubt him,” she cursed at herself, quickly scrambling out of the tent.

“Is everything alright Tavain?” Wynn asked.

Tavain looked at Morrigan. “We need to talk,” responded the two girls at once.

“I’m sorry,” said Tavain, “for thinking that you only wanted to use my brother. I was jealous that he could love someone else as much as he loved me, but you make him so happy. And …” her voice got a little softer, “he’s had enough taken away from him … I shouldn’t have tried to keep him from being with you.”

“You weren’t completely wrong about me. I should have told both of you the first night we were in camp. But I didn’t plan on falling for Tahlmus the way I have.”

“Told us what?” asked Tavain trying to keep a clear head. She needed her brother back.

“Flemeth sent me along for a very specific reason.”

“And what was that?”

“To perform a ritual with one of the male Wardens on the eve of battle with the arch demon. This ritual will allow the arch demon to be slain without consequence.”

“What is this ritual?” asked Lyonna. “To have sex with the warden?”

“Well…” started Morrigan.

“Wait,” said Tavain as the last sentence sank in. “What do you mean slain without consequence?”

Morrigan hung her head, “I didn’t think any of you knew.”

“Knew what?”

“The Warden that slays the arch demon dies. This ritual, which does involve having an intimate night with the Warden, will save him from that.”

“So, then… what is he to you? Is your affection an act?” asked Tavain trying to take in what Morrigan had said.

“No, my affection is not an act. I really do love him.”

“Are you going to leave him?”

“I don’t know,” Morrigan replied softly.

“And what of the other two?” asked Wynn. “Will they die if they slay the dragon before Tahlmus does?”

“We won’t get the chance,” replied Tavain. “As soon as Tahlmus learns of this, he won’t let Alistair or I near the arch demon.

“So who’s going to tell him?” asked Wynn.

The girls looked at each other. “None of us,” said Tavain. “Not until he absolutely needs to know.”

“Do you really think that’s a good idea?” asked Wynn.

“Yes,” replied Tavain. “He’s been burdened with a lot since he was 7. He’s lost a lot. Knowing this will change how he does things. This will be my burden to carry until it’s necessary for him to know.”

“Now what?” asked Morrigan.

“We need to find Tahlmus. We need to find him. Make him listen to us. Tell him that we can work together, and apologize,” replied Tavain.

“How will we do that?” asked Morrigan

“I don’t…” started Tavain.

“Tavain, we’re all packed up,” said Alistair. “Where do we head now?”

“To Orzammar, the dwarves are the last treaty,” she replied remembering what Tahlmus had written. Alistair nodded and motioned for the others to follow him.

“What about Tahlmus?” asked Lyonna.

“I’m thinking…” replied Tavain. As she spoke she felt something hit her in the head. “Creators…”

“What?” asked Morrigan.

“Something hit me in the head,” Tavain replied as she started looking at the ground. She found a ring lying on the ground at her feet. “This,” she said as she picked it up.

“Looks like the one that you threw into the forest,” Morrigan finished.

“It is the one I threw into the forest.” Tavain slipped it on her finger, it turned black and a white arrow appeared. “It works,” she whispered.

“Which way do we go?” asked Morrigan.

“West,” she replied.

“Towards Orzammar?” questioned Morrigan.

“Of course,” replied Tavain bringing her palm to her forehead. “Where else would he go?”

“I’m not quite following,” said Morrigan.

Tavain shook her head slightly. “How could I not see this,” she whispered shaking her head. “He gladly accepted the responsibility of carrying weapons at seven, when most do not get that until age twelve. When our parents died, he accepted the responsibility of teaching and raising me. He accepted his duty to become a Grey Warden, leaving our clan behind. When he found we were the only surviving Wardens, he accepted the task of building an army even though he had to leave me behind.”

“I assume there is a point?”

“Yes,” replied Tavain, “he’s never shirked his responsibility, no matter the situation. We still have to get the dwarves support. He might be on his own, but he’s still going to try to finish this. I never should have doubted him,” she finished quietly.

Morrigan nodded, “I guess that makes sense.”

“Lyonna,” said Tavain turning to the female elf. “Thank you for all your help,” she said as she wrapped Lyonna in a hug.

“You’re welcome,” Lyonna replied. “Go find Tahlmus, and I’ll prepare the other hunters so that we are ready when he calls on us.”

Tavain nodded, then motioned to Morrigan, “let’s go.” The two girls  ran off to catch up with the rest of the group.

Tahlmus found himself at the edge of the Frostback Mountains. “Beautiful, but cold,” he thought as he wrapped his robes tighter around himself. He set out to finish his travel to Orzammar on foot.

He made his way up to the entrance of what on the outside, looked like a magnificent palace.

“Whoa there, stranger. I am afraid I can’t let you in.”

“I have this treaty,” said Tahlmus as he took it out of his robe pocket.

“Ah a Grey Warden. The assembly should see that, but I’m not sure they will be able to do anything.”

“Why not? This treaty is an obligation.”

“But we have no king.”

“It’s always something…” said Tahlmus softly.

“What was that?”

“Maybe if you let me in I can help.”

“What could you do?”

“My father taught me a little about the dwarves; told me about King Endrin.”

The dwarf looked Tahlmus up and down, “You’re Theron’s son.”

“Yes I am.”

“Then I will let you pass. Maybe with your help the assembly will see some reason and pick a king.”

“Thank you,” nodded Tahlmus. “Probably tomorrow, there will be a group, led by my sister Tavain. She is also a Grey Warden. Let them in, but do not mention anything about me. Please.”

“As you wish.” Tahlmus nodded his thanks once again, then walked into Orzammar. He took his time walking through the Hall of Heroes, reading about each paragon. It was just as his father had described it. He reached the other side of the hall when he felt a tingling in his bones.

Tahlmus closed his eyes and concentrated. He saw Tavain slipping the ring back on her finger. He opened his eyes and smiled. “Aunt Eria was right,” he thought as he opened the door that led into the heart of Orzammar.

A group of dwarves were arguing in the common area which ended when one of them lost their head. Tahlmus stood in the entrance too shocked to do anything. Everything in his father’s journals described Orzammar as a peaceful place. The dwarves quickly dispersed. “I’m sorry you had to see that,” said a dwarven soldier. “These are not Orzammar’s best days.”

“I hear there isn’t a king.”

“Since King Endrin’s passing, Orzammar has been in turmoil. Behlen thinks he should have the thrown, but Harrowmont claims that Endrin did not wish his son to be king. The assembly seems to be deadlocked.”

“A member from each house sits on the assembly, don’t they?”

“Yes…they do,” said the dwarf slowly. “You seem to know a little about us,” he replied slightly shocked that an outsider would know about the assembly.

“Not as much as I’d like,” replied Tahlmus. “But my dad taught me a few things.”

This guard looked Tahlmus up and down as the other one had. That was starting to get old. “There’s something familiar about you,” the dwarf said.

“I’ve been getting that a lot,” replied Tahlmus, trying not to sound annoyed. “Can you tell me where the assembly does their business? I have some things I must discuss with them.” he said showing the treaty to the dwarf.

“A Grey Warden,” the dwarf whispered. “And one that knows our ways.”

Tahlmus smiled uncomfortably, “I know a little,” he said. “The assembly?”

“Ah yes, they can be found in the Diamond Quarter, off to your right here, just before the deep roads entrance.”

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus bowing to the dwarf in farewell as he headed in the direction of the Diamond Quarter.

He walked through the doors, and wandered down the walkway. Tahlmus made his way all the way to the end. “Maybe I should have asked for a more specific location,” he thought. “I guess this door is as good as any,” he mumbled to himself. Tahlmus found himself in what looked to be a library. He slowly walked through, taking everything in.

“Welcome Grey Warden,” came a voice from his right. “Your visit has been recorded in the memories.”

“The Shaperate?” questioned Tahlmus.

“Yes, young lad. You are as bright as your father.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” blushed Tahlmus.

“Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Can you tell me where I can find the assembly? I was told it was in the Diamond Quarter, but outside of that I am unsure.”

“I can do better than that,” said the dwarf, as he pulled out a ring and handed it to Tahlmus.

“A ring?” questioned Tahlmus.

“Not just any ring. That ring has been here since the first member of your family visited Orzammar.”

“You can’t be that old,” interrupted Tahlmus.

This made the dwarf laugh, “No, but it was recorded in the memories. We keep good records here.” Tahlmus nodded. “Put the ring on,” said the dwarf.

Tahlmus did as he was told. It tingled with energy as it glowed brightly before going back to normal. “Just like my blades and staff,” he thought a little confused. The dwarf chuckled at Tahlmus’ confusion. Tahlmus was about to yell at the dwarf when he realized what to do with the ring. “Just like I gave my sister,” he whispered.

“You figured it out have you?”

Tahlmus studied the ring, “I think about where I want to go, and the ring shows me the way.”

The dwarf smiled, “You figured that out faster than anyone else in your family.”

“Because I’ve used the spell…” said Tahlmus quietly.

The dwarf frowned. “How old are you?”


“You truly are the most powerful mage in your family. Theron said you would be, but this proves he was right.”

“How do you know…” started Tahlmus.

“Every male mage in your family has been here for one reason or another. Every member has been given that ring for their stay here. You are the only one who figured it out without help, and the only one who had already used the spell.”

“That doesn’t make me more powerful.”

“Ah, but your father explained the spell to me, and I researched it; even the simplest form of this spell requires the mage to be at full power and quite experienced for it to work correctly.”

Tahlmus frowned. “That can’t be right because I used it before I came to full power. It worked on my first try.”

“You are a better mage than you give yourself credit for lad, now go on to the assembly.”

Tahlmus nodded to the dwarf, deep in thought about what he had learned. He made his way back out onto the walkway. Concentrating on the assembly he allowed the ring to show him the way.”

“What is an elf doing here?” spat a dwarven voice as Tahlmus entered the building.

“I’m a Grey Warden,” replied Tahlmus. “I need to speak with Behlen and Harrowmont.”

“Pfft… Behlen is the true heir, all this stuff the assembly is doing is non-sense.”

“Would I be able to talk with Behlen then?” asked Tahlmus.

“You would have to prove your loyalty before he can see you. Don’t need any spies sneaking in.”

“Prove my loyalty?” asked Tahlmus slightly annoyed.

“We couldn’t be letting in one of the Harromont’s spies.”

“You can’t seriously think I’m a spy.”

“Sorry, Warden, can’t take any chances.”

Tahlmus started to turn the dwarf’s skin green. “What… what is happening to me?”

“Only the beginning of what could happen, if you don’t take me to see Behlen.”

“Ok, ok, I will take you to see Behlen just… just…” Tahlmus took the spell off, and followed the dwarf to Behlen’s presence.

“What is this?” asked Behlen. “You bring a stranger into my quarters,” stated Behlen as he drew his sword. Tahlmus rolled his eyes and cast a spell that made Behlen’s sword heavier than he could handle. He watched Behlen struggle to lift it. Behlen’s guards tried to react, but couldn’t reach their swords.

“W…who are you?” asked Behlen shrinking back slightly.

“I am Tahlmus, a Dalish elf and Grey Warden.”

“What do you want?”

“I want you to tell me how you would rule Orzammar. And I wouldn’t lie; those consequences will not be pleasant.

Behlen nodded and started spouting off everything he could think of. When Behlen finished Tahlmus lifted the spell and walked out. He decided he should go talk to Harrowmont before meeting with the assembly. He followed the ring to Harrowmont’s door.

“Who are you?”

“I am Tahlmus.”

“What do you need?”

“I want to speak with Harrowmont.”

“You will have to prove your loyalty.” Tahlmus rolled his eyes. “This again,” he thought. He turned this dwarf green as well. “Is this supposed to frighten me into taking you to Harrowmont?” he asked obviously not concerned.

“I thought it might help,” shrugged Tahlmus slightly surprised.

“There was another elf like you, older… used it on my father.”

“Alright then,” said Tahlmus as he held his right arm straight out. He slowly started to close his fingers into a fist. As he did so the dwarf found his airflow being restricted.

The dwarf started clawing at his neck, trying to remove the invisible hand that was choking him. “Will you take me to Harrowmont now?” asked Tahlmus still slowly forming a fist. The dwarf nodded because he couldn’t speak. Tahlmus put his arm down, releasing the spell. The body guard quickly led Tahlmus to Harrowmont.

“What is this?” asked Harrowmont backing away from his body guard and Tahlmus.

“I am Tahlmus, a Grey Warden, and I am here to speak with you.” He cast a spell so Harrowmont couldn’t back up anymore.

“W…what about?”

“I want you to tell me your plans for Orzammar and lying to me would be a bad idea.”

“You’re more intimidating than your father,” whispered Harrowmont before he started telling his account on how he would rule Orzammar. Tahlmus thanked Harrowmont after he had finished showing himself out.

“More powerful… more intimidating… what am I?” thought Tahlmus as he walked back to talk to the assembly. Once in the building housing the assembly, he walked through a pair of double doors. He found himself on a balcony overlooking a meeting the assembly was having. A harsh verbal argument broke out. The leader of the assembly tried to calm it. He seemed to glance at Tahlmus before recessing the meeting until tempers cooled.

Tahlmus watched everyone walk out before he, himself walked back through the double doors. “I am sorry you had to see the assembly in that state. Things have not been good since King Endrin died. I think the Carta has been leaning on both sides … trying to keep us deadlocked. Without a king the Carta has had full reign.”

“Well, I have talked to both Behlen and Harrowmont, I could…”

“We cannot have an outsider deciding our politics.”

“But this needs to get resolved. I am a Grey Warden and require aid,” replied Tahlmus slightly frustrated. He started playing with the ring on his finger. The dwarf noticed this.

“Theron’s son,” he whispered. “Maybe, if you could get rid of the carta, then we could come to a decision.”

Tahlmus rolled his eyes, “ Always something,” he thought. “My name is Tahlmus,” he replied out loud, “if getting rid of the Carta will help… I will see what I can do.”

“That would be great.” Tahlmus started to walk out.

“Wait…” said the dwarf.

Tahlmus turned, “Yes?” he questioned.

“I… this just feels like déjà vu.”

“This has happened before?”

“It’s how King Endrin became king… we were in turmoil, then your father came. He was older though…”

“I’m not my father,” replied Tahlmus softly. He then walked out making his way back towards the entrance to Orzammar. Tahlmus found the dwarf that had give him the directions to the Diamond Quarter.

“Did you find what you needed?” he asked.

“Yes and no,” replied Tahlmus. “Is there a place where I could rest for the night?”

“The tavern usually has one or two rooms available, but it’s hardly time to sleep.”

“Maybe not, but I have some things I need to get organized and think about. I also have not eaten in quite a while. My body just needs a break.”

The guard nodded, “Tavern will be your best bet, like I said.”

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus with a bow.

He followed the ring to the tavern. The barkeep showed excitement and gladly gave Tahlmus a room. The room was lowly lit. It had a bed and a desk. “Better than a tent,” thought Tahlmus as he opened the desk drawer. To his surprise, he found a stack of letters. Tahlmus took them out. Sitting on the bed he started to read them.

Chapter 26

“Tavain, could we slow down? We’ve been going at such a frantic pace we missed lunch,” whined Leliana. “Tahlmus would have stopped to eat.”

“No,” replied Tavain shortly. She was tired, hungry, and felt out of breath, but the arrow on the ring helped her to continue pushing forward.

“What do you plan on accomplishing by going at this pace?” asked Wynn. “We’ll be too tired to do anything when we reach our destination. Tahlmus would not allow this.”

Tavain stopped as half the ring turned blue, while the other half stayed green. “I am not Tahlmus,” she shouted. Morrigan looked at her. “Tahlmus can transport. He can make food appear. He could accommodate us in any way we wanted, but he’s not here. He’s alone in Orzammar facing who knows what, and the longer we take to get there; means a higher possibility of him being wounded or killed. He’s powerful, but not invincible.”

“Well, we must be close,” replied Zevran, “because it’s getting colder.”

Tavain suddenly noticed the chill in the air. She shivered as a chill went up her spine. “Not close enough,” she replied. “We need to get as close as we can before nightfall.”  She turned away from the group, nodded at Morrigan, and then resumed her frantic pace.

“How close are we?” asked Morrigan, as the ring turned fully blue.

“Distance wise, I’m unsure. The next colour though, will be red, and that means we’ve pretty much reached our destination.

“So we’ll be able to see Tahlmus.”

“Not necessarily see him,” replied Tavain. “We’ll be in the same general area, and the arrow will continue to lead us directly to Tahlmus.

“Do you think he’ll stay around long enough after we find him to talk to us?” asked Morrigan.

“Yes,” replied Tavain.

“Do you think he knows that you are using the ring?”

“Yes,” replied Tavain again, with a confidence she did not feel.

“I hope so,” Morrigan whispered.

“I wish Tahlmus was here,” whined Leliana.

“We could have stopped to rest,” said Zevran.

Tavain spun around to say something, but Sten spoke first, “Tahlmus has protected us in order for us to hone our talents and skills. Now he’s testing us, and the only one passing his test is Tavain.” Everyone stared at Sten. “What?”

“You’ve never said that much at one time,” replied Tavain.

Sten grunted, “It needed to be said.”

Tavain nodded, “Let’s keep moving.” She motioned for the group to follow her, and they moved on in silence.

As the sun was beginning to set, the ring turned red. Tavain smiled and started looking for a place to set up camp. “There,” she pointed to a small clearing to her left. “We’ll camp there.”

“We’re stopping?” asked Leliana.

“Yes,” replied Tavain in annoyance. “We will rest and eat. Set up camp. Get a fire started. I’m going to find something for us to eat.”

“I’m coming with you,” said Morrigan. Tavain nodded and the two walked further into the forest.

When they were far enough from the camp Tavain spoke, “The ring turned red, so we’re close.”

“Why not continue on then?”

“Because Wynn was right. We wouldn’t be in any shape to do anything when we get there. Knowing the circle had their problems, Redcliffe had theirs. We can expect that there is something wrong in Orzammar. Tahlmus has probably already started working on whatever that happens to be. We need to be prepared for whatever he’s gotten himself into.”

“Do you think he’s in trouble?”

“No, he won’t be in trouble,” replied Tavain, “but he most likely will be in the middle of something and we should be physically prepared to help him… if he needs it.”

“How long til we get there?”

“Mid-morning at the latest.”

“So we should be able to find him before mid-day.”

“Yes,” replied Tavain, her eyes searching for any kind of prey. “Then I’ll apologize to him,” she thought as she spotted small deer. She touched Morrigan’s arm to get her to stop and pointed at the deer. “Stay here” she mouthed. Morrigan nodded in understanding. Tavain moved into position to kill the deer. She steadied her bow and took the shot.

“That was impressive,” said Morrigan as the deer fell to the ground.

“Thanks,” replied Tavain as she quickly dressed it being careful not to waste any part of the animal. “Can you levitate it like you did with Tahlmus?”

“I think I can remember the spell,” she replied as she made the deer slowly levitate off the ground.

“Great,” said Tavain. “Now let’s get back to camp so Leliana can cook it. I’m sick of all the whining.”

“Me too,” replied Morrigan as they started back towards the camp.

The two girls left the carcass with Leliana so she could start the meal while they went to set up their own tents. Tavain struggled to put up her tent. She realized how much she had taken her brother’s abilities for granted.

“Tavain, do you need…” started Morrigan as she walked up and noticed the young elf struggling.

“No,” she replied quickly.

“Are you…”


“Won’t you let me…”

“No.” Tavain started giggling as she tied the last string off.

“What’s so funny?”

“I just realized how much I sounded like Tahlmus,” Tavain said as she caught her breath. “Actually I’m more like him than I realized,” she thought.

“O…k…” said Morrigan, unsure of what to think.

“Sounds like this is where all the fun is,” came Alistair’s voice.

Tavain forced herself to stop laughing and get to a standing position, “What do you need?”

“Just come to let you know the stew is ready.” Morrigan nodded and headed over to the fire, while Alistair just looked at Tavain.

“Is there something wrong?” she asked.

“No… I was just wondering…”


“Well… you see… I… uh… I kind of like you a lot… and… uh…Tahlmus isn’t around… so I was wondering…”

“Alistair… are you asking me what I think you’re asking?”

“Depends, what do you think I’m asking?”

“You want me to stay with you for the night…”

“Well, yes… that… uh… is what I was trying to ask.”

Tavain wondered what her brother would say if he was there. “I… I just spent all that time putting up my tent,” she finally replied.

“Maybe … maybe I could stay with you then?” Alistair half stated, half asked.

Tavain mulled it over, “I guess that would be alright,” she replied. She did like Alistair. He reminded her of Tamlen.

Alistair smiled, “Shall we go eat before someone comes looking for us?”

“Yes,” replied Tavain who took off skipping towards the fire. The group ate in silence, all too tired to talk.

After Tavain finished her stew she stood, “We’ll be getting an early start tomorrow, so everyone should get some sleep.” Everyone nodded and made their way to their tents. Tavain wandered over to hers and Alistair slowly followed.

“Are you ok?” she asked as she noticed his hesitation to crawl into the tent.

“I… just… well… it’s a little intimidating… liking the sister of a powerful mage.”

Tavain giggled, “It’s ok. I have him wrapped around my finger. He won’t hurt you unless you hurt me.”

“Oh that makes everything better,” Alistair said sarcastically, but it relaxed him enough to follow Tavain into her tent.

Tahlmus woke suddenly. He wasn’t sure what had woken him. As he sat up there was the sound of crinkling of paper. “The letters,” he thought as he picked them up. He sat there holding them. “I’m not like any of the mages in my family,” he whispered to himself. Getting up he put the letters back in the desk. “Better keep with tradition,” he said to himself as he pulled out a sheet of paper to write his own letter. Once he was done he placed his letter in with the others; then gathered his things and walked out of the room.

“You’re up rather early.”

Tahlmus turned to the dwarf that had spoken. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“That seems to be normal for you elves.” Tahlmus rolled his eyes. “Did you find the letters?” the dwarf asked.

Tahlmus raised an eyebrow, “You know about the letters?”

“Your father mentioned them to me. Wanted to know how they had survived there all these years.”

“I was wondering the same thing,” replied Tahlmus.

“Well, at first I thought he was crazy because none of the rooms have desks.”

Tahlmus looked sideways at the dwarf, “The rooms… don’t have desks…”

“Your father and I went in circles for almost two hours…”

“It’s the ring, isn’t it?” interrupted Tahlmus. “The ring allows me to see the desk. Without the ring, it’s just empty space.”

“You figured that out right quick. Did your father tell you before you came here?”

“I haven’t spoken with my father in 9 years,” replied Tahlmus giving the dwarf a partial truth.

“You are very smart for your age, why…”

“So I’ve been told,” interrupted Tahlmus, getting very annoyed. “Do you have any food? I’m kind of hungry.” The dwarf nodded, and went off to make Tahlmus something to eat.

Once Tahlmus was finished with the food, he thanked the dwarf and followed the ring into Dust Town. He felt out of place. “Casteless,” he thought, as he remembered his father explaining the caste system the dwarves used. “No wonder the ring led me here,” he mumbled. “Perfect place for the Carta to hide.

Tahlmus tried asking a few of the dwarves if they knew anything about the Carta, but the faces that had been happy to see him, turned to scowls telling him to leave. He continued to walk on slowly wondering how he would get his answers.

“Hey stranger, any coin or food to spare?”

“Excuse me?” asked Tahlmus, unsure of what he heard.

“You’re not from around here. I thought you might have some spare coin or food,” replied the dwarf.

Tahlmus studied the haggard looking female. “If you have the right information, I might have some extra coin.”

“What kind of information?”

“I need to find the leader of the Carta.”

“Jarvia will not be easy to find, or get to.”

“Explain,” replied Tahlmus.

“She has a lot of body guards. I used to run with her until I was maimed by one of the King’s soldiers. I hear members now have special keys that get them into otherwise un-openable doors.”

“Wonderful,” thought Tahlmus. He flipped a sovereign to the dwarf. “Thanks,” he said.

“I will think of you when I go to bed tonight with a full stomach.”

Tahlmus continued walking until he spotted a door without a handle. “This must be one of the doors that dwarf spoke of,” he mumbled to himself as he studied the door, finding nothing but a keyhole.

He worked at picking the lock. A few seconds later he heard a click and the door swung open. He cast a spell on the door so it would stay ajar. “Just in case,” he thought as he started down a narrow hallway.  The hallway opened up into a room with several dwarves in it.

“What’s the password?” asked the one closest to Tahlmus.

“Maybe I should have waited for Tavain,” he thought as he studied the group of dwarves. “Jarvia,” he replied.

“How’d you get in here?” asked the dwarf as the others started to circle Tahlmus.

“Magic,” he replied, lighting a flame in the palm of his hand.

“Ah a circle mage,” replied one of the other dwarves. “Are we supposed to be scared of you?”

“We’ve heard circle mages aren’t very powerful, the human chantry makes sure of that,” stated another dwarf.

Tahlmus extinguished the flame in his hand, watching the first dwarf crumple to the ground. “But I was not raised in the circle. I am a Dalish elf.” One of the dwarves started to back away while the others continued to close in on him. Tahlmus relit the flame in his hand.

“You shouldn’t have come alone,” sneered the dwarf who had thought him a circle mage.

“You will die now,” spat the other dwarf as all except the one backing away drew their weapons.

Tahlmus grinned sadistically, “Not today,” he said as he extinguished the flame and watched all the dwarves fall.

“P…P…please don’t hurt me,” stuttered the lone dwarf still trying to back away from Tahlmus.

“How many more thugs are there?” asked Tahlmus using a spell to bring the dwarf closer to him.

“A … a … fffew dozen.”

“Why are you so afraid of me?” questioned Tahlmus.

“The last Dalish elf mage that came here wiped out everyone in the Carta, except Jarvia.”

“What aren’t you telling me?” he asked. He was sure the dwarf was hiding something.

“W… what do you mean?”

“You’re holding something back.”

“How do you know?”

“I can sense it… now what is it?”

The dwarf started grumbling, “Jarvia said this would work.”

“Jarvia knew I was coming?”

“Of course, she knew, as soon as she found that it was you.”

“What is she planning for me?”

“I’m not saying anything else.”

Tahlmus grabbed the dwarf by the collar, “You will answer my questions, or I will kill you.”

“Go ahead,” replied the dwarf. “Kill me. I’m not telling you anything.”

Tahlmus growled, then used his magic to propel the dwarf against the wall. “Unconscious, but still alive,” thought Tahlmus as he examined the body. He walked out of the room and down another tunnel.

Tavain ran up the steps leading to Orzammar. The guard paused his argument with the humans to look at her. “You look just like your brother,” he said softly.

“Excuse me?” asked Tavain. She had been breathing heavily and hadn’t heard what the dwarf said.

“What? Oh nothing,” the dwarf replied. “You and your party may enter.” Tavain nodded and hastily made her way to the door.

“Wait! Why are they allowed to pass? Surely as men from Logain’s army we would be allowed to pass over that elf and her companions,” he shouted. Tavain turned reaching for her bow.

“Her father is inside waiting for her,” replied the dwarf simply. The soldier gaped at the dwarf. Tavain just grinned as she pushed open the door and walked through. She ran across the hall to the door leading into the heart of the dwarven city. Tavain paused as she put her hand on the door handle.

“What’s wrong?” asked Wynn.

“I… I’m not sure, but…”

“Are you having visions now too?” asked Alistair.

“No,” replied Tavain. “It’s just… something isn’t right,” she said looking at the ring. It had an arrow pointing in every direction.

“Could Tahlmus be in trouble?” asked Morrigan.

“I don’t know.”

“We have to go through,” replied Wynn.

“I know,” Tavain replied. “This is how things went at Ishal,” she thought as she pushed the door open. The group walked through.

“This place looks abandoned,” said Leliana.

“Yeah…” said Tavain studying the ring. “I’m not…”

“I believe you won’t be going any further,” a thuggish looking dwarf said interrupting Tavain’s train of thought. Tavain made a move for her bow as the group was surrounded by more thuggish looking dwarves. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” spoke the dwarf again, as he pulled out a set of robes. They had been hard to get but he managed to steal the robes of the young male elf. As his luck would have it, the robes already had blood on them.

Tavain paused when she saw the robes, “Why not?” she asked still not moving.

“Your brother won’t make it if you do.”

“What have you done to him?” asked Morrigan, more emotion in her voice than she intended.

“Bit of a weakling he is, but he’s holding up for now,” the dwarf sneered.

“What do you want?” asked Tavain.

“You and the dark-haired human to come with us,” replied the dwarf. “Your companions will stay here.”

“If we refuse?” asked Morrigan as she pulled out her staff.

“Just what do you think you can do?” asked the dwarf. “If any one of us does not return, the elf is as good as dead.”

“I don’t believe you,” replied Tavain as she drew her bow. “There’s no way these guys could have taken my brother,” she thought.

“Go ahead, take your chances,” replied the dwarf as he threw the robes in front of both girls. Tavain swallowed hard as she saw the blood covering the robes.

“What do we do?” asked Morrigan softly.

“We can’t risk it,” replied Tavain softly as she laid her bow on the ground. Morrigan nodded as she placed her staff on the ground next to Tavain’s bow.

“I thought you’d see it our way,” laughed the dwarf as two of his companions bound the wrists of the two females.  “The rest of you will not try to follow us. If we catch a glimpse of you anywhere near our base, we will kill the girls… and the male elf,” the dwarf sneered as the others pushed Tavain, and Morrigan towards Dust Town. Wynn nodded to the dwarf, as she started to gently push the rest of her companions in the opposite direction.

“Jarvia’s plan is working perfectly,” thought the dwarf as he followed his companions to Jarvia’s quarters.

“What do we do now?” asked Zevran.

“We wait,” replied Alistair, who had picked up , and was now studying the robes.

“What do you mean we wait?” asked Leliana. “Shouldn’t we do something to help them?”

“Because Tahlmus is fine, he’ll save Tavain and Morrigan.”

“How do you know that?” asked Sten.

“These are the robes he wore at Redcliffe. The blood on these is from the wounds he received there.”

“How can you be sure?” asked Wynn.

“The rip in the shoulder here,” Alistair pointed. “And the piece missing here.”

“What does that prove?”

“He took a blow to his shoulder, and the piece that’s missing is where he cut off part of his robes to clean his cuts.”

“So, we’re just going to sit here and do nothing?” asked Sten.

“Not exactly nothing, we will try to find out what Tahlmus found out,” replied Alistair. His companions looked at each other before following the templar.

The group of dwarves’ drug Tavain and Morrigan into Jarvia’s quarters. “Oh, you brought me two of them,” replied Jarvia. “This could work out better than planned. He should be arriving soon. Then unlike when Theron was here, we will kill off this elf and keep the assembly dead-locked.

The group of dwarves laughed as Tavain and Morrigan looked at each other. “We should have known,” mouthed Morrigan. Tavain nodded as she closed her eyes and hung her head. “Now something bad will happen,” she thought. “Tahlmus was wrong about me,” she whispered.

“Put hoods over their heads. Keep them hidden until my say so,” Jarvia ordered. “One of you go pay the tavern keeper. He earned his keep for this one.”

Tahlmus watched the last Carta member fall. He did a little looting, then headed towards what he hoped was the final door leading to Jarvia. “The assembly definitely owes me,” he thought as he reached out for the door handle. His stomach started to twist into knots. “What is this,” he mumbled, “there weren’t any visions.” He paused thinking, “I can’t turn back now.” He turned the knob and walked through the door. He found a female dwarf with several thugs standing behind her.

“Ah, Theron’s son. So, nice of you to finally show.”

“Your minions caused my delay,” he said. Jarvia laughed, causing all the hairs on Tahlmus’ neck to stand. “How do you know me?”

“Twenty years ago, your father came here, doing whatever business it was he had to do, but there was no King. The assembly thought it was the Carta’s fault. Being the stand-up man your father was, he took on the assignment of getting rid of us. He came to this very room and took the only family I had. He killed them all except me. He took me back to the assembly, said he couldn’t kill a child; convinced them to put me in a good home. As soon as he was gone, I was right back on the streets of Dust Town.”

“That doesn’t explain how you know me.”

“From that day, I vowed revenge.” Every year I sneak into the Shaperate, to study everything he has on your family. In case a Tyrlyth comes without my knowledge. You’re the youngest male to try coming here.”

“You really think killing me is going to make you feel better?”

“I’m not going to kill you boy, I’m going to torture you. Make you beg for me to kill you. Then I will send you back to your father, piece by piece.”

Tahlmus smirked, “That last part will be hard to do since my father has been dead for 9 years. Besides torturing me means you would have captured me,” he paused for a second, “and that isn’t going to happen.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” replied Jarvia with an evil grin as she waved to her left.

Tahlmus glanced to his right. He saw a couple of dwarves drag in two hooded, struggling figures. “How are those two figures supposed to convince me to let you live?”

“Take a closer look,” sneered Jarvia. Tahlmus looked again, as the dwarf removed the hoods. He froze as he recognized Tavain and Morrigan.

“Tahlmus,” both girls shouted as they struggled against their restraints. A bigger looking dwarf grabbed both of them by the scruffs of their necks. Morrigan let out a small cry of pain. Tavain winced, biting her lip as they both stopped moving.

Jarvia laughed. “You recognize them,” she said to Tahlmus.

He swallowed the lump in his throat, as he turned to face Jarvia. His face set like stone. Looking her directly in the eye he said, “They mean nothing to me.” Jarvia felt a chill run down her spine at the unexpected harshness in the young elf’s voice.

“T… Tahlmus…” stuttered Tavain.

“Y… you can’t mean…” Morrigan couldn’t finish as the grip on the back of her neck tightened. Tahlmus felt his blood boiling, but his expression didn’t change.

“Sounds like you mean something to them,” said Jarvia.

“They must have me confused with someone else,” replied Tahlmus as he pulled out his blades.

“Now, what does a mage do with blades?” asked Jarvia.

“Nothing,” replied Tahlmus. “I’m not a mage.” Tavain and Morrigan glanced at each other.

“You’re wearing robes,” she replied.

“They’re warmer than armour,” he replied.

“So, you are not the first born?” questioned Jarvia a sly smile crossing her lips.

“Nope,” replied Tahlmus, unsure of where the lies would get him. “He died with my parents.”

Jarvia’s evil smile grew. “Well, I’d drop your blades if I were you.”

“Why?” asked Tahlmus.

“Otherwise, one of them,” she replied pointing to Tavain and Morrigan, “will die.”

“So, what?” replied Tahlmus. “I told you they mean nothing to me.”

“Bring the elf over here,” she ordered.

The big dwarf pulled Tavain off her knees by the scruff of her neck, and drug her to Jarvia. Tavain yelped in pain as she struggled against the dwarf. This was a side of her brother she hadn’t seen before. She didn’t’ know what to expect.

Jarvia grabbed the young elf, her arm diagonal across Tavain’s chest from her shoulder. She held the tip of the knife against Tavain’s cheek.

“B… big brother… p… please… d… don’t let her hurt me. P…please.”

“Big brother huh,” said Jarvia looking at Tavain. Tahlmus slowly inched forward whispering a spell to get rid of the body guards. “You must have gotten stuck raising her.”

“I did,” replied Tahlmus harshly.

“She ruined your life,” replied Jarvia.

“That she did,” replied Tahlmus with as much ice in his voice as he could muster. Jarvia started to relax, lowering her knife as she did so. She hadn’t noticed all her thugs were now laying on the floor indisposed.

“Ta…Tahlmus,” sniffed Tavain. This time if he was lying she couldn’t tell. It scared her. “Y…you don’t mean…”

Jarvia had now moved her blade completely away from Tavain, as well as loosened her grip on the young elf. Tahlmus knew it was now or never. “Tavain move,” he shouted as he lunged at Jarvia. Tavain spun away and watched her brother decapitate the female dwarf. The body crumpled where Jarvia had stood and the head rolled off to the side. Morrigan screamed. Tavain felt woozy and started to fall.

“I got you Tavain,” came her brother’s voice as she felt his arms around her. “I’ve got you,” he said again pulling her close. He picked his sister up and carried her over to Morrigan.

“Tahlmus, you didn’t really mean…”

“No I didn’t mean any of it,” he replied as he freed the hands of both girls. Morrigan wrapped her arms around Tahlmus as Tavain shook her head to get rid of the woozy feeling. She then wrapped her arms around her brother as well.

Tahlmus closed his eyes as he held both girls. “I’ve missed both of you,” he whispered.

“Now, what happens big brother?”

“We go talk to the assembly.” He helped both girls to a standing position, then they made their way back to the assembly’s chambers.

Chapter 27

“You’re back rather soon,”

“Was it supposed to take longer?” Tahlmus asked the leader of the assembly.

“It took your father longer,” replied the dwarf in a whisper.

Tavain looked at Tahlmus., his face looked like stone again. “As I said before, I am not my father,” he replied. His voice had a tone Tavain had not heard before. Something had changed about her brother. She wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.

“Of course…” said the dwarf.

“Do you think the assembly could make a decision now?”

“I’m afraid they are still deadlocked, but…”

Tahlmus rolled his eyes. “How did I know there would be a but,” he mumbled.

“But what?” asked Tavain taking over the questioning.

“We would be able to crown a king if our paragon would choose…”

“Who’s the paragon?” asked Tavain. The dwarf opened his mouth to speak.

“A better question,” interrupted Tahlmus, “would be… Where is this paragon?” Tavain and Morrigan looked at Tahlmus.

“She’s… a … she took her house on an expedition into the deep roads and we haven’t heard from her.”

“Why not send word to her?” asked Tavain.

“We… we have, but…” Tahlmus eyed the dwarf. “We haven’t found her.”

Tavain opened her mouth but Tahlmus spoke. “When did she go into the deep roads?” he asked.

“T… two years ago,” replied the dwarf.

“And you were just going to conveniently leave that part out,” stated Tahlmus in a frustrated tone. Tavain could see her brother’s muscles flexing as he spoke. “I’ve never noticed those before,” she thought as she placed a hand on Tahlmus’ shoulder.

“Well,” the dwarf started. He didn’t finish as he watched Tahlmus walk out of the room. “Does that mean you’ll go look for her?” he asked looking at Tavain.

“Actually it means that my brother wanted to strangle you, but yes we’ll go look.  Whatever this decision is about we need the assembly to make it,” replied Tavain nodding at the dwarf. She walked off to find her brother. Morrigan was close at her heels. “Tahlmus,” sang Tavain.


“Are we going into the deep roads now?”

Tahlmus stopped walking, looked up at the ceiling, and let out a sigh. “Yes, we have no choice, but first we need to find the others.”

“Well, that won’t be too hard,” replied Tavain. Tahlmus looked away from the ceiling, and spotted the rest of their companions walking towards them.

“Looks like you were right Alistair,” said Wynn as they stopped in front of Tahlmus.

“Alistair was right about something?” Tahlmus asked in feigned shock.

“Yes,” replied Leliana. “He said you were ok and not hurt like the dwarves said you were.”

Tahlmus raised an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”

“These thuggish dwarves met us when we entered Orzammar,” started Tavain.

“They told us they had captured you. Showed us your robes. They had blood on them,” continued Morrigan.

“So, we gave in and let them take us,” finished Tavain.

“That explains why Jarvia had you two,” replied Tahlmus, “but that doesn’t explain how Alistair was right.”

“He had picked up the robes the dwarf had,” replied Leliana.

“He said they were the ones you had worn at Redcliffe,’ replied Wynn.

“Which explained the blood,” finished Sten.

“So, Alistair concluded you were fine,” Zevran said wanting to contribute to the conversation. Chewy barked in agreement.

“I guess I know what woke me up this morning,” mumbled Tahlmus.

“Now that we are all back together… what will we do?” asked Alistair.

“Chewy Tavain, and Morrigan are going to follow me into the deep roads.”

“And the rest of us?” asked Sten.

“Stay here and keep an eye on the assembly. I don’t trust the dwarf in charge.” Alistair nodded and led the group into the assembly’s chambers.

“Ready to go search for a lost paragon?” Tahlmus asked.

“Why not,” replied Morrigan.

“Should be easy now that you’re back,” said Tavain. Tahlmus smiled. Chewy barked and wagged his tail. The four made their way towards the entrance to the deep roads.

“I heard you were looking for Branka.” Tahlmus looked at the dwarf who had spoken.

“If Branka is the name of the paragon,” started Tavain.

“Then yes we are,” finished Morrigan.

“Who are you?” questioned Tahlmus.

“I’m Branka’s husband, Oghren, and…”

“And you want to help search for her. You’ll provide insight no one else can,” interrupted Tahlmus in a non-interested tone.

“By the ancestors how did you know that?” asked the dwarf.

“Just a hunch,” shrugged Tahlmus. “You can come, but you follow my orders and if you don’t you’re dead. Fair enough?”

“You’ve got yourself a sodding deal. You should know that Branka went into the deep roads looking for the anvil of the void.”

“Golems…” whispered Tahlmus.

“Golems?” questioned Tavain looking at her brother.

“The anvil of the void was created by a smith…” Tahlmus paused.

“Caridin,” offered Oghren.

“Yes, Caridin, and it allowed him to forge golems. The dwarves best defense against the darkspawn.”

“Ya know for an elf, you’re pretty sodding smart.”

Tahlmus rolled his eyes. “Let’s go,” he said. The group made their way to the first Thaig.

“Lots of darkspawn,” stated Morrigan after they had made it through. Tahlmus nodded.

“But no clues,” said Tavain off handedly, “off to the next one. She skipped off.

Morrigan, Chewy and Oghren close behind her. Tahlmus slowly followed. “Something is off,” he thought. Although he had to admit, he, himself was acting differently. The letters had Tahlmus seeing himself in a new light.

The group started searching the next thaig with Tavain in the lead. Tahlmus was studying one of the artifacts he’d found when he heard Tavain scream. Tahlmus had a flashback to the elven ruins and next thing he knew, his sister was hiding behind him holding his staff. “Tavain how did you…” he started to ask as his gaze turned to where she was pointing. Several spiders were bearing down on them.

“P… Please get rid of them big brother.” He nodded at her before stunning the spiders. Tahlmus then took out his blades and joined the others in killing them.

Once they were dead, Tahlmus turned to find his sister as he sheathed his blades. He watched her slowly walk over towards him.

“Tavain,” he voiced louder than he meant to. “Do you have to use my staff to poke the spiders?”

“Yes,” she half screeched. “I have to make sure they are dead,” she said as they poked the last spider before scurrying over to her brother’s side.

“Tavain, how’d you get my staff anyway?”

“I’m sneaky,” she replied as she smiled sweetly at him.

He rolled his eyes and smiled. It was still hard to be mad at his sister. “She’s becoming her own person,” he thought. “Can I have my staff back now?”

“But I might need it again,” she replied giving him the same sad, but sweet look she always used to do when she wanted something. He thought about trying to look away, but found he couldn’t.

“Ok, for now, you can keep it, but once we’re done here in the deep roads, you’ll have to give it back to me.”

“Thank you,” she said as she hugged him. He noticed Morrigan looking at them. She had a look in her eyes that he couldn’t decipher.

“What’s going on?” he wondered, as Tavain let go of him and wandered on further into the thaig. She was using his staff as a walking stick. He turned to follow her as Morrigan came up next to him. She put her hand in his. He looked at her. She just smiled.

“Branka did come through this thaig,” shouted Tavain, bringing Tahlmus out of his thoughts and back to the task at hand.

“How do you know?” asked Oghren.

“She left this journal here,” replied Tavain, as she skimmed through the writing.

“Anything useful in it?” asked Morrigan before Tahlmus could open his mouth.

“Just that she continued on to the dead trenches, just west of this thaig,” responded Tavain.

“Shall we continue on then?” asked Morrigan turning to Tahlmus for approval.

“We don’t have a choice,” he replied looking into Morrigan’s dancing eyes. “We need to find Branka,” he said softly gazing into her. Morrigan gave him a kiss on the cheek before following Tavain, who had already started to lead the way out of the thaig.

Tahlmus just stood there. Tavain and Morrigan were working together almost as siblings would. “What has them acting like this?” he wondered.

“Tahlmus are you coming?” he heard his sister shout. He transported to her side. “Yes, just got lost in my thoughts,” he said as he dodged the punch she threw for startling her.

Tavain smiled. “Shall we continue now?”

“Lead the way sis,” Tahlmus replied proud of his sister for recognizing her leadership ability.

Tavain continued on to the dead trenches. “He knows something is up,” Tavain thought. As they got further into the deep roads Tavain’s thoughts turned to the arch demon. “What if we run into it down here,” she thought. “Should Tahlmus know what happens…” Tavain was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she almost screamed when Tahlmus pulled her down against the rubble.

She turned to look at him, mouth open to speak when she heard it. The voice of the dragon rattled her bones. Tahlmus slid back down behind the rubble feeling overwhelmed. The visions flashing through his mind, creating a fear he hadn’t felt in a long time. He motioned for everyone to stay where they were. Morrigan noticed that Tahlmus was sweating and breathing harder than normal. She opened her mouth to speak, but he put a finger to her lips. Minutes later the arch demon was gone. Tahlmus slowly stood as he managed to get his breathing under control. Morrigan, Tavain and Oghren also stood.

“Big brother, are you ok?”

“What? … Yeah… I’m fine. Let’s just keep moving. Morrigan looked at Tavain who mouth the words, “He’s lying.” They followed him to another thaig. Tahlmus was stood there studying the door. He couldn’t get it to budge.

“Door won’t move,” he said as he felt Tavain standing behind him.

“So how do we get in?”

Tahlmus turned and scanned the area. He pointed off to his right. “That way. There should be a path over there.” Tavain made a move for the path, but Tahlmus put a hand on her shoulder. “Morrigan. Chewy. Oghren. Go that way.” He pointed in the direction he thought was a path. “See where it leads.” Morrigan and Oghren nodded. Chewy barked. They went off in the direction Tahlmus had indicated.

Tavain turned to her brother. She was curious as to why he kept her there. Tahlmus then wrapped her in a hug. “What’s this for, big brother?” she asked hugging him back.

“Just because,” he said.

“Come clean big brother. You’re not fine, and you rarely hug ‘just because’,” she said.

Tahlmus smiled. “It’s a good thing you couldn’t read me this well when we were younger.” Tavain cocked her head in slight confusion. “Tell you what,” he said. “I’ll let you in on what I’m hiding, when you tell me what you and Morrigan are keeping from me.”

“What are you talking about big brother,” she tried asking innocently, though she knew it was useless.

“You and Morrigan have been acting differently.”

“We’re just getting along.”

“That’s not it,” he replied. “You’ve both been more… I don’t know what to call it.”

“I know,” she replied. She knew exactly what he meant. “Can we talk later tonight?”

“I think that’s a good idea.”

Tavain smiled. “Now let’s go catch the others.”  Tahlmus smiled as he put his hand on Tavain’s shoulder. “What… no, please big brother. Not…”  Tahlmus transported them to Morrigan’s side. “That way,” finished Tavain as she looked at Morrigan who was startled by their sudden arrival.

“I will never get used to you just popping up,” said Morrigan. Tahlmus smiled at her.

“I will never get used to transporting,” said Tavain.

Tahlmus chuckled. “Shall we just slay the darkspawn up ahead then?”

“I thought you’d never sodding ask,” replied Oghren as he took off into the room with the darkspawn. Chewy was on his heels. The other three followed.

They defeated the small band of darkspawn and continued through the thaig. Tahlmus noticed that this one was different from the others. “Wonder what we’ll run into here,” he thought to himself. He rounded the corner and stopped. He felt Tavain run into him, but paid her no mind.

“Uh… big brother,” she spoke as she saw the reason she ran into Tahlmus.

“Yes Tavain.”

“What’s that… thing?” she asked as the thing screamed. It had the face of a fat man. The middle looked like it was made up of several different women’s torsos. The lower body was made up of tentacles.

“I have no idea,” replied Tahlmus as he saw a tentacle sprout up ten feet in front of him.

“How do we attack it?” asked Morrigan.

Tahlmus shrugged, “I don’t…” he paused as his eyes settled on a rock formation near the back of the cave. He also detected darkspawn nearby. “We’ll go stand on that rock formation,” he pointed. “Tavain, Morrigan and I should be able to fight that thing from there. Oghren and chewy will keep an eye out for straggling darkspawn. Just don’t leave the rock.”

Everyone nodded and took their places. The two girls and Tahlmus fired spells and arrows at the ugly looking thing. Tahlmus was beginning to think it would never die, when the head slumped over and the tentacles disappeared.

“That thing was creepy,” said Tavain. Morrigan nodded in agreement. Tahlmus managed to shrug. He was in the middle of another vision. “These things aren’t painful anymore,” he thought.

“Where to now?” asked Oghren. “There doesn’t seem to be a way out.”

“That way,” replied Tahlmus hesitantly as he pointed towards what looked like a dead-end path.

“Are you sure big brother?”

“Yes,” he said still lost in his own thoughts. “I’m sure.”

“Shall we go then?” asked Morrigan trying to get Tahlmus to move.

“Yes, just give me a second,” he said shaking his head slightly to get rid of the last of the images. He led the way on down the path he had pointed out. It led to a door which he carefully opened and walked through. The others followed slowly. Oghren was the last one through the door. As soon as he was through the door closed. “Uh, big bro…” Tavain was cut off by Tahlmus’ raised hand.

“I know sis,” he replied as a dwarven figure appeared.

“Let me be blunt with you,” the dwarf spoke. “After all this time, my tolerance for social graces is fairly limited. That doesn’t bother you I hope.” Tahlmus shook his head.

“Shave my back and call me an elf! Branka? I barely recognized you,” Oghren half shouted.

“That’s an insult to elves,” muttered Tavain. Under different circumstances Tahlmus would have laughed, but he kept a straight face.

“Oghren, it figures you’d eventually find your way here. Hopefully you can find your way back more easily. And how shall I address you?” Branka asked turning back to Tahlmus.

“I’m Tahlmus,” he said.

“A hired sword of the latest Lordling to come looking for me? Or the only one who didn’t mind Oghren’s ale breath?” Branka continued as if she hadn’t heard Tahlmus.

“Be respectful woman, you’re talking to a Grey Warden,” replied Oghren.  Tahlmus stayed silent.

“Ah, so an important errand boy then.”

“Hey watch wh…” Tavain started before Tahlmus glared at her. She closed her mouth quickly.

“I suppose something serious has happened. Is Endrin dead? That seems most likely. He was on the old and wheezy side.”

“Endrin is dead,” replied Tahlmus, “and the assembly is deadlocked. They will only take my help in the form of finding their Paragon.”

“Why would a surfacer, and an elf at that, be interested in Dwarven politics?” asked Branka.

Tahlmus noticed Tavain clench her fists. “A blight plagues the surface. The Dwarves are bound by treaty to aid the Grey Wardens, but without a king, the troops can’t be ordered to march.”

“I don’t care if the assembly puts a drunken monkey on the throne…”

I realize that,” replied Tahlmus, “you just want to find the anvil of the void to create golems once again, but my hands are tied. I need your help.”

Tavain eyed her brother, “He never asks for help. He never even pretends he needs it,” she thought.

“You understand,” replied Branka her voice softening slightly.

“Yes,” lied Tahlmus. “And the anvil is on the other side of a gauntlet.”

Branka was taken back, “How did this elf know?” she wondered. “I have given body and soul to unlocking the traps of the gauntlet. This is what’s important. This has lasting meaning. If I succeed the dwarven people benefit. Kings, Politics… it’s all transitory. I’ve given up everything and would sacrifice anything to get the Anvil of the Void.”

“Does that include your whole house?” asked Tavain before Tahlmus could silence her. His quick glare made her shiver.

“Enough questions,” replied Branka, the harshness back in her voice. “If you wish me to get involved with this imbecilic election, I must first have the anvil.” Tahlmus covered his sister’s mouth. “There is only one way out elf. Forward, through Caidin’s maze and out to where the anvil awaits.”

“What has this place…” Oghren started before Tahlmus cut him off.

“I will get you through the maze,” spoke Tahlmus, “And you help settle the election.”

“You have yourself a deal Warden,” replied Branka who then turned and walked away.

“Big brother are you sure about this? She lost her whole house trying to get through this thing.”

“We have no choice sis. Just follow me,” Tahlmus replied as he turned towards the path to take them into the gauntlet. Tavain fell into step behind him, still clutching his staff. They made their way into another room, and Tahlmus came to a stop. “There are darkspawn in a tunnel on the other side of this room,” he spoke without looking at his companions. “I will go to the other end of the tunnel, and try to force them towards you. You will stay by the entrance and fight the darkspawn there.”

“Won’t the darkspawn follow you?” asked Oghren.

“If I was walking to the other end of the tunnel, certainly.”

“But you won’t be walking will you, big brother.”

Tahlmus gave a confident smile and tosseled Tavain’s hair. “Correct as always sis. Now you guys go to the tunnel entrance. I’ll see you when the darkspawn are gone.”

“Promise?” asked Morrigan and Tavain together.

“Promise he replied before disappearing from sight.

“That was different,” Tavain thought. “Might as well do as he says,” said Tavain taking off after Chewy who was already halfway across the room.

Tahlmus gazed at the darkspawn lingering in the tunnel. “At least this will be easy,” he thought as he stunned the creatures before pulling out his blades. He then took them out one by one. He smiled as he reached the others and watched Tavain’s arrow take out the last darkspawn. “The way is clear,” he said sheathing his blades. The group followed him through the tunnel into the next rom.

“What is that?” asked Tavain, who was back to holding Tahlmus’ staff. Tahlmus stared at the square stone with faces carved on each side, coming out of the ceiling. He knew what to do, but he had no idea what it actually was.

“It’s a… a…” he watched the stone rotate a quarter turn, “just another test,” he finished as the eyes on the statue glowed, and a puff of smoke flew from each mouth of the statue. The puffs of smoke then turned into white spirit warriors.

“By the stone,” started Oghren at a loss for words.

Tahlmus chuckled softly. “It is by the stone,” he thought.

“What do we do?” asked Morrigan wondering if Tahlmus had lost it, there was nothing funny about their situation.

“Stay here,” replied Tahlmus. “I’m going to draw one of them down here.” He made his way towards the nearest spirit warrior. He wasn’t fully sure how to draw the warrior away from the anvil, just that he could do it. Tahlmus took out one of his blades and stuck it through the spirit. The action didn’t kill the spirit, but it did enrage it. The warrior withdrew blades and made a move towards Tahlmus who took that as his cue to return to the others. With all of them working together they defeated the spirit.

“The anvil’s all lit up now,” said Tavain pointing to the anvil the warrior had been guarding.

“Good. Stay here,” replied Tahlmus as he quickly made his way to the anvil and placed his blade on it. White fiery light shot out from the anvil into the mouth of the statue. When the white smoke cleared the eyes on the face were now crying. The other warriors then disappeared. The stone turned a quarter turn, and four more warriors appeared.

Again, Tahlmus led the spirit warrior to the group to defeat it, and again placed his blade on the anvil. The group went through the process six more times before a click could be heard and the stone stopped rotating.

“I’m so glad that is over,” stated Tavain.

“I agree,” said Morrigan.

Tahlmus let out a long breath. “The hardest is yet to come,” he stated without looking at them.

“What could be harder than that?” asked Morrigan.

“We will have to either kill Branka or Caridin,” he replied looking Morrigan in the eye.

“Caridin? Isn’t he dead?” asked Oghren.

Tahlmus shook his head. “Caridin is a golem. He’s guarding the anvil.”

“What will we do?” asked Tavain.

“Listen to what Caridin has to say. He is a paragon too,” replied Tahlmus lost in thought. Tavain poked Tahlmus with the staff.

“Ouch… Tavain why…”

“Because you seem distracted.”

“I guess I am a bit.”

“Why?” asked Morrigan.

“Lots of thoughts to decipher,” he replied looking at the ground. Tavain poked Tahlmus again. He winced as he looked at her. He could see the questions in her eyes.

“By the stone can we keep moving?” asked Oghren.

Tahlmus’ eyes didn’t stray from Tavain’s. “I have no idea what to do once we go into that next room,” Tavain heard in her head. She then watched her brother walk towards the path leading to the next challenge.

“He’s always known what to do,” thought Tavain. Her hands gripped the staff tighter as she took off after her brother. Morrigan fell into step next to her. The group paused at the door. There was a line of golems on either side of a path leading to a golem that was a little bigger than the rest. Tahlmus took a deep breath before going forward. Tavain hugged the staff to her body.

“This feels familiar,” Morrigan whispered to Tavain, “only this time it’s golems not werewolves.” Tavain nodded. Tahlmus stopped in front of the head golem. It started to speak.

“My name is Caridin. Once longer ago than I care to think I was a paragon to the Dwarves of Orzammar. If you seek the anvil, then you must care about my story or be doomed to relive it.”

“But we need the anvil for Branka, so she will help settle an election,” said Tavain.

“But she does not understand its danger. If the anvil is not destroyed you condemn hundreds of living souls to continue in agony for another thousand years.”

“Living souls?” questioned Tavain.

“No mere smith however skilled has the power to create life. To make my golems live I had to take their lives from elsewhere.

“That doesn’t sound pleasant,” replied Tavain.

“I had only intended to use volunteers, but my king was not satisfied and soon a river of blood flowed out of this place,” replied Caridin as Tavain cringed. “Finally, it was too much. I refused, and Valtor had me put on the anvil.”

Tavain bit her tongue as she waited for Tahlmus to speak. It was unusual for him to be silent for so long. She watched Tahlmus turn and nod at her. His way of telling her to continue. “So… now, you want revenge, or what?” she asked.

“Not revenge. The blow of the hammer opened my eyes. My apprentices knew enough to make me as I am, but not enough to fashion a control rod. I retained my mind. We have remained entombed here ever since, and I have sought a way to destroy the anvil.”

“Why not do it yourself?” asked Tavain.

“Alas I cannot do it myself. No golem can touch it.”

“No, the anvil is mine. No one will take it from me,” said Branka as everyone turned to face her.

“You,” spoke Caridin towards Tavain. “Please help me destroy the anvil. Do not let it enslave more souls than it already has.”

“You were a paragon,” said Tavain slowly, “we could help you if you would support a new king.”

“Don’t listen,” shouted Branka. “He’s been trapped here for a thousand years stewing in his own madness. Help me claim the anvil and you will have an army like you’ve never seen.”

“Branka you mad, bleeding nugtail. Does this thing mean so much to you that you can’t even see what you’ve lost to get it?” said Oghren.

“Look around,” she replied. “Is this what our empire should look like? A crumbling tunnel filled with darkspawn spume? The anvil will let us take back our glory.”

Tavain looked over at Tahlmus helplessly. She didn’t know what to say or which side to choose. Tahlmus took a step towards Branka. “The anvil consumes living souls to create these golems. I’m not sure if it’s worth all the blood.”

Morrigan couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Tahlmus was turning down a stone army. “Have you no desire to discover the anvil’s potential? It is a marvel, a tool of creation. You could rival the maker himself with this instrument.”

Tahlmus turned to her. “Are you volunteering to be the first of the new golems?”

“You wouldn’t…” Morrigan stopped as she realized what Tahlmus was saying.

“Thank you stranger,” spoke Caridin. “Your compassion shames me.”

“Bah, you’re not the only master smith here Caridin. Golems obey me,” shouted Branka as she raised a control rod. “Attack!”

“A control rod…” spoke Caridin. “My friend you must help me. I cannot stop her alone.”

“Big brother?” questioned Tavain looking at him.

“Fight Branka, I’ll take care of the golems,” he replied.

“Are you sure?” asked Tavain noticing that Tahlmus hadn’t reached for his blades.

“Yes,” he replied watching Morrigan, Chewy, and Oghren go after Branka. “But I will need my staff back.”

Tavain tossed the staff to her brother, then went to fight Branka as he had instructed. “I hope he knows what he’s doing,” she thought as she started shooting her arrows.

Tahlmus started muttering the words to a control spell as he waved his staff in slow small circles. Green light poured out of his staff and split off, a ray of light going to each golem. “Fight each other,” he commanded. The golems under Branka’s control started to fight each other.

“No, golems fight the elves,” shouted Branka.

Tahlmus could feel the golems trying to resist his spell. He concentrated more of his power into it. “Go to the edge of the cliff,” he commanded. The golems started walking towards the cliff.

“What are you doing?” shouted Branka fending off the attack from Morrigan, Tavain, Chewy, and Oghren. “Come back.”

Tahlmus noticed her voice was weaker. He also felt the golems trying to resist his magic to obey her. He channeled everything he had into the spell. “Jump off the cliff,” he said. One by one the golems started jumping.

“St…” Tavain’s arrow had found Branka’s throat silencing her. Oghren then swung his axe, and removed her head as the last golem leaped off the cliff.

Tavain turned in time to see Tahlmus drop his staff, and fall to the ground. “Big brother, are you ok?” she shouted running over to him.

“Yes,” he said taking a few deep breaths. “Just took more energy than I anticipated.” He slowly stood up with Tavain’s help.

“Another life lost because of my invention. I wish no mention of it had made it into history,” said Caridin.

“Yeah, you ain’t kidding,” replied Oghren. “Stupid woman. Always knew the anvil would kill her.”

“But at least it ends here. I thank you for standing with me stranger. The anvil waits there for you to shatter it. Is there any boon I can grant you for your aid? A final favor before I am freed from my burden?”

“We need aid in settling an election,” replied Tavain.

“The assembly is deadlocked,” added Tahlmus.

“For the aid you’ve given me, I shall put hammer to steel one last time, and give you a crown for the king of your choice.”  The group watched Caridin make a golden crown. “Here. It is done. Give it to whom you will. I do not wish to hear their names, nor anything more of them. I have already lived far beyond my time. I have no place here.”

Tahlmus took the crown and place it in his pack. “Go Tavain,” he said pointing to the anvil.

“You want me to destroy it? But how?”

“Bring the hammer down on it as hard as you can.” Tavain nodded and did as she was told. The group watched the anvil shatter to pieces.

“You have my eternal thanks stranger. Atrast nal tunsha, may you always find your way in the dark,” said Caridin before leaping off the cliff into the lava below.

“So what now big brother?”

“Well, first, can you grab me my staff. If I’m going to make it back to Orzammar I’m going to need it.”

Tavain went and fetched her brother’s staff. “Here you go.”

“Thanks sis.”

Oghren decided he couldn’t be silent any longer. “Well that pretty much beat the sod out of how I imagined it. You ready to head back yet and share the news?”

Tahlmus looked over at Tavain. She was looting some stuff off Branka’s corpse. “Sure,” he replied. “Might as well get going. I won’t be able to travel very fast at first though,” he continued as he used his staff to walk over to a path no one else had seen.

“Where did that come from?” asked Morrigan.

“Tis the way out. Hidden until Caridin was freed.”

“Hey, wait for me,” shouted Tavain who ran up and slipped Tahlmus’ right arm over her shoulders. She then took his staff back.

Tahlmus smiled. “We weren’t going to leave you behind.”

“Not too far behind anyway,” chuckled Morrigan putting Tahlmus’ left arm around her shoulders.

“Sodding nugtails,” muttered Oghren. “Let’s just go.”  Chewy barked in agreement and the group made their way back to Orzammar.

Chapter 28

“Tahlmus, are you alright dear?” asked Wynn as she watched him walk into the assembly hall gripping Tavain and Morrigan’s shoulders.

“Just over exerted myself. What’s going on here?”

“The assembly reconvened,” replied Alistair.

“What have they been saying?” asked Tavain.

“We don’t know,” replied Sten.

“They won’t let us in,” added Leliana.

“But the lead dwarf said you could enter,” stated Zevran pointing at Tahlmus. “If you made it back,” he finished.

“I guess I wasn’t supposed to make it back,” stated Tahlmus.

“He didn’t think you would,” said Alistair.

“Well, what are we soddin’ waitin’ for then?” asked Oghren. “Let’s go in and surprise these nugtails.”

Tahlmus chuckled. He was relieved to be out of the deep roads. “Let’s go,” he said managing to walk through the double doors under his own power. The rest of the group followed.

“I thought I told you…’ the assembly leader started. “Oh…” he said when he saw Tahlmus. “You’re back.”

“Yes I am.”

“Did you find Branka?”

“I did, as well as Caridin and the Anvil of the Void.” The assembly was quiet.
“Branka was soddin’ mad for power and Caridin was a golem,” stated Oghren.

“Branka started a fight and we sided with Caridin to defeat her,” said Tavain stepping up next to her brother.

“He made this crown, telling me to give it to the king of my choice before he plunged into the lava pit below,” stated Tahlmus as he handed the leader of the assembly the crown Caridin had made.

“The crown has the house crest on it,” replied the dwarf. “It is definitely of paragon make,” he said after examining it some more. “Alright Warden, it seems the ancestors deem you worthy to choose our king. Who do you give the crown to?”

“I think the crown should go to Prince Behlen, as long as he keeps Harrowmont as an advisor.”

“What is that Warden?” asked Behlen trying to get in Tahlmus’ face.

“You will be a stronger king than Harrowmont. You can handle the pressure better. Harrowmont should be kept close though. He will provide a different prospective on the challenges you will face,” replied Tahlmus.

“Fine,” said Behlen. “Just so long as he isn’t constantly telling me what to do.”

“I will only offer council when you seek it, King Behlen,” said Harrowmont.

“It’s settled then?” questioned Tahlmus.

“Yes,” replied Behlen and Harrowmont together.

“Then we have a new king,” said the assembly leader as he placed the crown upon Behlen’s head.

“Now,” said Behlen. “I believe there is the business of the Grey Warden treaty.”

“Yes, it requires the aid of the dwarves during a blight,” replied Tavain.

“You call on us,” said Behlen, “and we will come.”

“That’s all I ask,” replied Tahlmus.

“Is there anything else I can do for you?” asked Behlen.

“No,” replied Tahlmus. “We shall have to take our leave now.”

“Then please accept this as a token of my thanks,” said Behlen.

“That is most kind of you,” replied Tahlmus as he accepted the dagger Behlen handed him.

“May it serve you well.” Tahlmus nodded and half bowed as Behlen left the assembly chambers, Harrowmont on his heels.

“That turned out better than I thought it would,” said the lead assembly dwarf.

“You were expecting it to end badly?” asked Alistair as he watched Tahlmus start slowly walking away.

“To be quite honest with you, yes, I was. It was a little rougher when his dad was here.”

“Things rarely go wrong where Tahlmus is concerned,” said Morrigan turning to follow Tahlmus and the others.

“I… I see. Thank you,” said the dwarf to the groups retreating backs.

“Now what?” asked Tavain as the group left the assembly building and headed toward the diamond quarter’s main door.

“Get to the bottom of this mountain and set up camp. It will be a little warmer,” replied Tahlmus.

“We’re not going to transport are we?” asked Tavain as she stopped walking.

Tahlmus smiled at his sister. “No, I don’t have the strength to transport all of us.” He could see the relief in Tavain’s face as he spoke.

“I don’t mean to ruin the sodding moment here,” started Oghren. “But could I travel with you and aid in defeating the nugtails of darkspawn?”

“Sure,” said Tahlmus. “What’s one more at this point,” he thought to himself. He then led the group out of Orzammar and down the Frostback mountains. Tavain skipped next to him, and Morrigan walked with her hand in his.  At the bottom of the mountain Tahlmus found a clearing for the group to set up camp. He put up his and Tavain’s tent then got a fire started. Tavain showed up by his side minutes later with a couple of squirrels and he helped her prepare the stew.

“I didn’t know you cooked,” said Alistair who had wandered over to the smell of the stew.

Tahlmus smiled, “Aunt Eria taught me how to cook in hopes I wouldn’t teach Tavain how to fight. Obviously…”

“It didn’t work,” finished Tavain.

Alistair chuckled as he wrapped an arm around Tavain. “I’m glad it didn’t,” he said.

Tahlmus stopped stirring the stew. “What…”

“It’s ok big brother,” said Tavain smiling her sweet smile.

“I… uh… well…” Tahlmus gave up as Morrigan came up behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist. “This is a change,” he thought as he felt his face getting hot.

“It is almost ready?” she asked.

“Yes… almost,” replied Tahlmus.

“Will you be eating with me tonight?” she asked.

Tahlmus frowned. “No,” he said sadly. “Tavain and I need to talk, but I’ll come see you once we’re done,” he added as he poured a bowl of stew and handed it to Morrigan.

“I’ll be waiting,” she replied in a playful tone.

“I guess I’ll be waiting too,” Alistair remarked as Tavain handed him a bowl.

“Yep,” she said as she grabbed another bowl and handed it to Wynn. After everyone had a bowl of stew, Tahlmus motioned for Tavain to follow him.

“I’ll never understand those two,” spoke Leliana as the siblings disappeared.

“What’s there to understand?” asked Sten.

“Why do they always seem to be leaving camp?” she asked.

“There does seem to be a lot of leaving going on,” said Zev.

“I think they just have to make sure they are still on the same page. Tahlmus has been letting Tavain take over more of a leadership role since we went to find Andraste’s Ashes,” replied Alistair.

“I’ve been wondering why he’s doing that,” said Leliana.

“I assume it has something to do with Genetivi’s calling Tavain a child,” said Morrigan startling everyone.

“Tahlmus and Tavain were both very upset after that,” said Alistair. Everyone nodded. Morrigan took a seat, while the group continued to eat their stew in silence.

“Big brother,” said Tavain as Tahlmus finally stopped and sat on a tree root.

“Yes?” he questioned as he motioned for her to sit.

“I know I said we’d talk, but…” her voice drifted off.

“You don’t want to share your secret,” Tahlmus finished for her.

“Not yet anyway,” she responded.

“Is it something I need to know?”

“Eventually, but not right now.”

Tahlmus studied his little sister. “Alright then,” he said leaning back. “You don’t have to tell me.”

She stared at him. “You mean that?” she asked.

“I trust your judgement Tavain. I always have.” Tahlmus gazed at the stars. He felt like he now understood part of his earlier vision. “You’re secret has to deal with me and the arch demon, doesn’t it?” he asked.

Tavain looked at her brother. “How did you…”

“Today, when we found ourselves almost in the midst of the darkspawn horde, with the arch demon… I started having visions. In the first one we tried to sneak by it, but it noticed us.”

“Which is why we had to hide silently behind the rock,” said Tavain watching her brother’s face.

He looked at her with tears in his eyes. “Yes,” he said swallowing slowly to keep his voice from cracking. “but the vision continued. You stayed behind to give the rest of us time to get away.” Tahlmus closed his eyes trying to stem the flow of tears. “You wouldn’t explain why,” he whispered. “You just said that it was important that I get the others to safety.” He clenched his fists. I got the others to safety, confident that you would be able to hold your own until I got back… but when I got back… you were… you… the darkspawn had left you in pieces.”

“Big brother I…”

“Obviously that didn’t happen, but.. the very thought of losing you…” his voice drifted off.

“I’m still here,” she said trying to comfort him.

“I know,” he said in a whisper. “The last time I was that scared was the night our parents died. I just can’t… I can’t lose you Tavain.”

“That’s why I can’t tell you what I know,” she said as she cuddled up next to her big brother. “You might stop accepting my help. You’ll be in more trouble if you do that, than, you’ll be in if I don’t tell you my secret.”

“This secret has you and Morrigan acting so differently.”

Tavain looked into her brother’s eyes, they were still wet with tears. “It’s the real reason Flemeth sent Morrigan with us. She says she’s in love with you, but she’s just going to use you.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” replied Tahlmus not wanting to believe that Morrigan might not really love him back.

“I know… I know you’re in love with her, and I’m 95% sure she’s in love with you, but I just think… she’s going to hurt you in the end.”

“I can’t just quit her.”

“I know big brother.” They sat in silence. Tahlmus staring at the stars, while Tavain studied him.

“You’ve been acting differently too, big brother,” she said softly.

“Yeah…” he said looking back at her. He wasn’t sure what else to say. “So what’s up with you and Alistair?” he asked wanting to get the subject off of him.

“Well,” Tavain hesitated. “We shared a tent last night since you weren’t around.”

“You didn’t…” Tahlmus was lost for words, he had never discussed this topic with his sister before.

“Didn’t what? Kill a deer? Set up my own tent? Play pranks?”

Tahlmus rolled his eyes at his sister. “You know…”

“No, I don’t,” replied Tavain chuckling at how red her brother was turning.

“You didn’t have… have… se… sex…” he finally spit out. “You didn’t go that far did you?”

“No big brother, we just slept under the same covers. Why? Have you and Morrigan…?” She now felt uncomfortable asking her brother the same question.

“No,” he replied. “Kissing and cuddling is as far as it has gone.”

The siblings were quiet for a few minutes. “Are you mad big brother?” Tavain finally asked.

“No, not mad. I’ve seen the way he looks at you… the way you tease him. Just like how things were with Tamlen. I figured it would happen sooner or later. Was just kind of hoping it would have been later.”

Tavain smiled a sad smile as she thought of Tamlen. “But you’re ok with it?”

Tahlmus thought about this. He really wasn’t ok with it. Tavain was only 12 going on 13 and Alistair was 18. But there was almost the same difference between him and Morrigan. “I guess I’ll have to be ok with it won’t I…” he said. “After all you’re an adult now. The facial tattoos prove that. You can make your own decisions,” Tahlmus paused. “You chose the right ones,” he said softly.

Tavain smiled, and decided to change the subject. “We delivered all the treaties, so now what?”

“We go back to Redcliffe to see Arl Eamon,” he said smiling at his sisters’ transition in subjects. “He should have had time to organize a landsmeet by now.”

“Oh yeah, I forgot about that. I guess that’s why you’re the leader,” she said as she looked up into her brothers face. He had his gaze fixed on the night sky.

“Most days I wish I wasn’t,” he sighed. “There were predictions about us you know.”

“There were?”

“Yes, the letters I found in the desk at the tavern in Orzammar detailed it,” he said softly “ It was predicted that before the 4thblight a mage son would be born that would be the most powerful mage in the family line. This mage and his sister would become Grey Wardens and save Ferelden from the blight.”

“So, together we will save Ferelden,” surmised Tavain.

“So, goes the prediction. The only problem is… I’m not sure how. The more people that join our group the more complicated everything becomes,” he paused for a minute as he looked into his sister’s confused eyes. “Being able to detect skills of other people was one of the first things dad taught me. It’s how I determine who does what, and what spells I need, or should use. It’s how I keep everyone safe.”

“You’ve done a good job big brother. We wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for you.”

“I hope everyone still feels that way after I inform them of how unsure I am about what’s to come.”

“Don’t worry big brother. Everyone here trusts you. And I’m sure you’ll figure everything out as the time gets closer. The arch demon is still gathering its troops,” she said with confidence. “The Horde won’t be ready for several days.”

Tahlmus gazed down at his sister. “You understood?”

“The roaring of the arch demon? Yes, I understood for the most part. Didn’t you?”

“Yes, I did. I didn’t know you could too.”

“I got the gist of it anyway.”

Tahlmus rubbed a hand over his face. “At least I’m not crazy,” he muttered.

“What was that?”

Tahlmus shook his head. “Shall we go back to camp?” He asked as he got himself to a standing position.

“Only if you’re ok with me staying with Alistair tonight.” Tahlmus gazed into the night sky. He wanted to say no, but he had told her she could make her own decisions.

“Just don’t let him talk you into doing anything you don’t want to do.”

“Don’t worry big brother. I can handle my own. You’ve taught me well.”

Tahlmus smiled. “Let’s go then,” he said extending a hand to help Tavain up. The siblings then walked back to camp where everyone including Morrigan was still sitting by the fire.

“Good to see everyone getting along,” said Tahlmus.

“But it’s a little weird,” added Tavain.

“We were all kind of wondering what our next move was,” stated Alistair.

“Now that we have all the treaties taken care of,” added Morrigan.

“We go back to Redcliffe. Talk with Eamon. He should have had time to set up the Landsmeet. Once it is ready, we accompany him to Denerim.”

“And then what?” asked Sten. “When will we face the darkspawn? How will we find and kill the arch demon?”

Tahlmus looked at the ground. The questions he didn’t have answers to. “The arch demon is still gathering troops. It won’t attack for a couple of days. It will either be Redcliffe or Denerim. My bet is on Denerim, but we’ll have to trust our scouts to let us know where the horde is heading once they get mobile.”

“Can’t say that’s a very full proof plan,” replied Wynn.

“Maybe not,” said Tavain, but it’s the best one we got. Until we can discover where the horde is going we can’t do much. So, we continue what we’ve been doing. Kill the small bands of darkspawn we find, and continue to gain allies. We still need to deal with Loghain and hope we can get the men from the Kings Army on our side.” Tahlmus was grateful for his sisters words.

Sten nodded satisfied with the female elf’s answer. “Then tomorrow we will go to Redcliffe,” he half stated, half asked.

“Yes and no,” spoke Tahlmus.

“What…” started Zevran.

“Everyone get a good night’s rest,” interrupted Tahlmus. “I’ll transport…”

“Big brother no,” whined Tavain.

“It will be faster for me to transport us, Tavain.”

“Transport us?” questions Oghren.

“I know, but I still don’t like it,” said Tavain rubbing her boot in the dirt.

“When he has the energy, Tahlmus can transport us to where we need to be,” replied Morrigan answering Oghren’s question.

“it’s a very complicated spell, but he’s a powerful mage,” added Wynn.

“Which is why I don’t transport all of us all the time,” replied Tahlmus. “Would hate for someone to end up missing an arm or a leg,” he added with a sly smile.

“That’s not funny,” said Leliana. Tahlmus chuckled and Tavain punched him in the arm.

“So, we’ll just appear at this Redcliffe place?” asked Zevran.

“Yes, and all of us except Tahlmus will be queasy,” responded Alistair.

“I think that’s enough talk,” said Tahlmus. “There will be a lot to do in the coming days. Everyone should get some rest.  The group seemed to agree because everyone got up and went to their tents. Tahlmus watched his sister skip off after Alistair and go into his tent. He closed his eyes, trying to relax his hands out of the fists they had made.

“Don’t worry,” said Morrigan who was now standing by him. “Alistair may be a little dim-witted and ill-equipt to lead but he’s a gentleman.”

Tahlmus looked at Morrigan. “Are you feeling ok?” he asked.

“I may not like him,” responded Morrigan. “But he seems to do better when Tavain is around. I think they will work well together.”

“Like you and me?” said Tahlmus wanting to try and express how much he felt he should be with her.

“Almost as good as you and me,” she replied squeezing his hand. He smiled at her as she gently pulled him to her tent. “I’ve missed you,” she said as she led him inside.

“I’ve missed you too,” he replied as he leaned in to kiss her. “I don’t think I can live without this,” he thought to himself as they helped each other get ready to go to sleep.

Chapter 29

Tahlmus woke up still holding Morrigan. “I could get used to this,” he thought. “Actually, I’m already used to it,” he whispered to himself.

“What was that?” asked Morrigan still half asleep.

“You look beautiful,” he whispered in her ear.

Morrigan smiled but felt a pang of guilt. “You shouldn’t say sweet things like that. I might get used to them.”

“What’s wrong with that?” Tahlmus asked kissing her. He didn’t want to hear the answer.

“You might not always be there,” she said softly as their lips parted.

“Unless you tell me to go away, I will always be there for you Morrigan. I love you,” he finished in a whisper.

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” she said. “We don’t know what will happen in the days to come.”

“I don’t make promises I don’t think I can keep,” he responded softly.

Morrigan frowned at this. “What if you die, when we go to fight the horde?”

“It’s not an option,” he replied. “Just like it hasn’t been an option all along.”

“Tahlmus, I… I think it’s been foolish of us to…’ she stopped speaking as Tahlmus put a finger to her lips.

“Please don’t say that. I love you.”

“You shouldn’t…”

Tahlmus gently moved a strand of hair out of her face as he looked into her eyes. “You love me too… don’t you?”

“Yes, I do,’ she whispered, her eyes never straying from his.

“Then there’s nothing foolish about it.”

“I…”  Tahlmus kissed her before she could finish. Morrigan felt herself melting in his arms. “Maybe I could stay with him,” she thought as their lips parted.

“I’m going to go get everyone else up,” he said. “Then I’ll be back.”

Morrigan just nodded as she watched him get dressed and walk out of the tent. She then got dressed herself, thinking over his words as she packed up her tent. Just as she finished Tahlmus came up and wrapped his arms around her. “Need any help?” he asked giving her a kiss on the cheek.

She found herself smiling. “No, but I have something for you,” she replied.

“You have something for me?” questioned Tahlmus a little surprised after the conversation they just had. Morrigan handed him a ring. “What is this?” he asked confused as to why she would give him a ring.

“It was one Flemeth gave me, so she could always find me. I found a way to disable it and then enchant it so I could find the person I gave it to.”

“Thank you, Morrigan,” replied Tahlmus as he slipped it on his finger.

“It… it’s just a practical thing,” she stuttered. “Can’t be losing you so close to going into battle with the arch demon.”

“I know,” he replied.

“Tahlmus, I… I…”

“Come on,” he said extending his hand. “It’s time to go to Redcliffe.” He smiled as she accepted his hand and let him lead her to the rest of their companions. “Alright, places everyone. Oghren and Zevran, just hold on to someone.”

“Do we really have to do this big brother?”

“Yes. I promise it’s the last time. At least, until after we defeat the arch demon.”

“I’m holding you to that,” she replied, as she closed her eyes.

“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” he smiled. “Everyone ready?”

“Ready as we’ll ever be,” said Alistair. Tahlmus muttered some words, and the group found themselves on the palace steps.

“Bleeding nugtails, I don’t want to do that again,” said Oghren.

“I’m with Oghren,” replied Zevran.

“I will never understand how you can handle that,” stated Alistair.

“Me neither,” said Morrigan and Leliana together.

“It is rather unpleasant,” added Wynn. Chewy barked and Sten grunted in agreement.

“Closed eyes,” stated Tavain.

“What?” questioned everyone else.

“That’s how you do it. You keep your eyes closed.”

Tahlmus tosseled his sister’s hair. “It took me three or four times of dad transporting us to other clans for me to figure that out. “

Tavain and Morrigan both punched him in the arm. “You could have told us,” they said together.

Tahlmus winced in pain, but then just smiled. “Let’s go talk with Eamon, shall we?” The group followed Tahlmus into the castle.

“You’re back. Have you gathered all of your allies?” asked Arl Eamon as the group approached him.

“Yes, my lord, we have,” Tahlmus responded with a half bow.

“Then we should head to Denerim as soon as possible. I would prefer not to give Loghain time to consider, but it’s up to you. I do not wish to go to Denerim unless you are with me.”

“I agree. There is no point in waiting. Let’s head to Denerim.”

“Excellent. I shall finish making the arrangements. Let us be off to Denerim and may the maker watch over us.”  Tahlmus bowed as the Arl left to arrange for transportation.

“Big brother, I’m curious,”

“You usually are,” joked Tahlmus.

“You spent a lot of time alone in the forest. How did you get so good at dealing with people?”

“I guess the keeper was able to teach me a thing or two.”

“Grey Warden,” came a voice from behind the group. “Arl Eamon and your transport are ready outside.”

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus with a slight bow. He then faced his companions. “Time to head to Denerim,” he said waking back out the way they came. The group followed him, grateful for the carriages to ride in. While his companions enjoyed the ride, Tahlmus found himself lost in his thoughts.

“Tahlmus,” spoke the Arl. Tahlmus didn’t respond. “Tahlmus?” asked the Arl a little louder. He still received no response.

Tavain looked at her brother. He was gazing off in the distance. “Tahlmus,” she said giving him a shove.

“Huh? What?”

“The Arl is trying to speak with you.”

“I’m sorry my Lord. What do you need?”

“Please Tahlmus, call me Eamon. We will be arriving shortly. When we do I want you and 3 of your companions to come with me. The rest can get settled into their rooms.”

“Of course,” replied Tahlmus as the Arl’s Denerim Estate came into view. “Tavain, Alistair, and Morrigan would you accompany me with the Arl?”

“Yes,” replied the two girls together.

“Of course,” responded Alistair as the carriages came to a stop. The four followed Eamon, while the others were shown to their rooms.

“Denerim is the heart and soul of Ferelden,” spoke Eamon as he led them to the main hall. “It was the city of King Calenhad, the birthplace of Andraste. As stubborn as a mabari, and as good to have on your side. If we defeat Loghain here, the rest of the nation will follow us.”

“Then we have no choice but to win,” responded Tavain.

The Arl nodded. “By calling the Landsmeet, I’ve struck the first blow. The advantage for the moment is ours. He will have little choice but to show himself to oppose us directly. He will strike back at us. The only question that remains is how soon?”

“I think that time is now,” said Tahlmus pointing at the approaching Loghain.

“Loghain,” said Eamon. “This is an…honor that the regent would find time to great me personally.”

“How could I not welcome a man so important as to call every lord in Ferelden away from his estates while a blight claws at our land.” Tahlmus stepped up beside Eamon. There was something in Loghain’s voice that he didn’t trust.

“The blight is why I’m here,” stated the Arl. “With Cailan dead, Ferelden must have a king to lead it against the darkspawn.”

“Ferelden has a strong leader,” roared Loghain, “in its queen, and I lead her armies.”

“Then it’s Anora we should be talking to, not you,” said Tahlmus taking a step towards Loghain.

“You should curb your tongue,” said a man to Loghain’s left.

“Easy Howe, I’ll take care of this,” said Loghain over his shoulder. “And who is this Eamon? Some new stray you picked up on the road?”

“At least he doesn’t recognize me, yet,” thought Tahlmus.

“And here,” continued Loghain, “I thought it was only royal bastards you play nursemaid to, not young knife ears.” Tahlmus put a hand out to stop Tavain from getting passed him.

“Well,” replied Alistair. “You’re admitting the ‘royal’ part. That’s a start.”

“My name,” started Tahlmus taking a small step forward. “Is Tahlmus. I am the Grey Warden mage you sent the templars after.”

“They told me you were dead,” whispered Loghain. Tahlmus detected a hint of fear in his voice.

“They almost succeeded,” started Tahlmus.

“But my brother is too stubborn,” finished Tavain.

“Well,” said Loghain recomposing himself. “It’s unfortunate that the rest of your order chose to turn against Ferelden.”

“It wasn’t us who retreated and left our king to die,” replied Tahlmus icily.

“Don’t interrupt churl,” spoke a female soldier to Loghain’s right. “Your betters are talking.” Tahlmus glared at her.

“Enough Cauthrien, this is not the time or place. I had hoped to talk you down from this rash course Eamon. Our people are frightened. Our king is dead. Our land is under siege. We must unite now if we are to endure this crisis. Your own sister, Queen Rowan, fought tirelessly to see Ferelden restored. Would you see her work destroyed? You divide our nation and weaken our efforts against the blight with your selfish ambitions to the throne.”

“So trying to have the last of the Grey Wardens killed was your way of strengthening the effort against the blight,” said Tahlmus venomously.

Loghain glared at the male elf. “Cailan depended on the Grey Warden’s prowess against the darkspawn and look how well that ended. Let us speak…”

“Cailan wanted to get more help. You turned it away,” spoke Tavain taking on the same tone as her brother. “You forced him to depend on us as Grey Wardens, and then you retreated.”

“You will not talk to the Teryn that way,” responded the man Loghain had referred to as Howe. He raised his hand and made a move to strike Tavain. She didn’t so much as blink. Tavain watched her brother grab Howe’s hand.

“Don’t you dare lay a finger on my sister.”

Howe sneered. “Or else what elf? What are you going to do?”

Tavain could see a sadistic grin appear on her brother’s face. Soon his whole body except the arm holding Howe was radiating with electricity. Howe’s face went ashen as he watched the electricity crawl down the elf’s arm towards his hand. Right before the electricity reached his hand, Tahlmus let go. Howe backed up, fear etched in his face. Tahlmus still had the sadistic grin, but the electricity was fading.

Eamon continued to speak as if the event he witnessed had not just happened. “I cannot forgive what you’ve done Loghain. Perhaps the maker can, but not I. Our people deserve a king of the Theirin blood line. Alistair will be the one to lead us to victory in this blight.”

“Oh, is that all I have to do,” responded Alistair. “No pressure…”

Loghain took a minute to gather himself, but Tahlmus could see a slight hint of fear in his eyes. “The emperor of Orlais also thought I could not bring him down. Expect no more mercy than I showed him. There is nothing I would not do for my homeland.” As he finished speaking the Teryn walked off.

“Well that was… interesting to say the least,” said Eamon once Loghain was gone. “I did not expect him to show quite so soon.”

“I bet he’ll regret showing up,” stated Morrigan with a smile.

“That was quite intimidating, Tahlmus,” the Arl said.

Tahlmus just shrugged. “What do we do now?”

“Calling the Landsmeet is only the start. Now we must ensure that every noble there sees Loghain’s duplicity,” replied Eamon.

“Which will be no small task,” said Tahlmus.

“We need eyes and ears in the city. Loghain has been here for months. The roots of all his schemes must begin here. The sooner we find them, the better we can turn them to our advantage. Go have a look around and see what you can turn up. Better yet find the nobles who have arrived for the Landsmeet. Test the waters. See how many will support us. When you are ready to talk strategy, come upstairs to my sitting room. We can lay out our plans for the Landsmeet then.” Arl Eamon left, and Tahlmus turned to face the others.

“So, what do we do?” asked Alistair.

“Excuse me, my Lord,” interrupted an elven servant. Tahlmus turned to look at her. “The Arl wanted me to show you to your rooms.”

“That’s a good idea. If you would be so kind,” stated Tahlmus.

“Please follow me,” replied the servant turning away from Tahlmus as fast as she could to hide her blushing cheeks.

The four followed her. “First,” started Tahlmus. “I want you to get settled in your rooms. Then find the rest of our companions. I’m going to go talk with Arl Eamon. I’ll meet you back in that hall.”

Alistair and Morrigan were shown into their rooms. As the elven servant came to the next room, she hesitated. “The Arl said you two were siblings. He hoped it was ok if you shared a room.”

Tahlmus smiled. “It’s fine,” he replied.

“Is there anything else I can get you my Lord?”

“It’s Tahlmus,” he replied. “And could you tell me where the Arl’s sitting room is?”

“It’s the room to the right after we came up the stairs.”

“So that one right across the way?” Tahlmus asked pointing.

“Yes, the Arl wanted you to be close so he could discuss things with you.”

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus with a slight bow to the female.

“You’re welcome,” she said blushing as she scurried off.

“You have an admirer big brother.”

“So, it seems,” he said as he opened the door for Tavain to walk through.

“That Howe guy made you angry, didn’t he?” Tavain questioned her big brother.

“The whole conversation made me angry. Then I saw him winding up to hit you… I was not going to allow that.”

“I’ve never seen you get like that big brother. It was almost scary.”

Tahlmus looked at her. “To be honest I kind of scared myself. We’re so close to the end of this… I… I couldn’t let him hurt you. You’re my little sister, facial tattoos or not.”

Tavain wrapped him in a hug. “Just don’t do that to Alistair… please.”

Tahlmus gave her a small smile. “I won’t. I think just seeing it was enough. Why don’t you go find the others.”

“And take them to the main hall yes?”

“Yes,” he replied as he watched her skip off. He ran a hand through his hair. “I can’t lose it like that again,” he thought to himself. “But isn’t that what the letters hinted at.”  He left the big pack he was carrying on the bed. “Won’t be needing that,” he muttered as he adjusted the small pack he still had. He headed to the Arl’s sitting room. Tahlmus knocked on the door to announce his presence when he saw that the Arl was not alone.

“Ah, Warden, come in. I trust you’ve made yourself comfortable.”

“It’s definitely a change from a tent.”

The Arl gave a short laugh. “Unfortunately, you may not have much time to rest. This is Erlina,” said the Arl waving towards a young female elf. “She’s…”

“I’m Queen Anora’s hand maiden. She sent me here to ask for your help,” the young elf said.

“Or perhaps,” stated Eamon, “The young lady prefers to speak for herself.”

“Why would the queen need my help?” questioned Tahlmus.

“The queen, she is in a difficult position. She loved her husband no? And trusted her father to protect him. When he returns with no king and only dark rumors, what is she to think? She worries no? But when she tries to speak with him, he does not answer. He tells her ‘not to trouble herself’.”

“So… queen Anora believes her father Loghain killed King Cailan?”

“My queen suspects that she cannot trust her father. And Loghain he is very subtle no? But Rendon Howe…” Tahlmus flinched at Howe’s name. “He is privy to all the secrets and… not so subtle. So she goes to Howe. A visit from the queen to the new Arl of Denerim is only a matter of courtesy. And she demands answers.”

“I assume that didn’t go over very well,” said Tahlmus crossing his arms. He could feel his anger for Howe rising again.

“He calls her every name, ‘traitor’ being the kindest and locked her in the guest room.”

“Hard to believe that Loghain would allow Howe to do that to his own daughter,” replied Tahlmus.

“King Cailan was like a son to him, and Loghain left him to die. Does he love Anora more? Who can say? I think… her life is in danger. I heard Howe say she would be a greater ally dead than alive. Especially if her death could be blamed on Arl Eamon.”

“That cannot be allowed to happen,” said Tahlmus flatly.

“Yes, that is what she hoped you would say.” Tahlmus raised his eyebrows at her statement; something was amiss. “Loghain he has said much about the young Grey Warden that survived. He is worried no?”

“Worried enough to try to kill me and harm two women I care dearly for.”

“We may have no choice but to trust Anora. The Queen is well loved. If Logain succeeded in pinning her death on me… I’m not sure that is a risk we can afford to take,” stated Eamon.

Tahlmus felt his head start to ache as visions flashed through his head. “I’ll help her,” he replied trying to concentrate on the images in his head.

“I have some uniforms. Arl Howe hires so many new guards every day, a few more will not cause much stir. I will show you to the servants’ entrance. We must slip in and out with my queen before anyone is the wiser. I will go ahead to Howe’s estate meet me there as soon as you can.” Tahlmus nodded as Erlina walked out of the room.

“I’m not sure if this is a good idea, but it’s our only option,” said Eamon.

“I think it will work out in our favor… in the end,” replied Tahlmus preoccupied with his own thoughts.

“What do you plan to do?”

“I’m going to take 3 of my companions with me to get the Queen. The rest will go out into Denerim and see what they can find out.”

“I’ll leave you to it then.”

“Yes, my Lord,” Tahlmus replied as he bowed and walked out of the room. “This is going to be fun,” he thought. He made his way back to the main hall where everyone was already gathered.

“What now?” asked Sten impatiently. Everyone stared at Tahlmus.

Morrigan, Wynn, and Leliana are going to come with me. The rest of you will adorn some commoner clothing and go out into the streets. See if you can learn anything about Loghain and what he has been up to.”

“Then what?” asked Zevran.

“Report back here by nightfall. We’ll discuss what you’ve learned and form a plan to get the rest of Ferelden on our side so when the horde strikes, the armies can hold it off while the rest of us seek out and kill the arch-demon.”

“You really think this will work? Getting everyone to trust us over Loghain?” asked Leliana.

“There’s no other option,” replied Tahlmus.

“Because as a Grey Warden only you can defeat the blight…” stated Wynn wanting to hear how the young warden responded.

“No,” replied Tahlmus. “Because if Loghain wins, I’m dead. The rest of you will either be killed or tortured for having followed me.” Tahlmus paused. “And I can’t let that happen,” he finished looking at Tavain.

“We have to go get our stuff,” said Wynn satisfied with his answer.

“That’s fine,” replied Tahlmus watching everyone but Tavain leave. “Take your time,” he said, sensing his sister’s need to talk.

“What’s going on big brother?” asked Tavain after everyone had left. “Why aren’t you taking me along?”

Tahlmus looked straight into his sister’s eyes. “Because it’s a trap. We will have to kill Howe. Then when we try to escape with the queen, Cauthrien will be waiting for us. She’s only going to arrest Grey Warden’s in the group.”

“Why do you always risk yourself? We need you.”

“It’s easier for me to protect myself, and… you don’t really need me,” he replied looking at her. “You would do just fine without me.”

“Big brother that’s not true. If they arrest you…”

“It will be ok. I’ll get back. If I need help, I can contact you and Morrigan will be able to find me.”

Tavain wrapped him in a hug. “Just be careful big brother.”

“I will. You be careful too. We Grey Warden’s aren’t very popular.”

“Don’t worry big brother. I’m sneaky,” smiled Tavain as she slowly turned and started walking away.

Tahlmus reached to check on his staff. “Tavain, I need that back.”

“Well, I almost got away with it,” she said tossing the staff back to Tahlmus just as Morrigan, Leliana, and Wynn walked back into the room.

“What was that about?” asked Morrigan as Tahlmus sheathed his staff.

“Tavain’s way of making a point,” he replied. “Let’s get to Howe’s estate, Erlina will be waiting for us,” he stated as he started walking out the door. The group made their way over to Howe’s estate.

“Quick, this way,” came Erlina’s voice. Tahlmus located her behind a statue. He was about to ask about the crowd of people in front of the estate, but Erlina ran off. Tahlmus and his companions ran after her.

“What…” started Tahlmus when Erlina finally stopped.

“Put these on,” she interrupted, handing him the uniforms. “Then hide in those bushes. I will go distract the guards.”

“Erlina wait,” said Tahlmus as he finished putting on the helmet. “I got a better Idea.”


Tahlmus held up his hand to silence her. “You can go right in, correct?” he asked.

“Well yes, but…”

“Then Wynn and Leliana will stick close to you and get through the door as you go through. You two will have to be quick,” he said turning to Wynn and Leliana. “The door can’t stay open any longer than it takes Erlina to walk through.”

“They’ll see you,” Erlina almost shrieked.

“It’s ok Erlina. Just do as I say,” replied Tahlmus, as he cast the spell to make the group invisible to the two guards.

“What about us?” asked Morrigan.

“Just be patient,” he whispered back as he watched Erlina, Leliana, and Wynn make it through the door. “Ready?” he asked.


Tahlmus took a hold of her hand. “Trust me,” was all he said as he led her to the door. Morrigan held onto his hand, squeezing it as she realized they were going to walk into the door. “Just close your eyes,” he whispered as he led her through the door. Erlina was gaping at him. “You can open them now,” whispered Tahlmus. Morrigan noticed that they were now inside. She let out the breath she realized she was holding. “Now where to?” asked Tahlmus.

“My queen is in a room on the west side of the estate,” replied Erlina still staring at Tahlmus.

“I’m a mage,” he responded to her stare. “Now go to your queen. We will find out way there,” he directed. Erlina just nodded, then walked off.

“Shouldn’t we follow her?” asked Leliana.

“No, it would be too obvious.”

“But how will we…”

“Just follow me, and… act more like you belong here.” The three women nodded. Tahlmus then led the way through the kitchen, into the dining hall, and on to the west wing of the estate. He led them straight to Erlina.

“I was starting to worry,” she said to Tahlmus. “My lady the Grey Warden is here.”

“Thank the maker, but I’m afraid there’s been a setback.”

“Of course there has,” replied Tahlmus.

“Howe was not satisfied with leaving me under heavy guard. He had a mage put up a barrier.”

“So I can see,” replied Tahlmus.

“You’ll have to find the mage, and have him break the spell.”

“And let me guess… this mage is with Howe.”

“Most likely,” responded the queen.

“So much for secrecy,” muttered Morrigan.

“Can’t you just disarm the barrier?” asked Wynn, as he turned and started walking further into the estate.

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus simply.

“Then why not do that?” asked Leliana.

“Because there’s others in Howe’s cellar that need our help.”

“You’re just out to save everyone,” replied Morrigan.

“As a Grey Warden, that is my job,” he said. “Also the ones we save will lend us their favor at the Landsmeet. We need that.” Despite her disgusted look she nodded as she followed Tahlmus down the hall.

As he entered the room that had stairs leading to the cellar, he felt a strange pull towards a locked chest. He picked the lock and opened the chest. All that was in it was a document. Tahlmus skimmed the front page.

“I didn’t know you could pick locks,” stated Leliana. “I thought it was only Tavain.” Tahlmus shrugged as he studied the documents.

“What are those?” asked Morrigan.

“Grey Warden documents,” he replied confused as to why they were there. He put them in his pouch then led the way down the stairs. The stairs led them to a small room with two jail cells.

“Hey who…” the guard’s words turned into guttural sounds as the prisoner, the guard had been watching, wrapped his arms around the guard’s neck. Tahlmus watched as the guard’s neck was broken. His companions all took a step back as the guard’s body disappeared into the cell.

“Tahlmus,” whispered Morrigan reaching for his hand to try and pull him back. He stayed put, as the cell door opened and the prisoner walked out now wearing the guard’s armor.

“I thank you for the distraction. I’ve been waiting for days for a moment like that.”

“Who are you?” asked Tahlmus.

“I apologize… my name is Riordin. I am a Grey Warden from Orlais,” he replied with a bow.

“How’d you end up here?”

“Cailan had requested our assistance, but we were turned back at the border by Loghain’s men. When we did not hear word from Duncan, we decided we had need to send someone to see what was happening. Being from close in the area I volunteered for the assignment.”

“Are these documents yours then?” asked Tahlmus as he pulled out the papers he had found.

“Yes. Duncan’s recruitment records and the joining ritual. I had found them before running into Loghain. I was a fool to think he did not yet know who I was.”

“Have you seen Howe?”

“Yes, he went into the basement. He muttered something about laying a trap.”

“Do you think you could help me find him?”

“Not now. I need to get out of here. Get some medical aid. I will seek you out later.”

“We’re staying at Arl Eamon’s estate,” replied Tahlmus. Riordin nodded, then made his way up the stairs.

“Was he one of the people we had to help?” questioned Wynn.

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus as he led the way over to the second set of stairs leading to the basement.

Morrigan grabbed his shoulder. “Wait,” she whispered. “Riordin said Howe mentioned the word trap. What if that’s what this is… just a trap.” She had spoken only loud enough for Tahlmus to hear.

“It is a trap,” replied Tahlmus simply in the same low voice.

“Then…” Morrigan started before Tahlmus put a finger to her lips.

“Trust me,” he whispered in her ear before kissing her on the check.

“Ok,” she managed to reply. She wasn’t sure what it was about those words, but when he said them, she trusted him completely. Nothing could go wrong. Tahlmus turned and leading the way down the stairs.

“What are you doing here?” asked a soldier.

“Arl Howe wanted to see us,” lied Tahlmus.

“Wrong answer,” replied the soldier. “We were told no one gets by.”

“Can’t blame me for trying,” grinned Tahlmus. The soldier and his companions pulled out their blades as Tahlmus lit a flame in the palm of his hand.

“What is that?” paused the soldier.

“The end,” said Tahlmus as he extinguished the flame. Howe’s men crumpled to the ground.

“That is still a little disturbing,” said Wynn.

“You should do that more often,” replied Leliana.

“It takes more energy than it looks,” he replied. “So I can’t do it all the time.” He led the way through the room and down the hall. He paused in front of one of the doors. Tahlmus pulled out a throwing knife before knocking. As the guard opened the door, Tahlmus thrust the knife into the man’s heart. He removed the knife as he pushed the lifeless body out of his way.

“What the…” started one of the other guards. Tahlmus pulled out his blades and the group quickly disposed of the guards.

“He hasn’t been this ruthless since he had to leave Tavain in mother’s hut,” thought Morrigan as she watched Tahlmus untie a young man from a type of torture device.

“You do not look like one of my father’s guards.”

“That’s because I’m not.”

“Then he does not yet know the filth he’s aligned with. To whom do I owe for my rescue.”

“I am Tahlmus of the Grey Wardens.”

“I’m sure once I get back to my father he will offer you any reward you want.”

“Do you think he would side with the Wardens at the Landsmeet?”

“Once I tell him of Howe’s treachery, he will yes.”

“That is all I ask for.”

“Consider it done. Thank you again, but I must get out of here.”

Tahlmus nodded as the young man walked out.”

“And that was another one,” stated Morrigan with a soft concerned look in her eyes.”

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus taking her hand. “Now we have to go kill Howe and free some others.”

“Let’s get on with it then,” said Wynn. “the sooner we can get out of here the better.”

“Agreed,” said Leliana. “This dungeon gives me the creeps.”

Morrigan looked at Tahlmus who just nodded. He would not be leaving the estate with them. “Tahlmus what is it?” she asked.

“Nothing sweetheart,” he said as he gently pulled on her hand so she’d follow him. The other two women followed him as he led them to where Howe waited.

“You,” said Howe, as Tahlmus walked into the room.

“You were expecting someone else?” questioned Tahlmus in a sarcastic tone.

Howe shook his head slightly. “We knew you and that mouthy female knife ear were trouble.”

Tahlmus felt his face getting hot. “My sister and I never were ones to conform.”

“Too bad she’s not here. After I killed you, I could take her for myself. She looked young, probably never been with a man before,” Howe sneered.

“No one,” started Tahlmus his voice low, full of venom and ice. “And I mean no one talks about my sister like that. You will die,” finished Tahlmus taking out only one of his blades.

Howe smiled. “You can try knife ear.” Howe then took a swing at Tahlmus who easily deflected it.

“I don’t think I’ll have to try very hard,” replied Tahlmus. He took a swing at Howe as he pulled out his throwing knife. Howe blocked his blade, but he didn’t notice the knife until he felt a prick in his chest. Howe dropped his sword. He noticed that Tahlmus had only allowed the tip to pierce the skin. He tried to back away, but Tahlmus who had now dropped his own blade held onto his throat, pushing him back into a pillar. Howe’s men tried to move, but found they were frozen in their spots, their weapons too heavy to use. “I’m going to enjoy watching you die,” replied Tahlmus in a low menacing voice. Howe tried desperately to remove Tahlmus’ hand from his throat. It was no use the elf’s grip was too strong.

“What are you?” Howe’s question came out in a barely audible whisper.

“I’m a Dalish elf mage, turned Grey Warden,” Tahlmus whispered in his ear. “You picked the wrong side.” Tahlmus looked into Howe’s eyes.  He slowly pushed the knife deeper and deeper. His eyes never left Howe’s until all the pain and fear were gone, and all that was left was an empty, blank stare. Tahlmus let go of Howe and watched him slump to the ground. Seconds later his men lay on the ground dead.

“I retract my earlier statement,” said Wynn still in slight shock. “This was disturbing.”

“It was better than they deserved,” replied Tahlmus, the malice still in his voice as he picked up his blade and sheathed it. The women watched him walk into the back room. He freed the real Arl of Denerim, with the promise of support and attempted to free a templar. The templar however was incoherent. He gave Tahlmus a ring to give to his sister, before going back into the corner of the cell. Tahlmus put the ring in his pocket and went back out to his companions. “Time to go get the queen,” he said.

Morrigan took hold of his hand as he walked by. She found she was mildly excited by the more ruthless side Tahlmus had. She walked with him, hand in hand to Anora’s door.

“Thank you for saving me,” said Anora once they got there. “I was sure he was going to kill me the next time he checked on me.” Tahlmus bowed.

“Why are you dressed like that?” asked Morrigan.

“If Howe’s men find me, they’ll kill me. If my father’s men find me they will take me back. He’ll have me imprisoned.”

Morrigan looked at Tahlmus who shook his head ever so slightly. Morrigan opened her mouth to speak, but closed it when Tahlmus squeezed her hand. “We need to get going my Queen,” he replied.

“Of course, lead the way Warden.” The group made their way to the front door.

“Figures it would be you,” stated Cauthrien in as stern a voice as she could muster. She stood there with several of the Teryn’s men. She hoped they would be enough, if the elf mage did not come quietly.

“What?” asked Tahlmus innocently.

“You are under arrest Warden, for the murder of Rendon Howe.”

Tahlmus hid his grin as he undid his sheath and let his weapons fall to the floor. He walked up to Cauthrien and stood in front of her. “I surrender to you,” he said.

“Tahlmus…” Morrigan half cried.

“It’s ok, trust me,” she heard in her head.

“I’ll admit Warden, I didn’t think it would be this easy.”

“To go against you, would only enforce Loghain’s lies about me.”

“Men arrest this Warden. Loghain doesn’t care about the others.” Two men walked up to Tahlmus. One spun him around. Then both men grabbed onto Tahlmus’ shoulders. He winced in pain as the men wrenched his arms behind his back and put chains on them. Morrigan tried to hold back her tears. She couldn’t stand to see Tahlmus do what he was doing. She thought she saw him grin as the men then put a black hood over Tahlmus’ head.

“He must have known,” she thought as she watched the one on the right take the hilt of his sword and bring it down on Tahlmus’ head. Tahlmus heard a stifled scream as his world went black. Morrigan kept her hands over her mouth as she watched Tahlmus’ body just slump over. Then two men drug him out of the estate.

“Well, what now?” asked Leliana in a voice so calm, that Morrigan wanted to slap her. Instead she picked up Tahlmus’ weapons.

“We… we go back to Eamon,” she managed to get out. “I need to talk to Tavain,” she thought to herself.

The group made their way back to Eamon’s estate. Once there Leliana and Wynn went to their rooms. Erlina was shown to the Queen’s room. Anora and Morrigan went to find Eamon.

Tavain had the door open waiting on Tahlmus to return. She watched Morrigan enter the Arl’s room, but didn’t see her brother. “Dang it Tahlmus… I thought you said it’d be ok,” she muttered to herself as she crept out of her room following Morrigan and who she assumed to be Anora.

“Eamon,” said Anora. “We have a problem. The Warden’s been captured.” Tavain froze in the doorway. There was no way Tahlmus could have been captured.

“How did this happen?” asked Eamon, a little stunned.

“That doesn’t matter,” she replied. “We need to figure out a way to get him back.”

“I know where he is,” replied Morrigan in a tone Tavain hadn’t heard before. “It won’t be easy.”

“Where is he?” asked Anora. Tavain didn’t like what she heard in Anora’s voice. Something wasn’t right.

“Fort Dracon.”

“Maker,” breathed Eamon.

“What will we do?” asked Anora.

“Nothing, yet,” said Tavain making her presence known.

“Where did you…” started Anora startled by the young elf’s sudden appearance.

“Tahlmus did know,” stated Morrigan raising an eyebrow at Tavain who nodded.

“Tahlmus knew what?” asked Eamon.

“But he’s unconscious,” said Morrigan still looking at Tavain ignoring Eamon’s question. Her eyes trying to hold back her tears.

Tavain swallowed the lump that had developed in her throat. “This is why he left me here. To make the decisions,” she thought. “He knew that Cauthrien would be there waiting for him. For any Warden that showed up, after freeing the queen,” she said in as strong a voice as she could. “He had to know something else too,” she thought.

“Why didn’t he try to avoid it?” asked Eamon not sure what to make of what he’d heard.

“There were people in Howe’s dungeon, that if we saved them, would support us at the Landsmeet,” replied Morrigan. “So instead of disabling the barrier himself, we went into the basement, freed those people and killed Howe.”

“We have to get him out,” Anora replied. Her face was calm, but her eyes were frantic. She didn’t understand why nothing was being done yet.

“Tahlmus knew,” Tavain replied. “He knew something else too, otherwise he would have taken me with him. We will just have to wait. We will continue with what he originally told us to do.”

“So… we just sit here?” asked Anora.

“Yes,” replied Tavain swallowing hard. “If he needs help, he will contact me.”

“How can he contact you if he’s in Fort Dracon?” asked Eamon.

“Through thought,” said Tavain.

“But he’s unconscious,” Anora half shrieked.

“Tahlmus told me, if he needed help he would contact me. Until then we do as he would have done. We were without him once. We can get by without him for a little bit,” replied Tavain as she removed the staff from Tahlmus’ sheath. She sat there holding it. “Please come back soon,” she thought as Morrigan sat next to her. Anora sat in a chair unhappy with what was happening.

“This is one powerful mage,” thought Eamon as the group sat there in silence.

Chapter 30

The stone floor sent a chill through Tahlmus causing him to open his eyes. He winced as he tried to get to a sitting position. “Well, there’s no blood,” he thought as he removed his hand from the tender spot on his head.

“What are you in here for stranger?”

Tahlmus turned to see the body that went with the voice. The haggard looking man had nothing on but his underwear. He looked down at himself. “No wonder the stone felt so cold,” he thought.

“Did you hear me stranger?” the man asked.

“What?” asked Tahlmus as the man’s voice brought him out of his thoughts. “Oh, I, uh… I killed Rendon Howe,” he said as he forced himself to a standing position.

“Bastard deserved it if you ask me.”

“You have no idea,” muttered Tahlmus.

“Quiet,” shouted the guard.

“Where are we?” whispered Tahlmus.

“Fort Dracon,” the man whispered back.

“Creators, I really am in trouble,” thought Tahlmus. “What did you do?” he asked.

“I spoke out against Loghain’s treachery. He had his guards throw me in here.”

Tahlmus stood deep in thought. “If I help you out of here, would you convince the people to support the Wardens instead of Loghain?”

“I would be honored, but… how do you plan on getting out of here?”

“I have a few talents that should come in handy,” said Tahlmus as he walked over to his cell door. He deftly picked the lock. Slipping out of the cell, he snuck up on the guard. “I almost forgot I had these skills,” he thought to himself as he stood behind the guard. “Always let Tavain take care of the sneaky stuff.” Tahlmus then snapped the guards neck as he had seen Riordin do earlier. “That was different,” he thought as he tried to control the adrenaline rush. It startled Tahlmus how much he enjoyed it.

“Remind me not to get on your bad side,” said the prisoner as Tahlmus unlocked the cell door.

“Actually, that’s the first time I’ve snapped anyone’s neck,” said Tahlmus. The man stared at him in disbelief. “Do you know where they put my stuff?” asked Tahlmus looking around.

“In that chest over there by the door,” the man pointed as he wondered what kind of man he got himself mixed up with.

Tahlmus walked over to the chest and picked the lock. Inside he found his stuff and more. He motioned for the man to come over to him as he put his robes on. The man obeyed. “This should fit you,” said Tahlmus as the man accepted the armor in Tahlmus’ outstretched hand.

“Thank you,” said the man as he put the armor on.

Tahlmus nodded and put on his satchel. He shrunk everything else so it would fit inside. “What’s your name?” asked Tahlmus as he made his way down the stairs. He found a man still tied to a torture device. The body didn’t move. Tahlmus checked for a pulse. The man was still alive.

“I’m Andre,” replied the man, staring at the motionless body.

“Well, Andre, help me get this man off this device.”

Andre complied. “Are we taking him with us?”

“Yes, we…” Tahlmus paused as the man’s eyes opened.

“Where am I?” he whispered. “What happened?”

“You’re in Fort Dracon,” replied Tahlmus. “Do you think you can stand?”

“I… I think so,” the man replied. With a little help from Tahlmus the man did manage to stand up. “I must… I must find my father. He cannot side with Loghain.

“Relax,” replied Tahlmus. “I’m going to get us out of here, but first, put these on,” he said handing the man some clothing. Tahlmus watched as the man slowly put on the clothing. “At least he didn’t fall over,” Tahlmus thought.

“Thank you,” the man replied.

“You never said how you were going to get us out of here,” said Andre.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” replied Tahlmus. “Now both of you hold onto my robes,” he said. “Might want to close your eyes too,” he added as an afterthought.

“Why?” asked Andre.

“Humor me,” replied Tahlmus. The men did as they were told. Tahlmus then focused on Arl Eamon’s estate and transported them there. “You can open your eyes now.”

“Maker how did you do that?” asked Andre.

“I come from a long line of powerful Dalish elf mages.”

“Y…You’re a m… mage,” stuttered the other man.

“Technically I was a Keeper’s Apprentice, but now I’m a Grey Warden.”

The other man’s fear disappeared. “A Grey Warden,” he said in awe. “Can you get rid of Loghain? He’s done so many treacherous things…”

“Go with Andre,” replied Tahlmus. “Tell the people of Loghain’s treachery. Convince them to support the Grey Wardens.”

“As good as done,” the man replied.

“Thank you for your help,” bowed Andre before the pair turned and walked away.

“That was unexpected,” thought Tahlmus as he walked into Eamon’s estate. He made his way to the Arl’s sitting room. The door was partially closed. He stood outside, listening.

“It’s been several hours, we should go save the Warden,” stated Anora. She was feeling antsy. How could she gain the Warden’s trust if she didn’t save him, after getting him captured.

Morrigan looked at Tavain who was staring at Tahlmus’ staff as she continued to rotate it in her hands. It was almost time to meet with everyone else. She had no idea what she would tell everyone. “He hasn’t asked for help yet,” said Tavain softly. Morrigan placed a hand on Tavain’s shoulder.

“And what if he can’t ask for our help? Is he really that powerful?” Anara tried to ask calmly.

“He was unconscious the last time we saw him,” said Morrigan her voice cracking.

“It was his order,” replied Tavain, position unchanged. “And yes, he is that powerful,” she said looking to Anora. “Which is why I do as he tells me… even if it means letting him suffer,” she finished in a whisper.

“He could be dead because we didn’t try to save him,” shrieked Anora. The staff stopped rotating. Tahlmus took this as his cue.

“Or,” said Tahlmus, “he could be standing right here.”  The three girls and Eamon looked at him.

“Big brother,” shouted Tavain, who dropped the staff to run over and embrace Tahlmus.

He wrapped his arms around her. “Told you I would be ok.”

“I didn’t doubt you for a minute,” replied Tavain.

“I’m glad you’re ok,” said Morrigan as she leaned in and kissed him.

Tahlmus grinned. “If I wasn’t before, I am now.” Tavain made a face, and Morrigan blushed.

“Warden, it’s good to see you are safe,” said Anora, standing to greet him. Tahlmus nodded. He did not trust the queen.

“Anora says there’s been some problems in the alienage and her father most likely has a hand in it,” said Tavain looking up at her brother.

“Did she now?”

“She did,” confirmed Morrigan trying to decipher Tahlmus’ tone.

“There has been much unrest there since my father has claimed being regent,” said Anora taking a step towards Tahlmus.

“Then I guess we’ll look into it,” he said. “Could be of some use at the Landsmeet.”

“Those were my thoughts exactly,” replied Eamon deciding to join in the conversation.

“I am going to my room now,” said Anora. “Warden when you have a moment I’d like to speak with you.”

“Of course, my queen,” bowed Tahlmus as he watched her walk out.

“Let me say first that I am glad that you are safe,” stated Eamon. “What are your thoughts now?”

“Tavain. Morrigan. Go wait for me in my room,” he said taking his sheath from Tavain.

“But…” started Tavain.

“Go,” said Tahlmus sternly.  Tavain nodded and followed Morrigan out the door. Tahlmus shut and locked the door behind them. “Anora cannot be trusted. We aid her just enough so she sides with us at the Landsmeet. Do not allow her off these ground until that time.” Tahlmus felt the Arl studying him.

“You know something I don’t,” he finally said.

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus. “And it will stay that way. Right now, the less you know the better off you will be.”

“I have no option but to trust you. With the rumors, I have heard in the city that trust is not misplaced. Do as you see fit.”

“Yes, my Lord.”

“Tahlmus, please call me Eamon. Tahlmus just bowed, then walked out of the room. He made his way to the Queen’s room and knocked on the door. He would appease her request to speak with him.

“Warden,” said Erlina as she opened the door. “My lady has been waiting for you,” she finished as she motioned Tahlmus through the door.

“Warden I am glad you came.”

“Tahlmus,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“Please call me Tahlmus. I am not the only warden within these walls. And I could not turn down a request from my queen,” he finished with a slight bow.

“Ok, Tahlmus. I have a proposal.”

“I thought you might.”

“I will put my voice with yours, if you allow me to keep my throne.”

“Not a chance,” thought Tahlmus. “Agree to marry Alistair and it’s a deal,” he said out loud.

“Marry Alistair? Ignoring the fact that he looks so much like Cailan, my recently deceased husband in case you’ve forgotten, he is in no way a leader.”

“True, but he is of Theirin blood. That will be popular with the people.”

“It is true. The Theirin blood line is more important to some people. Fine if Alistair will agree to be the people’s king and let me rule… I will do it.”

“Consider it done.”

“Shouldn’t you talk to him?” asked Anora.

“I don’t have to. I already know he’ll agree to it.”


“It’s a talent,” replied Tahlmus as he bowed and started to walk out. Anora tried to come up with something to say, but nothing came out. She wondered what other surprises the young elf had up his sleeve.

Tahlmus walked down to his room. “Alistair?” he said surprised.

“I asked him to come,” said Tavain.

Tahlmus shrugged. “He might as well hear this too.”

“Hear what?” asked Alistair.

Tahlmus made the bedroom door close. The group heard a click. “Sit down,” he motioned at Alistair and Tavain. He took Morrigan’s hand and pulled her close. “We can’t trust Anora.”

“But she’s the queen,” said Tavain.

“She also coordinated with Cauthrien to have the Grey Wardens captured.”

“That’s why she was wearing that uniform,” stated Morrigan.

“It was,” replied Tahlmus.

“Why would she…?” asked Alistair.

“I don’t know… Maybe so we felt like we needed her. She recues me, we trust her. Right? That was most likely her logic anyway.”

“It would explain her agitation when we didn’t go after you,” stated Morrigan.

“So, what do we do?” asked Alistair.

“Appease her for now. She’s given us something to use against her father,” replied Tahlmus.

“The Alienage,” stated Tavain.

“Yes, the Alienage. She’ll also lend us her voice if we let her keep the throne.”

“She can have the throne for all I care,” stated Alistair.

“You should care. If she takes the throne alone she’ll execute you.”

“Wonderful. You know I didn’t ask for this,” stated Alistair.

“So, then what…” started Tavain.

“She has agreed to marry Alistair to keep her throne. Which,” he said turning to Alistair. “If you’re asked about it… You agreed to it.”

“I what?”

“He what?” Tavain’s voice was high pitched. “Big brother…”

Tahlmus cut her off. “For now, if anyone asks, Alistair is marrying Anora.”

“Big brother, that’s not…”

“Easy Tavain, Alistair isn’t going to marry her. We just need to let her think that for now.”

“Is it wise to lie to the queen?” asked Morrigan.

“Until we have a queen that knows when I’m lying, it’s ok. We need her voice at the Landsmeet.”

“Big brother there’s only one person who can tell when you’re lying and that’s…” Tavain paused as a thought came to her. Tahlmus grinned at his sister. “Tahlmus no…”


“But why?”

“It is what’s best.”

“B… but will you be…”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got your back sis. That will never change.”

“That’s good.”

“What just happened here?” asked Morrigan.

Tavain shook her head. “You’ll find out soon enough.”

“Since that’s settled. Let’s go talk with the others. I am curious to know what you all found out.

“They should all be in the main hall,” replied Tavain. “I had Wynn gather them all up when I went to find Alistair.”

“Let’s go then,” said Tahlmus as he stood up and made his door swing open. Tavain led the way to the main hall.

“So, our fearless leader finally comes,” said Zevran sarcastically. Chewy growled at him.

“What were you able to find out?” asked Tahlmus.

“Nothing specific,” said Sten. “Most people were too afraid to talk about Loghain.”

“He has them living in fear then,” stated Tahlmus.

“His guards are everywhere,” Tavain added.

“Then I guess our best bet is the Alienage and Queen Anora,” stated Tahlmus.

“The Alienage?” asked Leliana.

“Yes, the queen says there has been trouble there. She’s sure her father has a hand in it.”

“So, we’re going there next?” asked Oghren.

“Morrigan, Tavain, Alistair, and I will go to the Alienage in the morning.”

“What about the rest of us?” asked Sten.

“You will stay here and keep an eye on the queen.”

“And why will they be doing that?” came Anora’s voice.

“For your own safety,” replied Tahlmus.

“We don’t need anything happening to you,” added Tavain supporting her brother’s white lie.

“It would also be best if you did not leave the grounds, but” continued Tahlmus as he saw the queen’s mouth open. “If you must leave, take Zevran and Chewy with you. They will be the least conspicuous out of the group.” Tahlmus watched Anora ponder what he had said.

“You are protective,” she finally stated.

“You don’t know the half of it,” said Tavain. The queen eyed the female elf. “Tonight, was the first time since our parents died that he’s let me out of his sight for more than two minutes,” lied Tavain.

“Tavain’s going to make a good queen,” thought Tahlmus.

The queen looked over at Tahlmus. “I will do as you ask then,” she said.

“It really is for your own safety,” he said. “I wouldn’t have suggested it otherwise.” After seeing Anora nod, he turned to the rest of his companions. “Now I suggest everyone go get a good night’s rest.” All his companions followed Tavain out of the main hall. Anora continued to stand there studying him.

“For such a young elf, you have very loyal companions. I admire that.”

“Thank you,” said Tahlmus.

“You should be the one I marry, not Alistair.”

Tahlmus studied the queen, shocked she would say something like that. “I don’t think the people would like to have an elf as their king,” he replied.

“Maybe you’re right.” Tahlmus let out the breath he’d been holding. “I just wanted to thank you again for saving me.”

“It was an honor my queen. If you don’t mind I would like to get some rest before tomorrow.”

“Of course,” she replied as she watched him start to walk out of the hall.

“Just one more thing,” she said.

“Yes,” said Tahlmus turning to face Anora.

“If you should win the Landsmeet, which I have no doubt you will, the judgment of my father will be on Eamon to decide. He doesn’t do anything without your approval…” the queen’s speech drifted off.

“He’ll have to pay for his crimes Anora, but how he will pay… I do not know. I don’t have all the facts yet.”

“A just answer,” replied the queen.

“You sound surprised.”

“Just… after hearing everything he’s done to you… I guess I expected a more vengeful answer.” Anora watched a half smile appear on Tahlmus’ face as his eyes glossed over.

“Revenge does not give you back what you lost. It also does not make you better than the person or people that hurt you.”

“A wise answer for such a young man,” said the queen feeling bewildered.

Tahlmus just bowed. “May I escort you back to your room my queen? You need your rest too.”

“Yes. If you would be so kind.” Tahlmus held his arm out to the queen, which she took, and led her back to her room. “Thank you,” she said as she stepped inside.

“You are welcome,” he said as she closed the door. Tahlmus then made his way to his own room. Morrigan turned away from the fireplace after the door clicked shut. She watched Tahlmus take a seat on the bed, and bury his face in his hands.

“Tahlmus, are you ok?” she asked walking over to him.

Tahlmus looked up at Morrigan who was now standing in front of him. He gave her a half smile as he stood. “Everything is perfect now,” he whispered before kissing her.

Morrigan ran her hand through Tahlmus’ hair. He winced when she went over the tender spot on his head. “Are you sure you’re ok?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Do you think going to the Alienage tomorrow is wise? It could be a trap like today was.”

“It could be a trap, but we have to check it out. I think Tavain and I will be the only ones in any immediate danger because we’re elves. But there hasn’t been a challenge yet Tavain and I haven’t overcome. Besides she has Alistair to watch her back…”

“And you have me,”

“It’s nice to hear you say that. Now, we should get some rest.” They helped each other undress, then curled up under the covers. Tahlmus leaned in to give her a goodnight kiss. To his pleasant surprise the one kiss turned into several. Their lips finally parted and he gazed into Morrigan’s eyes.

“Tahlmus,” she said running her fingers over the scare on his face. “Will you promise me something?”

“Anything,” he replied trying to slow the adrenaline rush she’d generated in him.

“No matter what happens over the next few days… promise me you will never disenchant that ring I gave you.”

“That’s an odd request.”

“I know but…”

Tahlmus kissed her. “I’ll never take it off,” he whispered. He wiped away a tear from her face.

“You never hesitate when I ask for something. Never question it.”

He gently swept a strand of hair out of her face. “I love you.”

“Tahlmus I…I…” she knew she shouldn’t be there, but she couldn’t leave either. She needed him. He put a finger to her lips.

“I don’t know how things are going to play out over the next couple of days. What I do know is that I will do anything for you.”

Morrigan swallowed the lump in her throat, as fresh tears started. “Kiss me,” she whispered.

“As you wish,” he whispered back before giving her a slow, passionate kiss. Morrigan curled up as close to him as she could get after their lips parted and closed her eyes.

“I love you too,” she whispered. Then all Tahlmus could hear was her deep breathing.

“Sweet dreams my love,” he whispered back before closing his eyes.

Chapter 31

Tahlmus woke up reaching for Morrigan. When his hand didn’t find her, he opened his eyes and sat up in bed. “What are you doing over there?” he asked when he saw her by the fireplace.

“I had a bad dream. When I woke up, I saw you. I was relieved, but I couldn’t fall back asleep. I didn’t want to wake you.”

Tahlmus had slipped out of bed and put on his robes as she spoke. “Do you love me?” asked Tahlmus wrapping his arms around her.

Morrigan was confused by the question. “Yes … but…”

“Do you trust me?”

“Yes… Tahlmus where are you…”

“Then why aren’t you telling me everything?”

Morrigan gazed into the fireplace. “Because Tavain and I agreed not to tell you until you absolutely needed to know.”

“I forgot they had one of those,” he thought. “Fair enough,” he said “Shall we get Tavain and Alistair and go to the alienage?”

“Might as well,” she said putting her hand in his.

The two made their way to Alistair’s room. Tahlmus knocked. Tavain pulled the door open. “Two more minutes,” she said. “I can’t find my boots.”

“You… lost… your… boots?” Tahlmus asked slowly.

“More like Chewy wanted to play hide and seek,” replied Tavain.

“I was wondering where he was staying,” Tahlmus heard Chewy bark. “Chewy,” he said. “Get the boots please.” Chewy whined. “There will be plenty of time to play later. Right now I need Tavain and her boots to help me out. Chewy barked, then walked over with Tavain’s boots in his mouth. “Thank you Chewy,” said Tahlmus patting the dog on the head.

“You can get anyone to listen to you, can’t you,” stated Alistair.

Tavain started laughing as she put her boots on. “Depends on what I’m trying to say. I know one person that only listens to me when in battle,” replied Tahlmus.

“I can’t imagine who that would be,” stated Tavain sarcastically.

Tahlmus tosseled his sister’s hair. “Let’s go to the alienage, shall we?”

“Yes, let’s get this done,” said Alistair.

Tahlmus led them out of the estate. Along the way to the alienage, he found and talked to some of the nobles that would be at the Landsmeet. He had helped several of them by having released prisoners in Howe’s Dungeon. Tahlmus now had their allegiance for the Landsmeet. They found the entrance to the Alienage and hesitantly walked in.

“This doesn’t look like a good place to live big brother.”

“No, it doesn’t,” replied Tahlmus as they made their way to the center of the alienage. A crowd was gathered there. A female elf a little older than Tahlmus was shouting at the crowd.

“How do we even know they are working magic?”

“I’ve got children at home. I can’t wait out here another day,” another female responded.

“So go home! The best thing you can do for your children is not trust these charlatans.”

“Everyone remain calm. We will help as many as we can today,” spoke one of the humans at the front of the crowd. “So long as we can do it in an orderly fashion.”

“Big brother,” whispered Tavain giving his robes a tug.

“Just hold on,” he whispered back. He was sure she was getting the same uneasy feeling he was.

“Oh you’re helping us, are you Shem? Like Valendrian and my uncle Cyrion, you helped them didn’t you? Helped them never to be seen again,” the female elf continued to shout.

“We’ve explained this to you before girl,” started the human. “More whining will not persuade us to let you into the quarantine to carry plague back out to the alienage.”

“Quit trying to get us killed Shianni!” spoke a male elf. “Some of us still have things to live for.”

“Tavain,” Tahlmus whispered, “come with me. Morrigan and Alistair stay back, but stay alert.” They nodded. Tavain followed Tahlmus over to the female elf known as Shianni.

“If this spell of theirs works, why are half the people they quarantine perfectly healthy?” she continued to shout.

“Shianni is it?” asked Tahlmus. “May we speak with you?”

“What? Who are you? You’re elven but you don’t belong here,” she said facing Tahlmus.

“My sister and I are Dalish. We are also Grey Wardens. We are here to help. Is there someone in charge of the alienage?”

“That would be Valendrian. He is our hahren.”

“Where might I find him?”

“They took him,” Shianni pointed at the humans. “These tevinters took him into that house days ago, and no one’s seen him since. They said he had the plague, but he didn’t. He was healthy as a war hound, and now they’ve got him and won’t let anyone see him.”

Tahlmus stood there in thought as the male elf spoke again. “They are educated men Shianni. They’d know if he had the plague. And it’s not as if Valendrian would make a show of illness even if he were on his death bed.

Shianni looked like she was going to start yelling again. Tahlmus put a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll see if I can figure out what’s going on. Just stay here and stay calm.”

Shianni just nodded, “Maker watch over you,” she said as she watched Tahlmus and Tavain slip away.

“You know something don’t you big brother?” Tavain whispered.

“She called the men Tevinters,” he whispered back. “Which means they are from the Tevinter Imperium.”

“That’s the place ruled by mages isn’t it?” asked Tavain.

“Yes and what gives us mages a bad reputation. But the Imperium is mostly human mages, and if you’re not human, or at least a mage, you’re a slave.”

“You think Loghain is allowing his people to be enslaved?”

“I think Loghain doesn’t think much of elves.”

“So what do we do?”

“Find a way into that house.”

“How do you suggest we do that?”

“We’re elves… pretend to be sick? We need information. We can’t just kill them.”

“Not sure it’s your best plan big brother, but let’s do it.”

“Stay where you are,” Morrigan and Alistair heard in their head. “Tavain and I are going to get into that house.” Morrigan and Alistair looked at each other, then watched the siblings approach the door of the house.

“You will go no further,” said a guard to the siblings.

Tavain faked a coughing fit, while Tahlmus forced a couple of coughs himself. “Help us,” he sputtered.

“Veras! Saritor! These two have the plague.”

“Take them to quarantine then,” responded one of the robed humans. “We are much too busy to be spared.”

“Of course,” responded the guard. “This way you two. We must get you inside before you spread this to others.” The guard opened the door and led the siblings inside the house.

“Now what,” mouthed Tavain.

Tahlmus gave a slight shrug. “Just play along for now, see how this plays out,” she heard in her head.

“Great plan big brother,” she thought.

“You,” said it yourself,” she heard. “Not one of my best plans.” Tavain rolled her eyes at Tahlmus as they were led to a guard who sat behind the desk.

“What’s this?” the guard behind the desk asked.

“We got two more,” said the one who had brought them in.

“Wait. That’s the one the regent is looking for,” said the guard behind the desk pointing at Tahlmus. “He also mentioned the other one. They are sibling Grey Wardens. Five Sovereigns to whoever can bring them down,” he finished.

“Well, that kind of backfired,” said Tahlmus pulling out his blades.

“Looks like we have to kill them anyway,” replied Tavain choosing to take out Bevin’s sword since the siblings were surrounded. “How do you suggest we handle this?”

“Very carefully,” responded Tahlmus, fending off a blow from one of the guards. He cast a spell to stun them. There was only one guard left by the time the spell wore off. Tavain quickly disposed of him.

“Now what?” she asked. “We still don’t have any more information than we did before.”

“I know,” replied Tahlmus looking around. “See what you can find on the guards and search that desk,” he finished as he walked towards a door he thought led to another room. Tavain did as she was told, while Tahlmus entered the second room. He found elves in cages.

“Please let us out,” cried one of the elves, “we don’t have the plague.”

Tahlmus picked the locks. “Where’s Valendrian?” he asked.

“They moved him out of here yesterday,” responded the elf who had asked for help. “I don’t know where they took him. I need to get out of here.” Tahlmus just nodded and the man ran off with the others.

“Tahlmus, I think you should see this,” stated Tavain as Tahlmus walked back to where she was. He took the note, she held out to him.

“Creators,” he whispered after reading it.

“Looks like you were right about the elves being sold as slaves.”

“Unfortunately,” he said, his attention was diverted to the commotion he heard outside. “We better get back out there.”

“I agree,” replied Tavain pulling out her bow as they made their way to the front door. The siblings watched Alistair behead one of the Tevinter men, then sheath his blade.

“You two missed all the fun,” he said as he and Morrigan joined the siblings.

“We had our own fun on the inside,” responded Tahlmus watching Shianni run up to them.

“What happened? Some of the elves ran out… but I didn’t recognize any of them. Where are the others?”

“You didn’t recognize any of them?” Tahlmus questioned. Shianni shook her head. “Where else could Logain be getting elves,” he wondered. “Do you know what this sentence down here means?” Tahlmus asked pointing to a line at the bottom of the note.

“Let me see that.” Tahlmus handed the note to Shianni. “What does this even mean? They can’t be shipping people can they? Shipping them where?”

“I think they are shipping elves to Tevinter as slaves. Have you seen anything come out of the house?”

“No, people go in, but they don’t come out,” Shianni paused. “The back alleys. There are all sorts of buildings there. They could be using one as some sort of warehouse? Staging area? That could be what the last sentence is referring to.”

“There was a key with the note,” said Tavain showing the key to Shianni.

“It could be to one of the apartments off the alleys. I would go to the back of this house and maybe follow the alley from there. If you find any more information, please let me know. I refuse to accept that they’re all simply gone.”

“If there is anyone left here to save. We will find them,” stated Tahlmus.

“Thank you,” replied Shianni, before watching the group go off behind the house.

“So, what exactly is going on?” asked Alistair, as they walked behind the house to the back alley.

“There is no plague. Loghain is letting the tevinters take these elves as slaves,” replied Tahlmus.

“So you risked the possibility of being sold into slavery to help these people?” Alistair asked in a slightly high pitched voice.

Tavain and Tahlmus looked at each other. “To help out fellow elves. Yes,” replied Tahlmus simply.

“Why would you do that?” asked Morrigan, taking Tahlmus’ hand.

“It might not have been my brother’s best plan, but we were never at any risk,” replied Tavain.

“How can you say…” Alistair started before Tavain interrupted him. “These must be the apartments,” she said.

“Try the key,” responded Tahlmus Tavain was able to unlock the door with the key. Tahlmus made a move to walk through the door, but Morrigan held him back. Tahlmus looked at her with questioning eyes.

“What if it’s a trap?” she asked.

“One meant to get both you and Tavain,” Alistair added. “Logain has failed twice to get you now. This could be a bigger attempt.”

“It’s a risk we have to take,” replied Tavain.

“I said last night, Tavain and I would be in the most danger here,” replied Tahlmus looking at Morrigan. “But as long as her and I are together, we’ll be fine.”

“How do you know?”

“Hasn’t been a challenge yet we haven’t overcome,” stated Tavain. “Now let’s go,” she said heading into the building.

“She’s right,” Tahlmus thought, “together we succeed.” He slipped his hand out of Morrigan’s and followed his sister. Alistair and Morrigan looked at each other, worry on both their faces, but they followed the siblings.  “These elves were just taken from their homes,” stated Tavain after they had looked through a few of the rooms.

“They didn’t have a chance,” stated Tahlmus as he continued down the Hall. He paused by the door leading outside.

“What is it big brother?” asked Tavain. The look she received meant only one thing.  “We’re going on alone aren’t we?” Tahlmus nodded.

“Wait,” said Alistair.

“What is she talking about?” asked Morrigan.

“We’re going through this door,” he said pointing at the door. “There will be guards there. You two will pretend to be slavers. I’ll tell you what to say to them. You’re going to turn Tavain and me over to them.”

“No, this is crazy,” said Alistair. “You’re not giving yourselves up to these slavers. That’s too high a risk.”

“Yes, we are,” said Tavain, “and you’re going to let us.”

“It’s only the two of you against who knows how many of them,” Morrigan stated.

“Twenty of them,” Tahlmus replied. Morrigan stared at him. “Just follow us, and say everything I tell you,” he said. Morrigan took Tahlmus by the robes, pulled him close and kissed him. Alistair did the same with Tavain.

“Be careful,” Morrigan said.

“We will,” said Tahlmus, before opening the door and walking outside.

“Stop! What is this? We weren’t told of any shipments today,” said the lead guard.

“We found these two snooping around,” said Alistair, repeating what Tahlmus was saying in his head. “They looked rather capable, so we agreed to help them. Brought them here so we had back-up,” he finished.

“A smart idea,” said the guard studying Tahlmus and Tavain. He and another guard pulled their swords out. “Remove your weapons,” the lead guard said.

“And what if we don’t?” asked Tavain taking a step forward. The lead guard put his sword tip to her throat, while the other guard did the same to Tahlmus. “You don’t want to cross us. You’re out numbered.”

Both siblings had evil grins across their faces. “Alright,” said Tahlmus holding up his hands. “You win,” he finished as he undid his sheath and let it fall to the ground. Tavain followed suit.

The lead guard tossed Alistair and Morrigan each a piece of rope. “Tie up their hands behind their backs. Make sure it’s tight. I want to see the pain in their faces.”

“Uh…” started Alistair

“Just do it,” he heard both in his head from Tahlmus and out loud by the guard.

“Yes sir,” he replied. Alistair and Morrigan tied the ropes as tight as they could. The siblings both grimaced in pain, but neither made a sound.

“These two shouldn’t cause any more trouble. Men, grab them and follow me. We will take them to Caladrius. As for you two,” he said addressing Alistair and Morrigan. “You made the right choice in asking for help. Take their weapons and dispose of them.”

“Yes sir,” they responded together before picking up the siblings weapons and heading back into the apartment building.

“So now what?” asked Alistair as they peered out the window in time to see Tahlmus and Tavain shoved into a building across the way.

“Morrigan tracks us, and you wait,” Tahlmus’ voice sounded in their heads. “You’re wrists alright?” Tavain heard in her head.

“Yes, though I wish Morrigan would have done mine,” she thought.

“I doubt you would have been better off,” Tahlmus replied as they were pushed down to their knees in front of a heavily armored elf.

“What is this?” she asked. “Caladrius did not send for any more slaves yet.”

“True,” said the lead guard,” but we found these two snooping around with weapons. I thought they should be stopped.”

The female elf just nodded. “Look up at me,” she ordered the siblings. They looked at each other, but did not look up. The elf grabbed some of Tahlmus’ hair, and yanked his head back so he was looking at her. He gave her an icy glare.

“You did better than you thought,” replied the elf. “He’s not a city elf, he’s Dalish. He will fetch a much higher price.” She then forced Tavain to look at her. Tavain’s eyes also held an icy stare. “This one’s Dalish too,” she said.

“By their similarities, I’d also say that they are siblings,” said the guard, hoping to gain more praise.

“They may very well be. Caladrius will be pleased. My men and I will take it from here,” she replied. The guard and his men bowed and walked out. “Alright men get them, and follow me.” her men complied.

Tahlmus noticed they were being taken all the way to the back of the warehouse. “See if you can find a way to the back of the warehouse,” heard Alistair and Morrigan.

“Already heading that way,” thought Morrigan.

“Good,” replied Tahlmus. “Wait for my say so.”

“Calardius,” spoke the female elf. “We have a gift for you,” she said as she shoved Tahlmus and Tavain to their knees in front of the human. The siblings kept their heads low; their gaze at the floor.

“How are these two a gift? None of these city elves will fetch a good price. None are talented enough.”

“These two are not city elves. They are Dalish, and… they are siblings.”

“What are Dalish elves doing in the alienage?” Neither of the siblings so much as looked up.

“You heard the question,” the female elf said. “Answer it,” she demanded kicking Tahlmus in the stomach. He doubled over in pain, but said nothing. Tavain caught a glimpse of her brother’s eyes. There was something sadistic about the excitement they held. It made her adrenaline surge with the thrill of the situation.  The elf picked him up by the nape of his neck. “I’d answer the question if I were you,” she said. Tahlmus still said nothing. He just wore a smirk on his face. His eyes glowing with excitement.

Caladrius placed his staff on Tahlmus’ chest. He felt all his muscles tightening up. Fire seemed to sear through his nerves. “This guy is good. This spell isn’t very well known” thought Tahlmus as he cast the counter spell.

“We were looking for clues,” said Tavain feigning concern about her brother.

Caladrius smiled. “Your sister comes to your aid, but I’m afraid if you don’t speak it will not end well for you. What kind of clues were you looking for?” Caladrius pressed his staff harder into Tahlmus’ chest.

“That’s it,” thought Tahlmus. “Keep trying.” Tavain could see the evil laughter in her brother’s eyes. “He’s up to something fun,” she thought.

“We were looking for a way to get to Loghain. He tried killing off most of our clan. We want revenge,” replied Tavain.

“He gave me permission to be here, but I’m afraid I don’t know how to get to him. Even if I did, you wouldn’t be able to use it now,” said Caladrius pressing his staff harder into Tahlmus’ chest. “You’re going to make me some good money.”

“That’s what you think,” Tahlmus said with a grin. Caladrius’ staff then shattered. The elf startled by the shattering staff let go of Tahlmus’ neck. “Twas a good spell,” said Tahlmus as he made the ropes on his and Tavain’s hands disappear. “Too bad I knew a better one.”

“Now about that proof you had that Loghain was working with you,” said Tavain as she stood. “We want it.”

“I… I’ll tell you what I will give you this agreement with the Teryn’s seal on it for 100 sovereigns. Then I’ll just take my slaves and go.”

“No,” replied Tavain. “Not the deal.”

“You can keep the profits you’ve already made, but you will leave these elves and the paper,” said Tahlmus.

“That doesn’t make the trip worth it. At least let me take these elves. I need them to break even.”

“No,” replied Tavain, “the elves stay.”

“That just won’t do. Logain said I could take the elves I wanted and kill the rest.”

“I’m giving you and your men a chance to get out with your lives. You can take it or you can die.”

“I’m not leaving here without my slaves.”

“Besides, there’s twenty of us and two of you,” said the female elf. Tahlmus stayed silent as he lit a flame in the palm of his hand.

Tavain let out a laugh. “You should have left when you had the chance,” she said taking on the same sadistic grin as her brother.

“That’s what you think,” said the elven slaver as she went to stab Tahlmus in the back. The sword disintegrated as the tip touched Tahlmus’ robes.

“Shouldn’t have done that,” said Tavain as she watched her brother snuff out half of the flame. The elven slaver and her men crumpled to the floor. Dead.

“Who are you?” asked Caladrius.

“That’s my big brother, Tahlmus,” said Tavain proudly. “And I’m…”

“The Grey Warden siblings,” interrupted Caladrius. “There have been stories…I…”

“I’ll give you one last chance to get out of here alive,” said Tahlmus.

“Here’s the paper… and the key for the cage holding the elves.” Tahlmus nodded at Tavain who walked over and took the paper and key from Caladrius with a smile.

“Now get out of here before I change my mind,” said Tahlmus snuffing out the flame and watching Caladrius’ men fall.

“Yes of course,” gulped Caladrius. He then took off running out the back door. Morrigan and Alistair watched him run by, then took a look inside.

“Come in,” said Tavain as she passed the key over to her brother. The two walked in, standing by Tavain as Tahlmus freed the caged city elves. All of them except a young boy just stood there.

“That was awesome,” shrieked the young boy. “Thank you, but what happens now?” None of the other elves had moved.

“You’re all free. Go back to your homes.” The group of elves slowly made their way out of the cage.

“Tahlmus… is it?” asked the older male.

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus.

“I am Valendrian, the hahren of the alienage.”

“Shianni mentioned you. She will be glad you’re safe. As will everyone else.”

“Might I ask something of you?”

“Saving your life wasn’t enough,” thought Tahlmus. “Sure,” he replied.

“That female elf,” said Valendrian pointing to the dead slaver, “said you were Dalish. Is this true?”

“Yes. My sister and I were raised in one of the Dalish clans.”

“I’ve been trying to find a link to a keeper of a Dalish clan. Once in a while, a mage child is born here and after running into a Dalish clan years ago… I was wondering if I might be able to send them there for training instead of the human chantry.”

“After the blight, I can bring your request to several of the keepers,” replied Tahlmus.

“Thank you,” bowed Valendrian, “for everything.”

“It was an honor,” replied Tahlmus with a bow of his own. Valendrian then walked off to join the others.

“What happened here?” asked Alistair.

Tahlmus looked at Tavain who smiled. “They tried to enslave the wrong siblings,” she said.

“What did you get?” asked Morrigan nodding at the paper in Tavain’s hand.

“An agreement between Loghain and the slavers, giving them permission to enslave the elves.”

“It has his seal on it,” exclaimed Alistair.

“That it does,” replied Tavain.

“I think we have enough for the Landsmeet. Let’s get back to the Arl,” said Tahlmus. The others agreed, and made their way back to the Arl’s sitting room.

Chapter 32

“I was getting ready to send a search party out for you,” said Eamon as the group entered.

“Good thing you didn’t. Otherwise our cover would have been blown,” said Tavain. The Arl looked at her with questioning eyes. Tahlmus just smiled.

“We have proof that Loghain collaborated with Tevinter slavers to get rid of the elves in the alienage.” Tavain took out the paper while her brother was talking and showed it to the Arl.

“This is good,” replied the Arl.

“Also, a lot of the nobles I’ve been able to speak with are on our side,” added Tahlmus.

“Even better. I will call the Landsmeet. Get the rest of your companions and meet me at the palace.”

“Yes, my Lord,” bowed Tahlmus. Eamon walked out of the room.

“Big brother?”

“Yes Tavain?”

“Can we talk?”

“Go gather our companions,” he said to Morrigan and Alistair. “Gather in the main hall. Tavain and I will be there shortly.” The two nodded and left. Tahlmus shut the door behind them. “What’s wrong Tavain?”

“You… You’ve been handling things differently since Orzammar. You’ve been more ruthless. Morrigan told me about getting to Rendon Howe. Then how we handled the slavers…Don’t get me wrong it was thrilling but…”

“You worried sis?”

“Just not used to this side of you. You’ve also been taking on a lot more risk than usual, acting more rogue than mage. You just give a confident smile and say it will all be ok.”

“I’m not sure how to explain this…” said Tahlmus looking at his sister. “I’ve always had this side of me… had these abilities…Mom taught them to me. I mastered them.”

“But…” questioned Tavain.

“But, I was expected to be a mage. So that’s what I was and just let you do the rogue stuff,” he paused collecting his thoughts. “In the letter that Dad left at Orzammar, he wrote as an afterthought, ‘Don’t forget your other talents, you will need them.’ It took me a minute, but I realized I’m the only mage in our family to be trained in talents other than magic.”

“Sooo…” said Tavain.

Tahlmus took a minute to determine what he wanted to say. “In my training with dad, the only time my blades came out, was the first time he taught me how to enchant them. Otherwise it was strictly magic. When I was training with mom she wouldn’t let me use my magic at all. It was strictly blades and my own cunning.”

“You were able to teach me.”

“Yes, for a while after they died I thought it was the only reason she taught me. There’s never been a record within our family or others of any elf cross-training the way I did. No one’s had the skills or talents to succeed at it, but I did. I’ve always preferred using my blades in close combat, but I’ve always just depended on my magic because I’m mage first; rogue second.

“But..” said Tavain urging him to continue.

“But after reading dad’s letter, I flashed back to a day… a few days before the attack when mom took me with her to meet with the other hunters. Some of them wanted to go out on their own into the forest.”

“Mom was the only one ever allowed in the forest, alone wasn’t she?”

“Yes. She was amazing with blades and the only one who could navigate the forest. Besides, maybe, dad when he used his magic. Mom had told these hunters if they wanted to go out alone they’d have to beat her in a duel. Each one of them lost. Then I asked if I could try. I had never dueled before and I wanted to try. Mom made me duel a few of the other hunters first. After beating them, she said I could duel her.” Tahlmus smiled as he thought about the memory. “She also said ‘Just because you’re my son, don’t expect me to take it easy on you.’ I nodded. Then we dueled.”

“Did she take it easy on you?”

“No,” replied Tahlmus. “She fought harder with me than with the other hunters.”

“Then what?”

“I beat her.”

“No way.”

Tahlmus laughed. “I could hardly believe it myself. Mom just smiled and hugged me. Until Orzammar I had forgotten about it. Since then I’ve realized that for the remaining time before we meet the arch-demon, in some cases, I need to use those talents. I don’t think I can explain it much better than that.”

“What will you do if we don’t win the Landsmeet?”

“Losing isn’t an option,” he replied looking Tavain straight in the eye.

“But, what if…” said Tavain.

“Then you will get everyone to safety, while I hold the guards off. You will then have to find the arch demon and kill it.”

“And you…?”

“Like I said, losing isn’t an option,” he replied calmly. Come on, we must get to the Landsmeet.”

“Ok,” said Tavain as she followed her brother to the main hall. “How can he be so calm about this?” she wondered. “He could die before we defeat the blight.”  They met up with their companions and the group made their way to the palace for the Landsmeet.

They approached the palace steps and Tavain stopped. Tahlmus motioned for the others to continue. He stayed back by Tavain.

“Big brother…,” her gaze never strayed from the palace doors.  “Do you really think we have a chance at this Landsmeet?”

He placed his hands on her shoulders. The action made her look up at him. “I believe we will win. We saved all the right people. We have evidence against Loghain, and we have Anora. Do I have my doubts? Sure, I’m elven, we can’t trust humans, but I’m confident that it will not come to us having to flee.” Tahlmus searched his sister’s face. Her expression hadn’t changed. “Satisfied?” he asked.

“I’m still scared. I don’t want to lose you.”

Tahlmus hugged her. “I’m scared too sis, but we can’t quit now.”

“Can I hold your staff?”

Tahlmus chuckled. “Sure,” he said handing it to her. He offered his hand which she took, and they walked up the stairs. “Everyone ready?” They all nodded as Tahlmus gave the door a push. “Let’s go then,” he said walking through the door.

“Warden, I am not surprised it has come to this,” said Cauthrien, as the group walked in. “And Alistair if you were even remotely worthy of being called Maric’s son you would already be at the Landsmeet now, wouldn’t you?”

“Easy,” Tavain and Alistair both heard in their head.

“You have torn Ferelden apart to oppose the very man who ensured you were born into freedom. But do not think you will get past me to desecrate the Landsmeet itself. The nobles will confirm my Lord as regent and we can finally put this to rest once you are gone.”

Tahlmus could feel Tavain’s grip tighten. He gave her hand a squeeze, and let it go. He took a step towards Cauthrien. “Loghain retreated at Ostegar. He had Rendon Howe torture innocent citizens. He was selling the elves into slavery. I have no doubt that Loghain was a good and honorable man, but can you really not see what he has become?”

“I have had so many doubts of late. Especially when he had us retreat. Loghain is a great man, but his hatred of Orlais has driven him to madness. He has done terrible things. I know it, but I owe him everything. I cannot betray him. Do not ask me to.”

“I’m not asking you to betray him. All I’m asking is that you give me a chance. Let me try to stop him.”

“I never thought duty would taste so bitter. Stop him Warden. Stop him from betraying everything he once loved. You, Alistair and two of your companions may go in. Please show mercy. Without Loghain there could be no country to defend.”

“Thank you, Cauthrien,” bowed Tahlmus. “Tavain. Morrigan. Come with Alistair and me. The rest of you stay here. Help Cauthrien maintain order. This shall be over shortly,” said Tahlmus who then led his 3 companions into the main hall where the Landsmeet was being held.

“My lords and ladies of the Landsmeet, Teryn Loghain would have us give up our freedoms, our traditions, out of fear! He placed us on this path, yet we should place our destiny in his hands? Must we sacrifice everything good about our nation to save it?”

“Eamon has passion,” thought Tahlmus as he slowly made his way to the front of the main hall, weaving his way through the crowd of people. He saw Andre, who gave him the thumbs up. Tahlmus smiled. “Loghain won’t know what hit him.”

“A fine performance Eamon, but no one here is taken in by it,” stated Loghain as he clapped his hands slowly. Tahlmus felt his muscles tighten in anger. “You would attempt to put a puppet on the throne and every soul here knows it,” continued Loghain. “The better question is ‘Who will pull the strings?’ Ah and here we have the puppeteer,” said Loghain as Tahlmus came into view. “Tell me Warden, how will the Orlesians take our nation from us? Will they deign to send their troops or simply issue their commands through this would be prince? How much Ferelden blood does Orlesian gold buy these days?”

Tahlmus stood in front of Loghain. Morrigan, Tavain and Alistair two steps behind him. “The blight is what threatens Ferelden, not Orlais,” Tahlmus said sternly.

“There are enough refugee’s in my bannorn to make that abundantly clear,” claimed a female noble.

“The South has fallen Loghain. Will you let the darkspawn take the whole country for fear of Orlais?” replied a male noble.

“The blight is indeed real Wulff. But do we need Grey Wardens to fight it. They claim that they alone can end the blight, yet they failed spectacularly against the darkspawn at Ostegar. And they asked to bring with them 4 legions of chevaliers. Once we open our borders to the chevaliers, can we really expect them to just return from whence they came?”

“So, your answer to end the blight was to sell your own citizens into slavery? Some of the very citizens that could aid in the fighting,” replied Tahlmus holding out the slave agreement with the Teryn’s seal for everyone to see.

“What’s this?” asked a male noble. “there is no slavery in Ferelden. Explain yourself.” Tahlmus looked at Loghain.

“There is no saving the alienage. Damage from the riots has yet to be repaired. There are bodies still rotting in their homes. It is not a place I would send my worst enemy.”

“But you would let the elves live there,” spoke Tavain trying to hold back her anger. She knew she shouldn’t have spoken, but nothing in her brother’s body language changed. She also did not hear his voice in her head. “Maybe he thinks my outbursts will help.”

“There is no chance of holding it if the blight comes here,” continued Loghain as if Tavain had not spoken, but Tahlmus knew his sister’s words had been heard. The damage was done. “Despite what you may think Warden I have done my duty. Whatever my regrets may be for the elves, I have done what was needed for the good of Ferelden.

“Killing you would be for the good of Ferelden,” muttered Tavain.

“If you want to do what’s good for Ferelden, you should be supporting Maric’s son,” replied Tahlmus.

“Indeed,” agreed the female noble. “Do we not owe it to Maric to see his son on the throne?”

“If he were the true son of Maric I would not hesitate to swear fealty to him. I see nothing of Maric in this pup, but enough of this. I have a question for you Warden. What have you done with my daughter?”

“Nothing,” replied Tahlmus, “except provide her with the protection she requested of me.”

Loghain sneered. “You took my daughter, our queen, by force, killing her guards in the process.  What arts have you employed to keep her? Does she even still live?”

“I believe,” came Anora’s voice, “I can speak for myself. Lords and Ladies of Ferelden hear me,” started the queen as she took her place in front of everyone. “My father is no longer the man you know. This man is not the man of River Dane. This man turned his troops aside and refused to protect your king as he fought bravely against the darkspawn. This man seized Cailan’s throne before his body was cold and locked me away so I could not reveal his treachery. I would have already been killed if not for this Grey Warden.”

“Your own daughter doesn’t have faith in you,” stated Tahlmus just loud enough for Loghain to hear.

“So, the Warden’s influence has poisoned even your mind Anora? I wanted to protect you from this. My Lords and Ladies our land has been threatened before. It has been invaded and lost and won times beyond counting. We Fereldens’ have proven that we will never truly be conquered so long as we are united. We must not let ourselves be divided now. Stand with me and we shall defeat even the blight itself,” finished Loghain looking over at Tahlmus daring him to speak. Tahlmus just smiled.

“South Reach stand with the Grey Wardens.”

“Waking Sea stand with the Grey Wardens.”

“Dragon’s Peak supports the Wardens.”

“The Western Hills throw their lot in with the Wardens. Maker help us.”

“I stand by Loghain. We’ve no hope of victory otherwise.”

“I stand with the Warden. The blight is coming we need the Grey Wardens.” The crowd cheered in agreement. Tavain found herself smiling. They had done it. They had gained the support needed to win the Landsmeet.

“Step down Loghain,” said Tahlmus. “Step down and what you’ve done will be forgiven. You can lead your troops into battle with the darkspawn.”

“Traitors,” shouted Loghain ignoring Tahlmus. “Which of you stood against the Orlesian Emperor when his troops flattened your fields and raped your wives? You fought with us once Eamon. You cared about this land once, before you got too old and fat and content to even see what you risk. None of you deserve a say in what happens here. None of you have spilled blood for this land the way I have. How dare you judge me?” said Loghain glaring at everyone. His gaze finally settling on Tahlmus. “What have you done for this country?” he asked in a low growl.

“I gave you a chance Loghain,” Tahlmus said soft enough for only Loghain to hear. “Call off your men,” he said loud enough for everyone to hear. “We’ll settle this honorably, just you and me.”

“Then let us end this. I suppose we both knew it would come to this. A man is made by the quality of his enemies. Maric told me that once. I wonder if it’s more a compliment to you or me. Enough let the Landsmeet declare the terms of the duel.”

“It shall be fought according to tradition,” spoke the female noble. “A test of arms in single combat, until one party yields. We who are assembled will abide by the outcome.”

“Will you face me yourself, or have you a champion?” Logain smirked.

“I will face you myself.”

“As it should be. Prepare yourself.” Tahlmus grinned at him.

“Big brother, are you sure this is a good idea? He’s got a bigger sword, and more armor. What if you lose? He thinks us traitors. You’ll die…”

“Mom had more armor too,” responded Tahlmus. “Just stand back. I’ll be ok.” He stepped forward to face off against Loghain. Tavain hugged Tahlmus’ staff as she stood there watching them walk in circles. Loghain pulled out his sword. Tahlmus followed suit with his daggers. Morrigan clutched a small piece of Tahlmus’ staff. “Why isn’t he enchanting them?” she whispered.

“No magic,” she heard in her head. “Just swords. Don’t worry I’m pretty good without my magic.”

“I hope pretty good is good enough,” whispered Morrigan. “What did he mean, ‘mom had more armor’?”

“He’s dueled once before. With our mother… he won then…”  responded Tavain in a whisper as she saw Tahlmus flash his confident smile.

Loghain struck first. Tahlmus blocked it while taking a swing of his own. It barely made a dent in Loghain’s armor. Loghain sneered as he struck again. Tahlmus used both daggers to block the attack. He attacked several more times. Tahlmus blocking them all.

“Why isn’t he swinging back?” asked Alistair, as he watched Loghain attack again.

“I don’t know,” replied Tavain clutching Tahlmus’ staff tighter as she watched Loghain press his sword against her brother’s daggers.

“Loghain is going to crush him,” said Morrigan in a high-pitched whisper.

Tahlmus held his blades fast, as Loghain continued to add pressure. “Just a little bit more,” he thought.

“You should yield before you embarrass yourself. You’re obviously no match for me,” said Loghain with a sneer.

“Patience,” said Tahlmus. “Part of dueling is knowing how your opponent will react.” He then pushed Loghain’s sword off his blades and launched an attack. He struck fast; with precision. Loghain found he could not block all the attacks. His armor was a little worse for wear. Then with one smooth quick motion Tahlmus disarmed Loghain. He held his blade tip against Loghain’s throat. Loghain’s eyes went wide as he realized he’d been beaten. “I yield,” he said. Tahlmus pulled his blade away. “I thought you were a kid just wanting to play war as Cailan had. I see now I was wrong.”

Tahlmus sheathed his blades. “I’ve never played with anyone’s life,” he said. “I’m sorry it had to come to this for you to figure that out.” The crowd of people let out a cheer.

“The Landsmeet will follow the Wardens,” replied the female noble.

“Now the question becomes, how will Loghain pay for his crimes?” responded one of the male nobles.

“That decision falls on Eamon,” replied Anora.

“Tahlmus,” said Eamon. “You have proved time and again to make the most just decision. I leave it up to you.”

“He should die for his crimes,” spoke up Alistair. “It would seem justifiable.”

“No,” cried Anora. “You can’t. You said…”

“He tried to kill you,” said Tavain. “Why would…”

“No,” replied Anora. “I said that to get you to come to Howe’s. If the Warden was captured, and I helped save him, then you’d trust me enough to let me keep my throne. “

“Everyone, except Tahlmus’ jaw dropped. Anora looked at him with questioning eyes. “You knew…” she whispered. Tahlmus gave a slight nod.

“You deceived me?” Tahlmus questioned in feigned shock.

“I…I… yes,” she replied.

“We cannot have a deceitful queen,” shouted one of the nobles. The whole crowd started to murmur. Tahlmus held up his hand for silence.

“I gave you a chance Loghain, for your mistakes to be forgiven. You didn’t take it. It’s out of my hands now. You will be held in the dungeon until after the blight. Then a proper punishment can be handed down by the proper authority. Guards please take him away.” Two guards moved in and led Loghain away to the dungeon.

Tahlmus turned to Anora. “I’ll admit I had my doubts when Erlina came to me, but I trusted what she said because you were my queen. I agreed to support you if you married Alistair because you two would be better rulers together. I did this knowing I would be taking away from my sister the one man she’s loved. Now I find out you were just using me this whole time. Ferelden deserves better from her leaders,” Tahlmus paused. All the nobles murmured in agreement.

“What are our options?” One of the nobles spoke up.

“Grey Warden,” started the female noble. “You seem the best equipped to not respond with the desire for revenge. What are our options?”

“If those here are uncomfortable with passing judgement, she can away judgement by a King and Queen after the blight.”

The female noble looked around. Every noble was nodding in agreement. “Then let it be done that way,” she said. She motioned for the guard to lead Anora away.

“So, it is decided. Alistair will take his father’s throne,” stated Eamon.

“Wait… What? When did this get decided? Nobody’s decided that. Have they?”

“Well seeing as my brother just put Anora in the dungeon…” started Tavain.

“Right,” replied Alistair. “Well, why doesn’t he take the throne? He’s much better at the leader thing than I am.”

“Might I suggest,” started Tahlmus, “if it’s alright by those here, that Alistair take the throne with Tavain as his queen. From my experience they work well together, and make better decisions” The nobles started cheering in agreement. Tavain gaped at her brother.

“I think that is a wise idea,” said Eamon. “May I present Alistair your King and Tavain, your Queen.” Cheers erupted again. Tahlmus stepped aside by Morrigan smiling at Tavain and Alistair. Both looked stunned.

“Yes, well…” started Alistair. “There is the blight to contend with… and… uh… I will… I mean…”

“What my king means,” Tavain said stepping forward, “is that we must deal with the blight first as Grey Wardens. In our absence, Arl Eamon will watch over things. I think,” she continued as she turned to face her brother. “Since the Commander of our Army is in the dungeon, my first act as queen is to name Tahlmus of the Grey Wardens the Commander of the King’s Army. He will be the man to lead us against the blight.”

Tahlmus smiled at his sister. “Do I have a choice?” he asked so only she could hear him.

“As much choice as you gave me,” she replied giving him her sweet smile.

“It would be an honor, my queen,” Tahlmus replied as he bowed to his sister.

Alistair, having finally gathered his nerve spoke. “Under this great man’s leadership and skill our armies will be successful and we will defeat this blight.” The people cheered as Alistair finished.

“I’ll be waiting for you in the Arl’s main hall with our companions my king,” bowed Tahlmus. Alistair just nodded as Eamon pulled him and Tavain aside to talk.

Tahlmus felt Morrigan slip her hand in his. “So, this was your plan,” she stated as she handed him his staff.

“To make Alistair King? Yes, since he told me at Redcliffe that he was Maric’s son.”

“What about Tavain?”

“I’ve seen the two together. I suspected her feelings for him were true the night the shrieks attacked the camp. She confirmed it for me after Orzammar.”

“That’s why you had her making decisions.”

“Yes,” he replied. “It was.”

“You always seem to have an answer for everything,” she smiled.

Tahlmus stopped by Cauthrien and their companions. “Not everything,” he said looking at Morrigan. “Not yet.”

“What happened?” asked Leliana.

“Loghain and Anora are in the dungeon awaiting judgment after the blight has been ended,” replied Morrigan.

“Why Anora?” asked Wynn.

“She admitted to doing something the people didn’t like. I left it to them to decide her fate.”

“You think you did the right thing?” asked Cauthrien.

“Well, Anora was not my decision,” he stated. “Loghain on the other hand… I gave him a chance to step down when the nobles all went against him. I was going to let him stay the Commander of the Army, if he accepted my help in fighting the blight. He didn’t’ take it. He will be sentenced after the blight by the king and queen. It was the most just thing I could do for him.”

“I believe you,” said Cauthrien. “Who has taken his place as Commander?”

“The new queen appointed me,” replied Tahlmus.

Cauthrien stood at attention, “I await your order commander.”

“Cauthrien, right now you know your men better than I do. I am going to count on you to help me make decisions.”

Cauthrien gave him a bewildered look. “I… yes commander. I can do that.”

“Right now, I want you to prepare the men to go to Redcliffe. I believe that is where we’ll be going.”

“Yes commander.”

“While doing that, I want you to choose a group of men to stay here. Who you choose and the number is up to you, but I think some should stay here in case stragglers break off from the horde.

“You really think they’d make it up here?”

“I prefer to play it on the safe side.”

“I will do as you ask, commander.”

“Thank you, Cauthrien,” replied Tahlmus with a bow. Cauthrien gave Tahlmus another bewildered look before turning around and walking out to go prepare her men.

“Now what?” asked Sten.

“We go back to the Arl’s estate. Wait for our king to tell us exactly where we are going.” Gathering in the main hall at the Arl’s estate, Tahlmus then filled them in on everything that had occurred at the Landsmeet, keeping Morrigan close to him.

“I’m sorry I missed out on the fun,” said Zevran. Tahlmus started to chuckle, but it was cut short by the doors flying open.

“How could you do that?” yelled Alistair.

“You know neither of us wanted this, but you did it anyway,” shouted Tavain.

“Would you rather I had taken the throne with Morrigan as my queen?” asked Tahlmus. Tavain glared at him.

“I…” Alistair paused. “You maybe,” he finished.

Tahlmus chuckled. “Trust me. You two are the best fit for the throne. Don’t worry,” he said to their disbelieving faces. “I’ll be around to help. The queen appointed me as Commander of the royal army after all.” This caused Tavain to smile.

“You better be,” said Alistair. “Anyway, the Arl is headed back to Redcliffe

“We are to meet him there,” replied Tavain. “A transport is waiting for us.”

“Let’s head out then,” replied Tahlmus. “I’ll go inform Cauthrien.”  Tahlmus found Cauthrien already had her men prepared. He told her of the plans and the army set off. Tahlmus then transported himself to Morrigan’s side. She smiled and put her hand in his. Tahlmus smiled back and gave her a kiss. “We survive this,” he thought. “We can start a life together.”

Chapter 33

The group made it to the Arl’s castle in Redcliffe. Before they could enter they had to defeat a small band of darkspawn. “Guess we’re in the right place,” said Tavain putting away her bow.

“It would seem that way,” replied Alistair.

“I’m not so sure,” said Tahlmus looking around.

“Commander,” shouted one of the guards before Tavain could question her brother.

“That will take some getting used to,” he thought. “Yes,” he voiced.

“Riordin is waiting for you inside. He asked to speak with you as soon as you arrived.”

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus making his way up the steps. “Alistair. Tavain. You might want to come with me. The rest of you go find your rooms and wait for my word.”

“Technically, you can’t order us around anymore,” said Tavain.

Tahlmus stared at his sister. “She’s right,” he thought. “Then what do you suggest my queen?”

“I…uh… well… maybe you can stay in charge until the arch demon is gone.”

“I agree,” said Alistair. “You’re much better at this.”

“Then come with me and we’ll see what Riordin wants.”

“Yes sir, Commander sir,” replied Tavain in a smart alec tone. Tahlmus tosseled his sister’s hair before walking through the doors and into the main hall.

“Tahlmus,” said Eamon. “I’m glad you’re here. Riordin has some disturbing news.”

“It’s good to see you again Riordin,” said Tahlmus turning to look at the fellow Grey Warden.

“I wish it were under better circumstances.

“What news do you have?”

“I was able to get close enough to a small band of darkspawn without being detected. They are not heading to Redcliffe like we originally thought.”

“They’re not?” asked Alistair. “But all intel pointed to Redcliffe.”

Tavain noticed her brother seemed to appear several years older as she watched him run a hand over his face in slight frustration. “They are heading to Denerim. Aren’t they?” Tahlmus asked.


“There’s not enough left there to defend the city. We need to get there,” said Tavain.

“Can the army be ready by dawn?” asked Tahlmus.

“Yes,” replied Eamon.

“Then we start a forced march at dawn. We cannot let Denerim fall.”

“Agreed,” stated Tavain and Alistair together.

“I have more bad news,” said Riordin. “The arch demon has shown itself.”

Tahlmus looked Riordin right in the eye. “Where is it?”

“It’s at the head of the horde.”

“Then we must get to it and slay it quickly,” said Tahlmus.

“But big brother,” started Tavain.

“We aren’t sure how,” said Alistair.

Riordin studied the three young wardens. “Duncan didn’t… no of course not,” he said shaking his head. “You are new recruits, he would not have expected… Find your rooms then come talk to me.”

All three wardens nodded as Riordin left. Tahlmus turned to face Tavain and Alistair. Alistair looked lost. Tavain had a mixture of sadness and fear in her eyes.

“This has something to do with your secret, doesn’t it?” he asked.

“Yes, it does,” replied Tavain.

“It’s not good, is it.”


Tahlmus looked at the floor for a minute before bringing his gaze back to Alistair and Tavain. “Go get settled into your room. I’ll meet you at Riordin’s.” The two nodded then walked out of the room hand in hand. “Something tells me, I should leave them here,” he thought. “Too bad Tavain won’t agree to it,” he said to himself with a small smile. Tahlmus knew there was no possible way he could keep Tavain from fighting by his side.

Tahlmus shook his head free of all his thoughts as he noticed leaders from each of their allies standing along the edge of the main hall. He heard grumbling from the dwarves. “Is there a problem with the dwarven forces?”

“No, commander, we will be ready when you call on us.”

“That’s good to hear. Know your aid is appreciated.”

“Thank you commander.”

Tahlmus nodded as he walked over to speak with the first enchanter. “Irving, it’s good to see you,” he said shaking Irving’s hand. “I didn’t think Gregior was going to let you out of his sight after what happened at the tower.”

“I wasn’t going to miss out on this opportunity. The circle is at your beck and call.”

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus.

“After what you did for the circle, it is our pleasure,” responded Irving. Tahlmus smiled and nodded at Irving before walking over to where the Dalish waited.

“Lyonna,” he said walking up to her. “It’s so good to see you.”

“It’s good to see you too,” she replied giving him a hug. Tahlmus was pleasantly surprised.

“How’s Soris?”

“More trusting than before,” said Soris as he appeared at Lyonna’s side. Soris extended his hand. Tahlmus gladly shook it.

“Are the hunters ready for this?”

“They are ready to follow you,” said Lyonna. “And your keeper, Merathari, sends her regards.”

Tahlmus smiled. “It’s good to know I can call on my fellow clan members.”

“We all agree following you is our best option to end this blight,” said Soris.

“We’re putting our lives in your hands,” said Lyonna.

“I know,” said Tahlmus as he turned and walked away. “I won’t be able to protect everyone,” he thought to himself as he started to climb the stairs to the second floor.

“You’ll be fine son,” came a male voice. Tahlmus stopped moving. He wasn’t sure if he’d heard it with his ears, or in his head. Tahlmus looked around. There was no one to be seen. He couldn’t sense anyone either. “Great,” he thought. “I’m going crazy.” He finished climbing the stairs and walked down the hall to his right. Tavain and Alistair were waiting at the end of the hall. “How are you two feeling?”

“A little relieved to be following you, and not the one leading,” said Alistair.

Tahlmus cocked his head, “Because, like Morrigan said in Orzammar… nothing goes wrong when you’re involved,” said Tavain. She saw the question marks enter his eyes. She swallowed and tried to look her brother in the eye. “The grey warden that slays the arch demon dies,” she said to his unasked question. “That’s why Morrigan was sent with us,” she finished softly. “She knows a ritual that’s supposed to keep that from happening.

“That was your secret…” Tahlmus tried swallowing, but his mouth had gone dry.

“Are you mad?”

Tahlmus looked into his sister’s worried eyes. “No sis, I’m not mad. I’m proud of you.”

“You’re taking this rather well,” said Alistair. “Better than me anyway.” Tahlmus shrugged, forcing a smile.

“You know something, don’t you?” questioned Tavain.

“I think part of dad’s journal and part of the prophecy in the letters just became much clearer. Let’s talk with Riordin,” he finished, knocking on Riordin’s bedroom door.

“Come in,” said Riordin as he opened the door. The three Wardens walked into the room. Riordin closed the door then walked to the middle of the bedroom. “First let me apologize. I had assumed you had already been told.”

“Told what?” asked Tahlmus pretending he hadn’t just heard Tavain tell him what he was sure Riordin was going to tell him.

“Do you know why Grey Wardens are needed to defeat the blight?”

“I assume it has something to do with the taint in us,” replied Tahlmus.

“When the arch demon is slain, it’s essence just travels to the nearest darkspawn. So, in a sense the arch demon cannot die.” Tahlmus stayed silent. “If, as a Grey Warden, we slay it, that essence will travel to us instead. That’s why we drink their blood.”

“That doesn’t sound pleasant,” said Tavain.

“It isn’t, because a warden, unlike a darkspawn has a soul. It contains the essence, but…”

“But what?” asked Tahlmus.

“Well, the soul ensures the essence is killed so to speak, but the warden dies in the process. Thus, ends the blight. Since I am the senior Grey Warden the killing blow should be mine to take, but if I fail…”

“Then I’ll take it,” said Tahlmus without hesitation.

“From what Eamon has told me, I figured you would say that.”

“It’s the only option. Nothing can happen to Alistair or Tavain.”

Riordin nodded. “I should let you get some rest. It will be needed. Good night.”

“Good night,” said Tavain and Alistair as the three walked out of Riordin’s room and heard the door close.

“Riordin will survive to take the final blow… won’t he big brother?”

“We’re going to need your help,” added Alistair.

Tahlmus wrapped Tavain in a hug. “Everything will work out. I promise. Now you and Alistair go get your rest.”

“What about you?”

“I need to talk to Morrigan,” he said looking towards his room. “Now go on,” he motioned for them to leave.  Alistair took Tavain’s hand and led her down the hall to their room. Her gaze though, was on Tahlmus as he walked into his own room, across the hall from Riordin’s.

Morrigan turned to face him when she heard the door close. “Do not be alarmed…”

“I’m not alarmed,” replied Tahlmus before she could finish. “I’m glad you’re here. We need to talk.”

“Yes we do.”

“You know what happens to the warden that slays the arch demon.”

“Yes. Tis why Flemeth sent me with you. “

“Then you know the ritual.”

“You know about it?”

“I don’t know any specifics. Dad wrote about a ritual done by a female mage that could be useful against the arch demon. When Tavain told me your secret, then told me it was the reason Flemeth sent you with us… I was able to connect the dots.”

“It wasn’t easy to keep that from you.”

“Explain the ritual to me.”

“It is done in the dark on the eve of battle,” she paused.

“Continue,” said Tahlmus.

“From this ritual a child will be conceived. When the arch demon is slain the essence will go for the child like a beacon. It will not harm the child and the Grey Warden lives.”

Tahlmus felt a little uneasy. He wasn’t sure if he was ready for this. “What are you leaving out?” he asked noticing Morrigan’s hesitation.

Morrigan put her hands in his. He noticed a tear slide down her face. “After the battle, I leave. I won’t tell you where and…” she paused as a couple of fresh tears ran down her face. “You will not follow me.”

Tahlmus swallowed the lump in his throat as he wiped her tears away. “And the child?” he asked holding back his own tears.

“He or she will be fine, and mine to raise as I see fit.”

“It will be a boy,” whispered Tahlmus.

“Excuse me?” asked Morrigan.

Tahlmus shook his head. “Will I ever get to see you again? Or my child?”


“Let me go with you.”

“That is out of the question.”

“Tavain was right,” said Tahlmus turning away from Morrigan.

“What?” asked Morrigan even though she knew the answer.

“Tavain’s told me almost since the beginning that you were just using me. Told me a couple of nights ago you would leave. I didn’t believe her, but I guess she was right,” he finished in a whisper.

“Tahlmus,” she started. He could hear the sadness in her voice. “It may have started that way, but I’ve fallen in love with you.”

Tahlmus turned back to face her. “Then stay, or let me come with you.”

“No,” she replied choking up. “This is how it has to be.”

“No it isn’t,” pleaded Tahlmus. “You say you love me. You know I love you. There can be a different ending.” He saw fresh tears on Morrigan’s face.

“Please,” she said. “We either do the ritual and I leave after the battle, or…” she swallowed hard. “I will leave now.”

“I don’t understand why you have to leave.”

“Because it will be dangerous.”

“We’ve been in danger since we started this. You know I can protect you.”

“I cannot ask for that.”

“You don’t have to ask. I’ll just do it.” Tahlmus noticed his voice was strained and high pitched. “You also know I’ll do anything you ask,” he finished in a whisper.

“Do this ritual. Let me save your life. Then let me leave.”

Tahlmus couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. “As you wish,” he said as they streamed down his face. “But… first… I uh… I have some things for you,” he whispered as a bag and staff appeared in his hand.

“Tahlmus I…”

“This is for you,” he said holding out the staff. “I made it from the iron bark Tavain found in the forest.”

“Y… you made this for me?” she stuttered as she saw the words “I will always love you,” etched on the side near the top.

“Then… then there are these as well,” he managed to say as he held out a smaller version of his satchel. “Everything will turn back to normal size when you empty it. So, make sure you have a place for it,” he finished in a barely audible whisper.

She took hold of the staff. Feeling an energy run through her, she immediately let go. She looked at Tahlmus with an open mouth and questioning eyes.

“Tis ok,” Tahlmus said with a forced smile. “I enchanted it so only you or someone of your bloodline can use it. The energy you felt is how it recognizes you as one that can use it.”

She wrapped both hands around the staff. “Maybe I could… No… I can’t… it is dangerous. He’s been through enough. But he is talented… he could… no…” she tried stopping her thoughts. “What’s in the bag?” she managed to ask.

“Journals,” replied Tahlmus. “Maybe she’ll stay,” thought Tahlmus noticing the conflict in her eyes.

“On what?”

“Elven history, spells that have been passed down through my family, and my knowledge of the arcane arts. My old daggers are in there too.”

“Old…” Morrigan started.

“Master Varathorn made me new ones. I kept my old ones in case I … our son decided he liked daggers better than a staff, like I did.”

She took the satchel from him, laying it on the right side of the bed, closest to the door. Morrigan then took his hands, looking in his eyes. There was so much she wanted to say, but she couldn’t find the words.

Tahlmus swallowed the lump in his throat. “I promise I will let you walk away after the arch demon is defeated. I also promise that I will not try to find you.” He swallowed again. “Though I hope you will decide to come back one day,” he finished in a whisper before kissing her.

She kissed him back with a passion she hadn’t shown him before. “I’m not sure I’m ready for this step,” he thought to himself, his nerves tingling. She ran her fingers over his scar, kissing him gently, slipping his robes off as he did hers. The adrenaline from her touch made his nerves disappear. Desire for her was all he felt, as he gently pulled her into bed with him. Tahlmus then used his magic to extinguish all the light in the room so their lips didn’t have to part. He wasn’t going to let her go until he absolutely had to.

Chapter 34

Tahlmus woke up reaching for Morrigan. The slight indentation of where her body had been, was all he found. He swallowed the lump that had made his way into his throat. Tahlmus lit a candle and used it to look over the side of the bed. The staff and satchel were gone. “This is going to be hard,” he thought as he felt his heart sink.

The door opened and Morrigan walked in. “I went to pack the things you gave me. I didn’t want to wake you,” she said softly when she noticed Tahlmus was awake.

Tahlmus felt relief flow through him as she walked over to him. He magically made the door close as she sat on the bed. He pulled her close to him. “I just need a little more time,” he thought as he felt her curl into him. “A little more time and maybe she’ll change…”  His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door.

“Who is it,” he called out.

“It’s me big brother. Can you open the door?”

“Is it important?” he asked knowing full well it would be.

“We’re fighting a blight… what do you think?”

Tahlmus let out a small groan. “Just a minute,” he said. Tahlmus kissed Morrigan before he crawled out of bed. He then put his robes on as he walked over to the door. “What do you need sis?” he asked after opening the door part way.

“I know it’s still a couple of hours before dawn, but do you think we could leave now? Alistair and I are getting antsy,” she said before spotting Morrigan on her brother’s bed. Looking back at her brother she could see pain in his face as he stood there in thought.

Tahlmus looked over at Morrigan, then took a deep breath. “Go wake people up. I’ll be down in a minute to get everyone organized and we’ll set out. The sooner we can get to Denerim the better.”

The sadness she’d seen before he left her and Morrigan in the Brecilian Forest had returned to her brother’s eyes. “Big brother, we could…”

Tahlmus interrupted her. “Go, get everyone ready. We must get to Denerim.”

“Big brother… I… I’m sorry.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for. I’ll be down in a minute,” he said.

Tavain started to walk away. She looked back when she heard the click of the closing door. “I hope after I’m officially crowned queen, that I can make the right decisions like Tahlmus has,” she thought as she turned back around and headed downstairs.

“I guess this is it,” he said turning around, facing Morrigan.

“The battle we’ve been preparing for,” she replied walking over to him.

“Defeating the arch demon,” said Tahlmus looking into her eyes. “How will I ever let go,” he thought.

“I’m putting our lives, mine and our child’s, in your hands.”

“You and our son will make it through this alive. I promise.”

“Why do you keep saying son?” asked Morrigan as she watched him put on his sheath.

Tahlmus turned to her. “Because the first born in my family has always been a male mage. It’s through this first born son that our family has survived so long. How we know so much. Tavain and I are the only elves that know our bloodline goes back to the times of Arlathan.” Tahlmus gave a sad smile. “I guess in a way I let the family down, since my son will not be a part of any elven clan.”

Morrigan looked into his sad eyes. “I doubt they would see it that way.”

“Maybe you’re right,” said Tahlmus kissing her. “I better get downstairs before Tavain comes looking for me.” he turned from her and walked out the door.

“I can barely stand to watch him walk away,” thought Morrigan. “How will I be able to walk away from him?” she asked herself as she gathered her things before making her own way downstairs.

She stood in the background with the others watching Tahlmus prepare the troops. He looked strong and confident. “If anything about this is troubling him, no one would be able to tell,” she said to herself.

“That’s what makes him a good leader,” replied Tavain glancing up at her brother.

“I guess it is,” said Morrigan looking at Tavain.

“You’re leaving him after the battle, aren’t you?”

“What? How did you…” Morrigan was surprised by Tavain’s forwardness.

I’ve had my suspicions since we killed Flemeth. “Now, he’s gazing at you. I can see the sadness in his eyes. I can put two and two together.” Morrigan turned her head to look at him, but he was no longer looking her way. He was giving the order to march. The mass of people started to move. “You should have never pretended to love him,” spat Tavain.

“Tavain, I wasn’t pretending.”

“If you were truly in love with him, you wouldn’t be leaving him.” Morrigan then watched Tavain run off to catch up with Tahlmus who was at the head of the troops. “You ready for this big brother?”

“I don’t think I have a choice.”

“There’s always a choice big brother. You just always know how to make the right ones.”

“Not always,” he said glancing back at Morrigan.

“That wasn’t a wrong choice big brother.”

“Well, it wasn’t the right one.” Tavain notice how angry her brother sounded.

“Loving someone is never wrong,” replied Tavain. “Her decision to leave is wrong.” She put her hand in her brother’s and gave it a squeeze.

Tahlmus smiled at his sister, and gave her hand a squeeze. “Thank you,” he said.

“Now how many people can you transport and still be able to fight?”

“Excuse me?”

“We need to get to Denerim faster. Can you transport this big group and still have strength to fight?”

“Wait, you want to transport?”

“Big brother, answer my question.”

“With this many people… I think I could get us about a half hour’s march away.”

“Then do it.”


“Are you questioning your queen?”

“No, your majesty,” he said holding up his hand to stop everyone. “And you thought you weren’t good for this position,” he smiled. “Everyone hold on to the person to your right and the person in front of you,” he shouted pulling out his staff. “And close your eyes.” Everyone stared at Tahlmus.

“Just do it,” shouted Tavain as she took hold of her brother’s robes and then took Cauthrien’s hand.

Tahlmus watched as everyone complied. He closed his own eyes and started muttering the words to the transportation spell as he moved his staff in long slow circles. A minute later he opened his eyes. “Everyone’s here, and not as drained as I thought I would be,” he thought. “Alright everyone, open your eyes. We will continue on now.”

Everyone looked around. “Where are we?” asked, Alistair walking up to Tahlmus.

“A thirty-minute march to Denerim,” replied Tavain. We needed to get here quick.”

Alistair looked at Tavain. “You ordered this then?”

“I did. It saved time and energy. Now let’s finish this march.”

“I see why you made her queen,” responded Alistair.

“Yes,” replied Tahlmus smiling. “It had nothing to do with the fact that you two sort of liked each other,” he finished as he motioned for the troops to start marching.

“He’s got an answer for everything doesn’t he?” said Alistair looking at Tavain. She nodded.

“Not everything,” he said looking back at Morrigan. He noticed she was making her way towards him. He redirected his gaze forward and continued walking.

Morrigan caught up to Tahlmus slipping her hand in his. Tahlmus looked at her with questioning eyes. Morrigan opened her mouth, but no words came out. All she could do was squeeze his hand and smile at him. Tahlmus wanted to take his hand from hers. He wanted to be mad at her for telling him she was leaving. “I love her too much to let go,” he thought.  They walked hand in hand until Denerim came into sight. The horde had just reached the city.

Alistair made a motion for the whole army to stop. “Before us stands the might of the darkspawn horde!” said Alistair climbing up onto the remains of an old stage. Tavain quickly followed him.

“Gaze upon them now, but fear them not,” she said motioning for Tahlmus to join them. He made his way up the steps and stood by Alistair.

“The man you see beside me is an elf, raised to the ranks of the Grey Wardens. And never a more glorious Grey Warden has there been,” shouted Alistair.

“He has survived despite the odds, and without him none of us would be here,” yelled Tavain.

“Today we save Denerim. Today we avenge the death of my brother, King Cailan,” continued Alistair as he walked back down in front of the army.

“But most of all,” said Tavain following Alistair, not missing a beat. “Today we show the Grey Wardens that we remember and honor their sacrifice.”

“For Ferelden,” said Alistair as Tahlmus made his way back down by Morrigan.

“For the Grey Wardens,” shouted Tavain.

The army erupted with cheers. Tahlmus nodded at Cauthrien who gave the order for the army to charge, and they descended upon the city of Denerim.

Tahlmus enchanted everyone’s weapons to inflict more damage. He was also able to provide the kings army and his companions with a little extra protection since the elves, dwarves and mages all hung back waiting for him to call on them. They were able to defeat the darkspawn that had not yet gone on into the city.

“We’re doing better than I thought,” said Riordin. “We made it to the gates.”

“Have a little more faith in us,” said Tavain. “We have the lands most powerful mage on our side.”

Riordin chuckled. “We need to go after the arch demon. We’ll have to get to high ground. I think Fort Dracon will be our best bet.”

“So much for my vow to never go back to that place,” said Tahlmus sheathing his blades.

“At least you’re not going there as a prisoner this time,” piped up Tavain. This made Tahlmus smile.

“If we attack the arch demon it is sure to call on its generals I sense two of them here, though where I’m not exactly sure. If you are able, seek them out and get rid of them it will give us a better chance.  But do not waste too much time on it,” said Riordin.

“Consider it done,” replied Tahlmus.

“You always this confident?”

“When it comes to fighting, I am.”

“Alright then… I suggest you take Alistair, and two others with you into the city. Who will go with you?”

“Tavain and Morrigan.”

“Very well, who will lead the rest of your companions?”

“I believe Sten should do it.”

“Very well, then prepare to go into the city. I will meet you at Fort Dracon.” Tahlmus gave a nod and Riordin walked away.

“I guess this is goodbye then,” said Zevran as he stood in front of Tahlmus.

“Don’t be so dramatic,” said Tahlmus. “We’ll make it through.”

“I like your confidence,” replied Zevran. Tahlmus nodded at the assassin.

‘This is it. The final battle. I wish I was going with you,” said Leliana.

“Your skills are better suited to be here, helping the army defend the gates.”

“Thank you for letting me travel with you.”

“It was a pleasure to have you,” said Tahlmus as he watched Leliana walk over to Zevran.

“Well, warden we’re outnumbered 3 to 1 and by the stone you still believe we’ll win. It’s been a sodding honor to follow you,” said Oghren. Tahlmus was only able to nod as Oghren then joined Leliana and Zevran.

Chewy nuzzled up to Tavain, then walked over to Tahlmus and barked. “Don’t worry boy, I’ll make sure she comes back in one piece. You just kill as many darkspawn as you can.” Chewy gave a happy bark, then walked off with the others.

“I doubted at first that we would make it this far, but here we are. The final battle. It has been an honor to follow you.”

“And it’s been an honor for me to travel with one of the Berasad,” said Tahlmus with a small bow. Sten nodded, then went and stood by Chewy.

“When I first met you, I thought you a malificarum, and an abomination, because you knew things I was never taught. You let me follow you anyway. I have never been so glad to be proven wrong. You are a good man. If anyone can end this blight it will be you.”

“Thank you,” Wynn.

“No, thank you for risking what you have to keep us safe and getting us to this point,” replied Wynn with a nod as she joined the others.

“We’ve made it, thanks to you,’ said Alistair. “Tavain told me about Morrigan’s ritual. Do you really think it works?”

“I do, but I guess we’ll find out for sure, won’t we?” Alistair gave a small smile and shook Tahlmus’ hand before moving on out of the way.

“We go into the final battle together. As it should be,” said Morrigan.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” replied Tahlmus looking in her eyes. “I still don’t want you to go,” he whispered.

“I… I… it’s better this way,” said Morrigan looking at the ground.

Tahlmus gently lifted her head so she was looking in his eyes. “I’ll keep my promise. I won’t come after you, or try to find you,” he said softly. “But if you ever need anything, you’ll be able to find me,” he finished holding up his hand to show her he was still wearing the ring. “I will never disenchant it.” Morrigan could feel tears coming on. “I love you,” he said. “That will never change.” She kissed him before walking off to stand by Alistair. Tahlmus watched her sadly.

He felt a tug on his robes. He forced a smile for his sister. “You have something to say too do you.”

Tavain poked him. “After everything we’ve been through. Of course, I have something to say… I’m just not sure how to say it.”

Tahlmus smiled as he rubbed the spot where Tavain poked him. “Give it a try anyway.”

“I’ve learned and changed a lot over the years, and no matter what you’ve been there for me…”

“That won’t change,” said Tahlmus before Tavain got her hand up to stop him.

“You gave up a lot so I could be happy. You’ve given up a lot to get us this far. And…” Tavain found herself faltering. “I know Morrigan is leaving you after the battle… and I’m marrying Alistair… you’re losing everything… and yet…” Tavain couldn’t finish.

“I’m not losing you Tavain. I’m gaining a family member. As for Morrigan, well,” he paused gazing at her. “We both knew it was foolish of me to allow myself to fall in love anyway.”

“Big brother that’s…”

“Let’s go kill an arch demon, shall we?”

Tavain looked at her brother’s half smile. “Are you sure the ritual works?” she asked.

Tavain watched her brother’s confident smile appear. “I’m sure,” he said.

“Then let’s get this done,” she said squeezing his hand.

“Lead the way sis.”

“Gladly,” she said trying to return her brother’s smile. Tavain turned around and led the way to the city gates. Tahlmus fell into step next to her. Morrigan and Alistair followed. The Kings army cheered as the group made their way to the gates.

“Go Get them, Warden.”

“We’re counting on you Warden.” These phrases and others echoed through the crowd. Tavain, Alistair, and Morrigan couldn’t suppress their smiles. Tahlmus didn’t hear any of it. He was concentrating on the images in his head. Going through the gates, he placed a hand on Tavain’s shoulder.

“What’s wrong big brother?”

“Just a minute…” Through thought Tahlmus told Irving to bring the mages to the marketplace, while the other two groups were to make their way to Fort Dracon. “One of the generals is here in the marketplace. He’s over by the Arl’s estate.”

“But??” asked Tavain.

“There’s a small band of ogres guarding him.”

“Wonderful,” said Tavain sarcastically. “What do we do?”

“You called for us?” asked Irving before Tahlmus could answer.

“Yes,” he replied. “One of the arch demon’s generals is over by Eamon’s estate.”

“And?” asked Irving when Tahlmus paused.

“He’s got about ten ogres guarding him.”

“You want us to take out the ogres?”

“I want you to help me take them out, yes.”

“How do you want to do it?”

“I will…”

“Big brother,” interrupted Tavain. “What do you mean ‘help me’? Don’t you mean help us?”

“No,” replied Tahlmus. “I meant me.” he turned back to Irving before Tavain could argue. “I will transport all of you to the rooftops of the Arl’s estate and nearby buildings. We will fight the ogres from the rooftops.”

“I have magic,” said Morrigan.

“I use a bow,” said Tavain. “Transport us too.”

“No,” replied Tahlmus.

“Tahlmus…” Tavain had raised her voice.

Tahlmus pulled the two girls closer to him. “It’s safer this way. Just trust me, please.”

“Only because you’re my brother and you’ve gotten us this far.”

“I’ll let you know when you can come fight the general.” Tavain and Morrigan nodded. “Alright mages, hold on to someone and close your eyes.” They all readily complied. Tahlmus transported them to the rooftops as he had said. The group stood there overlooking the ogres. Tahlmus gave the mages instruction through thought. The mages all raised their staffs. “Now,” came the order in their heads. The mages started casting spells upon the ogres.

The ogres, of course, grew angry. Even more so as they realized they could not reach their targets. Several of the ogres jumped up in the air, and brought their fists to the ground as they landed. Tahlmus felt the buildings shake. He saw a couple of the mages stumble and fall. “Get back up,” he thought. The mages slowly got to their feet, and continued their attacks. “That’s it,” mumbled Tahlmus as he turned his attention to the general. It was a mage as well. He stunned the general as the buildings shook again. Tahlmus watched part of the estate crumble and fall. The young mage that had been standing there stumbled. Tahlmus used a spell to keep him on the building.

One of the ogres picked up a chunk of the rubble. He threw it in Tahlmus’ direction. It hit the top of the building. Tahlmus felt the roof starting to give. As it started to cave, Tahlmus transported himself to ground level. “Stun them,” the mages heard in their head. The circle mages readily complied.

With the ogres stunned. Tahlmus cast fire spells, so they would burn from the inside out. Within seconds the orgre’s corpses were lying on the ground. The general was slowly starting to come out of Tahlmus’ stun spell.

“Tavain, Arl’s estate, now,” she heard in her head.

“Let’s go,” she said to Morrigan and Alistair as she took off running. The other two followed. Tavain reached the estate noticing the mages were gone, the ogres were lying lifeless on the ground. She saw Tahlmus, on the ground face contorted in pain; the General bearing down on him “Stay away from my brother,” she shouted as she fired her arrows as fast as she could. They slowed the darkspawn general down, and he turned in her direction.

Swift as could be she watched Tahlmus get to his feet. He then stabbed the general in the back with a throwing knife while the other hand took out one of his daggers. Tavain fired one last arrow as Tahlmus decapitated the general. “What took so long?” he asked with a sarcastic smile.

“Must have been a delay in your thought transmission,” she replied with her sweet smile.

Tahlmus managed to chuckle. “To the alienage. The other general is headed there.”

“And how will we handle this one big brother?”

“Together this time, from the wooden stands overlooking the gates… that is, until the darkspawn break through the gates. Then you and Morrigan will stay there while Alistair and I fight on the ground. You two will watch our backs. Fair enough?”

“Sure, is big brother.”

“Wait, do I get a say in this?” asked Alistair. Tahlmus turned and looked at him. “Well, you’re letting Tavain have a say,” he said unconvincingly.

“Alistair, I hope you’re more convincing once this is all over,” replied Tavain.

He grinned and hung his head sheepishly. “Guess that’s why you’re queen.”

“Sure is,” replied Tahlmus. “Now to the alienage,” he finished taking off toward the elven part of the city.

“Warden it’s good to see you again.”

“Shianni,” replied Tahlmus. “Have the darkspawn gotten here yet?”

“Not yet, but when they do, the gate won’t hold. W… what do you want us to do?”

“Let me and my companions worry about the gates. You get everyone to their homes, defend them.”

“Yes, warden,” Shianni replied as she turned and gave the orders to the others who were standing with her. They headed to their homes.

“Alright to the gates,” said Tahlmus. The three complied. Irving and the other mages were already on rooftops and platforms watching over the gates.

“They move fast,” said Morrigan.

Tahlmus gave her a weak smile. “I transported them here once the ogres were slain to keep watch. And to protect the elves in case we didn’t get here in time.”

“Well, I think we got here just in time,’ said Tavain hearing a genlock cry.

“Me too,” replied Tahlmus. “You and Alistair get on that platform,” he said pointing to his right. “Morrigan and I will get on this one. Once they break the gates, Alistair and I will head to the ground and battle them there.” Tavain and Alistair nodded; then headed off to the platform. Tahlmus led Morrigan up the other.

“Do you think it’s a good idea to only have you and Alistair on the ground?”

“Someone has to keep the darkspawn away from you and Tavain.”

Despite his smile, Morrigan could see the sadness in his eyes. “Tahlmus I…”

He held up a hand to quiet her. “They’re here,” he said pointing at the approaching darkspawn. “Everyone ready?” he asked through thought. The mages and his companions responded by raising their weapons. “Attack,” they all heard.

Tahlmus scanned the darkspawn crowd looking for mages and archers. He took them out before they could set up attacks. He then spotted an ogre preparing to launch a boulder. He cast some spells on it, but not before it let go of the boulder. Tahlmus grabbed Morrigan. He half tackled, half laid her on the floor of the platform with himself on top of her. “Tahlmus…” her words were cut short as she watched the boulder fly right over their platform.

“Are you ok?” he asked.

“Yes… I’m… I’m fine.”

“Good,” he said looking in her eyes. He was about to kiss her when he heard a splintering sound. The gates had been broken. “Alistair,” shouted Tahlmus as he got up and ran down the platform. Alistair followed suit. Morrigan got back to a standing position. She glanced over at Tavain who was focused on Alistair. She turned her focus to Tahlmus.

“He still trusts me,” she thought to herself as she stunned then killed a hurlock attempting to stab Tahlmus in the back. Minutes later the last of the darkspawn lay slain. Everyone sheathed their weapons. Tahlmus watched Tavain run to Alistair and throw her arms around him. “I’m glad you’re ok,” he heard her say.

Tahlmus looked around at the darkspawn corpses. He found himself feeling hollow. “Maybe I should have just let her go and let killing the arch…” the rest of his thought disappeared as he felt Morrigan’s lips on his. The adrenaline rush and burning desire he felt almost made him forget everything.

Their lips parted. “I’m glad you’re ok,” she whispered. Tahlmus opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He was lost in her eyes.

“That was the second general,” said Tavain as she and Alistair walked over to Tahlmus.

“That it was sis,” he replied as he managed to take his eyes off Morrigan.

“So now on to Fort Dracon?” Tavain questioned.

“Yes, now we head that way,” Tahlmus replied reluctantly. The group walked across the bridge leading away from the alienage gate they had just defended. A loud roar made them all look back. The arch demon flew overhead breath fire and destroying the bridge.  “That was close,” said Tahlmus.

“A little too close,” responded Tavain.

“We’re only going to get closer,” stated Alistair.

Tahlmus nodded. “Let’s keep moving.” The group continued, killing off small bands of darkspawn along the way. About halfway there the roar of the arch demon could be heard again. Looking up, they saw Riordin on the dragon’s back. He had just sunk his blade into the dragon’s back and was pulling it out. The dragon lurched, bucking Riordin off. In desperation Riordin tried to stick his blade in the arch demon. His blade caught one of the wings, but as the dragon tried to flap it’s wing Riordin’s weight caused the sword to slip. The blade sliced on down to the tip of the wing. It was now in two pieces. Riordin and his blade fell to the ground. Tahlmus hung his head, as the others covered their eyes.

“I guess Riordin won’t be taking that final blow after all,” said Tavain looking up at Tahlmus with sad eyes.

“No, he won’t,” said Tahlmus gazing off. “That means the final blow is mine to make, but we kind of already knew that.”

“Big brother I…”

“It will be ok,” said Tahlmus watching the arch demon crash land on top of Fort Dracon. “Let’s go end this blight.”

Morrigan took his hand. “Do you think we’re ready for this?”

Tahlmus wondered if she was talking about facing the arch demon, or if she was talking about her leaving. “I guess either way the answer is the same,” he thought. “We have to be ready,” he said looking in her eyes.

“I’m not sure if I am,” she replied.

Tahlmus squeezed her hand. “Trust me,” he said gently pulling her down the path to Fort Dracon. Tavain and Alistair followed.

Chapter 35

After defeating a small band of darkspawn, the group gathered at the doors leading into Fort Dracon. They could hear the rumblings of the arch demon, and the screams of the men already there.

“Big brother…” started Tavain looking up. Tahlmus turned to her waiting for her to continue.

“What’s wrong?” he asked when she didn’t speak.

“I…I’m a little scared.”

“I’m feeling a bit uneasy,” said Morrigan.

“I’m not feeling too confident about this,” said Alistair.

“Then stay here,” said Tahlmus. “I can go alone.”

Tavain looked at him. “Big brother…”

“I…” Tahlmus looked up to the roof trying to find the words. “Half the horde is up there with the arch demon. All our allies will be there, but I can’t protect everyone. In other battles, I could divert my attention and energy to protect the ones fighting with us. I won’t be able to do that up there. There’s too many. Some of our allies will die and… if you choose to come with me I can protect you three, but that’s it. I am the only one that needs to be on that roof.  You three can stay here.”

“You already know who will die…” said Tavain.

“I know that the vision only showed things going one way, and I don’t know how to get a different outcome.”

Tavain stood there in thought. “I think I know what to do,” she said. “I’m coming with you.” Tahlmus cocked his head at her.

“Well if Tavain is going so am I,” responded Alistair.

“I’m not letting you finish this on your own,” said Morrigan. “I’m going too,” she said taking his hand.

Tahlmus smiled at Morrigan, then looked at Tavain. “You’ll be able to protect everyone,” she said before running into Fort Dracon. Tahlmus ran after her. Morrigan and Alistair quickly followed.

“Tavain how can you say that?” Tahlmus asked once he caught up to her.

“Because you don’t have to use all of your energy to cast the protection spell.” She saw his questioning eyes. “Do you remember,” started Tavain as she climbed the stairs. “At Redcliffe when you came back from the fade?”

“Yes, I was hurt and bleeding.”

“You used all your remaining energy to heal yourself because you knew we couldn’t.”

“Yes… I blacked out then.”

“Then as I laid next to you, your body transferred some of my energy to you,”

“Tavain I don’t think…”

“I felt the same thing the night our parents died,” she said as she climbed another set of stairs. “It didn’t work very well because I was too little.”

“What are…” Tahlmus started before having to run after Tavain again.

“Have they always been this quick?” Morrigan asked Alistair.

“Since the day I met them,” he said as the two tried to catch up to the siblings.

“I also had the same feeling when we were tainted, right before your hand moved to touch mine, and before I got yelled at by the keeper for moving you.”

“So…” said Tahlmus slowly trying to put together the pieces of information Tavain was telling him.

“So, I think you have a talent that dad never taught you, or wrote about because you’re the only mage in the family to have it.”

“Tavain was the feeling that of something flowing out of you?” asked Morrigan once she had caught up to the siblings.


“I felt that after Zathrian said I could go into the tent. I had been holding onto his hand and I felt it…”

“His body took enough energy so he could talk to us through thought,” said Tavain.

“Which is why I could do that, but not move,” replied Tahlmus slowly.

“Your body can take energy from willing participants without draining them,” said Tavain

“But each time it’s happened, I’ve been completely drained.

“Which is why right now before we go through that door, you’re going to give protection to everyone of our allies, dwarves, elves, mages and knights.”

“Tavain, I’m not sure…”

“Trust me big brother,” said Tavain taking hold of his hand. Morrigan took hold of the other hand and Alistair placed a hand on Tahlmus’ shoulder. Tahlmus closed his eyes, and concentrated on every single individual that was on their side. He cast the spell needed to protect them. He felt his body pulling energy from his companions. He opened his eyes as he finished the spell. He was still standing and so were his companions.

“Are you feeling alright?” asked Tahlmus.

Tavain smiled. “Good enough to go kill an ach demon.”

“Agreed,” said Alistair and Morrigan.

“Let’s go then,” said Tahlmus. He turned to the doors, pushed them open, and ran along the walkway. As he made it to the open roof top Tahlmus watched the arch demon throw one of the soldiers off the roof. He used his magic to bring the soldier back to one of the towers.

“Nice save big brother.”

“I don’t think the protective shield could have handled that fall.”

“Good thing you were…” the rest of her sentence was lost as the arch demon roared. ÷Tahlmus and the others fell flat to the ground as the arch demon sprayed fire over the rooftop.

“That was a little warm,” said Alistair.

“You think?” said Tavain sarcastically.

Tahlmus let himself chuckle as he scanned the rooftop. “Over there,” he pointed to a turret. “There’s a ballista there. We should be able to attack the arch demon from there, and only have to worry about genlocks or hurlocks that stray from the main battle.

“You could have chosen a harder one to get to,” replied Tavain sarcastically.

“Race you there,” said Tahlmus.

“Do I still get a head start?”

“Do you really think you need one?”

Tavain pretended to give it some thought. “No,” she said with an evil grin as she took off running. Tahlmus smiled as he took off after his sister. Morrigan looked at Alistair who just shrugged. The two then took off after the siblings.

“Who won?” asked Morrigan as her and Alistair made it to the ballista.

Tahlmus and Tavain looked at each other. “We tied,” said Tahlmus.

“As always,” finished Tavain.

“Alistair, why don’t you man the ballista. Tavain, Morrigan, and I are able to fight from here.” Alistair nodded as he started firing the ballista on the arch demon. Tahlmus and Morrigan started casting spells, and Tavain fired her arrows. Every now and then Tahlmus took out his blades to fend off the genlocks and hurlocks that made their way up the turret.

“This thing just won’t die,” said Morrigan.

Tahlmus forced a smile. “It will eventually.”

“You want to tell it that,” said Tavain. “I’m almost out of arrows again.”

Tahlmus refilled his sister’s pouch of arrows. “I don’t think it will be long now,” he said as he cast another spell. Tahlmus watched as the arch demon seemed to lose its energy. It laid down, and it’s attempt at a roar came out as a sputter. The dragon looked right at Tahlmus.

“This is it,” he thought. “You three stay here,” he said.

“Big brother wait.”

“What is it sis?”

She tossed him Bevin’s sword. “Be careful.”

“Always am sis,” he replied catching the sword. He took off running towards the arch demon.

As Tahlmus got close the arch demon raised its head and opened its mouth. A weak roar came out. Before it could put its head back down, Tahlmus went to his knee and slid under it. He held the sword straight up, slicing the arch demon from its chin to its throat as he slid along. Tahlmus then rolled out of the way, standing as the dragon’s head came down on the roof. It was still trying to move. Tahlmus walked up to the head. He brought the sword above his head so he could sink it into the arch demon’s head.

As the sword sunk in, a bright white light shot up, straight into the sky. “Just a little further,” thought Tahlmus as he pushed the blade deeper into the dragon’s head. “Now to pull it out and get away from here,” he muttered. He tried pulling the sword out. It wouldn’t budge. He then tried just letting go of the sword. Tahlmus couldn’t unclasp his hands. He finally tried to transport himself away from the arch demon. That didn’t work either.

Tahlmus looked over at his companions. He could see Tavain’s lips moving. “Get away from there…”

“I can’t,” he replied through thought. “I’ve tried everything.” He saw his sisters face fall. “Just stand back. It will be ok,” he told her. He tried to give her a smile. He wasn’t sure if it worked.

“Why isn’t he moving?” asked Morrigan. “He needs to get away.”

“He can’t,” replied Tavain. “He’s tried everything and can’t get away,” she said pulling both Morrigan and Alistair back as Tahlmus had requested.

“What are you doing? How do you know he wasn’t just saying that?” asked Morrigan. We need to help him.”

“No,” replied Tavain holding back her tears.

“Tavain what…”

“His orders,” she replied. “There was fear in his voice,” she continued, as a tear escaped down her cheek. “If there’s nothing he can do, then there’s nothing we can do.”

“But what about the ritual?” Alistair.

“Maybe…” Tavain swallowed the lump in her throat. “Maybe… Tahlmus was wrong.”

“That can’t…” started Morrigan.

The energy that had been building up between Tahlmus and the arch demon had finally become too great. A small explosion occurred. Tahlmus felt himself flying through the air; everything moving in slow motion. His back hit something hard, followed by his head. He landed face down on the stone. The last thing he saw was Morrigan running towards him. “Maybe she’ll stay,” he thought as his eyes closed.

“Tahlmus,” shouted Morrigan. She picked herself up and ran over to him. Tavain was close at her heels.

“Check for a pulse,” said Tavain as Morrigan kneeled next to Tahlmus.

“He’s still breathing.”

“Roll him over then,” said Tavain as she kneeled on the other side. Morrigan complied. “Come on big brother, wake up,” she whispered as she took a hold of his hand; looking at his face.

Morrigan held on to his other hand. “Please wake up. This can’t be my last memory of you,” she whispered in his ear.

“Is he…” started Alistair.

“He’s still alive,” stated Tavain, her eyes not leaving her brother’s face.

“All the darkspawn are running away,” stated Alistair.

“They are?” questioned Tavain. She turned her head to look. The darkspawn were indeed running away. “I guess that means it’s over,” she said.


Tavain refocused her gaze. Lyonna and Soris were running towards her. “Lyonna,” she said surprised.

Lyonna put her hand over her mouth. “Creators is he…” Soris wrapped his arms around her.

“No, he’s alive,” stated Tavain. “What would Tahlmus do now,” she thought. “Alistair, go find Tegan or Eamon, fill them in on what’s happened. Lyonna and Soris could you go around to all our allies? Make sure they are ok and let them know what’s happened.”

The three nodded and went on their way. Tavain made her way over to the arch demon. With no one around, Morrigan leaned over and kissed Tahlmus. At first she felt as if something was flowing out of her. Then she felt Tahlmus kissing her back. Their lips parted. She found herself looking into his eyes.

“The ritual worked,” Tahlmus managed to whisper as he squeezed her hand.

“Was there ever any doubt?” Morrigan asked.

“Maybe for a few seconds right before that mini explosion,” smiled Tahlmus.

Tavain had turned in time to see her brother’s lips moving and his smile. She smiled herself, and slipped into the shadows by Morrigan and Tahlmus.

Tahlmus pushed himself to a sitting position with his back against the turret. “I’m glad I got to see you before you left.”

Morrigan bowed her head to hide the tears that trickled down her face. “I couldn’t leave without knowing if you were alive or not.”

“I wouldn’t be able to convince you to stay, would I?”

Morrigan closed her eyes tight to try and stop the tears. “No,” she said softly.

“Then can I ask one thing of you, before you leave?” Morrigan looked at him a little stunned. “I know I don’t normally ask for things because what I’ve wanted has never been important, but I just want… need one thing before you go.”

“What is it?” asked Morrigan still a little surprised.

“Kiss me, one last time… please.” Morrigan smiled as she ran her fingers over the scar on his face. The adrenaline and desire he felt almost overwhelmed him in his weakened state. Morrigan leaned in and kissed him as he had requested. “I don’t want this to end,” he thought. Their lips parted and she stood. “I will always love you,” Tahlmus said.

“And I you,” she said as she turned and started walking away. It took everything she had not to run back into Tahlmus’ arms.

Tahlmus let the tears flow down his cheeks. “Goodbye Morrigan,” he whispered as she disappeared from his sight.

“You ok big brother?” asked Tavain coming out of the shadows.

“Not really. What is it they say, ‘time heals all wounds’.” Tavain sat down next to him and wrapped her brother in a hug. “Thanks, sis,” he said hugging her back.

“What now?” asked Tavain.

“I guess we go find Eamon. He was going to stay in a tent outside the city until this thing was over.”

“Then what?” asked Tavain wishing the sadness in her brother’s eyes would go away.

“The marriage and coronation ceremony, I guess.”

“It should be you,” she said. “You’ve given everything. You deserve to be in charge, not me.”

“I don’t think me marrying Alistair would have gone over too well.”

Tavain gave her brother a playful punch. “You know what I meant.”

“Yes, I know, but trust me… it’s better this way.” Her brother might have been smiling, but she could still see the sadness in his eyes.

“Do you think you can stand?” she asked.

“With a little help. Yes, I think I can stand.”

Tavain stood holding her hand out to her brother. He took it. She pulled him up. Tavain put his arm around her shoulders. The siblings made their way back down to street level.

“Tahlmus. Tavain. Alistair told me what transpired. My brother will be pleased to see that you are safe.”

“Ban Tegan, it’s good to see you again. Where is the Arl?”

“Tahlmus, I’ve told you several times to call me Eamon,” said the Arl as he walked up beside Tegan.

“Yes, my Lord.”

Eamon rolled his eyes with a smile. “It’s so good to see you all made it through. The blight is over.”

“It’s as great relief,” said Tahlmus.

“Tonight, you will relax and sleep in the palace. Tomorrow will be the official marriage and coronation ceremonies. There will also be a celebration for the Hero of Ferelden,” finished Eamon clasping Tahlmus on the shoulder.

Tahlmus gave a small smile. “I’m not a hero,” he said. “I had a lot of help,” he finished looking at Tavain.

“Do you always give more credit to others than you do yourself?” asked Eamon.

“He does,” responded Tavain.

This made Eamon chuckle a little, as a horse and carriage pulled up next to him. “Here is your transport,” he said. “You three go to the palace, relax. The rest of your companions are already there.”

“Thank you,” said Tahlmus as Tavain helped him into the carriage.

“No,” said Eamon. “Thank you,” he finished before the carriage drove off.

The carriage stopped in front of the palace. Half a dozen servants stood there waiting to help. Two of them took Tavain’s place in helping Tahlmus walk. “We will take you to your rooms and then…”

“Wait,” said Tahlmus. “Where are the rest of our companions?”

“I think they have gathered in the main hall.”

“Then I want to go there first.”

“As you wish commander. We will…” the lead servant stopped speaking as Tahlmus removed his arms from the two that were helping him, and pulled out his staff.

Tahlmus leaned on his staff. “I will walk in there under my own power.”

“Big brother… you don’t have to act like the strong independent one anymore. You can accept help.”

Tahlmus smiled. “Just let me do this sis.”

Tavain shook her head. “Ok, big brother.”

“The main hall is right through those doors,” the lead servant pointed.

“Thank you,” replied Tahlmus with a nod. Using his staff as a crutch he led the way to the main hall.

“Tahlmus, Tavain, Alistair,” exclaimed Wynn. Tahlmus was surprised when she ran over and hugged them.

“You know for an older woman, you are fast,” said Alistair.

This made everyone laugh. Chewy let out several happy barks as he ran over to Tavain. He went over and nuzzled Tahlmus. “I told you I’d bring her back, safely didn’t I?” Chewy barked as he went back over to Tavain.

“Where’s Morrigan?” asked Wynn looking at Tahlmus.

“She… uh… she left,” said Tahlmus softly.

“She left? Why?” asked Leliana.

“It was the agreement we made,” he replied. He really wanted to change the subject.

“Agreement?” questioned Wynn. “I thought you two were in love.”

“It was foolish to think that, wasn’t it?” Tahlmus said sadly.

“Commander, Tegan told me you were here.”

“Cauthrien,” said Tahlmus as he turned to face her, thankful for the interruption.

“I’m here to report that the only fatalities were the one that occurred before we arrived. All the darkspawn are gone. Clean up has begun. Everything will be ready for tomorrow’s celebration.

“That’s great news. Thank you,” said Tahlmus.

“Do you have any other orders commander?”

“Don’t work too long into the night. Let the soldiers spend time with their families. I do not expect any of you to be in uniform tomorrow.”

Commander… I…” Cauthrien saw Tahlmus smile. “Thank you,” she said. “The men will be appreciative.” She bowed and walked out.

‘And what about our protection detail?” questioned Tavain sarcastically.

“Don’t worry sis, I got it covered.”

“I feel safer already,” stated Alistair with a hint of sarcasm. Tahlmus chuckled.

“So, what now?” asked Zevran.

“Well it’s up to you. The blight is officially over. I suggest staying for the celebration tomorrow. Otherwise after that you may do as you wish,” said Tahlmus. Everyone nodded. He could see the excitement in everyone’s eyes. Even Sten looked more animated than usual. “With that said, I’m going to retire to my room.”

Everyone said a heartfelt good night as Tahlmus walked out the doors. He found the servants waiting patiently outside the main hall. “Could one of you show me where I’ll be sleeping?”

A young female elf popped forward. “I can commander.”

“Please call me Tahlmus,” he said with a smile.

She blushed. “Right this way, Tahlmus.” He followed her to his room. “Anything else you need?” she asked. Tahlmus thought about Morrigan.

“No,” he said. “I should be fine. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” she curtsied and walked away.

Tahlmus closed the door, made it over to the bed and after removing his sheath, crawled into it. He pulled the covers up to his waist. He placed his hands behind his head as he reflected over the last nine n a half years.  “You were right dad. Tavain and I couldn’t have done this if you had lived,” he said to the ceiling. “Being alone forced us to depend on each other, which made us learn the other’s strengths and weaknesses. Made us pay closer to attention to each other. I just hope I made the right decision putting her on the throne.” Tahlmus let out a sigh. “And with a man five years older than her. He treats her well though,” Tahlmus finished with another sigh.

“You’ve done well son, just like your mom and I knew you would.”

Tahlmus looked around. “Why am I hearing things?” he thought. “Maybe I’ve just wanted more guidance from mom and dad for so long I’m actually imagining that I’m getting it.” He shook his head trying to clear it. His thoughts then turned to Morrigan. “I guess it was foolish to have fallen in love,” he said. “I shouldn’t have…” he was interrupted by a knock on the door. “Who is it?” he called out.

“It’s me big brother. Can I come in?”

Tahlmus forced himself to a sitting position using magic to open the door. “Come on in sis.” Tavain walked in, shut the door, walked over and crawled onto the bed. “What’s wrong?” asked Tahlmus.

“I’m scared.”

“About what?”

“Being queen. Marrying Alistair. What if the people won’t accept me because I’m an elf? What if Alistair and I don’t get along so well after we’re married? What if I make a wrong decision? What if…” Tahlmus put a hand up to cut her off.

“The people will love you because you helped protect them from the blight and you’re confident. You might disagree with Alistair now and then, but that will happen with anyone. You two will be fine.” Tahlmus paused for a moment. “As for decisions, you make the best ones you can with the information you have. Some mistakes will be made, but you learn from them.”

“You’ve never made a mistake.”

Tahlmus chuckled. “Trust me sis, I’ve made plenty of mistakes.” Tavain opened her mouth. “Don’t ask what they were. There’s too many to name.” Tavain closed her mouth. “I promise sis, you’ll do just fine.”

“I’m still scared.” Tahlmus wrapped her in a hug. “Big brother, can I stay with you tonight?”

“Sure sis.”

“Thank you.”

“Anything for you sis.” He extinguished the light as Tavain curled up under the covers. “Thanks sis,” he said kissing her forehead.

“For what?”

“Pretending that you need me.”

“Who said I’m pretending?” she asked innocently.

Tahlmus gave a soft laugh. “Good night sis.”

“Good night big brother.”

Chapter 36

Tahlmus woke to knocking on his door. He looked over at Tavain. She was still sleeping peacefully. Tahlmus slipped out of bed taking care not to wake her. He walked over to the door while straightening up his robes. Opening the door a crack he stuck his head out.

“My Lord, we can’t find the queen. She’s not in her room. We’ve looked everywhere for her.” The lead servant from the night before sounded exasperated. His face was full of worry and nervousness. “Please my lord, you must help us. I can’t go to the king and tell him I can’t find his betrothed. I’ll be thrown in the dungeon.”  Tahlmus found himself trying to suppress his laughter. “My Lord, why are you smiling?” the servant seemed outraged.

“Relax,” said Tahlmus. “The queen is not missing. She is sleeping right there,” he pointed to the small lump still in his bed.

A look of terror crossed the servants face. “You… and the queen…”

Tahlmus started laughing at this. “The queen is my sister. She was a little nervous about today, so she stayed here last night. There’s nothing to worry about.”

“We must get her ready for the wedding and coronation. And … we must get you ready my Lord. After they are crowned the King and Queen wanted to honor you. And…”

Tahlmus put a hand on the servants; shoulder. “Relax. We’ll be ready.” He then closed the door. The servant stood there, unsure of what to do.

Tahlmus walked over and gently shook his sister. “Tavain,” he said. “Come on, sis. Tis time to get up,”

“Aww, but I don’t want to… just a few more minutes.”

“I’d love to let you sleep, but I just had an over nervous servant tell me they needed to get you ready for the ceremonies.”

Tavain pulled the covers up over her head. “No! They want to make me wear a dress and put on makeup. And they won’t let me wear my boots.” Tahlmus laughed. “It’s not funny,” she exclaimed.

“No, of course not,” said Tahlmus unable to clear the smile from his face. “How about this…” he said as he took out an old pair of his robes.

Tavain pulled the covers back so she could see what Tahlmus was doing. She watched as he waved his hand over them once. They now looked brand new. He waved his hand over them again. They went from their deep blue color to a bright bluish green color with gold trim. He waved his hand one last time, and the robes became Tavain’s size.

“Big brother,” she said as she came out from underneath the covers. “These look amazing.”

“Consider it your birthday present.”

“You remembered,” she said surprised.

“Of course, I remembered,” he said as he waved his hand in front of Tavain. She was now wearing the robes her brother had just made.

“They fit perfectly,” she said.

“Would you have expected otherwise?” he asked as he turned her around to look in the mirror.

“You changed my complexion.”

“Just enough to make it look like you’re wearing make-up.”

“I can’t believe it. I look… I look…”

“You look beautiful,” said Tahlmus as she turned around.

“I was going to say I looked like a girl, but I like your description better.” Tahlmus chuckled. “How do you do that?” Tavain asked looking in his eyes.

“Do what?”

“I see your smile. Your eyes are twinkling, but there’s so much sadness in them. The same sadness I saw right before you left Morrigan and me standing in the Brecilian Forest.”

Tahlmus looked at the floor for a minute before looking back at Tavain. “The blight has been defeated. My little sister is getting married and crowned queen. I couldn’t be happier,” he said as he waved his hand over himself. His robes turned to a dark bluish green shade with gold trim. They looked like new. “There,” he said. “Now I’m ready too.”

“Do you really think I look beautiful?”

“More beautiful than a sunset,” he said. “Oh… I almost forgot.” He gave a wave of his hand. Tavain looked down at her feet as she felt something now covering them.

“My boots,” she exclaimed looking at them. They were now the same color as her outfit. “You’re the best big brother ever,” she said hugging him.

“And you’re the best little sister. Now go on. Get out of here. That servant is probably still waiting for you.”

“Big brother.”


“They said something about a father giving a blessing for the bride… I told them I didn’t have a father… they said Eamon would do it… but… do you think you could do it? You’ve been just as much a father to me as you have been a brother…”

“I’d be honored sis.”

“Then since you’re dressed… can you come with me?”

Tahlmus smiled and offered his arm which Tavain took. “Yes, I can.”

The siblings walked out of the room and as Tahlmus had said the lead servant was still standing there. “My queen,” he bowed. “You look beautiful.”

“Thank you,” replied Tavain.

“You look very polished too commander.”

“Thanks,” replied Tahlmus.

“Follow me my queen.” The elf took off down the hall. The siblings followed. “Now, Eamon said he would give you away and then after…”

“My brother is going to do it,” interrupted Tavain.

“I beg your pardon, my queen,” said the servant as he turned to face Tavain.

“My brother. He’s going to give me away.”

“I’m not sure if a brother qualifies…”

“He’s the one who’s raised me over the last 9 years.”

“And,” started Tahlmus before the servant could speak. “If they won’t accept that. Just tell them the queen prefers to be given away by the Commander of the King’s Army.”

“I… I will go inform the Arl and the Priestess. You… you can stay in here until the ceremony starts,” replied the servant pointing at the door they were standing in front of.

“Thank you,” said Tavain as the servant bowed and scurried away. Tahlmus opened the door. Leliana, Wynn, and Lyonna were in the room waiting.

“Tavain, you look so beautiful,’ exclaimed Lyonna.

“Who helped you get ready? They must be amazing,” said Leliana.

“He is pretty amazing,” replied Tavain as she looked up at Tahlmus. He blushed. The other three women stared at him.

“What?” he asked.

“There just… just not a lot of men who could do that,” replied Leliana.

Tahlmus chuckled. “I’m not like most men.”

“You’re going to make some female very happy one of these days,” said Wynn.

Tahlmus forced a smile as he thought of Morrigan. “Maybe,” he said. Lyonna went over and hugged him. Tavain gave his hand a comforting squeeze. “Thanks,” he whispered. Lyonna and Tavain both smiled.

“You must be so excited,” said Leliana. “You’re getting married and crowned queen. All after defeating the blight.”

“Sure,” said Tavain. “We can call it excited.”

“You and Alistair will be fine rulers,” said Wynn.

“It’s nice of you to say that,” replied Tavain.

“Just remember about us Dalish. Maybe we can get a little more respect from the humans.”

“Don’t worry Lyonna. I won’t forget.” There was a knock on the door. Tavain turned around to face it, pulling Tahlmus along with her. “Come in,” she said.

Arl Eamon opened the door. “Tavain you look beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she said smiling.

“I hear you will be providing the blessing for your sister,” he said turning to Tahlmus.

“Yes, my Lord, it’s what she wants.”

“I think it’s a fine decision,” Eamon said smiling. “Now, the three women will walk out before you and then once the last one gets to the front, you,” he said looking at Tahlmus, “will escort Tavain down the aisle. You will stand by her in front of the priestess. She will ask who is giving Tavain away. You will say I am. She will then ask if you give her your blessing. You say yes. Then put Tavain’s hand in Alistair’s and you will turn and sit in the first chair on your left.”

Tahlmus nodded. “Sounds easy enough.”

“Well then, let’s do this. Wynn, Lyonna, and Leliana follow me. Tahlmus you follow them with Tavain.” Eamon walked off down the hall. The girls followed him. Tahlmus held his arm out, and Tavain took it.

“You’re going to be around to help, right?” asked Tavain before they walked through the door.

“Whenever you need me sis” he replied leading her down the hall. They stood in the entry way watching the three women walk down the aisle one by one.

“Big brother,” whispered Tavain as she started to fidget. “I don’t think I can do this.”

“Relax. You will be a good wife and a great queen.”

“How can you say that so confidently?”

“Because you’re smart. You learned the things I taught you quickly. You let people think you weren’t very mature so you wouldn’t be forced into something you didn’t want. And deep down you know this is what you want, and need to do, because if you didn’t somewhat believe that, it would be me getting crowned today instead of you.” Tavain looked at him. “All you would have had to do was smile your sweet little smile the night before we went to the alienage, and I wouldn’t have put you or Alistair on the throne. I would have put myself there.”

Tavain pondered on what her brother had said as she watched Leliana walk up the steps. “He’s right,” she thought.

“Ready for this?” asked Tahlmus as he watched Leliana take her place behind Wynn.

Tavain looked in her brothers smiling eyes. “Not a hint of sadness,” she thought. “Yes, I’m ready.” Tahlmus escorted his sister down the aisle. He could hear the people commenting on how beautiful Tavain looked. He watched Alistair’s jaw drop as he and Tavain stopped next to him.

“Who, may I ask, is giving away Tavain?” asked the priestess.

“I am,” replied Tahlmus.

“And you are?”

“I am Tahlmus, Commander of the Kings Army and Tavain’s elder brother.”

“Do you give your blessing for her to marry Alistair and become queen?”

“Yes, I do.” Tahlmus placed his sister’s hand in Alistairs’, turned and took his place by his seat as the two walked up the steps and stood in front of the priestess.

The priestess made a motion for everyone to sit down as she had Tavain and Alistair face each other, hand in hand. She then went on to give a speech about the maker, love and marriage. Tahlmus could see that both Tavain and Alistair were getting more nervous as the priestess rambled on. Tavain glanced over at him. He could tell she was still uneasy about what was happening. “Relax sis,” he said through thought. “You’re going to be fine. Remember I have your back.” She put a smile on her face and looked back into Alistair’s eyes.

“Do you Tavain take Alistair to be your husband?” asked the priestess.

“Yes,” she said. “Yes, I do.”

“Alistair, do you take Tavain as your wife?” Alistair glanced over at Tahlmus who nodded at him.

“Yes, I do,” he said as he gazed into Tavain’s eyes.

Then you are husband and wife. “You may kiss the bride.”

Tahlmus felt a pang of loneliness as he watched Alistair kiss Tavain. As their lips parted the priestess told the couple to face her and kneel. Alistair and Tavain complied. She then said some words, blessing them. The priestess then placed a crown on Alistair’s head pronouncing him King, and a tiara on Tavain’s head pronouncing her his Queen. They stood; turning to face the people. Everyone except Tahlmus stood and cheered. The priestess held up her hand for silence as Tahlmus slowly made it to a standing position.

“The King and Queen would like to make an announcement.”

“We are able to be here today for these ceremonies because of one man,” started Alistair.

“Despite all the odds, he brought a land together to fight against the blight,” continued Tavain.

“He is the first Grey Warden to slay an arch demon and live,” Alistair paused.

“Today we celebrate the end of the blight, and honor the Hero of Ferelden, Tahlmus,” finished Tavain motioning for her brother to join them. Tahlmus walked up the steps and bowed to his sister and Alistair. The crowd of people cheered and clapped.

“Is there any boon that I might be able to grant you for your service to Ferelden?” asked Alistair as the noise died down.

“I ask only that the Dalish once again have a land of their own,” said Tahlmus.

“Then I declare the Brecilian Forest to be the Land of the Dales, and that the Dalish shall be able to live there in peace together and not scattered as they do now.”

“Thank you, my King.” Tahlmus bowed again.

“I also declare that the Howe estate be given to the Grey Wardens so they might rebuild their order.”  Everyone cheered and clapped again. “You’re going to be around I hope,” Alistair said to Tahlmus.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be around to help. I am the commander of your army.”

“You’re not going to go look for Morrigan?”

Tahlmus looked down at the carpet on the steps. “No,” he said still looking down. “I promised… I promised I wouldn’t go looking for her,” he said bringing his eyes back up to look at Alistair. Tavain wrapped him in a hug. “Thanks sis,” he whispered.

“I’m sorry,” said Alistair, “but Eamon is giving me that look. He has something to talk about with Tavain and me.”

“There’s a carriage waiting outside to take you around so that the public can see you,” said Tavain. “Just tell the guard at the door when you’re ready.”

“I really don’t need all of this,” replied Tahlmus.

“I know big brother, but you deserve it. Besides it was Eamon’s idea, and the public wants to see their Hero. Oh, that room you stayed in last night, is permanently yours. For whenever you want it.”

“Thanks sis.”

“Now go see your adoring public,” she said noticing the sadness had re-entered his eyes.”

Tahlmus chuckled. “Yes ma’am.” He bowed watching them walk over to Eamon before turning and walking down the stairs.

“Tahlmus,” he heard. “It’s so good to see you again.”

“Keeper Merathari? I didn’t know you were here.”

“I had to come see you and Tavain. After you left our clan wasn’t the same, and Merrill went downhill.”

“What do you mean?”

“After you left, Merrill didn’t show any ambition to improve in her magical talents. When we got news of the need for hunters to fulfill our treaty from Zathrian’s clan, Merrill asked to go back with the scout. I find I am in need of an apprentice again.”

“Are you asking me to come back?”

“I’m hoping you would consider spending some time with us. There’s not much more I can teach you, but you would make a great keeper.”

“I’m not so sure. And since we as clans don’t have to stay separated anymore, how would that work?”

“We will all be living in one area, and see each other more often, but each clan shall have their own keeper.”

“I don’t know…”

“I know you have other duties as well, but I think you could manage both.”

“You have a lot of faith in me.”

Merathari smiled. “I always have. Now Lyonna let slip that you were involved with a female. Is this true?”

“It… it uh… was true,” said Tahlmus looking at the floor.


“She uh… she left after the arch demon was slain, and… I promised I wouldn’t try to find her,” he said playing with the ring on his finger.

“Tahlmus I…”

“I loved her… I wasn’t sure at first, but I realized I would do anything she asked just to see her smile. That’s how I knew I loved her. I was foolish to think I would get my happy ending.” The keeper was at a loss for words as Tahlmus wiped the tears from his eyes. “But,” he said forcing a smile. “The blight is over, the land is safe, my sister has what she needs, and more, and I’m alive to see it all.”

“Tahlmus…” the keeper put her hand on his shoulder.

“I’ll be your apprentice again. I’ll come by in a few days, after I’m sure Tavain and Alistair are settled.”

“The clan will be happy to see you again.” Tahlmus gave a nod then wandered off to speak with each of his companions.

The vision started to fade, as young Tahlmus watched the young version of his father be escorted out of the palace. “I don’t get it,” he stated. “Why would mom walk away from him. He loved her. He really did love my mom.” Tahlmus smiled as he stood against a tree behind his son. It had hurt to watch Morrigan walk away again, but he had enjoyed watching his son watch his story. “Do you think he… I mean does he…” the young Tahlmus stumbled. “I… he loved her that much then…” the boy paused again.

“I am still as much in love with her now, as I was then,” said Tahlmus as he slipped out of the shadows.

Young Tahlmus turned to face the voice that had spoken. His jaw dropped. The red hair. The twinkling but sad eyes. The scar on the man’s cheek. “D… D… Dad?” the boy asked with a stutter.

Tahlmus smiled. “Does your mother know you’re here?”

“I… I uh… kind of snuck out, but she probably knows by now,” he said pulling out the necklace from beneath his robes to reveal the ring that was attached to it.

Tahlmus smiled. He could sense Morrigan was close by. “I’ll get to see her again. Maybe this time she’ll stay,” he thought as he sat down next to her son. “She knows that you’re in good hands,” he said showing his son the ring on his left hand. “You still have it,” the boy whispered.

“Tahlmus weren’t you supposed to be in royal court today?”

“Royal court?” asked the young Tahlmus. This made his dad chuckle.

“I think she was talking to me, son.” The young Tahlmus nodded. “I was,” He responded to Merathari’s question, “but I convinced Tavain to post pone it. I wanted to visit the ruins.”

“Tamlen or the Vampiress?”


“Vampires? Aren’t they just chasind legend?”

“That’s what I thought,” Tahlmus said turning to his son. “A clan of vampires moved into the ruins where my sister and I became tainted and we lost our friend Tamlen. They had taken refuge there from the blight.

“Are they still there?”

“No,” replied Tahlmus.

“What happened?”

“I was supposed to mediate a peace between the people for Redcliffe, and the Vampires. I had a solution. Presented it to the mayor, who laughed in my face. He had me thrown out of the chantry. That’s when I noticed all the troops were gone. He had sent them to torch the ruins. I transported there, but the ruins were already ablaze. I ran in looking for survivors.”

“Did you find any?”

“A few were huddled in a corner with their Vampiress. She had been badly injured. The others could transport, so I sent them to my room at the castle. The Vampiress was too injured to transport. I attempted to carry her out. The smoke ended up choking me. I fell and used my body to shield her from the flames before passing out.”

“Did it work? Is she still alive?”

“I awoke on a cot in the chantry with my sister and the vampiress standing over me. Tavain told me how she’d seen me run into the blaze. She had ordered the men to put it out right away. She then got the vampiress and myself some immediate medical attention.

“Where are they now?”

“Up north with a sister clan,” said Tahlmus sadly.

“You liked the Vampiress didn’t you?”

Morrigan watched from a distance as Tahlmus thought over his son’s question. “Yes. The Vampiress reminded me of your mother. I had started to fall in love with her.” Morrigan frowned. “But I was still in love with your mother. I’ve never stopped loving her.”

Morrigan wiped a tear from her eye. “I’ve never stopped loving you,” she thought.

“I know you promised not to look for us, but did you ever think about us? Want to find us?”

“Every day since I watched your mother walk away.” Tahlmus could feel Morrigan only a few feet behind him. “I kept hoping one day she’d come back.”

“It could be very dangerous for you,” said Morrigan feeling it was time to speak up.

Tahlmus turned to face her. “If it meant I got to be with you, I’d take that chance,” he said walking over to her. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered before leaning in and kissing her. It was better than he remembered.

“I’ve missed you too,” she said as their lips parted.

“Big brother has a girlfriend. Big brother has a girlfriend,” came Tavain’s sing-songy voice.”

“Sis, what are you doing here? Asked Tahlmus as he blushed a deep red. Morrigan suppressed smile. “I’d almost forgotten how cute it was when he did that,” she thought.

“Looking for you of course,” replied Tavain. “I…” she stopped short. “Is that?”

“Tavain this is my son, Tahlmus.”

“He looks just like you.”

Tahlmus chuckled. “I supposed he does, but he has his mother’s spirit,” he replied as he looked in Morrigan’s eyes. She smiled at him and ran her fingers over the scar on his face. His adrenaline started flowing just as it had 12 years ago.

“You never were one to back down, even if you were afraid,” Morrigan said. “You kept your promise,” she stated rotating the ring on his hand.

“Of course,” Tahlmus replied. “I told you I would do anything for you.” He closed his eyes as she ran her fingers over his scar again. “I still will,” he whispered as he opened his eyes.

“What do you mean?”

Tavain couldn’t stay quiet. “it means he still loves you. He wants you more than anything, but he will stand there and watch you walk away again, if that’s what you want.”

Morrigan looked at Tahlmus who nodded. “If you want to take our son and leave; I will let you go, and I will keep my promise to not follow you, but…” he paused as he swallowed a lump in his throat. “Please don’t leave me again,” he whispered as a couple of tears trickled down his face.

Morrigan tried holding back her own tears. “It took everything I had to not turn around and run back into your arms that day. Since then I’ve sat in the woods by myself many times locating where you were, waiting for you to appear next to me, wanting to hear your voice, and feel your touch.”

“Then stay with me. Become my wife. You know I can protect you and our son. Please… I need you.”

Morrigan stood there looking in his eyes. “He is a powerful mage,” she thought. “It would be good for young Tahlmus to learn from him. But what about Flemeth? I can’t put his life in danger, not after everything he did.”

“Morrigan?” whispered Tahlmus.


“Please mom, I want to stay.” Morrigan looked at her son. His eyes had the same pleading look as his fathers’.

“Well if you’re going to think about it,” spoke up Tavain. “I’m going to throw my two cents in. After our parents died, it took my brother 9.5 years to show a weakness. It took that long for him to ask for something that he wanted. His weakness, loving you. His one request, a kiss before you left. Now 12 years later, he still has that same weakness. He loves you. This is only the second time I’ve ever heard him ask for anything that he wanted. He wants you to stay. You know my brother almost as well as I do…”

Morrigan turned back to look at Tahlmus. He was down on one knee. When he saw her watching him, he gave a wave of his hand. A gold ring appeared.

“This ring has been given to each first born mage to give to the female he wanted to bond with. Our mom left it in the back cover of the journal I gave Tavain. I would like to continue the tradition. We’ve been in danger before. You know I can protect you. You can stay and be safe. We can still have that different ending.” Tahlmus held back his tears as he awaited her answer. “Please don’t leave me again,” he thought over and over again.

“I don’t think he’ll recover if he has to watch her walk away again,” thought Tavain.

“It’s in his nature… when they love someone they will go to any lengths necessary to protect them.” The words she’d heard while sleeping in Zathrian’s tent all those years ago popped into her head as she looked down at Tahlmus. “And he’s protected me time and again without question,” she thought.


Morrigan looked over at her son before looking back at Tahlmus. She smiled as tears flowed down her face. “Yes,” she said.

“Yes?” Tahlmus questioned in a whisper scarcely able to believe it.

“Yes, I will stay and be your wife. I need you too,” she finished as Tahlmus slipped the ring on her finger. Tahlmus stood and leaned in to kiss her.

“Wait Tahlmus…” the keeper said. Tahlmus turned to Merathari feeling slightly annoyed.

“Yes, keeper?”

“Morrigan take that ring off his finger for a second.” Morrigan looked at the keeper, but complied with her request. “Tahlmus are you sure you want to take her back?”

“Yes. Yes, I’m sure.  I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”

“Morrigan slip the ring back on his finger.” Morrigan did as she was told. “Ok Tahlmus, you can kiss her now.” Tahlmus gladly did so, enjoying what he had missed for so long. As their lips parted Merathari spoke again. “You are now husband and wife, and you Tahlmus can now take over being keeper.”

“What just happened?” asked Morrigan.

“The keeper performed a bonding ceremony, or as you humans call it… marriage,” said Tavain.

Their son ran over and wrapped his arms around them both. “I now have a mother and a father,” he exclaimed.

“It’s so good to see the sadness completely gone from your eyes,” said Tavain as she walked over and hugged her brother.

“Thanks sis,”

“Now I must return to the palace before the lead servant sends out a search party.”

“The palace,” the young Tahlmus exclaimed. “Mother can I go with her?”

“You’ll have to ask your father,” she said smiling at Tahlmus.

“Dad, can I please? I promise I’ll be good.”

“That will take a little getting used to,” he thought. “What do you think sis?”

“I think it’s a great idea. I can teach him some of my tricks.” She replied with a sweet smile as she slowly started to skip off. “Don’t forget about Karia’s lesson tonight.”

“Ok you can…” he watched his son take off after Tavain. “Wait… Tavain… teach him what? … Tavain” he shouted to his sister’s retreating back. “I’m so going to regret this later,” he said. Morrigan chuckled. This made Tahlmus smile.

“Tahlmus, you’ll have to do a couple of things here, then you can get back to the palace.”

“Yes Merathari,” replied Tahlmus as he followed her, pulling Morrigan close as he did so. “I’m so glad you came back,” he whispered.

“Me too,” she said before kissing him.

“Just as it should be,” he thought.

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