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The Road to Ostagar

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On a muddy road half a day's travel from Lake Calenhad, two men, one a human and one elvhen, travel on horseback. The human, Duncan of the Grey Wardens clad in the traditional uniform; the elf, newly recruited Katrian Surana, in a borrowed cloak and an already fraying Circle-issue robe.

"You have a lot of questions, I must imagine," Duncan broke the silence between them, "About the Grey Wardens. About a lot, come to think. You've been in the Circle a while?"

"Uh," Kat scratched the back of his neck, "Yeah. It's been some time..."

Duncan waited patiently for his companion to continue, but the sentence was left to linger in the cold evening air. He was about to pick up the conversation again, until:

"Not that I'm ungrateful, Ser Warden, but. Why me? I'm barely out of my Harrowing, and..."

"That you passed speaks volume to your skill," Duncan's words stepped confidently into the brief lull, "The Wardens always have a need of more mages."

Kat narrowed his eyes in a sudden epiphany, seeming to glow in the low light, "Ah-ha. And the Chantry never sends enough, so if you can snatch some from under their nose, all the better."

Chuckling softly, Duncan replied, "You've got me." The elf seemed to relax a little at that, but pressed on.

"That doesn't answer the question, though. Why me, specifically? Plenty mages passed their Harrowing. Maker's balls, you could probably have conscripted Irving if you wanted."

The old Warden paused at that, then, "You were in trouble, weren't you? For trying to escape?"

"Oh no, not me. My friend Jowan, I was helping him escape."

"But you intended to go with him?" Kat floundered for a response, "Or were you simply going to escort him to the nearest village and then promptly return to your Circle?"

"Well-"

"If I thought mages ought be locked up, I wouldn't recruit them." Duncan met Kat's eyes in an intense gaze. The mage stared, transfixed, for several long moments before breaking eye contact. Shaking his head, Duncan said, his voice softening, "Not that a life in the Wardens is truly a freedom. In any case, it was a rare thing you did for your friend. You showed great courage and loyalty."

"I didn't know he was a blood mage at the time."

"You wouldn't have helped him if you knew?"

"I don't know."

Duncan nodded once, understanding.