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Return From Darkness

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Leliana greeted Elisabeta when she returned to Haven.  “How did it go?”

“The Templars have collectively gone insane and the Chantry Clerics aren’t much better,” Elisabeta reported.  “On a side note, I recruited a Red Jenny and Val Royeaux is over rated.”

“Val Royeaux is not…”  Leliana shook her head.  “Red Jenny is a real person?”

“Yes and no,” Elisabeta dismounted from Rowan.  “I’ll tell you tonight over dinner.”

“What about the Grand Enchanter that Solas mentioned you were going to talk to?”   Leliana prompted.  “Josephine was worrying about her coming.  She is said to be very particular in her tastes.”

“Oh, you’d heard of her?” Elisabeta took her packs off of her horse.  “Did you know she can’t even heal?  I wasted my time going to that party.  It was full of Orlesians.”

“So you didn’t recruit her?”  Leliana realized.

“She can’t heal,” Elisabeta said it even slower.  “I need a healer.  I need…”  Her voice cracked.  “Did you know that Wynne died during the Battle of the White Spire?”

“I… I’d wondered,” Leliana admitted.  “A list of the dead was brought to the Divine, but it was incomplete.  Her body wasn’t left behind, but her son disappeared.  He was rumored to have been seen with a rogue Templar.  She wasn’t part of the group that went crazy, but still left the Order itself during the fight.”

“Wynne found her son?”  At the end of the Fifth Blight, Wynne hadn’t known what had happened to the baby who had been ripped from her arms at birth.

“She did,” Leliana confirmed.  “His name was Rhys and he was at the White Spire.”

“I guess that’s something.”

“Come,” Leliana insisted.  “Cullen and Josephine are waiting in the Chantry to hear more news.

 

 

Elisabeta wished she could just go back to her cabin and take a nap.

“We can’t just give up on the Templars,” Cullen insisted.  “There must be another way to contact them.”

“We need to go get the mages,” Leliana insisted.

“The Templars…”  Cullen began.

Elisabeta shook her head.  “Wynne was at the White Spire when the Templars attacked it.  She was there when the vote was cast.  It is her people I must go save in her stead.  She would be fighting for them, even now, if the Templars had not killed her.  I know where my loyalties must lie.”

She turned to leave, but was stopped by Leliana.  “Walk with me a bit longer.”

“Of course,” she stepped in time with her friend.

“I’ve heard rumors of a Grey Warden who is operating out of the Hinterlands,” Leliana explained.  “You need to find him.  Lissa, your… your former comrades have all disappeared.  Oghren was among the Grey Wardens in Amaranthine.  I knew the Wardens in Orlais had disappeared, but now it appears that those in Ferelden have as well.  King Alistair is the only one accounted for.  He and this Blackwall who has been helping farmers near Redcliffe fight off bandits.”

“Oghren is missing?  They’re all gone?  Well, the Orlesians weren’t exactly a help during the last Blight, but Oghren was.  I thought he and Felsi got back together, why would he have joined the Wardens.  Why…”  She shook her head.  “I’ll go and talk to him on my way to see Fiona,” Elisabeta assured her.  “I was never really part of the Order.  I was put through the Joining in Ostagar and within forty eight hours it was just Alistair and I left.  Still, they are needed if there is ever another Blight.  You and I know why.”  She’d already saved Thedas from one Blight, but there were two more old gods somewhere in the Deep Roads.  Even now, darkspawn searched for them.  Without the Wardens, her world was doomed.  Shit.

“We do,” Leliana agreed.  “I’ll see you at dinner.”

Elisabeta didn’t get far before Inquisition business stopped her again.  This time it was the second of command of a small mercenary band called the Chargers.  His captain was interested in joining and wanted to talk to the Herald of Andraste about joining the cause.  She agreed to work it into her schedule.  She would head north after talking to Fiona.  That would put her near Highever.  Perhaps it was time to make the journey home already.

 

 

Highever was obviously on Elisabeta’s mind that night.  She’d had trouble sleeping and taken her new bagpipe to the lake.  She was playing when she heard singing from behind her.

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom;

Lead thou me on!

The night is dark, and I am far from home;

Lead thou me on!

Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene--one step enough for me.

 

She turned.  It was Cullen singing the words to the song she was playing.  “I’m sorry if I woke you.  I… it is hard to sleep sometimes.”

“So Varric mentioned to me,” He sat beside her.  “I… also suffer from nightmares.  You know part of the reason.   What I went through wasn’t as literal of a Hell as the Void, but it still haunts me.”

“I imagine so,” she agreed.  “Do you want to talk about it?”

“I’d rather listen to you play,” he admitted.  “There isn’t enough music in Haven.  I just hope you don’t mind if I sing along.”

“I think I’d like that,” she smiled.  “I was without music for so long… in that place.  It’s such a wonderful, soul touching thing.  I don’t know how to describe it.  It a place where the soul is meant to be lost, it had no place.  I never appreciated how wonderful it is.  If I could go back and thank my mother for all of those voice and instrumental lessons, I would.  If I could go back and just see her again, I would,” she admitted.

“My parents died during the Blight,” Cullen revealed.  “I would give anything to go back in time and leave my studies for one day and spend the day with them.”

“So would I,” she nodded.  “Maker, I miss them.”

“Do you wish Andraste had taken you to the Maker’s side and saved Trevelyan?”  He wondered.

“There are times,” she admitted.  “It’s hard to return to a life after being… gone… for so long.  The one thing I wanted to return to most is no longer mine to return to.  I still have Leliana, though.  And I have new friends.”

“That you do,” he agreed.

She lifted the pipes to her lips and began playing again.

White are the far-off plains, and white
The fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height,
And denser still the snow,
A gathering weight on roof and tree,
Falls down scarce audibly.

The road before me smooths and fills
Apace, and all about
The fences dwindle, and the hills
Are blotted slowly out;
The naked trees loom spectrally
Into the dim white sky.

 

Elisabeta trudged into the Chantry for yet another war table mission.  She had a mug of Oolong tea and a crumpet.  Most of the missions had to do with patting nobles on the head and soothing feathers.  Cullen’s men had finished building the watch towers in the Hinterlands, though, and she wanted to take care of getting the Inquisition’s horses on her way to speak with Fiona and the mages.

“We received a new message this morning,” Josephine reported as Elisabeta trudged in.  “Oh, you and Cullen look so tired Herald.  Perhaps you should spend your nights sleeping instead of continuing to serenade Haven every other night.”

“From your mouth to the Maker’s ear,” Cullen muttered.

“Here, here,” Elisabeta agreed.

“Our message comes from an important Ferelden noble,” Josephine bristled. 

“If it’s Queen Anora, tell her she can kiss my blessed ass,” Elisabeta informed her.

“I will say no such thing,” Josephine gasped.

“You’re right,” Elisabeta conceded.  “I don’t want that viper’s lips anywhere near me.”

“It’s from Fergus Cousland, the Teyrn of Highever,” Josephine began.  “He wishes to convey his deepest sympathies for the death of Divine Justinia V and Highever will be holding a vigil for her.  He has invited the Inquisition to attend.”

“We don’t have time…” Cullen began.

His words were cut off by the crash of Elisabeta’s mug.  The crumpet followed.  Her hands were over her mouth and she was crying again.  “Fergus…”  Her hands clutched the table.  She looked at Leliana.  “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought you knew?”  Leliana had forgotten that Fergus Cousland had made his way to Denerim, very much alive, after the Blight had ended.  “Oh, Lissa.”

“He’s alive,” she was smiling through her tears.  “Fergus is alive.  He is the teyrn.  I’m going to the vigil.”

“I’m afraid that it is not a priority,” Josephine objected.

“My brother has invited me home and I am going,” Elisabeta insisted.  “My family will always be a priority.”  Home, the word that had meant so much to her, yet one she thought she could no longer use.  Tears streamed down her face.  Highever was back in the hands of the Couslands, her home had been returned.

 

 

After leaving the meeting, Elisabeta walked to Varric’s tent.  “He’s alive,” she hugged him.

“Great,” Varric patted her back.  “Who’s alive?” 

“My brother,” she shed more tears of joy.  “My brother is alive.  He holds Highever.  My home is waiting for me again.  My…”  She broke off as she was overcome yet again.

“Oh, Tempest,” he regretted that he didn’t have this type of relationship with his brother.  This was what Griffon would have been like if Bethany had been restored to him.  He held Elisabeta and then invited her to join him in celebratory drink.  There was one thing she had to do first, though.

She went into the forest to be alone.  There, she knelt and thanked the Maker.  After all that had been taken from her, He’d protected her brother.  A precious jewel had been returned.  I’m going home she thought.  I’m going home!