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Return From Darkness

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Alistair ran a finger along the mahogany box that he kept on his Bocote desk, as he thought.  Inside the box was a magically preserved rose.  He’d kept the box on his desk for over a decade now.  He would often run his finger along it as he tried to decide what she would have advised him to do.  He now knew that he hadn’t been taking that unspoken advice.  Beside the box, now sat the lap harp she’d played for him night after night.  After he’d seen her again, after so so many years, he’d begun to get professional lessons to play it.  If the music master thought it strange that the king was taking harp lessons, he said nothing.

A messenger walked in with a pile of missives for him.  “We have reports from our spies in Orlais on their civil war, two letters from the Free Marches, one from Navarra, and one from the Inquisition.”

“Thank you,” Alistair took them.  He opened the one from the Inquisition first, wondering if it was from their Ambassador, Josephine, or from Leliana.  He had demanded to know why he was receiving reports of Inquisition soldiers in Redcliffe.  He still needed to figure out what to do about the castle being occupied and now had to deal with the Inquisition inserting their soldiers into the town.  The castle wouldn’t be easy to retake it.  Anora suggested not trying and Eamon insisted it had to be dealt with at once.

The letter wasn’t from Josephine or Leliana.  After all this time, he still recognized his Beta’s handwriting.  He could even tell that she’d been angry when she wrote it; from the handwriting, not just the words.   Those words were quite heated. 

“Is everything all right, your majesty,” Eamon entered the room, Anora trailing behind him.

“It is the answer from the Inquisition, about their moving troops into Redcliffe,” he handed the letter over.

Eamon’s eyes widened, causing Anora to snatch the letter.  “She’s… she… she died at the end of the Blight.”

“It’s her,” Alistair assured him.  “She is the Herald of Andraste.  The early reports about the Herald’s identity were wrong.  It’s Beta… Elisabeta Cousland.  She doesn’t think we are doing a good job and that she will do it for us, then.”

Fuck you, Anora!”  Anora repeated the words near the bottom of the message.  “How dare she.  We will write the Inquisition immediately and assure them that they can not talk to us like this!”

“I believe she has earned the right to do so,” Alistair disagreed.  “If you write a letter to her, challenging her, she’d likely just come here and…”  Actually, he liked the idea of having her around.  Even if he couldn’t be with her anymore, he just wanted to be near her again.  To look into those sea goddess eyes and hear her mystic voice.  “If it will make you feel better, go ahead.”

“Alistair!”  Teagan marched into the room, sweaty.  His retainers behind him.  “There has been a disaster at Redcliffe and you must help me.  A Tevinter Magister has taken over.  I think it may be an invasion.”

It was time to do his job, Alistair decided.  He turned to Eamon.  “Get my army ready.  We are marching on Redcliffe.”