From the Ashes of Betrayal [Siobhan Cousland / Alistair after leaving Ferelden & the Gray Wardens
Siobhan Cousland stood on the deck of the Broken-Beak Gull, heedless of the salty spray that stung her face and eyes. In the distance, the looming cliffs of Kirkwall, half hidden by roiling fog and the misty rain that fell, broke the vision of gray waves against gray sky that had been before the vessel on its journey upon the Waking Sea.
The first two days, her stomach had clenched in knots as the waves had, or so it had seemed, hurled the ship from one breaker to the next, and she had been able to do little other than drag her body from the railing to the narrow bunk with the taste of bitter bile in her mouth and little sense of which way was up.
It had almost been better that way. The sickness had driven memory and thought from her, save for bits and pieces of dreams of the path she had traveled, from the sight of her father's blood painting the storeroom floor of the Cousland ancestral home, to seeing Daveth lying at her feet with Duncan's empty condolences pouring out like a dark mist even before his body had stopped twitching, to looking into the face of evil and hearing its song cojoling her to come to it, to join its beautiful darkness, to the glimpse she'd had of Loghain mac Tir's contorted, determined face as he shoved past her and drove his blade into the archdemon, to seeing the ugliness that lay beneath the illusion of beauty as the tainted power surged into him and bore him to the Maker's final judgment. The dreams had been with her since the Joining, in one form or another, but the new knowledge she possessed had stirred them like a stick taken to a hornet's nest.
She had not dreamed of him at all since he had departed, and each time her thoughts had strayed in that direction, she had found something to occupy herself into exhaustion. Since becoming a Gray Warden, she had learned discipline, and it had served her well. Since Ignacio's 'friendly warning' had been delivered to Soldier's Peak, it had been a struggle to keep her thoughts from straying, and now she could no longer allow herself the luxury of remaining behind fortified walls now that the moment of confrontation approached.
"I don't want anything do do with this place or any of you people ... ever. I swear it!"
Though the entire event had taken only minutes, it had seemed like a lifetime. She could hear the pounding of her heart, and feel the empty knot in her stomach, much in the same way she had when her father had given her to the Gray Wardens to save her life and to make justice possible. The echoes of other conversations swirled in her head, words of duty and responsibility that she had taken into herself and believed, made part of herself as surely as she had made him part of her in the woodsmoke scented shadows at the edge of her camp. She didn't remember what she had said, some protest as meaningless as a traitor's plea for mercy, but at his reply she felt something inside herself shatter and flutter away on the winds of the coming war.
"I had these dreams ... they don't matter now. Take care of yourself."
Anger burned away the pain, and she had embraced it. Through the battles, many a darkspawn had worn his face. She had sliced through the memories a hundred times, and she had thought it might have been enough.
When the letter had been delivered, she had gone first to Zevran. He had an instinct for people that she'd never quite mastered, and above all, he'd been the one who hadn't left when the blight was over. Wynne had departed with Shale, on some foolish request for the dwarven golem to become flesh again, Leliana had gone back chasing some cloud-fluffy vision of flowers without thorns and people who didn't use and kill each other over trivialities. Sten had no doubt delivered his answer to the Arishok, probably before he handed the best of Nan's cookie recipes to the Qunari bakers. Morrigan was probably off looking to start another blight so she could get a second chance at having her very own darkspawn-godling, and Oghren and Felsi were about to get married (if they didn't kill each other first). Zevran had stayed, and though he often went off on business of his own, he always seemed to make sure she knew where to find him should she need him.
Alistair's name had not passed between them in the intervening time between the Landsmeet and when she sought him out. He'd almost asked once, as they'd traveled to Denerim with their rag-tag army marching behind, but when she'd regarded him steadily over the glint of her sword in the firelight, he'd changed the conversation to an inquiry about her childhood. There had been other times that she'd seen the questions in his eyes, but they had never traveled to his lips. That was one of the good things about having Zevran as a friend. He understood that some questions were better left unasked.
"Are you sure, my Gray Warden? I had thought you had decided to let sleeping dogs lie, no? The Crows have given their pledge to you, and I do not think Ferelden's treasury has yet recovered enough from the deprivations of the Blight to tempt them away from it. The queen will not openly openly betray the Hero of Ferelden, surely."
It hadn't come as a shock to her that Anora's gravest concern was securing her power - she'd always thought Ferelden's queen was at heart as common as one of the Pearl's cheapest whores. Loghain, as mad and twisted as he'd been, had been driven by a purpose greater than wearing a crown. Anora's sleep was probably no more peaceful than her own, but instead of archdemons, darkspawn, and betrayal, she dreamed of rightful kings coming snatch the crown from atop her head. Siobhan wondered if that was because, deep down, Anora saw beneath the mask she wore.
Whatever the reason, it was not in Siobhan to find a convenient distraction to occupy herself. She'd avenged Howe's betrayal -- and she wouldn't sit idly by while the remainders of Maric's family were hustled off to oblivion. Good king though he might have been, he certainly hadn't made any effort to keep his trousers buttoned, nor had he stepped up to accept responsibility for his pleasures. Family deserved better, and she wasn't about to sit by and see one destroyed by another's ambition ... whether the Gray Wardens, the Queen, or anyone else liked it or not.