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All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun [Closed]

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
83
#21
To say that Alistair was embarrassed would be putting it mildly. He’d flattered himself that he had this sneaking out routine pretty well down, but a pretty face and some familiar names had tripped him up with humbling ease. If he’d been alone, it might have been easier to shrug it off, but having dragged along a guardsman whose honor would not let him allow the King to be out unprotected, he’d promptly done the one thing that would make Donal's job more difficult.

Fortunately, while Nicolette had Orlesian blood, she did not seem to be a bard who had been lurking in the city on the off chance that the King of Ferelden might present himself as an easy target for assassination. Or if she was, she was biding her time. Her look of wide-eyed surprise certainly seemed genuine, but Alistair had seen Leliana dissemble often enough to know just how easily it could be done by pretty much anybody who wasn’t him.

Donal seemed more amused than alarmed, which was reassuring … but also more than a little embarrassing. And frustrating. He’d gone out tonight because he was tired of being treated like a child who needed a babysitter, but that was just what he felt like at the moment. Bernie, astute as always, had picked up on the sudden change in currents at the table, and was watching/not watching from the corner of her eye as she chatted with a patron at the bar. Alistair didn’t want to get Nicolette in trouble with her employer; she hadn’t done anything wrong.

After a moment, her surprise softened into a kind smile that made his heart skip a beat or two. “There is nothing to concern you, James,” she told him, the faintest emphasis on his alias. “It is safe with me.” The light press of her fingers on the back of her hand was very plainly a reassurance and not an attempt at seduction, but it still added to the flutter in his chest. She was so very pretty … and she might as well have been on the dark side of one of the moons, as far as he was concerned, damn it.

“Thank you,” he told her with quiet sincerity, Donal adding his nod, a faintly approving gleam in his eyes sending a stab of envy that Alistair pushed down doggedly. Just because he couldn’t pursue anything with the lovely lady was no reason to deny the guard the chance, if he chose. Alistair was the King of Ferelden; he literally had women lined up to meet him, wanting to be his bride! It was good to be king, right?

Yeah, he didn’t think so, either. There was more intelligence and compassion in those pretty golden eyes than he generally saw in a week of entertaining countless nobles’ daughters, but that didn’t change what was.

“Leliana was well, when last we saw each other,” she answered his earlier question as though the awkward interlude had never happened. “She accompanied me as far as the vineyards in the south, at which point we had to part ways. She is an extraordinary woman, is she not? I am immensely adverse to fighting, but she taught me a few techniques with blades that would allow me to defend myself without taking a life, when I am travelling alone.”

He smiled, unable to help the wistful edge. “Yeah, that sounds like her,” he agreed, “and it’s a good idea to be able to fight at least a bit if you’re traveling alone. I’ll bet this fellow takes good care of you, though.” He looked down at Thibault, scrubbing his knuckles across the broad head in the way that Aedan’s mabari had always liked. “Don’t you, boy?”

The tail wagged furiously. Yes, yes, yes!

An idea came to him suddenly. “You like stories?” he asked Nicolette, turning it over in his head. “I know one that I could tell you … and show you where it happened.” He looked to Donal. “Drakon?” Asking, not telling. He might have blown his cover, but their agreement was still very much in effect.

The guard’s eyebrows lifted in surprise, but he cocked his head, considering. “That would work,” he agreed after a moment, the approval in his expression for Alistair now.

Pleased, Alistair turned back to Nicolette. “The roof of Fort Drakon is where the archdemon was killed,” he told her. “I can get us up there if you want to see where it happened while I tall you the story.”

“View’s nice, too,” Donal put in.

“I’m definitely not as good at telling stories as you and Leliana,” he told her, “but … I was there.” No boasting, simply stating a fact. He had been there, and he had helped bring it down, but as with the rest of that desperate year, if not for his companions, he would never have survived.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
130
#22
Neither man bolted for the door and Donal did not draw his sword in defence of his king, so clearly both of them believed she would keep the secret. It was a source of quiet amusement to Nicolette, the idea that she could present a threat to either of them. Unless she decided to break her vielle over their heads, and she was not going to do that, no matter how good a story it might make – assuming she did not die on the spot. She caught the approving gleam in Donal’s eyes and turned her smile on him as well, before acting as though the previous conversation had not happened and filling Alistair – James – in on the wellbeing of his friend.

He looked pleased, but there was a shade of sadness to the smile. Whenever Nicolette saw that sort of smile, she wanted to embrace the wearer, if only to steady them for a moment. But not everybody welcomed such a gesture and having gained their trust, she did not want to ruin by unnerving the man.

“Yeah, that sounds like her. And it’s a good idea to be able to fight at least a bit if you’re travelling alone. I’ll bet this fellow takes good care of you, though.” Alistair scrubbed Thibault between his ears, earning a rapturous tail-wagging. “Don’t you, boy?”

“He does.” Nicolette ran a hand along Thibault’s back, gazing at him fondly. “He has saved my life on many occasions.”

She was about to share one such tale, when Alistair beat her to the punch. “You like stories?” Nicolette looked up as Alistair changed conversational direction. “I know one that I could tell you…and show you where it happened.” He glanced at Donal. “Drakon?”

The bodyguard nodded his assent as Nicolette quickly chased the chime of memory that name had set ringing. Was that not where –

“The roof of Fort Drakon is where the archdemon was killed. I can get us up there if you want to see where it happened while I tell you the story.”

“View’s nice too.”

“I’m definitely not as good at telling stories as you and Leliana, but…I was there.”

“Yes!” Nicolette's face lit up - there was no hesitation. Of course, they could be running an elaborate scam and she could be about to make a terrible mistake going off with two strangers, but she took a risk every time she travelled alone rather than with a caravan, every time she struck up a conversation with somebody new. If she did not take the chance she would be kicking herself each day until she died. “Of course, I would love to hear that story. And to see the Fort – I do not think I have ever been up so high.”
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
83
#23
Nicolette definitely got a bit wide-eyed at having her suspicion confirmed, but she didn’t panic, didn’t blow his cover, and - most importantly as far as Alistair was concerned - went on to tell him about her time with Leliana. He could well remember the first time he and Aedan had met her in Lothering, going on about the Maker’s will as she cleaned the blood from her daggers; she’d definitely seemed an archdemon shy of a full Blight.

But hadn’t that been true one way or another of most of their companions? An apostate that could turn into a spider, a Qunari that had murdered an entire farmhold, an assassin who had been sent to kill them, a giant animated statue that had killed its former master and a drunken, berzerker dwarf. Wynne and the dog had been the only ones he’d been inclined to trust at first. And yet, somehow, trust had grown between them all, even (he’d thought) Morrigan. To go from having that solid presence of trusted companions at your side to being alone in a crowded palace … it sucked.

Which was why he was pleased when Donal didn’t immediately shoot down the idea of a visit to the top of Fort Drakon, which would accomplish two purposes: repaying Nicolette for the kindness she had shown and getting out of there just in case she (or he, for that matter) accidentally let something slip in the hearing of someone who might not feel like being kind to a king in disguise. Alistair had heard more than enough on previous excursions to know that supporters of Loghain Mac Tir lingered, others just didn’t care for having a bastard on the throne, and still others just didn’t like royalty, period … or much else, from the sound of it.

Nicolette beamed at the offer. “Yes!” she exclaimed immediately. “Of course, I would love to hear that story. And to see the Fort – I do not think I have ever been up so high.”

“There’re lot of stairs,” Alistair warned her, though he doubted that would curb her enthusiasm. He looked to Donal. “Shall we?” The guard nodded and rose, going to the bar and speaking to Bernie in a low voice. She gave the minstrel an appraising look, then nodded.

“I told her we’d get you back safely,” he reported with a grin as he returned, draining the last of his ale and pulling his cloak back on, giving her time to do the same.

Outside, Alistair turned them toward Fort Drakon; he’d have known the way even if the fortress hadn’t towered over the city. The path they’d taken a year ago was etched into his memory. “Have you eaten anything?” he asked Nicolette. There were still a few stalls open selling meat pies, bread twists, skewers of lamb and beef. And well, he was hungry … as usual. "My treat." What good was a date with the King of Ferelden if he couldn't tat least catch dinner?

“They’re going to recognize you at the Fort,” Donal remarked, keeping his voice low enough not to carry, “and they’re gonna wonder about any woman who is with him.” He looked Nicolette and Thibault over speculatively. “How would you like to be the Orlesian ambassador and her rare Antivan deerhound?”
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
130
#24
Alistair warned her that there were many stairs up to the roof of the Fort. Nicolette would not have minded too much if he had announced they had to climb up there. She loved a good story but being in the same setting as the one evoked in a tale was even better. Her imagination would be able to run riot up there.

If she had been entertaining reservations about going off with two strange men (and given that she had not long previously been entertaining the idea of inviting them upstairs, she had not given much thought to the risk), Donal would have put them at ease. He approached the landlady, who after a moment gave her a nod to indicate she had made note of their faces.

“I told her we’d get you back safely.”

Nicolette smiled broadly. “I appreciate the gesture, Donal. If you did not, she would send Gio after you, and I do not advise tangling with him.” Colourfully clad the dwarf might be, but they had already seen a demonstration of what he could do.

They donned their cloaks, and headed out into the evening. The air was laced with the smells of sizzling meat as the stalls catering to those just heading home from work now plied their trade. “Have you eaten anything? My treat.”

“A skewer of lamb and peppers would be very welcome, thank you.” The woman who ran the stall they approached was from Rivain, which meant most likely her food would be seasoned. Some of the skewers just had bare cubes of meat, some had a light dusting, and down the far end were two that were caked with sizzling red paste. Nicolette, having long since learned her lesson about appearing tough when it came to food, selected from near the middle.

Donal was murmuring to Alistair; Nicolette kept an ear open to them. “They’re going to recognise you at the Fort. And they’re gonna wonder about any woman who is with him.” Of course, some people were going to leap to conclusions. Given that Alistair had come out this evening in disguise to avoid attention, causing gossip with her presence might ruin it for him. Fortunately Donal had a plan. “How would you like to be the Orlesian ambassador and her Antivan deerhound?”

“I think I can work with that.” Nicolette arched her neck and tilted it back slightly. Her accent became heavier, a little more flavour of Val Royeaux to it. “Am I looking down my nose enough?”. She chuckled, dropping the voice for a moment. “Do I need an alias? My surname is fairly distinctly Fereldan.”
 

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Noble
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
83
#25
Donal allowed Nicolette to think that his consultation with Bernie was to assure the tavern keeper of her safety with them. There was no need for her to know that Bernie, Gio and most of the other staff knew the true identity of ‘James’ and busted their asses to ensure that Alistair remained both anonymous and unmolested on these outings. He’d even had Gio ‘throw him out’ a couple of times when someone was getting that ‘don’t I know that nose?’ look. Nobody would haul the King of Ferelden out of a bar, right? It had worked so far, anyway.

Outside, they approached one of the meat vendors, and Nicolette selected a skewer of seasoned lamb and peppers. Donal took the two at the end that were liberally smeared with an ominously red paste, chewing with great relish and no hint of discomfort. Alistair - after a brief struggle with the desire to show off for a pretty girl - selected his two from the more gently spiced end of the spectrum. His palate was not quite as bland as it had been (the food that the Chantry provided its templars in training having been designed to support physical exertion, rather than expanding culinary horizons. ‘Grey’ and ‘greasy’ had been the predominant characteristics), but he’d had an adventure with some bright Antivan peppers, courtesy of Zevran, that had left him acutely aware of his gut’s limited tolerance levels. Spending the next few hours with his belly sounding like a pair of wyverns were fighting it out inside - to say nothing of spending the balance of the following day locked in the loo with whatever reading material he had time to grab - was not what would be termed a desirable result.

The ones he selected tasted just fine, anyway, and he ate contentedly while Donal pitched his proposal to Nicolette: instant promotion to Orlesian ambassador.

“I think I can work with that,” she agreed, lifting her head into a haughty pose and adding a few extra layers to her gentle accent. “Am I looking down my nose enough?”

“Perfect,” Alistair opined with a grin, the feel of an adventure - even a small one - making him feel almost giddy with anticipation.

“That’ll do nicely,” Donal added approvingly.

“Do I need an alias?” she wondered, returning to her normal speaking voice. “My surname is fairly distinctly Fereldan.”

“Make something up if they ask,” Alistair advised you. “They wouldn’t remember it anyway.” And chances were, he wouldn’t be able to pronounce it. Better to just call her ‘The Ambassador’ and leave it at that.

As they walked, the moon drifted from behind the clouds, hovering behind the towering spire of the Chantry, and he stopped, staring upward as memory stirred to life.

“Right here,” he murmured. “This is where we were when we saw Riordan jump onto the Archdemon’s back.” He lifted his hand, pointing to the Chantry. “He had climbed up there somehow, all the way to the top, and when it swooped low, he just … jumped.” It had been the most crazy-brave stunt that Alistair had ever seen in his life. Still was, in fact, no matter that it had been doomed to fail. “He was actually riding it for a few seconds. Riding the sodding Archdemon.” How had that felt, to be so close to the song that had made Alistair want to run screaming and fall to his knees in wonder at the same time? “He was stabbing it between the wings; we just stood there watching - I could see it.” He still could, if he closed his eyes, could still remember that wild and desperate hope that had churned in his chest that maybe he or Aedan wouldn’t have to be the ones to die - and the shame for having that hope.

He lowered his hand. “But it went crazy - I doubt it had ever had anything on its back before. It started twisting and thrashing. He couldn’t hold on; nobody could have." He turned his head, his gaze moving instinctively to the spot where the tiny figure had separated from the larger form and plummeted down until it was lost to sight behind the rooftops. “They never found his body.” Burnt beyond recognition in one of the buildings or lost in the river, most likely. “He crippled it enough that it had to land on Fort Drakon, though. Without that, it might have flown away; it might have been days, weeks before we got close enough to kill it.” Weeks in which the darkspawn ravaged Denerim and Ferelden unchecked and people died.

“He was a brave man,” Donal said softly.

“He was a hero,” Alistair replied, turning his gaze from the sky to meet Nicolette’s eyes. “He was a hero, and nobody remembers him.” It wasn’t right. It was all Aedan this and Aedan that, honors heaped on the Hero of Ferelden, who had taken a handy loophole to avoid the fate that Riordan had literally leaped to embrace. And Alistair couldn’t tell anyone; Aedan damn sure didn’t want to discuss it. “He deserves to be remembered. Honored.” And he couldn’t even get his so-called ‘advisers’ to listen to him on that. Some King. At least he could tell her this much, and maybe she would tell someone else, and they would tell someone else. That was how it worked, right?
 

Nicolette O'Hara

Prominent member
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Posts
130
#26
Alistair gave her licence to make something up. Nicolette smiled. Making things up was her forte, and by the time she had recited her pseudonym if she was asked for it, the guard asking would have forgotten the first name.

They were passing the Chantry when Alistair paused, gazing up at the sky. “Right here. This is where we were when we saw Riordan jump onto the Archdemon’s back.”

The name did not ring a bell for Nicolette, and she had heard quite a few different accounts of the battle of Denerim over the years. She had never put together how the Wardens had managed to keep the Archdemon on the rooftop long enough to kill it; she had assumed that it had been downed by a siege weapon of some description. Now she heard the full truth of it, and the bravery of the man who had brought it down.

“He was stabbing it between the wings; we just stood there watching – I could see it. But it went crazy - I doubt it had ever had anything on its back before. It started twisting and thrashing. He couldn’t hold on; nobody could have." Alistair’s head turned, his gaze following a memory that Nicolette could not follow. Although she could guess what he was seeing. “They never found his body.”

Riodan’s bravery had potentially saved hundreds of people from dying as the darkspawn horde laid waste to the city and surrounding areas. “He was a hero. He was a hero, and nobody remembers him. He deserves to be remembered. Honoured.”

Nicolette nodded, solemn now. Although she had yet to meet anybody else who matched Riodan’s feat, she had heard some variant on this a few times over the years. He did so well, and nobody remembers him. She was so brave, but nobody will know.

“There is a saying I heard, long ago. That nobody is truly gone, as long as their name is still spoken. Riodan.” She met Alistair’s gaze. Her views on what people were doing on earth and what happened after they died did not match any particular established credo, and it sometimes made people a little uncomfortable when they realised she was not Andrastian. But sometimes her thoughts could offer a little comfort. “I will add his name to my litany. He will be mentioned every time I tell the story, from this point on.”

She looked upwards again. “May he be in a place of peace.”

That was what anybody would hope for after a life of fighting, yes? Somewhere where the fighting was all done.
 
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