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Once A Grey Warden, Always A Grey Warden [Closed]

Alistair Theirin

King of Ferelden
Canon Character
Grey Warden
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
((Early Guardian, 9:36 Dragon; mid-day; Sofia di Castelbuono ))

Word had reached the palace the previous evening: the Grey Warden expedition to Orzammar had returned. Despite his hunger for news, Alistair had managed to hold off saddling up Maximillian and riding out until after breakfast and the morning sparring session. He knew what Nathaniel would want: for him to remain at the palace and await his official debriefing. Ferelden’s Warden-Commander would have preferred that the rest of the kingdom forget that its King had been a Grey Warden and would always be one.

Alistair understood. The King of the Anderfels was known to be a Grey Warden puppet, and Nate wanted neither that perception nor the idea that the Wardens were Alistair’s personal army. Alistair himself wanted neither, but he’d admittedly made some missteps early on, walking the fine line of giving advice as the Grey Warden in Ferelden with the most experience in fighting darkspawn (after Aedan had disappeared) and giving orders to a group that he technically had no authority over.

He didn’t want to control the Wardens. Ruling a kingdom was more power than he’d ever thought to have, and all that he cared to try, and most days that felt like juggling sharp knives while trying to dislodge a ferret from his trousers. But being a Grey Warden remained important to him. They were the first place that he had felt that he truly belonged, where he had earned his place through his own deeds, not by an accident of parentage.

When the Denerim compound had been reopened with Cauthrien as its commander, it had been a lure that he couldn’t ignore, and he’d taken a bit of advantage of knowing that the Warden-Constable still felt guilty for leaving he and Aedan to die at Ostagar and throwing them into Fort Drakon, both on Loghain’s orders. He hadn’t actually brought it up; he just asked - politely, mind you - if he could visit the compound from time to time and show his appreciation to the Grey Wardens who were putting their lives on the line to protect Ferelden, knowing full well that she wouldn’t refuse him.

For his part, he didn’t abuse the privilege, left the pomp and circumstance behind at the palace (along with the crown), and generally arrived with ales and wines liberated from the palace stores (and a bottle of the Warden-Constable’s favorite hard cider). It had been awkward at first, but now, most of the Wardens in Denerim accepted him as just one of their own on such visits, and he could spend a blissful hour or two talking shop, trading stories and jokes, and just being a Grey Warden among Grey Wardens. He liked it even more than his excursions as “James”, because he didn’t have to lie, and there was close to zero chance of a brawl breaking out (unless Oghren was visiting).

He had his usual honor guard leaving the palace, but once they had offloaded the libations, Donal, Vasquez, Hicks, and Hudson departed to relax at the Flagon. The Grey Warden compound was only slightly less secure than the palace, and without non-Warden ears about, Alistair didn’t have to worry about what topics were being discussed. He’d gotten some pushback the first time he’d suggested it, but after he had sworn not to leave the compound without them, Donal had acceded. They were all curious, and none of them showed near enough consternation at the possibility of conscription to suit him.

“Good afternoon … Ser.” Roland spotted him and quickly adjusted form of address to the lack of the crown. When he was there on official business, he wore the trappings of kingship and was dutifully “Your Majesty-ed” to death, but right now, he was quite content to just be a senior Warden.

“Good afternoon, Roland,” he greeted the younger man. “Help me get these to the mess hall?” He nodded to the stack of crates that held the wine and cider, and the cask of ale.

“Yes, Ser!” Roland agreed brightly. Stooping, he hefted the cask and tucked it under one arm, then lifted two of the crates to the opposite shoulder, striding toward the mess hall as easily as if he was carrying a couple of pillows and leaving the last two crates for Alistair … who would have set himself on fire before waiting for more help.

They weren’t that heavy, he told himself as he staggered into the mess hall and hefted his load onto the nearest table. They were just … bulky. That was it. Leaving the booze for the others have first go at, he followed his nose to the kitchen. Timing his visit at lunch hadn’t been an accident, and Tobias and Cressa obligingly loaded him a tray with meat pies, sliced cheese, fried potatoes and onions, a bowl of beef stew, warm bread spread with honey and soft goat cheese, and apple turnovers with cheddar melted on top (they knew him well). Plainer than palace fare, maybe, but no less satisfying.

Roland had set up mugs and cups next to the drinks, and more Wardens were filtering into the mess hall, drawn by the smells and the promise of free booze. Alistair filled a mug with dark ale from the cask and found a seat, nodding and calling greetings to familiar faces. One notable face was missing, however.

“Where is the Warden-Constable?” he asked Muriel. The mood in the compound didn’t indicate that she had come to any harm on the Deep Roads expedition; hopefully, she wasn’t on her way to the palace to see him.

“She is at Arlessa Alfstanna’s estate, debriefing her on the mission,” the mage replied. “I think she was planning on going to the palace afterward.” There was a trace of apology in Muriel’s tone that didn’t need to be there; it was the darkspawn breaking through into the Arlessa of Denerim’s cellars that had set plans for the mission into motion, after all. It made sense for Cauthrien to report to her first, and Alistair wasn’t going to get pissy with the woman who had been willing to ignore the “Curse of Denerim” that had seen six Arls of Denerim come and go - most carried out feet-first - in as many years. Thus far, Alfstanna had shown no signs of susceptibility, but it had only been half a year. “I could send a messenger to let her know that you have arrived.”

“Please do.” Alistair had been about to request the same. “And thank you.” Cauthrien was as even-tempered a soul as he’d met, but if she was riding that malignant beast that she called a horse, the less time spent in the saddle, the better.

Muriel left, and Alistair dug into his meal with relish. The other Wardens knew not to make a fuss over him, so he was free to enjoy the food and the flow of conversation. Just one Grey Warden among his brethren. It felt good, even if only for a short time.

Sofia di Castelbuono

Prominent member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Sofia had spent the morning embroiled in her favourite activity - teaching. While there were few mages amongst the Warden ranks, those who were there were proficient enough in healing themselves that it wasn’t necessary, but there were so many both in the Wardens themselves and the guards in the compound who only understood the absolute basics of first aid. Not knowing magic was no excuse not to know how to clean a wound, what could be used to sterilise it at the last moment, and how to bandage it. Let alone splinting broken bones and how to prevent a seizing victim from damaging their head or biting their own tongue. There was so much of medicine left to discover, but magic could fix the crude damage; basic knowledge of sanitation and care could help with the rest.

So she had been putting the guards through a number of scenarios covering bleeding, vomiting, sudden signs of plague, and as an added bonus watching for potential signs of demon possession. It didn’t make for a cheery morning but having one of the more thespian-inclined guards pretend to be possessed by a desire demon had been quite entertaining all round, and Sofia hoped that her charges had left with a reasonable basis in caring for the wounded and spotting more magical trouble. With the session over, she joined her students in heading back towards the mess. It had been an active morning and even without her Warden appetite she would have been ready for her repast.

Of course she had not missed the whispers that another Grey Warden had arrived. Cauthrien had been kind enough to brief her that periodically the King of Ferelden himself stopped by, usually pretending not to be royal, and everybody respected that. As somebody bought up within an aristocratic family, Sofia was familiar with the etiquette expected towards a member of the royal family from whichever country you cared to name, but apparently the King didn’t care for that while he was amongst his fellow Grey Wardens.

So when Sofia spotted the handsome man she didn’t recognise sitting amongst the others, downing meat pies with relish, she squashed down her former training and sat opposite him, beaming in welcome. “Buongiorno! You are James, yes? I’m Sofia; I joined the Fereldan Wardens a few months back.” And had thus far survived a trip into Orzammar and the Deep Roads, and nullified the initial suspicions against her just because she had a preference for make up and dress robes over armour.