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The Last Line of Defense [Closed]

Teagan Guerrin

Arl of Redcliffe
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
(( During the Venatori attack on Redcliffe Castle, 9:41 - Kiley Daire ))

If Redcliffe fell, so too did Ferelden.

It was something he’d been taught from an early age; one of the few tenets he held sacred. It might have been a point of pride for previous generations, but for Teagan it was a looming threat, and a responsibility that sat heavy on his shoulders. A responsibility he would not neglect as he’d been wont to do in his younger years.

It didn’t matter that they were technically outmatched. It didn’t matter that the army of soldiers in Redcliffe’s employ could not compete against the Venatori and those who followed them. The people of Redcliffe had iron in their blood, much like the hills that surrounded the fortress. That same grit steeled Teagan’s resolve, and gave him the confidence to hold steady in the face of certain defeat.

After all, the Fereldens had faced certain defeat during the occupation and the rebellion that followed. In Teagan’s lifetime--though it was very, very long ago--he’d watched the Guerrins fight to reclaim what was theirs.

He would do the same here, or he supposed he would die in this grand chamber. The explosions that shook throughout the courtyard made the latter seem more likely, but still Teagan held firm, sword and shield in easy reach, magic-resistant armor ready to prove its worth.

The sounds of fire propelled at pivotal structures, ice shattering on the battlements, lightning arcing through the open courtyard marked a loss of architecture that had been standing for longer than Teagan had been alive, but none of it mattered. The loss of life was of far greater concern, and that was why he’d resisted the pleas of his men who urged him to flee with his family; to seek refuge in Rainesfere, and then shelter in Denerim until the castle could be restored.

He’d compromised. Somewhat. The children had been sent that morning, when his scouts first reported a surge of activity as the Venatori advanced on the castle. Brennan and Rowan would reach Rainesfere soon, and they would be safe there, along with Breanna. He’d attempted--somewhat half-heartedly, knowing the whole thing was fruitless--to convince Kiley to go with them.

That had been as unlikely a prospect as Alexius--the man he’d been informed was leading this uprising--simply standing down once he breached the barricaded doors of the great hall. And so she remained, in leathers similarly augmented, the daggers he’d given her so long ago sheathed at her hips.

“They’re going to break through the first barricade soon, my lord,” Knight-Captain O’Shea warned, three of his knights surrounding her just beyond the doors.

“Ready your men,” he said simply, then added, “and remember the plan. I don’t want further lives lost.”

“With all due respect, my lord, you should have fled the castle this morning if that was your wish.”

From anyone else, Teagan would have believed the comment was not, in fact, meant with any respect at all. But Rhia O’Shea was not a woman who said anything other than what she meant, and her allegiance to Teagan and Redcliffe ran deep.

“Yes, how silly of me not to flee my own lands; not to allow my home to be taken without any resistance. How silly of us both,” he said, offering his wife a small smile that belied the gravity of the situation.

There were things that could be said. Many things. He hoped the look he gave her said most of them, because if he committed those things to voice, his resolve would falter. There was no need for sentimentality, because this conflict would soon be over and Redcliffe would persevere as it always did.

“You should find a good vantage point. Soon,” he urged softly, taking her hands in his. “Alexius must think you left with the others.”

Kiley Daire

Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Redcliffe was her home now.

Hafter's Bend would always hold a special place, but after all the years she had spent here, in this castle, she could never see any other place as truly her home again. When Teagan had suggested she flee with the children, she refused. She had spent the years before their marriage ensuring his safety, and she still saw that as one of her primary tasks.

It had been hard to send off the children, however. Which was something she would not admit until they made it through this. She had never seen herself as a mother, and now that she was, she couldn't imagine her life without Brennan and Rowan.

She could see the worry lines in his face as he stood there listening to the sounds of battle outside. Soon enough that battle would find its way inside, and either the Maker would be by their side and give them a miracle, or they'd find themselves dying in their home. It was not a prospect she would let herself dwell on.

O'Shea was relaying battle information to her husband as she looked around the room. She knew every nook and cranny, which was why the decision was hardest. There were many good spots to hide until she was needed, though she ruled out the higher vantage points. She'd need to be on the ground to be quick enough to handle mages.

Teagan's voice drew her back to the present, “Yes, how silly of me not to flee my own lands; not to allow my home to be taken without any resistance. How silly of us both.

She returned his smile, and shook her head, "As if I would leave you here alone. My place is right here with you, no matter what happens."

And she meant that. It had taken time to warm up to being more than his lover and become his legal partner in all things, but she had been bound to Teagan long ago. He took her hands, and she ran her thumbs over his knuckles, “You should find a good vantage point. Soon. Alexius must think you left with the others.

"I will be close by. No one will touch you." She leaned up just enough to press her lips to his, lingering longer than she likely should have. "We will get through this together."

She stepped back, keeping her eyes on him, before moving to her hiding spot. She transformed from Arlessa Kiley into Sparrow then, melding into the shadows and turned her eyes to the door.

Teagan Guerrin

Arl of Redcliffe
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
There were certainly times in Teagan’s life where he’d been faced with his own mortality. From something as simple as falling off a perilously high roof in the Free Marches to the unimaginable stakes of the battle that eventually ended the last Blight. He’d often read that a man’s final moments were spent agonizing over the things he hadn’t done, the risks he hadn’t taken, and so it had been true for him.

This instance was different. He held a healthy respect for the certainty of his own demise--some day. But while he was perhaps not as young and spry as he had been, Teagan was not ready to find out whether his lack of faith would cost him a place by the Maker’s side.

Yes, the situation laid out before him was dire, but it felt so… absurd. Redcliffe would not fall to a scattering of mages whose leader believed himself infallible. The idea that he might die here seemed so laughably bleak that Teagan could not even force those thoughts into his mind.

Yet the idea that his wife might die here… that had a weight behind it he could not ignore. He could hear it in the conviction behind her words. No matter what happens. It would be the swiftest way to get him to stand down. In the abstract sense, Teagan had always responded to such threats with an air of ferocity--for better or worse. But there would be nothing abstract about this situation. If she died today, he would see it happen, and his own reflections would scarcely matter.

The solution was simple, then. He would not let that happen. Kiley would slit the man’s throat before he even had the opportunity to contemplate an incantation. Rhia would make order of the chaos as she so often did and cut down any who acted on behalf of their fallen leader. And Teagan would run his sword through the heart of anyone who stopped them from achieving those ends.

Still, there was a place here--small as it was--for sentimental notions. Kiley must have understood that, as well, because her thumbs traced over his knuckles as he took her hands. "I will be close by. No one will touch you. We will get through this together."

To say his relationship with Kiley Daire had been unconventional was a vast understatement. He had always known there was more to her than what she presented to the world, and certainly what she presented amongst her peers. But the desire for meaningful affection like this--a kiss that said more than the words they’d exchanged--had been an accidental discovery, and one he was grateful for.

He watched her go, not releasing her hands until the distance was too great. Mentally, physically, he’d built a fortress. Evidently there was some part of him that still saw this as the possible end, and as absurd as it was, he started to think of the many things he should have put in the letter he’d written to Breanna--just in case.

“That would be the second barricade, my lord,” Rhia reported at the sound of an explosion and splintering wood.

“Too late to invite them over for tea then, I suppose.”

“I believe the appropriate time for that would have been before their illustrious leader began firing upon the battlements, yes,” his Knight Captain said dryly.

The corner of Teagan’s mouth twitched, but even he was not given over to humor entirely. This man had come into his home intending to take it, and nothing but swift justice would make that palatable.

Unfastening his shield from his back and drawing his sword from its sheath, Teagan tested the weight of both. He’d never wanted to be one of those lords who was formally trained to fight but otherwise soft and unpracticed, and so he hadn’t been. Even now, he spent time in the practice yard every morning, so the feeling of a blade in his hand and a heavy shield upon his arm was as natural as the chainmail and armor that rested upon his form.

He waited then, at one point motioning for O’Shea and her men to stand aside. When the doors were blown back so far that they strained against the hinges and slammed divets into the stone walls, he waited at the far end of the Great Hall, his sword pointed down.

Alexius at least had the decency to lead the mages who’d taken up arms under his guidance, but the fact that several Venatori filed in after him did not sit well with Teagan.

“You’ll have to forgive my ignorance of Tevinter customs,” he began tersely, “but here in Ferelden, we prefer to receive guests without a full entourage.”

“It seems you’re prepared to receive us at the tip of a blade, Arl Teagan,” Alexius observed, “though I suppose that would carry on your family’s legacy well enough.”

Teagan’s fingers curled around the hilt of his blade, but he did not waver. “My men have been instructed to stand down. Do the same with yours, and perhaps you’ll make it out of this alive.”

The magister’s lips didn’t quite form a smile. “Do you wish to have a chat before I seize this fortress? Very well.” He raised his hand, and the mages following him took up post near the door. “I would advise you to save your breath, however. I have seen how this ends, and the presence of our respective entourages matters little.”

“You’ll have to indulge me, then.” Teagan reflected the same cold, tight smile. “What do you want with this place, Alexius? Why go to all this trouble?”

“You Fereldans often crow about the tactical integrity of Redcliffe Castle.” He came closer, keeping a measured pace, his gaze languidly passing about the room. “So far I’ve been less than impressed, but it will do.”

“For what purpose?” Teagan pressed. “Is this truly about Tevinter?”

A shadow passed over Alexius’ face, and for the briefest moment he glimpsed a man who was not as infallible as he presented. He stopped close enough that Teagan could have thrust his sword through the man’s gut if he was so inclined.

“You are a father,” the magister stated as a point of fact, “tell me, Arl Teagan, what lengths would you go to for your children?”

“The fact that I am here should answer that,” he said, his jaw held in a rigid line.

“And so it is for me, as well.”

The words were offered without any preamble, nor an explanation to follow. As much as he had expected bluster, Teagan was caught somewhat off guard by the frankness of that, and the hint of raw emotion that seeped through.

“If you’re hoping to win my sympathy, you should have tried that approach before your men razed my courtyard.”

“I don’t need to win anything from you, my lord. The battle is done.” Again he raised his hand, and every muscle in Teagan’s body tensed before he realized the man was just stilling an overeager mage who’d begun to move forward. “I am disappointed, though. As you have no sympathy for me, perhaps I should have shown none for you… or your family.”

Teagan’s breath caught, his face paling and then immediately taking on the dark flush of rage. “Spare me your baseless threats, Alexius.”

“If I wanted to kill them, I would have done it already. My men could have intercepted them on the road. They could have burned Rainesfere to the ground by now.” Teagan’s hand tightened even further on the hilt, pain flaring through his fingers. “Don’t you see? This is over. It was over the second I decided it to be. Stand down, Arl Teagan, and keep your dignity.”

Teagan did not glance to his wife’s hiding place. He did not enact some secret signal known only between them. She knew when was the most advantageous time to act, far better than he did. He merely waited, every muscle in his body taut with anticipation.

“There’s your mistake, Alexius. You’ve threatened my family. My home. There is no place for dignity between us.”
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Kiley Daire

Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Kiley was focused mainly on the doors leading into the chamber. Blades were already drawn and resting in her hands to keep the sound of them being drawn as an indicator of her presence. Mages were a difficult adversary if you didn't get the jump on them. She remembered that from her time in the Free Marches oh so long ago.

Still, her ears stayed perk to the conversation between Teagan and Rhia, a faint smirk on her unseen lips. Despite the humor, tension was thick in the air. There was a very real chance they would not make it through this, but she couldn't focus on that. Instead, she let her mind conjure those people most precious to her. Brennan, Rowan, Teagan, Kiora, and even Breanna. She would see her family again.

The doors were blown open moments later, and she wondered if they would ever sit right in their stone frame ever again. A strange thing to be considering as their enemies poured into the hall, but the small detail was better than focusing on the actual danger of the situation.

It was of course Teagan who began the conversation with the invader, and Kiley focused on breathing easily as they exchanged words. The magister's calmness bothered her, as did his statement that he had seen how this ends. Did mages suddenly have the ability to see into the future? Perhaps once this was don she should study more on the abilities of magic users. For now she waited as they spoke, looking at the others that stood at Alexius' back. She should be able to slip between them unseen as long as she moved slowly.

She was weighing if she should move in when something in the discussion caught her attention, “You are a father, tell me, Arl Teagan, what lengths would you go to for your children?

The fact that I am here should answer that,” Came Teagan's response.

And so it is for me, as well.

She felt a chill run through her body. Had they went after the children? Her heartbeat pounded in her ears then, and it took her a moment to calm enough that it wasn't a distraction. Even when the conversation continued and Alexius claimed that he could have already killed them if he wanted to. That set a fire in her gut, and she began to move into position, slowly making her way behind the magister, shadows clinging to her.

There’s your mistake, Alexius. You’ve threatened my family. My home. There is no place for dignity between us.” Teagan was absolutely resolute, so she had to be as well.

She rose to her full height, ready to bring the blade up to his throat, but it never got past his shoulder. Her whole body thrummed with pain as her muscles seized and she screamed in pain. The only movement she had seen before it happened was Alexius lifting two fingers. Her first scream died down, only to be followed by another as she felt as if her body was being crushed from all sides. Her daggers clattered to the floor, her arms folding in as if trying to defend her chest from the pressure.

"Are you sure about that?" He asked Teagan, "For if there is no dignity, I should just crush her to a pulp. You have one final chance to leave this place alive with your wife intact. I pray you make the right decision."

Teagan Guerrin

Arl of Redcliffe
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
(( Content warning: Somewhat graphic violence and depiction of mind control. ))

His expression betrayed nothing more than stony resolve as he caught a flash of movement in the distance. Alexius’ arrogance would be his undoing in the end. Teagan was charged only with keeping himself calm, and keeping the former magister’s attention directed his way.

But a number of things happened in quick succession that violently threw him off of that center line. Things he should have expected. Things that could turn the tide of battle as swiftly as Teagan had hoped to do only moments before. Instead of seeing Alexius’ throat painted with his own blood, Teagan saw the man lift two fingers--slowly, almost lazily--before ripping his heart from his chest without even touching him.

Kiley had barely been granted the chance to raise her dagger for the strike, and it certainly wasn’t through any hesitation on her part. Magic crackled in the air, the hairs on the back of Teagan’s neck standing on end. There was a bright flash, the hazy outline of an arcane cage, but what reached Teagan were his wife’s screams of pure agony.

"Are you sure about that? For if there is no dignity, I should just crush her to a pulp. You have one final chance to leave this place alive with your wife intact. I pray you make the right decision."

Alexius would have done less damage had he thrust a conjured blade into Teagan’s chest. Rage filled him, sudden and fierce and demanding he repay this crime tenfold. An image of the magister’s severed head being cleaved from his shoulders filled the arl’s mind, but the gruesome picture was hardly a satisfying one, because he knew it came with a cost.

If Alexius could harm Kiley so quickly, so thoroughly, then one or both of them would surely be killed before Teagan could even raise his sword. Already his wife was being crushed to death. He could hear the sickening crack of bone, the telltale wheeze as she tried desperately to breathe.

“You appeal to me as a father, then immediately follow that appeal by harming my wife.” Teagan’s voice was like ice, but his gaze--fixed beyond Alexius--betrayed his fear.

“How very revisionist of you,” Alexius said, sounding bored. His fingers curled slightly, and the arcane prison tightened, stealing the breath from Teagan’s lungs. “Your wife intended to kill me. With your full knowledge and support, I’m sure. You should be pleased I’m offering you any mercy at all.”

“Release her, and we’ll discuss this privately. No weapons. No magic. No guards.”

The magister just laughed. “You have very little room to bargain with me as it stands, Arl Teagan, so no. There’s no need to discuss it privately. There’s no need to discuss it at all, as you’ve clearly made your choice.”

“No!” Teagan shouted as Alexius’ fingers lifted once more, the effortless magic doing exactly what it was designed to do.

Instinct. Anger. Fear. He didn’t know what was guiding him in that moment, but it was the opposite of rational thought. His fingers closed around the hilt of his blade and he thrust it forward in a way that would have gutted Alexius easily had it connected.

Instead, the tip of the sword stopped scant inches from Alexius’ robes, Teagan’s muscles seizing, refusing to follow the signals his mind sent his body. Slowly, tortuously, he felt the unforgettable sensation of some force crawling inside of him, tracing its way through his body until it burrowed into his brain. It unfurled there, reaching out like the many, spindly legs of some Maker-forsaken insect, taking hold of his senses.

“I’m sorry it had to come to this, but you should be thankful I am even letting you live.”

Teagan would have laughed, if he’d had any control over himself. This was not living. It was a fate altogether more unnerving, more scarring than the worst wound. It would have been one thing if his conscious mind left him to suffer, but no. It remained. He could see. Hear. Feel. Process thoughts about the things that were happening to him--things he had no say over, like the slow sheathing of his sword.

He was a passenger in his own mind, too weak to fight against Alexius’ control. Too weak even to resist when he found his body lowering on bended knee, his head bowed before the magister.

“Forgive me, I do not know my place.” The words came from his mouth, but Teagan claimed no ownership over them. “The castle is yours. I can only beg you to release my wife and allow us to leave with our lives.”

“A bold request, my lord.” There was a sneer in Alexius’ voice, the magister obviously enjoying this one-sided conversation. “But one I shall grant.”

With a snap of the man’s fingers, the arcane prison dissipated, dropping Kiley to the floor. Her daggers were still in reach, but Teagan could only hope she wouldn’t attempt to use them. Seeing her die would have been agony enough. Seeing it when his mind was controlled by the murderer was quite possibly the worst fate he could have imagined.

Kiley Daire

Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
It was agony. The invisible vice had stopped pressing inward, but the damage it had caused was coursing through her. She knew her captor and Teagan were speaking but all she could hear was what felt like an eternity was her heartbeat in her ears.

She hated being helpless, and the fear that she would not make it out of this tried to take root in her, to deflate any resistance. It almost felt like that thought made the cage around her press in harder, and she let out another wail, but this one lacked the strength of the previous ones.

But Kiley had always been a fighter, even when she didn’t think she had much to live for. And right now she had a lot to live for. One of those reasons was facing off against the man holding her in this prison right now, and when she forced herself to open her eyes. That’s when a fresh wave of pain washed over her, the cage closing in tighter than before, another scream.

She forced herself to keep her eyes open, tears spilling down the corners as she saw Teagan rush forward, his blade in hand aiming for the mage’s center.The raw emotion on his face, the fury and the despair, caught her. Don’t, came the thought.

That flashing moment of thought that she might lose him, that he was doing something reckless that would leave both their children without their parents came to the forefront. Live, Teagan.

And as his sword didn’t connect with the mage, she watched as her husband stopped, and kneeled before him. She saw his mouth move, a blankness in his expression. Her heartbeat thudded louder and louder, until she felt the pressure around her dissipate. Kiley dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes, pain lancing through her as her knees struck the hard stone floor.

Teagan,” she rasped out, hand moving shakily to one of her daggers.

She looked up at the mage, a rage burning in her eyes, as she moved to pick up the second dagger. She was sure there were bones in her body that was broken, but maybe she would be able to open a vein in his thigh before he killed them both.

Alexius let out a sigh, “DId you not hear your husband, my lady? He has relinquished control of the castle to me and mine. If you both want to live, you should leave… now.

Her brows furrowed. The castle was their home, the people their charge. Teagan would never leave of his own volition, and she gritted her teeth when she understood what that meant. She could do something stupid here and they’d never have the chance to reclaim their home, or see their children again. Or they could live.

Alistair would help them. The might of Ferelden’s forces would come here and crush these invaders. That knowledge made her more resolute and she crawled over to Teagan, leaning against him for support as she put her daggers away.

Come, my lord.” her voice cracked as pain jolted in her chest. She was sure at least one rib was broken, “We have a long journey ahead of us.

Teagan Guerrin

Arl of Redcliffe
Canon Character
Post DAI Timeline
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Her every movement seemed to be pure agony, her peerless strength of will forcing her body to comply when it so clearly did not wish to do so. It had long been one of the things he'd admired most about Kiley, and something she'd not truly recognized for some time. People believed her brash and impulsive; young and too untested to be suited to her role. But the willfulness they saw as a flaw of arrogance and inexperience was what made her a good arlessa, a good mother, a good partner in every sense of the word.

Were she truly as impetuous as others believed, she would have made one last ditch effort to end Alexius in this brief moment where he believed himself the victor. But as Teagan's gaze lifted to hers, his own will exerting itself in a fleeting glimmer, he saw her reconsider; saw her think through the things he should have considered. He'd attacked Alexius in a blind fury, unable to think past the moment. Now, a prisoner within the confines of his own mind, he knew what he'd condemned them to with that single action. The magister could have killed him, then he likely would have killed Kiley, leaving the family he fought so hard to protect with nothing.

As Alexius spoke, his tone still sounding callously bored of the situation and his present company, Teagan's gaze remained locked on hers. In her eyes he saw the realization, even before the magister spoke. A second and third thought given to the consequences of her actions. She could be brash and impulsive, yes, but right now her will was far stronger than his, her judgment far more sound.

She left behind notions of a fierce, surely disastrous exit, instead making her way over to him. He thought he saw her try to push off of the ground, but she couldn't manage even that. His heart broke, his pride taking yet another wound when it was already so savaged. The sight the two of them must make. Lord and lady of the castle, both so stricken they were unable to even rise from the floor.

“Come, my lord.” her voice wavered, a sharp exhale telling of pain, “We have a long journey ahead of us.”

As she put her weapons away--the sleek, curved daggers he'd had commissioned for her what felt like an age ago--Teagan felt the grasping strands loosen their hold on his mind. They were still there, intruding in his thoughts, imposing their will. But his actions began to become his own again. Preserving what little they had was his utmost priority now. They could escape this with their lives, if not their dignity, and he would make sure Kiley escaped, as well as O'Shea and her men, all of whom watched helplessly from the sides of the chamber.

Teagan stood, gritting his teeth against the remnants of Alexius' control. It felt as though the magister was still exerting some of his will, forcing him to fight for every movement, his body feeling like it belonged to a man who was forty years Teagan's senior.

"Can you walk?" he asked gently, moving an arm to support her.

His sword and shield were abandoned on the ground, and as far as Teagan was concerned, that was where they would remain. They were of no use to him in a fight that took place within his mind, and right now, they were not his priority.

He glanced to Alexius. The magister was watching them, but only barely. From the smug tilt to his lips, it was clear he believed he had won this encounter. And... he had. As that realization sunk in, Teagan felt a staggering shame wash over him. His free hand balled into a fist at his side and for a brief, reckless moment he considered doing something he knew would get him killed. But the tension eased and he focused on Kiley.

A wise choice, my lord. The words invaded his mind, tearing open every corner he'd tried to close off. Thankfully they were the only things that surfaced there.

"O'Shea. Lay down your weapon. Tell your men to do the same, and then accompany us to the servants' quarters."

His Knight-Captain was hardly the type to shy away from criticizing even his firmest orders. She almost always had some manner of input, and that was why Teagan trusted her counsel. This time, she said nothing. Her gaze moved from him to Alexius, then she lowered her sword and signaled for her men to do the same.

"My mages are posted throughout this castle, Arl Teagan. I do hope you take the direct route." It took Teagan a moment to realize these words were said aloud and not just in his head. Especially since Alexius wasn't looking at them, but combing over the room as if planning how he wished to use it.

Enjoy it while you can, he thought, not caring if Alexius' blood magic gave him the power to hear.

No answer came, and he started moving with Kiley toward a large door at the side of the chamber. Every pained step she took was one he felt, no matter how well she tried to hide it. He was as gentle as he could be, but he knew short of carrying her, there was nothing he would be able to do to alleviate it until they were safely outside of the castle.

"We'll take the passage that leads to the village," he whispered to her, his forehead tilting briefly to touch her temple in the only show of grief he would allow himself in this moment. "They won't be able to follow."