The Joining consists of drinking darkspawn blood, which gives the Wardens their power to sense darkspawn, and protects them from the taint. There is very little ceremony. Dafydd is the first inducted; he drinks the blood and is wracked by the evil power. Unfortunately, it turns out he is not strong enough to withstand it, and he dies. dang, cuz i liked him. :/
“You poisoned him!” Jory’s eyes went wide.
“It is unfortunate he was not strong enough,” said Duncan regretfully. “Ser Jory, take the chalice. Join us.”
“You people are insane!” The warrior backed away. “I can’t do this — I have a wife! I have a child; they need me!” Suddenly, he drew his greatsword and swung it at Duncan’s head. “Let me go!”
The Grey Warden’s own blade flashed into his hand. He ducked, deflecting the blow. The two prepared to clash again when a commanding voice rang out.
“Hold your blade!”
They disengaged, backed up just enough to have breathing space to glance at the elf who held his bow drawn on them. Then they locked gazes again, waiting for the chance to strike.
“Alistair…,” said Duncan, trusting his ward to protect him and deal with this threat.
Alistair looked between the combatants and the archer. “He’s… not pointing it at you.”
At this, Jory turned to the elf, though he kept his sword pointed at Duncan. “What are you doing!?”
“Take the chalice,” Valorien ordered him.
“I can’t! I don’t want to die… I won’t!”
“If you drink from the chalice, there is a chance you will survive,” Valorien continued, his voice steady as was his aim. “You may think you have more of a chance fighting off Duncan and Alistair. But at this range, I cannot miss. You *will* die.”
Beads of sweat broke out on Jory’s brow. His sword point wavered.
Valorien’s bow did not, even despite being held at full draw. “You cannot even see the arrow, for it loses its length when it is coming straight at you.” Jory’s eyes went even wider. “Put down your blade. Take up the chalice.”
The greatsword wavered again, then dipped, its point touching the ground. Duncan slowly relaxed his fighting stance. Carefully, Jory set the sword on the ground and stood. Valorien lowered his bow. Duncan sheathed his sword and brought the chalice to Jory.
“Ser Jory,” he intoned again. “Drink from the chalice. Join us.”
Jory took it, looked down a moment at the red blood, then squeezed his eyes shut. He raised the chalice and gulped down the contents. Immediately, he began choking and coughing. The chalice was dashed to the ground, leaving a spatter of residual blood. The other three men backed away as Jory fell into a convulsive fit. They were helpless to do anything to aid him. They could only watch, tensed for the worst.
At last, the warrior let out a strangled scream and pitched forward on his face. His body went limp, motionless but for the ragged wheezing.
“He survived,” Alistair breathed in relief.
Duncan nodded at the elf. “Valorien.”
Alistair said, “First, give me your weapons.”
Valorien gave him a hard look. “I have nothing to fear.”
“It’s not what you’ll do before you drink that I’m worried about.” Alistair held out his hand for the bow.
The elf narrowed his eyes, then turned his gaze like a knife upon Duncan.
Alistair bit the inside of his lip; he really wasn’t helping in this trust issue between the two. But he had his duty to protect the Grey Wardens.
Duncan said nothing. Valorien only said, “Very well.” He gave Alistair the bow and his knife belt, then went to the Chief Warden.
“Valorien,” Duncan intoned, his voice slightly roughened. “Take the chalice. Join us.”
Valorien drank. Fire blazed within him, even as blackness came on broad wings to take him.
Valorien stirred and opened his eyes. Two armed humans crouched over him. With a cry, he struck out, shoving Duncan in the chest. Duncan jumped back as the elf rolled clear and came up in a fighting crouch, his hand reaching for his longknife.
“Whoa!” said Alistair, also stepping back. “Take it easy; it’s just us.”
“Damned shemlen,” Valorien snarled, straightening. “Don’t *do* that.”
“Uh, we’re sorry we startled you,” Alistair said carefully.
The elf glared at him a moment, then fixed his gaze on Duncan. His eyes narrowed with murderous intent. The Chief Warden looked back at him, saying nothing. The muscle in the corner of his jaw tightened.
“Return to me my weapons,” Valorien said tightly, not looking at Alistair.
“I will, soon as you calm down.”
Duncan said, “How do you feel?”
The elf seemed to regard this question a moment. “I feel the same,” he replied. “Perhaps stronger.”
“You have survived the Joining, and therefore you have mastered the Taint within you. It should trouble you no further.” The elf nodded slightly to him. “Valorien, you are one of us, now. A Grey Warden.” Duncan turned. “Give him his weapons, Alistair, while I check on Ser Jory.”
“All right.” Alistair held them out, and Valorien moved to him. His eyes remained on Duncan however, until he tried to take the bow and Alistair did not relinquish it. When the elf glared at him, he stepped closer and said in a low voice, “Whatever your problem is with Duncan, I suggest you drop it. That man just saved your life.”
Valorien’s eyes narrowed. He tugged at his weapons, and Alistair let go. “I will take that under advisement,” he said coldly.