Happily Ever After

Rating: Teen
Flavor: Action/Adventure/Drama
Language: some
Violence: yes
Nudity: no
Sex: no
Other: none
Author’s Notes:

All right, instead of taking five years to finish this blasted Blight-fic, and then another five years for the other four or five books, I’ve decided to just skip right ahead to the end of Origins, so we can get to the good parts.

No, seriously. What, you don’t believe me? Where’s your suspension of disbelief?

Happily Ever After



Wakefulness slowly flowed over Bannon, like the light of dawn infusing the eastern sky. He came to that blissful state where he was awake just enough to enjoy being asleep. His bed was soft and warm and clean, with ample blankets. His pillow was as fluffy as a cloud; he snuggled down into it with a smile.

Maker, he could stay like this all day.

Except something niggled at the back of his mind, like a pesky little mouse chewing on the baseboards. He was sure he was supposed to be… doing something. When that feeling wouldn’t go away or submit to being ignored, he sat up with a long, drawn-out groan and set his feet on the floor. He stretched his arms, his back, his neck, his jaw with a joint-cracking yawn; and scratched his head, tousling his hair.

He glanced around his room. It felt familiar, but it didn’t look at all like what he was used to. Dressed stone walls were covered with tapestries, a grand painting, war and hunting trophies. The floor was warm, polished wood, softened with thick rugs. He wiggled his bare toes in the nap. Oh, this was luxury. It was always in the small things. The tall crimson drapes were drawn just enough to let a few golden rays of light cast themselves across his bed.

Bannon stood up, scratching himself pleasantly on his ribs and chest, his back where he could reach it. He ambled over to the weapon rack and armor stand by the door. A Grey Warden uniform hung on the stand. He reached out and touched the embossed white griffon on blue roundel. The uniform was made of charcoal and dust grey leather, gleaming with polished steel studs. His uniform. He was a Grey Warden. He was Somebody.

Once he’d gotten cleaned up and dressed, finished with his morning ablutions, and his hair was neatly combed, there came a knock on the door. A moment later, Alistair poked his head in. “Are you awake? Oh, good.” The young Warden pushed the door further open. “You ready for some breakfast, then?”

Bannon looked at Alistair. He was very glad to see his friend, though he still felt a bit off. Alistair’s uniform was comprised of chainmail and light, almost decorative, plate. Those long, fluted pauldrons… definitely decorative. They looked rather silly, Bannon thought.

He followed Alistair down the hall. “Where are we?” he asked.

“Uh, we’re in the hall,” Alistair replied, his brow creased in bafflement.

“I can see that,” Bannon said impatiently. “I mean… where are we? What is this place?” He looked around at the impossibly-tall hallway. “How’d we get here? Weren’t we… I don’t know. Doing something?”

“Oh!” Alistair stopped and faced him with concern. “It’s happened again, hasn’t it?”

“What has?” Bannon didn’t like that look on his friend’s face.

“You were injured. In the battle. Um, head injury– don’t worry!” Alistair put his hands out as if fearing Bannon would flee or panic or something. “I-I-It’s perfectly fine. You’re fine. I mean, you’ll be fine! As soon as you recover. Which you will!”

“Alistair!” Bannon cut him off. “What are you talking about? What injury? What battle?”

“You don’t remember that, either? The battle with the Archdemon?”

Bannon’s jaw dropped.

“Oh,” said Alistair. “This is a bad one. Let me take you to the First Warden. He can explain better than I.”



The hall led out onto a cavernous room, with a rectangular raised platform. The far end overlooked a darkened library. Wide stairs led down on the left to a grand entry hall. There were some other doorways or something to the right, beyond a desk and chairs that served as the First Warden’s office.

Duncan was standing there, looking much as Bannon had first seen him, but his chestplate and skirting were much cleaner, and the Grey Warden emblem proudly displayed. The First Warden was Duncan? Well, that made sense. He’d been the leader of the triumphant Grey Wardens. Or so Bannon gathered. Something still gnawed at his mind, though. Something he’d forgotten.

“Good morning,” Duncan greeted them. “How are you feeling today?”

“He’s gone and lost his memory again,” Alistair said with cheerful helpfulness.

“Oh, dear.” Duncan’s face creased in concern. He smoothed it after a moment, though. “There’s no cause for alarm,” he told Bannon firmly. “This has happened before. Your memory will return in time, if you just relax and don’t try to force it.”

“All right,” Bannon said. He supposed it was natural to feel uneasy and confused when you’d lost your memory. “So… where are we?”

Duncan said, “This is Weisshaupt, the ancient stronghold of the Grey Wardens.”

“Where… where’s Weisshaupt?”

“In the Anderfels,” Alistair said.

“How’d we get here?” Bannon couldn’t believe he wasn’t even in Ferelden any more. Another country? It was worlds away!

“By ship,” Alistair supplied. Helpful as always. All right, perhaps it was a dumb question.

“What about my family?”

“Easy, now.” Duncan motioned for him to stay calm. “We can answer a few questions, but remember to take it slowly.”

“I need to know if my family is all right,” Bannon insisted.

“Yes, they’re fine,” Alistair said.

“My cousin, Soris? They didn’t execute him?”

“No no no. King Cailen pardoned him. They wouldn’t execute the cousin of the Hero of Ferelden now, would they?”

“The– who? What?”

“He doesn’t even remember the best bit?” said a new voice behind them. Bannon turned to see more Grey Wardens. There was Daveth and Ser Jory. Daveth winked at him.

Jory said, “You killed the Archdemon. You’re a true hero to all the land. To everyone!” His eyes gleamed in admiration.

“Me?” Bannon couldn’t believe it. He didn’t feel as if he’d done anything like that. He felt… ordinary. “But I-I….”

“Don’t remember, yeah,” Alistair said sympathetically. “Maybe you should read the chronicle. That will help.”

“Wait a minute, wait….” Bannon rubbed his forehead. “King Cailen? He’s alive?”

“Yes,” said Duncan.

Bannon shook his head. “What about Loghain?”

“Yes, he’s fine, too.”

“No, hold it!” Bannon looked at Alistair. Alistair looked back expectantly. The elf looked at Duncan, Daveth, Ser Jory. They glanced at each other. “Alistair, Loghain deserted us at Ostagar– you have to remember that! Cailen died. Duncan died– all the Grey Wardens died!” He waved at Jory and Daveth. “Those two, they died at the Joining. None of them can be here!”

“No we didn’t,” Daveth insisted.

Alistair gripped Bannon’s arm. “Now just calm down. That was all a nightmare put into your head by the Archdemon.”

“It was?”

“Yes,” Duncan said calmly. “The Wardens and King Cailen fought side by side at Ostagar. We decimated the horde, and the Archdemon appeared. We fought it– you killed it.”

Bannon’s head was spinning. “We won at Ostagar?”

“Yes,” Duncan said.

“And… Lothering? The Blight didn’t–? The darkspawn horde didn’t go north?”

“Nope,” said Alistair.

“But I remember… We went to the mage tower. There were demons and Blood Mages…” The ache behind his eyes grew sharper. He rubbed his forehead again. “We had to… stop this mage named Uldred.”

“Yes, we did that,” Alistair said. “We defeated Uldred.”

“All right, wait. If we won at Ostagar, why did we need to go to the mage tower?”

Duncan and Alistair looked at each other. Alistair said, “Well, we found those treaties, right?”


“So we had to take them to gather our allies. To Ostagar. Right?”

“Yeah… I guess?”

“Right, so we brought the mages there, and the dwarves and the Dalish.”

“I don’t remember those.”

“Well, those weren’t anywhere near as hard, were they?” Alistair said cheerily. “Just pop on by, wave the treaty, and they came right away.”

“And Arl Eamon? We went to Redcliffe for troops, too?”


“He was sick?”

“No, he’s fine.”

“And our friends?” Bannon said. His thoughts flitted around wildly, trying to piece together the puzzle around the holes in his memory. “What happened to them?”

“They went home,” Alistair said.

“All of them?”

“Yep. After the final battle, and the celebrations and parades….”

“Sten? And Zevran?”

“Yes, all of them. That’s why they helped us. They wanted to stop the Blight so it was safe to go home.”

Bannon tried to digest it all. It seemed reasonable? He was here now, wasn’t he? Something was still missing. He wished he could figure out what.

“Here, come with me,” Duncan said. He led Bannon aside to a scribe’s desk, filled with a huge tome. “This is the chronicle,” Duncan told him. “You’ve been working on it, when your memory has been intact. I think it will help everything become clear.”

Bannon frowned at the book, but Duncan rather insistently had him sit down and start reading.

The dwarves held the flanking pass, he read; shields locked together, the line bristling with spears. No matter how many times the darkspawn hurled themselves upon it, the line would not break. Massive ballistae rolled up behind them, preparing for the appearance of the Archdemon.

The elves lined the hills, raining withering fire down on the enemy. When the ground became too broken and littered for the king’s horses to sustain a charge, the Dalish halla riders flooded out from the trees like a white-water river. The light-footed deer flew over the ground, leaping any obstacles.

The darkspawn brought up their catapults, hurled boulders into the fray, crushing platoons of soldiers. The halla charged, scattering just as the boulders hit. They regrouped, leapt the stake barriers the darkspawn had erected, and plowed into the horde. Several brave Dalish hunters broke through. They cut the catapult ropes; they doused the machines with oil, and flaming arrows set them alight.

The King’s troops advanced once more.

Thunder rumbled in the south, where the darkness gathered. And the embodiment of that darkness rose up on wings of evil. The Archdemon swooped over the battlefield, scattering the faint of heart under its shadow of fear.

The Grey Wardens stood fast.

The mages’ light encircled the small group of men and women who were the hope of the world. They gripped their weapons and prepared for the final battle.

The Archdemon landed amidst its troops, squashing some of its lesser brethren in its single-minded rage. It roared a challenge that shook the heavens.

King Cailen wheeled his charger, regrouping his personal guard. “Make way for the Grey Wardens!” He aimed his sword across the battlefield. “For Ferelden!” He spurred forward and led a wedge into the horde, his white charger and golden armor gleaming despite the dark blood that painted them both.



Bannon found himself running after the King, his fellow Grey Wardens beside him. They were on foot, but hell, they were Grey Wardens, after all. They kept up with the horses, and Bannon didn’t even feel winded. He glided lightly over the rough terrain, nimbly avoiding any obstacles. He chuckled to himself at the lumbering shems all around him. Served them right for cutting off his view.

He moved up to the front line, with Duncan on his left and Alistair on his right. There was a bone-rending crunch, and the horses in front of them faltered in their strides as they ran over a line of darkspawn. They didn’t stop, however. Bannon leapt a thrashing hurlock.

Someone yelled something about ballistae. Huge bolts arced in from the left, and struck. Some must have hit the Archdemon, judging by the screaming.

Then the wedge broke to either side, and the Grey Wardens came out on the field before the beast. It roared, stretched out its neck, and spewed black vitriol at them. The Wardens cut and ducked, and yelled challenge back.

“Go for the wings!” Duncan’s deep voice boomed.

Daveth and Bannon shot arrows at the flailing beast, ripping its wings.

“Cut it’s legs!” Duncan yelled. “Cripple it!”

Ser Jory waded in and swung his great two-hander deep to the bone on the Archdemon’s hind leg. Its tail whipped around and knocked the rotund knight back. He tumbled ass over teakettle.

The Archdemon hissed and clawed and bit as the Grey Wardens harried it. Bannon darted in with his swords, figuring it was better there in close than out where it could hit him with that black fire.

He leapt up on the Archdemon’s neck. Why not? It was pretty much the size of a horse. Not that Bannon had ever been on one, but how hard could it be? Now all he had to do was get to the skinny end of the neck, and he could kill this thing.

Well, he couldn’t scoot up the neck, what with all those spines in the way… but they sure made great handholds! He gripped the spines, stood up, and started climbing. If he focused on the scaly skin right under his feet, and not the landscape whirring back and forth, it wasn’t any harder than crossing a narrow rope bridge in a high wind. Not that he had any experience doing that, either. He just kept his knees bent, his eyes down, and his hands on the spines.

The spines at the top were too small to reach, even while crouching down. Fortunately, the Archdemon helped by whipping its head up and down. Bannon’s feet left its neck, and he flew towards its skull. He pulled his swords and drove them both between the beast’s eyes as he landed.

There was a bone-shaking scream. The world tipped crazily, and then the earth and sky started spinning madly. Bannon must have blacked out for a minute or two, because the next thing he knew, he was riding on Alistair and Jory’s shoulders as they paraded around the Archdemon’s corpse. Then he was atop the king’s white horse, and the army was shouting his name.


It rang out to the hills and rolled back as the elves and dwarves took up the chant. It echoed across the Wilds, rose into the heavens until the Maker Himself heard it.



Bannon blinked and looked down at the book.

“Bring anything back?” Alistair asked him solicitously.



“Yeah, but… isn’t it a little over the top?”

Alistair chuckled. “Aren’t heroic tales always? Besides, you wrote it! And you were there, so you ought to know.”

“Well, you were there. Did I really climb up the Archdemon’s neck and stab it in the head?”

“Oh, yeah!” Alistair’s eyes lit up like candles. “And it was thrashing and whipping around, like, whish, whish!–” he mimed with his hands– “and you were like, whah whah!, and then Fwish!” He made more Archdemon and Bannon hand-puppet gestures and sound effects, grinning like a little kid. “And then– WHOP! ‘Yaaagh!’– and it threw you right off! That’s when you hit your head.”

Bannon rubbed his skull. “I remember that part.”

“We thought you’d been killed, but oh no! You’re a Grey Warden!” Alistair reached out and rubbed his hand over Bannon’s head, messing up his hair. “You’re too tough!”

Daveth said, “You didn’t pass out until after all the cheering and parades and feasts and comely wenches!”

Bannon flinched, because he’d forgotten the other Wardens were there. “That part’s still a little hazy,” he said.

“Don’t worry about it,” Alistair said, clapping him on the shoulder. “It’ll all come back.”

Bannon smoothed his hair down, then turned to Duncan. “I don’t understand… we stopped the Blight in Ferelden. Why are we here now, in this place?”

“It’s the headquarters of the Grey Wardens,” Duncan replied. “It’s where the Wardens stay between Blights.”

“But I want to see my family again.”

“Maybe when you’re fully recovered, you can travel.”

I already traveled here, didn’t I? Bannon growled to himself. He knew it would be useless trying to argue with Duncan. He turned to Ser Jory. “What about you?” he asked. “What about your wife and baby?”

“I fought the Blight to save them,” the knight said proudly.

“Yeah, but…. Then you didn’t go to live with them?”

“I’m a Grey Warden now. The Wardens belong here.”

“Well, why?” Bannon looked between them. “What use was all that fighting if we can’t enjoy the results?”

Duncan stepped forward. “Bannon, I’ll be retiring soon. Then you will be the First Warden, in charge of our entire order.”

Well, the elf knew the first change he’d make! “We don’t need to be here,” he insisted. “The Blight is over!”

“You’ll need to make plans to keep the order alive until the next Blight,” Duncan told him patiently. “At first, it will be easy. You’re a recognized hero the world over. Kings and empresses will give you anything you want. People will flock to you, just to be near you, to try to be like you. But as the years go by, people will start to believe the Grey Wardens are no longer needed.”

Bannon’s mind wandered when Duncan mentioned the kings and empresses doing his bidding. Damn, it was so good to be a Warden! “Well, yes, all right. I see what you mean.”

“You’ll need to stay here and go through the archives with me. Adding, of course,” Duncan said with a grin, “our own accounts to the histories.”

Bannon had already started formulating plans for dealing with various countries, nobles, and politicians, and for collecting a nice nest egg for himself in the process. For his own early retirement. He deserved it, after all, the Hero of Ferelden. The Hero of Thedas! “Sounds good,” Bannon said with his own grin.

Duncan smiled. “Excellent. This is where you truly belong, surrounded by your Grey Warden brothers.”

A biting voice rang out behind them. “You’re not keeping this knife-ears!”

Everyone turned. Bannon felt the familiar flash of white hot rage as Vaughn marched up the steps and crossed the floor as if he owned the fortress. He’d brought his guards with him this time. “He belongs to me.” He fixed a predatory gaze on Bannon.

“You don’t belong here,” Duncan said in a low voice.

“You’re dead!” Bannon spat at the nobleman. “Why must you keep haunting me?”

Vaughn raked them all with a glittering crystal gaze. “You have no right to my property.”

“Elves are not your property, you son of a bitch!”

“You see?” Have I not proven my point?” He sneered at Bannon. “Come on, then. Come at me, knife-ear, so I can teach you another lesson.”

Bannon drew his swords. But instead of rushing in, he shouted, “Grey Wardens, attack!” He signaled his comrades forward. Daveth and Ser Jory charged Vaughn’s guards, Alistair right behind them. Vaughn leapt at Duncan, and the two began dueling.

Bannon circled Vaughn’s guards, hamstringing a couple of them while they were occupied with the other Wardens. Then he faded back to the side and watched.

This was insane. How in the Blackened City was Vaughn here? How was he alive? The answer was obvious– he couldn’t be.

And neither could Duncan, Daveth, and Jory.

When Duncan said this was where he belonged, surrounded by Grey Wardens, Bannon had recalled the night of his Joining. When the Grey Wardens had come, and he’d stood in their midst, he could feel it– the Grey Warden bond.

That’s what was missing: Bannon couldn’t sense any of these supposed Grey Wardens. When they’d gone into the fray, he was sure of it.

He drew his bow and nocked an arrow. With calm precision, he shot Jory in the neck just as the knight felled his opponent. He shot Daveth a moment later.

Alistair finished off the last two guards and turned to Bannon. “What are you doing?” he cried.

“Alistair, they’re not real. They’re not Grey Wardens. It’s some kind of trick!”

“No it isn’t!” Alistair came at him, sword and shield raised, betrayal and anger on his face. “You’ve killed your own brothers!”

From behind him, Bannon heard Duncan yell, “Don’t kill him!” That didn’t stop Alistair from closing with Bannon. The elf backpedaled.

“Think, Alistair! I couldn’t sense them. Could you?”

“Yes!” The former Templar stopped and shook his head. “Of course you couldn’t sense them, you killed an Archdemon,” he said angrily. “You became, like, a super Grey Warden. Ordinary Wardens are so far below you, the bond is really faint!”

What the hell? Bannon’s eyes widened, and doubt coursed through him. He dropped his swords, which he hadn’t even realized he’d drawn again. They clattered to the stone floor, and he put his face in his hands. “Maker! What have I done?” he cried.

Alistair came closer, no longer threatening.

“I’m so sorry!” Bannon threw himself blindly at his friend, heedless of the blade. “Alistair, please forgive me! I didn’t know!”

The Templar caught him awkwardly. “It-it’s fine! It’s going to be all right. Look, we’ll get the healers; we’ll revive them. Everything is going to be fi–!”

Bannon cut him off with a knife thrust up under his breastplate. Blood poured from Alistair’s mouth instead of words. Bannon jammed the knife harder, scraping the sundered chain mail.

Alistair coughed another bubble of blood, then collapsed. Bannon shuddered at the shocked and bewildered look on the Warden’s face.

“Bannon, help me!” Duncan called. He and Vaughn had closed and were locked in a stalemate. Duncan’s long dagger was at Vaughn’s throat, held back by Vaughn’s free hand. Their swords were locked as the bann sought to overpower the old Warden’s defenses. Vaughn snarled in fury, his face barely human, his eyes burning with rage.

Bannon retrieved his swords from the floor and slowly approached the two men.

“Kill him!” Vaughn hissed. “You know it’s a trick! Only your rage can set you free.”

“No!” Duncan pleaded. “If you kill me, you’ll destroy your one chance at happiness!”

“Kill him!”

“You’ll go back to a life of hardship and struggle. You’ll die!”

“Kill him! I’ll show you the way to get free!”

“You’ll never be a hero. It’s impossible!”

None of this was real. It had to be some kind of nightmare. Bannon felt his anger rising up inside him. He didn’t like to be tricked, duped. But what about his fame? Better yet, his fortune!

Bannon looked down at the swords in his hands. Well, he did have two of them. He stepped forward and thrust both blades simultaneously into Duncan’s and Vaughn’s throats. They shrieked and gurgled and died. Bannon let go of the swords as the two men toppled. “No damned shem is going to run my life,” he snarled down at them.

He turned away. Now he had to get out of here. Find his way back to Ferelden. He glanced down at his leathers; they were his old brown ones, not a fancy Grey Warden uniform. He reached up and found the hilts of his sword and long dagger. Ah, and his belt pouches! He’d need money and provisions for the journey.

He darted over to an ornate chest beside Duncan’s desk. He tested the lid; it didn’t budge. So he got out his trusty picks and… what the hell? He couldn’t get them in the keyhole.

He crouched and put an eye to it. There was no hole. The lock was just a piece of metal with a keyhole-shaped hole in it. In disbelief, he tried again, poking into it with the pick. Did someone paint the wood behind the fake lock black? If the lock was fake, how did the chest open?

He stood up and, in frustration, kicked the chest. It tipped over with a clunk. There was no bottom. In fact, the whole thing appeared to be a fake hollow shell of a chest.

“Nothing is real, here.”

Bannon whipped around, his blades out in a flash. “Who’s there?” The room looked empty. Even the corpses and blood had vanished.

“Away put your weapons; I mean you no harm.”

“Yeah, sure you don’t. Who or what are you? Show yourself!”

“I can certainly see why that Rage Demon was so attached to you.” Bannon scowled and the voice hurried on. “I’m not a demon! I’m a mage! I’m going to come out now. Please don’t be startled or make any rash moves. Remain calm.”

Bannon looked for this mage to appear, lowering his weapons only slightly. A bit of movement caught his eye, but it was only a mouse scurrying around the desk. He looked around again. “Where are you?” he demanded when the mage didn’t appear.

“Down here. Don’t step on me!”

Bannon stared down at the mouse. With a lot more grunting and groaning than was usual for a mouse, it climbed up to the seat of the chair. “Boy, this isn’t like climbing the Tower.” The little rodent crawled to the edge of the seat and then sat up on its hind legs. “Yes, it’s me– I’m the mage.”

Bannon stared. “You look somewhat like a mouse.”

“Uhhh….” The mouse tipped its head and scratched behind one ear. “I am… somewhat like a mouse. But I can explain!” It launched into some tale of being trapped in a maze and some demon switching bodies with him so he could escape through a tiny tunnel, but Bannon wasn’t listening.

“Great, I’m talking to a mouse. Now I know I’m dreaming. I’m out of here!” He strode across the room towards the entry hall.

“No, wait!” The mouse squeaked as loud as it could. “This isn’t a dream!”

Bannon just waved over his shoulder and picked up his pace. He hit the grand double doors of Weisshaupt Fortress and strode outside.



End Notes

Give yourself 500 Bloodsong Points apiece if you recognized the Yoda and Stuart Little quotes. Plus 1500 if you noticed the mouse sounded like Rimmer talking to himself in the past. (from Red Dwarf)


Work This Week


The chapter to be published this Friday is done! Including proofed/edited and spell-checked. Already! AND, the chapter due 2 weeks hence is written and typed and half proofed/edited. I’m so happy, I don’t know what to do with myself!

I’m not quite ready to dive in to the very next chapter, just yet. I’m letting it marinate in my Brain a little longer. I know what’s going to go on in it, though. I just need to see if my Brain comes up with any little twists for it.


I have another Dragon Age: Torchwood clip I want to write. I should illustrate it…. And, unhappily, I haven’t done a blasted thing with Episode 1. I know I said all I have to do is write out all the scenes my Brain has, then somehow plaster them together, but… Brain has not been cooperating in that endeavor. Well, come on, Brain! It’s your own damned fault! Get with the program!


In artistic news… um, no news. I have a new pic I want to make, a sort of sequel to the shower scene. I’m not exactly sure yet how to compose it. And also not sure how I’m going to paint/create very short wet hair.


Work This Week and Last Week


I’ve got a new poser picture in the pipe. In fact, i got it all rendered, and the special FX painted on, but I haven’t yet sat down and overpainted the hair yet. That is all that’s left to do on it. I’ll be happy to be posting that on deviantArt. (Which I should maybe link to sometime this year… and take down my warped link.)


I have been worried about the Bannon & Zevran story, because I’ve known for a good while now that I wanted to do something a bit different in the Fade. Never sure what, though. Uhm, now that the published story is up to that part….! Yeah, would be good if I figured that out, hm?

I’ve actually been wondering if my Brain’s subconscious department has been working on it, without telling me. I think it has. This past weekend, my Brain has finally figured out how Bannon gets trapped in the Fade! Thanks for letting me know, Brain. ::cough:: This morning, it started putting out some really killer stuff about Alistair in the Fade.

This is gonna be Good! So instead of worrying about putting the story on hiatus, I’m excited to be getting some scenes banged out. I wrote 3 pages this morning, and it’s just the ‘first’ day of work on the next chapter. :X Yes, sadly, that’s better than par. Way better.


In other writing arenas… (if anyone is interested. Well, I might be, when I come back and read all these…) I’ve been going good guns on a lot of Dragon Age: Torchwood clips. Uhm, I don’t think I’ve actually finished any. :X I even started the first scene of episode 2. No, nothing’s gotten done on episode 1. I’m going to have to just write out all the scenes my Brain has, and then see if I can stitch them together into some kind of order.


The Circle Tower

Rating: Teen
Flavor: Action/Adventure/Drama
Language: some
Violence: yes
Nudity: offscreen
Sex: offscreen
Other: none
Author’s Notes:

Direct continuation of the previous chapter.

The Circle Tower



“Young man, can you hear me? Alistair?”

Alistair opened his eyes and scrambled to sit up. The old woman, the mage, was kneeling next to him. Something was shrieking. Alistair looked over; the demon was down. Bannon planted a boot on its hips to yank his sword free.

Alistair heard a buzzing; he thought it was in his head, but it gained strength. It sounded like a distant scream. He turned his head the other way. It was coming from the Templar, held fast in a casing of ice.

The ice shattered, and the Templar surged free, his scream filling the air. “Meaghan!” His beloved’s name tore out of his throat straight from a sundered heart. “No!”

“Look out!” Leliana screamed.

The Templar charged. He swung at Wynne; she instinctively raised her staff to deflect the blow. She fell back against Alistair, and he caught her and twisted to put his armored body between her and the knight. Fortunately for them, the Templar had no interest in anyone but the murderer of his ‘wife.’

With a snarl of pure rage, the Templar leapt at Bannon, his sword cutting down from high overhead. The elf managed to get his blades up to catch the sword in their crux. It saved his life, but didn’t stop the blow. Instead of splitting his skull, the sword cracked down on his forehead over his left eye. Bannon went down, bleeding.

The Templar stood over the elf and raised his sword for another blow. Zevran jumped between him and Bannon, one sword raised to block, the other snaking into the soft spot in the Templar’s armor, under the arm.

Zevran was too small and lightweight to stand in the face of the human’s wild assault. He didn’t try; he twisted under the Templar’s arm, trying to overbalance him and push him away from Bannon. He stuck close, inside the Templar’s guard where the long sword was nearly useless against him. But this made his own swords equally difficult to bring to bear. Zevran spit in the man’s face, causing him to flinch back.

“Down!” yelled Bannon, now back on his feet behind the assassin. He swung his sword over the Antivan elf’s head, aiming for the Templar’s neck. He missed and caught the man across the cheek instead.

The Templar turned and staggered with the blow. Bannon followed doggedly, closing to ram his long dagger into the armpit recently vacated by Zevran’s sword. Zevran kicked the Templar from behind, sending the man crashing to his hands and knees. Bannon cut down with his sword. It bit with a crunch into the Templar’s neck. The body dropped. The two elves stood panting.

Blood poured over Bannon’s left eye and half his face. He staggered closer. “Dammit, Alistair, what the hell were you thinking?”

Alistair carefully helped Wynne steady herself, then he got to his feet. “Me?”

“We didn’t have to fight this thing– or him! It would have left us alone.” Bannon pressed a hand to his head and grunted in pain.

“Hold still a minute,” Wynne told them all. “Gather ’round; I will cast a healing spell.”

Alistair bit back a retort until Wynne had finished summoning the healing circle. “We can’t just let a demon run loose.”

“Did you forget why we are here?” Bannon retorted angrily. “We can’t fight every damned demon between us and Uldred.”

“No, I didn’t forget why we are here. We’re here trying to save Ferelden.”

“We’re not going to save anyone if we get killed.” Bannon rubbed the side of his face and grimaced at the sticky blood that came away on his half-glove. Leliana handed him a rag. “Thank you,” the elf said quietly. He took a breath and turned back to Alistair. “Look. We have to get to the top of this tower and rescue the First Enchanter, before he’s killed or something worse. That’s the only way we are getting out of here. The demons aren’t going anywhere, the Tower is sealed, remember?” Bannon wiped blood from his face with the rag.

Alistair took a breath to calm himself. He did feel guilty about the death of this man. He had to stop taking it out on the elf.

“Once we free the mages,” Bannon continued, “they’ll be able to help us clear out the demons. Isn’t that right, Wynne?”

Alistair looked around, having momentarily forgotten about the others. Wynne nodded. Leliana was kneeling by the Templar’s corpse, trying to arrange him in a more peaceful repose. Zevran and Morrigan simply stood ready, but Alistair could tell by the way they looked to Bannon that they agreed with the elf.

Bannon came up to him, folding the rag and running the clean edge along his jaw. “There. Do I still have a smutch?” He widened his dark eyes up at Alistair, looking forcefully naive.

A dry chuckle escaped Alistair’s throat. “I think you’ll pass.”

“Don’t worry,” the elf told him seriously. “We just have to take one problem at a time. Yeah?”

“Yeah.” He nodded. Of course, saving Ferelden was a tall order for two guys. Take it in manageable chunks. “Lead the way.”

Bannon nodded and looked over his troops. “Everybody take a couple minutes.” He went to the door to check that the hallway was clear.

Alistair went to help Leliana. The Chantry Sister prayed over the nameless Templar’s body. Alistair prayed for them all.



Bannon paced a short way down the hall, collecting his nerves. If it hadn’t been for Wynne… he gingerly rubbed his neck. Healing potions were no substitute for a mage with healing magic. Morrigan was useless in that area. Perhaps they could recruit a healer from the Circle once this mission was complete. If there were any left.

The hallway was clear, down to the next turn. He turned around to retrace his steps and almost ran into Zevran, who’d come up silently behind him.

“What are you doing sneaking up on me?”

“I wasn’t sneaking,” Zevran insisted, his eyes wide protestations of innocence. “I was merely moving about in potentially dangerous environment with the natural grace and stealth of the elven kind.”

Bannon brushed past him. “Too bad your mouth isn’t as quiet as your feet.”

Zevran fell into step beside him, without any retort. Or maybe his silence was the retort. Bannon slowed to a stop before they reached the room where the others waited. “Listen… thanks for keeping that Templar from finishing me off.” He could still hardly believe the assassin had jumped between him and the mad shem.

“Ah, well,” Zevran replied with a shrug; “I wanted to score another point with him before you did.”

“Yeah, well, too bad that backfired. I scored both.” He’d just thought of that. Bannon the mighty demon and Templar slayer. “Still, thanks all the same.” He turned to look directly at Zevran.

The Antivan met his eyes. For a moment, his face was clear, the tiny lines at the corners of his eyes faded as he relaxed his guard, just a bit.

Then Bannon said, “That means I’m three up on you.”

“Three? How do you figure that?”

“The same way you do– take whatever number your opponent has and add a couple to it so you win.”

“That is cheating!”

“Yep,” Bannon said blithely.

“I never cheat!”

“Sure you don’t.”

The assassin scowled at him. “Admit it! You just lost count!”

“Of course I didn’t.”

“Are you two arguing again?” Alistair came out of the room, looking weary. The others filed out after him.

The elves looked at him, then to each other. Then back to Alistair.

“Of course not,” Zevran said.

“No, not at all,” Bannon agreed.



The First Enchanter had a whole floor to himself. It was well-appointed. The outer hall expanded into an oval waiting room that was thickly carpeted and furnished with cushioned chairs. Bookshelves stood against the wall, alternating with potted plants. The leader of the mages sure had it good. Of course, if he were an older gentleman, he probably didn’t get out much. Way too many stairs.

Even the doors were richly carved in an antique style, with polished brass handles. Bannon tried one; it was locked.

“That’s the First Enchanter’s office,” Wynne said.

“Imagine what fabulous, fascinating treasures might lie within,” Zevran said.

To which Wynne pointedly replied, “We are not here to break in and loot the First Enchanter’s things, young man.”

Zevran looked at Bannon. Bannon said, “That’s absolutely right. What were you thinking, you miscreant?”

The assassin shot him an evil glare, and Bannon fought hard not to smirk. He continued past the door.

They came to a branch in the corridor. Wynne led them to the right. Apparently, Irving’s private chambers were the other way.

The long hall took a few turns and then once more became the gentle curve of the Tower’s outer wall. It was blessedly quiet on this level. Bannon could almost imagine what the Circle Tower must be like on normal days. Quiet… and boring.

They approached another set of steps. Bannon had been wondering why the stairs didn’t all connect into one continuous spiral. It would be faster to get from one floor to another. Then he realized that if anyone tried to make the climb all in one go, especially in heavy armor, they’d probably collapse. The level walking in between was a welcome respite.

“The next floor has storage and preparation areas,” Wynne said. “Then above it is the Harrowing Chamber. We should expect guards.” The others limbered up in preparation.

“Say, Wynne,” Bannon asked. “Um… where do mages go when they have to… you know. Go?”

The shems all rolled their eye and groaned. Zevran gave him a cutting look.

“You can’t possibly be thinking about that at a time like this,” Morrigan griped.

“Again?” Alistair asked him incredulously.

“Why didn’t you think of that before we got all the way up here?” Wynne scolded.

“Hey, elves have smaller bladders,” Bannon told them with a hapless shrug. “Irving must have a garderobe. I’ll just pop back and use his. Don’t worry,” he said at Wynne’s pointed look; “I’ll wash up after I’m done.” Before they could argue or come up with any logic to thwart him, he turned back down the hall.

“You shouldn’t go alone,” Alistair said. He started after him.

“Well, this level is safe,” Bannon said to forestall him. “You should stand guard here, in case something comes down the stairs. Zevran will go with me.” He beckoned to the assassin.

“Well… if you’re sure,” Alistair said. He shot a bitter look at Zevran.

“It’ll be fine. Zevran has a small bladder, too.”

“I think not,” the Antivan protested. Bannon grabbed his arm and dragged him off.



Once they were out of sight of the others, Bannon broke into a quick trot.

“You must really have to go,” Zevran griped as he kept pace.

“Of course not. I had to get rid of them somehow.”

“Oh! We are on a clandestine mission? Once more, I have underestimated you,” Zevran said in admiration. “Lead the way, mi patrone.”

Bannon had Zevran go check to see if the door to Irving’s quarters was locked, while he went back and started working on the office door. The lock was very strong, and as old as the door itself, but it was kept well-oiled.

The latch clicked, and the door swung open. The First Enchanter’s office did not disappoint. It was as big as all of Alarith’s store back home. Bannon ‘shopped’ along the wall shelves. He didn’t know much about magic, but anything that looked fancy and was small enough went into his pack.

Zevran joined him a few minutes later. He reported that the door to the living quarters was unlocked, and that he scouted them out quickly and found the garderobe.

“Good job. By the time we get back, Alistair will be dancing around, wanting his turn.”

Zevran snickered. “I do feel more refreshed and ready for a fight, however. You sure you are going to take a pass?”

Damned assassin. But just then, Bannon completed his survey of the back wall and discovered a little recessed necessity closet in the back corner. Hah! Irving didn’t stint on anything. “Check around for anything else that looks good,” Bannon said, waving at the area he hadn’t covered.

When he emerged (yes, that was much better!), Zevran was perusing the large desk. “Are you sure the First Enchanter won’t mind his things going missing?”

“Hey, we were never here. Those Greed Demons must have taken stuff.”

Zevran laughed. “Look at this,” he said, gingerly prodding a black-bound tome on the desk. “Do you think this is a book of evil magic? Your witch friend might like it.”

“You planning on courting her?” Bannon asked, examining an ornate brass inkpot.

“Why not? You keep telling me my chanced with your lunatic nun are vanishingly small.”

“Didn’t Morrigan threaten you with severe bodily damage and death the last three times you spoke to her?”

Zevran let out a sigh. “She is only encouraging me to make a greater effort to seduce her.”

“Oh, is that what you call it?” Bannon set the inkpot down– too heavy– and frowned at the book. He could use something to soften up the witch after making her come in here and sort of yelling at her…. He reached out and flipped the black cover open.

“Ack!” Zevran jumped back. “Are you mad? Evil mages put spells on those things to keep unwary meddlers from reading their secrets! You could have blown us up!”

“Pfft, right. They only say that to keep nosy, unintelligent meddlers away.” There was a slip of paper inside the cover. Bannon picked it up to get a closer look. “I bet Morrigan would tell you her underwear would explode if you so much as touch it.”


The paper said something about Flemeth. The witch, or the legend? Perhaps Morrigan would find this interesting, or at least amusing. He stuffed the book into his pack. “Let’s get going.”

Bannon re-locked the door on their way out. No one but us Greed Demons in here. By the time they hurried back to the stairs, Alistair had organized everyone into two more shifts.

Well, at least they’d go into battle fully prepared.



The hallway of the next level looked clear, though there were signs of battle on the floors and walls. Zevran was supposed to be scouting ahead, but he stood in an open doorway, gaping. The others moved up slowly. Alistair had an idea what they would find, judging by the sounds coming from the room. Still, he was unprepared for what he saw.

Bodies. Men, women; some of them not human. They were naked and writhing together like a pile of maggots on rotting meat. Alistair heard Leliana gasp beside him as his stomach clenched. He turned his head away. Maker!

Bannon slipped past them, tiptoed into the room to pull the door shut. “They’re pretty busy,” he said quietly. “They won’t bother us.” He moved past the door, slugging the assassin on the arm to get him moving as well. The others followed without a word.

Alistair bit his lip, hard. These were Templars– they’d taken vows! The demons were debasing them in the most horrible fashion. His stomach turned. It was rape, mass rape, but the others didn’t seem to care.

Alistair swallowed his protest. He knew the rest wouldn’t want to hear it. And… he knew there was no way to rescue those people, not from that many demons.

Maker guard me from temptation. Shield my mind from evil influence. He turned away to follow the others. Maker have mercy on their souls.



They walked the long hall to the final stairway. There was an oval antechamber at the bottom of the broad marble steps. Half of the room was encased in a barrier of light that hummed with quiet power as they approached.

Three Templars were imprisoned within. Two lay dead. The third knelt with head bowed, praying. His short hair was matted and dulled with soot, his face unshaven and bristling with a wild thicket of new growth. His body swayed with the force of his prayer, a monotone litany that fell hoarsely from his lips, never stopping, never pausing.

The closer Bannon got to the barrier, the more his hair prickled. He didn’t dare touch it. “Hello?” he called to the Templar. “Wynne, Morrigan, can you do something to open this?”

“Begone, foul demon!” was the only reply he got from the Templar.

The mages studied the barrier. Wynne tried a dissipation spell, which had no effect.

“‘Tis the work of demons,” Morrigan opined.

“I said begone! Torment me no further. I will never give in.” The Templar looked up, his eyes bloodshot and haggard. “What…? You’re still here?” His eyes flicked rapidly over them. “That always worked before….”

Leliana came to stand closer to the barrier. “We are not demons, ser Templar. We are here to help you.”

A high-pitched laugh issued from the man’s throat. “A clever ploy, demon. Tempt me no more with visions of desire!” He ducked his head again, squeezing his eyes shut and returning to his litany of prayer.

“They’ve driven him near to madness,” Leliana said sadly.

Alistair said, “No, ser Templar; it’s true. We’re not demons; we’re real. We’re Grey Wardens.”

“Ser Templar…?” the man said hesitantly. He raised his head again. “Do you not know my name?”

“I’m sorry, young man,” Wynne said. “I’ve seen you standing guard near the library, but I’m afraid I don’t recall your name.”

“S-senior Enchanter Wynne?” Blearily, he tried to focus on her. “Is… is it really you?”

“Well, I hope I’m not what the demons believe you’d find to be a tempting vision of desire,” the old woman said with gentle mirth.

Hope warred with paranoia and distrust on his face. “I… I can’t believe it,” he rasped. “No, I won’t believe it!” He clenched his eyes shut and threw an arm across his face. “Begone and torment me no more! Just kill me!”

“The poor bastard,” Alistair said quietly to Bannon. “He’s lost his mind.”

The elf stepped up to the barrier. “Look, we can’t break this barrier, so even if we wanted to, we couldn’t offer you your freedom. Can you answer some questions that would be of use to us if we were real? Things demons don’t care about?”

The Templar unfolded slightly. “Like… like what?”

“Do you know where the First Enchanter is?”

“He’s gone. With the rest of them. Up there.” He lowered his arm a bit more and cast a fearful gaze towards the stairs.

“Have you seen a mage named Niall? Do you know who he is?”

“He’s gone up there, too. It’s no use.” The Templar slumped, sitting on his knees on the floor. “No one is coming back from there.”

“We’re going up there to stop Uldred,” Bannon told him firmly. “We’re going to rescue the First Enchanter and bring him back–”

“No!” Fear widened the Templar’s eyes. He crawled closer and struggled to his feet. “You must kill the mages!”

Morrigan started growling, but Bannon cut her off. “We need First Enchanter Irving to open the Tower doors.”

“All those mages– they’re possessed!”

“They can’t all be–” Alistair started.

“That’s what Uldred is doing! It’s the Harrowing!”

Alistair drew back. “He’s… putting demons into mages?” he asked incredulously.

Bannon felt a chill. This was going to go badly. “He can’t have gotten them all. Niall had that Litany thing to protect from mind control.” His heart raced. Niall could be up there now, battling Uldred. And Maker knew how many Abominations. He started for the stairs, beckoning his team.

“You can’t tell if a mage is possessed just by looking at them!” the Templar yelled at their backs. “Any of them could be an Abomination, just waiting for the right time to strike. You must kill them all!”

Bannon shook his head. He had his own priorities. “All right, listen. Zevran, stay out of sight. Find Uldred and sneak around behind him. He’s your mark.”

“Understood, mi patrone.”

“Leliana, I want you to find Niall, his allies; help them with the Litany.” She nodded. “Wynne, stick with her, help the mages.” He reached the top of the stairs and put his hand on the door handle, then looked back. “Alistair, you and me, we’re going to confront Uldred, keep his attention on us. Morrigan, stick behind us. If you see an opportunity, blast the hell out of him. If Uldred takes over me or Alistair… well, freeze us and hopefully you all won’t have to kill us.” He swallowed and took a breath. “Uldred is the priority. Anyone or anything that attacks us– kill it.”

Wynne and Morrigan prepared the group with defensive spells. Then Bannon opened the door and they slipped inside.



There was another stairwell, and Bannon motioned everyone to stay back as he crept to the top. The Harrowing Chamber was a wide oval, tiled with a mosaic pattern that radiated from its center. Blue light rose from the floor, fading out to midnight at the arched ceiling overhead. There were flickers of brighter light. Chains of lightning encircled several groups of people throughout the room; mages held by enchantment. Tall, shadowed figures stood guard among them.

A shimmering pool of blue liquid stood in a basin at the center of the room. It pulsed with energy. Three figures stood before it, a fourth before them on the floor, on his hands and knees, heaving painful breaths.

This was too good to be true. Uldred had his back to them, across and open expanse of floor littered only with a couple of bodies. If he or Zevran had brought their bows, they could have killed him from here. Bannon cautiously motioned the others forward, but he didn’t take his eyes from the spectacle before him.

Uldred’s lieutenants raised their arms in command. The mage before them was drawn upward into the air as if held by shackles. The bruises on his face and arms looked sickly in the blue light. The whites of his eyes gleamed in fear.

Uldred stepped forward and cupped the mage’s chin in his left hand. “Do you accept this gift I offer?” he asked, his voice carrying across the chamber.

“Maker, help me!” the imprisoned mage squealed.

“Fool,” Uldred growled. “I am the supreme power on this plane.” He raised a knife and drew the blade across the mage’s forehead. Blood cascaded down, covering his face in a red-violet shroud.

The mage collapsed back to the floor, the invisible shackles released. Uldred chanted in an arcane tongue, gathering power about himself. The air grew heavy as if a storm were approaching. An unheard thrum filled the chamber.

Uldred and his lieutenants reached out, seized the power, and channeled it into the helpless mage. He screamed and writhed on the floor. Bannon thought they were killing him, but it went on and on. The mage’s limbs thrashed impossibly; his robes split open, his skin split open, as something grew from within.

The energy flow ceased with a sudden clap of thunder, and the room went dark. Bannon blinked until his eyes adjusted to the dim blue light again.

Something stood where the mage had been. Something misshapen, barely recognizable as once having been human. The Templar had said one couldn’t tell an Abomination by looking at it? It made Bannon’s skin crawl. Yet Connor had looked ordinary. As Bannon stared, the thing receded within itself. The skin on its arms and chest began to regain a normal shape. It’s head remained a monstrous skull, stretched within its host. It cricked its neck, stretched its arms, getting used to its new physical form.

Bannon glanced back to see if his troops were ready to move. They tensed. He nodded and turned to charge–

And came face-to-face with… something. It was a big lump on the floor, like a fat pig lying in the mud. Its face was lumpy, its limbs short and atrophied. Its ivory yellow eyes fixed him and he just froze. “So… much… trouble,” the thing drawled in a deep, soporific voice. Its maw opened in a huge yawn.

Bannon found himself reflexively following suit. He tried to fight it. “Wha–?”

“Sloth Demon,” he heard Wynne say. She sounded as if she were drifting away. “Try… try to fight….” Her words were cut off with a yawn.

Dammit, stop yawning. Bannon’s eyes swam out of focus as his eyelids came down. So heavy…. He could barely lift his arms. Get up, he thought dimly, as his head slowly lowered down. No… up….

“Too… much… trouble,” the demon purred, its speech punctuated by contagious yawns. “Too much… to fight. Just… sleep. Drift…. Sleep….”

Bannon pillowed his head on one arm. The mage tower seemed to float away as his eyes closed of their own volition. His brain filled with cottony warmth, and then he knew nothing more.




Work This Week


So after November, I’ve tried to get back on track with writing Bannon & Zevran. My Brain has not been concentrating on it very well. I wanted to do the whole start of the Circle Tower from when they walk in the door til they meet the Sloth Demon. That totally didn’t happen. So that got cut in half. The next part, I should’ve had a head start on, because I was trying to write it for 3 weeks ago… Mm. Yeah. That somehow also didn’t happen. That’s dragging along way too much. Ugh.

I have been speculating about taking a break before writing the Fade sequence. Since… um, I don’t know what’s going to happen in it. Perhaps my Brain knows something I don’t know. All I have is some vague idea that I want to do it a little differently. And something specific has to happen with Zevran’s story.

While not paying attention to what it’s supposed to be doing, my Brain has been working on writing other things. Mainly a big slew of Dragon Age: Torchwood clips. That’s been fun, but meanwhile, it hasn’t worked out Episode One of that blasted series yet.


Then I remembered… I wasn’t going to start posting Episode One (“End of Days”) until it was all done, and I had a book cover for it. Which I also have not been working on. Except today. Today I got inspired to do a little more work on my Captaing Jack Harkness Poser figure. Um… insamuch as I went shopping for a new coat for him. I think I may have found one, but I’m still hoping to hold out for a real WWII coat with collar morphs. Free or for sale, at this point, I’m not picky.

And I also goofed around making the movie poster/book cover scene. This is it, so far, in total rough draft. Yes, Jack’s coat needs an overhaul. Bannon is apparently trying to avoid looking like Neo. Perhaps Zevran’s jacket would look better with the shiny leather and Bannon’s in dark cloth. Or shiny cloth. What ARE trenchcoats made out of? Mine is a little shiny. Satiny, almost.

Ah, it was ugly, so I trashed it. :X But I do have a line on a nice coat….