From the Ashes We Rise

This is a Dragon Age: Origins fanfic. Warden Amell tries to rebuild her life at the Tower after Alistair got married. Main characters in this story are the mage origin warden, Alistair and Cullen. Rating M for language and sexual content. This is my first big fic so all constructive criticism is welcome because I am planning on doing a rewrite. Dragon Age belongs to Bioware, the artwork I use as a preview is not mine either but I would love to know who the artist is.

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3. On the Road again

"Time to go Jaleth, the horses are getting restless and so is Greagoir." The first enchanter stepped on the wagon that would take him back to the golden cage at lake Calenhad. He was in surprisingly good spirits.

"Eager to see Greagoir again First Enchanter?"

It had been a beautiful morning so far, the sun gave the landscape a little golden lining and seemed to have a positive effect on the moods of Jaleth's travel companions. They had all been in Denerim for a long time and Irving made no secret of his desire to return home.

Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he was nearing his 75th birthday, but it had been hard to be away from the tower this time. He missed the silence of his study, the view from his window, hell, he even missed the constant bickering with Greagoir.

"Believe it or not," Irving smiled, "but I actually miss the old bugger."

He winked at her, it was a familiar gesture and she couldn't help but to feel like one of his pupils again. It seemed like a life time away.

"Best not to let him know that though," she grinned.

Jaleth was playing her role well, Wynne thought. The old mage had been observing her former commander from the carriage she was sitting in. She had seen the disappointed expression on the younger mage's face as she checked her mounts' saddle, a harsh line formed around her mouth and she pressed her lips together in a firm way in order to keep the bitterness from pouring out and spilling all over the cobbles.

When she mounted her horse Jaleth felt a strangely familiar feeling creeping down her spine. It was the excitement of leaving, the prospect of sleeping on the road again, breaking habits that had settled in nicely when Jaleth moved into the castle some time back.

It had been a rather strange thing, living in a stone building again, sleeping on a mattress instead of a bedroll, 'missing the constant brushes with death.'

She hadn't been able to sleep at all the last couple of months, but perhaps that had more to do with the lack of Alistair's arms around her waist then the fact that the pillow was too soft and the room too silent.

"Lets head out," the templar in charge shouted. Jaleth did not recognise his face, nor had she caught his name. She remembered seeing Brann and Cullen earlier, but this must have been one of the new templars they had brought in from Denerim. His command had the desired effect though and the little caravan started moving.

She did not push her horse to move straight away, the lump in her throat seemed to prevent her from doing so.

"I'll be right there," she said, to nobody in particular.

Jaleth glanced over her shoulder one last time. The thought of not seeing Alistair again settled down on her like an icy cloak. She was going to miss him more then he would ever imagine and she would hate herself for it. It had been worse enough losing him as a lover, but seeing their friendship fade out because Ferelden needed a god damn heir had been even more painful.

Jaleth finally gave her horse the spurs when the charts were already rolling out the castle gates. She had said her goodbyes already, no need to prolong the process longer then necessary.

Wynne stuck her head out of the window when Jaleth rode up to her.

"I'll just have to pretend he is standing up there somewhere, behind a window, watching us leave no?"

"He probably is," Wynne said with little regard to the two other passengers in the wagon.

"Oh child, it will pass, I promise you," she said as she considered her companions disappointed eyes. She was usually right about most things, but what did Wynne know of love? There was not much room for love to blossom on the stone floor of the Circle Tower. The templars were ever vigilant, although the mages became very good at working around those watchful eyes of course.

"The sooner the better," Jaleth sighed.

"Well perhaps it would help if you removed that ring he gave you from your neck than," Wynne replied. Jaleth started blushing like a school girl. She had taken the ring from her finger with the intention of giving it back, but it ended up hanging around her neck, tucked away from prying eyes underneath her robes.

There was no fooling Wynne though, she seemed to have a sixth sense for these kind of things. She was the mother of the pack and mothers always knew what their children were up to, way before they were actually up to it.

"You can be a very annoying old lady."

She smiled as she gently pushed her horse into a trot. "I'll go see what the men are up to."

"See you at the tower."

She still had to get used to this horse. It was a magnificent animal but Jaleth was not an experienced rider. Alistair was, although she still remembered his first riding lessons. He had looked like a king, high up in the saddle. Unlike his father, Arl Eamon had uttered. Maric always fell of his horses, 'it was this thing he did.'

Jaleth could have been his twin sister, considering the time she spend in the sand, watching her horse run off to the nearest stable and trying to stop Alistair from laughing.

She bit her lip when she thought of him, everything she knew was related to that man. Her entire world had evolved around him once. She had fallen for him from the day they had met, she did not know how to be anything else then his lover. She did not want to be anything else. She had thought she would be able to have a professional attitude towards him, perhaps she could stay at the castle and advice him, but the way she felt last night... It had given her a final push into the Circle Tower's direction.

Jaleth cleared her throat as she approached the templars in front of the little procession. She recognized Cullen. She had not seen him since Uldred locked him up in that cage and she was a bit surprised to see him in his templar armour this morning. He was pretty much out of it the last time she had seen him.

"Hello Cullen."

He looked like he would rather be some place else. They had that in common at least.

"Oh uhm hello."

He was still handsome, his green eyes on the road and his wild curls tamed and nicely groomed. She remembered when he first came to the Tower, he was a little older then she was, the little chantry boy with the red cheeks. He blushed a lot back then, a charming feature that remained with him after he had taken his vows.

He didn't seem to feel like talking and started floating in and out a daydream, slightly oblivious for the things that were going on around him. She would have asked him what was on his mind one day, but he seemed reluctant to talk to her, or any mage really. Not that he was being impolite, he was just on his own a lot.

She noticed the lines in his face, lines that hadn't been there before. He had aged since Uldred pulled that 'stunt' at the Tower. He seemed to have lost his youth, and with it the slightly timid smile he always threw in her direction whenever their eyes met. She too had lost her youth. The last couple of years had been pressing down on everyone she had known. The Blight had changed the land and it would take a long time for the blackness to vanish.

It was a six day ride from Denerim to the Circle Tower, which meant that Wynne and Jaleth would be sleeping in their old camp again for the next couple of nights, which made Jaleth feel a little uneasy, since most of the tents would be occupied by people who weren't supposed to occupy them. The original travel group had been disbanded.

She was feeding her horse when Wynne walked up to her, in what looked like a similar mood Jaleth was in. The last rays of sunlight gave her white hair a golden glow and Wynne reminded Jaleth of some sort of saint when she approached.

"Do you need some help with that my dear?"

Jaleth shook her head. "It's fine, gives me something to do, I felt so completely useless the last couple of days in Denerim picking out dresses and flower arrangements." She couldn't stop herself from smiling.

"Excellent. I am not particularly fond of horses anyway...or anything with a tail really," Wynne replied, folding her hands together as if she needed Jaleth's permission not to use them on anything involving hay, dirt or sweat.

Jaleth expected Wynne to leave but she didn't. She just stood there, with the sun in her hair, her eyes wandering off in the distance.

"Did you need something?" Jaleth asked the older mage as she patted the horse on the neck. It came out more rude then intended and the older mage was taken aback a little. Jaleth felt the need to send a compassionate smile in Wynne's direction. "I take it you didn't come over to talk about your dislike of horses?"

A heavy frown settled on Wynne's face, a frown followed by a deep sigh.

"I don't know, I think I felt a bit out of place down there with Irving and the Templars." She paused. "They stare you know."

"Do you think we've been away too long?" Jaleth asked as she checked the horse's water. The animal neighed softly as Jaleth pulled away its bucket, water dripping from its lips on to her hands.

"I am sure we'll be fine."

By the time Wynne finished her sentence she noticed she had put too much effort in making the words come out reassuring, which usually had quite the opposite effect.

"I'm hungry," Jaleth said putting down the bucket. She wiped her hands on her tunic. Jaleth hadn't been wearing her Circle robes in ages, or any robes for that matter, not after she had got caught in some branches when fighting an ogre in the woods in the Hinterlands. Leliana got her some leather armour after that, which made everyone laugh at first, but had been a great solution for a lot of problems. Naturally Zevran had been protesting that her 'delicate bottom' looked so much nicer in her robes.

"I believe Irving made some stew," Wynne nodded toward the camp. "He was even wearing an apron. I swear I have seen it all now..."

Jaleths smiled and placed a hand on Wynne's arm. They walked over to the fire and made themselves comfortable. As her body started to relax she noticed the bruises, her muscles were aching and her legs were sour. It had been a long ride today and Jaleth was no longer used to the saddle. Wynne hadn't been too comfortable in the wooden wagon either.

They shared some water and gazed into the flames as Irving handed them some stew, still wearing the apron and being oblivious about it.

"It is strange being here without the rest of them," Jaleth noted.

'It is indeed. Although I can't say I mind the absence of Oghren's ale breath and Zevran's inappropriate remarks about my bosom,' Wynne said.

"And I am sure you won't miss finding Alistair's smelly socks in your laundry."

Jaleth smiled as she pealed an apple with a knife that was too big for the job, ignoring the stew for the time being.

'I wonder if we'll ever see them again,' she said, handing a slice of the apple to her companion.

They ate their stew in silence, listening to the voices of the card playing templars and the cracking of the fire. As Jaleth watched the faces around her she felt like she ended up in a dream. You never knew you were dreaming until you noticed something was off. In this case the camp and the setting were very familiar indeed, but the absence of her friends and the fact that other people were occupying their tents made her heart fill with melancholy. It felt so weird, the lot of them being so close during the Blight and going off in separate directions in the blink of an eye after the Arch demon was slain.

Morrigan of course, had been the first one to go. She had disappeared in the night and with her Alistair's unborn child.

Sten had been the second one to go. I wish you honour and strength Kadan, he had mumbled and after that the giant packed his sword and the little possessions he had and left for the sea. He was to report back to the Arishok. He had his answer and in great detail no less.

Leliana went back to the Chantry not long after that, she needed some peace of mind again and she wanted to help rebuild what was lost in Lothering. It was the first time Jaleth had cried and Leliana made her promise to visit Lothering one day.

Although Alistair remained at her side, he disappeared in an emotional way. Lovers turned into friends, friends turned into dust.

Zevran was the last to go when he left this morning, a little before she had. He had not said his goodbyes. He just rose at dawn, saddled a horse and rode off. Zevran always had had a touch for the dramatic.

'I am glad you are still here Wynne,' Jaleth said while finishing the stew.

Wynne was not used to these signs of affection of the woman beside her. Jaleth never had been a woman of words when it came to showing she cared. Her warm heartedness was usually hidden within a wink or a brush of a hand.

A lot had changed since the Blight indeed.

"As am I," Wynne said. She slowly got up, having trouble finding her balance but hiding it well enough. "I will see you in the morning, these old bones of mine need a rest."

'Goodnight,' the Warden muttered and watched Wynne walk off to her tent. As she watched Wynne's slim figure disappear inside her tent her eye caught Cullen's. He looked away the minute he realised he got caught. But it was already too late. She had noticed a hint of an emotion that hadn't been there before, replacing his compassion and timidness. It was a mixture of loathing and anger. It was a mixture that came with a frown and smelled like trouble.

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