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Caden Blue's Journal
I really don't know what I'm going to use this for yet...
The Gauntlet
Random ficlet I wrote about my fifth Grey Warden (agh I have an addiction), Hermia the female city elf. I really feel like it would've made more sense for her to encounter Nelaros in the Gauntlet than Shianni... so I wrote it. Woo.


Hermia had stridden past a sleeping High Dragon without even glancing upward. She answered the riddles the spirits of the Gauntlet posed with no doubts or hesitation. Yet when she reached the door the spirits had opened and saw who was waiting inside, her hands shook.

He was just as handsome as she’d remembered, his eyes just as warm, his smile as gentle. “Hello, Hermia,” he said, as though he wasn’t at all surprised to see her, as though he had forgotten he was dead.

“Nelaros,” she breathed. “This can’t be possible.” He was smiling and healthy, like the first time she had met him just before their wedding, yet she couldn’t stop thinking of the bloodied corpse she had left lying in a pitiful heap on the floor of the Arl’s estate.

“You’re crying,” Nelaros said. She touched her wet cheek in surprise as he continued. “Hermia, please don’t cry for me. I’m glad I died for you. You’re a great woman, with the strength to save the world. I played such a small part in your life, but I’m proud that I touched it at all.”

She nodded, swallowing the sudden lump in her throat. “I will never forget what you did for me.”

“That’s all I ask.” He reached for her hand; his body felt solid and real. “Take this; maybe it will help you. Live your life, and be happy.”

For a moment he glowed a bright white. Then he was gone, and Hermia held a small silver amulet on a chain in her hand. She blinked at it for a moment. Had that really just happened?

“Maker’s breath,” Alistair whispered beside her. “Maker’s breath!”

Wynne looked pale; Leliana had her eyes closed, and seemed to sway on her feet for a moment. Had the others seen what Hermia had seen? It seemed unlikely. If this place knew all the secrets of their pasts, surely the strange magic of the mountain could call up someone important to each of them. None of the rest of them had ever met Nelaros.

Hermia slipped the chain around her neck. There was no time to waste, after all.


Much later, with the Ashes safely retrieved, she lay in Alistair’s tent, her head on his bare chest, listening to his heartbeat and the soft rise and fall of his breath. “Hey, are you awake?” she murmured.

“Nope,” he replied. From her position she couldn’t see if he had opened his eyes or not.

“I was just wondering something…”

“Yes, I did get some… advice… from Zevran. It was extremely embarrassing. Please don’t bring it up again.”

“No, not that! I just—wait, really?”

He laughed, and the motion greatly reduced his effectiveness as a pillow. She retaliated by climbing up and sitting on his chest.

“Well! All right, my dear, if you wanted my undivided attention, you’ve certainly got it now.” Alistair grinned up at her.

“I was just wondering. In the second room of the Gauntlet, just before we had to fight the mirror images of ourselves… what did you see when we opened the door?”

His brown eyes widened, and he averted his gaze from hers. Hermia slid off him and he sat up with a sigh, putting his arm around her shoulders. “I saw Duncan. At least… I thought I was seeing Duncan. I don’t know if it was a vision or a spirit or what. He told me that if I’d stop doubting myself I would be as strong as he ever was.”

“He was right,” she said, leaning against his chest. “What you told the Guardian… it bothered me a little. I know you miss Duncan, and I know you respected him very much. But I… well, I’m glad you survived Ostagar. I don’t know if I could have done this without you.”

“You could have,” he murmured. “You’re the strongest person I’ve ever met. But I… I’m sorry if what I said made it seem like I’m unhappy. It’s just the opposite. You make me so… so stupidly giddy, sometimes, it seems… well, almost like I don’t deserve it.”

It was Hermia’s turn to laugh. “So we’re both convinced we’re not good enough for each other. I guess there could be worse problems with this relationship.” She looked down at her left hand, and the simple gold band on her ring finger. Some day, when she could find the right words, she would tell Alistair about the man she had nearly married. For now she would keep moving forward, trying to find that balance between remembrance and guilt, between happiness and responsibility.

She owed that to both of them.

Lazarus Larkin
Community Member
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