A Different Warden in Crestwood

Chapter 08: Commander Cullen Rutherford


The Original M2J
A/N: This story was inspired by Dragon Age Inquisition Banter- Hero of Fereldan by Harnette. In his story, the Hero of Fereldan (Male Surana) joins up with the Inquisition as a regular party member. Each chapter is a collection of "Party Banter" between the Hero and all the other party members of the Inquisition.

My story, on the other hand, explores different character interactions and story/background expansions between the Hero of Fereldan (Female Amell) and various other characters if it had been The Hero, rather than Stroud, Alistair or Loghain. The story will cover all of Act 2 of Dragon Age: Inquisition: Crestwood, the Western Approach, Halamshiral and Fort Adamant, amongst others. So there is a very strong possiblity of SPOILERS if you haven't played past a certain point of Inquisition. The story is strongly based on a playthrough of mine through all three Dragon Age games and some events from other media will likely be referenced.

Pairings, if you care about that sort of thing, are Warden/Alistair, Hawke/Anders, Adaar/Cassandra

While not necessary to have played Dragon Age: Origins or Dragon Age 2, many events from both are referenced and you can tell, based on many interactions and conversations what Morgana Amell and Arthuria Hawke have gone through and what decisions they made during the events of those games.

Each chapter is written from the perspective of the person named in the chapter title. Here are the links to chapters I've written and posted so far on FF.Net. I'll later add links if I post this story to anywhere else.

Chapter 01: Inquisitor Hector Adaar
Chapter 02: The Iron Bull
Chapter 03: Sister Nightingale, Leliana
Chapter 04: Warden "Blackwall"
Chapter 05: Lord Dorian Pavus
Chapter 06: Solus, The Dread Wolf
Chapter 07: Arthuria Hawk, The Champion of Kirkwall

And now, for my most recently finished chapter. Let me know what you guys think.

Chapter 08: Commander Cullen Rutherford


It had felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted off my shoulders. At long last, I was able to close an unfinished chapter of my life. While I still had my fair share of regrets- my actions, or lack thereof, leading up to the Mage Uprising in Kirkwall come to mind- I was finally able to put to rest some lingering personal demons regarding my time at Kinloch.

It was with a much lighter heart that I went about my daily duties- dealing with a few issues with the rank and file that couldn't be handled by the various sub-commanders of the Inquisition, managing supply lines and logistics (Eustace Morris was a gift from The Maker in helping me manage this) and helping Knight-Captain Rylen organize troops to follow behind The Inquisitor's troupe to staff the old Warden fortress, Griffon Wing Keep.

The Inquisitor's party... Few were as shocked or as apprehensive as I was at the revelation that Morgana Amell was alive and well and willing to work with the Inquisition. Our shared time at Kinloch left me with mixed feelings. The memories of when I was still a green Templar fresh out of training and she a mage apprentice... The little flirtations we shared... Though I never flirted back, I did not turn aside her advances.

Pride warred with shame as such a beautiful young girl, not much younger than myself, had taken an interest in me. Her little teases were blissful torture. It was with great and terrible anticipation that I awaited our every interaction. She made me feel very glad I never swore any oaths of celebacy when I made my final vows of service to The Maker. She made me feel sinfully guilty that a mage could make me feel the things she made me feel.

Morgana Amell was the type of mage that every Templar hated and feared. Scarily proficient in all sorts of magic, even moreso when it came to any sort of combat related magic. Though she was one of two of First Enchanter Irving's apprentices (and arguably the more talented one), she didn't hold the same respect of Templars the aged mage did. She was willful and defiant. While both Irving and his eventual successor, Alim Surana (his other apprentice), had been ardent Aequitarians, Morgana Amell seemed to have been destined to become a die hard Libertarian.

Most would have described Morgana during her time at Kinloch as being friendly and shy. I, on the other hand, knew better, as I spent far more time than was appropriate watching her. Admiring her. While not very outspoken about her views at the time, she had a fire within her that was undeniable. Her skill with magic, her lack of respect for any form of authority, her disdain for Templars and her resentment of The Chantry and The Maker... Not to mention her barely subtle hatred of the Loyalist fraternity...

Everything about her was something I should have feared and hated about her. She was my antithesis in practically every way.

And yet...

I didn't.

In some ways, I even admired her. And despite her dislike of both the Chantry and the Templar Order, she didn't seem to hate me either.

There were many a night where I couldn't help but wonder what set me apart from any other Templar. Why I alone didn't seem to draw her ire. I was no one. Just another country boy from a middle of nowhere village called Honnleath. Yet, Morganna Amell- a woman so beautiful that had she not been a mage; poets, bards and minstrals from all around Thedas would have composed ballads dedicated to her radiance- saw something in me that I doubt anyone else had.

Up until Uldred's Uprising, the day I had been informed by Knight-Commander Gregoir that I had been assigned to be the Templar to oversee her Harrowing was the absolute worst day of my life. So much so, that I became physically ill. The fact that many of my contemporaries were disappointed that they wouldn't be the ones to put her to the sword should she fail hadn't helped. I had a complete loss of appetite and what little I did managed to choke down was tasteless.

Especially given the rumors that the Harrowing was somehow being rigged against her.

Rumors, in hindsight, that I suspect were probably true. After all, there was no short amount of surprise amongst the eldest and highest ranking members of by former brethern that she not only completed her Harrowing, but had shattered any and every record ever recorded on how quickly her Harrowing had been completed. The far more restrictive Gallows Circle in Kirkwall had opened my eyes to many less than honest practices enacted by my order. While it was never openly talked about; more troublesome mages were often set-up to confront more powerful demons. While most apprentices often faced off against demons of desire or rage, others were sometimes pitted against demons of sloth or despair.

Given that a number of mages were felled by a Sloth Demon and Uldred had become a Pride Abomination...

Desire and shame... Guilt and want... Anger... Lust... Fear... Attraction...

How many hours...? How many days...? Weeks?

How long had I been exposed to a macabre mix of all my deepest fears and wildest fantasies intermixed with bouts of torture and anti-Chantry rhetoric? I was driven to delirium and was half mad with all sorts of pain and hunger- and not just for food.

The hope and humilation, the fear and relief that her presence had brought with her had been nearly overwhelming. Unforunately, after an indeterminant amout of time resisting her, I utterly rejected the woman when we finally met face to face. And then, after she saved the remaining mages who'd been taken and held captive by Uldred, we proceeded to part on bad terms as my fear turned to anger and hate.

A knock at my door brings me out of my musings.

"Enter," I beckon.

"Cullen," a female mage greets me warmly with a smile.

"Evelyn, what can I do for you?" I inquire, returning her smile.

"I'm here to check on you. How'd your talk with the Warden-Commander go?" she asks as she promptly enters, shutting the door behind her.

"Surprisingly well, all things considered," I comment with a small smile. "It was good to finally clear the air between us."

"I'm glad," Evelyn replied. "I know it's been weighing on you."

"Moreso than even I realized," I admit. "Are we still on tonight for our weekly game?"

Evelyn's smile becomes more hesitant. "I suppose that would depend."

"On?" I ask with a raised eyebrow. Truth be told, I have an idea of what she wishes to discuss. I'm not completely oblivious to her charms. However, given my past, I am hesitant to move forward. Especially with a younger, attractive female mage.

"On where we stand," Evelyn states as she wrings her hands a bit. "You've held back, and to an extent, I understand. But I would like the chance to see where things go between us."

"I'd like that too. I only ask that you be patient with me," I reply. "The last time I felt for someone as I do for you, it didn't end well."

"It's hardly any easier for me," Evelyn points out. "Ostwick might have been one of the least combative circles in all of Thedas, but there was still a clear divide between mages and templars. Fleeing the templars of the Free Marches to take refuge in Fereldan and then getting caught up in the events of Haven... It was pure luck and happenstance that I myself hadn't been in the Temple that day."

"I know the feeling," I say in commiseration. "There isn't a day that goes by that I can't help but wonder if there was something more I could have done to save the Divine."

"I was supposed to be up there myself, you know," Evelyn confides. "If I had been up with there where I was supposed to be, there's a chance that I could have been the Inquisitor. Or I'd be dead, but I prefer to focus on the more positive outcome."

I can't help but lightly chuckle at her dark joke even if the thought of having never met her prickles at my heart.

"Inquisitor Trevelyan doesn't sound half bad to be honest," I tell her.

Evelyn blushed prettily. "Perhaps, but I have my doubts that I could have accomplished anything like Inquisitor Adaar has. In spite of, or perhaps even because of, his heritage, I think he's the right man for the job."

"You'd be surprised what you're capable of once the time comes for you to act," I reply sagely. "If you'd have told me ten years ago that I would leave Chantry service to lead an army of nearly declared heretics against one of the magisters who opened the Black City..."

"We do live in interesting times, don't we?" Evelyn asks rhetorically.

"The Blight, the Mage Uprising, The Breach... I could use a little bit less excitement," I say self-depreciatively.

Evelyn giggles in response. "I suppose adventure and excitement isn't at all like it's described in all the old tales."

"Not from my perspective and I've only been, at most, a side character in the tales of The Warden, The Champion and The Inquisitor," I agree as I approach her and take her hands in mine. "Once the Lord Inquisitor returns from the Western Approach, what do you say about going on a lakeside picnic with me?"

"I would love to," Evelyn replies gratefully.
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