The silence between them in Orzammar had been deafening. He’d known she’d needed time, and the one thing Alistair Theirin was good at was leaving things unsaid. They’d finally unpacked the armour, strapping the Grey Warden logo as close to their hearts as it could go before stepping into the Deep Roads and searching for a last glimmer of hope. Part of him yearned to talk to her, to celebrate in some crude heartfelt way the ritualistic feeling of wearing the plate that signified so much, but this occasion paled in the dull light of what had happened between them recently, the very same situation that knotted her brow into something venomous and disturbing, that had left him with a hole burning inside his chest.
He’d watched her, run her blade defiant and unwavering, over and over through hordes of Darkspawn, unrelenting like a human battering ram. She’d returned to the woman he’d met at Ostagar, the woman with vengeance burning white hot in her eyes. Monotonous slaying, without even a breath, a sure way of never seeking light again.
They’d taken too many blows, too many staggered steps, and had decided rest was needed. A small rock pool, secluded and with enough covering to fend off a surprise ambush, had been a welcome respite and a luxury to them both. Removing metal and leather felt like heaven, and the water lapping at his bare skin was nothing short of divine. Dirt and blood, both his own and of others, faded off his skin, muddying the water around him and revealing mottled bruises across his arms and chest. They’d been to hell and back, each winding dark dank cavern looking just like the one before, all brimming with creatures that screamed loud and kicked hard. He felt the weight of the road ahead, knew that the worst wasn’t even close to being over, and watching the way her shoulders fell, he knew she felt it too.