I am not brave. I have tried to be brave. I have said things I never thought to be true. I have put on my strongest, proudest face. I have been spat on and stabbed with words as well as swords, beaten by human and darkspawn alike, thrown to the ground for being too good or too expendable. Was there a reason I was chosen? A reason I survived the Joining? It certainly wasn’t bravery that led me there. Chance, perhaps. The Maker’s hand. Pure accident. Nothing of me and my heroism.
When I hacked my way through hordes of monsters and men, there was no bravery there. Fear. Fear was there, and anger. And I hoped that no one would look too closely at my face and see written there what I had tried so hard to keep from them, see the seething terror hiding in my eyes. Know my howls of rage in the heat of battle for the pain and horror they concealed. Please, I silently wished. Please don’t look.
I never wanted to fight. I wanted to survive. I wanted to go home again and right all my wrongs. No matter what it took or who I had to kill, I wanted to survive. Then an exception crept in. The bastard son of a dead king slipped into my heart so slowly and so steadily that I didn’t even realize until the day he fell at my back in a fight and I shook him and I screamed. That night, after he’d healed and rested, I did the only brave thing I have ever done, and I took his hand and watched the campfire burn.
I nearly fainted when Riordan said what was expected of me. Of Alistair. I thought of the choice to die, or the choice to let him die. Something in me snapped, then. I felt a band around my chest holding my lungs in tight, but I breathed and all the air in the world rushed in and I knew I would do. Anything. I went to my room to pack. I was going to run and I was going to take him with me, kicking and screaming. I would leave the world to die in the Archdemon’s grip. It was… hard. But it was so easy to ignore how hard it was.
Morrigan offered me a bargain no true warrior would’ve ever considered. My heart skipped a beat. I prayed for the first time in years. And I begged him, pleaded, tried to make him understand that this was the way, the best way, the only way, whatever it takes please Alistair please listen to me I can’t do this I can’t live without you I can’t do this anymore I don’t want to die please I have never been strong and I can’t do this without you please don’t die I love you please please please, and just when I thought he would say no and leave me forever, he held me and whispered into my ear.
It’s alright. It’ll be alright. I’m a coward too.