Disclaimer : Anything you read here that comes from the Harry Potter books is not mine. If it comes from the Dragon Age games then it also isn't mine.
Note 1 : HP Canon up to and including book 5 of Harry Potter is observed. Anything after that is for the most part ignored. As previously stated HP movie canon is ignored.
Note 2 : Dragon Age Canon is mostly based around DA:Origins – beyond that I make no guarantees. I haven't, for example, played Leliana's song so I may inadvertently contradict it somewhere.
Note 3 : Redcliffe Castle is depicted very inconsistently in the game – if you check the version shown in the Redcliffe Village map it doesn't match the version in the Redcliffe Castle map – I tried to pay more attention to how it was depicted in the village map mostly because it looked more intimidating to me.
Note 4 : If you have the urge to debate Fereldan geography please check the author's notes at the end of the chapter.
Remaining Authors Notes are at the end of the chapter.
"Just like home." Harry gazed upon Redcliffe Castle and admitted to himself that no, it wasn't really much like home at all. Home was a welcoming bastion of magic. Home was a gleaming structure of light grey stone and lofty towers. Home was also a world away and Harry wasn't sure if he would ever get the chance to see it again.
"You lived in a castle? Hmm... let me guess, you were the court wizard?" She watched him with a playful smirk and when he didn't reply grinned slyly. "No? I know – you are the second son of a noble who left home to seek his fortune."
Leliana's response was irrepressibly cheerful and Harry couldn't help but smile. Their flight had been a perfect way to let go of the stress from the last day and Leliana had obviously enjoyed every minute of it. When he'd admitted to her that she would never be able to control the broom by herself she'd pouted and then insisted he promise they would fly together again. Harry hadn't taken all that much convincing.
"I was just a student and the castle was also a school, Hogwarts school for witchcraft and wizardry. It has stairs that move, more secret passages than you can possibly imagine, and the portraits talk, and gossip, and carry on and if you ever saw them you'd swear they were as real as anyone you've ever met. The ceiling of the great hall is charmed to show the sky and there's a stadium in the back. The stadium was for quidditch of course, and just for flying, but really it was mostly for the quidditch." It had been a long while since Harry had walked the halls of Hogwarts and even if he hadn't gone through the portal he didn't know if he'd ever have been able to return there. No matter where he ended up, he suspected that some part of him would always think of the grand castle as home.
"It sounds wonderful, like something out of a dream."
"Well it also has Snape but there's always a wart somewhere." At her look of confusion he clarified. "Hooked nose, greasy hair, potions professor, he's more the stuff of nightmares than dreams. Really, having him on the other side of a dimensional barrier - almost makes it worth the trip."
"Nevertheless I would have liked to see it." Leliana decided "I'm afraid that you will find Redcliffe Castle not nearly so appealing."
Looking up at the fortress looming in the distance Harry was forced to agree with her assessment. He could already tell that Redcliffe Castle, while impressive, had been built by someone who had no interest in either magic or aesthetics but that what it lacked in beauty it more than made up for in pure vicious functionality. The tiny island upon which it rested rose from the lake like the peak of a mountain and situated at its top, high above the water, the castle's borders gave way only to sheer unscalable cliffs. Its massive walls were of red and grey stone and several layers of them protected the main keep which was itself a solid construction entirely made up of hard unappealing angles.
His gaze wandered across the battlements and Harry decided that if he ever wanted someplace to fight an army from then Redcliffe Castle would definitely be his first choice. What surprised him about the place was that Redcliffe didn't appear to be ready for war. The fortress gates were open, fishing boats still sailed in the lake, and the townspeople went about their daily affairs in the village on the mainland below. If Harry hadn't seen it for himself he'd be hard pressed to believe that there were darkspawn less than an hour's leisurely flight away.
At Leliana's suggestion they had completed the last leg of their journey on foot and between the flight, a brief rest, and their time walking it was now approaching mid-afternoon. She had seemed to think that being seen anywhere near the castle while on the firebolt might unduly alarm its residents and Harry hadn't been inclined to argue with her. He'd been a bit concerned himself, worried that he might find himself subjected to the more traditional responses offered by muggles when someone rides into their town while sitting on top of a flying broom. Traditional responses of course being stoning, drowning, and possibly burning at the stake, though he'd read that the last one could be fun if you did it right. The residents of Redcliffe knew about magic, if he'd understood Leliana correctly then everyone did, but he wasn't yet quite clear on what the common opinion was of those who wielded it.
The lands around Redcliffe were mostly steep hills, almost mountains, which continued right up until the waters edge. The village proper had been built into one of the few exceptions, a flat valley that butted against the lake, but many of its buildings climbed the surrounding hills precariously. The land itself was fertile, trees and bushes clinging wherever they could find purchase, but he suspected there were few areas nearby flat enough to support farmland and that it was the lake which allowed the villagers to earn a livelihood. The road they were travelling had passed a small group of homes where it then forked, and instead of proceeding down the incline towards the village centre Harry and Leliana had turned and continued across a small stream. The road had then begun climbing towards the nearest cliff where it would continue across a bridge to the fortress itself.
There was only the one bridge, the stone structure was both long and wide and was the only way to cross the gap between the island fortress and the mainland on foot. As they approached it Leliana suddenly paused. Harry stopped as well and watched as she looked down at her leather attire, frowned, and then tried to brush off some of the black residue from the ruined village without success. Sighing she then raised a hand to touch her hair only for her expression to fall even further when she encountered the tangled disaster their flight across the country had turned it into.
"I am a mess." Leliana huffed and turned to Harry. As far as he was concerned she just looked like she'd finished a rough game of quidditch, nothing to be ashamed of, but he doubted it would go over well if he said so. She eyed up his pristine robes and never changing hair and pouted effectively. "And I am cross that you did not warn me Harry. I am in no fit state to present myself to the Arlessa."
It honestly hadn't occurred to him to spare a thought for their appearance. Why Leliana would be worried about how they looked when they were bringing both a cure for the Arl and word of an army of rabid monsters nearby he couldn't quite figure out. However, Harry had long ago learned not to question a witch when she brought up the topic of her appearance. Leliana may not be a witch but she was still a woman and Harry was fairly sure the same principle still applied. Fortunately there were few problems that couldn't be solved with the proper application of sufficient magic.
He let his wand fall into his hand from its wrist holster and with a quick swish a cloud of black soot lifted itself from her attire and floated several feet away to disperse across the ground. Next he transfigured a near by stump and, with a bit of concentration, managed to form it into an elegant stand with a wash basin and an attached three foot square mirror. The stand looked more like a tree that had somehow grown into the appropriate shape, fluid and curved with an attractive wood texture and Harry decided he quite liked how it had turned out. He then filled the basin with an aquamenti spell and charmed it to keep the water at a pleasantly warm temperature for the next twenty minutes or so. Finally he picked up a branch and turned it into an ivory handled brush which he then presented to her with a flourish. "Best I can do. I'm afraid witch weekly just wasn't on my reading list."
She took the brush from him and looked closely at it, running her hand slowly along its milky white surface. Embedded along the handle were stylized impressions of phoenixes and lions which Harry didn't recall intending when he'd cast the spell and he pondered briefly what his subconscious was up to. Leliana had begun smiling as soon as he handed it to her though and she looked distinctly pleased so perhaps his subconscious knew what it was about. It might, he decided, be best not to question it.
"Will it, like the sword, turn back into a branch of its own accord?" She asked.
"Eventually." He replied.
Several minutes later Harry and a much tidier Leliana found themselves approaching the fortress gate. The wall through which it penetrated had to be at least forty feet in height, more than ten in depth, and the metal grating of the portcullis was a foot thick and appeared to be made of iron or steel. The drawbridge was currently lowered and the open gate was guarded by only a small group of young men in armour, not the full plate the warden had worn but instead a melding of leather, chain, and steal plates that offered less protection but was likely easier to move in. Each of them had a sword sheathed across their backs beneath a shield bearing the crest of a grey tower standing atop a red hill, doubtless in honour of the red hue visible in much of the rock and ground throughout the area. The guards at first seemed to be more interested in gossiping than guarding but even so they still noticed the approaching travellers well before they had reached them.
"Good-day." Leliana called out as they approached and the guards looked at each other skeptically before eyeing up the new arrivals.
"Unless you're someone important you might as well turn back and go home." One of them blurted out in reply. He had a raggedly trimmed beard lining the bottom of his face but was otherwise clean shaven, apparently a preferred fashion as two more of the guards were groomed in the same manner though theirs beards were more neatly kept.
The guard next to the first, the only one without a beard, thumped the loud mouth's arm with his fist. The beardless guard was clearly a bit older, perhaps in his mid twenties, and he looked somewhat sheepish as he took over. "Good-day to you as well and I apologize for my friend's ill manners. What he meant to say, good woman, is that the Arlessa is not accepting petitioners from the village today. You might try back tomorrow. Or the next day. Though considering circumstances of late perhaps it would be best if you just came back sometime next week."
While they talked Harry took a quick look at the tactical parchment. He waited for a moment to see if it would begin drawing but it remained stubbornly blank apparently not finding any wards that it could tap into. Harry frowned, surprised that such a bastion would be so unprotected. The use of the map would have given him a strong advantage if anything went wrong and he'd been counting on it to tip the balance in their favour Then again, he thought while looking back at the guards, so far the security force wasn't doing much to impress him.
"I believe you will find that the Arlessa will very much wish to see us. My name is Leliana and this is Harry and we come bearing the ashes of Andraste in hopes that they will restore the Arl to her." She smiled as she said this but not even one of the guards smiled back. Harry began to wonder if there was something Leliana had forgotten to mention.
A third guard, this one shorter and stockier than the others but an overly round face, snorted in response to her statement and rolled his eyes and addressed his fellow guards. "Not another one. I figured once people heard about the last one they'd stop coming."
"What's she – the eighth? Must be the eighth." The last guard asked, a burly man of average height with a slightly weaselly look about him. His comment was filled with disdain.
"Seventh." The other replied with certainty.
"What? No... can't be. What about the dwarf with the..."
"Didn't count. He was just a little confused. Honest mistake."
Leliana looked back and forth between the two guards and frowned when they didn't elaborate further. "Excuse me? Are you implying that..."
The clean shaven guard took over again for his compatriots. "You would be the seventh person to arrive claiming possession of the healing ashes of Andraste in the last week. Word's gotten out concerning the quest undertaken by the Arl's knights. Not that my compatriots are suggesting you might be trying to take advantage of the Arlessa but if you were, I might strongly encourage you to go home. The Arlessa is not in a forgiving mood as of late and neither are her remaining knights or the Arl's brother, Bann Teagan."
Harry could see where this was going but he knew full well that Leliana would not be kept from her self appointed task. He spoke up in hopes of moving things along. "And did the Arlessa wish to see these other claimants?"
"Well, yes admittedly she did. However I suspect the last one wished she hadn't."
"I can understand why she'd be upset.." Leliana began only to be cut off.
"Begging your pardon but she had the old elf flogged when his ashes didn't work. I suspect her reaction to another false claim may be far worse." The man shuffled uncomfortably in his armour
So much for safe haven, Harry mused, Leliana had really over sold the place. He leaned close and asked her quietly, "Just how sure are you about these ashes?"
She shot him a dirty look and then turned back to the guard. "I'm sorry but we have come very far and cannot turn away now."
The guard frowned but acquiesced. "If you insist then. I'll escort you to the keep. Be it on your own head, as it were."
Leliana smiled in relief. "Thank you. Please lead on."
The clean shaven guard turned to lead them up to the castle and the one with the unkempt beard followed behind them. The second pair stood back on watch but Harry could still make out their bantering as the group began making their way toward the second gate.
"Shame." Spoke the stockier of the guards.
"True." Replied the other.
"Waste of a very pretty woman."
"Very pretty. Don't see hair like that often. Would make someone a fine wife."
"Well, done is done. How's about five coppers says their heads are on those spikes up there before sundown tomorrow."
"I'm not taking that bet. " The second guard grumbled in reply.
"Five coppers says that his head is mounted on the right and hers is on the left?" The stocky guard tried again.
A moment of hesitation.
"Make it ten."
The fortress was built with a layered defence and you needed to pass through at least three gates before you could reach the keep itself. The first two gates weren't more than fifty feet apart and as they walked towards the second Harry leaned close to Leliana and talked softly so only she could hear him. "Shelter and safe haven?"
"Oui. The guards were enjoying themselves at our expense. The Arlessa would never treat petitioners in such a fashion." She whispered back sounding confident in her assertion. Harry had his doubts.
"The two that stayed behind were just betting on whose head would have the north-most spike." They reached the second gate quickly and stopped briefly while their escort conversed with the two soldiers guarding it.
Leliana stiffened. "How much?"
"Ten coppers. If it makes you feel any better they thought it would be a shame. You that is. Neither of them really seemed to care what happened to my head." Their escort continued forward and motioned for them to follow.
"The ashes will heal the Arl and we will be made welcome. It will not be required that either of us forfeit our head." Leliana stated with conviction.
"I appreciate your faith in them and I'll admit that whoever set that gauntlet up obviously believed the ashes were real but to be safe, be ready to make a quick exit." He didn't doubt Leliana but he knew she'd never actually seen the ashes heal so much as a paper cut. It was the religious association that really made him nervous. If she'd simply told him they were magic ashes he'd have been far more inclined to accept their advertised power.
"Harry." Leliana began with exasperation. He was beginning to separate from her when she wrapped her arm around his and placed her other hand on it as well as if he were escorting her on an afternoon stroll. "She may have threatened such punishment but she would never enact it."
"Feel free to believe that," Harry responded. She'd inadvertently trapped his wand hand and he felt his tension ratchet up a few notches as a result. "but we should probably allow for the possibility that her mood has taken a turn for the worse since you last saw her."
Leliana hesitated with her reply and Harry's bad feelings about the entire scenario started to grow along with his suspicion.
Harry leaned closer and whispered harshly into her ear. "Leliana. The Arlessa, was she already in a bad mood when you last saw her?"
"Possibly." Leliana conceded.
"And that would be because...?"
"Because Marcus had just killed her son." Leliana whispered the reply and glanced down in shame.
"Of course he did. Because that's just about the worst thing he could have done. Bloody fantastic." Harry raised his voice on the curse and their first escort looked over his shoulder with a frown. Harry waved him away with his free hand and the guard turned back just as they reached the third gate. He conversed with the men watching over it and behind them the road could be seen leading to a final gate with a courtyard and the keep beyond it.
Leliana squeezed his arm and tried to explain. She sounded quite emphatic but he wasn't sure if she was trying to convince him or trying to convince herself. "Her son was possessed by a demon and most deemed it necessary to to slay it before it could take the lives of any others."
"Most?" They were escorted through the third gate and Harry noticed that the last one appeared completely undefended. For a fortress of this size it had so far seemed horribly undermanned. That was going to make it easier to escape quickly but did make him wonder how its residents planned to hold off the darkspawn when they came.
"Yes. Her son had been subdued and some suggestions were made including that it might be possible to kill the demon without harming the boy with the aid of the circle of magi. Marcus dismissed such suggestions as too dangerous and took the child's life himself. The Arlessa begged for her son's life and when he would not spare it she demanded that she be allowed to make the blow herself. Marcus cared not for anything she had to say."
"How old was..."
"And you were there with Marcus when..."
"Yes. I did not agree with him," Leliana replied and he could hear the lament in her next statement. "I argued against it, but in the end I did nothing to stop him."
Harry shook his head and looked away. He hadn't been there and he knew nothing of these demons she'd mentioned but still, the scenario she'd presented was disturbing. "I can't believe the warden walked out of here alive afterward"
"When a possession occurs killing the possessed is the accepted practice. As a grey warden of noble birth - none could punish Marcus for his actions. We had also just freed the castle from the demon's minions and the Arlessa was in no position to stop him or to retaliate."
"But this was a while ago?"
Leliana tipped her head. "Nearly two weeks. We journeyed to Denerim first in search of the scholar Genetivi in hopes that he could lead us to the urn. When we tracked down his abode the brother was gone but his notes remained and in turn led us to Haven."
"Plenty of time to work up a good bit of resentment then," Harry mused, "And if she really wanted to..."
"The Arlessa is the final arbiter of justice in the Arl's absence," Leliana conceded. "She could judge us as she sees fit if she deems we have committed a crime."
"Brilliant. Can't wait to meet her." And then run from her, probably killing half her contingent of soldiers in the process. Harry had never had to kill anyone who didn't really deserve it and these guards were just doing their jobs. If it came down to it he knew he was capable of it but he wasn't sure how he would feel afterward He really hoped he wouldn't have to find out.
As they walked across the castle courtyard and towards the main doors Harry took careful note of the interior defences There were archers manning some of the guard towers and while they were focused outwards they'd have a clear view of the courtyard if they needed it. Several men in plate mail armour conversed quietly off to the side and he suspected that these were some of the knights that had been mentioned. Otherwise the castle looked almost abandoned.
Finally they were led inside and to an antechamber where they were bid to wait. It was a small room and mostly empty except for a few benches to sit on and a table in the corner. "If you could please wait here I will inform the Arlessa of your arrival."
The clean shaven guard turned to leave and hesitated for a moment before looking back at Leliana hopefully.
"Unless of course you've changed your mind?" He prompted.
Harry narrowed his eyes at the man. He leaned over and commented playfully to Leliana, "I think he likes you."
Leliana let go of Harry's arm and elbowed him in the side forcing them apart.
"But of course you haven't." The guard continued glumly. He nodded to the second guard. "Please hand over your weapons. I promise you'll have them back if you leave."
With that he headed into the castle interior.
"Alright. You heard him. Please place your weapons on the table." The remaining guard removed his sword from its sheath and rested it on his shoulder as he waited. His expression made it clear that he half expected them to try to attack at any moment and was just waiting for an excuse to try his weapon out. Harry barely resisted the urge to turn the man into a bulldog. A toothless, clawless bulldog of course, it wouldn't do to get mauled.
Leliana nodded to the guard and moved to place her bow, quiver, and sword on the table. Harry knew she had a dagger or two hidden on her person but those she made no move to relinquish. The guard, noticing that Harry hadn't participated, then turned to him with a frown.
"Well?" He grunted and Harry rolled his eyes and reached beneath his robes with his wand hand. After a minute of rummaging he pulled a plain short sword from beneath them. Just from holding it he could tell that the balance would be horrible but never the less he laid it on the table with a smile. The guard continued to stare at him with suspicion.
"Anything else under there?" Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes again and took off his robes. He spun around, showing his lack of further armaments, before putting them back on. The guard nodded skeptically and moved to stand by the door with his sword still bare, the tip now resting on the ground and his hands clasping the hilt. Harry leaned up against the wall to wait and Leliana moved to stand beside him.
"I had thought you relied only on your wand. Why did you not use the sword when we faced the darkspawn?" She whispered.
"That's not a sword." Harry tilted his head towards the table. "That's a granola bar that thinks its a sword."
She looked back at it with renewed interest.
They weren't left to wait for long. When the guard returned Leliana was happily finishing off the additional granola bar Harry had fished out of his pocket for her when he became worried that she might start gnawing on the sword. Both of the guards stood watching very intently as Leliana licked her fingers to clean off the sticky residue from the last morsel and Harry felt compelled to clear his throat to get them back on track. They both appeared sheepish but Harry just sent them an understanding look. Stones in glass houses and all that. Besides which Harry was pretty sure Leliana was doing it on purpose – the granola bars really weren't all that messy.
The room they had waited in was not, as it turned out, far from their final destination. Harry and Leliana were led down a short corridor into a large hall where several men of varying ages wearing plate mail argued with another dressed in shirt and breaches of obvious quality.
"Allow me to ride out and demand more support from the nearby banns. It is the only way..." Argued one of the armoured men and Harry suspected they were the knights that the guards had hinted at. He was tall and obviously solidly built with a very large sword on his back that he undoubtedly knew how to use. He had a plain face with a few wrinkles and several faint scars that spoke of old battles. Harry decided that if it came to a fight this was the man he'd be attacking first. The ageing warrior just looked more dangerous than the rest of them. He wouldn't relish doing so and he had no intention of starting anything but neither would he let some noble woman have them killed out of spite.
"We can demand nothing from the banns. They have concerns of their own to deal with." It was the one without armour who replied and he reminded Harry a bit of Cedric Diggory. He had a solid bearing and strong features with a partial beard that framed his mouth but left the rest of his face bare. He turned, noticing Harry and Leliana's entrance for the first time. "We will finish this discussion later in any event. It would appear we have guests."
The guards had stayed at the doorway leaving Harry and Leliana to step into the room by themselves. The man merely glanced at Harry before dismissing him and then turned his gaze to Leliana. He had to squint at her for several moments before the light of recognition shone in his eyes. "I know you. You were one of the warden's followers. Yet you arrive without Marcus Cousland and in strange company. Tell me, what news do you bring?"
"Bann Teagan." Leliana began. It sounded like a title from the way she said it, not a name. "We come bearing the sacred ashes in hopes that they may heal the Arl."
"You do? Wonderful!" Teagan responded a smile blossoming on his face. It didn't last long and he continued in a suspicious tone. "Yet I cannot imagine Marcus leaving another to present his prize, not when he seemed so desperate to gather my brother's support. Tell me - what of the warden?"
"Marcus and I had a parting of ways." Leliana replied carefully.
Teagen scowled at the vague response. "An obvious evasion. What is it you do not wish to tell me."
Leliana hesitated, clearly not sure how to proceed and for some reason not wanting to speak ill of the warden. Harry had no such reluctance.
"The warden tried to kill her." Harry interjected catching the Bann's attention. Leliana sent him a look of annoyance.
Bann Teagan examined Harry before turning to stare hard at Leliana. "Is this true archer?"
She cleared her throat before speaking. "This is true."
Bann Teagan growled and paced several paces away before turning with iron in his voice. "Enough. You clearly do not wish to discuss what has happened but I will hear it all from you. Why did the warden try to kill you and who is your new companion, this scholar who dresses so strangely?"
Harry did his best not to be offended. Some people just had no sense of style, it wasn't their fault. He had been surprised when Bann Teagan referred to him as a scholar but that probably had something to do with his glasses.
"The warden," Leliana began. She hesitated and again Harry wondered why she would try to protect the warden. He could think of no explanation for her reluctance. "He was convinced by a man to destroy the ashes in exchange for instruction in a dark power. When I realized what he intended I sought to protect the urn but only Alistair might have sided with me and he had been left guarding our camp."
If it were not for Harry I would have died then and the ashes would have been destroyed. He chanced upon us and saved my life when the warden was about to take it. Between us we made our escape and we came here with the greatest possible speed."
The Bann frowned and looked at Harry with renewed interest. "Marcus sought my brother's support. He has clearly become a hard man but I can't believe he would..."
"I believe he meant to take a pinch of the ashes for your brother and then destroy the rest. Thus he would accomplish both his goals. I could not stand aside and let him commit such a sin. " She turned to Harry and looked pointedly at his robes. Realizing her intent he retrieved the urn and passed it to her. The Bann stared in wonder as the fair sized piece of pottery appeared from inside a much smaller pocket.
"How did..." Bann Teagan began before shaking his head. "A matter for later. But I think I would very much like to hear your story as well scholar. There is apparently more to you than it first appears."
"Oh I'm very boring. I'm just a man with some very big pockets," Harry responded glibly. The Bann grinned briefly at the response, amused even if he clearly did not believe him. He then turned back to the urn and hesitantly held out his hands.
"May I? I promise, they will be safe in my care." Bann Teagan's words were said with the levity of a solemn promise.
"A pinch is all that should be needed." Leliana explained as she carefully handed it over. "But please, Bann Teagan, I must have it back after you have revived the Arl. Marcus saw to it that the protections that have kept it safe through the ages were destroyed. There is only one place in Thedas where I believe it will be protected and cherished as it should be and I mean to take it there myself."
"I understand. It will be done but for now I must go at once to Eamon's side. We shall see if the Urn's healing powers live up to their reputation. Stewart!" The name was shouted at the most polite of the guards they had met who was still standing at the entrance. He stood at attention and nodded to indicate he was listening. "Please see that our guests have their weapons returned and then have servants see to them. They should be granted all hospitality while they are with us."
Their weapons were returned as ordered and a servant was found to ferry them through the castle. She was a pretty young woman with long brown hair wearing a simple dress of brown and blue that left her shoulders bare but with a skirt that reached almost to her ankles. She kept glancing back to stare at Harry's face for some reason only to blush and face forward again when Leliana giggled, for some reason finding these actions amusing. He started talking quietly to Leliana just to divert her attention. "So. No need for that daring escape apparently."
"Disappointing is it not?" Leliana sighed dramatically. "I can just picture it. A chase through the castle after which I would hold off the guards while you used your magic to destroy one of the exterior walls. We would then fly off on your broom with the soldiers staring after us in disbelief. But alas, not every tale can be one of adventure."
Harry blinked. Leliana was clearly making a joke but it really wasn't a bad plan. "I had something a little more subtle in mind but that probably would have worked too."
"You suggested I be ready for, as you put it, a quick exit. I like that. A quick exit. A strange turn of phrase." Leliana mused on it a moment longer before turning serious. "You also told me that you trusted me and yet your faith was so easily shaken. I am very disappointed in you."
"What? But... I never meant..." Finally noticing the slight grin on Leliana's face he rolled his eyes. "You shouldn't mess with a bloke like that Leliana. Very unkind."
"You deserve at least some punishment." She replied impishly. "Perhaps next time you will not be so quick to doubt me."
They turned a corner and another pair of servants, both dressed the same as their guide, scurried from their path. "Why did you try to protect Marcus?"
Leliana chewed on her lip for a moment, thinking carefully before she replied. "I may despise the man but I cannot deny he is dedicated to stopping the blight even if I do not countenance his methods. He is one of the last two grey wardens in Fereldan and I fear that without the Arl's support he will never be able to complete his task and it is an important one. He seeks to invoke the grey warden treaties and unite the land in defence against the blight."
The servant leading them stopped in a long hall and she turned to them hesitantly. She spoke to them both but it was on Harry that her eyes rested. "I'm sorry but Stewart wasn't very specific. Will you be needing one room or two?"
Harry imagined his surprise at the question was obvious but Leliana merely raised an eyebrow at the servant who blushed again in response. "I believe two rooms will suffice, though we will wish to share a meal in his room in perhaps four hours time."
The servant curtsied and motioned them to two adjacent doors. Leliana asked for a bath to be sent up for her immediately and the servant looked expectantly at Harry only for him to wave her off. Given that he doubted there was anything resembling indoor plumbing he figured there was no reason to put them to the extra effort. He could magic something up with far less effort.
It was starting to grow dark when a much refreshed Leliana wandered into his room and found him deep in research. He'd had a quick bath in a transfigured tub with real soap and afterward pulled out the darklord's journal to see if he could make any sense of it and so far his initial successes had been limited. The first thing he'd learned was that the darklord, while clearly a genius, had also been very insane. That hadn't been a surprise to Harry as he figured it was practically a prerequisite for the position . Unfortunately that insanity had leaked into his writing and his descriptions often rambled off into bizarre tangents while his observations and conclusions generally came in completely the wrong order. Consequently Harry found himself going back and forth through the pages trying to piece together an understanding of the intricacies that had brought him to Thedas.
One thing he'd discerned was that the sacrifices at the beginning of the ritual had been for the sole purpose of creating the wraiths and it was their creation that had somehow provided the initial magical power for the circle. Their use as a security system had been more of a side benefit than an intended effect. Additionally from what he could tell using the victims' blood to draw the circle had just been pure grandstanding, paint would have done the job equally as well. The downside to all of this was that if he ever wanted to use the same ritual he'd have to find a way to do so without murdering a large number of people and without leaving a host of wraiths behind him when he left. Harry had always had good instincts for magic but this was the kind of work he had never excelled in and he'd quickly found himself becoming discouraged. He wished for a moment for the aid of lost friends but pushed aside the longing as he had many times before.
When Leliana entered Harry quickly cleared away his work. She looked at it curiously but made no mention of it as she relaxed with a sigh into the seat across from him. The chairs provided had been hard and uncomfortable and he hadn't wanted to conjure more comfortable chairs as he figured that would attract obvious attention, but he hadn't seen the harm in adding some charms to the ones already provided. After he'd finished putting his research away Leliana spoke. "I promised you a story. Shall I begin my tale now or would you like me to wait until dinner?"
"How about a few questions first?" Harry replied.
"Ask. I will do my best to answer."
Harry considered for a moment. There were so many things he wanted to know. He finally decided to start with something that had been bothering him ever since they'd been shown to their rooms. "Why did the woman who showed us to our rooms keep staring at me?"
Leliana's eyes widened and she laughed. "You do not think it is because she finds you handsome?"
Harry fidgeted uncomfortably.
"Your spectacles are uncommon in Thedas but in Fereldan they are truly rare, mostly worn by ageing scholars to allow them to read their books. To see them on one so young is unheard of. That is the first reason."
"That makes sense I suppose." Harry would have to make sure he refreshed the charms protecting his glasses regularly. The idea of not being able to replace them was terrifying and he had little faith in his ability to transfigure a replacement pair with the right curvature to the glass.
"I'm sure she was also deciding how best to find her way into your bed. If you do not want company tonight you may wish to ensure that your door is firmly locked." Leliana continued with a grin.
"Wait. What?" Harry sat up and frowned. "But she doesn't have a clue who I am."
"True. But you have been declared a guest of the Bann. Your apparel while strange is clearly of fine quality which suggests wealth. Finally she most likely does find you handsome." Leliana seemed to take amusement in his discomfort. "Often the serving girls in a place like this seek more than employment. Young noblemen and knights who bed them will often keep them happy with expensive trinkets and if they are truly lucky they may even find one willing to lower themselves to marry a commoner."
"So I should double check my locking charms tonight. Good to know."
"You would not respond favourably to a young woman sneaking into your room tonight?" Leliana prodded him and he found his thoughts turn, not towards the servant they were discussing, but to the woman smiling in front of him. She laughed at whatever she saw on his face before sobering. "I had not asked. Did you leave a life behind when you came here? A family that waits for you? If so I am truly sorry and will do everything I can to help you return to them."
"I... no. I don't expect there's anyone who will miss me too much." Harry responded. She waited expectantly and he finally admitted. "Not anymore."
She reached for his hand where it lay on table. The warmth of her fingers was a brief reminder that there, in that moment, he was not alone and he missed it when she pulled away. "I am very sorry to hear this but it does make my request sit lighter on my conscience."
Harry sent her a questioning look. "The urn. You tried to send me to, what was it, the Divine? You also mentioned to the Bann that you wished to take them someplace for safety."
"Oui. The Divine leads the Chantry from within the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux." She leaned forward as she began but Harry had to stop her.
"Chantry?" It wasn't a term he was familiar with.
"Oui. The Chantry." At his lack of comprehension she elaborated. "It was to the chantry that you brought us in Lothering."
"Chantry... church?" Harry understood what she was getting at. "The Chantry is what you call your religion."
"And it is only in the Grand Cathedral with the Divine herself that I would trust the ashes to be kept safe." She stated before continuing with less surety. "But there are obstacles to reaching her."
It sounded to Harry like Leliana was suggesting the equivalent of walking up and asking for an audience with the pope. "I take it access will be a problem."
"That as well but I am more concerned with what will happen if I am recognized. I am afraid to admit that I am no longer entirely welcome within the borders of Orlais and Val Royeaux will be particularly dangerous for me."
When she didn't explain Harry felt compelled to prompt her. "Leliana if you're asking me to help you then you're going to have to tell me. "
"I am most likely still being sought on charges of treason." She admitted.
Harry had enough experience with untrustworthy governments not to immediately assume the charge was legitimate. He simply nodded at her to continue, sure that there was more to the story.
"In Orlais, I was a bard." Leliana began hesitantly. "Bards are entertainers in the noble courts but also often something more. They fill the roll of spies and such for the nobles as they play their endless games."
"Assassins?" Harry did his best to keep his question neutral but he found himself slightly shaken. He remembered how unconcerned she had been after putting a dagger in the witch's back, a woman she had apparently travelled with, and felt a sudden itch between his own shoulder blades. For a moment he wondered how much he had seen of her had been a lie, an attempt to manipulate him. Then he remembered how he had met her as she stood before the warden, decrying his actions, willing to die to protect a piece of pottery filled with ancient remains. An understanding of the woman in front of him crystallized in that moment. Leliana, he realized, was a repentant sinner.
"When it was called for." She watched him for a moment, looking for condemnation in his eyes and when she did not find it she continued more sedately. "My teacher, Marjolaine, my... friend. She set me a task and I carried it out. I killed a man and brought her everything which he carried."
As she spoke she continued to watch Harry carefully but he sat silently taking it all in. He now understood better why she had learned to forgive so easily. She had forgiven Sten for the murders he had committed and for his attempt to take her life. She had forgiven Harry for the night of torture his magic had inflicted upon her. Leliana, he suspected, had desperately searched for a forgiveness of her own. He wondered if she had found it.
"I did not know this man. I knew not why she wished him dead and I did not ask. That she wanted it was all that I required, besotted fool that I was." Besotted? Harry found it an interesting choice of word but didn't comment. "He had sealed documents on his body and I could not resist opening them. They were proof that Marjolaine had been selling information to other countries. Intrigue within the houses is expected but to commit treason?"
Leliana shook her head and slumped in her chair before continuing. "I was afraid for her life if she were discovered. I brought my fears to her only to have her to brush them aside and tell me her guilt was in the past."
"You became a loose end." Harry commented.
"Loose end?" Leliana asked.
"An inconvenient complication." Harry clarified.
Leliana nodded glumly. "I had never been more surprised than when I was arrested by the Orlesian guards. They had the documents I retrieved for Marjorlaine, altered by her own hand to make me appear the traitor. As I soon discovered they take a dim view of such things."
"But you escaped, and now we're here, and for some reason you believe you have to go back." Harry commented as she lingered in contemplation. "Couldn't we just as easily give the urn to the local chantry and let them see that it reaches its destination?"
"Ferelden may have protected my person but it was the Maker who saved my soul." Leliana responded fervently. "If he has seen fit to bring the urn into my hands I must find it within myself to see the task carried through to the very end. Our paths are not always ours to choose, no matter where they may lead us."
Harry found himself forced to agree. While not a man of religion his course in life had often felt too far beyond his control for him to discount that fate had played a part in it. He should have died a hundred times over and Voldemort should have won the war, taken control of Britain, and gone on to kill untold numbers throughout Europe. Instead Harry had lived through the insanity of Hogwarts and survived the following war even as his closest friends and allies died beside him. He had been there at the right time, in the right place, to end the dark lord Voldemort's reign before it had the chance to begin and he could not deny that some greater destiny had played a part in events. He also didn't believe in coincidence and that he'd arrived where he had, at such a crucial moment, was just another turn of events in his life that defied casual belief.
"I will understand if you do not wish to aid me in this Harry. You desire to find your way home and owe me nothing." Leliana began morosely and Harry realized he'd spent too long in silent contemplation.
"This Val Royeaux. Good tourist spot?" Harry asked whimsically.
Leliana looked confused by his comment. "Tourist?"
"You know. Touring the sites. Seeing what there is to see. I imagine that church, chantry, whatever you want to call it. The grand cathedral? It has to be pretty impressive."
"Oui." Leliana began to smile. "I did not have a true appreciation for it when I was last in Val Royeaux but even then I stopped to wonder at its beauty."
"I did promise you another flight and I'm not exactly in a hurry to be anywhere." She beamed at his response and he suspected that the only reason she wasn't hugging the life out of him was because of the table that separated them. The idea sounded appealing but he resisted the urge to vanish the table.
"Afterward I promise I will do everything I can to help you return to your home." She stated enthusiastically. "Perhaps we can gain access to one of the circle libraries. I suspect that if there is anything written that may help you that it would be found there. The trick will not be in entering but in leaving again once we are done."
"The Circle of Magi has many towers where most mages live. I have never seen the inside of one but have heard that they have wondrous libraries filled with arcane knowledge."
The sensation of hope entered his chest and for the first time he felt a sense of optimism towards his task. It was exactly the sort of resource he needed. He supposed he could understand why they might protect that knowledge from muggles but surely when he demonstrated that he had his own brand of magic they'd become far more accommodating. He had a small library of his own sitting in one of his pockets and he couldn't imagine any such group not being open to an exchange of information.
A knock sounded on the door and then it opened to reveal a pair of servants. The young woman who had first led them to their rooms was one of them and she sent a sultry smile at Harry as she laid the dishes in front of him. Harry swallowed uncomfortably when her hand brushed along his arm and Leliana grinned as she watched with amusement. When they left he found the cutlery familiar, simple knives and forks, and the food wouldn't have been out of place at a table in England. Potatoes, carrots, and something that he suspected was a mutton chop sat on each plate and large mugs of frothing ale had been placed beside them. A pitcher with more of the beverage had also been left behind.
Harry hesitantly took a sip from the mug and decided he liked it. Served warm it was pleasantly spiced and he was pretty sure he could detect a hint of cinnamon. "So. If our destination is Orlais... I assume that's to the south-east?"
Leliana ignored the piece of meat to begin eating the vegetables. He couldn't help but notice that she appeared to have impeccable table manners. "Non. Orlais is to the west on the far side of the Frostback Mountains."
Harry froze, a small roasted potato half way to his open mouth. He put his fork back onto the plate still skewering the vegetable and watched as she contentedly chewed on some carrot. Harry had never spent much time learning geography but even he knew that France shouldn't be to the west unless he'd made some glaringly false assumptions. "It isn't to the South-East, separated by an ocean?"
"Of course not." Leliana laughed at first but stopped after a moment, her eyes widening. "Is this something you can do easily where you come from? Cross the oceans themselves? It is said that the Qunari came from over the oceans far to the north but the truth of it is known only to them."
"That's... yes we can." Another discrepancy. There shouldn't be much of anything to the North unless the Qunari had come from the arctic. He force himself to stop talking and take a few bites of his meal before continuing. "Leliana, your accent, it's clearly french."
"Non." She disputed after swallowing some of the ale. He noticed that she'd still barely touched the mutton. "I am not familiar with this word, french, I was raised in Orlais."
"And in Orlais they speak..." Harry prompted.
"Orlesian." Yet even as she said the word she said it with an accent that sounded very french to Harry's ears.
"Leliana what language are we talking right now?" He pressed scenting a mystery.
"It has many names. The common tongue, the King's tongue, or often the trade tongue." she replied. "It was a language brought to men by the dwarves long ago."
Harry blinked. "Dwarves? You're saying dwarves developed the English language here? And when you say dwarves..."
"I mean dwarves. You do not know of them?" She looked surprised. "They are short, stout, and live mostly beneath the earth. They are great builders and miners and there is almost constant trade between Orzamar and the surface world."
Harry shook his head as he tried to wrap his head around the concept. He didn't believe for a second that a completely different race that lived in the ground had developed a language identical to modern English by accident. "Where does Orlesian come from then?"
"From Orlais of course."
They ate in silence for a few minutes. Harry finished off his mutton chop which had been over cooked but was still filling and Leliana ate the last of her potatoes and proceeded to poke at her mutton with a displeased frown. Gathering his thoughts Harry took another drink from his mug and began to share his confusion. "I've been making some assumptions. I figured that this place, Thedas, was like my world in many ways. I assumed that up to a point our worlds were very similar and then the two just split, history going in different directions somewhere in the distant past. Different worlds but still similar enough to explain the fact that I showed up here not only understanding the language but speaking it with a somewhat similar accent. I figured that Ferelden was just a different name for an altered version of England."
"But you no longer believe it to be so." She stated, her brows furrowed in thought. Giving up on the over cooked piece of meet she picked up her mug and relaxed back into her seat.
"Not if Orlais is to the west. Unless we're in Southern Germany or Austria." Harry mused. "Leliana if I gave you some parchment could you draw a map of Thedas?"
Leliana nodded and sat forward in her chair as Harry fished out piece of parchment and a self inking quill set. Several minutes later he sat looking at an incomplete map that stopped at mountain borders to the west and the south, at desert in the southwest, and a forest in the northwest. To the east there was only ocean and to the north lay several large islands after which there was again only more ocean.
If there was any land on Earth that looked like it Harry had never seen it.
"What's to the West and the South?" He asked and Leliana shrugged.
"No one has made it beyond these borders and returned to tell of it."
"Which would make this, as far as you're concerned, the entirety of the known world. We flew from here to here, is that right?" Harry pointed first to where she had marked a village and named it Lothering on the map and then to Redcliffe and she nodded. "That would make it about thirty miles give or take. Blimey, that means this is way too small."
He tried to do the math in his head but anyway he looked at it the entire known world of Thedas couldn't be much bigger than the all of the United Kingdom combined. "Merlin... its hard to believe an area this small developed two languages so different side by side."
"Two? There are more than two languages spoken within the borders of Thedas."
"How many then?"
"I know of at least seven still used in Thedas." Leliana began listing out the languages she knew and pointed on the map to indicate where they were used. "Orlesian in Orlais, Rivaini in Rivain, Ander in the Anderfels, Antivan in Antiva, Teven in the Tevinter Impreium, I'm am unsure what language the Qunari speak but know they have their own, and in the Free Marches, Nevarra, and Ferelden mostly the common tongue is spoken."
"That doesn't make any sense." Harry murmured. His education in both history and geography had been sadly lacking but even he could tell that what she was saying was impossible. "So close together and so small with no geography keeping them apart. Leliana there should only be one language in Thedas. One culture for that matter."
"Such an odd thing to say." She replied. "How do you determine what should be? I am telling you what is"
"Then there's the other oddity." Harry continued undeterred, "The common tongue is identical to English and I'm pretty sure that Orlesian is identical to French. Do you speak any other languages Leliana?"
"I'm afraid not. I do know a very few words in Antivan though I'm afraid most of them are somewhat vulgar." She mused and after a moment made a few short lyrical statements in another language. He couldn't recognize the words but the intonation and phrasing sounded suspiciously similar to Italian. "If we speak the same languages then perhaps it is simply the work of the Maker. "
"Too easy." Harry replied bluntly. While he didn't have a better explanation that didn't mean their wasn't one. "And Antivan sounds suspiciously like it might be Italian which is yet another language from my world."
"I'm sorry Harry if this upsets you but there is little history from the Ancient times and none from before them. Whatever answers you desire on this subject are most likely long lost. We should speak of other things."
"It isn't so much that it upsets me. It's just a mystery." Harry replied "Mysteries tend to come back later and try to kill me so I've gotten in the habit of solving them."
"If it is a mystery then it is one which belongs to all of Thedas and has existed for thousands of years. I doubt it will impact upon our lives in any way." She leaned forward and refilled her mug from the pitcher. "Now. I believe I promised you a story and I have been horribly remiss."
Harry did his best to forget the mystery for the moment, though he had no doubt he would be revisiting it later. He sat back to listen as Leliana tried to explain to him exactly what he'd gotten himself into the middle of. As she talked her words flowed rhythmically, painting a vivid picture of the events which she described. She had said bards were entertainers and clearly she had been a story teller. He wondered if she had she also been a musician.
"So this general..." Her tale had taken over an hour to tell and afterward Harry sipped at another mug of ale while trying to keep it all straight in his mind. "He betrayed the king, blamed it on the grey wardens and left them all to get slaughtered at the fortress in the south. So now the army that was meant to protect the kingdom is broken, this general has taken what is left of it and set out to establish himself as the country's new ruler, and all the while darkspawn are spreading in the south and slaughtering anyone they come across?"
"I used to believe he was a hero who loved his country. Others still believe it. Either this was always a falsehood or he has lost all sense of reason." She clenched her hands around the now empty mug. "It is through his actions that Lothering was abandoned to its destruction and many of its people killed."
Harry shook his heads at the insanity of it. "So all the other grey wardens are dead and somehow Marcus and Alistair, the two newest wardens of the bunch no less, were left running all over the country trying to force everyone to abide by some treaty of mutual defence - humans, mages, dwarves and elves, though what good elves would be at fighting darkspawn I can't imagine. You joined him in Lothering because..."
"Because the Maker instructed me to." She replied calmly.
"Right. Just wanted to make sure I heard that part right." Harry mumbled.
"I believed at the time that my purpose was to help the wardens save Ferelden and stop the blight before it grows beyond control." She shook her head. "Now I fear that my true purpose was to save the urn from Marcus and to protect Andraste's mortal remains from destruction. I fear what that means for Ferelden."
"You didn't mention anything more about the treaties." Harry asked.
"Marcus insisted we first approach Arl Eamon. He believed his support was required to counter Logain. The Arl is popular and his word would go far to counter Logain's falsehoods against the wardens."
"So you saved the Redcliffe Village from inferi, cleared the castle, followed the trail of the ashes to the capital, what was it called again?"
"Right Denerim. Then off to the freezing mountains where you massacred a town full of cultists..."
"While I regret their deaths they were all mad and fearless." Leliana sat up abruptly and answered back with indignation "They worshipped the dragon and..."
"I'm sorry Leliana." Harry stopped her realizing it had been a poor choice of words. "You don't have to explain. I've encountered more than my share of fanatics and it never goes well."
Leliana nodded, mollified, and sat back again.
"That led you to the tomb, and that's where I joined the story." He finished.
"Just as I thought mine was about to end, yes." She replied heavily. "And now that I have told you my story, and you have told me my story, perhaps you will tell me your own?"
Harry smiled grimly. "I think its more than we can get through in one sitting."
"Then tell me your beginning. Hopefully we will have time for the rest later." Leliana smiled.
And so that was what Harry did. He considered for a moment telling her of New York, a nameless dark lord, and a portal between worlds, it was more relevant but there was little happiness in that tale and they'd spoken enough of dark tidings already. So instead he told her about an ordinary eleven year old boy who lived an ordinary life in an ordinary town only to one day wake up and find out that the world wasn't so ordinary after all. He told her of the Dursley's flight from the letters to a little island off the shore and the arrival of the friendly giant who told him the secret that had been following him all his young life. He was a wizard.
"And suddenly it all made sense." Harry mused to a wide eyed Leliana. She'd giggled when he told her of the letters flooding the house through every opening, of his early bouts with accidental magic, and though he hadn't mentioned the cupboard under the stairs she'd frowned every time he attempted to gloss over the irrational behavior of his relatives. "I was a wizard."
"Your aunt and uncle. They were not kind to you were they?" Leliana asked hesitantly.
Harry kept his silence for a moment before answering quietly. "No. I have never once heard the Dursley's described as kind by anyone, least of all myself."
"It is a wonderful tale Harry and you tell it well. If that is merely how it begins then I cannot wait to hear more but I suspect that as little sleep as I managed last night that you had even less." She stood and he groggily pushed himself to his feet as well. Exhaustion and the ale had both done their part and now that he looked for it he could see that he wasn't the only one in need of rest. He walked her to the door and she hesitated before opening it. "Do you plan to let her in when she comes?"
"She?" Harry asked.
"The servant girl."
"She wouldn't actually just..."
"I'm sure she would." Leliana replied calmly. She looked at him and he wondered if he'd missed some hidden message from the servant that Leliana had not. Leliana seemed certain that the offer would be made and even if she was right he couldn't quite figure out why she was so interested. He didn't get the sense she would judge him either way just that she was curious how he would respond.
"For all that she knows - I could be married." He pointed out only for her to smirk.
"I do not think it would matter to her. In my experience few noblemen are true to their vows when far from their wives." Harry did his best not to wonder which experiences she was referring to.
"It works a little differently with wizards." Harry responded solemnly. Marriage vows between witches and wizards were bound by magic, nearly unbreakable, and the consequences of violating one were always dire.
"You have not yet answered my question." Leliana replied but he could tell from the look in her eyes that his response had intrigued her. He began to wonder just what kind of debauchery she had been witness to when she worked her way among the Orlesian nobility.
"Then my answer is that I intend to lock this door with my wand and sleep through the night and even if this castle is attacked by dragons I expect I will not wake before morning."
Leliana considered him a moment before her face lit into a smile. "Then I wish you good dreams Harry. May the Maker watch over your rest."
She left his room and made her way to hers and he watched from the hall as she glanced at him one last time, still smiling, before she entered her room and then closed her door. He cast a modified locking charm on it, one which would break if she turned the handle from within but until then would prevent anyone from entering. Still unsure just what that last conversation had really been about Harry then returned to his own room.
Several hours later someone tried to turn the handle of his door but spelled with a well cast locking charm the door didn't budge. Giving up the visitor then knocked softly on the door so as not to wake anyone but the occupant of the room. They waited a bit and, when no response was forthcoming, knocked again slightly louder.
Harry, deep in exhausted sleep, never even stirred.
Authors Notes :
Once again - thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter. With every chapter I put out I find myself wondering if people will like it, hate it, be bored to tears by it, etc, so feedback is always welcome and appreciated.
I'm deliberately trying to keep this story accessible to people who don't know the game – so those who do will already know quite a bit of the back-story in this chapter. Hopefully I managed to go over those bits without making them boring. I did borrow a few lines of dialogue from the game this but only a few. The ones I did take tended to be adjusted to my purpose.
Now, for those who might debate my interpretation of Thedas geography, keep going – if you're fine with it the way I interpreted it or just plain don't care then don't bother reading the rest of the notes :) This next section is me trying to avoid getting a dozen reviews claiming that Thedas is bigger than it really is. -
I spent a fair bit of time on the internet trying to piece this together. The game clearly models itself after Europe and I believe the game creators have stated this. However the maps they put out combined with the time frames quoted for some of the more important events (such as a two day forced march between Redcliffe and Denerim) indicate that the landmass MUST be much smaller than Europe. One map put out by Electronics Arts has distance markers on the borders and in a convincing forum debate people came to the conclusion that the distance between Redcliff and Denerim matched up nicely with the time to make the march if you considered each tick to be 10 miles. For obvious reasons none of the other likely options make sense (100km, 100miles, 1km, 1miles). If you do the math then the known world of Thedas is at most (and this is including a fair bit of water) 210 000 square km. The united kingdom is 243 610 square km. To give some more basis for comparison modern France is roughly 640 000 square km, Italy is roughly 300 000 square km... in short pretty much every country in Europe which is paralleled in Thedas has a square footage larger than all of Thedas – sometimes much larger.
As this chapter should have made obvious - rather than ignoring language and geography discrepancies I'm instead incorporating them into the story – this is not a new decision, I've been planning it from the moment I decided to do away with the language barrier and let Harry freely banter with the natives.
So there you go – that's my canon and I'm sticking to it. Consequently the distance between Lothering and Redcliffe is between 30 and 40 miles on a road but near Redcliffe it passes through rougher terrain. A firebolt can go pretty fast, I believe they list its time to accelerate to 150miles/hour somewhere – so the trip taking only an hour when flying at a leisurely (30-40miles/hour) pace worked for me.