She ran, practically flying through the halls of the Palace, rushing past others without really seeing them. There was a single goal in her mind and she must reach it before he left.
As she burst into the stables, Osanna was breathing hard with a pain lancing up her right side. She pressed onward, however, and when she saw Alistair’s tall form standing near one of the back stalls, her flight was made entirely worthwhile. The sight of him also lent her a rush of energy and he just barely turned around in time to meet her.
Lifting her hands, Osanna cupped his cheeks and searched his face, trying to find all of the answers she was searching for. The years she’d spent in the Palace had taught her of the gossip circles that swirled through the different groups of servants. So when the rumors of the aftermath of Ostagar had begun making their circulation, she hadn’t quite known how to respond.
Especially the one that said Alistair, her Alistair, had betrayed his brother.
The boy that had left the Palace years before had grown up into the man before her and she could still see him. There was fresh pain etched into his face, though, and it made her heart ache to see it. Even worse to know that that pain wouldn’t find an easy end.
“Osanna,” he breathed and suddenly arms coated in leather and steel instead of the cloth she remembered curled around her. Despite that difference, it was the same embrace as it had been five years previous when his father had died – all quiet desperation that screamed of an ache that couldn’t be healed.
“Oh, child,” she gasped, “what happened?”
Alistair just shook his head. “Too much and we don’t have time. Loghain’s been spotted on the road, riding hard ahead of most of his men.”
Just the mere name of the man made anger rear up into life and snarl in her heart. Osanna had never liked the dark Teryn, not since that first night when she had arrived with Alistair. Over the years since then her dislike had only grown but she had come to care for his daughter during that time. And when Anora had come to the Palace to stay, Cailan had suggested her to his new wife as the woman to head her personal score of servants.
It was that position that had allowed her to find Alistair now as Anora had known where he was.
Cursing in her native tongue, Osanna rose up on her toes and gently pulled Alistair’s face downward. As he bent to accommodate her, she noticed that his eyes were closed and he was breathing hard. Tears suddenly came to her own eyes and she forced them shut as she pressed a kiss against his forehead, feeling his arms tighten around her.
“Be safe,” she breathed shakily. “Oh, my son, be safe.”
Alistair’s breathing hitched and as Osanna settled back down onto the flat of her feet, she saw him blinking back tears. Fighting against her own, she moved one hand down to the chain around her neck and drew out the amulet she’d worn since she’d been a young girl. “My mother gave me this to protect me before she died,” she said softly as she pulled the chain over her head. Reaching for one of his arms, she brought his hand between them and placed the amulet inside before closing his fingers over it. “She said Andraste would follow and protect me so long as I wore her flame.”
“You haven’t followed the faith since before I was born,” he noted with a weak smile and Osanna nodded before curling the fingers of her still raised hand against his cheek.
“No. I have always believed, however, that her faith protected me. And now it will protect you.”
Abruptly the man standing nearby spoke up quietly. “Alistair. We have to go.”
“Go,” she breathed, dropping her hands and stepping away. As Alistair merely blinked at her, standing there looking ever so lost with her amulet in his hands, she flung out her hands and snapped, “Go.”
The man growled through his teeth and reached out to grab at Alistair’s arm but the younger man was already moving, turning towards the saddled horse. Osanna stepped further back as they both rose into their respective saddles, her eyes catching his for a brief moment before they were gone.
As the sound of the hooves pounded into the distance, she sank to her knees with both hands clasped over her heart and prayed for the first time since the death of her daughter so many years before. “Lady Andraste, protect him, please,” she breathed aloud. “He’s all I have left.”