He is twenty and standing in the middle of Ostagar in front of his brother’s tent when the ground opened up from underneath them, darkspawn pouring out from the depths revealed below them to destroy everything.
He is twenty and running through the halls of Highever, sword in hand and words of warning on his lips, only this time to arrive too late. Everyone was dead and he was faced with only the shapeless features of Howe’s men to take out his anger upon.
He is fifteen and standing in Denerim, his hand wrapped around a torch, and thrust the burning brand into the dry kindling of the pyre. Only when he looked up, it was Cailan on the pyre, not the ragdoll effigy of their father.
He is seven years old, running down the stairs of the Palace, tripping, falling, tumbling forever it seems. And when he looks up where he lays on the ground, he sees his brother disappearing into nothing, blue eyes staring back as if in betrayal.
Alistair woke with a scream in his throat, fingers scrabbling for his sword as his limbs flailed in an attempt to get him upright. He staggered, nearly tumbling over, then managed to get the blade free of the sheath. As he blinked, the black edges of sleep replaced by the haze of sunrise and the low burning embers of the campfire, he remembered.
He was on the run. Painted as a traitor. Fratricide.
And his brother was dead. Of betrayal. Regicide.
The sword slipped from suddenly numb fingers and Alistair dropped to his knees, a keen rising in his throat. He lifted both hands to fist them in his hair as he doubled over until his forehead touched the night chilled dirt as tears blinded his eyes. “Please,” he was vaguely aware of begging, though he wasn’t sure who he was speaking to.
Osanna’s own disbelief in the Maker had influenced his own religious views over the years. Oh, he made the motions like Anora and Father had told him to do because it was proper and expected by the populace but he’d never believed. He had never felt the need to because he’d had everything he needed in Osanna, in Father, Cailan, Anora, Aedan, everyone he dared love. Now…
Now he almost wanted the Maker and Andraste to really exist if only to hear him. He didn’t care if they answered. Didn’t care if anything happened because of it.
He just wanted to scream his pain to the sky and have someone, anyone there to listen.
“Please,” Alistair begged into the dirt as his tears made mud out of it, “please give him back. I just…I want my brother back.” Slowly sliding down sideways onto the ground, he curled up as much as he could and wished hard to be back home. He just wanted warm, loving arms around him again, where there was comfort and safety and nothing bad could ever happen.
But there was only the cold ground there to provide little comfort.