I have constructed a dozen letters these past months to send to you but the courage to write the words always fled before I was half done. It is only now, when I must, that I have found the strength to write what need be said.
I have born you a child, Maric. A boy.
His name is Alistair and I would hope you let him keep that one thing I’ve been allowed to give him besides life. I wish I could keep him but Weisshaupt is no place for a child to be raised and given the life a Warden lives I cannot keep him. So I send him along with his wetnurse to you at only a week old. I can only hope he survived the journey.
Other than the name I have three requests. If only until he no longer needs her, keep her in your employ. Her name is Osanna and she is a woman who has lost a great deal but has also helped me greatly. Without her I might have gone mad throughout the bearing of him. Second, if you can, let Alistair live without the ties to my life or yours. I have seen the terrible weight of the crown upon you and the Wardens upon me. I want him free of our shackles.
My third request is perhaps the hardest for me. I do not want you to tell him who I am. To say I was a Warden might only allow him to figure out who I am if he speaks to the correct people. And neither he nor anyone else need to know what he was born by an elf and a mage. You and I both know that it will only make his life harder if such were known. He appears human so let him be simply that.
Beyond these things, I have little else to ask of you. Forgive me for springing this upon you.
It was the eighth (or perhaps the ninth, tenth) time he’d read the letter and absolutely nothing had become clearer in the reading. Sighing, Maric tossed it onto the table and leaned back in his chair to stair moodily at the dying coals of his sitting room fire.
The woman Osanna and the babe had been safely esconced in one of the closer rooms hours ago at his order but he had not found sleep since then. Everything that had happened in the last few hours merely played back through his head over and over and he wondered if there was something he could have, should have, done different.
Should he have gone with Loghain’s advice to foist the boy off on someone else to raise?
Would doing so be more true to Fiona’s request to keep him out of the path of his own life and hers?
Was keeping him going to anger so many as he and Loghain feared?
Lifting a hand to rub at his face, fingers scraping against the rough growth on his cheek, Maric looked up at the painting of Rowan. She smiled down at him, all too prim and proper, and nothing of the woman he’d known. “What would you tell me?” he asked aloud. “Could you love a child not yours?”
Then again that was a moot question. If Rowan had lived, he never would have been with Fiona in the first place.
“Better question,” he mused as he rested his chin on his fist. “Would you rather I take responsiblity for my own actions or to thrust it upon one of your brothers?” Given what he recalled of his queen, Maric was certain that her answer would be the former. They had had many conversations with each other whilst struggling to become something more than married strangers and he had worked hard to repair the shattered trust between them. Rowan had also been rather pointed about him honestly claiming his relationship with Katriel despite it being one of the larger points of contention between them.
Shaking his head a little, he smiled up at the painting. “You’d never forgive me if I did such a thing.” The Guerrin brothers were both painfully young still and to bog either of them down with the responsibility of raising their King’s bastard son would be irresponsible. Eamon, however, could perhaps help him with crafting a cover story for the boy.
Maric turned away from the painting then and stared towards the door, beyond which lay the Palace and his sons. The plural rolled around in his head, a strange but almost right thing. And it made him think of all the things he should have said to Loghain.
How having Alistair around would be good for Cailan as it would teach him responsibility. And when the boy was older, they would have that companionship that brothers do. At least that was his hope.
How he hoped that having the boy around would bring some kind of life back to the Palace because since Rowan’s death it had been all too dead.
How he was all too terrified that he was going to mess up another child because he was a terrible father and he needed his friend’s support.
Hanging his head, Maric closed his eyes as he stilled suddenly shaking hands and breathed to the empty room and the portrait of his dead wife, “Please don’t let me mess this up. Please.”