Cold air and bitter memories—a plot she was only now coming to understand, circumstances that had once halted her sleep and filled her thoughts with a curious skepticism, a confused hurt. The night her castle burned, she knew—an Arling for a Teyrnir, a ring for surrender of land.
A ring she’d worn for over seven years, its mate far across the sea and voiced in tense, forced letters with a small shard of affectionate sincerity. A sham of a marriage, forced by mothers and fathers desperate for powerful grandchildren that had no chance of birth—a distance in flesh had secured a barren womb. Her mother never blamed her; after all, it wasn’t her fault.
It was her name that troubled her the most—she’d sacrificed her name in favor of the one who’d betrayed her. And now, perhaps, the option to take another might not be possible.
That’s what terrified her the most—now that she’d found love, it might not last but for a moment. Honestly there was nothing she could do about it—being a Warden stripped her of title and right, and being a Howe had stripped her of home.
Her hands knotted into one another, intertwining with discomfort as Eamon speaks to them of duty, blood, and country. His voice is that of a school master, as if scolding two young children and instructing them to proper behavior. Every fiber of her being dreads the topic he discusses, as her quiet tongue and secrecy have no doubt backed her into a corner only promising conflict.
One that she doesn’t want.
"The Couslands are powerful, and have been wronged—the public will easily sway beneath them, and the heir born of you could very well unanimously band Ferelden together. It is a powerful match, Alistair, and you will need her counsel when it comes to the affairs of the court," Eamon’s voice at such a level would have otherwise put her to sleep—now, however, he tread dangerous waters.
The aged man’s face turned to hers, a look of knowing that kicked her in the stomach with guilt and dread. “As for the marriage, Elissa, the Landsmeet will most assuredly allow annulment. As I said before, the Couslands were wronged and everyone in that room will know it.”
Alistair’s confusion radiated from him, and she gave Eamon a sharp glare to stop the older man from causing further damage.
She and Alistair had to discuss this—now.