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“So it was that Duncan of the Grey Wardens came to choose from among the Order of Templars a recruit who would himself join the campaign against the darkspawn. This honor was overseen by Knight-Commander Glavin of Denerim and performed in the name and by the glory of Andraste.
There was held in the Grey Warden’s honor a tournament to display the Chantry’s finest warriors. Templars from across Ferelden filled the courtyard with gleaming armor and a righteous glow, and it is certain that the Maker’s will was present on that day. And next to the Knight-Commander sat Duncan, watching wolf-eyed over those who would be his recruit.
As the sparring progressed, three templars stood apart. There was Ser Kalvin of Denerim. A finer talent with a sword could not be had this side of the Antivan duelists. There was Ser Eryhn, a woman of Highever, possessed of unmatched grace with blade and shield. And there was Ser Talrew of Lothering, whose battle prowess had brought victory in many campaigns against Chasind raiders in the Korcari Wilds. The Grey Warden seemed impressed by these three warriors, but still he appeared perplexed. This did not escape the notice of Knight-Commander Glavin, who asked of him, “My friend Warden, why does your brow furrow?”
To which Duncan replied, “I have seen many fine warriors of stout heart this day, but there, across the field, I see one templar who has not been called to fight.”
The Knight-Commander looked, and he saw the young initiate Alistair, and when he did he sighed. “That one,” he said, “is a troublemaker. His mouth and his attitude betray a willful streak that will only do his fellows harm. He is not worthy of the honor of fighting this day.”
“I come to find the best of you,” replied the Grey Warden, “not the most polite. Let him fight.”
And the Knight-Commander nodded grudgingly at the young Alistair, who for his part appeared surprised. He glanced between the Knight-Commander and the Grey Warden as if for confirmation, and he found it in Duncan’s satisfied smile.
In time, the young Alistair emerged with armor and weapon and entered the fray. The others voiced anger at the initiate’s late inclusion, and their efforts to push him from consideration were obvious. Alistair reacted in his own inimitable fashion: to those he bested, he reached down, offering his hand while smiling an impish grin. If refused, the gesture was replaced with mockery that drew quiet chuckles from the crowd. Often his opponent would storm from the field in fury and Alistair would simply turn towards Duncan and shrug, displaying an even larger grin.
But Alistair was far from the most experienced warrior on the field. He was bested by Ser Kalvin’s quick blade. He was outmaneuvered by Ser Eryhn’s skill. He was outlasted by Ser Talrew’s endurance. Even so, when the tournament was done, Duncan turned to the Knight-Commander and made his choice. “I will recruit Alistair,” he said.
The Knight-Commander was outraged, but could not refuse, for the Grey Wardens wield the Right of Conscription. Resigned, he announced Duncan’s choice, and took him to the field to meet the young victor amidst many stern, indignant stares. None were more surprised than Alistair himself.
“But I didn’t even win the tournament!” he was heard to exclaim.
“I did not ask for the tournament,” Duncan responded. “Nor did I offer recruitment as its prize. I came here seeking a warrior of character and I believe I have found him.”
Alistair appeared taken aback by the response, but perhaps not unpleasantly so. He stared agape until Duncan, with the slightest hint of a smile, suggested that the young man go and collect his gear for they would be leaving immediately. Alistair ran off with such speed that it brought knowing glances from members of the crowd.
Nothing was heard from Alistair after that night, but such is not unusual when it comes to Grey Wardens. What is known is that the templar barracks are far, far quieter without him.”
- ---- excerpt from the journal of Brother Tevius, serving the Order of Templars in Redcliffe
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