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The battle for the city continues.

We pushed on, too eager to be out of the Deep Roads to camp, and arrived at the gates in the middle of the night. As such, they were closed and locked, but Duncan knew the secret to opening the complicated structures, and he showed each of the Wardens so we would all be able to do it in an emergency.

He explained that the doors were anchored by dozens of feet of circumferential metal more than a foot thick, which was melded right into the stone all the way around using some strange dwarven technology he couldn't explain. They were unbreachable even by ogres and magic, and to anyone's knowledge, the darkspawn had never managed to tunnel around one.

There were two very surprised guards, who looked like they'd woken from a nap when the doors at their back swung open, and more than fifty dwarves and a group of Grey Wardens poured through. As previously agreed, almost all of the dwarves wore full helmets, so that Sereda and Gorim could pass unnoticed. Scrambling over themselves to welcome us back to Orzammar, one of the guards ran to get the captain, though Duncan tried to convince them not to bother.

The captain was less than impressed by the late-night disruption, but was polite enough when he realised who Duncan was. He urged us to head to the estate, which was not difficult to convince us to do, and we parted ways with the Legion. Kardol promised to come to the estate the next day, and went his own way.

When we finally reached the estate, we crept in quietly, hoping not to disturb anyone. We needn't have bothered -- apparently gossip travels fast in Orzammar, and Mistress Leta was expecting us. She was in a housecoat and had her hair up, but despite that was her efficient, no-nonsense self. She had us leave everything except personal items in the common room, vowing to have someone take a look in the morning and clean what could be salvaged, burning the rest.

7

She organised us into lines for bathing in each of the three rooms containing a bathtub. With a sparkle in her eye, she informed us that no one would be sharing a bath that night, since there were too many of us who needed in there and we tended to take too long when we bathed with friends. I was impressed she managed not to look directly at Alistair or me while making the announcement, and was too tired to be too disappointed by bathing alone.

I was allowed one of the first baths -- Mistress Leta made the others draw straws, but ushered me directly into a room with the water already drawn, and Sereda, after the requisite kneeling and bowing, was put in the room next to mine. It was probably sexist, and I didn't care in the least. I found a bucket and filled it with water, first just rinsing myself off fully dressed, before I peeled myself out of my now-wet leathers and did it again naked. I piled the destroyed armour in a corner -- it was definitely going to need burning -- and proceeded to use a washcloth and another bucket of water to scrub the worst of the filth off my skin. It had been more than a week since we'd used the rune-sink in Bownammar to clean up, and even that hadn't been thorough. The black water I sluiced down the drain was evidence enough of that. I washed my hair in the bucket next, using a harsh soap meant for that exact purpose.

Finally satisfied that I at least wouldn't have to sit in a tub full of filth and taint, I climbed in. The water was bordering on too hot, that perfect temperature where it makes skin tingle without causing too much pain, and I sank down into with a sigh. I didn't soak for too long -- there were thirteen people who needed a bath as badly as I did, plus a mabari and a handful of golems who'd need to be scrubbed -- so after a brief dunk, I scrubbed myself clean again, using the nicer soaps Leliana always seemed to find us, and then washed and conditioned my hair and got out of the bath. I left brushing my teeth 'til last -- I'd long ago run out of toothpaste, but had gotten some baking soda from the kitchen and used that.

All I had clean were

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