To be honest, the dream was starting to get to me a little bit. The two newest additions to our group wouldn’t stop asking questions. Ordinarily, I would have loved chatting with Varric and even Solas the egg, but I was still a bit shaken from my earlier encounter with the shade and only wanted to go with the flow of the weird dream until it ended. No metaphorical ponderings needed, thank you very much.
“So, Tiny, where are you from?” Varric asked after the first fight died down.
I narrowed my eyes at him. A normal question like this was horribly suspicious when coming from the author in question. “Around,” I said.
“Around?” Varric inquired with a raised eyebrow.
“Just around,” I repeated, shrugging to make my point.
“I can’t quite place that strange accent of yours,” Varric murmured.
That’s when Solas butted his egg head into the conversation. “I have to agree with Master Tethras,” Solas said, his face an irritating mask of calm. “It is not an accent I recognise, either. And I have traveled a lot, both in the Fade and out of it.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter what I say, does it?” I said, my smile flat. “You won’t know the place since, I repeat, this is a dream.”
Cassandra blew out a breath, disgusted at our conversation. “You will get nowhere questioning him,” she said and stalked ahead angrily. “I told you, he speaks nonsense. Maybe he inherited an uncommon accent from his Qunari parents. ”
Varric glanced at the Seeker doubtfully, then turned to look at me. “I have never met a Qunari with an accent quite like that.”
“You have lots of Qunari friends, do you Varric?” I smirked, tilting my head towards him. “I guess I should have known, since you met a bunch of them in Kirkwall.”
“I’ve met enough of them,” he said noncommittally.
“We should make haste, there are still rifts here that pose a threat,” Solas said.
Of course that’s when a group of shades appeared just a couple of meters away from us. Bastard jinxed us.
“Ugh!” I groaned and gripped my mace more tightly as one of the shades charged straight at me. “This dream sucks.”
Solas froze the demon with a quick spin off his staff, then turned his attention to Cassandra, who was tanking two of the shades.
I stared at him for a moment, slightly envious. Why couldn’t I have been a mage? That had always been my default in the game. “Thanks,” I quipped nonetheless, and put all of my strength into one swing. The demon shattered to pieces. On the other hand, raw physical power was cool, too. “Awesome!”
Varric whistled. “Quite a grip you got there, Tiny,” he said, coming to stand next to me as we caught our breath. “Took just one hit.”
I grinned at him. “This Qunari body is good for something.”
Cassandra muttered something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like ‘Maker help me with delusional Qunari’.
While I was mentally high-fiving with Varric, Solas had turned to look at the two of us, with a thoughtful expression on his face. He looked like he wanted to comment, but apparently he changed his mind at the last second. “We better keep moving.”
And so we did. Demon after demon, we kicked their assess and moved towards the forward camp. I was starting to get the hang of fighting, and I was slowly getting used to my new body and its proportions, thus I was less likely to stumble flat on my face in front of Solas and Varric.
As we climbed the stairs up towards the hilltop, Varric asked me, “So, are you innocent?”
I rolled my eyes. It had been one of my wishes for there to be a dialogue option righ at this point of the game. I guess I sort of got my wish. “Yes,” I said, turning to glare at him.
“So who did do it?” He asked, curiosity rising at my confident denial.
“You know,” I said thoughtfully, “I think you actually know him? You and Hawke killed him once.” He raised his eyebrows. Following his expression carefully I continued, “His name is Corypheus. Ring any bells?”
Varric stopped dead in his tracks, forcing Solas to jump to the side to avoid a collision. Cassandra stopped too, only few steps ahead of us.
“What.” The author’s voice held none of it’s usual snark as he stared at me.
“Yep, that darkspawn of a magister is still walking around. Fun, right?” I grimaced.
“Are you sure? Did he tell you his name?” Varric asked, his face pale.
“Nope, but I’m 100% sure,” I said. “And he wasn’t alone.” I glanced at Cassandra, who was following our conversation with a curious, yet somehow conflicted expression on her face.
“Varric...” Cassandra started, but was interrupted by Solas.
“We should keep moving,” he said, stepping closer to the three of us. “This conversation can wait until we reach the forward camp, or even later. Seeing as the prisoner is no mage, I doubt he caused the Breach. Indeed, I find it difficult to imagine any mage having such power. If what he says is true, it is possible that this magister was behind all of this.”
“Understood.” Cassandra’s expression shuttered.
We moved on and came across yet another group of demons.
“I hope Leliana made it through all this,” the Seeker muttered.
“She’s resourceful, Seeker,” Varric comforted.
I snorted. “We’re all thinking of the same Leliana, right?” I asked, “The deadly assassin who can kill men with her pinky finger and not break a sweat?”
Cassandra snorted at the image. “You’re right. She’s probably fine.”
There was a rift just outside the forward camp, meaning it was down to us to take care of it.
“Take this, you little shit!” I yelled, swinging the mace at the shade’s face. It shrieked in pain and came at me. Oops.
Varric saved my ass with a quick crossbow bolt to the demon’s back. I grinned at him, then raised my hand to close the rift. As before, there was that feeling of a tug in the center of my being. I reached for it and pulled. The rift closed with a bang.
“Level up,” I muttered.
“The rift is gone, open the gate!” Cassandra ordered, and the doors opened before us.
“We’re clear for the moment,” Solas said. “Well done.”
Varric nodded. “Whatever that thing on you hand is, it’s useful.”
The guards stepped back as they saw me, obviously intimidated by my Qunari stature, but I just waltzed past them, eager to see Leliana again. She was, as always, in middle of an argument with Chancelor Roderick.
“You have caused enough trouble without resorting to these exercises in futility!” Roderick spat.
“I have caused trouble?” There was enough venom in Leliana’s voice that it would have made lesser men wet their pants.
But Roderick was either very stupid, or very brave, because he kept on going. “You, Cassandra, the Most Holy---” he started to say, but spotted us and stopped, leaning against the table. “Ah, here they come.”
Leliana gave us a faint smile. “You made it,” she said. “Chancelor Roderick, this is...”
“I know who he is,” Roderick spat, pointing his finger at me. “As Grand Chancelor of the Chantry, I hereby order you to take this criminal to Val Royeaux for execution!”
I crossed my arms, not intimidated in the least.
Cassandra saw red. “Order me?” She growled. “You are a glorified clerk. A bureaucrat!”
Roderick snorted. “And you are a thug, but a thug who supposedly serves the Chantry.”
Leliana shook her head. “We serve the Most Holy, Chancellor, as you well know.”
“Justinia is dead,” the Chancellor said, and I could detect a hint of weariness in his statement. “We must elect her replacement and obey her orders on the matter.”
“Cool,” I said with my arms still crossed, and received a bunch of confused glances. “While you’re doing this, I’m gonna traipse up to the Temple and close the Breach so ya’all can take it easy down here and argue over politics.”
Roderick pointed his finger at me again. “You brought this on us in the first place!” he yelled. Then he seemed to deflate, lowering his hand. “Call a retreat, Seeker. Our position here is hopeless.”
Aww, poor Roderick.
“We can stop this before it’s too late,” Cassandra said with conviction. “The prisoner can seal the rifts, it is only logical the same approach will work with the Breach.”
Roderick shook his head. “How? You won’t survive long enough to reach the temple, even with all your soldiers.”
“We must get to the temple, it’s the quickest route.”
Leliana stepped in. “But not the safest. Our forces can charge as a distraction, while we go through the mountains.”
Cassandra scowled. “We lost contact with an entire squad on that path. It’s too risky!”
“Listen to me, abandon this now! Before more lives are lost.”
That’s when the Mark sparkled, almost sending me to my knees. “Fuck!” I gasped, instinctively leaning on the shoulder of the nearest person, who happened to be Solas. “That was a bad one,” I groaned out.
Solas helped me back on my feet and as I straightened up, I realised they were all staring at me. Whether it was because of the cursing, or because the Mark acting up weirded them out, I’m not sure.
I gave them my best Hero Smile ™. It was only partly fake, since my hand was still aching like a bitch. “Don’t worry guys. Leliana is right, the mountain path is the safest.” I nodded at her. “We can still save those soldiers, and it won’t take too much of our time.”
“You can’t possibly know that,” Roderick said.
Cassandra gave a meaningful look to Leliana. “Earlier, the prisoner knew one of the bridges was going to explode,” she stated. “We were able to save the lives of several soldiers because of him.”
That made Leliana, Varric and Solas look at me with wide eyes. “How is that...” Leliana drifted off. A look of epiphany came over her. “You kept mentioning dreams.”
I scratched my neck. “I would see why you would think that,” I said, remembering the prophetic dreams she’d had in Dragon Age: Origins. “But my situation is the opposite of yours.” I gestured around us. “This is the dream.”
Solas hummed thoughtfully, drawing my attention to him. “You say you have reason to believe this is all a dream,” he said, “but what would make you believe it is reality?”
I opened my mouth, then shut it. He had a point. “... Nothing,” I said, scowling. “Pretty much everything that happens could be explained by my own mind playing tricks with me. I’ve had dreams before where the usual dream checks had no effect.”
I could feel my mind reaching for the obvious conclusion.
“Stop talking,” I said, gripping my head. “I don’t want to think about this.”
Solas backed off. “As you wish.”
“Tiny is right,” Varric said. “As interesting as all this talk about dreaming is, we should postpone it until after we close up that green hole up in the sky.”
Dwarves don’t dream, do they? Must be weird for him to listen to all of this dream talk.
Cassandra saved me from further headache. “Leliana,” she said. “Gather everyone left in the valley. Everyone.”
Leliana nodded, and off we went.
You know how in the game, the cut scene made it seem like it took just a couple of minutes for the Herald and their party to get to the area with the ladders? Well, my weird dream decided that cut scenes were boring, so we had to make quite a trek in the snow before we got to climb and kill more demons.
“You said Corypheus had help,” Varric said out of nowhere.
Cassandra gave him a disapproving glance.
I looked at him, my eyes wide. Wow, I was really fucking this up, wasn’t I? Because I had opened my mouth and babbled away several times now, I’d spoiled the whole surprise concerning Corypheus’s identity.
“You’re not supposed to know any of this,” I said, my breath coming out faster. This is a dream. This is a dream. This is a dream...
“I told you not to question him until later,” Solas said, coming to my rescue. He gave Cassandra a look I couldn’t quite decipher. Probably conveying ‘he’s totally crazy, so stop asking questions’.
Cassandra nodded and glared at Varric.
Varric raised his hands in surrender. “Sorry,” he said, not sounding sorry at all. “But when a Qunari with a glowing hand claims that a dead enemy is suddenly not so dead, I get curious.”
“Doesn’t matter, does it?” I muttered. “It’s a dream. What a shame...”
Solas slowed down until he was walking on my left. “Adaar,” he said pointedly, and it took me a moment to realise he was addressing me. That was my name now. “Whether or not you believe this is a dream, it would not be wise to treat it as such. Dreams can be just as dangerous as real life.”
I shook my head and laughed. It wasn’t a very nice laugh. “But they shouldn’t be, Solas,” I said. “Dreams are scenarios made by your brain, using memories as building blocks. They’re not real.” Solas opened his mouth to say something, but I cut him off. “And no, there are no demons or spirits. That’s all part of this world, but they’re as real as you are!”
His expression darkened and he grabbed my forearm, stopping me. Huh, for such a slim elf he was hella strong. “As intriguing as your thoughts are, promise me something,” he said. “Just for now, treat everything like you would if it was real.”
I stared at him. Right. This was Fen’Harel, and he probably didn’t like anyone saying he wasn’t real, whatever form he was currently occupying. “Sure.”
“Swear it on something you hold sacred,” Solas dared. At that moment, I could have sworn his sharp eyes were staring straight into my soul.
I blinked and looked away, suddenly feeling small in his presence although I was nearly head and a half taller than him. I noticed that Varric and Cassandra had stopped too, some distance ahead of us, and were staring at the two of us curiously.
I looked back at Solas, and nodded. “I swear on...” I thought quickly. Ah, yes. “...on Dorian and Bull.”
Something about my tone of voice must have placated Solas, because his shoulders relaxed slightly. “These two people are that dear to you?” he asked curiously.
I chuckled, suddenly feeling embarrassed. “You could say that,” I said with a faint smile and scratched my neck. I only shipped the heck out of them. Those two were the One True Pairing. I might have also had a massive crush on both of them, but well... That wasn’t important.
Solas nodded and let go of my arm.
I glanced at Varric and Cassandra, who were pointedly looking away, but I knew they had probably heard us talking. My face grew heated. “Let’s continue,” I said and caught up with them with only a couple of strides. Long legs for the win. I passed Varric, who looked thoughtful.
“Varric, pretend you didn’t hear that,” I said, grimacing. “If this is indeed reality, I don’t need you writing about the insane outbursts of the Hera--- uh, the weird Qunari with the glowing hand.”
Varric, my beautiful Varric, caught my drift. “Well, now that you mention it, I do have a couple of stories that could rival your own...”
To Cassandra’s detriment, Varric entertained us with his tales of some particularly crazy brand of Kirkwall citizen and before we knew it, we’d reached the ladders.
“The tunnel should be just ahead,” Cassandra said as I started climbing. “The path to the temple lies just beyond it.”
“What manner of tunnel is this?” Solas questioned right behind me. “A mine?”
“Part of an old mining complex,” Cassandra confirmed. Wow, the wind was really starting to howl in my ears, the higher up we got. “These mountains are full of such paths.”
“And your missing soldiers are in there, somewhere?” Varric sounded dubious. Ah, for a dwarf, he didn’t really like caves. I assumed that extended to mines, as well.
“Along with whatever has detained them,” Solas quipped.
“We shall see soon enough.”
I waited for the others on the last platform, nervously shifting my weight from one foot to the next. Solas came up first and gave me a searching look.
“Are you alright?” he questioned.
I took a deep breath. “Sure,” I said, giving him an attempt of a smile. “I’m just kinda nervous now that I have to...” fight demons and think they’re real.
Solas nodded. “You have done adequately so far,” he said reassuringly. “You will be fine.”
“Adequately?” I said, giving him a playful glare. “Gee, thanks.”
Varric reached the top and joined us, a bit out of breath. “That was too many ladders for my taste.”
I grinned at him, pretending to be more courageous than I felt. Fake it ’til you make it, right? “Shall we kick some demon ass, Varric?” I asked.
Behind him, Cassandra had reached the last platform as well. “This is no joking matter,” the Seeker growled out. “We need to find those missing scouts.”
Varric gave me a mischievous look. “Well, Bianca’s excited,” he said, shrugging.
I must have let out a strange sound, because the three of them turned to look at me with equally weirded out expressions. “Sorry,” I whispered. He said the thing...!
The tunnels were bit of a blur, the heat of combat getting to me, adrenaline flowing through my veins. I remember hearing splashes and crunches, my maul hitting its targets and various demon fluids dirtying my armor. I must have made quite the sight by the end of it, because when we reached daylight again, even Cassandra was giving me concerned looks.
“What?” I asked, blinking my wide eyes. I shook my head to clear it, and suddenly felt fatigued.
Varric whistled. “You were swinging out that maul like your life depended on it, Tiny,” he said.
I raised an eyebrow. “Doesn’t it? You all keep insisting this is real.”
Cassandra shook her head. “You should preserve your strength. If you tire out, you’ll be useless.”
I scowled at them and crossed my arms. “It was a blur, sir,” I quoted Hamilton.
“Why does that feel like a quote?” Varric wondered.
I smirked at him.
Solas dug through his bag and handed me a vial. “Drink this,” he said. “We cannot have you collapsing in the middle of a fight.”
I took it cautiously. “What is it?” I said, opening the cork and sniffing it. “It’s not lyrium, is it?”
“You don’t know what lyrium looks like?” Solas asked, then at my expression he hastily continued, “Of course not, it’s just a rejuvenation potion.”
“Well, I know it’s blue,” I muttered. I was never going to willingly ingest titan blood. Eugh. Suddenly, I was glad I wasn’t a mage after all.
I gulped down the potion and we trekked on. It wasn’t long until we came across bodies of the missing scouts.
“That cannot be all of them,” Cassandra said.
“So the others could be hold up ahead,” Varric reasoned.
I nodded. “You’re right, we should hurry.”
We broke into a run.
“Our priority must be the Breach,” Solas interjected. “Unless we seal it soon, no one is safe.”
“I’m leaving that to our Qunari friend here.”
There it was, another rift. “We have to close that,” I said, stopping for just a second to give a meaningful look to Solas and Cassandra. “Look out for terror demons!”
I hate terror demons.
“Sealed, as before,” Solas said, giving me a slight smile as the rift closed. “You are becoming quite proficient at this.”
“Let’s hope it works on the big one,” Varric quipped.
“I really hate terror demons,” I gritted out in response.
Solas had done his best to shield me and Cassandra with his barriers, but one of the sons of bitches had gotten to me and thrown me on my back. It was going to bruise pretty badly. Nope, not thinking about that.
“You cannot take another potion so soon after the last one,” Solas murmured. “But the rejuvenation potion should still be working to some extent.”
“Thank the Maker you finally arrived, Lady Cassandra,” one of the scouts said, drawing my attention to them. “I don’t think we could’ve held out much longer.”
“Thank our prisoner Lieutenant,” Cassandra said, turning to look at me. “He insisted we come this way.”
The scout saluted me the Fereldan way. “You have my sincere gratitude.”
I made my way to them. “It’s fine,” I waved her off. “Are all of your guys okay to walk? The way back should be clear for now.”
The scout nodded. “No one was hurt too badly.”
I let out a sigh of relief. For a moment there, I had been worried I would have to teach them some of my very limited first aid. I had no idea how much the general population of Thedas knew about the workings of a human body. “That’s good.”
“Go while you still can,” Cassandra urged.
“At once,” the scout said. She barked orders at the other scouts and they were off.
“The path ahead seems to be clear of demons as well,” Solas pointed out.
“Let’s hurry, before that changes,” Cassandra said. “Down the ladder, that’s the way into the Temple.”
I looked back at them. “Why do I always have to go first?” I asked. I was fine with heights going up, but going down was another matter.
“You have the Mark,” Cassandra said pointedly.
“Glowing-mark-of-doom privilege,” I muttered, very pointedly not sliding down the ladders like in the games, because that was just insane.
“So, holes in the fade don’t just accidentally happen, right?”
“If enough magic is brought to bare, it is possible.”
“But there are easier ways to make things explode.”
“That... is true.”
Cassandra rolled her eyes. “We will consider how this happened once the immediate danger has passed.”
We were nearly there.
“The Temple of Sacred Ashes,” Solas said.
“What’s left of it,” Varric muttered.
I stopped suddenly, remembering the blackened figures of the victims, turned into statues for the rest of eternity. Just like in Pompeii. My face twisted and I felt green. “I don’t know if I want to see this...” I whispered.
“There is no other way,” Cassandra said.
Solas came to my aid, once more. “Here, take a hold of my shoulder. You can close your eyes until we’re past the worst of it.”
I stared at him. “Thanks,” I said and took a hold of his shoulder. I hadn’t expected such kindness from the Dread Wolf. But then again, he was probably just a figment of my imagination and therefore nice to me.
Dorian and Bull, I reminded myself. Just for now.
Walking with your eyes closed gets old pretty fast, but it was better than the alternative. It had looked horrifying in the game, and I had no desire see it in dream real life.
“That is where you walked out of the Fade,” Cassandra said gently, “And our soldiers found you.”
I grasped Solas’ shoulder a bit tighter, reminding myself not to look. There was a smell... And as much as I tried not to breathe in through my nose, the scent was somehow making its way up my nostrils.
“They said a woman was in the rift behind you,” Cassandra continued, oblivious to my little panic attack. “No one knows who she was.”
She must have discounted my ramblings in the dungeon, because otherwise she might have mentioned the possibility that it was Divine Justinia.
“You can look now,” Solas said and I did.
The Breach was huge up close. And even more terrifying.
“Yeah, I’m just going to...” I said with a strangled laugh and crouched down, hugging my knees. “It’s just a dream. Dreams can’t hurt you...”
Solas shot me a disapproving look.
“You’re here!” Leliana said, relief evident in her voice. “Thank the Maker.”
I heard her run to the four of us, then stop. There was a silence. “Is he...?”
I stood up suddenly, getting head rush and swaying on my feet. “I’m fine!” I said, giving Leliana a bright smile. I don’t think it was very convincing, since Solas had to steady me so I wouldn’t fall. “Let’s close that Breach!”
She looked at me dubiously.
Solas sighed deeply. “There is nothing to be done,” he said. “We must continue.”
Cassandra nodded in agreement. “Leliana,” she said, “have your men take up position around the Temple.”
Leliana nodded once, then left.
“This is your chance to end this,” Cassandra said. “Are you--?”
I didn’t wait for her to finish asking. “Nope. But let’s do it anyway.”
“This rift was the first,” Solas said. “It is the key. Seal it, and perhaps we seal the Breach.”
Cassandra nodded. “Then let’s find a way down. And be careful.”
We stepped forwards and a voice boomed out from beyond the fade. “Now is the hour of our victory. Bring forth the sacrifice.”
“What are we hearing?” Cassandra breathed out.
“At a guess? The person who created the Breach,” Solas answered.
I nodded. “Yeah, that’s Corypheus.”
Varric scowled. “That little shit...”
“Oh, there’s red lyrium here,” I remembered as we made our way down. “Don’t touch it, it will probably make you insane.”
Varric shuddered. “Good advice, Tiny.”
“Keep the sacrifice still.”
I jumped down next to one of Leliana’s scouts. He startled, and I gave him an apologetic smile. The rest of the party followed me and we approached the rift.
“Someone, help me!”
“What the fuck is going on here?”
“Now, this bit I do remember,” I said, happy to provide some answers.
“That was your voice. Most Holy called out to you, but...” Cassandra trailed off, confused.
The rift expanded a bit and we saw a green, shadowy version of the events. Probably memories from the fade slowly leaking to the real world through the rip in the veil. Corypheus made an intimidating figure even when you couldn’t see most of his darkspawn features.
A large Qunari walked upon the scene.
“What the fuck is going on here?” the Qunari said. He had large horns that curved upwards, and he was build like... well, a Qunari.
“Oh, is that what I look like?” I asked, turning to Solas. He was watching the scene curiously and didn’t answer.
“Run while you can, warn them!”
“We have an intruder. Slay the Qunari!”
There was a bright flash and the memory faded.
“You were there!” Cassandra whirled to me. “And the Divine, she... Was this vision true? What are we seeing?”
I shrugged. “As far as I know, yeah,” I said. “My last memory before waking up in the dungeon is happening upon that. Then the whole place exploded.”
“Echoes of what happened here,” Solas theorised from the sidelines. “The fade bleeds into this place.”
We walked to him, our discussion about the Divine on hold for now.
“This rift is not sealed, but it is closed,” Solas continued, turning to face the three of us. “Albeit temporarily. I believe that with the mark the rift can be opened, then sealed properly and safely. However, opening the rift will likely attract attention from the other side.”
“Yeah, there’s going to be a huge ass pride demon.” I wiggled my eyebrows at Solas. Hehe, his name was pride...
Solas pointedly ignored me.
“Stand ready!” Cassandra barked to the soldiers.
At the Dread Wolf’s signal I approached the rift, held out my hand and pulled. The thing exploded, sending me to my back, and causing a huge ass pride demon appear out of thin air.
Varric, Solas and Cassandra glanced at me, startled.
“I told you so,” I muttered, and then decided to leave gloating for later. I didn’t want to get stepped on. “Kill all the smaller demons first so I can disrupt the rift! That will leave the pride demon defenceless!” I shouted.
Strangely enough, everyone took my word for it.
I also took care of the smaller ones, but mostly I tried to stay out of the the figurative fire and literal electricity, and to keep my eye on the rift. It took a couple more tries than I assumed, but just as I was ready to give up the pride demon went down for good.
“Now, seal the rift!” Cassandra yelled. “Do it!”
I reached and pulled, and holy shit, this one was different. I felt it growing bigger, and bigger, and the tugging became stronger and stronger, and it was going up....
It exploded and I went down.
“.... I don’t think.....”
“... three days....”
I snapped back to awareness with a thunk. Because I had fallen out of bed. The side of my head hit a bedside table, or a dresser, because there was an aching pain coming from my left temple. I reached up, and froze.
“jESuS CHriST,” I yelled, sitting up, “HAVE I GROWN HORNS OVERNIGHT?”
There was another thud, this time accompanied by clinking. An elf had entered my bedroom only moments before, carrying some sort of a wooden crate filled with things that were now scattered across the floor.
Wait. An elf?
“Oh you’ve got to be kidding me,” I groaned, my memory coming back to me. “Am I still dreaming?”
The elf didn’t answer. She? He? They were staring at me, terrified out of their mind.
I stood up. Then, realizing that I was almost naked save for some sort of night gown, I fell back on the bed and crawled under the covers. “I’m done with this,” I moaned, and turned to the poor elf. “Go tell Cassandra that, okay? I’m done with this!”
“Right at once, she said,” the elf muttered and ran off.
I shook my head, made myself into a blanket burrito. “A qunari burrito,” I giggled.
Someone knocked on the door.
“This cabin is empty!” I exclaimed.
Varric opened the door with a raised eyebrow. “You wouldn’t make a good rogue,” he said, stepping inside. “Now, would you mind explaining why that elf just came running out of here like there were darkspawn on her tail?”
Varric stared at me for a moment, dragged a chair from the table and sat facing me. “So, you’re awake, huh?”
I laughed. “Wrong!”
He shook his head. “You were out for four days, Tiny.”
“Yeah, four days in dream time,” I insisted and drew the blanket tighter around myself. “You probably stopped existing while I was out cold, since you’re all figments of my imagination and all.”
“What about your promise to Chuckles?” Varric inquired, the cheeky bastard.
I stared at him. “I told you to forget hearing that,” I said, my cheeks heating up. Dorian and Bull. I had sworn on Dorian and Bull... How embarrassing. “Besides, that was only for a while.”
“I don’t remember him saying you could stop,” Varric said pointedly. “And if you really believe this is a dream, then it hasn’t that long since that conversation, has it?”
I nodded. “You’re right...” I trailed off and narrowed my eyes. “I thought dwarves don’t dream.”
“I’m not an idiot, Tiny,” Varric chuckled. “Besides, I’ve done research.”
Ah. “For a moment there I thought I had you,” I said.
He smirked, and stood up. “Not in your dreams.”
“Well, you better dress up,” Varric said, “Cassandra wants to see you in the Chantry.”
I looked down at the blankets and the night gown I was wearing underneath. “Right,” I said. “Is there anything here that fits me?”
Varric’s smile turned possibly evil. “Well now that you mention it...”
Spoils of the Qunari seemed to be a thing, because I was currently wearing the heavy armor from the DLC in question.
“I’m so disappointed,” Varric grumbled.
He had obviously been hoping that the revealing outfit would embarrass me, since it left little to the imagination. But instead of letting the leather straps touch my bare chest, I tied a red piece of cloth around my chest, similar to the fashion female characters wore it in the game. Dressing up had been pretty weird, seeing as this body was definitely male, but I had pointedly ignored it. No matter what Solas kept insisting, it was just a dream after all. Better not get attached. I did like the pronouns though. Very refreshing.
I grinned at him. “No sane person would wear this armor without a bit of an adjustment in the the Frostback Mountains,” I pointed out. Even with my little addition, I was probably going to need an extra layer. It was cold up here. I had no idea how the Iron Bull survived without a shirt. “It’s designed for the tropic.”
There had been quite a crowd outside the cabin, but thanks to Varric’s presence we passed them without any trouble except for the occasional whispers and pointed fingers. We soon reached the Chantry building.
“Well, this is where I take my leave,” Varric said and abandoned me with a wave.
I squared my shoulders and stepped in. I had to squash my first instinct which was to go around looting things and reading books and scrolls, because I knew I was late enough as it was.
“Have you gone completely mad?” Chancellor Roderick’s voice echoed in the Chantry hall. “He should be taken to Val Royeaux immediately, to be tried by whomever becomes the Divine.”
“I do not believe he is guilty.” Aww, Cassandra was defending me.
“The Qunari failed, Seeker,” Roderick said, “The Breach is still in the sky. For all you know, he intended it this way.”
He had a point, as annoying as he was.
“I do not believe that.”
“That is not for you to decide. Your duty is to serve the Chantry.”
“My duty is to serve the principle on which the Chantry was founded, as is yours, Chancellor.”
I had heard enough of the familiar conversation so I just strode in.
The Chancellor pointed his finger at me. “Chain him!” he ordered, “I want him prepared for travel to the capital for treason.”
I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms. The two guards guarding the door looked from me to Cassandra hesitantly.
“Disregard that,” Cassandra said, “and leave us.”
That they did obey.
“You walk a dangerous line, Seeker,” Roderick spat out.
“The Breach is stable, but it is still a threat,” Cassandra said, scowling. “I will not ignore it.”
“I closed the Breach,” I said. “I could have died.” Not that the Inquisitor ever had, but... My point still stands.
“Yet you live,” Roderick pointed out with a sneer. “A convenient result, insofar as you’re concerned.”
“Have care, Chancellor,” Cassandra growled. “The Breach is not the only threat we face.”
Leliana stepped in. “Someone was behind the explosion at the Conclave. Someone Most Holy did not expect. Perhaps they died with others,” she said with pointed look at the Chancellor, “Or have allies who yet live.”
“I am a suspect?” the Chancellor gasped.
“You, and many others,” Leliana admitted.
“But not the prisoner?” he asked with a frown.
“I heard the voices in the Temple,” Cassandra said. “The Divine called to him for help.”
I raised a hand and they all turned to look at me. “First of all, Chancellor Roderick here maybe be a bit of a d-bag, but he has nothing to do with the Conclave.”
Leliana gave me a startled look as if she hadn’t expected me to defend him, and so did the Chancellor.
“I told you who was behind the explosion earlier, didn’t I?” I pointed out. “And as it happens, they do have allies who still live, and I know who those are too.”
Cassandra shut her eyes with a sigh.
“What?” Chancellor Roderick asked, confused. “You admit to knowing who is responsible?”
“Yes,” I said, rolling my eyes, “But it wasn’t me.”
“He admits it!” He swirled to face Cassandra with crossed arms. “So his survival, that mark on his hand, all a coincidence?”
“Providence,” Cassandra said, her eyes glinting. “Maker sent him to us in our darkest hour.”
My eyes widened. Oh, no. “Umm, yeah, I don’t think so. Why would your Maker send me?” I mean, apart from the obvious reason, that I was accidentally possessing the body of the Inquisitor..........................
Yeah, what a fucked up dream. It had to be.
“The Maker does as he wills, it is not for me to say.”
I shut my eyes. “Even if it means your Maker made a big fucking mistake and got the wrong person?”
Cassandra snorted. “I don’t know about that,” she said, and I opened my eyes to look at her. “However, I will not pretend you were not exactly what we needed, when we needed it.”
Leliana nodded. “The Breach remains. And your Mark is still our only hope of closing it.”
“This is not for you to decide!” Roderick growled out.
Cassandra dumped a thick, familiar looking book on the table.
Stab it! I cheered internally.
“You know what this is, Chancellor,” Cassandra said. “A writ from the divine, granting us the authority to act. As of this moment, I declare the Inquisition reborn.” She stalked towards Chancellor Roderick. “We will close the Breach, we will find those responsible and we will restore order. With or without your approval!”
Roderick stared at her for a moment, before huffing and storming off.
Cassandra let out a frustrated sound.
Leliana touched the book softly. “This is the Divine’s directive,” she said in reverence. “Rebuild the Inquisition of old. Find those who will stand against the chaos. We aren’t ready,” she admitted. “We have no leader, no numbers, and now, no Chantry support.”
“But we have no choice,” Cassandra said gravely. “We must act now. With you at our side.”
I stared at them. The air was filled with anticipation.
“Okay, good luck with that,” I said, turning to leave. “I’m just going to wake up now.”
Cassandra caught my arm in her steel grip. “You cannot deny this any longer. You are awake.”
I looked down at her. At Cass. Cassandra Pentaghast. The Seeker of Truth. She was such a badass, and I was ruining the moment. “You have no idea how cool this moment should be. I should be taking your hand and swearing to do my best and shit, but I can’t,” I said, my mouth tightening. “I’m not...”
Leliana touched my shoulder on the other side. “You were here when we needed you,” she said. “You’ve already saved countless lives of our soldiers. That is enough.”
My eyes felt hot. “It’s not enough,” I said, shaking my head.
Cassandra’s grip slackened. “It has to be.”
I let out a sigh. “If you say so,” I said and turned away to wipe at my eyes. Like I was fooling them... These ladies missed nothing. “So, is this a good moment to talk about Corypheus?”
Cassandra and Leliana exchanged glances. “It can wait until our first official meeting when the others are here,” Leliana said. “Until then, you should rest. Maybe talk to Solas about your dreams.”
“Rest and talk to the Egg,” I muttered. “Got it.”
“You still insist you’re dreaming,” the Egg in question said disapprovingly. “You promised.”
I shrugged. “You said for a while, so...” I was sitting on a rock next to his cabin, overlooking most of Haven. “Besides, I feel like I’m going to break if I have to take all of this in for real.”
Haven was big. Bigger than in the games.
“You cannot use such an unhealthy coping mechanism,” Solas said, staring down at me. “It will chip away at your mind.”
I crossed my arms. “Well maybe I can just come to a slow eventual realisation, instead.”
Solas sighed. “You are stubborn,” he said and sat down next to me. Huh, didn’t expect that. He turned so his body was facing me partially. “Will you tell me your story?”
Your story. The words made me shudder, and not just because I was in active denial. I didn’t want these people, my dear characters, thinking I was even crazier than they already thought I was. “Yeah, maybe we shouldn’t talk about this either.”
Solas frowned. “Why not?”
I laughed. “I don’t want to sound even more insane.” I lifted my hand to comb the fingers through my hair (an old habit), only to realise it was now tied up on a small bun on top of my head. Weird. I dropped my hand. “I already said I used to be human.”
Solas hummed thoughtfully, and he gave me a smile. It looked kinda... placating. “So you’ve said.”
“You think I’m crazy,” I said, my face falling.
“No,” he hastily said, “I don’t think so. However, I don’t necessarily think you’re right, either.”
I scowled at him. “How can I not be wrong but not right either?”
“It is possible that the memories you have aren’t yours,” Solas said thoughtfully, rubbing his chin. “Maybe they were mixed up in the fade.”
I stared at him, wide eyed.
He noticed, and turned to look at me.
I narrowed my eyes. Don’t ever speak to me or my son again, Solas, I thought and got up. “Okay, that’s it. I’m going to find Varric.”
Solas stood up as well, shrugging. “It is only a theory,” he said.
“It’s a dumb theory!” I growled, “I know my race, like you know yours, Pride.”
His eyes narrowed. “Perhaps I was wrong,” he said frostily. Ugh, great. Now he’s mad at me? He’s the one who was supposed to make me feel better, but made me doubt my own damn memories. “You certainly act human enough.”
“Whatever!” I said and walked off. “I’m going to the tavern. Or wherever Varric is.” I paused. “Probably the tavern, then.”
Varric was indeed in the tavern. I waved at him from the door. Flissa stared at me with wide eyes (I didn’t miss the way her gaze drifted to my horns) as I ordered some lunch and whatever passed as a drink, and made my way to Varric’s table.
“What time is it?” I wondered. “I just ordered a drink.”
“It’s always a good time for a drink,” Varric grinned, and raised his own pint in a greeting.
“Solas is a jerk,” I said, as Flissa brought me a plate of... something. I think it might have been porridge. I scowled down at it, imagining the Egg in its place. “Will you tell me a story so I can get my mind off it?”
“What am I?” Varric asked, “your personal storyteller?”
“Might as well be,” I muttered, thinking of the ways he was probably going to profit off the Inquisition’s story. “Will you tell me about Hawke? What was he like?”
Varric’s expression softened slightly. “Ah, alright...”
I spent the afternoon in pleasant company. The storyteller was interrupted some hours later, as a scout came to inform I was needed in the Chantry. I drained the rest of my pint and left Varric muttering to himself. Apparently my never ending list of questions had given him something new to write about.
Cassandra was waiting for me at the entrance.
“Are you feeling any better?” She asked as soon as I was in range.
I nodded. “No thanks to Solas.” I sighed. “But I ate while Varric entertained me with stories about Hawke.”
Cassandra scowled. “The Champion...”
I gave her a smile. “It was just what I needed.”
The Seeker sighed, and her eyes were drawn to my hand. The one that was glowing. “Does it trouble you?”
“It doesn’t hurt much,” I said. “But I don’t know...” Since the Inquisitor eventually lost their arm due to the mark, I wasn’t too fond of it.
Cassandra nodded. “What’s important is that your mark is now stable, as is the Breach. You’ve given us time, and Solas believes a second attempt might succeed, provided the mark has more power,” she said. “The same level of power used to open the Breach in the first place. That is not easy to come by.”
“So, mages or templars, huh?” I asked, glancing at her.
Surprise crossed Cassandra’s features momentarily. Then it was gone. “Yes.”
She led me to meet the War Council.
“May I present Commander Cullen, leader of the Inquisition’s forces,” Cassandra said, gesturing to him.
My eyes had already been drawn to the impressive figure on the other side of the table, wearing armor similar to that of a templar, with dark brown fur on his shoulders. I had thought he would be taller... Oh, it was me who was freakishly tall.
Cullen gave me a slight smile and a nod. What a cutie pie. “Such as they are,” he said, looking down. “We lost many soldiers in the valley, and I fear many more before this is through.”
“This is Lady Josephine Montilyet,” Cassandra said, and pointed to the woman dressed in a golden blouse. “Our ambassador and chief diplomat.”
Her eyes were wide, but her smile was gentle. “You’re... taller than I’d heard.”
“You guys are shorter than I thought,” I said, grinning. “It’s all very relative.”
“And of course, you know Sister Leliana,” Cassandra said.
Leliana nodded at me. “My position here involves a certain degree of...”
“She is our spymaster,” Cassandra said bluntly.
“Yes. Tactfully put, Cassandra.”
I fought to hide my grin. “Yeah,” I said. “It’s really awesome to meet you all in person. Of course, I already knew your names,” giving Cassandra a wink. “I’m just that cool.”
Josephine was scribbling down my words as I said them. “Awesome,” she muttered, “Cool?”
Leliana gave me a look I can only describe as downright scary. “And how is that, exactly?”
I let out a sigh. “Well, you know how I kept telling you this was all a dream?”
Cassandra groaned, hiding her face. “You’re not still going on about that.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I said, crossing my arms, “Even if this is real, I know stuff. Things that haven’t happened yet. Personal details about all of you that you haven’t shared with me.”
Cassandra straightened up, suddenly alert. “And that’s how you know about... Corypheus?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said, swallowing. “We should probably lead with that.”