She stared, saffron eyes wide and jaw slackened, at the smoldering corpse before her, the dust not yet settled from his hard drop. The metal that enclosed him, the fine-wrought iron folded with lyrium, meant to protect from magic, had been no match for her augmented powers. Some part of her had known this even before; that really, had she wanted to keep her prey alive for longer to test, not the power itself, but her newly extended stamina and range of ability, she needn't have hit him with her fire so mercilessly. By the time she had tested the lightning glyph, his health had dwindled to the point of insignificance, and he had died standing, the suit of metal stuck to the electric ground like a fly in molasses, until the glyph weakened and sputtered out of existence. The fall had signalled his demise. She'd known instantly he would not stand again.
She had wanted him dead, t'was true. But she had not meant to kill him. Not like that, at the very least. When she had captured him wandering around her forest haunts, she had at first delighted. The ritual she had undergone in the Fade was fresh in her mind, and her body itched, untested. She needed to release the power that she housed, lest it begin to fester like a wound. The static had cracked in her veins, almost as if it was an entity unto itself, anticipating its first chance to prove its worth to her.
It had done more than that. She had done more than that.
He had taunted her at first, as soon as he'd spied her garb. Chasind. Filthy. Lesser. She knew the moment he'd eyed the small staff affixed behind her, he had made up his mind then and there. Though she was barely twenty summers, in his mind, she had lived too long. He would dispose of her, the stubborn set of her jaw and challenging eyes too much for the Circle to wrangle into submission. They were pitted against each other by lines in the sand that had come long before either of them had been born. It was kill or be killed for them both.
Moving towards the body, she held back the taste of bile as she looked through the slitted eyes of the helmet, and saw nothing but charred, mangled flesh beneath. She had seen bodies burned before. They split open as the flesh roasted, the meat cooking from the outside in. But with magic, it was different. The fire and lightning she had used had seared him from the inside out, cooking him and causing tiny fissures to open along his body as the heat escaped. The smell of him filled the air with sickly smoke. She could not hold the bile for long.
He was nothing; a Templar who would have likely tortured and killed her, had she been the helpless woman he at first suspected her to be. Better he died than terrorize other innocent children who were hunted simply for being alive.
He was nothing; a useless, mindless drone in the theocracy that blighted this nation and its insipid populace, recklessly creating law and doctrine alike, that ruled over the lives of even those who did not believe in its teachings. She had done the world a favor.
He was nothing; another nameless, faceless man who would have ended her had she given any hint of weakness. She knew what those of his order had done to other chasind women. Knew what lecherous thoughts might have inhabited his mind. His death was necessary.
He was nothing. But as he had cried and wept for mercy, apologized and begged, implored the name of his Maker, of Andraste, and some poor shrew named Daniella, he had become something to her. Something more intimate than sex or love. Something more timeless than immortality. He had become the first stain upon her soul, for his murder was entirely orchestrated by her own hand. Living the life she did allowed for little in the way of remorse. But this, she knew, she would regret until her mind rotted away and soul bled into nothing.
She worked quickly as midday faded into sunset. It was just after the stars blinked into view that she had finished the pyre and placed him there, the small and controlled flames of her magic restrained, as if unwilling to be the source of even more destruction. Ridiculous. The damage had been done. He felt nothing now.
As his body burned properly, she wept bitter tears in silence; wept for the pain, and for the loss of innocence for the both of them. As he burned, she felt the slightest bit of envy. His pain was over. Hers was just beginning.
By the time she returned to the little hut she considered home, it was well into the night.
"You missed supper, girl. I won't be playing nursemaid and warming any for you."
"I'm not hungry," she said simply, the typical spite absent from her eyes as she made her way to her small room.
The eyes following her narrowed. "What's happened to you? Why do you look like that?"
She blinked slowly, attempting to pull herself out of her fog long enough to concentrate, lest she be berated, or slapped for her failing attention. "I... nothing, Mother. I came across a Templar in the forest today. He was... a challenge for me to bring down." You lie. T'was child's play for you now, monster. "I'm simply tired from the efforts."
A snorted guffaw. A cross of the arms. "How lazy you must be for one Templar to give you such trouble. I have always said you lack the drive necessary to possess true power. Had I your youth, I would be thrice as powerful by now."
But she did not hear the diatribe that followed. Without ceremony, she simply retreated to her room and shut the thatch door, barring herself for now from the insults that would come her way. Not one to be so easily dismissed, and incensed at such disrespect, Mother stormed in and threw open the barrier, prepared to give her daughter a vicious tongue-lashing. But she was already under her furs, back to the door and curled upon the tiny cot, shoulders shaking quietly.
Confusion mingled with the slightest bit of concern, and something within her told her to leave it be for now. "You killed your Templar. That's all that matters. Get some rest, girl." They were the only words of condolence she could remember coming from herself. Quietly, she left, and her daughter was once more alone in the silence.
Only her mind was not silent. Her clothes smelled of smoke and char and death, her skin streaked with ash. Her face was dirty, and tracked in tears that would never reverse what'd happened today. She might have looked like Andraste herself on the pyre as she tilted her chin up and begged forgiveness from any deity that would deign to listen.
She did not believe in the Maker, but she begged him anyway for the soul of the man she'd murdered. In hushed whispers, she prayed until she exhausted herself for the Templar, her Templar, to find the peace that she knew she would never find herself.