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The Bright Light in the Oncoming Darkness

Chapter Text

“Apprentice Trevelayan!” A green-clad figure popped her head from the deck hatch, expression curious at the shout. Blue-grey eyes danced in mischievous behavior as she scrambled up to stand in front of the irritated enchanter.

“Don’t tell me you were causing trouble for the sailors, missy.” Enchanter Madelyn rebuked the young girl, watching as she grinned sheepishly.

“Niamh!” She sighed in loud dismay, rubbing the bridge of her nose with two long fingers.

“What? I can only study and pray so much for my brothers’ spirits!” The twelve-year-old Apprentice protested. “I needed someway to get energy out!” She exclaimed, ice beginning to form over her gloved hands.

Madelyn shook her head at her student, a laugh bubbling from her throat. “You’re insane, Niamh. But look over there. Ferelden.”

Whipping around, skirts flying around her ankles, the energetic pre-teen bounced towards the railing, leaning over it to watch the land slowly growing closer. Their ship was coming in at Highever, a region known for trade, and from there, they would make their way via horseback and wagon to Haven and the Temple of Sacred Ashes, where the Conclave was being held.

Enchanter Madelyn was the one selected by the Free Marches Mage Collective to present their issues. However, she was also the educator for one of the selected apprentices from the Ostwick Circle, Miss Niamh Trevalayan, which meant that the young pre-teen had to come with. This was her first time being outside of the Free Marches, and Madelyn personally wished that it were under better circumstances that the girl was exploring beyond the boundaries she had lived in for so long.

Niamh bounced energetically on her toes, watching as the sailors docked the ship and began to disembark, carrying trading supplies and merchant goods. She felt a strong hand grip her shoulder, looking up at Madelyn’s expressionless face.

“Enchanter?” Madelyn gripped her staff tighter in her hand not holding the girl’s shoulder.

“Pull your hood up.” She said calmly, eyes scanning the surrounding docks and crowds.

Niamh didn’t hesitate, pulling up her hood and tightening her grip on her staff, specially designed for her small frame. Madelyn offered her hand for the other to hold, leading her down the ramp, and into the busy crowds.

“Stay close, and keep an eye on your purse.” She remarked, keeping her grip tight and heading towards the stables they had purchased mounts and wagon space from.

Niamh squeaked in excitement at the beautiful grey pony, reaching for the reins as Madelyn chuckled, moving to mount her own horse calmly.

“Do you need help, Niamh?” The mage asked, turning in the saddle slightly to make sure her student was doing all right.

“Never better, Enchanter!” Niamh chirped excitedly, settling in her saddle and nudging her pony up to the larger horse and rider. “Are we going?”

Madelyn couldn’t help but smile at her energetic behaviors, glancing behind them to check on the cart of their supplies, before nodding.

“And we’re off! We’re off!” Niamh sung happily, nudging her mount into a trot, then a canter, making everyone chuckle within earshot of the happy girl.

“Stay close, Niamh!” Madelyn called after her wayward student, sighing and nudging her horse forwards. “There’s still darkspawn and bandits around!”

“D-Darkspawn?” That was unexpected for the young girl to hear, and she immediately pulled back to stay close to her mentor’s side.

“Indeed. It’s only been ten years since the Blight and ascension of the new King and Queen-Consort. We covered this in your history lessons, dear.” Madelyn didn’t hesitate to rebuke the twelve-year-old as they exited the city, heading into the forest and mountains that their destination was located in.

“I… I kinda wasn’t listening?” She confessed with a faint squeak, gaining a disbelieving look from the older mage.

“You weren’t listening… or you weren’t paying attention to my lessons, hm? Which was it?”

“Kinda both, Enchanter Madelyn…” Niamh confessed, tossing her hood off and letting her braided brown hair out to play in the light breezes dancing around them.

“You little…” Madelyn didn’t bother to finish her statement as she was chuckling at Niamh’s behavior.

It didn’t come as a surprise that Niamh was so energetic, and so close to everyone in her escort at this point in time. Included in her escort were two Templars, Knight-Corporal Ackert and Templar Jameson, assigned to protect the mages. However, people not present included the Apprentice’s two oldest brothers… due to them being killed in her defense earlier this same year.

The small group, made up of only six people, had been assigned to represent the Free Marches in the Conclave. Four mages: one from Ostwick, one from Ostwick-Starkhaven, one from Kirkwall, and one from Ansburg; and two Templars: one from Markham and the other from Hasmal. Together, all six made up the delegation from the Free Marches, representing a Circle from the city-states that had them.

1st Day of 1st Week of Harvestmere, 9:41 Dragon

“Again.” The Ansburg mage barked, watching Niamh’s staff-wielding stances against a summoned dummy. They had been at this since they had stopped for their lunch break, and soon, it was time to get back on the road. The pre-teen took the chance, blowing a raspberry at the foreign mage, scampering towards Madelyn at the mount-up call. He couldn’t bring himself to scold the apprentice, due to his own memories of the delight that apprentices caused and brought to the Circles.

2nd Day of 1st Week of Harvestmere, 9:41 Dragon

Madelyn watched with an approving light in her gaze at her apprentice’s current meditation state. Due to her pulling the Kirkwall mage into a prank on one of the Templars, both had been punished with meditation while the others worked on setting up camp that night. They were camping in the outskirts of the forest lining the Imperial Highway, watch placed, and their Templars on full alert for any possible possessions throughout the night.

3rd Day of 1st Week of Harvestmere, 9:41 Dragon

It had been three days into their supposed week-long journey, though, when Niamh came down with the sniffles and hiccupping of an oncoming cold, the group had decided unanimously to take day three easy, all attention on the sick little Apprentice, curled up to the warmth of the Knight-Corporal present as they rode.

Due to Madelyn’s worry that she might fall from her pony, they had decided to give her to Ackert’s watch for the travel that day, just to make sure she was safe. If they were attacked, the mages would’ve been taken out first, which would give the Templars a chance to escape with Niamh. They had instructions to meet up at Haven if they were separated for any reason…

4th Day of 1st Week of Harvestmere, 9:41 Dragon

Niamh barely woke in the middle of the night, though that was before she heard the fighting. She attempted to rise from her bedroll, only to be stopped by the gentle hand of Madelyn, sitting at the tent entrance.

“No Niamh. Stay here.” She cocked her head tiredly to the side, unsure what was going on.

“But…” The girl protested, natural curiosity getting the better of her and trying to convince Madelyn to allow her to see outside.

“No.” Madelyn was firm in her response. “Go back to bed.” Niamh huffed, but did as was instructed.

The Enchanter sighed, standing to look outside, seeing the Templars returning to wipe their blades by the firelight.

“Abominations, Enchanter.” Ackert explained catching her look.

“We killed them though, so don’t worry. Sleep well.” Jameson finished his comrade’s explanation, cleaning his blade calmly.

5th, 6th,& 7th Days of 1st Week of Harvestmere, 9:41 Dragon

Luckily nothing more happened than those abominations encountered on day four of their travels. As they rode, soon transitioning from the bricked Imperial Highway to the dirt and rocky trails that led to Haven, Niamh got more energetic. She was no longer allowed to ride on her own, seeing that they had sold the pony and wagon in the last town, and had bought a packhorse to carry their supplies on the rocky mountain roads. She squirmed in front of Madelyn, gaining a hissed command to settle down before she’s made to walk.

1st Day of 2nd Week of Harvestmere, 9:41 Dragon

Niamh peered over the horse’s head, searching for any signs of Haven or the Temple approaching. She craned her neck back to look at the stern expression of the Templar she was riding with today. Jameson looked down at the Apprentice, eyes narrowing.

“Yes?” Niamh giggled loudly, squirming in energy.

“Nothing!”

“EUGH! What is that smell?” The loud complaining of the Ansburg mage brought even louder laughter from the pre-teen as Jameson shook his head slightly in surprise.

“You did not… did you?”

“That’s for me to know and you to not know!” She chirped in response, laughter settling down into heavy breathing.

2nd Day of 2nd Week of Harvestmere, 9:41 Dragon

Finally, finally, Niamh could see the beginnings of Haven’s walls and large chantry… and even the Temple of Sacred Ashes in the distance! It was a rare thing for a young girl to be so close to such a large place that was the center of so much historical debate and discovery…

The discovery of the Temple and the village of Haven were quite recent, only about ten years prior in the midst of the Blight-induced chaos. Luckily for Niamh, she was a mere two years old by the time of the Blight ending, so she never had the memories of the destruction and chaos caused by the Darkspawn and Archdemon.

3rd Day of 2nd Week of Harvestmere, 9:41 Dragon

Niamh slid off the horse, stumbling slightly on sore legs before Madelyn dismounted after her, leading the horse to the stablehands waiting, before taking the girl’s hand calmly and leading her past the tents and soldiers nearby, all guards… especially for the Divine.

“Enchanter? I’m tired.” Niamh whined, yawning heavily to make her point. Madelyn looked down at the girl, sighing.

“Alright… Jameson, can you take her to our tent? She’s going to be resting for a bit while we meet with the other Mages present.”

“Most definitely. Come along, Niamh.” He offered a hand, leading her back to their tent to settle her in for a nap. As soon as her head hit the bedroll, she was out, leaving Jameson to watch her sleeping form from his position in the tent flap.

Hours passed as she slept, completely exhausted… little pre-teens need their sleep, especially little pre-teen mages.

However, Madelyn shaking her shoulder gently soon woke her.

“W-Wha?” Niamh yawned heavily in the middle of her question, blinking heavily at her mentor.

“Everyone’s moving to the Temple… come along.” Madelyn murmured, helping her pull on her cloak and gloves, fastening her boots and dress straightening before taking her hand again, leading her to fall into the line of Mages and Templars heading up to the Temple with the Divine and her chantry members taking the lead.

Niamh stayed close to her mentor, staff back at the camp, quiet as can be. Her eyes darted to and fro as they marched up to the Temple, being the youngest present, and someone that the mages were keeping close and hidden within their group.

As the groups approached the Temple, splitting off to do their own meetings and interactions, the girl stayed close to her mentor, holding her hand tightly.

“Niamh, if I bring you in with me… will you stay quiet?” Madelyn asked, kneeling to straighten her cloak gently.

“Yep. You won’t hear a peep from me, Enchanter!” Niamh chirped happily, eyes fixed on the historical building around them.

“May I go explore?”

Madelyn sighed, sending her off. “Don’t get into too much trouble, Niamh!”

Hours passed, in and out of meetings with the Divine and Templars and all those represented… but by hour five, the presence of strangers was realized.

Niamh had found herself in the library, attention buried in a book, before she heard the faint screams of fighting and destruction in the distance. She scrambled to her feet, dropping her book and immediately pulling up her skirts to run to where the screaming was coming from.

She skidded to a halt in front of the closed large doors of the meeting space, noticing the presence of weird red light under the doorframe. Niamh looked around for anyone to help before she picked up the rumbling voice coming through the wood, slightly distorted.

“Now is the hour of our victory.” Niamh realized it was an unfamiliar tone and voice, pressing herself closer to the door carefully to try and hear more. She heard the questioning of Divine Justinia to the person that seemed to be talking.

“Why are you doing this? You of all people?”

“Keep the sacrifice still.” The rumbling man’s voice sounded again, not bothering to answer any questions posed by the Divine.

Niamh muttered in curses, hearing the faint sound of magic being called and the weakening of the Fade around her. She knew she had to do something quickly. Hearing Divine Justinia’s cry for help, “someone, help me!” Only cemented her decision to try and save the Divine on her own.

Niamh took a breath, glancing to see her mentor’s dead body by the doorframe and bent to pick up her staff, moving to push the heavy wooden doors open slowly. She walked into a weird scene, pausing at seeing a red monster standing in front of Justinia with people she recognized as the Grey Wardens holding the Divine still with some sort of magic.

“What’s going on here?” Her voice rose in questioning, gaining the attention of the red-looking humanoid monster and the Divine. Niamh flinched as the glowing sphere was sent towards her by a quick move of the Divine, scrambling to catch the rolling object. She screamed, as her hand seemed to catch fire as she picked up the Orb, narrowly avoiding the charging monster.

The surroundings brightened as the Orb’s magic linked into her own, an explosion in the making. Niamh found herself in the weird glowing realm of the Fade, looking around her before she caught the audible chittering of spiders. Cursing, she took off running, scrambling up the incredibly steep hill, eyes catching sight of Divine Justinia offering a hand out from the top.

“Run!” She cried to the young girl, helping her scramble to the top, where a large green rift awaited.

Niamh charged towards the rift, only to realize that Justinia wasn’t there any longer. She whipped around to look for her, finding her at the edge and narrowly falling off.

“NO!” Hearing her cry, the Divine tried to muster one more faint smile.

“Go…”

Niamh sobbed as she watched the Divine fall into the midst of the demons, whirling back around and charging through the rift. She landed on the hard ground with a sharp exhale of breath, trying to stand, but to collapse as the darkness overtook her the next moment.

Chapter Text

Cassandra stood by the locked cell door, watching as Adan and the bald apostate, Solas, tended to the limp girl on the straw. The soldiers had brought her in, unconscious, from the Temple, with a strange report that she seemingly walked out of the Fade.

Solas had straightened, moving to the door, before stopping to look intently at Cassandra.

“She’ll survive… hopefully. She’s just asleep at the moment.” He muttered to the Seeker, moving to where the guards waited to escort him back to his cabin.

Cassandra turned her intense gaze on Adan, hoping he came to the same decision.

“Yeah, the mage’s right. She’s just recovering. The walking through the Fade thing must’ve taken a lot out of her, and let’s not mention that she’s also young.”

Cassandra crossed her arms over her breastplate.

“How young, Apothecary?” Adan snorted as he walked past the warrior.

“Thirteen at the oldest. Eleven at the youngest.”

“She’s twelve.” Hearing the voice of their resident Spymistress and Left Hand of the Divine, Cassandra turned to look at Leliana carefully.

“Twelve? And already survived an explosion that killed everyone within a hundred meters?”

The redhead inclined her head slightly in acknowledgement.

“Indeed, somehow. Has she woken?” Leliana moved to look into the cell, watching the girl’s chest rise and fall as she slept. Cuffs restrained her limbs to the floor, enough to allow her to move, but not any other type of movement.

“Not yet. Though both the apostate and Adan say that she’s just sleeping at this moment in time.” Cassandra responded to her comrade’s question, eyes focused on the sleeping girl.

“Commander Cullen sent Varric and Solas with a patrol of soldiers to examine a rift that appeared over the river.” She said to Cassandra’s unasked question, turning away from the cell door.

“Walk with me.”

The two women headed out of the Chantry dungeons, vanishing into the crowds flooding the village… but what they were leaving behind was the stirring girl in the dungeons.

Niamh blinked heavy eyes open, realizing that she was on her back, and slowly trying to focus on the shadowed ceiling above her. She slowly sat up with a groan, looking down at her hand as it flashed green and sent a surge of pain through her frame, making her groan quietly. It was loud enough, however, to catch the soldiers’ attention, and they soon had her pulled out to the center of the dungeon, hands chained and in a kneeling position. She felt sweat beading over her skin, looking into the blades aimed at her.

Her attention snapped to the sudden door slamming open, two women entering.

“Tell me why we shouldn’t kill you now. The Conclave was destroyed; everyone dead… except for you.” The black-haired warrior woman snapped, causing a surge of fear to cross the girl’s figure.

“I-I-I’m…s-sorry?” She hated the fact her stutter decided to return today of all days, scared almost shitless at the intimidating figures that everyone around her posed. All she wanted was to just go back home, to her safe Circle.

Leliana caught the faint shimmer of tears in the girl’s eyes, carefully taking hold of Cassandra’s arm.

“You’re terrifying her…” She whispered. “Relax a bit, Cassandra.”

Cassandra raised an eyebrow at the Spymistress before pulling her arm away, moving to grab hold of the girl’s wrist, the one with the green mark.

“Explain this!” Niamh yelped as her hand flared bright green.

“I-I-I can’t!” Cassandra bared her teeth in a frustrated snarl.

“What do you mean that you can’t?” Niamh was growing into a panic-induced panic attack at the adult’s harsh questioning.

“I-I don,’t know how that got there! Or what happened!” Cassandra yelled, grabbing hold of her collar strongly.

“You’re lying!” Leliana, seeing the girl’s panicking attitude, stepped forwards to separate the two.

“We need her, Cassandra!”

Niamh was close to tears, eyes watching the two argue close to the doorway. She just wanted to go home!

“A-All those people… dead?” She asked in a questioning, hesitant voice, trying to get the focus of the two adults.

“Do you remember what happened, young one?” The redhead asked, moving to crouch in front of Niamh delicately.

“I-I remember running… climbing stairs… things chasing me. Then a w-woman?” Leliana and Cassandra exchanged looks.

“A woman?” Leliana questioned, straightening delicately.

“S-She reached out to me… but then…” Niamh trailed off, leaving Cassandra and Leliana confused as before. Cassandra sighed carefully.

“Go to the forward camp, Leliana. I will take her to the rift.” Leliana nodded silently, moving to the door.

“Remember, Cassandra, be gentle.” She vanished into the hallways, leaving the Seeker to dismiss the soldiers and remove the manacles from the girl’s wrists, binding them gently with soft hemp rope. She helped Niamh stand, and escorted her from the dungeons.

Niamh tried to pull her cloak closer to herself as the cold air hit her small frame, immediately prompting a surge of gooseflesh and shivers. Her attention turned from the glaring crowds of people to the sudden large green hole in the sky above the Temple of Sacred Ashes.

“We call it The Breach. It’s a massive rift into the world of demons that grows larger with each passing hour. It’s not the only such rift, just the largest. All were caused by the explosion at the Conclave.”

Niamh turned her attention to Cassandra, wide-eyed in shock.

“A-An explosion can do that?” Cassandra sighed.

“This one did. Unless we act, the Breach may grow until it swallows the world.” Her disbelieving expression was fixed on the older woman as she suddenly screamed; the Breach had pulsed strongly, dropping to her knees. Cassandra knelt to help her stand again, making sure not to remove her hand until the girl had regained her balance.

“Each time the Breach expands, your mark spreads… and it is killing you. It may be the key to stopping this, but there isn’t much time.” Niamh looked up at Cassandra disbelievingly.

“You waited until now to tell me that?” She demanded in frustration, almost groaning in irritation.

“Fine…If I can help, then I will.” Niamh agreed, catching a flicker of a smile on Cassandra’s face.

“Good. Come along now.” The two headed down the stairs and through the town, Niamh sliding closer to Cassandra at the glaring expressions she was getting.

“They have decided your guilt. They need it. The people of Haven mourn Our Most Holy, Divine Justinia V, head of the Chantry. The Conclave was hers. It was a chance for peace between the mages and the Templars. She brought their leaders together… and now, they’re dead.”

Niamh followed close to Cassandra’s side, shivering still in the cold, as the woman continued to speak.

“We lash out, like the sky. But we must think beyond ourselves, as she did. Until the Breach is sealed.” Cassandra turned to cut the binds off Niamh’s wrists, before turning back to continue leading the way, talking the entire time.

“There will be a trial… that’s all I can promise. Come, it is not far.”

Niamh picked up her skirts, hurrying after Cassandra.

“Where are you taking me?” Cassandra sighed at the constant questions, before answering.

“Your mark must be tried on something smaller than the Breach. There’s a rift not far.”

Niamh stuck to Cassandra’s side like a burr, eyeing the chaos carefully. She caught sight of wrapped corpses, pressing closer to the older Seeker as the two approached the gate under guard.

“Open the gate! We’re going into the valley!” Cassandra called to the guards, lowering a strong hand to rest on the girl’s back, right between her shoulder blades to keep the young one grounded.

“Stay close… I apologize, but I never got your name.” Niamh straightened slightly, keeping in pace with the Seeker.

“A-Apprentice Niamh Trevelyan, at your service.” Cassandra raised a dark eyebrow in bewilderment.

“Apprentice? Where are the Enchanters or Senior Enchanters you were with? Or even the Templars?”

Niamh fixed a look at Cassandra, before turning her attention back to the rocky path they were walking on.

“They were.” She responded quietly, not stuttering this time, neatly stepping over a body burnt and blackened by the explosion. She suddenly stopped, crying out in pain as her mark flared up again, dropping to her knees.

Cassandra knelt to help her stand; carefully making she was supported before moving on.

“The pulses are coming faster now. The larger the breach grows, the more rifts appear, and the more demons we face.”

Niamh took a steadying breath at Cassandra’s words, continuing down the trail.

“How did I survive the blast, if it was as big as it was?” At Cassandra’s questioning expression, the girl huffed a sigh.

“I was asleep, Seeker. Not unconscious. I could hear your conversation.” Cassandra muttered quietly to herself, before responding to the previously asked question.

“They said you… stepped out of a rift, then fell unconscious. They say a woman was in the rift behind you. No one knows who she was. Everything farther in the valley was laid waste, including the Temple of Sacred Ashes. I suppose you’ll see soon enough.”

Niamh stayed close to Cassandra as they approached a bridge, crossing over it, before her attention snapped to the incoming bolt of green Fade magic, slamming into the bridge and she screeched in surprise at the sudden collapse.

Cassandra cursed at seeing a shade form in front of them, drawing her blade and charging at the demon.

“Stay behind me!” Niamh looked around in dismay as she noticed the presence of another bubbling puddle, then shade manifesting. She spotted a staff nearby, running to grab it before sending a surge of ice pellets the demon’s way, flinching as the creature screeched before vaporizing.

She looked at the large staff, using it as a support on the slippery ice as she blinked at the puddle of slime.

“I-It’s over.” Niamh looked up at the crunching of ice under Cassandra’s boots, finding herself with the blade in her face.

“Drop your weapon. Now.” The girl looked absolutely terrified as she slowly lowered the staff to the ice.

“A-Alright…” Cassandra sighed, hating the terror that the girl’s expression had every time she tried to talk to her.

“Wait… I cannot protect you, and I cannot expect you to be defenseless either. I should remember that you agreed to come willingly. Take these potions. Maker knows what we’ll face.”

Niamh looked at the Seeker carefully.

“Y-You don’t know..? A-And where are all y-your soldiers?”

Cassandra took pity on the girl, answering straight away.

“I do not know everything, and either at the forward camp or fighting.” The two continued on their way, Niamh slipping and sliding over iced-over paths before Cassandra held out a hand to stop her.

“Wait. If we flank them, we might gain an advantage.” At the girl’s strict nod, Cassandra took off to flank the two shades blocking their path ahead. As she ran, she kept an eye on Niamh, watching as she whispered something and two fire mines formed under the shades, sending them into burning dark masses, enough to allow Cassandra to deal the killing blow.

The Seeker shook her head as she rejoined Niamh down on the icy river, impressed with the spellwork. It was something that older mages would even struggle with.

“Interesting choice to use fire mines on ice, Niamh.”

The girl shrugged slightly, leaping onto the solid ground before bothering with a response.

“I knew the ice would be able to handle the fire magic. It was thick enough.” Niamh responded, boots slipping on the step before she regained her balance, almost dancing up the steep stairway.

“We’re getting close! You can hear the fighting!” Niamh was several steps ahead of Cassandra, pausing to look back at the other.

“Who’s fighting?” She asked, using her staff to balance herself on the icy stairs.

“You’ll see soon. We must help them.”

Niamh nodded, taking off to skid to a halt at the top of the hill, eyes wide as she looked over the chaos. A green crystalized structure seemed to float above the ground, more figures surrounding it and engaged in combat with demons. Niamh looked at her side as Cassandra ran past, jumping off the wall before diving in to attack the demon fighting the bald-headed mage. She whined quietly, sliding down herself, sending a surge of ice magic towards the shade moving towards a collapsed soldier.

“Quickly! Before more come through!” Niamh yelped as she felt the mage grab hold of her wrist, shoving her marked hand up to the rift. She whined, trying to extract herself as pain surged up her arm and the rift brightened before vanishing with a loud crackle and pop.

“W-What did you do?” She asked, bracing herself on her staff, looking up at the mage.

“I did nothing. The credit was yours.” Niamh looked down at her glowing hand, expression faltering.

“S-So… this is useful for something.” She looked at the mage as he moved to talk to Cassandra, eyes narrowing in suspicion.

“Whatever magic opened the Breach in the sky also placed that mark upon your hand. I theorized the mark might be able to close the rifts that have opened in the Breach’s wake – and it seems that my suspicions are correct.”

“Meaning that it could also close the Breach itself.” The bald mage looked at Cassandra first, responding to her statement.

“Possibly,” before turning attention to Niamh.

“It seems you hold the key to our salvation.” Niamh didn’t like the sound of those words… she was only twelve! The pressure of saving the world? Very bad idea to pose on a pre-teen’s shoulders.

She jumped in surprise at the other voice speaking up, turning to look at the dwarf fixing his gloves.

“Good to know! Here I thought we’d be ass-deep in demons forever.” Niamh couldn’t resist a giggle at his statement, looking at him carefully as the dwarf approached the group.

“Varric Tethras: rogue, storyteller, and occasionally unwelcome tagalong.” He winked at Cassandra, gaining a disgusted sound from her, as Niamh continued to giggle.

“P-Pleased to meet you, Varric.” He grinned at the little mage before Solas spoke up.

“You may reconsider that stance in time.” Varric pouted at the older mage, before giving Niamh another bright grin.

“Awww, Chuckles! I’m sure we’ll become good friends in the valley.” Niamh turned her attention to Cassandra as she spoke.

“Absolutely not. Your help is appreciated, Varric…” Varric rolled his eyes.

“Have you been in the valley lately, Seeker? Your soldiers aren’t in control anymore. You need me.” Cassandra let out another disgusted grunt, turning away from Varric.

“My name is Solas, if there are introductions to be done. I am pleased to see you still live.”

“What Chuckles means is that he kept the mark from killing you while you slept.” Niamh’s lips quirked upwards in a faint acknowledging expression, taking advantage of the small break to look around and straighten her cloak.

“Then I owe you my thanks.” Solas brushed off the girl’s comment.

“Thank me if we manage to close the Breach without killing you in the process.” Niamh began to shiver from the cold, the standing still not doing much for her small frame, as Solas turned to look at Cassandra.

“Seeker, you should know, the magic involved here is unlike any magic I’ve ever seen. Your prisoner is a mage, but I find it difficult to believe that any mage could have that kind of power.” Cassandra nodded seriously.

“Understood. We must get to the forward camp quickly.” Varric’s exclamation brought more giggles from Niamh.

“Well, Bianca’s excited!” Cassandra made sure everyone could take the barricade carefully, helping Niamh over.

“Here, down the bank. The road ahead is blocked.”

Niamh, and her new companions slipped and slid down the steep path, the girl using her staff as a stabilizing aid to avoid slipping onto the icy river.

“Demons ahead!” Solas called.

“Glad you brought me now, Seeker?” Varric shot at Cassandra, aiming his crossbow at the shade squirming across the ice towards them.

Niamh couldn’t help but giggle at the Seeker’s disgusted sound as the demons vanished into the sludge, moving ahead.

“So… I take it you’re from the Free Marches?” The girl looked at Varric carefully, moving to head up another slope.

“Oh?”

“Your accent. I’m from Kirkwall myself… but yours sounds more eastern?” Niamh scoffed quietly.

“That’s quite an ear you have.”

“I’m all kinds of impressive, but seriously, Bubbles, where you from? No one in his or her right mind would let a girl in situations as dangerous as this.”

“Ostwick.” Niamh responded quietly. “Particularly Ostwick Circle. I came with my mentor and the Free Marches delegation to the Conclave for educational purposes.”

Varric hummed in interest.

“So… Enchanter?” Niamh broke into giggles, scrambling up the steps.

“Apprentice, actually.”

“You’re what? Nineteen? Twenty?” Varric questioned, eyes narrowing at the mage in front of the party.

“I’m twelve!” Niamh exclaimed in response before she squeaked in pain as her mark flared.

“Shit, are you alright?” Varric stopped to help stabilize the girl before they continued their way up the stairs.

“So… are you innocent?” Niamh huffed in tiredness, continuing up the stairway.

“I don’t remember what happened.”

“That’ll get you every time. Shoulda spun a story.” Niamh almost squawked in protest before Cassandra chimed in.

“That’s what you would’ve done, Dwarf.”

“Hey, it’s more realistic and less prone to premature execution!” Varric protested in return, preparing to fight the demons beginning to swarm towards them.

Cassandra sighed heavily.

“I hope Leliana made it through all this alright.” Varric dared to try and rest a hand on her side before moving past.

“She’s resourceful, Seeker.”

“We shall see for ourselves at the forward camp. We’re almost there after all.” Solas contributed, using the head of his staff to point up at the gatehouse of the forward camp.

Cassandra let out a curse, catching the bright glinting green of an open fade rift ahead.

“Another rift!” Solas stayed at Niamh’s side, easily fending off demon attacks.

“We must seal it, quickly!”

“They keep coming, help us!” A soldier shouted, trapped by two squirming shades his way.

Niamh dodged another attack, moving to connect to the rift and close it with only a quiet whimper of pain. She felt Solas gently rest a hand on her shoulder as Cassandra’s voice echoed around them.

“The rift is gone, open the gates!”

“Right away, Lady Cassandra!” She felt Solas and Varric moving past her, both speaking carefully.

“We are clear for the moment, young one, well done.”

“Whatever the mark on your hand is, it sure is useful.” Varric contributed, moving to restock his own potions, handing some to Solas and Cassandra as she passed.

“Niamh, with me.” Niamh hurried after the Seeker, sliding her hand into the older woman’s, approaching where Leliana and a Cleric stood at a table with maps spread about. Niamh flinched at the harsh tones she could hear, almost pressing closer to the Seeker, seeking out safety. Cassandra looked down briefly, trying to reassure her as they walked.

“We must prepare the soldiers!” Leliana crossed her arms, intense eyes focused on the cleric across from her.

“We will do no such thing.”

“The prisoner must get to the Temple of Sacred Ashes. It is our only chance!”

“You have already caused enough trouble without resorting to this exercise in futility!” Niamh squeaked at hearing the voices and shouting growing louder, pressing closer to Cassandra.

Leliana looked frustrated, barely acknowledging the two approaching.

“I have caused trouble?” She echoed, eyes blazing as Roderick slammed a hand down on the map.

“You, Cassandra, the Most Holy… haven’t you done enough already?” Leliana let out a low growl.

“You’re not in charge here, Chancellor!” Roderick straightened into an alpha posture, trying to convey that he was better than them all.

“Enough! I will not have it!”

Cassandra and Niamh came to a halt by the table, bringing the focus of Roderick and Leliana from their argument.

“Ah, here they come.” Leliana moved around the table to rest a hand on Niamh’s shoulder, gently squeezing before moving back around the table.

“You made it. Chancellor Roderick, this…” She was rudely interrupted by the cleric’s harsh tone.

“I know who this is. As Grand Chancellor of the Chantry, I hereby order you to take this criminal to Val Royeaux to face execution.” Cassandra stepped forwards slightly, expression thunderous.

“Order me? You are a glorified clerk! A bureaucrat!” Niamh shrunk against the rough robes that Solas wore, almost seeking his comfort.

The elf gently held her by the shoulders, thumbs rubbing her back and shoulders delicately as the Seeker and chancellor fought it out.

“And you are a thug, but a thug that supposedly serves the Chantry!” Leliana interrupted then.

“We serve the Most Holy, Chancellor, as you well know.” Roderick’s face grew red in frustration as he glared at the two.

“Justinia is dead! We must elect a replacement, and obey her orders on the matter!” Niamh’s small voice sounded then.

“S-So… no one’s in charge then?” She squeaked, as Roderick turned on her, expression fiery.

“You killed everyone in charge!” She whined in dismay, trying to hide behind Solas to avoid the anger.

“Chancellor, you have gone too far. The prisoner is a mere twelve years old and does not remember anything about what happened!” Leliana snapped at the cleric as Solas and Varric tried to calm the girl.

“Call a retreat, Seeker. Our position here is hopeless.” Cassandra slammed an armored fist upon the table.

“We can stop this before it’s too late, Chancellor!”

“How? You won’t survive long enough to reach the temple, even with all your soldiers!” Roderick protested.

“We must get to the Temple. It’s the quickest route.” Leliana looked at Cassandra calmly.

“But not the safest. Our forces can charge as a distraction while we take the mountain path.” Cassandra looked at her comrade.

“We lost contact with an entire squad on that path, Leliana! It is too risky.”

“Listen to me! Abandon this now before more lives are lost!”

Niamh cried out as her mark flared, gaining everyone’s attention as Cassandra turned to kneel in front of her.

“Niamh, what do you think we should do?” The girl took a calming breath, eyes narrowing in thought before answering.

“Charge with the soldiers. It’ll give a chance to get to the Temple before I die.”

Cassandra nodded, turning to Leliana.

“Leliana, bring everyone left in the valley. Everyone.” Roderick snarled at Cassandra, turning away.

“On your head be the consequences, Seeker.”

Niamh resisted the urge to set his robes on fire, following after Cassandra quickly, leaving the smoothness of the stone behind for slippery snow and ice.

“Easy, Bubbles!” Varric called, stabilizing her as she slipped.

“You don’t wanna run too fast ahead of the group, don’t you?” Soldiers jogged past, some muttering prayers to the Maker under their breath and others cursing the ever-lasting strength of the demons emerging.

“Another rift! We must seal it!” Solas and Niamh stayed at the back, staves almost spinning in unison as they handled terrors and shades left and right. Cassandra charged ahead to help a man wearing a furred cloak, while Varric fired bolts into the shades that the mages had missed.

Niamh ran ahead, raising her marked hand to the rift to seal it, attention turning to Solas as he approached.

“Another one sealed, you’re becoming quite proficient at this.”

“Let’s hope it works on the big one,” Varric commented, slinging Bianca onto his back calmly.

“Lady Cassandra, you found a way to close the rifts? Good job.” Niamh looked up at the new arrival, eyes widening at his height before she focused on the cloak he wore… it looked warm.

“It was not I, Commander, but rather the prisoner.” The man turned to Niamh at Cassandra’s gesture, kneeling down to put himself at her same height.

“Oh indeed? I hope they’re right about you… I’ve lost a lot of soldiers getting you to this point.” He offered a gloved hand before standing again.

“The way to the Temple’s clear for the moment, Cassandra. I’ll join you with some men in a minute.”

Cassandra nodded, gesturing for the group to move out before the Commander spoke again to their turned backs.

“And may the Maker watch over you.”

The group of four headed down another particularly steep slope, Niamh narrowly avoiding stepping on burnt bodies as the Temple took form out of the mist.

“The Temple of Sacred Ashes.” Solas breathed, stopping before he moved to follow Cassandra’s lead.

“Or what’s left of it.” Varric added darkly, looking around at all the burnt corpses.

“That is where you walked out of the Fade and our soldiers found you. They say a woman was in the rift behind you. No one knows who she was.” Cassandra threw in there as Niamh picked up the presence of Leliana, hurrying forwards to the archer and spymistress.

“The Breach is a long ways up…” Varric muttered, gaze looking upwards at the glowing green hole in the sky.

“Now is your chance to end this… are you ready?” Cassandra asked Niamh, kneeling to her level and helping her adjust her dress again. Niamh gave a quick nod as the Seeker stood to look at Leliana, Cullen jogging up soon after.

“Leliana, get your men in positions around the Breach. Commander, with us?” He nodded, accompanying the group around the edge of the crater.

“Now is the hour of our victory.” It was a strange, very rumbling voice, putting the warriors on edge.

“What are we hearing?” Cassandra asked Niamh, thinking that if anyone had an idea, it would be the only survivor.

“At a guess, the person who created the Breach.” Solas answered as they walked, being careful of their steps. Niamh looked around, curious at the strange-looking red mineral nearby. Varric’s face screwed up in disgust.

“Seeker, you know this is red lyrium.”

“I see it, Varric.” Cassandra’s response was calm, as Varric got more riled up.

“But what is it doing here? It shouldn’t be here!” Solas rested a hand on the dwarf’s shoulder, trying to calm him down.

“Maybe magic could’ve drawn on the lyrium beneath the temple and corrupted it?” Varric shook Solas’ hand off his shoulder.

“It’s evil, no matter its beginnings. Whatever you do, do not touch it.” Niamh stayed between Cullen and Leliana as the group continued to try and find a way down.

The strange voice sounded again, “Keep the sacrifice still.”

“Someone help me!” That sounded like the Divine’s voice, Cassandra stopping dead in her tracks.

“That was Divine Justinia’s voice!” The group leapt down one-by-one from the stone pathway to the floor of the crater, Cullen helping Niamh down. She was barely touching the ground before her mark started to crackle with power.

“Someone help me!” Justinia’s voice sounded again, this time much more panicked than the previous time. The next voice to speak, not the rumbling one, was Niamh’s.

“W-What’s going on here?” Cassandra whirled on Niamh, expression dumbstruck.

“That was your voice. Most Holy called out to you…” Niamh backed into Cullen’s reassuring warmth as the rift glowed a bright green, bringing them into the scene of a monstrous figure approaching the Divine, held somehow in the air.

“W-What’s going on here?” Niamh appeared in the vision, unsure what the hell was going on.

Justinia’s eyes bulged in panic as she cried out, “Go! While you can, warn them!” The figure turned to stare down Niamh, snarling.

“We have an intruder. Kill the human. Now!”

Niamh yelped as Cassandra approached her, expression thunderous.

“You were there! Who attacked? And the Divine, is she…? Was this vision true? What are we seeing?” The girl shrunk into Cullen a bit more before responding harshly.

“I don’t remember what had happened!” Solas had moved to the breach, looking at it closely.

“Echoes of what happened here. The Fade bleeds into this place.” He outstretched a hand to touch the rift before the group rejoined him.

“This rift is not sealed, but it is closed. Albeit temporarily. I believe that, with the mark, the rift can be opened and then sealed properly and safely. However, opening the rift will likely attract attention from the other side.” Cassandra pulled her sword and shield, same with Cullen, preparing for whatever comes through.

“That means demons! Stand ready!” Niamh looked back at the two warriors for their nod of continuing, before she connected to the rift, opening it with a flash of light. Another large form emerged, a hard-scaled demon.

“A pride demon! Now!” The demon cackled harshly, forming an electrical whip in its hands, lashing out at the warriors, who blocked before charging in to slice at the demon’s ankles.

Varric and Leliana remained on the outskirts of the battle, Bianca and bow singing as they released bolt and arrow after another. Cassandra’s yell sounded above the battle-chaos.

“We must strip its defenses!” Niamh and Solas were sending fireballs and winter grasp spells at the demon, trying to knock down the defenses even faster.

“Quickly, disrupt the rift!” Niamh trusted Solas to cover her back as she connected to the rift again, causing it to explode into another mass of green light.

“The demon is vulnerable – Now!” The warriors and archers kept at the demon, trying to whittle down its’ health as Niamh detected the presence of two more demons coming through the rift.

“More coming through, Bubbles!” Varric called, not wanting her to be killed. Niamh spun around, sending out a batch of chain lighting to fry the shades before they got even close to her. However, before she could rejoin the battle, she was hit with the pride demon’s electrical whip, sending her flying and slamming into the rock with a sickening crack. Solas muttered darkly, hoping she wasn’t dead, but his fears went unacknowledged at this point.

Niamh slowly pushed herself to her feet, sore all over before charging back to the fight. With the amount of men, it didn’t take long for the Pride demon to be defeated, and Niamh soon found herself sealing the rift, support of the adults around her.

“Close the rift, Niamh.” Cassandra murmured to the girl, watching as she did so. However, before she could turn to face them again, she collapsed. Cullen sprang forwards to catch her, cradling her close to his chest gently.

“Exhausted… let’s get her back to Haven, Cassandra.” He said carefully, gesturing for her and Leliana to lead the way back to the current base.

Chapter Text

The villagers of Haven watched in awe as the Breach rippled, halting its forward expansion. The shockwave swept some of them off their feet, but they soon recovered, turning with bright smiles to look at each other.

“The Herald did it!” Harritt scoffed, turning back to the anvil and blade he was working on. He had met the Warden, now Queen-Consort, Warden-Commander Evelyn Theirin, when he had been in Redcliffe, and the current Champion of Kirkwall, Astraea Hawke as well. He had a fair share of duties and armor to handle and finish repairing... despite the amount of supplies they were running low on.

Leliana and Josephine stood outside the Chantry, watching for the group’s safe return. What Leliana, however, hadn’t told Josephine, was that the prisoner was a mere twelve years old. She would let Josie’s lover tell her that part.

“Nightingale! Commander Cullen and Seeker Cassandra, as well as Master Tethras and Solas have been spotted!” One of her agents called to her; she nodded in acknowledgement.

“No sign of the prisoner?” The agent climbed back into the watchpost, squinting to try and make out the group.

“N… Actually, wait a minute. Yes, the prisoner is there… in Commander Cullen’s arms.” Leliana nodded, turning to her fellow Bard.

“Meet them at the gate?” Josephine raised an eyebrow at her friend in response as Leliana grinned slightly.

“I just wanted to make sure, Josie.” The two ladies descended the stairs from the chantry courtyard, moving across the icy ground to stand at the gate, watching as the group approached over the ice and rocky trails.

Josephine’s expression lit up as she saw her lover, the Commander and former Knight-Captain of Kirkwall, Cullen, at the head of the party. Cassandra was next to him, with Solas and Varric trailing behind the party. Her expression darkened slightly as she noticed the bundle in his arms, immediately picking up her skirts and hurrying towards him.

“Cullen?” At his name, his amber eyes brightened, smiling at the lovely Antivan, before coming to a halt, gently adjusting the bundle in his arms.

“Josie...” She slid to a halt, peering at the fabric-wrapped bundle, eyes turning up to the man’s face with a questioning glance.

At her glance, he sighed, gently tugging the fabric away with a large hand. Josephine clapped a hand over her mouth in shock at the girl wrapped in the cloak.

“Apprentice Niamh Trevelyan, Ambassador.” Cassandra contributed, moving past the two. Varric had already headed ahead to the Tavern, and Solas to his own cabin, leaving the four advisors standing in the snow.

“Is she…?”

“Unconscious and exhausted. Nothing more.” Cullen answered briskly, moving towards the gates. Josephine stayed by his side, skirts held in a delicate hand. Unusually, she did not have a clipboard or any kind of paperwork in her hands, allowing her to keep a small hand on his arm. Cassandra and Leliana stayed at their heels, the Seeker brushing ahead to push open the Chantry doors.

The small group of four had split off at this point, Cassandra and Leliana going into the War Room, while Cullen and Josephine headed into their shared bedchamber. A small cot had been brought in for the girl, ordered by Leliana on the way up to the Chantry.

Cullen gently laid her down on the cot, Josephine batting at his hands as he slightly disturbed the girl.

“Josie.”

“No, Cullen, go sit over there… and bring me a nightgown!” He obeyed, knowing that an Antivan with maternal instincts kicking in was a force to be reckoned with. A soft linen, lined with soft lambswool, nightgown was gently slid over the girl’s head as Josephine changed her. Her dress was virtually destroyed at this point, and she sighed, tossing the bundle of fabric to her lover.

“Burn that, if you don’t mind.” Cullen obeyed, not minding Josephine’s bossing, before heading towards the door.

“I’m going to see if I can find her supplies.” Josephine hummed in acknowledgement, sitting at Niamh’s bedside, gently running a brush through the girl’s hair.

Cullen left the room, closing the door quietly behind him, heading down to where the Mages had been camped. Her trunk was easy to find, marked with a ward that he easily undid with the lyrium remaining in his body. He bent to hoist it onto his shoulder, carrying it through the village and back up to the Chantry, entering the room and setting it down next to his own and Josephine’s trunks.

“How is she?” He kept his voice quiet, moving to gently take her smaller hand in his larger callused one.

Josephine barely looked up from the girl, gently bandaging her blistered hands.

“Still unconscious. Though Adan stopped by, dropped off some potions for her in case she develops a fever, and bandages for her injuries.” Cullen nodded, reaching for the bandages to do the hand closest to him.

Blisters and half-healed scabs decorated almost every inch of her hands and lower arms as the two worked, ointments applied before bandages covered the injuries. Cullen straightened, going to wash off the ointment covering his hands before retrieving his sword and shield.

“If you need anything, Josie, you know where to find me.” Josephine looked up from Niamh, nodding.

“I’ll send a runner if anything changes.” Before he left, Cullen moved to place a kiss on her lips, leaving quietly again.

Despite the girl being fully unconscious, both were still mindful that she could wake at any time, so they were being careful of how much noise was produced. Josephine picked up the shouting audible outside the room, standing and moving to step into the main Chantry, hazel eyes intense and expression thunderous.

“I would’ve expected less yelling while there is an unconscious and exhausted girl is in the next room.” Josephine stalked into the War Room, making Roderick flinch at the burning expression she held.

“She needs to be brought to Val Royeaux for trial!” Josephine grumbled at his insane repetitive words.

“She will not be going anywhere near Val Royeaux while she’s unconscious. I swear if you try and force her, I will not hesitate to have you arrested for violent approaches towards an innocent minor.” Josephine finished, turning on her heel to exit the room.

“She is the only survivor of the explosion! You don’t understand!”

“No, she understands perfectly. Niamh’s twelve years old, barely old enough to even be away from her Circle. You’re the one who doesn’t understand, Chancellor.” Leliana finished, brushing past the chancellor quickly to follow her friend calmly.

“Josie!”

Josephine stopped, looking over her shoulder just before entering her chamber, Leliana quickly catching up to her friend.

“Roderick’s going to cause trouble, Leli.” Josephine sighed, moving to sit beside the unconsicious girl.

“I’ll have Charter and Patch watching her when she wakes. He won’t get near her without me knowing.” The redhead reassured her friend.

“Good. She’s already going to be under a lot of stress… she’s only twelve after all.”

“She’ll be turning thirteen in Bloomingtide, Josie.” Josephine’s attention turned back to Leliana.

“What else do you know about her?” Leliana settled on the edge of the bed, leaning back slightly in a relaxed posture.

“Niamh Aisling Moira Trevelyan is her full name, born first day of Bloomingtide, 9:21 Dragon to Lord Nicholas Trevelyan, Ostwick, and Lady Moira MacGregor, Starkhaven. She is the youngest of six; all boys, but former Knight-Templars Conall and Kennedy Trevelyan were killed when the rebellion came to Ostwick Circle in her defense. She still has three living brothers, and relatives among the Templars, as well as connected to the Prince of Starkhaven and his wife through her mother’s line.” Josephine hummed in interest.

“Strong connections. Particularly with the connection to Prince Sebastian and Princess Astraea… That could be used to garner support.” Leliana snorted delicately.

“Support and needed supplies. Especially with how the Chantry’s disowning us due to the soldiers and civilians calling her the ‘Herald of Andraste’.”

Josephine sighed in disbelief, “I blame Chancellor Roderick for that disownment. Why is he targeting her? She survived, luckily, but barely.” The two women turned to the faint sound of discomfort, Niamh beginning to try and wake briefly.

Josephine stood, moving to gently place another cloth on the girl’s forehead, shushing her delicately.

“Rest dear.” The girl’s flickering eyes drifted closed again, reassured by the presence of the women nearby.

“Does she have living family we can contact, Leli?” Leliana stood, heading towards the door calmly.

“You’re asking that even when I’ve already sent ravens to the Trevelyan, MacGregor, and Vael families, Josie.” Leliana winked at her friend briefly, before exiting the room quietly.

Josephine smiled at her friend’s departing back, sighing at the sleeping girl before moving to her work waiting her at the desk in the room.

It would be two and a half more days until Niamh would fully awaken… all recovered thanks to Adan and Solas’ skills as healers.

Chapter Text

A quiet groan split the silent room as the young mage finally awoke from her three-day rest. Blinking to clear her vision, Niamh focused on the wood ceiling above her, slowly pushing herself up into a sitting position and finding herself in a stone room, looking around carefully. Her attention snapped to the door as it opened, an elven servant entering with a tray. Seeing the girl sitting up, the servant dropped the tray to the floor, neatly dropping to the floor with an apologetic sound.

“I’m sorry, my lady! I didn’t realize you were awake, I swear!”

Niamh slowly pushed herself off the cot, stepping towards the tray delicately, “i-it’s okay, I have no issue. Where am I, anyways?”

The servant slowly stood, eyes downcast.

“Lady Josephine Montilyet and Commander Cullen Rutherford’s chambers, my lady. I beg you forgiveness and your blessing. I am but a humble servant. You are back in Haven, my Lady. They say you saved us. The Breach stopped growing, just like the mark on your hand. It’s all anyone has talked about for the last three days.” Niamh raised a hand to her forehead in confusion.

“So… they’re pleased?” The servant looked confused as she started to back towards the door again.

“I’m certain that Lady Cassandra has requested your presence in the War Room, milady. She said ‘at once’.” Niamh looked at her trunk at the foot of her cot, before attention returned to the servant.

“C-Could you help me get changed?” The servant nodded, moving to help the girl into a dark green dress, complete with a dark green cloak and gloves.

“Excuse me, milady.” The servant curtsied again, exiting the room to slip into the ambassador’s office.

“Lady Ambassador?” Josephine looked up from her paperwork at the address, expression delicate.

“Yes?”

“The Herald’s awake, ma’am… I thought you might want to know, ma’am.” Josephine nodded, standing from her desk.

“Indeed. Can you also let Commander Cullen know?” The servant bobbed another curtsey, moving to exit the office.

“Yes ma’am.” Josephine swept out of the office, heading into the room, knocking on the doorframe calmly.

“Niamh?” A startled squeak came from the girl, high-pitched as corresponding with her current age, but she appeared in the doorway. Josephine’s brown eyes looked over her, noting the presence of mussed up hair and the green dress she wore.

“Come here… you can’t meet with Cassandra looking like you just rolled out of bed.” Niamh grinned sheepishly as she settled on the floor. Josephine gathered a brush and ties, sitting on the edge of the bed and beginning to gently brush out the girl’s hair.

“Ow!” The girl whined at the pulling of a nasty knot.

“Sorry… there are a lot of knots in your hair, Niamh.” Josephine responded, finally getting the final knot out before starting to braid the girl’s hair neatly. She remembered doing this for Yvette when she was younger, and it wasn’t surprising that her fingers still remembered the movements even after all these years. Niamh relaxed into the brushing and styling, eyes slowly dropping to half-mast as the door opened, closing just as quickly.

Cullen entered the room, smiling slightly at seeing his beloved brushing the Herald’s hair gently, pulling it back into elegant braids.

“Josie.” Josephine looked up, smiling and reaching up for the kiss that he bestowed on her cheek before he took a seat next to her.

“Niamh, I am glad to see you’re awake… The apothecary thought you wouldn’t make it.”

The girl barely looked at the man, unable to do so with the style Josephine was creating at this point.

“He’s not knowledgeable about mages. Especially those touched by spirits.” She said in a trilling voice, making Cullen chuckle.

“Indeed. How are you feeling?” Upon being directly addressed, the girl turned to look at Cullen carefully.

“Sore… I still hurt.” The Commander heaved a deep sigh at her response.

“I bet you do, miting.” Niamh cocked her head to the side curiously at the term of endearment used, unused to hearing endearments like that.

“What does that mean?” Josephine smiled as she straightened from the bed, putting the hairbrush and unused ties away.

“Ferelden way of saying child, Niamh. Don’t you have to go meet with Cassandra?” The girl bobbed slightly as she pressed closer to Cullen, hearing the loud protests of the Chancellor passing by. Cullen rested a large hand on her shoulder, trying to keep her calm.

“I’ll accompany her… since it seems like the Chancellor’s present.” Josephine actually rolled her eyes at hearing that.

“He keeps trying to gain authority he doesn’t have. If anything goes south, I’ll be in the office.” Before Josephine swept out of the room, Cullen caught her to give her another quick kiss before escorting Niamh after the ambassador. The two entered into the main part of the chantry, the girl pressing closer to Cullen as the loud arguments of Roderick and Cassandra could be heard through the door.

Cullen looked down at Niamh, keeping her close as they approached the door, dropping to a knee in front of the girl, expression serious but calm.

“If you feel you are getting too overwhelmed, do not hesitate to let me know. You do not need to tough it out… you are only twelve.” Niamh nodded in understanding, almost seeking out his warmth for a quick hug before the two entered the war room. Her gaze looked to the two armored Templar knights flanking the door before turning to focus at the people standing around the table.

“Chain her. I want her prepared for travel to the capital for trial.” The Chancellor snapped, pointing a boney finger at Niamh. Cullen stepped slightly in front of the girl, hand on his sword hilt as Cassandra scowled.

“Disregard that order, and leave us.” Niamh dug her fingers into Cullen’s coat as she watched the Templars leave the room with a quick salute to Cassandra and Cullen.

“You walk a dangerous line, Seeker.” Leliana moved from the shadows, eyes narrowing at the Chancellor that seemed to push his boundaries too much.

“We walk a dangerous line? Or you walk a dangerous line, Chancellor? I wonder how the Revered Mother would react to hearing you wanted to arrest a twelve-year-old girl…” Cullen smirked slightly at the spymistress’ words; focused entirely on the girl.

Cassandra huffed in irritation, “the Breach is still a concern, Chancellor. I will not ignore it and let it swallow the world.”

“I-I did w-what I c-c-could…” Niamh stuttered from her position at Cullen’s side.

“And we know, Niamh.” Leliana reassured the girl, “ignore the Chancellor. He does not know of what he speaks.” That was completed with an intense glare at the Chancellor trying to regain control of the conversation.

“Someone was behind the explosion at the Conclave… someone Most Holy did not expect. Perhaps they died in the explosion or still have allies that live.” Roderick visibly started.

I am a suspect? But not the prisoner?” Leliana raised an eyebrow.

“You, and many others. As for the prisoner, Most Holy called out to her for help.” The adults turned to look at Niamh, keeping a hand wrapped into Cullen’s cape tightly.

The girl started at the sudden slam of the book on the table, looking up at the adults with a wide-eyed expression as Cassandra moved around to lean into Roderick’s space.

“Do you know what this is, Chancellor? A writ from the Divine, granting us the authority to act. As of this moment, I declare the Inquisition reborn. We will close the breach, we will find those responsible, and we will restore order. With or without your approval.” Leliana leaned back, entire body language showing relaxation but also ready to act if needed.

“This is the Divine’s directive: rebuild the Inquisition of old. Find those who will stand against the chaos. We aren’t ready. We have no leader, no numbers, and now no Chantry support.” At this, Cassandra spoke up again.

“But we have no choice: we must act now,” she looked at Niamh carefully, “with you at our side.”

The girl slowly blinked, eyes narrowing in focus before she spoke, “I want to help.” The Seeker moved forwards to offer a hand to Niamh.

“Then, help us fix this before it’s too late.” Both, woman and child, shook hands, cementing their unspoken alliance.

Chapter Text

As the first meeting and reforming of the Inquisition came to a close, Niamh was staying close to Cullen as he rested a hand on her back. Leliana was inwardly awing at the instinctive position both of them too. It would do well for the troops’ morale as well, to see the Commander and the Ambassador taking on roles as adoptive parental figures. Cullen looked down at the girl, before looking at Leliana and Cassandra.

“Am I right in assuming that I can take her to get something to eat?” Leliana waved them off with a quiet giggle at the sudden growl of Niamh’s stomach.

“Go… and make sure Josie eats as well!” Cullen chuckled, taking Niamh’s hand carefully and letting her lead the way out of the War Room.

“This way.” He gestured to the closed door of Josephine’s office, releasing Niamh’s hand and watching as she hurried into the room to greet the ambassador. Josephine looked up from the paperwork at the chirping greeting of the Herald, giving her a bright smile before placing her quill back in the inkwell and standing.

“Leliana sent you to make sure I eat then? Alright…” She waved Niamh off, past Cullen as she interlocked her arm with his offered one.

“Niamh, stay close!” Cullen called, watching as she slid to a neat halt in front of the closed Chantry doors.

“But, I’m hungry!” She whined, gripping her skirts and twirling to look at the two guardians approaching.

“And we all are, Niamh, but you still don’t know your way around.” Josephine responded, sighing to gently tug at a loose strand of hair.

“Okay… Singing Maiden?”

Niamh was almost dancing around them brightly, hopping down the rocky stairs and into the Singing Maiden Tavern.

“Niamh, here.” Josephine slid into a seat at a four-person table, waiting for the girl to join her. Cullen headed up to the bar to order their drinks and meal. Wine for him and Josephine, and milk for Niamh, with bowls of druffalo stew and honey-and-bread for their meal. The drinks were the first thing out, Cullen carrying them over and setting each mug in front of their owner.

Niamh reached for her mug, sipping at the milk inside contently as Josephine looked at the girl.

“So, you came from the Ostwick Circle?” Niamh bobbed her head in acknowledgement.

“Yep. Magic manifested at four, I’ve been there for eight years.” Cullen hummed quietly in surprise.

“Typically magic manifests at anywhere from 7-10… for magic to manifest that young, you must’ve been a powerful magelet.” Niamh giggled brightly at his comment, setting her drink back down as she shrugged carefully.

“Senior Enchanter Lydia said I could be taking my Harrowing in the next five-six years if I keep at the amount I’ve been studying and improving.” She remarked, sighing deeply.

“That is, that was before she was killed.” Niamh commented, sipping at her milk contently.

“Mmh… I know there’s Court Enchanter Vivienne, who heads the Loyalist group, and Grand Enchanter Fiona, leader of the Mage rebellion who are both interested in the Inquisition so far.” Josephine said, sipping delicately at her wine. Niamh perked up at hearing that.

“Enchanter Vivienne? She’s only one of the youngest full Enchanters in known Circle history! Oh yes, can she be extended an invite to the Inquisition?” Niamh begged the adults, expression hopeful. “Oh please!”

Josephine giggled at the girl’s excitement, noting that down on a roll of parchment nearby.

“I can try… though she might want to meet you in person. Is there anyway you’d want her to become your mentor?” Niamh was almost bouncing in her seat excitedly.

“Yes please! Enchanter Vivienne is one of the most-well known mages from Ostwick Circle… she was actually trained there before the White Spire!” Josephine chuckled softly at the excited chirping of the young mage across from her as Cullen stood to help Flissa carry over the trays of their food.

“Ooohhh!” Niamh chirped, reaching for her bowl, giving the two a thankful smile before she started to eat.

Josephine frowned slightly at their ward’s quick eating, turning to Cullen concerningly.

Cullen swallowed his bite before he looked at Josephine, gently resting a hand on hers and conveying silently that she’ll be okay… she’s in good hands now.

It was finally peace as the two adults watched Niamh eagerly eating her food while the drama took a break.

Chapter Text

Cullen and Josephine had split from Niamh to gather their paperwork, leaving her in the care of Cassandra as the War Council gathered. Hearing the bell calling them to the Chantry, Niamh slid off her crate to take Cassandra’s hand carefully.

The two entered the Chantry, narrowly missing both the Commander and Ambassador as Niamh slowly looked at her marked hand carefully, gaining Cassandra’s concern.

“Does it… hurt?” The girl looked up at Cassandra’s question, shaking her head in response.

“Not that bad anymore, but I wish it could’ve done more.” Her tone only triggered sympathy in the normally emotionless Seeker, prompting her to lay a hand on the girl’s shoulder.

“You did all that we asked of you, even willing to put your life on the line to accomplish what we asked. We couldn’t have asked for anymore, Niamh.” Cassandra said gently, letting her hand fall back to her side.

“But what’s important now is that your Mark is stable, as is the Breach. This gives us the time needed to figure out what had caused this and possible ways to find ways to close it without killing you in the process. You’ve given us time, and we plan to use that time the best we can, but at the same time, Solas believes that a second attempt with more power could possibly close the Breach for good.”

Blue eyes widened at hearing Cassandra’s words, barely managing to clear her throat enough to croak out a disbelieving question.

“I-I’m sorry… but more power? That much power through me would kill me at this current time!” Niamh protested, stopping dead in her tracks to stare disbelievingly at Cassandra.

“The same amount of power that it took to form the Breach the first time, yes. But you are in luck because we need to find a way or group that has that amount of power available.”

“Sounds like fun.” Niamh sarcastically muttered in response, gaining a sharp look from Cassandra.

“I mean… what harm could be done in powering up something we have no idea what it could do?” She attempted to backtrack, looking innocent as can be.

The Seeker chuckled, shaking her head slightly in amusement. She had forgotten how amusing pre-teens and teenagers were, especially when in such unique environments and situations as Niamh currently in.

Through her chuckles, she managed to return a response, “keep a hold of that sense of humor. It’ll serve you well.”

The girl’s face brightened as she grinned, happy to actually have gotten the ever-serious Seeker to chuckle even a little bit. The two entered the War Room, where Leliana, Cullen, and Josephine waited. There was even a stool present for Niamh to clamber onto, having been too short to see the table from the ground at this current moment.

Cassandra took charge of the introductions, gesturing carefully to Cullen right across the table covered in maps.

“You’ve met Commander Cullen Rutherford, leader of the Inquisition’s military.” He gave a slight bow in greeting, rumbling calmly.

“Such as they are. We will need to spread recruitment efforts to gain more numbers, but I am glad to see you’re thriving, miting.”

Niamh’s cheeks tinted a pale shade of red at his affectionate name for her, complete with the affectionate tone as well. Cassandra chuckled softly, directing her attention to the elegantly dressed Antivan at the foot of the table.

“This is Lady Josephine Montilyet, our ambassador and chief diplomat in needed situations.”

Josephine gave a small curtsy in return, smiling at the girl. “I’ve heard much, and I am pleased to be able to put a face and name to those stories heard.”

The Seeker turned to Leliana, having to gain the girl’s attention again.

“And this is Sister Leliana…” Leliana didn’t let Cassandra finish before speaking.

“My position here involves a great deal of…” The black-haired Seeker took back over quickly, giving Leliana a strong look.

“She is our spymistress.” The redhead huffed irritably, but Niamh knew it was just faked.

“Yes. Very tactfully put, Cassandra.”

Cassandra turned back to Niamh who had a shy smile present.

“N-Nice to m-meet you all…” The Seeker barely allowed her time to finish her sentence before speaking again.

“And since you’re still considered a minor, especially as a mage currently in Ferelden, Cullen and Josephine have asked to take charge of you.” Niamh realized that was why she had woken up in their shared chambers, and always seemed to have one nearby.

“Are you okay with that, Lady Trevelyan?” Josephine asked anxiously, wanting to make sure their new ward was alright with the setup.

“Y-Yeah… I-I’m fine. B-But I’m no Lady… mages can’t hold titles.” The clearing of a strict throat would draw all attention to the stern Seeker.

“I mentioned earlier, while you were still asleep, that your mark needed more power to close it.” Cassandra commented plainly, almost like she was talking about the weather outside. Leliana took that as her chance to jump in.

“Which means we must approach the rebel mages for help.” Cullen’s amber eyes narrowed at the spymistress, hand clenching slightly around his pommel.

“I still disagree. The Templars would serve just as well.” Leliana’s hazel gaze turned to the Lion of Ferelden, voice taking on an icy quality, but before she could speak, Cassandra had beaten her to it. Niamh watched the conversations going back and forth, almost like a cricket match her brothers used to play years ago.

“We need power, Commander. Enough magic poured into that Mark – “ Cullen interrupted right then, not letting Cassandra finish her statement.

“Could destroy us all. The Templars could weaken the Breach, give Niamh more time – “ Leliana slipped in right there, doing exactly what he had done to Cassandra a mere minute ago.

“Pure speculation.” Cullen appeared to bristle a bit in frustration, hand clenching around his sword hilt.

I was a Templar. I know what they’re capable of.” Josephine finally was able to have her say, attention turning to the girl kneeling on the stool at Cassandra’s side.

“But, unfortunately, neither side will even speak to us yet.” Niamh cocked her head to the side curiously, unsure why not.

“W-Why not? T-The Templars should be familiar w-with my family name…” Josephine sighed, setting her quill back in the inkwell.

“They are familiar with your family, but at the same time, we’ve been disowned by the Chantry for calling you The Herald of Andraste.”

Niamh blinked in confusion at the new title, attention scanning from adult to adult.

“T-That’s the first I-I’m hearing the Herald title… I-I’m no Herald.” Josephine giggled softly.

“Oh, little one, you underestimate your standing among the people. They’ve started to call you the Herald of Andraste… and that frightens the Chantry. They’ve declared us, and you by extension, heretics and blasphemy.”

Niamh let out a horrified wordless sound, expression turning into one of absolute damn terror.

“W-What?!” Cullen didn’t like the terror across her entire face, moving around the table to try and calm the girl down with quiet comments.

“You need to relax, Niamh…” Ignoring Cullen’s comments and reassurances, her intense blue gaze turned to Josephine then Leliana.

“Will they attack us?” The Commander chuckled softly.

“They only have words at their disposal, miting, you have nothing you need to worry about.” His lover’s worried tone caught his focus as he straightened, helping Niamh settle on his hip.

“But there is something you can do to try and start regaining the Chantry’s favor. There’s a cleric named Mother Giselle tending to the refugees of the Mage-Templar war out in the Hinterlands and she’s asked for you, Herald. She’s not far, and knows those involved far better than I. Her aid would be invulnerable.” Leliana commented calmly, setting a raven statuette on the Hinterlands area of the Ferelden map.

“I-I’ll see what she has to say.” Niamh responded curtly, getting a bit overwhelmed as Cassandra and Josephine began to talk.

“You’ll find her tending to the injured near the Crossroads.” Leliana finished before Cullen joined the conversation.

“While you’re there, also find ways to expand the Inquisition’s influence. We can only do so much at this moment in time.”

“And we also need agents to spread news and our word past this valley. You’re a good person to recruit them.” Josephine offered, the last suggestion before Cassandra stepped in.

“In the meantime, let’s think of other options. I will not leave this all to a twelve-year-old girl to stress about.”

Chapter Text

As the meeting came to an end, Niamh hadn’t moved much from Cullen’s side, content as can be. She squeaked quietly as she settled, frowning and adjusting her position slightly. Boney joints dug into parts his armor didn’t cover, making the Commander grunt with discomfort.

“Cullen, I’ll take her.” Josephine offered; Cullen shaking his head in response.

“No, she’s okay, Josephine. Plus she’s fastened herself to my mantle.” He chuckled, showing her the tightly enclosed fists the girl had around his fur mantle.

“Alright then… you know where to find me?” Josephine asked, attention fixed on the content girl.

“Yes mam.” Niamh responded, head resting on Cullen’s shoulder. Slowly the two of them that were left in the war room headed towards the door, the blonde-haired Ferelden carrying the brown-haired magelet while the Antivan bustled around and ahead of them.

Niamh squeaked as she saw the research table just past Josephine’s office door.

“Wait!” She wriggled down from Cullen’s arms, scurrying into Josephine’s office and hoisting a bundle of demon rags up onto the research table. Minaeve smiled at the girl and the bundle of demon stuff, gratefully taking the offered research and starting to spread it out, looking at it and her notes at the same time.

“Thank you, Herald.” Niamh’s cheeks tinted a pale pink in a faint blush as she giggled, hurrying back out of the office to again climb and settle on Cullen’s hip and side.

“I am sure Minaeve appreciated the research items you gathered… but maybe, next time, leave it to the soldiers, miting? Can you do that?” Cullen asked, looking down at Niamh, content in his arms.

She felt too light for a twelve-year-old. Rosalie and Branson were heavier than she was at the same age, same as most other children he had met/interacted with over the years. A sinking suspicion began to take root in his mind…

Could have the Templars and Mages at Ostwick Circle been that bad? Starving a little girl?’ He wondered as the two headed outside and towards the quartermaster.

Threnn was a very brisk and harsh-toned woman, and Cullen wanted to make sure that she didn’t make the Herald cry at that moment.

“Ah, good morning Commander.” She greeted as the two approached, glance barely falling to Niamh perched on the man’s hip.

“And a good morning to you as well, Quartermaster. I just wanted to check in, see if there’s any requisitions myself and the Herald can do locally?” With that final statement, he drew Threnn’s eyes to the shy girl on his hip.

“O-Oh…. Uh, yes ser, there is. A requisition recently was sent in and approved for more weapons supplies. They said six bushels of iron and one logging stand should do the trick. Uh, here.” Threnn offered the paperwork for the requisition to Cullen who refused it.

“There’s no need. Niamh, did you get that?” The girl nodded from her position hiding on the Commander.

“I-I did… S-Six bushels o-of i-iron a-and one l-logging s-stand.” She responded to the Commander’s question.

“Good girl. Now, let’s go introduce you to Adan and see if Solas has any advice for raising a magelet.” Cullen bopped her nose with a finger before moving past Threnn with a thank-you response as the two headed to the second level of Haven.

Niamh giggled at the nose-touch, trying to grasp Cullen’s finger. The bright giggles of the girl brought smiles to the patrolling troops and villagers. As the two walked down the stairs, past the bulletin post, and passing Varric’s tent, Cullen nodded towards Varric, gesturing for Niamh to wave to the red-haired dwarf before the two headed towards the apothecary area.

“Good morning, da’len.” Solas called as the two passed, exiting his cabin right as they walked by.

“Good morning!” Niamh called back happily, content in Cullen’s arms as the blonde-haired Ferelden laughed briefly, letting her slither to the ground and taking her hand in his.

“Is Adan in, Solas?” The bald-headed elf nodded.

“Since Master Tarritt’s death at the Conclave, there really hasn’t been any reason for him to leave the Apothecary building, Commander.” Solas added for Niamh’s benefit.

“And be warned: he’s been in a very testy mood these days.” Cullen laughed deeply, nodding in understanding.

“As predicted by the amount of injured. Thank you, Solas.” Solas inclined his head again in understanding, heading to the Singing Maiden to get breakfast before things ran low.

Cullen allowed Niamh to enter first, her face scrunching up in disgust at the smell. “Eugh… smells gross.”

He chuckled at the girl’s comment as a snarky tone sounded from a workspace.

“See if I’ll treat you for that comment.” Adan rose from his desk, moving towards Cullen and Niamh.

“Well? What can I do for you?” He questioned briskly, snapping his fingers to get them to hurry up.

“Niamh, Apothecary Adan. Adan, this is…”

“I know who she is. Herald Trevelyan.” Adan retorted back at the Commander, not allowing him to finish his introductory statement. “Now, what can I do for you?”

“I-I wanted to see if you needed any help… and Da insisted I learn how to order potions.” Niamh threw in with a few brief stutters, looking up at the robed Apothecary.

Adan scoffed, leading her to the potion-stocking station and leading her through the process before turning to Cullen.

“And yes, I could use some help. Master Tarritt was working on something before he died at the Conclave… but what he’s working on could prove extremely helpful if it could be found.”

“A-And wh-where was his workspace?” Niamh asked, moving back to Cullen’s side and getting his arm wrapped around her shoulders.

“The abandoned cabin out in the woods, not quite past the wooded gates, was his workspace. You’ll find it in there somewhere.” Adan answered, attention turning back to the potions bubbling over a fireplace.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

Cullen took that as a dismissal, bending to pick up Niamh again and carrying her out of the cabin, heading down to the main gates and to the blacksmith.

“Where we going now?” Niamh asked, looking up at Cullen intently.

“To see Harritt, the blacksmith. He has your armor and weapons, and will keep your weapons and arms updated and sharpened.” Cullen answered, attention turning to the icy stone steps that were coming up in their path.

“Oh, Niamh, if you ever need to ask anything from Seggrit, be sure to have either myself or Josephine with you. He will try and take advantage of your young age and get you to pay more for things that you shouldn’t be paying for.” Cullen warned her as they passed the merchant, ignoring the shouting, and focusing on the stone steps that were seriously iced over in the path in front of them.

“O-Okay…” She responded, watching the gate slowly swing open and allowing Cullen and herself to exit the stonewalls of Haven and towards the blacksmith’s shop.

“Commander!” Rylen’s accented voice sounded from the training area as he jogged to catch up with them, stopping dead in his tracks at seeing Niamh.

“Nia?” He sounded absolutely surprised, blinking at the twelve-year-old. Niamh’s expression brightened up immediately, almost scrambling out of Cullen’s arms and into Rylen’s.

“Uncle Rylen!” She squealed, climbing his tall frame and squeezing his neck tightly.

“Nice to see you too, little miss.” At Cullen’s questioning glance, the Starkhavenite shrugged slightly.

“I was her Templar guard when she came to visit Starkhaven.” Rylen answered in return, coughing slightly at the tight squeeze Niamh was putting on his neck before extracting her arms from around him, handing her back to Cullen.

Cullen took the happy pre-teen back into his arms, settling her under his warm mantle and perched on his hip.

“Ah. What are you doing away from the training, Captain?” The Commander questioned, gaining a surprised look before he immediately hurried off again.

“Oh, uh, shit… Yeah… excuse me, Commander, little Miss!” Rylen threw over his shoulder as he departed. Cullen shook his head, calling to his second-in-command to watch his language around Niamh. She doesn’t need to be corrupted just yet.

Niamh giggled, waving at Rylen as he departed, leaving Cullen and her to head to the blacksmith.

“Da?” Cullen was surprised at how quickly she started calling him ‘Da’, despite the fact that adoption hadn’t been even mentioned yet. He looked down at her intently.

“Yes, Nia? What can I do for you?” The girl’s blue eyes looked up at him from underneath his mantle, as she squeaked slightly.

“W-Why do I need to m-meet Harritt?”

“Did I hear my name, Commander?” The rumbling tone that belonged to the Blacksmith rolled over the snow as she slowly raised her head to take a look at the approaching man.

“You did, Master Harritt.” Cullen extracted Niamh from underneath his mantle, placing her on the ground. She looked up, wide-eyed at Harritt, making him chuckle slightly.

“Good afternoon, Herald,” he greeted the girl, wiping his hands off from the previous messing around he was doing with the armor.

“G-Good afternoon…” She hesitantly returned, staying close to Cullen.

“I believe Josephine had put in a request for armor for her? And a glaive?” Cullen asked Harritt calmly, gaining a nod from the head blacksmith.

“Indeed, and it’s finished. All the Herald needs to do now is try it on.” He brought out a bundle of leather and cloth, done in the Trevelyan family colors, handing it to Niamh again. The girl obediently took the bundle, ducking into the nearest cabin to change and slowly step out again.

Her new armor was a dark green, lined with druffalo skin and fennec fur and silver worked into enchantments over her wrists and collar. She even had a new pair of leather boots, already polished and holders for a staff on her back.

Cullen looked delighted at the new armor, approving of the arm and leg armor as well. Everything was designed for maximum protection but wouldn’t slow her down in a fight.

“Nice work, Harritt. Now you mentioned her staff?” The Commander asked, turning to the mustached blacksmith who nodded, retrieving a staff with a particularly sharp blade on the end.

“We were lucky enough to get some rare minerals and materials, so I used them to make her staff. The staff grip is made of Ironbark and Snoufleur skin; blade is made of a mix of Silverite and Nevarrite for strength and ability for enchantments, and the head is made of Stormheart. And what I also added in is an ability for the staff to grow with her as she grows.”

All relatively rare materials, especially of the position the Inquisition was in. Niamh brightened up as she reached for the new staff, designed for her size at that current moment.

Cullen moved back to watch her as she began to run through glaive drills, neatly dancing and flowing from movement to movement, readjusting herself to the new feeling of the staff.

“Wow...” Niamh grinned brightly, slinging her new weapon onto her back happily before bouncing back over to Cullen to snag his hand again.

“Thank you!” Harritt chuckled at her excitement, waving them off. Cassandra met them on the way back into Haven, looking at Niamh’s new armor.

“Are you ready to go to the Hinterlands, Herald?” Cullen didn’t want to let her go, but released her hand.

“Sure sure!” Niamh chirped in response, “let me get Varric and Solas!” Cassandra waved her off before turning attention to Cullen.

“She’ll be in good hands, Commander, there’s nothing you need to worry about.” The Seeker reassured him, heading to the stables to get their mounts ready for the four-day-ride to the war-torn area called the Hinterlands of Ferelden.

Cullen knew that, but there was a part of him that was protesting against letting Niamh go off with only a party of three members into the war-torn environments. “Cassandra… if anything happens, will you let me know?” He called after the departing Seeker.

“Absolutely, Cullen. I will remind her to send a nightly raven if it helps put you at ease.”

Cullen chuckled, heading back towards the soldiers and recruits training, needing to do something to take his mind off the worry of the twelve-year-old girl going out into war.