“I didn’t think much of the Inquisition, but you lot have been very kind.” Corporal Vale shifted in his boots. “Because of you, our people might survive this thing after all.”
“Of course.” Lady Trevelyan dipped her head in acknowledgement. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
Vale paused. “We could use a healer,” he said after a long moment. “Our people need more than poultices and bandages. I hear there’s a lot of mages holed up in Redcliffe at the moment. Maybe you could ask round for us, if you’re headed that way?”
“I’ll do my best.”
Trevelyan bade him farewell and set off on the long trek to Redcliffe Village, her companions in tow. “You’d think, with as many mages as there are running around the hillside, there’d be more healers,” she mused aloud.
“They are still apostates,” answered Solas. “Even the noblest of intentions are not looked upon with kindness when magic is involved.”
“He’s got a point,” Varric added. “I knew a healer who ran a clinic in Kirkwall. Didn’t charge anyone a single copper, he just wanted to help. The templars didn’t stop to ask if he was using his powers for good or evil, though.”
“Magic is dangerous in all its forms,” Cassandra said flatly. “I would not trust a stranger to use magic on my body simply because they said they were a healer.”
“Oh, Cassandra,” murmured Trevelyan. “Ever the skeptic. You might think a bit differently if you found yourself full of stab wounds.”
“Let us hope I will never have to experience that.”
The group hiked down the hill into the small village, asking everyone they came into contact with if they knew of any healers. We used to have one, don’t know what’s happened to her. Ask the mages, there’s a million of them, one of them has to know how to do it. No healers that I know of, sorry. A couple of hours went by with no results, and they retired to the Gull and Lantern tavern to reevaluate.
“This is exhausting,” moaned Cassandra. “None of the mages will talk to us. Or they are lying. Or perhaps both. Either way, this is getting us nowhere and we cannot interrogate every mage in Redcliffe.”
“Oh, I bet you could, Seeker, if you put your mind to it,” said Varric as he pulled up a chair to the table.
“They are afraid,” said Solas. “It is one thing to be a nameless, faceless member of a collective group, and quite another to have someone know that you yourself are a mage.”
Trevelyan sighed. “I’m going to talk to the bartender. Maybe he’ll know something.” She left their table and took a seat at the bar instead, which was mostly empty.
“Be right with you,” the barkeep said over his shoulder. He handed out a couple of pints to the others seated at the bar, then wiped his hands on his apron and turned his attention to Trevelyan. “What can I get ya?”
“I’m . . . not here for a drink, actually. I’m looking for a healer.”
The bartender raised an eyebrow. “You looking for a specific one? Do you know how many damned mages are in this town?”
“Yes, yes, I know, but -”
“Sorry, can’t help you.”
“Really? We’re not templars, all right? The refugees at the Crossroads are struggling, and elfroot isn’t enough to help them."
The man shrugged. “I really don’t know what to tell you. Sorry. Can I get you something, or…?”
“No. Thanks anyway.” Trevelyan slid off the stool and walked past her companions without stopping.
“I’m not leaving till I finish my drink,” said Varric as she strode by.
“Fine. I’ll be outside.”
Trevelyan wandered away from the tavern and found a dry patch of grass to sit in. She massaged the back of her neck with one hand. This was exhausting. How was she supposed to find a healer? She was putting the wounded at the Crossroads in more danger with every passing minute. Unless Andraste herself showed up, it seemed unlikely that -
“Excuse me, I overheard you in the tavern.” A disembodied voice spoke from somewhere behind her. “Did you say you’re looking for a healer?”
“Yes!” She jumped up from her place in the grass and turned around to look for the source of the voice. “Are you a healer? Do you know one? Please give me a yes.”
A man stepped out from the mangled remains of an abandoned home. Whoever he was, he was dressed in tattered robes and very little armor. He clutched a staff tightly in one hand and kept his hood drawn over his face with the other.“I have some healing abilities, yes,” said the man, taking care to not turn too far to look at Trevelyan. “I’d just rather not shout it to the heavens, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course, of course.” Trevelyan consciously lowered her voice, even though there was no one around. “Will you help us? There are no healers at the Crossroads, and there are many wounded, soldiers and villagers alike.”
“You’d just accept an offer of help from a stranger?”
Trevelyan sighed. “Ser, please don’t take this the wrong way, but at this point, I don’t care who you are. All I know is that people are suffering, and you are the first healer I’ve run into in this blighted village, so I will take any help I can get.”
The mage chuckled. “If only others were as accepting as you. Yes, I will go to the Crossroads to see if I can help. However, I -”
He was interrupted by Varric, Cassandra, and Solas leaving the tavern. Their banter stopped upon seeing Trevelyan with a strange mage, and the man twitched, ready to run at a moment’s notice.
“Herald? Who is this?” Cassandra demanded.
“The answer to our prayers,” Trevelyan answered. “Do you need to know any more than that?”
“Can he not speak for himself?” asked Solas.
“I’d rather not,” the mage replied, his voice suddenly deep and odd-sounding.
Varric frowned. “A healer, huh?” he said, taking a few steps closer. “How interesting. Healers are in short supply these days.”
“So I hear.” The man turned further away from Varric, hiding his face as much as possible.
“Varric?” Trevelyan raised an eyebrow at the dwarf. “What’s going on?”
Varric shook his head. “Of all the places in Thedas, Blondie. And here we are again, with the whole damn world falling to pieces.”
The mage stiffened, then relaxed, and pulled down his hood. His blond hair was pulled back from his face and several days’ worth of stubble dotted his chin. He tightened his grip on his staff just as Cassandra began to slide her sword out of its sheath. “No one has to die today,” he said in his normal voice. “I am just trying to offer my help. That’s all.”
“This is the one, isn’t it, Varric?” said Cassandra. “We thought he was dead.”
“Clearly not,” said the mage. “Hello. Anders. Pleased to meet you. Do you need a healer or not?”
“Yes we do.” Trevelyan took a couple steps towards Cassandra, gesturing to her to put her sword away. “Sorry, did you say your name was Anders?”
“Yes. And yes, I am who you think I am.” Anders turned slowly, his cloak hanging loosely over his thin frame. “Your accent sounds like a Marcher. I assume you heard the stories about the Kirkwall Chantry.”
Trevelyan’s eyes widened. “Oh. That . . . that was you, then?”
“You do not even deny your crimes?” Cassandra snapped.
“No, my lady, I don’t.”
Varric stepped in and tried to ease the tension. “Yes, yes, we can try to arrest him later. Right now, the people at the Crossroads need help, and Blondie’s a good healer. Can we go now, please?”
Cassandra finally sheathed her sword. “I’m watching you, mage.”
“Join the club, Seeker."
Anders settled in behind the group, eyes wary, refusing to let Cassandra walk behind him as they began the journey back to the Crossroads. Varric let out a heavy sigh. “Andraste’s tits, Blondie. Don’t you know how to stay out of trouble?”
“Most of the mages in Ferelden are here. More arrive every day. Where else would I be?”
“Dead. Tranquil. Lost in the Fade forever. There’s a lot of options.”
Anders flinched a bit at the mention of Tranquility. “I’d rather not consider those options, thank you.”
Solas broke his long silence. “Is it Justice?”
Anders slowed down and Trevelyan glanced over her shoulder to see what was happening. She thought she saw the mage’s eyes flicker blue, just for a moment, but when she looked again, they were a normal shade of brown. “Yes,” Anders replied. He did not volunteer any more information, and Trevelyan didn’t ask.
The company descended down the hill into the Crossroads, where anxious parents attended to their children and Chantry sisters ran back and forth, helping the ill and wounded wherever they could.
“Corporal Vale!” Trevelyan waved to the corporal to get his attention.
“Herald!” Vale jogged over and dipped his head in acknowledgement. “Welcome back. We’ve had another twenty people or so arrive in the past hour. It’s not looking good.”
“Well, hopefully I can help with that.” She turned to Anders. “I’ve brought you a healer. This is -”
“Karl,” Anders interjected. He glanced sideways at Trevelyan, a wordless please.
“. . . Karl.” Trevelyan gave him a slight nod. They needed his healing abilities, and there was no reason for anyone to think of him as anything besides a healer. “He has offered his services to your wounded.”
“Thank the Maker!” Vale clapped Anders on the shoulder. “Andraste bless you, Ser Karl. The sickbeds are right this way.”
Cassandra shook her head as the two walked away. “I hope you are certain about this, Herald.”
“I am.” Trevelyan wasn’t sure why, but she trusted Anders. As she watched him crouch in front of a child with a bandage wrapped around his head, she knew she’d made the right decision.
“Well, since we’re here,” said Varric, “anybody need healing?”