They moved like the wind, never lingering in one place for too long. It reminded Sera of the way the Dalish lived, but she never said anything about it. Before she joined the Inquisition, she moved around a lot too, so she didn’t complain.
First they went to Lydes, but it was too close, so they moved to Montsimmard; but then Tristran decided he wanted to go north, so they moved on to Val Foret and then made a quick stop in Val Royeaux before continuing to Val Chevin. Finally, they stopped in Cumberland and some of the tension in Tristran’s body eased from his joints.
Finally, they were far enough away from the Dales, Sera thought without voice.
But it also seemed more than that. Nevarra was entirely new to Tristran, with no memories associated with it aside from what he’d read in books. It was kind of funny, watching the other elf fumble his way through the unfamiliar city. More than once, she let him get lost or talk himself in awkward circles with the shopkeepers. It was good experience for him; he wanted to be a Jenny, he could learn how to get by in a city on his own. When night fell, they returned together to the abandoned clock tower Sera discovered on the eastern coastal end of the city.
The clock was broken but the building was still strong and whole, a few broken windows and rotting doors aside. The floors were sturdy and the stairwell supported them. Sera deemed it livable and Tristran agreed after watching the sun rise over the Waking Sea through the port-side window.
Tristran often sat in the window sill at night, opening the locket he kept tucked beneath his shirt and murmuring affectionately into the sending crystal held within. If Sera was close enough, sometimes she heard Dorian’s voice responding in low, dulcet tones. Tristran always told Dorian where they were, but Sera didn’t think he mentioned the nightmares.
It was... weird. Sera was a person--well, an elf-person--she had nightmares. Everyone had nightmares. But Tristran’s nightmares weren’t like normal people nightmares. They happened almost every night, sometimes more than once. There were a few that repeated that Tristran told her about (a fact she couldn’t help feeling smug about). He dreamed about his mark going crazy and killing everyone, his clan going crazy and killing him, a giant wolf eating his arm. Basically, there was a lot of crazy and a lot of killing, and it all revolved around the mark on his hand--the mark that no longer existed because Solas had to be an ass and take it. Or maybe he saved Tristran’s life. But he was still an ass.
The point was: Solas was an ancient asshole just like Coryphy-shit and Tristran was short half an arm. That was all Sera cared about.
Okay, maybe not, because there was also the way Tristran sulked. Or got angry. Like really angry in a way Sera hadn’t seen since Adamant. Sometimes he aimed the anger at his missing arm, which was fair because it looked annoying as piss. Sometimes he aimed it at Solas, and that was fair too. The worst part was when he aimed it at himself, or when he got guilty. That was when Sera had to step in.
The gods weren’t real. So what? That wasn’t his fault. That was their fault for spreading lies, and the ancient elves’ fault for believing it.
“So do you want to go visit your clan or whatever?” Sera asked Tristran when they first headed out together.
“No,” Tristran told her, staring down at the ground. “I don’t think they would want to see me. I don’t think I belong with them anymore.”
Sera glared and crossed her arms. “Fine then. You belong with me.”
He didn’t smile, but his eyes softened and she guessed that was close enough.
She wanted to punch his entire clan for making him feel like he didn’t belong just because he told them the truth. For making him feel broken just like she did.
One night, after they got into a scrap with some noble’s henchmen, they sat on the roof of an Andrastian cathedral while laughing off the adrenaline. Sera didn’t bother offering to help Tristran unbuckle his prosthetic and ease it off of his arm. Instead, she stared up at the stars.
“So,” she said, “now that your elfy gods are shite, does that mean you believe in the Maker?”
Tristran paused in his work and turned toward her. “No,” he replied. “I think Andraste existed, but she was a human; no bride of the Maker.”
“Then where do you think it all came from?” Sera asked. “The world and... everything.”
“Maybe it was always here. Maybe it doesn’t matter.”
Sera laughed, wiping a tear of mirth from her eye as she looked at him. “You’re daft, yeah? The one thing everyone argues about and you say it doesn’t matter! So what? Your gods weren’t real so now nobody’s are?”
Tristran shook his head, bringing his hand to the bare stump just below his left elbow. Very faintly, spiderwebs of green criss-crossed his skin. His thumb traced along one absently. “It’s not like that. It’s just...”
He trailed off into silence. Sera watched him for a little longer and then was forced to avert her own gaze. She looked out over the city. To the west, the cobbled streets were lit with lanterns on the corners and the twin moons cast a ghostly glow over the intricate facades carved into the buildings. Swooping archways and delicate cornices expertly sculpted. To the south, Sera could see the sea glistening past the city and the clock tower they’d claimed as their own.
She cut through the silence, swift and precise as an arrow. “It’s easier to believe in nothing and find something than to believe in something and find nothing.”
Tristran looked up at her, holding his prosthetic in his lap. His fingers curled around the curved metal of the grappling hook. “Yeah.”
Sera nodded and looked out to the sea. Then she nodded to herself again. “Alright. Yeah. We should get tattoos.”
Tristran blinked, caught off guard. “What?”
“Inquisition tattoos!” Sera exclaimed. “You know, with that heraldry thingy on them. With the sword or whatever. I can do that! We can get them and then Dorian and Blackwall can get them. And Bull and Josephine and Cassandra! Varric would do it, and I bet I could convince Widdle to get one as well! Maybe not Cullen. I guess Creepy could get one, but I’m not touching that one. Let’s do it!”
Tristran stared at her and then slowly, little by little, a smile spread across his face. It was almost as big and warm as his old ones.
“Alright, Sera,” he said. “Let’s get tattoos.”