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The Guardians of Bellanaris

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Under a vibrant setting sky, kissed by rainbow hues and foretelling the deep starry night that would soon follow, the old man quietly closed the leather-bound storybook in his hands and sighed. Relief filling his heart once again. As it always did when he took a moment to share the past with all that would listen.

 

“The end,” he concluded, raising his eyes to a small group of young Elvhen children gathered around him and watching. The sound of the fountain, on which he had rested his old bones to tell such a tale, quietly splashing behind him.

 

“But, that doesn’t make any sense,” immediately commented a young boy, dressed in a white linen tunic and leather breeches, barely twelve or thirteen years old.

 

“What doesn’t make sense, da’len?” questioned the old man from under his tattered hood as his scarred fingers absentmindedly caressed the spine of the old book in his hands.

 

“That the Lady Inquisitor was immortal,” the boy retorted. “Everybody knows that it took almost two hundred years after the Veil fell for us to even begin to regain our immortality. There’s no way a Shem could just BECOME an immortal. Just like that.”

 

“But it wasn’t, just like that, now was it?” countered the old man knowingly.

 

“That’s what you said,” argued the young boy. “You basically said that she was mortal one moment, and then immortal the next. Without telling us how it happened.”

 

“He did, too,” spoke up another child, a young girl in a peach-colored dress. “You just weren’t listening, brother.”

 

“Would you care to explain it to him, my dear,” the old man slightly nodded, motioning towards the young boy.

 

“She became immortal not, simply, just because. But, because of June’s gift. The magic gave her back the immortality that our ancestors had lost because of the Veil. Restoring all that was lost, like the legend said it would.”

 

“But,” countered the boy. “That doesn’t explain why June’s gift gave her such a blessing. Or, why Valor allowed Vengeance to coerce him into forcing it on her.”

 

“It was never forced, da’len,” the old man corrected. “But a gift: given because of his love for her.”

 

“A love he forced on her,” the boy countered again. “She was in love with Lord Fen’Harel. He knew that she was in love with him, and only him. And that she had accepted her death. Yet, Valor’s spirit-brother refused to let her go. Forced June’s magic to bring her back, even when she didn’t want to remain.”

 

“And all, at the behest of Vengeance –the monster that wanted to destroy her, the world, and the future we would have if she’d succeeded in stopping him.”

 

“Why would he follow the whims of Vengeance, follow his orders, and sacrifice a part of himself –his own future –and become bound to her, simply because of her?”

 

“Because he loved her,” brightly smiled another little girl, barely six years old.

 

“But, that still doesn’t make any sense!” countered the boy again.

 

“Because you are still young,” concluded the old man. “Too young to understand the lengths, in which one would go to, to protect the person they cherish most in all the world.”

 

“For Valor’s spirit-brother, it did not matter that the villain in her life –the monster that wanted to take all that she was and had been and corrupt it –wanted her to live. It didn’t matter that he was doing the bidding of something so evil. Or, going against her wishes whispered in defeat. What mattered to him was that the only woman he had ever loved was dying and he could lose her. He couldn’t, wouldn’t accept that. So he had to save her.”

 

“At that moment, the price he would have to pay didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, but saving her life.”

 

“I think it's romantic,” piped up an older girl, nearly fifteen and smiling brightly under a mop of curly brown hair.

 

“But, in the end, it was all utterly futile,” mumbled an older boy. “Because she could never love him back.”

 

“What makes you so sure?” countered the old man. “Who’s to say that she didn’t love him too?”

 

“Because you can't be in love with two different people at the same time.” the older boy shot back. “It’s impossible.”

 

“No, it’s not,” argued another young boy, dressed in a set of green robes layered over a set of white ones, sitting a few feet away. “You love your parents, don’t you? They are two different people, and yet you still love them. How is that any different than her loving both Lord Fen’Harel and Valor’s spirit-brother?”

 

“Because it is a different kind of love.” the older boy answered.

 

“That’s right,” notes the old man. “It was a different kind of love. And, do you know why? Because there are many types of love. Love is not inherently familial, platonic, or romantic. It can be a mix of all. Both familial and romantic, familial and platonic, platonic love that turns to a romantic one over time, romantic love that changes to familial, and even sometimes it can become a combination of all three at the very same time.”

 

“That’s why it said that all love, no matter how pure, is always complicated. Simply due to how fickle the heart can truly be, even at the best of times, and how it can change and evolve; for good or ill; as time passes.”

 

“Did she love him?” questioned the little girl in the peach-colored dress.

 

“She did,” nodded the old man. “Very much. As she did all her Guardians.”

 

“Was the Lady Inquisitor really a descendant of one of the old Gods?” questioned another boy. “A real daughter of Compassion? Or, did you just make it up?”

 

“She was.” nodded the old man. “Though she never knew it.”

 

“Nor did she ever know that it was Vengeance that had taken her away from her love long before she had fallen for him all over again.”

 

“Was that why Vengeance chose her?” questioned the older girl. “Why he came to her and tried to use her?”

 

“Yes,” answered the old man.

 

“But, why?” she countered. “What did she do to it to make it want to take over her life? Make her a harbinger of his evil?”

 

“Out of spite, and the very vengeance that it personified.”

 

“I don’t understand,” she mumbled.

 

“Tell me,” the old man answered, raising his attention back to the group. “How many of you have studied the history of the Veil in your daily lessons? How many of you know how it was created?”

 

Several hands immediately reached up in the air, signaling that only six or so of the older children had been exposed to such knowledge.

 

“Good.” he nodded. “For those who know, answer a question for me. What was the defining moment that forced Lord Fen’Harel to create the Veil? What event was the catalyst to all that followed that decision?”

 

“The death of Mythal’s truest self and the mass genocide of the people by the Evanuris.” answered the boy in the white tunic.

 

“So the history books say,” agreed the old man. “But what would you say if I told you that the very thought of the Veil was conjured long before that? What if I told you that it wasn’t the death of Mythal that made Fen’Harel decide to destroy the Evanuris, but the death of his beloved that hardened his heart? That it was this loss, that corrupted Wisdom and turned it into wounded Pride. Ultimately, fanning the flames of his anger and driving him to seek justice at any cost.”

 

“That it was this corruption that turned him from the sympathetic and respected Wolf that he was, into the monster that your ancestors believed him to be?”

 

“And, that it was ultimately the apathy of Falon’Din and Dirthamen, in his beloved’s death, that brought forth everything that came to pass thereafter?”

 

“Wait,” countered one of the older boys in disbelief, his mind churning rapidly “Are you trying to say that because of her ancient death, the Wolf began to stir? And that, somehow, he found out that his brothers had been...in cahoots with Lady Andruil? That they had all conspired against Fen’Harel and deliberately sent Vengeance to kill her... all because they somehow wanted the world to fall into chaos?”

 

“That they knew, by killing her, they would be able to turn the tables, force the Dread Wolf’s fury against the rest of the Evanuris, and that he would condemn them to an eternity behind the Veil?”

 

“No, not banish them,” the old man answered. “But kill them outright.”

 

“Mythal’s death was simply the final straw. Fen’Harel had already become consumed by the demand to find those responsible for his beloved wife’s death. It simply all came to a head when Mythal was killed in her own temple by the very ones that had taken away everything he had ever loved.”

 

“And, it is because of all of that, that Vengeance chose her as an agent of the chaos it would bring once more.” concludes the old man, explaining his point. “Because it was Fen’Harel who had destroyed Andruil’s bond with the dark spirit and, in doing so, banished them both.”

 

“Vengeance blamed the wolf for the eons of nothingness it was forced to endure because of the justice Fen’Harel had demanded. So, when he came across the reincarnation of the Wolf’s love, he made his move and twisted the grace of love. Trying to usurp the bond that was meant to be made once more with her beloved and laying claim to her life. Tying her to his existence just as much as he was tied to the corruption of Wisdom.”

 

“And all because Vengeance, itself, wanted vengeance on the wolf that dared deny him his own glory.”

 

“So, in the end, Lady Lavellan suffered under Vengeance’s control...” questioned the older girl. “Simply because of her bond with Lord Fen’Harel?”

 

“Precisely,” nodded the old man once more.

 

“Then she was not the perpetrator of what came to pass but a victim of sheer circumstance?” questioned the older boy before sighing. “That’s so...unfortunate.”

 

“Unfortunate, indeed,” the old man agreed with a nod, just as he caught sight of a tall figure; dressed in leathers and covered from head to toe in a floor-length, deep-green cloak; appearing out of the shadows just north of the small group before him –near the edge of the square. “But...but had it not been for Vengeance’s manipulation, his desire for its own vengeance, the Wolf may have never realized that the path he had chosen had been the wrong one.”

 

“In a way, we all owe a great debt of thanks to Vengeance. Because, if had not been for his effect on both the Lady and your Lord, we may have never seen this world as it now lives and breathes.”

 

“May I ask a question, good Ser?” spoke up another rather young boy, who had been quietly watching without a word so far.

 

“Of course, you may, da’len,” the old man nodded with a barely hidden smile.

 

“If Lord Fen’Harel turned his back on his quest to bring down the Veil,” the boy asked meekly. “For the Inquisitor's sake, how did it fall?”

 

“That’s easy,” piped up the older girl once more. “Because it fell on its own.”

 

“How?” the little boy countered, turning to look at her. “When?”

 

“A few years after Lord Fen’Harel and Lady Lavellan vanished,” the girl answered with a saddened smile.

 

“It was more than a few years,” corrected the old man. “But, yes, the Veil fell on its own without the help of another. Scholars eventually realized that the Veil, itself, had been falling for years before the Lord even returned to the land of the waking. That the magic he had created had been failing for quite some time. That it had been coming down slowly over the centuries, in the wild untouched places of the world, and had been slowly encroaching further and further across the lands of Thedas every year.”

 

“But you should all know this, shouldn’t you?” countered the old. “Do your parents not tell you this part of your history at the beginning of every new year?”

 

“People tell history differently, and is vulnerable to both embellishments and varying interpretations,” dismissed the older boy. “But you claim to know the true history. That is why we ask, storyteller.”

 

“I claim no specific knowledge, da’len.” the old man answers, glancing to notice that the cloaked figure had stopped at the edge of the small crowd of children to watch them. “Only the stories that have been told over the centuries.”

 

“If they are only stories, how can we believe in their validity?” countered the older boy. “History is written by the victors, after all, and prone to alteration by that point of view.”

 

“You are correct,” the old man nods. “As with any history, there can be some semblance of idealistic interpretation. A perspective of justice, or righteousness, where the acts of the past can be justified no matter how cruel or callous they may have truly been from an outsider’s perspective. Fallacies offered up as fact, to favor those who have lived to tell the tale. And, disparaging those who opposed them, those who did not survive, to uplift the cause they had called their own and dismiss the perspective of their dissenters as a falsehood that deserved no sympathy or understanding. To make them the villain, rather than offer affirmation to those who may have sought to change the world for some greater good and ultimately failed.”

 

“That’s why it is up to us to think critically, question even the most known and accepted assumptions about our past, and actively seek the truth. Even if it may be far worse than we could ever imagine. Foolishness and ignorance will only follow those who do not endeavor to learn much more than they were ever told, what they have may have learned, and question the reality of the world as it stands and has stood with a discerning eye.”

 

“The truth cannot be found,” he concluded knowingly. “If it is never sought out in the first place.”

 

“Talia!” a womanly voice suddenly shouting, echoed through the square, sounding both desperate and slightly angered. “Tobias!”

 

“Mamae!” the older boy in the white tunic immediately responded, jumping up and spinning around in surprise.

 

At that moment an older woman with long, dark hair appeared in the square. Stepping out of a small crowd coalescing near a market stall at the end of a nearby thoroughfare, with a worried look, she seemed to be frantically looking for someone. She was dressed in a simple, but elegant, light blue gown and carried a small basket of various fruits and cheeses.

 

“There you two are!” she acknowledged worriedly, spotting the older boy just as the little girl in the peach dress stood up and rushed to her brother’s side. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

 

“I was so worried,” she cried out as she came to them and knelt to look them over. “Are you alright? You’re not hurt are you?”

 

“No, Mamae,” Talia smiled brightly before turning ever-so-slightly and pointing to the old man sitting on the edge of the fountain –the large, leather-bound book still sitting in his lap. “We were just –.”

 

“Oh!” the woman interrupted, blinking in surprise the second she allowed her eyes to look in the direction her daughter was pointing and spotted the old man. Her face, once animated with worry, instantly settles into an understanding smile and she offers the old man a nod. “I see. It seems you two have found quite an interesting way to entertain yourself, while I was doing the shopping. Didn’t you? Did you have fun?”

 

“Yes, Mamae,” answered Talia, with an even brighter smile. “He has such great stories! It was so fun.”

 

“And,” the mother prompted. “Did you learn a lot?”

 

“We did,” nodded Tobias respectfully. “Honored Uncle was very accommodating.”

 

“Well, did you thank him for the gift of his time?”

 

“Not yet, Mamae,” the boy answered.

 

“Off you go, then,” she ordered, motioning to the old man.

 

With appreciative smiles, the two children immediately turned and offered the storyteller a respectful bow.

 

“Thank you, very much, for the story,” Tobias offered in gratitude. “And, the lesson.”

 

“We enjoyed it, very much, Honored Uncle,” Talia added happily.

 

“It pleases my heart that you enjoyed it, little ones,” noted the old man, offering them a little bow of his own. “It was an honor to teach another generation of curious children like yourselves.”

 

“The honor was ours,” the mother states with reverence, offering him a deeply respectful bow. “You have truly blessed my house, and my children, this night, and my family will always be grateful for your generosity and tutelage.”

 

“The honor was mine,” he chuckled. “Your children are a delight, truly a testament to the Elvhen people’s potential. Nurture them well, Madam, and their curiosity will surely become a benefit to the people and bring even more blessings to you in the future.”

 

“We will,” the mother bowed deeply again. “And, thank you.”

 

“You are quite welcome, my lady,” he nodded as he turned his attention to the rest of the children still sitting attentively before him and noticed that the cloaked figure had come closer, foretelling the apparent end of his time. “Perhaps it is best to end the lesson, for now, and we can continue later. Your parents must also be quite worried and wondering where you have all gotten off to for this long. It is getting late, after all.”

 

A cacophony of protest immediately erupted. The children voicing their disappointment as many children would, with a few groans and a couple of whines.

 

“I know you’re disappointed,” he adds. “But we must always remember that thanks to those who came before us, there will always be a tomorrow.”

 

“Does that mean we will get to see you again soon, Uncle?” questioned the older girl.

 

“Of course, da’len,” he smiled, looking up at the hooded figure once more and finally offering them a nod of acknowledgment. “I have no intention of leaving your village for quite some time. You will see me again. You have my word.”

 

It was only when the children conceded, and began to disperse, did the old man finally let out a little sigh of satisfaction and tucked away his book into the travel pack at his feet. Knowing, all too well, that he had done his best to offer knowledge to the newest generation of Elvhen, as he had done so many times before, and smiling at the feeling of accomplishment that once again flooded his heart.  

 

“Honored Uncle,” a deep, warm voice inquired.

 

“I know,” he replied, without bothering to look up at the cloaked young man. “I have tarried here long enough.”

 

“The time is late,” the young man reiterated, reaching up and pushing back his hood. Revealing his young Elvhen face, long dark hair, and deep blue eyes, before bending down gracefully and offering the old man a hand. “We should head home.”

 

“Yes, of course,” he replied, taking the young man’s hand and allowing him to gently pull him to his feet. “I have put this off long enough, after all.”

 

“My bag,” he commented, motioning to the pack at his feet.

 

“Leave it to me, Uncle,” the young man answered. “You shouldn’t be carrying something so heavy at your age, anyway.”

 

“I might be an old man,” he shot back playfully, as the young man slung the pack over his shoulder. “But, I can still whip you in a game any day.”

 

“Of course you can,” the young man chuckled. “No one would ever deny that and certainly not I.”

 

“I learned that lesson well, I assure you,” he added with a smile. “So, you will hear no arguments from me.”

 

“You always did know how to deescalate a situation with ease,” the old man noted with a reminiscent smile. “You got that from your mother, Revas.”

 

“So, everyone says,” Revas replied. “But, I am not so sure. Compassion always says I’m too much like my father. Prideful and stubborn.”

 

“You didn’t just get that from your father, you know. Your mother was the most stubborn woman I have ever met. When a decision was made, that was it. There was no going back.” the old man commented, slipping his hand around Revas’ upper arm and allowing him to escort him from the plaza. “Especially when it came to your father. You have no idea how many times I wanted to drive my head into a wall because she wouldn’t listen. She was so frustrating and infuriating some times.”

 

“But, you loved her anyway?”

 

“Of course, I did,” he agreed, as they turned down a narrow, cobblestone alleyway that led to the edge of the village. “And still do. She was a remarkable woman. So full of life, understanding, and hope. Willing to do anything to protect the people she cared about. Even when it would put her life in jeopardy, she didn’t even hesitate.”

 

“That’s how much you all meant to her,” Revas agreed, the moment they reached the quiet path that would lead them into the forest. “You were not the family that was given to her at birth, but the family she chose to keep and defend no matter the cost.”

 

“And, we were all better for it,” the old man nodded.

 

“You know... I asked her, once, if she had the chance to do it all over again, would she have still made the same choices she did back then,” Revas reminisced. “And do you know what her answer was?”

 

“Always,” the old man answered knowingly.

 

“Always,” confirmed Revas with a smile.

 

“You know,” Revas ventured further as the path shifted into a slight incline. “I often think about those early days of my life. About living with the Auties, and why Hope and I had been sent away.”

 

“For a time, when I really didn’t understand, I really believed that we were being punished somehow. That we had done something so horrible that our parents didn’t want us anymore. And, for a time, I became convinced that our parents had abandoned us not because they were trying to protect us but because they didn’t love us.”

 

“You know that’s not true,” interrupted the old man.

 

“I know that now,” Revas admitted. “But, when I was very young none of it made sense to me. All I knew was that I had never met them, had no memories of them, and even though the Aunts did their best to reassure us, there was always this nagging little voice in the back of my head telling me we were unwanted. But –.”

 

“But, what?”

 

“Well,” Revas sighed. “To be perfectly honest, something happened one day that made me realize I had been wrong. And, truthfully, I felt so stupid and mad at myself for thinking such cruel things about Mamae and Babae that I never really told anyone about what happened. I was too embarrassed.”

 

“And, do you feel free enough to share now?”

 

“I had a dream,” Revas admitted as they neared the small, moonlit clearing that was waiting for them at the end of the path. “I woke up in a strange meadow, full of blooming clovers. The moon was full. High in the sky, it was so bright, that it felt like I was standing there in the middle of the day. I looked around for only a moment before I noticed, in front of me, a little house by the edge of the forest. And, outside, stood my parents and Hope –waiting for me.”

 

“I was so surprised. Not only because I had never seen my parents before but because I instantly recognized them. Knew who they were with only one simple look.”

 

“What happened next?” questioned the old man.

 

“I tried to go to them, but my legs wouldn’t work. They didn’t want to move. And, suddenly, I was so very scared. I thought that it was a nightmare; that a demon had somehow broken through the Aunties’ protections and got to me. But then... a spirit appeared.”

 

“What kind of spirit, did you recognize it?”

 

“Strangely enough, I did. Though I had never seen it before, somewhere deep down I felt a familiarity with it that I didn’t expect.”

 

“I didn’t feel frightened anymore, either, which should have made me worry more but it didn’t.”

 

“I felt, oddly, safe with the spirit.”

 

“Did it speak to you?” the old man wondered.

 

“It did.”

 

“What did it say?”

 

“It told me to be brave and true, to never give in to fear and to watch over my sister,” Revas answered.

 

For those who honor wisdom, and seeks compassion, will one day find the love waiting for them.

 

“Spirits,” the old man sighed, shaking his head. “Always so cryptic. They never just talk to you straight.”

 

“Not often,” chuckled Revas. “But I understood what they were trying to tell me, and it made me feel better.”

 

“That’s why Hope and I tried to help Babae along the way as much as we could.” he quietly admitted. “In secret.”

 

“Well I, for one, am glad that the two of you took the time to intervene,” the old man smiled in understanding, remember their real role in the former Inquisitor’s story. “When you could. If you hadn’t, we’d probably be still waiting for him to see the light. Pride was even more stubborn than your mother.”

 

“As it was always meant to be,” Revas agreed, before changing the subject. “That reminds me, how is your relationship with Creativity? Is she being a good girl?”

 

“We’re not speaking at the moment,” the old man grumbled.

 

“And, why is that?” Revas countered with a look of suspicion. “Creative differences again?”

 

“Always,” chuckled the old man. “You know how such spirits are... one minute they are your best friend, so long as you agree with them, but when you don’t they give you the cold shoulder and ignore you like a petulant child.”

 

“I’m not a child,” a small effeminate voice ethereally echoed.

 

“Says the little one who has been ignoring me for three months,” scoffed the old man, not even bothering look for the stubborn little spirit.

 

“Uncle,” Revas gently scolded as they came to stop in front of beautifully decorated and golden-gilded Eluvian humming gently in the center of the clearing. “You said it, yourself. You know how fickle Creativity can be. You’ve been with her for centuries, after all, and know her best. Perhaps you ought to try apologizing first this time.”

 

“I already did, but she’s being indignant for no reason.”

 

“It wasn’t genuine,” Creativity argued, her voice echoing again. “He just said it because he felt bad, not because he meant it.”

 

“How can you be so sure?” Revas called out knowingly, letting his eyes roam across the clearing. “Unless you allow your spirit-brother to explain himself, you will never truly know that for sure. It’s unfair of you to not give him at least a chance to prove his sincerity, da’len. That you must know.”

 

“I know all too well,” Creativity’s voice seemed to huff before offering a small concession after a pregnant pause. “I’ll think about it.”

 

“That’s all I can ask,” Revas agreed, as he looked back at the old man and motioned to the mirror. “Well then... shall we, Uncle?”

 

“Sure,” he nodded. “And, thanks for trying.”

 

“Don’t worry, Uncle, Creativity won't stay mad at you forever.” Revas smiled.

 

“I hope you’re right,” the old man chuckled lightly before stepping into the mirror.

 

“I always am,” Revas smiled as he followed in after him.

 

Under a blanket of abundant stars, the pair materialize in a garden born from an unknown and forgotten memory. A special place with the familiar scents of blooming orchids, wild roses, and lilacs, gently mingling with the essences of blooms lost to time upon a warm, gentle breeze. Carrying both the joys of glowing fireflies, as they danced, and the sound of the gentle laughter of voices shared in revelry he had always missed.”

 

“This place never changes,” breathed out the old man in awe. “It’s still as beautiful as I remember.”

 

“Perpetual night, perpetual bloom, perpetual life,” nodded Revas. “At testament to the beauty of worlds both lost and gained. Just like my mother wanted.”

 

“I miss her.”

 

“I know,” Revas sighed heavily.

 

“We should get going, Uncle,” he reminded, seemingly pushing away an unspoken emotion. “The others are waiting.”

 

“Yes, you’re right, of course,” nodded the old man, slipping his arm around Revas’ upper arm once more. “Best to not let them worry any more than they have already. Lead the way.”

 

Their journey leads them through the garden, as they follow the cobblestone path before them, and soon the humble manor hidden in such a secretive place comes in to view. Instantly bringing a smile to the old man’s face.

 

“There you are, brother,” came a familiar voice just as they reach the set of steps leading up to the manor’s front entrance. “I was beginning to worry that you weren’t coming.”

 

“You know I would never ignore an invitation to see my family again,” smiled the old man as his eyes landed on the tall Elvhen, dressed in all white, seemingly waiting for him on the stairs. “How have you been, Broody?”

 

“It’s been centuries, Varric,” sighed Fenris in frustration. “When will you give up that terrible –and might I remind you, no longer applicable –nickname?”

 

“Never,” chuckled Varric, pushing back the hood of his cloak to look at an old friend with his own eyes once more. “Once it sticks, it stays.”

 

“You only do it to jest, to make fun.”

 

“I do not. I do it to liven up the world,” smiled Varric. “Not harm it.”

 

“Then, why doesn’t Abelas get a nickname?”

 

“Not this argument again,” muttered Revas with a deep sigh.

 

“Because he already has one, remember?” countered Varric with a smile. “Or, have you forgotten the truth about his name already?”

 

“No, of course not.” Fenris frowned. “But... I think you should be fair across the board. Either give everyone a nickname or drop mine entirely.”

 

“When did you become so petulant?” countered Varric, a little confused as he began to climb the stairs and Fenris fell in line beside him. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you be so childish.”

 

“Don’t mind Uncle Fenris,” noted Revas knowingly, from behind them. “He’s just in a bad mood because Valor and Justice got into an argument over strategy again.”

 

“So, the same old same old, then?”

 

“Pretty much,” nodded Revas with a smile.

 

“Well, at least somethings never change around here.” the old man chuckled, before turning to look back at Fenris again. “Where is everybody?”

 

“Mostly in the library,”

 

“Mostly?”

 

“Faith and Redemption are sparring again,” Fenris noted, motioning to the west garden with an almost sly smile as the continued to climb the stairs. “For the fourth time today.”

 

“Those two,” chuckled Varric. “They never change, either. What was the argument this time?”

 

“No argument, it seems. Apparently just for fun, or so they claim.”

 

“Bored again, are they?” questioned Varric, with a mischievous smile as he immediately and maniacally rubbed his hands together. “Looks like this calls for another Diamondback tournament.”

 

“I thought you’d say that,” Fenris chuckled. “Everything’s already set up in the parlor.”

 

“You, Broody, are a man after my own heart! I look forward to emptying your pockets once more.”

 

“Dream on, dwarf,” scoffed Fenris. “I got you this time.”

 

“We’ll see,”

 

“Yes, yes, we will.” retorted Fenris with a nearly mischievous smile of his own.

 

“And, what about our glorious hosts?” Varric finally questioned as they reached the door the manor and Fenris reached out to open it. “Where are they?”

 

Without a word, Fenris simply smiled and tugged the door open, revealing both Prideful Wisdom and Compassionate Love waiting for him on the other side.

 

Varric could do nothing more, but smile.

 

 

 

 

The End.