"Beware the forms of Fen'Harel! The Dread Wolf comes in humble guises, a wanderer who knows much of the People and their spirits. He will offer advice that seems fair, but turns slowly to poison. Remember the price of treason, and keep in your heart the mercy of your gods."
She was a young mage still coming into her powers and understanding the fade. Nothing made sense as her magic felt different than the abilities she had seen. Her powers were still awakening and still there was training she still had to do. Fire was one of the most dangerous elements that she had yet to truly master. She could summon lightening from her hands and ice as she was mastering them but fire did not come easy. She was First to the Keeper and eyes were on her to grow while she knew faces and helped with decisions she kept mostly to herself which the Keeper encouraged her to socialize with her peers more.
She walked deep into the forest as she often did not wander the forest as much as she wanted. “Ashara!” she heard her name called as she saw a hunter following after her. “Be careful Lethallin for the sun shall be setting soon.” He spoke as Ashara sighed. “The Keeper will be concerned if you are missing for too long.” He added as she nodded.
“Ir abelas…I will not be gone long. Training was hard and I need to clear my head I will only be near the stream.” She replied as he moved out of her way. Ashara walked towards the stream without interruption. It was a place she could go and clear her mind as it seemed the outside world grew closer to their clan. Ashara was rather solitary and she liked her solitude, she was a dreamer which made her spirit hard to tame. To think humans would cross her clan made her wary of humans and their intentions as most took their kin and sold them to be slaves. The result of this was to keep a close watch on those coming and going when they camped.
Ashara walked along the forest floor as the sun was starting to sink below the western horizon. There was something peaceful in the forest as she walked towards the stream as she could hear birds chirping in the back ground. The air smelled of leaves and soil, earthy as she liked it this was her home. To think that humans threatened the very land made her enjoy these strolls because she never knew which one would be her last. She wanted to commit it to memory with each step she took towards her intended direction. She walked carefully as she stopped at the stream as she walked towards the waterfall she heard in the distance.
The stream gave them life which they thanked the gods for being able to have such a luxury. The hunts had been fruitful and Ashara wasn’t sure if she belonged with them while many cursed Fen’Harel she called to his name like a blessing. She thought wolves protected their kin so why was a wolf always deemed a fearful creature? When even the elven guards of the Emerald Graves had tamed such creatures to guard them? She thought Fen’Harel was misunderstood of all the gods but she did not voice such scandalous notions. Ashara walked up the stream to the pool that fed the river as it was a haven as it was surrounded by a grove of trees. The halla often came and laid there for the night as it was deemed safe enough. Ashara felt safe here with the halla as she settled against a tree near the pond of water.
She listened to the sounds this is where she prayed to whatever gods would listen. She prayed to Andruil to keep the hunt good for their hunters, prayed to Mythal to protect their clan from human slave traders, and to prayed to Dirthamen to help qualm her curiosity for the outside world. Ashara held a curious nature about her always ready to learn something new no matter the subject. She was curious about culture, elven history, human history, anything that she could get her hands on she would study as she embodied curiosity her Keeper told her. When asked who her vallaslin would honor she chose Dirthamen because she felt he blessed her with her desire for knowledge. The name given to her Ashara held the meaning of beauty in the ancient language. She felt she hardly was worthy of the name but she held her head high. Glancing at her reflection in the water she had deep blue eyes and pale skin that had been lightly kissed by the sun. Her hair was pulled back into a small ponytail as she always wore it. It was a brownish red but it seemed to suit her fire of a personality.
Ashara let out a sigh. “Does your kind truly worry about vanity?” came a sudden voice that snapped her from her thoughts. She summoned flames in her hand as she glanced up as she saw a man who quickly held up his hands he leaned against a staff for support. “Atisha, I did not mean to frighten you nor do I mean you any harm.” The man spoke as he looked different. He was elven as he had long dark hair as sun light was quickly fading. It was clear he had been observing her for some time as she felt uncomfortable under his gaze. “How long have you been standing there?” She asked trying to keep her voice from wavering. The stranger smirked as he looked amused. “Long enough to know any gods you pray to will not hear you.” He spoke as that statement slightly alarmed her.
“Who are you?” She asked wondering if she could make it back to camp without him getting in the way. “They called me Wanderer as my name is not important.” His reply was even more alarming in the back of her mind she knew the answer but she was drawing a blank on this man. “Am I free to leave?” She asked trying to hide the waver in her voice. “I assure you as I stated before I mean you no harm. I merely heard the stream and came to get a drink not realizing it was occupied.”
Ashara stood up fully as she crossed the shallow water edging closer to the stranger offering him her water skin. “It will be less of a struggle if you have the proper way to drink.” She spoke her voice still cautious. Now that she stood closer to the stranger she could see the man’s clothes was slightly ratty and old looking. He looked more disheveled than she had thought and had no supplies. It was rather odd as she could not understand why he was in such rough shape. He took the waterskin from her as he took a generous drink as it was clear he was thirsty. “Have you not eaten?” She asked her tone one of concern. “I don’t wish to impose the water is more than enough.” He spoke offering her waterskin back to her.
Ashara had not been paying attention to the weather as rain started to pour from the heavens. This was not what she needed as they were soaked to the bone in moments. Ashara knew of a place they could seek shelter until the storm passed as she led the stranger by grabbing his arm. He was uneasy on his feet as she pulled him into the cave near the waterfall. The cave would hold warmth soon enough as she was able to light a fire as she kept moving getting everything settled. Though the stranger did not take his eyes off her as he just observed her as she moved about before settling to feed the fire she had started. There was a lot on her mind as she wondered if her clan would worry but they knew where to find her.
Ashara was more focused on the fact she was soaking wet alone with this stranger. She didn’t know his intentions and she was wary of him. It seemed she had a bit of an advantage over him as he seemed weak as the fire light danced around the cave. She let the silence settle between them as she relaxed a little setting her staff down. The stranger relaxed a little more. “What do they call you Lethallin?” He asked her breaking the silence after some time. She hesitated to give her name as she met his gaze. “Ashara…” she told the truth. Maybe she shouldn’t have told him her name but she saw no point in lying. “It suits you.” She saw the smile cross his lips. So many questions were flooding through her mind and he could almost read her. “You can ask your questions.” He added as she looked at the ground shyly.
“Where are you from?” She asked as she wanted to ask about where his clan was but something told her that would be a foolish question. “A small village far from here its where I grew up.” He spoke calmly as his voice almost sounded ethereal. She took in his appearance in more as he had quite defined jawline as his face held handsome features. She looked away so she wasn’t staring for too long she didn’t need to be gawking at the stranger. The rain could still be heard pouring outside. “It looks like we have a long night ahead of us so try and rest I’ll keep feeding the fire so it doesn’t go out.” She spoke as she settled against the cave wall.
The stranger smiled again as he sat a little closer to the fire. “Do you not want company?” He asked Ashara shook her head. “It isn’t that you need to gather your strength if you have had a long journey. I don’t think you intended to seek out my clan.” She was just making observations as he eyed her curiously. “No I did not Ashara.” Her name crossed his lips which made her pause a moment. “I have a specific destination in mind I will get there in time.” His reply was simple and vague. He had secrets and that was clear but spending a rainy night with this man wasn’t exactly her first option.
She eventually saw him doze off or he seemed asleep as she kept the fire going for a while. Ashara took to her dreams for comfort as she found her way into a memory that formed. Her dreams were usually dreams of the past and what could be in the future. She liked to dream of the forests and temples that they had passed in their glorious form. She could walk through the halls how she imagined them to be.
Stain glass windows glittering in the sun as the wind swayed in the trees so heavenly. She wondered what the great elven empire must have looked like in all its glory. To be so close to the gods to almost touch divinity it sounded amazing. She could only imagine as she walked deeper into these manifestations that were only dreams. Ashara saw a shadow pass behind her as she turned to see the Wanderer behind her. She blinked but there before her was a black wolf that quickly ran out of the room and into the thicket of trees beyond. It took her a moment to catch her breath as she didn’t think she had seen a wolf as she convinced herself it was her imagination playing tricks on her.
Ashara woke from her dream at first light as the sky was still cloudy but the sun was trying to push through the clouds. Ashara looked back towards the stranger as she saw he was still sleeping. Her stomach growled as she knew that he had to be starving, either he was too prideful or to humble to ask for such help. It was not a long walk back to the camp but she was greeted by her Keeper who looked relieved to see her return. She exchanged a brief conversation of being caught in the rain as it was nothing more. Once out of the grasp of her Keeper she went and changed into some dry clothes. She knew supplies were often hard to come by but she was able to find some clothes and grab a couple of apples with dried halla meat she stuffed into a satchel.
She could explain herself later as once the camp thrived with life with comings and goings into the forest she knew that she could slip away easier without worry from others. She eventually did return to the cave as she walked towards the pond as she saw Wanderer bathing. Ashara stopped at the edge of the trees as she could see enough his back was covered in scars. She couldn’t help but looked as his body was defined with muscle which surprised her. “I know you’re there.” His voice called to her as she blushed. He glanced at her over his shoulder as she stepped over a tree trunk. “Ir abelas..I didn’t mean to intrude or…”she trailed off as there was really no excuse for watching him bathe. He chuckled as he turned to her as thankfully he wasn’t naked he was still wearing the tattered pants to at least cover himself. “I did not expect you to return since you seemed wary of my presence.” He climbed out of the pond.
She snapped out of her staring finding her words again. “Um I came to bring you these since your clothes are worn I figured you could use better.” She stated as she offered him the satchel. He looked at her a bit surprised which caught Ashara caught off guard. “I. Well…” He wasn’t sure what to say. “You didn’t have to I did not mean to trouble you.” He opened the bag as he gave a small smile seeing the food as well. “Thank you Lethallin I am in your debt.” He disappeared into the grove of trees to change. Ashara mentally smacked herself for being such a fool she could speak with the men of her clan with ease but with him it was different. His presence made her nervous but she could not place why. He wasn’t human but there was something different in his energy, how he held himself, and how he walked.
She was snapped from her thoughts when she saw another familiar face emerge from the trees. A hunter of her clan came. “Neros…” She looked slightly surprised to see him. He looked at her with slight concern. “I was worried about you Ashara you disappeared.” Neros spoke as she glanced back over her shoulder to see the Wanderer emerge from the trees. Neros pushed Ashara behind him. “Who are you?” He questioned glaring at the stranger. “Solas.” The stranger offered up his name without hesitation. “Ashara found me in quite the dismal state she helped me out of kindness.” Solas spoke as he offered Neros his hand as a sign of peace.
Neros looked more critical of Solas than Ashara had but he shook his hand. “Come at least stay in camp while you regain your strength. Safety in numbers is better after all.” Neros spoke his tone flat his dark eyes looking at Ashara. Neros passed Ashara without a second glance as he walked into the forest. “I’m sorry…” as Solas held up his hand. “No worries I would be worried if he wasn’t cautious of me.” Solas replied as Ashara heard Neros calling for her. “Shall we?” She asked as she picked up the satchel and followed Solas towards camp. Ashara was trying to keep her head low but their Keeper looked less than enthused when they were returning with a stranger. Solas stood tall and confident under the scrutiny of the Keeper as she beckoned him to walk with her. Ashara was pulled aside by Neros as he looked down at her. “Why would you lie about a stranger?” He asked as Ashara looked a bit shocked.
“I did not lie I thought he would be gone when I woke up. We both got trapped in the cave with the rain.” Ashara sighed as she had really no intentions of burdening her clan with the Wanderer. He didn’t seem to be looking for a clan to bother but Neros was clearly disgusted by her comment. “You spent the night with him?” Neros stepped away from her for a moment. “What else was I supposed to do?” She asked as she was seeking his enlightenment on what she should have done. Ashara wasn’t going to let him bully her as he felt like he had to be protective of her but she did not return his feelings. “Ma nae!” He glared at her as Ashara glared right back. “I am not cursed.” She spoke as she walked away from him as he grabbed her arm. “You are burdensome.” He spoke his voice angry. She went to pull her arm away but before she could say anything Solas intervened.
“You keep your hands off her she helped me.” Solas pulled Neros’ hand away stepping between Ashara and him. “If you have a problem we can settle this but it should not be with her.” He spoke as Ashara looked at Solas strangely. Neros pulled his arm away. “I’m watching you.” He spoke as he walked away. Ashara looked up at Solas as he looked back at her. “Your Keeper told me I could stay until I am better. Your Keeper thinks highly of you and she had a lot to say about you.” He smirked as Ashara was slightly embarrassed. “Show me where I am to stay?” He asked as Ashara snapped out of it.
Ashara looked at him quietly as she knew where he was staying as it would be near her. While the aravels were great for sleeping inside Ashara preferred her own tent. Most of them slept in their own tents usually sometimes in pairs for safety. It depended on their location of the time but when the hunt was good and there was less human interactions there was less reason to be cautious at times. Her clan openly traded with humans and respected them but they tried to desperately preserve their own culture. Ashara was more cautious of humans but that didn’t mean she was curious of their culture. Ashara showed where Solas was to be sleeping as she left him to his thoughts. Solas reached out and grabbed her arm. “Ma serannas.” He spoke softly Ashara smiled. “You’re welcome get some rest I don’t know if we are leaving tomorrow or not.” She spoke softly as he nodded before she left his company.
It was a couple of days before they would leave as Ashara spent most of her time with Solas. She had many questions and seemed to surprise Solas with her constant questioning. She was a curious little thing as Solas did not seem to mind and indulged her questions as it was clear he was a mage. She was curious what his wanderings had taken him as he had called himself the Wanderer. The fact when Neros found them he had given him a name had made her even more curious. She knew solas’ meaning but was he really that prideful? She liked to think that names were bestowed based on a person’s spirit as she had walked the fade many times. She talked with the wisps and spirits she welcomed. While it was easy to see what could happen with a spirit she found the fade a little more welcoming than the tension in the clan. Neros was watching the pair constantly which to at least keep some modesty she put some distance between her and Solas.
It wasn’t that she wanted to but Ashara was showing great interest in Solas. He was cautious around her but there was a friendship that seemed to be forming but as far as Ashara could tell he seemed to trust her. Solas was a curiosity and it was clear that while Ashara held interest in the stranger she was not the only one. Everyone in her clan was familiar while Solas was new and strange. He talked openly of the past and the ancient elves that came before them, he told stories that had those listening hanging on every word as he described things with such detail as if he had been there. It was nice to sit by campfire and listen to tales she had never heard as Solas was a great story teller. Ashara watched with great intent as he talked about dreams of the fade. Deshanna listened to Solas as she found great curiosity in the stranger as he had done his part to help with things. He was pulling his weight and trying to keep out of the way of formal clan matters.
Solas offered Deshanna insight to things she asked for but otherwise kept to himself. Watching Ashara she could see she was quite taken with Solas as they walked every morning together to talk of dreams and spirits. He painted magic with such a romantic air that she could see how some of the other girls were quite taken with the stranger. Ashara was enamored but she tried to hide it as Ashara had always kept to herself. She trusted few but to see her opening up was a welcoming change to Deshanna. Though while others were willing to welcome Solas it was clear Neros did not like him at all. He voiced his concerns to Deshanna and she didn’t dismiss his worries as she watched Solas and was cautious of his presence.
Many nights were filled with Solas’ stories and Deshanna shared a few herself but this night was a bit different as they celebrating a prosperous hunt. A tribute to Andruil as there was to be plenty to celebrate which music filled the air as soon as the sun went down. Ashara was fit for a dress Deshanna gave her. They hardly ever had reason to dress up so when the occasion called for it they embraced it. The clan was hardly given time to relax but this was good for morale. Deshanna knew when to allow for such luxuries this also gave others time to search for a match or to lift spirits when it was greatly needed.
Solas had been with the clan for nearly a month now and seemed to blend in with the rest of them so easily. He had no vallaslin to mark which god he honored which Deshanna had asked him about as he simply responded that he never had chosen one. He never had reason to and it seemed a sore subject as Deshanna let it go. While the evening got underway Ashara walked out lingering towards the side of the fire as she watched her clan dancing with others. Neros was dancing and taking his part in drinking he was actually relaxed. Neros had seemed on edge about Solas but Ashara had kept her distance. She would listen to his stories but she hadn’t spent as much time with him like she had. He was dressed in a dark blue tunic as he moved easily with another hunter an elven woman he seemed fond of.
Ashara wandered slightly as she felt a bit naked without her staff as she hardly had need of it on this evening. Her dress was black and silver it suited her well at least Deshanna had told her so. Ashara was beyond the fire a bit kicking rocks about as she was lost in her thoughts. “Do you always stay away from such events?” came Solas’ voice from behind her as she couldn’t help but smile. She glanced behind her as she shook her head. “I hardly find dancing and celebrating a hunt to a goddess who I’m not sure even hears our prayers.” She kept her tone low. “The faithful believe even if it may just be a myth. It gives ways to celebrate and bring those closer together. While I may not agree with the reason of celebration the music is good and the drinks aren’t terrible. The spirits are light it helps for morale so overall it’s not a bad night.” He spoke as Ashara laughed a bit.
“It almost sounds like you mock us and our ways.” She looked at him questioningly. “I do not mean to I’ve studied the fade and have seen things that prove many of legend wrong.” He explained as Ashara wasn’t sure how to respond. “I did not seek you out to debate the truth in legends. I came to see if you danced…”He looked actually nervous as he offered her his hand. For a man she thought had great confidence this was different for him somehow. “Um…” She thought for a moment as she smiled taking his hand. “I do dance.” She wasn’t about to leave him on a ledge without an answer. He danced differently than most as it was more swift and graceful movements. He was a lead as it had been awhile since she had been close to anyone. While Neros was who many assumed would end up being her intended as of late her mind was elsewhere.
Even now Ashara knew she felt something for Solas as she had come to know him as kind and a bit mysterious. While his history was not well known he had only divulged what he needed to at least that’s how Ashara saw it. Maybe it was not wise to trust someone who introduced themselves as Wanderer and then give another name to answer to. Ashara’s mind was all over as she nearly missed his next question. “What is clouding your thoughts?” it was like he could read her mind was burdened. “You are a curiosity to many as you hardly answer questions about who you are. You have stories that captivate everyone to no end and you cling to the old legends and tell stories about the gods I have never heard before. It makes you seem dangerous to some…” She trailed off as their dancing slowed as she was very aware how close he was to her.
“What am I to you?” He glanced down at her as she wasn’t sure what she saw in his eyes. They almost drew her in as she felt his hand caress her cheek as she felt a blush cross her features. “A curiosity…” the words fell out of her mouth as he leaned in closer to her. “Ashara!” She heard her name as they both froze. Ashara let out a deep sigh as Solas stepped away from her as she glanced beyond him to see Neros calling her towards the fire. She looked back at Solas who smiled. “I will find you later.” He motioned for her to go join Neros as she walked away as she glanced back at him as he had a small smile across his face.
The rest of the evening was nice as they all ate and shared more stories once everything started to settle down. Ashara was sat next to Neros who seemed to keep her close all evening as she kept stealing glances from Solas. Every time she looked at him he was watching her carefully as he was listening to Deshanna tell stories. Once people started to excuse themselves for the night Ashara couldn’t see Solas anywhere as she retreated to her own tent to reflect on what almost happened. Maybe her dreams would offer her comfort and some hidden answers she could not see.
The world shaped itself when she felt herself pulled from her waking self. A dream this was as she stood up looking around as the scene began to shape itself. The trees were tall as she knew who her mind called out to as she walked through the forest. She could hear the chirping of birds as she saw old stone walls that laid crumbling as she ran her hands over the stone. She dreamed of exploring ruins as everything was so green as she could almost feel the magic still tingling in the stone. Echoes of a great civilization long passed as she felt the elves had fallen so far from where they had once been. Legends that were slowly disappearing with each generation as she wondered how Solas knew so much and how she felt she knew so little.
“A curiosity…” the words echoed through her dream so calmly as the scene changed to her dancing with Solas almost the reflection of a memory. She felt naive to his nature as there was something more but she felt so close and yet so far. It didn’t make sense as her own thoughts echoed through the dream as if it was a reflection of what she wanted as she turned her back to the memory intending for it to disappear. She glanced back as the dream went on as if they had not been interrupted he would have kissed her. Ashara’s heart was racing from the sight as her mind was elsewhere though a voice snapped her from her thoughts.
“Is that how you would have liked it to end?” came a voice that came from the edge of the trees. Ashara was feeling vulnerable as she turned to see Solas approaching her. He was walking with a sense of purpose as he closed the distance between them. Ashara was speechless. “How?” she got out as she wasn’t sure how to react to her dreams being invaded by him. “If one is experienced enough you can walk into a dream of others but only if the other is willing.” His reply was simple as to her it didn’t explain why he was there. Ashara watched as the image of them faded and the forest reformed around them. The setting seemed a little more intimate as she did not create this as Crystal grace blooms appeared around them filling the air with the sweet scent. Crystal grace was her favorite flowers as she looked at him. “Why?” her voice sort of stumbled over the word. Solas studied her as he looked down at her. “I wasn’t done talking to you.” he stated as music filled the air as instead of her pajamas she looked down to see her dressed differently. The dress was pale blue silk that was different as he wondered if this was how he imagined her as the temple seemed to form around them as it looked to be they were in an elven ballroom of sorts.
The ballroom was open to the outside as the crystal grace blooms wrapped around the pillars. The stain glass windows from her previous dream were there in detail as the sun shined through them. This was unlike anything she had imagined as Solas tapped her shoulder offering her his hand as he spun her to him as he was wearing formal attire that was black with blue trim. Pairs of other elves danced around them as Ashara didn’t question it as she just went along with the dance. It was hard not to laugh as she hugged herself closer to Solas as the music was upbeat as she could lose herself in a dream rather easily. The music stopped as the temple was one reminiscent of her past dreams. “So you have seen my dreams.” she spoke as he nodded as he led her from the dancing. “I have seen many dreams but none match the spectacular way you envision the past. You make it seem so beautiful your curious nature is one that can’t be denied. Ashara the beauty in you and your spirit is one I find refreshing.” he spoke with almost adoration in his voice. “Your innocence is one I did not think I would find in this world. The more I’ve gotten to know you the more intriguing you are to me. A mystery as I can read everyone in your clan all except you. Your dreams are where you hide your true self playing with wisps and talking with spirits.” he HAD been watching her longer than she thought.
Ashara looked at him as she wasn’t sure where this was going. “I’m sorry if I have deceived you in some way that was never my intention.” she spoke as Solas smiled. “You have not in fact you have shown me how rare and unique your spirit truly is.” He caressed her cheek as she leaned into his touch. There was no interruptions this time as she felt his lips crash against hers with passion. It spoke to her soul as she returned the kiss with equal fervor as she pulled herself closer to him. He wrapped his arms around her waist he was hungry for her like he was pouring his heart to her silently and all with one kiss. When he pulled away Ashara was breathless as he rested his head against hers. “You are important to me Ashara, ma vhenan.” he spoke softly his eyes closed tight . “Ma vhenas…” She spoke quietly answering him. He kissed her lightly. “You’re leaving aren’t you? This is goodbye…” her voice threatened to break. Solas didn’t answer but she didn’t move. “Forget me…” He whispered as there was a sudden flash of light which shook her from the dream.
Ashara woke with her head aching as she heard a slight commotion. “What’s going on?” She asked getting out of her tent only to see Neros looking frustrated. “The stranger is gone.”he spoke as Ashara looked at him. She could almost recall his name strange thing was no one else could it was as if he was a ghost and just vanished.
Though a year later Deshanna sent her First to the conclave to the temple of Sacred Ashes and nothing was the same. Though imagine the surprise on the Apostate’s face when the unconscious woman who now bared the mark, his mark was none other than his vhenan.