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 Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)

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Tymber

Tymber

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Join date : 2015-05-06
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Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) Empty
PostSubject: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:43 pm

I created this fanfic over six years ago when Dragon Age: Origins was released. I absolutely loved Dragon Age: Origins (wish I could say the same thing about Dragon Age II). The story was originally posted on the Bioware forum, and then on the Neverending Nights forum – but I recently took down the forums, and figured I would repost the stories here).

Copying the original posts:
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Writer’s Note: I have no idea where I am going with this. I just plan on adding to it as the mood strikes me. With any luck, those who take the time, will enjoy the ride… Please feel free to comment, question, etc.

William sat up suddenly, gasping for breath. His blond hair was blood stained and matted to his face. His hand went to his chest which pounded with pain with each throb of his heart. He tried to look around, but the vision through his sky blue eyes was dark and bleary. He tried to think to a few moments ago – he tried to think back – where was he? Why could he not remember? Why did his heart pound so heavily in chest? He gasped for breath, a certain sense of fear grasping his body within its cold clutches.

A gentle hand touched his bare shoulder. Where was his shirt? His armor? A soft voice assured him, “You are safe for now. You should rest. You wounds were… nearly fatal. Had it not been for mother.”

William

Mother? He tried to fight the sweeping sensation of weariness that suddenly made his mind a further haze. His head became heavy, his eye lids felt as if they were made of steel, and despite his best efforts, William’s head gently found itself resting on the tender touch of the pillow once more.

William’s eyes opened again, some undisclosed amount of time later. His body still ached horribly – but considering how he had felt previously – this was a blessing. He slowly sat up and looked around.

A simple hut. Wooden. His armor, sword, possessions, all seemed to be nicely placed in a corner. How he hadn’t noticed immediately was beyond him – but at the foot of the bed sat a woman in a chair staring directly at him. Alarmed he backed up against the bed – his sword and armor out of reach.

“Relax,” the woman sighed. “If I had wanted you dead, I would have already done so, don’t you think?”

“Who are you?” He examined her – she was dressed in simple clothes, yet stunningly beautiful beyond words.

“My name is Morrigan,” the woman stated matter-of-factly as she stood up. “It would seem that one of your own betrayed you from what I observed.”

“Teryan Loghain,” William tried to say the name. “The signal… it was set… I saw it… but then I watched… Teryan Loghain take his men and march away… Why would he do this?”

Morrigan shrugged her shoulders, uncaring. “I don’t even know who this Teryan Loghain is. But if he’s the one on the hill – the one that should have led his men down when the signal was made – then yes. It would seem he deserted you on the battle field and left all of you to die.”

“How many… survived?” William asked, hopeful – but he knew.

“From the field of battle, only you were found by my mother,” Morrigan replied. “She returned to the battle – she believes she can try and rescue the ones in the tower who lit the fire. I say she’s mad. But mother… she doesn’t ever listen to me.”

William tried to sit up and was greeted by pain that wracked his body, ruthlessly reminding him his body was still mending. Morrigan stood. “You should take it easy. See if mother does bring back more survivors.”

“There’s no time,” William winced, tears stung the corner of his eyes. “I have to do something about Teyrn Loghain. He must pay for this crime.” William looked up from the blood stained matted locked that covered his eyes. “One way or another, Teyrn Loghain must pay.”

Morrigan shook her head. “Your body is still healing. Mending itself. You’re in no shape to be chasing after this Teyrn Loghain just yet. There’s still Darkspawn out there. They’ll catch your scent and destroy you – and all of mother’s efforts to rescue you and heal you with magic will have been wasted.”

“Heal me with magic?” William looked around. “This does not look like a dwelling from the Circle of Mages. Are you… witches?”

“Witches,” Morrigan laughed at the name. “Well, I suppose we are. But we’re not Blood Mages if that’s what you’re worried about.”

William grabbed his armor and began putting it on, with great effort.

“There’s no stopping you is there,” Morrigan asked with an amused smile.

“Teyrn Loghain must pay,” William grunted through the pain. “And I will not remain in the company of witches long enough for you to charm or vex me.”

“We have been trying to heal you,” Morrigan replied, though not defensively – more matter-of-factly. “If we had wanted to make you our unwilling servants, we would have done so before reviving you, don’t you think?”

“I know not what to think, my head is clouded, no doubt by your magic,” William said as he put on the metal shoulder piece.

“Or perhaps because most of the blood in your body was watering the grass of the bloodstained battle field,” Morrigan countered. “But if you can’t be stopped, I certainly won’t stop you. Mother will be disappointed, but then Mother is easily disappointed. Go then. Be gone with you. Good luck to you and your quest to bring this Teyrn Loghain to justice.”

William walked out the door and did not look back.

The witch had been right. The Darkspawn had been crawling through the Korcari Wilds. William had been forced – more than once – to seek cover. Engaging the Darkspawn, wounded as he was, would have been a waste of his life. He knew that.

It did not help matters that the fog that insisted on lingering within the Korcari Wilds made things infinitely more complicated. There had been a legend about an Arl, who had come into the Korcari Wilds to terminate every werewolf he encountered; for at one time, ages ago, werewolves dominated and terrorized those who tried to pass through the Korcari Wilds. So furious was the Arl that he slaughtered Wolf and Werewolf alike; it did not matter. The bodies of werewolves and wolves littered the Korcari Wilds, the stench of death lingered in the woods, stained the soil. A greater werewolf, enraged by the Arl’s blood thirsty vengeance, used a blade that had taken his mate’s life to now stab his own heart and curse the Arl and his men. It is said that a great mist seeped from the mortally wounded werewolf’s heart and surrounded the entire Korcari Wilds. The Arl and his men had become disoriented in the mist, and were lost forever; their bodies never found.

Now that very mist that had once cursed the Arl and his men and lingered in the woods was proving to be a bane in William’s quest for survival. Having become a Grey Warden, he could sense the presence of Darkspawn; but so to, could the Darkspawn sense his presence.

That’s when he heard it.

Their growling.

Their mocking laughter.

William drew his blade and stared through the mist.

They were moving around him.

Darkspawn.

He sneered and grabbed the hilt of his blade tightly in his hands. The blade was the only thing that would see him through this. If he lost the blade, everything was lost.

He backed up, stepping through the mist, until his back had been to a tree, to prevent them from flanking him from behind.

He could see them in the mist. He could see the mist swirl about as they ran around him.

They were taking pleasure in this. They had him. They knew that. They could sense him. They knew he was one of the Grey Warden. And they knew he was alone.

“Come on,” William shouted. “Come get me! I will send you all back to your Arch-Demon!”

Suddenly, the confident howls of the Darkspawn changed. The sound of cruel victory changed to unimaginable fear. William tried to see through the haze of the mist. He could see Darkspawn screaming, thrashing about.

William stared in horror – unsure if something had saved him from the Darkspawn – now to destroy him.

The mist cleared enough for William to see a young, robed man, standing on top of a small hill, a look of euphoria in his eyes as the blood from the Darkspawn seeped from their pores, and in the form of crimson mist, floated up to him and entered through the palm of his hands.

William charged up the small hill before the Blood Mage could cast a spell and put his blade to the Blood Mage’s throat.

“That’s an unusual way to thank someone who has just saved your life,” the Blood Mage sneered.

“Move even just an inch, and I run my blade through you, Blood Mage,” William assured the Blood Mage. “I saw you. The look in your eyes. You were euphoric. Just like every Blood Mage I have ever seen. You can’t be trusted. You were no doubt about to use your magic on me.”

The Blood Mage placed his hand on William’s blade and gave it a light push so that the cold steel was not touching his throat. “If I had wanted you dead, Grey Warden, you would not be standing this close to me. I promise you. I saved your life. Don’t make me regret it. Now if you will be excusing me,” the Blood Mage replied and began to leave.

William grabbed the Blood Mage by the shoulder and spun him around, placing the tip of his blade once more to the Blood Mage’s throat. “I can’t let you just leave.”

Quinn

“You’re Grey Warden, not a Templar,” the Blood Mage answered. “That’s the only reason I even rescued you. So you can,” he gestured with his hands, “go out there and kill Darkspawn, like you’re supposed to.”

William stared at the Blood Mage for a moment before lowering his weapon. “What is your name?”

The Blood Mage gave William a strange look. “Are we to be friends now? Perhaps get together at Denerim and talk about the good ol’ times? After you just shoved a blade against my throat? Twice, I might add? You’re just like the Templars,” the Blood Mage shook his head. “You act so righteous and noble. You,” he turned to look at William, “you judge me. I see it in your eyes. You think I can’t be trusted because I am a Blood Mage and you’re one of the ‘great Grey Wardens’,” he said with a mocking voice. “Don’t think I don’t know about the blood that you drink to become a Grey Warden.”

“How do you know of the Grey Warden ritual?” William growled.

The Blood Mage turned and got in William’s face. “Because I used to be a Grey Warden.”

“Used to be?” William shook his head. “Once a Grey Warden, always a Grey Warden.”

The Blood Mage laughed. “Foolish and idealistic,” he shook his head. “Just like the rest of the Grey Warden. You all see yourselves as so noble. So sacrificing. You do this to put an end to the Blight. You go to the extreme measure of drinking the blood of the Darkspawn to hear them. To sense them. But you would rapidly criticize us Blood Mages for going to the lengths we do to fight the Blight.”

“Blood Mages rarely become Blood Mages to fight the Blight,” William countered. “A Blood Mage is more often than not concerned about power. About himself.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” the Blood Mage shrugged. “Perhaps because I was a Grey Warden – because I knew what it was like – I had already made the sacrifice to become a Grey Warden. I just went the extra step and became a Blood Mage, because magic was already within me to control.” The Blood Mage stood there for a moment. “My name is Quinn.” He turned and extended his hand to William, who took it.

“William,” he replied, giving his own name.

“Where are you headed William?” Quinn asked, brushing off his robes.

“I seek Teyrn Loghain,” William replied.

“A bad idea my idealistic friend,” Quinn replied.

“Why is that?” William asked.

“Because Teyrn Loghain has deemed all Grey Wardens traitors, and placed a rather large bounty on the heads of all Grey Warden,” Quinn answered, smiling eerily at William.

“And you’re certain that this handsome bounty is not an interest to you?” William asked, gripping the hilt of his weapon once more.

“What use do I have for money?” Quinn scoffed, though he had played William’s fear into his hands. “No, don’t be foolish. Money does me no good. After all, I simply take what I want. As I said, if I had wanted you dead, Grey Warden, this conversation would not be happening.”

“I see,” William said, doubtfully. “There must be something we can do. Teyrn Loghain betrayed the Grey Wardens. He left us to die.”

“I know,” Quinn nodded. “I was in Ostagar.”

“I don’t remember seeing you with the Circle of Magi,” William said, then thought about how Quinn would not have been with them, for they shunned Blood Mages.

“Because I wasn’t visible,” Quinn answered. “I was… detained… by the Circle of Magi. To be taken to Kinloch Hold. When Teyrn Loghain abandoned the Grey Wardens, the Magi cut me loose after I promised to help them against the advancing Darkspawn, under the agreement, that if we had survived, I would turn myself back in to the Circle.”

“And yet here you are,” William said.

“Unfortunate for the other Magi, they did not survive,” Quinn shrugged.

“And you didn’t have anything to do with that?” William asked.

“Perhaps you shouldn’t ask questions you don’t want to hear the answers to, Grey Warden,” Quinn said matter-of-factly.

The fire crackled, sending small embers into the air, like birds flying through the thick clouds, seeking the clear skies above.

“So what were you before you became one of them,” Quinn asked as he jabbed the fire again, sending a multitude of embers flowing into the mist, in their circular dance of death.

William looked at Quinn as he shined his sword with the tattered cloth he had ripped from his own clothes.

“Before you became a Grey Warden,” Quinn elaborated, though he knew that William knew exactly what he meant.

“I was nothing,” William answered. “No one. Nothing. I was a beggar on the streets of Denerim. I had no life. I had no future.”

“The perfect candidate for becoming a Grey Warden,” Quinn said with an eerie smile, his eyes staring directly into the fire. “Someone with no hope, no future, no family. If you go missing, get killed, die during the Grey Warden Ritual, no one cares, no one misses you.” Quinn shook his head. “Who was it that recruited you?”

“Riordan,” William said, thinking back to the fateful day that Riordan had recruited him. “Riordan had watched me fight several other humans that had begun beating up on several Elves who were passing through the alleyway near the Alienage. I had approached the humans telling them that the Elves had nothing and were best left alone. But the humans did not listen. They drew their daggers and swords, and with no weapon in hand, I had improvised and used a stick from the ground to strike the first human in the ear. The human had grabbed his ear in pain giving me the opening I needed to strike him in the back of the head, rendering him unconscious. I grabbed the human’s dagger after he collapsed, and fought the other three humans; killing one, as the other two fled. The Elves were grateful, yet fearful. I still regret letting those two humans go. I had seen them before roughing up Elves. Veras and Saritor – that was their names. They were up to something… something bad. I know it. But the guards of Denerim… they wouldn’t listen to me. And why would they? I was just a beggar until Riordan came up to me after that fight… That’s when Riordan had approached me, told me he had observed the fight and that he would like to recruit me into the Grey Warden; to give me a purpose in life.”

“Riordan,” Quinn said with a light laugh. He peered at William who sat across from him. The flames danced, casting unusual shadows across Quinn’s face. “I know Riordan well. He was also the one who recruited me from the Circle.” Quinn shook his head. “So if you know Riordan, then you know about his saying; how, as Grey Warden, you are not judges. Kinslayers, Blood Mages, traitors, rebels, carta thugs, common bandits; anyone with the skill and mettle to take up the sword against the Darkspawn was welcome in the Grey Wardens.”

William said nothing, instead he continued to shine his sword. The sword was clean. But he kept cleaning. It gave him something to do. Something for him to think about other than what they should be doing next. He finally looked up and stared at Quinn, “I remember he also said the Joining binds us to the Darkspawn. Those who forswear their oath and flee will eventually find themselves in the Deep Roads or deep into the Blighted Lands, given time.”

“Why do you think I’m here?” Quinn scoffed. It was clear to William that Quinn hated the fact that the blood that coursed through his veins called to him to put an end to the Darkspawn. It was the single aspect of Quinn’s life, William realized, that he could not control, despite all of his power as a Blood Mage.

“It was Riordan who convinced me to become a Blood Mage,” Quinn finally said after a long moment of silence. He shoved at the wood with a stick again, sending yet more embers up, as if they were the fireflies that would guide him to his past memory. “Riordan saw great potential in me as a mage at the Circle. He was impressed by how quickly I had mastered the magic that many could not – even my own seniors. Riordan saw in me that the Circle was holding me back. If I was truly to be an asset to the Grey Wardens, I had to be free of the Circle’s constraints. I had to tap into a magic far darker than the Circle would ever permit. Riordan kept watch over me, kept me out of trouble, out of the reach of the Templars. Until Ostagar,” Quinn shook his head at the memory. “One of the members of the Circle … displeased with me having become a Blood Mage, foolishly… challenged me. I was consumed in the moment of battle. I lost control of myself. I killed him. In a time where we needed every able hand, I destroyed him. And after that, there was little Riordan’s comrade, Duncan, could do to keep me out of the hands of the Templars and Magi. It was only because Duncan spoke on behalf of Riordan that I was not immediately slain by the Templars, and that I would be given a trial at the Circle of Magi, to explain my actions, to see if I could be… redeemed.” The last words fell from Quinn’s lips with great effort, as if speaking them would poison his body.

William took the same rag that he had used to shine his sword and dipped it into his over turned helmet, which he had used to capture water from the small pond. It was not the cleanest of water, but it was better than being splattered by blood, muck and soot. He used the rag to clean off his face, his ice blue eyes, peering from his matted blond locks of hair, “Why would Riordan ask you to become a Blood Mage, if you were already powerful as a Mage?”

“Because,” Quinn answered, laying on his side, his hands folded under his head, “Riordan saw the Blight for what it really was. Both Teyrn Loghain and King Cailan, rest in peace, underestimated the Blight. They weren’t Grey Warden. They couldn’t hear the Arch-Demon. They didn’t know how serious it was. When Riordan recruited me – he told me that the chances of surviving this Blight were next to impossible. But it was always the Grey Warden’s way to fight. Despite the odds.” Quinn shook his head. “Damn fool.”

Quinn sat up. “Now the damn idiot is probably dead, lying on some battle field, being feasted on by those vile Darkspawn.” He shook his head again. “I actually liked Riordan,” Quinn admitted, with a slight smile, as if recalling some distant memory. “He knew what it was like. He knew what it took. Despite Blood Magic being banned all over Ferelden, the Grey Wardens had always been allowed to use Blood Magic. They justified it as an excuse to fight the Darkspawn. Riordan knew the potential of Blood Mages. Knew what it was like to unlock that power – to use it against the Darkspawn.” Quinn scoffed as he laid his head down, “I’ve even heard that Grey Wardens have even intentionally become abominations…”

William looked at Quinn as the Blood Mage laid down again. From beneath his locks of blood stained, golden locks of hair, William watched Quinn. The Blood Mage simply closed his eyes and said, “You have first watch. The Korcari Wilds are full of things – not just Darkspawn.”

The fire flickered and faded; embers danced into the sky, trying to escape the flames of fire, like souls that had been damned for eternity. William’s gaze had been transfixed to the dying fire, as darkness slowly crept in closer with the dying flame rapidly fading.

William’s eyes fluttered as he fought to stay awake. Images poured into his memory. He stood there, holding the goblet in his hand, when he realized the tainted blood he had been asked to fetch by Riordan was what he was about to consume. He had seen Blaine drink from his goblet; and watched as Blaine screamed in horror moments later, grasping at his head and screaming over and over. The vivid image of Blaine’s body going into convulsions brought fear into his mind and heart, until finally Blaine’s body ceased moving and his gaze suddenly turned to the dark skies, lacking all forms of expression. Blaine had not survived the joining.

There was another image. A demon. Screaming. William could see them marching. The Darkspawn. Thousands of them. Marching.

William gasped and his eyes flew open.

“Good to know I can trust you to keep guard,” Quinn said, matter-of-factly as he packed his bag. “Surprised neither of us is dead because of your recklessness. The least you could have done is woke me up. Told me you were tired. Something.”

The daylight through the treetops tried to burn away the mist that haunted the Korcari Wilds. William rubbed his eyes, tried to focus, tried to shake the images out of his head. That’s when he noticed blood splattered on Quinn’s robes that had not been there the night before.

“What,” William began to ask, but Quinn pointed to three bodies near the camp.

“Darkspawn,” Quinn snapped. “Three of them. Thankfully, very loud. Woke me up from my slumber. Saw them before they saw me. But they’re tracking us through the blood. They will keep coming for us. We have to get moving. Out of the Wilds, because it’s crawling with Darkspawn looking for survivors of the battle of Ostagar.”

William stood. His body ached. “We should go to Lothering. It’s the closest town. If there’s other survivors, perhaps they had gone there as well.”
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Tymber

Tymber

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Join date : 2015-05-06
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Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) Empty
PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:44 pm

Lothering.

“Up ahead,” Quinn gestured with a nod of his head. “Highway men on the ramp to Lothering. Shall I,” Quinn began to ask, a flare in his eyes, like a cat whose locked its gaze on an unsuspecting mouse.

“No,” William looked at Quinn in shock. “Unless it comes to it, let’s just take this easy and not draw attention to ourselves.”

William and Quinn walked on the shattered cobbles stone path that led to Lothering. One of the Highway Men, who had been tormenting a wounded Mabari. The Highway Man turned and watched as William and Quinn approached. “Well, what do we have here? Looking to get to Lothering?”

“We are,” William nodded coolly. “We hope without any trouble.”

“There’s no trouble to be found here,” the Highway Man smiled. “We’re just here to collect the toll to Lothering.”

“There’s no toll to get to Lothering,” Quinn snapped, stepping forward. William extended his hand and kept Quinn behind him.

“Good little Mage,” the Highway Man smirked, “your master had best keep you on a leash. I wouldn’t want this to get ugly,” he gestured to several of the other Highway Men who came out from behind other crates – clearly possessions claimed by the Highway Men – from those who had passed by previously.

“He’s not my Master,” Quinn growled.

“Easy, Quinn,” William looked at the Blood Mage with annoyance. He looked back to the Highway Men. “What is the cost of this toll?”

“For the two of you,” he glanced at both William and Quinn, trying to guess how much they might have. “Thirty Silver.”

“I have thirty silver,” William answered as he reached into his pouch. The Highway Man looked back at his companions and smiled – thankful, perhaps – to have avoided a fight escalating.

William held the coin in his hand. “Before I pay you, how much for the Mabari?”

The Highway Man was stunned. He looked at the wounded canine then back at William. “The beast’s half dead. But for you, esteemed traveler, I will sell it to you for fifty silver.”

“Fifty Silver?” Quinn snapped. “The beast is almost dead! William, we don’t need a dying Mabari.”

“Silence Quinn,” William barked. “The Mabari are to be respected. Not tormented at the hands of these Highway Men.”

“Tormented?” The Highway Man looked shocked and appalled by such an accusation. “We saved the blasted beast!”

The Mabari growled. The Highway Man shot the caged Mabari a callous look.

“Here,” William handed the Highway Man the amount of requested coin. William kneeled down and opened the cage, allowing the wounded Mabari to approach him, whining and limping. William stood and looked at the Highway Man. “This Mabari was no doubt fighting in Ostagar. If I find that you have tortured this animal in anyway, there is no force in this world that will stop me from killing you.”

“Not worried,” the Highway Man sneered as he counted the coin. “We didn’t hurt the thing.”

William and Quinn walked passed the Highway Man who were smug with joy. Quinn looked at William, “I could have easily dispatched of them. Made them pay for what they have done to this mutt you purchased, as well as others they have no doubt tormented.”

“You would have also drawn his attention,” William nodded ahead of them as they walked down the cobble path. A Templar stood guard just outside of Lothering’s gates. William looked at Quinn, “I’d rather you not draw the attention of the Templars. Not now.”

Quinn scoffed. “I could have taken care of him just as easily if he would have given us trouble,” he said under his breath as they approached the Templar.

“And what next,” William asked. “The entire town?”

“If that’s what it took,” Quinn snapped. “They’re as good as dead anyway. Look at them. All refugees fleeing, huddled about like rats in a den. There’s no Grey Warden here, William. The Darkspawn are marching this way. The people of Lothering are doomed.”

William looked at Quinn as they approached the Templar. “Your demeanor is heartwarming,” William sighed. William turned his gaze to the Templar. “Maker be with you,” William nodded.

“Andraste’s Blessing,” the Templar nodded. His eyes seemed to focus on Quinn when he spoke the next words, “Make no trouble during your stay in Lothering.”

Quinn merely smiled back at the Templar with false joy, “I would not think of it.”

Quinn could have sworn he heard the Templar mutter something beneath the steel helm from which his eyes peered from.

Sky blue eyes gazed the small town of Lothering. Something was not right. As William passed a small family of Elves who sat by the river, he signaled Quinn to hold for a moment. Approaching the Elves who watched in dread fear as William grew closer, he knelt before the little girl. “Hello, may I purchase your blanket from you?”

“Purchase?” the male elf, clearly the father, seemed shocked. “I just assumed… you would take it… if you wanted it.”

William shook his head. “It would seem that you have all been through enough. I just need the blanket to use as a cloak.”

“Yes, well of course,” the father gestured to the daughter to get off the blanket she had been sitting on. “What would be a fair price to you, sir?”

William smiled. “You name the price. It is your blanket.”

“Would three silver be good?” the elf asked, clearly pricing well below the blanket’s worth, for fear of upsetting William.

“Fifteen silver it is,” William smiled as he reached into his pouch and placed it in the hand of the stammering Elf who tried to correct William about the desired price. William closed his hand over the Elf’s hand. “Take it. Take care of them,” William’s eyes drifted to the wife and child. “And when you can, get out of Lothering. Head north. Away from here. The Darkspawn are marching this way. Do you understand me?”

“Yes,” the Elf stammered. “Of course. My thanks. May the Maker watch over you.”

“And you as well,” William said with a nod of his head as he threw the blanket over his shoulder and made an impromptu cloak.

Quinn shot William a questioning glance as he approached. “What’s with the cloak?” Quinn looked beyond William to the Elves and shook his head. “And let me guess. You paid a handsome fee for it, by the looks of those elves.”

“Something’s wrong here,” William said as he tied the cloak into a knot. His young, blue eyes looked around. “Everyone’s tense.”

“Why wouldn’t they be?” Quinn scoffed. “The Blight’s headed this way. The place is crawling with refugees.”

William nodded. “Something else has them on edge. I don’t know what it is. And,” William looked behind him at the Elves, “as for them – let’s just say that I pray the Maker sees them through this. I’ve done what I can to help them, as they have helped me.”

“You are without a doubt,” Quinn began, “the strangest Grey Warden I know.”

William turned and looked at Quinn as they crossed over a small, stone, cobble bridge. “I am not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, yet.” He stopped at the height of the bridge and pointed. “There, Dane’s Refuge. Perhaps we could find someone there from Ostagar.”

“Or we could find trouble,” Quinn said, not as a warning, almost hopeful.

Upon reaching the door, William turned to the Mabari, “You will have to sit outside. Keep guard.”

The Mabari seemed content to listen, and laid just outside the door. William pulled the cowl over his head and entered the tavern.

His soft colored eyes adjusted to the candle lit tavern, and instantly he saw the first sign of trouble.

“Teyrn Loghain’s men,” Quinn whispered, a smile on his lips. He could feel it inside of him; the desire to unleash his Blood Magic. “We can take them. There’s only six of them.”

“No,” William whispered, lowering Quinn’s hands. “No fighting, unless it comes to it. With any luck they won’t recognize us.” William looked down and ensured that the cloak covered the Grey Warden crest on his armor. He signaled to Quinn, pointing out a table in the corner. They moved across the small tavern with little trouble. Teyrn Loghain’s men were loud; demanding more drinks, and that they were the only force keeping the Darkspawn away from Lothering. “They prattle lies,” William growled. “They have done nothing to protect Lothering. Why, there’s Highway Men right at Lothering’s entrance.”

“They’re here for one reason, and one reason alone, William,” Quinn said, keeping his voice low.

“Oh, and what is that?” William asked, feeling the anger rise within him as Teyrn Loghain’s men continued to talk of how they fearlessly fought Darkspawn until Teyrn Loghain called for a retreat.

“They’re looking for Grey Warden,” Quinn answered. “Grey Warden who might have survived Ostagar, and could protest Teyrn Loghain’s actions. Remember, Teyrn Loghain has deemed all Grey Warden betrayers to the King, and claim that the Grey Warden are the murderers, indirectly or perhaps even directly, of the King Calian.”

William observed as Danal, the owner of Dane’s Refuge, moved across the room. Now William could see why the men were being so loud. There was a woman there, in the face of the leader of this band of Teyrn Loghain’s men.

Danal pushed the red headed woman back, slightly. “Leliana, you know I don’t mind you carrying on about these visions you have had,” the owner sighed, “but the bother Teyrn Loghain’s men – and call them liars – that is not… healthy.”

“But they are liars,” Leliana said. “I have seen it. Sooner or later, the true heroes will arrive. And,” she glanced back at Teyrn Loghain’s men who were smiling at her smuggly, “they will put an end to Teyrn Loghain, the Darkspawn, everything. They will be the ones to set the world right again.”

“That’s fine, Leliana,” Danal replied, exasperated. “I just need you to sit down. Teyrn Loghain’s men are already drunk – loud – they don’t need to be further provoked.”

“Yes,” Leliana said and sat down. “Of course.” Her angry eyes fell on Teyrn Loghain’s men.

“There’s no Grey Warden in here,” Quinn said, “Well other than you.”

“And you,” William replied.

Quinn shook his head. “I hardly think of myself as a Grey Warden.” Quinn looked around. “So what next? What if you’re the only one who survived?”

“You survived,” William retorted. “That means others like us could have survived. But where would they go? Surly they would not march to Denerim without a force behind them?”

“Would they Grey Warden even truly worry about Teyrn Loghain and his claims during a Blight?” Quinn asked.

“I don’t know,” William shook his head. “I was hoping a small force of Grey Warden would be here. So I would just…”

“Join them and not have to think for yourself,” Quinn finished.

William looked up from his drink. “Perhaps. Yes.”

“It’s the blood,” Quinn answered. “It’s urging you to fight the Darkspawn, because the song is getting louder and louder. Making it increasingly difficult to think for yourself.”

“If that’s it,” William stood, and placed the glass on the table. “Then let’s find some Darkspawn.”

“Now that is a plan I can agree with,” Quinn said, as he stood and followed William out the door. William called the Mabari over. He looked at the Mabari, “There’s a woman over there with medical supplies. Perhaps she has something for the Mabari.”

Making their way from Dane’s Refuge, they approached an elderly woman. “My lady, would you happen to have any supplies for the wounded?”

The woman looked William and Quinn over. “Neither of you appears wounded.”

“It is for the Mabari,” William answered.

“You would ask that I surrender my supplies to mend a Mabari,” the woman was shocked. “I know the Mabari are highly regarded, but above human life? Do you not see the people of Lothering? The refugees?”

“I am not asking you to surrender your supplies to me,” William corrected. “I will pay for them. Handsomely.”

“We could just take it,” Quinn hissed. “Show her the crest you wear on your breastplate. As a Grey Warden it’s your given right to take supplies for the wounded.”

William looked at Quinn and scolded him without saying a word. He turned back to the woman. “I have sixty silver,” William lifted his pouch and handed to her, “for what supplies you could provide me.”

The woman was shocked. With that much she could easily hire someone to gather her plenty of supplies. “Fine then,” the woman nodded, handing William her small supplies. “I will merely pay for another to fetch me supplies in the field beyond.”

“Your kindness is greatly appreciated, fair lady,” William nodded. He knelt down before the Mabari and began tending to its wounds. “We shall name you Forodin.”

The Mabari seemed to smile back at William.

Quinn all the while simply shook his head.

Somewhere in the distance, a wolf howled to the lonely moon that hung in the darkened skies above. “Blight wolf,” Quinn pointed, his eyes peering into the darkness beyond the campfire. “You can hear it, can’t you?”

William turned and looked at Quinn. “The song of the Darkspawn. It’s pounding in my head,” William admitted. “They’re on the move. In great numbers, rising from the South.” There was no need to tell Quinn, though the Blood Mage seemed less affected by the Blight Song.

Day and night, they could hear the Blight Wolves, always somewhere behind them, it seemed, trailing them. They continued to move West, on the northern side of the Drakon River. In an attempt to loose their pursuers, they crossed to the southern side of the Drakon River on the third night.

“The land,” Quinn pointed out.

“By the Maker,” William muttered, drawing his breath. The disease of the Blight had not yet crossed the river. The difference was breathtakingly horrible. On the Southern side of the Drakon River, the Earth itself seemed to have withered and died at the touch of the Blight; the grass had died, and turned brown, everything seemed brittle and fragile. As if matching the darkened mood found on the southern side of the Drakon River, black clouds blotted out the sun.

Forodin suddenly snapped William from his thoughts as a low growl escaped his chest. William looked at Forodin, who seemed to be intently peering at the grassy hedge just ahead. Mabari were not to be taken lightly; and already Forodin had proved himself as they voyage from Lothering had brought them into several scattered scouting parties of Darkspawn; and Forodin attacked with calculated strikes and viciousness.

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:45 pm

William drew his blade and moved slowly towards the hedge. Quinn shook his head and began preparing a spell that would eliminate any threat that emerged. William peered through the hedge and saw a small town. No one seemed to be stirring within the town. William signaled Quinn to come closer and look. “A town,” Quinn shrugged. “Your dog is growling at an empty town.”

“Empty because of the Darkspawn,” Quinn went on to say. “Whatever this small town was – they’re no more. Dragged into the underground by the Darkspawn, to become the latest victims.”

“Something’s not right,” William shook his head. “I can feel it. Come on.”

“In there?” Quinn scoffed. “You won’t find anything but corpses.”

“That should be properly buried,” William responded, “so that the Maker can properly welcome them.”

“We are not about to dig an assortment of graves,” Quinn growled. “I will not dirty my hands for such a task.”

Despite his protests, Quinn followed William into the small town. Bodies littered the town’s roads. Farmers, most of them, dead. “They never stood a chance,” William whispered, shocked by the decimated town. “No women,” William finally said after a moment. “Where are the female victims?”

“Probably dragged beneath the surface for whatever perversion the Darkspawn have in mind,” Quinn said matter-of-factly. The thought churned William’s stomach, bleached his face white with sickness.

Forodin began growling again. William spun around with his sword in hand. A young child stood before them, his skin darkened and stained with welts, cuts, and bruises, all of which were emitting some kind of greenish-red liquid.

“He’s been infected by the Taint,” Quinn said in hushed tones.

“They came before dawn; the Darkspawn! The Darkspawn! Came and slaughtered, father and son, took mother and daughter! Their taint in our veins! Bind us with invisible chains! Not much left of me! Far less than what you see! Not much left of me…”

“He’s become a ghoul,” Quinn said more loudly. “There’s nothing left of him. He’s standing before us – flesh and blood – but he’s gone. You have to kill him. Put him out of his misery.”

William stared at the young boy, who had begun repeating the chant of the Darkspawn invasion. “I will make them pay for this,” William whispered. “Maker forgive me and take this boy into your arms.”

With that, William swung his blade with all of his force, decapitating the boy’s head, which landed at his feet, eerily looking up at him with a strange smile.

“You’re a strange one,” Quinn looked at William, as if unsure what to truly think. “You’re like no Grey Warden I know.”

William looked up. The dark of night covered his light colored eyes, beneath the lockes of hair. “I am not sure how to take that,” William commented as the Mabari, Forodin, settled next to him.

Quinn shook his head. “Most Grey Warden would not go through the lengths you have to,” Quinn looked outside the window of the abandoned building they had taken refuge in, “to properly take care of the dead as you have. Not when there’s a Blight.”

“Doing this helps put the Call aside,” William answered. “For the brief moment, I can think of something else besides the urge to run madly into the Deep Roads and fight the Blight single-handedly.”

“Any other Grey Warden would be doing just that,” Quinn retorted, matter-of-factly. “As a matter of fact, if any of them survived Ostagar, that’s probably where they are. Rushing head long into battle – one against a horde. But,” Quinn looked back at William, as William stroked the course fur of the Mabari, “not you. Why?”

“There’s a difference between finding an honorable death in battle,” William explained, “and being suicidal. To rush off and die would do no good. I would not single handedly stop the Darkspawn. Teyrn Loghain would get away with abandoning the Grey Wardens at Ostagar. I try to keep those things in mind, above the pounding urge of the Call.” William paused a moment, “What about you? You said you were a Grey Warden before becoming a Blood Mage. How is it you resist the Call of the Grey Wardens?”

Quinn was silent for a long moment. “The day I became a Blood Mage, and made a deal with the Desire Demon that Riordan had captured that had possessed a young girl… I heard the Grey Warden Call. But that day… the deal with the demon… the day I became a Blood Mage… it somehow… severed my bond with the Grey Warden… took away any… proof I had survived the Joining.”

“The demon severed the tie,” William responded, “no doubt to protect its interest. Whatever deal you struck with that demon to become the Blood Mage you are; what benefit would it be to the demon if you rushed into battle against the Darkspawn and perished.”

“Perhaps,” Quinn said quietly.

“Can I ask what deal you struck with the demon,” William asked.

“You can ask,” Quinn answered as he looked away, his gaze peering out into the bleak, black sky. “But it does not mean,” he added after a moment, turning to face William, “that I will answer you.”

William awoke to the sound of Forodin’s growling. Sitting up he looked around, his eyes trying to adjust to the dark. “What is it,” he whispered, asking the Mabari that continued to growl. Slowly, William reached over to Quinn and shook him awake, immediately signaling him to be silent. There was no need to keep watch anymore; sneaking on a Mabari was virtually impossible. Something outside had triggered the Mabari’s hackles to stand on edge.

William slowly eased up so that he made as little noise as possible and peered outside the shattered window. His eyes tried to adjust to the dark, but the moon and stars had been blotted out by the very Blight that had tainted this part of the land, as dark clouds consumed the most feeble bits of light that had struggled to get by.

For a moment, William wasn’t sure he could believe his eyes. There was a woman. And she was running. Frantic. Scared.

William quickly stood and ran out of the house, despite Quinn trying to grab him. “William, don’t this could be a trap!” Quinn snapped, but the Blood Mage had been too late. The ever valiant William was already out the door, with Forodin right behind him. Quinn quickly stood and prepared a spell on the edge of his lips.

“Over here,” William called out to the woman, who paused, and stared through the darkness, unsure to believe what she was seeing. Once she believed what her eyes had shown her, her dash towards William had become even more frantic than before. She wrapped her arms around William, then hid behind him.

“They’re after me,” she wheezed, barely with enough breath to remain conscious. “They’re everywhere.”

“Who?” William asked, as his eyes peeked into the dark.

“Darkspawn,” the woman huffed between deep breaths. Even as she spoke the word, nearly ten Darkspawn emerged from the brush that she had just emerged from. They saw William and howled, pounding on their chest.

William drew his sword. “Quinn, Darkspawn out here.”

The woman, puzzled, looked around to see who the Grey Warden had been talking to. That’s when she saw Quinn standing up in the nearby abandoned building. “You’re a Grey Warden,” Quinn shouted, “go vanquish them!” William looked to Quinn, who was smirking as he was coming out of the abandoned house. “Only ten of them. Any Grey Warden worth his steel can handle ten Darkspawn.”

“Fine,” William growled. “And here I thought you were itching for a fight.” William looked at the woman. “Wait here. Forodin, guard her at all costs. All costs, do you hear me?”

Forodin barked an approval.

William drew his sword and charged the Darkspawn. Seeing the Grey Warden, the Darkspawn howled in joy and charged as well. The first Darkspawn to reach William was cleaved in half, as William’s blade cut clean through. In that same fluid motion, William brought the bottom of his hilt up and hit the next Darkspawn on what would have been the bridge of its nose. That Darkspawn toppled over backwards from the sheer force, and before it could recover, William brought his steel boot through the creature’s face. Still moving fluidly, he then spun his hilt in his hand and stabbed behind him, running his blade through the Darkspawn that had hoped to strike from behind. With that Darkspawn still with his sword through it, he used his closet metal gloved fist to punch the next Darkspawn charging him. It too fell over, which allowed William to pull his blade from the Darkspawn he had stabbed and crush the throat of the Darkspawn he had just punched.

The woman, fearful, looked at Quinn. “Are you not going to help your friend?”

Quinn, annoyed, looked at the woman. “Not yet.” He took closer notice at her clothing. She was from the Chantry. Wonderful, he told himself. She should like this…

Just as William finished off the last Darkspawn, the ground seemed to shake. “What in the…”

Suddenly the bushes ripped apart and an Ogre stepped through howling with fury. “Ogre!” William shouted. Of all the Darkspawn, the Ogres were the most respected and feared for their sheer strength and power, and steel determination. Most Ogres did not know when they were dead and should fall over.

“Now,” Quinn said, “I will help my ‘friend’ as you call him.”

Taking a ceremonial dagger he cut his palm open and squeezed his hand tightly, feeling the blood run down his arm. With his other hand he pointed at the Ogre and closed his eyes and began chanting.

The Ogre suddenly ceased moving and howled in pain. Quinn strained. William watched in almost fascinated horror as the Ogre’s eyes began to bleed; then its ears; then mouth, and soon its entire body was convulsing before it suddenly exploded, splattering blood everywhere.

“You’re a Blood Mage,” the woman screamed.

“And I just helped save your life,” Quinn snapped, grabbing the woman by the arm.

William grabbed Quinn’s wrist. “Let her go, Quinn. Right. Now.”

Quinn looked at William and with a yank pulled his wrist free and released the woman. “You don’t get it, William. She will run to the first Chantry she finds and turn me in to the Templars. They will execute me for being a Blood Mage, since there’s no one from Ostagar to speak on my behalf. Then they will possibly execute you or imprison you for your association with me.”

“Settle down, Quinn,” William snapped. “I think her first concern is surviving,” he said as he looked at the woman. Despite the soot, dried blood, and stains all over her face, hair and clothes; the woman was strikingly beautiful. “Listen to me,” he said to the woman, as her horrified eyes locked on an angry Quinn. “We can help you get to a safe place. But you will have to trust us.”

“Trust you?” she spat the words. “You’re walking with a Blood Mage!”

“Even the Chantry recognizes the fact that during a Blight, the Grey Wardens, which I am,” he pulled back the cloak he had made from the blanket he had previous purchased from the Elves, “use anyone strong enough to stand up against the Blight – including Blood Mages.”

“Perhaps the fact that there is a Blight going on escaped her,” Quinn quibbled sarcastically.

“Enough Quinn,” William said, looking at the Blood Mage sternly. William turned back to the woman. “These are not safe times to be traveling. How did you even get here?”

“I was with others, from a caravan from the Chantry of Lothering,” the woman explained. “We were on our way here, to spread the Chant of Light when our caravan was attacked by brigands.”

“Those were not brigands,” William pointed to the piled corpses of Darkspawn. “Those are Darkspawn.”

“No,” the woman shook her head. “It had been highway men who blocked the road. They were going to…” The woman shook her head. “Well, they took Sister Devera… they… raped her. Said the rest was going to happen to us. But that’s when I heard Devera scream. I thought it was the brigands. Then I heard the brigands scream. I knew something was wrong. When the ones guarding us went to check on the others… I fled… hearing their screams behind me.”

“We will get you somewhere safe,” William assured her. He ran his hand through her sunset colored hair and pushed behind her ears. “You just need to have faith in us.”

“May the Maker forgive me,” the woman answered, looking at Quinn.

William threw another log onto the fire and sat next to the woman, who looked at William strangely and slowly edged away from him. William’s eyes went from her, to the fire, then back to her. “What is your name?” William asked, trying to get her to speak. Since dispatching the Darkspawn that had been chasing her, she had barely said a word. Instead, she clung to some candle in her hand, repeatedly saying the Chant of Light over and over in hushed tones.

The woman looked up from her prayers, her soft green eyes, despite her body being covered in soot, were sharp, alive, almost glowing with life. “My name is Navah.” She answered, looked from William to Quinn, then returned to her silent prayers.

“Where was your precious Maker,” Quinn growled, tired of her whispering chant, “when the Brigands came to rape you? Where was your precious Maker when the Darkspawn slaughtered all the sisters from the Chantry? While you were on a Mission to spread the word of the Maker – of the prophet Andraste?”

Navah looked at Quinn, closed her eyes, and resumed praying. “And thus fell the eye of the Maker upon Andraste, she who would be raised up from outcast to become His bride. From her lips would fall the Chant of Light, at her command would the legions of righteousness fall upon the world.”

Quinn looked at William across the camp fire. “It’s hopeless,” he shrugged. “You should have let the Darkspawn have her.”

If the words were meant to offend or strike fear into the heart of Navah, she gave no indication. With her head bowed she continued praying repeatedly to the Maker.

Quinn, perhaps disappointed by the lack of reaction from Navah decided to torment William again. “First, you pay the Highway Men for some kind of toll. Then purchase the mutt,” Quinn gestured to Forodin who slept soundly next to William, “then you pay the Elves for their blanket, rather than take what you need from them, and then you rescue her from the Darkspawn. Could you, sometime before this is all said and done, perhaps make a good choice?”

William simply looked at Quinn and shook his head. Turning slight, his soft, blue eyes met her timid, yet sparkling green eyes, as the reflection of the flames danced in her eyes. She wasn’t praying anymore. She was simply staring at William. “Is something wrong?”

As if suddenly realizing she had been staring for long moments, she fumbled over her words like a blind man stumbles through a room with children’s toys scattered on the floor. “What?” She stammered instinctively, trying to buy herself time to recover. “No, I just thought that I… heard something.”

Navah

Quinn sighed. Loudly. Enough to ensure the other two knew of his annoyance. She was attracted to William. Quinn could see the way she had been looking at him. Conflicted between her flustered heart and what she believed was right and wrong, according to the Chant of Light.

William, oblivious Quinn noted, smiled back at her. “Do not worry. Forodin is Mabari. Nothing sneaks up on the Mabari. If there’s something out there, Forodin would alert us with his growls. We’re safe for now. It’s probably only your nerves. You survived a harrowing experience.”

She looked at William, then looked down. Tears stung the corner of her eyes. “I have prayed and prayed to the Maker… but sometimes I don’t hear Him. I don’t… feel Him anymore. I am frightened.”

“The Maker is still with us,” William assured her, placing his hand tenderly on her shoulder. “As we battle the Darkspawn, He must no doubt be fighting the Arch-Demon on some Plane within the Fade.”

“Do you believe in the Maker,” Navah asked, looking directly into William’s eyes.

William smiled but looked away. “I have seen too many things. Too many things in this world that allows me to believe that there is a Maker out there… somewhere… who loves us and cares for us.”

“I see,” Navah whispered and frowned. She stared at the fire for a long moment, before she looked back at William. For a brief moment, her eyes looked at Quinn, who appeared to be asleep, before looking back at William. “I am sorry for what the Maker has put you through. The Maker knows you’re strong. He has tested you. Forced you to endure perhaps things no other person could have hoped to endure. He has prepared you for this Blight. Do not lose hope in the Maker, for He has not lost hope in you.”

William looked away, casting his gaze once again towards the fire. “I hope you are right, Navah.” He looked at her and smiled, stunned by the beauty that gazed back at him. “I would like to hope that one day, once more, I will see a Light, rather than this Darkness that surrounds me.”

“Why do you travel with a Blood Mage,” Navah asked, her questioning, lively eyes locked with William’s.

“He saved my life,” William shrugged. “As a Grey Warden, we sometimes have… questionable allies. Allies that… the Chantry would not approve of. Such as,” he looked to Quinn then back to Navah, “Blood Mages.” Navah seemed to blanch at the notion. “I don’t expect you to understand,” he whispered.

“The Maker,” Navah said, “He forgives you for the Alliances you make during a Blight. When it is over, come back to Him. Ask Him to understand.”

“I don’t think I can ever find my way back to the Maker’s grace,” William answered, looking at Navah. “I am Grey Warden. If you understood what it took to become a Grey Warden… You would look at me the same way you look at him,” he pointed to Quinn with the stick he had used to poke the fire.

“I doubt it,” she muttered to herself.

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:45 pm

Daybreak.

The sun peaked over the horizon with orange rays of light thrusting through the black clouds that seemed to linger over the Blighted land. Quinn stretched and looked over at Navah who stood off to the side. “What is that woman doing now?” Quinn ask. He did little to disguise his annoyance.

William looked over to Navah who was kneeling in front of several of the graves from the victims of the Darkspawn. “She’s praying to the Maker.”

“O Maker, hear my cry:
Guide me through the blackest nights
Steel my heart against the temptations of the wicked
Make me to rest in the warmest places,” Navah prayed.

“O Creator, see me kneel:
For I walk only where You would bid me
Stand only in places You have blessed
Sing only the words You place in my throat

My Maker, know my heart
Take from me a life of sorrow
Lift me from a world of pain
Judge me worthy of Your endless pride

My Creator, judge me whole:
Find me well within Your grace
Touch me with fire that I be cleansed
Tell me I have sung to Your approval

O Maker, hear my cry:
Seat me by Your side in death
Make me one within Your glory
And let the world once more see Your favor

For You are the fire at the heart of the world
And comfort is only Yours to give.”

“Waste of time,” Quinn growled.

“Leave her be, Quinn,” William said stomping out the fading campfire with his steel boot. William winced. Quinn looked at William, his head tilted slight.

“Something wrong with you?” Quinn asked. “Were you wounded in that fight?”

“No,” William brushed off Quinn’s apparent concern. “My body just aches. Not sure why.”

“Probably The Calling,” Quinn shrugged. “Or the lack of sleeping somewhere comfortable. Probably doesn’t help that you never get out of that armor of yours,” Quinn gestured to William with a flick of his hand.

“The Darkspawn could descend upon us at any moment,” William answered. “They will not give me the luxury of putting on my armor.”

Quinn shrugged, “And you wonder why I rely on magic instead of weapons and a shield. Just a few words and everything in my sight is dead. No need to get in close, swing swords, and get myself dirty.”

Navah approached William and Quinn, her eyes slowly lifting up to meet William’s gaze. “Thank you for letting me pray over them. I hope that the Maker has taken them in.”

“I am sure He has,” William smiled. Quinn rolled his eyes.

“There’s a small town from here,” Quinn mentioned. “Further east. If the Darkspawn haven’t reached it yet, I know there’s a Chantry there. We could drop her off and continue on to Denerim.”

“And as the black clouds came upon them,
They looked on what pride had wrought,
And despaired,” Navah quoted from the Chant of Light.

Quinn held up his hand, “Spare me your Chant of Light.” He picked up his small satchel that had been resting by the dying campfire and began walking east.

Navah looked at William with a concerned look. “I fear that he may be beyond saving for the Maker.” Her face grew sad. “I hope you don’t believe as he does. I sense there’s hope for you. That the Maker will yet embrace you by the time your quest is done. Your heart,” she placed her hand on his breastplate, her hand over the emblem of the Grey Wardens, “I feel it pounding,” she looked up to stare into his eyes, “even through this armor, I hear its song. I hear it and it sings of great deeds. Of hope. And of goodness. Do not let him,” she turned and looked at Quinn who was still walking, then turned back to William, “mislead you.”

“Are we moving on or what?” Quinn shouted without looking back. “Maybe we can just sit around and wait for the next Darkspawn scouting party? Or maybe the next Blight?”

Navah sighed and looked at William. William smiled down at her and took her hand into his metal glove. She had not realized she left her hand on his chest and her cheeks flushed deeply, matching the color of her auburn, sunset colored hair. “Forgive him,” William whispered.

Navah fell in line behind William, as Forodin trotted ahead. “I can not forgive him,” Navah said to herself. “May the Maker forgive him, for He is the only one who can forgive such transgressions.”

Sunrise was just beginning to peak over the mountains to the west. Rays of gentle, orange light warming bones that ached from the evening’s frost. The land was green and lush, drops of mist falling from the tall blades of grass in the field, as if fleeing the sun’s warmth.

A small walled town rose up against the mountains, a stark contrast to the gentle feeling of the wildlife around them. The fortified wall that surrounded the town was jagged, a wooden maw whose fangs rose from the ground. A muddy path led to the front of the gates where two guards stood.

“Welcome Cherathin,” the first guard said, as William and the others approached. “You will have to surrender your weapons. No magic within the walls,” the guard went on to say, staring at Quinn.

“I respect your laws,” William countered, “but we shall not be surrendering our weapons.”

“Then you shall not enter Cherathin,” the guard stated matter-of-factly.

William pulled the cloak back, revealing the crest of the Grey Warden. “I am a Grey Warden.”

“I don’t care if you’re the song of Borgen, you’re not getting in here with your weapons,” the first guard insisted, his hand on the hilt of his blade.

“I’d strongly recommend against that,” William said, his voice flat. He made no reach for his weapon.

“Listen,” the second guard said, placing his hand on the first guard’s shoulder. “He’s a Grey Warden. I am sure we can make a… exception, this one time.”

“You should listen to your friend,” William said.

The first guard glanced between the second and then to William. After a long moment, he took his hand off the hilt of his blade. “Fine. But still no magic. Don’t cause any trouble, Grey Warden.” He seemed to spit out the words as if they were poisonous.

As they walked past the guards, Quinn kept stride with William. “Well look who just got some backbone,” Quinn chuckled.

William took a long side glance at Quinn, but stopped suddenly as he saw people gathered. “What’s happening?”

Quinn gazed ahead, “A hanging by the looks of it.”

William began making his way through the crowd. At the front, a woman from the Chantry stood next to the man who was to be hung.

“Blessed are they who stand before,” the woman chanted.
“The corrupt and the wicked and do not falter.
Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just.
Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow.
In their blood the Maker’s will is written.”

“What is this man’s crime?” William shouted.

The stunned woman gazed at the onlookers and saw William. He stood out from the simple farmers that had gathered around to see this man hang. Gasps and questioning looks rumbled through the gathered.

“He assassinated Bann Vrock,” the woman replied. “Bann Vrock’s brother, Orlen is in jail for hiring the assassin.”

William took a step closer, cutting through the crowd. “How do you know that Orlen is the one who hired this assassin?” William gestured to the short elf, whose skin was a gentle copper toned color, marking him as someone who was not from Ferelden. “Did the assassin confess?”

“No,” the woman said, growing uncomfortable. “But Orlen has long hated his elder brother, Bann Vrock. Ask anyone here!” She gestured to the crowd who all muttered their silent agreement.

“So this assassin did not confess to this crime, nor did he confess to who hired him, even if he did commit this crime,” William asked loudly, “yet you’re ready to hang him and have the assassinated Brann’s brother in jail?”

“The man is wicked,” the woman answered. “You can see it in his eyes! What is he doing here if he is not the assassin? It couldn’t be pure coincidence that Bann Vrock was assassinated the same day this stranger showed up.”

“Set him free,” William barked the command.

“William!” Navah grabbed his arm. “This is Chantry business. You should not get involved!”

William looked at Navah then back to the woman who stood. “I said set him free.”

“By what right do you have to tell us what to do with this assassin?” the woman shouted.

“By the Right of the Grey Warden,” William responded, opening his cloak to reveal the crest of the Grey Warden. The crowd gasped. News of Ostagar had reached Cherathin. “Release the assassin to my custody,” William continued. “We shall find out if Orlen truly hired this assassin to kill Brann Vrock.”

“William, I plead with you, the elf is an assassin,” Navah grabbed William by the arm again, looking into his eyes.

“For once,” Quinn said with a wry smile, “I agree with Navah. The Elf is an assassin. But then, if it further bothers her, I’m all for bringing him along.” He smiled at Navah who stared at him as if he had just cursed the Maker. “Although,” Quinn gestured to the woman standing next to the accused assassin, “we did find you a Chantry. Run along now. Go with your bigoted friends.”

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:46 pm

Navah looked away from Quinn, then back to William. “William, I beg of you – do not get involved. If the Chantry believes this assassin is responsible for that man’s death, they must have good reason.”

William looked at Navah, though his face was hardened, his eyes seemed as gently as white cloud lingering in the sky. “We need every able body to fight the Darkspawn.”

Navah pointed at the assassin as the onlookers watched. “He’s an assassin!”

“And I am a Grey Warden,” William retorted, though his voice was gentle. William looked at the assassin who watched with interest, as this new development began to unravel. William pointed to the assassin, “He can be released to my care. If he tries anything, he knows he’s as good as dead. And a hanging would be a much more merciful death than what I would give him. As a Grey Warden, I demand that he be released to my care.”

The assassin looked at the woman from the Chantry who was about to give the command to have him hung and smiled smugly. “I would do as the Grey Warden, says no?” the assassin smirked, his voice thick with an unfamiliar accent. The onlookers switched their gaze from the Grey Warden to the woman from the Chantry who was ready to hang the assassin.

The woman scowled at William before turning to the other, “Fine, cut him down. He is to go into the custody of the Grey Warden.”

The assassin smiled at the woman from the Chantry and bowed, “It was a pleasure, no? Perhaps we can do this again? I’d like that.” With that, he placed his hand on the edge and jumped down, landing gracefully, like a cat in front of William. With a deep bow, the assassin smirked as his brown hair fell over his single eye, the other covered by a patch. “A pleasure, Grey Warden.” He looked past William and saw Navah and quickly walked past him, to bow before Navah. “Ah, I may be an assassin, no, but you; you are a thief. How quickly you steal my breath away, no?”

Navah blanched and took a step back, instinctively hiding behind William. Quinn, amused, merely shook his head. At least the company of this assassin promised to quickly rid themselves of the annoyance of Navah’s constant prattling of the Chant of Light.

“Easy there,” William put his hand on the assassin’s chest. “Take a step back. For now – you are in my service. You will do everything I say. Disobey me and I threw you back to the Chantry, is that understood?”

“As clear as your gentle eyes, Grey Warden,” the assassin smirked.

The onlookers stared and growled. Some had come to see the assassin hung; because they believed he was responsible for the crime. Others had wanted to see the assassin hung for their own enjoyment. Either way, William could cut the tension with his sword. “Let’s move to the tavern.”

Inside the tavern, the assassin sat down on the chair. “I must thank you for your timely arrival,” he smirked. “That whole thing was beginning to turn into a pain in the neck if you know what I mean.”

“That accent,” William gestured towards the assassin, as he signaled for a round of drinks. “Where are you from, assassin?”

“My name Berik,” the assassin smiled, “since you asked so nicely. I hail from Rivain.”

Navah

“You’re far from home,” Quinn noted aloud, knowing that Rivain was northwest of Ferelden. “What are you doing all the way out here?” Quinn asked as he took a drink. “Surly business isn’t so poor in Rivain that you’d need to seek employment in Ferelden.”

William looked at Quinn, then back to Berik, to see if the assassin would answer. Berik was silent for a long moment, as if lost in his thoughts; or perhaps deciding which lie he should tell to his new “allies.” Finally, he answered, “I come from a guild of assassins known as the Broken Hand. We specialize in the deaths of political figures.”

“The death of?” Navah spat the words. “You mean the assassination of.”

“No, pretty one,” Berik retorted calmly. “I mean the death of. A good assassin never has to use his blade to kill his mark.”

“Then how do these political figures you’re hired to kill die, if it’s not you who strikes the killing blow?” William asked, now leaning forward with interest.

“Seduction,” Berik answered. “Usually the person or persons who hire us, know the mark very well. They tell us everything the mark likes in a person. What they like. What fetishes they enjoy. Da Broken Hand sends along someone who matches that description and can play the part. We integrate ourselves into their lives, become their whole world, and then leave them or expose them, ruining their lives. You’d be surprise how many are prone to suicide when their hearts and lives are shattered and broken. It’s much cleaner that way, you know. That way when they take their own life, there’s no suspicion on the ones who hired us, and we don’t get that much trouble for it. You’d be surprised how many political figures have a dark side to them…”

“That’s despicable,” Navah spat.

“So you’re responsible for Bann Vrock’s death then,” William pointed out.

“Indirectly I suppose,” Berik shrugged. “It would seem that Bann Vrock had a thing for younger male elves, if you know what I mean. So I became his plaything for awhile, he even provided me with a little cottage out in the woods where he used to take other, younger male elves. Then I threatened to expose him to his wife. I spoke with her, she confronted him, and he took his own life.” Navah was horrified, she sat back trying desperately to quell her churning stomach. “As I was leaving to meet the one who had hired me,” Berik continued, “I was spotted and blamed by Bann Vrock’s wife. It would seem she has a vested interest in keeping Bann Vrock’s name in good standing, or she might lose the land she’s inherited if the people of this town turned against her.”

“So who hired you,” William asked.

“Can’t say I know the man,” Berik shrugged. “He made his contacts, which eventually reached the Broken Hand. I was supposed to meet him just outside of this,” he gestured with the tankard in his hand, “idiotic town.”

“Did you ever talk to him?” William asked.

“Once, but it was night, in an alley, and he wore black,” Berik shrugged. “He definitely did not want to be seen. Kept his distance.”

William stood. “Do you think if you heard his voice again, you would know it?”

“Undoubtedly,” Berik said. “An assassin, after all, pays attention to detail. A careless assassin is a dead assassin.”

“Is that how you got the scar across the eye,” Quinn asked, standing.

“I did,” Berik replied, pounding his drink back and wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve. “I got careless. Fell in love with my mark. I told her what I was – she was furious. Cut me across my face. Cost me my vision. I won’t let it happen… ever again.”

William took the lead with Forodin faithfully at his side, Navah behind him, and Quinn and Berik behind her. Navah continually wrenched at her hands nervously. “William!” she finally said with some authority. William turned to face her. “I must go to the Chantry. I must pray to the Maker.”

“About time,” Quinn muttered from behind.

“I wish you the best from here,” she said, placing her hand on his. “I hope that I see you again one day and that you find your path through the darkness, back to the light of the Maker.”

William said nothing, only nodded. He looked down as she walked away and took a deep breath. Slowly he raised his eyes and looked at the other two who watched him with piqued curiosity. If they were waiting for a sign of weakness, he gave none. Instead he spun on his booted heel and continued his walk with determined strides.

Inside the prison, William approached the guard. “We’re here to question your prisoner. The one named Orlen.”

“What’s your business with Orlen,” the guard asked, standing. His chainmail armor clanked as he moved to stand between William and the gate.

“We are here to question why he may or may not have hired an assassin to kill his own brother,” William explained matter-of-factly.

“Oh, he did it all right,” the guard laughed as he sat back down. “No one is surprised, either.”

“What do you mean?” William asked, looking at the guard.

“Orlen has been in love with his brother’s wife since the day they were wed,” the guard laughed. “Everybody knew it. He hated how his brother Bann Vrock treated her. He made no secret of his affection for her. I mean, he never did anything to jeopardize their marriage, but he certainly never hid how he felt.”

“So Orlen had feelings for Bann Vrock’s wife,” Quinn nodded. “Men have certainly killed for less.”

“That does not mean he did it,” William countered. He looked from Quinn to the guard once more. “How long were Bann Vrock and his wife married?”

“Nearly fifteen years,” the guard said, as if recalling that day clearly.

“Fifteen years and he just decides to have Bann Vrock assassinated?” William shook his head. “Possible, but there may be more to this. Would you mind if we spoke with Orlen?”

“Sanara, from the Chantry, told me you might be coming by,” the guard nodded. “You met her. She was the one that was going to hang him,” the guard eyed Berik, then back to William. “She said that you should not be permitted to speak to Orlen, but I see no harm in it. Go ahead,” he threw the key to the door to William.

“Thank you,” William nodded and unlocked the door, walking through the cool, dark, dank halls until he reached Orlen’s cell. “Orlen,” William said.

“Who are you,” Orlen stammered. Whether frightened or simply frigid from the cold, William was unsure.

“My name is William, I am a Grey Warden,” William answered.

“Wait, I know you,” the man looked past William and at Berik. “You’re the bastard that was with my brother!”

William looked at Berik, then back to Orlen. “You know him?”

“Yes!” Orlen snapped. “I followed my brother one day! I suspected him of being unfaithful! I just thought he was with another woman! Not this elf in a cottage! I tried to tell her! But she wouldn’t listen to me!”

“She probably thought you were breaking them apart to move in on her,” William answered.

“That’s exactly what she thought!” Orlen sighed and slumped in the jail cell.

“So you didn’t hire him to kill your brother?” Quinn asked coldly.

“What? Kill my brother? Listen, I loved her, but I also loved my brother! He infuriated me with how he treated her! But I would not kill my own brother! My own flesh and blood!” Orlen wept.

“Then who would,” William asked.

“I don’t know,” Orlen admitted. “He… had a lot of enemies. A lot of people knew he had fetishes… No one knew to what degree. Even when I found out, I did not tell anyone! I did not want to shame my own brother!”

“Didn’t want to shame him, or hurt his wife’s feelings,” Quinn muttered.

“Both,” Orlen confessed, “if you must know. If there’s anyone you should be questioning, it’s probably that witch of a woman, Sanara.”

“From the Chantry?” William asked, curious.

“Yes,” Orlen muttered. “My brother, who was a Bann, as you know, opposed the arrival of the Chantry. Said his little town didn’t need the Chantry or the Chant of Light.”

“No doubt because he feared they might learn of his perversions,” Quinn noted.

“Perhaps,” Orlen nodded in agreement. “But there were times that he and Sanara would get in shouting matches in the middle of the town. She’s crazy.”

“She’s probably just loyal to the Maker,” William corrected.

“No,” Orlen said, firmly. “I have seen those loyal to the Maker, and she is something else. She’s almost… fanatical.”

“Thank you, Orlen,” William nodded. He stood and looked at the others. “Seems we shall be having a talk with Sanara and the Chantry.”

“Oh goodie,” Quinn muttered sarcastically. “Maybe we can have a little chat with Navah while we’re at it?”

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:46 pm

The doors to the Chantry burst open.

Navah who had been kneeling in worship was one of the first to turn her surprised look to the doors. “William,” she gasped seeing him stand in the doorway. Behind him Quinn, Berik and Forodin were like shadows, but Navah recognized each one of them.

She stood and walked across the long hall. “What is the meaning of this, William?”

William looked down at Navah, his face wrinkled with anger, but once he saw Navah, his eyes once again softened. “It would seem that we should have a word with Sanara.”

“What’s this about?” Navah asked, putting her hand on his chest, as if her small form could stop him.

“Bann Vrock opposed the arrival of the Chantry,” William said. “We spoke with Bann Vrock’s brother, Orlen. Sanara would have benefited greatly with Bann Vrock removed.”

“William!” Navah gasped in horror. “You are not suggesting that Sanara hired that assassin,” her eyes went over William’s shoulder to stare at Berik for a long moment. The Rivian Elf smiled at her, as if she was perhaps flirting. Her eyes went back to William when she spoke the next few words, “She would not kill someone to have the Chantry here.”

“Orlen seems to think she’s a bit of a fanatic,” Quinn said, stepping around William. He folded his arms and looked at Navah defiantly.

“She is devoted to the Chant of Light, as we all are in the Chantry,” Navah protested.

“Being devoted and being fanatical are two different things,” William said. “A devote follower follows the word of the Chantry. A fanatic may do things… to make sure that everything falls into place. Questionable things.”

“William, you are letting the shadows overcome your soul,” Navah pleaded. “They seek to mar the Chantry’s name. Like demons from the Fade, they whisper things in your ear. They bend the truth so that it becomes easier to believe their lies.”

“If that’s the case,” William said matter-of-factly, and removed Navah’s hand from his chest, “then Sanara will have nothing to fear from our questions.”

William and the others passed her, but Berik stopped to look at her. “Forgive him for his rudeness. He seems easily agitated. I don’t suppose you and I could meet sometime? At a tavern? For drinks or something?”

Navah blanched and turned away.

Berik watched her leave and shrugged. “Well, at least that wasn’t a ‘no.’” He looked down the hall and trotted to catch up to the others.

As William approached the door to Sanara’s office, her could hear muffled sounds coming from the other side of the door. Just as he reached the handle, the door swung open and a man, dressed in Chantry robes stormed past them, without even giving them a second glance.

Sanara saw the new people standing at her door and immediately stood. “Grey Warden,” Sanara said, as if the words were vile on her lips. She let her hair down by removing one pin. Her elderly grey hair collapsed around her shoulders. “I wish I could say it was a pleasure to see you.”

She leaned against the table and folded her arms. William looked at Sanara, “What was that about?” He gestured to the man who had stormed out of her office.

She shook her head. “That’s Cursant.” She seemed to roll her eyes. “But I am sure you’re not here to talk about issues of the Chantry. What do you need, Grey Warden?”

“Actually,” William responded, “issues about the Chantry is exactly why we’re here.”

“Really?” Sanara seemed amused. “Looking to save your soul? I can tell you, with the company you keep,” she looked past William before letting her eyes fall back on him, “I am not sure even the Maker can save you. Navah has told me about the Mage you keep with you. And now a confessed assassin.”

“We’re here about Bann Vrock,” William retorted, ignoring her words.

“He was assassinated, by the very man you walk with,” Sanara shrugged. “What more is there to know?”

“We want to know why he was assassinated,” William clarified.

“Ask Orlen,” Sanara replied, as she turned to sit at her desk. “Apparently he has long desired Bann Vrock’s wife. Now with Bann Vrock out of the way, the path to her heart is cleared.”

“Except for the fact that he’s sitting in a jail, with a death sentence,” Quinn snapped. “Orlen may seem like the obvious answer – but it’s also the most illogical. Bann Vrock’s death by an assassin would have clearly been placed on him. So why would he do it?”

“Years of rejection from what I understand,” Sanara answered, not even looking up as she shifted through several pages of a book. “It can drive a man mad.”

“And the fact that Bann Vrock did not want the Chantry in Cherathin could have nothing to do with his assassination?” Quinn asked. “It seems that you and Bann Vrock had several confrontations with each other, before the Chantry arrived, during the time that the Chantry was being built, and even after the Chantry was here. Bann Vrock wanted you out of here. But of course, you didn’t listen. Just like always, you Chantry people push your religion on people even when they don’t want it!”

“It’s true,” Sanara said matter-of-factly. “Bann Vrock did not want the Chantry in Cherathin. But the people did. The people of Cherathin wanted something more to their lives. The Chantry brings them that with the Chant of Light. We are destined to bring the Chant of Light to the four corners of the World.” Sanara shrugged, “It’s true, he and I did not get along. But would I go as far as assassinate the man? Not at all.”

William frowned. He believed Orlen was innocent. And judging by the way Sanara spoke, she was either very good at lying, or she too was innocent. He looked at the others, “Come.”

As they walked out of the room, they were greeted by Navah. William paused, his eyes gently falling upon her. “Navah, what can you tell me about Cursant? I thought the Chantry was made up exclusively by women?”

“Cursant?” she thought about it. “When I was speaking to Sanara, he had come by.” Quinn frowned. This was no doubt when she had told Sanara that Quinn was a Blood Mage. “He is what is called a ‘Chanter.’ While he is not officially a member of the Chantry, he follows the belief of the Chantry and goes about preaching the Chant of Light. According to what Sanara told me, his parents were killed by brigands. He was only spared because he hid beneath his bed. Sanara found him and took him under her wing, when the Chantry had come by to cremate the bodies of his parents.”

“Interesting,” was all William replied with and walked past Navah. She reached for him but quickly retracted her hand. Her head slumped down in defeat. She feared greatly for William’s soul.

Outside the Chantry, Cursant did what all the Chanters do. He recited passages from the Chant of Light. Even as William and the others approached, he looked at them, unaffected and said aloud, “Here lies the abyss, the well of all souls.
From these emerald waters doth life begin anew.
Come to me, child, and I shall embrace you.
In my arms lies Eternity.”

“That’s him,” Berik whispered. “That’s the voice that hired me in the alleyway. The one that was supposed to meet me for payment and never did. The one, that I believe, set me up to also be captured.”

William approached Cursant. “I would like a word with you.”

Cursant, as if not hearing William’s words, continued the Chant of Light, “Blessed are they who stand before
The corrupt and the wicked and do not falter.
Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just.”

“We know what you did,” William pressed.

“Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow,” Cursant continued.
“In their blood the Maker’s will is written.”

“Those who had sought to claim
Heaven by violence destroyed it. What was
Golden and pure turned black,” Quinn retorted.

William turned, shocked at Quinn’s knowledge of the Chant of Light. He turned back to Cursant. “You hired this assassin to kill Bann Vrock. We want to know why.”

Quinn stepped in front of William. “There’s only one way to get through to him. He’s had his own thoughts revoked by the Chantry through their relentless teaching. Let me try something,” Quinn smiled, almost all too happy to do what he was about to do.

“All men are the Work of our Maker’s Hands,” Quinn began.
“From the lowest slaves
To the highest kings.
Those who bring harm
Without provocation to the least of His children
Are hated and accursed by the Maker.

Those who bear false witness
And work to deceive others, know this:
There is but one Truth.
All things are known to our Maker
And He shall judge their lies.”

Suddenly Cursant buckled to his knees. Quinn looked at William smugly. William stared at Quinn for a long moment, “I was not aware that you were familiar with the Chant of Light.”

“It is best to know your enemy, or you risk ignorance,” Quinn replied flatly. “I am not ignorant. My reasons for hating the Chantry are founded by knowledge, not assumptions.”

Sanara’s door flew open again. She looked up from her studies and shook her head. “Grey Warden. You again. To what do I owe the pleasure this time?”

William stepped aside and Quinn threw Curant to the ground. “He has something he would like to confess to you.”

Cursant looked up, his deep brown eyes buried in sorrow. “I am sorry! I did it for you! Maker forgive me, I did it for you!”

Sanara looked from Cursant to William. “What is the meaning of this?”

“Tell her, Cursant,” William said firmly.

“I did it,” Cursant wept. “I was the one that hired the assassin to kill Bann Vrock.”

Sanara rushed to Cursant’s side. “Do not let those who walk in darkness intimidate you to confessing lies, Cursant.”

“They have not intimidated me to lie,” Cursant confessed. “I did it for you. I did it because everyone knew Bann Vrock was a bad man! We all knew why he opposed to Chantry’s arrival! We all knew why he hated you so! He would have never stopped! I saw you age because of the fights he would start with you! I had to stop it! I had to stop him! I had to! I posed as Orlen, said I had money, and needed my brother removed from his title, so that as Orlen, I could have it! I did it for you!”

“By the Maker,” Sanara gasped. “Cursant, do you realize what you have done?”

“He’s violated the Chant of Light,” Quinn said, all too happily to make it clear. “A sentence of death, I believe in such a case.”

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:46 pm

Sanara looked up at Quinn, her eyes could not hold back the tears. “Go!” she screamed. “Go and leave us! Speak with the guard, release Orlen. I will take care of matters here. I hope you are happy with what you have brought us.”

“The truth,” William replied. “All we have brought is the Truth.”

“Those who bear false witness,” Quinn stated again.
“And work to deceive others, know this:
There is but one Truth.
All things are known to our Maker
And He shall judge their lies.”

“Spare me your petty gloating, Blood Mage,” Sanara barked.

As they left Chantry to press on, to head north towards Denerim, a familiar voice called out. “William!”

William turned to see Navah running up to them. No doubt to say farewell. He was surprised when she said, “I am coming with you,” instead of bidding him farewell and good journeys.

“But I thought, since we found you a Chantry,” William stammered over the words.

“I have seen the path of Darkness that you walk,” Navah replied. “I have prayed to the Maker for guidance. To help me understand… all that I feel. He has told me that I am to go with you. I shall be the star that lights your way in darkness.”

“You have got to be kidding me,” Quinn moaned.

The moon hid in the night sky behind a red mist, giving the illusion that blood had spilled across its vast terrain. William noted the moon with unusual interest. “It’s an ill omen,” he heard Navah’s voice from behind him. “The Blood Moon.”

William turned his head slightly so that he could see Navah from the corner of his eye. “They say the day that Archon Hessarian saw Andraste burn and drove his own sword through her, to end her suffering as she burned, the moon was blood red for seven days.”

“More Chantry nonsense,” Quinn said, startling them both. They turned to see him leaning against a tree, his arms crossed defiantly across his chest. “There have been plenty of nights where the moon has been red as it is now,” he gestured at the moon, as if he could touch it, “and nothing ill came of those nights.”

“That’s enough, Quinn,” William said with a sigh. “Your dislike of the Chantry has been made abundantly clear. She’s made no comments at you and your practice of Blood Magic. Show her the same respect.”

Quinn shook his head and walked back towards the campfire.

“Things always this exciting around here,” Berik seemed to melt out of the shadows. “And to think,” the assassin added with a coy smile, “I even considered sneaking off and making my escape. But this has proved to be far too entertaining to leave behind.”

“I did not put you in my custody so that you might escape,” William warned. “Flee and I will see to it that Quinn and I track you down to the ends of the world once we have dealt with Teyrn Loghain. I am not someone you want chasing you.”

Berik smiled back at William, as if he had just been complimented, rather than threatened. “I’m sure it’s true.” Berik threw his dagger up in the air, and spun the blade, catching it with his hand, without even looking. He gingerly walked back to the camp and sat across from Quinn, staring into the fire lost in his thoughts.

“Why do you keep such company?” Navah’s voice brought William back.

“Because they’re useful,” William answered. “The power of a Blood Mage and a skilled assassin will help in the battle against the Darkspawn.”

“How do you know they won’t turn on you in the middle of the night?” Navah asked. “Or when the battle’s over… what will become of them? Will Quinn be free to go and practice his Blood Magic? Or will he be turned over to the Templars to be tried for his crimes? And the assassin? Will he go free to murder more for the sound of coin in his pocket?”

“I don’t worry about what the end of the war brings,” William answered. “In truth, it might not matter, as none of us may be alive when it’s all said and done. You were not at Ostagar, Navah. You don’t know. You didn’t see how many there were. This is the greatest threat we have ever faced. I saw many people die that night. I saw friends…” He grew silent. “And somehow… I was spared… to live with the memory that I did not die in glory with them.”

“The Maker has spared you for a reason, William,” Navah pleaded.

“Then the Maker has given me the gift of guilt,” William replied. “For that is all I feel inside.” He turned and walked back to the campfire, leaving Navah to wrap her arms around herself, for it suddenly felt much colder than it did before.

William tapped Quinn, who muttered something and stretched. Quinn sat up and rubbed his weary eyes and nodded to William. William laid down and let his heavy eyes fall asleep as Quinn took over the watch.

His eyes closed quickly, feeling as if they had begged for sleep for weeks. His dreams however, were not what he had hoped for.

The moon bled red into the sky, dripping down onto the land. Each drop of blood seemed to create a Darkspawn. First the moon had bled slowly, but in mere moments, it was as if it was pouring out blood. Soon the entire land was covered with Darkspawn of various kinds, howling in fury and hunger.

Then there was a roar. The whole world seemed to shake. Deep beneath the world. Imprisoned. Sleeping. Awakened. It roared its head up from the lava that flowed beneath the world. An Arch-Demon. It slowly lifted its head and howled, shaking the world again. Thousands, perhaps millions of Darkspawn were marching.

There was another flash. Men slaughtered. Women dragged beneath the ground. What was happening?

There. In the dark. A creature. Twisted. Once a woman. Or several women. Now one large mass of bubbling flesh and tentacles.

William suddenly woke up with a start.

“You saw it too then,” Quinn muttered.

“What was that thing?” William choked, his breath still short.

“A Brood Mother,” Quinn answered. “I was with Riordan the first time we had ventured into the Dead Trenches.” Quinn looked visibly disturbed, something that William had not seen the Blood Mage show this kind of weakness. “They’re like spiders… spewing hundreds of Darkspawn…”

William, new to the Grey Warden, had not been given the chance to test his skill in the Deep Roads, where the Darkspawn dominated. Ostagar was to be his first real test against a horde of Darkspawn. Unlike most of his companions, he had somehow been spared and lived through it.

“We have to go back to Cherathin,” William suddenly said, standing.

“What?” Quinn was astonished by the statement and stood as well. “What are you talking about?”

“The Darkspawn,” William said with great urgency. “I understand it now. When they attacked those women who were from the Chantry… the ones the Bandits attacked… they didn’t care about the bandits… they wanted the women… women to bare more Darkspawn into this world… They’re going after Cherathin next. They must be. Don’t you see? They will attack Cherathin and drag the women below to expose them to the taint… to make them Brood Mothers… to make them bare more Darkspawn into the world.”

“If that’s true,” Berik said, stepping out of the shadows again, “then we won’t be able to do anything about it. Not if they send a horde after Cherathin. I’m all for the impossible odds,” Berik shrugged, “but I’d like at least some kind of chance of survival.”

“Berik’s right,” Quinn said. “If you really want to put a stop to the Darkspawn doing this, our best bet is going into the Chantry itself and slaughtering the women before the Darkspawn Horde arrive.”

“Well,” Berik said, eyeing Quinn strangely. “I am not saying go in there and slaughter the women and children. I’m just saying we’re better off just letting fate decide Cherathin’s destiny, rather than us rushing to their aid.”

“We will not murder the women, Quinn,” William said as he kneeled down to wake Navah.

Quinn shook his head. “You have not been with the Grey Warden long enough, William. You have not accepted that sometimes it takes drastic measures. The Darkspawn will march over our dead corpses and drag those women into the Earth. The only thing we’re doing by going back to defend Cherathin is giving them our meat to feed off of.”

“I get it,” Quinn continued. “You’re fairly new to the Grey Warden. Ostagar was supposed to be your chance at the big fight. Don’t think for a moment I don’t see it in your eyes, William. The guilt. The shame. That you lived while those around you died. Now you would have us go to Cherathin,” he gestured in some random direction, “to throw our lives to the Darkspawn, just so you can die in a big fight. Is that what this is really about?”

William stared at Quinn for a long moment before he finally said, “You’re free to go, Quinn, if you will not stand with me. But I would like you there. I think we have a chance.”

“They’re farmers,” Quinn snapped. “They’re not warriors! This is suicide, William, and you know it.”

“Then run,” William shrugged, “or stand with me – and prove to everyone else in this cursed world that sometimes – just sometimes – a Blood Mage can be worth a damn.”

Quinn laughed, “You will not guilt me into standing by you on this suicide mission with pretty words, William.”

“Then leave,” William said again. “Just pray that when this Blight is over I am not around when the Templars find you, for I will not stand up for you and speak of your courage against the Blight. Instead, I will speak of your cowardice.”

Quinn was silent. If his eyes could incinerate William where he stood, he would have done so with his next breath. William returned his gaze, coolly, unblinking. “So what will it be Quinn?” William asked.

Quinn pulled his cowl over his eyes. “If we’re going to die, let’s get it over with, rather than squabbling like little children.”

There was a sense of urgency through Cherathin, as the people scrambled around to prepare for the Darkspawn that were marching their way.

“I’m surprised you came back, Grey Warden,” Sanara said as people filed pasted her into the Chantry. “I’m surprised you and your merry band of bandits didn’t leave us to our fate against the Darkspawn.”

William shook his head. “We may not see eye to eye on things, Sanara,” William growled, “but I would not leave you to be slaughtered by the Darkspawn. I need you to free Cursant.”

Sanara’s eyes narrowed. “Why? Have you not done enough?”

“He’s young,” William replied, “he can help against the Darkspawn.”

Sanara seemed ready to protest, but then looked away. She knew if they lived, Cursant would be sentenced to death for his part in the assassination of Bann Vrock. If he was released from his prison to help fight against the Darkspawn, at least he might die more quickly.

Orlen rushed to William’s side, adorned in tattered armor. “I’m here to help against the Darkspawn.”

“I could use your blade, Orlen,” William admitted. “But I will need you inside the Chantry. If the Darkspawn pass us outside, you will be the last line of defense.”

“I am a trained warrior,” Orlen retorted.

“You’re also the next logical person to be the Bann of Cherathin,” William responded, as he strapped armor onto one of the farmers. “Don’t worry,” William looked at Orlen. “Something tells me you will still be fighting.”

Orlen frowned. “I understand.”

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:47 pm

William shut the Chantry doors as Orlen watched it close. The next time those doors opened, Orlen knew he would probably be facing off against a horde of Darkspawn.

“To the front!” William shouted. “Everyone to the front! Form a line! Form a line!”

Farmers armed with pitch forks, shovels, hammers, with shields made of wood that had been nailed to small wagon wheels stood and formed a line. In the distance they could hear the roar, smell the rotting flesh of Darkspawn.

“Where the Hell is Berik?” Quinn shouted.

William’s eyes scanned the area. Berik was nowhere to be seen. “Son of Mabari,” William growled. If he lived through this night – which he had not expected to do – he would find Berik and make him pay.

“Don’t worry about Berik,” William shouted. “We will deal with him after this is said and done.”

“Listen to me,” William said, as he began pacing the front of the line, “I know you’re frightened! I know you’re farmers. But tonight you are to become warriors. The Darkspawn can not pass this line of defense. If they do, they will take your wives, your sisters, your daughters, your mothers, and drag them below, and expose them to the Taint… where they will become deformed, twisted, and they will breed new Darkspawn in a painful, twisted process… is that what you want?”

The farmers muttered.

“I asked if that’s what you want!” William repeated.

A more resounding sound of defiance muttered forth from the farmers.

Several genlocks appeared on the horizon. Farmers tensed, gripping their feeble weapons tightly. Then the hurlocks came into view, standing behind the genlocks. They raised their weapons and howled to the bloody skies. Next came the terrifying sound of the scholars – or better known as Shrieks – for the horrendous sound they generate. At the sound of the Shrieks, several of the farmers broke rank and fled, screaming. Then, the thundering footfall of an ogre. Even more men broke ranks.

Quinn looked over to William. “I truly wish I could say that it’s been nice knowing you.”

William gripped his sword and held his shield tightly in his hands. Cursant stood next to William, trembling violent. “By the Maker…” He closed his eyes and became to recite that Chant of Light, “Let the blade pass through the flesh; Let my blood touch the ground; Let my cries touch their hearts. Let mine be the last sacrifice.” He took a deep breath and continued, even as the horrid sounds of the Darkspawn continued. “Blessed are they who stand before; The corrupt and the wicked and do not falter. Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just. Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow. In their blood the Maker’s will is written.”

As if on cue, the Darkspawn suddenly began their charge. Immediately, several farmers broke rank again and fled as the Darkspawn lunged forward.

“Blessed are they who stand before; The corrupt and the wicked and do not falter. Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just. Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow. In their blood the Maker’s will is written,” Crusant repeated.

In that moment, the Darkspawn were upon them.

Forodin lunged forward, paws to the ground, and met the charging Darkspawn half way. With a flying leap, Forodin managed to grab one of the Shrieks by the throat, and with his weight, momentum and force, toppled the charging line of the Darkspawn. The Shriek screamed its horrible sound, but blood could be seen splattering around where it had fallen, and soon the Shriek fell silent. Still, the Darkspawn pressed on.

The sound of steel clashing, people dying, screaming, filled the battle field. Quinn stood near the back, using the rows of farmers as a buffer between himself and the Darkspawn. Using his Blood Magic, he was able to use the blood that spilled as well as the dying to use his magic. Flames burst from his hands incinerating the Darkspawn as they tried to break through the front lines. The occasional human who wandered into Quinn’s line of fire, also suffered, but this was war. Such things were expected.

William cleaved his blade into a genlock who struggled to pull itself free. It was already dead, it’s mind had not yet realized it. He kicked the small creature from his blade, black blood splattering across the land. The grass seemed to hiss and wither at the touch of the tainted blood. A Hurlock moved in next, stepping over its dead companion, bringing its broad sword down on William. William quickly brought his shield up and parried the block that rocked his arm. Quickly he thrust his blade forward through the gut of the Hurlock before him. The Hurlock, shocked, dropped his weapon but then stared at William. It quickly grabbed the hilt of the blade and pulled itself closer to William, howling in his face, spraying him with the tainted blood of the Darkspawn. “Back,” William growled and yanked his sword free, quickly swinging it to decapitate the Hurlock. Endless waves of Darkspawn seemed to surround him, until it seemed all that he saw was Darkspawn. The other human farmers seemed to crumble beneath the Darkspawn’s onslaught.

Then he heard it.

Thoom. Thoom. THOOM.

The footsteps of the Ogre. The shock troops had decimated the human front line, now the Ogre would finish them off. William screamed with fury and cut his way through the Darkspawn until he had reached the Ogre. The Ogre brought down its huge, stone mace, barely missing William who dove to the side. Even the strike from the mace seemed to shake the entire Earth.

William rolled away from another strike and quickly rose to his feet. He swung his sword and cut into the belly of the Ogre which howled in fury. It swung its mace again, barely missing William’s head, instead striking several of its own Darkspawn, whose flesh exploded across the Ogre’s stone mace. The field was becoming increasingly more slippery, as more blood poured onto the once flourish land, that seemed to die rapidly with the exposure of the tainted blood.

William tripped over one of the slain farmers and could not regain his footing. He tumbled to the ground, where the Ogre kneeled over and picked him up, seemingly laughing at him. It began squeezing William within its powerful grasp. William could hear the armor scream as it attempted to resist the powerful force, but it eventually gave in. Steel armor bent, folded, and ripped into William’s flesh. William howled in pain, which only seemed to encourage the Ogre more.

A familiar howl came from behind the Darkspawn.

The Ogre turned, just in time to see a figure seemingly appear from the shadows of the tree above. A glint of steel could be seen against the moon’s blood red color; and for a moment, the ogre could not tell if the dagger was decorated in blood, or if it was merely a reflection of the moon.

Then the Ogre felt the sting between his shoulder. It threw William down to the ground and began swatting at whatever had driven the dagger into his back. The figure pulled the dagger out and thrust a short sword into the Ogre’s back, and clung to the hilt of the blade for dear life as he continued to plunge the dagger into the Ogre’s neck, then finally into the Ogre’s brain – or what was there for a brain. Finally the Ogre stopped struggling, arms went limp and collapsed forward.

Berik jumped off the back of the Ogre just before it struck the ground. Berik wiped the blood from his face and arms, that had splattered on him. He quickly moved to William’s side just as Quinn finished off the last of the straggling Darkspawn. Quinn moved to William’s side as well. “How is he?”

Berik shook his head. “He won’t last the night,” Berik spoke softly. The armor had crushed William’s ribs which had punctured his heart. Each breath he drew, blood splattered from his lips.

With the sound of combat having died down, the doors to the Chantry opened. Navah saw Quinn and Berik looking down at William, their faces said everything with their silent expression.

“No!” Navah ran to William side and placed his head on her lap. “William…” He tried to speak, but blood continued to pour from inside.

“I can save him,” Quinn said flatly.

“What?” Navah looked at him. “How?”

Quinn looked at her. “I would need a life force… I could trade someone’s life force and pour it into him…”

“Blood Magic,” Navah shook her head.

Crusant coughed. “Use mine,” he said wheezing. He was lying next to William, mortally wounded, dying quicker than the Grey Warden.

“We can’t use Blood Magic,” Navah shook her head.

“Then William dies,” Quinn said, matter-of-factly, as if uncaring.

“Please,” Crusant grabbed the hem of Navah’s robes. “Use my life… make my life worth… something… allow me… to redeem myself.”

“You would not be redeeming yourself by letting this man using Blood Magic to take your life force, Crusant!” Navah pleaded, tears in her eyes. “You will die a hero who defended this village, Crusant. That will be enough.”

“He has…” Crusant coughed, his eyes rolled back to his head, “much… more to give… much more to … live for…”

“You must decide quickly, Navah,” Quinn said. “Once Crusant is dead, we will not be able to use his life force to save William. We will need to use a living person. What shall it be?”

“Why do you ask me?” Navah cried.

“Because it’s time you see that the world is not as Black and White as the Chantry would have you believe,” Quinn snapped. “There are times in this world – if you even dare venture beyond the Chantry’s walls – that you will see there are times – that sometimes difficult choices must be made! Now do we use Crusant’s dying life force to save William, or do you let William die of his wounds, slowly and painfully?”

There was a long moment of silence. Berik looked between Quinn and Navah. Then she spoke, “Do it.”

Quinn smiled, even as he heard her whisper, “Maker forgive me. The one who repents, who has faith; Unshaken by the darkness of the world; She shall know true peace.”

William sat up gasping, and immediately screamed as his muscles burned. Tendons that had been ripped, reminded him that he was lucky to be alive. His hand instinctively reached for his sword, which he found within arm’s reach.

“Don’t move too much,” Navah whispered, as she ran a wet rag across William’s forehead. He was burning with fever.

“What happened,” his voice was barely above a horse whisper. “The Darkspawn?”

“Are taken care of,” Navah answered. “For now.”

“We won,” William choked the words, each breath felt as if he was inhaling crimson flames.

“We did,” Navah nodded with tears in her eyes. The fell, landing on William’s face. They seemed to hiss and bubble against his feverish skin. “It would seem that Berik saved your life in a way.” She looked up at the assassin who sat comfortably in the chair next to them.

Berik smiled, “All in a day’s work, right? You didn’t think I left you guys did you? Come on,” he laughed as he saw William’s dubious expression, “I don’t seem that shallow do I? Ah, perhaps it’s best you don’t answer that, right? I went ahead and scouted. You know, an assassin always wants to know who or what he faces. Managed to keep my one good eye on them,” he smirked, as he pointed to the patch he wore, “Saw the Darkspawn and followed them, got behind them, and when their front line attacked, I went after the Ogre. With no Darkspawn around him, it makes it easier to kill him if someone isn’t around to defend him, you know? And you – you,” he laughed, “you were a good – no, great! – distraction. It allowed me to get right on him from the trees! We make a good team, you and I.”

“That’s the most I’ve heard you talk,” William tried to smile, but his body ached so horribly, that it drove the smile from his face before it ever reached his lips.

“Had a lot to say, I guess,” Berik shrugged. “Looks like you’re going to live, thanks to Quinn.”

“Quinn?” William looked at Navah. “Where is Quinn?”

“He is… resting,” Navah answered. “His last spell… wore him out greatly.”

William tried to sit up, “Is he all right?”

“He is,” Navah answered, placing her hand on William’s chest. She eased him back down, and despite his feeble resistance, his body surrendered and laid back down against the pillow. “You need to rest.”

“He saved me,” William whispered. “I remember…” William closed his eyes.

He heard Quinn standing above him. He couldn’t see anymore, by this point. The world was rapidly fading. He felt warm drops on his forehead, then his face. Blood. He could taste the salt on his lips. Fresh blood.

He had tried to open his eyes, he could barely see a shadowy figure above him. Quinn was cutting his hand open with his ceremonial dagger. He was whispering words of magic… spidery in their sound… complex, woven, like a web of silk… then Quinn kneeled in front of him, painting symbols on William’s forehead with the blood, then duplicated those same symbols on Cursant’s forehead. Then he plunged his dagger into Cursant’s heart and began chanting. He took Cursant’s life force and channeled into William, using the symbols to bond them. When the spell was done, Quinn removed the dagger from Cursant’s heart, breaking the circular bond between Cursant and William, so that the life force had no other choice but to remain within William.

Navah tried to fight the tears. “It was Cursant’s desire… his dying wish… that he give his life for you, William. He redeemed himself by standing strong against the Darkspawn. His final act was for you, because he saw in you … something he’s not seen for a long time, William. He saw hope.”

The decimated town had rapidly elected Orlen to become the new Bann of the area, because there was no way to reach the Arl quick enough. Bann Orlen commanded his people, those who survived the onslaught against the Darkspawn, to begin packing their things and taking only what they needed – that they would move quickly and head for Denerim to seek sanctuary.

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:47 pm

In the short hours that followed, William refused to remain still. Using his sword as a balance, he stood and with great assistance, went outside the Chantry where he could smell burning flesh.

It had been a practice of the Chantry that bodies be cremated after death, just as Andraste had once burned. There had been so many bodies, that they had been tenderly placed within a shallow grave and set afire. Many mourned and cried around the fire for lost brothers, fathers, uncles…

The Chantry stood around the fire, humming the Chant of Light…

“Maker, my enemies are abundant.
Many are those who rise up against me.
But my faith sustains me; I shall not fear the legion,
Should they set themselves against me.

Maker, though the darkness comes upon me,
I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

These truths the Maker has revealed to me:
As there is but one world,
One life, one death, there is
But one god, and He is our Maker.

They are sinners, who have given their love
To false gods.

All men are the Work of our Maker’s Hands,
From the lowest slaves
To the highest kings.

Those who bring harm
Without provocation to the least of His children
Are hated and accursed by the Maker.

O Maker, hear my cry:
Guide me through the blackest nights
Steel my heart against the temptations of the wicked
Make me to rest in the warmest places.

O Creator, see me kneel:
For I walk only where You would bid me
Stand only in places You have blessed
Sing only the words You place in my throat

My Maker, know my heart
Take from me a life of sorrow
Lift me from a world of pain
Judge me worthy of Your endless pride

My Creator, judge me whole:
Find me well within Your grace
Touch me with fire that I be cleansed
Tell me I have sung to Your approval

O Maker, hear my cry:
Seat me by Your side in death
Make me one within Your glory

And let the world once more see Your favor
For You are the fire at the heart of the world
And comfort is only Yours to give.”

“Wasted breath,” William heard the familiar voice of Quinn. He turned, slowly, for it was the only way William could move at the moment. He smiled when he saw Quinn, his robes covered in blood. Something was different. Quinn’s face seemed more taught, his skin pulled tight, whitened, perhaps. William also took notice that Quinn now leaned heavily on a staff.

“The staff,” William wheezed the words of concern.

Quinn looked at the staff, sighed, and looked back at William. “It would seem that saving you Grey Warden took more out of me than I had anticipated.”

William was about to pursue the question further, but from beneath Quinn’s cowl, he could see the Blood Mage’s eyes. This was something that was better left unasked, like many aspects of Quinn’s past.

After the ceremony of the Chant of Light was complete, Sanara walked from the blazing fire to William. “It’s good to see you up and about, Grey Warden. There was a time there, that even with your friend’s magic, that we were not certain if you would make it through the night.”

William said nothing. Sanara nodded and understood. “Listen, I must thank you for what you have done. Not only have you saved so many lives here,” Sanara said, “but you gave Crusant a chance to redeem himself before the Maker. He stood with you, against the Horde, and fought to the end. I understand that he also… sacrificed… himself… for you,” Sanara continued, tears stinging her eyes. “I do not approve of the use of Blood Magic, I never will,” she added, “but I am glad that he could, in the end, give his life up so that you might live. I pray that he is redeemed in the Maker’s eyes, and that the Maker can forgive him for the sin he committed.”

Bann Orlen approached. “Grey Warden, I can never thank you enough…”

William smiled and shook his head, signaling that he was already done with hearing all this thanks. He turned away and returned to the Chantry to lay down again.

Bann Orlen looked from William to Quinn. “He grows weary,” Quinn answered, flatly.

Bann Orlen’s eyes drifted to Berik, who stood leaning against a post, his arms folded in front of his chest. “I should have you arrested for the murder of my brother still, assassin.”

“Try it,” Quinn warned, shadows looming over his eyes that seemed to burn from the darkness beneath the cowl. “Berik is with us now. Under the Grey Warden’s care. If you attempt to arrest him, I will incinerate your flesh where you stand and send you on your merry way to your lady Andraste.”

Bann Orlen stared at Quinn for a long moment, as if testing him.

“You have more pressing concerns,” Quinn added. “You and your people had better flee to Denerim as quickly as possible. We won’t be here a second time to save you while you hide behind the Chantry doors.”

Bann Orlen spun on his booted heel and left. Sanara looked at Quinn strangely. “He will make a fine Bann when things calm down.”

Quinn looked at her and sneered, “Spare me your feigned kindness and thanks,” as he too took leave, entering the Chantry to sit across from William.

Sanara stood outside the Chantry with Berik who grinned at her. “You know,” he finally said after a moment, “I have always heard that women are like wine. They get better with age and are often more intoxicated in the bedroom. I don’t suppose you have a lot of tension like I do that needs a desperate release?”

Sanara, nearly sixty years old, looked at Berik appalled and rapidly stormed off.

“Wonderful,” Berik muttered. He saw several women standing around the circle of bodies that had been cremated and approached a middle-aged woman. “I couldn’t help but notice you were crying,” he said with feigned sincerity.

“My husband, he died in the darkspawn attack,” she wept.

Berik wrapped his arms around her, “There, there. Which one was he?”

“Turanos,” she said. “His name was Turanos.”

“Ah yes,” Berik nodded holding her close. “Turanos fought like a warrior he did. In his dying words, he held my hand and said that he loved you greatly, and that I should pass the message to you. But he also said that he knew his time was gone and that you should find love again. Perhaps we could retire to your place and share tales of Turanos and his bravery? And share… one another?”

She looked at him, wiping the tears from her eyes, “I would like that. Tonight, I would like that…”

“Where were you?” William asked, as Berik approached the battered Chantry, button a shirt that he wasn’t wearing the night before.

Berik looked up, his one good eye reflecting the morning’s sunrise. “Keeping the troubled locals… occupied,” he shrugged, unable to contain his smile. “Dear Armerala was torn by the lose of her husband, Turanos. I went with her to keep her company… tell her about how he had fought bravely against the Darkspawn… died a hero, he did.”

“Do you even know who Turanos was?” William asked, his brows coming together in disbelief.

“Not even the slightest,” Berik smirked as he buttoned the top button. “I just know he’s somewhere in that pile over there,” the assassin gestured to the bodies that had been cremated since yesterday.

“You lied to her,” Navah looked aghast at Berik, as she stepped out of the Chantry.

“Lied to her?” Berik smiled at Navah, who he had admittedly been attracted to since the moment he saw her; though he believed only because she was one of the faithful of the Chantry, and thus a great challenge to bed. “Perhaps I did lie to her. But the lies I whispered in her ear, were lies she needed to hear. I spoke of Turanos as a hero who saved my life. False, sure – but you should have seen how it made her feel. She felt much more at ease. She felt proud. She could tell their son that their father died a hero defending them all. Truth of the matter is, he may have been one of the first to die. But think about how that lie will make her happy. It will make her proud. It will make their son proud, as he reflects on his father for the rest of his life.”

“Why would you lie to her like that,” William shrugged. “To what benefit is it to you?”

“I got to spend the night in a warm bed in a woman’s arms,” Berik chuckled. “You got to sleep on the hard wooden floor of the Chantry, alone. You tell me what the benefit was.”

“So this wasn’t just about you making her feel better, or making their son feel better, this was about you bedding a woman,” Navah spat.

“I gave her something,” Berik smiled, “she gave me something. Also gave me some of his clothes, as you can see. Mine were stained by Ogre blood. She said he wouldn’t be needing it anymore. And not that she could take it since Bann Orlen will be leading everyone to Denerim, and that have to take only minimum things. She thought it would be better that I have some clean clothes since I fought by his side. Since I stood with him until the end. Better than the Darkspawn ravaging everything, or brigands.”

“You’re a despicable person,” Navah shook her head.

Berik only smiled back at her, his one good eye, glistening against the sun. “You say that now, but eventually you will surrender to me. They all do.”

Navah watched as Bann Orlen gathered everyone and began their pilgrimage towards Denerim. The sun was setting behind her, enhancing her already brightly colored auburn hair, like the flame of a smoldering candle. “Shouldn’t we go with them? Are we not also going to Denerim?” She looked at William waiting for his answer, but the Grey Warden was struggling to stand, his wounds still healing.

It was, much to her dismay, Quinn’s voice who responded with an answer. The sound of his staff behind her, something he now needed to even walk, sacrificing his own body to heal William from death. “We would be like herders leading calf to the slaughter,” Quinn answered. “The Darkspawn can track William,” Quinn went on to explain, leaving his name out. “They’re better without us.”

Berik heaved a deep sigh. “I don’t know,” the young assassin smirked, his one good eye watching as the people of Cherathin grew ever smaller in the distance. “I will certainly miss Delaria’s touch. That was a fine woman. Turanos was a lucky man to bed her. Though, I am surprised they only had one child between them. With a woman like that,” Berik smiled, “I would could be Bann of my own little town with the amount of children I could have had with that woman.”

William saw that Navah was just about to say something, and with a shake of his head, silenced her. She fumed for a moment, then returned to the abandoned Chantry to see what else they could take with them for supplies.

It was on the fifth day of marching, the four had been silent through most of the day and night. But on the fifth day, William looked to Berik. “You mentioned that the scar across your right eye; was from a woman.”

“A mark,” Berik responded flatly.

“You mentioned you got too close, cared too much,” William pressed.

“Sometimes I say too much,” Berik smiled and looked over at William. Berik did not enjoy being reminded of his failures; more so his weaknesses.

“I understand if you don’t want to talk about it,” William nodded as he poked the fire with the tip of his sword. “Was just tired of the silence.”

Berik shrugged. “It’s a thing of the past, a momentary lapse in good judgment. I trusted someone besides myself and it cost me my right eye and my stunning looks,” he added with a small smirk. “Her name was Aseynlia,” Berik said after a long moment. She was from Antiva, a woman of some importance. While, women in Antiva have roles that are assigned to them, since they are considered pure and delicate, Aseynlia was not of the same mold as most women. Women in Antiva are not allowed to participate in combat, among other things, or even speak out for themselves… but Aseynlia, she was very different than the rest. She defiantly stood and fought for the rights of women to be equal in Antiva… However, it would seem that her brother, Terasul from the Antiva Crows, was having a problem with her because of this – and wanted her assassinated. His own sister. But could not do the job himself. He needed an alibi.

“He contracted outside the Crows to throw off all suspicion from Crow activity,” Berik continued, “I would learn later that he did so – to place the blame on us. He had every intent on betraying us. Well,” Berik looked up at the sky, as if the stars painted the picture of his past, “Terasul told me everything that his sister enjoyed. I ‘ran into her’ outside her home. We talked, I knew everything I needed to say to win her heart to begin the seduction. In the process, she … captured my heart. I realized I could not bring myself to ruin her… so I told her what I was. Why I was there. That everything she knew about me was a lie. She was furious, grabbed a knife, and swung. I didn’t think she would… it cut me, and cost me my eye. While I was wounded and bleeding, she pushed me out the window of her tower home… I fell far, but landed on a roof. I thought I was dead… Her brother, Terasul, learned of my failure, so he then betrayed us both and claimed she had hired an assassin to kill their father. She was imprisoned, I was believed dead. When she told them how she had pushed me out the tower, by the time they had gone to the roof, I had already crawled into an alley to lick my wounds.”

After a moment of gazing in the fire, Berik added, “I swore one day I would find Terasul and run my dagger through him. But it would not be from the back. I want to look in his eyes as he lies there dying in front of me. And if she’s still alive… I want to free Aseynlia from that damn prison.”

“Why the interest in the woman,” Quinn asked, looking across the campfire, the flames painting his face in orange colors that danced with the shadows. “She tried to kill you, just as you had tried to kill her.”

“Because,” Berik said after a long moment, “I still care about her. I don’t expect her to be thankful. To even care for me in return. Or to ever forgive me… I just can’t bare the though of her rotting in that prison in Antiva.”

A cold wind blew through the night. Navah shivered uncontrollably, her arms wrapped around her body for warmth. The chill that carried on the wind was one that bit through the skin, and made the bones ache with age. “I do not like it here,” Navah muttered between her trembling lips. “This cold… is not a natural cold.”

“They say that the Brecilian Forest is haunted,” Quinn volunteered the information, though no one had asked. He sat with his back against a tree, and set his staff at his side. “They say that the woods are cursed with Werewolves.”

“Werewolves?” Navah looked at Quinn.

“Werewolves,” Quinn answered, smiling beneath the cowl that hid his features on this dark night. “The origin of the Werewolves is unclear, but they’re very real. Some have said that perhaps, some time long ago, Rage Demons once possessed Wolves when the world was far more feral… infecting man with its deadly bite… Some have said that men, who live in the woods, have made deals with demons, to become better hunters, sacrificing their minds to demons, and becoming… one with nature, in the form of a werewolf. But they are real,” Quinn assured her with a smirk, “I have seen them. Not a living one, but a dead one was brought to the Tower of Magi for us to examine… to see if we could discover what had made the werewolf… whether it was animal… or man… or perhaps both… and yet neither.”

“Why would the Templars ever let you do something like that?” Navah asked.

“Naivety,” Quinn said with a wistful sigh, “how I wish I still had it.” From the dark shadows that hung over his eyes, Quinn stared intently at Navah. “The Templars practically begged for us to discover that it had been some person, using magic to unlock this power of becoming a Werewolf. That way they could point their fingers at the Circle of Magi and add one more reason as to why using magic will always result to evil.”

“You think anyone with any religious belief in the Maker is a fool, don’t you Quinn?” Navah shook her head, for a moment, forgetting the cold that made her body tremble so violently. “Templars are driven by their faith. Their need to do things right. To control a spectrum of the world that is chaotic. Templars are one of the most respected forces in all of Thedas.”

“Let me ask you, Navah,” Quinn’s voice was low, barely a whisper above the wind. “Have you ever seen a Templar deprived of lyrium?”

“No,” Navah began. “But I know they use it for their…”

Quinn cut her off, “To hone their magic skills against Mages; more specifically Blood Mages. I know all of that. I am well educated. I don’t need you educating me on the Templars, of all things. I asked if you have ever seen a Templar deprived of lyrium.”

“No,” Navah repeated, without expanding further this time.

Quinn smiled again. “You’re afraid of Blood Mages? You should be afraid of the Templars if we ever run out of lyrium.”

“Where have you seen a Templar who suffers like that?” Navah asked.

“When I became a Grey Warden,” Quinn explained. “Just after I … became a Blood Mage, one of the Templars got it in his head that, despite being a Grey Warden, Blood Mages should not be allowed to exist. He came after me. And was defeated. However, rather than be killed, Riordan wanted me to observe … what happens when a Templar is without lyrium… to which they’re all addicted.”

Quinn seemed to smile at some distant memory. “You’ve not seen a man possessed until you have seen a Templar waned off of lyrium after years of use… or perhaps, even abuse. I have not even heard the screams of a tortured man sound as horrible as the sound that Templar made…” Quinn chuckled to himself. “And yet, the Templars paint themselves so self-righteously. They make sacrifices, just as we do. It’s all for power. Whether you’re a Templar or a Blood Mage; you’re sacrificing your humanity, and perhaps some of your sanity. They’re around to patrol us… but who, dare I ask, is around to patrol the Templars?”

“What happened to the Templar?” Navah asked, her brows furrowed together in concern.

“We didn’t kill him,” Quinn shrugged, “if that’s what you’re worried about. But I think if we had, it would have been the more… merciful thing to do. By the time we had let him go, he was nothing more than a husk of a human. He reminded me very much of the Tranquil that we have within the Circle of Magi. His eyes were vacant. His voice was monotone. He stared off into space, as if he saw something none of the rest of us could. He was devoid of any emotion. We left him on a path to be found, when some other Templars had been patrolling the area. Last I heard he stands guard at the Chantry in Denerim these days.”

“The Brecelian Passage,” Quinn looked into the deep forest. The trees swayed in the wind, gently whispering as the branches danced and tangled amongst one another. “If we go through here, we can cut several days of travel to Denerim, rather than going around the forest.”

“We should not venture through the woods,” Navah looked from Quinn, then to William. “If the things that Quinn said is true… the woods may prove too dangerous to pass through. Darkspawn is one thing, you can sense them William. But werewolves, from the stories I have heard, are cunning hunters, and hunt in packs. We would be foolish to try and cut through the woods.”

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:48 pm

William looked at Berik to see if the Rivainian Elf Assassin had anything else to add. The assassin smirked, “What do I care? If we go in the woods, we fight some big wolves. If it gets too bad, I just slide into a shadow and make my get away, right?” Though he had said it with a smirk, and a hint of humor in his voice, William could not tell when Berik was joking and when he was telling the truth. Some of the stories Berik shared were so outlandish that it became difficult to tell when he was just telling a story of some grand adventure or some highly exaggerated tale.

“Let’s go around,” William finally said. “It will take us a few extra days to reach Denerim, but it will be safer.”

Following the western side of the Brecelian Forest, between the dense woods and the mountain range, the trek proved to be slower than they had anticipated. The Brecelian Forest reached out, directly against the mountain range, forcing them to climb upward, into the mountain range itself.

The chill of winter bite deeper the higher they climbed. On the third night, Berik returned from scouting. “You’re not going to believe this, but I saw smoke not far from here. That means some form of village or something.”

“Out here?” Quinn asked. “There’s no villages that I know of out here in these mountains.”

“Well,” Berik shrugged, “I don’t know what to tell you. I saw smoke. Which means fire. Which means warmth. It beats shivering in these caves, taking shelter from the snow.” Berik smiled, “And besides, civilization means finding someone to share a warm bed with.”

“I hate to admit it,” Quinn muttered, “but I wouldn’t mind a soft bed to sleep in, if there’s an inn or something.”

Two guards, adorned in bright chainmail stood proudly as William and the others approached. “What business do you have here?” One of the guards asked, his hand moving to the hilt of his blade.

“We seek shelter from the snow and cold,” William answered, stepping forward. “I am Grey Warden.”

“You, nor the Grey Warden are welcomed or have any jurisdiction here,” the guard replied.

“This is Ferelden land,” William said more firmly.

“We do not consider ourselves Fereldians,” the second guard retorted. He approached the first guard and put his hand on his shoulder. “However, we do not want any trouble. If you promise to remain within the Inn and leave at dawn’s early light, I see no problem with you being here.”

“Understood,” William acknowledged, still scowling at the first guard who eyed him with great disdain.

As they approached the building that had been an Inn, pointed out by the second guard, Quinn quickened his pace as much as he could, while leaning heavily on his staff. “There’s something wrong here,” Quinn whispered. “I have never heard of a town called Nahash. I am well read, well versed.”

“I know,” William muttered with a smile. “Relax, Quinn.” William placed his hand on Quinn’s shoulder reassuringly. “Look at this place. The wood work and stone work look new. And judging by the guard’s reaction, they have probably made no indication to make their presence known to the general public of Ferelden because they’d be forced to submit to a Bann or Arl in the area.”

“And why do they have an Inn, if they don’t allow anyone within their walls?” Berik asked, walking behind William and Quinn. “That seems kind of strange, right?”

As they entered the Inn, William looked at the others and approached the Innkeeper who looked somewhat disheveled. “Innkeeper, if I may ask a question?” William began.

“Yes, yes, of course Grey Warden,” the Innkeeper smiled, trying to comb back his hair by continuously running his hands through it. “What can I do for you?”

“We were wondering,” William started the question, “why is there an Inn, when my impression from one of the guards outside is that strangers are not welcomed here within Nahash’s walls?”

“Not welcomed?” The Innkeeper laughed. And laughed. Quinn immediately thought that the Innkeeper wasn’t truly laughing because he was amused; he was laughing to buy himself some time to think up a lie. “Strangers are indeed welcomed here. However, with this cold winter and reports of Darkspawn and a Blight… the Inn has sort of fallen short on making money… so I have been forced to let people go. I can’t afford them if folks are too frightened to travel.”

“But my friend over there,” William gestured to Quinn who sat at an empty table, holding onto his staff, dark shadows looming over his eyes, his cowl pulled over his head. Even as the lanterns and candles flickered around the inn, nothing seemed to penetrate the darkness that lingered on his face. “As you can see, he’s a mage. He enjoys explaining how well versed and educated he is,” William chuckled, as if this was all a casual, normal conversation, “and he says he’s never heard of Nahash. I said it’s because the buildings look new. And the guard outside, pretty much gave me the impression that those of you here may not be that excited about being under the thumb of some Bann or Arl, who would not doubt expect taxes out of you.”

“Indeed,” the Innkeeper laughed merrily.

“Then how,” William’s tone suddenly grew cold and serious, “do you expect travelers to ever find you? The only travelers who would wander this way, are those who skirt the edges of the Brecilian Forest, as we have done.”

“We don’t enjoy the idea of a Bann or Arl ruling over us,” the Innkeeper replied, seeing that this had been a set up to learn more about Nahash. “But there were enough travelers who stumbled across our town, just as you have, who skirt the edge of the Brecilian Forest, for fear of the rumors that the forest is haunted and plagued with werewolves. So rather than house strangers within our own homes, or Church as we had been doing, we built an inn. It was prosperous at first, with people traveling and following the river to Denerim, until they reached the Brecilian Forest, which they would always skate around, and eventually come across us in the mountains. Many were adventurers, some were families, some were merchants. We had all kinds. But ever since this Blight and Darkspawn thing emerged, no one travels anymore. I don’t think anyone has stayed at this inn for many moons passed. You can imagine my surprise when I was notified that we had… guests.”

Berik walked past William and leaned against the counter. “So, then I don’t suppose you have a Home of Harlots?”

“A what?” the Innkeeper asked, bewildered.

“Evening entertainment? Prostitutes?” Berik explained.

“No,” the innkeeper looked at Berik with disgust. “No. We do not have harlots here.”

“Shame,” Berik shrugged and returned to the table to sit with Quinn. “It would probably dramatically increase business. Not to mention, guards like the welcoming committee out front would be less… agitated.”

William stifled a laugh and looked at the Innkeeper, “We would like four rooms.”

“Unless she wants to share a room with me,” Berik leaned forward and looked at Navah, who blanched at the thought and immediately looked out the frost covered window. Berik looked back at William, “Ah, sadly, four rooms it is.”

William set his helmet on the dresser and stared at himself in the mirror for a long moment. What was he doing? What was he going to do when he reached Denerim? Demenad that Teyrn Loghain pay for what he’s done? In Denerim? Where Teyrn Loghain no doubt had already had the time to spin his tale in favor of his actions and convince the nobles that what he did was the logical choice.

He fought the yawn that he felt rising up, his eyes stung. His body ached terribly. Sleep would do him some good. Just as he sat on the edge of the bed, a gentle knock came to the door. William’s hand moved beneath his pillow where he felt the welcomed cool, steel of his dagger that he had always kept close by. “Who is there?” he called out.

“It’s me,” the soft voice replied. William was puzzled. What would Navah want at this house? Moving across the small room he opened the door slightly and saw that Navah stood there, her large green eyes looking at him, pleading that he open the door and let her in. He stepped aside and let her come into his room. “What is it, Navah?”

She wrung her hands several times, her eyes now averting his. “I realize I have been, difficult,” she stammered over the words, “and that I have not been easy to get along with always… you walk a much darker path than my own… one I have a difficult time following sometimes… but then… I have seen… that sometimes,” she continued to fumble, hating that she sounded foolish in front of William. “I have learned that sometimes,” she looked up and saw his gaze transfixed on her, and she immediately looked away, “Sometimes there are difficult choices. Choices that are a step into the darkness; but the end of that path – there is light. Great light.”

“What’s this about?” William asked.

“Quinn. You. Both. Me,” she wasn’t sure how to answer it. “When you were dying… Quinn made me decide if your life should be saved by using Blood Magic, by draining the rest of Crusant’s life… Crusant was willing to give his fading life force to save you, and to redeem himself… I knew Blood Magic was evil… I knew it… I still know it,” she added softly, “but to lose you… felt worse than agreeing to Blood Magic.” She looked up at him, and this time met his gaze and held it. “I was suddenly afraid of what it would feel like to lose you. Forever.”

“What I am saying is,” she took a step closer. She could feel his warm breath. She put her hand on his chest, felt his heart beat beneath his shirt. She looked at her hand, then up at him. “What I am saying is…”

At that moment, there was an explosion and a wave of heat followed by shouting from Quinn. William pushed Navah aside gently and grabbed his sword and swung the door open, only to be welcomed by more searing flames.

“Maker’s Breath,” were the only words that escaped William’s lips as he saw men rise, even as their flesh was ablaze with fire.

“We’ve got trouble,” Quinn laughed as he launched another wave of flames at the men who advanced. “Lots of trouble,” he added, when the men did not fall, and continued their steady march towards Quinn.

Berik’s door flew open and three dead men fell out. “Is that really your best?” Berik laughed. He jumped out into the hallway. “You know, I was thinking,” Berik smirked, “my life was very exciting as a member of the Broken Hand. Now, I see I wasn’t living until I traveled with you, Grey Warden.”

“What’s going on here?” William asked as he charged the three men who were advancing on Quinn.

“Snuck into our rooms through the closet,” Quinn said. “They thought I was asleep. I knew something was wrong. I feigned as if I were sleeping and they emerged from the closets!”

“Same,” Berik said. “Except I was asleep and they woke me. Sounded like an arch demon coming from the closet. Of course,” Berik added with his charm, “I have exceptional hearing. Broken Hand training, and all. And perhaps some of that Elf Blood in my veins gives me an advantage!”

William hacked down the three who were advancing on Quinn. Quinn kneeled down to examine the men. “This one,” Quinn pointed, “it’s the pleasant guard who greeted us at the gate.”

“How did they even survive the flames you were burning them with?” William asked, as he searched their bodies for clues. He turned and faced his own closet. “Why didn’t they come for me?”

“Perhaps they thought a Grey Warden might be too much for them,” Berik shrugged. “I guess they didn’t expect a Blood Mage and an Assassin. And I guess they didn’t go for her because, well, looks like she was in your room, huh? Guess we only needed three rooms after all?”

William shook his head. “If these men were sent for us – then someone else must be expecting them to come back.”

“We should prepare for more,” Quinn nodded. “I will need to regain my strength. Navah, you may wish to avert your eyes.” Quinn did not wait for her to look away, he began chanting and speaking the twisted words of dark magic! Suddenly the bodies of the deceased began to glow faintly; then shiver; then blood trickled out of their pours and into the gash in Quinn’s hand that he had cut with a ceremonial dagger. Suddenly Quinn doubled over, clutching his stomach.

William immediately went to Quinn’s side. “What is it?”

Quinn looked up, but his pupils were gone. His eyes were white. William stared in disbelief; it was the same look he saw in the two others that had been with him during the Joining.

“Their blood,” Quinn’s voice was there, but it was echoed by a deeper voice. “Is tainted.”

“Tainted?” William asked, although he was uncertain who he was speaking with.

“Their blood, gives them their resistance, their power,” Quinn’s voice echoed that of some other being.

“Maker’s Breath,” Navah gasped, “What has happened to him?”

“I’ve never seen this before,” William answered.

“I’d worry about yourselves,” a voice said from down the hall. William looked and saw the innkeeper and several others. This time they were armed with weapons, rather than relying on stealth.

William stood between the innkeeper and Quinn. “This doesn’t have to end this way.”

“Oh,” the innkeeper smiled, “but it does have to end this way, Grey Warden. We wanted to get them out of the way first. We knew you would be a tough one to handle. If we got rid of your help, we would eventually get you through sheer numbers.”

“What’s the meaning of this?” William asked.

“You will find out soon enough, Grey Warden,” the innkeeper laughed. With a gesture, the men behind the innkeeper charged forward.

William watched as the men charged up the stairs. There was something going on here. William’s hand was on the hilt of his blade. He could cleave through these men with no problem. But what was Quinn talking about? Their blood being tainted? He could kill everyone who stood in his way – but then he would know nothing of what was happening.

“Stand down,” William looked at Berik. His eyes went to Quinn who was still clutching his stomach on the floor. William looked at the innkeeper, “We will go peacefully.”

“When has a Grey Warden ever gone peacefully?” the innkeeper laughed. “Don’t mind if we take your weapons. Just as a precaution. I am sure you understand.” William hated the idea of being defenseless, but he had to discover what was happening. Could the taint in their blood have anything to do with the Darkspawn? If so, why couldn’t he sense them? Why couldn’t he sense the taint within them?

Something deeper was at work here. Something perhaps, more sinister.

The men quickly flocked William and shackled him. Though Berik continued to fight, a stern glance from William, and Berik surrendered as well.

“Get up, Mage!” one of the men shouted as they grabbed Quinn.

“He’s ill,” William answered. “Be gentle with him. He can barely stand.”

The men had little care for Quinn, and forced him to stand, shoving him forward. The only one they did not shackle was Navah, whom they circled around tightly in case she tried to run.

As they walked through the snowy village of Nahash, William looked at the innkeeper, “So what is the meaning of this?”

The innkeeper cast a side glance at William, but did not answer. William looked at the others and saw one of the men shove Quinn again. Quinn stumbled over his staff, barely able to stand. From beneath his cowl he shot the man a scathing glance; with a look that promised the man’s death at Quinn’s hands.

“Gentle,” the innkeeper said, turning towards the man who continued to shove Quinn. “You know that she does not like her dinner guests to be dead before they arrive.” The innkeeper smiled strangely. William was no idea. He knew what the innkeeper meant; they were to be dinner somehow; for something.

Berik said from the back, “You know, if this is about dinner, I’m rather full. The innkeeper servers a delicious stew, and I had my fill last night. If I could just be let go to lay down at the inn?”

“Shut up,” another man said, shoving Berik forward. Berik stumbled over his own feet but managed to keep his balance. Berik smiled at the man who pushed him, “The last person who pushed me like that lost their hand.”

The man pushed Berik again. “Yeah, I’m not worried about it,” the man grinned.

“The last man who pushed me twice lost both hands,” Berik said, glancing over his shoulder.

“Yeah?” the man laughed, “So what happened to the man who pushed you three times?”

“I cut off his head and spit down into the empty cavity of his brain,” Berik said.

The man laughed, but stopped immediately when he saw Berik’s scolding look.

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:48 pm

They walked through the winding, empty streets of Nahash until the reached the side of the mountain. Standing against the elements stood a Stone Elemental, whose Ruby Eyes looked forward into the abyss of the unknown. William would have thought it was a statue before, but as a newly recruited Grey Warden he had been educated on the power of a stone golem and how they were renowned for their powerful strength and incredible endurance.

“Yam hes viel verofer,” the innkeeper spoke directly to the stone golem. The words immediately grabbed Quinn’s attention, who looked up, his brows furrowed together. He understood the words – but wasn’t sure if he actually believed them.

The Stone Golem activated, rock joints creaked to life as the animated creature turned and slowly pulled a large boulder out of the way.

The innkeeper gestured and forced William and the others into the cave. Stepping in after them, he looked at the Stone Golem and said, “Eth Gradon Lilw Irse.”

The door creaked shut as the stone golem worked to close it. William watched as the last bit of light faded away when the door closed. The innkeeper walked to the wall and ignited a torch and began to lead his men forward. Berik stumbled into Quinn, who shot Berik a cruel glance. “Watch where you walk, assassin.”

Along the passage he could see scattered bones in various states of decomposition. William tried to see the others, to see how they were doing, but the flickering torch provided too little for light. He thought he heard something, but couldn’t make it out in the darkness.

“Death,” William muttered, licking his lips.

“It’s all around.” Berik was looking at Quinn, shaking his head, “You know you get a little sick and you become extremely testy, Quinn.” Berik collided into William who had been forced to stop as the innkeeper held the torch to the stone wall and pressed a certain rock, revealing a hidden passage.

Up ahead, he could hear strange noises; noises and sounds he had never heard before. Roaring sounds. And yet some sounded like birds, chirping for food from their mothers. Then, the Innkeeper placed his torch on the wall and he could see stalls; and within them, something moving. Something with skin that flickered and reflected the torch’s dying light. Something longer than a horse. Bigger than a horse.

“Dragons,” Quinn said, finally. “Their blood is tainted by Dragon Blood. The words he spoke to the Stone Golem is the fabled tongue of Draco.”

“Shut up, and get to moving,” the man said, shoving Berik into Quinn.

“I warned you,” Berik whispered.

“You’re bound,” the man laughed.

His laughter stopped when he saw a glint of steel in the shadows coming at him. He felt a cold blade across his throat, immediately followed by the warm sensation of blood oozing down his chest. He collapsed to his knees, suffocating and drowning in his own blood.

“By the Dark!” the innkeeper shouted, when he turned and saw everyone was free.

“Funny thing about us Broken Hand members,” Berik smiled, holding his dagger firmly in his hand. “At a very young age, we are hand cuffed and thrown into a deep pool with stone blocks shackled to our feet. We sink to the bottom of the pond very quickly. It’s surprising how quickly you learn to unshackle yourself when your life depends on it.” Berik shrugged, smirking, “Sure, it’s a bit of a rough childhood. Easy to lose friends who aren’t as quick. But then, it trains us to have that emotional detachment that we need to do our jobs.”

The innkeeper stared at William and the others. The innkeepers men had been rendered unconscious or killed, either through Berik’s silent methods, or by the prick of his dagger, which was laced with crippling poison.

The innkeeper shook his head. “You’re foolish. These drakes are under my command. With a snap of my finger,” he held up his hand, and just then Berik was behind him, as if teleporting through the shadows, and grabbed the innkeeper’s wrist and severed it, throwing the discarded hand into one of the pens with the drakes. The drake immediately began feasting on the flesh. The innkeeper buckled to his knees, holding the stump of his hand.

“I guess we just don’t let you snap your fingers,” Berik said with a coy smile.

The innkeeper watched as his arm bled. He looked at Berik, anger burning in his eyes. The innkeeper suddenly stood and grabbed Berik by the throat and held him. Berik wheezed the words, “A little help here…”

William grabbed the fallen guard’s sword and ran it through the innkeeper. The innkeeper’s blazing eyes turned on William and flung Berik into him, sending the two of them crashing to the ground. The innkeeper pulled the sword out of his gut and stared at them.

“Well that didn’t go exactly as I saw it in my head,” Berik coughed, as he rubbed his throat and struggled to stand.

William leaned against the stone as he stood up. His human eyes peered through the darkness of the cave. Despite all he had seen in the brief time he had become a Grey Warden, he was not prepared to see a man run through with a sword, and still be standing. Then to watch that man remove the sword from his own body and stand ready to fight.

“It’s the Dragon Blood,” Quinn whispered into William’s ear. “It enhances their strength, dexterity, as well as their threshold for pain.”

“I can see that,” William muttered. “Rather than telling me all of this, could you tell me how to defeat someone whose blood is enhanced by Dragon Blood?”

“It would be the same as fighting a dragon,” Quinn replied, “or so I imagine.”

“Had I ever fought a dragon,” William growled, “I am sure that would have been a helpful piece of information.”

“I say we stab him until he bleeds to death,” Berik shrugged. “Human, Dragon, Darkspawn – they all die when they run out of blood to bleed.”

The innkeeper, whether a reaction to Berik, or something else; suddenly turned and fled down the passage from which the sounds were coming from.

William took this opportunity to turn and look at Quinn. “What else do you know about these Dragon Cults? Not even the Grey Warden have much information on them.”

Quinn used his staff to brace himself. Just as he was about to say something, it was Navah who spoke up. “In 9:28 Dragon, Brother Florian notated in a book entitled ‘Flame and Scale’ what he had managed to piece together about the Dragon Cults.”

“He had noted that, though these dragons were cunning, they hardly seemed self-aware, or had any true language of their own. After all, there had been no recorded history of any dragon ever attempting to communicate with a human. Whether it was for trade, or if the dragon was engaged in a battle with a mortal,” Navah said. “But then he asked, ‘how can one explain Dragon Cults?’ After all, one or two might be explainable as people who simply worship dragons. But Dragon Cults are far more spread than most people realize.”

“She is right,” Quinn nodded. “It was through the same writings of Brother Florian, that I know what I do. There is no doubt some sort of worship from as far back as the ancient Tevinter Imperium, with the Old Gods. What has puzzled historians, is how these Dragons ever struck a deal with people of the land? If they have never been recorded as being able to speak – how do these humans come to worship these dragons? Because,” Quinn looked at William, “it’s not simply about worshipping them. As I mentioned, there have been people, through history, who have been enhanced by Dragon Blood, as the people of Nahash have been.”

“But where are they getting the Dragon Blood?” William asked. “They’re clearly not killing the Dragons to drink their blood.”

“According to the scriptures and notes from Brother Florian,” Navah was now the one who continued the story, “That is the part that he found most puzzling. He had discovered that the worshippers of the Dragon, these Dragon Cults, often lived in or around, the same area as the Dragon they worshipped. He learned that these Dragons had turned to mortals to defend their young. In exchange, the Dragons had permitted the cultists to destroy several eggs, each season, to allow them to drink the blood of a dragon.”

“Some do not believe Brother Florian’s writings,” Quinn said. “Especially those within the Circle. They think it’s all nonsense and fabricated. While there’s no denying that Dragon Cults exist,” Quinn gestured down the hallway, “clearly,” he said with a smile, “the speculation of the Dragon allowing humans to kill its young, is what is questioned. After all, why would a Dragon turn to humans to protect its young? Why would a Dragon need a human’s help? And if the humans are selected to protect the Dragon’s young, why would the Dragon allow them to destroy some of its eggs, so that they could have these powers? A lot of things don’t make sense.”

William looked down the cavern that the innkeeper had run. “No doubt there’s other cult members down there,” William sighed. “And dragons and drakes and who knows what other horrors. Strip the guards of armor and weapons, use it for yourself. Bind the guards.” William stared down the long, dark hall ahead of him. “We need to put a stop to this.”

Quinn spoke the twisted words of magic, gesturing with one hand as the other clung to his staff for support. The words seemed to float between reality and dream, becoming almost ethereal sounding as they fell from his lips. When Quinn clenched his fist shut, the spell came to an end, and a small light appeared at the tip of Quinn’s staff.

The bleak caverns now illuminated by Quinn’s magic sent shadows dancing across the wall, like rats scurrying away from the light.

Seemingly melting out of the shadows, Berik suddenly appeared next to Quinn. “I found them,” Berik said with a certain amount of lack of emotion. “There’s lots of them.”

“Lots of who? Or what?” William asked, trying to get Berik to be more specific.

“People… and drakes… and… a dragon,” Berik said the last bit with a great amount of hesitation.

“A dragon? In here?” William asked, astonished. It made sense, where else would these people be getting the blood of a dragon?

Berik led them through the twisted maze of caves; his experience as an assassin allowed him to track anyone.

They soon came to a portion of the cave that widened. Standing there was none other than the innkeeper who William had run through with a sword. The innkeeper was there, holding the very same sword in his hand.

“I know you’re there,” the innkeeper said. “Just as I know the assassin snuck past me. I can smell you. Come – there is more to this than you know. There does not need to be any more fighting.”

William was about to take a step forward and come out of the dark, when Quinn placed his hand on the Grey Warden’s shoulder. “What are you doing?” he whispered frantically.

“Going out there,” William answered.

“This could be some kind of trap,” Quinn replied. “The innkeeper may be standing there, but there could be drakes ready to pounce on you at a moment’s notice.”

“We shall see,” William answered. “If anything happens, you know what to do.”

Quinn shook his head and released his hold on William’s shoulder.

William walked out into the light and stared at the innkeeper. “You say there is no more need for fighting, yet did you not try to abduct my comrades from the inn?”

“There was a reason,” the innkeeper assured him. “We believed you were here to slay the dragon. We needed to capture your comrades to use them to make you at least hear us out.”

“I am listening,” William shouted back.

“There is another who could explain things much more than I could,” the innkeeper said. “If you would all just follow me.”

“Follow you? Into a trap? Not likely,” William shook his head, folding his arms across his chest.

The innkeeper threw down his blade and kicked it across to William, putting his hands in the air. “I surrender myself to you. Put that sword to my neck, and sever it from my body if we ambush you. I merely wish to take you to someone who could explain things.”

William kneeled down and picked up the blade and put it to the innkeeper’s neck, who offered no resistance. William signaled to the others who came out of the dark.

The innkeeper led them through the dark tunnels, the same path that Berik had taken to find them. The cave opened up to a larger room, where there were rows upon rows of stables, all with drakes of varying ages within them. Some of the stables still had dragon eggs. As they continued down, there was a room where there was a dead drake, and the blood from it was being siphoned into seemingly countless vials.

The innkeeper led them into a circular room within the cave, where at the far end, a throne adorned in jewels rested; more startling was the dragon that laid its body around it, and a human who sat in the throne.

The human stood. “Hello, Grey Warden.”

William released the innkeeper by shoving him away. “What is the meaning of all of this?”

“All of this?” the human who sat at the throne smiled and gestured around him. “All of this as you say… is about immortality.”

“But,” the human added, folding his arms behind his back. “That was not always the case. In the beginning this was about finding my place in the world when the Blight ended.”

“The Blight has not ended,” William corrected. “If anything, it is more powerful now than it ever was before. Ostagar has fallen to the Darkspawn. Teyrn Loghain has betrayed the Grey Wardens and turned on us. Claiming we are the ones who betrayed King Cailan who fell in the battle of Ostagar.”

“Teyrn Loghain?” the human seemed to take the name into consideration. “I know not who this Teyrn Loghain is. Or King Cailan.”

“How can you not?” William asked. That’s when William took note of the human’s armor. He wore the symbol of the Grey Wardens. But one… William had not seen before.

As if reading William’s thoughts, the human touched the emblem on his chest. “Ah yes, I was a Grey Warden once, much like you. My rise came during the time that Zazikel awoke.”

“Zazikel?” William asked, confused. “That’s impossible. Zazikel was the Rise of the Second Blight. That was…”

“A long time ago,” the human nodded. “Yes. I remember when we got the reports that the Darkspawn had obliterated Nordbotten. I remember aligning with the Free Marches and Orlaians to help defend them against the Darkspawn under the command of Emperor Kordillus. I remember, as if it were only yesterday, the victory at the Battle of Cumerland, and the true, final battle in Starkhaven. I remember the Thaw Hunt afterwards. Chasing the fleeing Darkspawn into the Deep Roads. We slaughtered every Darkspawn we came across.”

The human, as if suddenly aged, sat down on his throne. He looked up at William. “But what then? What do you do when you have found every last Darkspawn? What do you do when your whole life was being a Grey Warden? What do you do when you no longer hear the Calling within your head? The silence… it was deafening. Almost… maddening!”

“I needed a new purpose to my life,” the human said, standing up suddenly. “I began hunting down dragons.”

Then it struck William. If this human was indeed from the Second Blight, and the Dragon Hunter who had become known in the Grey Wardens… “You’re Gabriel from the Grey Wardens…”

“Ah,” Gabriel smiled. “So my name was remembered.”

“You became renowned for your dragon hunting, after the second Blight,” William said, almost disbelieving the words of belief were falling from his own lips. “Some have gone as far as crediting you for the reason so few dragons exist now.”

“Yes,” Gabriel sat down again, resting his arms on the jeweled throne. “That was before I saw my error. The dragons have attacked man, because man hunted down dragons. The Dragons are peaceful. They seek to only exist as we do. They hunt as we do. Granted,” he shrugged, “they have been known to prey on our farm animals… but they are hunters, just as we are. We have gone about this all wrong. We could have a symbiotic relationship with the dragons. Could you imagine their power behind the Grey Wardens?”

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PostSubject: Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction)   Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death. (Fan Fiction) EmptyMon May 11, 2015 7:49 pm

Gabriel clenched his fists. “We would be unstoppable.” Gabriel seemed to come back to reality and looked at William. “But you’re no doubt wondering how I can still be alive… after so long?”

Gabriel smiled. “When I killed the first dragon after the Second Blight, I duplicated the Joining Process – but with the Blood of the Dragon I had slain. I thought to myself, if drinking the Blood of the Darkspawn allows us to hear their Calling; perhaps I could drink the blood of a Dragon and hear them.”

Gabriel seemed to drift off into thought, recalling those days now long gone. He smiled again, then looked at William. “As it turned out… I could hear them. This led me to dragon after dragon. I killed each and every one of them. But it was not until I came across Diskeria,” he gestured to the Dragon behind him, who raised her head slightly, “that I truly heard the Dragons. I… had not realized that each time I heard the Dragons… I could do what no one else could… I could understand them. Their roars were … words to me. But in the heat of battle… I did not listen… not until Diskeria.”

“The Dragons are not evil,” Gabriel shook his head. “They have only attacked after countless years and centuries of man hunting them down… just as I had. Diskeria showed that to me. She was the first that could have killed me… after years and years of killing dragons… I was wearing down… she could have killed me so easily… instead, she pinned me beneath her claws… I waited for her to rend my flesh from my bones… instead, she spoke to me… told me to listen to her… to truly listen.”

“She told me that they were not evil… she shared her thoughts… she’s… thousands of years old… she showed me how man has hunted her and her children… slain them… because they perceived dragons to be evil… to be dangerous… she said she wanted to use me as an avatar, so to speak… to be the human that reaches out to others… to show them that we have nothing to fear from Dragons…” Gabriel explained. “So when a band of survivors fleeing a Darkspawn attack nearly froze on these mountains, it was Diskeria who told me of them… she sensed them on her mountain… I went to them, and helped them… brought them to Diskeria’s lair… to show them… they took part of the Joining, using the Dragon Blood, so that they could hear her… understand her… and so Nahash was founded.”

Gabriel frowned. “Admittedly, much like the Grey Warden Joining… there are some who… do not survive the process. There have been others… whose bodies… changed, because of the Joining. But over all, it has been successful. As the years turned, imagine my surprise when I found… I was not aging. Something in the Dragon’s blood that allows them to live centuries had carried over into mine, from when I had originally done the first Joining process with the Dragon’s blood.”

Gabriel rose, “As these others have, that you see before you. Some of them, though they look no more than a mere twenty years of age, are well over two hundred years old.” Gabriel began to pace back and forth, “As an added bonus,” Gabriel continued, “the song of the Darkspawn Calling began to subside as the years went on. The Dragon Blood had… cured me, for lack of a better word, of the incessant sound of The Calling.”

Gabriel heaved a deep sigh, smiling contently, “So in short, it has cured me of the Calling… it has granted me immortal life… or at least a very, very, very extended life… it has allowed me to understand the Dragons… do you not see, Grey Warden, all the benefits there is to this mutual relationship that we have developed with the Dragons?”

Gabriel looked over the group and stopped when his eyes met Quinn’s. “If you don’t believe me, ask your Blood Mage friend there. I can hear the blood in his veins. Comrades, it would seem, who you defeated and killed… and he did his magic to absorb their blood… to strengthen him… and it has done so, has it not, my friend?”

William turned to look at Quinn questioningly. Quinn’s eyes went from Gabriel, to William, and back to Gabriel. “It’s true,” Quinn said. “Already I can feel the Dragon’s Blood healing my body.”

Gabriel sat down on the jeweled throne again. “My apologies for our rough beginning,” Gabriel gestured to the innkeeper, “but when he saw the emblem of the Grey Warden on his chest, he assumed you were here to put an end to our utopia. We merely sought to capture your comrades, so that you would at least give us a chance to explain ourselves. So what of it, Grey Warden? Will you join us? Or leave us in peace? Or will you seek to destroy us?”

William paused.

He knew not what to do…

Gabriel paced back and forth, his long blond hair tied neatly into braids. He looked up at William. “We can help you against the Blight,” Gabriel said. “But I am need of your… services.”

“My services?” William was somewhat taken aback. “What could I possibly help with that you could not?”

“I mentioned… those that survived the Joining process… whose bodies… changed,” Gabriel said, stopping his constant pacing to look directly at William. “I need you to dispose of them.”

“Dispose of them?” William looked more confused than ever. “Why is it that you and your people do not do this? It would seem, between how the Joining has enhanced your bodies, and the aid of a dragon and several drakes… these abominations could not hope to stand up against you.”

“They have burrowed deep into the mountain,” Gabriel answered. “Through tunnels and small crevices that neither drake nor dragon can fit… and as for us… just as we, as Grey Wardens, could once hear the calling of the Darkspawn… so too can these abominations hear us… so when they do… they scurry, hide, and prepare traps… They will not be able to hear you… Only your Blood Mage, and the amount of Dragon Blood he has taken in through his black magic ritual is minimal at best…”

“I don’t trust him,” Quinn whispered, standing behind William. “Not that I won’t fight these things, just to fight… but there’s something else he’s not telling us.”

Navah looked between Quinn and William and added, “William, we should do as he asks. I have heard about ‘ghouls’… they say it’s people turned by the Darkspawn… but not completely… these… people… not creatures… need to be put out of their misery. They’re suffering.”

William looked to Berik, who smiled and shrugged. “Hey, look,” he said with a coy smile, “I don’t mind shoving my dagger between someone’s shoulder blades, if that’s what you want to do.”

William sighed and turned back towards Gabriel, who had seated himself back upon his throne made of deep mountain stone. “What is it we’re looking for?”

Gabriel signaled to one of the men who left, only to return moments later dragging what appeared to be a male human back into the room. A trail of blood followed. Navah was horrified when the guard kicked the body over. It was, perhaps, at one time – a human male. But now his skins, has tiny small, scales that glimmered even in the poorly lit torch filled room. It’s teeth, once normal, were replaced by what appeared to be perhaps hundreds of small, razor sharp teeth. The human’s eyes, once normal, had expanded into large, round eyes, with scales around them; where there was once a pupil, there was an eye that resembled that of a tiger’s.

Navah kneeled next to the creature, placing her hand on his bloody chest, feeling no heartbeat. She, in aghast horror, looked at Gabriel. “He has been tortured.”

“Yes,” Gabriel said nonchalantly, waving away the notion that it was some horrible act that had been committed. “Unfortunate, I agree. We normally put them out of their misery as soon as we find them. But they have been raiding our stocks outside, in Nahash, stealing our sheep for food… We captured that one and tried to get information from it about where they are nesting… the thing refused to speak and tell us. I will say this,” Gabriel added as an after thought, “their pain threshold is something to be admired.”

Navah looked at William, horrified. He could see in her eyes, everything she had said only moments ago, had now been reversed. Where she once sought to put these things out of their misery, she now felt deep, compassion for.

… And that is where I stopped, over three years ago. I keep considering going back and adding more to this. My brain is always wanting to be creative. It never stops. Ever.

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