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Old 01-18-2013, 03:05 PM   #15
Vaprakgruumsh
Drizzt Do'Urden
 

Join Date: November 24, 2001
Location: Neverending Nights
Age: 47
Posts: 634
Default Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death.

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.”

TO BE CONTINUED...
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