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Old 01-18-2013, 03:03 PM   #11
Vaprakgruumsh
Drizzt Do'Urden
 

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

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.”

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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Old 01-18-2013, 03:03 PM   #12
Vaprakgruumsh
Drizzt Do'Urden
 

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

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.”
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:04 PM   #13
Vaprakgruumsh
Drizzt Do'Urden
 

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

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.”

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.”

“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?”

TO BE CONTINUED
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:05 PM   #14
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 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.”

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.

TO BE CONTINUED.
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:05 PM   #15
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Drizzt Do'Urden
 

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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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Old 01-18-2013, 03:06 PM   #16
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Drizzt Do'Urden
 

Join Date: November 24, 2001
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Default Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death.

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.”

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.”

TO BE CONTINUED…
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:06 PM   #17
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Default Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death.

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.


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…”
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:07 PM   #18
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Default Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death.

“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.”
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:07 PM   #19
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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.”
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:07 PM   #20
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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.”
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