"It's so smooth," Sylvanna marvelled, "and soft."
"Am I rubbing too hard?" Sylvanna asked, bare skin trembling at her touch.
Leliana shook her head and guided the elf's fingers, covering them with her own. "Light strokes," she advised, her voice emerging as a purr. "Gently, gently now... see?"
Behind them, Morrigan sniffed in derision, folding her arms across her chest. "Are we to eat that?"
Leliana recoiled in horror. "Schmooples is not edible!"
The nug squeaked in agreement, pressing a damp snout against Leliana's hands. "There, there," she soothed, and two black button eyes closed in pleasure.
"I've decided what I want for my Feastday," her daughter said, lashes fluttering. "A new sibling."
Sylvanna frowned. "That's not possible."
"But you're mages, both of you. Can't you just...?"
"Magic doesn't work that way."
"I could make it work." The child's voice became thoughtful. "I would call him 'brother'."
Sylvanna looked down to find her daughter staring at her intently. She had worn that same look whilst freezing the wings of butterflies in flight.
"A babe is no Feastday present," Sylvanna warned.
Her daughter sulked in silence, but only for a moment.
"Can I have one for Satinalia?"
III. Taking Stock
Valena was dead. The gold sparkles rising from her dismembered corpse only confirmed what his blood had told him.
The Architect knelt by the remains, hands sifting through the filth. There. A battered breastplate, two bloodied sovereigns and eight copper pieces. One teddy bear. A vial of unidentifiable fluid.
He took the coins and the bear, noting how the sparkles remained. They were quite attractive, albeit distracting.
The warden remained sparkle-free. A pity. He had coveted her boots for weeks. She didn't need to be dead for him to take them, but where was the fun in that?
IV. Flying Lesson
She had told Ishantha and she had told her again: the wind was too strong, the tree too tall, but to no avail.
It was with quiet satisfaction that she watched her daughter struggle with her footing, talons scoring deep into the branch. She landed beside Ishantha in a flurry of wings, tilting her head to one side and blinking.
A sudden gust of wind; it might well have been an accident, she mused, as Ishantha's precarious grip led her to stumble and fall.
Morrigan peered down.
One very bruised, indignant little girl began to cry.
Her blood negated any possibility of sneaking up on him.
"Yes?" he asked, turning.
She wet her lips. "The mask. I want you to take off the mask."
Silence. He stared at her, expressionless, then unhooked the golden visor covering his eyes.
She gawked. It was no worse than a man struck by a fireball, or one of the abominations in the tower. What would it feel like, to touch that grey and sunken flesh?
He replaced the mask. "There is still work to be done, Grey Warden."
Sylvanna's heart filled with an inexplicable urge to burst into song.
And Two Things That Never Happened
I. Vigil's Keep
I've got you now, Alistair thought. Six dozen wardens plus the Silver Order, and they still couldn't catch one darkspawn? What was wrong with them?
Something rattled against the walls, but instead of turning he looked up.
The darkspawn blacked out the moon and it landed on his face a second later, a stench so foul he momentarily forgot to breathe. It tossed in his grasp like a greased nug, howling all the while as though it wanted his guards to find them.
A blow to his head lost him precious moments. He staggered to his feet, alone.
Morrigan woke to find herself surrounded by light. Metal chilled her skin, cradling her limbs in a deceptively gentle hold.
"Mmrph." The gag tasted of old blood and bile, and when she breathed, the scent of lyrium set spots dancing before her eyes.
She gazed into a face devoid of affection. Slim fingers brushed her nipple, and she stiffened, feeling heat, not unlike the sting of molten wax. Those same fingers drifted over her neck, and she flinched as they touched her cheek, nails grazing her lips.
Sylvanna never said a word, not even when Morrigan began to scream.