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To Endure

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“This is an odd book,” Ashaad said, flipping through the pages. “Few words. Many pictures.”

“I think I remember this one!” exclaimed Saemus. “They use these to teach children to read the King’s Script.”

“It would make more sense to have more of the words, to practice.” His voice was grousing, but his claws skimmed the thin pages and bright pictures with a constrained fascination. There were knights in armour and great furry beasts, and a brilliant scarlet dragon sprawled across a whole page, regal and fierce.

“Pictures speak a thousand words, Ashaad. Don’t they have that saying where you’re from?”

“Ink endures, but actions speak. This is the way the antaam are taught.” He glanced at the text. “This story makes no sense, kadan. It takes more than one man to slay a dragon.”

“Maybe he’s a Qunari under that armour.”

“If he were a Qunari, he would be better armed,” Ashaad replied, but his lips quirked in a smile anyway.

Chapter Text

“Has anyone told you you have beautiful hands?”

Ashaad stared at his friend as if he had grown a second head. The boy took no notice, manipulating the joints of his thumb in both palms. They were soft and unlined, with short nails—the hands of one who has not known long physical labour.The kossith’s knuckles were lined with scars and warpaint, and his dark claws could gut a human. But Saemus took no notice, lightly massaging the chill out of his fingers.

He was rather good at it.

Ashaad shook his head, turning one of Saemus’ palms over with his free hand. “Yours are not the hands of a warrior,” he stated plainly. “But they can yet change the world.”

“I hope they do.” he says with a wry twist of a smile. “But give me your other hand now. Your fingers must be freezing.

Ashaad complies, and while the wind howls down the rocky coast, neither one of them feels the cold.