She woke up in the Fade. She didn’t know how she got here. The last thing she could remember was her conversation with the Keeper before she left off to the Conclave.
Keeper wished Falherna's presence there to spy on shems and see what direction negotiations between mages and templars would go. So she had put on her Dalish Scout Armor and drunk the potion of aging to be unrecognizable. She took her staff, supplies and a thick, long coat with a hood, decorated with the pelt of the wolf killed by her and her father a few years ago.
"You are exceptional, Celia," said the Keeper using Falherna's first name "You’re the only one I can trust enough in order to send there" she explained, leading her outside the dark camp. It was the middle of the night and everyone were already asleep.
"You've witnessed events in Kirkwall personally. You alone were able to make tough decisions not once. Decisions that others couldn't or wouldn’t make. You often demonstrate … " she sighed looking at Falherna's eyes"… wisdom and common sense which are puzzling to me. How old are you?" she asked suddenly.
"Don't you know?" Falherna muttered with a smile.
"Dear," Keeper whispered, touching her cheek "I am not asking about a physical age".
"I understand" Falherna stroked her Keeper's shoulders "You want to know how old is my soul?" she looked her in the eyes.
The Keeper nodded.
"I wish, I could answer that one myself, Keeper".
"Perhaps you will find what you are searching for, da’len. May you succeed" Marethari whispered.
Falherna wiped away Keeper's tears not taking her eyes from the woman's face.
"Can you feel it?" she asked quietly "Do you feel the threat? Even Fen is afraid" she moved her hand and petted the wolf standing at her side.
"It won't be so bad" the Keeper smiled poorly and led Falherna deeper into the forest. "If both groups won't reach an agreement at the Conclave then we will have reasons to worry ourselves. As for now, you need to change your appearance, no should associate you with recent events, be safe and come back to me" she asked.
"Ar lath" she smiled and hugged her "Please protect Merrill".
“Don't you worry. With me, she is safe. Ma serannas... for everything you did for us, Falherna."
She reached for her bag attached to her waist belt and drank the potion. It tasted like honey with a note of bitterness. In a few second her hair grayed, her face and body aged for several dozen years.
"Mmm … dear, you look like my peer" Keeper laughed "Only your eyes and voice are betraying you" she moved in the direction of the campsite but turned around, looking at Falherna over the shoulder.
"I assume you had learned how to remove it? Otherwise, you wouldn’t be drinking it" she stated.
"Indeed" Falherna answered, pushing up her hood to hide her eyes. "I need only one hand to remove its effect" she laughed and moved to the north.
Slowly she stood up and looked around. She knew this place. She was in the Fade few years ago with Hawke. The quest required confronting demons struggling for control over Feynriel, the apostate mage, who has gone into a coma due to a particular talent.The boy was a dreamer - a somniari they called him. He could enter the fade willingly in his dreams, and hence was more prone to demon possession. Or rather, he was like a beacon to them, shining brightly, attracting the creatures like a magnet.
They found themselves then, in Feynriel's vision of the Templar Hall. They met Demons of sloth, desire and pride who tried to possess them, making promises to fulfil their innermost desires. A physical fight with the demons was nothing compared to the mental manipulation they had to resist.
Not everyone succeeded. Falherna remembered how delightful was the idea of recovering her deceased father. She also remembered wandering around the Fade the spirits of Wisdom, Compassion, and Love. They were good, bright as the rays of the sun. The only elements of the Fade, which brought their party comfort and warmth.
Now walking through the Fade in the physical form she felt gratitude to the Keeper who was the one to convince her to perform the quest with Hawke. The shock, in which her body and mind were now, was lesser than it would have been had Falherna found herself here for the first time in her life.
Falherna's left hand was burning like fire. She looked at it, grabbing her wrist, finding the weird green mark on the inner part of her palm. The Mark was glowing with bright light but when she tried to touch it she felt dizziness and strange force repelling her fingers.
She had no time to analyze what had happened with her hand because she felt that she was being watched. She looked around again and in the distance, behind her back she saw her friend, the wolf, which she had named Fen and who had often accompanied her during the walks in the forest even though he had had to leave his pack for some time. He was a rebellious spirit, much like Falherna was.
"Fen ... garas, Fen" she whispered encouraging him with hand.
The wolf was looking at her intently. She took a step closer suddenly noticing animal's eyes. They had a different color than she remembered. She took another step and froze. It wasn't Fen.
The Wolf was larger, his fur had a different, darker color. She saw wolf like this previously, in her weird, teenage dreams, when her thoughts was filled with the stories of Arlathan, Gods and The Dread Wolf.
She narrowed her eyes scanning wolf's features. He was large, black, and exhumed malice, like she remembered from before, from the time she has seen him. Unwittingly she moved closer, saying the words that first came to her mind "Fen'Harel" animal yelped quietly lowering his head and confirming her suspicions. Yes it was him. Falherna was sure of it.
Falherna restrained "I don't want to hurt you,” she said gently pulling out her glowing hand. The wolf yelped again looking at Falherna's mark.
"You don't need to fear me" she assured him. He raised his head and howled loudly. Her heart stopped beating for the second, this howl was the most ominous sound she had ever heard.
"You are here to protect me, right?" it seemed like he nodded, but he just looked at her and withdrew into the mist and disappeared, leaving Falherna alone.
She looked around searching for the foothold. She had to find a way out, discover some explanation of her presence here.
"Here!" suddenly she heard a woman's voice and moved forward in search of its source. Not far away she saw the stairs, high above her. At the top of them stood a shape surrounded by a bright glow.
"Run! Faster." the woman screamed again. Stunned by the woman’s scream, unknowing what to do next, Falherna realized she had nothing else but climb the stairs. So she did. Step after step, spurned by the woman’s desperate plea. Half way disturbing noise stopped her and forced to look over her shoulder. A horde of black spiders with greenish liquid dripping down their black ugly mandibles, were quickly making their way after her, following her every step. Falherna gave a small cry of horror and sped up.
"Hurry! Run!" woman's voice urged her so she started to move forward again holding coat-tail in her hand.
"Faster! Here," she speeded up hearing that spiders were getting closer. Climbing became more difficult, and her left hand was glowing brighter. Mark was sucking out her strength, she felt like she had a parasite in her body. The more she gave of herself, the more it was taking from her.
Suddenly she came across on an outstretched hand and she grabbed it frantically dropping down on her knees. "Run away! Warn them" the shape grabbed her arms and forced her to stand up pushing her towards a green hole.
"Come with me" Falherna shouted, taking a woman by the hand and pulling her. She looked at the hole before her and then she felt the woman’s hand slip out of her grip.
"Go! You have to live!" the shape screamed "Go now!".
The creature was desperate for her to be alive, and without thinking Falherna jumped into the gaping hole.