They couldn’t last much longer. Not when they’d ran out of lyrium the day before. Not when casting the smallest barrier caused Evelyn’s muscles to quiver and her breathe to start stuttering. Not when that was doing good . Roderick was just using his staff to support himself as he hobbled on his twisted ankle, not even bothering to try and cast anymore. Valerie was the only one left on offense her lightning getting smaller and smaller as the day stretched on. Tamsin had been trying to heal Roderick’s ankle for an hour and her complexion was going ashen.
Evelyn wanted to tell them to run. To stop waiting for Tomas to save them. Tomas was wrong . His idea was mad and whatsmore he made them stop. Made them quit running, wasting the lead that Anise had sacrificed herself to give them.
No one would listen to an apprentice over a Senior Enchanter though.
Even if he’d only been one for three days before they ran.
Besides even if they did run Evelyn doubted it would do much good now. None of them had the energy for a successful escape. Especially in the middle of an unfamiliar wild and with the cold coming. They’d freeze. Or starve.
Anise had been the only one who had experience outside the circle. The only one who knew about the wild and how to survive.
Anise who had told them to go ahead.
Anise who was gone.
Gone like Lydia.
Evelyn tightened her grip on her staff air coming in shaky as the sobs she’d been suppressing over the past three days threatened to come free. She stopped it, but it was a near thing. Her throat ached and her eyes were burning. Even at the end of things she couldn’t cry.
She supposed her mother would be proud she’d perfected the Trevelyan composure.
“Trevelyan,” a sharp voice snapped her name.
Evelyn looked up tensing on instinct to find Tomas scowling down at her with that mad dark look in his eyes that had always set her nerves on edge. There was triumphant and darkness and light in his eyes a sort of mad hope that had convinced the others to go along with his plan. It had been a similar one that convinced Evelyn to run with them.
But that had been before .
“What?” Evelyn asked all exhaustion and resignation.
Tomas’s eyes narrowed and his hand twitched making her realize he held a dagger in it for the first time.
Maker , she was tired if she could ignore Tomas with a weapon so close to her.
“I need your assistance,” he told her and it was almost a purr this time.
She knew that tone and knew it wasn’t optional. Besides maybe he would kill them both in this damned fool ritual of his and she wouldn’t have to face the templars. She could hear them now, distant but too close for comfort. Anise always said she had ears like a hounds, a compliment from her. The others would realize soon enough.
“What do you need?” she asked, standing on trembling legs and making to follow him to the back of the cave system he had been preparing in. Tomas’s hand gripped her shoulder tightly as he pulled her along making her stumble with the force, but keeping her on her legs.
“Your blood.” Tomas answered with the same sinister tone she had last heard that phrase in. Evelyn went cold on the inside and silent.
Blood magic. Blood magic and demons. Evelyn almost wanted to laugh. After all that preaching and ranting about independence and mages being able to take care of themselves without the Chantry or Templars needing to control them. All those pretty words and stirring arguments he and his group had used. The moment it got hard he went to this.
“Alright,” Evelyn heard herself saying and just felt so very tired. So ready for it to just be done. “Alright.”
Tomas didn’t respond and just kept dragging her along until they had passed beyond the light of the staves and into the dark separating where he had sequestered himself away from the others. As they grew closer she could feel a familiar throb in the air warning her of magic up ahead. There was a soft glow and she found that Tomas had set up an array of crystals, five shining blue ones, resting in the corners of a pentagram he’d sketched out in the rock with chalk. In the middle there was was a small silver basin, filled with a gleaming familiar liquid.
The sight made Evelyn feel the first flash of something other than despair she’d had since they lost Anise. It was Lyrium. Enough Lyrium for all of them to be back to at least partial strength, split between their two offensive fighters and they could have given a fight. It was gone the next second as a cold sort of logic took over. True they could have fought, gone done with lightning balls and fire and maybe taken a Templar or two down with them. But it wouldn’t change the fact they were still trapped. Still without an exit. Only an overwhelming force could take out the full squad of eight Templars.
The overwhelming force Tomas hoped to get from the demon.
Evelyn toppled forward into the pentagram of crystals. Her hands scraped the ground in front of her and she looked up feeling a little dazed at the suddenness of the push and the dizziness that came with it. Tomas circled in front of her and his expression went from manic to something settled, academic, like when he had tutored her in the Ostwick Circle library. When he’d carefully and calmly explained some concept she had felt worried about bringing to her mentor. Too afraid of it being forbidden, but knowing she could trust Tomas to not tell the Templars.
Evelyn hated him for that expression at that moment. Looking like someone she could trust, rather than someone she had to for survival.
“We’ll need to add a little of your blood to the scrying bowl to lure it in. Then I’ll enter the Fade by drinking a little. When I find the suitable spirit it’ll manifest in the circle. We’ll bind it there.”
The words were said in the lecturing tone that made Evelyn want to claw at his eyes, but the words also sent a spark of ingrained horror through her.
“You’re going to turn me into an abomination.” Evelyn gasped, horrified and not bothering to hide. She could handle dying, at this point it would almost be welcome. But becoming one of those , turning over her body and having it walk around out of her control as a demon slowly devoured her soul. She hadn’t thought Tomas hated her that much.
He recoiled back at the accusation and his expression softened into something that was a mix of faux comfort with a patronizing smile that was meant to appear warm. Tomas stepped into the circle and gently grabbed her wrist.
“Don’t be ridiculous Evelyn.” Tomas scolded gently, bringing the blade down on her palm and slicing. She hissed, hand jerking away, or trying to. Tomas kept it firmly above the bowl and squeezed allowing a generous amount to drip in before releasing.
“I would never hurt you.”
Liar , Evelyn thought vicious and cradled her bleeding hand. You’ve always been a liar.
“This will only hurt for a little bit.” Tomas assured her insincerely as he grabbed the bowl to drink from. “We’ll be using a bit of your essence to travel with.”
And the world explode into color and light and pain.