Chapter 1: In Our Bones
The world is singing, shaking in a seizure caused by a wound gone septic.
She could feel it in her bones, in her mind, and she knew she had to run.
Run from them. Chittering and clawing, trying to drag her away from the figure waiting at the end, bathed in fire and sunlight.
“Hurry!” The figure shouts, hands outstretched. The hands are too cold and they burn through her sweater and then she is hurtling, dropping though blistering fire, breath-stealing cold then dropping her onto ground too solid for her to handle and she-
Her eyes slowly, feeling sluggish and sore down to the bone.
Was it a dream? Or a nightmare?
She blinks off the vestiges of unconsciousness and glances around confused as she finds herself on a cold stone floor. Surrounding her is a circle of metal-shod boots and the glint of swords, gripped in tarnished gauntlets. In the reflection of one of the boots, she sees a glimmer of green originating from... her?
With a furrowed brow, she glances down. The sight of a green tear in her hand is almost as shocking as the blinding pain that rips through her arm and she feels her heart struggle to beat before settling back into its rhythm. There is blood in her mouth and while the shock subsides, the bone-deep ache does not. The sight assists a memory, a name. Green to verdant to Viridian.
There was something in a story she remembered, faintly, that was like this.
Her thoughts are interrupted by a slamming door and a figure clad in firelight and steel walking though, a quiet shadow slipping in behind them.
Viridian’s mind stutters as she sees them. Their faces are set in grim lines and her memory slips her names to go with the faces.
Before her stands Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast of the Royal Line of Nevarra, a figure from a game that she knows well.
The Seeker circles the kneeling girl, worn boots flecked with blood and ashes. The Nightingale (because who else?) watches, quiet and intent.
Lips near her ear startle her as the Seeker speaks. “Tell me why we shouldn't kill you now?” The Seeker’s growl is hoarse with anger and disuse. Viridian looks into her eyes for a moment, seeing bright sea-glass tinged with unending fire. The sight makes something in her chest constrict and it is suddenly hard to breathe as Cassandra continues. "The Conclave is destroyed, everyone who attended it is dead. Except for you" The words are ground out, and Viridian knows the Seeker wants her dead, blood dripping onto the floor for a crime she did not commit.
“I don't know what you’re talking about” She shakes out, tongue and mouth numb like most of her body. Her gaze darts to Leliana only to have her marked arm wrenched up and her chin grabbed to look at the enraged Seeker.
“Do not lie to me!” The hand on her chin grabs her marked hand and forces the fingers to uncurl, the emerald tear revealed. “Explain this!”
“I can’t!” Viridian lies. If she told the truth, the open truth that she knew, Cassandra wouldn't believe her. Neither of them would, and she would be stuck in the dungeon, dying and in pain, or worse.
“What do you mean you can’t!” The Seeker shakes her for good measure before tossing her on the ground with a clatter.
Viridian looks up from her new position, face solemn and serious. “I don't remember how I got here, or how it got there. I don't even know where I am” She can feel her throat tightening with the urge to cry, panic settling in. She can't cry right now, not here.
The Seeker puts a hand on her sword, the other grasping her hair and baring her neck. “Stop lying!” A step forward and then the Sister steps in.
“Cassandra! We need her alive” Leliana guides the sister away, back facing the chained girl. The two confer near the doorway, Cassandra facing her and Leliana’s face hidden. Leliana’s phrasing sends a shudder down Viridian's back. Alive, not whole. They could take what they needed to make her talk, so long as she was alive. She could feel the shaking start and felt the urge to curl up into a ball away from them.
Her mind is too occupied by dark thoughts when Leliana steps up. “Do you remember anything?” The full body flinch causes Leliana to glance to Cassandra, who has a furrowed brow and frown.
“I remember...” Viridian pauses. What does she remember? “I was running. There were these things chasing me. I was trying to get to the light and the woman. Then, I was here” Viridian’s eyes catch Leliana’s, trying to convince her that she isn't lying.
Leliana leans back from where she towered over her. “A woman?”
“She reached out to me, telling me to hurry. Then... nothing. I woke up here.” Viridian’s brow furrowed. She knew from the moment she saw Cassandra she would forget things. But to actually experience missing pieces like this, it was frustrating and she felt the urge to hit something. She needed those memories to help!
Cassandra sighs from near the door. “Go to the forward camp Leliana. I will take the prisoner to the rift.” The scowl is still firmly in place, but it is less severe now. Leliana nods and leaves the room, hand clasping the Seekers shoulder before she disappears.
Cassandra strides forward and unlatches the cuffs, keeping one hand on Viridian’s wrist at all times. The rope wound and tied around her arms is rough and chafes the skin of her wrists.
“Come” The Seeker commands, dragging her up. She grasps Viridian’s bicep and leads her up the stairs.
The first glance of light made Viridian’s eyes ache and water. After blinking away blindness, she saw a village covered in snow, frost, and ashes. But what caught her eye was the swirling vortex above their heads, shades of green and silver spiraling around it. It shouldn’t be beautiful, but it is. The sound of it makes her bones rattle and the blood in her mouth taste as sweet as honey.
“They are calling it the Breach,” Cassandra says aside to her. “It’s a rift into the world of demons that grows larger with each passing hour. It’s not the only such rift, just the largest. All were caused by the explosion at the conclave."
“An explosion?” Viridian’s eyes stay glued to the Breach. The Between here is a pressing, seemingly physical presence here. At home, it had been something she reached for, just out of her reach. But not here. Her hand twitches, spasming without pain. She grasps it with her other hand and forces it closed. It is harder than it should be, which is terrifying in itself.
Cassandra nods. “Unless we act soon, the Breach will swallow the world” She tries to turn to the sky, when the convulsing in Viridian’s hand becomes flaming seizure in her arm, matching the sudden scream of the Breach.
The Seeker watches as the girl falls to her knees, teeth gritted and holding a sparking and spitting hand to her chest. She is plainly trying not to scream in agony and for a moment Cassandra feels pity for this creature. It fades when she remembers the crime they are accused of, the crime that cost her-
“Each time the Breach grows, so does your mark, and it is killing you.” The Seeker kneels next to Viridian as she catches her breathe. “It may be the key to stopping this, but there isn’t much time.” Cassandra hopes, prays to the Maker that she will not have to drag the prisoner to the rift. Her hope is answered when the girl nods, dark hair half covering one of her hazel eyes.
“Okay” Viridian’s voice is hoarse from holding in her scream, but it comes out strong. Her head lifts and she looks into the Seekers eyes, seeing fire and wrath and hope. “What can I do to help?”
Without an answer, the Seeker begins to guide her through a sea of tents and people. Each stare is a pin-prick against her skin, and each harsh word a stone thrown. Then a stone is thrown and Cassandra speaks, ignoring the yelp from Viridian.
"They have decided your guilt. They need it. The people of Haven mourn our Most Holy, Divine Justina, head of the Chantry. The Conclave was hers. It was a chance for peace among the Mages and the Templars. She brought their leaders together. Now they are dead" She keeps her gaze forward, ignoring the stones and pebbles hitting her prisoners back.
Soon they are at a large wooden door flanked by two soldiers in tarnished armor The doors open to reveal a bridge scattered with people.
“We lash out, like the sky, but we must think above ourselves, as She did. Until the Breach is sealed.” Cassandra turns to face Viridian,, hand straying to the knife at her back to cut her bonds. The tightening of her muscles is the only outward sign of Viridian’s fear. It makes Cassandra almost pause, knife out and ready. Does the girl think she would kill her? Leliana’s earlier words filter though, saying ‘alive’ and Cassandra feels a bolt of sick.
The prisoner is expecting to be tortured.
The ropes are cut quickly and the surprise on Viridian’s face is apparent. “You will not be harmed by me girl. You will have a trial, and if you are guilty you will be hung. But you will not be tortured” Cassandra promises. The relief in Viridian’s face is a cut, but her words make it deeper.
“Thank you, Seeker. If I am to die for a crime I cannot remember, I am glad it will be quick.” With that, Cassandra turns and Viridian follows.
“Where are you taking me, if I may ask?” The prisoner's voice is soft and Cassandra almost doesn't hear the question, for all the girl is almost touching her side.
The soldiers and scouts of the bridge are staring at the prisoner and Cassandra feels a hand brush her lower back before it retreats, like the girl wanted to hold onto her, but thought better of it. Her knife is still on her belt, and the girl is scared.
“Your mark must be tested on something smaller than the Breach.” The Seeker mutters back to her before shouting to the guards at the end of the bridge. “Open the gate! We are heading into the valley!”
The two soldiers open the gate and Cassandra sees a leg kick out and feels the prisoner stumble into her. With a roll of her eyes, the girl is hauled back up by the collar of her sweater and laughter is cut off as the doors close.
The hill before them is covered in a mix of fire and snow, pock-marked with spiked walls facing towards the Breach. People run past them yelling about demons and Viridian’s blood runs cold. Demons. How could she forget something like that? Her mother's words of wisdom mean nothing here. Grounding and shielding won't work here, not with physical manifestations like Shades roaming the hillsides.
Viridian opens her mouth to ask about the demons when the Breach bursts again, matching the burst of pain in her hand. There is pain, flaming and keeping her hand in a claw, the nerves twitching in a cramp-like spasm as the mark sends shocks through her entire arm. She lets out a small cry before stifling it. No screaming, she won't scream. If he didn't make her scream, then this won't either. Vaguely she sees Cassandra kneeling next to her and feels hands on her shoulders, keeping her steady. The pain passes, but her hand stays locked up and full of static.
“The pulses are coming faster now” is the only thing the Seeker says as she helps Viridian up.
They walk a bit further before Cassandra speaks again. “The larger the Breach grows, the more rifts open. The more demons we face” She glances at a sprawled body on the ground, red seeping from beneath it. Viridian winces and has to swallow the sudden bile rising in her throat. Once she had wanted to be a mortician after seeing so many TV shows featuring them. But now, confronted by the rotting reality of one, her stomach roiled. Seeing the body prompts a question.
“How did I survive the blast?” is uttered quietly, not really looking for an answer. But the Seeker hears and answers anyway.
“They say you... stepped out of a rift, then you fell unconscious” A glance to Viridian, whose eyes are locked on the mark on her hand.
“Sounds about right” Viridian confirms.
“They also said a woman was behind you. But no one knows who she was” The question is unspoken. As if Viridian might know who the woman was. She is about to answer when the ground underneath Cassandra's feet crumbles as a bolt of emerald hits the bridge before them.
The two tumble and Viridian feels her shoulder and arm smack a stone. ‘Thats going to leave a bruise’ She thinks as she struggles into a sitting position. Looking around, she sees a broken crate full of weapons and an arm sticking out of the rubble. Panic sets in as she hopes it's not the Seeker. Her fear fades when she hears a groan and sees Cassandra swaying and holding her head to her right.
“Seeker!” Viridian shouts as she tries to free her leg. It was pinned beneath a stone, not broken but definitely bruised badly. Cassandra’s eyes are blurry for a moment before focusing on Viridian. A curse passes her lips as she helps Viridian out of the stone. As Viridian is about to thank the Seeker, a comet made of Fade hits the ice in front of them, skipping like a stone.
From one of the ‘ripples’ a thing shambles out of the ground, made of rags and stinking of decay. Not missing a beat, Cassandra unsheathes her sword and charge, leaving Viridian holding herself up against a stone watching the other ‘ripple’ begin to bubble.
Her brain freezes for a moment then goes into overdrive as a clawed forelimb swings out of the bubbling puddle. Her gaze flicks to the fight involving Cassandra and she knows that Cassandra won't have a chance help her.
Then her eyes land on the broken crate as the rest of the thing climbs out. Lunging forward, she grabs the nearest pole with a sharp thing on the end. It's a staff, the other side holding a pretty orb made of frosted glass and marble. Breaking the focus off, she hurls it at the Shade causing it to stagger, still weak from forming.
“Khazâd ai-mênu!” She shouted remembering a favorite battle cry. She may not have been dwarrow, but it gave her courage as she slashed at the Shade. Her brain remembered the feeling of steel under her hands and she let the muscles work, spinning the pole and hitting what she could, using sweeps to make it stagger and a Barbarian to keep it back.
The Shade tries to disarm her at one point, knocking the pole away. Thinking quickly, she throws out a foot, planting it in the shades chest and pushes it away. It gives the Shade an opening to slash at her foot, cutting her ankle.
A roar of rage erupts from her throat as she reverses her grip on her pole, holding it like a javelin and using the momentum of her kick, spears the Shade on her pole. With a gurgle, the Shade melts into a puddle and Viridian gives a mental cheer at the sight. Lungs burning, she grabs the spear from the goo and wrenches it up, looking for more enemies.
What she gets is an angry Seeker, shouting at her with her sword drawn. “Drop your weapon!”
With a clatter, the make-shift spear falls to the ground and Viridian lifts her hands into a placating gesture.
“Easy Seeker. I am unarmed.”
“You are not a mage” Cassandra grits, looking confused at the staff.
“Its a pole with a blade at one end. Works pretty well as a spear if you know how to use it” Viridian leaves out the fact that using it means spinning it with a flag attached. But Cassandra looks contemplative, which is a good sign.
“Pick it up. I cannot always protect you” The Seeker glances at the goo on the ground with disgust and makes a noise.
“Thank you” Viridian gingerly picks up the staff, the nerves in her marked hand still staticy and tight.
Fiddling with it, she tried to make sure the blade wasn't loosened when she hears Cassandra speak.
“What happened to your leg?” The Seeker is staring blatantly at her ankle and Viridian looks down to see blood spreading on her gray pants.
“It got too close for me to get it with my spear, so I kicked it away. It got a lucky shot. I’ll be fine” Viridian says, still looking down, only for her head to lift when she hears Cassandra make an angry noise.
“You know nothing about demon wounds apparently” Grabbing her arm, Cassandra guides Viridian to a stone and pulls out a small roll of gauze and a pot of salve. “Demons infect quickly when left untreated. I cannot heal you, but I can make sure infection doesn't set in.” She rolls up the pant leg and pauses. The gash is small, yes, but it's the black marks beneath the cloth that give her pause.
Small black butterflies marked the prisoner's leg, scattered and flying up her leg. The gash had split the smallest butterfly in half, making a sharp contrast against Viridans pale skin.
“Dammit. I hoped it wouldn't hit those” Viridian curses. Cassandra looks up from where she is applying the salve.
“You have many tattoos?” Cassandra asks, keeping her voice casual. Perhaps it is an assassin's mark? Or perhaps one for a mercenary company? Her head is filled with ideas that cease with Viridian’s next sentence.
“A few. That one just healed. Mostly they are small ones. My mother does tattoos for a living, so she lets me get one every once in awhile” Viridian stands after Cassandra is done, testing her ankle on the ice. Finding it stable and the binding not too tight she smiles at Cassandra. “Shall we continue?”
Cassandra nods and hands her a potion as they get moving. “Drink this. It will help stop the bleeding for now.”
Viridian mutters thanks as she chugs the potion. "Onward then?"
A nod is all she gets as they climb the small hill.
Chapter 2: Come and Get Me
Arguments, Introductions, and Magic?
I told ya I would keep up an okay update schedule :D
The journey up the hill was mostly quiet. With her new injuries, Viridian concentrated mostly on willing the pain away. Her ribs ached and her hand and ankle seemed of the same mind because they seemed to quietly scream. But Cassandra was right and the bleeding slowed shortly after taking the potion.
Cassandra was the one who fought the most, keeping Viridian back and away from the fighting. But sometimes Cassandra would turn back to her prisoner and saw her splattered with ichor and wiping a bloodied blade on the snow. The prisoner had been quick before, but now she was slow and obviously in pain. Cassandra kept going, glancing back every once in awhile to make sure the prisoner didn't fall behind.
But Viridian kept going, wheezing and struggling, but trying to keep up. Cassandra felt a moment of pride for the girl before Viridian tripped on a stone and went sprawling. After helping her up, Cassandra could hear the sounds of shouting and steel. They were close.
“We are getting close to the rift. You can hear the fighting” She said before breaking into a sprint.
“Wait!” Viridian shouted to Cassandra's retreating back. “Great! I just looove running” she muttered sarcastically before racing up to where Cassandra was.
“We have to help them!” Cassandra yelled back, not giving Viridian time to catch up. Her mind was singularly on the rift and the soldiers she had sent out with the Mage and Varric.
Soon Cassandra dropped off of a point and Viridian came to a sudden halt at the scene before her. A Mage, wielding magic against a particularly malicious shade, fought beside a small group of soldiers and a dwarf holding a fairly large crossbow. But what caught her undivided attention was the rift in the middle of it all.
Where the Breach had been so far away, the evidence of its hugeness was laid before her. The rift filled her vision and she could barely control her feet as she walked between Shade and soldier to get to it. It sang like home, full of whispers of sweet bread, moss, and petrichor filling her senses. The song was broken by a hand grasping her wrist and she pushed down the urge to tear into something to get that feeling back.
“Quickly! Before more come through!” A deep, lilting voice commanded in the sudden rush of reality.
She could feel him trying to connect her to the rift, to coax her magic out. But this magic didn't respond to gentle coaxing and gentle will. It felt like a fever, and she would use fire to get it out.
Using every lesson her mother taught her, she shaped her will into a stream of white fire, pushing the blaze from her palm into the screaming rift before her. But she didn't count on it wanting to keep her.
For a moment, she got lost in a memory, one of rolling in green grasses and making potions in her yard. One with a face matching hers, splashing in the murky water and watching the skies.
‘Promise we won't ever be apart?’ ‘I promise’
The memory clouded with pain as it tried to pull her in, the grass turning to fire and the potions becoming murky red. 'you left them behind, you left them to DIE'
“NO!” Viridian shouted, defiant. Grabbing the white and green fire and twisting, she wove the edges of the rift together like a row of stitches closing an open wound and with a boom, it was closed.
Panting, Viridian smiled. ‘One down, a thousand to go’. The thought passes quickly as she felt the grasp on her wrist loosen and she let her hand drop, too weak to keep it up.
“Well done” An equally tired voice panted from her left. With a start, she looked into familiar blue-grey eyes. Solas looked more tired than the game had shown, shadows in his eyes that hadn't been there before.
“What did you do?” Viridian asked, shaking the cobwebs of memory from her mind.
“Me? I did nothing. The credit is yours” He gave a rusty chuckle and she had the urge to offer him water and a warm bed.
Viridian snorted. “You do mean this thing right?” She held up her glowing hand and saw the flicker of sadness and anger in his face before it went flat.
“Not necessarily. What ever magic was used to open the Breach could be used to close it. Magic needs will to be used. You have Will, and so you were the one to close it.” Solas replied, eyeing the spear across her back then straying to the seemingly permanent claw her left hand had turned into.
“Oh good! I was thinking we would be ass-deep in demons forever” A rumbling chuckle echoed from Viridian's left and she was greeted by a smiling Dwarf man cleaning a large crossbow. Varric Tethras was always a weakness for her. The easy, but earned, smile she was fond of was on his face and she felt a surge of joy. “Names Varric Tethras, rogue, storyteller and occasionally unwelcome tag-along” He winked at Cassandra who made a noise of disgust. Viridian held back a laugh but let a smile slip through.
“A pleasure to meet you Master Tethras.” She carefully kept her own name behind her teeth, remembering what she had to do and the chances of her living, even with the fact that the Inquisitor never died before the Breach was dealt with for the first time. “I like your crossbow. She custom?” Viridian put up a sly smile and ignored the ache in her neck as she tilted her head coyly.
“Good eye kid. Bianca and I have been through a lot together” He smiled down at the crossbow before slinging her over his shoulder.
“Pretty name for a pretty girl” Viridian eyed the crossbow. She was of beautiful make. Too bad the person she was named for was a giant bitch.
“She's got brawn to go with her beauty. She’ll be great company in the valley”
Cassandra interrupted with an angry noise. “Absolutely not! I appreciate the help Varric, but-”
Varric cut her off, smile turning serious. “Have you been in the valley lately Seeker? Your soldiers aren’t in control anymore, you need me”
The two stared down, neither yielding until Cassandra made a disgusted noise and turned away, hand resting on her sword.
Viridian heard a quiet laugh from next to her. She turned to see Solas bearing a small smile and watching the proceedings with amusement.
“My name is Solas if there are to be introductions. I am pleased to see you still live” the Apostate said. His eyes didn't match the statement, more akin to interest than pleasure. Like Viridian was something to be studied and taken apart than a happy meeting. But, none the less, Viridian smiled at him. The end of the story was blurry, only going up to marching towards the Breach with a flickering army behind her, but throughout her memory, Solas had been loyal and a good teacher. Hopefully, she got along with him as HER instead of as THEM.
“He means ‘I kept that mark from killing you while you slept’” Varric interjected, walking past after looting a section of flaming stone. Viridian raised a brow and decided the ignorant route was better.
“Even though I was a prisoner, you kept me alive? Hopefully, it wasn’t too much of a burden on you.” She glanced at his worn-out staff and tired eyes.
Solas shook his head. “It was no burden. The burden of closing the Breach and surviving is much greater.” His voice was solemn, no thread of quiet laughter to be found. It sent a chill down Viridian’s spine and she felt the static in the palm of her hand buzz louder. She clutched the marked hand with her other, forcing it closed. The sight of the mark made her feel worse and she swallowed harshly.
“Cassandra” Solas was getting her attention now. “You should know that the magic used is unlike anything I have ever seen. Your prisoner may have magic but she is no mage. Indeed, I would find it hard to believe any mage would have such power”
Magic? Wait- “You mean to say the prisoner has magic?” Cassandra demanded, eyes flicking to the make-shift spear on Viridian’s back. “Then why isn't she a mage?”
“Mage is a term for someone who has enough power to push spells through a focus, someone who can fight using magic and enchant. The prisoner seems to have only enough for little magic's, much like a Rivani Seer. Its likely she hasn’t even used it for anything but minor charms, correct?” Solas looked at Viridian in conformation.
“He’s right. Most of my family has little magics, charms and home-makers spells mostly. None of us use it in combat, or outside of the house” She admitted, to Cassandra's annoyance.
“Wait, what about the staff? Haven't you been using that to fight?” Varric sidled into the conversation, cleaning an ichor-covered bolt for Bianca.
“She has been using it as a spear,” Cassandra muttered, looking ready to fight something. Not only did she have to deal with two apostates, one was a house-witch that likely knew little about the outside world.
“Well with that little revelation, can we go now? My hand is starting to act up again, and I would rather keep walking” The Seeker and Varric looked up to see Viridian standing next to a broken down wall with her arms crossed, the mark casting a green glow on her ribs. Solas followed her lead easily, striding towards her and waiting expectantly for the other two companions.
“So, a spear?” Varric eyed the broken off end where the focus had previously sat as he walked up. “You any good with one?”
Viridian shrugged. “I remember using something like it before. The only difference is that this one has a blade instead of a flag.”
She got sudden silence and she looked up from watching the ground. The group was staring at her like she had grown a second head. “What?”
“You said you are good with a spear” Cassandra sputtered.
“I never said that. I said a staff could be used like a spear. Not that I am any good with one” Viridian corrected to the Seeker’s annoyance.
“Is there any weapon you are good at?” She retorted. Viridian looked thoughtful for a moment.
“I'm alright with a pole-arm, but I prefer hand-to-hand better. But I hopefully ain't gonna be punchin’ a demon anytime soon” She said flatly. Varric snorted quietly next to her.
“Fair enough” The dwarf was about to say something else when demons appeared from the ice before them.
With a shout, Cassandra charged into the fray, eager to hurt something. Varric was quick to ready and start shooting Bianca, aiming for the wraiths trying to hit the Seeker from afar. Solas, on the other hand, seemed focused on keeping Viridian behind him, even going as far to keep an arm out, blocking her from moving.
“What are you doing?” She demanded, frustrated after trying a third time to help Cassandra, only to have Solas hold her back.
“Keeping you safe. I will shield the Seeker and support Varric, but I cannot allow you to join the fighting. You would be a liability if you joined the fray” Solas’s eyes were sharp, carving the words into Viridian’s mind and she paused in her efforts to help. Satisfied by this, Solas turned back to the fight, only for him to be knocked over by a fairly large Shade.
With this, he heard a loud growl emanate from Viridian’s chest and saw her charge the demon, teeth bared. He hastily cast a barrier on the girl, only to see the faint shield of her aura snap into place around her. Not enough to shield from physical blows, but enough that it lessened the impact from the Shades claws.
With his barrier and her aura coexisting, the Shades claws scraped down her arm without leaving a mark, allowing her to do what had earlier said she hoped she wouldn't have to do.
She socked the Shade in the 'jaw', staggering it.
Not allowing herself a moment of peace, she followed the hay-maker with a sharp slash from her spear and then impaled the Shade, pinning it to the ice.
Panting and red-faced, Viridian turned to Solas with a fire in her eyes. “Liability huh?” She offered a hand down to the fallen mage who looked at in confusion.
“I take my words back. But I am sure the Seeker would prefer you away from the fighting” he said, ignoring the offer and getting up on his own. Viridian retracted her hand with a raised brow and a shrug before looking to Cassandra and Varric.
The two were arguing about kill-stealing and Viridian snorted. “Somethings never change”
After grabbing what they could from the goo-piles, the group marched on, Viridian hanging back.
Quietly, she looked at the frozen state her hand was in. The mark was larger, much larger than it had been. But that wasn't what frightened her.
What scared her was that she couldn't feel her fingers anymore.
“Prisoner!” The Seeker shouted back, scowling at the girl.
Viridian startled from her thoughts and hid her hand. “Coming!”
Chapter 3: Nightmare Realized
In which Viridian contemplates memory, nearly punches someone and deals with a Terror attack.
I decided to update a day early, simply because I had it ready and it was close enough.
This is not JUST Chapter 3, but also chapter 4, since I've been trying to write more.
Soon the quartet reached a snowy hill, flanked on one side by a broken down and burning home. It is then that Varric decides to ask his burning question.
“So kid, did you do it?” The question makes Viridian pause for a moment, one foot slightly raised to take the stairs in front of her.
“To be perfectly honest?” She says, continuing her motion and proceeding up the stairs. “I don’t remember much. I remember-” she breaks off, remembering flickering fire, screaming, light, nodonttakemeyet -”the Fade I guess? Parts of it anyway. I didn't really have time to take in the scenery.” Varric snorts at her bad joke while Solas and the Seeker give her the side eye. “But still only remember part of my life before” This makes Solas give her a look.
“What you mean ‘Part’?” Varric asks, brow crinkled.
“When I woke up, I couldn't even remember my name. It took seeing my hand to remember that. Little things help me remember bits, but the rest of my life is blurry. The rift helped me remember my sister, the pain for my step-father, the sky for my mother. The trees and snow are not unlike my last home and the stones gave me an inkling of my schooling. Beyond that, it's blurry. I still can't remember my father's face.” Viridian finishes the stairs with her sentence and with it, they reach the forward camp. The others don't have time to question her after reaching it, finding another rift between them and the camp.
The fight goes quickly, Cassandra and Varric taking the brunt, while Solas barriers them and casts ice spells. It is soon apparent that Viridian prefers to defend, not go on the offensive when a Shade tries to take a chunk out of Solas. The Shade is dealt with quicker than they thought she could do so and Viridian proceeds to stick close to Solas for the rest of the battle. The rift this time isn't as loud, it's ringing softer and more cajoling.
But closing it makes Viridian collapse after, going to her knees and struggling to breathe.
“Kid!” Varric is the first to reach her, for all Solas was near her. The Mage looks on as the girl struggles to breathe until suddenly, she is coughing and red splatters on the snow. The image of her, kneeling in ichor and ash mixed with snow, marked hand clutched to her chest and bent over trying to breathe is striking. It makes him hope that when the Breach is closed, and he brings down the Veil, she will not feel it.
“I'm okay. We should keep going” Viridian sits up on her heels, face towards the sky. Cassandra notes the blood on her mouth still and the glassy look in her eyes. Saying nothing, the Seeker helps her up and escorts her to the door, one arm under hers and supporting her.
The Seeker shouts to the guards to open the gate and the group gets a good look at the chaos before them. There are people wrapped in sheets, lying still on the bridge. Others are injured, some weeping openly, others quietly. There were boxes scattered around the bridge and Cassandra dips into one, handing a red vial to Viridian, who drinks it gladly.
On the far side of the bridge, they see Sister Leliana and an older man in Chantry robes arguing vehemently. The man is red-faced and angry, while Leliana seems to be calmly (or rather blankly) trying to get her point across.
As they approach the table, the man Viridian recognizes as Chancellor Roderick looks away from Leliana and pins her down with an angry sneer.
“Well, here they are” he stared Viridian down, muddy eyes pinning her in place. He looked older in real life, the crow’s feet around his eyes deeper and the lines on his mouth stronger. But that also meant he must have had an okay life, to have laugh lines. Maybe he wasn’t so bad?
Leliana looks away from the Chancellor and the blank pleasantness melts into genuine happiness at seeing Cassandra. Her smile is small, but Viridian sees the soft joy in her eyes. It did make sense that the Hands of the Divine would not only get along but would get close in their duties.
“You made it” Her voice is clear but soft and relieved. “Chancellor, this is-” she is cut off by the Chancellor.
“I know who she is.” He hisses, eyes no longer muddy with sorrow and now narrowed and sharp with rage. “As Grand Chancellor of the Chantry, I order you to take this prisoner to Val Royeaux for execution.” He has a rictus grin on his face, smiling in a way that shows both teeth and an underlying hatred.
Nah, he’s bad.
Viridian feels the urge to punch the Chancellor and bolt, laughing, towards the Breach and close it just to spite him. She is saved from her urge by Cassandra stares him down.
“Order me? You are a glorified clerk, a bureaucrat!” Viridian sneaks a glance at Cassandra’s face and sees the same fire that was directed at her earlier.
“And you are a thug, but a thug that supposedly serves that Chantry” The two are closer now, and Cassandra looks like she is five seconds away from joining Viridian in trying to sock the Chancellor in the mouth.
“We serve the Most Holy Chancellor” Leliana steps in, hands slightly out trying to calm the both of them. She eyes Cassandra who takes a small step back in consideration of the Sister. “As you well know,” She says this pointedly to Roderick, who turns a darker shade of red.
“Justinia is dead!” He snaps back and Viridian sees the smallest flinch from Cassandra at the statement. “We must elect a replacement and obey her orders on the matter”. He says it with finality as if it is going to solve the whole problem of a hole in the sky.
But Viridian is done. She was in pain, starting to numb and one of the people she knows she cares about is in pain as well. Cassandra may not know her, but Viridian knows the Seeker, and they both want this to be over.
“Enough!” She shouts, surprising the arguing group. “How about this: you let us continue, I close the Breach or die trying, and you lot can continue fighting after demons stop raining from the damned SKY!” By the end, Viridian is practically shouting in anger and there is a definite growl in her words.
But Roderick either ignores the growl or is too stupid to learn. “You are the one who caused the Breach in the first place!” He yells back and leans forward. Varric must see Viridian about to get in his face because he quickly grabs the hem of her sweater and twists.
“Don’t” He softly warns as her eyes sweep towards him. He watches as her jaw clenches and then softens and he lets go after seeing her tiny nod. But he stays close to her and sees her clutch her slightly shaking hands together, fingers of the unmarked hand digging grooves into the marked one. Obeying and smart, but still raging inside.
Roderick ignores the tiny scene and turns to Cassandra next. “Call the retreat Seeker. We are done here.” His voice is tired, but Viridian feels no pity for the old man. Their eyes meet again, briefly and she wonders if he can feel her anger when he flinches away.
Cassandra shakes her head. “We can still stop this before it's too late” she stands firm, shoulders back and the girl can see the stubbornness in her chin.
“How? You won't make it all the way to the temple, even with your soldiers” Roderick is trying to cajole the Seeker, make her give up. But Cassandra has an iron backbone and she stands firm.
“We must get to the temple. It's the quickest route”
“But not the safest” Leliana steps in now, giving Cassandra a meaningful look and her eyes flicker to the very injured Viridian standing by her left side. “Our forces can charge as a distraction while we send you through the mountain pass.”
The Seeker frowns at her compatriot. “We lost an entire squad on that path. It's too risky,” she argues and turns fully to Leliana.
Roderick rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “Listen to me Seeker. Abandon this now, before more lives are lost” The three have a minor standoff when Viridian’s hand activates again.
She can feel the muscles in the palm of her hand and wrist twist and twitch in a parody of a cramp and the fire makes her whine high in her throat before she cuts it off, teeth gritted and blood sweet in her mouth. The feeling of a warm hand on her lower back makes her glance back as it bleeds off and she sees Varric’s concerned look. She gives him a shaky smile, trying to be reassuring.
“What do you think we should do?” The Seeker says, looking down to the marked girl. It takes Viridian a moment to process, mind not all there.
“You're asking me?” She rasps, looking confused into Cassandra’s eyes.
“You are the one with the Mark,” Solas says, speaking for the first time since they arrived on the bridge.
Cassandra nods. “And the one we have to keep alive. So prisoner, pick” She watches the prisoner bite her lip, and mentally run through the options before she nods.
“We take the mountain pass”
Cassandra frowns, but Leliana seems to be relieved, likely hoping her scouts are still alive.
Viridian is tense though, remembering the ladders and tall outcrops on the mountain and she hopes that the mark won't act up on her way up a ladder. Went through a portal to another world, fought demons, survived an explosion, only to be killed by falling off a ladder. But she knew that saving the scouts would be worth it.
Saving anyone would be worth it.
“Leliana” The Seeker turns to the Sister, face solemn. “Bring everyone in the valley. Everyone”
Leliana nods briefly before turning to a group of scouts behind the squad and begins to bark orders.
Viridian leaves her old make-shift spear by one of the pillars and grabs a fresh one, this one an actual spear, well balanced and wrapped in leather around the core.
They pass the Chancellor on the way off and Viridian hear him hiss at Cassandra as they go.
“On your head be the consequences Seeker”
She notes the flinch on her Seekers shoulder and meets Roderick’s eyes as she brushes his shoulder and growls deep in her throat. His flinch is worth the strange look she gets from Solas and the considering one from Varric.
The walk to the mountain path is short and silent. Cassandra led, with Viridian close behind her. The marked girl often looked behind her and would see Varric helping Solas in small ways, like waiting for him to catch up and quietly hurrying him. The expression on the elf’s face said he didn't appreciate it very much, but Viridian bit her lip to keep from laughing at his slightly put out expression. Soon the group got up to the first set of ladders and Viridian swallowed her previous giggles.
If there was one thing she was certain of, it was that she hated heights with a fiery passion. When she had been in school, she would have to sometimes climb the large ladder to the catwalk above the stage to adjust the lights and make sure they were working. The problem with both? The ladder went twenty feet in the air and there was only a small door on the side you had to literally slide into to get onto the catwalk.
But hopefully, there would be no sliding onto precarious ledges here.
Cassandra is first, clambering up the ladder with the focus of someone in a hurry. As Solas climbs up next, the two begin to talk about the complex or tunnels. Varric tries to motion Viridian up the ladder first but sees her hesitation.
“Scared of heights?” He says it gentle, but her expression twists anyway.
“Scared of falling. With the rate my hand is going, I'm worried it will spark while I'm on the ladder.”
He gives her hand a considering look. “Fair enough. Want me to go after or before you?”
A pause. “Before please”
And so, Varric climbs the ladder and soon hears the quiet steps of Viridian below him. As he gets off, the girl is only a few rungs below him. It is no trouble to hold out a hand and help her the last foot of the ladder.
When Viridian finally stands, Varric is only a few feet behind her but Cassandra and Solas are already at the next ladder. Sighing, she picks up her pace, and after a while pulls herself off the last ladder and grasps the snow-covered ground with clawed hands.
“You alright kid?” The concern in Varric’s tone would be touching if Cassandra wasn’t pulling her up by the back of her sweater like an errant kitten.
“We don't have much time. Come on” Cassandra set her on her feet and made sure Viridian had even footing before they continued to the tunnel.
Viridian was the one who felt it first, the haze of uneven air and the soft song that came with rifts. But it was warped, dissonant, like a song played out of time. Solas was the one who felt it next and followed the realization with swinging his staff from his back and readying a spell.
Solas and Cassandra got to the tunnel first and found a pair of Shades, one Greater, and a few wraiths. Cassandra is the one to go for the Greater and Solas begins to pin down the other. Viridian watches from ways away as Varric begins to shoot at the Wraiths and she feels nearly dream-drunk. Hazy and not-here, not completely.
But that feeling fades when she sees the red of blood on Cassandra’s cheek after the Greater knocks her down. Cassandra is on the ground, grabbing for her sword, but the Shade is huge and Viridian’s heart sinks. She undoes the bandoleer on her torso and swings her spear out. Darting forward, she goes from underneath, stabbing through the Shades head, and swings her body into toppling it down. The Shade’s neck is bared and using what strength she has, she curb stomps it’s neck, and doesn't stop until the ‘windpipe’ is crushed beneath her boots.
She wrenches her spear from beneath its jaw and looks up to see the very surprised faces of her companions. “Are you alright?” She pants, looking at Cassandra who nods silently. “Then let's get moving, my wrist is going numb.”
She turns her back to them missing Varric’s quiet mutter of “Maker”, Cassandra's quiet look of respect and the subtle widening of Solas’s eyes at her last comment.
The four of them get through the tunnel mostly unscathed, Viridian and Varric finding a few things left from the last occupants scattered about. By the time they see the sky again, Viridian’s brow is crinkled and she is no longer trying to hide the sparking of her hand and the subsequent twitching that goes with it.
They arrived at a scene out of a war picture. Scattered on the ground are the bodies of scouts, in the sky is a swirling mass of Fade and the skyline in front of them is fenced in with huge crags of black rock riddled with green.
“Guess we found the scouts,” Varric says from next to Viridian who gives a small twitch from where her eyes are focused on the Breach. Cassandra steps up next and does a mental count and frowns.
“This cannot be all of them” She wonders aloud, stepping between the bodies.
“Maybe the others are holed up ahead?” Viridian looks away from the sky for a moment, long enough to see Varric close the eyes of a young woman in armor, who had been split neatly in half by something with claws. She gave a shudder and felt a hand on her shoulder. Looking up, she saw the grey-blue of Solas’s eyes looking at her in concern.
“Can you continue? Or do you need guidance?” It takes her a moment to realize what he is asking and she shakes her head.
“I need to see it. It helps.” She whispers back, looking back to Varric and Cassandra doing a quick rite for the dead. Her gaze flicks back to him and she gives him a sad smile. “But thank you”. He nods in answer and his hand drops, leaving an imprint of warmth on her shoulder.
“Our priority is the Breach. If we do not seal it quickly, no one will be safe” He intones to the others as they close the eyes of the dead and put pieces near each other.
Varric gives humorless chuckle and nods. “I'm leaving that to the girl with the glowing hand over here”
The group practically runs down the hill, hoping and praying that the others are alive. Viridian knows they will, but there is always a chance, a hypothetical chance, that they could be too late. The thought makes her break into a dead sprint, passing Cassandra’s long strides and Solas’s swift feet.
She pulls up to a dead stop and nearly falls over as the Rift spits a spray of demons.
She hears one of the scouts call Cassandra’s name and watches the Seeker turn her momentum into a weapon, running down a Shade with her shield in hand. The first wave is quickly dealt with and the scouts breathe a sigh of relief as Viridian pulls at the rift, only to find it boom open again, knocking her down. She hears a scream from something inhuman and opens hazy eyes to see a Terror. It’s taller than she expected and the gaping mouth is lined with more teeth than she thought possible.
Feeling her horror, it turns its spindly limbs towards her and tries to grab her ankle while she is prone. A swipe with her spear has it squealing again and she scrambles to unsteady feet, shaking off the feeling of the rift.
“Heads up!” She hears Varric shout and goes stock still, feeling a sting and hearing a whistle as a bolt goes into the Terrors eye. She sees an opening and goes for it, stabbing rapidly and shallowly, trying to distract it from where Solas is dealing with the Wraiths and Cassandra is toppling the other. But the rapid stabs take a toll on her arms and the Terror takes advantage of a too-shallow jab at its chest by tearing her spear from her hands. It drops it immediately, but the damage is done and Viridian is weaponless.
The next part happens in slow motion. A claw coming down, her taking the barest step back as Varric shouts and a bolt hits its other eye, causing it to barely miss her throat, hitting her temple and dragging sharp ice down the side of her face. Blinded, the Terror tries to strike again, but Viridian rides the endorphins, lunging for her spear. She takes advantage of her height as she stabs nearly straight up the blinded Terrors mouth and watches the tip of her spear come out the other side.
Not wasting time, she ignores the pain in her face and the cheer from one of the scouts as the last Wraith is defeated and connects to the rift.
There is no pain this time, no twisted feelings, no calming whispers. Fire and fire collide, tearing something in Viridian’s wrist but leaving her arm still connected. It closes with the feeling of numbness up to her elbow and blood dripping into her eyes.
Her knees are almost too weak and she sags after the closing, only to feel strong arms holding her up. She sees Solas from the corner of her eye, with a small smile on his face looking at where the rift used to be.
“You are becoming very proficient at this,” He says, still not looking at her.
“Let's hope it works on the big one. Are you okay kid? It looked like it-” Varric walks up to her from behind, cutting himself off as both he and Solas get a look at the gash across the left side of her face. The cuts runs from her temple, running under her eye and just under her lips, making parallel lines of red streak through pale skin.
Confused by the reactions, she is about open her mouth to ask when she hears Cassandra mention her.
“-prisoner insisted we come this way,” the Seeker says, speaking to a scout on brown leather. The two of them look to Viridian and Cassandra freezes, seeing blood on grey cotton and pale skin.
The scout doesn’t miss a beat though, smiling at Viridian slightly. “It was worth saving you if we could” Viridian decides to stick to the script, not really knowing what else to say.
The scout bows lightly. “Then you have my sincere gratitude”
Cassandra cuts in next, eyes never leaving the red dripping off of Viridian’s face. “The way behind us is clear, for now. Go before that changes” The order is firm and the scout barks at her troupe to do so.
Unstable but stubborn, Viridian tries to take a step without the support of Solas and nearly blacks out before Cassandra grabs her, watching the hazel of her eyes dull slightly.
“Varric! Potion, now!” The Seeker orders and Varric is hasty to comply, undoing a vial from his belt and tipping it down the insensate girl throat. It takes her a moment to swallow but she does eventually. The blood begins to slow almost immediately and he takes a roll of bandages from the Seeker and swipes the blood off Viridian’s face and smears salve on it.
The hands rolling the bandages on are careful and steady, pulling them tight, but not hard enough to hurt. Varric had been silently cheering the girl on since she defended Chuckles, but this was something else. He quietly hoped he was right, that this girl didn't kill the Divine, that she was innocent.
But as he had been wrong before.
So very wrong.
“Come on” she rasps, sitting up in Cassandra’s arms and taking the offered pole from a shockingly blank Solas. “The sky isn't gonna seal itself”
She haltingly begins to walk again and her companions share a look and steel themselves as they walk forward.
Chapter 4: Shadow of Doubt
After Viridian’s collapse, Cassandra refused to take a hand off of her. Mostly, she kept her hand wound into the back of Viridian’s grey and bloodied sweater. It was a size bigger than fit the girl’s frame, but it allowed the Seeker to fist her hand in it without hindering Viridian’s already stilted movements. Behind them, Varric and Solas had a quiet conversation about magic theory that made Viridian want to join them.
But her muscles were wound tight and she fought to keep her eyes focused. Her face was essentially numb on one side and she could feel the torn muscles stretch under her skin. But the pain helped, making it so she didn't simply lay down and let the numbness take her. It was tempting, under her skin, nestled in the space between her spine and the base of her skull, whispering.
Soon, there is something to distract her, and it comes in a smell that makes her stomach lurch. The smell of roasting meat is reflected in the twisted bodies littering the ruins before them and she hears Cassandra inhale sharply from behind her. But nothing prepares her for the rush of a half memory-
“Run Ridi! Come on!” A figure, silhouetted by infinite shadow, a white shape against black-
“Wait up Lettie! I can't catch up!” Chasing, reaching, just beyond her-
The sight of her sister, disappearing into a place beyond her reach and a pair of wings, huge and leathery, filling her vision-
“You must go this way. Her path will cross with yours soon enough” Red eyes surrounded by stars-
Erupting into a temple, huge and vibrant, candlelit and someone screaming---
“Prisoner!” Cassandra was in front of her suddenly, shaking her shoulders and making her headache more. The Seekers eyes were wild and level to her, and Viridian filled in the space, feeling stone on her knees and realized she must have collapsed.
“Seeker?” Her voice was raspy and she spotted Varric gripping Bianca white-knuckled and the wide-eyed look Solas was giving her, clutching his own staff. Her gaze went back to Cassandra’s pale face and settled. “What happened? Why am I kneeling?”
“You went pale suddenly and fell to your knees. Your eyes went blank and I had been shaking you for some time when you came back.” Her eyes narrowed and searched Viridian’s face. “You saw something” The word were a statement, not a question and Viridian winced. “Tell me”
“Tell me!” The words were shouted next and Viridian broke.
“I saw my sister! She was with me, running in the darkness and then she was gone! Then I heard something screaming and I was alone” The two of them stared into each other's eyes, one on the verge of tears and the other disbelieving. They could hear Varric’s shaky breath and the un-cocking of a bolt, but the only thing that mattered was the eyes between them, hazel and sea-glass, both tired of losing things and too stubborn to stop fighting. Cassandra’s next breathe was a sigh and she hoisted Viridian up by her bicep.
“We must keep moving” They all navigated the dead quietly, Viridian keeping her eyes on Cassandra’s sword, lest she get another vision of her likely-dead twin sister. Soon the four of them reached a blazing hallway and Viridian got her first up-close glimpse of the Breach.
The center of her vision was swallowed by a huge emerald crystal, spanning at least ten feet wide and spinning in place, changing its points and warping the air around it, making it shimmer like asphalt in a heat wave. Above it was shimmering, swirling smoke in yellows and greens blending in together to create a color not unlike infection, bringing forth images of disease and open wounds.
But the worst part was the sound. It filled the gaps in Viridian’s ears, and for once, her whole body was silent except for its song, reverberating in her bones, discordant and off-time, but still beautiful in a way that set her teeth on edge. She tuned out Leliana’s arrival and conversation with Cassandra, simply listening. Between one blink and the next, she saw the sound and fought the urge to walk into it.
A hand on her elbow brought her back, blinking into reality. Varric stood by her, a warm hand on her torn sweater, looking at her in concern.
“You blanked out again. You alright?” He eyed her, sweeping from her bandaged ankle and boots, to the claw swipe on her face, settling his amber eyes to her hazel ones.
“I'm fine. Let's get this over with” She watched his hand drop and saw Cassandra waiting. She quietly walked over to the Seeker and felt an armored gauntlet guide her over rocks and around holes.
Leliana walked with them for a while and stayed mostly on Viridian’s uninjured side. But the moment she sees the marks on the girl’s face, her eyes widen slightly at the harsh red seeping through beige bandages and the almost Tranquil look on the girl’s face. The only thing separating her from one is the lack of a sunburst on her forehead. The thought makes the Spymaster shudder silently before she slips away to ensure her scouts are positioned correctly.
From the smoke, a voice erupts rumbling through the ruins. “Now is the hour of our victory. Bring forth the sacrifice”
The voice is deep and full of bass, making the ground shake under their feet. Cassandra feels Viridian stumble and makes a fist in her sweater at the sound. She turns to their resident Mage in confusion.
“What are we hearing?”
Solas replies with a furrowed brow. “At a guess? The person who created the Breach” He stares at the shredded reality swirling above them and motions for them to keep walking when nothing happens for a moment.
The group passes a group of archers and Cassandra feels the prisoner physically shy away from the red crystals jutting up from the ground.
“You know this stuff is red lyrium Seeker” Varric growls from behind her and Viridian turns her head, to look at the dwarf, concern on her tired face.
“I am aware Varric” Cassandra replies shortly.
“But what’s it doing here?” He glances around, taking in the blood-colored spires and quietly steering Viridian’s feet away from bumping one.
Solas hums. “Magic could have drawn the lyrium up from beneath the temple. Corrupted it, perhaps...” He breaks off, brow furrowed, staring at the lyrium with a frown.
“It’s evil” Varric grits. He looks up to Viridian’s concerned face and gives her a soft look. “Whatever you do, don't touch it,” He says aside to her.
“Not a problem” She rasps back, voice thready. Between the Breach and the scattered, discordant lyrium song, her head was muddled and drawn to instinct. An instinct that made her hair stand on end whenever she was within a foot of the stuff.
“Keep the sacrifice still” The air rumbles again and it takes everything Viridian has to not stumble over her own feet in her startle. But it's the next words that make Cassandra twitch.
“Someone help me!” A clear, female voice rings out and Viridian sees Cassandra’s mask fall for a moment, showcasing sorrow and the briefest moment of hope. The hand in her sweater is tighter now like the Seeker needs something to ground her.
“That was Divine Justinia’s voice!” Her voice has a slight tremble in it and Viridian’s heart breaks. She knows Justinia is dead, has been dead, since she saw Breach. But Cassandra doesn't know, and hope can be as harmful as despair.
The group finally arrives at the crater at the base of the temple. Varric and Solas hop down first, Solas’s height lending to an easier time while Varric agility gives him the courage to vault down. Cassandra lets Viridian go and hops down.
The trio then watches as Viridian turns and kneels at the edge, slowly lowering herself down the sheer drop. She dangles for a moment by her hands and her feet are almost a foot off of the ground. The drop is small, but the whimper after when her ankle throbs is audible. Cassandra steadies her when she turns to them too quickly. She gets a raised brow from Solas and an amused look from Varric.
The moment is broken however by the Rift above them suddenly booming forth, expanding even more as the crystalline structure goes wildly out of sync. Viridian feels the expansion in her ribs, the combination of the closeness and the spread of the mark making it hard to breathe.
“Someone help me!” Justinia’s voice repeats in the now-silent space.
But it was the voice that rang out next that froze Viridian’s companions. “What the hell is going on here!?” Her voice is strong in the auditory memory, clear and ready to fight.
Cassandra’s grip tightens even more in Viridian’s sweater and her eyes are wild. “That was your voice! The Divine called out to you-” Viridian’s face must have keyed her in because she stops and her face falls. “She’s gone isn’t she”
“I am so sorry Seeker” Her prisoner whispers, hand touching Cassandra’s for a brief moment before going limp. “I-” Viridian sentence is left unfinished as the world around them goes white and grey and an image appears out of the light.
This scene had always struck Viridian as something out of a horror movie. A huge, spiky silhouette with glowing eyes standing over a woman, bound by light and unable to defend her self, save for screaming. Then from the side, she knows that her past self will appear. And appear she does, but not like Viridian thought she would. Past!Her is dirty, with soot smeared on one pale cheek and over her size-too-big sweater. Her clothes were ash-covered, and there is a burn mark on the hem of her sweater. What’s more shocking is the expression on her face.
There is no terror, only anger, and her hand is wrapped around a blade made of stone, white-knuckled and determined.
“What the hell is going on here!?” She yells, ready to fight and gazing directly into the eyes of the silhouette.
But Justinia has other plans and struggles more. “Run while you can! Warn then!”
The monstrous silhouette points to Viridian. “We have an intruder” His voice echoes through the crater as people come closer to watch the last of the scene. “Kill the Outlander”
The scene collapses like wet paper, folding itself back into the rift. They all stand in silence and Cassandra turns to Viridian, who is looking to her empty hands. “You were there, you...” She breaks off when Viridian looks back up at her. “You came to help the Divine”
The prisoner snorts. “Did a really good job of that, didn’t I?”
Solas clears his throat. “Seeker. The rift here is not sealed, but it is closed, albeit temporarily. I believe that with the Mark, we could open the Rift and seal it closed, permanently. However, doing so is going to cause attention from the other side” Cassandra’s jaw clenches and she nods.
“That means demons” She shouts to the scouts and soldiers scattered around the crater. “Stand ready!” The area is full of the sounds of stretched bow-strings and the ring of unsheathed swords. Viridian looks around and sighs.
The moment of truth.
Cassandra nods to her and with a silent prayer to whoever is listening, Viridian lifts her arm and connects.
The pain before has been a treat compared to what she felt now. The rift was wild and fought, thrashing between her bones and skin, wanting to get better, but not wanting what happens before. It wanted to stay closed, but there, not wanting to come apart. But she gripped at the edges of make-shift stitches and cut them, letting the infection spill out.
And spill out it did. With a boom, the space below the Rift was no longer empty. Wreathed in lightning, a Pride demon shimmered into the world, screaming with both joy and rage. It floated in the space between reality and dreams before dropping with a rumble to the ground.
Cassandra barked an order and all hell broke loose.
The battle itself was a blur. Viridian watched as the shapes of scouts shot and stabbed at the demon, watched Cassandra’s fierce form scream battle cries to the Demon, circling like a shark smelling fresh blood.
But Viridian tuned all of it out, looking for a place where she would be defended when the shades came out. Glancing around, she saw a pair of soldiers hanging back and keeping the border secure. She raced towards them as fast as she could, ignoring the look Varric gave her from across the crater. She slid between them and saw them about to argue.
“Look. There are demons in there, and I need to be near it to close it. So before you argue, I need to do a thing and I am in way to much pain to listen to either of you” The girl snapped, eyes flickering in between the two’s faces. They exchanged glances and said nothing, allowing Viridian to focus on the rift.
The connection this time went into her hand, wrapping around the muscles from the inside and writhing. She pulls, feeling it pull back, not wanting to leave, wanting to stay, be a part of something, be a part of her. But the feeling fades as she rips into it, shredding the uneven stitches and the clinging sinew and making new threads, tying and burning and cauterizing the wound. The Rift twitches in her grasp and convulses before imploding, causing the demon to roar in frustration and collapse, allowing the soldiers to get at its head and chest.
But Viridian isn't focusing on them. She is instead focusing on not passing out in the arms of a rather pretty scout who is shouting at her friend to get a healing potion. The liquid is thick as it goes down her throat and she almost chokes on it, but it eventually goes down. The face of her soldier is blurry, and her voice sounds like they are underwater.
“Kid! Hey, kid! Don't die, you're not done yet” The soldier yells and Viridian has the urge to smack her in the face and yell ‘No shit!’. But her arms barely work enough to grab the arms holding her and make her feet work.
“Think you can get the demon while I seal it?” Viridian pants as a pair of shades burst from the rift as it recovers. The soldier startles and takes the sword from her back and starts swinging while the scout keeps her arms ready to catch Viridian again.
“Just make the hole go away and I’ll fight any demon you want,” The scout says, watching Viridian’s unsteady steps. The marked girl huffs a tired laugh and looks at the Rift again, listening for the key change and gets it sooner than expected. The Pride demon is weak and is almost dead, and the Rift is ready, on its last legs.
But then again, so is she.
In -connect, screaming, tearing-
Out -rip the wound, seal its edges, cauterize, one last push-
And the Rift above them all implodes, knocking people down as the Pride demon dies and with a lackluster pop, it is gone.
A cheer goes up and Cassandra sighs, trying to catch her breath. Her eyes flicker around, trying to find the prisoner. Finally, her eyes settle and her blood goes cold.
Viridian is coughing, struggling to breathe in the arms of one of Leliana’s scouts, who is screaming for a healer. A soldier is holding her head up, trying to feed her something, but she is choking on red, too much red to simply be the potion. Her sweater is sticking to her, red seeping through the sleeve of the marked arm in spreading fractal patterns.
She is dying and there is nothing that they can do to stop it. Viridian watches between heavy blinks as Cassandra runs towards her, yelling for Solas.
She can feel reality slipping away and tries to hold on. But the pain is too much and she slips into the Fade to the sound of Cassandra and Solas running and a soft warm voice echoing in the space behind her eyes.
“You have done so well Chosen. Rest now”
Chapter 5: Move Like a Soldier
The Fade is different than what Viridian thought it would be. The games had given her glimpses, mostly of crumbled ruins, green and grey smoke and twisted reality.
But here, in her own Realm, the Fade crafted something different. Above her lingered the mass of grey and green customary to the Fade, but it changed somewhere along the ‘skyline’ into an endless sea of stars. The stars changed into mountains and valleys, white silhouettes against a black sky. Closer to her was a forest, all lush green grass, soft peat moss and so many varieties of flowers, she could barely count them all.
But in the center of her little grove was something that made her stop cold.
The forest parted gently, curtains of vine framing a huge marble and quartz throne, draped in furs and surrounded by blood-red poppies. It was lit by floating lanterns in a myriad of sizes and shapes, some in wrought iron, and others in pastel paper. It looked oddly comforting for being made of stone. Viridian walked towards the throne and felt the whisper of grass against her bare ankles and the brush of petals against her shins. Running curious fingers along the arms, she found it warm and beating like a huge heart.
Settling in, Viridian folded herself into the great chair and looked towards where she had come from, expecting raw Fade and perhaps a glowing follower. But instead, she saw an unending horizon that followed a winding road towards a decrepit city.
Black, long-fingered hands covered her eyes and the City was wiped from her vision as a voice echoed.
“Not yet little Chosen. You have been asleep too long”
The voice followed her into waking, as she jerked awake, knocking her bandaged arm against a table and she heard a belated clatter and the chime of broken glass.
Blinking away the blackness, she was greeted by the sight of a wide-eyed Elf girl using her shaking hands to clean up broken bottles of a deep red liquid.
“I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to wake you, I promise!” The girl looked near crying and her shaking hands got worse as Viridian struggled to sit up in the cot she had been lying in.
“Hey, easy. You didn't wake me up. Did I scare you?” Viridian tried testing a foot on the cold floor and thought better of trying to get up just yet.
The Elf abandoned her quest to clean up the glass and fell into a kneeling bow. “I beg forgiveness, my Lady! I did not mean to!” Viridian blinked in surprise and opened her mouth to reassure the girl when she stood up in a flowing movement that made Viridian’s head swim.
“I’m sorry my Lady, but I must get to Seeker Cassandra! At once she said, at once!” The elf booked it out the door before Viridian could get a word in edgewise. The door slammed open wide enough for the girl to race out and for Viridian to catch a glimpse of rows upon rows of people gathered around the hut she was in.
Viridian slowly turned her head, taking stock of the room she was in. The wooden floor was covered in a red rug made of spun wool and around her were small trinkets from the last inhabitant. A guitar-like instrument leaned against a desk chair on the far side and a wire bird-cage sat in between the glass-less window and a sparse book-shelf.
Sighing, Viridian cradled her aching head in her hands. Outside, she was surrounded by people, strangers, who would either worship her or think she was a heretic. She would have to eventually leave the cabin or someone would come to get her. Both options were less than ideal.
Glancing up, she caught sight of the window again and an idea burst into her mind.
Slowly, she stood, wobbling slightly with the rush of blood going places again after being stationary for Deity knows how long. Her first steps were shaky as she grabbed her battered hiking boots from near the door and she quickly tied them on and tucked the stray ends of her laces behind the tongue. She climbed carefully out the window and took a peek around the cabin.
The mob was sizeable and most of them were doing one of three things: watching the door with wide eyes, saluting or whispering to their neighbors. Either way, none of them noticed a figure in fine cotton and hiking boots climbing the rocks next to the small cabin.
Wheezing slightly, Viridian mounted the highest rock on the hill and surveyed the way down. A small rung hung from the roof of a nearby house and she slowly made her way down to it and used the rung to vault her way to the ground, muttering a small “parkour” as she landed, rocking her feet to even out her weight.
Glancing around, she edged around the back of the cabin and made her way to the Chantry where she knew the start of the Inquisition would be.
Vaulting into the small window was harder than it used to be and as she walked to the door out of the room, she caught a flicker of silver in her peripheral vision. Turning, she was greeted by the sight of a stranger trapped in a silver mirror.
The girl opposite her was changed, to say the least. The once wavy dark hair had been shorn close to her head on the sides, giving room to the vibrant red scars that ran from her right temple to her chin, cutting below her chin and narrowly missing her eye and lip. Lifting a hand, Viridian gingerly touched the shorn hair and followed the scars, finding them sore and aching. The lifted hand cast a sickly green glow across her face, highlighting a flicker in her eyes. Leaning closer, Viridian saw the source of the flicker. Her eyes had always been hazel, a strong mix of green and brown where the two were hard to distinguish. But now, an almost glowing green ring surrounded her pupil, making her look alien and otherworldly.
Viridian stared for a moment before shaking off the feeling. Now was no time to wonder why her eyes had changed. Cassandra and Leliana were waiting for her.
The Sisters of the Chantry either didn't notice her or didn't care as she walked slowly and purposefully towards the room at the end of the hall, the one that would become the War Room.
As she approached the door, she could hear Roderick's voice carrying through the wood and Cassandra's voice lifted in an answer. Taking a deep breath, she slowly pushed open the door.
Leliana stood quietly in the corner, her eyes flicking up immediately to see who was entering. Viridian met her eyes and gave a quiet nod and let her eyes flick from the argument back to Leliana with a raised brow.
Leliana clears her throat loudly, making Cassandra pause. “We have a guest”
Both Cassandra and the Chancellor see Viridian and give very different reactions. Cassandra’s shoulders loosen as Roderick goes red. “Seize her!” he snaps before anyone else can react. The feeling of armored gauntlets grasping her upper arms makes Viridian freeze, her flight or fight response going immediately to fight. Cassandra saves the guards from broken noses when she barks for them to let her go and leave.
“You walk a dangerous line Seeker” Roderick growls as Viridian rubs her upper arm. Cassandra scoffs that the statement and Viridian watches as the two go back and forth again, this time with the addition of Leliana prowling toward the Chancellor with a thinly veiled accusation.
“So I am a suspect? But not the prisoner, who was found alone and alive in the middle of a massacre?” Roderick looks shocked and outraged.
“To be fair Chancellor, it's a murder investigation. Everyone's a suspect” Viridian snarks, giving him a hard look.
“The prisoner is no longer a suspect for good reason Chancellor” Cassandra ignores the comment mostly, giving Viridian a look for a moment before moving on. “She came to aid the Divine while Justinia was trapped. She is not the cause of the Divine’s death” Cassandra gives Viridian a measured look. “Perhaps she was meant to be our savior as well”
“Lady Seeker, I hardly think I am the savior you want.” Viridian protests, straightening from where she was leaning against the door frame.
“What we want does not matter” Leliana interjects. “What we need is another matter. And what we need is you and that Mark, whether we like it or not” The Hands exchange a look and Roderick sputters angrily.
“That is not your decision!” He steps forward as Cassandra drops a large tome on the table in front of them. Viridian flinches at the combination and watches as Cassandra bullies Roderick into leaving the room after declaring the Inquisition reborn. The Seeker sighs heavily after he leaves, slumping and bracing herself against the table.
“It was Justinia’s directive: Rebuild the Inquisition, find those who would stand against the chaos.” Leliana shook her head with a minute frown. “But we have no leader, no number and now? We have no Chantry support”
“We have no choice” Cassandra clasps Leliana’s shoulder with an armored hand. She turns to Viridian, who had been quietly watching the exchange until then. “We must act now, with you by our side”
Viridian let out a shaky breath. It was time. She stood straight and offered her hand to Cassandra, who stared at it in surprise.
“You have me, Seeker, for as long as the Breach is in the sky” Viridian swore, ignoring the niggle in her head that said there was more than that. But she focused instead of the small smile on Cassandra’s face and the warm firm hand grasping hers.
This was going to be one hell of a ride.
Chapter 6: The Silent Ones
Okay, so this goes dark quick. Viridian finds evidence (both visual and auditory) of child abuse by a figure of power of the children.
It's not explicit, but it's very clear what is happening to the children in question and sets a clear stance of how some Chantry members act towards mages.
Her fists made thumping sounds against the tree, rhythmic in their force. Cassandra and Leliana had her leave soon after she had made her vow to stay (not that she needed to. Promise or none, she would stay), likely to invite Josephine and Cullen to go over Justinia’s plan. Then after a while, they would send her to the Hinterlands to meet the Revered Mother.
Then Val Royeaux.
One punch hit particularly hard, and Viridian fought down a scowl when she realized the bark was tinted red and her hands hurt. She had originally just come out to exercise, working the muscles that felt cramped and weak after her minor coma.
The mark didn't help either, making her fingers twitch as she curled her hand into a fist again, the green sparking between her knuckles and buzzing beneath her skin.
Sighing, she unwrapped the now shredded cloth from her hands and dropped into pushup position, beginning another rep. Her arms already burned from using the branches as pull-up bars, but she continued anyway.
After 50, she let her arms give out, lying face-down in the cold snow. It felt nice against her warmed skin and she burrowed her face deeper into the snow.
“What are you doing?” The tiny voice made Viridian blink and look up, only to find a little girl staring at her, big blue eyes unblinking in their curiosity.
“I'm hot. So I'm laying down. Now, the real question is what are you doing? Do your parents know you're outside the walls?” The woman sat up and watched the girl shake her head.
“Mother Bedelia says that they died when the temple exploded. She takes care of us”
The girl nods and walks over to tug Viridian up. “Uh-huh. Some of the older kids do things for Sister Leli. But most of us do tasks for Serrah Adan and Master Harrit”
Quietly laughing at the phrase ‘Sister Leli’, Viridian follows the child, letting her hand be held, careful not to get blood on the little one's hands. They pass a group of soldiers who look at their Herald in surprise, the woman letting herself be dragged by a six-year-old girl.
Eventually, the two arrive at a large house, clearly occupied by children judging by the noise inside.
However, the noise stops as soon as the door opens and Viridian walks through. The oldest of the bunch stands first, a boy no older than twelve.
“Belle, what are you doing? Mother Bedelia will be mad if she finds out.” He looks at their joined hands, before the girl, Belle, drops Viridian’s hand and skips towards him.
“Mother Bedelia is boring. I wanted to meet her, out brave and heroic Herald” Belle climbs onto one of the beds, sitting beside another girl with her auburn hair tied up in braids, showcasing the slight points of her ears.
Viridian’s eyes gradually sweep the room, finding not only human children and elven children, but also two vashoth, the tiny stubs of their horns peeking through their black and silver hair. Something niggles at her brain when she notices no dwarven children among them.
But the shocking part is the clothing. She had assumed that the dress Belle wore was for playing, as not to get her normal clothing dirty. However, the course looking cloth that the other children wore was another matter, not to mention the threadbare blankets on the too few beds.
“Sweetie” Viridian starts and Belle looks at her with a smile. “Do all of you sleep here?”
“Yup. Mother says that living together builds character for when we go back to the Circle”
Viridian’s brain stops.
“You're all mages”
Belle winces and shrinks into herself. “Is that okay? Sister Leli said you liked mages”
Slowly, Viridian sinks into a seat near the door. “Of course it's okay. Why wouldn't it be?”
“Mother Bedelia says mages are bad. That magic exists to serve man” The older boy replies instead, rocking from foot to foot and frowning at the floor.
“Do you know where Mother Bedelia is now...?”
“Caleb,” he says and nods. “She is supposed to getting us breakfast”
“Daybreak was hours ago”
The boy shrugs and Viridian’s heart hurt for a moment at the resignation on his face. “At least she feeds us”
Viridian hears footsteps in the snow outside and looks for a place to hide when Belle and Caleb tense. The girl with the auburn hair motions beneath the bed and she crawls under and sees the blanket cover the side, shielding her from the eyes of the person entering.
“Hello, children. Are you hungry?” A feminine voice echoes through the one-room cabin and Viridian’s eyes narrow at the quiet murmur of yes that follows, meeker than hungry children should be.
“Well, then shall we all pray for our meal?” The steps come closer and she hears a soft tsk. “Now, Lena, what did we talk about? Take those braids out, you look like a savage”
“But Mother Bedelia, Belle did them for me. She said they made my ears look pretty” The voice is right above her, the voice of the little elf girl.
“I know my dear. That's why I said to take them out” The woman's voice is like rotten honey, sweet and sickening and it makes Viridian want to vomit as she listens. Not only is this woman starving the children, but is being cruel to them for the sake of cruelty. Her nails scrape the floor as Lena quietly protests again, only for the sharp noise of skin on skin to interrupt. “Don't protest darling. Mother doesn't like girls who argue”
The woman's footsteps turn away and go deeper into the room and Viridian peeks out to see the woman place bread and cheese by the now cold fire. The girl's eyes are brimming with tears and her braids are being undone by a solemn Belle. Both girls look to Viridian and the woman makes a choice.
She waits for Bedelia to leave, but not before she snipes at two other children, one for not saying his prayers right and the other for wearing something she describes as ‘too elven for a good Chantry boy’. The sound of something hitting the floor is followed by a sniffle and Bedelia leaves, allowing Viridian to crawl out from under the bed.
“Alright, everyone. We are going to play a game” Viridian looks at the confused faces with a forced smile.
“What game?” One of the vashoth children pipes up and Viridian recognizes the voice from one of the chastised children.
“All of you are going to grab your blankets and pillows and we are all going inside the walls and make a big pillow fort in my cabin. How does that sound?” The children exchange looks and her heart squeezes to see them so trusting of her, a stranger who none of them know.
The children are quick to grab their things, most of them grabbing the blankets and pillows and some of the older children grab actual bedrolls, set against the walls.
Viridian lead the march of a total of twelve children, carrying the youngest of the bunch against her chest.
The little girl is only four and she is far too cold for Viridian’s comfort.
She takes them to her own cabin and sets the child on her bed and lets the other file in. After the others settle in and Viridian gives them full run of her much thicker blankets, she takes Caleb aside and tips his chin up to have him look her in the eyes.
“Caleb, you know what she’s doing is wrong, right?” The boy nods and tips his head down again.
“Then why are you letting her do this?”
A pause, then he rolls up his sleeve to reveal a bruise in the shape of a hand on his lower arm. “Because no one cares”
Viridian is gentle when she rolls his sleeve down and kneels in front of the boy.
“I care. And that woman won't hurt you anymore. I won't let her”
She suppresses a growl at the tone of his voice. “Anyway I have to”
Viridian lets the boy back into the cabin with a soft order not to let anyone but her or Sister Leliana into the room.
Then she heads to the Chantry, intent to have a little chat with ‘dear Mother Bedelia’.
Chapter 7: Heart of the Darkness
WARNING: This shit is dark. Contains abuse, talk of Tranquility, threats against a child, and a lot of racism.
Viridian has that chat with Bedelia and deals with the problem.
The first thing Viridian does is make sure that the door to her cabin is locked and the children are comfortable. Then she wanders over to Adan’s cabin to wrap her hands, the blood now dried and tacky on her knuckles. The alchemist gives her the standard first conversation, gruffly inquiring about her health as he cleans her knuckles and applies a green salve to each one before wrapping them neatly. Before she leaves, she agrees to help find his mentor's notes (they’re still in the cabin, she’ll get them for him tomorrow).
She sees Solas walking around in his cabin, the windows not doing much to conceal his activities. He looks up as she passes and she waves at him before continuing on.
The next thing is she stops by Harritt’s.
“Master Harritt, may I have a word?” Politeness was the best way to get what she needed, and Harritt responded well to her tone.
“What do you need Your Worship?” The blacksmith cleaned off his hands with a rag from his apron and placed the knife he was working on near one of the anvils.
“A couple things. I’ll be happy to work for them if I need to since I haven’t gotten my stipend yet” Halfway through her sentence, Harritt shook his head.
“No need. The Seeker told us you’d be needing gear, so we won't charge you for anything unless you need something we can't provide off hand”
“Don't expect an engraved sword with gold inlay for starters” Viridian snorted and shook her head.
“Gold inlay? Do people really ask for that?” She sat on one of the crates near the bellows and watched as Harritt brought out a chest, dragging it over to her.
“You’d be surprised” He groused as he produced a key and unlocked it. “Everything you might need is in here. If it’s not already made, there are blueprints in there and a list of which metal is best for which weapon.” He motioned to a rack on the wall full of spears and shields leaning against one of the walls. “Seeker also said you like pole-arms, so we have a stock of those too if you need one. Just make sure to leave one for the others”
Viridian began to rifle through the chest and quickly found what she needed. Reinforced leather gloves, a set of well-balanced throwing knives made from Bloodstone, and a standard iron short-sword with a belt and sheath. She didn't have any other armor for now, but she took the holsters for the throwing knives and put them on her wrists and ankles, easily covering them with the hems of her clothes.
She bid the blacksmith farewell and started her trek to the Chantry. She passes Varric, who gives her a look as she goes by, clearly surprised by the weapons on her person and the expression on her face.
When she enters the Chantry, she lets her eyes adjust to the low candlelight before looking around. A few Sisters mill about, along with a few better-dressed Mothers, tending the candles and statues around the main hall. A few elves wander from room to room with buckets and rags, a young Sister with dark hair following them with her own bucket.
As one of the Sisters passes her, Viridian is quick to grab her attention quietly, as not to spook the younger woman.
“Excuse me, Sister. Do you know where I can find Mother Bedelia? I have something urgent to tell her” The Sister doesn't look at her twice, and Viridian is glad for the lack of recognition in her face, hoping the Mother will do the same. She directs her to a room off to the side and leaves her to continue on alone.
When Viridian opens the door, she doesn't know what to expect. An old woman perhaps, wizened and angry looking. Someone vicious and cruel looking, like a storybook evil witch or stepmother.
Instead, she gets a young one, with smile lines and the slightest hint of crow's feet in her blue eyes. But when the Mother looks at her, she can see the shadow in her eyes, a darkness that Viridian remembers seeing in her father.
“Hello, child. Have you come to pray?” The mother stands from where she kneels at Andraste’s feet, the motion too fluid for Viridian’s comfort.
“I have questions Mother” Viridian plays the role of confused supplicant well, keeping her eyes to the floor and head down. Her Marked hand is kept out of view in the most natural way she can, to avoid the woman realizing who she is. The Mother coos and motions for the dark haired woman to join her on one of the pews.
“What questions trouble you child? Have you fears about the Breach? Or conflicts regarding our Lady Herald?” Viridian twitches a bit at the mention of herself as she sits gingerly on the edge of the pew, staying a good foot away from the Mother.
“Not exactly Mother. It is a more.. personal problem.” Viridian debated on how to lure the Mother and found that half-truths would probably be best. “I am conflicted about the Apostate that has been called to aid the Herald. We have been taught to fear apostates, but to have one so near our Herald? It makes my stomach turn in uncertainty. And not only that, he is an elf. Surely he must be a heathen” Viridian’s words tasted like copper in her mouth and she mentally winced at how she was talking about Solas.
But the lure worked and the Mother sighed. “You are right to be concerned. Such a thing could taint the Herald, as fragile as she is. Have you taken these concerns to Sister Leliana?”
“I have not Mother. I wished to receive guidance before I made any actions, for fear of doing the wrong thing” Bedelia hummed in thought.
“You have not been the only one to express such concerns” Viridian’s heart lurched. “However, the problem will be fixed soon. Such filth,” Bedelia practically spat the word and Viridian clutched her hand to hide her reaction. “Will not be tolerated. Sister Leliana has left the true Chant, as has the Seeker. To include such savages into such a delicate situation?”
Bedelia shook her head and stood, walking to the statue, oblivious to the gaze burning into her back. “The Grand Clerics will fix the situation when the Herald arrives Val Royeaux. I have contacts that will happily fix the apostate” She turned to Viridian with a smile on her face, unaware of the fire lit under the dark-haired woman’s skin. “He will be much easier to deal with after he has undergone the Rite. And if he rebels, what is one elf? They’re vermin anyway”
A knock on the door brought Viridian back from the edge and the Mother told the knocker to enter, blissfully unaware of the blade Viridian was stroking underneath her sleeve.
The Sister from earlier entered the sanctuary, bowing lightly to the Mother. “Mother Bedelia, there has been an altercation. Would you be able to give advisement?”
“Of course Sister Madeline. Would you like to join us? That way we can put those fears to rest” Bedelia said aside to Viridian who plastered on a smile.
“I would be honored Mother” She followed the two woman back into the main hallway and down into where the dungeons she had been held in were. The torches cast the scene in harsh light and Viridian’s skin crawled.
A young man knelt, chained between a pair of soldiers. His olive skin was bruised, one eye swollen from abuse. The chains were wound tight around his wrists, cuffs missing. Vibrant green eyes gazed up at the new group, something broken in his expression.
“What happened?” Mother Bedelia eyed the young man with a bored expression, lingering on the points of his ears.
“He was found with one of the sisters in a closet. They were found in a... provocative position and he tried to run”
“Oh?” Bedelia’s expression changed from bored to cruel in a moment, a far cry from the soft smile she had given Viridian in the chapel. “Are your women not enough that you have to go after our precious girls?” She hissed the words as she prowled forwards, circling the man. “And a Sister no less” A hand motion had one of the soldiers pull the man up by his hair so that Bedelia didn't have to stoop to look in his eyes. “Have you nothing to say for yourself?”
“It was an accident! It won't happen again, I promise!” He protested and a smile crossed the Mother’s face.
“Oh, I know it won't.” She turned to one of the soldiers. “Castrate him. Make it clean, I want to ensure that the Nightingale” She said Leliana’s nickname with disdain, turning the title from award to something mocking “Doesn't find out about this. She is already suspicious about the children”
“Yes, Mother” The soldiers intoned, pulling the struggling man away.
“Stop” Viridian’s voice rang through the dungeons easily, something lacing her tone to make it echo in the stone cellar. Bedelia turned to the young woman in surprise.
What she saw was no longer the unsure scout she had met in the Chapel. Standing in her place, she saw a woman, with cold eyes and a left hand full of verdant fire. Both Mother and Sister gaped as the Mark crackled with Viridian’s anger and disgust at their actions.
“Put the man down and leave” Viridian’s eyes never left Bedelia’s as the soldiers hesitated. “Now!” She barked, and they dropped their load on the ground before leaving at a brisk pace. Viridian kept their faces in her mind as she walked to the chained man and carefully undid the bindings.
“Your Worship! What are you doing? Do you not see he must be punished? He is unclean, a ver-” A knife whistled past the Sister's ear, embedding itself in a post next to her. Her mouth wisely clicked shut as Viridian instructed the man quietly to run and get Leliana, no matter where she was.
“The only vermin I see are you two” The Herald stood to her full height and stared unblinkingly at the two, seeing a nervous Sister and a confused Mother. “How could you do such a thing? Beating a man for a dalliance? Starving children? Beating them for talking back? I have met murderers with better morals than you” Viridian worked to keep her tone level as she heard feet coming down the stairs, and down the hallway.
Bedelia looked at her with empty eyes, the mask finally fading from her features. “Madeline is right though. They are vermin.” Leliana and Cassandra came into the room finally, taking in the tableau before them.
“They are people! People who you have been charged with caring for! And yet, here you are, abusing them like they are nothing! You say that people have left the true Chant, and yet here you are, abusing the kin of one of your Prophet’s Champion!” Viridian snarled and paced like a caged lion.
“They are unworthy!” Bedelia shouted, tiring of the argument. “They boast their false idols, spread deceit in their traveling homes. They steal, they lie and they allow Mages to rule them. ‘Magic exists to serve man, and not to rule over him. Foul and corrupt are they who have taken his gift and turned it against His children’” She quoted and Viridian gave a bark of a laugh.
“You wanna quote the Chant at me? Hows about ‘And Shartan saw that they counted men and women of all descriptions among them. Many bore the scars of escaped slaves, and some had come west, from the coastlands, and they stood as equals beside the wild giant men of the South.’” Viridian quoted back and saw the color drain from Bedelia’s face.
“Recognize that? It's from the verses that were wiped from the Chant after people like you lead the Exalted March across the Dales and killed hundreds of elves. Your Andraste lead an army of escaped slaves, gave them shelter, gave them a new life. And yet here you stand, a representative of Her voice, doing the exact thing Andraste fought against.” Viridian looked finally to a wide-eyed Cassandra and Leliana, fighting against the urge to leap across the room and rip Bedelia’s throat out. “I want her gone. I don't care how you do it, but I want her out of Haven by sunrise”
“You can't do this! I am a Revered Mother and I demand-” The Mother shouted, only to be cut off by Cassandra.
“Silence!” The Seeker met Viridian’s gaze and nodded. “It will be done Herald. I will personally ensure it” A pair of soldiers came from, a different pair than before. They each grabbed one of the struggling Mother’s arms and the group left the dungeons finally. Bedelia began to scream profanity as they arrived in the main hall, attracting a crowd to watch as she was dragged kicking through the doors.
“Let me go! You can't do this!” She repeated, squirming harder. A slender shape came from the left and Viridian turned to see Caleb coming around the corner, looking wide-eyed at the screeching woman.
“Go back to the cabin Caleb” Viridian gently nudged the boy away from the scene, only to see Belle and the others follow him.
“Is she going away? For real?”
“Yes Caleb” She went to lead the children back to the cabin when she heard a new scream.
Turning, the sight that greeted her made her blood run cold.
One of the soldiers was on the ground, unmoving as Mother Bedelia held Lena against her chest, a knife to the little girl's neck. Leliana and Cassandra both stood back, hands in the air as the deranged Mother stood there, looking around with a feral look on her face. No one made a move as Bedelia began to laugh, her hands shaking around the hilt of the sword.
“I have served for years in this Chantry, for what? To be cast out? To be forgotten in the snow as these whelps walk around, becoming abominations and heretics? I will not stand for it!” She began to walk backward, taking the crying girl with her. “I am going to leave. I am going to take this little rat with me and you will not follow. If you do?” She pressed the knife harder to Lena’s neck and Viridian saw red trickle from under the knife blade.
“Understood Mother Bedelia” Viridian kept her tone even and loosened the blade under her sleeve. She would only get one shot here, and if she failed Lena would die. “One thing before you go though”
“What?” Bedelia looked at her with crazed eyes and Viridian gave her a true smile for the first time.
“Say hello to your Maker for me” And with that, Viridian flicked her wrist and watched the knife embed itself into the former Mother’s forehead. She dropped like a rock and Lena ran to Viridian, who scooped up the little girl with ease.
“It’s okay. Shh, it's okay” She soothed the crying girl and watched as the body was drug away, likely to be burned. Leliana caught her eye and nodded, approving. Viridian nodded back as she gathered the children, intent on getting them away from the prying eyes of the gathered crowd.
Part of her felt bad for killing the woman, wondering if there was another way.
The other part remembered the crying girl in her arms.
It wasn't the first time she had killed someone, and with the journey ahead, it wouldn't be the last.
Chapter 8: Don't Cry Out
Just a shorty for now! Trying to get back into the rhythm of writing Viridian, since she's so different than Rowan. Enjoy!
Viridian contemplated her first kill as she carried Lena back to the cabin. It had been a mistake, and Viridian had only been ten. The man had come at her from the side of the road, drunk and angry. He had tried to take her, to hurt her. But, he didn't know about the knife she kept in her pocket. About the lectures her grandfather had given her about knives, about weight and force. About the fact that he wasnt even the first man to attack her.
But, the serrated blade went through his flesh like butter, ripping skin as she plunged it repeatedly into his arms and then finally, into his eye. The girl had watched him fall like a brick onto the sidewalk, her blade still sticking out of his skull.
She called her grandfather first, and he made the man disappear, like so many others.
Like she had to make Bedelia.
As she settled the children into her bed and blankets, she made plans. Bedelia had friends, enough that there was still a very real chance of Solas becoming Tranquil. She sang them lullabies as she took note of the Sister who had been with Bedelia.
It was easy to creep out of the cabin after they had gone to sleep, and easier still to get to the Chantry. The guards barely took note of her face when they saw her hands and dismissed themselves when she asked them to. The look on the Sister’s face when she brought out the knife was almost comical in it's fear.
“Hello Sister” Viridian purred, turning it to catch the light of the torches. “I have a few questions for you my dear. Think you can answer them?” The Sister bobbed her head, shaking. “Good! Now,” Viridian sat gingerly into a wooden chair, turning it so that the back was resting under her forearms. “Tell me about the Mother’s plans”
“I can’t.” The Sister stuttered. “The Mother never told me her contacts! And she said if I told anyone, she’d kill me!”
Viridian chuckled darkly. “Oh, don't worry about our dear Mother. She’s dead” A knife accented the statement a she tossed it lightly into the air, catching it by the tip of the blade.
The Sister flinched back at Viridian’s words. “She’s dead? But, what about her trial?”
A light hum. “I don't think a trial would hide the fact that she held a child hostage in order to escape custody. The knife I threw into her skull was a mercy really. It much better than being hung” Viridian looked up from her study of her knife and watched the blood drain from the Sister’s face.
“Killed her? Yes. A fate that will be shared by you if you don't cooperate, I might add” the Herald stood smoothly and approached the cell, where the Sister sat chained. This close, she could see the shaking in her shoulders and the welling tears on her cheeks. “Now, are you going to answer my questions mon fleur ?”
And answer she did.
The Mother’s contacts were still a secret, but the plans were easy enough to divulge. The Mother had plans for each elf in Haven, from little Lena to the Tranquil that she had seen in Harrits forge. Somewhere to be sold into slavery (The Tranquil and any other young pretty female or male between twelve and thirty), elven Mages were to be either made Tranquil or bound to a Templar (all male, all human). The Mage children were to be beaten and starved into submission and she was working on taking on the other non-human orphans (A task Viridian took on instead. She was going to need a bigger cabin).
The last, and most involved, was involving Solas, and to her surprise, Varric.
Bedelia had a series of contacts that would feed information to the Templars about his location, sleeping habits and the habits of the rest of her team. They would slip mage-bane and poppy into his food, wait for him to collapse and then take him out the back door, to a carriage that would be waiting. The Templars would proceed with the Right once he was awake and he would be delivered to the front door, untouched save for the Brand on his forehead.
Varric, however, was just as worrying.
They planned to give him Red Lyrium.
It would be easy to slip into his food, or his nightly beer. No-one would notice until it was too late and he was raving madly in the streets, red-veined and Blighted. Bedelia already had a supply lined up and a scout in the Hinterlands who didn't mind a blood-lined pocket.
After the Sister told Viridian all she knew, the cells were quiet.
“What is your name again Sister?” Viridian asked finally, fingers flexing.
“Madeline, Your Worship”
The sister stared at the blade in Viridian’s fingers as she came closer, the other woman’s eyes dull in the shadows. “You will tell no-one what you have told me, do you understand? For your transgressions, you will be assigned to me as my personal confidant” She crouched down and channeled her grandfather as much as she could. “If I hear a word of our discussion from anyone else, Sister Leliana and Seeker Pentaghast included, I will cut out your tongue. Am I clear?”
“Yes Your Worship” Madeline chittered.
“Good. Now, follow me. Time to get your hands dirty”
Viridian unlocked the Sister’s cell, and not even the Sister’s gave her a second look when they passed, Madeline being lead by the chain’s around her wrists.
Chapter 9: Lead The Fight On
Bedelia’s body is burned a mere day after her death.
In the games, there had never really been a proper Andrastian funeral. For good reason, Viridian realized as Leliana walked her to the pyre. Madeline had stayed behind with Varric, who had volunteered to watch the children while Viridian was away.
Traditionally, for a member of the Chantry, the body was stripped and bathed in clear spirits (to promote burning) and a prayer for peace and Andraste’s blessing was said over the body before placing them on the pyre.
Bedelia got none of that. For all her words, she was still a criminal in the eyes of the Chantry, denounced after her death as a person unworthy of a proper funeral. Her body was carried to the pyre in rags, her formal robes nowhere to be seen. The area where Viridian’s knife had pierced her head was still bloody and her eyes, blank and grey, were staring blankly at the sky as the body was dumped onto the wood of her pyre. Few words were said, only the traditional prayer for the dead whispered as if Bedelia was about to spring back to life.
Viridian was the one to throw the torch, and she was the last one to leave when the fire finally burned out hours later.
The sun was still high in the sky when Solas found her, staring blankly at the dying embers burrowing into the snow.
“I am surprised you stayed this long,” He said, approaching her from the side. A twitch was the only inclination he had surprised her and she said nothing. “I would think you would have left as soon as she caught fire”
Viridian hummed quietly. “I killed her. It is only fair I stay until the fire goes out” She faced him and he was struck by the shadow in her eyes, the ring around them making them all the more striking in her pale face.
“I see” He nodded carefully. “Would you do that for all you will have to end?” The question was phrased as carefully as he could, but she still heard the undertone. Do you realize we are at war?
“No, not for all” She admitted, walking over to a nearby fallen tree, perching delicately on the log. “There will be those I will not have the chance to, and those who will not deserve such a thing”
“The one who killed Justinia” Viridian started, leaning back. “All those who follow him. Those who harm children, or innocents, or the vulnerable. Those who harm those I care for” Her eyes flickered up at him as she said the last words, brow furrowed.
“You sound like you have done this before” Solas remained standing, but she noticed him lean carefully against the bark of another tree. His tone was nonchalant but she could practically taste the curiosity in his tone.
“I have” She agreed and said no more about the subject. “Have you trained apprentices Solas?”
The man blinked in surprise for a moment, a tiny crack in his mask. “I have. Do you have an interest?”
“Of sorts. I have come into Guardianship of a group of Mage children with no teachers. I would rather them learn of the world outside the Circle first. You seemed like the best choice.” A heavy sigh erupted from her and he watched her bend, head cradled in her hands. “They are all so young Solas. Some even still remember their families. I want them to have as close to a normal life as I can give them, but with this war...”
“You have no other choice but to teach them how to survive” Solas surmised. “If they learned from a Circle mage, they would be sheltered and would not know how to fight”
“Or worse, they would think that they cannot fight back.” The woman stood and he watched the Mark crackle in her hand, emerald tendrils of magic whipping out wildly as she began to pace. “There was a reason the Mage’s fought back, and I will not have their legacy become the thing they fought so hard against”
For a moment, Solas saw something in her eyes. He watched as blackness bled into them, turning vibrant green into a lightless void.
Then he blinked and she stared at him with eyes the color of his mistake.
“Will you help them Solas? Will you help them be free?” She murmured, walking to him until they were a mere foot apart.
Solas hesitated before nodding. He had no solid plans and was still too weak to go after Corypheus alone. But here, with his Mark in the hands of someone so young, so willing to do something , perhaps he had more of a chance.
“I will Herald,” He said, nodding lightly to her. The sudden snort that came from her surprised him as she gave him a wide smile.
“Please, Solas. Call me Ridi”
“As you wish, Ridi ” He gestured forwards, “Shall we meet my new apprentices?”
The first introduction was, quite frankly, adorable.
Solas had clearly underestimated the number of children Viridian was in charge of, and how excited they all were to meet a real-life Apostate. More than once, Ridi had to hold in a laugh as the younger of the children bombarded the man with questions. Where did he sleep? How did he bathe? Did his mommy know he didn't wear shoes? Why was he bald?
Varric, even though he had left soon after Viridian had arrived, looked clearly amused with the older Mage being surrounded by tiny, wide-eyed waifs.
Madeline, however, was a different story. Since Viridian had taken over her ‘punishment’, the woman had been quiet, save for when Viridian asked her directly about certain people Bedelia had worked with. Her soft Chantry robes had been taken from her, the new Mother of Haven (a kind older woman with smile lines and dark, chocolate skin by the name of Tara) having given the woman a choice. Either she went back to the beginning of her training and earned her robes back, or she would be a scullery maid for the Chantry after her the end of her punishment.
Madeline chose the former.
Now, dressed in a woolen dress and hair tied back, she was Viridian’s personal handmaid and confident. Some, like Leliana, had thought Viridian had gone soft on the woman, that a lashing (at the very least) was more abt to the crime. Cassandra, however, had given Viridian a curious look and smiled, praising her mercy.
Oh, if only the Seeker knew.
The next few days were scattered and Viridian felt the weight of the children's expectations on her, building like silt upon her shoulders. Solas was good with them, taking the children in groups of five, in as close he could get them in age. The youngest two stayed in the cabin, with Viridian close by just in case. Elera and Michael (or Mikey), got separate lessons from the others, Viridian taking over the brunt of their education.
But, soon enough, the time came for Viridian to leave.
Leliana had told her that she would keep a close watch on Madeline, making sure that even though Solas and Viridian were gone, lessons in math and letters would continue. It didn't make packing up any easier, the children following her like ducklings to the gates.
“Do you have to go?” Lena asked quietly, during her turn for hugging Viridian.
The older woman gave her a sad smile as she tucked hair behind the girl's ear. “I do da’len . I have to save the world, remember?” She tweaked the girl's nose and Lena swatted her hands lightly.
“I remember” Lena stepped back and the others continued to hug her from youngest to oldest until Caleb was the last.
The boy, clutched her close, burying his head in her neck. His breath was unsteady and Viridian squeezed him close.
“Promise you’ll come back?” He whispered, and she wondered how many of his friends and ‘siblings’ he had to say goodbye to.
“I promise” She whispered back, pressing a kiss to his forehead.
Shouts of ‘good-bye’ and ‘dareth shiral’ followed the group out of Haven’s sightline, Viridian resolutely not looking back.
No one mentioned the tears she wiped away when she couldn't hear them anymore.