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Dirtha'vhen'an

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Do you believe in fate? That everything happens for a certain reason? Do you think that there’s a road already created for you to walk on? Is there a greater being that decides things? And if so, are the choices you make really choices then? Do we have a choice, a voice, in our own lives? Maybe that would be better, since there are no good or bad choices, because they are already made for you? You are not responsible. But what if everything’s a coincidence? A compilation of random situations that result in something good or bad? What if there isn’t a road, and you have to make it yourself and all the good or bad choices are your own responsibility?

If I think about it, I really don’t want there to be an upper being. What being would do this to me? And for what random reason? Because it felt like it? Was it bored and wanted it to see what would happen? Was it fate or coincidence that my father met my mother in an old café in Belgium? Was it fate or coincidence that they met again one week later in the supermarket at the corner? Was it fate or coincidence that they got married, and made love and that all the possible mutations would create me? Was it fate or coincidence that they travelled around the world with me on their back? Was it fate or coincidence that out of all diseases, I would get acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Is it fate or coincidence that I’m in the 30% that dies of their diagnosis?

Describing how dying feels like, isn’t something I feel like doing. It doesn’t feel like drifting off into a deep slumber. It doesn’t feel like going into the beyond, where it’s warm and cosy. It feels cold. Quick. Silent. One moment, I was still in the hospital bed. My mum was sitting next to me, her eyes watery but strong. My father kept on whispering my name, as if it would keep me in this world. My older brother didn’t cry or say anything at all, he just held my hand, as by saying I wasn’t alone. But in the end, I was. Everyone is alone when they die. So when I took my last breath, I didn’t even realise it was the last one. It was like switching off the lights in your room, or blinking your eyes when you go to sleep at night and the next moment it’s morning. Now, if you want to know if there’s a heaven, a hell, a nirvana, a Valhalla, or whatever you’re into, I will tell you that I have no clue. I have no clue because I didn’t get the chance to see it. Once death had found me, it immediately gave me a next destination.

***

I woke up in a field. The damp grass caressed my cheeks like my mother just did a moment ago. I looked around me and noticed the greenness of the grass, the brightness of the blue sky and I felt the glowing warmth of the sun, like I haven’t felt for a very long time. Everything around me was humming, whispering almost, saying lovely words I did not understand. Everything felt so, strangely, alive. I felt alive, but wasn’t I dead?

‘Is this the beyond?’, I whispered to myself.

I stood up and felt the strength that had returned to my once feeble legs. They were strong again, reliable, unlike the ones I had been living with for three years. I didn’t stumble over, but stood straight, the wind blowing through my hair. My hair? I had hair again? I touched the tips and looked down. My hair that had once waved over my frame, my hair that had fallen off due to the chemotherapy, had now returned, curling softly around my long pale fingers. Strange, I thought to myself, when did I bleach my hair? It used to be strawberry blonde, but now it’s almost… white?

I took a step forward, my bare feet tingling in the wet grass. I felt fast, faster than ever before, my body prickling with all the new senses of this strange new world. I took a step forward again, and another one, and another one and, wait, am I naked? I looked down again. Yes. Naked. Great. I needed a mirror, I looked skinny, but not to the bone. I had always been long and slender, but now it looked like my body had changed a little. My strong curves where still there, but it looked different, almost surreal. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and started walking again. Before me, a deep forest began stretching on into what looked like the end of the world. But I started walking, thinking that maybe this is all just a weird dream, and that I would wake up. But after walking for some hours and after I stumbled over the trunk of a large tree, I realised that it’s not a dream. You can’t feel pain in a dream, right? Shit.

The sun was going down, the sky colouring a pastel blue and orange and red. I came onto a little cottage, where a small light was burning behind a blurry window and the chimney was spouting soft smoke into the soft evening sky.

A man, young, red hair, tall, was working the little field that surrounded his home. He looked… medieval? Was I sent back in time? Are they making a film or something? I wanted to step forward, but then realised I was still naked. What to do? I knelt behind a bush close to the end of the forest and peered at the strange man cutting his crops. Would he notice me sitting here? Maybe he’d think I’m a creep. Maybe I am a creep. Oh god. I wanted to turn around and leave when the man suddenly looked up and stared into my eyes, mesmerized. I stayed still, paralyzed and still very much naked. I yelped and fell back to the ground to cover myself.

The young man slowly came closer, still looking into my eyes, not looking down. Gentleman. He knelt beside me and gave me an understanding look. And since waking up, I did not feel alone. And then the world went black once more.

***

A fire was crackling close to the end of the bed I was laying in. I felt the soft furs that tickled my nose as I turned around. I slowly opened my eyes, half expecting to be in the hospital again, fully hoping that my mum’s eyes would stare back at me. But it were not her eyes, it were his. The young man looked at me, questions blurring his soft green eyes.

‘You alright?’ his voice was filled with concern.

I jolted up, clutching the furs in front of my chest. My mouth felt dry, I couldn’t speak. Or truthfully, I didn’t know what to say.
‘What day is it?’ I mumbled.

‘Uhm, Friday?’

‘No, what DATE?’ I sounded panicked.

His brows curled into a frown.
‘8:10 Blessed Age, Bloomingtide, Friday the 15th ?’ He finally said.

‘Wait, what?’ This isn’t, what, huh? ‘Where am I?’

The young man almost laughed. ‘Well, in Thedas of course!’

‘What’s a Thedas?’ Did this man fall on his head? Is this a city I don’t know of?
The guy looked even more confused now. He almost looked at me like I was the crazy person. Well, maybe I am the crazy person.

‘Thedas is the world, created and cared for by the Maker?’

Wait, a lightbulb figuratively sprung in my mind. I had heard this somewhere before. My brother was always talking about this Thedas thing, wasn’t it a game? What was the name again? Dragon Time? No. Dragon World? Something with dragon. Dragon Age? But this guy just said Blessed Age?

‘When was the Dragon Age?’ I suddenly spoke again, the poor guy almost jolted of his chair.

‘There hasn’t been any Dragon Age yet?’

So, I’m in some strange way dead, went to a video game, and am now stuck in the Age the game is NOT about. Great. Just great.
I looked around his cottage. The wooden walls didn’t feel ancient, the stone fireplace didn’t feel pre-historic, this place looked so normal, yet not. He had close to no furniture, just a table, a chair, a small closet, some pots and some trinkets and the bed I was laying in. There were no additional walls in here, the house was just a small square place. On one of the walls, an old and badly painted painting hung from a nail, depicting the forest. Did he paint it himself? With what?
The house smelt moldy, like stale bread, and also a little bit of smoked ham. My stomach grumbled, but I didn’t feel hungry. I didn’t feel like anything, just confused and afraid.

The young man scraped his throat. ‘You want something to eat?’ He smiled softly.

I shook my head. I need to go back. Back to… what? I was dead. A tear rolled down my cheek. Dead. My mum, my father, my brother, I will never see them again. Do they miss me? Will they bury me?

‘What is an elf wandering around these forests? You don’t look Dalish? Did you ran from an alienage? You don’t look like a city elf either? Are you a slave? Did you run away from the Imperium? Don’t be scared, you’re safe here.’

An elf? What the actual fuck? Is this Lord of the Rings? No, Dragon Age had elves too. Wait. I am an elf?
My hands flew to the sides of my head and I yelped. My ears aren’t my ears. They are big, pointy. I shudder went I caress the tips. Nope. Nope, nope nope. This isn’t happening. I’m not Legolas, I’m not Legolas!
The young man crooked an eyebrow. Yes, I am definitely the crazy person in here.

This will be a long night.