The light of the sun blared overhead through the high arched windows of the mansion and filtered down through the soft swirling dust to burn its way into Garrett’s skull. The scruffy mage let out a sigh as he opened his eyes.
Sleep had evaded him another night leaving him drained at the mere idea of lifting himself from the bed, but with a groan of effort he hefted his weight up and onto his feet. He dressed slowly as he had nothing to really do but he knew that remaining in bed would leave him feeling worse than he already was. Another sigh escaped Garrett’s lips as he moved out beyond his chambers and into the upper walkway of his ancestral family home.
It was eerily silent as it had been every day since he had returned. Once Bethany’s musical voice and his mother’s scolding tone had echoed through the marbled stone. Bodahn and Orana could be found bustling about in a tither as they saw to the day to day chores, Sandal whimsically wandering in tow. His elder sister Marian’s laughter ringing through the high ceiling as she shared a cup of tea with Anders on the balcony, listening as the healer regaled her with outrageous tales from his time as a Grey Warden.
Garrett paused at the top of the main staircase leading down to the front room of the mansion. In another life a spikey gauntlet clad hand would have woven into his side then, a deep voice rumbling, ‘Good morning’…but Fenris had left Kirkwall nearly half a year ago. The big mage had not seen or heard anything from the elf since and he shook his head to clear it of the memories that pressed upon him.
Dwelling did little good. His elder sister was proof of that.
Just then the front door of the mansion opened and Garrett perked up as he caught the sound of Marian’s heavy boots thudding across the entryway floor. A moment later the tall auburn haired warrior appeared in the foyer below. Her sharp blue eyes darted up to where her younger brother stood and her thin lips instantly split into a smile.
“Good morning Brother,” she said as she tossed her gauntlets onto the low table to her left and uncoiled her long braid from the knot at the back of her head.
“Good morning Mar,” Garrett responded as he completed his decent. “How did your night patrol go?”
“Well enough. A few thugs decided to try their luck in the Alienage and as you can imagine that ended spectacularly for them.” The bearded mage chuckled at his sister’s cocky attitude as she moved to rifle through the small stack of mail sprawled across another table. “Did you sleep at all,” she asked as she plucked one of the missives from the pile.
“Not much, but some…please don’t worry about it Mar,” Garrett said holding up a hand in preemptive response to the worried sidelong look he knew she would cast his way. Marian shook her head.
“I am allowed to worry…” Abruptly Marian fell silent as she moved the missive in her hand closer to her face. Her breathing hitched and Garrett felt the fine hairs at the back of his neck stand on end at the look that passed over his sister’s face.
“What is it,” the big mage finally whispered, the old knot of fear settling in his stomach.
“It’s Varric, he needs us.”
Haven was on fire.
All around the sounds of fighting echoed through the mountains creating a pulsating wave of desperation and fear.
Down in the midst of the chaos Dorian Pavus found himself in uncomfortable close quarters combat. The fighting was beyond anything he had experienced before. Enemies poured from every direction and the ground beneath his feet was wet with blood, still, the Tevinter Altus never wavered. He had been at Tara Trevelyan’s side when the warning bells had started their clanging and as the foolishly noble woman raced towards the last standing trebuchet he had every intention of staying there.
He was glad the The Iron Bull, Cassandra and Varric were also with them.
After countless minutes of endless combat it seemed that they had made it to their intended target. Tara placed her bow at her back and with shaky hands moved to begin aiming the trebuchet. Suddenly an inhuman roar split the icy air and Bull shouted out a warning as a massive beast crashed through one of the nearby barricades. It took Dorian a second to accept what he was looking at. The towering pile of flesh and red lyrium took a few staggering steps towards them then raised its club like right arm.
“More coming,” Cassandra called out as the behemoth let out another roar and charged towards them. The grey eyed mage snapped to it then, hastily casting a barrier between their group and the incoming beast. The Iron Bull lowered his horns and took off at the thing, colliding with it in a flurry of strikes from his axe. The Altus forced himself to leave Bull to his own devices and turned his magic upon the group of Red Templars moving in from all sides. He danced across the battlefield in a blaze of fire only stopping when he came face to face with a knight.
The once human Templar sent a powerful Smite careening across the frozen ground. All Dorian could do was brace as the effect of the knight’s attack shook him to the core. Before he could recover enough to counter the Altus found himself on the business end of the red Templar’s shield. He was battered to the ground, his left shoulder erupting in pain as it collided with something solid.
Dazed Dorian rolled onto his side as he attempted to regain his feet. Time seemed to move slowly for a moment as he watched The Iron Bull buckle beneath a lofty blow from the behemoth. Then Tara was there drawing the monster’s attention with a series of explosive shots and luring it away from the stunned warrior. But more red Templars were coming up the pass from behind. The behemoth caught Tara with a sweeping pass of its spiky arm tripping the rogue up and causing her to slip into the blood wet snow.
They were overrun, and they hadn’t even bought Cullen and the others enough time to escape.
Out of nowhere a ferocious rage filled war cry rang out above the noise of the battle stunning a few of the red Templars in place. A large ball of fire slammed into the knight looming over Dorian, incinerating it instantly. As it faded to ash a towering woman clad in heavy armor rushed past the blinking mage and hurled herself at the behemoth like a blooded hound, giving Tara time to regain her feet.
A large hand closed around Dorian’s upper arm and dragged him back onto his own feet. The mage turned to thank his rescuer but his words failed him as his gaze collided with a set of deep blue eyes. The hulking man smiled down at him and pressed a vial of lyrium into his hands before turning and rushing towards where Varric stood raining down suppressing fire. Dorian downed the potion and threw himself back into the fight, silently wondering who these two newcomers were.
“Hawke!?” Dorian heard Varric cry out in a confused voice. “What in Andraste’s name are you two doing here!?”
“Helping,” a deep masculine voice responded as lighting lit the battlefield cooking many of the mutated Templars in an unforgiving chain. Dorian for one was impressed.
”Hawke,” Cassandra’s voice shouted in angry shock as she cut down another opponent, her eyes moving to accusingly glare at the dwarf.
“We can talk about this if we survive okay Seeker.”
“You need to cheer up Varric,” the burly mage called out as he moved to flank Iron Bull, shielding the warrior as he carved a line to the trebuchet. Together the two hulking individuals managed to move the war machine into position just as Tara and the warrior woman managed to take down the former Knight Captain Denam.
For a moment the battle stilled, and the group of fighters all took a moment to breath. “Good work everyone,” Tara said as she moved towards the trebuchet. “We can still make it!”
A terrifying roar split the sky overhead and they all looked up. Time stood still as the Elder One’s dragon dove down towards them.
“Move now,” Tara shouted, shoving her nearest companions clear of the impending blast.
It was all a blur of terrific proportions after that.
Dorian watched Tara stand-alone before the Elder One and his pet dragon. An archer by trade, it had been odd to watch her heft a sword into her slim hands, shouting her defiance. “I am not afraid of you!”
“A phrase many mortals say,” Corypheus had responded mockingly but Dorian had known that his friend meant every syllable. The truth of her words was punctuated when Tara swung the blade into the restraint cable of the trebuchet, letting it fire wildly into the mountain just behind where they all stood. The avalanche had come then and for all he had known Tara had vanished in the flurry of ice and snow.
For their part, Dorian and the others had raced to get to the Chantry before the snow swallowed them as well. They dove into the secret passageway, shoving and carrying one another down the narrow chute until they found themselves collapsing before the rest of Haven’s escapees on the side of some desolate mountain.
Cullen raced towards them then, shoving aside soldiers and civilians alike. “Tara…?” He asked, his voice tight, his eyes already dulling as he noted the Ostwick noblewoman’s absence. Cassandra shook her head and the blonde man nodded, his eyes then falling to two surprisingly familiar faces. “Garrett? Marian?”
“Hello Cullen,” the hulking mage said getting to his feet and moving to shake the commander’s hand. “Tell us how we can help. Do you have any injured? I can assist them.” The tall woman called Marian was the next to reach her feet, assisting Varric to his as she moved. Her blue eyes slowly fanned out over the crowd of huddled desperate looking people before her. “Heal as we move,” she said loudly. “We have to get going. If you are able bodied enough help your fellows, we must keep moving if we are to outmaneuver the horde.”
“Just like them,” Varric said quietly enough that only Dorian could hear, watching as the two newcomers moved forward into the throng. “Even when the problem isn’t theirs…”
Somehow, even with their collective moral shattered the Hawkes made what remained of the Inquisition stand as one. Marian headed the group alongside Cullen trudging through the snow as if she were well rested and leading nothing but the finest of soldiers. Garrett moved amongst the crowd, tending to the wounded and calmly helping to bury any who were beyond even his help. No one knew exactly who they were, though there were speculative whispers, and yet they followed without question. Those that remained needed someone to lead them and the Hawkes knew the chaos that could erupt should leadership fail.
For two days and nights they guided the numbed masses through the mountains before finally Cullen declared they were safe enough to make camp. People wearily pitched tents and coaxed fires to life, huddling close to one another seeking comfort and warmth, but in the wake of Tara’s death and surrounded by unforgiving terrain there was little of both.
The Hawkes moved towards the Inquisition leader’s tent and found the four advisors deep in the midst of an argument. Without a word the siblings slipped away and instead went in search of Varric. They found their old friend seated in the snow amidst a company of what were clearly mercenaries, one of whom they recognized as the Qunari who had been fighting alongside them back in Haven.
“Varric,” Garrett said the dwarf’s name quietly. A set of sharp eyes lifted to meet the mage’s gaze, warming at the sight of the colossal Ferelden.
“Hey you two, come have a seat. You both look like shit.”
“You always know just what to say Varric,” Marian retorted as she sank down at the dwarf’s right. She reached out an arm and pulled her old friend into a warm hug, kissing the top of his head before releasing him.
“Hmm, I remember you two from the battle. You both fought like hell out there by the way,” Iron Bull noted as he beckoned for Dalish to pass the flask of spiced rum to their new companions.
”Thank you, you as well,” Garrett said as he took a long pull from the skein.
”My name is The Iron Bull and these are my men, The Chargers. We’re a mercenary company that travels all over the world. Currently we are at the disposal of the Inquisition…if the Inquisition really still exists at this point.”
“Why wouldn’t it,” Marian asked as she wiped the remnant liquid from her lips before handing the skein off to the man seated beside her. “Your leaders all still live.”
”Yes, but our real leader, the leader and hope of the people…is dead.”
”That woman who cut the trebuchet loose,” Garrett said sounding distant to which Iron Bull nodded.
”Her name was Tara and she was the true face and voice of the Inquisition…without her I don’t know if this will last much longer...me and my boys are pretty impressed with how you two have been leading us thus far though, especially considering that no one knows who you are,” the Qunari added as he shot a pointed to towards the Dwarf across the fire.
”Perhaps I should introduce my friends,” Varric interjected smoothly. “This is Garrett,” he said motioning to the big mage at his left, “and his big sister, Marian. I met them both in Kirkwall.”
“Huh. Either of you the Champion then,” Bull asked pointedly. An uncomfortable silence hovered over the trio facing the Chargers for a minute and then Garrett cleared his throat.
“If you are asking if either my sister or I was the one who killed the Qunari Arishok stationed there, the answer is me. I did that and gained the unfortunate title of Champion from the act.”
”Why do you say unfortunate,” Bull asked his tone mild as ever betraying nothing to anyone regarding his true feelings towards the matter.
“Because I respected the Arishok, and were it not for the fact that my family and my friends were in danger in the midst of the Qunari uprising, I would not have been forced to face him at all.”
”I like you,” Bull said then a smile cracking his battle scared face.
It was then that the group fell into a shocked silence as the sound of Commander Cullen’s voice rang out in the immediate distance. “It’s her! It’s her!” Instantly they were all on their feet racing towards the sound along with the rest of the camp.
They found the Commander stumbling down the mountain side with a half-frozen and unconscious Tara Trevelyan cradled in his arms. The camp ignited into a bustling frenzy of hopeful whispers and tentative warnings against such a miracle. Cullen hastily swept the dead looking woman into a private tent and Garrett nodded to his sister before moving after him to offer his aide. With a frenzy about to brew Marian then climbed to the top of a nearby crate and loudly insisted that everyone return to their tents and wait until their leaders gave further information.
Beneath the warrior woman’s stern gaze everyone eventually turned to do as she had bid.
“Your friend is quite the commander,” Iron Bull said in a low voice to Varric as he and the rest of the Chargers returned to their own space.
“That’s Blue…er, that’s what I called her in Kirkwall. Marian is a bit intimidating but her heart has always been in the right place…she and her brother have had a hard life…I didn’t know how much either of them had changed over the past few years…”
”And have they?” It was a pointed question to which Varric had an immediate answer, but the dwarf chewed his words as he usually did before sharing anything.
”They both look a bit more…beaten down than I remember. Especially Marian, but out of the two of them she had the hardest time when things went to shit in Kirkwall.”
“She’s a bit slight for that sword she’s carrying but she knows how to use it. That I can respect,” Iron Bull mussed before falling silent as the auburn haired warrior made her way back over to Varric’s side. She settled in, wordlessly staring at the fire before her for a long while. Then she lifted her hard blue gaze to meet Iron Bull’s and bared her teeth in a grin.
”Introduce me to your men Iron Bull. You seem the kind of people I could stand to get used to.”