"They were dark, terrible beings, made of hate, betrayal, revenge, and justice. They were the beginning and will be the end. They forever watch, forever plot and will one day break their bonds and destroy all who opposed them. Yet, even then there is one small hope for all mortals, for justice is forever fair. For those who stay true, justice will be kind and spare you the reckoning if, and only if, you truly deserve it. Be wary of her agent and live nobly for it could be anyone, anywhere, watching from within the void itself." - The warning about the Dark Ones.
She was dying. All the power within Tevinter, all the laws of magic at his disposal and he could not save her. What was the point of being a Magister? What was the point of all his research into things even the Tevinter's found disturbing if it could not save the one soul truly precious to him?
He looks at the bed again and saw a small smile grace her lips. "Are you awake?" he asked.
"For a moment, but I am so very tired after such a long conversation." She looked over at him as she leaned up slightly from her bed.
"Conversation?" He looked around his small study, no one but they had been within for months now. Was she now in the final stages of death and hallucinating? "Whom were you speaking to?"
"The lady, there in the corner, she had an offer for me, one worthy of listening to Father."
"Offer? My child, do not take an offer from creatures not of the flesh, for they are tricks to lure you to your doom." He began searching his tomes for the wards to protect her. Had his last experiment let some demon lose within this room? No, he had set his wards, protected this room, he told himself, yet something was happening.
"She is no demon Father, she is light, mercy, kindness, and justice, not something you let loose." She sighed and once more laid her head back down on her small bed within the room.
"How do you know that is what I thought?" What was going on here? Should he request help from the others, no, they wouldn't understand, as they had told him to stop this insanity and let her die? As if he would, she was his only child and the last link he had to his beloved wife. No, he should purge the room. The demon had an offered for him that would save her from his last conjuring, perhaps it was time to take his offer. What was the life of a few dozen slaves compared to his only child?
Setting his wards, he opened his portal and called through the Demon once more and agreeing to his terms told him that night he would bring the blood he requires in exchange for his daughter's health.
Days had past and none heard movement from within the Scipio home. Finally fearing the worse, a Magister was sent to the house to find out if any still lived. Knocking on the door in case it was merely a Father mourning, the door opened to reveal someone he did not expect to see.
"Milady Scipio, you are looking quite well, I was afraid-, well where is your Father, child?" Had her eyes always been such an unnatural green before he wondered?
"I am afraid he has died, my lord. As you know I have been deathly ill, but a few days ago began to feel better." She paused and tried to compose herself. "My Father sought the aid of a demon to save me. He slaughtered every slave within our home and in the end, the demon killed him, but thankfully, I was able to kill the beast. It has taken me days to regain my strength to even walk from my bed and even now feel weak."
"Claudia, I am so sorry to hear. Let me have my fellow Magisters come and be sure the place is sealed." He paused, she acted as if she didn't know her own name.
"Claudia? No, I am Inani, for one life has ended and today I begin anew." She swung her gaze to the man and he watched as her eyes began to swirl and he saw the very Fade within. "Calm yourself. You will go home now and tell all that my Father died from the illness I had, yet as I recovered, he did not. You will tell them that as my grief was so strong, you helped me leave since I cannot bear to stay here." She smiled as he turned around and left.
Later that night a lone figure stood on the hill as she watched the house burn to the ground. The house of Scipio had fallen and there would be no more. Feeling a single tear slip down her cheek, she wiped it off and looked at her damp fingers. Was she crying? She had never cried before and the rush of emotions that came with it made her stagger and fall. Taking a deep breath she calmed herself, then stood and mounted her horse. She had little time to reach Ferelden and Kinloch Hold and she could not let such feelings stop her task.
She could feel the change shifting, drifting across the land and it would start in a small Circle in Ferelden. She must reach it before it falls, she needed the artifact to be safe. Looking down at her horse, she leaned forward and whispered in its ear. It will run without tire now and may the powers that be, she too will not tire in her task.
"Nothing, nor no one being can stand in my way."
With that, Inani Scipio disappeared into the night.
He watched as the beautiful woman was lead past him. She looked proud, sophisticated and it was obvious she was someone who was important for unlike most that came there, she showed no fear as the Templar's escorted her. Something he had not seen before, but then again, most mages in Ferelden feared the Templar's and if the rumors were true, this woman came from Tevinter. Even with the blindfold she wore, she still walked with purpose as if her eyes could still see where she went. He wondered why her eyes had been covered but had no one to ask.
It was a shame, he thought, for such a beautiful woman to be born a mage. She looked as if she could have been a Queen of some nation, bred for the role of controlling countries, but instead, she would live life in the tower away from the world. He had overheard one of the Templar's talking about capturing her. He claimed she could do magic that he had never heard of before and that it had been just dumb luck on their part that they not only lived through it but managed to bring her in. He heard only a snippet about her eyes and that was why they have her blindfolded. He couldn't help but wonder what they saw that made them so afraid?
Greagoir had listened to them grimly and even with Irving begging him to let him talk to her, he had felt that such power could not be contained or trusted and ordered her instead to be made Tranquil. He would not chance her escaping the tower. It was at that point that Greagoir had summoned him into his office. He was to stand guard at her door for the night until the ritual would be performed tomorrow. As he left the room, his Knight-Commander had called after him and reminded him to stand fast and not be fooled by a pretty face. He couldn't help but blush and stutter a "Y-Yes K-Knight-Commander" before hurrying from the room. Greagoir had lectured him already over the gossip that he was in love with one of their charges. Amell was a beautiful girl and so very kind too and deep in his heart he knew he did have feelings for her, but they were certainly nothing he would have ever acted on. He swore an oath to the Chantry and Templar's and nothing would make him ever break that, or at least he believed that to be so at that time.
So there he stood later that night, in front of an isolated cell in the lower basement of the Circle, guarding a woman while praying the Maker would indeed forgive her for the sin of magic and she find peace in knowing she would soon be free from it. As he recited his prayers to himself, he did not hear when the woman stood and came to the bars, at least until her musical voice drifted to his ears.
"What is your name?" She asked.
"You do not need to know such mage and please go back to your cot. This will be your last night in the Fade, I suggest you enjoy it."
"My what a fierce boy you are," She leaned against the bars, "But do not be so certain. Something evil is happening in this world, you would do well to focus on it. Death is already here and none of you will listen. Remember me when you face the darkness and how had you listen to a mage, your fate might have been kinder."
He spun around quickly and glared at her. "What do you say? What are you planning? What evil do you desire? Perhaps you should be branded this night."His words might sound tough, but his heart was pounding. Should he warn Greagior? No, he told himself, not until he knew more. He stood his ground, but when she lifted her eyes to his, he shuddered as she pulled off the blindfold she still wore. Her eyes looked like a demon's, strangely pale green with colors one found in the Fade and never outside of it. He watched as they began to shimmer and swirl. He also found couldn't break the gaze.
"I could make you release me if I wanted. I let those fools think they caught me, but they did not, for I needed to gain entry into this tower and allowed them to bring me here. You have been taught magic is evil, taught that all within the Imperium all are evil as well, but just as non-mages have those who are good and those who are not, so do those where magic rules." Her eyes soften and he could feel almost a tender and loving energy coming from her. "What is your name?" She whispered to him as she raised a hand to trace his cheek. "Mine is Inani."
"I-I a-am C-Cullen." He swallowed and closed his eyes as she ran her elegant nails over his soft lips.
"You have a hard future in front of you Cullen, but do not worry, I have a gift for you," She smiled and drew him closer to the bars. "I see in your eyes something I have not seen for ages." Drawing his face to hers, she laid her lips on his and softly kissed him. He whimpered as her lips stroked his.
His mind swirled and tumbled around him in the surge of emotions he was feeling. He had never kissed a woman before and could show no restraint as she deepened the kiss. The first swipe of her tongue against his had him moaning and clutching at her the best he could through the bars. Maker, he felt something inside himself shatter and saw images of battles and dragons and her. Yet, before he could focus on any of them, she broke the kiss and when she pulled away from him, leaving him feeling weak, yet wanting more. He leaned against the bars, panting and trying to regain his composure.
"Cullen," She whispered softly to him. "No harm will come to you physically when this tower falls, I promise you, but I cannot protect you from everything and for that I am sorry," She frowned. "Please understand you must remain strong, find your faith and hold it tight and remember this, when you see magic cause horror and death before your eyes it has also saved your life this night."
He watched as she turned her back to him and went to sleep on the cot. Tomorrow she would be made tranquil and no one would ever know about the kiss they shared. Everything would be fine and he wondered if she had been trying to sway him in her favor. All would be back to normal and he would forget this small moment in time. Yet as the night continued the images he saw haunted him. Every time he closed his eyes for even a second, he saw battles between demons and dragons and beings he could not make sense of. What was happening to him? Telling himself to forget it all, he tried to relax, tried to focus, but in the end, he could not and that was when her dire words came true.
He watched as his friends died, watched as kind and loving Amell became an Abomination and tears ran down his cheeks, yet he endured. He suffered mentally and physically and had no idea how many days (weeks? months?) he sat in his prison, but the more the Demons harmed him the more he became resolved to live. As time went on, he thought more on the mage from Tevinter and his anger grew uncontrollable. She was most likely the cause of all this and she had only tried to use a naive boy's emotion in her favor, for why else would she know what was to happen?
It would be years before he thought of her again. It had been only a few weeks prior to the fall of the tower in Kirkwall and the destruction of the Chantry. He had been sent to the wounded coast in search of Ser Thrask and found a mess. Thrask and many other Templar's, as well as several mages, were dead and in the middle of it was the Champion, Bastian Hawke. After learning what had happened (if it was even true), he had headed back to the Gallows to speak with the Knight-Commander when he saw a lone woman he thought looked as if she had come from Sundermount. Leaving the others, he called out to her and was shocked when she came close enough to see her face and knew immediately it was her, Inani.
"You, want are you doing here?" It did not escape him that once more she appeared when the world seemed to be crumbling around him.
"Hello to you too Cullen." She smiled. "I am here for an important task. The world is slipping into darkness, we must be vigilant and be sure the darkness does not snuff it out, yet I had to be sure you were alright and seeing as you are," she smiled.
"What in the name of the Maker does that mean?"
"It means we all do our part to protect this world from evil and now I must leave, for my task is too important to fail, even for you my handsome Templar." She smiled and chuckled and Cullen could feel the blush creeping up his face. She then looked away and when she turned to him once more he noticed finally her eyes did not shimmer and swirl like they had the last time they had met. "Cullen, listen to me." She reached out and laid one dainty hand on his chest. "Beware the man called Hawke. He awoke things, old things, that should not have been touched and set into motion events that will tear this world apart."
Cullen frowned at her words. "Hawke is an," He paused "acquired taste so to speak, but the man is hardly worth such dire words."
"He has aided a bloodmage who foolishly allowed evil into this world and protects an abomination, do not be naive. He may be on your side in the end, but be cautious is all I ask. I must go, but be safe Cullen and should we meet again, I hope it is under better circumstances."
He watched her leave while screaming inside himself to detain her and find what her part in all of this was. It did not escape him that with the city on edge and his concerns with the Knight-Commander, that once more she appeared when a tower threatened to fall. Looking away he asked himself if he should perhaps take her to the Gallows and find out exactly why she was here and what her cryptic warnings were really about, yet once he decided to do just that, he turned and saw she had seemingly disappeared.
Shaking his head he headed back to the Gallows. He said a silent prayer as he walked and once more asked the Maker for guidance and to watch over those innocents in Kirkwall. Which made him think about her warnings about Hawke. The man had indeed become a powerful Mage and he had often thought the man had divine luck on his side but now he wondered if it was more than just luck. Too many questions and right now he needed to focus on what was happening at this moment in Kirkwall. He was not as worried about Hawke as he was about his own Knight-Commander. Meredith was not the same woman as she was all those years back when he had first come to Kirkwall.
This is a terrible town he thought and he had seen so many that fell into the depths of madness over the years as if infected with evil. He knew there were stories about when it had been under Imperium control and terrible events that happened, but he had always doubted they were anything more than just that, stories, but now? Now he wasn't quite sure. Taking a deep breath he left to find the Knight-Commander. He needed his mind clear because he felt in his soul that this was not the end, but only the beginning of dark times.