Chapter 1: Prologue
Laughter was heard as two young women walked out of the building that was a grocery store. “Iris! Come on, sissy! We need to get these veggies back to mom before she skins us both alive!” The younger of the two giggled as the elder (a blue-eyed, dark haired woman no older then twenty-four), followed after the bouncy woman who was racing ahead of her.
“I’m coming, sis!” The woman following, identified as Iris, laughed back as they arrived to the vehicle that towered over both. Iris walked around to the driver’s side and unlocked the behemoth; as both women climbed up and into the steel deathtrap, they put the bags of vegetables into the backseat and then sat down and each buckled up before Iris put in the key, turned it and heard the machine roar to life as if it were a tiger.
“Iris, I know you’re my sister and I love you dearly, but isn’t it time for you to get a new car?”
“Hey now, just because my truck, being the big ol’ bitch that she is, is older then you and I, doesn’t mean anything to me,” Iris responded as she smiled at her sister before backing out of her parking spot. “I owe this girl my very life!” Finally backed out of the parking space fully, Iris put the truck in drive and at what could be called a snail’s pace, they escaped the not-so-majestic-clusterfuck that was called a parking lot. Once they were free of it, Iris put on her blinker and waited until the coast was clear to pull out and begin the drive home. As Iris drove, her sister and her talked about different things, such as how her sister’s boyfriend was doing, how Iris still didn’t have a love life to be able to save her life and what all they were planning for the coming holiday. As Iris stopped with her blinker on to turn down the road to their mother’s house, neither woman noticed the semi-truck behind them that was barreling towards them at a break-your-neck pace and driving erratically. As Iris was turning, her sister looked through the side window and screamed just as the semi collided with the vehicle the two sisters were in, sending it rolling.
Chapter 2: One
All she felt was the excruciating pain. She could feel that she had several either fractured or broken bones, she could tell that she had a minor concussion and she knew several other things were wrong with her, but the pain felt as if it came from the deepest recesses of her very soul. She could hear voices screaming for aid, but couldn’t make out the words as she fought the fire that was burning her almost alive, at least that’s what it felt like. She swore she heard someone approaching her, felt strong and powerful (yet tender and gentle) arms pick her up slowly and carefully; but no matter how gentle the person was she couldn’t help the whimper as the flames of the pain turned white hot. She heard the person apologizing but still couldn’t make out the words as she continued to fight the pain, but eventually a soothing sensation washed over her before the person holding her dared to even thing of moving. As the person began to move slowly and carefully so as not to jar her to much, Iris found herself entering the abyss of darkness as it overwhelmed her.
Iris awoke to a bed underneath her and words being traded between several people, but she didn’t stay awake for very long as sleep captured her once more. “Sissy!” A familiar voice called out to her in her sleep, but Iris couldn’t answer it. When Iris next awoke again, she felt a hand upon her forehead but couldn’t open her eyelids to see who it was and so fell back into sleep as more of that odd soothing sensation washed over her once again. The voice called out to her again, but still Iris could not answer but this time as she awoke, she found herself feeling a touch better but was still unable to open her eyes. This pattern continued on for however much longer, until finally, Iris could just barely open her lead filled eyelids to see that she was in a building of somekind, but in her now suddenly feverish and freezing state, she couldn’t keep her eyes open for very long and passed back out.
When she was finally able to open her eyes and able to keep them open for longer then a few moments, she saw someone in an unfamiliar outfit and he noted her groggy state. Approaching quickly, he removed what she guessed to be a bracer and a glove and raised his hand to her forehead. Shaking his own head, he met her eyes (which led her to note that his worry filled eyes were a rather handsome amberish-gold) and spoke quietly. “Go back to sleep, you’re still not well. Give it another few days,” he ordered her softly and she happily obeyed the command as she honestly didn’t have the strength to fight with her weakened body at this time. As she continued to sleep, the man tended to her by replacing the heated cloth that had once rested on her forehead with a much cooler one and frowned as he studied her features. She was a beautiful woman to look at, well atleast to him she was, and now having finally seen her sapphire colored eyes, something told him that a great many men would be tripping over their own two feet to attempt their hands at wooing her. He frowned as he studied what he could of her, which had him noticing that she had many physical features that lead him to believe that she could possibly be Nobleborn such as her hands and some facial features, but a tiny part of him argued that even if she was, she didn’t seem the type of woman to accept that lifestyle easily. Reaching out, he gently brushed the tips of his fingers against her cheek and shook his head before turning and leaving her bedside to return to the paperwork he had requested be brought to him while he watched over this unknown young woman. The reason why he was watching her so closely was because of three reasons: his training, his mistrust of not knowing who she was and the fact that she had been having some extremely violent nightmares that, for reasons unknown to anyone, only he seemed to be able to calm her down from. Turning his gaze back to her, he wondered who she was but returned to the paperwork that needed his most immediate attention. For a full week he would return to Iris’s side, check her for any hopes of her fever breaking, and if it hadn’t he would look over reports and paperwork. Today though, as he checked her for her fever, he was glad to feel that it had finally broken but instead of trying to wake her, he decided it would be best to let her wake on her own. When Iris finally did begin to stir, he was swiftly to her bedside to await the sapphire gaze that he had oddly been wanting to see the past few days.
“Where?” Iris opened her eyes despite the pounding migraine she had behind her eyes. Her voice was hoarse from both the lack of use and the dryness that her throat held.
“You’re safe,” the man replied softly as she turned her head to meet his gaze. “You’ve been ill these past few weeks,” He told her as she closed her eyes and then opened them again, signaling that she was having a hard time focusing on him. “You’ve been healing from several injuries such as a minor concussion, several fractured ribs and a broken arm,” He informed her as he leaned down to help her sit up. “The fever you’ve had the past few weeks has finally broken.” He turned, poured her a cup of water and helped her to hold it as she drank carefully and slowly. When she pulled away he watched her close her eyes as she placed her head carefully against the wall behind her.
“The concussion would probably explain the migraine I am feeling right about now,” she groaned as he flashed a small smile.
“Probably, though I’m sure the fever you’ve had probably hasn’t helped much either,” he watched her carefully, she looked to be in a great amount of pain.
“I know you said I’m safe, but where exactly am I?”
“Haven,” he could sense that she was trying to gather her bearings but when her eyes flew open he saw the surprise and fear in them.
“Haven?” He nodded as she felt panic begin to rise. He reached out and held her arms, firmly yet gently, as she began to panic overwhelm her at the name of where she was, “No no no no, I can’t be, not Haven.”
“Hey take it easy,” he let his calm aura envelope her but she only shook her head.
“No you don’t understand, I can’t be here!” She entered a full on panic attack now but the man before her took her hands in his and rubbed his thumbs in circular motions on the back of her hands.
“Calm down,” His eyes never left her widened ones and she found herself slowly begin to calm down. “Breath, just breath,” he instructed her as she found herself doing just that. Once she was calmed down he asked her his next question, “Why can’t you be here?” He inquired as she shook her head.
“I...” suddenly it struck her. She couldn’t remember anything outside her own name. “I don’t remember...”
Chapter 3: Two
“You don’t remember?” The man asked sitting on the bed as she pulled her hands away from him to curl up with knees pulling close. She rested her forehead on them and started counting backwards from ten in her head, hoping that it would help her calm down.
“It’s blank.. it’s all blank...” Iris began to panic again as her heart picked up its pace. “I know my name, It’s Iris...I-I think...I think I had a sister...” that word struck her then, “MY SISTER!” Her head shot up as another panic attack hit her, this time though it was hard to breath and he met her eyes.
“You were the only one we found when we were told by the scouts that they had spotted you,” he told her as she felt her heart plummet. He watched her head drop back down to her knees and reached out to rest his hand on her shoulder. “If your sister is out there, we will find her.”
Iris looked up at him with tears that refused to be shed, “That is too much for me to hope for,” she whispered hopelessly as he frowned.
“What makes you say that?” He questioned as she rested her head back down.
“Just a feeling I have...” Iris refused to look back up and he was forced to scoot closer to her to rub her back as she finally let herself cry.
“Hey,” he spoke just at a whisper but she wouldn’t look at him. “I promise we will find her if we can and once you are better, I will personally take you to where you were found to let you see if you can’t find something we might miss.” He promised her as he continued to rub her back.
A month later, Iris was able to move around (though she had been instructed to keep her left arm in the sling that she now wore), and just like the man had promised, he took her and a few of those who were under his command (which had lead her to discover that he was the Commander), to the area where they had originally found her. Spreading out the soldiers looked for any clue as of to the whereabouts of Iris’s sister, but the only thing they found was the necklace Iris had given to her sister for her sister’s sixteenth birthday. Now sitting in her tent, which she had asked for as she really didn’t feel comfortable inside the building where she had been tended to (she was now greatly claustrophobic for a reason she could not name), she studied the wooden carving through blurred vision as she fought off another round of tears. She was so focused on the carving that she didn’t hear someone stop at the entrance to the tent until he spoke.
“Hey Iris,” the voice had Iris looking to see the soldier she had befriended a couple of days ago, Jesse she remembered his name was, standing there looking in at her.
“Hey Jesse,” she said as he gave a small smile. She remembered then that he wasn’t just a soldier but something called a Templar (but without his Templar armor on, he really didn’t blame her for not knowing as he had given it up for the armor that was produced for the soldiers so he could discreetly monitor the people called mages).
“Shitty day huh?” He asked as he entered the tent to sit down on his cot. He had volunteered to share the tent with her (which was a bonus for her as Jesse was interested in other men) and despite the Commander’s hesitance, Iris had agreed after telling the Commander that she was rather okay with Jesse’s choice in relationships.
“Everyday is a shitty day for me. I can’t remember anything but my name, can’t remember my surname, can’t remember what happened to my sister and to add the shitty colored cherry on top: my arm,” she motioned to her left arm which was in still in its sling, “is a peice of shit and won’t heal faster which means I’m bored shitless as I’m not allowed to do anything.” Iris huffed as Jesse shook his head.
“I keep offering to play chess with you,” Jesse reminded her as she flung her pillow at him with her good arm with all the strength she could muster.
“Piss off, you cheat,” Iris growled as the man managed to catch the thing, with his face, but he was laughing now.
“I do not,” He mocked a shocked look at her accusation, “You’re just not very good at it.”
“I will stab you.”
“With what? A spoon?”
“Yep.” She replied with a smile as she reached over for the book she had been lent by him. She made sure to tuck the necklace under her shirt collar, and opened the book to the page she had been on the previous night.
“Ouch, you wound me,” Jesse laughed as she snorted, neither realizing the Commander had stopped to speak with them and had witnessed her throwing her pillow at the Templar.
“Your pride’ll heal,” she told Jesse before she covered her mouth and nose as a sneeze snuck its way out of her.
“Bless you,” the Commander spoke startling both.
“Holy mother of-!” Iris yelped as Jesse turned to see the Commander watching them. Iris looked over to the Commander with a glare. “Would a warning of some type kill you?” She tried to keep a growl from her voice and the man smiled.
“My apologies, Iris,” The Commander nodded to her request, part of him was glad she wasn’t holding the book he had seen her open as he was pretty it would have gone flying through the air. “Jesse, I need you to go check on the mages.”
“Yes, Ser,” Jesse nodded while standing up. “Try not to hurt yourself while I’m gone Iris.” Jesse teased as she shot a look towards him that should have killed him on the spot. “Bitch,” He muttered leaving the tent.
“I heard that jackass!” Iris called after him causing him to laugh.
The Commander watch as Iris returned her gaze to the book and frowned, “Iris?” He questioned as she “hmm”ed him. “How are you holding up?” He asked walking into the tent to sit down on the cot as she sighed.
“As well as one can, with an arm in a sling and no recollection of their past except for two things.” Her gaze never left the book but he was able to place the bookmark she had crafted out of paper between the pages and closed it, forcing her to look up at him.
“Iris,” he said sternly as she met his eyes.
”It’s the truth, that and I’m all but going batshit crazy with boredom.”
“When do you next go to see the healer?”
“Next week,” Iris responded as he nodded. “They are hoping that the break in my arm will be healed enough for them to be able to use their magic to completely heal it. After that they will most likely want me to do light training to slowly regain the strength in my arm again.”
“Good,” the Commander nodded with that thought, “I will have Jesse oversee your training until you regain full strength, then you will train with the others.” He watched her nod to that plan and stood. “Now what did you accuse one of my lieutenant of?”
Iris tried her damnedest to not smile, but couldn’t help it, “Cheating at chess.”
The Commander smiled then, “He does do that.” He admitted with a nod causing Iris to laugh. It was a sound he enjoyed but he wouldn’t let her know it; the Commander began to walk out when she spoke.
“Commander?” Her voice held a bit of hesitation in it and he stopped to look at her.
“I...” she looked away, “Thank you for giving me a chance to prove myself to you and the Inquisition.” She told him as he watched her with a hint of curiosity.
“Don’t thank me, if it wasn’t for the Herald, you might not even be here.” With those words, the Commander left her alone.
Chapter 4: Three
Iris and Jesse circled each other slowly while the Commander watched them with a practiced eye. So far three months had passed and now that her arm was fully healed, she was throwing herself wholly into her training; granted she was going up against a Templar who had been training all his life, Iris was proving to be a quick study and had proven too much for the normal soldiers and recruits. Watching the other for any signs of attack the two held their shields at the ready, but Iris proved to be the more patient as Jesse charged her; Iris dodged swiftly, swung the shield outwards and slammed it into Jesse’s back causing the man to almost lose his balance. Jesse turned on his heel to bring the practice sword down upon her, but she quickly blocked it. As Jesse pressed the offensive attacks, Iris defended herself with a grace never before seen in a warrior; then it was her turn to press the attack and Jesse’s turn to defend himself. The Commander watched Iris carefully but she showed no signs of weakness, at least not openly. The two combatants kept their dance going for hours until finally the Commander spoke. “Enough!” He barked out as they pulled away. Iris and Jesse nodded to the other, showing their respect, then proceeded to leave the area to put away their training equipment. “Iris!” The Commander approached them and she looked towards him.
“Commander?” She asked as he finished his approach.
“Your getting much better, how is your arm feeling?” He asked as she finally noted the pain.
“It has a dull throb, but that’s about all.” She responded as he nodded.
“Go take something for the pain and rest.”
“Yes, Ser.” Iris watched him walk away and sighed as she turned to head to the tent she and Jesse shared.
“Wondering when you would get here,” he said as she looked towards him. “Get caught up staring at the Commander?” He taunted as she frowned and threw something at him. “Ow!”
“Had that coming asshole,” Iris grinned as he rubbed his forehead where the item, another book, had landed with a corner.
“That hurt!” He whined as she snorted, “You’re mean.”
“You’re just now realizing this?” She asked as she looked for and downed a quick potion for the pain. “That is sad,” Iris put the bottle away after closing it back up and lay down on her cot. Jesse was now to the level of friendship with her that made him seem like a brother, and he didn’t mind it one bit.
“So,” He plopped down on his own cot and looked to her. “Iris?”
“What do plan on doing once this is all over?”
“To be completely honest? I have no fucking clue.”
Jesse raised a brow at that, “Really?”
“Maybe you should join the Templar Order?” He suggested as she sat up to look at him at the same time the Commander stopped alongside the tent.
“And what makes you think that I would?”
Jesse shrugged not having heard the Commander stop, “One: you’d make an excellent Templar, shit you make a great soldier. Two: you said you don’t know what you’d do after this whole Inquisition mess is over with so why not? It would give you purpose.”
Iris thought on his points for a moment, but shook her head. “I see your points but that kind of life just wouldn’t suit me.”
“To many unknowns in my past, I need to find ways to help me remember my past and the lifestyle of a Templar wouldn’t help that.”
“What about after?”
“I would most likely think on it but in the end I probably wouldn’t go with that lifestyle,” Iris said as she combed her fingers through her hair. “I just can’t seem to sit still long enough to save my damn life.”
“I think we all experience that at one point in our lives.” Jesse sighed as Iris shook her head. “So tossing that idea out the figurative window. What would be your ideal thing to do be?”
“Pick up the book I just threw at you, moron.” She teased him as she lay back down while he scooped up the book that rested on the ground. He opened it up and began to read through the first page. He flipped to another page and read through that and smiled as he continued to read.
“This is really...” he looked to her, “Is this a natural talent?”
Iris shrugged, “Don’t know. Just had the itch to pick up a quill one day, sat down with that book and began to write.”
“Is this completely full?” He asked returning to the book to continue reading.
“I’ll get you another one.” Jesse began reading through the book as he became absorbed into the words. “These are truly amazing. You should get these published!”
“Not like anyone would be willing to read them outside of you.”
“Iris, with the way you write these...these... poems...” Jesse smiled, “You’d be as famous as Ser Tethras himself.” Iris snorted to that.
“That’ll be the day.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Look at the pen name I use on there, it’s not even my true name.” She told him as Jesse looked to see that she was correct.
“Kainda? Where does that come from?”
“Not a damn clue.”
“Well just change it to your name.”
“So people can hate me? No thanks.”
“Come on Iris! It would give anyone who knows you bragging rights! I know I would be able to sit there and say I personally know you!” Jesse pleaded with her but she didn’t want to budge. “Please!!!” He whined as she growled low in irritation.
Iris sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Tell you what, you see if you get at least oh say... twenty people... to read those and enjoy them, I’ll THINK about getting it published.”
“Oh sweety, you just set yourself up for that one, but I’ll do better then that!” Jesse stood and vanished out of the tent as Iris groaned.
“What in the living fuck did I just get myself into?” She questioned as the Commander finally rounded the corner with a confused face.
“Iris?” He raised a brow as she leaned forward a bit to see who had spoken.
“Commander,” she greeted him as she sat up.
Nodding in Jesse’s direction, the Commander spoke, “What’s going on with him?”
“Give him a couple of hours, I’m sure you’ll see soon enough.” She groaned as she rubbed her forehead. “If he’s not being a thorn up my ass, he’s being the human embodiment of a living migraine...” she muttered under her breath as the Commander smirked.
“You chose to allow him to bunk with you.”
“Please don’t remind me,” she begged with a whine as the Commander walked over to her. “Anyways Ser, outside of seeing me being a royal dumbass, was there something you wished of me?” She looked up to his eyes and he nodded.
“I was informed that The Herald would like to speak with you. I am here to lead you to the war room.”
“Well fuck me,” she muttered as she stood up.
“Don’t worry I doubt its anything bad.”
“Ser not to sound like a complete idiot, but something just tells me that anytime anyone as important as the Herald wishes to speak with me, I’ve probably done something to warrent that unwanted attention,” She told him as he shook his head.
“Let’s not keep him waiting,” The Commander turned on his heel and together the two left the tent to head to the Chantry.
Iris watched the Herald pace in the war room. “This truly is a highly unusual case,” He said as he stopped and studied her. “The Commander has informed me that your training is going over well, but I saw you today on the training field.” He studied her then began to circle her, “What I am most confused about is how you have adjusted so quickly to the training you are receiving.”
“Ser?” Iris was confused by his behavior and felt a spike of fear when he stopped before her though she did not show it.
“Iris, call me Tobias.” He sighed, “I am really tired of people calling me Herald and Ser.”
“If that is your wish, Se-err Tobias,” Iris corrected herself quickly as he nodded his approval.
Tobias crossed his arms as his advisors watched him scan her, “With your permission Iris, I can have Leliana see if she can’t find any information on any family you could possibly have if any.”
“Not to be ungrateful, Tobias,” His name sounded so strange to her as she spoke it, “but will it not be harder for Sister Leliana to find anything on me without my surname?” Iris asked as he thought on that. Before he could speak though, Leliana spoke up and all gazes turned to her.
“As long as I have your name I can start searching. While a surname will be helpful, seeing as how you have a case of amnesia and can’t remember your surname, I will begin with what little I do have. Is there anything you can give me to help further this goal?” Iris debated with herself for a moment before she nodded and removed the necklace she kept with her. Handing it to her, Leliana looked the necklace over and gave a gasp of surprise. “Where did you find this?”
“It was resting where I was found. I want to say it belonged to my sister but only after I possibly gave it to her.”
“Leliana? Care to clarify on what it is?” Tobias questioned as Leliana looked to him.
“Not at this very second, Herald, but I can say this helps immensely. Tell me do you own one yourself?” Leliana asked of Iris who nodded.
“Wear it everywhere I go,” Iris was completely lost, but pulled out her own matching necklace and Leliana nodded.
“I see,” Leliana’s eyes lit up at seeing the matching necklace. “Iris, I believe you have just helped to shorten my search by several months if not by several weeks.” Tobias looked to Iris who put her necklace away, while still looking greatly confused. Leliana quickly dismissed herself and vanished leaving Iris, the Commander, Tobias and two others standing in the room.
Chapter 5: Four
Iris looked to the Commander then to Tobias who tapped his foot, but before he could speak the only other person in armor spoke. “Iris may I see the necklace you wear?” Iris nodded and removed the necklace to hand it over to the woman who took it carefully from her. As she studied it, the older woman glanced to Iris who stood there awaiting something. “Commander, describe to me how she is in training again,” the woman told the man who reinformed her everything. “Yes...” She studied Iris with a scrutinizing gaze that made Iris slightly uncomfortable but Iris showed no discomfort on the outside, though she was tempted to shift her weight from one foot to the other. “Hmm, in two hours I want you on the training field. I have a suspicion that Leliana may be on the right track but I must test this for myself.” With that she handed the necklace back to Iris and left the room before the younger woman could say anything.
Iris looked to the remaining three and they looked just as confused as she felt. Tobias frowned before looking to the Commander, He nodded and the Commander turned to Iris. “Go rest up, Iris. Seeker Cassandra will not take it easy on you so you must be well rested before facing her.”
“Yes Ser,” Iris nodded as she saluted.
“Dismissed,” the Commander returned her salute with a nod and watched her walk out of the room. Once Iris was gone, Tobias turned to face the Commander with a raised brow.
“You don’t call her what you do with the others?”
”I ...um...” The Commander rubbed the back of his neck.
“Cullen, Cullen, Cullen.” Tobias shook his head, “I never would have taken you as one for someone like her. Especially not with the way you first jumped to conclusions about her.”
“My mind can be changed, and Lady Iris has proven that she is no danger to the goal of the Inquisition.”
“She may not be anymore due to her memory loss, but the group her sister and her were apart of can be if we do not tread lightly,” Leliana reappeared causing the three to look at her, “Look carefully at the amulet on her sister’s necklace.” She instructed Cullen as the Commander took it from her.
He studied it carefully but shook his head, “What does this have to do with anything?” Cullen questioned as he looked up to the red headed woman, as the only other woman scooted closer to look at it.
“Why does this look familiar?” The woman asked as Tobias reached over the table for it.
“Is this?” He furrowed his brow.
“Yes, it is,” Leliana nodded in response to his question.
“But I thought they all vanished?”
“So we assumed,” Leliana frowned, “I was just informed that several others with the same amulet as what you hold, Commander, and what Iris have been spotted throughout all of known Thedas.”
“Does this mean?”
“No, remember Iris has no recollection of her past outside of knowing her first name and having a sister. If she was a member of that group then she doesn’t know it.”
“She is also grieving the loss of her sister,” the only other woman spoke up as she returned to where she had been standing. “Something does tell me that Iris may not actually be a member of that group, but may be the daughter of someone in that group.”
“That is a likely possibility,” Leliana nodded thinking it over. “The children of those in that group are given necklaces such as this one to signify something but I cannot remember what.”
“It signifies that they are old enough to be taken,” A new voice spoke up as a silver-haired man entered the room with two Inquisition soldiers on his heels
“Who are you?” Cullen growled as his hand tightened on the hilt of his sword, while Tobias reached for his daggers.
“My name is Tullus Wieser, and I am Iris’s father.”
Chapter 6: Five
Tullus Wieser stood proud and tall. His silver armor glistened in the flickering light, his short silver hair was brushed back neatly (making Cullen’s styled back hair seem messy in comparison), he stood near the Commander’s height if not a touch taller and his sharp green eyes scanned the four in the room. “I am here for my daughter now where is she?”
“Iris is resting,” Tobias growled as he watched the older man, something did not sit right with him about this man who was claiming to be Iris's father. “She and Seeker Pentaghast will be facing down on the training field in an hour.”
Tullus’s eyes flashed dangerously and Cullen felt his grip tighten even more, “There is a Seeker here?” He growled as Tobias nodded.
“Commander, will you go see if Iris is resting?” Tobias turned to Cullen then with a silent plea for the Commander to warn Iris of this man.
“Of course Herald,” Cullen nodded as he left the room, skirting by Tullus who was just letting his barely contained rage roll off of himself. As Cullen escaped the room, he let his thoughts run rampant through his mind, Iris said she didn’t know what her surname was...But from what I have seen of this Tullus...She just doesn’t seem to be a Wieser. Cullen walked to where he knew Iris and Jesse were most likely at and sighed when he heard Jesse blabbing Iris’s ear off, yet again.
“Jesse, right now I swear you are worse than a damn fruit fly.”
“Hey now!” Jesse laughed before he gave a muffled sound. “Quit throwing your pillow at me or I’ll keep it!”
“Not if I fart on it first.”
She laughed as the pillow went sailing back at her. “You are utterly disgusting!”
“You wanted to bunk with me!” She laughed as Cullen stopped at the entrance to the tent.
Cullen cleared his throat and the two stopped and turned their startled gazes to see him standing with arms crossed, “Pillow-fighting?”
“She started it!” Jesse quickly threw Iris under the cart.
“Hey!” Iris protested as Cullen shook his head.
“I don’t care who started it, I’m ending it,” He notified them as he turned his gaze to Iris, “Iris, I need to speak to you, now,” Cullen said as he motioned for her to follow him.
“What did you do?” Jesse frowned as she shrugged.
Getting up, Iris followed the Commander with a heavy heart. Once they were alone he turned to her and she stopped. “Commander?” She questioned as he sighed.
“Iris, there is something I must inform you off and I don’t think you will enjoy anything I am about to tell you,” and so Cullen told her of Tullus’s arrival and of what he was saying. He watched her look away and watched as what he said struck something in her and suddenly she gasped as a memory rose. Cullen reached forward and held her both of her arms as the memory raced through her mind, which in turn forced her to fight off tears. “Iris, what is it?” He asked as she opened her eyes and stared into his with fear showing.
“He is my father...but...” It was the fear he saw in her eyes that had him bristling, not just that but he could feel the fear rolling off of her in waves as if it was a tidal wave preparing to sweep her away.
"What did he do to you?"
"It wasn't just me, it was also my mother and sister... He..." Iris was hesitant at best to tell him, but something told her that she could trust the Commander- her Commander- with the dark memory that had just made itself know. Closing her eyes, Iris steeled herself for the onslaught of the emotions that were soon to come into existence and told him everything she remembered of what Tullus had done to her, her mother and younger sister.
Cullen felt a fury like none he had ever known before beginning to rise from what he assumed was the depths of his very soul. It was only due to the fact that he held her arms in his grasp which kept him from squeezing his hands for fear of hurting her, but it did not stop his eyes from closing as he tried to rein in this sudden rising anger. Breathing in then out, Cullen opened his eyes and watched her carefully, "He won't be allowed near you so long as I have a say in matters." Cullen promised as she looked away and bit her lower lip.
"That won't stop him..." She barely managed in a frightened whisper, "There is only one way to ensure that he won't come seeking me again, though I don't remember what it is but even if I did, I would not ask it of anyone," She told him as Cullen studied her with a tender look in his eyes.
"Iris?" She shook her head, she could feel her chest constricting over the location of her heart but Cullen spoke soothing words to ease her out of the panic attack he could almost see bearing down on her. "Breath, Iris, focus on breathing." He instructed as his hands found hers and he began to move his thumbs in a calming circular motion. He spoke so softly that she was soon escaping the confines of the panic and started to calm down slowly. Cullen sighed before releasing her, "Return to your tent. I will come get you when it is time for your match against Cassandra." He promised her as she nodded.
"Yes, Ser," Iris nodded as she turned and walked away.
"And no more pillow-fights," That had her laughing and he smiled at the sound. It was a sound he wanted to hear more often, But first, her Father must leave. He frowned at that thought as he headed to go speak to Cassandra and inform her of what was going on. Cassandra is not going to be pleased with this information at all. He shook his head as he walked towards the Seeker who was all but annihilating a training dummy. "Cassandra?" He watched Seeker pause in what she was doing to turn to him and saw the frown on his face, "There has been an interesting development with Iris..."
Iris was breathing heavy as she and Cassandra separated for the sixth (or was it the tenth?) time in a row and Iris watched the powerful Seeker as they circled each other, both waiting for the other to grow impatient and attempt to attack. By now the two combatants had attracted a rather large crowd and could hear the sounds of murmurs, bets being made, and cheering as people watched the two lunged back at each other. The sound of steel against steel rang out as blades crossed in the dance that the two had entered, but as they clashed, Cullen couldn't help but hold his breath as the two dueled. Each hit had him almost flinching as the grinding sounds that came from the swords and shields that came together as Iris and Cassandra went at each other. They are almost on par with each other, Cullen thought as Tobias came up to him.
"Never would have believed this if I wasn't witnessing this for myself," Tobias frowned as Cullen looked at him.
"What do you mean?" Cullen asked as Tobias turned his head as his arms crossed.
"Cassandra and Iris are close to being equals," Tobias frowned. "Tullus is watching by the way," he nodded towards the armored man who seemed to be growing angrier by the moment.
"Apparently he is not enjoying this? Or not enjoying the fact that Iris is holding a weapon?"
"Both and not one bit," Tobias returned his gaze to Iris and Cassandra, "He is of the mindset that a woman is to do nothing more than give birth to children, cook and clean and basically be a slave to a man."
Cullen felt anger rear it's ugly head once more, "Iris doesn't seem the type to settle for that lifestyle."
"No, she doesn't, and that's what pisses him off the most," Tobias growled as Cullen looked at him. "Which is why Leliana has come up with a plan."
"Remember how it was stated that the necklace Iris wears not only marks her as one of whatever group her father is apart of but also marks her as available to be "Taken"?"
"I may have heard that," Cullen looked back to the two combatants, "What about it?"
"Turns out "Taken" means that Iris has to be Claimed." At those words, Cullen froze.
"Not in that way," Tobias spoke as Cullen locked his eyes on to Iris and watched as she dodged an incoming attack from Cassandra. "This type of Claiming means that her soul must be bound to someone."
"This sounds like Blood Magic," Cullen barely managed but the nod that Tobias gave had Cullen almost fully riled up.
"Blood is needed but Leliana is trying to see what all she can find on it first."
"Meaning that another way can be found?"
"Possibly, until then we need to keep Tullus away from Iris. Oh, She's going to feel that in the morning," Tobias lifted his lip and flinched as Cassandra landed a blow to Iris's side. Cullen frowned as he watched Iris return the favor and bashed her shield into Cassandra.
"A lot of rest will be required for both of them," Cullen shook his head.
"And Iris won," Tobias smiled as Iris charged Cassandra and knocked the Seeker flat onto her back. They watched as Iris offered her hand to the Seeker who took it and Iris helped lift the Seeker to her feet. The two women exchanged a few words, with Cassandra giving Iris a nod and a smile, then Iris turned to approach Cullen and Tobias who was grinning. "Never thought I would see anyone knock Cassandra flat on her ass. You have impressed me, Iris."
"Thank you Ser," Iris nodded as Tobias huffed at the "Ser" but before anyone could say anything, Cullen reached out and pulled Iris behind him as he and Tobias moved to block someone. "Commander?"
"Move! That is my daughter and you will not keep me from her!" Tullus boomed out as several soldiers and Templars made their appearance
Cassandra and several others were quick to encircle Iris as Cullen growled, "You have no authority here."
"It should not matter," Tullus snarled in response as Cullen felt Iris grip his wrist. Cullen looked back towards the young woman and noted that without a helm on her hair fell into her face. He saw the pleading look in her eyes for him to not do something he would possibly regret and then turned back to Tullus who had a sneer. "She will come with me and I will not stand any argument."
"I refuse to go with you," Iris snapped as Cullen took her wrist in his hand now and gave a gentle squeeze. "I am not some pup to argue over," She growled as Tullus began to glower at her but she met his stare head on.
"You.have.no.choice." He snarled as she continued to stare right back at him.
"I have every choice in the world." Iris retorted as she reached for her necklace and yanked it off, snapping its cord.
"You dare to defy me!" Tullus roared as she threw it to his feet.
"I just did." Iris felt Cullen pull her into his embrace then and looked up at him in surprise as the wind began moving the fur that surrounded his shoulders, he held his sword in his right hand in a position that spoke of him guarding her with the flat of the blade facing Tullus while the point was slated almost at a thirty degree angle, his face was in that "poker" form as his eyes held a rather protective look in them, and he met Tullus's eyes unflinchingly.
"I am Commander Cullen Rutherford," He announced in a very flat tone of voice. "And this woman is now under my protection."
Iris shivered as Cullen looked her over. After Cullen had stated what he had, Tullus had left with a flurry of rage, and now Iris wasn't sure what to make of everything that was happening. “Are you alright?” Cullen as quietly as she shook her head.
“I...really don’t know at this moment,” she admitted still shaking as Cullen pulled her close. After Tullus had left, Cullen had come to realize that Iris had been thrown into a level of shock that bordered on dangerous and after having sheathed his sword, he had scooped up Iris and had carried her to his tent where he could keep a close eye on her for the next few hours.
“Take your time,” he said pulling out of the hug and stared into her wide eyes. “You’re bordering on a level of shock that is dangerous to your health.” He had her sit down on his cot and knelt down to meet her eyes. He began to run his thumbs in that familiar circular motion on the back of her hands, “Your safe now,” He promised as she experienced a unique kind of out-of-body experience. As he spoke softly to her, she recovered herself slowly while trying to make sense of what had happened AND shove the dark memory of what Tullus had done to her as a child back into the recesses of where it truly belonged: Forgotten. Cullen continued to speak calming words which were breaking through her odd stupor, but she just couldn't bring herself to meet Cullen's eyes and so, stared unseeingly at his and her hands; she was so lost in her own numbed mind that she did not notice Cullen remove one of his hands from her to reach up and touch her cheek, which jarred her back in to reality. "Easy," Cullen whispered as she finally remembered where she was and who she was with. It would be a full hour before Cullen deemed her calm enough to leave his sight but he would not let her be completely alone for the next four weeks.
Around the start of the fifth week, Iris was training with Jesse once more when Tobias came looking for her. Being patient Tobias watched as the two dueled it out and wondered if he was making the right choice but shrugged his shoulders. "Iris!" Tobias called out once the two were done sparring.
"Ser?" Iris looked towards the man who, once again, grumbled at her use of calling him "Ser".
"Andraste's tits woman, call me Tobias." Tobias groaned as she frowned.
"My apologies. It's just that your name sounds rather odd coming from me," Iris explained as Tobias saw her point.
"Well get used to calling me by my name," Tobias gave her a lopsided grin, "Anyways, I came to tell you that you can now consider yourself lucky!"
"Lucky?" Iris frowned as he smiled.
"Cullen is most likely going to rip me a new one for this, but I have been discussing with Cassandra and my other companions about your "special" situation and everyone, but Cassandra as she's a spoilsport, has agreed with me that you sitting around her as a normal soldier just will not do." Iris was now thoroughly lost and he sighed, "I am officially making you one of my companions, which means you are coming with me when I leave for Redcliffe."
"But Ser- err Tobias- is that really a wise idea?" Iris questioned as Tobias shrugged, "Not to seem ungrateful or anything as I am honored to be made one of your official companions, but with my memories still missing I may not be the best person to tag along with you on your adventures."
"Doesn't matter to me," he motioned for her to follow him. "Leliana and Cassandra have agreed with me that this might also be a way for you to regain some memories. Sitting here in Haven doesn't seem to be doing you much good, and we are all concerned for your well-being." Tobias explained as they walked around the training grounds and then started heading towards the town.
"But I have no personal armor, no personal weaponry, nothing that I can claim as my own." Iris tried to argue but Tobias only smiled with a light in his eyes.
"We figured you would say that," He met her eyes.
Tobias waved a hand and she looked to see Cassandra approaching with what looked to be like a sheathed sword and a shield. As the Seeker approached she spoke, "Yes, we." The Seeker had a smile on her face and Iris wasn't sure how to take that, "There has been a reason the Commander has kept you so busy, Iris."
Iris watched Cassandra stop in front of her as Cullen's voice reached her ears, "It was not to be cruel, though I did enjoy watching you knock some sense into the newest batch of recruits," Cullen walked up to stop at her side, "But the Herald has made a valid point. Keeping you here in Haven is not helping with your memories and the ones you do have seem content to stay that way." Cullen watched her gaze fall on him and he gave her a slight nod, "The most vital thing for you is to regain your memories and if adventuring with the Herald proves to be the way to do it then that is the route to go." Cullen told her as she watched him before she turned back to Cassandra who presented the sword and shield to her. Take the shield she studied it first she noted that there were two animals on either side of the Inquisition's symbol and looked up questioningly to Cassandra who nodded to Leliana.
Iris turned her gaze to the Spymaster who gave Iris a tender look as she spoke, "Thanks to your sister's amulet and Mr. Wieser's unawareness of me being in the room, I was able to uncover more information regarding your family. While Tullus is indeed your father, your mother and he were never married."
"They weren't?" Iris asked as Leliana shook her head.
"You were born out of wedlock, while your sister was born after they were married, which means you are not truly a Wieser but are in fact a Vincentia."
"Vincentia? Isn't there a noble family in Tevinter with that surname?" Tobias asked as he thought it over.
"Indeed," Leliana nodded, "I have already reached out to them and have received word from the Matriarch, your grandmother," Leliana looked pointedly towards Iris, "that they are relieved to hear that you are safe, Iris."
"Why does something tell me that there is more to the story than that?" Iris questioned as Tobias silently agreed.
"There is but she wished to tell you, and us, more when he arrives."
"What?" Tobias, Cullen, Cassandra and the others echoed as Leliana nodded.
"She is eager to see you again, Iris, and is willing to fill the core members of the Inquisition in on everything. She is also aware that you suffer from amnesia and won't recognize her right away." Leliana informed them as Iris returned her gaze to the shield before setting it down to take the sword from Cassandra to study the blade.
Iris thought everything over and something struck her as odd, I have family in Thedas, yet I don't think I was born here...or was I? "When will she be here?" Iris found herself asking involuntarily. Even if I wasn't born here, at least I have family from here.
"She will be arriving a day before the Herald," Tobias growled at that title, "You and whoever else he chooses to go with him, return from Redcliffe." Iris nodded to Leliana's words, but before she could speak Tobias spoke up.
Cullen watched Iris as she looked over the multitude of horses. The last time Tobias had gone adventuring he had been directed to the man known as Master Dennet to see about getting more horses for the Inquisition and after having done a few favors for the man, Master Dennet had arrived in Haven with a great many horses. Having been walking around, Cullen had overheard Iris and Jesse talking about how she was interested in the noble animals and that had spurred Cullen into making time in his busy schedule to help her out with deciding which one would suit her needs the best. Now as he stood watching as Iris scan the horses, he was wondering if she even had experience riding but was stunned into amazement the moment a beautiful snowy white mare came trotting up to them. Looking both Cullen and Iris over for a moment, the mare turned her gaze permanently to Iris and touched her soft, velvety nose to the back of the young woman's hand. Almost as if she understood, Iris reached up and touched the nose of the horse; meeting the seemingly almost golden gaze of the horse's eye, Iris felt as if she would lose herself in the beauty of what she saw there as she began to pet along the horse's neck. "Kindred spirits those two," Master Dennet spoke up as he calmly walked up to Cullen.
"Pardon?" Cullen looked at the older man who smiled.
"Lady Vincentia and that young mare. They are kindred spirits as both have suffered. That mare lost her mother as a filly and Lady Vincentia lost her memories." Dennet smiled as Cullen returned his gaze to Iris and the mare, who was now resting the tip of her nose on the spot over Iris's heart while Iris rested her hand on the forehead of the mare just below the forelocks. The mare nicked softly and Iris looked to be in a form of bliss as she and the horse seemingly communicated without words, and it was this particular moment in time which imprinted itself into Cullen's memory. "That horse is an Imperial Warmblood and has decided that she is the best match for Lady Vincentia. Best saddle up your Warhorse, Commander, Lady Vincentia will need to ride the mare to see if they truly are meant to be." with that Master Dennet left Cullen standing alone.
Silently Cullen agreed with the Horsemaster and so walked over to the two to speak, "Iris," He watched Iris turn her gaze in his direction and saw a gentle smile on her face that made his heart stop for a brief moment. "Would you like to go for a ride? We need to make sure that you and this mare are compatible with each other before I-We- send you off with the Herald," He caught himself and was glad when she didn't take note of his momentary lapse in professionalism.
"I..." Started almost afraid but it dissipated when Cullen smiled gently.
"I will be going with you so you won't be alone."
Iris bit her lower lip but nodded, "Alright, I would like that." She agreed as he motioned for the mare to be taken to the stables.
"Follow me to the stables," He smiled as she began to follow him. Hidden behind his armor and ribcage, Cullen's heart skipped several beats as he realized that he was quite possibly going to be sharing what could be Iris's first moments on horseback with her and while part of him wanted to "mother hen" over her, he let his years of training take over and as soon as they arrived (to see that both his horse and the mare were ready to go) Cullen helped her with figuring out how to mount up. Once she was safely in the saddle with the mare's reins in hand, Cullen walked over to his stallion and was in the saddle in one fluid motion. Guiding his horse over to her's, Cullen instructed her on the do's and don'ts of riding which she absorbed; eventually, Cullen and Iris were soon moving, with Cullen pacing both of them, and soon found that riding triggered another of her memories (this one far better than the last) to rise. She told him of it while he smiled as he watched her face and knew that so long as she remembered what he had helped to reteach her, she would be alright with following the Herald when they left the next day.
Semi-spoiler: in the next chapter Iris gets to "officially" meet everyone's favorite dwarf and that big ol' lovable Qunari.
Chapter 8: Seven
Iris and Cullen stood at the stables at the break of dawn the next day waiting on Tobias and the other two he had chosen to come with him, "Well if it isn't Curly and whose's this?" An unfamiliar voice spoke up causing Iris to look over and see a rather short man walking up to them.
Cullen groaned at the use of the word "Curly" and Iris silently wondered why, "This," Cullen looked to the man, "Is Lady Iris Vincentia, dwarf," Cullen held back on snapping at the man and Iris wondered if there wasn't something else going on between the two.
"Wait, Vincentia? As in one of the Mage Noble families from Tevinter, Vincentia?" the dwarf asked as Cullen nodded. "Well, this is a surprise indeed." The dwarf smiled towards Iris, "Varric Tethras, but you can call me Varric." The man smiled as Iris nodded.
"You can call me Iris, I'm still not so sure on the whole family name thing yet," Iris informed him as he nodded in understanding.
"You have nothing to fear if you're worried about that, your family might be mages and Nobility, but the members of the Vincentia family I've met are rather likable."
Not sure if that's supposed to make me feel better, Iris wondered as Tobias finally arrived.
"Varric are you annoying the Commander and Iris?" Tobias gave a shit-eating grin and Iris fought the urge to facepalm, though she did hear Cullen groan.
"Who me? Never," Varric smiled back at Tobias as Iris looked to Cullen, who was giving her a rather apologetic look now.
”Maybe we should teach her to play a game of Wicked Grace?” A truly unfamily voice spoke up as Iris turned back to Tobias.
As she turned, her eyes landed on the person who had spoke and she all but recoiled as a man, taller then any other person she had seen in Haven, came walking up. “Now you’ve done it Tiny, You’ve gone and scared Flower.” She felt Cullen grip her arms and he began to speak soothing words.
Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all. Cullen thought as he slowly calm Iris down. “It’s alright, Iris,” Cullen whispered as she watched the unusual and burly man come walking up to them.
His skin was greyish in color, he was possibly the tallest one Haven, but his most noticeable feature were the horns growing out of his head, horns that made Iris extremely wary of him. “Shit,” he said with a frown as it struck him, “You haven’t see a Qunari before, have you?”
“Bull, Iris is suffering from amnesia,” Tobias almost hissed at the man who turned to him. “If she has seen your people before she isn’t able to remember it.”
“Shit.” Bull said as he looked at her with apology written in both his eyes and on his face. “I am sorry for frightening you, Iris.” He quickly apologized as she watched him. He could tell she would try to avoid him for a while and decided to find some way to make up for frightening her.
Eventually things quickly settled down as their mounts were brought to them and Cullen squeezed her hand gently. “I-we will await your safe return.” He told Iris who gave him a a small smile.
“Hopefully I’ll have another memory back by then, too...” She looked away as he nodded in agreement.
“All we can do is hope so,” Cullen, for some reason unknown to him at this time, hated seeing her look so upset and so squeezed her hand again. “If you regain nothing from this, then I will try talking the Herald into allowing you to move back under my command.”
Iris looked into his eyes and nodded before she turned around, mounted up, gave him one last smile and then she gently spurred her horse after Tobias. Soon the four vanished from sight and Cullen felt worry rise. “You know, I’ve noticed something, Commander.” Jesse’s voice echoed from behind him and Cullen turned to look at the man.
“And what would that be lieutenant?”
“Well it’s just that the relationship you two have...it’s like your good friends, yes?” Jesse questioned as Cullen thought that over for a moment.
“What is the point you are trying to make?”
“Think about it, she has regained some of her memories in your presence, the presence of a friend. Let that sink in for a moment.” Jesse told him as Cullen let the thought dive deep; then as if it were a lightning bolt, it struck him.
“The key to regaining her memories is...” Me?
“Friends. She needs friends.”
“But you’re her best friend from what I’ve seen, why hasn’t she...?”
“Because, I’m more of a...an older brother to her. She knows she can tell me anything, things that she can’t tell anyone else because of a crippling fear she can’t explain, and she knows that I will keep whatever she tells me a secret should she ask me to,” Jesse replied as Cullen let the information roll around in his mind. “She needs friends who will help her regain her memories and what better place to do that then among the Inquisition’s inner circle?” With that question hanging in the air, Jesse left Cullen alone to process everything.
Chapter 9: Eight
Iris listened as Varric and Tobias joked around as if they were children but despite their merrymaking, she just couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen. "You okay, little lady?" Bull asked as she looked towards the Qunari.
"I just have a bad feeling is all..." She told him as he frowned.
"Can you say why?"
"No, it just hit me all of a sudden," She met Bull's eyes and the man frowned in thought, but he did not press the matter further as Tobias called out for them to stop and make camp for the night. Once they had dismounted, tied up the horses, set up the tents, and had eaten, Iris stood looking out into the vast expanse of the dusk and frowned before she decided to turn in for the night. Tobias was taking up the first watch which left her some time to actually attempt to sleep, but the moment her head was on her pillow and she closed her eyes, she was seemingly transported to a dream unlike what she was used to.
"This isn't my usual nightmare," Iris noted as she walked along a path to a crystalline lake, or well rather it was a large pond with emerald grass growing around it with towering dark brown barked trees. "Where am I?" she questioned as she stopped at the edge of the clear water, she knelt down and studied her reflection carefully. Something told her that she had been here many times before, that this place was a safe place, but as she lifted her gaze from the water she saw someone, a woman, standing across the pond and caught the woman watching her. Iris stood to full height and her eyes followed the woman as she slowly made her way towards the younger. Iris stood still, but the woman did not seem to mind as she slowly strode towards Iris. "Who are you?" Iris inquired as the woman drew closer.
"A friend," the older woman replied calmly, her pace still remaining the same. "This place is peaceful and inaccessible to the demons of the Fade."
"Thank you...I think..." Iris told the woman who smiled with an almost motherly look. "How are you a friend? I've never seen you before," Iris pointed out as the woman chuckled softly.
"You have seen me before, in fact, you have seen me many times since you were a babe."
"I don't see how," Iris frowned as the woman came to a stop before her.
"In time you will remember me and the nights we spent together," The woman reached out and touched Iris's cheek, "You have grown so much, and are so beautiful. Truly the envy of the Desire Demons everywhere," the woman's hand dropped down to her side, "I wish we had more time together, child, but alas I only have an hour more to speak with you."
"What do you mean?" Iris watched the woman as she reached out and took both of her hands into her grasp.
"Only an hour to give you a gift I meant to give you a long time ago, but could not due to your father's arrogance and your mother taking you and your sister away to another place." The woman informed Iris as she watched a strange energy gather around her hands and slowly spiral around her arms. "Iris, take this gift now. Use it for the betterment of Humanity, to better yourself and become stronger for the one you are destined to be with."
"For the one... I am destined to be with?"
The woman nodded, "Yes, you are meant to be with a very particular man. One who has already stated his intentions to protect you."
Iris felt the odd blue energies wrap tightly in her arms and watched as they molded themselves into her skin as if they were tattoos, "I accept your gift, Spirit... I willingly accept this offer you make to me and will use it to better myself and use it to help drive mankind onto a new path." Iris closed her eyes as the energies soon wrapped her arms and hands into a sensation of a mother's loving warmth.
"I will see you again Iris...when you remember who I am..." The woman's voice faded away as Iris opened her eyes.
Iris opened her physical eyes and immediately looked her hands and arms over but did not see anything different, though the odd warm sensation was still there. "How odd," she whispered to herself as she watched Bull lift up the tent flap.
"Oh good your up, your turn to take watch."
"Dead to the world, apparently dwarves are deep sleepers." Bull informed her as she sighed.
"Alright, I'll take watch," Iris shook her head and stood up to walk out of her tent. I really don't feel like sleeping again anyway so I'll take this watch as well as the next.
Chapter 10: Nine
Iris stretched as she stood from where she was sitting, to say that sitting for several hours on a hard surface would hurt the bum would be a complete understatement and now Iris had respect for those people who had both the time and the patience for it. "Why didn't you wake me?" She heard Varric asked and she turned her blue eyes to see the dwarf walking up.
"You need the sleep as you are an official companion to the Herald, this is just a temporary thing to see if this won't help me to regain my memories," She started as Tobias snarled out for her to use his name and not his title earning a snicker from Iris and a throaty chuckle from Varric, "Besides thanks to the Commander, I'm used to being up for several hours at a time as I was often patrolling around the town and encampment while under his command," She informed the dwarf as he shook his head.
"Remind me to tell Cullen to take it easier on you," Tobias said as he appeared next to Varric.
"I didn't mind, it kept me from being bored and in the long run is worth it," Iris explained as Tobias huffed.
"Still Iris," Tobias started but Iris shook her head.
"Oh you are stubborn," Tobias commented as Iris walked away to prepare her mare who knicked softly at her rider.
"Sounds like she could be your cousin," Varric laughed until he saw Tobias's face, "She is isn't she?"
"Yes, though we are separated by at least six or seven generations," Tobias nodded sadly.
"Well...shit," Varric frowned as he watched Tobias watch Iris with a very sad puppy dog look. Things had just gotten more interesting, and Varric was sure that, before this endeavor was over, shit was only going to get weirder.
Iris gasped as Tobias and the odd man named Dorian vanished through a green rift, “By all that is holy!” Iris turned to the magister who stood there with a triumphant smirk on his face. “What have you done?!” She asked with wide eyes as the man snickered wickedly. But before he could speak, Tobias and Dorian reappeared almost as quickly as they had vanished. Things were swiftly taken care of as the Magister realized his inevitable defeat and surrendered himself. “Tobias!” Iris turned to the Herald who looked completely worse for the wear, “You look like you’ve been through hell!” Iris exclaimed as Tobias gave a soft smile.
“I’ll be alright, but what about the three of you?” He asked looking between the three who had been left.
“Alright over here Boss,” Bull stated as Varric agreed.
“Iris?” Tobias turned to her and she frowned.
“Physically? I’m fine,” Iris told him as he nodded. “Mentally, I'm still trying to figure out what the fuck just happened.”
“I think we all are,” Tobias nodded in agreement as the man doors opened and in walked someone that none of them thought would be coming. “Your majesty,” Tobias greeted the man who entered. The man nodded, turned to speak with the leader of the mages, then turned to Tobias who explained the reason for the Inquisition being there.
As the man went to speak again, his eyes floated over Tobias’s companions and landed on Iris, “And who may you be?” The man asked now taking a full interest in her as Tobias slightly retreated to watch this exchange.
“Iris Vincentia, your majesty,” Iris gave a bow before standing straight.
“Vincentia? Isn’t that a Noble family from Tevinter?”
“I believe so, Your Grace,” Iris frowned as Tobias stepped forward to speak.
“Your majesty if I may step in for a moment?” Tobias started as the man nodded, “Lady Vincentia suffers from memory loss and therefore is unable to answer any questions about her family at this time.”
The man looked back to Iris to see her nod her agreement, “It is true, your majesty.” Iris told him sadly.
The man thought it over for a moment before speaking, “That’s never a good thing. But would it not be safer for you to regain your memories in a safe place instead of among the ranks of the Inquisition?”
“I...” Iris stopped to think on that for a moment, He has a point but the Commander, Tobias and the others are working so hard to help me... “I see your point your maj-!”
“Please call me Alistair!” He smiled as she frowned.
“As you wish, your maj-err Alistair...” Another name to memorize, yay for me! Iris watched the man smile at how she had to correct herself and the smile made her slightly uncomfortable. Not in a bad way as it did cause her stomach to fill with butterflies, but she was also starting to shift her weight ever so slightly and that set off a signal in Tobias’s mind. “But as I was saying, While I do see your point, I cannot just abandon the Inquisition at this time. Many of its members, to include the Herald himself, are helping me to regain my memories as we speak and I will not allow myself to leave them while they are working so hard to help me.” Iris stated as Alistair smiled.
“I see, I will drop the matter,” Alistair nodded as Iris watched him turn to Tobias. They two exchanged a few more words then Alistair left with his guard and Tobias went immediately over by Iris.
"Are you alright?" He asked quickly as Iris frowned.
"I'm fine, but speaking to the King..."
"...Made you nervous," Tobias nodded, he could understand that very well. From the conversations he had managed to snag snippets of that always transpired between Iris and Jesse, Iris really wasn't the type to be around Royalty or even the Nobility. But something told Tobias, that Alistair wouldn't care about that and so Tobias made it his personal mission to ensure that Iris would get a say in her future. Though I am pretty sure that Cullen has that covered but it won't hurt for me to ensure her future as well, Tobias thought as he led the group out of the castle and to the Inquisition camp, after speaking with the mages of course. He quickly wrote a letter to his advisors then went to find Varric but on his way there, his eyes traveled to Iris and found himself stopping as he noted how she was standing with her horse. She has been uniquely gentle with that horse since she selected her, or was it the other way around? Tobias asked himself as he watched Iris rest her forehead upon the horse's own forehead, he noted that the muzzle of the great beast rested against Iris's chest on the area above her heart while Iris rested one hand upon the mare's cheek while the other rested on the mare's chin groove. Both Iris and the horse looked to be at peace with the other and that made Tobias smile as he watched the two. Iris's eyes were closed while she leaned against a nearby fence with one foot slightly out between the two of them, but both knees were slightly bent and now it was at this moment that Tobias realized that Iris really was at peace. Horses are truly such amazing creatures. The feelings they can invoke in a person without even trying is wonderful to behold. At that moment a slight breeze picked up and part of the cloak that Iris wore lifted up and now Tobias let that memory imprint itself into his mind. I am not going to miss the chance to draw this scene later, He quickly memorized every little detail of this shared moment between rider and mare and couldn't help but let his smile grow a bit.
Chapter 11: Ten
Leliana smiled at the drawing in her hand, then tucked it back in with the report she was holding. She headed towards the Chantry with a smile on her face and met with the other two advisors who were bickering over something, shaking her head she quickly interrupted the two. "Apparently the Herald has a bit of artistic skill," That snagged their attention and she watched as two pairs of eyes focused quickly on her. She pulled out the drawing and handed it quickly over to the Ambassador who fawned over the drawing as the Commander took it from her to see why and he couldn't help the slight smile that came to him as he saw the perfect likeness of Iris's and her mare, Soyala, which Iris had stated that she believed to be the name of the last white mare she had owned. She had stated to him that the name was something she thought could mean Winter, though with her memory still suffering she wasn't entirely sure. He had never seen a young woman more at peace then what Iris looked like in that drawing.
"When are they returning?" Cullen asked as he looked up from the drawing and returned to his professional state of mind.
"In two days," Leliana stated as Cullen nodded.
"Which means that Iris's grandmother, Matriarch Vincentia should be here by tomorrow afternoon," The Ambassador frowned, "I do wonder how Iris will take to seeing her grandmother?"
"We can only hope that she will take well to seeing her, But I should warn you, Commander, Matriarch Vincentia is a mage of immense power though she is not the Magister of the Vincentia family."
"Who is?" Cullen was normally never curious about these sort of things but for some reason, he wanted to know everything he could find out about Iris and her family. It's to help her that is all. He told himself as Leliana frowned.
"Her grandfather, Kaeso Vincentia," Leliana told them as the ambassador frowned. "But he doesn't plan on being Magister for much longer."
"Who will take his place?"
"That has yet to be decided, It was originally supposed to be Iris, or at least they were hoping it would be."
Cullen spoke up then, "But the magic never manifested in her." Beings that Jesse was always around Iris, the Templar had stated to Cullen that Iris had no magic that he could sense. He watched Leliana nod in agreement and she continued speaking.
"Then they were hoping that Iris's sister would take over, which after her magic manifested it was sealed that she was to be his successor but now no one knows what will happen." Leliana frowned, "The Magister is still holding out the hope that maybe Iris is a late bloomer and will have magic manifest any day now."
"I don't think it will," Cullen frowned, "If her magic has not manifested before now, I doubt it ever will."
"Which leads me to state that there is another thing they are hoping for," Leliana lifted up the letter from Iris's grandmother, "They are hoping that Iris accepts the marriage proposals they have received."
"Marriage?" Cullen and the Ambassador both questioned at the same time.
"But would that not defeat the purpose of what Iris most needs at this time?" The ambassador understood betrothal all too well being a noble herself, but that was not something Iris needed at this time.
"It would which is why the Matriarch is on her way here," Leliana looked back up at the two. "She wants Iris to regain her memories and live her life the way she wants and to meet someone she will fall in love with naturally in her own time, even if that man is a commoner." She explained as the other two looked at each other in wonder. What none of them were aware of, not even Cullen fully realized it yet, was that the Commander was starting to fall for Iris. What Cullen really did not know was that since he had stated that Iris was under his protection, he had set off the chain of events that would lead the two to fall in love and one day be together forever. Leliana knew it, however she wasn't the mistress of secrets for nothing, so she wasn't about to say anything to him about it, yet.
"I better get things prepared for the arrival of Lady Vincentia then," The Ambassador frowned as she turned to leave.
"Josephine," Cullen called out and the woman turned to him, "We will finish our conversation at a later time."
"Agreed," the Ambassador, Josephine, nodded before disappearing.
"Commander," Leliana smiled at him, "Keep the drawing of Iris," Cullen watched her with curiosity, "Something tells me you will keep it safe in the coming days." With that, she left Cullen standing alone and completely confused.
Two days later, Iris sat in the tent she shared with Jesse. She had a lot to think about, well more to think about then what was normal for her. She had met her grandmother, who had told her the reason behind her mother taking her and her sister away, and of course, told Iris of her grandfather's plan to marry her off to another powerful mage family. "But the decision is yours alone to make," her grandmother's words came haunting back as she heard someone come walking up to the entrance of the tent.
"Iris?" As much as Iris didn't want to answer, or to tell the person to shove off, she sighed and looked up to see Cullen watching her with worry. "Are you alright?"
"Truthfully? I don't know..." She answered plainly with eyes closing as she looked away from him. There was too much happening far too quickly for her liking, and it was all starting to take its toll on her both physically and mentally, “I feel fine but...finding out what I have from my grandmother, who I dont even remember... It just feels a bit...surreal...” She told him quietly as he stood watching her.
Somehow knowing that this was not a subject she wished to really speak on at the moment he quickly changed the subject, “While you were away with the Herald, did any more memories return to you?” Cullen watched as she met his eyes.
“I’m afraid not,” Iris turned her gaze away from him as he frowned, “I’m starting to believe I may never regain my memories outside of the few that I have.”
“You will Iris,” Cullen told her swiftly as she returned her gaze to him, “Have faith, we will find a way to return your memories to you, no matter what.”
Iris frowned then, “I really hope so...” her voice was soft, too soft, and he almost had to strain to hear her. Walking closer, he knelt down and took her hands into his own.
“I promise you, Iris, I will not rest until we have found a way to return your memories to you,” He watched as her eyes closed and gave her hands (which he noted fit perfectly into his grasp) a very gentle squeeze. “I promise,” He repeated again, before releasing her hands and standing to leave. Looking back towards her he took a moment to notice that she was hanging her head and the sight all but broke his heart. She was starting to lose faith in herself and now he wanted to ensure that her memories would return.
Hey all, I know this one was a short (really short) chapter but that is due to the fact that I wasnt exactly sure what all I wanted to put into this chapter. I promise the next chapter will be longer or at the usual length of the other chapters, so bear with me please....maybe? Okay fine... have a *bit* of a spoiler discription of the next chapter:
Iris is losing faith in herself and a bit of faith in the others as well. Cullen, meanwhile, is informed of Tobias’s relationship with Iris, but an old face shows itself again. Things really are looking bleak for poor Iris now.
Chapter 13: Twelve
Tobias frowned as he watched Cullen approach, “Commander.”
“Herald?” Cullen looked towards the man who was frowning. When the Herald frowned, it was usually due to someone’s stupidity.
“Do you have a moment?”
Who did what now? “Of course,” Cullen responded as he followed the man to a more private area. “Is something the matter?”
“No...well yes...” Tobias huffed as he pinched the bridge of his nose for a moment, “I need to tell you something but first: What is your standing with Iris?”
“My standing?” Cullen wasn’t sure where the man was going with this, and Tobias sighed.
“What are you to her? Besides the Commander,” Tobias looked at Cullen as he leaned against a wall. “Are you a friend or do you see her as possibly something more?”
"I am afraid I don't understand," Cullen watched as Tobias shook his head.
"Its a simple answer to a simple question, Commander. What is Iris to you? How do you see her? Do you see her as a friend or do you see her as something more?"
"May I ask why this is relevant?"
"I want whats best for her, as I am sure you do. So once more: do you see her as a friend or something more?"
Cullen wasn't sure where all this was coming from but sighed, "Friend. I see her as a friend," He watched as Tobias studied him for a moment.
"Alright," Tobias stood straight and began to walk away but stopped for a moment, "The only reason I asked is because Iris is my cousin, so I have more of a reason then anyone to see her memories safely returned.” With that Tobias left Cullen standing by himself to think over what had just transpired.
Cullen looked in the direction he knew Iris to be and watched as she and Jesse laughed at whatever had been shared between the two. Iris spoke to Jesse who shrugged with a shake of his head then laughed again as he said something. Shaking her head, Iris smiled at Jesse who pointed towards the training grounds and Cullen noted that she agreed to what he could assume to be some mid-day training. Then, he noticed it. Iris was missing the usual spring to her step that he had come to notice was a signature thing from her. Is something wrong? Is she injured? He wondered as his eyes scanned her for any possible signs of injury that she could be attempting to hide, but some little voice in the back of his mind whispered that Iris wasn't injured, but that her faith in everyone around her was slowly starting to fade and with it, her usual behavior was disappearing as well. He looked around and casually made his way towards the two who were training now, but he was stopped by the man known as Dorian who silently pointed towards someone coming their way.
“I dont know about you, but I think I smell trouble coming.” And Cullen knew the man to be right, the person coming their way WAS trouble, major trouble. “I’ll go get Tobias,” Dorian frowned as he swiftly left to seek out the Herald who was just as swift to arrive to Cullen’s side.
“Him again?” Tobias growled low.
“Seems he won’t quit, Herald,” Cullen frowned.
“Then we make him,” Cullen looked towards Tobias who had spoken in a flat tone of voice. He had never heard Tobias use that tone of voice before but there was a first for everything. “Tullus!” Tobias all but roared out as the man stopped to glare the younger down. “Take one more step, and I will see this as an attack on the safety of the one you continue to go after.” Tobias stared the elder man down as everyone (to include Iris) watched this exchange. Tullus flashed a smirk and stepped forward as Tobias drew his sword.
Blood was soon to be shed.
Chapter 14: Thirteen
Iris watched as Tobias and Tullus circled each other slowly, as if they were two large wolves or dogs. Today was a very overcast day and, as if they heavens themselves had decided to release their anger, lightning flashed for just a moment before a rather loud crack of thunder echoed after it. Iris felt the first of many raindrops begin to fall but her eyes along with many others, were glued to the scene before them. She felt her breatch catch as the tension in the air grew thicker, her heart skipped several beats, her eyes remained focused on the scene before her and she felt as if everything was suddenly becoming surreal. She heard another crack of thunder roar in the distance as the rain finally began to fall steadily. She slowly approached the area along with several others, and soon found herself being held back by Cullen. Her eyes flicked to him for a moment, but then both refocused on Tobias and Tullus, both of whom had finally decided to charge at each other. They fight like they are damn demons, She noted silently as she watched the two men clash over and over but then she noticed it, or rather felt it, her eyes flicked away and saw someone slowly circling closer to the two combatants. Her eyes caught the glint of a hidden blade, watched as the person studied Tobias and as if knowing what the man was planning, she yanked away from Cullen who called out to her as she rushed forward. “TOBIAS! LOOK OUT!” She hollered as she leapt between the Herald and the unknown man. She felt the blade meant for him puncture her shoulder, and forced herself to swallow back a yelp as Jesse, another person, and the Knight-Captain swiftly appeared as Cullen roared out for The man and Tullus to be captured before rushing to Iris’s side as she knelt down holding her shoulder as the pain blossomed into something more. He quickly called for a healer who was just as quick to appear at her side and tend to the injury, unfortunately for them, Tullus managed to escape and now Tobias and Cullen shared a singular look between them. Iris wasn’t safe anymore and so after she was resting the two men agreed that she was not to leave their sight, no matter what.
Iris woke to Jesse entering their tent and saw him smile gently at her, “You’re finally awake.”
“And I feel like I’ve just been run over.”
“Well that’s really no surprise considering you literally threw yourself between the Herald and an attacker while he was dueling your so called father.” Iris closed her eyes and she attempted to roll onto her side but found herself lying on her back instead. “Aside from the fact that you look almost look how you must feel, are you hungry? I can go get you something if you want.”
“I’m just tired,” She told him as she passed back out to the sound of gentle rainfall and birdsong.
“Rest up then, Iris, the Commander and the Herald want you to recover,” Jesse frowned as he sat on his cot and rubbed at his right eye with a sigh before lying down and falling asleep himself.
When Iris next awoke it was to see Cullen walking in, and he approached her cot, “How are you feeling?” He asked quietly as she blinked sleep away.
“Like I’ve died then came back,” she replied as he frowned.
“The blade that was used on you was poisoned. We believe it was strong enough to attempt to kill the Herald yet somehow you seem almost immune to it.” Cullen informed her as she closed her eyes. She was still very tired and could rightly assume that it was possibly due to the poison lingering in her veins. “Get some more rest, the poison is still running through your body. It may be a few more days until you are able to walk around again.” He didn’t even receive a response as she was once more passed out.
Chapter 15: Fourteen
Iris looked around the camp, a few days had passed since the incident and once more she was on night Patrol. As she walked around nothing really captured her attention until the sound of the nearby underbrush rustling had her attention snapping over that way. “Who goes there?!” She unsheathed her sword and prepared her shield, “Do not linger in the shadows!” She growled as she watched a boy no older than eleven come crawling out of the underbrush. “Your just a boy, what are you doing out here? Where are your parents?” She asked of him as she lowered her sword and shield.
“Please ma’am...I... I don’t know where my family is. I was...sep-separated from them.”
Iris frowned for a moment then called out. “Theo! Come here for a moment.” The man in question soon appeared, greyish eyes meeting Iris's as he finished his approach.
“What is it, Iris- Who is this?” He asked as she turned to the boy in question.”
“I do not know, but you are the Templar here, what do you sense about him?” She questioned as the boy shivered.
“Hmn,” Theo walked close to the boy, “I sense no demon. Who are you boy?”
“My-my name is... Thelgen...”
“Are you Dalish?” Iris asked as she put her sword and shield away.
“N-no, ma’am. My mom and dad lived in the city... I-I’m a city elf, ma’am...” The boy was shivering from the cold and Iris swiftly removed her cloak and wrapped it around him as she scooped him up.
“Already ahead of you,” he told her as he turned and hollered for Jesse.
“Hey, Jesse! Come here!”
The other Templar came walking up and frowned when he saw who Iris was holding. “Is that a...boy?”
“An elf-child,” Iris spoke as Jesse scanned the frightened boy.
“Commander will want to know,” Jesse frowned as she nodded.
“I am well aware,” She told him as she began to walk towards the camp, “Ah! Theo can you-?”
“Don’t worry Iris, I have your patrol covered.”
“Alright." She said as she and Jesse began to walk away.
“What will happen to me, ma’am?” Thelgen asked quietly as Iris looked to him for a brief moment.
“Nothing bad, Thel,” Iris promised him as they finally stopped near some other soldiers at the doors to the Chantry. “We must speak with the Commander immediately,” Iris informed them after she put the boy down carefully. One of the soldiers nodded and went to fetch Cullen, who was swift to come to their location with the Herald on his heels.
“Iris, it’s good to see you moving around again,” Tobias smiled before noticing the boy who clung to her leg, “Who is this?” He inquired as the boy tried to appear smaller by moving close to Iris.
"His name is Thelgen," Iris informed them as the boy looked from the Herald to the Commander, who spoke now.
"Where did you find him at?" Cullen scrutinized the boy who only hid behind Iris as if she could protect him from the Commander.
Iris told them of how they had crossed paths and Tobias frowned, "Cullen?"
"Have several men go and search around that area to see if they can't find any traces of his family.
"Right away," Cullen nodded and turned to speak to one of the soldiers that were at the doors. Iris watched Cullen vanish and turned to Tobias.
"What of Thel?" She asked as Tobias looked to the boy.
"Have you eaten?" he asked the boy kindly and earned a shaken head. Iris frowned then.
"I will take him to get something for him to eat," She said as Tobias nodded, "Follow me Thel," She instructed the boy while Jesse and Tobias went to find Cullen. After a few hours, Cullen found Iris and the boy speaking as the boy wolfed down his food. Watching them for a moment, Cullen took note of how Iris was being gentle with the boy and frowned as he realized that she was not going to like the news he was bringing with him. Walking closer he heard Iris speaking kindly to the boy, "Slow down Thel, I promise you this won't be the last meal you eat." She told the boy who finally slowed down. Cullen was amazed at how motherly Iris was towards the boy and part of him wondered how she would be with her own children.
What am I thinking? Cullen scolded himself as he finished his approach, "Iris?"
She turned to him and he felt his heart pause at the look she had on her face, "Commander?" She returned as he mentally shook himself swiftly. He was quick to tell her of the boy's parents demise and she frowned as she looked at the little one, who was watching her with sorrow filled eyes.
"What will happen to me?" He questioned as she watched him for a moment.
"I will take care of you," She told him. Cullen went to protest but she stopped him short, "No disrespect Commander, but Thel needs someone to care for him. Seeing as how he trusts me already, I will care for him."
"You....you will?" Thelgen asked her as she smiled towards him.
"Of course little one," She told him as the boy left his food to hug her. Smiling, Iris felt near complete having named the boy hers. To him, he had a woman to act as a mother, but to Iris, she had someone to care for again. Closing her eyes Iris hugged the boy close and then let him go. "Now go finish eating," She told him as Cullen watched this exchange. It was barely noticeable but Cullen could see it as he studied her carefully over the next few days, her attitude was changing once more. As he watched her care for the boy, he knew that she had found her purpose again and that her faith was slowly being renewed.
Maybe this boy coming into her life was a good thing? Cullen wondered as he watched Iris and Thel over the course of the week. Iris was working harder than ever before but was also more defensive. As was soon to be discovered by all.
Chapter 16: Fifteen
Ladies this chapter is a time for you to go gaga. That’s right: Cullen is pulling something out of the blue and is going to “adopt” Thelgen though Iris will remain Thelgen’s adopted mother. Is this hinting at a possible relationship between the two to come?
Thelgen stood frozen in place as the strange looking human-like being made its way towards him. Thelgen wasn’t sure what to do but then Iris’s voice echoed around him as she appeared from seemingly nowhere. “DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH MY SON!” She roared out as she swiftly slaughtered the former human. Turning to Thel she meet his eyes. “Thelgen, run to the Chantry. Your Uncle Jesse is waiting there for you. Hurry!” She told him as she turned to fight off more of the monsters as Thel scrambled towards the building she had told him to go to as he approached he saw Cullen looking around and called out to the man.
“Commander!” Thel cried as Cullen looked to see the boy trip.
“Thelgen!” Cullen rushed towards him but noticed that Iris was nowhere to be found. “Where’s your Mother?” He asked as Thelgen shivered with tears. Cullen took little notice of that fact that he had just called Iris the boy’s mother but when Thel told him he growled low, “Do as she said and get into the Chantry. I will find her and bring her back to you.”
“Okay,” the boy sniffled as Cullen helped him up before watching him enter the Chantry. Turning on his heel, Cullen raced off in the direction Thel ad been running from and soon came across Iris as she fought like a woman possessed against a group of “Red Templars”.
“Iris!” Cullen roared out as he rushed forward to aid her. He could not name why but something in him was pissed as hell itself about the fact that these “beings” were attacking the young woman.
“Commander?” Iris asked as she turned to him after they had slaughtered the last Red Templar.
“Thelgen,” was all he had to say before she nodded in understanding. Deciding that getting to the Chantry would be a good idea, both went sprinting towards the building and entered it.
“Mamae!” Thelgen cried out as he spotted Iris looking for him.
“Thel!” She rushed forward and knelt down to embrace him. “Are you hurt?” She questioned as he shook his head after they pulled away with Cullen watching.
“No, the Commander made sure I entered here safely.”
Iris kissed the boy’s forehead and Cullen felt a short of gentle wish enter his thoughts as it overcome him. The boy has Iris as his adoptive mother...but he also needs a father figure in his life. I wonder if Iris... Cullen watched the two and planned on asking her his question if they survived this hell.
Iris looked to a sleeping Thelgen and sighed. Looking in the direction she saw Cullen standing in she wondered if what she was about to ask him would be too much for him, But something tells me that he would be willing for Thelgen’s sake. There is only so much I can do as the boy’s adopted mother... Iris looked back to her adopted son and smiled softly. A memory had been trigged shortly before she had “informed” Cullen that she would be taking Thelgen in as her own and now she remembered the words: “I swear to care for my sissy always.” But I failed to protect her... Iris looked away for a moment as one of the soldiers passed by. She nodded to him as she recognized Theo, the Templar who had originally been there when she had discovered Thelgen. I failed to keep my oath about my sister, but maybe...maybe this world’s Maker is giving me a second chance to protect someone who will need me?
“Iris?” Cullen’s voice sounded close and she looked towards him to see that he was still approaching.
“Commander?” She questioned as he soon stood at her side.
“Please call me Cullen,” He told her as she nodded. “How is he?” He nodded towards Thel and Iris shook her head.
“Still a bit shook up, but he’s sleeping for now,” She replied as Cullen studied the elven boy. She sighed heavily and Cullen looked to her.
“Are you alright?”
“I wish I could say so. I’ve just been thinking. That was a really close call we had with those... whatever they were... that its made me realize that if something were to happen to me, Thel would be alone again,” Cullen listened as Iris spoke those words and frowned as he realized that she was correct. If something happened to Iris, Thel would be an orphan once more and looking to the boy he continued to listen to Iris speak. “I don’t want him to ever be alone like that...”
“What are you thinking of?”
“I’m going to have to find either a husband or someone willing to act like a father to him incase something does happen to me...” she trailed off as a red flag shot up in Cullen’s mind. As if he lost control of himself he asked her his question.
“What if I offered to be like a father to him?”
Iris turned her gaze towards the Commander who was wondering if he had just really said that out loud. “I would never ask it of you.” She told him as he frowned.
“You don’t need to. I would be willing to anyways.”
“You...would?” Iris was both confused and surprised at the same time but Cullen nodded.
“It would be good for him as well as you. You wouldn’t have to worry about him being completely alone and he would have a male figure in his life to show him what it means to be a good man as he grows.” Cullen pointed out as she thought on it.
“Very well just so long as you remember that this isn’t something either of us can’t go back on. He will need both of us to help him.”
“I will remember.” He nodded as he smiled towards the boy as Iris looked from him to Thel. She would make sure to tell the boy in the morning about Cullen and prayed that he would accept the man as his father figure.
Chapter 17: Sixteen
It would turn out, Iris's fear of Thelgen not accepting Cullen as a father figure was completely unfounded. The boy took the man like a moth to a flame as he peppered Cullen with as many questions as possible. Iris watched as Thelgen followed the older man closely as they made their way to wherever their new base of operations would be at and smiled as she watched Cullen answer as many questions as possible. She saw Cullen looked to her briefly, gave him an approving smile then continued on with her work as they walked. As they traveled through the mountain passes, Iris felt that something was off and stopped to watch as several people passed by her, she looked towards Cullen and her son but still couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. Then disaster struck. Iris heard it before anyone could comprehend what was happening and rushing towards where she saw a mage child, she swiftly pulled the girl towards her and then pushed her towards the soldier who had also come running just as the crack of the part of the pathway collapsed. "Mamae!" She heard Thel scream as her name sounded from several different people at the same time. Reaching out Iris missed the edge of the collapsing area and fell with the rocks and snow as her mind whirled with thoughts of a promise she was most likely breaking once more, her promise to protect Thel. Forgive me... was her last conscious thought as she fell only to be buried by snow and stones.
Several hours would pass until Iris would awaken; she groaned softly as she slowly forced herself to sit up. Once she had managed that, she saw that by some crazy ass miracle where she had landed was on the snow but around her, she was "protected" by a rather large boulder of sorts that rested against the exposed rock face. She looked towards one end of what she now deemed to be a huge "cave" and saw that it was covered up by stones and boulders of all sizes while on the other side was a huge wall of snow. Deciding that she was too weak to even think of moving the stones, she forced herself to stand and, while leaning against the cold rock wall, She began to kick at the snow. In a heap, it soon collapsed to reveal to her that it was night and she shivered as the biting cold wind flowed into the newly created cave that she was residing in. Scanning around outside she didn't see anyone or anything moving, but decided against going out blindly into the freezing wind and soon managed, however barely, to move towards the other end of the area where the wind was less likely to give her frostbite and curled around herself before she decided to all but bury herself under the snow as she created a wall of snow to help keep some of the wind away. Closing her eyes she half-wondered if she would survive the cold with as weak as she felt. Before she knew it she awoke to what she believed to be the sounds of footfall crunching through the snow and a familiar voice calling out to her. Forcing her now very sore joints to work, Iris stood up and shakily made her way to the entrance of the cave, "Cullen!" She managed to call out, but part of her wondered if he would even hear her over the wind. She felt herself leaning against the rock and noticed that her vision was starting to go blurry and filling with spots. She felt gravity beginning to pull her down and just as she felt her legs give out, someone caught her in their arms. Managing to open her eyes she was met with concern-filled golden eyes scanning her closely but she didn't get to greet or say anything to the man holding her close as she promptly felt her energy dissipate into the void and passed out.
Cullen scanned Iris worriedly. He carefully lifted her up and looked around before turning and began carrying her towards the location of the camp that they had made shortly after her fall. As he walked he could help but remember the feeling of helplessness that had overcome him and seemingly everyone, everyone that was except Thelgen who had all but begged Cullen to find his "Mamae". Promising that he would do whatever it took to find her, the Commander and the Herald alike had called for the Inquisition to stop and make camp while several search parties scattered to the winds to attempt to find Iris. Cullen had not considered searching for her alone until Thel had gripped his cloak and pointed in Iris's general location. "I think Mamae is hurt," Thel had frowned as Cullen wondered what he meant, but now Cullen knew exactly what the boy had meant. Iris was hurting and would likely be extremely sore; walking into the camp, Thelgen's voice greeted him as the young elf came running up to them. "Is Mamae okay?" He asked as Cullen looked to him.
"She will be soon," He promised as the boy followed him to the healer's tent where they were swiftly shooed away so the healers could get to work on tending to Iris. Time passed slowly, Thel started to get antsy and so Cullen decided to give the boy something to do while Iris was being healed. What was that something? Training. As he began to teach the boy proper swordsmanship, neither noticed that Iris was soon up and moving again and was now watching them.
"Commander Rutherford, are you teaching Thel how to dance or how to fight?" She questioned watching as she startled Cullen out of his train of thought. Whipping around he saw Iris standing there watching them and before he could speak, Thel zipped past him and latched onto Iris causing a gentle smile to escape her as she placed a hand on the boy's dark locks.
"Mamae!" Thelgen cried as he tried to bury his face in her stomach.
"I'm fine, little one." Iris smiled warmly.
Cullen watched this exchange and couldn't help but inwardly smile to himself, then the words that Thel spoke had his mind reeling. "Babae said you would be okay, but I..."
"Hush, sweetheart, I am here with you. I will never abandon you." Cullen missed her saying those words as his mind reeled. He had heard several of the Dalish children refer to their fathers as “Babae” and suddenly it hit him. The word meant “Father”, and now Thelgen was seeing him as his “Babae”, his Father. “You must have faith little one that when your Babae says that I will be okay, he means it.” Cullen watched the two and felt something in him just snap into place, if the boy accepted and say him as his father, then Maker be damned if he wouldn’t be a Father for the boy to remember.
Chapter 18: Seventeen
Iris smiled as Thelgen raced after the other children. Looking around at the fortress she knew that this would be a safe place for him to be raised, well at least for a few years. Turning, Iris went to go find out what her patrol schedule would be and was surprised to find that it wasn’t exactly like what she was expecting. “Commander’s orders. Family comes first so those with young children will spend less time on patrol than those without.” The Knight-Captain told the gathered soldiers who did not dare to argue with him. Once their routes and rotations were established and Iris knew what hers was she went to find Thelgen only to find him at Cullen’s side as the man entertained him by explaining the blueprints resting on the table. Smiling Iris turned to go find Tobias only to run right-smack into him not a few seconds later.
“Shit! I’m sorry!” He swiftly apologized to Iris who shook her head.
“Its fine I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.” She told him as he frowned.
“So how is my little cousin?” He questioned as he referred to Thelgen. Since Iris’s grandmother had visited, Tobias had told her of the family bonds they shared and so had told her they were cousins.
“With his Babae, as he would say.”
”Doesn’t that word mean Father?”
“Yes, and before you ask Cullen volunteered to be his Father.”
“Well shit...Now I really won’t be able to get away with teaching Thel some cool things.”
“Tobias I swear if you teach my son-!”
“I won’t! I was just joking!” He smiled as he rubbed the back of his neck yet the look on her face told him she didn’t believe him for a minute. “The ones you might have to watch out for though would probably be Bull, Sera, and Varric.”
“I’ve already had the pleasure of speaking with them.”
“They won’t do anything that they themselves wouldn’t approve of when around him.”
“Wow...” Tobias was at a loss for words. “What about Cass and the others?”
“Lady Cassandra is no one to worry about, Leliana and Lady Josephine have each promised to keep their spoiling of him to a minimum, Solas doesn’t seem to keen on being around Thel and Cole is well... whoever or whatever he is.” Iris sighed as she looked towards Cullen and Thel with Tobias following her gaze. The boy was fully enraptured with Cullen who seemed to be taking some pride in the way he was aiding to raise him.
“I give it three weeks before Cullen has ladies falling at his feet.” Tobias smiled knowing Iris would likely take that bet.
“I bet you fourteen sovereigns on two days.”
“You're on,” they shook hands and two days later Iris was as smug as could be while Tobias seethed with anger at himself for actually taking the bet. It had been not but two days after they had made their bet that women of Nobility and other kinds had all but literally thrown themselves at Cullen’s feet upon seeing the man carrying a sleeping Thelgen to the tent the boy shared with Iris and now the poor man was being swamped with marriage proposals left and right, while Iris was being bombarded with questions from the masculine side of the “marriage” department. More then half those questions had to do with Thelgen and why she would raise a “knife ear” but those types of questions had swiftly ended after one Noble had pushed his luck a little too far, had asked her a question like that in front of Thelgen and had set her off like a loaded cannon. The only reason the man was still lucky to be alive was because Cullen, Jesse, and the Knight-Captain had just come around the corner and while Jesse and the Knight-Captain had been holding Iris back from outright killing the man, Cullen had informed the man that Josephine would be informed of this outburst that had been caused by him and had taken Thelgen and Iris away swiftly. But as Iris looked to her son now she knew neither she nor Cullen would soon forget the conversation that was about to transpire.
“Yes, little one?” Iris looked to Thel as Cullen also stopped to look at the boy.
“Why don’t some people like me?” Thel asked as Iris frowned while Cullen looked towards the boy.
"It's not that they don't like you, my little one, Humans are just...Not all of us are like your Babae, the others and I." She started as Cullen lifted his gaze towards Iris. "Humans...We fear, hate, shun or try to destroy what we don't understand. While many would tell you that it's a good trait to have, that's not the case. Especially when it comes to the Elven race," She looked to Thelgen with sorrow in her eyes as the boy's own eyes met hers. "As a human myself I cannot claim to know what it is like to be an elf. You have a lot of traits that I could never possess no matter how much I wish I could..." As Iris spoke the little group did not notice Solas standing at a distance, holding his staff as he listened to the words she spoke. "Humanity as a whole, my little one, is a jealous race. We long for that which we cannot have, but when it comes to those and things we do not understand or fear, we do everything in our power to belittle it or even go so far as to destroy it."
"But Mamae, you and Babae are not like that."
Iris smiled though it was not one of her usual full smiles Thel had come to know, "You right little one, We may be different in our opinions when it comes to you and the Elven races and how you should be treated, but among our kind we are still just two tiny voices in a sea of many whose minds may never be changed or refuse to change." Iris told him as the boy wrapped his arms around her waist.
Cullen spoke up then, "All that matters, Thel, is that your Mamae and I love you very much and will never let anything bad happen to you," He watched as the boy turned to him and, after releasing Iris, threw his arms around his waist as well. Cullen had started to feel the sensation of loving this little boy shortly after "adopting" him. Holding the boy close, Cullen looked up towards Iris and met her sorrow-filled gaze. Both knew that it would take a lot more for the many minds of humanity to change in their opinions of the elves but right now all they could do was raise Thelgen into adulthood with the hopes that he would lead a good life and start his own path to helping to change those many minds. But as both turned back to the little boy who stood looking between them, neither noticed as Solas watched them with sorrow in his own eyes before turning and walking away.
"Thel!" Iris called out as she walked around in the hopes of finding the boy. "Now where did that boy run off too?" She questioned as she came across Cullen, who was still overlooking the plans he had returned to. "Cullen?"
He lifted his head and met her eyes, "Did he run off again?"
"What gave it away?" She asked with a small smile that he returned.
"The last I saw of him, Bull, Sera, and Tobias were with him."
Iris wanted to groan but only rested her face on the palm of her hand, "Great. As if Bull and Sera didn't spell trouble on their own..." Cullen gave her an apologetic look.
"I'm sure he's fine, Love." His eyes went wide as Iris looked towards him with surprise. Suddenly he was scrambling to apologize but when she fully registered what he had called her she only smiled.
"Don't apologize for accidentally calling me that," She told him as he watched her, "I'm not taking offense to it."
"Oh..." he looked away cheeks still tinted a touch pink.
"In fact even if you called me that whenever you wanted I won't take offense to it," she told him as he looked back towards her, his own surprise showing in his eyes. "Remember I did live in another world, from what little memories I do have I know that there's nothing wrong with you calling me that. So call me Love if you want." She smiled before turning to go hunt down the three mentioned by Cullen, who was watching her walk away, mind blank as could be as he tried to wrap his thoughts around the fact that she was willingly allowing him to call her that. When he would next see her, he saw that she had found Thel and was in the midst of scolding Tobias, Bull, and Sera as well as Thelgen for whatever antics they had pulled. "...Now Thelgen go get washed up for dinner," She instructed the boy who lowered his head in shame.
"Yes, Mamae," he replied as he walked away, Cullen stopped him and together the two went to make sure Thelgen was washed up as Iris turned to continue railing into the other three for whatever they had done. What he didn't know was that the moment he and Thelgen left their sight, Bull signaled the all-clear and the smiled.
"So," Tobias smiled as the other three looked to him, "Who wants to make a bet on how long till our dear Commander falls head over heels for our dearest Iris here?"
"Tobias Trevelyan!" Iris snarled as he snickered. Unfortunately for her, Sera and Bull swiftly placed their bets and she shot all three a look so black that they thought they would keel over right where they stood. "You are all bad influences on my son." She grumbled before walking away as they laughed wholeheartedly. As she walked she did not realize that Solas was waiting for her and swiftly spoke up.
"A word if I may, Lady Iris?" Looking over at the strange elf she nodded and followed him to a secluded area, which was rather beautiful as Iris looked at the entirety of the area.
"This place...is beautiful." She spoke quietly as if afraid to disturb the calm quiet of this place; she scanned the statues which looked like giant deer, or rather Halla, which had ivy growing upon them. She took notice of the small waterfall and she could just sense Solas smiling as she reached out and touched the base of one of the statues.
"It is, very much so," he looked to her and watched her with the tenderness of a Father watching his daughter as she studied everything around her. "There is another reason I have brought you here, Lady Iris."
"Please don't call me "lady", I hate that title with a passion," She scrunched up her nose and lips in what Solas could assume to be a snarl.
"As you wish," he was beginning to like her more for that. "I must apologize first of all."
"For what?" She questioned as she turned to look at him, her curiosity sparked by this simple apology.
"I was eavesdropping on the conversation you were having with the Commander and your son, so I must apologize. Secondly, the reason I have brought you here was to discuss something that I have not had the opportunity to speak with you on," he admitted as she frowned watching as he walked past her. As he began to speak again she listened with rapt attention, though she did not know that Cullen was looking for her as he left Thelgen to eat under the watchful eye of Cassandra. Once he found her he saw that she was watching Solas walk away from her and was frowning.
"Iris?" Cullen asked as she looked towards him. "Are you okay?" He inquired as he watched the strange elf walk away.
"Yes, Solas just wished to speak with me about something is all," She would not tell Cullen or anyone what the apostate and she had spoken of nor did she feel that it was necessary at this time. "Where's Thel?" she questioned the man before her as he looked back at her.
"Cassandra is making sure he eats."
"Okay," She smiled as he offered his arm to her.
"We should probably get something to eat ourselves," he smiled as she took his offer and walked with him back to the main hall. Later that night when Cullen was finished with his duties, he made his way to tell Thel and Iris goodnight when he heard her singing to the boy.
"Somebody wants you, somebody needs you, someone is searching for your heart alone," He stopped in his tracks and listened, "Someone is dreaming, waiting and watching. Someone is coming to take you home. Time, it will fly like the sun through the sky, and what once was hello turns to goodbye," Cullen wondered what song that was but just kept listening before he moved to stand at the entrance to the tent Iris shared with Thel, who he now saw was curled up in a ball with his head on her lap. "Tomorrow is here now, sings in your ear now; Child of my heart, your life is your own. never you fear now, your path is clear now, someone who loves you, someone who loves you is taking you home." Cullen stood amazed, he had never heard Iris sing until that very moment but her voice was mesmerizing him while she had sung that song to the boy they each called their son. He wondered where she had learned that song but did not question it further as she hummed it over again to Thel who was now softly snoring, signaling that he had fallen asleep. Looking up Iris smiled at Cullen who was now also smiling at her before both returned their attention to the sleeping Thel. "Goodnight, my little one," Iris whispered as she managed to remove herself from the boy and rested his head on his pillow. She kissed the boy's forehead and Cullen walked in to do the same to Thel before they both managed to leave the area as quietly as possible. They soon went their separate ways as Iris went to go on patrol while Cullen watched her walk away.
"I will see you later, Iris." He whispered as he felt his heart begging him to tell her how he was starting to feel towards her. Perhaps I will soon enough...
Chapter 19: Eighteen
Iris followed Thelgen as they went to find Cullen; The boy was eager in the least to say to start his training with the man and when they found him Thelgen eagerly rushed up to the man. "Good morning to you too," Cullen smiled as he greeted Thel, who then turned and went to rush to Jesse who happened to appear shortly after. "And I'm chopped liver," Cullen shook his head as Iris finished walking up with a gentle smile and laugh of her own.
"Good morning Cullen," Iris greeted the man who watched as Thel chatted Jesse's ears off.
"Good morning Iris," He smiled over at her, "Anything special you want me to teach Thel?"
"Only what you would feel is most needed for him to learn," She told him as she watched Jesse start tickling the boy.
"Your frowning, Iris...What on your mind?"
"Leliana spoke with me an hour before Thelgen woke."
"What did she need?"
"It's not what she needed," Iris looked to the ground as Cullen figured it out.
"It's something to do with Thel isn't it?" Iris only nodded in response.
"She found his grandparents in Denerim but has yet to inform them that he is still alive."
"Why didn't she bring that matter up with me?"
"I asked her that, and she said that it would be best for us to discuss his fate. She came to me because of how Thel sees me as his mother and she knew that I would be more likely to discuss this with you as he does see you as a father." Cullen looked towards Thel who had somehow pinned Jesse down onto the ground, "I told her that we can't make the decision for Thel and even Solas and Tobias agreed to that."
"Solas agreed with you?"
"Surprising isn't it? But yes he did."
"Let me guess Leliana now wants us to talk with Thel about possibly going to his grandparents?" Cullen felt slightly miffed that Leliana would go behind his back to speak with Iris about this matter before approaching him but knew there was a good reason she had. Iris looked to him as he met her eyes, "What do you want for him?"
"I want our son to be happy, you know that and I know that's what you want for him too."
"I do, but this means that we will have to tell him about..."
"I know and I don't like that thought either, but... it has to be done whether we like it or not," Iris frowned as the watched Rylen as he appeared and scooped up Thelgen from holding Jesse down, "And I think that in some small way we both knew this was coming."
"I wasn't expecting it so soon." Cullen's voice dropped as he fully and finally realized that this was a reality. Thelgen was likely going to leave them, but some little part of him was hoping against hope itself that the boy would be able to get to choose to say with him and Iris.
"I know, but if he goes to Denerim then we can be sure that he will be safer there then he would ever be here, but I did tell Leliana to give us a couple of days to talk and think it over" Iris watched the man as his amber gaze followed Thelgen as he bounced around Rhylen as if the boy was a mabari puppy. "Somedays I honestly think that boy needs a dog."
Cullen chuckled at that, "I would have been ecstatic to have my own dog when I was his age." Cullen told her as she smiled.
"I did have my own dog when I was his age," She Informed him as Cullen frowned. "What?"
"Did another memory return?" At her nod, he wondered which ones until she spoke.
"Ever since Thel came into my life, more of my childhood has made itself known with the majority of them being all good, to include the one of where I had a dog." Cullen was surprised yet happy to realize that her memories were returning in this fashion, but it would be a week later while on the road to Denerim that one of Iris's most vital memories would return. A memory that would spell her biological father's, Tullus's, downfall and death.
Swords were drawn as Thelgen cried out for Iris and Cullen, both of who stood with something akin to snarls upon their faces as Cassandra, Tobias, Bull, and Varric either drew their weapons and prepared to strike the man holding the boy with his knife to the Thel's throat. "Shut up you brat. She's not your mother or whatever the fuck you just called her, she is nothing to you."
"Release my son, you bastard." Iris snarled as her gaze remained fixed up Tullus.
"HE IS NOT YOUR SON!" Tullus roared at her, but she was not fooled by his roar, "He is a knife-eared brat who deserves to die!" the blade he held was pushed a little close to Thelgen's neck and soon a thin line of red blood was escaping the nick in the boy's neck.
"If you dare," Iris's voice became dangerous. Tobias glanced her way and knew that whether or not the boy was of her blood, Iris was the boy's mother and knew that that old saying was true. The most dangerous place in the world to be was between a mother and her child.
"If I dare what? There's nothing that a pitiful excuse of a woman like you can do to me. You were always weak. Too weak to even save your dearly beloved sister who I slaughtered so easily." That stopped everyone in their tracks as Iris's mind was launched into the memory. The truck driver slamming into her truck, the truck rolling, Iris and her sister barely managing to escape the steel deathtrap as its fuel began to leak out, the two of them barely escape the blaze that started shortly after they were out of it, Tullus appearing before them and killing Iris's sister before gripping her around the throat, beating her so badly that her arm had broken, her escaping him (but just barely) and somehow crossing over into Thedas. "You cock biting son of a bitch." Iris felt her rage beginning to boil her blood as the memory replayed over and over in her mind.
"Mamae!" Thelgen cried out before Tullus, turned the boy around and struck him in front of everyone. Suddenly all hell broke loose as Iris and Cullen charged the man, while Tobias called out for Varric to fire a bolt, which the dwarf happily did. the bolt pierced Tullus, but he swiftly ripped it out of his shoulder, surprisingly managed to throw both Cullen and Iris away from him and turned to look for Thelgen only to find the boy cowering behind Bull.
"Enough!" Tullus growled as Iris and Cullen were helped up by Tobias and Cassandra. What happened next had all of them looking over as Varric called out.
"He's a werewolf!" Iris watched as the man turned creature began to charge and frowning (as she knew what she was about to do next she would come to greatly regret), she intercepted the beast, felt his-no it's- fangs dig deep into throat, cutting into the main artery, as its claws raked against her stomach opening four deep wounds, slammed a dagger she kept hidden on her into its abdomen and was soon flung through the air and landed heavily on her other shoulder. Before it could think of striking again, Cullen and Cassandra set upon it and ended its life then and there as Thelgen called out for Iris and immediately raced to her side as Cullen and the other went to her. Cassandra knew that Cullen would be unable to strike her down, but something in her knew that the wounds were too much for Iris's body to handle and that she would soon pass on from this existence.
"Mamae..." Thel felt tears sliding down his cheeks as he collapsed upon his knees. Iris opened her eyes and reached up to hold his cheek in her hand. "Mamae..."
"I'm sorry...little one..." Iris apologized to the boy as everyone watched her. "I couldn't...protect you..." Thelgen felt her hand drop away from his face and watched her as her eyes closed and standing he rushed to Cullen who held him in an embrace while fighting back his own tears. Iris was gone, or was she?
Anyone care to guess what this little cliffhanger could mean for Iris and the others?
Chapter 21: Twenty (Part 2)
So quick update: Yes there was a previous chapter 20 (chapter 21 if you count prologue) but I was dissatisfied with the way I handled it. So I have rewritten it with only the first grouping of sentences still being somewhat the same. Iris will be introduced back to the group in this way instead of the other way.
Snorting was heard from a horse as a group of people rode into the rainy town, "I thought the Fallow Mire was bad with the rain," one of the members grumbled as the leader of the group looked towards the speaker.
"So did I, Bull. But apparently, this town decided to prove us wrong," the leader of the group looked to the man who was only now dismounting from his horse which stood firm, unlike the others who were a touch skittish as the snorted and stamped the ground with their hooves. "Commander, what can you sense?" The man in question turned to his leader and frowned heavily.
"There are traces of a demonically possessed person here," The man responded, his blonde hair plastered to his head from the downpour.
"Alive or dead, I wonder?" The leader questioned as a man came walking up. Speaking with him the group looked to each other as the man told him of how the town was plagued by a beautiful woman possessed by a demon.
"What does she looked like?" The Commander asked as the man shook his head.
"No one knows Ser, those who have seen her have either died or returned so drained of life and their blood that they are too terrified to even think of her, or start to scream and cower in fear."
Then a woman walked forward, "That's just the men who follow after her. I've seen her and know exactly where she resides." The woman shook her head.
"Can you take us there?" The Commander asked as the woman smiled almost slyly at him.
"Anything for a handsome man like yourself," She purred before frowning. "I will warn you, there is a rift near there that is spitting out demons."
the leader of the group smiled then, "I'm the Inquisitor," he stated as she looked to him confused, "Tobias Trevelyan. Inquisitor of the Inquisition." He said as she nodded and motioned for them to follow but none of the group noticed a young woman, a Templar no less, leaning against a nearby building, watching each one pass until the Commander stopped upon feeling the eyes of the person; turning to meet the figure's eyes, he noted how with the color they were seemed oddly familiar to him, though from where he just could not place.
"Don't mind her," the woman purred towards the Commander, much to his annoyance, "She's one one of the new Templars to this town." The group watched as the figure, a woman as she was now revealed to be, turned her attention to another Templar who came walking up to her and they spoke before both walked away, "She never speaks with anyone outside of the other Templars."
"What are they doing here? In such a remote town?"
"Most likely trying to do the same thing as you promised the Mayor," the woman huffed. "They are after the possessed woman. However, they may also just be here as defectors from the Chantry."
"What do you mean?" Tobias questioned as the Commander finally turned back to the woman as she told them of how the young woman had let a mage child go much to the surprise of everyone and the parents. Tobias looked to the Commander and they shared the same thought. "After we close the rift and take care of the demon, we should speak with this group and see if they might not want to join the Inquisition." The Commander nodded with that thought and soon they returned to what they were doing before noticing the woman, all while not noticing when she started to follow them. But a short while later found Tobias highly unamused, "Why doesn't this surprise me," he growled low as they faced off against the woman who had led them down to the rift. But now that the rift was closed, they had discovered that the woman they had followed was the one possessed. As they prepared for her -it- to attack, someone appeared seemingly out of nowhere and the demon was swiftly destroyed. "Who are you?" Tobias as they noticed it was the Templar woman from before.
Turning to face them her gaze swept over everyone present before landing on him. "Hello to you too, Tobias."
Jaws dropped then as their voices echoed as one, "IRIS!!!!"
Chapter 22: Twenty-one
None of them could believe their eyes as they studied this woman before them. "Iris? But...how?"
Iris did not smile, “You're asking me that when I’m not even sure how I am alive.” She told them as she sheathed her sword and placed her shield on her back before looking to the other Templars who had just happened to appear at that moment, “Burn that corpse. Don’t need the damned thing rising again.” She issued the order and it was swiftly executed.
Just then the Commander stepped forward, “Iris...you’re a...”
“Not by choice,” she told him turning to meet his gaze. “Right now, this is the only thing keeping me away from my Father’s family.” She explained as they watched her turn back around to issue more orders to those under her command and watched as each command was executed immediately. "Tell me something, How is-?"
"He is safe," The Commander told her as she closed her eyes, relief flooding her veins as she did. "But he misses you." At that Iris's heart squeezed tight as did her eyes.
"If only I could see him again..."
"You can," Tobias spoke up as Iris looked towards the man.
"What do you mean?"
"Come back to Skyhold with us," Tobias started as he took a step towards her, "Come back and be Thelgen's mother again. He needs you, and I for one miss having my cousin around."
"Cousin?" Iris asked as he nodded. Iris looked away thinking his offer over before one of the Templars under her command approached.
"If I may?" At her nod he spoke again, "The townsfolk no longer need us, the Order has seemingly abandoned us, I don't see why we can't join up with the Inquisition." Iris studied the man before turning back to Tobias who was giving her a very hopeful look.
"Yes, Ma'am?" The Templar she called upon turned his gaze to her as he stood at attention.
"Tell the others that we are joining the Inquisition. Also, inform them that they are now under the command of the Commander of the Inquisition." With that Iris turned to the Commander. "Tell them their orders and they will obey you, Cullen." She informed the Commander who couldn't help the smile at hearing his name come from her lips once more.
"First things first," He said looking towards the waiting Templars and issued their first command.
Iris looked around Skyhold and frowned. For her, it felt odd to have returned to this fortress, yet it also felt like she had come home. The only person missing to really make this feel like home is-!
"Mamae!" The voice caused her heart to stop and turning she saw the one little boy who she had been missing.
"Thelgen!" She cried out as the little boy launched himself up into her arms. Iris could feel Tobias's as well as Cullen's eyes on her as they watched this reunion of adopted mother and elven son. She leaned down so the boy could stand on the ground but they both refused to release each other, tears freed themselves from their eyes as the two continued to hold each other close. They were reunited at long last.
Chapter 23: Twenty-two
Iris stood watching as Thelgen trained harder then he had in the time she had been gone as if her return gave him a renewed vigor that seemed to have spread like an infection. "Well, this explains why Thelgen is so eager to return to training. Welcome back, Iris."
"Thank you, Knight-Captain. It's good to be back." Iris turned her head to see the Knight-Captain, Cullen's second-in-command Rylen, walking up to her. "I missed this."
"What? Missed watching your son attempt to beat the Commander?" Iris laughed at that as she watched Cullen and Thelgen train, Rylen, however, did not miss the look Iris gave to towards the commander and smirked. "Why Iris, I do believe you are staring at the Commander."
"No, I'm not!" Iris felt a blush creep up on her face and Rylen laughed. "You, Ser, are an ass."
"Who? Me? Never," Rylen saw the unamused look she gave to him and gave her a shit eater's grin. "But truthfully, I believe you two would make a good couple. You both are already giving Thelgen what he needs most and I have a feeling that between you two alone the boy will grow up to be one of the best swordsmen around."
"On that point, I will concede, but you also need to remember, Knight-Captain, that Commander Cullen is still my commanding officer. As much as I wish he and I could be together, I honestly don't think it would be possible." She frowned as Rylen saw her point.
"Maybe, but you never know," Rylen spoke as Iris looked back towards him while she turned and watched him begin to walk away. "By the way, you have patrol tonight around the encampment below in the valley. Might want to see if the Commander is willing to take Thelgen tonight."
Iris sighed as Rylen disappeared in the direction of the Tavern and shook her head as she returned to watching her son as the Commander disarmed him, again. Frowning at the pout the boy had an idea struck her as she turned and left to snatch up a practice sword and shield for herself. "Thelgen," she called out as she approached the two while both looked at her. "How about you let Mamae take over for a bit and you can watch as she beats up babae?" Thelgen's eyes lit up like beacons and he swiftly moved to sit outside the practice ring while Iris looked at the Commander. "You up for it, Commander?" She teased as Cullen smirked before taking up his stance.
"I won't hold back."
"Oh honey, I wouldn't expect you too. Best seven out of ten, with the loser buying drinks on the other's day off?" She questioned as he nodded. As they entered mock-combat, they hear Thelgen cheering on Iris and Cullen grunted.
"Thelgen," he started as the boy smirked.
"Sorry babae, I want Mamae to win this one." He told the older man while Iris busted up laughing. Cullen looked to her and Iris had to pause to wipe away tears.
"He must have gotten that from you," Cullen accused her as she smiled.
"Well, he IS my son." She explained as Cullen shook his head before they returned to practice, with Thel continuing to cheer on Iris. Around five rounds in they had gathered an audience and now, on the eighth round people were making bets on who would win. Sadly for those who were betting on the Commander, they ended up losing their money because Iris won. Iris sheathed her sword as Thelgen came running up and hugged her waist. As she settled an arm around his shoulders, she couldn't help but smiled down at the boy while Cullen looked on with his own smile. Together Cullen and Iris took Thelgen with them to dinner and smiled the whole way through as they spoke. After dinner, Cullen and Iris saw to it that Thelgen was made ready for bed and Iris told him a story to help calm the boy down, but he only passed out when Iris hummed a lullaby to him, and Cullen carried the boy to bed while Iris watched with a tender smile on her face. Turning to focus on the hearth, Iris fed the flames some more wood just as Cullen returned.
"Yes?" She asked as she looked at him while she stood.
"I've...ah...been meaning to ask you something," he said becoming suddenly shy as she tilted her head to the side.
"Cullen, whatever it is I am willing to listen."
"I know," He nodded as his golden eyes met her sapphire ones, "but what I've been meaning to ask you..." He felt his nerves beginning to fray and sighed as he figured it best to just get it out and over with. "I know you're busy with Thelgen and the patrols I put ou on but would you...would you like...to...ah...go...out with me?" He asked blushing as Iris took a moment to realize what he was asking of her.
In the back of her mind, Iris could almost hear Tobias encouraging her and smiled, "Of course, Cullen. I would love to," She told him as he smiled.
Chapter 24: Twenty-three
Iris walked around the outskirts of the encampment down in the valley below Skyhold. As she walked she was soon joined by her friend Jesse, "So how does it feel?"
Glancing at him from the side of her eyes, she wondered what he meant, "How does what feel?" She inquired as he looked at her.
"Being a Templar."
She almost, almost, paused in her tracks, "How do you?"
"It's honestly not that hard to tell, plus I've seen the pained looks that the Commander gives you when your back is turned. I know he's no longer taking Lyrium, I've seen Templars going through the withdrawals before, but its a different look when he's watching you walk away."
"Yes?" The man asked as innocently as possible.
"Oh you are so no innocent, so don't even try."
"You wound me! I am possibly the sweetest and most innocent thing in all of Thedas!"
"Well that's the biggest fucking lie if there ever was one. My son is more innocent then you will ever be."
"You're pride'll heal. But anyway, why are you sticking your nose where it doesn't belong?" She questioned as she thought over his earlier words. While he was correct in saying Cullen was going through withdrawals, but the looks he was giving her behind her back that Jesse had just described seemed almost new.
"I'm just looking out for the three of you," Jesse told her as she frowned, "Little Thel needs you as much, if not more so, then the Commander. He may not have been born from you, but you are still his mother," With that, Jesse left Iris alone to think as she stopped and looked out towards Skyhold, where she knew Thelgen was safe with Cullen and some little part of her knew that Jesse was right.
But it's a bit too late for me to even try to break my own lyrium addiction... Closing her eyes for a moment, Iris felt her heart plummet before she returned to her patrol. But it was when her patrol was over and she had re-entered Skyhold's grounds that she found a scout waiting for her to inform her that Cullen wished to speak with her. Nodding her thanks, she went straight to his office to see that he was looking over some reports; knocking on the door to grab his attention, she watched as he looked up with a slight scowl before he realized that she was the reason for the interruption. "You wished to see me?"
Relaxing his scowl into a smile, he nodded and motioned for her to enter. "I did. Maybe I should have called for you earlier though, you must be tired." He frowned as he realized just how late it was.
"Cullen, we have a twelve-year-old boy. There is no such thing as tired with how energetic he is, and I just indirectly made myself feel old."
"Why's that?" Cullen asked as she looked at him.
"Think about it for a moment," She watched as he thought it over and then the realization hit him and he groaned. "Yeah. We are going to soon have a teenager on our hands."
"Maker save us." Cullen rubbed his forehead as he realized that she was right.
"I don't think the Maker will save us from this," Iris smiled warmly, "I think we walked right into this one." Iris reminded him as he sighed with a laugh. "Anyways, what did you need to speak with me about, outside of the fact that soon we will have an obstinate teenager on our hands."
Cullen groaned at that last part, then he spoke. "I wanted to talk to you about your...situation."
"My situation?" It took her a minute to realize what he meant but frowned as she realized that he meant her addition to Lyrium. "What about it?" She questioned as he frowned.
"Well...I was wondering if you would ever try to break away from it."
Iris leaned against the closest wall and sighed, "Cullen, I'm not sure that right now would be the best time for me to try and break away from it," She told him as he began walking over towards her, his golden eyes never leaving her sapphire ones. "Too much is going on for me to even try, and by the time the world would be safe enough for me to attempt to..." She broke the gaze first, "It would end up most likely being too late for me." She would not look at him until he touched her chin and forced her to.
"I doubt there would ever truly be a good time to break away from it," he told her softly as she met his golden gaze once more. "But if you won't try for yourself, then would you try for Thel?" He had her there and she knew it. As she looked away from him again, part of her argued that it would be more beneficial in the long run, while another part of her argued that she would be weaker and most likely unable to protect Thelgen while going through the withdrawals. Cullen watched as she thought it over, could see that she was heavily debating with herself on the matter, then watched as she turned back towards him.
"For him, I would do whatever it takes." She explained as Cullen leaned forward and kissed her. It was sudden and took her by surprise, but her mind eventually caught up with her body as she swiftly returned the kiss and while they kissed, with him deepening it just a touch, a tiny voice in the back of Iris's mind told her that she was going straight to hell. Well, If I'm going to hell, might as well go there with a bang.
Iris was sitting and brushing Thelgen's hair back so she could tie it into a ponytail as the boy had let it grow out long enough to do so when Tobias came racing past the two, cackling like a maniac and both looked up and watched him zip by as if a demon were on his heels. Frowning, Iris returned to her work and heard Thelgen greet Cullen as the man came walking up. "Hello little cub," Cullen looked in the direction Tobias had gone flying in before looking to Iris.
"I have no idea so don't ask me," She told him before he could ask if she knew what was wrong with the man. "And quite frankly I don't think I want-!"
"INQUISITOR!" a familiar voice snarled at the top of her lungs as the attention of the three turned to see Seeker Cassandra looking around for Tobias. Her gaze landed on the three watching her and Iris pointed in the direction she last saw Tobias go. Nodding her thanks Cassandra took off after the man as he called Iris a "traitor" and ran away again.
"Okay now a small part of me is morbidly curious as of too what exactly Tobias did, but I don't believe it would be wise to ask if Cassandra is involved," Iris frowned as Cullen agreed before he sat down next to her as Thelgen looked towards Cullen to pepper the man with endless questions. Since their conversation several nights ago, Iris had decided to stop taking lyrium the next day and though she wasn't exactly feeling the effects right now, she was sure they would catch up to her eventually but for now, these three would look the part of a “normal” happy family.