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The Inquisitor nods, decision made, and draws away, leading their companions and the Warden into the blaring green light.

Hawke stays, resolute, their weapon’s grip slick with the sweat of their palm, the tiniest of pains curling up in the pit of their stomach.

This is it, then. This is their retribution for unleashing Corypheus upon the world. Well, at least they are going out with a bang; Varric had better turn this into a fucking good story!..

As the spider looms over them, odd fleshy tendrils flapping on its heaving, hungry underbelly, Hawke wonders vaguely if these countless eyes will reflect their mother’s flaking, decaying mask of a face under a grimy moth-eaten bridal veil, or the long bruised stripes that the ogre’s claws left on their sibling’s throat, or the blue flicker of their father’s ghost.

The way the eyes of those smaller spiders had done.

Hawke is ready. Ready as they will ever be. Ready to take that last stand, and to put that long-expected ‘Fini’ at the bottom of the page - traced boldly in blood-red ink.

But then, something happens. What exactly, depends on what came in the chapters before.

Perhaps, conjured vines lash forth, tethering the spider, sinking their thorns deep into its oozing flesh - while their other ends are clasped like reins in the bony, scar-slashed fist of an elven woman, wispy and tiny against the frothing green clouds of the Fade, and yet so very terrifying that the creature born of nightmares is ready to shrink back and surrender.

Perhaps, a burning blue blur zooms towards the creature - and spears right through its stomach, never stopping, ever moving, two fists in spiked gauntlets ripping it ferociously from within; until it turns into a smoking, reeking mass of mismatched limbs floating in ichor, and the pulsing blue aura fades, revealing a different elf, a man this time, with messy white hair that has turned into sticky greenish strands with the spider’s fluids. Grunting in disgust, he wipes the gore out of his eyes - and gives Hawke a small lopsided smile. ‘Kaffas, you owe me a bath,’ he says.

Perhaps, an ethereal warrior in glimmering silvery armour clashes with the spider again and again and again, his blade falling in decisive chops, and then rising relentlessly, even as the creature reels and screeches and tries to push him back. Because Justice never looks back. Justice never falters. Justice never rests until its work is done. And only when that work is, at long last finished; only when the spider drops dead and the hissing of the Fade’s green vapours quiets down, does the warrior extend his see-through hand to Hawke, beckoning them to where his host lies waiting, thrashing on the ground in restless sleep, from which he will be awakened with a simple, sincere, tear-stained kiss, like the heroes in those high-strung fairy stories that are far lighter, far gentler than their tale has been so far.

Perhaps, the dark waters of the Fade rise into a colossal, monstrous tidal wave that carries on its tip a pirate vessel. Its sails are tight with the ghostly winds that howl over the jagged cliffs of the Nightmare’s domain; and its sides bristle with harpoons and grappling hooks. The crew is a little nervous and wobbly-legged, having just followed the most damnable, bloody weird current that let them through whatever hole the water uses to pour into the Fade - but the Admiral seems certain what she is doing; she always is. Standing behind the wheel in her feathered hat, her hair flying in a frizzy halo around her face, she grins at the spider, rests her hands on her hips, and commands her men to shoot at it with all they’ve got. They storm the gigantic spawn of the Fade like they would a sluggish, overloaded merchant ship, stabbing and harpooning it till it stops twitching - and then, the Admiral whooshes down a rope ladder that the crew has tossed on the spider’s side… Straight into her lover’s arms.

Perhaps, before the spider can as much as shift closer to its prey, it flails its long legs in agony, a series of deadly accurate shots puncturing each of its many eyes in a matter of seconds. Enraged and blinded, the spider scrapes at the floating Fade rocks, but only ends up injuring itself even more, while the volley of arrows continues, aimed with the same merciless precision.  It is no longer unfeasible for one puny mortal to put an end to this gargantuan creature - for this mortal, Hawke, is being aided by the best archer of Starkhaven; who, in turn, is being led by his faith. Faith in his god - and also, in his love, which is what makes his face light up when he finally lowers his bow and his and Hawke’s gazes meet over the spider-turned-pincushion.

Whatever happens, whatever unstoppable force destroys the vile being sent forth by the Nightmare demon, one thing is clear: none of Hawke’s possible loves has borne the thought of staying behind. Not now. Not ever.