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The Guardian

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The sound of their instruments amplified by the speakers pounded against him as the guitarist shredded through his guitar solo. The roar and cheers of the crowd were giving him the will and energy to continue on, even if his hands were going numb from playing through the sets. If they go for another encore, he’s going to pass out right here, right now.

His white dyed hair was drenched with sweat. The tip of his bangs sticking to his forehead, he jerked his head up making the action show his gold eyes and handsome face earning him a few squeals of delight.

He looked up at the crowd and flashed his boyish grin, making the women squeal and shout louder. Their silliness making him grin wider.

He took a breath and continued the lyrics of the song. He was lucky that he keeps on practicing his voice, their vocalist always seems to have a “bug” that involves the female fans, causing him to be late on practices or instances like this where he doesn’t make the gig itself, and its pissing the hell off the rest of their band.

He looked over to the bassist and the drummer, signaling them to finish the song earlier than expected.

The crowd cheered, chanting their name as they finished. He then looked up to the lights panting raising his fist in triumph, it was over.

 

As they left the stage, clapping each others back for a job well done, they heard someone clapping slowly approaching them with a satisfied grin. “Yo, Julian.”

Julian gripped the neck of his guitar trying to control his anger, so he just rolled his eyes at him, “I knew I could count on you to carry the team while I was gone.” The lead vocalist jeered.

Julian shook his head and passed him by, ignoring him. He removed his guitar strap from his shoulder. All he wanted was to go home and lie down. Probably not function for about a week at most, maybe just play games.

“Hey! I’m talking to you prick.”

He felt something hit his head, making him wince as the beer can clattered to the floor. He glared at their vocalist who was grinning mischievously at him. He had bloodshot eyes and he could see a prick of a needle on his arm. “Your high, Dan, just go home. Its been a tiring set and I don’t have the energy to deal with you.”

“What you think you’re better than me?” Dan growled and was about to launch himself at Julian but was held back by the other two members. “Just because you lead this band doesn’t make you better than any of us. You talentless hick. You just rode in on the fame I brought the band. If it weren’t for my songs and my voice this band would be jackshit.”

Julian continued to ignore him as the bassist and drummer, reprimanded Dan. He instead looked down at his guitar caressing its black finish. After all this time the sleek black color still hasn’t faded and the beige contrast of the neck still brings out its beauty. He packed his guitar in its case carefully. This was the only thing that he had that he treasured, the last thing that mattered to him. He strapped the big bulk on his back and was about to leave but the intoxicated vocalist was still not done.

“You're pathetic as always! You didn’t have the spine to fight for what you wanted in life. You couldn’t fight your parents for your dreams. So here you are barely getting by, relying on the gigs to pay for your fucking games. Pushing your standards and dreams on to us. We have our own lives outside this band." He pushed his bandmates away "This is why you wont amount to anything.“

That was the last straw, Julian glared at Dan who grinned at his successful provocation and lunged at him. The other bands and its members tried to pull the two apart but before they could completely stop it. Dan had kicked Julian right in his midsection throwing him against a huge green portal prop with the event’s title, “The Rift”

That was the last thing that Julian remembered as he continued to fall. Darkness swallowed him whole, setting him adrift. Different images flashed in his mind, running through a nightmare, spiders crawling and skittering towards him. A woman with cerulean eyes holding out her hand to him and a shining golden light being pulled towards the darkness.

Before he could make sense of it he felt an intense pain. A searing, scorching heat pierced his chest. He screamed as he felt like his soul was being pulled away from his body and forcefully being shoved back in. He tried to breathe but his chest was being pierced with something sharp preventing his lungs from taking a breath.

Then a beautiful voice, a woman, started to cry out, begging for mercy.

“Stop it stop it, you’re killing him!”

I’m dying? Did Dan just kicked me so hard that I’m dying?

Then another voice came in, a female, forceful with a hint of grief mixed in with anger. It was familiar, saying the lines he’d heard multiple times already, “Then explain this!”

“I don’t know!”

“You’re lying!”

“Cassandra!”

“I’ll do what you say,” the woman cried “but please, don’t hurt him anymore.”

Julian gasped as the pain went away, he groaned relishing at the cold hard stone. He opened his eyes and saw her staring back at him, with worry in her cerulean eyes, as she was pulled up by to her feet. He tried to call out reaching for her, wanting to ask what was happening, why her eyes looked familiar, but his voice didn’t come out. Instead he groaned clutching his mid section as he was kicked back to stop his struggle and dragged away. He tried to fight whoever was pulling him but his body didn’t allow him, an inexplicable fatigue was trying to swallow him back towards the darkness.

Julian’s consciousness drifted in and out of wakefulness. Silhouettes of people gathering and speaking about him. Familiar voices from a place he knows well.

But there was a single voice that he keeps looking forward to as it was the only constant out of all of them, the beautiful one. Her voice always came in as melodic and soothing. He remembered mumbling something to her and heard the lilt of her voice as she laughed. Whenever she was around it was warm and all his hurts seem to disappear, like they shouldn’t matter since she’s there beside him.

He remembers another constant voice, more invasive and insistent. It would ask him questions he knows the answer to but didn’t want to tell. Julian subconsciously knew he shouldn’t be telling this man anything. The man would leave, always with disappointment in his voice. But right after that last visit, Julian had a dream.

He slowly opened his eyes slightly blinded by the whiteness of his surroundings. He looked down at his guitar, relishing at the comfortable weight. He strummed it absent mindedly, wanting to feel the familiar thrum of its strings.

As he did he flinched as it produced a sound and a vibration around him, like it was jacked into an amplifier at full blast. He frowned testinh it again this time strumming a few chords. He played a little bit more and noticed that he was now producing different colors of violet red and blue at each change of a chord.

He strummed again harder this time and jumped as it produced electricity to spark from the head. He laughed enjoying this small display of power. He started to change the song starting to shred through as he did, his hands started sparking up with electricity.

"That sound is wonderful."

Julian stopped, whirling towards the disembodied voice and saw a floating silhouette. It didn’t have a face but it was blue, flickering in and out. "Please play more" it requested hovering closer towards him.

Julian looked at it cautiously, he didnt know what it would do if he didnt follow its request. He placed his fingers on the strings and strummed again and the silhouette started to pulse like a drumbeat. "Music from another world, Its mesmerizing."

Julian stopped abruptly at what it said, as he did the unusual creature, dulled and started to flicker in and out. “What are you?"

"I am a spirit of music and harmony." It answered cheerfully spinning in place.

"A spirit.." he said frowning, he looked at it again and he snorted as it looked like the spirits in the fade.

"Keep playing" it asked again.

Julian shrugged his shoulders and continued to play, his shoulders starting to relax as he felt no malice coming from his unexpected visitor. He had already a melody in mind for the next band practice they had, and it seems it likes the songs he was playing. He smiled and sat down. The spirit hovered closer sitting down with him, swaying to the song. Julian chuckled "I'm glad that you like it."

"Yes, I want to hear more, may I stay near you."

"Uhhh i guess so, as long as you’re not dangerous."

The spirit nodded and gestured for him to continue, Julian closed his eyes focusing on the music, all the while feeling his surroundings warp around him. Each change of the chord would produce heat, then cold then the crackling of electricity. The sensations were invigorating, like the magic was naturally a part of him.

"Melodies as a catalyst for your magic, fascinating."

Julian muted the strings making the spirit sound its disapproval and turned to look at the intruder. His eyes widened as he recognized him.

He had played a female elf character in one of his playthroughs and he had romanced him out of curiosity. Julian understood at that time when he went to romance the mysterious elf, why some of the members of the fan base had fallen in love and had their heart broken.

"Solas?"

The bald elf tilted his head, "How do you know my name? Who are you?"

Julian stood up, solas started to approach and Julian couldnt help taking a few steps back. Solas stopped and frowned, "Do not be afraid, I am simply curious, you have been asleep all this time yet you know my name."

 

Julian chuckled, "Of course I know your name. You’re a character in a game I’ve been playing. Hahaha dreams sure are weird."

Solas raised a brow, "Well yes you are in a dream, what is this game you speak of."

"A video game you’re the--" Julian paused and shook his head, this was silly, "what am I doing talking to a hallucinations?"

Solas pinched his chin in thought, “Hmmm it would seem you are confused by the situation.” He looked at Julian a twinkle in his stormy grey eyes “I think it better if we have a chance to speak outside the fade when you..wake up.

 

Julian snapped his eyes open and groaned at the brightness of his surroundings. He winced waiting for his eyes to adjust. Damn this place is bright.

He turned his head and found his guitar case propped on the side of the bed. He looked around the room expecting the smoke filled smell of his apartment to welcome him in the morning but it didnt look anything like that.

It looked like a log cabin, a beautiful furnished queen sized was at the other end of the room with carpets hanging on the wall beside it. Clothes were on top of the bed, somehow resembling rogue leather armor. The room was filled with boxes, but there was somehow an attempt to make it livable, as there was a wash basin and a mirror as well. Everything seems to be eerily familiar to him. Did he see this room somewhere before?

He sat up only to have his breath knocked out of him at the pain. He touched his torso and felt bandages wrapped around his mid section.

What the hell is going on. Where the hell am I? This isnt his apartment, why was he bandaged up? If this was a hospital, it looks pretty dingy and rustic.

“You’re finally awake.”

Julian’s head snapped up and looked at the woman by the door and his eyes widened as he realized that he finally had a face to that soothing voice.

She was, in lack of a better term, ethereal to him, as the suns rays played through the tendrils of her long hair. They were the color of thick caramel framing her face, with eyes of the most beautiful cerulean. It was like the piece of the sky had just decided to give its color to her, highlighting the rest of her features from her straight nose and high cheekbones, with her lips the color of cherries.

Julian observed her, looking her up and down. The way she carried herself, to the clothes that she was wearing, the glowing green left hand--He snorted as he realized who she was trying to be.

“Herald of Andraste.” He said with a grin. He saw her eyes widen then her face turn into an angry look making him look away in panic.

He heard her take a few steps towards him and he unconsciously moved away from her as she approached the bed. Okay, relax, Jules. Don’t run away, just apologize say that you’re craving to play Dragon age. Band practice has been demanding as of late and you haven’t had much sleep. He stopped his train of though, That is a weak excuse.

He looked at her and saw she was already on the bed, crawling towards him. Before he could react, she took hold of his chin, making him look up at her. He felt his eyes close partially as he took notice of her scent. She smells wonderful, jasmine.

“How did you know?” her eyes were boring into him, searching for something. He gulped suddenly feeling parched. “I—“

“Hey Fiery—ohh”

They turned to see a dwarf, take in the compromising position and saw him make a cat like grin.

“I know you’re full of fire, but I didn’t know that you’re that ready to go.” The dwarf teased. The Herald of Andraste sighed shaking her head, getting of the bed to walk towards him.

“I have a name Varric. Its Evelyn.” She pouted at the dwarf, he just chuckled. “Yes, yes, but its more fun with nicknames.” He looked over to Jules and smiled. “Sorry to barge in your little tryst." He walked over and offered his hand which Julian took, "The name’s Varric Tethras, rogue, story teller and occasionally unwelcome tag along”

Evelyn made a disgusted noise rolling her eyes, a mocking grin on her lips

Varric laughed. “Make sure the Seeker is out of earshot whenever you do that, Fiery”

Varric tethras? He let go of the dwarf's hand who was eyeing him up. He definitely has an uncanny similarity to the video game character. Nevertheless he avoided Varric’s gaze and looked over at Evelyn. Her name, rings a bell.. his eyes widened as he realized. That’s the name of the female Trevelyan!!

Now he gets it. His bandmates knew of his obsession with Dragon Age, and they’ve always teased him about it. They must have taken him somewhere and did this to prank him. But would they really go this far to even bring in a look alike and even use costumes from the game itself?! After all that happened just recently. Besides, where did they even get the money to hire these people?

He looked towards the two, “Uh, sorry to interrupt your banter, but I need to know. Where am I?” Julian asked

Varric smirked, "You must have really had a rough time eh? You’re in Haven,"

Julian chuckled, swinging his legs to the side, “No, really where am I? If this is a joke it isn’t funny I get it, this is all a prank and my bandmates are snickering somewhere. But I have a ton of things to do and don’t have enough time to get it done” he blabbered, he's not liking this joke.

Varric and Evelyn looked at each other, “Kid, there’s no way we are pranking you. You really are in Haven, in Thedas."

Julian shook his head smiling, “Yeah yeah, and you’re going to tell me that Lady Trevelyan here is really the Herald of Andraste.”

Evelyn frowned and crossed her arms, "That’s what they call me, and I’m not very fond of it. So I’d appreciate it if you would just call me by my name. It would also be good if I know yours"

He didn’t answer, he looked down as panic was bubbling up in his throat, these people are too into their roles, he just wants to rest and go home. “Yeah I don’t think you would like to be called a Herald." He laughed nervously. He stood up and wobbled, making Evelyn reach out for him. Varric watched him warily, noticing his demeanor.

Julian stopped her with his hand "I'm fine, I’m sorry I think I need fresh air to clear my head." he walked towards the door his head was spinning. He was about to reach for it, to take a step outside when he stopped and turned back reaching for his guitar case. He needs it with him, he doesn’t care where the hell he is as long as he has his guitar.

"Where are you going?" Varric asked barring the door.

"I need to know, I need to make sure where I am." He mumbled ignoring the look that the two exchanged.

Evelyn sighed and went over to the foot of his bed taking the clothes that were laid out for him. The way he paled was concerning, if he passes out because of shock in the snow, he would be worse than when he was pulled out of the dungeon.

Julian felt something soft press against him and looked down to see Evelyn pushing his clothes to him. "At least put something on before you do. We'll escort you, you seem confused and we dont want you to panic and get yourself hurt."

Julian took it and looked at Evelyn and saw a blush creeping on to her cheeks. He shrugged at her shyness of seeing a half naked bandaged up man. Nevertheless, He put on his shirt and his checkered shirt over it, at least to hopefully keep the cold out.

He adjusted the case's strap on his shoulder and stepped out. His jaw went slack.

"Ahh shit" he let out slumping against the door frame. He never felt so tired after seeing it. He had seen it so many times with multiple different walkthroughs. It was exactly like in the video game, and right now he’s doubting his sanity and state of mind.

Over the horizon, the swirling green tear illuminated the sky. The breach that was the center of this whole fiasco in the Inquisition.

"You’re not the only one kid. That is currently the general reaction of whole Thedas right now." Varric said staring up at the frightened and confused look on Julian's face.

Varric couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy. He was taken in as a prisoner like Evelyn suspected as the perpetrators that blew up the chantry. He was tortured to make the Herald talk where in the end she never really knew anything about him. As per her request he was brought into the same cottage as Evelyn to be tended. Since Evelyn is important in closing the breach, it was assumed that he could be an integral part of it as well.

The kid wasn’t a bad looking man either, he had the looks that would be perfect for a romance novel, not like he was going to write one again, but he looks like a very unique individual.

The kid had his hair dyed white, the undercut hairstyle he has shows that he originally has black hair, so there’s probably a story there.

His eyes that were taking in his surroundings were th color of molten gold and his strong jaw peppered with an overnight shadow was clenched tight as the cold whispered against their skin.

At a glance, this man had his fair share of struggles, with a body built for movement and possibly done some form of physical labor. He is not a nobleman for sure, despite being as clean as one but the way he spoke was casual and he couldnt place the accent.

His character study was interrupted by a nudge from Evelyn. "Another one to take under your wing Varric?" she whispered to him and he looked up to see a smirk on her lips.

"I am not a mother hen, Fiery." He looked over to the kid but found him gone, he ran forward looking left and right to see where he went to and saw that he was heading towards the gate, the rest of citizens giving him way while whispering at each other at the unusual behavior.

“Hey kid!” Varric called out but was ignored. He cursed and started running after Julian, Evelyn right behind.

Julian hurriedly pushed against the door, grunting at the weight. As he rushed out, the sound of metal hitting against metal came through his ears. Grunts and shouts from men fighting at a small encampment of tents can be heard. It was just like in game.

He looked to his right and saw the path he knew would lead towards a secluded cabin. He needs to test it, this might just be a set! Right, take a deep breath, there’s no need to panic or be paranoid, not just yet.

He ran towards the path passing two templars arguing. Same.

He heard shouts from Varric and Evelyn behind him, catching everyone's attention, which made him run even faster.

He needs to get away, he needs to think. He needs to calm the fuck down! He continued to run forcing his legs to push on despite the weight of the snow pulling down his feet.

He reached the cabin and opened the door. it was empty, it looked exactly like the one in the game, no camera crew or anything. He went out and saw Evelyn and Cullen along with some templars running towards him.

He bolted and ran towards the make shift gate where he saw the elf roots growing behind the cabin and the iron deposits on the rock walls. Same.

He saw the lake on his left, the sun playing on its frozen face. A man and woman having a conversation. Same.

He was already panting, if this was a dream he wouldn’t become this tired there wouldn’t be any pain. He clenched his teeth bearing the tightness of his bandages.

He passed a logging stand, a pile of logs arranged and an Inquisition marker placed. Same.

He slowed down as he trudged a little bit further. Reaching the open space that would face Haven. He took a breath, dreading what he was about to see, hoping and praying that this would just be a huge set. That there would be wires from lights and cameras scattered around the area to capture every expression he had that his friends are going to laugh at. He nodded vigorously, as he prepared himself and slowly turned to face Haven.

He clutched his head, it was the exact same view as in the game. No cameras, no people dressed in casual clothes, no lights no buildings in the horizon, no sound of cars or anything. Just mountains, Haven and the Breach, mocking him and his sanity. No no no this cant be real!

He dropped his guitar case on to the snow and kicked it open to take out his instrument. He held on to the neck as he wrapped the strap on his shoulder. His fingers were freezing but he held on to it like it was a life line.

Then if he was really in thedas, and the dream really was the fade.

He felt his fingers shake if it was because of the cold or the fear he couldnt tell at the moment. They never shake, even in front of a hard to please crowd. He closed his eyes and took a breath placing his finger on the strings and tightening his grip on his pick. Hoping that what he suspected wouldn’t happen.

Julian hesitantly strummed the strings testing them and felt the same vibrations as in his dream. He shook his head, its just a fluke, but continued to play the intro of Welcome to the Jungle, and as he did he felt his heart beating faster and faster as he couldnt believe what was happening

The guitar was making sounds it shouldn’t. It sounds like it was plugged into an amplifier. He felt his surroundings twisting around him waves upon waves of sound expanding around him, sending them towards Haven, like a shockwave from a huge explosion and the guitar was heating up as he strummed harder.

"Oh my god.." he whispered.

He played faster, seeing the same colors purple, red and blue fluctuating in front of his eyes as he changes chords just like in the dream.

He shook his head, this was real. Everything, he was in the game! He wants to stop but with the comforting weight of the guitar on his shoulder, the strain in his wrists, the pain underneath the calluses in his fingers. He needed this, at least for now, to have at least something of his world, something he knew to be real within his reach. He felt the heat forming and coiling around his fingers.

His eyes widened, no this cant be magic, this is just..

He let out a shout as he strummed down with as much force as he could. The heat that was forming in his hands disappeared and shot up towards the head of the guitar making him jump as it produced a streak of lightning, making a resounding clap of thunder.

Defeated, he knelt on the snow, the echo of the music surrounding them.

He looked at his hands, smoke was coming from the heat it had produced. The smell of electricity lingered as the wind blew against him.

"So is this real enough for you?"

He looked up slowly to see Solas, his hands behind his back looking at him with pity in his eyes.

He looked behind the elf to see the shocked faces of the rest of the members of the Inquisition, their weapons in their hands.

Julian was then surrounded by templars, Cullen and Cassandra among them.

Great..just great.

He raised his head and used his hands to cover his face. Relishing in the warmth, "Which god did I piss off damn it." He swore, his voice muffled by his hands.

Solas answered, taking a few steps back as Julian was taken by his elbow. "I guess someone who found this to be very funny."

Julian groaned.