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Curiouser and Curiouser!

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Rain was gently tapping at the window of the apartment. Cat, 25 grad student that she was, just laid back on the couch and watched the drops hit the glass. She had a book open in one hand and a wine glass in the other, just breathing and contemplating life. Her phone chirped and she stretched, setting down her glass and reaching for it.

I made it to Hong Kong!

The message was from Renee, her best friend, a travel journalist, and her roommate.

Great to hear! Enjoy your trip and take lots of pictures! Stay safe! Talk to you tomorrow!

With the message sent, Cat curled up onto the couch, yawning. Whenever Renee traveled somewhere new, Cat would wait up to make sure she arrived safely. The wall clock showed it was almost 2 am.

“I have got to get better about late nights.” Cat grumbled to herself. It didn’t help that she had to go into work early, but then grad students were supposed to be sleep deprived, right?
At least Renee arrived safe. She reminded herself as she drifted off that she wanted to get Renee to play Dragon Age when she got back. She was really curious to see what choices her friend would make and to be able to talk about it with her and for her friend having some point of reference. With that final promise to herself, she drifted off to sleep.

 


***

 

Her dream was fragmented, stranger than usual. Cat had always been a vivid dreamer, but this seemed different. She felt overwhelmingly like she was being watched. She slowly turned in her space, trying to figure out what landscape her tired mind had led her to. It took her a moment and then she realized she was in what looked like the Fade, a la Dragon Age: Inquisition, with lots of glowy rocks and green. She relaxed, it was not uncommon for her to dream about Dragon Age, although this was decidedly less steamy than many of her dreams.


She decided to just go with it and see what happens, her sub-conscious mind often delighted her, so this just another adventure. She wandered for a bit, seeing wisps and maybe demons in the distance, but nothing came close. She walked for a while, until she started to get frustrated. This had to be the most boring dream she had ever had. She stopped walking and sat, cross legged on the ground. She closed her eyes and she focused on changing her surroundings. If this dream wasn’t going to get interesting, she might as well try lucid dreaming.


She concentrated for a few minutes and opened her eyes, hoping to see her bedroom, where she usually started if she managed to lucid dream. But when she opened her eyes, it was just the same green environ around her. She let out a frustrated sigh. At least this should make waking up easier.


“Is the dream not up to your standards, little human?” Cat whipped her head around to see the owner of the voice, letting out a small gasp when she saw the glowing golden body of what looked like, in her mind, to be an angel.


“Who are you?” Cat asked as she stood, backing up a bit from the strange figure.


“Who I am is not entirely germane to the current situation. What is important is that your soul is drifting, dear. You are just lucky that I found you and not some other enterprising spirit.”


Cat shook her head in frustration. Of course she would dream up an uncooperative spirit.


“Since this is my dream and I am in “the Fade,” I assume you are supposed to be Andraste or something? Maybe the spirit of Mythal?” Though she could not actually see any facial details, she could sense the smirk.


“Something like that.” The figure floated closer. “I think you will do just fine for what I need.”


Even though she knew it was a dream, the certainty and intensity of that statement made Cat’s heart palpitate. “Okay, nice glowing lady, I am just going to wake up now. You know, important things to do and all that.” Cat pinched herself and then let out a yelp. It hurt. Things in dreams are not supposed to hurt, at least not physically. And if they did, she should be awake.


“Now now, don’t be rash, dear. I have great plans for you.” Cat felt another smirk. “And you dreamed about such an opportunity before, even wrote about it.”


Cat looked at her in disbelief, quickly catching up. “So, let me guess, you are going to drop me in Thedas?”


The figure positively radiated smugness. “Such a smart little human. Yes, I think you will upset things quite well.” The figure considered for a moment. “But first, I think a make-over is in order.” She, they, it (?) (she thought it was a woman) waved their hand and a mirror appeared in front of Cat. The first thing that was startling was that she looked like herself. Usually in dreams, she looked entirely different, with just the sense that the person she saw was in fact her. But now, her own untamed short brown hair and tanned skin were clearly reflected. She stepped closer and her own brown eyes looked back.

It felt wrong and all too real.


“Now dear, I think I know just the form you will like. Let’s see.” The figure waved her hand and Cat’s features suddenly shifted. It was not painful, but very disorienting. When she looked at the mirror again, a different figure looked back. An elven figure. The rest of her features were mostly the same. She reached up to brush her now elongated ears. Cat wondered if this was what it felt like to use the mirror in the Black Emporium. It wasn’t so bad, looking at her elven form.


“Yes, that looks good. But I think this will be better. No point in staying so close to the original.”


“What do you mean-“ Cat started to ask and then the figure waved her hand again. A lesser disorientation gripped her and when she steadied herself this time, she didn’t recognize the figure looking back at her at all. The figure was slimmer than she was, with long black hair pulled back into a braid that reached her lower back. Bright green eyes and skin a few shades darker than her own added to the image before her. Her nose, mouth, everything was different. But the most striking feature was the vallaslin that now graced her face. It was branching across her forehead and down across her nose. One of Mythal’s then.


“No vallaslin.” Was Cat’s immediate response. The figure chuckled.


“Is that the only complaint?” Not giving Cat time to respond, she continued. “Excellent. I can work with that. Perhaps it is better if you don’t look Dalish.”


“Excuse me, but I think I would like my old body back. You now, the ‘little human’ one.” Cat was confused, frustrated, and a sense of dread was building in her stomach and her snark was coming out. “I would also like to wake up now.”


The figure circled her, evaluating.


“I am sorry, dear, but that won’t be possible. However, you mentioned your old body…little human…hmm…” Cat did not like the tone that the figure was using. With the amount that she was panicking, she should be waking up. Something wasn’t right.


“Yes, I think I like this idea.” Without another word, the figure waved her hand and another wave of disorientation flooded Cat. This the worst of them. “There, perfect! What will they think!”


Cat looked into the mirror and was floored. An elven child looked back at her. An elven child with black hair and green eyes looked back at her. She raised her hand and the child raised their hand as well, eyes wide in shock.


“Why am I a child? What the fuck is going on? Why can’t I wake up?” A stream of questions poured from Cat, eyes darting between the mirror and the figure.


“Hush, dear. This form will help you.” That same smirk showed up. “Or at least it should make things very entertaining. Now dear, time for you to go.” With a final wave of her hand Cat’s clothes changed to a simple wool dress and leggings. Small leather boots and a fur lined cape completed the ensemble. “Try to have fun dear!” The figure practically singed at Cat as a flash of green enveloped the now small child and she was gone.

***


Cat felt herself falling and then there was cold. She pushed herself up and she realized she had fallen into a snow bank. She raised herself up gently, unfamiliar small limbs supporting her. She looked around and saw a road, or rather a path.

Might as well see where I am.

She reached the path, with a gate and it looked a little too familiar. As she walked further, tents started appearing. As she rounded the corner, she stopped and starred, mouth agape. She was looking at Haven. She quickly looked to the mountain and yes, there in the distance, the Temple of Sacred Ashes. Very much not destroyed.

Well, Shit.

Chapter Text

Cat shook herself a bit and darted off to the side, trying to look harmless and definitely not hyperventilating. She stood, situating herself mentally.

It’s okay, you are in Haven. Which is a lot bigger than you thought, but that’s fine. You don’t know the exact day the temple explodes, but you know who. Should I go to Leliana?

Wait no, that is a horrible idea. I don’t think she would harm a child, but she did go a bit dark.

Cassandra? No, she will probably just think that I am possessed. Cullen too. I don’t even know if Josie is here yet.  Solas isn’t or shouldn’t be here yet and Varric is under watch.

Cat considered a few minutes, weighing her options.

I guess I’ll just have to go directly to the top and try to warn Justinia.

Wait, why I am so okay with this? This is crazy. How do I get home? Renee, my family, they are going to be so worried. Am I dead? Is this all a dream?

Let’s go with it is a very cool dream, but I should treat it like it’s real. That seems the safest option. Good on me, not totally freaking out, no definitely not.

Cat started to wander when it hit her. What if the language here wasn’t English?

Head down and moving fast, she started towards the front gates, now actively listening. Soon, she heard a familiar voice yell out.

“That’s a shield in your hand, block with it!”

She couldn’t help the grin the sprung up. She turned to get her first look at Cullen. He had his normal armor on, with that oh so fluffy pauldron. He was running the men through their training. With a start, she realized that Rylen was standing next to him. They were both way cuter than they were shown in the game.

Well, at least I know the language.

She hurried off, not wanting to draw attention to herself by staring at the commander and knight-captain. She spent an hour just wandering, finding cabins and people she recognized. As she walked by the tavern, the smell of cooking food made her stomach rumble.

Crap, what am I going to do about food? I don’t have any money…or do I?

She instinctively reached down to her left side and she in fact found a small leather coin purse.

Damn it, what else is on my person that I don’t know about?

She quickly and furtively moved behind one of the cabins, one that wasn’t in the game. Looking around to make sure no one could see her, she started examining her clothing and pockets. She found that she had a leather pouch with 15 silvers and 10 coppers, a pocketful of what she assumed was elfroot, a handkerchief, a small paring knife, and a small carved figurine of a mabari.

How very Ferelden. At least the woman…I’m going to call her Trickster for now…at least Trickster equipped me with some things.

Moving back towards the tavern, Cat managed to find a seat at the bar, against the wall. The room wasn’t bursting, but it did have a lively crowd. She got her first look at Varric, sitting at a table by the fireplace, a conspicuous guard standing behind him. He had the people at the table fully enthralled by the tale he was weaving.

I wish I could hear what he was saying. Imagine, hearing Varric tell a story, in person. 

Cat flagged down Flissa.

“What do you need, pet? Where are your parents?”

Cat started to respond and then realized, she didn’t know what to say.

Crap, what do I tell her?

“My parents came for the conclave.”

Is that my voice? Oh right, puberty hasn’t hit yet.

“They told me to wait here for them and to get food.” Cat tried to put on an innocent face. A please-don’t-question-it look.

Flissa looked skeptical but nodded.

“It is 5 copper for a meal, pet.”

Cat nodded and dug out the required coin. Flissa took it and a few minutes later, placed a bowl of stew and a cup of water before her.

I don’t think I want to know what is in this, but I am too hungry to care.

Cat seemed to inhale the food. It was gamey and there was something in it was she was pretty sure was vegetables. When Flissa noticed how fast she ate, she slipped a piece of bread to her. Cat tried to give her the biggest smile she could. When Flissa turned, she put the bread in her pocket for later, just in case.

Waving to Flissa, Cat left the tavern. She wandered a little more, daring to enter the Chantry. The building was much bigger that it looked in the game, grander, but still simpler than say, Notre Dame. The size made sense, since in the not-too-distant future the entirety of Haven’s population was going to be hiding in here. She noticed one of the chantry sisters looking at her and she hurried out of the building.

I need to be careful not to draw too much attention to myself.

As she exited the Chantry, she saw Leliana’s tent. She could see movement inside, but not who.

Best avoid that for now.

She exited Haven, heading in the direction of the bridge, but then stopped.

Do I have magic?  

She turned and made her way around the lake and came up near Master Taigen’s cabin. She peaked inside, but no one was there. She looked around, checking for patrols or anyone else. Seeing no one, she set herself on an outcropping of rocks, legs crossed. She closed her eyes and thought.

Now, how does one go about accessing magic? It is about willpower, right? So, I focus my mana (if I have any) and do something? The basic spells are elemental, so I should try one of those. Or is that putting the cart before the horse? Magic looks so easy in the game, but then mages are trained for years. Would Trickster even have given me magic?

She sat meditating for what felt like an hour, but no matter what she did, no magic happened.

Well, I guess I either don’t have any or can’t access my magic. I’ll just have to wait for Solas, Sir Egg himself to find out.

With that she rose, stretching, and made her way back towards the bridge.

I guess I better check on the conclave. I need to find a way to warn Justinia, if I have time.

***

Cat thought more people would have commented on a lone child, but perhaps her being an elf made her near invisible? As she made the trek, her legs started to burn. She was in decent shape back home, but then again, she wasn’t a child.

So, goal one is to scope out the situation in the temple, try to find out how close we are to the boom. Goal two, find a way to warn Justinia. Failing that, find Lavellan, Trevelyan, Cadash, and/or Adaar. Should I try to evacuate the conclave? What if I change things too much?

She shook herself mentally.

No use thinking that way. I need to find out what is actually going on up the mountain first.

The going was slow, but eventually, she made it. The temple was impressive and so very large. It reminded Cat of Durham Cathedral in England. It looked nothing like she remembered it looking like from Origins, but then the graphics weren’t great on it. There were so many people about. She could tell who the mages were by their robes and staffs and the templars stood out with their rather distinctive armor. It also helped that people gathered in groups of mages or templars. There wasn’t a lot of mixing. The only real go betweens were the servants, most of whom were elves, and a few nobles.

Cat drifted to the shadows, listening in. There was a lot of anger and worry, from all sides. From what she could gather, Justinia was in main chamber, with representatives from both the mages and templars. They had been in there all day.

As long as Justinia is with the rest of the group, it should be fine. I wonder how much longer they will be today.

A large figure moved in front of Cat, looking down at her small figure. Cat looked up and couldn’t keep her eyes from going wide. Right before her was a qunari, a rather large qunari man with a greatsword. He had ram-like horns that framed his angular face. His black hair was gathered in a braid. He had dark grey skin and near golden eyes. Her mind started whirling.

Is this Adaar? Or one of the other Valo-kas? Will he be the inquisitor? He is so tall! Like scary tall! And those horns! Oh no, I am staring, I shouldn’t stare.

She looked down and blushed, embarrassed at her gawking.

“Don’t worry, little one, I don’t bite.” His voice was deep and very familiar. It matched the American voice for Adaar.

Cat gathered her courage and stuck out her hand. “My name is Cat, pleased to meet you.” She looked up into his eyes, not wavering, but the blush still on her cheeks. He seemed surprised at my boldness and lack of fear.

He let out a low chuckle and bent down to a knee, reaching his hand out. It engulfed her own. “Nice to meet you, miss. My name is Kaaras.”

Cat gave him the biggest grin she could. Before she could say anything else, another qunari stepped into view.

“Come on, Adaar, our shift is up, we can head back to the camp.” They noticed her. “And stop scaring the child.”

“I am not scaring the child. This is my new friend, Cat.” He gave her a wink, rising up. “Stay out of trouble, little bit.” With a small wave, he was gone, following after his friend.

Well, he was nice. I bet he would make a good inquisitor.

Cat explored a bit more, fitting in with the servants at times. It wasn’t long before she heard another familiar voice. This time, it was a soft British accent. She strained her neck to get a look and there, in noble clothing, stood the woman who had to be Trevelyan.

She had long, dark brown hair done up in a complicated style. Her eyes were blue and she had a small tattoo that underlined her left eye. Cat noticed that she had two daggers strapped to her waist. She was currently talking or more likely arguing with a mage.

“The circles should be reinstated, Galyan. Mages need protection from danger as much as the general populace needs protection from them.”

Cat thought the name was familiar. Where had she heard it before?

“Lady Trevelyan, I have to disagree. We have to come up with a new solution.” They started to walk off. “The templars have proven…”

Well, so Trevelyan is not a mage. I wonder who the man is? His name sounded…oh shit! That’s Cassandra’s lover or former lover or whatever. Wow. I wonder if there is a way that I can save him?

Cat’s stomach started to grumble. She moved further in and found a small, unoccupied room. It was neat, with a couch and a couple of chairs and a desk. It was nice. She didn’t see anyone, so she plopped herself down on the small couch and ate the piece of bread Flissa had given her.

So, I have encountered two of the possible inquisitors. I am not thrilled that Trevelyan is a circle supporter, but maybe she can be reasoned with. Then again, I have no idea what Adaar thinks of the circles. Just as long as Vivienne is NOT made divine, it should be fine.

Cat was thrown from her musings when a figure materialized in front of her by the desk. In her shock, she let out an ‘eek!’ The figure turned to her, staff raised. The figure paused when it noticed her small form and no doubt the crumbs that had gathered on her dress.

The figure lowered their staff and raised the other hand in a I’m-not-going-to-hurt you motion. The figure lowered their hood to reveal an elf.

“Shush, I mean you no harm, da’len.” Another familiar voice. The man in front of Cat had platinum blond hair and blue/violet eyes. His white inked Mythal vallaslin was stark against his dark brown skin.

So, now I have met Lavellan.

“I won’t tell anyone you were here, if you don’t either. Deal?” Cat thought a moment and then nodded. Lavellan took this in stride and started searching the papers on the desk. Finding nothing of interest, apparently, he turned back and gave a small bow. “You may not wish to linger in the Divine’s office, da’len.”

“I won’t.”

This was the divine’s office? Why isn’t there a guard here, unless…

Before she could finish the thought, Lavellan had raised the hood on his cloak again and slipped out the door.

Cat started to get worried. If this was the Divine’s office, there should be a guard here. The only reason she could think of that there wouldn’t be a guard her was if Corypheus was getting in place.

What if tonight is the night that Corypheus strikes? Heck, I need to get off this mountain.

She followed Lavellan’s example and slipped from the room. She stuck to the shadows and started to make her way towards the entry way. Before she could go far, a small delegation appeared around the corner and was moving towards her. There was an older woman in chantry robes who she immediately recognized as Divine Justinia. Trailing her were two guards, in battlemage attire.

Those must be her knight-enchanters.

As Cat moved to get out of the way, a voice called out.

“Excuse me, your Holiness, might we have a word?” Three figures appeared. Three figures in grey warden attire.

Crap. Crap. Crap. It is happening now.

The Divine turned to look at them, her face obviously tired, but resigned. “Very well, please step into my study.”

 Cat watched as they all filtered into a room. She made it to the entry way to find it near bursting, with the conclave in recess. Even though or perhaps because of her small size, she was having trouble actually getting to the entrance. She ran into a female dwarf, whose voice she recognized as Cadash’s.

Well, that’s all four then.

Cat managed to get to the door, by following Cadash, funnily enough. As she stepped outside, she froze.

Wait, Cadash is leaving down the mountain and Adaar left earlier.

Cat looked around fervently. There, a bit further down the path was a small group of nobles, one of which was Trevelyan.

And there is Trevelyan. Does that mean Lavellan is going to be the one?

That thought was halted when she looked over to the trees and saw a pair of elves, one of which she was sure was Lavellan, slip out of sight.

SHIT! That means…

Not one of the possible inquisitors was going to run in to help Justinia and grab the orb.

**

Cat walked away from the entrance and started pacing.

Maybe one of them will come back? Maybe that wasn’t actually Lavellan and he is still snooping around inside? Do I go get one of them? How would that conversation even go?

Cat went back and forth until she reached a conclusion.

I have to go back and check. If one of them isn’t there, it is going to have to be me.

Swearing under her breath, she snuck back in. People were still milling about, talking and arguing. Food had been brought out. In the large entry way alone, there had to be at least a hundred people. Cat found her way to the hallway where she has seen the Divine. The hallway was strangely empty. Not even a servant in sight.

Maybe the wardens are just making contact today and the actual event will be tomorrow. Yeah, that is totally probable. Way to stay optimistic.

That thought was dashed when she heard a voice cry out, “Someone help me!”

Cat ran, bursting through the large doors. She quickly took in the scene. The knight-enchanters were dead and tossed aside. The Grey Wardens stood around the Divine and she was held up by magic. And there, there was Corypheus. His broken and mired flesh was repulsive. Seeing him in reality was horrifying. And in his terrifyingly too long fingers he held the orb. Cat gathered herself and shouted, “Let go of her, you freak!”

“We have an intruder, slay the elf.” Corypheus’s voice was toxic. It made Cat’s skin crawl.

“Go! Run while you can!” The Divine yelled out, kicking at Corypheus’s hand. The orb went flying. Cat scrambled for it reaching out with her left hand.

God help me, I guess I am doing this.

The last thing she remembered before she blacked out was a yell and then a shooting pain up her arm. The world went green and that was it.

Chapter Text

Cassandra POV

“Justinia will want to speak with Varric tonight when she returns.” Leliana said, shifting though some notes on her table.

Cassandra stood beside her and Cullen stood at the entrance to the tent.

“Do you think she will get more out of him than Cassandra?” Cullen asked, rubbing the back of his neck.

I wonder if the headaches are back.

“If anyone can, she can.” Cassandra said. She wasn’t sure if the dwarf was lying about knowing where the champions were, but Justinia was the best bet for convincing him to tell. At the very least, the Divine would hear the tale herself.

“Quite, I am still trying to track down Tabris, but she has proved elusive. Alistair doesn’t even know where she is.” Leliana said, glancing up at the other two. “Do you think that-”

There was a thundering crack and then a force burst through the tent, sending the three of them to the ground.

“Maker’s Breath, what was that?!” Cullen yelled, pushing himself up. He was the first out of the tent. He looked around and froze, his face paling. “Maker preserve us.”

Cassandra and Leliana rushed outside to look as well. They were stunned. There was a great green tear in the sky, right above the temple. Or where the temple should be.

“Dorothea…” Leliana whispered, almost a prayer, under her breath.

Cassandra was in shock.

How can this be? The Divine! All the people at the conclave. Galyan…

She focused, feeling her faith grounding her. The Divine either lived or she would be avenged.

“Let’s go, we must find out what happened.” Cassandra said. This snapped the other two out of their daze and then together, they started running.

 

Varric POV

Varric stepped outside the tavern and stretched. His trusty shadow of a guard right behind him.

“Say, am I going to get a name from you or should I just give you one? I need to know for my next book.”

The guard just glared.

“How about grumpy? Or maybe-”

He was cut off as an explosion rocked the world, pushing him against the side of the tavern. He looked up and saw that where the Temple of Sacred Ashes should be, there was nothing. And right above it, a gaping green hole.

Shit, not again. This better not have been you, Blondie.

 

Cat POV

Cat slowly opened her eyes. She felt the sharp pinch of rock beneath her. She sat up, a little dizzy. As her eyes focused, she saw green and rocks. It was so strange.

Where am I? What happened?

She tried to think, but everything was a jumble. There was a glowing figure, a laugh, and then…

Cat stood up, looking around. She saw a glowing portal in the distance.

I guess that is the way?

She pushed onwards, slowly approaching the portal. As she got closer, she realized it was up in the air, she would have to climb to get to it.

I hope this is the way.

She suddenly heard a skittering sound. She turned and she felt dread fill her. There were creatures coming towards her, fast. She turned and ran. The incline increased and she started climbing. Pain and terror filled her and pushed her onwards. She looked up, not daring to look back, although the skittering noise was getting louder. She saw a woman, reaching for her. She could almost grab her hand.

The next thing she knew, she was falling. And then there was pain and blissful peace as she fell unconscious.

 

Kaaras POV

Kaaras was one of the first to reach the temple. He was on his way back up to check in with the rest of his company when the explosion hit. After that, it was demons upon demons.

Shit, I didn’t sign up to fight demons.

He met up with some scouts and soldiers. They fought together, comrades in crisis.

Herah and Arish were at the temple. Did they survive? Best not think of that.

His group fought hard and when they finally reached the temple, he felt his knees shake.

What did this? What could do this?

His group spread out, searching for survivors. But, the hope grew faint as they moved further in. There was just bone and ash left. One of the scouts was throwing up. Kaaras was sorely tempted to follow him, his stomach clenching.

There was a crackle and a slice of green energy opened in front of them. They all tensed, prepared for more demons, but a single small figure fell out, the small rift closing behind it. They rushed forward, swords bared, to face this new threat.

As Kaaras got closer, he realized it was the body of a child. It groaned and turned over.

“Little bit?” Kaaras rushed forward, setting aside his sword. It was the child from the temple, Cat was her name. She was unconscious and had a few bruises.

How had she survived?

A green energy pulsed from her left palm and she let out a pitiful sound.

“Someone get a healer!” Kaaras yelled. He quickly sheathed his sword and moved to pick up the child. She was so small. He gently gathered her in his arms. As he rose the other scouts were still standing there. “Move!” That got them going. As a group, they headed back down the mountain, the soldiers flanking him. Cat made another noise, curling in closer to him. “Don’t worry, little bit, I got you.”

 

Cadash POV

Cadash was halfway down the mountain when the explosion hit. The chaos that followed would haunt her, she knew. She saw a demon eviscerate a soldier. She managed to stab it, but it was too late for the soldier. He just looked on with dead eyes. After a seemingly endless tide, there was a pause. Those around her braced for the next attack, barely daring to take the time to breath.

There were shouts and a group of people were headed up the mountain, more soldiers and a trio that looked in charge. She turned and another group was coming down the mountain. At the head was a qunari, one she had seen earlier. As he got closer, she noticed he was carrying something. No, someone.

It was the child from the temple. The little elf who had run into her and then followed her out from the temple.

By the Paragons's fucking asses, a child. Was she in the temple? If she was, how did she survive?

The two groups converged and there was a lot of shouting. One of the leaders, a tall dark-haired, stern faced woman, drew her sword, but before she could do anything, another wave of demons appeared. Cadash jumped in, blades swinging.

Where will it fucking end?

 

Trevelyan POV

Trevelyan had just reached Haven when the explosion hit. She was thrown down with the other members of her group. Other minor lords and ladies sent to the conclave.

She looked up to see a swirling green mass in the sky, above where the temple should have been. She stared, she didn’t know how long.

A group ran past her, the man yelling at the nearby soldiers to follow them. This brought her back and she hurried to her tent. She removed her clothing quickly, grabbing her armor instead.

“My lady! What is happening?” Her maid, Helen, rushed in, wringing her hands.

“I don’t know, but I plan to find out. Help me with this.” Helen dutifully moved to her side, her quick hands buckling Evie in. Evie grabbed her bow and quiver. “Go to the chantry, it should be safer there.”

“Yes, my lady. But where are you going?”

“I am going back to the temple.”

“But my lady, the danger!”

“I must fight, Helen. Maker help us.” With that, Evie ran, making her way up the mountain. It wasn’t long before she ran across her first demon. She managed to send an arrow through its eye and she watched as it disappeared.

She fought her way up and it wasn’t long before she was met by a group coming down the mountain. One of the qunari mercenaries was at the front, as well as Seeker Cassandra. The man was carrying a child.

What was a child doing at the temple?

 

Solas POV

Solas walked to the edge of the cave he had found and looked out towards the mountain. His agents had led Corypheus to his orb and it was only a matter of time before he unlocked it. Then, Solas could go about fixing his mistake, fixing the world.

He felt a tremor in the air, his mana reacting instinctively.

Finally, it was happening.

He started to smile, but then there was a shock wave and a crack of an explosion. He was pushed back, managing not to fall by leaning on his staff.

He focused back on the mountain and his blood ran cold. There was a great green tear in the sky. The veil had been torn.

This wasn’t supposed to…What have I done!?

**

Solas had made his way towards the breach, joining the fighting. It took him hours to even get to it. Once there, he tried to close it, but in his weakened state, it was impossible. His orb was gone, taken by Corypheus.

How had he learned the secret to effective immortality?

After another wave of demons, as the soldiers were talking, he heard that news that there was a survivor. That someone had actually walked out of the fade.

Solas presented himself to the leadership, to a woman his agents had informed him about, a Lady Cassandra, Right Hand of the Divine. She was skeptical at first, but finally acquiesced to him examining the survivor.

He was led down the mountain. It was well into the night. His guide seemed focused, interrogating him along the way. He answered as truthfully as he could. He was an expert of the fade, he was an apostate, and he came from a village in the north. All close enough to the truth. They reached the village of Haven and Cassandra led him to a cabin. There were guards outside. Of note, there was a qunari man standing outside. His eyes scrutinized Solas, searching for who knows what. The man simply gave a nod to Cassandra and they entered.

“Master Adan, this man is a mage and claims to be able to help the survivor.”

“He’s a healer then, good, I’ve done all I can do for the girl.”

Solas stepped in and froze. There, lying on a cot, was a small elven girl.

That can’t be the survivor…

Green energy, pulsing with an all too familiar signature, flared from her left hand. The child let out a groan, but didn’t wake. At the sound, Solas moved forward, gently taking the girl’s hand in his own, sending cooling healing and numbing through it.

This can’t be, but it is. This child has been marked by my orb.

As his magic interacted with the mark, he felt the twisted magic. It wasn’t removable. A deep sense of guilt and self-hate filled him.

My mark is killing her.

 

Lavellan POV

Mahonan Lavellan moved quickly through the trees, Ylsa right behind him. The two had been making camp when the explosion hit. Since then, they had been fighting off demons that stumbled into the woods.

After a day of the unending horde, Lavellan moved towards Haven. The keeper would want to know what happened. Ylsa wanted to just leave, let the shems take care of the mess.

But Lavellan was first of Clan Lavellan and he would not leave without answers.

**

They crept into the village. There was chaos. They heard the villagers talking about a survivor. Many spoke of them with anger and a few were plotting to kill them. They blamed the survivor for what happened.

As they approached the cabin, a bald elf stepped out, clearly exhausted. The two of them skirted around, staying just out of sight.

There was a large guard at the door, so they slipped behind the cabin. There was a low window. Cloaking themselves in shadows, they moved in.

What they saw when they entered did not sit well with Mahonan. There was a girl. A little elf child.

This is the survivor? Wait, this was the girl that was in the Divine’s office. How did this happen?

He reached out a hand to brush her hair back when the door opened. Two women came in, and when they saw him, they started shouting. The dark-haired woman pulled a sword and the cloaked woman pulled a dagger. Soon the qunari from outside joined them. All he could do was surrender.

“I told you this was a bad idea.” Ylsa hissed at him as they were both dragged away.

Ylsa is never going to let me forget this.

 

Cullen POV

It had been two days. Two non-stop days of battle. His soldiers were faltering. There was no end in sight.

Leliana and Cassandra had left him to fight towards the breach. They were working from Haven, trying to figure out how to actually close it, if they could even get close to it.

A fear demon loomed closer, reaching out to strike at one of his soldiers. Cullen stuck faster. This would not be another Kinloch Circle nor the tragedy of Kirkwall.

The soldier he just saved screamed and fell, a terror demon standing over his body. Cullen charged forward, striking it down, but it was too late. He was always too late.

Maker help us.

 

Leliana POV

Leliana shuffled more reports on her desk. The usual order and tidiness that she imposed gone with the chaos of the breach.

Her agents had been trying to find out information, trying to find out who did this. If they knew how and who, perhaps they could reverse it.

The elven mage, Solas, had told Cassandra that he theorized the mark on the child’s hand could close the breach, that the energy was the same.

How does this child fit into this mess? Did the Maker send a child?

She rubbed her eyes, feeling the weariness and grief rising up.

Dorothea…No, I don’t have time to dwell on this.

She focused back on the reports about the child. She had been able to piece together a few things, but she was no closer to finding out who the child actually was. She had thought at first that she was one of the servant’s children, but she had 15 silver on her, more than a simple servant’s child would have. Perhaps one of the rebel mages was her parent? Kaaras, the mercenary, told her the child’s name was Cat. He had met her briefly at the Conclave. Since the girl emerged from the breach, Kaaras had been a constant guard, which proved more and more necessary as time went. There were already 3 attempts on the girl’s life. They had moved her to the more secure dungeon for the girl’s safety.

Flissa had reported that the girl, Cat, had gotten lunch in the tavern. But before then, no one had seen her or had any information.

Lavellan had given her a bit more, but she was still suspicious of the Dalish elf. She was sure he didn’t try to kill the survivor, but she didn’t know his or his companion’s full motivations and that worried her.

As she stared at the papers, Cassandra entered.

“She is waking.”

Maker may she help us.

Chapter Text

Cat slowly woke up, feeling numb. She shifted. She was on something soft, but lumpy. Her eye lids heavy, she opened her eyes and took in her surroundings.

There were four people standing around her, with heavy armor and large swords. The room was fairly dark and lit by torches. There were cells along the wall, but she was in the center. She sat up, she had been laying on a cot. One of the guards left, noting she was awake.

Where am I? What happened? There was a woman?

Try as she might, she couldn’t remember more. She could barely remember her name.

My name is Cat…Cat Bell. I am sure my name was longer, but that is all I can remember.

She tried to remember, but it was just making her frustrated. She balled her small fists up, clutching at the blanket.

The door opened and two women walked in. Or maybe stalked in was a better description. One woman had short dark hair and some scars on her face. The other had red hair that peaked out from under her cloak.

That is Cassandra and Leliana.

W ait, how do I know that? Do I know them?

“Tell me what happened. The Conclave is destroyed. Everyone who attended is dead. Except for you.” Cassandra said, anger in her voice.

She is just upset, she doesn’t know what happened. Do I know what happened? Everything is so fuzzy.

When Cat didn’t respond, Cassandra surged forward, grabbing her left hand.

“Explain this!” Cat’s hand glowed and crackled. Green light pulsing. It hurt.

“I…can’t.” Cat’s eyes were wide, staring at her hand.

What is this? Why does it hurt?

“What do you mean, you can’t?”

“I don’t know what this is or how I got it. I don’t even know where I am.” Haven, in the dungeon of the chantry. Okay, so I do know that and a few other things. “I know that you are Cassandra Pentaghast, Right Hand of the Divine. You secretly like romance novels. And I know that you,” she motioned to Leliana, “are Sister Nightingale, Leliana, the Left Hand of the Divine. You have a nug named Schmooples. But I don’t know how I know this! I can’t remember!”

Cassandra looked shocked. Leliana’s face was hard to read.

Cassandra regained her composure and yelled at Cat, “You’re lying!” She made a move as if to shake Cat, to force the truth from her when Leliana cut in.

“We need her, Cassandra. We will deal with any strange knowledge she has later.”

“I don’t understand what is happening!” Cat said, just above a whisper.

“Do you remember what happened? How this began?”

“I remember running. Things were chasing me. And then…a woman?”

“A woman?”

“She reached out to me, but then…” Cat’s face scrunched up.

Why can’t I remember?

Cassandra sighed. “Go to the forward camp, Leliana. I will take her to the rift.” Leliana nodded, gave one last searching look at the girl, and then turned to leave.

“Do you know what happened?” Cat asked, timidly.

I should be afraid of Cassandra and yet I have a feeling I can trust her, that she will protect me.

“It will be easier to show you.” Cassandra started to move towards the door, when a voice called out.

“Wait, we can help. We want to help.”

Cat turned and saw two elves in one of the cells. A man and a woman. The woman had a scowl on her face, but the man seemed nice. He sounded…familiar?

Do I know him?

“You are prisoners. I will not simply let you out to escape.” Cassandra said, with an exasperated grunt.

“Cassandra, I…I think we can trust them.” Cat ran over to the cell, looking up at the elf’s face. He was giving her an encouraging smile. He had Mythal's vallaslin on his face. Looking over at the elf, she noticed that dark-haired woman bore Andruil's markings. She looked back at Cassandra. “Please?”

“Take them, Cassandra, we could use them.” Leliana said from the door, before continuing on.

Cassandra made a disgruntled noise, but waved for guard to unlock the door. The woman finally spoke, her voice a deep alto. “So, now if you just give us our weapons…”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I am not going to arm prisoners.”

“Cassandra…” Cat looked up with big eyes, imploring. “They want to help. We need help.”

“Fine.” She had another guard get the elves’ things. “Are you quite ready now?” Cat gave her a timid smile. Cassandra stared down the two elves. “If you try to run or attack us, I will not hesitate to end you.”

She is a very scary lady.

The elves nodded, gathering their things. Together they headed up and through the chantry. After they reached the top of the stairs, a large horned figure greeted them. He looked down at Cat, a gentle look on his face.

“How are you doing, little bit?”

The voice and face were familiar, but again, I don’t know why, there is so much I don’t know.

“I…I think I’m okay.” Cat gave him a small smile. He nodded and fell in with the group, trailing just to her right.

When they made it outside, Cat stopped, mouth hanging open and staring at the thing in the sky.

“We call it the Breach. It’s a massive rift into the world of demons that grows larger with each passing hour. It’s not the only such rift, just the largest. All were caused by the explosion at the conclave.”

The male elf spoke. “An explosion can do that?”

“This one did. Unless we act, the breach may grow until it swallows the world.” After Cassandra said that, the mark on Cat’s hand flared and she doubled over, grimacing. “Each time the Breach expands, your mark spreads…and it is killing you. It may be the key to stopping this, but there isn’t much time.”

“Perhaps you shouldn’t lead with telling little bit that she is dying, Seeker.” The large horned man said, raising his eye brow.

“I won’t lie to the child.” Cassandra said with a huff.

Cat sat on the ground and thought.

That should work. In fact, it is the only thing that will work. I don’t know why I know this, but I do. I have to help them.

“I understand.”

“Then…?”

“I’ll do whatever I can. Whatever it takes to help.” Cat looked up at Cassandra, with a defiant look in her young eyes. Cassandra simply nodded and their rather strange group moved through Haven.

As they walked, many of the villagers scowled at them. Their eyes were shooting daggers at Cat. One of them spit at her. She instinctively moved closer to the large horned man.

“They have decided your guilt. They need it. The people of Haven mourn our Most Holy, Divine Justinia, head of the Chantry. The Conclave was hers. It was a chance for peace between mages and templars. She brought their leaders together. Now, they are dead.”

The group reached the edge of the village, soldiers opening the gates.

“We lash out, like the sky. But we must think beyond ourselves, as she did. Until the breach is sealed.” Cassandra turned to Cat.

“There will be a trial. I can promise no more.”

“You would put an elven child on trial?” The elven man said, confusion and anger in his eyes.

"You are surprised?" The elf woman retorted. 

“There are demands for one, yes.” Cassandra responded. “Come it is not far.”

“Where are you taking us?” The horned man asked.

“Her mark must be tested on something smaller than the Breach. We are headed to one of the smaller rifts.”

**

They walked up the path, towards the bridge. Casualties were laid out. Cat let out a gasp.

They are dead. What did this to them?

Oh right, demons.

But, I’m just a kid. What can I do?

The large horned man noted her staring and put a hand gently on her head, giving a light pat.

“Try not to focus on them, little bit.” Cat gave him a nod and moved forward, keeping her eyes straight ahead.

Cassandra yelled to the soldiers. “Open the gate! We are heading into the valley!”

The group trudged on, passing more soldiers and signs of battles. As they crested the hill, another pulse struck, throwing Cat to the ground. She panted, looking at the cursed thing on her hand.

“The pulses are coming faster now. The larger the Breach grows, the more rifts appear, the more demons we face.”

“How did she survive the blast?” The elf man asked.

“They said she…stepped out of a rift, then fell unconscious. They say a woman was in the rift behind her. No one knows who she was. Everything farther in the valley was laid waste, including the Temple of Sacred Ashes. I suppose you’ll see soon enough.”

“It is true, I was there. I didn’t see a woman, but everything else…” The horned man said.

The group approached a second bridge but before they stepped onto it, Cat let out a squeaky noise and pulled Cassandra back.

“Don’t go on the bridge! Tell the others to push back!” Cat looked up at Cassandra with big, frightened eyes.

“What do you mean?” Cassandra asked, just as a large fade rock hit the bridge, sending rubble and soldiers tumbling. The four adults turned to Cat, shock on their faces.

“How did you know?” Cassandra almost growled.

“I just knew. I don’t know. Maybe the mark…?” Cat said, confusion heavy on her voice. 

After a moment of stunned silence, the male elf said, “We can deal with this later, we should move forward. Down the side of the bridge.” Cassandra nodded and the group moved forward. As they reached the ground, a couple demons formed in the residue from the green rock.

“Stay behind me!” Cassandra said to Cat and attacked the demons.

Those are shades, I think. 

The horned man and the elf woman moved to assist. The male elf kept back, firing spells from his staff. They were focused on the ones in front, that they didn’t see the one coming up from behind. Cat turned in time to see it starting to strike at her. She gave out a yelp and dropped, its claws swiping above her. She scrabbled back, hitting something. A dead body. She gave out another yelp, but then she saw the dagger by the body. She grabbed it and faced the demon.

I don’t know what to do with this.

Luckily, her yelps were noticed and the elf man sent a lightning bolt at the demon, just as Cassandra stabbed it.

Cat looked around. “It’s over.” She said, her voice low, her heart beating fast.

“Drop your weapon, now!” Cassandra said. Cat immediate dropped the knife and held her hands up.

“I don’t even know what to do with it, I just…” She had a sad look on her face.

“I cannot protect you alone. Stay close to one of us.” She turned. “I should remember that you agreed to come willingly and that you are defenseless.” From a crate by the bridge, Cassandra pulled out a bandolier. “Take these potions. Maker knows what we will face.”

“Where are all your soldiers?” The horned man asked, moving to flank Cat again. This time, the elf man flanked the other side. The elf woman brought up the rear, with Cassandra leading them.

“At the forward camp or fighting. We are on our own, for now.”

They moved onwards, fighting a few more demons. But the adults managed to keep the demons far away from the elf girl.

As they moved up a staircase, the sounds of battle reached them.

“We’re getting close to the rift. You can hear the fighting.”

“Who’s fighting?” Cat asked, breathing heavy.

Do they realize I have small legs?

“You’ll see soon. We must help them.”

As they crested the stairs they saw several soldiers, as well as an elf and a dwarf, fighting demons. The three melee fighters jumped down and joined the fray. The mage elf hung back with Cat, firing off shots of lightning towards the demons.

As the last demon was struck, Cat bolted forward.

I have to get close to the rift. To Solas.

The elf beside her tried to grab her, but she was quicker. When she reached Solas’s side, he grabbed her hand and raised it towards the rift.

“Quickly, before more come through!” He yelled. Cat felt a surge of energy and then pain, she focused on the sensation, focusing on the rift and imagining it closed. After a moment, she pulled her hand back and the rift slammed shut.

“What did you do?” Asked the elf mage, running up behind them.

“I did nothing. The credit is the girl’s.” Solas said.

“I closed the thing? How?” Cat asked, confused eyes turned towards Solas.

“Whatever magic opened the Breach in the sky also placed that mark upon your hand. I theorized the mark might be able to close the rifts that have opened in the Breach’s wake – and it seems I was correct.”

“Meaning it could also close the Breach itself.” Cassandra stated.

“Possibly.” Solas turned back to Cat. “It seems you hold the key to our salvation.”

“Good to know! Here I thought we’d be ass-deep in demons forever.” Cat turned to see the dwarf.

Varric Tethras…and Bianca. Why am I so excited to see them?

Varric moved closer. “Varric Tethras: rogue, storyteller, and occasionally unwelcome tagalong.”

“Are you with the Chantry or…?” The elf mage asked.

“Was that a serious question?” Solas said with a chuckle.

“Technically, I am a prisoner, just like you lot.” Varric said.

“I brought you here to tell your story to the Divine. Clearly that is no longer necessary.” Cassandra said.

“Yet, here I am. Lucky for you, considering current events.”

Cat walked up to Varric and put out her hand. “Please to meet you, Varric.”

“You may reconsider that stance, in time.” Solas quipped as they shook hands.

“Aww. I’m sure we’ll become great friends in the valley, Chuckles.”

“Absolutely not. Your help is appreciated, Varric, but…” Cassandra said, exasperated.

“Have you been in the valley lately, Seeker? Your soldiers aren’t in control anymore. You need me.” Cassandra just responded with a disgusted noise.

“My name is Solas, if there are to be introductions. I’m pleased to see you still live.”

“He means, ‘I kept that mark from killing you while you slept.’” Varric said.

Cat turned to the elf. “You did?” Solas nodded. She rushed forward, throwing her arms around him. “Thank you!” She squeezed tight.

Solas seemed at a loss, just gently patting her back. “Of course, da’len.” Cat pulled back and looked up at him.

“Wait, you know about the mark? What is it? How does it work?” Cat asked, questions spilling forth.

“Solas is an apostate, well-versed in such matters.” Cassandra said.

“Technically, all mages are now apostates, Cassandra. My travels have allowed me to learn much of the Fade, far beyond the experience of any Circle mage. I came to offer whatever help I can give with the Breach. If it is not closed, we are all doomed regardless of origin.” Solas said.

“And what will you do once this is over?” The horned man asked.

“One hopes that those in power will remember who helped, and who did not.” He paused. “Cassandra, you should know: the magic involved here is unlike any I have ever seen.”

Liar. Wait, what? Why would he lie?

“Your young prisoner is a mage, but I find it difficult to imagine any mage having such power.”

I’m a mage? I have magic?

“Understood. We must get to the forward camp quickly.”

“Wait, can we go through some formal introductions first, please?” Cat asked looking between all the adults, even Varric was still taller than her.

“Of course. You know that I am Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast.”

“Yes. And this is Varric and Bianca.” Cat motioned to the dwarf’s crossbow. “And that is Solas, a dreamer who detests tea.” Solas quirked an eyebrow at that detail. “And you I think are Adaar of the Valo-Kas mercenary group.” Cat gestured to Kaaras. “And you are Lavellan, first of your clan.” Cat paused. “I am not sure what your name is, but I assume you are also from clan Lavellan.” All the adults stared at her, mixed expressions on their faces.

“How do you know this?” Solas asked, a measured look on his face.

Cat shrugged. “I just do. I can’t remember much, but I meet people or see things and I just know things about it. Things that have happened or will happen.”

“Like at the bridge?” Adaar asked.

“Yeah.”

The elf woman chimed in. “Well this is weird and all, but we should move. My name is Ylsa.” She gave a nod to Cat. “And what is your name?”

“My name is Cat…Cat Bell. I think.” Cat sighed. “Everything is muddled.”

“My name is Kaaras Adaar. We met before, but it seems you don’t remember.”

“And I am Lavellan. Mahonan Lavellan. You are correct that I am the First of my clan.”

“Shit, this is weird.” Varric said. “Not the weirdest thing I have seen, but weird.”

“Don’t I know it.” Cat stood taller. “Cassandra and Ylsa are right, we should move forward.”

Together the group advanced, with more questions than answers.

Chapter Text

They moved onwards, coming across more demons. Solas and the other elves sniped at each other over the Dalish. Varric and Kaaras discussed the Qun in mostly friendly terms.

“So…I am assuming you are innocent. You seem a little young to be blowing up temples, although I did know some orphans in Kirkwall who wouldn’t be above it.” Varric inquired.

“I don’t remember what happened. Nothing makes sense.” Cat replied.

But I didn’t blow up the temple.

“That will get you every time. Should have spun a story.”

Cassandra hmphed. “That’s what you would have done.”

“It’s more believable, and less prone to result in premature execution.” With that cheery remark, they started climbing again. They fought a few more demons and then they came upon another rift.

The adults made quick work of the demons and Cat stepped up to the rift, raising her hand.

Focus. Focus on the feeling from before.

Cat took a deep breath and then something connected. Her hand flared green and the energy pulsed to the rift. She had to fight to keep from being pulled towards it. After a few seconds of pain, she once again pulled back and the rift closed. Solas gave her a nod of approval.

“Open the gate! The rift is gone!” Cassandra shouted.

“Right away, Lady Cassandra!” A soldier shouted back.

“We are clear for the moment. Well done, da’len.” Solas said. Cat gave him a winning smile.

“Whatever that thing on your hand is, it’s useful.” Varric replied.

The gates opened and the party moved forward. Cat was kept at the center, so she heard the yelling before she saw them. She peeked around Cassandra to see a man in robes arguing with Leliana.

“We must prepare the soldiers!” Leliana said, frustration in her voice.

“We will do no such thing.” The man in robes replied with indignation.

Ah, right, Chancellor Roderick. I don’t think I like him.

“The prisoner must get to the Temple of Sacred Ashes. It is our only chance!”

“You have already caused enough trouble without resorting to this exercise in futility.”

I have caused trouble?” Leliana said.

The chancellor better watch it or he will find a dagger in his face.

“You, Cassandra, the Most Holy – haven’t you all done enough already?”

“You’re not in command here!”

“Enough! I will not have it!”

The group finally reached the arguing pair. Kaaras leaned down and whispered, “Stay close to me, little bit, just in case.” Cat moved right beside him as the chancellor acknowledged them.

“Ah, here they come.”

Leliana’s face flooded with relief. “You made it. Chancellor Roderick, this is–”

“I know who she is. As Grand Chancellor of the Chantry, I hereby order you to take this criminal to Val Royeaux to face execution.” Cat heard Ylsa give out a low growl and saw the elf tightening her grip on her daggers. Kaaras and Mahonan turned similarly tense.

Cassandra’s face went dark. “'Order me’? You are a glorified clerk. A bureaucrat!”

“And you are a thug, but a thug who supposedly serves the Chantry!”

“We serve the Most Holy, Chancellor, as you well know.” Leliana tried to mediate.

“Justinia is dead! We must elect her replacement, and obey her orders on the matter.”

This is getting us nowhere.

“Excuse me, but shouldn’t we try and close the big hole in the sky?” Cat’s timid voice asked.  

“You, or your people, brought this on us in the first place!” The Chancellor said. “Call a retreat, Seeker. Our position here is hopeless.”

“We can stop this before it’s too late.” Cassandra said.

“How? You won’t survive long enough to reach the temple, even with all your soldiers.”

“We must get to the temple. It’s the quickest route.”

“But not the safest. Our forces can charge as a distraction while we go through the mountains.” Leliana suggested, pointed to the route on the map that was on the table.

“We lost contact with an entire squad on that path. It’s too risky.” Cassandra replied.

“Listen to me. Abandon this now, before more lives are lost.” The chancellor pleaded. After he spoke, another pulse of pain hit Cat. She hissed through the pain, managing not to collapse on the ground again.

Cassandra turned to Cat, waiting for the pain to pass, “How do you think we should proceed?”

Cat thought hard.

The mountain path. Some of the scouts still live. We can save them. Also, I know the mountain path, but not the other route. Should I know the other path?

“We should take the mountain path. I think some of the scouts are still alive.”

Cassandra nodded. “Leliana. Bring everyone left in the valley. Everyone.”

“On your head be the consequences, Seeker.” Roderick gave a final warning, before turning and leaving.

Kaaras pulled Cat back. “Little bit, I should charge with the forces.” Cat looked up at him, worry in her eyes.

“Why?”

He chuckled. “I can be a pretty big distraction.”

“I will go with you as well. I can provide magical support.” Mahonan stepped forward, clapping his hand on Kaaras’s back.

“I guess that means I’m charging too. Can’t trust you to stay out of trouble.” Ylsa said, joining Mahonan and elbowing him in the side.

Cat looked at them.

They might die. I just met them and they might die.

Cat threw herself at Kaaras first, hugging tightly. She moved quickly to the two elves. On impulse, she ran over to Leliana and hugged her as well. Cat caught the look of surprise that crossed the otherwise controlled woman.

Please, whoever is out there. Don’t let them die.

Cat just as quickly turned and ran back to her much smaller party. She looked back, hands on her hips, and scolded them, “Don’t die!”

Ylsa let out a barking laugh. “Same to you, da’len.” Mahonan just gave a small smile and a nod.

Kaaras gave her a wide grin and said, “We will see you at the temple, little bit.”

With that the Cat’s smaller party set out.

I hope I made the right choice.

**

The small party started making their way up the mountain. Soon, they came to a set of ladders.

“That is a long way up.” Cat stared up with trepidation.

Maybe this wasn’t the right choice.

“Don’t tell me you are afraid of heights?” Seeing her downcast face, Varric amended.  “Come on, Cat, we will help you up.”

“We won’t let you fall, da’len.” Solas said.

Cassandra took the lead, then Cat followed with Solas and Varric right behind, saying words of encouragement as they climbed.

“The tunnel should be just ahead. The path to the temple lies just beyond it.” Cassandra called back to them, the wind almost pulling the words away completely.

“What manner of tunnel is this? A mine?” Solas shouted back.

“Part of an old mining complex. These mountains are full of such paths.”

“And your missing soldiers are in there somewhere?” Varric inquired.

“Along with whatever has detained them.” Solas added.

“We shall see soon enough.” Cassandra shouted as they reached the top. As they started to approach the entrance, Cat pulled at Cassandra’s arm.

“Wait, there is something there.” A flash of the tunnel filled Cat’s mind.

Three demons inside. 2 wraiths and a shade. Why does this feel like a memory?

“There are two wraiths and a shade inside, you need to be careful.” Cat looked to the three adults. Cassandra looked slightly concerned, but resigned, nodding her acknowledgement. Varric just shook his head and readied Bianca. Solas looked thoughtful.

The three adults moved inside and sure enough, the three demons were waiting. Forewarned, they made quick work of them.

“That is a pretty useful talent, Cat.” Varric said, swinging Bianca to his back.

“I guess. I just wish I understood why I know these things.” Cat said with a sigh. They made their way through the mine.

“We will have to study it later. I am quite curious about it myself.” Solas said. “Do you receive visions?”

Cat thought for a few minutes.

How do I even describe it?

“Sometimes. It’s like I see what is going to happen. But other things I just seem to know, with no prompting, like I’ve always know them.” She frowned. “It is a strange feeling.” A flash of vision or memory hit her. “Like now, there are more demons ahead. 3 shades and 2 wraiths.” The adults nodded and moved forward, motioning for her to hang back. As they fought, Cat considered.

Can I control this? Can I trigger the knowledge/visions?   

Cat focused her mind, thinking of the path they would go down or at least trying to. Nothing seemed to happen.

The 3 fighters took care of the demons quickly. Again, warned of the danger, they managed to avoid any injuries themselves.

“Are there anymore demons in the tunnels?” Cassandra asked.

“No, I don’t think so.” Cat replied.

I hope not.

The group moved onwards, exiting the mine. Right outside, they found 3 corpses.

Varric gave out a sigh. “Guess we found the soldiers.”

“That cannot be all of them.” Cassandra said. “She said that some still lived.”

“So, the others could be holed up ahead?” Varric asked.

“Our priority must be the Breach. Unless we seal it soon, no one is safe.” Solas replied.

“I’m leaving that to the kid with the glowing hand.” Varric said.

Cat felt another vision. “We need to hurry, they are just up ahead and there is a rift.” With that announcement, the group hurried on. Soon they saw the rift and 4 soldiers fighting off the demons. The adults joined the fray.

“Lady Cassandra!” One of them exclaimed, after the last demon fell.

“You’re alive!”

“Just barely.” At the soldier’s word, the rift flared and two demons spawned. They were tall and spindly, with twisted faces.

Terror demons.

The fighters started attacking. One of the demons crouched to the ground and then it disappeared.

Where did it go?  

Cat thought, just as it reappeared in front of her, knocking her to the ground. Blind panic filled her as she stared up at its horrifying visage. Her heart started racing and she couldn’t move away. She saw it raising its clawed hand up and preparing to strike, when a crossbow bolt ripped through its chest and a fireball engulfed its body. It gave out a scream and crumpled to the ground, disintegrating.

“You okay, kid?” Cat looked up to see Varric.

You are fine. It was just the demon. You can do this.

Cat willed her thumping heart to calm and nodded. She stood and approached the rift, lifting her hand as before. She managed to only slightly grimace at the pain and then closed it.

“Sealed, as before. You are becoming quite proficient at this.” Solas said, a warmth to his voice.

“Let’s hope it works on the big one.” Varric said.

Cassandra was helping a soldier to their feet.

“Thank the Maker you finally arrived, Lady Cassandra. I don’t think we could have held out much longer.” The soldier who spoke before said.

“Thank our prisoner, Lieutenant. She insisted we come this way.”

“The prisoner? Then you..?” The four soldiers turned to stare at Cat.

“We couldn’t abandon you.” Cat said, uncomfortable with the attention.

“Then you have my sincere gratitude.” The soldier gave a salute, which the other three quickly followed.

“The way into the valley behind us is clear for the moment. Go, while you still can.” Cassandra ordered.

“At once.” The soldier looked to the others. “Quickly, let’s move!”

“The path ahead appears to be clear of demons as well. Do you agree, da’len?” Solas said.

Cat thought a moment and then nodded.

“Let’s hurry, before that changes.” Cassandra said, sheathing her sword. “Down the ladder. That’s the way to the temple.”

Cassandra took the lead again and Cat approached the edge.

This is very, very high.

Noticing Cat’s panicked look, Cassandra motioned her to the ladder. “Come here, you can climb down with me.” Cat nodded and joined Cassandra there, her small frame fitting between the ladder and Cassandra. Together, they slowly made their way down.

Don’t look down. Don’t look down. Just breath.

They finally reached the bottom and Cat gave out a sigh of relief. Cassandra gave her a gruff pat on her shoulder.

“So…holes in the fade don’t just accidentally happen, right?” Varric asked.

“If enough magic is brought to hear, it is possible.” Solas said.

“But there are easier ways to make things explode.”

“That is true.”

“Why would anyone want to explode the temple or cause a hole in the veil?” Cat asked, looking up at the Breach.

“I’ll have to tell you about an old friend of mine from Kirkwall who…” Varric started.

Cassandra interrupted him. “We will consider how and why this happened once the immediate danger is past.” At Cassandra’s words, the group fell silent and made it the rest of the way down the mountain.

It wasn’t long before the group made it to the blackened ruins.

“The Temple of Sacred Ashes.” Solas said.

“What’s left of it.” Varric remarked.

“That is where you walked out of the Fade and our soldiers found you. They said a woman was in the rift behind you. No one knows who she was.” Cassandra said.

Cat surveyed the scene, her stomach clenching.

How did I survive this?

She took a step and something crunched beneath her foot. She looked down and saw a charred bone, crumbling underneath her foot. Her eyes moved to look away, but they fell on a pair of crumpled blackened figures, seemingly huddled together. She noticed more and more bodies.

All those people…

Her hand flew to her mouth and she didn’t know at first whether to scream or throw-up. Her stomach decided for her. She barely made it to a low wall before she was retching. She didn’t have much of anything in her stomach, but what was there was soon on the ground. She felt cool fingers coming to rest on her back.

“I am sorry, da’len. We should have warned you. You should not have had to see this.” Solas said, gently rubbing her back. “Take deep breaths.” Cat focused on her breathing.

“Poor kid.” Cat heard Varric say under his breath. A waterskin appeared in front of her. “Here, take a drink.”

Cat took a swig and soon started gulping it down. She hadn’t realized how thirsty she was. “Slow down, kid. You are just going to make yourself sick.” Varric cautioned. She took a final drink, a deep breath, and then handed the waterskin back to Varric.

“Thank you. I’ll be okay.” Cat rose up, still a little shaky. “We should move on. The Breach won’t close itself.” She gave the adults a thin grin.

The group makes their way through the temple, Varric and Solas moving to flank Cat, mostly blocking her view of the destruction.

A voice calls out. “You’re here! Thank the Maker!” The group turned to see Leliana approaching with several soldiers, including Kaaras, Mahonan, and Ylsa. And a tall, blond-haired man. Cat ran up to them.

“You didn’t die!” She threw her small arms around them, managing to pull Mahonan and Ylsa down together.

“What about Kaaras, little bit? He might feel left out and he is the one who’s injured.” Mahonan said, picking up on Kaaras's nickname for Cat.

Cat pulled back from the two elves and quickly moved to Kaaras. “WHAT! How bad is it? Do you need a potion? I have potions!” She was checking him over, finding a hastily bandaged gash on his right arm.

Kaaras gave out a chuckle. “I’m fine, little bit, it’s just a scratch.” She narrowed her eyes at him and checked herself. It didn’t seem to be bleeding too badly. Seeing that he wasn’t near death’s door, she hugged him as well. As she hugged him, she got a closer look at the armored man with them. He was wearing a fluffy red cloak thing. He had dark circles under his eyes and his face seemed worn.

Cullen. Commander Cullen Stanton Rutherford. He isn’t looking too well.

Before Cat could say anything, Cassandra spoke. “Leliana, have your men take up positions around the temple. Cullen, have your men provide back-up.” Leliana and Cullen moved to talk with their people. Cassandra looked down at Cat. “This is your chance to end this. Are you ready?”

Cat moved back from Kaaras and nodded, looking up at the Breach.

“I’ll try, I’m not sure how to reach it, but I will try. It has to work.” Cat said.

“This rift was the first and is the key. Seal it, and perhaps we seal the Breach.” Solas said, motioning to the large rift below the Breach.

“Then let’s find a way down. And be careful.” Cassandra said. The group moved around, looking for a way down.

The air started to shift a bit in front of Cat.

What is this?

A voice rang out. “Now is the hour of our victory. Bring forth the sacrifice.” Cat felt a shiver go up her spine.

“What are we hearing?” Cassandra asked.

“At a guess: the person who created the Breach.” Solas said. They continued on, archers breaking off to get into position.

Before the group, glowing red rocks sprung up. Cat edged around them, feeling sick and sensing a thrumming in her head.

Red lyrium.

“You know this stuff is red lyrium, Seeker.” Varric said.

“I see it, Varric.”

“But what’s it doing here?”

“Magic could have drawn on lyrium beneath the temple, corrupted it…” Solas extrapolated.

Varric made a disgusted noise. “It’s evil. Whatever you do, don’t touch the stuff.”

 They group didn’t go far before the voice spoke again. “Keep the sacrifice still.”

Another voice called out. “Someone help me!”

The voices sound familiar.

“That is Divine Justinia’s voice!” Cassandra exclaimed.

The group made their way down the steps and then jumped the rest of the way into the pit.

“Someone help me!” Justinia’s voice called out again.

“Let go of her, you freak!” A small angry voice yelled back.

My voice.

“That was your voice. Most Holy called out to you. But…” Cassandra said.

As they approach the rift, the mark on Cat’s hand flared and the air shifted and there was a flash of light. Ghostly images appear, playing out a scene. A shadowed figure with red eyes loomed above, while Justinia was held up with red glowing magic.

“Let go of her, you freak!” Cat’s ghostly image yelled.

Is that what I look like? 

“Go! Run while you can!” Justinia yelled.

“We have an intruder, slay the elf.” The shadowed figure ordered, before there was another flash of light and the scene faded.

“You were there! Who attacked? And the Divine, is she…? Was this vision true? What are we seeing?” Cassandra asked.

“I don’t remember!” Cat said, frustrated.

Why can’t I remember? I was clearly there.

“Echoes of what happened here. The Fade bleeds into this place.” Solas observed. “The rift is not sealed, but it is closed…albeit temporarily. I believe with the mark, the rift can be opened and then sealed properly and safely. However, opening the rift will likely attract attention from the other side.”

“That means demons. Stand ready!” Cassandra yelled out her order. The soldiers prepared themselves, bracing for the fight.

Cat moved to Solas. “How do I open it?”

“Just try doing what you did before, but think of opening. I can help, if you need, da’len.” Cat nodded and moved to raise her hand up, when another vision flashed in her mind. She lowered her hand and turned to the group.

“Watch out. There is going to be a really big Pride demon, as well as some shades.” She said grimly. As her words took hold, Kaaras moved to her side, the rest of the group tensing up.

“Stay close to Solas and I, little bit.” Cat gave him a tired smile and reached her hand back up. The energy built up, connecting with the rift.

Open. Open up.

She felt a pulse and a flash of green light. A hulking form burst from the rift. A pride demon.

Cassandra raised her sword and shouted out the command, “Now!” Arrows flew and the melee fighters charged. Cat stuck with Solas, who was slinging spells at the demon, while Kaaras guarded her back, on the lookout for other threats. It was soon evident that the demon was not taking the damage it should be.

“We must strip its defenses! Wear it down!” Cassandra shouted.

You know what to do. Disrupt the rift. It will weaken it, for a bit.

Cat moved closer to the rift, eying the demon as it flung a soldier away from it. She lifted her hand and tried to close the rift. It didn’t close, but it shifted, throwing the demon to its knees.

“The demon is vulnerable – now!” Cassandra ordered, attacking the demon with new vigor.

After a few moments, the rift shifted again and several shades poured through. One came up behind Cassandra. Time seemed to freeze. Cat had moved away from Solas and Kaaras was too far away to help, keeping a shade off of Cat. Everyone else was distracted. It was going to hit Cassandra completely unawares.

NO!

Cat felt the panic building inside and she felt something else. It pulsed like the mark, but different, more familiar in a way. She reached inside for the energy and let out a scream. Her right arm extended and a fireball arched out and slammed into the shade behind Cassandra, throwing it off. Solas noticed and sent a bolt of lightning its way, ending the demon. He gave the briefest of nods to Cat before focusing on the bigger demon again. The feeling of relief filled Cat. And then wonder.

I did magic!

Cat refocused and managed to disrupt the rift again, giving the rest of the party time to defeat the demon.

“Now! Seal the rift!” Cassandra yelled.

Cat raised her hand, feeling the energy connect with the rift. This hurt more than the other. She grimaced, focusing on the pain. Solas drew nearer, steadying her. She felt a flash of vision.

I’ll be out for three days. And this is going to hurt. It won’t close it, but it will stabilize it. It will buy us time.

As the energy built up, pulling her in and straining her body, she felt her limit being reached. She muttered through gritted teeth to Solas and Kaaras, the only ones close enough, “See you in three days.” With that she pulled her hand back and the effort threw her back against the wall. She felt the burst of pain and then nothing.

Chapter Text

Cat slowly came to consciousness, the fuzziness of her dreamless sleep drifting off. As she gained a sense of herself again, she jerked awake, sitting straight up.

I was at the temple and I used the mark. There was pain. Where am I now? Is everyone okay?

Her eyes took in the room she was in. An elven woman was standing near the foot of the bed and jumped, dropping the box she was carrying.

“Oh! I didn’t realize you were awake, I swear!” The woman exclaimed.

“It’s okay, I just woke up. Do you…?” Cat started to ask, but then the woman dropped to her knees.

“I beg your forgiveness and your blessing. I am but a humble servant. You’re back in Haven, my lady. They say you saved us. The breach stopped growing, just like the mark on your hand. It’s all anyone has talked about for the last three days!”

Three days. Just as I thought.

Cat took a moment to look at the woman. She had brown hair and eyes, though she was barely willing to meet Cat’s gaze for more than a second.

“So, we are safe for now.” Cat said, relief in her voice.

“I’m only saying what I heard. I don’t mean anything by it.” The woman got up, still keeping a subservient posture. “I’m sure Lady Cassandra will want to know you’ve wakened. She said ‘at once’!”

“Of course. Where is she?”

“In the Chantry with the Lord Chancellor. ‘At once,’ she said!” With that the elf woman fled the cabin.

I didn’t even get the woman’s name. I will have to ask later.

Cat took a few minutes to explore the cabin. She found a set of clothes laid out for her on the end of the bed. She was currently wearing a wool nightgown. She quickly changed into the pants and shirt that were left for her. She pulled on the thick socks and laced up her boots. Her cloak had been cleaned, but it was hers. She pulled that on as well. She poked around the room a bit more, but there wasn’t much of interest. There were some notes on the table, but she couldn’t read them, which surprised her.

I thought I knew how to read…I guess I should go find Cassandra and then check in on the others.

Thus resolved, she opened the door. She almost closed it, after seeing the sight in front of the cabin. Soldiers lined the path and there were people all around. When she opened the door, the soldiers saluted, fists to their chest, and the others stared. It was unnerving, to say the least.

A woman was standing guard right outside the door. She had long brown hair and blue eyes, with a tattoo under her left eyes. She had a bow slung across her back.

“When you are ready, I can take you to the Chantry, my lady.” The woman said.

Her voice is familiar, but I don’t remember her.

“Okay, yes. I am ready to go.” Cat said. The woman nodded and led her through the crowd. As they made their way through the village, the people gossiped, some calling out to Cat in reverence. The tone was very different from the last time she had walked through town.

“That’s her. That’s the Herald of Andraste. They said when she came out of the Fade, Andraste herself was watching over her.” A man said.

“Hush! We shouldn’t disturb her.” A woman replied.

“Why did Lady Cassandra have her in the dungeon? I thought Seekers knew everything.”

“It’s complicated. We were all frightened after the explosion at the Conclave.”

“It isn’t complicated. Andraste herself blessed her.” The man concluded. The pair noticed Cat watching them and they bowed slightly.

“Maker be with you.” The man said.

“Blessings upon you, Herald of Andraste.” The woman said.

Cat heard others talking as well, saying she sealed the breach, but didn’t close it. More calling her the Herald of Andraste.

Should I know who Andraste is?

Memories started forming in Cat’s mind. Things she didn’t realize she knew.

Wait, she is the bride of the Maker. And the Maker is the god of the Chantry. Chant of Light. Who the Divine was the head of, right.

But how does that make me her herald? Wait, who is my guide. I should ask.

“Thank you for leading me to the Chantry. May I ask your name?” Cat asked, looking up at the human woman.

“Of course, it is my pleasure, my lady. My name is Evelyn Trevelyan. You may call me Evie if you wish, my lady.”

“Why do you call me ‘my lady’? I’m just a girl.” Cat asked.

Evie paused, her face serious. “Because you were sent by the Maker to help us and I say it as a sign of respect. Would you prefer I call you something else?”

“My name is Cat Bell. I don’t particularly feel like a lady. Could you just call me Cat?”

“Yes, my lad…Cat, I can do that.” Evie said. They entered the Chantry. As they approached the back, they heard loud voices.

“Have you gone completely mad? She should be taken to Val Royeaux immediately, to be tried by whomever becomes the Divine.” Chancellor Roderick exclaimed.

“I do not believe she is guilty.” Cassandra responded.

“The elf girl failed, Seeker. The Breach is still in the sky. For all you know, her people intended it this way.”

“I do not believe that.” Cassandra said.

“That is not for you to decide. Your duty is to serve the Chantry.”

“My duty is to serve the principles on which the Chantry was founded, Chancellor. As is yours. I do not see those principles being served by sending the child to Val Royeaux.”

Evie and Cat reached the door.

“I guess I should go in.” Cat said, hesitating.

“Don’t worry. Seeker Cassandra won’t let anything happen. I will wait outside, my la…Cat.” Evie said, taking a position by the door. Cat gave her a small smile and walked into the room. There was a large table in the center, with a large map laid across. There were torches along the wall, but the room was still dimly lit. Cat saw the Chancellor and Cassandra as she entered, as well as Leliana as in the shadows.

“Chain her, I want her prepared for travel to the capital for trial.” Chancellor demanded, motioning to the two soldiers at the door.

“Disregard that and leave us.” Cassandra counter-ordered. The guards saluted and left.

“You walk a dangerous line, Seeker.” The Chancellor warned.

“The Breach is stable, but it is still a threat. I will not ignore it.”

“I tried to close it. I guess I didn’t have enough power to close it. I don’t know what else I could have done.” Cat said.

“You have done plenty. Your actions will be taken into account by the new Divine.” Chancellor Roderick said.

“Have a care, Chancellor. The Breach is not the only threat we face.” Cassandra said through clenched teeth.

Leliana finally spoke up, “Someone was behind the explosion at the Conclave. Someone Most Holy did not expect. Perhaps they died with the others – or have allies who yet live.” Her eyes darted to the Chancellor.

I am a suspect?” He said incredulously.

“You, and many others.”

“But not the prisoner.”

“I heard the voices in the temple. The Divine called to her for help.” Cassandra stated.

“And really, Chancellor, do you believe that this elven child was the mastermind behind the Breach?” Leliana asked.

“So her survival, that thing on her hand – all a coincidence?”

“Providence. The Maker sent her to us in our darkest hour.” Cassandra said with conviction.

“Are you sure the Maker sent me? Would send me?” Cat asked.

That doesn’t sound right, but then I can’t really remember, so what do I know?

“The Maker does as he wills. It is not for me to say. Humans are not the only people with an interest in the fate of the world. And as for your age, again, the Maker does as he wills. We must trust in his wisdom.”

“The Breach remains and your mark is our only hope of closing it.” Leliana said.

“This is not for you to decide.” Roderick responded.

I really do not like that man and I think the feeling is mutual.

Cassandra picked up a book from a desk and slammed it onto the center of the table.

“You know what this is, Chancellor? A writ from the Divine, granting us authority to act. As of this moment, I declare the Inquisition reborn.” Cassandra said. Then she suddenly advanced on the Chancellor, poking him in the chest as she continued, “We will close the Breach, we will find those responsible, and we will restore order with or without your approval.”

Roderick straightens his robes and left in a huff.

“This is the Divine’s directive: Rebuild the inquisition of old. Find those who will stand against the chaos. We aren’t ready. We have no leader, no numbers, and now no Chantry support.” Leliana stated, but there was no trepidation in her voice.

“But we have no choice: We must act now. With you at our side.” Cassandra said, turning to face Cat.

An inquisition? I can help, I think. I can close rifts and Cassandra can lead. That will work. There was a lot of chaos and I feel…I know I can trust Cassandra and Leliana. I feel like this is the right path.

“I want to help close the breach. To bring peace, if possible.” Cat said.

“That is the plan.” Leliana said.

“Help us fix this before it’s too late.” Cassandra put her hand out, waiting for Cat.

I am doing this.

With a look of determination, Cat grasped Cassandra’s hand and shook it.

I hope they know what they are doing. Cause I sure don’t.

**

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. Cassandra and Leliana went over some of the details with Cat, but she was soon fading. Leliana noted Cat almost falling asleep at the table and summoned Evie in to escort her back to her cabin. Cat barely made it inside before she passed out again.

I guess attempting to close the Breach took more out of me than I realized.

The next morning, Cat was woken by the smell of food. She jolted awake, her stomach growling.

When was the last time I ate?

The same elven woman was at the desk, arranging a plate and glass, as well as a small wooden vase with some flowers.

“Oh, good, I was going to wake you. Lady Cassandra said to wake you and make sure you ate, my lady.” The woman dipped into a bow, keeping her head down.

“Thank you. You don’t have to bow to me, you know. I’m just a girl.” Cat said, getting up from the bed. She was in the wool nightgown again.

I don’t remember changing. I need to stop passing out.

“My lady, you are the Herald of Andraste and I am just a simple servant.”

“Well, my name is Cat and I could use a friend. You never told me your name.”

“Oh, my lady, I apologize. My name is Lena.” She shifted nervously. “I will leave you to your breakfast. I was told to inform Lady Cassandra and the others when you woke up.” Giving another bow, she fled, again, leaving Cat alone.

Sigh. I need to work on that. I hope not everyone reacts that way.

Cat’s stomach growls again and she made her way to the desk. There were several sausages, some eggs, and couple biscuits on the plate. The biscuits had honey drizzled on them. The glass was empty, but there was a full pitcher of water. Cat dug into the food.

This tastes amazing! When was the last time I ate?

She forced herself to eat slowly and enjoy the food. By the time she was done, all the water was gone and the plate was scrapped clean.

She found another outfit set out for her. This one was different though. There were layers and the coat was leather, more like armor.

Where do I even start?

As luck would have it, Lena returned to pick up the tray.

“Lena, could…would you help me, please? If you have time?” Cat asked, embarrassed.

“Oh, of course, my lady!” Lena quickly took care of things, helping Cat into the dark leggings and dark undershirt, and then the deep green dyed leather coat. The coat didn’t have sleeves, but it was long, reaching past Cat’s knees. Cat’s boots had been replaced with black leather ones that laced up to her mid-calf. A pair of matching green leather bracers were laced up to her elbow.

“Would you like me to braid your hair, my lady?” Lena asked timidly.

“If you wouldn’t mind, thank you.” Cat said, sitting on the bed with her back to Lena. Lena used deft fingers to untangle the knots in her hair and soon her hair was pulled back into a tight braid that reached her lower back.

“You should be all set, my lady. Do you need anything else?”

“No, thank you, Lena. Do you know where I am supposed to go?” Cat asked. The new clothes fit well, although it felt a little strange.

“There is a woman waiting outside to take you where you are needed.” Lena bowed again. “I should take my leave, my lady.”

Lena hurried out as Cat said, “Thank you again, Lena!”

Cat made her way out the door. She was expecting to find Evie there, but instead, a dwarven woman stood there. She had dark red hair and brown eyes, freckles covering her face. She had a tattoo on her right cheek and daggers strapped to her side. She gave Cat an appraising look and then nodded, as if judging what she saw.

“Hello, are you the one who is going to lead me to Cassandra?” Cat asked.

At least there aren’t people lined outside to see me this time.

“I’m Cat, by the way.”

“Name’s Malika Cadash. And yes, I am to escort you to the Chantry.” The woman said and did not elaborate further, just started to lead the way. Cat hurried to follow. Even though the woman was only a few inches taller than herself, she set a fast pace. Half-way to the Chantry, Cat caught sight of a large figure.

“Kaaras!” She ran up to him and hugged him.

“Hey little bit, good to see you awake. You had us worried.” He returned the hug. “You are needed at the Chantry, but come find me later.” He gave her another quick squeeze, then waved her on. “Take care of her, Cadash.” He said, as an order. Malika just nodded.  

Feeling better knowing that at least one person she knew was around, she followed Malika the rest of the way. Cassandra and Leliana stood in front of the Chantry, as well as a dark featured woman in fancy clothes and the commander. A crowd was gathering of soldiers and villagers. Cat noticed two soldiers on the roof of the Chantry, putting up something.  

“Good, you are here. Please join us.” Cassandra said. Cat moved beside them. Malika hung back, merging with the crowd. Cassandra moved forward to address the crowd, looking authoritative and only a little uncomfortable.  

“Thank you for joining us today. Many of you already know, but the inquisition of old is to be reformed. The Herald of Andraste will join us and together, we will close the Breach and restore order to Thedas. Thus, we declare today, on the 5th of Guardian, 9:41 Dragon, by writ of Divine Justinia V, the Inquisition reborn!” As she finished her announcement, the soldiers on the roof unfurled a banner. It was red and decorated with an eye/sun/sword design.

That was dramatic. Oh no, people are staring at me again.

A cheer went up from the crowd. People shouting blessings on the inquisition and the Herald. There was hope in their eyes.  

What have I gotten myself into?

**

After a seemingly endless line of well-wishers, Cat was finally free to retreat to the Chantry with Cassandra. Leliana, Cullen, and the fancy woman had slipped away in the celebration. There were some bright spots to the madness. Cat saw Mahonan and Ylsa, as well as Evie and Malika. She saw Solas and Varric in the distance, but they didn’t join the crowd itself.

Once inside, Cat let out a sigh and rubbed at her left palm.

“Does it trouble you?” Cassandra asked.

“I just wish I knew what it was. Or how I got it.” Cat replied, letting her hand fall to the side.

“We will find out.” Cassandra said, striding forward. “What’s important is that your mark is now stable, as is the Breach. You’ve given us time, and Solas believes that a second attempt might succeed – provided the mark has more power. The same level of power used to open the Breach in the first place. That is not easy to come by.”

“Do you have a plan?” Cat asked, curiously.

“We do.”

Cassandra opened the door into the back room, waiting for Cat to enter. As she entered, she saw that Leliana, the Commander, and the fancy woman were waiting for them.

“May I present Commander Cullen, leader of the Inquisition forces.”

“Such as they are. We lost many soldiers in the valley, and I fear many more before this is through.” The commander said. He still looked pale and worn, but better than he had looked at the temple. He gave Cat a small smile and bow.

“This is Lady Josephine Montilyet, our ambassador and chief diplomat.”

“Andaran Atish’an.” Josephine said with a curtsy.

Wow. She is really pretty up close. Was that elven? I think it was.

“You speak elven?” Cat asked.

“You’ve just heard the entirety of it, I’m afraid.”

“And of course you know Sister Leliana.” Cassandra said.

“My position here involves a degree of…”

“She is our spymaster.” Cassandra cut in.

“Yes. Tactfully put, Cassandra.” Leliana said, slightly exasperated.

Cat gave a tiny curtsy, trying to emulate Josephine. “Please to meet you all.” This garnered a smile from Josephine.

“I mentioned that your mark needs more power to close the Breach for good.” Cassandra said, moving up to the table.

“Which means we must approach the rebel mages for help.” Leliana said, pointing to a spot on the map.

The map looks familiar, but I can’t read any of the names. Curious.

“And I still disagree. The Templars could serve just as well.” Cullen countered.

Cassandra said, “We need power, Commander. Enough magic poured into that mark–”

Cullen cut-in, “Might destroy us all. Templars could suppress the breach, weaken it so–”

Leliana cut him off, “Pure speculation.”

Cullen: “I was a Templar. I know what they’re capable of.”

Cullen was a templar?

A vision rocked Cat. Images of a man in a magic cage. A man that looked like the Commander. Younger, but it was definitely him. And he was in pain. Another flash and he was in full templar armor, near some giant and ugly statues.

Kinloch. Kirkwall. Lyrium…

Cat attention snapped back as Josephine addressed her, “Unfortunately, neither group will even speak to us yet. The Chantry has denounced the Inquisition – and you, specifically.”

“They still think I’m responsible?” Cat asked, still shaking the visions off.

“That is not the entirety of it any longer.” Josephine said, picking up a board with a candle in it. She started making some notes. “Some are calling you – an elven child – the ‘Herald of Andraste.’ That frightens the Chantry. The remaining Clerics have declared it blasphemy, and we heretics for harboring you.”

 “Chancellor Roderick’s doing, no doubt.” Cassandra said in disgust.

I see I am not the only one who doesn’t like him.

“It limits our options. Approaching the mages or templars for help is currently out of the question.” Josephine said.

“Can I ask how I am the Herald of Andraste?”

Cassandra answered, “People saw what you did at the temple, how you stopped the Breach from growing. They have also heard about the woman seen in the rift when we first found you. They believe that was Andraste.”

Leliana started, “Even if we tried to stop that view from spreading–”

“Which we have not.” Cassandra clarified.

“The point is, everyone is talking about you.” Leliana finished.

“It’s quite the title, isn’t it? How do you feel about that?” Cullen asked.

“I’m not sure how I should feel.” Cat thought. “I have no memory of meeting Andraste, but then I don’t have many memories at all.”

“The Chantry has decided that for you, it seems.” Cullen said, with a bit of a rueful chuckle.

“People are desperate for a sign of hope. For some, you’re that sign.” Leliana said.

She sounds detached. Colder than I think she should be.

“And to others, a symbol of everything that’s gone wrong.” Josephine said.

“They aren’t more concerned about the Breach? The giant threatening hole in the sky?” Cat asked.

“They do know that it is a threat, they just don’t think we can stop it.” Cullen said.

“The Chantry is telling everyone that you’ll make it worse.” Josephine said.

“There is something you can do. A Chantry cleric by the name Mother Giselle has asked to speak to you. She is not far, and knows those involved far better than I. Her assistance could be invaluable.” Leliana said, picking up a missive. “You will not go alone, of course. Cassandra will accompany you and there are a few others who have volunteered.”

“I guess it can’t hurt to meet with her.” Cat said.

“You’ll find Mother Giselle tending to the wounded in the Hinterlands near Redcliffe. We will prepare a party to set out in a couple weeks, after my scouts have gotten a foothold in the region. There are a few reports already of rebel mages and templars in the area and we don’t want to send you in unprepared.” Leliana explained.

“Look for other opportunities to expand the Inquisition’s influence while you’re there.” Cullen said, more to Cassandra than to Cat.

“We need agents to extend our reach beyond this valley, and you’re better suited than anyone to recruit them.” Josephine directed this at Cat, giving her an encouraging smile.

Sure, no pressure or anything.

“In the meantime, let’s think of other options. I won’t leave this all to the Herald.” Cassandra said.

Bless you, Cassandra, I knew there was a reason I liked you.

“Now, there is the matter of your visions.” Leliana said, looking up from her notes.

“Visions?” Cullen asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“The Herald has had a number of visions of the future and has expressed knowledge that she should have no way of knowing. We do not know what is causing it. It may be connected to the mark, but Solas is unconvinced the two things are connected.” Cassandra said.

Cullen looked skeptical. “Truly?”

“We would not have brought it up if we thought it was simple tricks.” Leliana said.

“How strange!” Josephine said, making a note. “Do you think she is a Rivaini Seer?”

“We considered it, but no one from Rivain came to the conclave, except a few templars. And her accent is not Rivaini.” Leliana said.

“I have trouble believing this.” Cullen said.

Wait, he doesn’t believe me OR Cassandra and Leliana?

“I’m not making it up! I don’t understand it, but I’m not trying to fool you.” Cat said, indignantly.

“Perhaps a demonstration?” Josephine inquired, ever the diplomat.

“I can’t control it…” Cat looked at Cullen’s disbelieving face. “But I can try.”

She approached Cullen. “Would you give me your hand, Commander?” She asked, shyly.

“I don’t think this is-“ He started.

“You are the one questioning it, Cullen.” Leliana interrupted. “We have already seen proof of her…abilities.”

Cullen sighed. “Very well.” He held his hand out to Cat and she grasped it, closing her eyes.

Okay, focus on what you saw before. His name is Cullen Stanton Rutherford. He is from Honnleath. He has 3 siblings. He was at Kinloch Circle. Bad things happened. He fell in love there with a woman…an elven woman named…Surana. Sybil Surana. After the bad stuff, he went to Kirkwall and more bad things happened. He does NOT trust magic. Will he trust me?

Cat took a deep breath and opened her eyes, looking up at Cullen. “Your name is Cullen Stanton Rutherford. You are from the Ferelden village of Honnleath and have 3 siblings. You first served as a templar at Kinloch, before going to Kirkwall.” He looked shocked. She pulled him down in his confusion and whispered to him. “You were in love with Sybil Surana, before the bad things happened.” He reeled back, his hand going for his sword. His face paled.

“How do you know THAT!?” He all but yelled.

Cat took a step back, not able to keep a frightened look from her face. “I don’t know! I just do!”

“Commander, control yourself!” Cassandra ordered as he started to draw his sword. “We asked her for a demonstration.”

“How does she know these things? Is she possessed?” Cullen asked, his hand still on the hilt of his weapon.

“We already checked. As far as the templars and mages can find, she is simply a mage child.” Leliana spoke up, her eyes darting between the young Herald and Cullen.

“Yes, that was quite impressive.” Josephine said, trying to calm the situation.

“Solas is going to investigate her abilities, as well as her loss of memories.” Cassandra said.

“He will also start training her in her magic, until another tutor can be found.” Leliana said, more to Cullen than Cat. “It is important she learns to control her abilities. All of her abilities.”

Cullen still looked pale, but was composing himself. “Of course.” He turned to Cat. “I…apologize if I scared you. You surprised me. There should be no way for you to know those things about me.”

“I apologize, too. I didn’t mean to frighten you, Commander. I just wanted you to believe me. I won’t tell anyone else what I saw.” Cat said, looking down at the ground.

“Maker, what did she see…” Cullen said under his breath.

“Now that we have that addressed, there is the matter of your lessons.” Leliana said.

Cat turned to Leliana. “Lessons?”

“You will be representing the inquisition. The fact that you are so young will of course be taken into consideration, but there are still many things you should know.” Josephine explained. “Leliana already mentioned that you will learn about magic with Solas. You will have lessons on nobility, history, and courtly manners with me for now. Cullen will assess your riding abilities and teach you as needed.” She picked up a book from the table. “I picked out this book to start with. Brother Genitivi is a good place to start in terms of history and politics.” She handed the book to Cat.

Cat stared at it, flipping it open. The runic looking letters ran across the pages.

Yup, still can’t read this.

“Um, I can’t read this.” Cat said, embarrassed.

“Oh! We should have realized that you might not have learned. I apologize.” She thought for a moment, tapping the end of her pen to her chin. “I will ask Master Tethras if he is willing to teach you.” She made another note. “Who better than the famed author to teach you to read and write in the common trade tongue?” She noticed Cat’s downcast face. “It is nothing to be ashamed of, Mistress Bell, and it is easily remedied.”

“I think that is all for now. We have a few more things to discuss, but you are free to go, Herald.” Cassandra said. “Kaaras should be waiting for you outside of the Chantry. If he is not, come back here. We don’t want you walking around Haven unaccompanied.”

“Please come see me later. I would like to discuss what you remember and see if we can find your family.” Leliana requested.

“Okay, thank you and I will.” Cat gave another curtsy and left. She closed the door behind her and leaned against the wall, her heart pounding.

Talk to a Mother, learn magic, learn to read and write, close the breach. This is so much! I am just one kid!