"Left. Left. Left! Go left dammit!" It didn't appear to help any as she turned right and completely ignored me. I had thought that perhaps she just hadn't heard me, but considering this is the fourth time it had happened, I was pretty certain she was ignoring me. Not that I could really blame her, of course. What would that mean if she did do as I said? (She'd be crazy.) What would happen if she listened to me? (Avoid getting smacked in the face by a 2x4 wooden pole. Ouch! Looked painful!) What if she talked back at me, to at least tell me to shut it? (She'd look crazy. She didn't want that. Not too much, anyway. Not yet.)
Cries of "Herald!", "Oi!", "Watch it!", "Shit!" were heard from around us. People converged on us like flies on crap. Someone's hands were on the Herald, helping her up, helping- steadying her. Her hands flitted up to her face and came away bloody. A groan later and she was dropping again. Even more cries went up around us. Another hand gripped her arm and, more or less, dragged her to the Healer's cabin. Without much choice, I went along too.
Whoever this guy was, he was strong. Manhandling the Herald with just one hand on one arm? Definitely got my respect! And maybe a bit of fear, too. If he could handle her with just one hand, what could he do to me? At least he had nice hands. Ohhh, he even held open the door! Impressive anyone could do that while manhandling another person! Although... was that a fur cloak? Maybe he's just a weirdo, I shuddered.
I didn't pay any attention to what the cloaked man, the healer, and the Herald were saying. Well, I listened to the Herald, but that wasn't really by my choice. I just happened to be really close- probably closer than anyone else had ever gotten before. 'Cept maybe that one boy, but I hadn't seen him after that first day. Which was sad. He could see me. He could hear me. That had been really nice. I, actually, really missed it- him.
That cute cinnamon bun should come back. We could make tons of inside jokes! "Heehee!" I actually giggled.
"Shut up!" The Herald, finally, hissed at me.
"Make me." I toothily grinned at her.
All I got in response was a low growl, low enough not even the Healer could hear it. Of course, this could be all happening inside, but meh. It was more fun thinking the human Healer just couldn't hear what was happening in his cabin right under his nose. Quite literally. He was hovering over the Herald, checking her head wound, and kept making those clicking noises with his tongue. Almost like a tsk tsk my second mother used to make whenever I did something wrong. This Healer man looked severe enough to become my third mother- would he be alright with me adopting him as another mother? He's definitely mother hen enough. While he continued to check on the Herald's health, I realized the Herald had gotten the silence she had wanted as I became lost in my thoughts. I had no idea if she could even hear my thoughts and it was a continuous thing of ignoring me or if she could not hear them and my thoughts were my own to keep. It was unfortunate if the former and rather fortunate if the latter. I was hoping for the latter. There was no indication for the former, at the least.
"And done! Good as right, Herald!" The Healer announced. "Solas insists on checking your head himself, the daft elf. Can't he even trust the word of a human?" The last part of that was mumbled to himself, but we heard anyway. Elf ears were obnoxious in that way. It was possible Solas the elf even heard it. It seemed his ears were even more sensitive than ours.
Judging by the scowl on Solas's face when he entered the cabin, I'd venture a guess that, yes, he had heard. I beamed at him. I was pretty sure he had no idea I was even here, but it made the Herald more pleasant to be around whenever Solas was near than not. Pavlov conditioning at its finest. Let's see if the Herald becomes pleased whenever he's near when I don't beam at him... At least, it'll be entertaining for me.
Solas placed his hands on either side of the Herald's head- thumbs on either temple- and concentrated. His magic delved into the Herald and then fluctuated.
Solas made the Herald uncomfortable. Not quite to the same extent that Templars did, but similar enough. There was always the fear that he would figure it out- that he would notice something just a bit off. Whereas the Templars would try to silence the oddness, Solas, instead, wanted to understand. And it was that curiosity that made the Herald so uncomfortable. She had no idea what Solas would do to sate that curiosity nor what he would do once it was sated.
His magic passed over me. Whereas I found only warmth, the Herald, however, struggled with the feeling of slime pressing down her spine. Solas murmured comforting words, encouraging stillness for just a bit longer. A few more seconds was all he needed before he retreated from us. His voice was smooth with just a hint of dark undertones. So beautiful. And his chuckle! Ohhh sooo to die for! I giggled to myself. The giggle felt a bit more than usual, though. Solas's eyes widened before he swiftly turned from us, a hint of a smile on his lips. My eyes widened.
"Did I do that? Did we?" I asked the Herald quietly, stunned. I had the distinct feeling the Herald was smiling. A tiny nod was all the answer I received. But it was enough; I was frigging beaming! Radiating! Maybe being stuck here wouldn't be as bad as I thought! Internally dancing was all I could do to express my sheer happiness.
Solas paused at the door, gently muttered "Rest well, Herald," and disappeared out the door.
"Maybe you're right; keeping one close will benefit my goals. Getting one attached to me will prevent any others from looking too closely. It should prevent anyone from questioning my demands," the Herald warmly purred. "Should anyone question me, this will make it easier to convince others to my side. Gain the mage as an ally and make it appear you have authority over him. Put what mages we have at ease since we're friends with one and put Templars at ease knowing you have control over the mages. It will be much easier than that dolt Lucius ever was," She whispered, but it sounded more like a declaration from where I sat.
"Blackmail?" I asked.
"Blackmail," she purred in agreement.
"Good." My happy smile turned feral. While Solas's voice was rather nice, it wasn't near enough to stop my deep anger (hatred) for him and what he would do before the end. Anything I gleamed from him and learned about him would most definitely be used later. Just because I'm using Eggy as a Pavlov experiment against the Herald doesn't mean I actually like the fucker. Doesn't mean I actually want him to live. Doesn't mean I'm actually here to help him. But more importantly, I'm pretty sure I just gained the Herald as an ally. Fantastic! Maybe she'll listen to me more often, now. That would make being stuck in her head much more bearable.
Convincing the Herald of the benefits of sealing the Breach really boiled down to one question; "What would make your Master most pleased: a properly sealed Breach to tear open again where he'll be able to do whatever it is that he tried doing in the first place or an improperly sealed Breach that will swallow the world before his goals are achieved?"
It hadn't pleased the Herald. She wanted the world to burn. But she agreed that she would much rather enjoy watching the world burn than to have it be destroyed all at once before it could do any burning.
In what only seemed like a few hours, the Templars were all packed up and ready to help seal the Breach. The trek up to the Temple of Sacred Ashes seemed to take a toll on some Templars. Not that any of them breathed a single complaint (getting a sharp glare from a tiny elf Herald would probably do that to anyone, to be honest). I kept myself entertained by keeping the Herald entertained. Whispering words of encouragement, softly singing about the end of the world, and coming up with contingency plans seemed to help calm her nerves the most. Especially any advice on what to do should any demons pop out of the Breach as she tried to seal it. (She was unsure if she would be able to fight as the Herald those around us knew her as or if she would be found out. Reassuring her of that fear's irrationality was difficult. In fact, I wasn't too sure I actually succeeded in calming that particular fear- it's not like I actually knew how the sealing would happen, after all.)
Cassandra and Solas had both come with us- to provide support and cover should any demons come through the Breach. Thus far both were providing advice on how to possibly close the Breach. It wasn't particularly interesting so I didn't particularly pay any attention to it.
But I should have.
When the Herald struck out her hand as she had previously on several occasions before acquiring the Templars, the mark on her hand flickered for a moment, then went inert. It left the Herald looking at her hand in question. It left everyone else around her shifting in either anticipation or annoyance. (They thought she wasn't taking this seriously- they thought she was still scared. Scared to silence the Breach, scared it would hurt, scared it wouldn't work. If only they knew.)
"Why isn't it working?!" Her voice was quiet but panicked. Frantically, she was searching inside to find why it had worked so easily before but now refused to.
Unfortunately, her quiet question had been heard.
"Calm, da'len," Solas murmured into the Herald's ear. (When had he gotten so close?) "You need only to focus."
"Focus?" The Herald asked with a blank face.
"Yes, da'len," Solas calmly continued, "Focus on the feel of the mark. Focus on how it feels in comparison to the Breach. Focus on how you want the Breach to close. Focus on closing it. Focus. Focus."
The Herald closed her eyes, trying to imagine whatever it was the other elf was trying to convey. She was actively trying to feel whatever it was that connected the mark on her hand to the Breach. But... it was always just a hair out of reach. She couldn't reach the mark. She couldn't reach the Breach. She can't close the Breach.
Upon that realization, I debated on what to do. On one hand, the world would be torn asunder. On the other hand, the Breach would close and the world would live. Both sides had their perks. If the world died, I wouldn't be stuck anymore. But I would be dead, same as everyone else. If the world lived, I would be stuck still. But still alive. It really wasn't a big brainer when it came down to it, not really.
Imagining I was inserting myself into the body of the Herald's (think getting into a wet suit), I imagined those hands were mine, and I imagined feeling those hands as mine until the point where it truly felt like they were mine. I heard a squawk from somewhere behind me as I did this, but for the moment, I ignored it. From there, I tried doing what Eggy said to do- I tried to feel the Fade and the connection between mark and Breach. And then, I tried to mend it.
I wasn't sure what to expect if it worked, but I really should have expected it to hurt. Just as I really should have expected the pull of the Fade to reach in me and yank. I distantly remembered hearing Solas's voice call out, but it faded from my mind as the darkness swarmed in and an eerie ringing silence claimed my hearing.