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A Garden of Poison

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“The Light shall lead her safely
“Through the paths of this world, and into the next.
“For she who trusts in the Maker, fire is her water.
“As the moth sees light and goes toward flame,
“She should see fire and go towards Light.”

The soft words rested in the air as the young woman knelt in Haven’s chantry head bowed and hands pressed together, resting against her forehead. Her long red hair flickering like flames in the candlelight, and her golden mask darkened by its shadows. Her blouse was red with silver embroidery along the neckline and sleeves, the bottom torn at one side and tied together to keep it snug to her skin. Her legs covered in flexible black pants, and knee high black leather boots. Two belts wrapped around her waist, one keeping her pants in place held her money pouch as well as a curious metal blade hanging from each side, the second looser, attached to the first belt on the side the shirt was tied, a miniature crossbow hung, it’s pouch of bults not to far from its side, and resting on her hip a chain meant for potion vials to hold but emptied at the moment.

Several feet away another woman stood, parchment clutched to her chest as she allowed this moment for her friend. Her dark brown hair short, and held out of her face by a folded cloth tied at her neck. She had on a simple green tunic that reached her knees and black pants that stopped mid calf, her feet covered in silk slippers.

“The Veil holds no uncertainty for her,
“And she will know no fear of death, for the Maker
“Shall be her beacon and her shield, her foundation and her sword.”

A man's voice finished the verse for her and she raised her head, he stepped out of a door near the statue she prayed near. He had on the traditional Chantry robes, white with a red leather coating across his shoulders and middle. “It is rare to see you so far from the city Lady Ghislain.” She rose and gave him a kind smile.

“And you, Lord Chancellor.” She returned in kind, he waved off the name returning her smile.

“I gave up any such title when joining the Chantry, you may call me Roderick.” He told her.

“As you wish.”

“Madam du Fur will not be joining us I presume?” He asked.

“She had business in the Ostwick Circle and wished for me to come in her stead.” She answered walking with him as they headed towards the exit of the Chantry. “As the leader of the last Mages loyal to the chantry her time is thin as I’m sure you can imagine.”

“Indeed.” He agreed and looked at the girl that fell in place at her side as they walked.

“This is Lady Myah Trevelyan.” She introduced. “She had joined me on my travels, she will be staying in the village while I give Lady Vivienne’s regrets to the Most Holy.”

“I will see to her comfort while you’re making the pilgrimage.” He promised her.

“Oh- no, you really don’t need to do that-” Myah flushed at the idea.

“I insist, any friend of Lady Ghislain is welcome.”

“I thank you Roderick.” The stepped into the chilly air of the mountainside town. “Have Sister Leliana and Lady Cassandra arrived?” She wondered.

“They were delayed and should be arriving later today,” he answered and she nodded before turning to Myah. “I shan't be long. A few hours at most.” Myah nodded before she left them walking down the slope leading towards the village gates.

Roderick introduced Myah to Josephine, an ambassador of Antiva who had come on Sister Leliana’s request and they spent a pleasant afternoon discussing Antivan literature. “You hold an interesting in writing Lady Trevelyan?”

“Not exactly,” She flushed some. “I’ve been practicing poems, and Vera- I mean Lady Ghislain has been teaching me to read music. I have a great interest in plays and operas.”

“Oh I do love the Opera,” Josephine said excitedly. “It has been ages since I was last in attendance of one however, have you ever had the opportunity to see-” The door opened and a woman in purple and chainmail walked in. “Oh, Leliana, you have arrived.” She stood and Myah followed suit in a show of respect.

“Only just.” A small smile played on her lips. “Am I interrupting?”

“Uh, no. Not at all.” Myah responded and wavered slightly under the seemingly kind eyes of the woman before her.

“I wanted to introduce you to a few people before Cassandra and I leave for the conclave,” She told Josephine.

“Of course,” Josephine agreed. “Lady Trevelyan we must continue this conversation later. I daresay we have a lot to speak on.”

“Yes, of course.” She agreed, and the three woman walked out of the Chantry together. Myah tried not to listen as Josephine asked Leliana of her trip to Kirkwall and if they achieved what she had gone out for as she headed to the cabin Roderick had offered her to stay in for their stay. At the turning into the small cluster of cabins she saw two men, a human in lions armor-

“It was my fathers armor if you must know Varric-” He said seemingly in exasperation.

“I’m just saying it's more flamboyant then intimidating Curly.” The dwarf at his side placated.

And a woman with short black hair and a hand resting on the hilt of her sword, an annoyed expression on her face. “Ah, Leliana good.” She spoke.

“Josephine this is Varric Tet-” A mighty tremor shook the earth unbalancing a great number of people before a flash of green light up the sky.

“What in Heaven-” The woman spoke as the trembling faded, they all turned looking up towards the light. It looked like the sky was tearing itself open. Myah stared in horror, watching as chunks of the sky started falling from it, she lost track of what was being said around her.

“Do I hear fighting?” Josephine asked returning her to the world. The two warriors turned to the gate at once and ran towards it, Leliana following after like a shadow. Myah felt herself moving without telling her body to first, Josephine at her side as they stopped at the grand doors watching as a dwarven man charged a rage demon with an axe, the telling signs of a barrier wrapped around him as a woman with her red hair in a ponytail blocked a shade from taking down a stunned soldier, she was shouting orders as the ranks banded together, shields facing the demons falling out of the sky. “Oh my,” Josephine gasped as the man took up position as commander started shouting orders and the woman turned her attention to the bigger threat, she sheathed her sword and dropped her shield before charging the flaming beast, her hands moving in an arc as if moving a blade for a strike, sliding low to get behind it. The glowing blade in her hands came from out of the air.

The battle was won soon after, and orders were shouted, then a conversation between Leliana, and the two warriors with the four traveler as soldiers were working carrying the injured into town. “To the chantry, please, it is the largest place we have for them.” Josephine directed.

“Yes Lady Ambassador.” They said and the few injured were taken past them.

“Well, shit.” The voice made Myah turn to see Varric standing not too far off. A moment later two of the travelers walked towards the gates.

“Where are they taking the injured?” The cloaked man asked.

“The chantry but-”

“Thank you.” He and his dwarven friend left without further word. Varric’s eyes narrowed watching them head up towards the stone building.

“Maker this is a mess.” The commander’s voice came to them not long later. “I will remain here and see to the defence of Haven.”

“Thank you Cullin,” The woman responded. “I will select a few and lead them up to the temple, Let us pray to find any survivors.”

“My scouts will follow you Cassandra. But I dare say there will be little for you to do following in the Wardens wake.” Leliana pointed out.

“Any number of men to help return those injured back to Haven will be better then none.”

“The… Temple?” Myah finally found her voice, that’s what had exploded? All those people.

“Let us… get you something for shock.” Josephine suggested laying a gentle hand on her back to lead her into the town.

“I’ve got it.” Varric offered. “I’m sure you’ve got quite enough to handle without this one to add to that burden.”

After Varric spent a while encouraging her to drink and eat and telling an tavern full of people some story about copper marigolds. Josephine collected her that evening, insisting they continued their earlier conversation and Myah goes willingly. “Don’t keep her all night!” Varric called out to her before they were in the relative quiet of the streets.

“How are you fairing?” Josephine asked hesitantly as they walked up towards the chantry.

“I… there hasn’t been any word from the temple?” She asked a bit desperately.

“I’m sorry, no, nothing as of yet.” Josephine responded.

“My friend had left this morning, to speak to the Most Holy on behalf of her family…”

“I’m sorry Myah.”

“She- she helped me, she was helping me get my life back together after… What am I supposed to do if she’s…” They entered the chantry and were quiet as they past the hall of hastily prepared cots with few people on it. The Dwarf from before was asleep on one, axe leaning against the wall near his head while the man he had been with bowing over a woman hand hovering what once was a broken leg. The door was rather forcefully opened as they reached Josephines’ office getting the dwarf to shoot up hand automatically reaching for the axe. In the torchlight outside the building a horse was seen and someone dismounting, clutching a body to their chest, a curious green glow flickering between them illuminating the woman’s face eerily. Leliana running towards them as she strode into the hall.

“A, now.” She barked getting the man to call for a healer standing to the side, they rushed to replace him as he straightened, fixed his cloak and followed her to the end of the row of cots, far from the others and closest to where Josephine and Myah stood.

“Only one?” Leliana asked hesitantly.

“Others were found further from the ruins.” The woman spoke as she laid the girl on the cot, brushing the long red hair off to the side so it would pool on the stone beside the cot. “Cassandra’s organizing their return.”

“But-” Leliana seemed wrong footed looking to the girl as the cloaked man knelt at her side and started working.

“The soldiers that responded first, those closer to the conclave when it exploded found her before any of the rest of us could arrive.” The woman said as Myah walked forwards hesitantly, Josephine at her side. “They say she fell out of a tear from the fade. They say a woman was standing behind her, but none could see who she was.”

“Vera,” Myah whispered upon seeing her, tears starting to fall down her cheeks. She was alive.

“Fell out of the fade?” Josephine repeated. “That’s just, impossible.”

“And it may just kill her yet.” The man spoke lifting her hand and examining the angry green mark pulsating there. “This energy is directly from the fade, I’ve never seen anything like this in the waking world.”

“What does it mean?” The woman hissed in irritation. “What caused this? Could she have caused the explosion?”

“It is hard to tell with the marks interference but... It would take extremely powerful magic to break into the fade itself.” He responded. “You know this Aren.”

“She’s not a mage.” Myah got all of their attention. She seemed to shrink under the attention on her. “She’s not one.”

“You know her then? Why was she at the conclave?” Leliana demanded. Myah’s eyes flickered between them.

“Her name is Liara du Ghislain, youngest daughter to house Ghislain and- and she’s First Enchanter Vivienne’s bard, she came on behalf of her.”

“A Dalish elf in a high ranking Orlesian family?” Aren questioned.

“No, she’s right Liaren.” Leliana hesitated looking at the unconscious face, “it was a bit of a scandal after the blight, you had already been stationed as Commander and had your own problems to deal with at the time. But Duke Bastian had adopted an elf as his daughter after First Enchantress Vivienne brought her to their home, the details were unclear for the most part.”

“Children in clans don’t get their marks, it’s only after adulthood.” Liaren crossed her arms. “She can't be any older then her mid twenties.”

“Can you think of no acceptions?” Josephine asked hesitantly.

“But she always wears her mask.” Myah cut in. “Even when it was just her family or the two of us alone.”

“Perhaps the answers you need will come if she wakes.” A said to them all. “If you don’t mind it is late, and this will require a lot of my attention… A Lot more then any other patient has this day.”

“Remember to get some rest, please.” Liaren hesitated.

“I will.” He promised and quiet fell as the woman allowed Leliana to take her from the hall.

“Lady Trevelyan, if we may?” Josephine suggested gesturing to her office.

“What? Oh, yes.” She agreed and shot one last worried look at her unresponsive friend before following her into the room.