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Mir Renan

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“Can I ask? What happened to you, after...?”

“After Kirkwall?”

She nodded somewhat reluctantly, as though her own curiosity hadn’t raised the subject. I considered briefly.


(tousled hair against my pillow)

(golden flashes of sunlight)

(a canopy of leaves)

(blood in the snow)

(bite down)

“It was - ”


(rocks falling from the sky)

(metal biting into my skin)

(take my hand)

(bite down isa)

I cleared my throat.


(golden hair against my pillow)

(blood in the snow)

(dark eyes across a room)

(isa bite down)

(ir abelas)

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have…”

I shook my head and reached instinctively to touch her hand in reassurance. “I was lucky. Lots of people weren’t.”

She nodded somberly. “I understand that.” She struggled to her feet, pressed her arched hands into the small of her back and groaned. “I suppose I’ll have another dozen name suggestions to veto before I get any rest tonight.” She smiled wryly. “Aren’t you going to throw one in the hat?”

I laughed, about to demur, but instead I heard myself say, “Thalia.”

“Thalia,” she repeated, trying the fit of the syllables in her mouth. “I like it. It’s not Dalish?”

“No, uh, Rivaini, I think.”

“Huh.” The flat of her palm made distracted circles against her back as she considered.

Distantly I could hear the steady pulse of a drum, setting time. The lively sound of a fiddle struck up and I caught myself beginning to sway in time.

With an affectionate but weary sigh, she looked out across the yard to the lights of the tavern. “There goes my early night.”

“Do you want me to tell them to knock it off?” I suggested, only half-joking.

She smiled and shook her head. “Let them have their fun.” She turned to leave and I let my attention drift back towards the tavern, allowing myself the slightest shift from side to side with the rhythm. “Forgive me, but don’t stay out too late, will you?” she cautioned from the doorway. “It’s starting to get colder.”


(forgive me miss)

“Yes,” I agreed absently. “Good night.”

I drew my knees up and rested my chin upon them, my eyes drawn to the flickering shadows cast across the yard in the golden light spilling from the tavern’s door and windows.


(take my hand)

(rocks falling from the sky)

I could barely hear the fiddle any more for the raucous voices

(the beat of the drum)

and the pounding of feet on floorboards.


Somewhere, buried in the dins and silences of life, there was always a beat,


keeping time as the seconds bled together.


Eventually, all songs come to an end. But first, there has to be a beginning.