He watched as the sky split apart with a sickly rip.
The entire area was bathed in putrid light from the hole that has been torn in the sky and they had been tasked with searching for survivors. He knew in his heart that they would not find anyone but it was his duty now. He was the Commander of the Inquisition, and by the Maker, he would search every inch of the ruined temple for a small hope that someone survived. But he knew it would have been a miracle for someone to have lived through such a disaster.
This is why he stood thunderstruck to see a small frame fall from the pulsing rip just inside the crater. His men shouted, weapons drawn, thinking that is must be a demon. But the figure did not move once it hit the ashen ground. He watched, rooted to his spot, as his men surrounded the body that had just fallen from the fade, expecting it to grow into the monstrous form of desire or greed.
Cullen allowed his eyes to trace the path that the figure had just followed. Above the swarm of men, where the tear is reality had pitched the frail form his soldiers were occupied with, he saw a radiant form. His jaw dropped open. His mind knew the shape of that lumemous being standing in the tear but he wouldn’t allow himself to believe. It couldn’t be.
Time seemed to catch up with itself, all at once sound came running back to Cullen. His senses twitch with the cacophony of yells from below him. He brought himself out of the trance and hurried over ashen landscape, to the still figure that lay surround by sword points.
“It’s an elf?” one of his men said, though Cullen wasn’t sure what it was until he kneeled down, laying his sword next to him on the ground.
“It’s still breathen’...but it fell out of the fade! How’s that possible?” Another of his men spoke up now, a hint of tremble in his voice.
“Quiet! All of you step back.” He barked. He reached out his hand and pushed straw colored hair back from the face, revealing delicately pointed ears and pert nose. Her eyes were closed and her face and lips were a similar shade of ashen pale. Bruises rested under each of her eyes, giving stark contrast to the pale pink tattoo that rested over her left eye. She was Dalish. He remembered from his days as a templar, the elves that would join the circle with the tattoos on their faces were Dalish. They didn’t live in cities, in the alienage, they were nomadic.
His eyes traveled over her face, taking in the structure, delicate features, the way that her lashes lay against her cheeks with her eyelids closed and he was stricken. It was all too familiar, she was too familiar.
His face flushed as he realized that he had been staring at the elf for seconds longer than would have been prudent. He cleared his throat and stood up. “Fletcher, Harris, continue the search of the area. Rylen with me.”
Cullen picked his sword up and placed it deftly in the scabbard at his hip then leaned down and lifted the elf into his arms. Her face contorted as he moved her, her head lolling back, lips parting into a groan of pain. One arm was pinned to his chest, the other flopping with each step he took out of the ruined temple.
“Ser, look, her hand, it’s glowing.” Rylen spoke quietly as they walked.
Cullen glanced at him and then glanced at her left hand as it flared and sparked as they walked. “Not a word of this to the other men, Rylen. We don’t know what is going on and I don’t need the rest of them deserting when things are at their worst.” Cullen said barely audible to his own ears.
Rylen grunted his reply “Yes, Ser”, sliding his hand his to sword and glancing warily around him.
The two men made their way out of what was left of the Temple of Sacred Ashes. Rylen two steps in front of his Commander, watching the surroundings as they force marched back to Haven. They had encountered a few groups of demons on their way up, but it seemed they would have luck not to encounter any on the way down. Thank the Maker. This gave Cullen time study the women that he held in his arms. She was thin, the way that most of the elves that he had met were, long arms and legs, nary an ounce of fat on her.
Muscular, but not in a way that someone who wielded a blade would be.
Perhaps an archer?
The thoughts drifted through his mind as he felt her limp body against his.
High cheeks, slightly pouted lips, just like her, just like Neria.
That was her name, wasn’t it? Neria…
He hadn’t thought about her in such a long time. His mind drifted to memories he thought forgotten in the lyrium haze of the past. Things he locked away because it was easier then attempting to reconcile the heartache that came with it. He shook his head.
Maker, you fool. Now is not the time for this.
The Commander and the Knight-Captain pushed through the gate at the bridge that led down the little road towards the village of Haven. Rylen shouted, gaining the attention of everyone on the bridge. Cullen looked up from the body he was carrying to see Seeker Pentaghast rushing over
“Commander, you found someone alive?” On her face he could see a mix of emotions. Fear danced with hope, anger mixed with weariness. She looked like many of the people on the bridge did.
“Yes, but I do not know for how much longer. She is weak, her breaths are ragged. You will not believe where the men and I found her.” He stated as he continued his advance along the bridge and through the gates of Haven.