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She left a note that she knew he would not return. There was more than one way to wage a war, and they both knew she was her own best weapon.

It was not possible to contain the little smirk on her face as the supplies were quickly loaded out of the hidden cache, the desert sun beating down on her scout’s backs and the sand sliding under their feet. The shade of the small cave among hundreds gave little respite. She wondered if he had ever visited this one himself, if he had cast that spell on his head to keep his skin from burning. The thought made her smile and it made her sick.

She watches them haul crates, boxes, sacks – mostly food, things that would not spoil. But weapons too, healing potions, herbs, pelts. Likely a stop for scouts carrying messages across the desert, a vital resting point among miles and miles of unyielding sand and heat. Without the food and water stored here, they would not make the journey to the closest eluvian. Their missives would be swallowed by the dust and the silent heat.

She takes what she can, loads it into crates and sends them off in different directions with her best scouts. Many of the men with her have not had a decent meal in weeks, she lets them eat the food as they please. She has spent enough time starving to refuse to let it go to waste under the hot sun. But the rest – anything too heavy for the horses to pull through the sand – burns.

She finds a staff hidden in a back corner, it shines and glistens and reminds her of Dorian, so she keeps it. She offers her scouts their pick of the weapons, but they do not want the Dread Wolf’s cursed Elvhen magic. The weapons shimmer and whisper the song of lyrium and ancient spells that hadn’t been spoken for thousands of years – enchantments that would make Dagna drool, and they cower as she holds them in her hands.

So they burn.

They melt into molten rock under the heat of her fire. Years ago, when they first met, it would’ve taken all her energy to summon a fire so scorching. Now, it takes little more than a thought. The magic is already coming back – leaking, seeping through holes stretched over centuries of pain. She can feel it. And she can use it.

“My lady, a scout has been spotted a few miles out. Likely headed here now – it’s time to move out.”

She’s not done, though.

She leaves a note.

A piece of parchment on top of a pile of smoldering ashes, a whispered enchantment to keep it from catching an ember.

There are many, many things she could say. She chooses what will hurt the most.

“Remember to eat, ma lath, you always forget when you are under a great deal of stress.”

On top, to keep the note from blowing away with the desert breeze, she lays a cake she had picked up on her journey through Orlais. It’s pink, and frilly, and she licks the frosting off her fingers after she sets it down. She does not sign the note, she doesn’t need to.

Ma lath, she turns the words over in her mouth as she leaves. It has been a long time since they left her lips. She does not allow them to crest over a whisper.

It is a stronger blow to his cause than the severe lack of supplies he is about to uncover. More fatal than the fate of the sweaty, thirsty scout about to happen upon a rest stop with no respite to provide. A chink in his armor no sword could make.

She leaves a barrier on the entrance of the cave. First, to protect the cake from any animals that may try to spoil her little surprise before he can. Second, because the feel of her magic on his skin will chip away at him, too.

As she steps out of the shadow of the mouth and into the scorching sands, she wonders if it will make him smile, or make him cry. She is not sure. She is not sure of much of anything anymore.

She mounts her horse and does not look back.