Letheia’s eyes stung at once when she read the word. A single word. It was not as though she did not know what had been writ; Leliana read the entire letter aloud at the war table before. But hearing it read in a voice and manner so different from the keeper’s made it hard to absorb. As she stared at the page, she could hear the precise note the keeper would use to call out to her.
It was written in Keeper Deshanna’s all-too-familiar hand. Letheia’s eyelids fluttered and batted away, hoping to ward off the tears. They still came.
For the first time, she felt the crushing homesickness swallow her whole. There had been no time to miss them– no time to feel. Not while the Breach threatened to unmake the world with its gaping green maw in the sky. It all seemed an impossible haze, separate from the idyllic life she had known. She physically stumbled out of the Fade, right into the matters of the shemlen for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Her hand bore a mark that became a symbol of their hope. They named her the herald of their Andraste, and she walked a future twisted by an unfathomable darkness. They named her their Inquisitor, their beacon, when she buried a village in snow to save them– and survived despite the odds. Even with the horrific images seared into her mind, and some of the scars still etched on her skin, it was difficult to believe.
It had been accident upon accident, coincidence upon coincidence. And somehow they believed it had been divine providence. Would their Maker truly send a simple Dalish elf? Would her own gods have allowed it? The questions had burned in her nightly, away from scrutinizing gazes that measured her worth, when she was simply herself. Not ‘Her Worship’. Just Letheia Lavellan. The First to her clan.
And yet, she never resented them for it. She had forged some of the truest bonds with her new companions, felt things she never had, and learned of things beyond her ken. Skyhold was home, but not the one she yearns for in her dreams. It was not the picture her mind painted when the word would fall from her lips. Home was with the aravels and the halla amid the Marcher forests, with her family and friends always so close. There were plans and promises– she was to be keeper. Once, it had been her only burden. And oh, how she carried it with pride and dignity. The world seemed to watch her every step then, when her world was her clan and the Dalish way of life. That was her life. The life that she was destined for. And now it wasn’t. Nor could it ever be.
She swiped her tears away but it did nothing to stay the broken sobs that came. The thoughts she had stilled, the regrets she had quieted, all rushed in, one after the other. Letheia was immediately grateful for the privacy granted to her, and for her own sense to retreat to her quarters. She braced herself on the desk and fought to read the rest of it.
Perhaps once, reading the letter would have brought her relief. And for a while it did. Mythal willing, they were safe. They had been so proud of her deeds. For them to willingly part such a generous portion of the season’s harvest was unthinkable, but they had done so. For her sake.
She read the letter once more. Her ungloved fingers traced the dried ink, wet again with her tears. With the herbs long gone, it was all she had left of her clan.
For all the power she wielded, in influence and in the palm of her own hand, the Inquisitor had never felt more powerless.