"It is time to make our stand. I will not watch as he tears this world down." Yrja cast her hood down as she stepped back into the sanctuary. "He is not thinking past his current motives. The consequences in the long run. He pursues death, snapping at its heels, practically begging it to turn back and swallow him. And where will that leave us? The world will languish in just as much suffering as before, if not more." Thenon, who had been waiting for her to return, stood up from his crouch.
"Has he let on anything?" They walked down a dimly lit hall and emerged into the study.
"I overheard his plans regarding the Evanuris. But he has said nothing of those he has for the rest of the world. It has always been for the People, to save them, but that hope hangs on by a thread. He would destroy the many for the few and I cannot abide by that." Yrja chewed her lip angrily while she went over some of her notes. "Regardless, the war that will surge in his wake will be pandemic - a tide that swallows us all. Even the Inquisitor might not be enough, for I fear even he is running out of options.
"You think the Inquisitor will rise against Fen'harel? They are friends." Thenon frowned, casting a glance around the area.
"I cannot speak on the Inquisitor's behalf. I wasn't there in the Crossroads with them three years ago, but by the sounds of it they did part on relatively good terms. Yet friends may still stand on opposite sides of a battlefield, you know this. Either way, I've finally arranged something with the Tevinter, Dorian Pavus." She glanced over at the time candle in the corner. Such primitive measures this world had been weathered to. "I need to go. My time has come." Thenon blinked and reached out to stop her, looking confused.
"What madness is this? We were in this together, what is going on Yrja?" She smiled sadly.
"I'm afraid this is where our paths part. I have found my replacement. I believe she will lead you and the others to a more favourable future. May we meet in another life, Thenon." The other elf looked as though he wanted to argue, but then he resigned to a solemn nod.
"You've figured it out then. You're going to stop Fen'harel." It was a whisper that barely reached her as she raised her hood and activated the Eluvian in their hold.
"I am going to try." Then she stepped through the mirror.
On the other side, night had fallen. The arid coolness of a desert greeted her. Yrja turned to the Eluvian as the surface stilled. She could see Thenon on the other side moving around, though it was blurred. Ir abelas, old friend. She raised her hand and clenched it into a fist, shattering the Eluvian. Thenon would burn down the sanctuary on the other side and her job was to destroy the gateway. Fen'harel had trusted his closest, but he in turn had broken her trust. They had followed him for so long, rebelled against the Evanuris at his side. His followers had known that his plan to rebuild the world was extreme and that there would be casualties along the way, but wiping out most the world's population was not the answer. Particularly since the Inquisition was the best thing to happen to this poor world. She did not understand why Fen'harel did not see that after he'd spent years in their ranks and had experienced firsthand the promising potential of the mortals. Yin Lavellan was kind and intelligent and his inner circle had proved to be some of the most respectable people she had seen in all her years living in this world. She thought that a brilliant mind like Fen'harel would have asked for their help. Yet, as per his namesake, she had a feeling pride had something to do with it.
Since their illustrious leader had decided to turn his back on the Inquisition, she'd decided to take matters into her own hands. Her people were a minority, but they were strong.
The single bridge into Minrathous was daunting, but she'd seen more secluded places in the time of Arlathan. Sneaking across the bridge and through its gates under guise of feather was a breeze. After, she cast off feather for a cloak woven of magic that rendered her invisible only to those that knew what to look for. And then she followed the directions Dorian had given her to the place they were to meet.
The magical metropolis was...still uncomparable to Arlathan or any cities in existence during the Elvhen Empire, but for being human built, it was impressive. These quicklings had come a ways from when they had been nothing but barbaric tribes.
She did not waste time ogling the architecture and found her destination in a splendid estate surrounded by tall white walls. Immediately, she felt uneasy. If Dorian had been experimenting from here, she hoped he had remained undetected.
Yrja slipped on through past the guards at the gate, reminding herself to tell Dorian he needed to set wards around his place if he wanted to keep spies out. She quickly slipped into the white-stoned halls and immediately picked up on conversation, though it was faint and far away. She followed the voices through extravagant corridors and chambers, glad that the place was utterly dead at night. She was also glad to see no signs of slaves, which meant Dorian had likely heeded her warning about Fen'harel having eyes and ears everywhere.
Finally, the elf rounded a corner to see a large open balcony whose view was to die for. A massive moon illuminated the marble, giving it the image of standing on the surface of the moon itself. Long sheer curtains decorated the entrance of the balcony and exotic plants in expensive pots dotted every corner. At the other side of the balcony, two men stood—the source of the noise. One she recognised as Dorian Pavus himself, dressed in finery to match the small palace, and the other was a man whose face she could not see as it was obscured by a hood.
"I believe our guest has arrived safe and sound," Dorian suddenly said, voice rising. Yrja stepped through the drapes to join them in the moonlight, letting her spell unravel.
"I see you've been practicing the detection spell?" she said, casting her hood down.
"Indeed! I imagine you think me an imbecile having not placed a ward or more competent guards at the gate?" She raised an eyebrow.
"I see your point, but if I had been an assassin—" she gestured from herself to him, indicating the short distance. He waved her off.
"I detected you as soon as you reached the inside. I'd plenty of time to figuratively arm myself against figurative intruders." The man in the dark cloak made a noise in his throat and shook his head.
"Bloody cocky, this one." Dorian smiled crookedly. "You've yet to introduce us, vhenan." Yrja's eyebrows shot up into her hair.
"Judging by her expression, she needs none now," the Magister mused.
"Perhaps, but I still have no idea who she is," the Inquisitor sighed. Dorian snapped his fingers.
"This is Yrja. She's an agent of our dear Apostate-turned-God." The Inquisitor straightened to his full height and raised a hand, slowing removing his hood so that he could look at her. He was a handsome elf, strong and broad and tall. There was a single scar that stemmed from the corner of his mouth nearly up to his cheekbone and another across his nose. The Inquisitor was as handsome as he was fierce.
"It is good to finally meet you, Inquisitor," she said, inclining her head.
"Funny, because until the other day, I didn't know you existed. And yet it seems you and Dorian have been in contact for quite some time," he said, not bothering to mask irritation. Dorian shuffled, looking guilty.
"She contacted me," he argued.
"How much does he know?" she asked the Tevinter.
"Who are you, really? Dorian says you're as old as Sol—Fen'harel himself," Yin said, eyes flashing. Yrja glanced at Dorian, who she had never really explained her background to in detail. "Do you know Abelas? Are you one of the sentinels who guarded the Temple of Mythal?" Dorian tsked.
"If you keep asking questions, she will never be able to answer," he quipped. Yin glared at her, waiting. She found a pit of ice had formed in her stomach.
"I was one of few who watched over Solas as he slept." She walked over to the balustrade to mask her nervousness. "No, I was not one of Abelas' sentinels. Did Solas mention any of his agents, ever?"
"He mentioned spies in the Inquisition...and those involved in leading Corypheus to the orb." She nodded. Yin gasped.
"No. You? You're responsible for letting that monster get his hands on that relic?" Even Dorian remained silent, as this was a revelation to him as well. "Then...then..."
"In a way, it's all my fault. Granted, if not me, someone else would have done it." She looked over at the two men. "But I still could have taken the orb somewhere safe, away from him. I would have been hunted, but I could have prevented—" she broke off, then turned to face them again, determination rising in her gut. "We are doomed in this time. Solas will release the Evanuris. He has not taken into account the hundreds of elves that wear their vallaslin and will flock to them without question. He may have them now, but there will be a fissure that he does not see--at least not until it's too late. There will be war driven by vengeance of the Evanuris and blood will flow thicker than when Falon'din went mad. And Solas believes he can stop them alone." Yin's eyes had closed and hard lines had formed on his face.
"Alone. As he thinks he must do with everything," Yin remarked bitterly. "Oh, Solas..."
"Which is why Yrja is going to sabotage him and return to the past," Dorian chimed in. Yin stared agape at them both. He stuck a finger in his ear, twisted it around, and then blinked.
"What? What good would that do? She goes back but we'll still be here! Remember that one time we time travelled in Redcliffe? Leliana said it was real for her--it will be real for us!" Dorian looked affronted.
"I've done copious amounts of research on time travel since then. I even recovered some old notes from my time with Alexius! I have this figured out, amatus. Go on, tell me I'm the best." Yin swore and pinched the bridge of his nose. Yrja rolled her shoulders, turning to face them.
"What Solas plans to do regarding the Veil will weaken him," she said, "If I interfere, his spell will fail, he will be weakened, and perhaps then he will listen. But if Dorian's new time spell works correctly, this timeline will cease to exist and it will be like hitting reset on everything." Yin looked at his lover who gave him a reassuring smile.
"And what do you plan to do once you've...gone back?" Yrja gave him a wry grin.
"I'm going to steal Solas' orb, of course. I will find Dorian in the other timeline, request his help, and with the orb I plan on preventing him from coming into the power that he stole."
"Stole?" Yin asked. Well, forgot about that.
"He...took on Mythal's power. Potentially also Urthemiel, but it's possible that Mythal put the soul somewhere safe before that happened," she decided to admit. "Which is another matter I will tend to when I go back. When he wakes up, he will have nothing but his own cunning...which is dangerous on its own, but...I have plans." Yin nodded thoughtfully and she knew she was slowly winning him over.
"Do you know him? Solas? Were you friends, ever?" That was an odd turn in topic.
"There is a possibility he may know my face, but he does not know my name."
"That doesn't seem possible for someone that watched over him for hundreds of years," Yin said.
"There were followers, and then there were his friends. Fen'harel fell unconscious after he constructed the Veil but he did not hand pick who would watch him. He trusted us."
"Then are you a spy? What purpose do you serve in his ranks?" Yin asked.
"I serve no purpose to anyone but myself. I joined him during the rebellion against the Evanuris because I agreed they needed to be taken down. It is no more than that," she sighed. "And now, he must be stopped." A grim silence weighed with sorrow hung in the air.
"You won't hurt him, will you?" Yrja and Dorian both looked at him. Yin's eyes were filled with worry, which was not what she had expected from the man whose entire life had been turned upside down. "His plans may be terrible, but Solas is my friend. My brother. He's...lost. I want to help him see, not to further drive into his head that our world is not worth saving." Yrja's face softened at the young elf.
"I promise I won't hurt him." And that was a promise she would have kept on her own, regardless.
Days later, Dorian emerged from his massive study bearing a smile that stretched ear to ear. After some gloating and stroking of his ego, he finally explained that he had perfected the spell and had managed to confine it to a disc the size of her hand. It was made of a strange black stone that reflected everything in it and yet made it feel as though she were looking into oblivion—which was fitting, considering its purpose.
"You, with this, will need to hold it near...let's just say wherever Solas is concentrating. The closer the better, as it needs to be super-charged by magic. The disc will do the rest," he'd told her before running off to find Yin. She stayed in the gardens, probing the precious artefact that would change everything. The morning after she'd arrived, others had too and she had not been determined to meet any of them. All were former Inquisition members. She did not trust any of them, but she did trust Dorian and so she left him to describe the plan to the others. She was not sure how much any of them could help, but perhaps he was simply warning them—preparing them for what was to come. She would not fail. Could not fail.
Come that next evening, she would journey to a temple hidden in the desert of Tevinter where Solas would tear down the Veil. Until then, she had only a few hours to steel herself for the monumental task of crossing the Dread Wolf himself. She didn't want to think about what would happen if she was caught.
Her privacy was shortlived, as a servant summoned her to meet with Yin again. He and everyone else had gathered to recall as much detail as they could of things that had happened during the time of the Inquisition. The dwarf from Kirkwall, Varric Tethras was his name, sat nearby creating a transcript for her. She noticed a woman, beautiful and dark skinned, sitting on a chaise nearby observing her openly. When Yrja engaged her with her eyes, the woman opened her mouth.
"My dear, let us say you are successful and Dorian's magic doesn't turn you to vapour—when Solas in the past sees you, as I imagine he might, will he recognise you? Aside from your armour, your kind seems to be...distinct." Yrja remained stony-faced.
"Physique is easily masked by proper attire," Dorian interjected. Yrja shrugged.
"I have not seen him in months, either way," she said, forcing one of the companions to stop their account of things. "But, as long as I have known him, I have shorn my hair—and my eyebrows. To avoid problems in battle. Recently, I allowed it to grow back, more specifically for this purpose." She turned her attention back to Warden Rainier and nodded for him to resume his story.
She sat through hours of stories, but it was necessary. Especially when it came time to hear out Yin's account. She hung onto every word as though Master Tethras wasn't writing it all down for her.
Something particularly interesting that she'd never heard had her holding her hand up at one point.
"—The foci. Its destruction may be why he sought out Mythal," she realised. Everyone was silent.
"Do you think that if you steal it, he will go after her anyway?" Yin asked, following a different line of thought.
"I...I don't know. But that is why I plan on reaching her before he does." Varric leaned back in his chair with a groan.
"Why did I ever agree to this," he mumbled. "The more you all go on about the past and what's yet to happen, the more it seems insane and impossible."
"Yet we lived through the insane and the impossible before, old friend," Yin said with a smile. "'Sides, if this fails, we will continue to search for a way to change Solas' mind."
"Last I heard, he was bringing the Veil down tomorrow." A heavy silence fell over them all.
"The Veil is already threadbare. He is only speeding up the inevitable because he knows there are armies out to get him," Yrja said.
"Do you think that's why he had us activate those artefacts all those years ago? To buy us more time before it all...comes crashing down?" Yin asked, eyes widening in realisation. Yrja nodded.
"But instead of finding a gentler way of dissolving it, it seems he wants to yank it down. He's been pushed into desperation. I believe he wants to reach the other Evanuris before they are freed by other causes," she said. Yin shook his head sorrowfully.
"When you return to the past...we must all help him see the folly of his ways," he said. The others, surprisingly, nodded their determination.
"I will not fail," Yrja said. "There is no room for it. If it costs me my life, so be it, but I will not give up." Most of them seemed reassured, except for Vivienne, the Spymaster, and the ex-Commander of the Inquisition.
"Is there anything else?" Yin asked, eager to supply her with any information. He had quickly warmed up to her, which had been a surprise. She had always imagined him as a grim, humourless leader. But surrounded by his friends she could see that she had been completely wrong. The grim face was the mask he wore as the Inquisitor.
"Briala," she suddenly remembered. "She had control of the Eluvians before?" Yin nodded. "And you met her?"
"At the Winter Palace, yes," he said. "Why?"
"I'm considering all options. I'll need to reach her before Fen'harel overrides the network." Yrja looked at Varric and nodded for him to add that to the transcript.
"D'ya think it'll hurt?" Everyone turned their heads to the young elf sitting perched in a chair. Sera, she recalled. "You said it'd be like closin' our eyes, Inky."
"There is nothing to fear," Dorian pitched in. "It will be like waking up from a dream and none of us will remember anything that happened. Except, you know, for Yrja."
"But...will I still be me?" There was real fear in the young girl's eyes. Just as there was weariness written in all of their features. They had been fighting hard for the last few years.
"If the Evanuris get out, no one will be the same," Yrja said, drawing their attention. "Trust us when we say tampering with time is the better option." Sera didn't look appeased, but she fell silent, avoiding eye contact with everyone. If anything, their doubt became Yrja's strength. She would not fail them.