I don't remember....
The sting of magic from her left palm surged through the elf's arm as her face twisted in agony.
How did I get here? Where am I? I was at the Conclave.... Turalyon warned me to be careful....Turalyon.
The elf sighed as tears threatened to pour from her lavender eyes. She tried to shuffle her weight when the scraping of chains against cobblestone sparked dread in her chest. She looked down at her hands and a pair of iron handcuffs draped heavily across her wrists. The elf wiggled against her leg restraints in order to sit propped up on her ankles.
I am Arukyra... no I'm Ruki, Arukyra is dreadful, of Clan Lavellan. Keeper's first and her adopted daughter. Turalyon is my twin brother.
Ruki stared at the floor. She closed her eyes and tried to recall facts about herself. Her favorite color, her favorite animal. She called upon childhood memories. Memories of the vallasilin honoring Ghilan'nain being inscribed into her face in deep violet ink. No matter how hard she thought, how frantically she searched in her brain, she could not recall the events between Turalyon's warning and waking up in chains. The elf glanced around her surroundings. Her cell was large and dark save for a pair of braziers outside the door. The young elf had never felt so alone. She hung her head in despair as a single tear ran down her cheek onto her hand.
I was running... I remember now... I was running and things were chasing me. There was a woman.
Her palm roared with pain as her eyebrows screwed together. It sparked and hissed, a green energy ripping out of it as her hand balled into a fist. It felt as if her own hand was trying to kill her. A gasp escaped her as she pressed her hand under her knee and put pressure on it. Anything to stop the pain.
The cell door flung open and four armed guardsmen appeared and circled her, blades drawn.
"Where am I?! What's going on?! What did I do wrong!?" the elf cried out to them in the Common tongue as tears spilled from her eyes. "I don't understand why I'm here."
The Command caused the guards to sheath their blades, but still stand firmly in a circle around her. That accent was thick and heavy, similar to a Fereldan one but with more ferocity behind it. Perhaps it was a Nevarran woman that had entered the cell unbeknownst to the elf. She had short black hair with a single braid wrapped around the crown of her head. She wore mostly leather armor save for her red undershirt and a dull silver breastplate with a foreign symbol painted in black and white on its front. Must be related to the Chantry. Another woman appeared behind the Nevarran, quiet and observing, with fiery red hair wearing chainmail and a violet hood. Ruki glanced to the floor as the Nevarran woman circled her, like a lioness sizing up her prey. Ruki's eyes snapped up towards the redheaded woman stepping closer and the voice of the Nevarran woman hissing in her ear.
"Tell me why we shouldn't kill you now, elf."
Mythal watch over me.
"The Conclave is destroyed," the Nevarran continued, finishing her circle and standing beside her redheaded companion. "Everyone who attended is dead, all except for you."
No... Turalyon... it can't be.... Gods no....
Tears poured down Ruki's cheeks as she looked up to the two women before her. "What do you mean by that!? What do you mean everyone's dead!!"
The Nevarran woman snatched the elf's left wrist from under her knee and held it before her. "Explain this then."
As if on command her palm sizzled with energy which caused more tears to run down Ruki's cheeks. "I can't!" the elf cried out as her hand felt like is was on fire.
The Nevarran growled before dropping the elf's wrist. "What do you mean you can't!?!"
The tears continued to fall as the elf sniffed and whimpered. "I, I don't even know what this is or how it even got there!!"
The Nevarran's hand flew to the sword on her hip as she proceeded to unsheathe it. "YOU ARE LYING!"
The redhead intervened, placing her hand on Cassandra's arm. "We need her, Cassandra," her accent was Orleasian.
"All those people.... Turalyon... dead...." Ruki whimpered as she rubbed her shoulder against her cheek in a vain attempt to dry her tears.
The Orleasian stooped down to Ruki's level as Cassandra let out a grunt. Shaking her head, the redhead proceeded to produce a handkerchief and lightly dabbed at Ruki's cheeks and eyes. "Do you remember what happened?" the Orleasian said as she rose back to her feet and tucked her handkerchief away. "How this all began?"
Ruki's brow screwed in thought as she tried to desperately to remember. "I was running, and these things were chasing me. And... a woman?"
"A woman?" the redhead repeated as her hands rested on her hips.
"She reached out to me... and then," Ruki let out an exasperated sigh as she looked up at the two women before her and shook her head. "I can't remember anything else. You have to believe me."
The pair of women looked at each other and sighed before Cassandra began to speak again. "Go to the forward camp, Leliana. I will take her to the rift."
Leliana gave a curt nod as she headed out the cell door, the four guardsmen hot on her heels. Cassandra knelt down, producing a brass key and started to unlock Ruki's ankle clasps.
"Tell me," the elf whispered to Cassandra. "What did happen?"
Cassandra's brown eyes pierced through Ruki as her gaze snapped upwards at the question. She let out a sigh as the last clasp came undone and the Nevarran helped the elf to her feet. "It... it would be easier to show you than to try to explain."
Ruki sheepishly followed on the heels of the Nevarran woman. She glanced about the various empty cells and dim torches lining the walls. Ruki opened her mouth to ask more questions but instead she firmly pursed her lips together as they made their way up the narrow stairwell. Cassandra had whispered something quietly to a guard as he nodded and stepped aside. The woman heaved a heavy wooden door open, the light was nearly blinding the elf as she held up her arms to shield her eyes as she blindly followed the sounds of Cassandra's clanging chainmail. The elf blinked against the sun and snow as her eyes drew upwards at a faint green light in the skin. Ruki's eyes widened and her jaw went slack. It looked like the sky had cracked open as a massive green tear split the sky. Magic swirled down to the ground below it, boulders and various other debris caught in the vortex. The mark, or whatever it was, pulsed in rhythm with her heartbeat as she stared at it.
"We call it the Breach." Cassandra's harsh voice broke Ruki's trance. "It’s a massive rift into the world of demons that grows larger with each passing hour. It is not the only such rift, just the largest one. All, however, were caused by the explosion at the Conclave."
Ruki blinked in surprise as her gaze shifted from the sky to the woman before her. "Can an explosion really do that?"
The woman folded her arms. "This one did. And unless we act now, the Breach may grow until it swallows the world." Cassandra's attention turned to the sky as the Beach roared and stretched, meteors pouring from it and smashing into the ground miles away.
As if being challenged, Ruki's mark spasmed and sparked. The elf cried out as her fist clenched into a tight ball as she fell to her knees. She took her right hand and cupped it over her left and held her aching hand close to her body. She panted through gritted teeth as she swore in Elven, praying to the Gods to just make it stop.
Cassandra knelt down in front of her and took Ruki's marked hand in her gloved hands and studied the green tear-like mark that ripped through her left palm with a concerned frown. "Each time the Breach expands your mark spreads," with a heavy sigh Cassandra continued. "And unfortunately, it is killing you. It may be the key to stopping this, but there isn’t much time."
Ruki looked up at Cassandra through the tears that welled in her eyes. "What do you mean by 'may be the key'? The key to what exactly?"
Cassandra's eyebrows slanted in a half-scowl. "Closing the Breach. Whether that’s possible is something we shall discover shortly. It is our only chance, however. And yours."
Ruki gritted her teeth, partially from pain and annoyance. “My only chance? You still think I did this? To myself even?!”
Cassandra's scowl deepened. "Not intentionally," she growled. "Something clearly has gone wrong."
"And if I'm not responsible? What then?" Ruki's brows scrunched together, in a mocking attempt to match Cassandra's intense expression. She may not have any recollection of what transpired at the Conclave but she knew her character, at least she thought she did. Ruki knew deep down in her soul she would NEVER hurt another living soul, let alone hundreds of humans or her own brother in that matter. She may be a mage, but she knew she was good. She would never--
Cassandra injected herself in Ruki's internal monologue by speaking in her harsh tone: "Someone is, and you are our only suspect as of now. You wish to prove your innocence? Fine, however this is the only way you truly can!"
Ruki's amethyst eyes searched Cassandra's for any sign of emotion. The Nevarran radiate her intense passion to do what's right, to find who was responsible. Somewhere, Ruki found comfort and understanding in that. The elf knew if something had happened to the Clan she would be just as aggressive and determined to find who was responsible, as Cassandra is doing now. With a small nod, Ruki spoke up. "I understand."
Cassandra's expression laxed slightly to a more neutral one was her eyebrow quirked up in surprise. "Then?"
"I'll do what I can, whatever it takes," Ruki swallowed the lump forming in her throat. "Even if it kills me."
Cassandra seemed to approve of this answer, given how the corner of her mouth twitched up in a smirk. She rose to her feet and with a powerful grab, clamped onto Ruki's arm and helped her back up to her feet. The woman nodded her head down the path as she turned and continued, Ruki followed in close pursuit, nearly on top of the other woman.
Commoners were hissing and spitting curses at her, scowling intensely as Cassnadra pulled the lithe elf closer to her and in front of her. The warrior even dislodged the shield strapped to her back and reflexively blocked some produce and eggs being thrown at the small elf.
"Enough!" the Nevarran barked. "Get back to readying yourselves. All of you!"
With their faces and hearts still full of hate, the commoners dispersed back to their duties of mending cloths and tents and making count of rations and medical supplies.
Ruki glanced back at the woman behind her and gulped. "Why do they hate me? They think I did this too?"
Cassandra's face was somber while she reattached her shield to her back. "They have decided your guilt. They needed to. The people of Haven mourn our Most Holy." Cassandra escorted Ruki farther out of the village as they started to approach a massive stone and wooden gate that lead out into the wilderness, and possibly to this Rift Cassandra had mentioned. "She is... was... head of the Chantry. The Conclave was hers. It was finally a chance for peace between the ever-warring mages and templars. She brought their leaders together. But now," The Nevarran halted, her tone growing as somber as her expression. "Now they are all dead." Cassandra glanced upwards at a soldier standing in a guard tower and nodded. The soldier returned the nod and disappeared deeper into the tower as the massive gates creaked open. With a heavy sigh she lead the elf down the bridge as she continued. "We continue to lash out at each other like the sky. But we must think beyond ourselves, as she did. Until the breach is sealed at least." Cassandra turned the elf to face her, eyeing the cuffs that still bound her hands. She reached into her pocket and pulled the brass key from earlier and started to unlock the cuffs. "There will be a trial. I can promise no more, or whether they'll decide you guilty or innocent."
Ruki rubbed her wrists as the cuffs clattered to the stone bridge. She looked at the woman in almost disbelief. "Why are you doing this? Where are you taking me?"
Cassandra's answer was cryptic. "Come now, it's not far. We must test your mark on something smaller than the Breach itself first."
Ruki's gaze shifted back to the Breach and watched it swirl and billow. Her brow scrunched together as she seemed to be challenging it. What ever it takes. Her gazed shifted back to Cassandra and her true nature returned to her as a cocky half smirk spread across her lips. "Lead the way then, Cassandra."
I had always complained my life was dull anyways. Adventure awaits me over that mountain ridge.