Within the woods of the Planasene Forest, a Dreamer settled against the trunk of an ancient tree. The forest breathed around her as her stark blonde hair glistened in the beams of sunlight poking through the leaves. Soft grass welcomed her, inviting a sleep she hadn’t felt in a long time. Every muscle relaxed when she slipped into the Fade. Low murmurs echoed through around her. Whispers of a former life, whispers of the future, and promises of the present.
They were memories. Not memories of the forest. Memories of another life.
She tilted her head back, embracing the breeze and the smell of the library around her. Her fingers grazed the spines and her eyes fluttered open to look at the vastness around her. She listened to the small chatter emanating from the others there reading and enjoying the company of their fellow elvhen.
Magic flowed through the halls. Usually it was a calm wave, like a gentle ocean stretching against sand banks. “Enjoying yourself?” A soft voice asked. She always did enjoy listening to him talk. The velvet tone, the inflection, the precision in his word choice.
“Now I am.” She turned to look at her new companion. His features were blurred but she knew his voice anywhere. She dreamt of it. She missed it during her waking hours even without realizing it. Forever plagued with a longing memory of something she couldn’t have. “You should not have come here.”
“They could not stop me from seeing you.”
Home was in his arms. She grabbed his hands and led him from the others’ sights. A soft nudge against her jawline; a small smile broke through his lips as they pressed against hers. The spirits turned away.
She blinked to focus and he disappeared.
No, she wanted that memory back. She wanted to see what happened next. She wanted to remember what it felt like to have him near, what it felt like to be there, what it felt like to be who she was in that exact moment.
Remember, she told herself. Remember. She never did. The scent of honey and lavender filled her senses. The world around her began to grow louder. Birds chirped in the trees. Hallas ran in the distance, their hooves thunderous against the dirt. Laughter. Musical laughter floated through the trees. A fire crackled.
Banal nadas. Nothing is inevitable.
She didn’t want to go there. She didn’t want to see. It was the last thing they said before she fell. Before they killed the one who loved them all.
A flash of light broke through the dream. A group of elvhen stood over a broken, beaten body. “What have you done?” She yelled. Black figures turned towards her. Red eyes glared and her rage warred with the magic hurled her way.
A finger condemned their actions. She was cast out, venerated and reviled. Agent of Fen’Harel. No. She was worse. Behind every rebellion was rage.
Rhenys Lavellan woke with a start. She rubbed her chest, feeling the rapid beating of her heart. Tension built in her temples and she pulled herself to her feet. Her clan would not wait long. The tips of the masts of the aravels moved through the forest. The sails looked blood red against the green.
Deshanna would be waiting. Rhenys secured her staff on her back and headed off to meet with the others. They were moving again, this time putting distance between themselves and Kirkwall. As First, she advised the Keeper to leave the area once the Qunari attacked Kirkwall. Their trading with the merchants there would surely be halted during the city’s recovery. It wasn’t until the increase of Templars nearing their clan’s borders that the Keeper relented and uprooted them.
“Keeper!” She called, trotting next up next to Deshanna Istimaethoriel. The older elvhen woman smiled at her. Her white hair was plaited down her back. Her vallaslin honored Mythal in bright blue. Rhenys wore a simple version that honored Ghilan’nain. She lifted her hand and hovered it over her heart as she bowed her head in greeting to the older woman.
“About time you joined us,” Istimaethoriel said. “We were about to leave you behind, da’len.” The corners of her lips curved upwards to match the light tone lacing her voice. The Keeper was often stern with her First, but Rhenys knew they were different from the typical relationship that came with their roles. The mage couldn’t remember her parents, couldn’t remember anything from before she joined Clan Lavellan, but she knew Istimaethoriel as more than a Keeper. She was as close to a mother as Rhenys was ever going to get.
“Wouldn’t want that,” Rhenys replied and reached out for the pack the Keeper was carrying. “Let me have that.” She extended her hand out, flexing her fingers to punctuate her intention.
“You already have your own.”
“What’s one more?” She smiled at her before whistling for a halla. She mounted the snowy creature and whispered softly, praying to her honored God for a safe journey to wherever their clan moved next.
Life went on, as it always did. Clan Lavellan managed to avoid Kirkwall but even they did not miss the flash of light in the sky. Most Dalish clans kept to themselves but those among the Lavellans could not help but feel sympathy to those within the cursed city. Rhenys wanted to help but the majority of the clan wanted to get as far from Kirkwall as they could. Ostwick, they suggested, or Wycome.
The decision wasn’t officially made until they came across retreating mages who ran from their Circle of Magi. Rhenys wanted to offer help but they were too far gone. They resorted to blood magic to successfully flee the city. The elf was of the mindset that magic was magic, no matter what it was called. But once they summoned demons, her soul split in two. The hunters protected her, despite the screams that tore through her mouth. Dreamers were never meant to be near demons.
Sweat beaded down her brow before her eyes rolled into the back of her head. She didn’t feel the ground as she fell and found herself back in the Fade. More memories. More dreams.
She grabbed onto him, and shook him. “Wake up!” She yelled over and over again until he granted her wish. His lips parted in a breathless surprise.
She had broken out of her prison to find him. She had gathered her own following to help him stop the others from ruining their world. “Why did you do this?” She asked him. “You cannot leave me behind! Not again!”
A wolf howled in the wind.
It was then Rhenys knew she needed to speak of her dreams. “I cannot tell them apart from reality,” she admitted to Istimaethoriel. “I know Dreamer’s rarely exist anymore. The People haven’t had many since Elvhenan, but I do not know if I’m in the Fade or in someone else’s dream.”
“What do you mean, da’len?” Istimaethoriel asked. She reached out and gripped onto the mage’s slumping shoulders.
“They feel more like memories.”
The Keeper withdrew her hand and Rhenys placed her own where Istimaethoriel’s had been, missing the comfort of the gesture. Her brown eyes met with the older woman’s icy blues. “I knew this day would come,” she whispered. “I thought I would be prepared, but I am not.”
“What do you mean, Keeper?” She moved closer to the older elf. She knelt down in front of her as Istimaethoriel took her face in her hands.
“I was a young girl when I first set eyes upon you,” she said. “My Keeper came upon you in a ruin while you were deep in Uthenera. You did not wake until I became Keeper. Unlike the legends, you did not remember who you were. Wherever you were in the Beyond took something from you, and it may now be giving it back.”
Rhenys’ body trembled at the admission. Her throat turned dry, unknowing of what she should say… what she could say. A tear rolled down her cheek as the truth settled in and she mourned what she had once lost and still could not remember. “What happened then?” She asked, voice wavering.
“We treated you like any of our young ones. When it was discovered that you were a mage, I knew you were meant to be my First. Mythal led my clan to you. For what reason, I do not know. You grew older with us, came into the person you may have been before.” The Keeper swallowed hard and moved hair out of Rhenys’s face. “You woke for a reason, da’len. Whatever you may need to put you back on the path you were meant for, we will help you.”
Rhenys pulled Istimaethoriel into a hug. “I cannot repay you enough for helping me.” She rested her head on the Keeper’s shoulder, and wondered what manner of being was waking up inside of her.
He rested against his staff as he used it for support, to stabilize him from falling over. Every muscle, every bone ached. Too long, he thought. It had been too long. His eyes could not adjust to the light as his mind raced over the memories of his time in the Fade. Everything he saw pass during his slumber was played before his eyes.
“Too weak,” he whispered, but to who?
Someone answered the call. He felt one watching. He beckoned them to join him, to listen, to dream.
"It is your turn to wake up,” he said.
Rhenys’ eyes snapped open. The world around them was crumbling. The humans they traded with again told them as much. The Divine of their Chantry planned to hold a meeting to stop the brewing war. More of the shemlen’s Circles had fallen during Clan Lavellan’s travels. The merchants were surprised that they didn’t know; hadn’t run into any of the warring factions.
“The Gods have been kind enough to spare us,” was Istimaethoriel’s response. A shudder rolled down her spine, frowning when she should have agreed. “But we cannot avoid what’s happening in the world.”
“What would you have me do?”
“Go to this Conclave,” she said. “Let us know the real danger and if anything can be done.”
“You would trust me with this?”
“I would trust you with anything.”
It was not possible.
Solas didn’t know what he expected when he joined the Inquisition. He didn’t even know if it was a good idea, but he found himself among their ranks and the Seeker welcoming his help. Especially once the other elf came through the Breach.
“Help her,” Cassandra said. “We must know what happened.”
He agreed, though he would not have if he had known who the prisoner was. Seeker Pentaghast led him to the prison they were keeping the survivor in. Solas was beginning to suspect that his help was only suggested because they were both elves, but as he stepped down into the prison, and saw the body on the floor, he wanted to run.
Every fiber of his being ripped into tiny shreds. He wanted to run to her. He wanted to collapse with… grief? Rage? Happiness? The guards’ eyes were on his back. Solas kept his face neutral as he knelt beside her. How can you be here? He silently asked. He placed a hand on her forehead. Heat rippled through the perspiration along her skin. His fingertips were on fire, but not from her fever. The fire burning within him was from longing he hadn’t felt since they were torn apart.
He wanted to scream, seeing the markings on her face. What had been done to her? Why did she allow it? He reminded himself that he could not fall apart. She would need him when she woke. When she remembered.
He cast his eyes down to the mark on her hand. She was having trouble adjusting to the mark his orb branded on her. A heavy sigh escaped him despite himself. It was not meant for her. He did not know if it would kill her, but he would do his best to make sure she woke up.
It took five days before her eyes opened. Solas was sorry to know that he hadn’t been there when it happened. He didn’t see her until she arrived with Cassandra and he grabbed her hand to use the mark to close the rift to seal the demons away. Pain riddled her face, her breathing ragged. Dreamer, he remembered. It hurt her to be near demons.
Fate was not kind to her. It never was.
Introductions were made and he leaned against his staff as she turned to him. His eyes met hers and he saw no recognition. What have they done to you? He wanted to ask. “My name is Solas,” he said slowly, “if there are to be introductions, and you are?”
“Rhenys,” she replied with a forced smile. He saw through her faux friendliness. He saw the sharpness in her eyes as she watched the others. As she watched him.
That is not your name.
She spoke with Varric and Cassandra before the Seeker decided that they would continue to march on to the forward camp. “Rhenys,” he called softly. “A word?”
She nodded and turned to him as they followed behind the other two. “Yes?”
See me. “I…” he didn’t know what to say. “I will inform the Seeker that this magic was not something you could’ve done. The Breach is not your fault.”
“I appreciate that, Solas, but we don’t know if that’s true or not, do we?” She turned her head, blonde hair flowing in the wind where her braid had come undone. He knew. He knew it wasn’t true. He had a million more question and wondered if there were as many answers.
“I suppose not.”
She couldn’t keep her eyes off of him. What was an elf doing here amongst these people? Then again, the same could’ve been asked of her. Cassandra asked what happened in the temple. She couldn’t remember. Even with the vision and the dark shadow pointing at her, she couldn’t remember.
At least the Seeker no longer suspected that she was guilty. It helped that the mark on her hand was able to stabilize what they called the Breach. Gods preserve her, what would the clan think?
Rhenys glanced down at the glowing green mark on her hand. She rubbed the soft spot of her palm just underneath it. She had never felt anything like it before. It was like she was holding a hot iron and she couldn’t let go.
She craned her neck to look up to the top spire of the chantry before her. She had never been inside of one and she didn’t want to break the streak now. Rhenys winced, knowing that Cassandra was waiting inside for her and the Seeker’s lack of patience wouldn’t help her in the end. She had just won their trust; did she want to lose it now?
Why did she care?
The elf sucked in a deep breath and went through the doors of the chantry, listening to the echoing angry words of the little shemlen who wanted her thrown in shackles again. Luckily, Cassandra wouldn’t concede to his demands. The other three in the room seemed glad that Roderick stormed out after the Seeker slammed down the writ in front of him.
The red-haired spy, Leliana, stood next to the Inquisition’s commander. He stood tall, proud. His curly blonde hair sat neatly on his head and the scar on his upper lip seemed more prominent as he smiled. She didn’t recognize the other woman, who’s brown skin was as rich as her hair. She introduced herself as Josephine. Rhenys had never seen humans who were kind without expecting to trade with her.
A map was laid out on the giant table they encircled. The other four talked about their plans, and which path would be best to follow. “I’ll meet with this Mother Giselle,” she agreed. “I don’t know how much help I will be but if there’s something to be done, I will stay.”
“Really?” Cassandra’s flat tone told her enough. She expected her to run.
Rhenys’s lips pressed thin. “On one condition,” she admitted, “I want to send word to my clan outside of Wycome. I’m sure they would be glad to hear that I’m alive.”
“We will get it done” Leliana promised.
“We’ll leave in an hour,” Cassandra said. “The Hinterlands are a few days away. The earlier we leave the better. I will gather Varric and Solas for the journey.” She left without another word. Josephine and Leliana left together, leaving her alone with Cullen.
“I apologize for the brashness I had in our first meeting,” he began. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I had seen too much death that day and-”
“And you didn’t know if I was innocent or not,” she finished for him. He nodded, a sheepish look developed on his face and she took it as a genuine apology. “There’s nothing to be sorry for. I would’ve done the same.”
“I appreciate the candor, Herald.”
She winced at the title. “Please,” she said. “You can call me Rhenys. I would prefer it. I’m not a herald to a woman I don’t believe in.” He nodded again, understanding that she wanted nothing to do with being called the Herald of Andraste. It was ridiculous, if anyone asked her, but they weren’t. They would do what humans always did. They would believe and do what they want.
She turned to walk away and he spoke again, “Please tell me if anyone troubles you.” She glanced at him, eyebrow raised. “Some here aren’t friendly to elves, and I’d rather them not give you a hard time.”
“I… appreciate it, but I can handle words.” They both knew it might be more than that. She bit her lower lip. “I will. Thank you, Commander.”
“Thank you, Cullen.”
She turned away again to and left the chantry, grateful that he didn’t see the blush growing along her cheeks.