Chapter 1: Through The Looking Glass
"No!" I slapped my hand against my forehead and sighed, watching that sad elf ruin the entire world. "Look at what you've done!" I screamed at the Looking Glass, whapping my hand against the glass. "You've ruined a perfectly good world! Look at it! It has The Blight!" I heard the door to my chambers fly open and I quickly turned the glass off and stood up from my chair.
My brother smiled nastily at me, shaking his head. His black hair tied into a high bun, his green eyes dancing with mischief. He walked closer to me and crossed his arms behind his back. "Antheia, come away from there," he said. "You wouldn't want father finding out about this, would you?" He asked slowly, his smirk a familure, and cruel stamp.
"Alright, listen up you little snake-"
He snapped his fingers and the words froze on the tip of my tongue. He walked further into my room and turned me around by the shoulders. We looked into the Glass together and my brother reached out a hand and touched it. I watched it shimmer as a scene from the world I had been observing played. The elvhen man who became Inquisitor stumbled out of the Rift and was captured by guards. My brother slid his finger across the reflective edge and moved their world forward by about a month in their time. It was a scene that I never remembered seeing. I thought I'd seen...everything. Every path that world would take.
"I don't remember this," I said.
The Herald was down on his hands and knees in some kind of a temple. His head raised up as a scream of rage tore through his throat. My brother chuckled and stopped them again. "You can help them, you know you can. You might not have the same powers as the rest of us, but you still have plenty of power to lend your aid to these sad, pathetic, mortals you watch so closely. All you'll have to do is take a step through that mirror, and reveal yourself to them."
"Where is that place?" I asked, running my fingers along the Glass, outlining the temple walls.
"He calls out to false gods who cannot hear them from their prison. Wait...and watch a moment..." The scene started playing again.
Inquisitor Eirlen Lavellan beat his hands against the ground, his white hair plastered to his face. One of his companions called his name, but he didn't turn around. They had been walking for days and had come no closer to finding what they were looking for. "What are they looking for?" I asked.
"They search for an ancient weapon that they could use to defeat the Magister. I've created an alternate timeline, where you might actually be able to save that stupid world."
I looked at him suspiciously. "What are you getting out of this?"
My brother chuckled. "I think it might be fun, watching you try and maneuver one of the mortal worlds. So...what do you say, sister? Shall I open the portal for you?" He asked.
"Fantastic!" He said, clapping his hands together, a giddy laugh escaping his lips.
I felt a strong shove at my back and I was falling through the Looking Glass. As I fell, the colors changed and I was suddenly standing in a dark, musty temple. I must have made quite a sight. I appeared in the room with a bright flash of white and gold with my white tunic flowing around me. My brother appeared next to me and reached into his satchel, pulling out a longbow. "Here is the weapon that can save the world." He handed it to me and poked my nose. "You finally get to be the ancient hero that you always used to envy, sister. Perhaps, our father might even take notice of you."
I looked at him suspiciously. "Where is the Inquisitor?" I asked. "Where is the rest of his party?"
My brother smiled wickedly and touched the center of my forehead. My entire body instantly turned to marble, but I could still see, despite that. I could feel the bow was still in my hands. "They'll be along in...oh...fifty thousand years or so." He winked at me. "Now, all that's left is to leave a prophecy with one of those foolish mortals. You know how wild they get when they hear those. Maybe the wolf will hear it? Oh wait, he hasn't been born yet." He hummed and chewed on his thumb. He shrugged. "I'll just drop it off at a temple somewhere. Don't worry my sweet sister, they will find you eventually."
My brother walked slowly around the cave that had become my prison. He cupped his hands around his mouth and whispered quietly, so the message could be placed in the ears of whoever would spread his word over and over for thousands of years. "When the sky is torn asunder and when the world is wrought with chaos, an elvhen man will rise and bare the mark that will save the world. At that time, a guide will take him to the cave of the sleeping maiden. He will take the weapon from her, and release the goddess from her prison." My brother laughed and leaned against my frozen form. "Hope you like counting sheep," he said, before snapping his fingers and disappearing. Leaving me alone, to curse his name.
'Damn you, Hermes,' I thought.
The hardest part about this entire situation is that I can't move. It is so mind-numbingly boring and I cursed my brother constantly for not letting my mind slip into sleep. My only company is the occasional animal that stumbles into the cave and dies because it can't find its way back out. I am still able to use my powers over flora, so I could at least grow plants and watch them. My only entertainment.
I was going to lose my mind within fifty thousand years.
I wondered if my father noticed I was gone. I'm sure a few of my siblings must have, but my father hardly ever even spoke to me. In my long life, I'd had three conversations with him. So I very much doubted that he knew anything was amiss. I would have sighed, but air couldn't pass through my stone lips. I couldn't even turn my head to look at the rest of the cave.
I tended to drift in and out of consciousness. While I could not fall into sleep, I did have moments where I was less aware than others. A wolf wondered into my cave and gave birth to six pups. I used my powers to make sure the mother was comfortable while she was in labor. She nursed her pups. When they were slightly older, she would leave to hunt and then would return to feed the small creatures that waited for her. They stayed with me for almost a year. Then when they left, I was abandoned to my lonely solitude once again.
One of the wolves returned three years later, to birth her own set of pups. Then they left again.
There was a storm, mighty and terrible. The entire cave filled with water, killing my plants and casting me into darkness.
The water eventually receded and I could finally grow again. It was never cold in my domain. Always, perfect and warm. I had nothing else to do other than to garden and think.
And I thought a lot.
I thought about my brother, Hermes. I couldn't tell if him leaving me in this world was cruel amusement or an act of kindness, freeing me from my gilded prison. It didn't really matter.
A person walked into the cave. She was soft looking, she moved as if she walked on air. Her hair curled around her shoulders, an ebony black that shimmered in the dim light. A figure so beautiful that Aphrodite would have gone mad with envy if she saw her. The woman sat down and tucked her legs under her, pushing a lock of her black hair out of her face. Her pointed ears were pierced with golden earrings. She closed her eyes and laced her long fingers together.
"Creators, I pray that you forgive me," she whispered. "But I will not marry June. I know it is an honor to be pledged to one of the gods as a bonded, but I do not love him."
I felt for her. I let soft flowers grow around her and she laid her head down and fell asleep. She stayed in my cave with me for two years, coming and going often, returning with dead animals or supplies to make the area more livable for her. I grew food for her, and she would sing for me. Then the peace was interrupted by men dressed in silver armor stormed in, pointing long spears at her. She screamed, standing up and running away from them. I let the vines curl around the intruders and killed them before they could do any harm to the girl. She looked between me and the dead men.
"Thank you," she said, dipping her head in a respectful bow. She looked at me and traced my marble cheek. "You have guarded me here, what is your name?" She asked. I couldn't answer, obviously, so she chuckled softly. "I should have guessed. Thank you, for protecting me as long as you have. I have to go...they found me, and I have no idea how."
I watched her destroy the home she had made for herself. I tried to wrestle with my own body. I wanted to stop her from leaving, but I couldn't leave. I gave up when I saw that she already had her small sack packed with her possessions. I allowed an apple tree to grow and she looked at it in shock. It grew bright golden apples and she took seven. The apples wouldn't rot, and one bite would be enough for her to live off for a week. A gift from the gods to the woman who was my only company after so many thousands of years.
I watched her go, and I felt my heart starting to crack as I saw her back.
I learned how to stop being conscious. I could go years without being aware of anything at all until something living entered my cave. However, when I woke, I would instantly be able to tell how long I had been 'out.' I could finally distance myself from the horrible feeling of loneliness. But I did enjoy it when an animal would stumble in and wake me. I always made sure to feed them before they left, if they could eat what I could grow.
Something was wrong. I was woken by a burst of energy that seemed to shake the very ground I stood upon. I felt like I was being strangled and I couldn't even breath. I knew that must have been the sad elf erecting the veil. He destroyed his home, his people, and would destroy the world again if given half a chance. It stirred determination within me. I knew he would be entering into a deep slumber. I was given a sense of determination not to give up. My wait was mostly over. Just a few more thousand years and I would be freed. Then I could help the Inquisitor save the world, return to Olympus and beat the shit out of Hermes. I'd tell Ares what he'd done, and maybe convince him to lend me his spear for a few hours.
Did any of my other siblings notice I was missing?
I entered back into my state of unconsciousness.
Something interesting was happening. Four men in green armor fell into my cavern, breathing heavily. One of them was obviously injured. They sat around, and passed a water skin between them, while one attempted to set the broken leg of the injured man. "What do you think that is?" A tall elvhen man said, pointing at me offhandedly.
The only woman of the group stood and looked me over. "Its a statue of a human woman, I guess," she said with a shrug. "It must be those human's precious Andraste." She rolled her eyes hard enough that I thought she might have given herself a headache. "Perhaps we should destroy it?" She raised her sword and grinned in petty delight.
"No," an older man said, holding up his hand. "This statue has great historical significance to the elvhen people," he said. The other three looked at him in confusion and he huffed. "Honestly, you young people," he shook his head and took a drink of the water he was given. "It has been passed down from before the days of Arlathan that this woman holds in her hands the weapon that will one day save the world from some great calamity that will put all living creatures in great danger."
"I think I've heard of her," the injured girl said, looking at me with bright eyes. "My grandmother said that she's a goddess who has been imprisoned here."
The first woman rolled her eyes. "You can't truly believe that horse piss, right?" She asked.
"Well maybe, I do," the girl said defensively. She looked at me and smiled. "Hello there," she said with a wave. "Excuse me, ma'am but I have a request if you don't mind," she said. The young man and the other woman both laughed at her, teasing her for talking to a statue so earnestly. She rolled her eyes and ignored them. "My companions and I are members of a group called the Emerald Knights. Our people are being attacked in an Exalted March from human forces because we won't bow to their god. We have no food and very few weapons. Would you please...help us?" She asked, her hands clasped in front of her.
How could I deny a request like that?
I concentrated and let four apple trees spring from the ground, the same golden apples grew there as the kind I made for my companion so long ago. I heard the elves gasp. The young man even screamed in surprise. They all turned to me with large eyes. I then had wood sprout from the ground, twisting into dozens of weapons. Swords, bows, daggers. It took so much power to do it, but when I was finished, the gapping look on their faces was worth the effort. The weapons were all made from wood, but they would work better than any steal they could find.
The woman who had tried to destroy me reached out a picked up one of the swords. She ran her fingers along the sharp edges and hissed in pain when it cut her fingers. She grabbed a cloth from her pack and held it against her bleeding hand. "What the fuck just happened?!" She asked, her voice shaking.
"She hears us," the old man said, standing up. He bowed his head to me. "We thank you, my lady." He turned to the others. "We need to gather these gifts up and take them back with us. Come, work quickly."
They took everything that they could carry with them, which was most of it. Then they left quickly and I allowed myself to fall back into slumber. When I woke next, it had only been a handful of years since I last woke. The same woman who had requested my assistance stood in front of me with a smile. She dropped to one knee, placing a fist over her heart.
"My lady, I have come to thank you," she said. She raised her eyes to me. "I have come to tell you that we were victorious in our efforts to fend off the humans who were attempting to take our land from us. We continue to defend ourselves from Tavinter invaders. In every battle we fight, the weapons you gave us end the battle before it truly begins. It as if whoever wields them has the blessings of the creators. Many are saying that you must be a goddess spoken of in that old tale from long ago. Whatever you may be, I thank you for the blessing you have given to the elvhen people."
I wished I could tell her to rise. There was no need to bow to me.
"We are a free people. We have named our country Or'las'len. It means 'Of Hope For Children.' No longer are we a people scattered to the wind. Now we are the empire that we used to be. And we owe it to you.
I was hardly left alone. From that point on, it seemed that the Elvhen people made me their chief deity. There were priests and priestesses who would come and tend to me, every day. They kept the plants I grew neat and tidy. They would request food from me, whenever there wasn't enough to go around. They turned my dingy, lonely cave, into a temple of rich and natural beauty. I even received a visit from their king one afternoon.
He introduced himself as Fen'an Lavellan and he told me that he was worried about being a father. He was worried that he wouldn't be 'any worth.' He prayed to me, begging me to grant him wisdom to be a good father. I couldn't do that, but the fact that he was so conscious of his actions, proved that he already had pleanty of wisdom to spare.
Year 50,000. 9:41 Dragon.
Everything stopped in my temple one day when a burst of energy blasted through our very souls. They all scrambled around trying to figure out what was happening. It was nine days later when word came of the destruction of the Temple of Sacred Ashes in Fereldan. There was only one survivor, third prince Eirlen Lavellan. There was a Mark on his hand that could seal the Rifts that had opened up all around Thedas. He had been knocked unconscious when he had closed the first, and most powerful, Rift. He was the only one who would be able to stop the Breach from destroying the world. He joined an organization called the 'Inquisition' that had dedicated themselves to stopping the chaos that threatened to destroy everything. The Elvhen man who rose up to save the world.
The people in my temple grew mad with giddiness. Eirlen was returning home with a small party for a few days for three reasons. One, the assure his family that he was alive. Two, to seal the Rifts that had opened up around his homeland. Then the third reason, the first item on his list, was to come and take the bow from my hands and release me from my prison.
He was coming back to set me free.
By the gods, I couldn't wait to see the sun again.
The high priestess Vunlea was washing down my statue and placed a crown of flowers upon my marble head. Her smile illuminated the dark temple and she stepped back from me. "Today is a joyous day, my lady," she said. "Today, the prince is coming to release you and save the world. I will admit, however, that we will miss having you here."
I wish I could tell her that I wasn't simply planning to disappear from their lives when I was freed. I would help the Inquisitor save the world, then I would return to them to watch over the people who had kept me company for so long. I would never abandon them, so long as I had the ability to help them. When I had more mobility I could help them far more than I could while I was trapped in marble.
Vunlea sighed and sat down on a marble bench that was across from me. "We knew this day would come, and we're so happy to see you finally brought to life...but, and please forgive me, I doubt. Sometimes." She looked so guilty that it genuinely broke my heart. "If you're really there, please give me a sign," she begged me.
I concentrated and let a vine grow by her feet, that then gently curled around her hand before retreating and resting against her shoulder. It was the closest I could get to being able to hug her. She looked at the vine and touched it with a trembling hand and chuckled. "Yes, of course, forgive me for doubting you." She bowed her head and clasped her hands in front of her. "The Creators abandoned us many generations ago. I feared that perhaps, you too would one day..."
Never. I let my intentions be knowns by wrapping the vine around her waist. She was crying so I used the leaves to wipe them away. She hugged herself and nodded. "Yes, I understand, thank you, my lady."
The moment was interrupted when four young men entered the temple. "Savhalla, hahren," one of them said, bowing his head. He was dressed in the traditional uniform that they decided meant that the boys were training to be priests. They were only in the first few years of their training. "We are sorry to interrupt your prayers, but his Highness has arrived."
Vunlea stood and I took the vine away from her and rested it against the bench. "Yes, the king wishes to have an official ceremony for his son to take the Ghilanas Da'lav, we will begin preparations immediately." She pointed at a fair-haired boy who jumped at her determined eyes. "You, clean this chamber. Remove the weeds, then ask someone to bring in a silk spun cloak to place on our lady's shoulders."
"Yes, ma'am!" The boy said, saluting her.
She pointed at the next young man. "I want you to make sure that there is enough table space for the entire council, their families, the royal family, and the heads of the noble families. There should be three hundred place settings."
"What should we do for the prince's companions?" He asked.
"Shoot," Vunlea sighed. "Make sure there is a place for them on the left-hand side of prince Eirlen. I believe he is bringing three people with him."
"Ma nuvenin," the young man said before leaving quickly.
Vunlea looked at the last of the three. "I have a special task for you, Shalelan," she said. "I was informed by the king that there may be a few people who may attempt to kill our lady or Prince Eirlen. I am tasking you with their protection."
"Very well, I will gather a few others to watch from the sidelines." He bowed and exited, leaving Vunlea and the boy who was assigned to clean the chamber. She didn't give him further instructions but did promise to bring him food.
The boy looked to be about ten or eleven years old. He worked diligently, wiping sweat from his brow. I felt awful for him, having to clean the entire place on his own, so I made the weeds simply pluck themselves. He watched the process with curiosity. I let a few flowers bloom around me and the boy sat down in them, before laying down on his side. He ran his fingers through the grass and plucked a flower from the ground and sat up. He put it in his hair and smiled at me, before standing up and running out of the room with a small bow.
He returned a few minutes with a silk cloak, a light pink with silver embroidery. He wrapped it around my shoulders and clipped in the front. It was to 'preserve my modesty.' I found it strange how the Elvhen people were so prude about nudity. It wasn't like my tunic showed everything but when Hermes had frozen me, the robe had slipped and shown one of my breasts. One priest, a few centuries ago, had sugested shaving off my nipple. I was having none of that and threw him out of the temple, the vines banning him from entering. So they compromised. They would wrap me in a cloak and left my marble body alone.
When I was 'properly' dressed the boy bowed again and left me. So there was nothing left to do other than wait.
It took about two hours before the ritual began. First, all the priests and priestesses filed into the room and stood against the walls, with their heads bowed. Two young girls, their hair braided with golden strands stood at the doors of the chamber. Vunlea stood before me and bowed at the waist. "My lady, the prince bids you permission to enter this holy place. He had come, bearing the mark that was once foretold to us would save the world. We ask you, does he have your permission?" She asked. Bright yellow and purple flowers grew around my feet. She straightened up and nodded. "Allow them to enter," she said.
The two young girls opened the doors, and four figures walked solemnly inside. Eirlen Lavellan looked much like he did when I didn't exist in this world. His white hair was braided and tossed over one shoulder. He was dressed in fine dark green clothing. The front was embroidered with cold and his cape billowed behind him. He had a crown that was made from silver and was decorated with beautiful sapphires. He was accompanied by Varric Tethras, Cassandra Pentaghast, and Soals. They were dressed in the uniforms that they had worn during the ball that took place in Halamshiral in the other timeline.
The four of them all dropped to one knee like they had at some point practiced together. I saw Cassandra twitching. I'm sure it must have been hard for her to bow to a god that was not her own. I also saw Solas looked ridiculously annoyed at the situation. I could understand his annoyance, he'd given up everything to free his people from the wills of would-be-gods, it must have grated on him that they turned around to start worshiping me. I would have to prove myself to that sad egg.
"Who is your guide?" Vunlea asked Eirlen.
Solas stood up, using his staff to balance himself. "I am the one who guided the Herald here," Solas said, grumbling quietly.
Vunlea nodded and stood to the side, and gestured towards me. "Claim your weapon, and realize your destiny," she said to Eirlen.
Eirlen stood on shaky feet and straightened his clothes out. He approached me, his hands trembled as he reached for the ivory white bow that I held. He closed his hand around the grip, which was made from a dark black wood. He looked at me, with wide, frightened violet eyes. He swallowed thickly and smiled. "I am ready to accept my destiny, my lady," he said before he pulled the bow out of my hands.
At first, there was no response and he had enough time to look confused before the entire room was engulfed in a brilliant white light. I could feel the marble cracking away from my skin. I could feel as my feet lowered and touched against the grass. It was the most amazing feeling I had ever experienced. When the light faded I could no longer stand on my own two feet and I fell forward. Eirlen let out a cry of surprise and grabbed me.
I looked up at him, a smile stretching across my face. His eyes were wide, his mouth hanging open slightly. "Eirlen Lavellan...I have waited a long time for this meeting," I said. I straightened myself up and looked at him. I put my fingers under his chin and closed his mouth. He dropped to his knees and pressed his face against the ground. I lept back in surprise. He reached out and grabbed me by the edge on my tunic.
"My lady," he cried looking up at me, with tears burning in his eyes. "We beg your blessing, in the fight against the Breach and the demons that have been pouring through it. Deliver us!"
I slowly lowered myself to my knees and pried his fingers off of him. I pressed his head against my chest and hushed him. "Hey now, it's alright," I said, wiping his tears from his face. "You do not need to beg for my help," I told him. "You are a hero who has been chosen through the ages to save the world. If you want my help, you only need to ask for it. I am not so above anyone that they would need to come to me on bended knee to ask for anything."
"But...but you gave the Elvhen people their homeland back," he argued, slightly confused. "You're a goddess, I'm just...me," he said.
I shook my head. "Incorrect, I gave the Emerald Knights weapon that they used to take their home back. While I might be a goddess, that doesn't mean that I am your master." I stood and took him by the hand, pulling the prince to his feet. "So stand up, stand proud, and we will all save the world together."
When the feast was finished, I was escorted to a room in a castle. There was a serving girl who was kind enough to show me how to run a bath. When I was finished and dressed for sleep, the girl excused herself. I stood in the window, looking out on all the lands I could see. It was a beautiful place. The land was green and had trees as far as the eye could see. The buildings were made from marble and bronze. The palace where the royal family lived was a beautiful green. They had truly built themselves a kingdom to be proud of.
I closed the window and drew the curtains and my room was bathed in darkness. I felt my heart pick up and panic clutch my heart. I flung the curtains open and felt relief when the moonlight lit my room up. I pressed my back against the wall and slid down until I was sitting down. I pulled my knees up to my chest and flexed my fingers. I could finally move. Walk, run, skip. I could finally hold conversations with people using my voice instead of plants and vines. It was such a relief, but whenever I closed my eyes, I was back in my prison.
I sighed and pushed myself back up to my feet and walked over to the bed that had been made for me. It was like laying on a cloud. I wrapped the warm blankets around me and smiled. I would be okay. I didn't have to worry about being trapped every again. If Hermes tried that shit again, I could just wrap him in vines and toss him as far away as possible.
I was woken the next morning by a knock at my door. I opened one eye and looked at the young woman who bowed to me. "My lady, the prince's companion Solas, has asked for an audience with you."
I sat up and ran my hand through my hair. "Tell him that he can see me in twenty minutes. I need to get dressed."
"As my lady wishes, I will return to help you in a moment," the attendant said before closing the door.
I sprung out of bed and stretched my arms over my head, stretching as much as my body would allow. When the woman returned I told her to pick me out a dress that was simple. I didn't want to be walking around covered in ruffles and lace. She chuckled and nodded. She pulled out a dark blue dress with gold embroidery. She did my hair quickly, throwing it into a braid then tying that up into a bun. She then helped me into a pair of flat shoes.
I sat down at a temple that was in my room. "You call Solas he can see me now," I said. The woman bowed again and exited the room. I was very curious what the world had to say to me. He was ushered in by the attendant. He cut a proud figure, ironically. He was dressed in what I assumed was his normal attire. A shabby green sweater and a vest. His pants tucked into his boots. I turned and smiled at the woman. "Please leave us." She nodded and shut the door behind her.
I gave Solas my full attention. He looked irritated, suspicious, and curious all at once. He walked across the room and sat down across from me, at my invitation. He crossed one leg over the other and rested his hands in his lap. I felt my lips twitch. "How may I help you?" I asked.
"You seem to be adapting well to your new surroundings," he said.
"Yes, it was very kind of the king to house me for the night. But I imagine that we will be leaving very soon."
"We, Solas. I have decided that I will accompany The Herald and the rest of your party."
"Hm, very well. Now I have a question for you," he said. "Do you truly expect people to believe you are a goddess?" He asked, a sneer marring his handsome face.
"It doesn't really matter to me, honestly. Unlike many of my fellows, I don't get my power from worship. So people are free to think of me however they want. Simply put, I am the spring. But many of my siblings are gods and my father is the king of the gods."
"Then what are you doing here?!" He asked harshly. "Simply snap your fingers and make all the troubles of the world disappear! Or better yet, answer me why you were trapped as a statue for thousands of years. Would a god not have enough power to simply shake those chains off?!"
I sat and watched him carefully, observing every twitch of his face. "Are you afraid of something, Solas?" I asked him. He froze, not saying anything. "I am the youngest of my father's children, and still too young to manifest the powers my other siblings have. I do what I can, and I am sorry if the results are not to your standards."
"Many people before you claimed to be gods, and all were proven false."
I leaned back in my chair and blinked at him. "I have no need to prove myself to you, Solas. I am not demanding you fall to your knees and worship me."
"Yet you don't blink an eye when an entire country of people have raised you up as their goddess!" His fingers tightened around the handles of his chair. "So obviously, power isn't unattractive to you!"
"I think I understand..." I said, chewing on my bottom lip. "Solas, why don't you ask me what you really came here to ask. No more dancing around the subject. This isn't Orlais."
He actually cracked a smile. His shoulders relaxed and he stood. "I have taken enough of your time, I shall see you later this afternoon, ma'am." He turned to leave and I sighed. He stopped at my door, hand tightening around the handle. "The Herald wishes to leave at the latest, the third bell. I will inform him that you intend to accompany us."
"Yes, thank you." He opened the door and I cleared my throat. "Solas, do you know what has been the downfall of many mortals, since the beginning of time?" I asked. He said nothing but turned to look at me. "Hubris. If I were you, I would take care to make sure that I didn't fall victim to it."
His eyes turned hard and he turned back facing forward. He opened his mouth and closed it before finally leaving, shutting the door behind him. I groaned and leaned forward. That could have gone better, for sure. I sat up straighter and looked out the window, watching a bird land on a tree branch outside. I wondered what the wolf was planning. Hopefully, I wouldn't find myself on the business end of his staff.
No point in worrying about it until it became a problem. I stood from the chair and opened the wardrobe. There was a bag inside and I grabbed it, filling it with clothing that would be practical for traveling. The trouble was, I didn't know what practical travel clothes really were. I'd never traveled before. Confined first in my home in Olympus then in a cave. I didn't have very much 'outdoor' experience. Strange, for the bringer of spring, certainly. Would I need anything else? These weren't even my clothes, they were gifts from Eirlen's older sister. I shrugged and grabbed my pack, and pulled on a pair of boots.
I thought that I should ask people what to bring, so I went looking for someone, trouble was I didn't know where anything was. I stumbled around the castle, looking for anyone but I assumed all the servants were working in the kitchen to clean up after the feast. I walked into the drawing room of the castle and stopped dead in my tracks. The king was taking tea with another man. "Oh! I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt, your majesty." I curtsied and turned to leave.
"Wait! My lady," the king said standing up and gently taking me by the arm. He directed me to sit next to the man. I vaguely recognized him from the looking glass. "It is my understanding that you intend to accompany my son in his journey to seal the Breach."
"Yes, that is correct," I said.
"I don't mean to alarm you, but it seems that an organization called the House of Repose has accepted a contract on your life," the king said gently.
I raised an eyebrow and stiffened my shoulders. "And they know...of my origins?" I asked him.
"Yes, that is precisely the reason they have been sent after you," he said. "The humans worship one god, and they believe they have the right to attack and kill whatever person or country that claims they are wrong. Most of Thedas is run as a Theocracy, and you are a threat to that power they hold over the people. The House of Repose won't stop sending assassins after you until they have completed their mission." The king gestured to the familiar elf who smiled handsomely, sipping his tea. "So, we will be sending you with a personal bodyguard."
The man stood off the couch and dropped to one knee, taking my hand in his own. He looked up at me and grinned. "I am Zevran, it is a pleasure to meet you."
The Day I don't put Zevran in one of my DA fics is the day I die.
Chapter 3: The Antivan Assassin
Thank you all so much for your nice comments! They keep me going!
There was a plan, that I hadn't been included in the making of. The Herald would leave a few hours after Zevran and me, and they would also be taking a different path to Haven. So Zevran showed me what I should pack, and even helped me put on those hideous, but very comfortable, boots that most travelers wore. We exchanged names and pleasantries while we waited for the stables to bring us mounts. I had never ridden a horse before, so I was given an older horse who was good for newer riders. I said my goodbyes to the people who tended to my temple and promised them that when the world had settled a bit, I would return to them. Then Zevran and I were off.
We moved through the lush wilderness of Or'las'len. We would have to take a less direct route through the Frostback mountains which I was not excited for. The entire trip, from beginning to end would take six to nine days. We'd be arriving later than the Herald and company. It would be the longest I'd ever traveled. It'd be the only time I'd ever traveled.
"So," Zevran said, pulling his horse closer to me. "I have been told that you are the goddess trapped in the statue." He grinned at me. "Though, it is no surprise, a woman as beautiful as you would no doubt be considered among the gods, however-"
"You don't believe it," I finished for him, grinning at him.
"Yes, forgive me dear lady, but I don't believe it."
I held up my hand. "I'm not offended, I don't need worshipers or believers."
"And what is your job, exactly?" He asked.
"What's yours?" I shot back. I raised an eyebrow at him.
He laughed loudly before covering his mouth, his other hand going to the dagger at his side when he was sure there was no one around to attack him he turned back to her. "You have teeth," he smirked. A few seconds passed and he shrugged. "How about we trade," he said. "I ask you a question, then you ask me a question. We both answer honestly."
"That seems fair, I suppose," I said. "Very well, my job is to make sure that spring comes on time. I let the plants grow. I wake the earth Nymphs and make sure they're actually doing their job."
"Hmm," he hummed and bit his lip. "And, how, do you 'let the plants grow?'" He asked.
"I thought it was my turn to ask a question," I said with a smile. He paused for a moment before nodding. "Where are you from? Your accent doesn't sound like any of the others who live in Or'las'len," I said.
"I am from the Northern kingdom called Antiva, originally," he said. "Now, would you tell me how you 'let plants grow'?" He asked again, showing off his slightly longer teeth,
"Oh, that's an easy one," I said. "I just tell them to."
"You...tell them to grow?" He said, sounding just as disbelieving.
"That is correct," I said with a nod. "My turn, how did you end up from Antiva to working for the king?"
He smirked at me, his eyes betraying that I had asked a rather uncomfortable question. But he seemed to shrug it off rather quickly. "It may seem strange to you, but not all elves live in Or'las'len, and those of us to have been born in human cities are not treated...well," he said. He rotated his shoulders behind. "The elves have a choice of three lines of work. Servant, prostitute, or assassin. I was raised by the Antivan Crows, an assassin's guild. During the fifth Blight, I volunteered to assassinate the Hero of Fereldan. I failed, and she spared my life. I joined her cause and when she defeated the Archdemon she took me with her to Or'las'len. She is a noblewoman and had some sway with the royal family. The king hired me on, after hearing about my past. The rest, as they say, is history."
I frowned, my eyebrows scrunched together. "Would you...like us to stop playing this game?" I asked him. He pressed his lips together for just a moment before nodding slowly. "That's fine, I can offer a bit more information if you'd like. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to ask you any painful questions."
He sighed, placing a hand on his chest. "Ah, how wonderful it feels for a woman as lovely as you to worry over me. But I assure you, I am fine."
The two of us continued riding in silence. Zevran kept his eyes on me, but neither of us felt like talking. When the silence became too much for me, I started twitching a bit. "I...could show you," I said. "I can show you how I grow plants." He thought for a moment before nodding. I raised my hand and pointed to a random spot of the ground, where a bush of yellow roses instantly bloomed. "Those will never die," I said. "Through freezing winters and burning summer, those roses will continue to grow."
He blinked a few times. "Wonderful," he said. He brought his horse over to the roses and bent down, plucking one from the stem. He held it out to me and I took it, watching him closely. "I believe there is something strange about you, something marvelous but strange," he said.
I snorted and tucked the rose into my traveling bag. "Thank you, Zevran," I said.
We made camp when the sun started to set. Zevran helped me off of my horse and tied her up to a tree. "From here on out, it is going to get very cold, I hope you are well packed," he said. He set up the tent we would be sleeping any, little more than a tarp thrown over two sticks, and showed me how to set up a bedroll. He made a fire and told me to stay put in the camp while he fished for our dinner. "If you wouldn't mind," he said with a teasing smile. "Our dinner would be amazing if you could manifest a few spices."
So I sat in the grass and wondered what would taste good with fish. I settled with Basil and Rosemary. When I was finished, I clipped a bit from the new bushes and put them on a wooden plate next to the fire. I wasn't sure what to do with myself, so I tucked my legs under me and sat with my hands in my lap. I ran my fingers through my long strawberry-blond hair and pushed it behind me. I thought that now I was traveling I should consider cutting it.
Zevran returned with two large fish in his hands. He looked at the spices I had grown and hummed. He set to work, cleaning out the fish. He pushed sticks through them and set them over the fire. "Won't be long now," he said, leaning back and observing me. "If you would indulge me, would you mind telling me about how you found yourself trapped inside of a statue?"
I shrugged. "My brother is what the mortal world calls a 'trickster' god. He was just playing a prank on me," I said with a dismissive wave of my hand. I rolled my eyes and sighed. "He said it would be amusing to watch me try and navigate the trials of this world. I expect he's watching me now, and if he's not, he's planning to send something in my path to cause me trouble."
The next morning, we left before the sun was even over the mountains. Zevran showed me how to wear a riding cloak when we hit the first mounds of snow. When I saw it, I hopped off of my horse and stuck my hands into the frozen fluff. I stuck some in my mouth and laughed. Eventually, Zevrean had to herd me back onto my horse and we continued on the way. We couldn't find anything to hunt that night and my traveling companion told me that we would have to go without for the night, but he'd head out early on the next day. I said that it wasn't a problem. So I tried to grow us something to grow but frowned when nothing happened.
I frowned and looked at the stubborn ground that wouldn't yield to me. I sighed and rubbed my temples. "Remember I said my brother would be off causing trouble for me? Well, it appears he's convinced Boreas to prevent me from being able to grow anything in areas where it's winter."
"Boreas?" He asked.
"He's the north wind and the god of winter." I crossed my arms over my chest and sat down on the tarp that Zevran had laid out for us. "I wonder what Hermes gave him..." I thought hard. Boreas had never been someone you could sway with things like gold or mortal worshipers. He believed in order and the cycle of life that the two of us created. Even still, if I created a bush of flowers or a tree somewhere where winter came, he always left my creations alone. "I suppose I could just ask him," I mutter under my breath.
The next day we were trapped in a cave for most of the day, due to a violent blizzard. "Your brother's interference?" Zevran asked, shivering, trying to start a fire in the middle of the cave.
"No, I think it might just be inconvenient weather," I said, rubbing my arms with my hands quickly. I was wrapped in my cloak and my bedroll. Zevran never did get the fire started. The two of us curled up together in his bedroll and waited out the storm. The day after that was fairly easy to travel. Zevran went off for an hour and came back with three rabbits and we ate a hearty breakfast before heading off. We had to take a slight detour when Zevran noticed small signs that people had passed through the area. He didn't want to run the risk of us having to fight.
On the fifth day of travel, we passed over the top of the mountain. It was a much easier journey after that. Zevran decided that we should just push all the way through the rest of the way. When we reached the base of the mountain, Zevran fired off a flare.
"What was that for?" I asked him.
"To let the soldiers in the village know that we are not attackers or spies. Otherwise, they might try and kill us," he said with a smirk. He led the way to the front gates of Haven where two soldiers stood at attention. Zevran helped me down from my horse and told me to wait while he took the horses to the stables to get some well-deserved rest. Then he showed the two attendants a slip of parchment that the Herald had written, granting us access to the village.
It was a small town and the people all rushed around in a busy hurry. "Where do we go now?" I asked Zevran.
"We should head up to the Chantry," he said, pointing at the largest building in the town. "I'm sure the prince has been anxiously waiting for our arrival," he said. He offered his arm to me with a flirtatious smirk and I rolled my eyes, but it took it anyway. While we walked, I noticed that several people stopped to watch us, a few giving me a glare. It was very strange and extremely worrying. Zevran leaned close. "By now, someone will have found about your origins. Most of Thedas is Monotheistic. There are many people who will take offense to you claiming to be of divine origin," he explained when he saw me looking at the people with worry.
He led me all the way to the Chantry, but stopped, when we noticed that a group of people was standing outside the halls, some even carrying pitchforks. Zevran pushed me gently behind him. A man in white and red robes pushed his way through the crowd. I knew him. Chancellor Rodrick. He had a victorious smirk on his face as his eyes landed on me. He turned to address the crowd of people. "And the prince from the heathenistic land of elves brings back a false god into our village!" He shouted and a few of the villagers shouted in shared outrage. Zevran pushed me back and started to walk away from the crowd. "Take this woman, this demon, and show the Maker your loyalty!" He ordered and suddenly the angry villagers were chasing after us.
Zevran pushed me down and pulled out two daggers from his hips, standing ready to fight. I scrambled over to him and grabbed him by the leg of his pants. "Please don't kill them!" I begged. He looked down at me for a second, and he sighed but nodded. He punched the first villager on us in the face, breaking his nose and unconscious, but alive. He grabbed another man by the arm and broke it, throwing his pitchfork across the snow, already moving on to the next.
I screamed when I felt something sharp pierce my shoulder. I whipped around and saw a man had snuck up on us, and thrust a sword into me. He grinned like a manic and ripped it out of my arm, raising it up over his head, ready to deliver a killing strike. I raised my arm and called out desperately to my powers. I prayed that whatever Hermes had given Boreas wasn't enough that the North Wind would let me die for it.
As it turned out, it wasn't. Vines shot up out of the ground and wrapped around his arm, throwing both the man and his sword to the side like a toy. I turned and launched the vines at the people, making sure that I didn't leave any lasting injuries. Between Zevran and I, we managed to dispatch them within a few minutes and by that time we were finished, I saw the Herald and two others chasing at his heels.
"What's going on here?!" Eirlen demanded, looking around at the groaning civilians. He spotted Zevran and walked up to him. "What. Happened?" He demanded.
"Rodrick rallied the villagers against her ladyship," Zevran said, gesturing towards me. "The intended to kill her, I'm sure." He bowed his head to the prince before walking around him and standing in front of me. He moved my hand away from the wound and frowned in confusion. The gold Ichor that dripped from my fingers wasn't the red blood he was expecting. "You..."
"I will be fine," I said, placing my hand back over my shoulder. I closed my eyes and let the healing wash over me. When I pulled my hand away, there was a jagged scar. I frowned, I'd never been scared before. Not even when Athenia had cut off my hand because I smacked her when I was a child. I sighed, there was nothing to worry about, I was sure. I held my gold-covered fingers and pressed them to Zevran's lips. His tongue darted out and licked the ichor off his lips on instinct. The cut on his cheek faded away, leaving a faint pink scar.
He reached out and touched his cheek, and his frown deepened when he didn't feel any pain. "I will admit, my lady, I'm not sure how to feel about this situation," He said.
I laughed softly and folded my hands in front of me. "That's quite alright, Zevran," I said. "Thank you for defending me."
"Will someone please tell me what happened!" Eirlen demanded loudly, causing all eyes to snap to him. Zevran and I launched into an explanation, telling him about the mob that had attacked us. He sighed and ran his fingers through his white hair. He bowed at the hips to me. "Forgive me, I didn't anticipate something like that happening."
I waved it off. "There's nothing to forgive, dear," I said.
He nodded and gestured towards the Chantry, where there was no longer a group of angry people waiting to lynch me in the streets. "Please come with me, the advisors of the Inquisition wish to meet you," he said.
"Very well, Herald, please lead the way."
Chapter 4: Intermission One: The Herald
Intermissions are just short chapters to give more information. They're like Codex entries.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Eirlen thought the goddess was beautiful enough to fit her title. Her hair was wavy and long, reaching down to her hips, a light orange color that almost seemed to be mixed with some kind of red tones. Her skin was slightly tanned and smooth, a light dusting of freckles along her nose and cheeks. Her lips were small and pink, her smile wide and inviting. Her eyebrows were darker than her hair and shaped deliberately. Her eyes were a startlingly dark green. When she had caught him in her arms he'd looked up in them, and was shocked by the kindness he saw there. Her face was round, almost childlike, though he knew she was much older than any living thing on the planet. She was shorter than him, eye level with his collarbone. She was curvy and looked like she'd never seen a day of hard labor. He was so beyond glad that while he found her beautiful, she wasn't his type, and had no feelings for her.
It was bad enough that he'd made of a fool of himself when they first met, he couldn't imagine the humiliation of being attracted to her in more than an aesthetic way. When he thought about their meeting in the cave he cringed silently. She must have thought so poorly of him. She must have been disappointed even, that the hero promised to her was the pathetic third son of the king. Why and how was he chosen? Literally, anyone else would have been better than him.
Eirlen left the cabin that had been assigned to him and went about his duties for the day. He helped the barkeep shovel snow so her patrons wouldn't slip and kill themselves trying to get their drink on. He clipped the elfroot that was being specially grown on the outskirts of the village. When he was finished he went to check with Leliana to see if there were any updates about either the Mages or the Templars. There was not, unfortunately. So he left her to her work and wondered around Haven until he could find something to do.
Being the third prince of Or'las'len, he hadn't really been expected to do anything with his life. All the expectation had been placed on his oldest brother's shoulders. Fan'an was a capable man of thirty-five years. He already had a wife and three children, two girls and a boy. The second oldest in the line of succession was Adhlean, who was the leader of the military. He had aided Fereldan in fending off Orlais when the opulent nation tried to invade them both. They had effectively beat them back and Eirlen's brother was held up as a hero. Eirlen's only claim to anything great was the Mark on his hand, and that had nothing to do with his own actions, it was simply a case of wrong place wrong time.
But he couldn't worry about that when the entire known world rested in the palm of his hand, literally. At the moment, he was preparing to take a trip to Orlais. He'd had just enough time to journey to the Crossroads and speak with the Chantry mother before he had to turn around and take the journey all the way home. Mother Giselle had made herself at home in Haven and was doing everything she could to aid the people who lived there. So his duty as the Herald was to go to Val Royeaux and talk to the Chantry directly. His mother forbid him from going on his own to a hostile country, so along with his normal companions, he'd be taking his father's personal assassin and a fucking god. He was sure he'd be fine.
He saw Solas was looking through a book, his brow frowned. Eirlen shrugged and headed over. The Prince was eternally curious about the Fade expert. He acted and held himself like a nobleman, yet Eirlen had never seen him in Or'las'len. He had said once that he was from the north, but hadn't offered a name of any village or even a country. And he was so wise that Eirlen found himself seeking his counsel. He stood in front of Solas and waited until the older elf looked up before saying anything. "Hello Solas," Eirlen said with a smile.
"Ah, the Herald of Andraste, the blessed hero sent to save us all," Solas said with a teasing smile, closing his book.
"Please stop calling me that," Eirlen said, his cheeks turning slightly pink.
Solas chuckled and nodded. "As you wish, however, posturing is necessary for a man in your position."
"I know that trust me, my mother made sure I knew how to posture since I was a little boy," Eirlen sat and crossed one leg over the other. "How do you feel about taking the journey to Val Royeaux?" He asked.
"I am glad that you're starting to extend your reach through the nations. I am not looking forward to having to sail there."
Eirlen shrugged. "It'll be quicker that way, only two days, as opposed to five."
"I understand the necessity," Solas said. "But I have never been a fan of travel by sea."
"Well, thank you for coming with us anyways."
"Of course," he said with a smile. "Who else will be accompanying us?" He asked.
"Cassandra, Varric, Zevran, and lady Antheia," Eirlen said. Solas frowned and pressed his lips together. "Is there...something wrong, Solas?" He asked.
"That woman is untrained and untested, is it wise to take her into hostile territory?" Solas asked.
Eirlen laughed shortly and looked at Solas in surprise. "She's...a god?" He said.
"So she claims," Solas said simply.
"Do you not believe her or something?" Eirlen asked. "You saw her come out of the statue."
Solas sighed, almost irritated. "I believe that she has power, and I believe that she is diffrent. But I have a hard time believing she has any true davinity."
"She bleeds gold!" Eirlen said in surprise. He groaned and shook his head rapidly. "You know what, no it's fine, she says she doesn't even really want worshipers, so it's fine that you don't believe. But I do. I have faith that she will help us, that she wants to keep the world from falling to pieces. Can we at least agree on that front?"
Solas was quiet for a moment. "Yes," he said. "We can agree that she wants to help restore order."
Eirlen nodded and their conversation drifted off onto safer topics, like the Fade and what they could do to seal the Breach if worse came to worse and neither the Mages nor the Templars were willing to help them. More or less it came down to 'hope for the best' and that was all they really could come up with. When Eirlen left him, the bald mage bid him good afternoon and returned to his book.
It was around lunch by that point, so Eirlen went down to the tavern. A few people greeted him, and he saw a few injured people from the short battle that had taken place the day before. That had been a disaster. He should have expected that Rodrick would try something devious like that. Eirlen had almost had a panic attack when he saw the goddess clutching her shoulder in pain, but when everything was obviously fine, he calmed down. She had begged him not to punish the men that had attacked him. They were acting because they were afraid and because someone was using them. So Eirlen had Rodrick spend the night in the dungeons instead.
Eirlen smiled at Flissa and ordered a simple stew and a glass of red wine. She rushed to get his order and bowed when she gave it to him. He sighed at the adulation and nodded to her, taking a large bite. They were leaving the next morning and he had no idea when they would return. He'd never been to Orlais, but from what his brothers told him, it was a disgustingly opulant country where the nobles stabbed eachother for 'funsies.' He wasn't looking forward to it. But he didn't feel like worrying about it at that very moment.
So stew and wine.
That was fine with him.
(This is the official art of the grace, Antheia from Wikipedia)
Anyone who is curious, here is a map of the new Thedas The Boarders are obviously different, and there's a reason. I'll explain in full in a few chapters about what happened.
What other characters would you like to see intermissions from?