The Dalish tell a story. The Dread Wolf tricking all the gods away from the world. Long ago, there were two clans of gods. The Creators looked after the People. The Forgotten Ones preyed upon us. And one god who was neither. Fen'Harel, the Dread Wolf. He was kin to the Creators, and in the old days, often helped them in their endless war against the Forgotten Ones. We barely even remember all their names, let alone who struck the first blow, who was wrong...
Fen'Harel was clever. He could walk among both clans of gods without fear, and both believed he was one of them. He went to each side, and told them the other had forged a terrible weapon, a blade that would end the war. He told the Creators it was forged in the heavens, and the Forgotten Ones, that it was hidden in the abyss. And when the gods went seeking it, he sealed them both in their realms forever. Now he alone is left in the world.
Merrill, Dragon age 2
The fade. My sanctuary. My retreat. My true home. You would think that after eons I would not want to retreat back here, but I do. I have to. My body is still weak and I cannot stay awake for long. Therefor I rely heavily on my agents spread across Thedas. Through the fade I guide them until I can once again become fully conscious. What I have already seen of the world disturbs me to my core. This world of tranquil separate from the fade. To see how far the elvhen people have fallen. They have turned into something I no longer recognize - and their tales of me mocks and diminishes everything I tried to accomplish. But are they not right to mock me? I attempted to make the world better. What I did made it a thousand folds worse.
I’m drawn from my dismal thoughts as one of my agents contacts me in the fade. He approaches me and I keep my figure hidden.
“Fel’assan, I did not expect you so soon.”
“Neither did I,” he confesses his violet eyes seeming uncharacteristically troubled. And that is when I see her approach. A human woman dressed in black and white.
“What is the meaning of this?” my eyes turn to Fel’assan, who to his credit stands his ground.
“Andaran atishan setheran. Ar’melana dithavaren. Revas vir-anaris,” the elvhen words flow effortlessly from the human’s lips, and I confess I’m equal parts shocked and intrigued.
“Forgive Fel’assan. I’m only here because I gave him little choice. If you wish to vent your wrath, then do so at me. But I assure you, I come as a friend and I mean you no harm,” there is only sincerity in her hazel eyes and from her accent she sounds Ferelden. She knows who I am. She has to if she knows not only how to find me, but knows that particular greeting. Yet she shows no fear - despite her offering to suffer my wrath on behalf of another.
“So the greeting would suggest,” I reply calmly and a small smile forms on her lips as her eyes evade mine into the ground.
“You have gone to great trouble to seek me out. And I am quite interested to learn how. Do you wish to enlighten me?”
She nods and then turns to Felassan.
“Ma serannas, I appreciate all that you have done. Would you mind giving us some privacy?”
Felassan looks at me and I close my eyes as an agreement that he might leave. He bows to her and then leaves. The woman steps forward and looks directly at me. Perfectly calm and collected.
“My name is Mona Aim, I’m a scholar from Val Royeaux.”
I chuckle despite myself.
“You mean to tell me you came all the way to find me for research?”
She leans her head back with a small laugh, and I see a slight tremble, but she does not smell of fear.
“No, of course not. I…” she pauses and scratches her auburn hair, “Would you mind stepping forward. It’s a little awkward talking to a pair of large floating eyes.”
“As you wish,” oh, she has no idea, what she is inviting. I step forward in my wolf form. My eyes staring down upon her. I expect her to jump or avoid looking at me. Most do, largely in part to the reputation the eons seem to have created for me. Only she doesn’t. She gives me a smile - a tender one that makes something inside me ache. To her I am not a monster or a god. I’m not sure what she sees.
“As lovely as your fur coat is, I prefer your true form.”
I raise an eyebrow at her as she continues.
“You know, the slender one, with pale skin and grey eyes.”
I give her a suspicious look. How does she know this?
“Not convinced I see,” her smile turns a little devious, “do you still shave your head? Oh, and that scar above your right eye, how did you get it? I never did get the chance to ask.”
I transform into my true self and I look down at her. She is a little short for a human, but as curved as you would expect one of her kind to be - perhaps a little more in some areas. She looks at me briefly, then looks to the ground. Her cheeks redden as she pushes some of her hair behind her ear. I had not expected someone so bold to be so shy.
“How do you…” I try, but she interrupts.
“We were friends once. In another life, but as much as I would like to discuss it with you, I don’t have time,” and just like that her tender smiles are gone. There is a heaviness to her words that can only be described as dread.
“That so?” I don’t trust her. How could I? She knows far too much, and is far too at ease around me.
“Have your agents allowed Venatori to locate your orb yet?”
Something inside my flares. She is a spy. She must be. My eyes glow in an attempt to frighten her. I can’t kill her. Not yet. Not until I know how she knows all she does. She seems to know this as well, because she does not flinch. Rather than demand, she touches my cheek gently as she speaks.
I freeze as she says my name. It has been so long since I have heard my true name. Especially spoken with such softness. There is no deception in her eyes, and though I have met many gifted spies in my long lifetime, I confess she must be one of the best.
“Tel’harel, Solas. Lasa ghilan,” I hear wisdom whisper from across the fade. Despite myself I trust in her words and gives the woman the answer she seeks.
“Yes,” as soon as the word leaves me she keels over clutching her stomach as if she has fallen ill. She chants “no” repeatedly. Does she know what I intend to do with the orb once Corypheus is dead? For a moment I feel something I did not expect. It’s not pity exactly rather… no I dare not give name to this feeling. It would lead only to complications. Complications I can’t afford.
She looks up at me with her eyes brimming with tears holding a hand to her mouth. She gives cry that shakes the very fade and I give a small jump at this sudden reaction. She starts pacing, and I admit I’m uncertain how to react. In a matter of minutes this woman, whose name I don’t even recall, has shaken my world - and I’m not certain in what capacity.
“Fenhidis lasa!” she cries and I nearly smile at here uttering them. “Fuck!” also gets repeated profusely.
I walk over to her and take her gently by her shoulders.
“You’re hyperventilating. Breathe,” I try to calm her and she looks up at me and shakes her head.
“Solas, you don’t understand,” she proclaims with a mournful sigh.
“You’re right,” I admit, “I don’t, but perhaps if you gave word to your thoughts I might.”
“I’m too late. I’m always too late,” she laments as she starts pacing again.
“Lethallin,” I press, hoping that the friendship she mentioned can be used to make her feel more at ease. I need to know what she knows.
“Corypheus is using blight magic and has connected the very essence of his being to a tainted dragon. Solas, for all intent and purposes he is--”
“Immortal,” I finish and my blood grows cold. She could be lying, but I know she isn’t - not about this at least. Pieces start to fall into place. Why she is here. Why she is acting so distraught. The only answer I have yet not gotten is how she knows all this. But in the light of an immortal madman being in possession of my orb it hardly seems significant.
“I have to stop this,” I declare and turn away as she grabs my wrist. My eyes meet her hazel eyes now reddened by unshed tears.
“Solas, you must keep an eye on Corypheus. He is mad, but he is not a fool and he will not use the orb until the right moment arises. Don’t let him or the orb out of your sight. I will do what I can,” she lets go of my wrist and turns, but this time I catch her.
“What could you possibly do?”
“This is my fault. I found you too late, but I have made plans in case this should happen,” she reaches for my cheek as if she means to comfort me, “We will fix this, Solas. I promise you. But do me a favour. Do not punish Felassan for his failures. Spare him and I shall give you what he fails to recover.”
She pulls herself from my grasp and I can feel her slipping from the fade.
“Where will I find you?” I ask, though I am not entirely certain as to why.
“Presuming I don’t die, when things seem the most hopeless.”
With that she vanishes and I am left with the knowledge that I might have doomed everything I attempted to save.
A year later
I watch in horror at the explosion at the conclave shatters the sky. I was warned this would happen, but I was too late. The world is in terrible danger and I am solely responsible for it. I have seen nothing of the woman who tried to warn me of this occurrence more than a year ago - and now it hardly matters. From Haven I stare into the sky, as the rest of the small village is in mourning and uproar. A part of me wishes to flee, but I can’t release myself of this responsibility. As I ponder my options, a dwarf walks up next to me. I have had the pleasure of sharing a drink with him for three nights in a row before this nightmare occurred.
“Master Tethras,” I greet him.
“Chuckles,” he nods and then sighs, “And once again the world has gone to shit. Do you think the world will ever stay fixed?”
“Doubtful, though I would settle for us being able to simply fix the current events.”
Varric nods in agreement.
“Perhaps, the prisoner can help. They survived the explosion from what I am told.”
“There is a survivor? Are you certain?” the slightest spark of hope forces my heart to beat faster.
“Apparently walked right out of the fade. I got it directly from the woman in charge.”
“I must see the survivor immediately,” I insist.
“Alright, alright. I warn you though, Cassandra is not the most forthcoming person in the world. She might just lock you up.”
“Thank you, but I’ll have to take that chance.”
I follow my drinking partner to the chantry. I had merely approached him as he was said to have a lot of information, and seemed like pleasant company, that would not object to the shape of my ears. Little had I known then, how useful this association would become. As soon as we approach, the Seeker, Commander and Spymaster notice us. The Seeker steps forward and seethes at Varric.
“Not now, Varric. Save your curiosity for another time.”
“You wound me, Seeker. I have come to offer my help - well, Chuckles’ help actually,” he points to me and I step forward handing my staff willing to the Commander.
“My names is Solas, and I am a mage with expertise in spirits and the veil. I understand a prisoner survived the explosion at the Conclave? I would like to offer my expertise,” I bow slightly and the Commander and Seeker already have their hands rested on their swords.
“You’re an apostate,” the commander notes starring me down.
“And how exactly do we know you are not responsible for what happened here?” the seeker continues promptly.
“A fair question,” and honestly one I have no intention of answering.
“Cassandra, Commander. This is hardly the time,” the Spymaster objects.
Varric is about to interject on my behalf, when a voice can be heard from inside the Chantry.
“Please, there is enough unrest without you making it worse,” the voice is gentle and kind - almost with a childlike quality to it. However, it does not belong to a child, but a woman dressed in black and white. I nearly lose my breath as I see her and I realise I know her.
She throws her auburn braid over her shoulder as she exits, but she doesn’t look at me. Has she even noticed me?
“I know, you are frightened. I am too, but now more than ever we need to show trust in those around us. Regardless of origin.”
The seeker turns her head towards the ground in obvious grief and the woman puts a kind hand on her shoulder.
“Of course, you are right Inquisitor,” the Spymaster replies.
It’s not until then she turns towards me with a gentle smile, though her eyes too are heavy with grief. If she recognizes me it doesn’t show. She puts her hand forward in a polite greeting.
“I’m Inquisitor Aim--”
“Also known as Waffles,” Varric interrupts. The Seeker groans loudly, while the Inquisitor giggles before turning her attention back to me.
“I don’t believe I caught your name.”
“Solas,” I bow politely, and her face turns towards the ground. I had forgotten how humble she acts.
“If you think you can offer any insight on our prisoner the help would be appreciated. He is currently in the dungeons. Cassandra, would you please show Solas the way and offer him anything he needs?”
“Of course Inquisitor. If you will follow me,” she walks ahead and I follow, as she shouts back without looking, “Not you, Varric!”
When I am shown down to the dungeons I see that the survivor indeed has my mark upon his hand. He is human, young and healthy even though my mark is killing him. I turn to Cassandra and gives her a long list of things I’ll need. A pretence of course, so that I might be left alone with him. I have trouble keeping my hands steady and I confess I’m frightened. If this will not be resolved I will have doomed the world forever. Everything I ever worked and hoped for will be forever lost. I have only just stabilized the mark, when the Seeker returns. She drops the supplies carelessly beside me.
“You better figure out what is causing this, mage. Or I’ll have you trialed as an apostate,” she hisses, and I do my best not to react.
“Cassandra,” it’s a warning from behind and I no longer have to turn to know, who is speaking. I find myself amazed by how such an innocent sounding voice can harbour so much authority. The Inquisitor walks up to the seeker and places a hand on her shoulder.
“Get some rest. You need it,” she encourages.
“I’m perfectly fine,” Cassandra grunts stubbornly.
“I know you are, but you’re my friend and I need you now more than ever. We will close the breach and we will mourn, but right now you need rest.”
Cassandra releases a deep sigh and nods. As she leaves something soft crosses over the Inquisitor’s face before she kneels down beside me. She strokes his hair and I clearly see compassion and pity in the way she looks at him.
“How is he?”
“I believe I can keep it under control for now. This is unfamiliar magic to me, however--”
Her suppressing a chuckle interrupts me, and the look she gives me lets me know she knows perfectly well who I am. It was a pretense then. But for her benefit or mine? She turns to the guard at the door.
“Will you get us some more clean water and some clothes, please? He is running a fever.”
“At once Inquisitor,” the guard bows and walks of.
We’re alone and I don’t know if I should feel relieved or cautious. My powers are not what the once were and I have as of yet not determined if she is a threat or an ally.
“You can speak plainly, when we are alone, Solas. And don’t worry, I have no intention of exposing you - now or in the future,” her voice is quiet and she cringes, when the prisoner flinches in pain. A thousand questions roam around my head, but I know that, however great my curiosity might be, now is not the time. A part of me resents her for it, though I know it is unreasonable. This role reversal makes me feel disquiet. I’m not use to be the one kept in the dark.
“Thank you,” I reply quietly still uncertain of what to make of her, but for now at least she seems to wish me no harm.
“I will be able to stop it from spreading, but he needs to be taken to the breach soon if we have any hope of closing it,” I continue and she gives a small nod.
“Hang in there, Edward. You will make it out of this. I promise,” she whispers before she leans down and softly kisses his brow. Somehow her motherly kindness is familiar, but I find myself perplexed by the familiarity.
“How long until he wakes?”
“He should wake within the hour,” I answer as I make one final attempt to stabilize the mark further.
“Good…” she sighs and gets to her feet looking down at me, “It’s chaos out there. Would you and Varric help in the valley? The soldiers need your expertise, and for now it seems like there is little more you can do here.”
It is not quite a request, but not a given order. It is something in between. I’m tempted to challenge her if only to see how she would react, but right now that would not further our purpose. I let none of my true feelings show as I rise and does as she asks.
“Oh, and Solas,” she calls after me and I turn to see her giving me a fond smile, “Ma serannas, lathallan. We will make it through this. I swear it.”
The confidence in how she says it makes me believe that she is right.
The battlefield is chaos. Rifts keep opening and the amount of demons is overwhelming. The forces are being overrun. If the survivor does not awaken soon all will be lost. A plan starts to emerge. I will have to flee across Thedas and find another way to seal the breach. Just then we are aided by Cassandra and the young man from the dungeons. He awoke then. Good. I grab his hand and makes it close the rift. It appears that the Inquisitor might have been right all along.
As we turn our attention to the task at hand and we continue through the mountains, I learn that the holder of my mark is named Edward Trevelyan. A mage from Ostwick circle. I wonder how well the Inquisitor knows him. We encounter Leliana and Counselor Rodrick, but I don’t see her anywhere. They bicker and argue like children, but thankfully the survivor is as dedicated to ending this as I am.
“Isn’t closing the breach the more pressing issue?” he berates and Leliana nods.
“The Inquisitor has gone through the mountains to search for our people that way. It will allow you to head directly for the breach,” Leliana instructs, but there is something in her eyes that I can’t dismiss.
“How long since you have heard from her?” I ask finding myself worrying. I will not have her die before I get answers.
“Too long,” she admits.
“She is strong. She has done this to give us the advantage, let us not squander it,” Cassandra states heading towards the battlefield.
“Now wait a minute Seeker. If Waffles is up there, I’m not leaving her there. You can go be heroic, but I won’t abandon my friend,” Varric stomps of towards the mountains, and I find myself surprised by his devotion to her.
“I guess that settles it,” Edward smiles and follows the dwarf.
When we finally find her, she is with the missing scouts fighting a rift. She kneels on the ground with a barrier surrounding her and a wounded soldier laying on the ground. As the rift closes I the barrier for what it truly is. It’s not magic. Its something I haven't seen since the ancient times of the dwarves. It emanates from a pair of bracers created with an engineering expertise I didn’t believe this world was capable of. Who is she? And how did she come by this knowledge. She stands and looks at us.
“Seeker Pentaghast! Thank you for rescuing us. And you inquisitor. Had it not been for you we would not have lasted this long,” the scout turns to her.
“It was worth trying if I could save you. As for you four, I believe I left instructions for you to move directly to the breach?” she looks at us like a mother scolding her children, then her eyes turn to Varric. She pulls him into a bear hug.
“Varric, you big softie,” she chuckles.
“Well, don’t tell anyone,” he gives a sideways grin and brushes her off.
Her gaze turns to Edward.
“Thank you, for all you have done so far, but you must go close the breach. Hurry,” she urges and he solutes her with a charming smile. I can’t stop myself from looking back as she stays to tend to the wounded.
Edward, The Herald of Andraste, is still unconscious, when we return to Haven. The breach has been closed and we are safe - for now. I tend to him, but I find myself unable to focus. I intend to get my answers from this supposed Inquisitor. As soon as the Herald is stabilized I walk to the Chantry and ask to see her.
“Of course, Master Solas. She has been expecting you,” the cleric answers politely and leads me to an office far from the rest of the Chantry. The cleric shows me the open door.
As I enter the Inquisitor doesn’t look up, but keeps her focus on the documents in front of her. I know she notices my presence, but she doesn’t even offer me a greeting. The cleric closes the door behind me, and the Inquisitor pauses her scribbling. She listens intently for the clerics footsteps to be swallowed up by the distance between her and the door. I know this, because I do it too. When her footsteps are no longer an echo in the hall the Inquisitor’s gaze turns to me. An devious and amused smirk grace her lips as she speaks.
“I suspect you have questions.”