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To his left, Kirkwall burned in a blazing heat so intense it was as though Hawke could feel it scorching against his own skin. To his right, his loyal companions of seven insane years in the city, escaping with their lives and each other after a tumultuous turn of events. Aveline was leading the way into the forests, arguing with Anders who was trying to heal a deep gash on her arm. She was angry—they all were—but they couldn’t blame the mage for a war that had long since been brewing. Well, not entirely, that is.

‘Hawke... I know it’s hard but we need to go, sweet thing,’ Isabela held his hand, gently urging him towards them. Her voice soft and careful.

When he found it in him to take a step away from the cliff, the Rivaini smiled kindly and let go, allowing him to trail behind them at his own pace. The group proceeded into the woods in heavy silence. There was nothing but the sound of dead leaves crunching under their feet, and branches of young trees scraping against them. A whisper came from the front—a name—and Hawke felt a sudden tightness in his chest. His whole world swirled around him and his body swayed, finding the ground as he convulsed—utter shock and exhaustion finally consuming both body and mind.

Awaking in darkness felt like waking up in an endless nightmare. It felt suffocating, unbearably cold, and you’re constantly unaware of your surroundings. Hawke was lying on his side—he hated that—and cushioning his head was a bunch of different fabrics wrapped and folded together to form a small makeshift pillow. He knew what each piece was and its owner almost instantly. From the strong smell of rum, he could tell Isabela’s waist-sash was in the pile. He knew Merrill’s scarf from the scratchy noise it made when he shifted his head. It was made with homespun wool—something Marethari taught her how to do. And he knew that Aveline’s silken scarf was the top layer enveloping the other two because... well, Hawke just knew. Underneath him, the man could feel the feathers of Anders’ renegade coat, and protecting his upper body from the cold, was Varric’s most prized leather coat.

Slowly, he sat up. Now that his vision had finally adjusted, Hawke realised that he wasn’t sitting in complete darkness after all. Varric’s coat slid off his shoulders, and the man could feel the heat of a small fire behind him.

Camped around the fire, were his companions—everyone had completely given in to exhaustion, tired from the day’s events. The girls were resting against a large tree, bodies pulled so close to one another to keep themselves warm in the freezing night. Varric rested on his side with his back towards the fire. He had a hand on Bianca which laid beside him—within arms reach as always, just in case they had any unwanted visitors. Anders was the only one sitting on a rockthe man had both their staves held close to him for safe-keeping, and Hawke could tell that the mage was asleep as well from the way his head hung. Hawke found his eyes drifting to the side where he would usually see another figure keeping watch while polishing his blade.

But that spot tonight remained vacant.

The mage’s chest tightened as he felt the harrowing sound of sorrow almost escape him, but Hawke bit down hard on his hand to prevent himself from making the slightest sound. Hot tears streaked down his face while he rocked his body back and forth, clutching his chest as overwhelming grief consumed him from within.

When he felt his soul empty out, what was left of him was hollow. The love of his life was gone. He had no more family. His home was lost. Staring down blankly at the cold plate of his Champion’s armour, Hawke realised he had no more purpose, no light. And with that, he gathered what little he had for himself, and walked into the darkness.

Alone.