Chapter 1: Down And Deep
The past two hundred years had been rather uneventful. Soula Indoril had left Morrowind a hero, yes, but her kills weighed her heart heavily. She had fled to Akavir, in the hopes of having a fresh start where she was just Soula. Not the Nerevarine, not Nerevar, just Soula. It had not worked well. Through her time in Akavir, she acquired more memories that were not hers. She could remember the feel of Almalexia’s hair, the smooth tremor of Sotha Sil’s voice, eloquent words from Vivec.
She had left Akavir broken and alone, and so she fled once more.
Skyrim had not welcomed her, the Oblivion Crisis still fresh in the air, but Blackreach was more than welcoming. Glowing, cold, and isolated, Soula made her home among the Falmer and Dwemer machines. Old ruins held her most precious things, her weapons, and armor. Hopesfire and Trueflame may have been her truest companions thus far.
But never, ever, in her two hundred and twenty-seven years of life, had she seen something like this.
The odd green portal pulsed with strange magic, and it had taken her quite a bit of energy just to stop whatever monsters were pouring out of it to be locked away. Currently, it sat behind multiple barriers, and she was uncertain as of how to get rid of it. So she sat and watched the thing for several days until a strange dream left her shaking.
It is cold here, snow is falling no matter where you are. Almost almost almost, how could I have been so foolish? Arlathan will rise and so shall my people. I am just an apostate. Why is it so cold?
The thoughts were not her own, jumbled and disorganized, she awoke to an utter feeling of wrongness in her body.
It was morning when she decided that she would pack her things and venture through the portal itself, if only in search of whoever had appeared in her dream. They were clearly very powerful from what little she could sense, but she could only attribute the feeling to what she felt after Vivec had lost his divinity. Power but subdued, that of a fallen god.
Her swords hang at her sides as she steps into the portal.
Chapter 2: Stranger in a Strange Land
In Which Short Chapters Are Short
Soula awoke to her hands in shackles. The Moon-And-Star sparkled from its place on her finger, but other than that she had little else to aid her. She was kneeling, the room was fairly dark, and she had no clue where she was.
The strange mark on her hand certainly was not helping her.
It resisted her magic, and she got the same strange feeling she got from the portal and the dream. Soula really needed to find whoever did this, whether it was on purpose or not.
Guards surrounded her with weapons drawn, all human in appearance. Perhaps she was in Cyrodiil? The brickwork of the cell looked similar to what she had seen in the imperial city. She knew she could easily free herself from the chains with magic, but locating her things would be more difficult. Even if Hopesfire and Trueflame were missing from her side, she was not without weapons.
Her musings were interrupted by the cell door being slammed open. Two women appeared, one much angrier than the other. The angry one proceeded to yell at Soula in a language she didn’t recognize.
That was perhaps the strangest part.
Soula had lived for a very, very , long time. There was no reason she couldn’t at least recognize the language, even if she didn’t speak it. The other woman calmed the first, still speaking this strange tongue, and the two proceeded to lead her out of her cell.
It was when they stepped outside, however, that she stopped.
The sky was ablaze in the same green light from the portal she had come through, and that also blazed painfully from her hand. Soula had stopped to stare up at it before the angry woman had pushed her to continue on.
“What in Oblivion is that?” Soula asked the angered woman as they continued on. The woman just gave her a look that told her “I have no idea what you just said.”
Well, that made things much more complicated.
Even if the woman couldn’t understand her, Cyrodilic was a language everyone on Nirn could recognize. Soula was getting more confused by the minute. It certainly wasn’t helping that everyone around seemed to be human and that they all looked at her like they had never seen a dark elf before.
Her and the woman continued on for a bit, all the while Soula had worked to free herself from the shackles. They were certainly not difficult to open, but she would keep the illusion she still had them on for now. It was when they came to a group of monsters did she drop the shackles and conjure a blade.
The beasts were similar to what she had seen with her own portal, but facing them in a strange place really put her on edge. Her companion was more preoccupied with fending off the things than the fact her prisoner had escaped, so she thanked Azura for small mercies.
The group of monsters were easily disposed of, and the woman commanded her to do something or other. Probably along the lines of “Banish your weapon,” but Soula wasn’t keen on listening to her captor. Soula pressed forward, her conjured blade at her side, with her captor still yelling at her.
She was really regretting this trip.
Chapter 3: Sharmat-Dra
In which Soula kills demons, and Azura watches over her champion.
Yay! A chapter long enough to spend more than six seconds on!
Soula and her captor had just disposed of another monster, walking through the snow in search of Azura knows what. Soula’s fingers were starting to go numb, and she had long banished her blade in favor of destruction spells. Her captor was less than pleased but resigned herself to follow her prisoner. They had come upon one of the portals up close, along with two other people. One of whom was comically short, the other alarmingly pale for an elf.
Once she had finished toasting another monster that made the bad decision to attack her, the pale elf grabbed her wrist and thrust her hand to the portal. The process sent a crackling pain down her arm and she was all too happy when he let her go.
“ B’Vek! By the three, this thing hurts!” She exclaimed, squeezing her glowing hand with her normal one. Her captor and the short man seemed surprised, but the pale elf just seemed a bit tired. The short man regained his composure, before saying words she didn’t understand. She did figure out his name must have been Varric, but she could understand little else.
Through this little exchange, Soula discovered the pale elf’s name was Solas and her captor’s name was Cassandra. She twisted the Moon-And-Star, feeling it’s power honey her words, and spoke as sweetly as she could.
“ I am Soula, of Great House Indoril. It is an honor to meet you all.”
Solas’ eyes widened, but Varric seemed absolutely delighted, happily saying something else she couldn’t understand. The four of them continued on their way, her three companions making idle chatter she tuned out. Solas seemed keen on staying near her, assisting her in closing the portals as they traveled onwards.
Cassandra had stopped to speak with people once on their journey, but Soula was far too preoccupied with continuing on. Cassandra was speaking to another man around a table in what was a small camp, but from what she could understand they were clearly arguing about something.
Why are we wasting our time here? There is a large portal not far from here, why are we not dealing with it?
She had approached to take a closer look at what must have been a map, but she couldn’t recognize anything on it. What she could discern, however, was that it seemed to lead to the largest of the portals.
She would take the quickest route, whether or not her companions would follow was uncertain. Soula brushed a stray hair out of her face and pressed onwards. Solas was quick to catch up with her, followed by Cassandra and Varric, but she paid them little mind.
They had been traveling this path for what must only have been a few minutes, but her companions had spent the whole time arguing. She couldn’t tell what they were speaking of, clearly, but it must have been important.
Soula had already killed two of the monsters thus far, keen on keeping herself in front of the group. She had years of practice, and her movements were as natural as breathing at this point. She had gotten what she assumed to be compliments on her fighting style by Varric, but all she could really do was smile in return. She still had no idea what language this was.
Perhaps she would get the chance to pray later? If Soula could at least get some answer out of Azura, she might have an inkling of an idea as to what she’s supposed to do here. At least one god had to be involved in all of this, as the whole situation reeked of divine intervention. Perhaps her Goddess was involved? She had no idea. Her prophecy was finished, and she had no wish to be involved in a second.
They had arrived at what she assumed to be a ruined temple, the feel of death still heavy in the air. Soula did not like the way this place made her feel. They had come across something that parroted words from people she didn't know, but she froze upon hearing her own voice among the tremor.
"What on Nirn is going on here?!"
She had no memory of saying that, but what worried her more was that it connected her to whatever happened at this place. The spirit of that event clearly bled into the future, something she was less than pleased by. Cassandra didn't seem to happy about hearing her voice, either. She proceeded to ask her more questions that Soula was still incapable of answering. All she could do was shake her head and continue on. She really needed to ask Azura what was going on. Assuming her patron could even reach her here.
They walked for longer. Soula was greatly missing the feel of her swords at her sides, and she wondered what had become of them. It would take a great deal out of her, but she could magically track them if need be. She just wished for the rest of her belongings, and maybe a good night's sleep. She still had a larger portal to close, however, so that took priority.
When she and her group had finally gotten close to the portal, she could tell she wouldn't enjoy this. Solas tried telling her something or other, but she was long past the point of trying to understand. All she did was offer him her glowing hand and raise an eyebrow. Soula's wrist was gently grabbed and raised to the portal in the sky. Her body tensed, but she relented. She soon regretted her decision, however, as a rather large monster came forth from the portal. Soula shook herself free from Solas's grasp, jumping back and conjuring two blades into her hands. Instinct took over her movement, styles from her old life flowed through her muscles, and her companions watched as Soula seemed to glide around her target. She buried one of the spectral blades in the creature's left knee before Solas called to get her attention.
He pointed to the large portal, still glowing green and looming above them. She flipped over and raised her hand to it, doing her best to ignore the shots of pain running up her arm. It pulsed and seemed to weaken the large monster, she was quick to jump back into battle. She would fight and weaken the demon two more times, before embedding her other spectral blade within its skull. She was tired by the end of the fight, it was the first good one she'd had in a while. Soula did feel more faint than usual, however.
Bringing her normal hand to wipe the sweat off her brow, she noticed something slick covered her forehead. It had started to drip down her face, and her companions seemed concerned. When she pulled her hand away to look at it, it was covered in her own blood. She blinked once, red beginning to cloud her vision before everything went black.
Azura watched as her champion collapsed to the floor. She didn't enjoy putting her Nerevarine in such damaging situations, but she had little choice. The Lady of Dawn could only protect her champion as long as her Moon-And-Star remained on Soula's finger. The Prince knew her champion would not be so welcomed due to her curse. Azura would visit her Nerevarine in this world's Fade, and perhaps give some wisdom to the worlds-lost immortal. Nirn only knew what troubles lied ahead.
Chapter 4: Fading Memories
In which Soula dreams of her past, and Azura gives her wayward champion a message.
Backstory time friendos.
The temple was almost silent, the only sounds being the chirping of bugs outside and soft running water from the fountains. It was rather peaceful, walking down the main hallway as she was. The sun had not yet risen over the horizon when she exits, an empty sack slung over her left shoulder and holding a coin purse in her right hand. Today will be busy, as she and the rest of those at the temple must prepare for an upcoming holiday. Her task is to purchase supplies and help the other apprentices in decorating the exterior.
Her bare feet make soft taps as she runs around the marketplace. It is barely awake, with only a few vendors, but it is enough to purchase what she needs. The sooner she can make it back to the temple, the less time she has to spend amongst the common folk. She isn’t used to speaking of things other than the comings and goings of the temple. Maybe when she gets older, she can. It is when her bag is completely filled with all she needs that she heads back. The sun has nearly fully risen and if she hurries, she can catch the morning prayer session before it starts.
She can just see her fellow apprentices filing down the hall when she returns. Soula is quick to drop off her things and join the back of the line. Morning prayer begins, and thus starts her busy day. Morning prayer lasts just under thirty minutes, she is quick to hurry back to her room. Soula delivers the items she purchased that morning to various temple workers, hurrying outside to assist another apprentice in cleaning the garden. It is hard work, pulling weeds and carting supplies around, but they make quick work of it. There is still the rest of the temple to attend to and the others who work here are just as busy, if not busier than she is.
She and the other apprentice had just finished with the garden when the world around her seemed to shift dramatically. The temple walls fell away, and she had the sudden sensation of falling.
Then she was no longer dreaming of her past.
Moonshadow loomed around her, all of a sudden she was much bigger than her previous child self.
Soula became aware of her position then, kneeling on the floor with someone looming above her. As hopeful as she was for an explanation, she would be less than thrilled to be involved in another prophecy. Especially if she had to save the world. Again.
Champion. We have much to discuss, with very little time.
She would recognize Azura's voice anywhere. It didn't come from any direction but was spoken within her own head. She assumed the figure above her was her Goddess and kept her head down out of respect. Though she had plenty of questions to ask, she wouldn't dare anger her lady. She had seen her wrath first hand, after all.
"What do you require of me, Lady Azura?" Soula asked. The figure above her turned seemed to consider the question briefly, before gesturing for Soula so stand and follow her.
There is a powerful artifact in this place. I desire it, you shall retrieve it for me. Taking you to this realm was not something done impulsively.
Wonderful. At least this only seemed to be a fetch-quest.
"Of course, my lady. Where shall I go to fetch this item?"
A temple lies in the north, containing the sword that cut out Lorkhan's heart. You shall return this weapon to me once it is in your possession and I shall return you to Tamriel.
Well. Of all the things she expected to find, an artifact strong enough to kill an Et'Ada was not one of them. As she followed behind her Goddess and thought over her task, the floor of Moonshadow beneath her shifted into what appeared to be a map. Water split the map in two, with forest in the east and desert in the west. Soula had never seen such a place. As she glanced around the map, she noticed a small spot in the desert seemed to glow a soft yellow.
The temple lies there, along with what little remains of Lorkhan.
"I understand where I must go, my lady. May I ask for a clarification?"
"Where was it that I awoke, why are the mortals here so strange?"
I have kept you safe with a simple illusion. My Moon-And-Star shall allow them to perceive you as one of their world. When you awaken, there shall be a small vial on your bedside table. It will give you their language. I am afraid I can do little else to aid you. My power is limited here.
Soula gave a gentle sigh. This was certainly not going to be an easy task.
"Thank you, my lady, I shall retrieve this sword as soon as I am able."
The air seemed to shift again and with an energy that seemed her Goddess was smiling, Soula was given her final farewell.
You shall do well, my champion. I have the utmost faith and pride in you.
With that, Soula woke up.
Chapter 5: In Plain Sight
Soula learns a new language, and Leliana is suspicious.
back at it again baybee!
She awakens flat on her back with an ache in her left palm. Her head was killing her, and it took more energy than it should have to sit up.
Do these people not know any healing spells?
Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, Soula brings her fingers to her forehead to inspect the damage. There was a feeling of scars there and the skin was still tender, but it was nothing she couldn't fix. Bringing both hands up to cup her cheeks, healing spells flow through her palms, tieing together the damaged flesh and removing scars from her skin. When she runs her fingers over her forehead once more, she is satisfied in knowing no scars shall mar her tattoos. The moon-and-star insignia on her forehead is rather important, after all. As promised, a small glowing vial of purple liquid sits on the table next to the bed. The design on the glass swirls as if made of smoke and Soula downs the potion without a second thought. She does not allow her thoughts to drift to her mission, instead deciding to explore the strange place she has been deposited.
Getting to her feet, she is barely up before the door swings open. A rather timid looking elf enters the room, carrying a basket of what appeared to be clothing. The girl, upon noticing Soula is awake, begins to stammer something or other.
What do they do to their elves here?
She did not expect the girl to throw herself on the carpet in front of her.
"I ask for your forgiveness and your blessing!" the girl stammered, moving to a bow on the floor, "The Lady Seeker will want to know you're awake. She said, at once!" With that, the girl jumped back to her feet and pressed against the door.
"She's in the Chantry, at once, she said!" Then the door was pushed open and the girl was gone.
Soula takes in a deep breath as she exits the small cabin. She spent a few minutes getting dressed in something befitting a Dunmer, and she could feel the cold through the door. The scarf she had found in the pile of clothes did little to keep her warm, but a few spells fixed that problem before it really became one. She tries her best not to look too long at the crowds that made a path for her. She didn't like how many whispers claimed her to be sent by what she assumed was a god. She just tuned them out and pretended she couldn't understand them. Perhaps these new people would underestimate her if they thought she didn't know what they spoke of.
The building the path led her to was most impressive, by far the largest building in the village. When she pushed open the doors and headed inside, the atmosphere of the place almost choked her. She really didn't like how this place made her feel. But Soula was over 200 years old, so she twists her ring and moves to a large door down the hall.
When she enters the room, there is a clear argument going on between a man she recognized from before(if memory served, he threatened her) and Cassandra. She says nothing as they fight over her execution. She says nothing as Cassandra slams a rather large book down onto the table and declares the "Inquisition" to be reborn. Insults are thrown around, and when the storm clears it leaves Cassandra and the other woman from her cell gazing rather strangely at her.
"I apologize you did not get to meet myself nor Leliana under better circumstances. But-Can you understand me at all?"
Soula must have been doing an exceptionally good "lost scrib" face for Cassandra to jump to that as quickly as she did. All she did was softly shake her head, and perhaps puts too much of her Dunmeri accent into her words.
"Barely. This is, ah, not a tongue I often speak."
Leliana is rather amused by her heavy accent while Cassandra seemed more confused by the whole thing.
"You must be from very far away. That is not an accent I have ever heard. What were you doing at the conclave?'
She assumes that the event was important to the great green hole in the sky, so she just shrugs and plays innocent.
"I have no memory of attending such an event. How did you come across me?"
They speak for a few more moments, Leliana growing more concerned by the second. Soula asked rather mundane questions about their faith and their country. Leliana asked about her own country in return.
They come to the conclusion that Solas would be of some assistance in recovering her "lost memories". So the spymaster leads her out of the chantry and away to their resident apostate.
The Nightingale has a very bad feeling about this.
Chapter 6: Dreambound
Soula speaks with Solas in the Fade.
I got kicked in the face with some inspiration and speed wrote this whole thing hope you like it.
Cassandra didn’t like this development.
This strange elf, bearing strange markings, speaking a strange language, with a glowing mark on her hand stumbled out of the Fade and into their hands. The advisors were almost at war over what to do with the situation and the strange woman.
“She conjured swords, a magical feat no one has seen up until this point! She is most certainly dangerous!” Cullen spat. He was not a very big fan of her.
“She assisted our forces even with her language barrier, that alone was a very noble thing. Even if we don’t trust her right away, the people have already dubbed her the Herald of Andraste! We cannot do anything that would put our only hope of closing rifts in danger!” Josephine argued, the poor ambassador had become horribly stressed over the whole situation.
“It is possible she is a spy and faking her lack of understanding. We certainly can’t trust her until we know more.” Leliana added, “And with the equipment she arrived with, we may be able to determine her origin through their styles.”
Cassandra sighed. They’d been going at this for hours now and the Seeker hoped that Solas would be able to come up with something .
But for now, all they could do was wait and see.
Soula had briefly met Solas when they were out on the field. She didn’t pay much attention to him other than the fact he was alarmingly pale. When the two were able to converse, Soula was introduced to him as their Fade-Expert by Leliana a few hours ago. Now that their visit is done, she sits on her bed and reflects just how many things she didn’t expect.
They had entered the Fade on the vague theory that it would help conjure up how she got to the conclave. Solas had told her to wait for him in a place familiar to her, and to be free to use her native tongue as the Fade would translate. So there she sat, on the roof of Caius Cosades’ House, watching the sunrise and smoking. She didn’t know why the Fade decided this is where it would put her, but she felt better in her younger body. Perhaps this was a vague memory she couldn’t recall due to skooma messing with her head. Her addict days were not pleasant ones.
When she spots Solas’ signature bald head down below amongst the crowds of passing people she calls out to him. She sees his head snap up and look to the rooftops, but he does not see her. So she calls out again and waves to him. Their eyes lock, and he walks over to stand in front of the house.
“I’ll help you to the roof. Caius doesn’t like strangers standing outside of his house, even if this is only a dream.”
When she helps him up, letting him borrow a couple of the pillows she was sitting on, his first question was far from surprising.
“What are you?” He asks, eyeing her grey skin. “You do not look like any being I have ever met.”
A soft, mirthless laugh escaped her. “My people are cursed, we are known as the Dunmer, or Dark Elves.”
He quirked an eyebrow. “So your people are elves? How are you cursed?”
“We were once Chimer. Three of them had spited Azura, one of our original gods. She cursed our race. Our skin was once golden and our eyes bright in color. Now we have ashen skin and embers for eyes. I’d assumed you’d think me a monster.” She stated, turning away from him to face the street.
Solas turned his head away from her then, looking out at the people passing on the streets below. Several khajiit and argonians passed below them and caught her guest’s attention.
“None of these figures are dreaming with us, how is it you generated them?” He asked.
Soula shrugged, bringing her pipe to her lips and blowing out a puff of red-tinged smoke. “They are memories. When I lived in here I would sit up here and people-watch until Caius came home or the Mages Guild needed something. I remember watching the sunrise rather well.”
“The figures below us are people?”
“Strange as we may look to you, we are people no matter skin, fur, or scales.”
Solas hmm’d, leaning back against the wall and staring at the skies painted with reds, oranges, and golds. Masser and Secunda settled on the other horizon, the moons barely visible in the later morning hours. She puts more leaves into her pipe and picks up a nearby bowl of moon sugar. She doesn’t put any on her tongue, preferring to raise the pipe to her lips once more. The sting of whatever she is smoking is a welcome, if phantom, pain.
“What is this place?”
“In what context?”
“Whatever context you see fit.”
Soula sighed. Exhaling another breath of smoke and running her fingers through her short hair. “This place is Balmora, in the district seat of House Hlaalu, within the country of Morrowind, on the continent of Tamriel, within the realm of Mundus.” She offered a gentle smile to Solas,” If you wanted to know, Balmora means ‘Stone Forest’.”
The elf offers his own sigh in return for this information, slouching against the pillows and sinking from his upright position to the floor.
“Why is this place familiar to you, other than you living here?”
She groans and shoves the bowl of moon sugar in his direction. “I don’t remember. In all likelihood, I was high on this stuff at the time. I used to have a sugartooth when I was young.”
Solas raised an eyebrow at that and looked her over once more.
“This is not what you look like now?”
Soula let out a genuine laugh.
“Of course not! I’ve not the faintest idea of what I look like to you in the waking world, this was my body in my early twenties. I was infected with Corprus some months after this, so that stopped my aging.”
Solas sits up again, suddenly interested in the conversation at hand. He leans forward with his elbows on his knees.
“How old are you now?”
“Two hundred and twenty-seven last Rain’s Hand.”
The elf’s eyes widen considerably at that, sitting straighter and staring at her.
“How is it this...disease...kept you alive?”
“It did not so much keep me alive as it did keep me young. As a Dunmer, I would still be alive, but I would not be as fair as I am. I am uncertain as to how long I will live.”
Solas’ expression walks the line between horrified and elated. Quickly he whispers, as if the figures below could hear us, that I must tell no one of this.
“Our people do not live as long as that, they would think you an abomination.”
“You do not?”
“It is easy to tell when one is lying in the Fade. The humans here will likely react violently if they discover what you are. As an apostate, I know what it is like to live in fear. Your demonstrations of magic will likely cause a stir as it is.”
She is almost blinded by his willingness to help her. It had been years since she had truly conversed with someone, let alone had an ally. So she sets her pipe down and blows out the last of the smoke up into the air. Perhaps this new world has hope for her, after all.
“Then I shall extend my aid as well. No harm shall come to because you are an apostate or otherwise.”
Soula gives him one last smile and wakes to the sight of his shocked face staring back at her.
Their alliance, she admits, was a hasty one. But she does not regret it, Solas promising future meetings in the fade to pinpoint more “lost memories”. She also does not know why she was so forthcoming within the Fade. Perhaps it twists inhibitions? This world still has much to teach her.
Leliana, unfortunately, did not get the answers she wished for. Solas told her that they found bits and pieces but nothing to determine if they are even relevant. Leliana gave him the order to keep searching, and Solas said nothing in return.
Soula continues to be worried about her weapons. Hopesfire and Trueflame had been missing from her sides for far too long. But she will wait if she must, in the meantime getting to know those she’d be staying with. It was early the next morning when Varric came upon her. He invited her to breakfast.
“Hey Terror, you up for joining us in the tavern this morning?” The dwarf asked, grinning up at her.
She raised an eyebrow at him, “Terror?”
“Well yeah, you were quite terrifying out on the field. So, ‘Terror’ seemed like it fits.”
Soula laughed softly, placing an appreciative hand on his shoulder. “I wouldn’t mind joining you, it should help me better this strange tongue you speak.”
So the two set off to get food, sitting at a table with Solas and Cassandra. The three begin idle chatter, and Soula mulls over just how she is supposed to get to a desert .
By the three, why can’t I be left alone for once in my life?
Chapter 7: Fate in Lyrium
Soula speaks with the inner circle and encounters a remnant of an old friend.
hehe PLOT PLOT PLOT
Breakfast was a peaceful affair. Varric insisted she try one of everything, Cassandra kept gazing at her strangely, informing her that the inner circle would like to see her after she ate. Soula didn’t ask what an inner circle was. Her thoughts were far too preoccupied with her task to worry much about what these people would ask her. When she had eaten her fill of breakfast, Varric and Solas bid her farewell. She walked with Cassandra down to the war room.
When we entered, I faced with Leliana and two new faces. The man was tall and stocky, with blond hair and armor. The woman had darker features complemented by a golden dress.
Cassandra turned to gesture to the others. “You have already met Leliana, but this is Cullen and Josephine. Cullen commands our forces and Josephine is our ambassador. Leliana works as our spymaster.”
Perhaps it was just her, but they all looked awfully young for their positions. Most humans in her world would be in their forties or fifties with advisory positions.
“It is a pleasure to meet you all.” She said, giving her head a respectful incline.
“It is a pleasure to meet you as well, Herald. If you are up for answering some questions we would very much like to-”
“Your belongings are strange and have not been seen in Thedas from what we can gather. Why is this?” Cullen interrupted, glaring daggers at her. Josephine, in turn, gives him a rather disappointed look.
Humans, always so delightful.
Soula leans forward to glance about the map on the table. It was a small thing and she doubted it covered the world. She spotted a desert on the left side of the map next to a place named “Orlais”. She would be back for this later, once she had her gear.
“Perhaps it is because I am not from Thedas?” Soula proposed, raising an eyebrow at the map, “None of these locations are familiar to me.”
Cullen is still glaring at her, but Josephine brightens at her statement.
“Oh, then where are you from? We may have a map that includes your homeland.” The ambassador says, eyes flickering over to the commander.
“I am from a place called Morrowind. If you can’t find it under that name, perhaps your people know it as Resdayn? I do not know any other names for it, my apologies.”
Stating her homeland’s name is certainly a risky gamble. She knows they won’t find it, but she is counting on their confusion to buy her time. If she could get them focused on finding it for a night or two, she could retrieve her things and the map from the table. Then she could get to the desert as fast as possible. She had a sinking feeling that she wasn’t the only one after the sword.
“Well, now that we know about where you come from, can you tell us about the items you came with?” Josephine continued, signaling for Leliana to place a bag on the table.
Perhaps she looked a bit too elated to see it, but she couldn’t care at this point. As Leliana opened it and set it’s contents out on the table Soula was relieved to see Hopesfire and Trueflame were undamaged. She was glad the bag’s enchantment hadn’t activated(there would be much more on the table then).
Among the items, she was questioned about were her swords, several potions, alchemy ingredients, a jar of netch jelly, and an enchanted necklace.
“Now,” Leliana began,” We do not understand how the swords are enchanted. They bear no runes nor anything similar.”
She played dumb and shrugged,” I couldn’t tell you how. I was never interested in enchanting. The swords were gifts. Am I allowed them back?”
Leliana and Cullen bristled at that, but Josephine said she was more than entitled to her belongings. As long as they don’t cause any harm, she reasoned, they have no reason to keep them.
“We shall like you to hand them over if requested, however,” Leliana interjected, sharing a worried look with Cullen. Were she not worlds away from home, she would have liked to tell them off and take her things by force. But for now Soula settled for inclining her head and giving a respectful “of course”. She silently thanked the power of her Moon-And-Star.
She took her bag back to her cabin when the meeting was concluded. It was a comfortable weight upon her shoulder. When she finally was able to set her things down she made certain the door was locked tight. She even added a spell to keep people away from her house. Her bag was placed next to her bed, when she began rifling through it, the enlargement spell easily activated to her touch. She pulled out clothes, armor, food, weapons, books, and much more. Soula was absolutely giddy at the fact she had so many things from home with her. When she had gone through her whole bag to assess her belongings she returned them to their proper places. She did strap a belt around her waist to carry her swords, however. Words could not explain how grateful she was to have them at her side once more.
When she exited her cabin again, she found Solas to be approaching. She smiled softly at him and he returned it.
“Unless you are busy, I would like the opportunity to discuss some things with you.” He said, a nervous lilt in his voice betraying his emotion.
Soula merely nodded and gave him another smile, opening her cabin door to lead him inside. The two sat across from one another and Solas turns to her bag.
“You were given back your things?” He asked.
“Fortunately I did not have to get them by force.”
That dragged a small chuckle out of him, but his face turned serious again as he faced her.
“Do you truly not know what you look like in the waking world?” Solas tilts his head slightly, staring as if his eyes could remove her Goddess’ illusion spell. Soula just shakes her head.
“No. I would wager it is not a pleasant look, based on your reaction?” She teases, hoping to lighten the mood that befell them both. It worked better than intended, a blush rising to Solas’ cheeks.
“I, ah, no. You would look like any other elf save for your markings. Do you have them on you naturally?”
Her… markings? Oh! Her tattoos. She brings a finger to trace the insignia upon her forehead. A crescent moon sits on its side with a star above it. They are inked in a deep purple color, she had gotten them after killing Voryn. Of course, they were for her Goddess, but she had taken them willingly. After all, Azura wasn’t a wholly evil prince and she wished to appease her.
“I do bear them when I am not under this spell. Unless something other than the moon-and-star is on my face?”
Solas seems to scowl slightly, before turning his attention to her bag.
“They did not question the enchantment?”
“They gave it willingly. They wished for it to be handed over if requested but other than that I can keep it for myself.”
Solas’ hmm’d. They discussed Haven for a bit, an apparently upcoming assignment of gathering horses for the Inquisition, and the odds and ends of magical theory. It was around lunch when Varric appeared knocking on her door, telling them both to “get dressed and come eat”. Soula laughed at that. Solas did not.
The rest of the day was uneventful, and Soula spent most of it reading books she brought with her. When the cover of the night finally allowed her to escape, she slung her bag over her shoulder, cast an invisibility and muffle spell, and left. She started away from Haven, towards the temple. Occasionally a guard or two passed by but they were easy to avoid. She finds herself walking up the temple again, but she notices something she paid little mind to earlier. Dotted across the path were dozens of red crystals here and there that became denser the farther she walked. Something was definitely off about them. She could hear a faint hum from them and they felt familiar, but she couldn’t place just what in Azura’s name they were.
Then it hit her.
Corprus. Her disease. The Blight. Whatever you wanted to call it, the feel of these crystals matched what she could feel when encountering Corprus monsters and battled Voryn Dagoth. It was in crystallized form, spreading up and about the temple. This was perhaps the worst possible outcome in this situation she could have imagined.
Perhaps she wanders a bit too far into the sea of red, climbing over jutting crystals to see just how far it spread. Her heart clenched. When she stood atop a small hill, you could see the corrupted things all the way up and into the temple itself. She falls to her knees and stares blankly.
“Oh, Voryn, what have you done?”
She notices tears dripping down her face when she utters his name. Her memories of him made killing him one of the worst tasks she had to do as Nerevarine. But to know that his creation was here? That it had spread and likely infected people? Broke her. She staggered to her feet and ran back to her cabin. She could not leave, not now. Soula’s heart was heavy in her chest. As she tossed herself on the bed with little care for dressing down, one thing came to her mind before she passed out.
Was Voryn here?
Chapter 8: Red Diamond
Souls dreams of a life that was not hers.
I'm super sorry for such short chapters but I hope two in succession will be good for you guys.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When she dreams, it is not of Voryn Dagoth.
She dreams of vast nothingness, so empty it hurts to behold. She doesn’t know how long she spends looking at it. Then it has a form, barely, She can make out where the floor is, but it is still not quite real.
Her heart beats loudly.
From her side, she senses something. Someone stands there, much shorter than herself. Its… face, if it can be called such a thing, is covered in eyes and mouths. Small horns pierce the skin from beneath its jaw, and the creature tilts its head at her. Her voice does not sound like her own, twisted, deeper, and far louder than anything she could speak.
“Ma na sou ammu?”
She does not know what it means, but the creature across from her smiles with all the mouths on it. It’s unnerving, but she is not threatened by it.
That, she recognized. Had she asked for the Prince’s name earlier? She didn’t know. But what was Boethiah doing here, and who was the Prince speaking to? She did not know who’s viewpoint she inhabited.
“ Es talehj.”
Her heart beats louder.
The scene fades and she is greeted with another place. It looks like Tamriel, but it’s off somehow. She is much taller than the rest of the landscape, towering over even the largest of the mountains. When she turns to face someone behind her, she is greeted by the appearance of an elf. He is just taller than her with golden-green skin speckled with scales, he bears horns and large dragon wings.
“Laes na sou ferghen.”
The mer’s voice is strange, a booming almost-roar sound. It frightens her, but she doesn't know why.
Her heart beats louder, its sounds echoing in her ears.
When the scene changes again, she is lying on a large table. She can barely see, her eyes seem to be unable to open fully. She can feel, however, an incredible pain in her chest. It rests just over her left breast and feels like something is missing. There is a barely visible image of the mer from before attaching something red to the tip of an arrow. He curses something inaudible to her before he shoots the arrow over a ledge and off into the distance. There are other people in the room who turn to watch whatever it was sail away. She is vaguely aware of rolling off the table with tremendous effort and conjuring a swirling mist to take her away from here. Using magic felt like she was starving, trying to eat off an empty plate. As soon as she fell through whatever she cast, she could no longer sustain consciousness.
She could no longer feel her heart.
When she “awakens” again, she can’t see. Her eyes are open, but the surrounding walls of what must have been a cave prevent her from moving. There is barely enough space for her to lie down. A feeling of pain still persists within her chest, blood spilling out of the wound and away from her onto the cavern floor. It glows red, she notices. There was a very long time she spent staring off into the cavern that housed her. Time seems to pass so strangely and she could hardly form a coherent thought. Perhaps hours had passed, perhaps it was years. The blood still spilled from her, but some of it had begun to dry and form sparkling stones that glowed red. She closes her eyes and falls asleep.
She waits for longer, the leaking feeling of near endless blood a background after all this time of resting. She feels no stronger than when she arrived, barely able to feel and move her fingers. When her ears pick up a strange chipping sound, followed by hissing, she opens a single eye to peer out into the chamber. If she had breath, it would have caught.
Ahead of her are maybe a dozen small people, not even as big as one of her nails. They startle at her opened eye, quickly grabbing some of what they chipped off the wall and ran away with it. It takes her far longer than it should have to realize they have stolen her blood. But there is no energy nor space to do anything about it, so her opened eye closes again. She shall rest for as long as she is able, learning to ignore the chipping of thieves, now, too.
Soula awakes with a start, nearly falling off the bed in the process. The dreams were not normal, she hadn’t had nightmares like that since Voryn was still alive. She falls gracelessly back onto the mattress, bringing a hand to rest over her pounding heart. Something slick is beneath her shirt, so she lifts it and brings her fingers up to examine the wound in her chest.
It’s an outline carved into her skin around her heart. She bites the inside of her cheek and heals the wound, feeling her magicka is oddly depleted for just waking. She brings her knees up against her chest, thinking over what just happened to her. When she hears a loud pounding on her door, she rushes up an opens it. Solas is standing there, eyes blown wide an even paler than before. His voice trembles as he speaks to her.
“What happened to you?”
Ma na sou ammu? = What is your name?
Es talehj. = I see.
Laes na sou ferghen. = This is your punishment.
My thoughts are that if you mix together a bunch of ehlnofex languages you'll get what the et'ada spoke so woop woop.
Chapter 9: Confrontation
Solas and Soula meet over her dream.
Hey guys! I hope this chapter is good, and I'm super sorry for the wait. I'm in no position to ask, but I've set up a Patreon page for myself. I'm not in any financial struggle but it would really be nice to have some money on the side for myself. Idk if I'll set up a "pay me money and I'll write you a thing" but I'm not opposed to it. Considering I write stuff for people for free now I don't see why I couldn't write stuff for money later. Again, no pressure on y'all, take care of yourselves first before supporting This Idiot, please. Link: https://www.patreon.com/user?alert=2
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
She had grabbed the front of his tunic and pulls Solas into the cabin. There is fear in his eyes, with bitter uncertainty. She lets go when he’s fully inside, casting several silencing and protective spells around the room. Nothing will get into the cabin, nor be able to hear anything spoken inside it.
She is pacing around the room, biting her nails and breathing fast. There is still blood on the front of her shirt from her wound. Solas has been blankly staring at her as she paces back and forth before she quickly turns to him.
“What did you see?”
Solas, shocked out of his staring, shakes his head and looks at the ceiling.
“Very little, you were not in the Fade. I only saw some great creature in a cave bleeding to death.”
She stops for a moment to think about it, truly think about it. She didn’t think much about the dream after she woke up. But her mind was whirling around, coherent thoughts were almost impossible to think. But she is able to bring herself to ask Solas one question.
“Do you know of a God named Lorkhan?”
Solas is taken aback for a moment. He shakes his head and blanky looks at her.
“It that who was in the cave?”
“I believe so. I dreamed of his death.”
Solas gets up. He puts his hands on her shoulders and looks into her eyes.
“You must promise me you will never tell anyone of this. They will likely kill you for dreaming such a thing, it will be considered heresy.”
She makes him promise to do the same. He may not understand fully the true meaning behind the name Lorkhan, or the fact she woke up with a mark on her chest, or the fact that people mined his blood. Soula does not have time to waste thinking about it too deeply. Solas leaves her cabin to return to his own. The two promise to not speak of it until it is safe, for even the land of dreams is a vulnerability.
That day, Soula is given the word to head out to secure horses for the Inquisition. She must also speak to some Chantry woman named Mother Giselle. She is to head out with Cassandra, Varric, and Solas. Their trip shall be on foot and she has the rest of the day to prepare for the journey. Bringing her bag and nothing more, and offers to carry some things for Solas and Varric. She doesn’t speak to Cassandra much, the woman was rather cold towards her ever since their fight at the temple. Lunch is with the three of them again but skips dinner to work in her cabin.
She washes the blood out of the shirt she slept in, thankfully one the inquisition provided. There is luckily no mark on her chest left over from the wound, but she could still almost feel it. It scared her out of her mind to think that whatever was in her dream caused her physical injury. Not even in the days of Dagoth Ur and his nightmares had she had such a thing happen to her.
There is much more to her quest than she originally thought. If the weapon that killed Lorkhan is here, what else could be lurking for her in the shadows?
Again I'm super sorry for the wait. Hope y'all liked it!
Chapter 10: Fade Shenanigans
An old friend makes an appearance.
Brownie points to whoever can guess who I make show up in this chapter. I think it's pretty obvious, but who knows?
Throughout their journey in the Hinterlands, Solas kept going back to what he saw of Soula’s dream.
It felt so… off. The magic wasn’t inherently evil. Just very different. The creature he had seen bleeding out in the cave seemed similar to an elf, with fiery orange-red hair and curved horns. He though a cross between an elf and a qunari would look similar. The only thing keeping him from assuming the creature was perhaps an ancient elf(Mythal wore horns, after all) was it’s sheer size. Solas wasn’t even the length of one of it’s fingers.
He’d been about to look around the dream, as he could feel Soula’s strange magic somewhere, before he was interrupted.
“What are you doing here? Never mind, how are you here?”
He spun around to find the source of the voice. About ten or so feet away from him stood an elf. Tall, yellow-skinned with long black hair shaved on the sides and pulled into a ponytail. The person’s physical form seemed to twist in such a way that discerning a sex was impossible. Solas had scowled lightly, and asked who they were.
“Well, I believe your dear Herald would be rather mad at me if I told you. I will ask again, how are you here?”
Their voice was odd, the strange vibrations seemed that the Fade had a hard time translating what they were speaking.
“I was pulled by Soula’s magic. Do you know her?”
“We are... were, friends, but that’s not important. You cannot stay here no matter how powerful you are.”
And then the elf walked up to him, clapped him on the shoulder and he woke up in a cold sweat.
Soula’s answer didn’t help. The name Lorkhan had never crossed his ears. Perhaps he was a false god, and that was why he could die? The apostate had no answers. The fact the other elf in his dreams could wake him up in such a way suggested they were either a very powerful spirit or a fellow mage.
But for now, he kept his eye on the Herald. She was a puzzle he would surely have to solve.
The Fade swirled around the group as they rested within it. The shortest of the group has just returned.
“Azura, apparently, wants the godkiller.”
Another member of the group turns and gazes at the swirling mist above them. She brushes a strand of hair behind her left ear and sighs deeply.
“What can we do? We are dead.”
The shortest member laughs, dramatically flourishing his hands. The tallest member, who rarely spoke, raises an eyebrow.
“The two of you were unlucky enough to be killed. I simply vanished, following after you of course. I can exit this place an be physical.”
The tallest member offers a small smile.
“Then it shall be you who must rescue our wayward advisor.”
“He’s hardly ours, not like we ever listened to him.”
Chapter 11: The Hinterlands
Soula's battle skills terrorize the Hinterlands and the advisors don't know what to do about it.
Fair warning for squeamish folks, the beginning of this chapter is a bit nasty. You've been warned.
Soula knows her allies fear her on the battlefield.
With Hopesfire and Trueflame in hand, she can tear through enemies as a one-person army. Between her practice during her stay in Blackreach and her memories of her past life, the Herald of Andraste is a force to be reckoned with. Back at the temple, her allies allowed her to put herself on the front of the field and take the brunt of the damage. In the Hinterlands, they do the same. The Templars they encounter first are easy to take down.
She vaults herself over the first one’s back, spinning to cut his throat and toss Hopesfire through the other Templar’s skull with a sickening crack. She pulls Hopesfire out when her enemies no longer stand, bracing the man’s neck with her boot and pulling hard.
Then the mages arrive.
She isn’t particularly used to the magic they wield here, mages seeming to pull energy from outside themselves in order to cast spells. It seems rather tiring, in her opinion. Soula makes quick work of the mages as well, using both her swords to impale one before roughly tearing them out. She impales Trueflame in the body of another, easily setting the poor man’s robes alight. She calls a daedric bite spell into her free hand and dispatches the rest before reclaiming her sword.
“Be ready! more coming our way!”
She hadn’t even paid attention to the positioning of her companions. Cassandra jogs up to position herself on Soula’s left, Varric and Solas standing just behind her. It was strange to fight alongside allies again.
She wasn’t given much time to move, however, before another wave of Templars descend upon them. Running forward to launch herself off a rock, her swords end up impaled in the nearest Templar’s skull. The move coats her hands in blood and bits of gore, but she is on her feet and calling Lighting Bolt into her hands before she can wipe it off. The other Templars don’t make it far before her spell catches them. They die as spasming heaps on the grass.
She pulls free her swords and goes off to talk with Mother Giselle.
The Nerevarine is used to dealing with priestesses. She grew up in a temple, after all, and there was no shortage of them in Vvardenfell. She knows this woman will be an ally if she bows her head and bends to her wisdom as though she is not centuries older than the woman. Acquiring horses for the inquisition is also incredibly simple, and she and her party clean up things in the Hinterlands before heading back to Haven.
“How was she, Cassandra?” Leliana asks.
The meeting had been called to discuss their mystery of a Herald. How she did on the battlefield, how she handled the locals, and how she helped the Inquisition’s efforts. It was times like these that the Seeker really wished that Andraste picked someone slightly more normal.
She takes a deep breath before answering.
“Fierce as anything I’ve ever seen. I barely got to touch anything that attacked us before she was on them. I have never seen someone use both swords and magic as seamlessly as she does.” Cassandra does not like the picture she paints for the advisors, but she continued anyway, describing the ordeal in as much detail as she can. She grows tenser as the looks on the faces of the advisors turn to horror.
The room is silent. Cullen sighs.
“But how? You mentioned she didn’t carry a staff, and yet she manages to take down three Templars at once with a single lighting spell?”
No answer comes to his question before Josephine asks another.
“How was she with those who weren’t hostile?”
Cassandra takes another deep breath.
“Kind, if a little distant. She set an excellent example of the Inquisition. My only concern is her sheer brutality on the field. Soula is clearly a practiced warrior and mage.”
The room dissolves into arguments on what to do with their Herald.
It’s going to be a long day.
Chapter 12: A Poet's Work Is Never Done
A wandering god arrives at Redcliffe.
Guess who's back.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Vivec absolutely loves being out of the Fade. Sure, his godhood is much less pronounced outside of it, but nothing can compare to actual fresh air. Redcliffe castle isn’t too far away from where he popped out and the hike is hardly an issue. Savoring the physical world is something he’ll stretch into weeks. Besides, not like he can just appear in a Magister’s courtyard. Alexius is a powerful mage, but Vivec knows he must wait. CHIM has brought the god many things and now perfect timing must be one of them.
The plan is rather simple. Vivec knows Alexius will send Nerevar and another mage into the future. The headache he got from trying to look past that point in time was splitting. The course of history veered into a million different directions all depending on whether or not Nerevar survived the experience. Seeing as the godkiller was at stake here, Vivec needed to be certain that Nerevar would return to the Inquisition. Preferably with the god in tow, but survival was the bare minimum requirement.
It’s nightfall when Vivec has finished picking his way across the mountains to Redcliffe. Being the most powerful being in the immediate area has its perks. He shifts into a butterfly and flitters across the castle grounds. If he can find a suitable spot, blending in with the mages here will be easy. As fun as floating around as a two-toned elf capable of rending the very fabric of existence would be, he really doesn’t want to deal with Ayem and Seht fussing at him due to the aftermath. That doesn’t mean, however, that he can’t have a bit of fun whilst in the physical world. Desire demons are rather plain after a while, and the god misses the sweetness of mortal skin against his own. His ability to shift between the sexes and even enhabit both widely increases his options of those of whom to share a bed. Or, well, bedroll in this instance. The mages aren’t hardly settled in and it isn’t like the magister will give them all actual rooms.
A small alcove behind a few crates offers him ample space to shift back. He’s taken on the appearance of a meager elf to help him stay out of sight. Brown hair, lightly tanned skin, decent looking but not enough to warrant attention. A clever disguise if there ever was one. It reminds him of when he was mortal. He’s clad in brown robes and a matching brown cloak to cover his face and ears, and he quickly steps from behind a crate to blend in with the crowd. Hopefully, Alexius’ son and former student will begin to conspire soon. That is something the god definitely needs to be in on.
For now, he ducks into a small tent one of the higher ranking mages assigned to him. A poet’s work is never done, it seems.
Befriending Felix is a surprisingly easy task.
Vivec had caught the young man in a hallway by himself. His illness(not one easily cured, even by his standards), had caused him to collapse against one of the stone walls and sink to the floor in a fit. Vivec thought this a perfect opportunity to introduce himself as a valuable asset as he strode over to Felix. The poor boy couldn’t even find the strength to look up at him. Nevertheless, the god places a hand on his cheek, unsurprised to feel a fever, and spoke to him.
Felix’s breathing quickly evened, his eyes returned from their widened state, and he looked up at the mer currently cupping his face. Vivec drew away his hand and began to walk off before Felix recovered his senses enough to speak.
“What did you do?” He asked, voice raised a few notes too high.
Vivec had, luckily, prepared for this situation. Before he was disguised as a demure elf that could go unnoticed by anyone. Now, however? He retained more of his original form, sharp features and heterochromia made him an odd looking elf, but he would be remembered. He turned back to face Felix once more and flashed him a cocky grin.
“Oh, just an old elven trick. Feel free to seek me out if you need anything.”
And then he turned a corner and vanished into dust. Felix, chasing after him with cries of “I don’t even know your name!” comes upon an empty hallway, wondering if he had even seen the elf at all. Now all Vivec had to do was sit and wait.
Muhri nahila’ag - Be healed