Year 9:45 Dragon, THEN
Almost as devastating as Solas’ destruction was the realization how many followers he’d amassed through the promise of retribution. Hundreds of elves in alienages watching their human oppressors, hearts beating in anticipation, rose easily to his call. Far fewer of the Dalish followed him, but it was still enough. Ellana wondered dimly if clan Lavellan would have followed him too, if she hadn’t failed them.
They found anyone left disloyal to Solas. It was far less than it should be. Corypheus failed to destroy the world, but he ravaged the Wardens thoroughly. Of the few left, even fewer were elves. Someone decided they should reach out to them; Ellana let herself be pulled apart in several directions. Useless decisions crashed over her.
With everything taken from her, the only thing left for her was hollow revenge and she didn’t want it. In the depths of her dry, cracked heart knew he couldn’t be stopped. Worse, it didn’t matter. They could kill him, and all the dwarves and humans and qunari would still be dead.
The others needed this. She saw it in their eyes. She saw it in how Sera shook and cried and never laughed. Let them have it.
They started with old allies, Hawke’s Fenris and Merril. She followed the group without protest. The only friend of Hawke’s she wanted to see rotted in shallow grave along the road.
Fenris watched her with his hands gripped around his sword. She spared Hawke in the Fade only to kill him later. Hawke’s death unmade Fenris and stitched him back together, jagged and wrong.
“How can we trust her?” He said to Merril when Ellana first met him. He didn’t need to say the rest. The wide-eyed look from Merril was enough. Fool. Liar. Silly girl. Fen'Harel ma ghilana.
Ellana had no answer for him.
Year 9:41 Dragon, NOW
Ellana lasts 13 hours, 46 minutes and 36 seconds before she seeks out Dorian. She hates herself for even considering dumping this cruelty on him, but she’s selfish and she’s tired of being stoic.
Losing everyone was hard, but losing Dorian was like losing the Mark all over again – being whole and then a vast emptiness inside. The lack of Dorian tingled with phantom pain like her missing arm during sleepless nights.
She forces herself not to run to him when she spots him in his favorite corner. Ellana hoped this would be one of those frantic nights of reading and re-reading. She used to study the bags under his eyes and worry. Now, their familiar sight makes her throat tighten.
“I need to talk to you alone,” she says without preamble, “In my chambers.”
He doesn’t look up from his book, and the hint of a smirk tugs at the corners of his mouth. “No wine and dinner first? I thought we already had this conversation. I’m flattered, honestly, but what will the nobles think?"
“Not to mention our sullen, misanthropic friend you like to exchange long, soulful glances with. He hates me enough as it is without stealing his woman away from under his rather pointy nose.”
Maybe one day she’ll be able to laugh again. “Dorian, please,” she says, letting two years of emotion bleed into her voice.
He looks up then, closing the book slowly. “Something serious, then? Alright. But I have to remind you if this is about a certain upcoming Orlesian ball, Josephine is a much better dancer than I am.”
Ellana leads him to her room without another word, each footstep thudding in her empty chest. A few people linger in the hall, but they pass them without incident. If they have thoughts about the Inquisitor leading a man to her chambers this late at night, their placid, passing smiles betray nothing.
Once inside her room Dorian positions himself on the edge of her bed with a languid ease she could never replicate. “So, Inquisitor, to what do I owe this late night invasion of privacy?”
Ellana takes a moment before replying, breathing in deeply. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.
“There’s something I need to tell you, because I need someone else to know in case I…fail. You’re not going to believe me, but I need you to just listen,” she says.
Dorian crosses his arms. “Only one question before you launch into what I’m sure is your lengthy and well-prepared speech. How many sarcastic quips am I allowed?”
“None….one.” She sighs. “Now is probably when you’ll want to use it.”
Ellana clutches her fist. Better to be out with it all instead of wasting time. She knows firsthand the futility of sacrificing time to spare feelings. “Three years from now, Solas is going to destroy the Fade. Everyone who’s not an elf will die. I’m not your Ellana. I used Alexius’ research to come back and kill him.”
She could almost appreciate this moment, for finding the one thing that renders Dorian utterly speechless. Even the sarcastic quip is forgotten.
He blubbers for a few seconds as they get the expected questions out of the way – who, what, why. Ellana lets Dorian leap out of the bed to pace and ask questions at his own time. She owes him that much. Truthfully, she also misses this: laying out all the details like playing cards and listening to Dorian slowly work them into a full strategy.
“The research was destroyed…how did you…?”
“We had time to study.”
“How much time?”
“Five years, exactly.”
“Down to the date. The better we could line it up, the easier the jump.”
“Who is ‘we?’”
“Sera, Dalish, Skinner. Hawke’s friends Merril and Fenris. A few surviving Grey Wardens. Others along the way.”
“If you’re not, you, then why do you look like…you?”
“I took my old body.”
“The Wardens helped me apply Corypheus’ soul transfer magic so I could regain the Mark.”
Dorian shoots her a puzzled look and she winces. “Right, we haven’t gotten there yet. Corypheus can jump bodies if his body is damaged. But that’s not important at the moment,” she says.
Dorian slumps back down on the bed, leaning over his knees. “Right. Murderous megalomaniac set on destroying the world as we know it that can leap from body to body. Not important.”
Ellana crosses over to the bed, sitting gingerly next to him. “I shouldn’t have told you this,” she says, “I’m sorry. But I need someone else to know in case something happens to me.”
“Something?” Dorian looks up at her, frowning. “What sort of something?”
“Solas is not what he seems,” Ellana says firmly, “he’s an elven god, and a powerful one. But he doesn’t have his full power, not yet. Not if I succeed.”
“In killing him, you mean?”
Ellana’s hands ball into fists in her lap, but she doesn’t rush Dorian as he processes her words. His eyes stare unfocused at a point somewhere between hers and he taps a finger on his lips.
“I believe you,” Dorian says finally, “Every rational part of my brain wants to say you’ve finally lost it, but I believe you. But I don’t believe you’re a murderer.”
Ellana is taken aback for a moment. She shakes her head. “It’s not murder,” she says. “It’s the only way to protect everyone.” The irony of that comment sinks like a hard ball of metal to the pit of her stomach.
“Oh? What about Alexius? As I recall, there were several people clamoring for his head.”
“Alexius was different,” she says firmly.
“He also tried to destroy the world, and as I recall succeeded,” Dorian counters, raising an eyebrow, “Yet here we are.”
Wrong, wrong, wrong. She expected accusations of insanity and resistance on belief – not pushback on the one immovable, fixed part of her plan. She feels the conversation unraveling. “Don’t you get it?” she nearly cries, standing up suddenly and waving her hands for emphases, “He kills you. He kills everyone. He is evil.”
“I know you’ve been through a great deal,” Dorian says slowly, and his gentle tone infuriates her more, “But the woman I know looked for every option. She never settled on the easy solution. She found the right one. Especially for someone she once called a friend."
The comment pierces through her flesh, jolting her heart to life. “I’m not the woman you know. Solas killed her along with everyone else.”
“So it’s about revenge, then?”
Ellana thinks she might hit Dorian, instead she exhales sharply through her nose, counting to 10 as she inhales and paces. Dorian waits, saying nothing, watching her through slightly narrowed eyes. “You can’t save people from themselves,” she says finally, eyes closed. She turns to Dorian. “Please, I don’t need you to agree, I just need you to promise me you’ll do what has to be done if I can’t.”
Dorian sighs, standing up. He walks over to Ellana and crosses his arms. “I don’t give a damn about Solas. But I care about you. I care about what this would do you to you.” He sighs again, the weighty breath falling on her shoulders.
Ellana stares into his eyes and he matches her gaze, refusing to look away. She bites her lip, hard.
“I’ll make you a promise. I’ll try other options first, if you promise,” Ellana says slowly. “If I fail, that means it didn’t work and Solas has killed me. Someone has to do what has to be done.”
Dorian considers her for moment, then holds out his hand. She meets it, the suffocated glow of the Mark peeking out from between their palms. “I promise,” he says. “Maker help me.”
“I promise,” Ellana echoes. She feels a fleeting pang of guilt at the lie, but it passes as quickly as it comes.