Lavellan took a deep breath, and the sweet fragrance of freshly fallen leaves filled her lungs. The forest was silent except for the soft breeze that rattled the tree limbs as it passed through them. After taking in the scenery around her, Lavellan put her staff to the ground and her foot forward, continuing her trek. Her footfalls were all but soundless, as if she were made of air and she simply glided above the ground. The setting sun glimmered in the distance, picturesque as it peeked through the boughs overhead. Lavellan moved in its direction, led by its beacon, pressing deeper into the elven woods.
The solitude brought tranquility; a serene distraction from otherwise troubling thoughts. The world seemed so distant from this place—a world that, while experiencing a relative peace, was on the brink of destruction. Here in this forest, it only seemed like a bad dream that faded further away with each step.
Time seemed to have no meaning as Lavellan hardly noticed the sun had vanished, replaced in turn by a bright and full moon. She paused briefly to marvel at the soft, luminescent glow of the orb. Regarding her surroundings again, she watched the shadows cast by its light, eerie and beautiful all at once.
Suddenly, she sensed that she was no longer alone. It was an unnerving feeling that sent a chill down her spine, and she gripped tighter to her staff. Her eyes scanned the forest floor until she saw the silhouette of a wolf beneath a tree at the edge of the clearing, its piercing gaze locked on her. Lavellan inhaled a shaky breath. It was not the first night she found the wolf watching her. It was here every night, peering from a distance. She wanted to be angry, to curse its presence, but all she felt was grief and longing.
Lavellan took a step forward, and the wolf continued to watch her. She wondered how close she could get this time as she took tentative strides towards the beast.
She reached the tree where it sat, still staring. Lavellan kneeled down and held her breath, extending a hand towards the wolf. Tendrils of its shadow reached back, wrapping around her fingers. The temperature of the air around her seemed to drop drastically, and she could see her breath exhaled in a cloud of smoke.
“Solas.” The name escaped her lips in a whisper.
At the sound, the wolf turned away from her and darted into the trees.
“No!” Lavellan tried to close her hand around the tendrils, but the darkness likewise retreated into the night.
Lavellan jumped to her feet, and her staff fell to the ground beside her. She dashed into the forest in the direction of the wolf, but the trees darkened all around her the deeper she went until she could no longer see any remnants of the forest at all. A pair of glowing eyes flashed in the distance, and she ran towards them with all her might.
“Come back!” she cried, reaching out once more. Another light began to glow which emanated from her own left hand. It grew brighter with each passing second and began to drown out everything, including the wolf’s eyes, now so far from her that she would never reach them.
Lavellan yelled as she was completely swallowed up by an ocean of bright green.
“Don’t leave me!”
Lavellan sat upright in her bed. Her room was nearly pitch black. Sweat was pouring down her face, and her breathing was labored as if she had actually been running. She felt a slight stinging in her left hand and looked down at the appendage which was no longer there. She took a moment to compose herself, then grasped her blanket with her right arm and heaved it to the side. She slid towards her bedside table and reached for the necklace lying on top.
After grasping the metallic pendant firmly in her one hand, she flipped open its lid and began to speak softly into the small crystal inside.
“Dorian? Are you there?”
Lavellan waited, and at first there was only silence. Then, she heard the sound of movement and what she could distinctly discern as a muffled yawn.
“Yes, my dear. And good morning to you, too. Assuming it is morning.”
A faint smile crept onto Lavellan’s lips. “Sorry to have woken you.”
“Well, I should hope so! I’m something of a busy man now and I don’t get many opportunities to nap.” Dorian chortled.
Lavellan couldn’t find the strength to laugh. Instead she pressed the cold metal of the locket to her forehead and inhaled a deep breath, fighting back a sudden and intense urge to cry.
Dorian stopped laughing instantly. Lavellan knew for certain he had been alerted to her mood; his intuition never ceased to amaze her in times such as these.
“Are you alright, Lavellan?” he asked in a gentler tone.
She exhaled. “I had the dream again.”
“Hm,” Dorian hummed in affirmation. “I thought as much.”
“The wolf was there. Watching me, like always.”
“Did you catch it?” Dorian asked, knowing she had tried fruitlessly to do so in many dreams previously.
Lavellan gave a dejected sigh. “No, but I got closer this time. I could almost touch it.” She held the crystal near her lips. “It felt real, Dorian—like I was in the Fade again. Like he was really there in front of me.”
Dorian was silent for another moment as he seemed to be pondering the nature of his dear friend’s recurring nightmare. “If that’s true, and it really is him, what does he hope to gain by torturing you so?” His tone was solemn, and she could picture his neatly groomed brow furrowed with concern.
“Maybe he’s trying to tell me something,” she offered.
“By staring and then running away?” Dorian retorted bitterly. “No. What he should be trying to tell you is ‘I’m terribly sorry, my love; I’ve been a bloody fool and I deserve a swift kick in the arse when I return to you forthwith.’”
The Tevinter mage sighed. “I’m sorry, but you deserve better than this. It simply isn’t fair.”
“I just wish I knew where he was. I wish I could bring him back here and make him explain. I—” Tears welled in Lavellan’s eyes and she gripped the message crystal tighter. “I just wish I could hold him again.”
Dorian was frowning deeply on the other end, though she couldn’t see. He wiped his brow and stared out the window at the starlit sky. “My dear, I can’t feign to understand what you’re going through right now. Maybe you need help from someone more knowledgeable than myself. Perhaps someone who knows about the Fade.”
“No one knows more about the Fade than he does. Trying to reach him there would be hopeless.”
“Surely you’re not going to sit by and do nothing?”
“Of course not,” Lavellan assured him, but he sensed her resolve was weakened. “I have to find him in this world. It’s the only way to save him.”
Dorian shook his head. “Still the hopeful soul, I see. But then I suppose without it, you wouldn’t be the woman who so eloquently ensnared my heart.”
“You of all people know old habits die hard, Dorian.”
“Oh, and there’s that irresistible sharp wit!” Lavellan chuckled lightly in response, and Dorian smiled. “It’s good to hear you laugh.”
“I’ll admit, it feels nice,” she said softly, wiping away a silent tear that fell. “I appreciate you answering my calls.”
“What kind of a friend would I be if I ignored the Inquisitor in her hour of need?”
“That’s exactly why I don’t know what I would do without you.”
“You would survive, albeit with much less flare and a hint less charm.”
Lavellan smiled but it was laced with sadness. The only person she missed more than her lost love was her best friend. She wished more than anything that he was here with her, lighting up the room with his dazzling charisma. At least his voice gave her the strength she needed to carry on. She inhaled another deep breath, this time steadier.
“Thank you, Dorian. For everything.”
Dorian’s features softened. “You’re most welcome. You know that I’m here for you, should you ever have need of me. I’ll stand by your side always.”
Lavellan cradled the pendant in her hand lovingly. Before she could respond, Dorian expelled another yawn.
“Now please do try and get some sleep. Beauty needs rest, and we can’t all hope to have it come as naturally as mine.”
“Until next time, my friend.”
Lavellan closed the locket gingerly, sealing the crystal safely inside, and placed it back on her bedside table. She laid her head back on her pillow, and her heart was heavy, but as she drifted off to dream, it all began to fade away.