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Defying Grace

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Chapter 1

Awakening

By the Maker, the pain was excruciating. Why was her head spinning? Why had her hand and arm felt like they were on fire? They weren’t, right?

Slowly, she opened her eyes, prying the sleepy haze from her mind. The pain in her hand helped with that and she gasped as she saw it flare up green. Was that fire? Lightning? She had no idea how to do magic, so it couldn’t have been either, right? No. Fire and lightning were not green.

As soon as she could focus her mind, the door to the room she was in opened. It was only then, as she picked her head up, that she even realized she had been surrounded by guards. What happened?

Two women entered the room, immediately questioning her on what information she had on the deaths at the Conclave.

“Wait, what happened? You’re saying that the people in attendance are all dead?” she questioned, lost in her disbelief. How could that many people have all perished?

“All except you and one other,” the hooded woman responded, not giving any other details on this other person or they were not being interrogated. “Do you remember what happened?”

“I remember running. Things, chasing me. And then, there was a woman. . .?” Maker’s breath, why was she unable to remember anything? Why was everything so hazy? It felt like trying to remember a dream.

“A woman?” Hood questioned incredulously, seemingly not buying what she was telling her.

When the woman in the Chantry armor had had enough of the conversation, she turned to Hood. “Go to the forward camp, Leliana. See what you can find out.”

“Are you going to bring her to the rift, Cassandra?” Ho—Leliana asked. Once she got the confirmation she’d been looking for, she nodded, exited the building.

Cassandra turned to her then, pulling her to her feet. “Come. I will show you what happened at the Conclave.”

Once outside, she saw the breach into the Fade scarring the sky, watched as it rained down meteors and demons to attack innocent people. The strange mark on her hand flared up, causing her to finally realize why she was as suspect. Not only was she one of only two people who survived the explosion, but she came out of the Fade and had some strange mark on her hand that was quickly killing her.

“I will help however I can,” she finally told Cassandra, much to the soldier’s surprise. That was when they decided that she would try to close the Breach, though first, they would test it on a small rift, see if it was possible at all.

As they made their way forward, there were a few wraiths to contend with. Any approval Cassandra had developed for her was lost as soon as she grabbed two blades, helping to defeat wraiths. However, she still allowed her to keep the weapons, realizing that she herself could not defend a fully-grown Elf in circumstances such as this.

Advancing further, the sound of fighting rang through the air, armor and weapons clanging and people yelling. “The fighting up ahead. That’s where we must go.”

Furrowing her brows, she followed after Cassandra up a set of disheveled steps, doing her best to avoid twisting an ankle. She was already dying because of a mark on her hand that she had no ideas about. She didn’t need to be slowed down too.

“Who’s fighting?”

“You’ll see soon enough,” Cassandra promised.

The two made their way into the fray, helping those fighting the wraiths and demons. While it was far from easy work, the ragtag team managed to win this battle. As soon as they had, one of them, a bald Elf in casual green clothes, grabbed onto her wrist.

“Quickly! Before more come through!” he announced, holding her hand up to the rift. A strange warmth coursed its way through her arm and towards her heart that tightened around it, quickly becoming painful. Once it was too much, she ripped her hand away, and the rift shut, leaving the air seemingly untouched.

“Well, that was handy,” a voice snickered easily. It belonged to a young woman who was standing off to the side, wearing simple iron armor that didn’t seem to really fit her well enough with a familiar symbol over the cuirass. The Elf, the one with the mark on her hand, stared for a few moments at that symbol, recognizing it all too well.

It was the sigil of House Trevelyan, blue in color to represent the Free Marches branch of the family.

A small laugh echoed through the space, reverberating off of the destroyed arches that surrounded them. “Did you just make a pun?” asked a Dwarf in red, slinging a crossbow over his shoulder.

“I can be surprisingly good at it, if given the chance,” the girl laughed.

Silence fell for a moment, an uncomfortable emptiness swirling its way around the small party, as all eyes settled onto the young Elf with the mark. They all wondered, herself included, how she could possibly help with the Breach that was consuming the world above the Temple of Sacred Ashes. The small rift had hurt her enough. What would the Breach be like?

Suddenly, as all stared, the young woman’s voice questioned, “Fawkes?”

She, Fawkes, picked her head up, feeling her name ring through her ears as it rolled off of the young woman’s tongue. This woman, with a helmet covering her face, couldn’t have been who she thought it was. Right?

“Ah, sorry. You probably don’t remember me.” The woman removed the helmet from her head, finally revealing her face. Her nose had clearly been recently broken while she had fresher cuts on her face that were beginning to scar, but she still looked the same.

Her sunny blonde hair tumbled down her back once the helmet was off and her tanned cheeks only puffed up further as she smiled. Most importantly, her seafoam green eyes still shone, especially as she looked to Fawkes, who was managing a small smile now as well.

“How could I ever forget you, Solaria?”