Actions

Work Header

The Meeting

Chapter Text

The wounded travelers still stream into Haven each day, more and more strange faces seeking refuge and help. Between Adan and herself there are barely enough hands to keep the wounded at bay. A few of Adan’s friends, herbalists and alchemists mostly, help keep the stock of poultices and potions, but two sets of hands can only move so quickly. By the third day Vanora has resorted to subtle magic to help the worst of the injuries. Another sleepless night passed, Vanora keeping watch and making rounds while Adan slept. The man was cranky enough as is, much less without sleep. The Herald’s return brings more refugees directed towards the house where the two healers work. Merchants and a few guards mostly. Luckily it seems that there are no wounds that are life threatening. When she is done checking over the merchant before her, Vanora turns her attention to one of the two guards. The armor he wears doesn’t look to be in particularly bad shape. Arching a brow at him she exhales slowly, hands settling on her hips.

“You look fine to me…any injuries I can’t see? Please don’t bother lying. I’ve had enough guards try to pass off life threatening injuries as ‘scratches’ to last me a lifetime.”

 

The last month has been nothing but long and winding mountain passes through the Frostbacks, wild and rocky terrain as far as the eye can see. Merchant wagons make the going even slower and more treacherous, as Maretus and his four fellows–three Fereldens and a surface dwarf–have to frequently stop and push the laden wagons over jutting rocks or up particularly steep hills. The mules pulling the contraptions are ill-tempered as the guards about halfway through, and the cold from the altitude does nothing to improve any of their dispositions. Snow banks high around them, and even two fires at night aren’t enough to keep him arm through the layers of fur he wears. More than once, Maretus wonders why he ever left the north to come to this Void-cursed, frost-locked country.

Finally, though, after Maretus is sure he’d lose a few fingers from the biting wind, the paths slopes downward and they wind their way out of the worst of the mountains and onto a moderately well-traveled road that is far more accommodating to wagons than the most previous ones have been. What pleasure there can be in the small things, Maretus thinks as they double their traveling speed on more level ground.

Of course, it’s always too early to give thanks, and that is a lesson learned over and over in Maretus’s life; he should know better by now.

Everything happens quickly after that.

A tearing, splitting sound shatters the sky overtop of them, and all Maretus knows is that there are demons falling out of it and they are all fighting for their lives. Shouts and screams fill the air, along with the hoarse, inhuman echoes of the demons. The mules bray and kick their way free from the wagons, running off in any direction that would get them away, and Maretus wishes he could do the same–he is not built for fighting such creatures of magic.

The fight only lasts a few minutes–the merchants all lay dead or scattered along with the mules, and of the five guards they’d hired, only he and one other remain. There are a handful of demons–their dark bulks shifting in wisps and shadows at the edges as if made from the fabric of umbra itself somehow–all advancing on them, but exchanging a glance with the other guard tells Maretus they both have the same plan in mind. They flee.

Pushing past fear, he runs straight through the sifting demons, knuckles white around the hilt of his sword, dodging swipes and blows that seem suddenly slower to his adrenaline-filled mind, and they can only scratch and cut at him, not stop his flight. He runs until he cannot breathe any longer, and collapses against a boulder until another wagon rolls by and offers him a lift, covered in dirt and sweat and blood as he is.

Maretus can not say how long it takes, but eventually he reaches Haven, most of the dirt and blood halfheartedly wiped from his face, none worse for wear save but a few more cuts and scrapes that will heal quickly and a new fear to bury in his heart. He has not slept since the encounter, yet does not recall if it has only been hours or days. Mind wandering, distracted, his feet take over with automatic motions that have seen him through half-sleeping marches in his youth–mindlessly following the others he’d ridden in with until a voice brings him out of his reverie.

There is something… familiar about the voice, though when his chestnut amber eyes focus on the woman’s face, he knows he has never seen her before in his life, and so cannot place how he could know her voice.

“No,” he answers her, then clears his throat, his voice too rough to his ears. “No, I have no injuries worthy of note. I… I only just arrived, and do not know my way around yet. I must have gotten… turned around.” Glancing around, Maretus takes in the place in which he finds himself, noting the wounded, the herbs and potions and poultices. He offers a shallow, tired bow, hand lifting as if to touch his leather cuirass with his fingers, though they don’t quite make it. “Forgive my intrusion–I do not wish to keep you from others who have an actual need of your skills.”

 

The moment he opens his mouth Vanora realizes that the man, while apparently entirely well, could be a potential threat. She’s not worried much about the people around her, peasants and soldiers were never really a problem. But that accent was incredibly familiar. The last thing she needed was a Tevinter soldier wandering around. Her accent was hidden as best as she could manage, but she was tired and her energy was being spent elsewhere. The only reason she hadn’t bothered with it was because nobody could place it. Given time, however, she had no doubt that the man would realize the undertones. Damn it.

Wiping blood off her hands onto her apron Vanora gives him another look over. No matter the potential threat he posed she wasn’t about to let him walk off if he was injured. Men and their stupid insistence on appearing strong. One of the soldiers had tried scurrying off with his insides nearly out. Idiot. Though his armour is dinged up something awful, and there is blood staining some of his skin, it seems as though he is right. Nothing life threatening there, which meant it was back to the other patients who were in danger. What she would do for a nap.

Like a savior sent from the heavens one of the older women, a healer from a small town nearby, walks over, chiding Vanora for still being there and working.

“You’ve not slept in three days, girl. Get out and get some rest, or I’ll slip a sleeping potion into your drink!”

Too tired to muster up a laugh Vanora settles on a tired smile. The soldier says he doesn’t know his way around and it’s clear he has just arrived. Setting her apron on one of the clear tables Vanora nods towards the door.

“Well, it seems I have been dismissed. I can show you around if you like. Haven, despite all the people, isn’t particularly large or difficult to navigate.”

 

He notices the familiar look of ‘stubborn healer’ cross her features and opens his mouth to assure her again that he is not grievously injured, but she ignores him and is too quick to prevent from looking him over. So he can do nothing else but wait until she is convinced of her own self that he really is fine and draws back to a more comfortable distance.

It is then he sees the circles beneath her eyes, the weary lines etched over an otherwise young-looking face. It’s none of his business, but his thoughts go to the medics and healers he’s been tended by in the past, or whom he’d been recruited into helping–fetching things, holding patients down, cleaning up blood and dirt and aught else before and after, mostly–and how little regard they are given outside those they tend, and he feels a pang for her and the work she is quite literally up to her elbows in.

But no eloquent words of thanks or support or even vague commiseration come to him, so he is left awkward for a moment until an older woman–another healer, Maretus recognizes–comes up and chides the woman who looked him over for working too long. As he recalls, most of the healers he’s known of carried the same tendencies with them.

It comes as a surprise, however, when the woman unties her blood-stained apron and lays it on a nearby table, offering to give him the two-coin tour of the place. His dark brows lift a little.

“I would not impose. I understand long and sleepless shifts; surely you’d rather head to rest than lead a newcomer around who can just as easily wander on his own.“ The first thing he might wander to would be a spot to rest himself–or, as he silently amends to the sudden interruption of a growl from his stomach, to a place that had food he hopefully had enough coin for.

 

“I have not slept in days. A few more hours away will hardly be my demise.”

The man’s stomach growls audibly. A silly thing, but the noise somehow makes her smile, a quiet laugh slipping from her lips as she shakes her something. Her own hunger pangs had been ignored for the most part, along with her need to sleep. Such a small thing, and yet somehow amusing. In the scope of everything, all the wounded and the dangers of this unknown power, it was easy to lose sight of the here and now.

“After all, it seems that you would benefit from knowing where to get some food, hm?”

She barely waits for an answer, brushing by him to get a cloak. The damned town was freezing, and Vanora remembered why she hated the Southern weather so much. Sunshine and frigid temperatures were not a logical combination. Sunshine should bring warmth, not this awful cold. Wrapped in the wool cloak she wishes she could wear furs without exposing herself to questions. What she would do for a good fur cloak.

Stepping outside, snow crunching beneath her feet, Vanora begins by pointing out the houses that are reserved for those needed for the surviving members of the Conclave to function. As they walk she points out other things–the tavern, the Chantry itself, the other homes, the requisition officer and the tent for the spymaster. They complete a circle through the tiny walled in area before heading out the gates.

“Over here is where the soldiers train under Commander Cullen. And if we walk this way a bit there is a bit of a makeshift town that the other survivors have constructed. More room to spread out than in the walled in areas. There are more merchants there, easier to get food.”

 

Watching her don her woolen cloak, it reminds him that he needs to resupply himself–all the belongings that he didn’t keep on his person were lost in the merchant caravan as it was attacked, and he hadn’t ever thought to return to get them. Everything he truly values he carries, so it is no permanent loss of what he did leave behind, but he would like spare clothing and a thick cloak at the very least. And she is right–a bite to eat would not be remiss at this point; he isn’t sure when last he ate.

As she leads him through the encampment, Maretus’s brows lift at all she lists. He’s heard stories of the Inquisition growing on his travels, but they have more resources and people than he expected. Though, overall it wasn’t an overwhelming amount in the grand scheme of everything, but still–he finds himself impressed.

When they exit the wooden walls of the sanctuary itself, the training grounds immediately catch his eye, and though it has been over a decade since he last was part of a military unit, he still feels a pull to it, a comforting calling in his blood–something he knows and knows well. Perhaps he can lend a hand eventually, he thinks as they pass by it. He files away the name Commander Cullen to approach later.

“I also imagine they also have other supplies,” he says as they walk toward the merchants she speaks of. “When the merchant caravan I was with was… attacked, I had to leave most of my spare clothes and heavier wear behind, and they will need replacing now that I’m here.”

“The Conclave,” he continues, thinking back on what she said of the survivors earlier and rubbing nervously absent fingers across his beard. “I’ve heard of one who survived the blast–the one people call the Herald of Andraste. They are… here?” Maretus has never been a religious person, and he cannot bring himself to believe whoever survived the blast was a divine prophet or chosen one of some sort. More likely they were a mage of some kind, or a very, very lucky person otherwise.

Despite his disbelief in divine intervention, he is curious about the Inquisition’s chosen hero. Can the stories be true that they can seal the rifts? What kind of person could do that? Had to be a mage, he concludes.

All the while as they walk, he consciously avoids looking up at the sky–a thing unusual for him, but he knows that he will see the giant green tear in the sky, and he does not want to think about it. He’s seen one of those rifts far too close for his own liking, and the memory of it and what spilled forth from it makes his eyes wander up to find it of their own accord once they are outside the walls of Haven and among the merchants. Catching sight of it sends a shudder running through him before he can stop it.

 

The tour isn’t exactly all encompassing or extremely detailed, but it’s not half bad for a woman who hasn’t slept in three days and has barely had time to eat. Cold gusts of wind capable of freezing a small animal to death did wonders to wake someone up. Maretus seems to perk up a bit when she points out merchants and they pass by Commander Cullen. No doubt he would be seeking both out in the very near future.

Vanora steers him past the soldiers, the barn and the smithy towards the larger encampment where all the refugees stayed. The wind picks up, apparently capable of being colder than it already was, and Vanora pulls her cloak tighter to her body as she mutters something under her breath about the damned cold. As they walk she points out the areas in the encampment with the most space, and especially the ones that are best sheltered from the awful weather. Asking about the Herald is inevitable, and Vanora isn’t exactly surprised to hear that he’s curious. She turns, leading him back the way they came.

“Indeed. Apparently they walked out of a rift in the Fade and just collapsed. Everyone thought they were guilty for blowing up the Conclave, but word is that they’re capable of closing the rifts that keep opening up all over. They managed to stop the Breach from growing any larger. It seems to be enough for the people of Haven to retract their earlier suspicion and blame. Well, except for the Chantry folk. They’re still not pleased about it. Though I suppose they’re not really pleased with anything usually…”

Though she hadn’t had the time to get out of the healers hut Vanora is nevertheless extremely well informed. Glancing over to him she does her best to ignore the shudder when he glances up. The Breach is a familiar sight to Vanora, but with all her work it is easy to forget that most people are still frightened of it. Though it is worrisome and needs to be closed once and for all, at the very least it isn’t growing any bigger.

“I think there is a food station set up in the Chantry. We might be able to find something a bit warmer for you until you can buy a suitable cloak or jacket.”

 

Maretus nods at her words. “People are fickle and often quick to change their minds when they don’t understand what’s happening and are frightened, so I’m not surprised to hear they jumped from one assumption to the next. But the Chantry…” He trails off and shrugs. “In my years traveling the south, I have not ever known them to be pleased, either, so you’ve hit that on the mark.”

He watches her as she leads them back to where they started, and wonders if her calm about the tear in the sky comes from being a mage. He couldn’t imagine even a knowledgeable Magister would be so blasé about a green, glowing rip in the sky, and so decides she must be just used to it. He hadn’t seen her use magic in the healing tent, after all, and he imagines that were she a mage, she would have been using her power instead of more mundane healing methods.

Then again–he notes the dark circles beneath her eyes–she could just be too exhausted to work magic. But, he doesn’t know how it really works, and so pushes such ruminations away for the moment. Mage or no, she was being more kind than she had to be, showing him, a complete stranger, around after tending to him, and he wouldn’t do her a disservice of questioning her methods, even within his own mind, without knowing her first

The moment she mentions ‘food’, it triggers a visceral reaction in him–his stomach growls, and his face softens at the noise. “I think,” he says as he catches her eyes again, “the food station would be an excellent idea.”

 

There is a small miracle in being so terribly exhausted. The infernal cold that seems to seep into everything, no matter how many fires or layers of clothing, bothers her less. Or maybe it’s just slowly eating away at her nerves. Either way, it is a grateful, brief reprieve from the constant cold. She would take a blazing hot Tevinter afternoon over this chill any day. 10 years and she still had not completely adjusted to such different climates. Being so far South only made things worse.

The growling stomach, the relaxation of his facial muscles–it makes her smile to herself and shake her head. She cannot blame him for being hungry. There were so many who had come so far. With all the chaos and the disruption in trade routes it was difficult to get ahold of food. Like the chaos of the Blight…only demons instead of darkspawn. She couldn’t be sure which was worse. At least demons didn’t spread disease as such.

“Food it is then. I don’t think anyone is too picky about food when they’re so hungry, but it’s always stew. At least the woman in charge knows how to make a good stew with what we have.”

She weaves around the people in the narrow paths, passing the small houses and the Spymaster’s tent.

“That’s where Leliana manages all the information–she’s the Spymaster here. Some people call her the Nightingale. Or so I’ve heard. Amazing the things one can learn by simply being a healer. Nobody thinks you’re listening when you’re busy bandaging them up or stitching wounds.”

 

He eyes the tent as the walk past, keeping pace with her, though a step behind. “I can only imagine the things you hear at a bedside,” he agrees, albeit a little distractedly; he watches a red-haired woman in a purple mantle and surcoat inside the Spymaster’s tent speak with a few other hooded people.

Once they were past, he returns his full attention back to her. “People’ve always said a soldier can tell the best tales, or perhaps a merchant from their travels, but I’ve always thought healers have some of the more interesting–and the more gruesome ones. Have you been one long, or just for the Inquisition?”

His stomach growls a third time as they continue to the inn, and as they near he can indeed smell a stew cooking inside.

“Stew sounds like a perfect remedy right now,” he says, a hand straying to his belt, only to pat on nothing. His features fall just a hair. “Ah–I must have lost my spice box in the battle before I came here. Pracia.” His voice is quiet, mostly talking to himself, but then he shifts his hand back to his side and stops just short of the door, turning to look his walking companion in the eye.

“I don’t believe I’ve formally thanked you for your attention in the healer’s tent, or for the tour.” A quick glance to the inn behind them made his lips twitch in a smile. “And for leading me to a hot meal.” He gives her a short bow, fingers coming up to touch his chest. “I am Maretus Varevelo, and if I can be of any service to you, do not hesitate to call upon me. I owe you that much.”

 

Merchants and soldiers had plenty of fascinating tales. After all, they saw the world and traveled, experienced things most people couldn’t dream of. But Maretus’ astute observation and opinion ring true to Vanora’s life.

" My work here has certainly provided me with  many  a story. People from all walks of life have been under my care, and so I hear about a world of different tales. I traveled Thedas before I came to the Inquisition. Healing was a practical thing to learn–though if I had spent more time learning to wield a blade it would have perhaps been less critical. Adan, the alchemist here, was in charge of healing people when I came. His bedside manner and temperament were horrible, so I took over. He was much relieved to be free of it, and I was much relieved to have some way to help.

They close the distance between themselves and the inn, Vanora sighing contentedly as she feels the heat nearly radiating from the walls of the building. Her attention shifts away when her companion seems to realize that he’s lost something. Spices? Such a small thing, and yet she was sure it made a difference to the man. The urge to laugh is masked instead by an understanding smile as she holds open the door.

You are most welcome, Maretus. A pleasure to meet you. I cannot remember if I have yet introduced myself–the long hours have fogged my memory. If I have not, I am Vanora. But you owe me nothing, I am simply doing my job. It is disorienting to be in such a strange place in such a strange time. Now, come. My fingers are freezing, and I am as hungry as you.

 

His eyebrows lift. It doesn’t seem so cold out to him that extremities would be in danger, but perhaps he just ran hotter than she did. He certainly can’t fault her that–and especially if it is merely hyperbole. As a healer, this Vanora would certainly need to take great care of her hands. Maretus does not yet know how long he will linger here, but there is always a chance that he will find himself under her care at some point, and he definitely wants her hands to be in optimal condition.

He follows her into the tavern, a cramped and raucous building, filled with a motley assortment of people. Everyone from Chantry folk to soldiers, to refugees and merchants. The space inside is entirely too small for the amount of people trying to do the same as they–find a spot out of the chill wind and a full bowl–so it takes them longer than he would have expected before they can secure food.

Finding and empty spot to eat is an entirely different matter, as most of the chairs are taken up by people already. He scans the room until alighting upon a single empty chair tucked in a corner.

“There,” he says abruptly, leaning down to his new companion in the hopes she could better hear him over the din of a dozen conversations. Without waiting for her to respond, he sets off toward the chair to claim it before someone else can, hoping that she’d follow in his wake through the crowd.

He manages to spill hot stew over his hands only once as he maneuvered through the tavern, but he only spares a moment to wince before pushing the flash of temporary pain out of his mind. Once he reaches it–a good amount ahead of her–he stands guard over the chair and waits for her to join him. 

“It’s not as close to the hearth as you might like,” he ventures when she nears, “but I’m afraid there isn’t much choice in this crowd.”

 

Vanora does not notice how desperately hungry she is until they enter the tavern and the smell of food and drink assaults her senses. As if on cue her stomach rumbles, turning over slightly in a pointed reminder that it is not only sleep she has forsaken in the past days. Pushing through the crowd is unpleasant, and harder than she had initially assumed. It could be simply the exhaustion making things challenging, or that it is hard to dart between people when there was barely room to breathe.

Once their food is in hand Maretus seems to spot one of the few spaces left to stand and eat. His reaction is so sudden, the tavern so loud, that Vanora almost misses why it is he’s suddenly disappearing through the crowd. Reeling in surprise, she fights through the tightly packed throng of people, following the curly blue-black hair as best she can. When finally she breaks free, or as free as possible, she raises her eyebrows in surprise that he has found a  chair . Eying the spilled stew on his hands she stifles a smirk and nods towards the chair.

Nevermind the hearth, there are enough people that the place is warm enough without one. You best sit. I fear if I do I shall fall asleep face first in my stew.
It is an earnest request, for Vanora feels certain that the moment she sits or lays down she shall fall asleep for a week. Based on the state of things, however, she’d be lucky to manage a few hours. But she has no intention of doing so here. Food first, then rest.

 

He hesitates, as if steeling himself to argue with her but then lets out whatever words he might have said in a rush of breath and nods, relenting. He’s weary from the chill, from hunger, from the ordeal he survived not as long ago as he wished. So, he sits, the chair creaking audibly beneath his weight, but it holds and he rests an arm on the back of it to try and angle himself as best he can in the chair toward his guide and haphazard meal companion.

As she tucks into her own stew, he studies her between his own spoonfuls. She looks exhausted, but she’s not quite wavering on her feet, so he decides he doesn’t have to worry about making the decision to carry her back to wherever her bad might be or not. Maretus is all-too familiar with several kinds of bone-deep exhaustion, and she doesn’t appear to be at the point of no return just yet.

It’s commendable, though–the thankless job of healing that she did, and it would be the least he could do in thanks to her for not only leading him in the copper-coin tour of the camp, but in general for the work he was sure she pushed herself daily to do, to escort her back to her quarters. And then find his own. There is no fear he has that he’d drop from exhaustion as soon as he sat down, but he wasn’t very far from creeping up to that edge. Luckily, he had years of experience under nearly all kinds of situations to know how far he could push himself, and he was still well within his limits.

Eyeing her more overtly, he sets his spoon down in the nearly empty bowl and comments, “You will be heading to rest after this, I hope?”

 

Vanora almost expects him to argue about the chair, she can see it in the set of his mouth, but he thinks better of it and takes the seat. Satisfied that he’ll be comfortable while they eat, and feeling sure that she won’t fall asleep standing up, she tucks into her stew. It’s a far cry from the delicate soups of the North, of Tevinter, but with nearly a decade spent away from her homeland, she’s found that stew isn’t half bad. When made correctly, she even likes it.

Silence falls between the two of them, each too busy and, she suspects, too tired to bother making anymore small talk. Not that Vanora has any problem with it. It’s calming not to feel pressured to find something to chat about. He’s just about finished with his stew when he finally speaks up, drawing Vanora’s attention back to him. Setting her spoon back down in the bowl, she purses her lips.

I should,  she starts, trailing off as she begins to silently list off the people she needs to check in on,  but there are several patients I need to check in on. I fear not all of them will make it through the night, and I don’t want them to be alone if their time comes.

Stifling a yawn, she rubs her eyes in a fruitless attempt to help her feel more awake,  I’m sure I can find a place in the tent to curl up in. Close enough that I can be awake if they need me.

 

A typical healer response. Maretus was expecting this, however, and is unfazed by it. She’ll find sleep–or it will find her–in her own time. It’s clear to him that she’s no stranger to exhaustion either, and so he will not insult her by insisting she get rest.

He finishes off his stew and debates another bowl for a brief moment. It’s not quite enough to fill his belly, but it took the edge off his hunger; he’ll settle for that. By the hollow looks of some of the people crammed into the old tavern, they need it more than he does. It wasn’t so long ago that he’d been in their shoes, never sure where his next meal was coming from and never having anywhere near enough. Maretus will leave the second bowl for someone more needing than he.
It isn’t long after that he parts ways with the healer—
Vanora, he reminds himself—and a sister of the Chantry leads him to what he originally assumed to be a communal barracks to find a bed for the night. It wasn’t a barracks at all, just a slightly larger-than-the-rest old building with poor insulation that had cots set up for some, and a mess of bedrolls littering the earthen ground for the rest. He can tell the people here had tried to do their best by providing as many fur pelts and woolen blankets as they could to lay on the ground for those sleeping there. At least it was indoors, he thought. And, if nothing else, the body heat of everyone so packed in one space would help them all stay alive and without frostbite in the middle of the night. He hoped, anyway.

Luckily, he’s no stranger to sharing cramped quarters, and soon after he finds an empty space to claim for himself, falls asleep as exhaustion overcomes him.


His sleep is fitful, filled with glowing green tendons that ripped and sprayed black, ichorous blood all over him, with unearthly shrieks and the crackling sound of magic that make his blood run cold. He’s leading a regiment up the mountainside when all the boulders suddenly crack open with glaring and sickly green light, and all his legionnaires get dragged into them, leaving only smears of red on the ground to show they were ever there. He’s running through the forest, belt pulled tight around his bony hips, his beard unkempt and longer than it’s ever been in his life, and all he can hear is the crashes of some giant demon tearing through the trees in pursuit of him—he can feel the hot crackle of magic in the air raise the hairs on the back of his neck, and then a scythe-like limb so cold it burned his skin hooks around his abdomen and guts him.

Maretus sits up with a start, his hand flying beneath his pillow for a blade then, not finding one there, paws at the bedroll beneath him for one. His heart hammers in his chest, beneath the cold sweat making his tunic cling uncomfortably to him, and for a frantic moment he thinks he is under attack. Finally, his hand closes around the worn leather grip of one of his daggers and somehow that finally allows him to come to his senses and remember where he was.
It is still early, probably half an hour before dawn, and most of the room is still asleep. A few people are up—a mother cradling her baby to nurse at a breast, two younger people murmuring quietly to themselves as they pull on heavy woolen tunics and leather belts, an older woman with her grey head bowed over clasped hands in prayer.

Haven.

The place comes back to him, as he slowly regains control over his breathing, and his heart begins to calm. The last dream he had haunts him still, and he lifts the front of his tunic just to make sure it wasn’t real. His stomach is as normal as it could be, crossed with a few old scars, but no new ones, and certainly nothing fresh and still open.

Still, there would be no falling back asleep for him, that much is certain. Quietly, Maretus clothes himself in all the layers of clothing he owns—which, admittedly, is not very much, considering—and gingerly steps his way through the rest of the sleeping room and out the door.

The cold hits his face like a slap, and he draws his leather jerkin a bit tighter. He really needed to get a new cloak. The rest of Haven is as quiet as the communal sleeping area, and most people seem to be huddled into their warm clothes as best they can as they go about their morning duties. Most of the civilians don’t seem to be up, so it’s just soldier-types and Chantry women traversing the cold pre-dawn. It is unlikely that any merchants he might find a cloak at would have their wares set up, and he somehow doubted the quartermaster would issue him something like that. So, for now, he makes his way to the tavern to see if there was any warm fare he might fill his belly with to try and dispel at least some of the cold.

He’s in luck, partially. They have a few fresh rolls of bread (though lacking any sharp spices of the breads from home, and it strikes him as odd that after all this time he’d still be lamenting that fact) and aged cheese, as well as hot tea (blissfully black, like good Tevene brew should be). He savors the cup more than the bread, but doesn’t linger overlong. The dreams he had left him with a restlessness inside his chest, and Maretus knew himself well enough that keeping active would help.
He thanked the tavern worker, a different one than the night before, and left a few pieces of copper on the counter (all he could spare, really). While he still wasn’t sure exactly how things worked here—they obviously housed a lot of refugees and pilgrims—he was certain that giving a few coins wouldn’t be remiss. Then it was back out to the cold, where the dawn was slowly pinking the sky, tinging the bottoms of the clouds with the first blushes of the sun. Maretus remembered a few places the healer—
Vanora,  he more firmly reminded himself, again—showed him yesterday, but he was by no means familiar with the place. As he walked, he idly wondered if she’d been able to find some rest the night before, or if her patients had kept her up past the point of exhaustion.