It was dark when I awoke. Pain lanced up my arm and down my right side. What in the- My hand. It sparkled and crackled with a sort of green energy. What is this? What in the hell is going on? I looked around the dark space and noticed the walls. Stone. Smells of damp, decay, and waste assailed my nose. Where am I?
Time went by slowly as my panic started to grow. The last thing I remembered was going over to Tommy’s house… and then-
With a burst of noise, a door slammed open in front of me. Not only was I startled to see two figures darkened by the light behind them, it was a new experience for me to squeak. Not since I’d been 10 had I been able to say anything after the accident. I was mute. Wasn’t I?
“Skazhi mne, pochemu my ne dolzhny tebya ubivat' seychas. Konklav unichtozhen. Vse, kto prisutstvoval, mertvy.” (Tell me why we shouldn't kill you now. The conclave is destroyed. Everyone who attended is dead.)
Still stunned by being able to talk again, it took me a moment to realize that a woman was talking to me. Focusing on the woman in front of me for the first time, I startled. I knew that face. But from where?
The woman, seeming to take my silence as threatening continued by seizing my arm with the green energy and hissed, “Ob"yasni eto!” (Explain this!)
I was stunned. From a game! How the hell did I get here? This was supposed to be fiction! I knew what was expected of me, but I didn’t know if I could talk properly. The fact that they were speaking in a completely different language was just another problem on the many I knew I would face.
It had been so long that I was silent; that my world was silent, “I-….I….c-ca-can’t.” The words were slurred. Even I could barely make them out. But I said them. Man, I was rusty.
The woman looked at me for a beat, hard and confused pain lingering in her gaze, when the other woman behind her, Leliana I presumed, spoke quietly, “Ya ne dumayu, chto ona ponimayet Cassandra.” (I don’t think she understands Cassandra)
Cassandra looked at me for a moment longer before tsking in disgust and dropping me back on the hard ground, “My dolzhny budem pokazat' yey togda. V peredniy lager' Leliana. My vstretimsya tam.” (We'll have to show her then. To the forward camp Leliana. We'll meet you there.)
I was pulled up by Cassandra, and I knew from the game that I was on my way to see the Breach.
It was one thing to see something so horrific in a game, it was another entirely to see it in person. The breach was abhorrent. It was awe inspiring even in its dread. The veil was seeping into my very pores and reining terror on my thoughts. I knew I had to close this. But seeing this, in all it’s terrifying glory, made me want to run and never look back. How was I supposed to fight that?
Cassandra stops then, looking back at me, “My nazyvayem eto Narusheniye. Eto ogromnyy raskol v mir demonov, kotoryy uvelichivayetsya s kazhdym chasom. Eto ne yedinstvennyy takoy raskol, tol'ko samyy bol'shoy. Vse oni byli vyzvany vzryvom na konklave.” (We call it the Breach. It’s a massive rift into the world of demons that grows larger with each passing hour. It’s not the only such rift, just the largest. All were caused by the explosion at the conclave.)
I imagine that Cassandra is telling me about the Breach. I just look at her and point at the Breach with horror in my eyes. Cassandra seems deep in thought. Probably wondering if she should trust her prisoner.
The Breach suddenly lets out a low rumble, almost like heavy thunder and there are bursts of green coming from it. My hand, in response, flares and I am suddenly fallen over in the deepest pain I could imagine. It was like my arm was being flayed and then sunk in acid. Gods this hurt.
When the worst is over, breathing heavily, I look up at Cassandra; my tears held back. I will not cry.
With pity, Cassandra says softly, “Kazhdyy raz, kogda Razryv rasshiryayetsya, vasha otsenka rasprostranyayetsya ... i eto ubivayet vas. Eto mozhet byt' klyuchom k prekrashcheniyu etogo, no vremeni malo.” (Each time the Breach expands, your mark spreads… and it is killing you. It may be the key to stopping this but there isn’t much time.)
I know the Breach is killing me. I look back up at the Breach, then back over at Cassandra, and nod. I will fight. I’ll probably die trying, I was no fighter, but I would do all I could.
My determined face must have appeased Cassandra. She gave me a small smile then pulls me back up through the town. Haven. Everyone was yelling at me. So many angry faces.
“Oni reshili vashu vinu. Im eto nuzhno. Narod Kheyvena oplakivayet nashu Svyateyshuyu, Bozhestvennuyu Justinia, glavu Tserkvi. Konklav byl yeye. Eto byl shans na mir mezhdu magami i tampliyerami. Ona svela svoikh liderov vmeste. Teper' oni mertvy. My nabrasyvayemsya, kak nebo. No my dolzhny dumat' ne tol'ko o sebe, kak i ona. Poka narusheniye ne budet zakryto.” (They have decided your guilt. They need it. The people of Haven mourn our Most Holy, Divine Justinia, head of the Chantry. The Conclave was hers. It was a chance for peace between mages and templars. She brought their leaders together. Now, they are dead. We lash out, like the sky. But we must think beyond ourselves, as she did. Until the breach is sealed).
She must be describing the town now. Maybe telling me how they lash out in fear. It was hard to remember when so much was happening. As we get closer to the gate, I get more anxious. I knew that there would be demons soon. How am I supposed to fight? Cassandra yells for the gate to open, and she turns toward me. Her rigid stare is hard to ignore when she whips out her knife. For a minute the fear that she’s going to kill me is overwhelming, but she just cuts my bonds. She then motions for me to follow her.
We make our way up toward the forward camp. Another rumble in the sky is the only warning that pain will be coming before I’m sucked into it, almost hurling from the agony. Cassandra urges me to hurry. I know what she means, and I try and pick up my pace. I almost freeze when I see the bridge. Almost. Instead I stumbled. I knew this was where the demons would be.
It matters not that I am afraid, we still get pummeled by one of the Breach’s hits. As we tumble down through rock and rubble, I see that demons are forming ahead of us. Cassandra yells for me to stay behind her but already I see the shimmer of green where a new demon is forming in front of me. In the game there was supposed to be something I could use to fight.
In my panic, I scan the area haphazardly and notice… a staff. No… no! I was not a mage! How the hell was I supposed to use this thing! I pick it up anyway and before I can think up a way to use it the demon is upon me.
It was grotesque, with black ichor oozing from every orifice, hissing. Just as the demon was getting ready to strike, I pull up my staff to block. There was a flash of golden light and the demon howled in pain and disintegrated. What. The. Fuck. How did I do that? This was not in the game...
Noticing Cassandra heading towards me with a scowl, I immediately start to put down my staff.
“Podozhdite.” (Wait) She puts her sword away and picks the staff back up and hands it back to me. “Ya ne mogu zashchitit' tebya i ne mogu ozhidat', chto ty budesh' bezzashchiten. Ya dolzhen pomnit', chto vy soglasilis' priyti okhotno.” (I cannot protect you, and I cannot expect you to be defenseless. I should remember that you agreed to come willingly.)
It was a good thing that I had played before. Cassandra was not a person who you wanted as an enemy. Cassandra then pulls out five small vials filled with something red. These must be health potions. I gladly took them, nodding my head in thanks. We then turned and headed out again.
My head was reeling. What was next? One more fight and then we meet Varric and Solas right? Oh God. How was I going to endure all this? I needed to be able to talk to Solas. He could help me. I was sure of it. I didn’t even care at this point that all this was his fault.
As it was, there were no more demons but as we rounded a snowy hill, I could see in the distance a group of people fighting around a green ball of energy. A rift. Her first. Cassandra speeds up and I follow suit.
As she barrels into the fray I stagger behind, looking for Solas. He was there, along the left side of the rift. I make my way over toward him, trying to stay out of the way. Right as I was about to reach him, I noticed that a demon was coming up behind him. With no way to help him I shove him out of the way and feel a deep pain in my side. Shit. I turn in enough time to see it attacking again and block it again with my staff; that strange golden light shining bright and the demon, again, disintegrates.
Head reeling from the pain again, I look over to where I shoved Solas and he looks astounded; with a touch of inquisitiveness there too. I point to the rift, and he seems to jump to action, pulling on my wrist and shoving it toward the rift. Closing the rift, I felt something stirring in my soul. It was like I could feel everything and nothing at once. There was a tug, and a slight pull, like something was trying to pull me toward something. I almost wished I could explore. The sensations were amazing. But I gritted my teeth. I couldn’t. There was no time. I couldn’t die here. I pulled back, and all at once the rift closed with a pop.
Staggering back after the tug-of-war I had going on with the rift, I sagged heavily into the mage. I was now noticing that I was bleeding. And it was not a slight cut either. Heavy gashes tore my side and I groaned in pain.
“Bud' spokoyen, da’lan, ya istselyu tebya,” (be calm, da’lan, I will heal you.) Solas spoke quietly as we sat on the ground. I knew da’lan, but the rest was lost. I just looked away and sighed again. I hope that was him saying that he could heal me.
“Ya ne dumayu, chto ona ponimayet nas Solas. Ona ne govorila, no odnazhdy s tekh por, kak prosnulas', i eto bylo ... slomano.” (I do not think she understands us Solas. She has not spoken but once since she has woken, and that was... broken.)
I looked back over toward Cassandra, and then right as I was about to look back at Solas I felt it. I gasped, then sighed in pleasure. It was like a balm on my soul. It was cool and earthy and wonderful. I could be in this feeling forever. Once it was done, I sat up and looked at my side. Blood and ichor were still on my person, but there were no longer gashes up my sides.
I then exhaled and finally looked at Solas. His gaze was bold. Curiosity and guilt stirred within his grey depths. I knew of his guilt. The poor man. I slowly reached up with my hand and laid it gently across his cheek, giving him my thanks with a small smile. His look of shock was priceless. He was like a statue.
“Itak, Khikhik, zavodit' druzey vezde, gde ya vizhu.” (So, Chuckles, making friends everywhere I see.)
Keeping my eyes on Solas a moment longer, I lowered my hand and looked over at Varric. He was just like he was in the game, except better. This was real. His smile was just as crooked, his nose just as broken, and his golden-red chest hair out for all to see. As he ambled over, I could see clearly how he favored Bianca. For a moment I wished I could tell him that it was okay to love someone un-attainable. It was okay to pine. It was natural to want. To love; and there should be no shame in it. But instead I slowly stood up, feeling Solas help me with his hand on my elbow.
Varric smiled at me and said, “Varric Tethras: zhulik, rasskazchik, i inogda nezhelatel'nyy tagalong.” (Varric Tethras: rogue, storyteller, and occasionally unwelcome tagalong)
I smiled in greeting and then looked over at Cassandra. She was silent, but I could tell her patience was coming to an end. I pointed to the Breach, and she nodded in approval, “Teper' my idem navstrechu Leliana.” (Now we go to meet Leliana.)
“Kakaya prekrasnaya ideya!” Varric says in good humor. (What a great idea!)
Cassandra tsks in disapproval, “Tochno net. Vasha pomoshch' tsenitsya, Varrik, no ...” (Absolutely not. Your help is appreciated, Varric, but…)
I turned from their argument, knowing that Varric would win, and noticed that Solas still had his hand on my elbow. I looked up at him, gods he was tall, and smelled faintly of mint and something outdoor. It was wonderful. I also noticed that he was focused on me. His gaze was littered with expressions: wonder, curiosity, guilt, and something else I couldn’t name. I looked back down at my elbow, then at him, and he immediately released me. His face gave nothing away, but his ears were tinged pink at the tips.
I just smiled and patted his arm, all motherly. I then pointed to the breach and made a motion to start heading forward.
He looked at me curiously and then said, “Dirthas?” (Do you speak?)
I knew he was speaking elven, but I did not know what he said. I pointed toward his mouth, then shook my head. Then pointed to where Cassandra and Varric were now watching and shook my head again. I think he understood because it was like a light shown in his eyes in sudden understanding.
He turned to Varric and Cassandra and spoke, “Ya dumayu, chto mogu ispol'zovat' zaklinaniye, chtoby pomoch' yey ponyat' nas. Vy pozvolite mne sdelat' eto Cassandra?” (I think I can use a spell to help her understand us. Would you permit me to do so?)
Curious though I was, I had no idea what was happening. Although Cassandra gave a nod of affirmation, it made me a bit nervous. Solas then turned back to me and made a motion to get closer. Hesitantly, I stepped closer. He pointed to his mouth, then to me. I shook my head in confusion.
“Ya znayu, ty ne mozhesh' ponyat'. No ya sobirayus' pomoch' tebe.” (I know you cannot understand. But I am going to help you.) He took my hands carefully, looked me in the eyes, then whispered something under his breath.
It was the cool feeling of his magic, then a blinding headache. I closed my eyes in agony. Gods it was awful. It made me nauseous and I fell forward into his chest. It slowly started to dissipate and with that came a soft voice I could understand, “Can you understand now da’lan?”
I slowly opened my eyes and stared into his own. I gave him a small smile and nodded. Relief that I wouldn’t have to learn their common tongue.
He nodded his head and asked, “Can you speak?”
I shrugged my shoulders innocently, gave him a smirk, then moved out of his arms. Noting his surprise, I looked over to Cassandra and pointed toward the Breach again.
She smiled in approval and said, “They said you… stepped out of a rift, then fell unconscious. They say a woman was in the rift behind you. No one knows who she was. Is this true?”
I thought for a moment, then felt confused. How did I get here? I shook my head and shrugged. I didn’t know. It was the truth, if not the whole truth.
She sighed, then continued, “Alright. Solas seems to think that your mark is important. I do not know all the magical complications. Solas?”
I looked over to Solas again as he started to speak, “Whatever magic opened the Breach in the sky also placed that mark upon your hand. I theorized the mark might be able to close the rifts that have opened in the Breach’s wake – and it seems I was correct.”
“Meaning it could also close the Breach itself.” Cassandra put in.
I looked up toward the breach, feeling determined, then nodded.
“Then… you’ll help?” Cassandra asks.
I nod. But then I look toward Solas and motion toward my staff. I shake my head, and then look at him again.
His eyebrows raise in question, “Do you not know how to wield your magic da’lan?”
I nod in confirmation, then shrugged. How could I tell them what they saw was me literally fumbling?
Solas looks at me sharply, then focuses on Cassandra, “Seeker, I need some time with her to give her the basics. She must not die. She is the only hope that I know of that could seal the Breach.”
Cassandra tsks in disappointment and disgust, “If you must. But we cannot afford you much time. A half hour at most. That is all.” Her and Varric walk away to give us room.
Solas nods his head in acceptance and looks over at me again, “We must give you the basics as quick as possible. Now, close your eyes and relax. Do you feel a warmth within your chest?”
I sighed and did as he instructed. It took me a moment but, there, in the far distance, I felt a warmth. It was not like Solas’s. His was cool as ice. Minty fresh. Mine felt like a warm fire. Smooth as hot chocolate. Far away I heard Solas say, “Now, reach for it. Think of comfort and safety. Surround yourself with it.”
When I did, I heard a slight gasp. It was like I was surrounded by warm blankets on a winter’s day. It was wonderful. I slowly opened my eyes and found a golden light surrounding me. It was beautiful. I looked over at Solas, imagining that I could share the warmth. Soon, he was covered in light too. I smiled in triumph. This must be a barrier spell!
My smile died on my face when I saw his expression. It was awe. Wonder. Almost child-like. The spell faded away with my happiness. Was this, not right?
“That was truly an experience da’lan. You seem to have remarkable focus. That barrier was perfection.”
I exhaled in relief. I did it. I looked over at my staff with a questioning gaze, how was I to use it?
Solas, anticipating my question, said, “You staff is a conduit. Every mage, including yourself, uses their staff to connect better to the fade. Using your will and filling the staff uses less energy than if you were pulling from just yourself. The fade is where all magic resides. Grab your staff.”
I grabbed my staff then waited expectantly.
“Now, remember the warmth you felt from before, use that warmth to fill the staff. Once you and the staff have come together in your magic, you use the staff to create different spells. These spells range from elemental to necromancy. We will not be able to know for sure without further study which school of magic you show an affinity for, but for now we will go over a few basic elemental ones.”
I nodded my head in acceptance. Eager to get started. My hand was killing me, and I honestly didn’t want to die.
“The first spell we’ll try is winter’s grasp. For this spell you need to think of freezing your target. Think of something so cold that it wouldn’t be able to move.”
He pointed toward a barrel a ways away expectantly. I took a deep breath, filling my staff with my warmth. What was so cold that it wouldn’t move? Oh! An ice sculpture! That was it! I concentrated on how the barrel should be completely ice. How it would shine in the sun. How cold it would feel to the touch. Without warning, something shot out of my staff toward the barrel. I gasped. The barrel was not just frozen, it was exactly what I had envisioned. It had turned into an ice sculpture.
In stunned silence, I looked over at Solas. He was dazed. His eyes wide, his mouth slightly ajar. He looked over at me in amazement, then whispered, “Ehn ane’ma?” (Who are you?) As if sensing my confusion, he shook his head and his face was once again impassive. “Very good da’lan. Now I will teach you a fire spell. This time I want you to think about something hot. Something so hot that it would melt even the strongest of metals.”
A little apprehensive now that my ice spell worked so well, I did as he asked. My staff was already charged, so all that was left was to figure out what was so hot that it would melt something. I thought of a fire but dismissed it easily. Not hot enough. The sun? Oh! Nuclear energy! Yes! Turning toward another barrel, I focused on my thought. Nuclear energy. How it would burn anything that touched it. How it would destroy everything it its path, leaving nothing in its wake. Something shot out of my staff again and this time there was a brief red light, then a blaze of fire so strong I felt the heat out several paces away. After a couple seconds, there was nothing left of the barrel. Just scorched earth where it used to be.
I turned to Solas, who again wore a stunned expression, and waited until he looked back, “That will be enough da’lan. You have three spells at your disposal now: barrier, winters grasp, and flashfire. We do not have time to explore further, I’m afraid.”
I nodded and pointed to the Breach.
“Yes, we should be on our way. Come. Let us hurry.”
As we rounded the bend, Varric smiled at me then looked over at Solas, “Everything good now Chuckles?”
Solas snorted, his face impassive, “As well as to be expected of a newly trained mage.” I inwardly smiled at his blatant posturing. He turned facing Cassandra, “Cassandra, you should know, the magic involved here is unlike any I have ever seen. Your prisoner is a mage, a new one at that, but I find it difficult to imagine any mage having such power.”
Cassandra nodded, “Understood. We must get to the forward camp quickly.”
Varric smirked and pulled his crossbow in front of him lovingly, “Well, Bianca’s excited!”
Cassandra pointed further ahead, “This way, down the bank. The road ahead is blocked.”
As we all file down the path, Varric totted up beside me, “So what’s an elf like you doing in a place like this?”
I stopped suddenly. A what?! I slowly put my hands on my face, then felt for my ears. They were long. Too long. I felt my face. It was smaller than I remember. More angular. But there didn’t seem to be any bumps. No vallaslin? Hmmm. My body, although very similar to who I was, was also thinner. Lithe. So, here in this universe, I was an elf. Okay. I could do this. I would not freak out. I would not freak out.
“Well damn Violet. Did you not know you’re an elf?”
Confused by the name, I shook my head. Varric and his nicknames.
“What about where you come from? Your age? Shit do you even know where you are?”
I thought a minute, I had no clue about anything except what was in the game. It would be better if I showed no memory. I shrugged again and shook my head.
Varric sighed loudly and smirked, “Well… we’re fucked.”
I smiled a giggled silently. Man, I missed sarcasm. Thank god for Varric. As we rounded a corner, I felt it. A rift. The magic was similar to Solas. But where his was calm, the rift was angry. My hand flared in response and I gasped in pain.
Cassandra shouted, “Another rift!” then barreled forward.
“We must seal it, quickly!” Solas was already giving Cassandra a barrier. He turned to me, “We need to get you close enough to close it. Do you remember the spells I taught you?”
I nodded. Grim.
“Good. Get as close as you can, and then seal it. I will try and guard you as best I can.”
“Same here Vi. We got your back,” Varric winked.
I took in the scene. Cassandra was trying to fight off several demons, Varric was tearing through them with his bolts, and Solas was guarding and freezing as many as he could. It was my turn. Remembering that I could do a barrier. I felt mine surround me and then I started to make my toward the rift.
Feeling my magic surround me, I tried to burn what I could. Fire was easier to me. Maybe because my magic was so warm. The only issue was that I could only do one at a time. Going off of what Solas said, I wonder how electricity would work. Electricity crackles and stuns… like a stun gun! That’s it! I felt the crackle before it went out of my staff and any demons within my eyesight got caught in the buzz. It only lasted for a few seconds, but they seemed stunned for the moment. You could see the electricity zinging over their mutilated bodies.
Now was my chance, I ran up to the rift and shoved my hand up. The pulling sensation was there again, but this time I knew what to look for. I pulled back and within moments the rift was closed and Cassandra, Varric and Solas had finished off the last of the remaining demons.
Huffing with exhaustion and fatigue and pain still lancing up my right side, I waited until they told me it was safe to go forward.
Cassandra took one last look around and shouted, “The rift is gone! Open the gate!”
The gate to the forward camp opened and we stepped inside. There were people everywhere. Most still angry with me. Their scowls and displeasure known.
“Are you all right da’lan? You seem pale,” Solas said from right behind me. I turned and then made a waiving motion with my hand. Don’t worry about it.
“At least take a lirium drought. We do not know how much mana you’ve exerted.”
I shook my head no. No way was I having titan blood running in my veins. It was a drug. Fuck that.
I shook my head no more forcefully. I. Would. Not. Take. It.
Solas sighed in resignation, “Then you must rest for a spell. May I see your mark? Does it pain you?”
I nodded and shoved my hand in his face. Once he grabbed my hand, I immediately felt his cool energy swirl and felt just a moments peace. I sighed in contentment.
“It pains you.” Solas confirmed.
I nodded. Then quickly took my hand back. I pointed to the Breach. We needed to move. I didn’t want this thing to kill me.
Solas nodded in return and we made our way towards Leliana and another man. This must be Roderick.
I could hear Leliana’s hard voice, “We must prepare the soldiers!”
“We will do no such thing.” Roderick said just as passionately.
Leliana bristled, I could see it in her stance, “The prisoner must get to the Temple of Sacred Ashes. It is our only chance!”
Roderick sneered, “You have already caused enough trouble without resorting to this exercise in futility.”
Leliana’s tone could freeze ice, “I have caused trouble?”
Either Roderick didn’t hear the tone, or he was just stupid. He continued, “You, Cassandra, the Most Holy – haven’t you all done enough already?”
With venom dripping from her voice she said, “You’re not in command here!”
Before she could say something else, he noticed our approach, “Ah, here they come.”
Leliana’s tone was stiff when she spoke, “Chancellor Roderick, this is–“
He cut her off and pointed at me, “I know who she is. As Grand Chancellor of the Chantry, I hereby order you to take this criminal to Val Royeaux to face execution.”
Now it was Cassandra’s turn to bristle, “Order me? You are a glorified clerk. A bureaucrat!”
Roderick took exception, “And you are a thug, but a thug who supposedly serves the Chantry!”
Leliana said in a deathly calm voice, “We serve the Most Holy, Chancellor, as you well know.”
Roderick seemed to deflate for a moment then said, “Justinia is dead! We must elect her replacement and obey her orders on the matter.”
I stood quietly, contemplating what I should do when Roderick interrupted my thoughts, “Call a retreat, Seeker. Our position here is hopeless.”
Cassandra stood taller and said, “We can stop this before it’s too late.”
Roderick looked red in the face, “How? You won’t survive long enough to reach the temple, even with all your soldiers.”
Cassandra replied, “We must get to the temple. It’s the quickest route.”
Leliana cut in, “But not the safest. Our forces can charge as a distraction while we go through the mountains.”
Cassandra look incredulous, “We lost contact with an entire squad on that path. It’s too risky.”
Roderick was just getting more upset, his face now almost purple, “Listen to me! Abandon this now, before more lives are lost.”
Now Cassandra looks at me, her steel gaze piercing, “How do you think we should proceed?”
I knew that this was supposed to happen, but I still found it surprising that she would ask my opinion anyway. Maybe I was slowly gaining her approval. I pointed to the mountain path. I would not survive an assault during a direct approach.
She grimaced but nodded her approval then glanced at Leliana, “Leliana. Bring everyone left in the valley. Everyone.”
Leliana nodded and moved to do as she was bid.
Roderick, face now completely purple hissed, “On your head be the consequences, Seeker.”