Minrathous, -170 Ancient.
Aziraphale couldn't help but feel a bit bad.
The poor woman was bound to a stake, and a crowd had formed around her. She didn’t cry, she didn’t so much as spare a glance at any of the observers to her execution, her gaze fixed firmly on the sky, waiting… Praying, maybe.
He certainly didn’t know. Aziraphale was watching the proceedings with a morbid interest, far in the back of the crowd, letting others budge past him. He was rather unassuming, the only thing that stuck out about this human was his bright blonde hair, marking him a foreigner in Tevinter. If anything, if one were to comment on Aziraphale, they would remark on the elf that stood by his side. A few inches taller, with dark hair and good cheekbones. He stood out more prominently just by the points of his ears, but Aziraphale made it very clear just by standing near him and having a hand resting on an impressive blade that the elf, named Crowley, would not be going anywhere he did not wish to go if he could do anything about it.
Everyone was more focused on the woman anyway.
“Poor dear.” said Aziraphale. “I never did get to thank her for the sword… I hope this ‘Maker’ she always talked about will help her.”
“I doubt it.” said Crowley. “Too many people around, miracles never happen in front of this many witnesses.”
At this moment, both of them were doing something undetectable to every other person in the crowd. Some that would normally be reserved about their thoughts found themselves crying out to free the woman, who some knew as Andraste, from her punishment. Others found themselves spurring on the event, motivated by an unseen force to get as close to the unlit pyre as possible to sneer at her.
“Oh, honestly Crowley.” muttered Aziraphale, just loud enough so the elf could hear. “Those people are going to get burnt.”
Crowley scoffs, observing his work with pride. “Not like they don’t deserve it. The thought was already in their heads, I just gave them the push. You’re doing the same thing with that sobbing mess of a group over there, I’d wager.”
Archon Hessarion stood on a platform adjacent to the woman’s pyre, a spell of flames lighting up in his hand. The noise in the crowd only got louder. Aziraphale felt a strong desire to look away, but found he couldn’t. When the elf sighed and covered his eyes with a hand, he didn’t push it away. He only listened to the sound of the crackling of wood as it ignited, and the desperate screams of a woman crying out to the Maker as she burned.
It only took a few moments for Aziraphale to reach the regret in the Archon’s heart, and even less time to convince him to put her out of her misery. It was a clean stab with a ceremonial sword, painless in comparison the fires engulfing her. Crowley uncovered his eyes, and Aziraphale swiftly turned away. “It’s not going to go away if you stop looking at it.” said the elf, as if he hadn’t just shielded the man’s eyes away from the initial blaze.
It smelled awful.
There were other casualties to the event, but they would be lost names in the shadow of Andraste’s execution. Fools who had gotten too close to the fire and were burnt, and received no merciful blade as they cried out. Too proud to think of the consequences, wanting to be as close to her as possible, to be a witness to her death. Pride was an awful thing, really… It was Crowley’s nature, though, there was no turning against that.
The two departed from the crowd, deciding that Minrathous really wasn’t going to be the place to go for quite some time. There were other, less murderous parts of the world they could explore.
Besides, if either of their forms were recognized it would be hard to explain how two men could come back from the dead.
Frostback Basin, The Second Blight.
Inquisitor Ameridan was a good man, and trustworthy. With such a great love of faith, and a love for Telana, it was only natural that Aziraphale would be drawn to their cause.
The Avvar of the basin were summoning their God into a dragon to destroy Fereldan, it was a breeding ground for pride. It was only natural in this case as well that Crowley would be drawn to them. Of course, they weren’t friendly to him, so the next best thing was to join with the group that was planning to stop them.
It was fascinating how events like this brought them together.
“A dragon?” Aziraphale asked incredulously. “They’re going to put the soul of their God into a dragon?”
“That’s what I heard, yes.” Crowley was rather nonchalant about the news. “Ameridan’s going to deal with it personally, apparently. Poor guy, I don’t think he ever wanted to be an Inquisitor.”
“Of course he didn’t… But it was a personal request from the Emperor of Orlais, he can’t just say no to that.” Aziraphale sighs. “Telana’s worrying about him, especially because he won’t let her join him in the coming battle… I’m worried she’s going to try to find him in dreams if he doesn’t end this matter quickly.”
“That would be bad, wouldn’t it?” Crowley muttered, mostly to himself. “Either way, looks like neither of us are going with him. We’ll just have to wait it out.”
And they did, for quite a considerable amount of time, until it became quite obvious that Inquisitor Ameridan would not be returning for quite some time.
Lothering, The Fifth Blight, Just before the betrayal of Loghain.
Aziraphale would recognize those locks of dark hair from anywhere at this point. It was amusing at this point, how they’d always meet like this.
He sits down next to the elf at a tavern, and Crowley looks up at him with a look of surprise. “Aziraphale.” He greets with a nod. “Been some time, hasn’t it? What are you up to around here?”
“I’m a scholar!” Aziraphale doesn’t hesitate to tell him with a giddy grin. “I’m documenting the Fifth Blight, it’s all very fascinating. How’s the whole ‘Dalish Elf’ thing going for you?”
“Gave up on it years ago.” Crowley replies with a bitter tone. “Dalish don’t trust me that easily. They don’t like my eyes.”
Aziraphale huffs, patting him on the back reassuringly as if this was a fresh incident. “A bit rude, judging someone by their appearance. I, for one, think your eyes are lovely. ” The elf scowls at that, but there’s an unmistakable blush to his face.
“Now I’m just heading over to the Wardens in Ostagar. Act like I’m interested in joining the effort, cause some trouble until it gets a little too hairy with the Darkspawn… Then I’ll probably head back to Denerim.” Crowley shrugged.
“You live in the Alienage, then?” Aziraphale asks, a bit surprised.
“Maker, no. Have you ever seen the alienage in Denerim? It’s a nightmare. I know a group of mercenaries there that let me stay with them. Not the most morally sound folk, but at least they aren’t calling me knife ear every time I take a breath.”
“Crowley, I… I had no idea.” Aziraphale replies softly, and Crowley just sighs.
“We don’t spend that much time travelling together, of course you wouldn’t know. Usually just waving a little flame in my fingers is enough to scare anyone who feels like pushing me around. I handle myself well.”
“...Hm.” Aziraphale decides perhaps a topic change is the best course of action. “Since we seem to be going to the same place, why not come along with me to Ostagar? Then, after that… Well, who knows. We could go anywhere.”
For the first time in a long while, Crowley smiles. “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?”
Haven, 9:41 Dragon.
“Isn’t that the old elf you helped wake up?”
Aziraphale jumps slightly, looking over his shoulder to see Crowley beaming at him with a rather amused flair. “Crowley! I… That would be him, yes. Solas, I believe he’s called... He looks a bit different, doesn't he? More... bald.”
Crowley takes a few steps so he’s standing next to him, watching from a distance as Solas surrenders his staff to a pair of guards. “And he’s conveniently decided to show up here with expertise about the fade not even a few days after the conclave explosion?” The elf adds, particularly smug.
“What is it you’re getting at, dear?” Aziraphale asks with a bit of irritation, already knowing the answer.
“Well, we both know he’s not an ordinary elf. He’s practically immune to my influence, and you can’t get a read on him, can you? He’s most likely the reason that this -” Crowley makes a vague gesture to the giant tear in the sky. “-Has happened.”
“ Why would he do that, though?” Aziraphale replies, exasperated. “He’s a very stand-up fellow, very kind to spirits, I should know, I asked around and Wisdom said he was very polite, not the sort that would go tearing open the veil.”
Crowley shrugs. “Beats me. All I know is, he’s at the right place at the right time, exactly when these people needed him, with expert knowledge of the fade no one else can claim to have… And you woke him up all those years ago.”
Aziraphale sighs. “I did, didn’t I? I just found him, you know? I wasn’t expecting to find anyone out where I was. He was very sound asleep, I thought he was dead at first, so I gave him a few taps here and there and he just sprung right up! I said ‘ Hi, hello there, who are you and why are you here?’ and he just sort of gave me this bewildered look… I helped him out, gave him some provisions, and well… There he is.”
A moment of silence passes before Crowley speaks up again.
“What have you been up to lately, then? Last time I saw you was-”
“The fifth blight. No, wait, I believe I briefly saw you in Kirkwall, actually.” Aziraphale interrupts, and Crowley nods.
“Right, right. Did you meet the Champion, perchance?”
“I did. He was a funny fellow, always cracking jokes.”
“Mm.” Crowley feels a sting of envy. “Lucky. Still with the Chantry?”
“Oh!” Aziraphale lights up. “As a matter of fact, yes. I’m called Brother Aziraphale… occasionally. I was on my way to the Conclave before all this mess… Good thing I was running a bit late, right? Getting sent back to the Fade would’ve been… inconvenient. What have you been doing?”
“Well, I heard about the Conclave while in Val Royeaux, I was doing some tempting as a servant, ruining the Orlesian Game is always a fun thing to do. You know I’ve brought down three noble families already?” Crowley was distinctly proud of that fact. “Anyway, I thought it’d be a fun mess to watch, so I snuck myself in with some templars. They were running a bit behind, so they’re all still alive. I’ve seen a few of them around.”
“You were with templars ?” Aziraphale’s shock is evident. “As an apostate? As a demon? All the way from Val Royeaux to here? What- What if they found you out?”
“They didn’t, and for the Maker’s sake, Aziraphale, quiet down. ”
It’s at this point that Solas finally notices them watching him, and gives a little wave.
“Oh dear.” Aziraphale mutters under his breath as he sees Cassandra turn her sharp glare to the two of them. “Putting that aside, looks like we’re next for the intimidation… That is, if you’re sticking around for this.”
Crowley snorts softly. “Of course I am. Big tear in the sky, lots of Chantry officials dead, this is going to be the most interesting place to be in Thedas… That, and if I tried to run off now I’d probably get pinned with the blame for this mess. Wouldn’t miss it.”
Aziraphale’s quickly widening smile doesn’t escape the elf’s notice… They were in for quite the historical event.
Haven’s Chantry, 9:41 Dragon.
“Aziraphale!” Crowley calls out, pushing open a door. The spirit just finished tending to a soldier’s wounds… and by the look on his face, reminding them of someone they loved dearly to calm them down. “There you are.” Crowley continues. “The prisoner woke up, the one with the mark. Cassandra just took them out to the breach.”
“So they’re alive, then? That’s wonderful news!” Aziraphale rises to his feet, rushing out the door. Crowley follows closely behind, passing through crowds of injured and healers alike to get to the gates.
“Lavellan, wasn’t it? A Dalish Elf caught up in all this… Poor thing.” The spirit pouts just a bit, unsheathing his sword. “I tried to find them in the Fade, you know. They were so out of sorts that they weren’t even dreaming, isn’t that incredible? I even ran into Solas a few times, though I don’t think he recognized me.”
Crowley is thoroughly disinterested in the matter, eyes glaring at the sword he’s holding with little patience. “What happened to the flaming sword?” He asks, and Aziraphale immediately breaks out into a sweat and doesn’t respond.
“The one Andraste herself gave to you? ...Finally lost the thing, have you?” Crowley’s amusement is palpable, and his spirit companion is already blushing up to his ears, turning away with a huff before responding.
“I gave it away.”
Crowley’s eyes widen, and his heart throbs in his chest. He was so stupidly kind sometimes. “You gave away the holy flaming sword that Andraste herself gave to you?”
“It was this dwarven woman, you should have seen her, Crowley!” He starts his march down the path, against the crowds of soldiers running away from the destruction. “A kind soul, practically radiating love- And her wife, oh! The poor thing was so sick, and the medicine was so expensive… So I sold it to a Chantry sister, ‘Here, I have a sword that was held by Andraste herself, it had a powerful flame enchantment, you can see the telltale marks of her work, please give this nice dwarven woman the money she needs to help her wife’ .”
Aziraphale lets out a huff, but isn’t done with his rant quite yet. Crowley just listens to him with a newfound appreciation for him as they prepare to face a horde of demons that had freshly fallen from the rift. “I knew Andraste, we both knew Andraste… sort of! She was a kind woman, she would’ve done the same thing if she were still here, you know!” Aziraphale exclaims as he cuts down another fiend. “I think it was the right thing to do!”
Crowley chucks a ball of flame into the face of a lesser sloth demon with a soft snort. “I don’t think it’s possible for you to do the wrong thing, Love. ”
He can hear Aziraphale let out a sigh of relief, re-sheathing his sword. “I really do hope so. It’s been bothering me for years.”
They continue on their path, and Crowley sees clear signs that there were people fighting ahead of them… Mainly a lack of demons to fight, but there were some footprints in the snow. When they finally reached the final gate, they both watch as Chancellor Roderick shouts at the prisoner.
“Solas really did a miracle.” Aziraphale mutters to his companion. “They looked so pale and lifeless just a day ago…”
“Convenient, right?” Crowley nudged at the spirit’s side in return, who only huffs irately. Then, rather suddenly, the prisoner announces that they’re going to perform a charge to get to the breach as fast as possible.
“Guess that includes us, dear.” Aziraphale places a hand on the pommel of his sword. “Shall we?”
Crowley’s grip on his staff tightens just a bit. “They won’t let us back out, either way. I wonder why they let the prisoner call the shots.”
“They do have the mark.” Aziraphale reminds him, walking forward with the rest of the gathering soldiers. “I imagine their chances of survival aren’t looking too favorable.”
Haven, 9:41 Dragon, cont.
Aziraphale was a bit heartbroken that the Chantry was so quick to denounce the Herald, and by extension the newly-reborn Inquisition. Chancellor Roderick was certainly upset that Brother Aziraphale was siding with the heretics, and had decided to stop speaking to him entirely, which only made him more miserable. There was a sincere lack of love in Haven, which he had to quickly work to mend.
He had known Andraste, though not very personally. She’d given him a sword, but that was just a thank-you gift if anything… Someone like Lavellan was the exact kind of person that she would have liked: Fierce, yet kind-hearted. So when he began to hear stories of her reaching out to them in the fade… Well, it sounded like the sort of thing she would do. Even as a spirit himself, he wasn’t entirely sure where the people of Thedas went once they died, so it was entirely possible.
Crowley scoffs at the idea while they’re out searching for herbs. “ Herald of Andraste? Honestly, Love. We both know the Fade, and neither of us have seen the Maker there, have we? If she’s there at His side, she’s not going to be in the Fade reaching out to some random Dalish elf who doesn’t even believe in the Maker in the first place.”
“I don’t know, Crowley.” Aziraphale picks another bunch of Elfroot. “She was never the type to ignore someone in need, regardless of if they believed in the Maker or not.”
“What, so Divine Justinia and all those other Chantry officials, the templars, the mages, they weren’t worth the extra effort?” Crowley replies, and Aziraphale sighs.
“You said it yourself, didn’t you? Miracles never happen in front of that many witnesses. I have a feeling that they were already… too far gone to be saved.”
Crowley scoffs and adds a clump of Spindleweed to his basket. “Well, that’s just convenient, isn’t it? I guess we’ll see if all the gossip is true eventually. If something powerful enough to open up the veil like that is still out there, I imagine the Maker has a bone or two to pick with it.”
Haven, 9:41 Dragon, continued yet again.
“The Herald what? ”
Aziraphale pulled Crowley up to his feet from where he’d been laying in his tent. “The Herald asked for us to accompany them to the Hinterlands! I don’t know why, before you ask. Apparently Solas spoke very highly of us…”
“Spoke highly of you , more like, I didn’t wake him up.” Crowley grumbled, grabbing his staff and exiting the tent after Aziraphale. “Why not tell them no?”
“Because!” Aziraphale threw his hands up. “You don’t just say no to the Herald of Andraste! ”
“Sweet Maker, you’re really buying into that.” The demon grumbled. “You just want to get out of Haven, don’t you? Wanderlust finally catching up?”
“...Maybe.” Aziraphale admitted quietly, and that gets a snicker out of Crowley. “Well, I’ve also heard that there’s been an awful lot of Templar and Mage conflict out there, and that the Inquisition is trying to get into contact with one Mother Giselle.”
“Oh, so it’s a Chantry thing, too? Delightful.” Crowley can’t help but roll his eyes. “Whatever. It’s not like I’ve got much else to do around here other than get glared at by ex-templars.”
Varric and Lavellan were waiting for them outside the Chapel, and locking eyes with the Herald only made the demon dread the journey to come even more.
He’s dearly hoping this won’t become a repeat occurrence.
The Hinterlands, 9:41 Dragon.
“This is taking forever, Love.” Crowley groans, throwing another clumb of sharpened ice towards another ram. He hits his target, and the Inquisitor nods towards him before advancing towards the downed animal. “We met Mother Giselle, you had a fascinating conversation with her about the Chantry-” His voice was thick with sarcasm as he sits down on a rock. “-Aren’t we supposed to be going off to Haven now to organize some sort of meeting?”
“Patience, my dear~!” Aziraphale sing-songs as he cleans the blood of a ram off of his sword, still not aflame nor bestowed by Andraste. “The Inquisitor wants to help the refugees, which I think is a perfectly nice reason to stay in the Hinterlands for a bit longer. We just need to kill a few more rams so the villagers aren’t going to starve.”
“Don’t see how it’s the Inquisition’s problem.” Crowley mutters, looking out of the corner of his eye as he sees Varric approach the two of them.
“Interesting conversation?” The dwarf asks, and Aziraphale lets out a pleasant laugh.
“No, I’m afraid not. Just talking about the landscape.”
Liar. Crowley wants to say, but holds it in, because he knows that look on Aziraphale’s face, and he knows exactly what the spirit is about to ask-
“You are the author of Hard in Hightown, are you not?” Aziraphale tries to look as innocent as possible while he talks, not acting like he hadn’t talked Crowley’s ear off about it for hours not long after they’d reunited at Haven.
Varric smirks, mainly at the anguished expression Crowley didn’t try to hide. “That I am. You a fan?”
Aziraphale’s eyes light up in the exact way they do when he’s about to go on a long-winded rant. Crowley glances over at the Inquisitor, who is definitely taking a longer time than usual to skin the ram on purpose.
Crowley drags a hand down his face. It was going to a painfully long day… week. Year. Millenia.