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"Then come with me, this is your fight too!"

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9:34 Dragon – Kirkwall

From Ralph Hawke’s diary

I woke up late in the morning. Time to visit Anders!

My head was still a bit blurry, so I planned a pleasant conversation… a little flirting, but he was more nervous than usual. I was beginning to think that he's not the best partner – and this is not the best timing to a loose healing chatting...

Okay love, tell me what's wrong with you. 

He was talking about a crazy Templar, named Otto Alrik, who planned to tranquilize every mage in the Circle. Anders perhaps tends to exaggerate but he seemed serious. Of course, I help him to find any evidence. If he's right, I will kill everyone who is involved in this, if he's not, then I will calm him...

I decided not to call anyone. Anders said that this is the secret tunnel of the Mage Underground, I don't want to risk the secrecy (not to mention, that I don't want to involve anyone; this is our task). If we aren't able to deal with some miserable Templars, we deserve death. 

“Shh! Templars!” Ralph whispered, and looked around. “Many fucking Templars”, he added, and slowly pulled his dagger out of his belt, and raised it above his forearm.

Anders stopped him. "Don't do it! Please!” He hissed. " I know, it’s an easier way, but not necessary, ever."

“Easier? No. It’s painful but necessary. Templars… you know… they killed my father, I was not there to help. I don’t want them to kill you. Remember what you said to me? So… I’m also good at drowning us in blood”, he winked. "Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.”

A faint smile appeared in the corner of Anders' mouth, but it suddenly disappeared.  

"How many times have I heard---"

“And how many times you will hear from me… question: do you want them, or not? If we attack them, we have to be sure, not one of them goes back to the Gallows. We can’t risk it.” He looked at Anders' reproachful face and smirked. “Hey, we get the evidence and kill some dirtbag. C’mon, it will be okay, trust me!  Let's go clean the tunnel!” 

Then they saw the girl. She fell to her knees, begging at a Templar. Anders tensed as the cobalt blue cracked and flared from his skin and then slowly fades “No! Not now! This isn't the place...” he whispered.

But then the Templar spoke… He told the girl to be as obedient as a Tranquil and to do everything to him that he wanted her to do.

Ralph clenched his fists. He thought of Bethany. His anger suppressed his pain as the knife slashed against his skin and drew a long, deep wound on his arm. Wrath and power of blood surge through him, his eyes blazed in ice-cold flame as he spoke,  “Get your hands off her!”

Anders was no longer able to hold back Justice. “You and your fiends will never touch a mage again!”

So, it’s begun. 

There were many, but more came from every corner. Ralph began to feel that he had misjudged the situation. "Many fucking Templars" was an underestimation of the number… If they finished with one, two came to replace… 

Corpses lying everywhere, but it is far from over. The twisted bastard still remains standing and command his swarm. Pain was Ralph’s best companions - he knew would have died already without blood magic.

His skin covered in wounds, yet only half are from the Templars. Father... Ralph often imagined Malcolm’s final stand against the Templars, but at the moment he could almost feel his father’s hopeless struggle, and he was not there to stop them. Now, he will not fail!

Justice was restless - he fought like an immortal. Air saturated with the smell of Ozone. Ralph felt the Fade energy and this gave him strength. He looked at the girl, who was covering her eyes, shaking in the corner, then at the perverted bastard’s smug smirk. HE CANNOT FAIL! For this girl, for his father and Bethany's memory, for Anders, and for himself!

As his knife penetrated into his flesh again, he heard the voice. 

“Do you see him?” 

Ralph felt he should look at Justice (not like if he wouldn't feel this always since he met Anders...).

“Impressive, isn’t? And just a little spirit... I can give you much more power. Forget the pain, everything can be yours. Let me help you! Just one word… You want it… You always wanted… You know me, and I know your dreams… I’m your best friend. Just say the word! Let me help you win here – and everywhere!”

It was a comfortable feeling.

Uplifting. Powerful.

And false.

The reality was the fight. The pain. And his love cornered and surrounded by Templars. And a blade, at his back… 

“Focus, Ralph, you fool! DO NOT FALTER!” Hawke whirled around himself and stabbed his staff blade into the templar's chest. Up to the hilt. “You don’t need anyone else’s help!” He turned to Anders, while he hissed: “If we aren't able to handle some miserable Templars, we deserve death."

His head was clear again. Focused, he jumped into the middle of the Templar’s circle. Before they realized his presence, his mind blast paralysed the Templars for a moment, and he filled his power from their life. Their way was free again.

“The time came, you perverted monster…” Ralph slowly turned to the templar named Alrik, who held the fainted girl before himself, as a shield. Ralph looked at him almost kindly. The power of blood glowed in his eyes. “Now you carefully put that girl down… willingly and happily. Good boy… Yes… smile, you bastard… “

Justice finished with the other Templars when more appeared, almost from nowhere. 

… and go, execute those intruders!”

Alrik charged to his men in trance and struck them.

Ralph looked at the scene, then nodded. 

“Enough!” He ordered the Templar. “You’re not very effective, let me finish it!” Said Hawke, he summoned a block of stone from the Fade, around Alrik. “Wait here, be patient!” He smirked.

Since Ralph recovered, those Templars were easier prey, and it seemed Alrik didn’t have more reinforcements. The tunnel was truly silent.

“Yours!” Ralph offered the trapped Templar to Justice while he bowed with a theatrical movement. “Just a moment, please, I should clear his head to force him to understand what and why is happening to him and to realize, he will die for his s---”

But Justice didn’t wait. With a thundering voice, he accused the Templar and executed him immediately. "They will die! I will have every last templar for these abuses!" 

"We’ll kill them all, I promise" Ralph was firm. "Let’s go looking for the clue, and leave this place with the girl…" 

"Everyone of them will feel Justice's burn!" Answered Justice.

When the girl woke up…

"Get away from me, demon!", she screamed.

Justice slowly turned to the girl. "I'm not a demon! Are you one of them, you call me such...?" He roared, stepped over to her and raised his staff…

Ralph stretched his hand for Justice, but he didn't even realize. The idea that he will be forced to fight with him again, frightened Ralph, but he was prepared. Ralph shouted, still, tried to convince him. "Justice, that girl is a mage, we rescued her from being made tranquil---."  

"She's theirs, I feel..."  Justice’s voice was a little less confident but didn’t leave the girl.

Ralph grabbed his momentary uncertainty and continued. "She's your... OUR reason we’re fighting, don’t turn on her now!" He knew he will convince his love – or rather he knew if he will not... NO! It's sure , it could not happen. Some things are certain. SHOULD be certain!… 

There was a hard fight behind them, but probably that moment was the hardest part of this. He didn't want to lose Anders.

"Please, messere!" The girl's voice sounded distant to Hawke. He only saw Anders.

Yes, it was Anders. Justice’s threatening glow and thundering voice disappeared. The man, crouched on the ground, holding his head and spoke incoherently was Anders. "Maker no! I... I almost..." he slowly stood up, looked at Ralph. His gaze was confused and frightened as he continued: "If you weren't here... I... I need to get out of here!"  And ran away.

From himself.

***

Ralph was left alone with his thoughts and with the problems. He should speak with him, to calm him! But before, he should search for the proof… and to escort the girl out of… Hawke looked around... Where is the girl?

Oh, fuck! He should find her and help her to leave Kirkwall. She’s not safe here. On the other hand, if the Templars find her, and took her back to the Circle… Ralph didn’t really want the Knight-Commander to hear what exactly happened here. So, the farther the better. "For her and for us as well," Ralph muttered and shook his head. "Fuck Justice, you’re not making things easier for me!" He's swearing and started to search of the dead monster’s armour.

Here! So, it exists! The idea seemed too crazy, but he believed in Anders – and he was right, it proved. Ralph didn’t know how he should feel… Everyone he knew would have thought Anderst was a fool… Fenris, Aveline… Sebastian! "The Templars wouldn’t plan such a thing, they protect the people, the mages, they serve the Most Holy, Andraste! Impossible, Hawke!" A  faint, bitter smile appeared in the corner of his mouth as he almost heard Sebastian's accent, then suddenly disappeared. Probably even his father would not have believed it. And yet… He should be happy it proved? Madness…! 

He shook his head and read further. The Grand Cleric… The Divine… and even the Knight-Commander… rejected the idea… Thanks to the Maker! But that man was crazy! And they still kept him in the Order! That man was entrusted to guard the mages! Ralph looked around… the corpses… Many corpses... Yet, how many followers that madman had? And how many of them are still alive and still in charge in the Circle?

Ralph sighed. Not now the time to think about it. The girl still here somewhere and fears. Suddenly a thought flashed in his mind... It wouldn't be better if she would just forget that…? The Templars’ attack… the massacre… Anders... Justice…  Fuck... it just a little wound on his wrist, and every problem solved… So simple… it worked on the Templars, not once…

Yes… it worked… on the Templars… in danger… but this is just a mage girl!

And then he saw the girl, She was crouching in a corner, looking back at him with fear and desperation in her eyes.

Bethany appeared in Ralph’s mind, his nine-year-old frightened little sister. She showed her hands to him, and sobbed: she didn’t know what happened… she almost hurt Carver…

That girl in the tunnel was not Bethany. But not even a Templar in fierce situation. His own voice echoed Ralph’s mind… "We rescued her from being made tranquil… She's your... OUR reason we’re fighting, don’t turn on her now!" Holy fucking shit, how he was able to even think about it! He stared at his knife in his hand then put off. If she forgets everything, yes it would solve every problem… It’s her sake… of course... Idiot! Not. A fucking... hypocrite monster!

The girl moved in the corner, looked at him and whispered. “Who… what… was that thing?”

Ralph didn’t know what he should say… but wanted to calm her. And he tried… (At least with Bethany, it always worked…) “Don’t worry, It was just the Circle’s trick to scare you away from ever summoning demons”

“I… wouldn’t … I would never!” She stammered. Her eyes were wide. 

Ralph became serious. “It was a joke. The Chantry would call him ‘abomination’. I call him friend…”

"…Love…” whispered to himself. 

The girl’s voice brought him back to the ground.

“Can I go home, messere...?”

“Hawke... Yes…  of course, you can’t stay here, you must leave Kirkwall…” Ralph said, then suddenly fell silent.

Yes. She must, that sure. But it's not that simple. “They hunt you down… again, and again and again…” Anders… his father… and a childhood memory. The older, dirty, blonde guy he met with... at the Calenhad Tower... was a run-away mage. This is why his father was scared... The Templars,  yes. The thoughts were rushing through his head. The phylactery. He was sure the girl just ran away.

“...What about your phylactery…?” 

“What? Oh… I… I just wanted to go home, they didn’t watch, and I ran…”

“Yes. That was exactly I was afraid of,” muttered Hawke, and turned to the girl and look at her eyes. “Listen to me, girl…”

“Ella… Ella is my name”

“So, Ella, I don’t want to hurt you, but I need some… blood from you. I’ll cut your hand, but don’t worry, I’ll be careful. It’s important. And safe. I promise.”

Ella looked at him frightened. “Blood magic…”

“Yes. Like the phylactery. Trust me. This is the safest way I know. Now come with me, you need clothes. In this robe, you’ll not leave Kirkwall, the first Templar you meet will bring you back to the Circle – and I’m sure I can’t throw a pebble blindly here without hitting a Templar.”

Ralph saw the faint smile in the corner of Ella’s mouth. He remembered Bethany again. His mother never really understood how he could always reassure her. Sometimes he neither.

***

They walked silently through the tunnel toward Hightown, when Ella spoke timidly.

“Messere... Hawke... may I ask what you will do? … If… After you... took my blood…” , she shivered.

“Yes, you can ask. My answer is: I'll help you to leave Kirkwall”, he told her, and added: “I suppose that’s all you want to know.”

The girl looked at him with wide, questioning eyes: “But… I…” started uncertainly, then changed her mind. “Y-yes… Maybe you’re right.” 

Ralph nodded, and they continued their way without a word. 

“Here!” Ralph stopped. “You’ll be safe here, wait for me, please. I’ll bring you clothes, and try to arrange your travel. You can find books here to read, if you want, or just try to relax.”

Ella looked around the chamber. It was not a great room, but bigger like her cell in the Circle, and quite homelike, considering the circumstances. There was a bed, a desk, a bookshelf, even a washbasin behind a curtain.

“Where are we? Does anyone live here?” The girl was filled with questions.

“Under the Hightown, my residence. And no, no one lives here now. Sometimes… ‘transit travellers’. Just like you. I found that entrance months ago. An ideal spot for a persecuted, a little shelter.” Ralph said, then looked at Ella. The girl seems tried to show confidence, but in her eyes, he saw the suspicions, fear – and he understood. Feynriel came into his mind, the mage boy and the low-life ex-Templar who would have sold the boy in exchange for some "dust" to the slave traders. The boy thought he was safe. “Don’t worry, I’m here to protect you. At this moment probably your only friend. Look around, this is your room now. Maybe just for hours, but I’m not lying, maybe for days. Wait here, and try to relax. I know it’s not easy to you now. I’ll try my best, I promise.”

Ella nodded uncertainly. She was still not really calm, but at least she sat on the edge of the bed, and took a book from the shelf. She didn't ask more. The stranger… Hawke disappeared behind the curtain, and she was left alone with her fears and doubts. She began to flip the pages in the book absently, then found herself reading – until the book fell out of her hands. She fell asleep.

Hawke returned with the clothes, and a vial and gently shook her shoulder. 

“Wake up, sleepy girl! The clothes arrived, for your service.”

Ella slowly opened her eyes and looked at the pile of clothes. They were simple ones, but not poor, it looked like someone had already worn them, but they were in good condition. It seemed to fit her. She chose one, and looked at Hawke.

“Thank you, messere. But… doesn't anyone miss this?”

“Whoever owned it no longer benefits from it. But it can save your life. She would glad to see that… She was a wonderful person… I… nevermind.”

“Don't you want to keep it yet...?”

“Look at me ... I fear, it does not suit me. Not my size.”

Ella's eyes were wide, she opened her mouth as if she wants to say something but closed it. Ralph smiled faintly.

When he spoke again, the smile disappeared already. “But… now we have an unpleasant thing yet, before you change your wear… your blood, you know. Give your hand, I’ll be careful as I promised. It’s important, I’m sorry.”

The girl shivered but reluctantly reached out his hand toward Hawke. She closed her eyes  and clenched her mouth.

Ralph’s hand was dry and rough. And it was getting colder, nevertheless not unpleasant. She didn’t feel pain, when the man made a small cut in her arm. Slowly she opened her eyes and saw her blood drip into the vial. Weirdly, she had not feared but turned her head. 

“Almost done, then you can change your wear”, she heard. She looked at her arm, the wound was just a faded line, and she saw as it slowly disappeared in the green light from Hawke’s hand. 

“You’re a healer and a blood mage?” She wondered.

“The Chantry taught that the blood magic so evil, you can’t be both? But I can’t say I’m a ‘healer’ I just know some restoration spells, that’s all. And I hope you're not afraid of me already.” 

“I’m sorry… I wasn’t... I’m just...”

“Yes, you were, and this is understandable. Calm down, change your robe and  come.”

“We’ll meet with some guys.” Continued Ralph, when they left the secret hideout. “Mercenaries, like me. My men. They will not interact with you during the travel, but they will care about your safety in a piece of the travel. They look rough, but they’re not as bad as it seems. At least they listen to my words and to this…”, Ralph said, and put a purse in Ella’s hand. “This is yours, you will need it. Use wisely! I have some work yet.”

***

Ralph accompanied Ella from the tunnel, to the docks. She’s safe at the moment. Anders… He’s wounded, he should visit him… but not now, not yet – before he should remove the clues – or at least to mess them. And trying to eliminate the phylactery problem… Ralph sighed. He will not finish with those until dawn, but he must hurry. Probably the disappearance of the Templars will be noticed in the Circle, sooner or later. Rather sooner, he was afraid. 

He has reached the place. He didn't seem to be late. He sighed. He always hated cleaning, and this one will be more disgusting than before anything… Let’s see… 

Then found one. He took away the Templar armour from the corpse, put the robe on it and started the ritual. He was not sure it would work, but he didn’t know, where is the girl’s phylactery… and if he knows… probably not that easy to steal it… so, still this is the best try…

Done. 

And now, the corpses… Templars and lyrium smugglers. Perfect. He found powder kegs, much better than he would use only magical fire. Ralph took some explosives and set up the explosion. Then he looked around, and just for the sake of safety, he burned the place. “The Maker –or the Stone–, bring you peace!” whispered when watched the flames. 

He was tired, stinky and empty when finished… He made his way slowly towards Darktown…