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The Order of Free Andrastians

Chapter Text

The wind whipped the branches of the trees, scattering mounds of snow along the forest.  Those mounds mixed with the new snow that fell from the sky to dance on the frigid wind.  Breath froze on the air and the cold bit into the bones.  Anastasia Trevelyan rubbed her arms trying to generate some warmth as she battled against the elements for each step.

She still wasn’t sure how she’d survived the attack on Haven.  It had been a fluke… or the work of the Maker.  She had closed the breach over the Temple of Andraste, and all of Haven had rejoiced.  There was an impromptu party with music and dancing, and then everything had gone wrong.  An army had appeared on the horizon; led by a creature from nightmares.  He said his name was Corypheus and from all he had told her, he was one of the original Magisters who had caused the First Blight by entering the Fade.  He was an arch-darkspawn and commanded a creature that appeared to be an arch-demon.  She’d faced the creature, to buy time, the Commander of the Inquisition led the the survivors out of Haven.

They had lost so many.  Still, she’d seen the flare that indicated that the Inquisition’s charming Commander had succeeded in his mission.  He was safe, as were the rest of her people, those who hadn’t died under the swords of the Red Templars.  Those Templars were no longer human, they were crazed creatures that only lived for the kill and to serve their new master.

Three others went with her to get the last of the trebuchet working again; Blackwall: The brave Grey Warden, Cassandra Pentaghast: The Seeker and Former Right Hand of the Divine, and The Iron Bull: The leader of Bull’s Chargers and a Qunari spy.  When she’d beaten back the Red Templars and aimed the Trebuchet, Corypheus had come and they’d gotten separated, leaving her to face him alone.  She still wasn’t sure how she felt about that, but face him she did, and when she saw the signal, she unleashed the trebuchet and caused an avalanche that covered Haven.  Somehow, she’d been flung into a cellar and survived.

Now, she looked for those survivors.  She couldn’t stay at Haven and she prayed she would find them before she froze to death.

She soon found the remains of a camp fire, but it was cold.  There were not even embers to try to warm herself by.  She cursed herself for learning storm and cold magic rather than fire.  A fireball on the embers would have come in handy at the moment. 

After an hour, she found another campfire, or rather, the remains of one.  This one still had embers and she was able to warm her hands a little.  It wasn’t enough, though.  Her bones hurt from the cold and she was growing numb.  She forced herself to continue walking.

She made it another quarter of a mile before her knees began to buckle.  She forced herself to take another step forward and then another, but her legs no longer wanted to hold her and Thedas began to move, to spin.  That wasn’t good.

Then she saw movement heard a familiar deep, smooth voice.  “Is that…”

“There she is,” that voice was familiar too.

“Anna!”  The first voice, one she loved to hear called to her. 

She opened her mouth to call out to her would-be rescuers.  She even began to lift a hand towards where two figures rushed to her, but she could no longer stand upright.  She weaved for a moment and then fell flat on her face.

 

 

“There she is!”  Cassandra’s voice was full of excitement as she saw the Herald of Andraste approaching the search party.

“Anna!”  Cullen called out to the Herald.  He broke into a run, Cassandra on his heels.  He thought he heard Anastasia calling out to him, but then he saw her weave and fall.  “Anna!”  He rushed to her side, peeling his cloak and wrapped it carefully around her.  He arranged the lion’s mantle so it framed her beautiful face and then carefully lifted her into his arms, holding her close.

“Cull…”  She murmured, but then lost consciousness again.

“We should hurry,” Cassandra pushed him, literally, towards the Inquisition camp.  “She’s been out in the elements for too long.”

Cullen didn’t need the reminder, nor did he say anything about Cassandra’s manhandling.  He was too worried about his… the Inquisition’s… Anna.  He rushed back to the camp and stopped at the nearest fire, hoping its warmth would help the shivering woman in his arms.  The shivers had started as he held her close, but they were beginning to subside.  “You!”  He shouted at the first scout he saw.  “Go get a healer.”

“You could take her to the Healer’s Tent,” the Scout, Jamie, suggested.

“Not until she’s warmer,” Cullen wasn’t ready to let her go.   He held his cloak wrapped Herald to him.  His precious, complicated Anna who hated Templars, but had never showed a single drop of ire towards him; nor towards Cassandra for that matter.  He supposed she just hated those she perceived as her jailors.  She’d talked about what it was like to grow up feeling like she was always being watched.  As a former Templar, all he could do was confirm her fears.  Yet, she hadn’t let that destroy her heart or spirit.

“Is it true?”  One of the healers ran to him.  “Is the Herald of Andraste alive?”

“She was out in the blizzard and faced that… creature,” Cullen moved his cloak enough for the healer to see the woman he held close to him.  Her shivering increased as the cold air touched her skin again.

“I don’t want to move her away from the fire until she has stopped shivering.”  She paused a moment and looked over at one of the scouts.  “Go fetch extra blankets.  If anyone gives you are hard time, tell them they’re for the Inquisitor.  I suppose you’d like your cloak back, Commander.”

“No, not yet,” he liked seeing her wrapped in his cape, the very brief thought of how it might look to have her wrapped in other clothes of his crossed his mind and caused him to blush.

“You’re no good to her if you get sick, too,” the healer admonished.

“She’s sick?”  Cullen held her even tighter, causing her to moan in protest.

“How could she not be after what she’s faced,” the healer gently led them to the tent where the injured lay.  “Put her on that cot,” she indicated the one beside her.

Cullen sat on the cot, still cradling Anna.  He settled her down so her head lay on his chest as the healer worked.  Soon her shivering had stopped and she lay quietly.

“Let her sleep for now,” Mother Gisselle approached them.  “I’ll keep an eye on her for you, don’t worry.”

“I’ll stay with her,” Cullen insisted.

“Josephine wants to see you,” Mother Gisselle explained.  “She says that it’s important.”

Cullen just nodded.  “I’ll be back.”

 

 

Cullen found Josephine with Leliana and Cassandra.  The ambassador and Seeker were staring daggers at each other.

“We cannot actually consider this,” Cassandra insisted.

“We may have no choice,” Josephine countered.  “We are vulnerable and most of our resources went up in flames at Haven.  We need stronger allies; this gives us that.”

“Allying with the Chantry will alienate the Free Mages,” Leliana warned.  “But this comes with the promise of an alliance with Orlais, too.  We can’t just dismiss that.”

“What is going on?”  Cullen demanded.

“One of the survivors of Haven was a messenger from Orlais,” Leliana explained.  She held out a scroll with the broken seals of both the Chantry and the Empress of Orlais.