She had been born in the tiny village of Yasla, the pride and joy of a former Arvaarad and a Tamassran. They had watched her grow and named her Anaan, victory because she was. She was their victory against the Qun and all it stood for. Never mind the fact at the ripe age of 10 the Ben-Hassrath troops had raided the village and taken her. Village had been put to the torch, her parents killed but the children, those had all been herded onto boats that took them to Par-Vollen where she had been put with the other Saarebas, or mages. On the cold temple floor she had knelt for hours and learned her craft that she was worthless and powerful and that she would never be allowed to speak again as her lips were sewn shut. Needle pinching as again and again it was thrust through her lips and finally it was done the sharp tug and snap to make sure they would hold. They called her Saarebas that was all she ever was and all she would ever be. She earned collar, chains, and leash each given as a prize for learning something and each piece she learned to love because it gave her control. Her runes were inked into her skin each a spell to bind and control to tell of her accomplishments each a piece of pride for her. She had balked when they had wanted her horns, those she had been proud of. Despite her lowly heritage hers were a marvel of purest silver, rare among her people. Along with her gold skin and silver eyes she was a mashup of rarities.
Arvaarad glanced at his Saarebas as she knelt before him her horns gone now her final step before being allowed to join a Karataam, unit with a mix of Karasaad or soldiers, him and another Saarebas theirs the hard job of hunting Tal-Vashoth and lost units of Qunari.Runes glistening against golden skin, each line a commitment and a binding she would never be free again. Flick of his wrist she and other Saarebas rose from the floor to follow as he held their leashes in his hand his other holding the control rod. Onto the Dreadnaught they went to land off the coast of the free marches near the walls of Starkhaven. Arvaarad ignored that town, moved with his unit as his Karasten or commander dictated. Theirs was a successful hunt, of the Tal Vashoth several had stated they wished to be reeducated something that could be arranged as they were put on the ship and taken back to Par-Vollen.
“Anaan. Boss wake up.” Bull shook her awake catching hands glowing with a spell gritted his teeth as the energy fired out hitting the sandy dirt behind her head with a sizzle pop. “Easy Boss, just me.” Bull kept a hold took in her rapid breathing the slick sheen on brow and breast as eyes focused to look at him.
“Bull.” Anaan took a deep breath his name a whispered talisman, waited for her heart to slow down for the dream to leave her for the shuddering pain and the gasps that came with them the struggle to get her hands away from Bull to wrap them around herself and to tamp down the need to cry to breath slowly and evenly until it passed. Bull had long since stopped asking what she was dreaming about, what could possibly reduce the strongest woman he had ever met to a quivering mess without so much as drawing blood. Sitting up gingerly Anaan sees the barrier Solas had erected shimmer before it goes down sees Varric, sound asleep and oblivious to her night terrors.
Breathing under control Anaan tilts her head to the side a deep cleansing breath working its way through her lungs as she looks and finds the skin she needs takes a grateful pull while Bull watches her carefully. Not liking the gaze Anaan struggles to her feet, her body not ready to let go of the pain pitches to her knees and is left there as another wave hits. It is the same routine over and over, her on knees arms crossed her head down the memory of the stick as it cracked across her torso the arch of her back as she is beat over and over the stick finding purchase as she falls curled up in a fetal position arm covering her head other wrapped around ribs trying to breath to get past the memory. “Katoh,Katoh, Atah Issala , Atah Isaala, Maraas Katoh. Stop, stop I am dust, I am nothing stop.” It is a litany she whispers until she is hoarse her voice raw with pain.
Anaan hears his steps behind her, knows he is on his knees besides her waiting patiently for her to indicate what she needs, what she wants. “Kost, peace I think I am done.” She struggles to her knees again knowing better than to even try her feet is thankful Bull does not scoop her up anymore. When she makes it to her feet listing as she takes a couple of steps reaching out instinctively for Bull who steadies her.
“Please.” Bull asks waits for Anaan to nod before scooping her up holding her against him carrying her against his chest placing her gently back on the pile of blankets that serve as a bed for them laying down making sure to not hit her with his horns. Taking another pull from the skin Anaan is still working on breathing, her hands tracing her body stripping the dirty sweat stained tunic laying it out to dry running a hand over her ribs and back, conformation she is not marked. Taking Bull's hand she places it on her hip, smiles as his hand starts to run over adjusts as she pulls her pants off as also well-toned legs from walking and fighting glisten gold with sweat and the memory.
“Bull.” It is a command and a plea as his hands continue to stroke, play and erase the memory. Laying her back he continues hands lighting fires taking in the gasps, the hitching of her breath the moans as her body comes alive for him. Anaan does not cry out in passion, hers is the slow burn and release of control the flushed skin, dilated eyes and hum of satisfaction. Bull has to watch her carefully, her body ever changing of its wants and needs with no vocal tell to say yes or no even as he traces fingers along her thigh his claws careful to never touch her skin. Gentle, always gentle never tearing, never more than the slow calm she needs after her storms.
Morning has her in meditation her hair looking like pure milk as it falls down her shoulders to her waist. Bull watches her back, rigid never an arch, her shoulders square her knees parallel to the ground as she is cross-legged her arms middle and thumb touching rest lightly on knees face calm and serene defying the war she waged the night before. Her lips form passages from the Qun words traced in silence as she repeats the passages until she reaches the end. Opening her eyes she sees Bull watching her again, his patch ever in place but that one eye he does have seen so much, too much. Anaan does not squirm under his gaze; this is a man who knows every nuance of her body has known it for months. She offers him a smile, one of those rare treats she gives on occasion as she shifts her body cupping his face and kissing him lightly. “Morning ready to kill a dragon?” His answering smile is what she needs as she gets up and wonders to the fire.
“You can't tell me what she dreams?” Bull asks even as Solas shakes his head no.
“She does not walk the fade, ever. She commands her magic without waste and whatever dreams she has are locked tight in her mind. In all my travels of the fade I have never met a Qunari or a dwarf.” Solas looks at the object of their conversation her back straight attention on the road ahead never looking over her shoulder to regard the rest of her companions.
“So after we kill this Dragon we are headed to the Storm Coast to kill that one there too?” Varric asks his pony not even half the size of the Dracolisk Anaan rides its black hide its silver horns a fair match to what is left of Anaan's.
“Yes.” Anaan answers and Varric sighs, drops his mount back to Bull while Solas spurs his Hart next to Anaan's rapping Bull's battle nug on the nose as it tries to take a bite out of the hart on the way.
“I take it she had an attack last night?” Varric asks which earns him the regard of Bull who is deep in thought wondering how to deal with this latest surprise in his lover.
“Yes.” Bull answers with a slight smile earning an eye roll and exasperated huff from the genial dwarf who can talk more than an entire group of people combined.
“I am used to the one syllable answers from her but you? How bad was it?” Varric keeps his eyes on Bull waits as the Qunari weighs and discards answers in a heartbeat.
“Bad.” When Varric looks like he is going to unleash his crossbow Bull holds a hand up. “Worst I have ever seen, she is a mystery I would love to figure out. Right now I have no idea how to help her, she refuses to speak about whatever it is and I cannot help her if I don't have the information.” Bull watches Anaan again as they head towards the steady roar of a beast knowing the dragon has tangled in the traps they laid for it.
“Kost Atashi, ash ataash peace dragon, seek glory. I bring you peace, an end to your pain and your torment.” Anaan speaks softly to the dragon as she swings off her mount her staff already in hand her magic ready to be cast as Ash as she calls her Dracolisk rounds up the rest of the mounts her party already fanning out behind her as the dragon regards them jaws snapping it's brown hide marred in places from other dragons perhaps its prey. They all take a moment to assess the dragon checking to see where the traps have snapped shut, keeping one of its legs pinned denying it flight. Seeing its tormentors the dragon roars a gout of flame narrowly missing as they duck and dive out of the way.
Approaching the dragon Bull has his sword out, the blade already humming with the cold rune as he presses a finger to activate it allowing the cold tendrils to curl off of it as he walks closer to his prey watching the movements noticing it's favoring the right shoulder, keeping its wings tucked as the dragon watches him spraying more flame. Solas's barrier literally sizzles as the flame hits it Varric already loading his crossbow Bianca ready for Anaan's signal which she gives as she shoots a huge globe of lightning at the Dragon making it scream.
Time is lost for Bull as he keeps the Dragon's attention his blade swiping and curving knowing the rest of the party will kill it, his job is always keep it entertained and it’s a job he's very good at. With a shuddering moan the dragon finally roars it's last Bull rolls to have the head not land on him feels Solas' healing magic slide over him stitching minor cuts and tears in his hide together as he walks towards the rest of the party. Anaan has already calmed her magic runes glowing faintly then fading when not needed. “It should be a good harvest off this one.” Varric has already put Bianca up is waiting for him to join the group and he does taking a seat on a nearby boulder feeling a few of the cuts Solas did not heal knows the mage will let those be knowing they will heal just fine now they are out of the fight.
Anaan takes the cage with the crow off of Solas' mount when they decide to show up writing a short message of where they are and sending the crow back to the closest base knowing they are moving towards a location to establish another one. Done with that task she is mounted and waits as the others mount up their pouches stuffed with dragon meat and blood for Solas' alchemy. Anaan has also taken part of the dragon's hide and Bull wonders what she will do with it as he sees the thing disappear into the bag.
Nightfall hits suddenly as always in this desert it being daylight one moment and dark the next though the transition between the day and the night paints the sky with the lurid colors of a sunset breathtaking in beauty. Anaan is sitting on a rock, above where the camp is established her pose one of meditation though Varric climbs up next to her sits quietly as she speaks her prayers knows better than to interrupt her. “Yes?” Anaan finally asks her voice rough and quiet hers never one for more speech than necessary.
“How are you doing? How is life? What is going on other than dragon slaying and fucking Bull?” Varric asks trying to see which question will get a reaction, it's the third one probably his choice of words which were deliberate. Anaan looks at Varric her silver stare never something Varric can tolerate for long, not because she is not pretty because she is but because those eyes are lifeless completely devoid of emotions which give him the creeps.
“Nothing.” Anaan finally answers smiling slightly at Varric's exasperated sigh. “You wish more from me?” Anaan finally says her eyes narrowing slightly her lips twitching into a larger grin before snapping back to passive her attention caught watching Bull as he sets dinner to cook his muscles rippling in the firelight his harness already put aside for the day.
“Yes, I do. I want more from the woman I follow all over this damn desert than one syllable answers to perfectly reasonable questions.” Varric is irritated wonders if he has overstepped the mark as Anaan turns those eyes back on him watches him quietly before finally sighing.
“I do not seek your pity Varric, I am not a character in your story you must make real or believable. I am Anaan, Inquisitor. More is not needed.” Anaan turns to watch the camp again not even noticing the effect her words have had on Varric.
“It's like talking to the damn Arishok!” Varric grouses gets up to leave only to have a strong hand placed on his arm pulling him back down. Well now he had her attention.
“You know Arishok?” Anaan asks quietly her face etched in fear.
“I have met him a few times yes, when he was in Kirkwall he spoke to Hawke on several occasions. I've even had tea with him; he's not a bad guy just difficult to talk to.” Varric admits shrugging trying to calm Anaan.
“Yes he is.” Anaan finally says her curiosity sated she turns back to the horizon.
“What happened to you? I know you were Saarebas, but when you first showed up to Haven you said you were Tal Vashoth yet you speak the prayers of the Qun. When Bull joined up you feared him yet now you bed him. You chose the Qunari alliance; you use the Qunari throne as your judgment chair.” Varric wants answers, needs someplace to put her in his mind.
“Hey, dinner's ready you two come on down.” Bull yells and Anaan is up and gone before Varric can hold her to answering the question. Once they are full though Anaan looks at Varric, knows the question eats at the man like a spell gone bad know she needs to answer.
“You ask if I am Tal Vashoth or Qunari Varric?” Anaan asks watches as all eyes land on Varric and then her.
“Yes, the question still stands.” Varric answers dinner forgotten as he watches her over the fire.
“I am Qunari, though I am forced to be Tal Vashoth. I did not choose to leave the Qun, the circumstances of my freedom were forced upon me. Though since I am Saarebas, dangerous thing I do not have an option to return to the Qun. I am denied Par-Vollen, I am denied Ataash, glory but asit tal-eb it is the way things are meant to be.” Anaan sits quietly waits for Solas to call her a mindless beast as he has Bull or for Varric to tell her she is horrible but the silence is not broken.
“What were those circumstances?” Solas finally asks trying to get his mind around the fact one of his friends wishes to live like she was. “I am sorry; you do not have to answer that.” Solas realizes what might be a painful experience for Anaan what is possibly the most painful thing she has ever been through.
“I was captured as a child by Ben-Hassrath, a raid on our village of Vashoth those not born of the Qun. All of the adults were killed their choice to leave the Qun clear in their defiance to show their children the correct path. Children were put on a ship and taken to Par-Vollen, there we were taught, molded raised to be part of the Qun. I was Saarebas, my chains my bindings even my runes were earned each a piece of me like your soul. I took pride in my bindings the control they offered me, my runes binding and increasing that control until my spells were perfect my control over my magic flawless.” Anaan speaks with a slight cadence, her voice clear showing the pride in her conditions. “We did several missions to the various parts of the empire to hunt and find Tal Vashoth and lost units, my Karataam was one of the best worked closely with Ariqun and Arishok to administer the Qun's will. But one mission did not go well, we were badly outnumbered, my Arvaarad fallen I was without direction.” Here her voice breaks a little, pain clear.
“Katoh Anaan, you pain does not need this.” Bull walks to her kneeling in front of her palm cupping her face bringing her forehead to his in a gesture of comfort.
“I will share.” Anaan finally says glancing at Solas and Varric her face empty of any emotion. Bull sighs casts Solas a murderous look but closes his eyes kissing her forehead as he shifts to sit next to her his shoulder and arm touching hers his hip in line with hers.
“Tal Vashoth killed my Karataam; they left me and the other Saarebas alive as we were more valuable than the others.” Anaan shakes her head at this chafes her hands places them back on her knees. “They unbound me, cast off my chains loosed my tongue told me I was free.” Anaan snorts at this shakes her head. “I killed several of them not sure how to deal with my magic so free. They finally managed to subdue me, their leader; a grizzled old Vashoth convinced me I did not want to die. I did not care; fought desperately to get free so I could return to my life was finally knocked out.” Anaan places her head on Bull's shoulder sighs as he rubs her nubs of horns.
“When I awoke there was an Arvaarad there, I was so happy to see him. Found out the other Saarebas had killed himself in the night he would not accept the freedom offered but I refused. This Arvaarad did not put my bindings back on though, but he was Arvaarad controller of my fate and he bade me live so I did.” Anaan stops, looks at the group and shrugs.
“The rest Anaan, you will not stop there.” Bull rumbles.
“There is no more to tell Bull, he was my Arvaarad until he was killed at the Conclave and I became marked.” Anaan moves away from Bull she is a coward does not wish to say the rest.
“How did you learn to control your magic without your bindings?” Varric asks curious now and taking a pull from the skin Anaan offers gasps as the liquid kicks him. “Maker what is that?”
“Dragon Piss.” Bull says taking the skin from Anaan taking a swig himself.
“Pain.” Anaan says quietly looking at Varric watching his face turn into an o of surprise along with Solas. With that she heads to the pile of blankets lays down with her back to the fire.
“Keep your staff handy Solas, I am betting we are in for a helluva night.” Bull levels them both with glares before heading to the blankets lying next to Anaan pulling her against him knowing she is crying her silent tears tracking down to land in the blankets below them. “Shh Kadan, I am here.” Bull holds her waits for the storm to settle sighs as she finally drifts off to sleep.