When Ellana Lavellan and Cassandra Pentaghast’s eyes met, there was a sharp stab of despair as they shared in all of the many things that had gone wrong. “You’re alive!” Cassandra gasped, her voice echoing in the large stone chamber of Caer Oswin. Underneath that, the echoing sound of the red lyrium gave her a ghostly tone. “How can this be?”
“Would you believe: time magic?” Dorian offered cheerfully. “No? I wouldn’t either.”
Cassandra fell to her knees onto the stone floor, her armor ringing, her sword and shield clattering down on either side of her. Lavellan ran to her side before Cassandra called out: “No! Don’t touch me. It might infect you, too.”
“Cassandra…” Lavellan let her arms fall to her sides as Cassandra began to weep openly. Everything she’d suffered for had been a catastrophic mistake. She sat with her legs folded, her face in her hands, and her shoulders decorated with pillars of red lyrium. Her tears ran a glittering pink. They were too late. They were far, far too late.
“You were our savior. Our answer,” Cassandra said, her despair replaced with righteous frustration. “You were going to save us. You were going to save everyone! You were the herald! Andraste’s chosen one!”
“I know.” Lavellan bit her lip. Dorian stood close and put his hand on her shoulder.
In the end, there was nothing they could do for Cassandra. She was one of the many people that Lavellan had failed to save. She and Dorian had killed all of the Red Templars on the way into Caer Oswin. They had been the people devoted to The Seekers and Cassandra had done the only thing she could do try to help them. She tried to lead them. She gave herself to the red lyrium because the Seekers were all she had left. The Inquisition had been destroyed in Haven before it had even begun. Cassandra had not been happy she had survived the demon assault.
The demon army falling on Haven took place over a year ago, according to the calendar. Time magic had been flawed, unpredictable and unpracticed. In his attempt to draw himself and Lavellan back to the time they had come from, Dorian had sent them the other way, another year into the future. The power of the spell had caused the amulet imbued with the magic to shatter. They didn’t have many options anymore, aside from escaping Redcliffe castle and picking the glass from the wounds in Dorian’s arms. Several weeks later his arms were fine, but with each new revelation Lavellan could see the guilt bear down on him a little bit more. His lips were pursed tightly when they left Cassandra in the fortress with the red lyrium - with her sword - to do what she insisted had to be done.
With luck, morale at camp couldn’t get much lower.
When the Iron Bull heard the news he let out a low whistle. “She was flawless until the end. You really have to respect that.”
The Inquisition had been obliterated, but Iron Bull of course didn’t have it in him to quit. “I gotta admit it looks pretty bad, boss,” he had told Lavellan when she and Dorian had found him again, down the Frostback and into Fereldan where the weather was a little warmer. “But I’m more of a go-down-fighting kind of guy, so I’m not interested in giving up now.”
The camp, which was more like a village, had been set up where the fortress of Ostagar had been. Lavellan understood that there had been quite a few darkspawn stragglers there when they arrived, but they had been barely a challenge compared to the army of demons that had destroyed Haven. Bull had taken over the half-fallen fortress with relative ease, covered up any remaining holes to the Deep Roads, and set up an hourly patrol. Without his leadership, Lavellan was certain there would be no one left from the Inquisition at all.
Cullen Rutherford died fighting for Haven, holding back the army so that the survivors could escape. In the frenzy, Solas had disappeared, although Iron Bull had a feeling that he was probably still alive. Josephine had also been with the remnants of the Inquisition for some time, but was currently on her way to Denerim with Vivienne, where she could serve the Inquisition from relative safety until the tides turned in their favor, or obliterated them completely. Blackwall, Sera and Leliana had been at Redcliffe during their first jump through time, and gave their lives for Lavellan and Dorian to try to get back. “The only way we live, is if this day never comes.”
That day had certainly come. It came and it left, like the Maker flipped a few pages and closed the book on their tale. Once again, his people moved onward without him.
“It’s good to see you again, Herald,” Krem spoke to Lavellan, and joined her on her nightly patrol around the camp. “Maybe you haven’t noticed but there’s been a boost to morale since you got back.”
The two walked together in the hazy dark, a chill wind remaining in the early spring air. “That's a relief. Thank you, Krem.”
“Of course,” he replied. “The boss especially has perked up. He doesn’t get low very often, but I’m sure you understand that everything could be pretty hard on him.”
“I'm glad to hear it,” Lavellan stopped at a torch that had blown out, and with Krem’s assistance took the time to refuel and relight it. “It’s a little hard to tell with Bull.”
“I know. That’s why I wanted to tell you. Some might be angry that you disappeared, but you still inspire people.” Krem lowered to pick up a piece of paper that had blown into his path. He crumpled it into his hand as Lavellan scratched a little punishment onto the inside of her wrist. A shout came from the perimeter patrol and Krem’s eyes shot up before their conversation could continue. “I wonder if it’s him again.”
“Him?” Lavellan asked.
The two moved briskly together to where the voice had called. A female scout held a torch high up into the air, revealing a person hiding under the shroud of an oversized hat. “Get out of here! We have nothing to give you,” her male partner shouted, picking rocks up from his feet and throwing them.
“Him,” Krem said, pointing at the one in the hat, as he turned and scampered off, disappearing into the woods. “He comes by almost every night. We thought he might be a spy, but he probably wouldn’t be so predictable. Vivienne says he’s an abomination, but he came to warn us about the demon assault before they reached Haven.”
“So as a reward for his service, we’ve been scaring him away by throwing rocks?” Lavellan asked, shooting a cold glare that went unnoticed at the scouts as they passed.
Krem met her gaze, instead. “Bull’s not a magic expert. Vivienne’s advice was all we had.”
Lavellan found herself missing Solas’ wisdom.
“What’s the next step, then?” Dorian asked, already more than a little drunk and with mischief in his voice. “We have a bard! Maybe Maryden can go find out which of those Denerim nobles have secret affairs on the side and we can prod them into action, in some cases, literally.”
Lavellan knew better than to correct him. “We already have Josephine moving in to speak to Queen Anora. It would be nice if we could rely on the Gray Wardens for support.”
“But they’ve already all lost their minds and gone to Weisshaupt to join the Venatori.” Dorian fell dramatically into his chair in the tent that was acting as the Inquisition library. A bedroll on the ground was where he slept. A wooden box acted as his desk, which of course was being used to hold a bottle of wine. Where he had found an untouched bottle around a bunch of hungry soldiers was a mystery. Dorian threw his head back, taking a long drink, a trail going down his chin from the corner of his mouth. When he came up for air, Lavellan held out her hand. Dorian handed her the bottle and wiped his mouth, looking on as she did the same.
“Drink up, Herald. Andraste herself couldn’t have regained the faith of the people after disappearing for two years.”
Lavellan burped and handed the wine bottle back to Dorian. I wish I were dead, she considered admitting, just because it would be easier. She was sure he probably felt the same way. “At least I have you.”
Dorian smiled, grim and bitter.
It was too late for the Gray Wardens, but it wasn’t too late for the boy in the woods. Dorian insisted on coming along, to see this abomination for himself, and Iron Bull as well. “Just like old times,” he said.
They didn’t have to go very far into the forest, which was becoming mud with melting snow, before they found him. He was perched in a tree, waiting. “She’s looking for me,” he murmured cryptically. “The boy in the hat. Isn’t he cold? Isn’t he hungry? She’s failed so many but maybe she can save the boy.” He spoke with a boy’s voice, his face was gaunt and pale. The hat was a shield that he turned up as if to look at her, but all it showed her was his nose. The fade hung over him, dense like a damp blanket, but fresh like mint.
“Oh, good! Just what we needed: more mysteries,” Dorian snipped.
“Who are you?” Lavellan asked. “They tell me you warned them about the demon army. How did you know they were coming to Haven?”
“Not demons,” the boy shook his head, hat flopping about. “It was the templars. The templars came. I tried to stop them, but I needed help. There was no help then. Maybe I can help now.”
“Don’t tell me there are more demons on the way,” Iron Bull grumbled.
“Not demons. But they know you. Know where you are. The Elder One does, he sees with the darkspawn. But he doesn’t know you’re here,” he said, and pointed at the Herald. “He wants what she has. When he finds out, he will come.”
“I’m the Herald of Andraste. I need to inspire people, I can’t just hide forever.”
“The Elder One has been doing nothing but gathering strength these past two years,” Iron Bull said. “If he came here now, we wouldn’t stand a chance.”
“So we’ll lay low,” Dorian met Lavellan’s eyes with a sad conviction. “If there’s some hope here, we have to take it wherever we can.”
She gazed back, wondering if they were just delaying the inevitable. “Okay. We lay low.” With that, she turned back to the boy who was suddenly standing next to her.
“Cole,” he said. “That was his name.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Cole.”
In the following weeks Lavellan learned that there was a rift close by, several littering the journey between Ostagar and Lothering. If she took the steps to protect the people and creatures of the area, she would reveal her presence without a doubt. She reluctantly accepted the danger.
To Miss Ellana Lavellan, Herald of Andraste.
It comes as a relief to me to hear that you have returned safely to us, and I pray that hope returns to Thedas with your return. However, we do not have the power that we did when you left us for Redcliffe Castle years ago, so I suggest you do not make yourself known at this time.
The people of Denerim are anxious and I believe would respond well to knowledge that you live, but we must gain more power before we open you up as a target once more. Luckily, recently surviving the Blight also means that Fereldans are more hardy than the Orlesians, and more effective at stemming off despair. They worry since the King has disappeared, but I have shared news of your reappearance with Queen Anora who has been a mighty force in keeping Fereldan together. She is willing to do all she can for us, although the country is preoccupied in an attempt to remain vigilant against the Venatori and the Red Templars. Fereldan is on the defensive, but we have a powerful ally.
At the advisement of Iron Bull and Queen Anora, I will remain in Denerim with Lady Vivienne until circumstances change. I hope I can see you again soon with my own eyes.
May the Dread Wolf never hear your steps.
“She believed in you. She believed she was doing the best she could, but she didn’t know for sure. She was full of questions, full of the red, powerful and burning. Red like guilt.” Cole ran his hands over a fine gilded book, Cassandra’s treasured copy of the Chant with a gold embossed eye on the front. Candlelight shimmered over it, the wind howling outside of the library tent. Dorian looked on from his chair. “You think you let her down, it’s a hole of sadness with no bottom. Don’t fall in it. You came through in the end. You gave her mercy. It was a good thing.”
“It doesn’t feel like it was a good thing,” Lavellan confessed.
“It was,” Cole said, finally peering up at her with his eyes, grey and blind. “You answered the questions she said alone, out in the dark. She asked for you, and you came. She loved you. She trusted you.”
Lavellan’s eyes burned. She didn’t know if she deserved that love or that trust, after everything that had gone wrong.
“It’s all gone wrong, it’s a mistake, but you can’t say it. You have to hold back for him, but he already knows. It’s a deep dark hole and you can’t fall in it. Don’t let go.”
When Lavellan looked up Dorian was already looking at her. “I won’t. As long as you make sure he doesn’t either.”
“That’s the damndest thing about being a human that they don’t ever warn you about. It’s really hard to lose hope, even after you should have already.” Dorian smiled. “Come over here, will you? I have an idea.”
Without anywhere else to sit, Lavellan helped herself to Dorian’s lap. Without question, he curled his one arm around her and used the other to open up a book he’d been reading. The margins were cramped with notes in Dorian’s fanciful handwriting. “I’ve been trying to reproduce the time magic that I had researched with Alexius. I think I might be able to make another catalyst like the amulet, with your help.” Dorian turned up his head to meet Lavellan’s eyes. “That is, if you think it’s worth trying.”
“Do you think it’s worth trying?” She asked in return.
Dorian’s gaze darted away and back to the book in his hand. “At first, I didn’t think so. I thought since I had destroyed our hopes the first time with my mistake that there might not be a chance. Now I feel like it was foolish of me to stop there.” Dorian glanced up to look at Cole who was still leaning over Cassandra’s Chant. He cut his finger on the pages and stuck it in his mouth. “But if it doesn’t work. If I fail again… what do we do then?”
Lavellan looked from Cole to Dorian, and used one hand to fondly brush his hair back. He hadn’t been taking care of himself. “If it doesn’t work, we’ll try again. We’ll try something else. It’s so hard to let hope go, after all.”
Dorian sighed heavily. “What would I do without you? Honestly.”
Mother Giselle had not survived the attack on Haven, but the soldiers had themselves carved a statue of Andraste and posted her in one of the shells of a building in the fortress. If someone were assigned to lead the prayer, they were not present when Lavellan arrived. The stone walls were high but the ceiling was gone. Someone had taken care to remove the leaves in the fall, so when the snow melted in the spring it only left small puddles. From the feet of Andraste, Lavellan could see the trees beginning to sprout the tiniest leaves. Her carving was rough, but done with care. Her hands were cupped together and held a stone bowl. Lavellan climbed up onto the statue to drop incense in and set it afire. The open breeze took the scent away from her.
Before everything had gone wrong, she had really begun to believe herself to be the Herald of Andraste. To imagine the look on Keeper Deshanna’s face if she would admit it could almost make her flinch, but why might it not be true? Andraste led the elves to freedom as best she could, and she was born in the same world as the gods of the Dalish. The gods had come and gone for all the people of Thedas, there was some consistency and truth to it all, wasn’t there?
Lavellan lowered herself to her knees in front of Andraste and folded her hands together, as she had seen Cullen do, once, before they left for Redcliffe. She had peeked in on his private moment, to get an eyeful of his blonde curls and his funny fluffy cape. Blessed are the peacekeepers, he’d said, champions of the just.
Lavellan didn’t know any prayers to Andraste.
“Oh Maker,” she whispered. “Is this meant to be, or did I fail you? Was I meant for this after all?”
Just as with the elven gods, there was no answer.
“Hey, there you are.” Iron Bull spoke up behind her, and Lavellan turned to see him peering over a fallen wall. “So you really bought that Herald stuff, huh?”
Lavellan climbed to her feet with a sigh. “I don’t know,” she said. “It seemed possible before.”
Iron Bull stepped over a low piece of the stone wall and leaned casually against a standing pillar in the center of the room. “I get that. Even now, I get that. It’s not every day you think someone is dead and they show back up two years later. I’d call it a miracle if it wasn’t bullshit.” Lavellan couldn’t help but smile, and Iron Bull returned one to her. “There she is, that’s my boss.”
Iron Bull had survived the two years of her absence and the fall of the Inquisition and seemed unscathed, except for a wide variety of new scars all over him. His spirit seemed the same, which was because of Lavellan’s return, if Krem was to be believed. More than scars Iron Bull had developed wrinkles, his forehead lined with contemplative stress. He’d held everything together on his own. He was incredible. “It’s good to have you back,” he said.
“I couldn’t have made it without you,” Lavellan replied.
Iron Bull cleared his throat. “As much as I enjoy the flattery, I did come to find you with news. We wanted you to lay low, but I think you’ll wanna come along for this one.”
Scout Harding was still around and running the field, sending back reports of wherever she could reach. Her advance reports had led Lavellan and Dorian to where the Inquisition had been camped when they had reappeared months ago at Redcliffe Castle. She was waiting for them in the Hinterlands on the rocky southern end that reached out to Ostagar. Lavellan was ready for the worst with a full team by her side: Dorian, Cole and Iron Bull, belt buckles and shining eyes glimmering green with reflection of the fade leaking through the breach.
Harding was settled into a barely visible cranny tucked into the cliff rocks. They only found her because she wanted to be found, and came to greet them with a pair of Mabari at her side. Harding had been miles from Haven when the Elder One came through, but the time had given her some wisps of gray hair and concerning seams between her eyebrows. In spite of everything, she smiled at Lavellan and gave her a nod. “It’s good to see you, Herald.”
“And you as well, Harding. Is this the place?”
“Through here,” she pointed down into a crevice into the cliff. “It’s called Valammar. It looks like it’s the end of a thaig that ended up hitting the surface and was abandoned along with a lot of them when Darkspawn took run of the Deep Roads. There’s evidence that a Dwarven criminal group called the Carta were working through here - probably smuggling red lyrium - back when they had to be sneaky about it. Fereldan moved in after Redcliffe fell to do occasional patrols and they found the entrance, but the Carta was already gone. Probably found another passage further south for their forward march that way. It’s been months since I’ve checked it thoroughly so who knows how long anyone’s been in here. At least six, is my guess.” Harding looked apologetically at Lavellan and wrang her hands. “Sorry, boss. I slipped up.”
“There’s a lot going on, a lot to keep track of these days. Don’t beat yourself up about it.”
“Yeah. Right. Sorry.”
Lavellan cast her a reassuring smile as what remained of the Inquisition forward party left Harding behind. The cleft in the mountain shrank and stretched into an expansive cavern, jagged overhangs and fallen stones accented the finely crafted walls and walkways.
“The singing,” said Cole. “It sings, red and glittery and yours, all yours. It’s all made of love, they think, but it’s different from that. He knows better, but the singing is so loud that it’s all he thinks. Maybe it’s got some secret in it. Ease. Comfort.”
“I hope we’re not too late,” Lavellan murmured.
Varric was deep within the cavern, behind a door on a lower level of halls that perched out over a seemingly endless pit. What appeared to be a very complex lock mechanism had been set in place, as if he had been expecting them and was beckoning them inside. On the other side of the door it became clear that the lock had been an oversight.
Iron Bull let out a low whistle at the room which appeared more to be the heart of a creature made of red lyrium that had swallowed them alive. The foot or so around the door was pure, but stained a dark unnerving red. Beyond that point, not an inch of space was left that wasn’t growing red lyrium. Lavellan didn’t know how long it took to grow, but before much longer the door would have been sealed shut forever, locking Varric inside to be eaten alive by the stone if he didn’t starve first.
The dwarf was examining papers in the center of the room, standing on a darkspawn corpse with the lyrium growing through it. The whole placed buzzed with magic and corruption, Cole’s presence fresh and reassuring against Lavellan’s back as she climbed cautiously over the slick and sloping crystals. “Varric.”
Varric Tethras turned around slowly, a fragment of what he once was. His eyes bulged out of dark craters in his gaunt face, the shadow of his sharp cheekbones hidden under his very overgrown beard. Lavellan thought for a moment that she might have mistaken someone else for one of her most treasured allies, until his voice croaked out, raspy but familiar, a laugh folded in like a habit. “Herald!” His sallow eyes went wide and when he spun to face her, he slipped on the glassy lyrium. She reached out and held onto him, sliding to her knees along with him.
“Now isn’t the time for a picnic in the deadly crystals please,” Dorian prodded, caring and anxious. “We have a perfect sunny day on the outside of this forgotten place.”
Iron Bull reached in over the lyrium to help out Lavellan, who in turn took Varric’s thin and fragile hand and guided him along. “You’re alive,” Varric said, his bloodshot eyes never leaving her face, even after the papers he’d been holding fell forgotten from his grasp. “What happened?”
“It is a very long story,” Lavellan told him, running her thumb over his knuckles and folding his hands between hers. “I would gladly tell you every grim bit of it if you’ll come back to camp with us. I know you love stories, but it’s not a very happy one.”
It took a beat before Varric looked back at the red lyrium. As if reading Lavellan’s mind Dorian and Iron Bull had moved swiftly in to cut off his retreat, although the lyrium was everywhere. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve gotten some real progress done down here, researching the red lyrium.” He smiled up at her, a stranger. “Hey, did you know that it’s just lyrium, with the blight? But it’s not like regular lyrium. It infests and grows using blighted blood.”
“No, I didn’t know that,” Lavellan said, tugging at Varric’s hand and guiding him toward the door. He followed her, with reluctance.
“It grows with unblighted blood, too. I tested it,” Varric told her, holding out his other arm and showing her the bloodstains. Underneath she was sure it would be marked with scars, scabs and infected wounds to match his smell of sweat and copper. He laughed, “you know, I never thought of myself as a scientist, but it’s been nice to do these things for myself. That way, I don’t have to worry about other people getting involved.” With that, he cast another look back at the red lyrium. “And the singing, ah… no, I really shouldn’t go anywhere. What if someone else finds…? What if…”
“I need you to come with me, Varric,” Lavellan said, commanding his attention by squeezing his hand. “I need you to come tell me all about it back at camp.”
With another step Varric crossed the threshold of the door and out into the deep roads of Valammar. Cole squeezed out behind him and scampered to Lavellan’s back, leaving Dorian in the doorway and Iron Bull behind him. His bony hand slipped out of Lavellan’s and he dashed hopelessly back toward the door. The sound he made, echoing out through the open chamber would invade all of their nightmares for weeks to come.
Varric thrashed and clawed and did everything he could to escape as Iron Bull hoisted him over his shoulder for the journey back to Ostagar. He struggled all he could with the strength of a plagued child. When his rage and desperation had ebbed, he sobbed over Iron Bull’s shoulder, tears streaming down his face.
“Shadows fall,” Lavellan sang, “and hope has fled. Steel your heart, the dawn will come.”
The stars were coming out, twinkling in the fading light of dusk. The few wispy clouds in the sky reflected back the green of the breach.
“The night is long, and the path is dark. Look to the sky for one day soon the dawn will come.”
“You have a lovely voice, Herald,” complimented Dorian. Varric had stopped sobbing.
“Thank you,” she replied. “But I don’t know the next part.”
“The shepard’s lost,” Dorian sang with a wink, “and her home is far. Keep to the stars, the dawn will come.”
“The night is long,” they sang together, “and the path is dark. Look to the sky for one day soon the dawn will come.”
“They were all called, but they didn’t want to. That’s just how it works. His brother went too, so he had to save him so he could save them all. There’s too much love there to let him go alone. Love and words and time and experience, that’s friendship. Unconditional. He had to protect him.”
“So…” Lavellan thought about Cole’s words, musing over the war table in Ostagar’s only standing building. “He was with Hawke?”
The best Iron Bull could offer was a sigh and an emphatic shrug. “He must have ended up on the other side after Haven fell. We couldn’t find a body so we figured he’d been taken into Redcliffe as hostage with the others. We couldn’t afford the hope or resources to scour for life, we had to regroup and save our forces.”
“You did well,” Lavellan nodded. “Maybe he’ll recuperate enough soon to tell us more about where he was before this, but I’m worried about Hawke.”
“Wherever the Champion of Kirkwall is, there’s no point in worrying about it,” Dorian said. “He was certainly not anywhere near that cave and Varric may have been there for months. There was no way he would have allowed what happened if he could.”
Lavellan stood with her eyes closed a moment. For Varric’s sake, she would ask about Hawke, but Dorian was right.
The patrols around Ostagar had left muddy trenches in the spring earth. Every inch of the surrounding sparse forest was known intimately by the inquisition soldiers, so Lavellan had no fear when she hopped to the wet grass on the other side. She had been unable to sleep and the sun was rising, cold and silver, making the shadows of the night stand out. It was getting warmer, and it felt good to feel the earth under her shoes and scamper lithely across smooth rock faces like when she was a child.
On the top of a sloping hill made jagged with the mud sloughing away from tree roots, Lavellan scampered up a bare oak tree and folded her feet beneath her to perch in the branches. To the south were the Kocari wilds, but she couldn’t see much with the canopy of trees, aside from the tall mountain ledges of the frostbacks to the west.
A trail of smoke in the east, not far from Ostagar, marked signs of life. She wondered if it was a new arrival, or a presence that the Inquisition had known, but hadn’t felt worth mentioning. Lavellan felt for the staff at her back and made a choice. The camp would be waking up soon. Her absence would not go unnoticed for long. If there was danger they would already be prepared for it.
Lavellan slid out of the tree and began into the Wilds, feeling renewed by the wilderness around her. She climbed into the trees now and then to check her course and the source of the smoke, but within an hour she had arrived at a small hut by a lake. By that time the smoke had thinned and became impossible to track. Lavellan held her staff in front of her and approached the hut.
The door opened before she could reach it, startling both Lavellan and the woman who had walked out into her. She was remarkably beautiful with jet black hair parted to reveal one amber eye that scowled at Lavellan.
“It’s about time,” she said. “Herald of Andraste. Do you have a habit of making people wait?”
“I’m sorry, do I know you?” Lavellan lowered her staff, but held it firmly.
“No,” she said, “but I know you.” The woman was dressed as a flamboyant parody of an apostate mage, leather skirts and scarlet hood, tiny revealing shirt that didn’t have much to hide, her shoulder decorated with feathers and an elaborate golden collar. She closed the door of the hut behind her and came out to speak. “I am Morrigan. Two years ago I was the magic advisor to Empress Celene, when the name of the Inquisition lingered in every ear. I do not care much of Andraste or her Heralds but I am no fool. The downfall of everything hinged on the day that you disappeared.” Morrigan’s amber eye scanned Lavellan. “And here you are. Were the theories true, then? Was the pressure too much for you? Did you abandon your duties?”
“No,” Lavellan shook her head. “There was magic at work.”
“Magic is always at work, Herald.” Morrigan crossed her arms and gazed at Lavellan with intensity, making her feel like a stupid child. “Please, elaborate.”
“Time magic,” she said, and watched Morrigan’s eyes widen. “Experimental time magic. We were sent forward in time, and the amulet which was used as a catalyst was destroyed.”
Morrigan hesitated, peering at Lavellan’s face. “You are not lying,” she said slowly. “And still, ‘tis a very lofty claim. I… would rather not think long on it. Come with me.”
Morrigan moved back to the hut and held the door open for Lavellan to follow. The tiny one-roomed house had a fireplace at the foot of the bed, bright with embers of a dying fire. On top of the carefully made bed were three triangular shards of glass laying on a gray scarf, the largest piece as long as Lavellan’s arm. She gazed at them, expecting something to be reflected there, but it was nothing but a stone.
“Perhaps you know something about this,” Morrigan spoke, moving to Lavellan’s side, and picking up the smallest shard. “These are the broken pieces of an Eluvian, an object used for powerful, forgotten elven magic. Do you know it?”
Lavellan gazed hard at the shards as she searched her memory. The warm wisdom of her keeper seemed so long ago. The word meant seeing glass, but other than that she could remember nothing. She shook her head.
“‘Tis just as well,” said Morrigan, as she placed the Eluvian shard into Lavellan’s palm. “Clearly this one is broken, as many other Eluvians have been since the days of the elves, but the power within is incredibly strong. If the amulet that took you here is one of these, I cannot say, but I know the Eluvian. Its power is in bending reality and gaining access to otherwise unreachable places.” She closed Lavellan’s hand around the shard. “This is what you need.”
Lavellan peered into Morrigan’s face. “Who are you?” She asked. “How do you know?”
“I suppose that you could say a little bird told me,” Morrigan replied, “an elven man in the woods, what seemed a chance encounter as I fled Orlais.” She turned to the bed and folded the remaining shards back into the scarf. “Twas over a year ago. This was the message he asked me to bring you. A fool’s errand. I had other things to do than wait around on the remains of a once promising force.” She sighed and slipped the shards, snug, into a small backpack. “What he told me was true, although I did not see it then that things had gone so awry. That this world itself had become an abomination.” She met Lavellan’s eyes. “People use that word for all sorts of things, carelessly, but this… time magic… truly is an abomination and all there is will very soon be sucked through to the fade like water spills from a broken glass.”
Lavellan nodded. “So there is no hope for this time?”
“There will always be hope, so long as there are men and women who are fools,” she replied with bitterness. “There are remarkable people in this world but I truly believe that things could continue without them. There is something else you needed to take back, perhaps the knowledge of what happened here is enough. You no longer have the leisure to consider the mistakes.” Morrigan hoisted her backpack over her shoulder and stared pointedly at Lavellan. “You’ve wasted all the time you can. ‘Tis time to act.” With that, she weaved around the Herald to the door and Lavellan followed her out into the daylight. “Let us meet again, under different circumstances.”
With a puff of smoke, Morrigan became a crow and took to the sky, disappearing over the treetops. Lavellan looked at the stone in her hand, still expecting to see her face in it, but all that was reflected was the green glow of the breach.
“I can feel it,” Dorian gasped, the Eluvian shard heavy in his hands. “I can feel the magic in it like a part in the veil. She was right, this should work!” He spun to Lavellan, his eyes bright with hope. “We’ll have to be careful. It might be too powerful, we might go back too far or go somewhere else entirely, but there’s so much of it,” he ran his hand down the front of the stone. “If something goes wrong, we can just try again, and get things just right, and get back to a time when we can salvage this.”
“It ate people,” said Cole. “Swallowed them up and they didn’t know what happened. Tamlen, he died, and the other one left. She hears the voices now. She never forgot.”
Lavellan crouched on the floor with Cole and took his cold chin into her warm hands and kissed him on the cheek. “Thank you, Cole. You saved me.”
Cole blinked. “Thank you.”
“We shouldn’t waste time,” Dorian said, sweeping his overshirt on. “We have a few chances to try it and balance things out, with an amulet made for displacement. I’ll just have to balance the trajectory, and then we’ll bury its evidence so no one can use this power.”
“You’ll save them. You’ll save them from the future where everything hurts.”
“We will,” Lavellan said. “We’ll get back to when you needed help, and we’ll help you.”
“That’s okay,” said Cole. “I’ll be waiting.”
Lavellan thought a moment that she might need to say goodbye to Varric, Krem, Harding or Iron Bull, but in a moment all of this would be undone. Better than a hug and a reminder of their mistakes, they could go and give them the true gift of what they need. A better life.
“Are you ready?” Dorian asked, taking her hand.
“You are remarkable,” said Lavellan.
“Of course I am,” the amulet hummed, it’s power running through Dorian and through her bones. He winked and the spell snatched her breath, and they were gone.