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The Inquisitor is a primal force, one unleashed onto the world each time she shrugs her shield off of her back. Stopping her is impossible; slowing her is improbable; the best a foe can hope for is to delay her assault. For each bone-jarring blow she takes, she returns the favor twice over. The first time Solas sees her fight, he's too distracted by the demons to observe these small details. He barely glimpses her mouth twisting with contempt after an enemy slaps her across the face with an attack. Her teeth are bared in a silent, bloodied snarl by the time the rift snaps shut.

When Haven falls and they watch her meet Corypheus through spyglasses from afar, he sees the snarl return again. She doesn't flinch from the magister's twisted face, even as she's held up, dangling, by one arm. The hand that contains the Anchor curls into a fist above the darkspawn's claws, her free hand clamping onto his wrist. The sharp metal points of her gauntlet dig in hard, cruelty answering cruelty.

They're sharp enough that the metal tips gleam with dark, tainted blood when she's flung away. Solas realizes as he watches that she doesn't care how low her odds of survival are. She never has, and all the little hints crash into the back of his mind as he observes, helpless, from a distance. Her fearlessness is not bravado... it's pure resignation.

The contempt is back on her face as she picks herself up again, and a burning arrow launches into the sky from behind Solas as he watches. Solas has seen Corypheus before; it's the Inquisitor he focuses on as contempt turns into mockery. She gives the monster a mocking half-bow, sword wide out at her side, before kicking the trebuchet's crank free and running. Solas doesn't see her fall into the tunnels below, his view is blocked by rushing snow and mantling dragon wings.

He thinks she must be even more surprised than they are that she survives, and that she manages to stumble after them until they spot her. He sits beside her in her tent after, tending her wounds while she sleeps, bone-deep exhaustion having won the battle against her wishes. The broken bones and internal bruising tells him how she survived the avalanche. Even though she seems to have warmed up, he still piles several extra furs onto her before he leaves.

Solas pays closer attention to her in combat, after she leads the Inquisition to Skyhold. Rage demons zero in on the Inquisitor faster than any other kind, he notices. She says she doesn't mind it, when he points it out; she wants them on her, instead of on the rest of them. She's the one who can take the hits, take the burning, take the pain, and not falter. Her eyes are often so hard and so cold, and this conversation is no exception. The deep blue of those eyes only ever seems to catch the starlight, framed by the thorns of Elgar'nan's vallaslin, and her own old, twisted scars.

She welcomes the burning, he's certain of it. It may be the only thing that can cut through the frost in her eyes.

Or so he thinks, for a time.