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The Storm That Breaks the Tree

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Strength - of character, of body and of mind, that is what defines the Seeker Pentaghast. When the Divine was murdered at the Conclave, there were few flaws in her public persona - stern, forbidding and angry but oh how she grieved in private, her suffering shared in quiet with the left hand - they are very different, the Seeker of Truth and the Keeper of Secrets, but they are united in mourning even as the writ that forms the Inquisition is slammed onto the war table. She is strong, she has purpose and she will not waver.

(An oak tree, not yet so old and not yet so young stands in a garden, a fixture in the lawn that provides the comfort of shade and the power of sturdy branches to encourage others to grow. In its leaves nestle coupled birds, singing mating duets - there is softness amongst the rough bark and strong wood.)

The Seekers were her purpose and her truth - she is shocked and horrified when their Lord denies her, more so when she discovers the reality, a true truth that cannot be denied. The corruption has spread and her apprentice (she’d deny to her last breath that he felt more like a younger brother or Maker forbid a son)… It does not break her, though tears are held within eyes as she gives one last gift, a final mercy with whispered words “go to the Maker’s side, Daniel, you will be welcome”

(The storm gathers - the tree does not fear it has weathered storms before. This one begins with wind - some leaves fall but the tree is still unmoved. Rain falls - fast and hard like tears in a silent bedroom when midnight chimes. The tree is soaked, and more leaves fall, some branches crack, but the heartwood is strong and remains.)

This is a family - oddly shaped, true and with members she tolerates rather than loves but even toleration is warmer than the place she grew up in. Swords and shields have always held a fascination - for the girl it was in the beauty of steel and the freedom fighting represented and for the woman it was the softness of romance written in well worn pages, read by candlelight. They fight, survive, change, grow and fall into love until everyone thought it was over - the next Divine is not her calling she knows, and her heart picks up tempo at the thought of what comes next.

(Spring brings renewal - a hope to the tree as new branches grow and old ones strengthen in a manner similar to muscles well trained and well looked after. There’s a fragility to the peace of the garden that makes it all the more precious)

And then everything comes crashing down - a fight against a former friend that takes years and spies and battles fiercer than those against the high dragons. It is on a battlefield when it happens, she sees him fall in seemingly slow motion and races as fast as one can when one is fighting for her life towards the body of her lover. A bubble of peace forms and when she looks her heart breaks, shattered into pieces because she is veteran enough to know when wounds are a slow death sentence.

It falls to her then as it did years before to offer the one gift she can, and there’s a smile on his face though the pain is clear as are the tinges of red - faint but there. She kneels, her sword grasped in shaking hands, and her words whisper over his skin in a final caress “go to the Maker’s side, Varric, you will be welcome - wait for me there.” It is done in a single motion and when she turns back to the battle her fury is stunning, turning the tide.

(It is the summer storms, unexpected and powerful - full of crackling electricity that splits the grand oak in two. It survives but will never again be whole, still it is a shelter and it is still beautiful)

Her forefathers hunted dragons; she is on a quest for a different beast. Cassandra Allegra Wolf-Slayer Pentaghast. It has a nice ring to it, she thinks as she shoulders a crossbow that could one day take down a god.