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The Mighty May Fall

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She rose to her feet and pulled back the string of her bow. Focused. Calm. Fingers holding under the strain with ease, proof of her skill. She would fight this beast if necessary.

Blood red scales glinted in the light of the fire, piercing eyes burning a hole in her chest, shifting into a maddened glare at the sight of the green glow in her clenched palm.

"Pretender! You toy with forces beyond your ken, no more!" he snarled, his voice carried an authority that made her uneasy, but she could not waver.

"Whatever you are creature, I do not fear you!" her anger frothed and rose to the surface, pushing against the final confines of its will-bound cup.

He walked silently, shrouded in the misshapen flow of the fade. They did not see him. But he saw them. The creature was truly unlike anything he had ever seen. The dragon too. Red lyrium infused into their bodies, skin stretched like leather over metal, worn by the ages. Deformed. Misshapen. Wrong. All of this was just...wrong. How did it survive? How had it not yet turned to nought but emerald embers? Nothing had gone to plan. Even her. Mahogany hair that shone as golden shadows flitted across it. Pale eyes, wise yet young. She shouldn't have been involved...but nothing had gone to plan anyway. She was a by-product of a delayed plan and the schemes of a madman (though he was yet to decide whom that meant).

It strode forward. She could feel the vibrations from the fade, twisting and pulling in her palm. Her hands faltered momentarily, the twinged of pain trying to distract her. Its lips quirked into a knowing grin, pleased with her discomfort.

"I am not afraid, words mortals often hurl at the darkness, once they were mine, they are always lies" he lifted a hand "know me, know what you have pretended to be" a growl seemed to echo in the hollow of his chest "exalt the Elder One! The will that is Corypheus! You will kneel!"

"Never again shall we submit!" she roared, releasing bolt after bolt, a rage-fuelled snarl claimed her lips. He chuckled, swiping a clawed hand and swatting away her seemingly feeble attack.

"You will resist, you will always resist, it matters not" she thought she heard a hint of exasperation, but she knew that was probably her being hopeful. Then he brought it forward.

'Does she truly hope to stand against him? When he wields the foci?' he thought to himself, curious and intrigued. G'hanni refused to back down.

His eyes rested on the foci, the orb of black and green, as it glowed in the hand of the beast. Though while he was outraged at the misuse, he was glad to see it again, to have it almost in reach. Yet it was still so far away. He wasn't strong enough to reclaim it from the tainted hands...yet.

The orb flared with red light, the air changing around it, tainted, sick.

"I am here for the Anchor, the process of removing it, begins now" an outstretched hand was engulfed by the strange red lightning and she winced. Runed bow falling to the ground as her hand lifted to meet his, the flickering green light sparked and flared, distorting as it tried to pry itself away from her skin. "It is your fault Herald, you interrupted a ritual years in the planning...and instead of dying, you stole its purpose" she glared as it flared once more, holding her hand steady she refused to break eye contact with this...Corypheus. The hidden elf watched closely, impressed that she did not submit, that she stood against the creature; though he also saw it as reckless, a needless sacrifice. "I do not know how you survived, but what marks you as touched, what you flail at rifts...I crafted to assault the very Heavens!".

A clawed fist clenched and she fell to her knees, screaming as a searing pain shot up her arm, as though a dagger pierced her palm.

The creature prattled on, expressing his distain, though she couldn't care.

"What is this thing meant to do?" she shouted, raising her voice above the sound of her beating heart and the crackling of the fire. He was swift in his approach, the ground trembling beneath his feet until he towered over her. Corypheus wrapped a long-fingered hand around her thin wrist, lifting her off the ground until she was almost level with him.

'She must get free. She cannot fail in her battle. I must reclaim the foci! I will not fail again'.

She kicked out, flailing as she hung in the air. His eyes bore into her, fierce and angry. Her glowing hand flickered and twitched, green flame flaring from her palm. The beasts eyes widened and her threw her, a roar of fury escaping his lips. Her head hit the wooden frame of the trebuchet and she groaned, slowly rising to her feet, her vision blurry and head pounding as she reeled from the impact.

"It is permanent! Corrupted by your stumbling!" his voice sent a shiver of fear through her, but she steeled herself none-the-less, knowing that she couldn't give in. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the firing mechanism, knowing that if this was going to end, it had to be now. "No matter, you will die!" his clawed hand outstretched, red embers rising from his finger tips. G'hanni stood her ground, flicking her ponytail over her shoulder and bracing herself, a hand reaching to the small of her back and to the blade that she kept there.

"You talk too much!" and with a grin, she leaped, throwing her dagger to distract him, while her feet collided with the mechanism. The trebuchet fired with a solid frame, the ground shaking beneath her feet. Rock and boulder flew through the air. Mountains trembled, a blanket of snow and ice descending with fervour. The hidden elf appeared, catching her off guard "Solas?!" he ran towards her, grabbing her hand in his own and dragging her from the platform as the avalanche reached them. With strained voices they cried out, narrowly escaping the wave as they fell through broken wood and into an old cavern.

*****

His arms wrapped around her as they fell into darkness, the way above covered by wood and snow. They were trapped. She saw the ground rapidly approaching and wrapped herself around him, turning so she'd take the brunt.

Thud. The two elves hit the ground with an agonised groan, the air knocked from her lungs.

"G'Hanni!" he gasped, lifting her when he realised she'd used herself to soften the blow. Carefully he moved off of her, his palms glowing a pale green as he checked her for injuries. She writhed softly beside him, her brow furrowed as she whinced. His hands moved with a trained finesse, slowly soothing the areas that needed it. She looked up at him through tear-glazed eyes. He'd never noticed the shade of them before. Amongst the shrouded darkness of the cave, they were a rich violet, not unlike the colour of a sky kissed by early morn'.

'It's beautiful...'

He shook the thought from his mind, remembering her roots to her people, but...also her intelligence, her tenacity, her endearing curiosity... When he refocused, she was looking up at him with glassy eyes and parted lips, her hand was partially outstretched, her slender fingers reached in drowsy intrigue. She traced the tattoo that graced his plump bottom lip, her eyes were focused and her face held the essence of innocence, but there was a subtle yearning behind the action that caught him off-guard.

Her violet eyes drifted to the scars that graced his cheek and claimed half of his upper lip. He could see the question hanging on her lips, but she dared not ask it.

Why are you here?