Chapter 1: Acantha, Friend of Red Jenny
Acantha sat in a corner of the bar, red hood over her face. She was waiting. For a letter. Acantha heard a cloak near her shift. She felt the smooth texture of paper slip under her fingers. This was it. She waited for five minutes before standing and leaving. Once she was out of the musty tavern, she walked at a good clip. Acantha smiled when she reached her destination. She flipped her hood up again, so her face rested in shadow. Acantha pushed open the door.
"Message?" A voice asked. Acantha nodded. She held out the unopened letter. A hand took it, and the figure bowed. "The Inquisition thanks you." The figure left. Acantha waited for a couple minutes before leaving the building. She dropped her hood again and stretched, raising her arms in the air. Acantha was glad she wasn't part of the Inquisition. She loved helping out, but the Inquisition seemed so formal.
It was probably interesting, but not really her thing. Acantha pushed open the door to her small house. She had bought it with money stolen from a noble, and that fact made her smile every time she pushed open the door. The Inquisitor was an interesting character. Tharanil, right? Well, it didn't matter. Acantha wasn't part of the Inquisition, she was a Friend of Red Jenny.
She was also very tired. Acantha flopped onto her worn bed. She quickly fell asleep, but not for long. The sun had risen, and was trying it's best to blind her through the thin, moth-eaten curtains that hung limply from Acantha's windows. Mumbling curses at the sun, Acantha sat up. She rubbed her eyes. Wow that sun was bright.
Like always, the first thing Acantha did in the morning was take out her small bag of money and count. Mostly to see if she had enough for breakfast. It was a good day today. She might even have enough to eat at a decent restaurant, instead of getting mystery breakfast from the nearest tavern. For such a proud city, bearing many nobles, there were a lot of dingy bars. Where there were rich, there would be poor. Acantha sighed, standing up and pocketing the money. She was dressed simply in trousers and a shirt with her favorite red cloak on her shoulders. Acantha left her house, fantasizing about the meal she was about to be treated to.
Acantha didn't get very far. A thick crowd blocked her way. Acantha did her best to peer over the crowd to no avail. She slipped into the shadows and appeared on the nearest and lowest roof. A fight seemed to have broken out. On the streets of Val Royeaux, one might think that fights were rare. Not true. In the poorer sectors, fights broke out all the time. Normally, Acantha would have thought nothing of this, but this fight had drawn a much bigger crowd. Something was obviously going on. There was only two people fighting, and one looked like they were completely on the defensive. Acantha squinted at the fight, trying to get a better look.
Acantha soon realized what was going on. One of the people involved in the fight, well, more like a duel, was an Inquisition scout.
Chapter 2: Isolda, Inquisition Scout
Isolda's day plan did not include being attacked on the streets. She parried each blow, but never struck. Isolda's rapier flashed before her, blocking the much weightier sword of her opponent. A crowd had formed around them in a circle, leaving Isolda no escape. Things were looking pretty bleak. Isolda raised her tiring arm to block another blow, but a dagger beat her.
Not just a dagger, and entire person had just landed in the middle of the fight. Isolda pulled back her weapon in a defensive stance, taking a step back so she could clearly see what was going on. A person in a red cloak was engaging Isolda's opponent. The person looked like a duel dagger wielder, and they were doing quite well. Too well. Isolda's opponent wasn't looking too good. Isolda was about to step in when her opponent fell, lifeless. Isolda sighed.
The crowd dispersed, and the person in the red cloak turned towards Isolda. They flipped down their hood and held out their hand. "Name's Acantha." Isolda shook Acantha's hand.
"Isolda." Isolda greeted. She remembered something about Acantha meaning 'thorn'. "I must thank you for intervening." Isolda began. "But killing was not necessary."
Acantha shrugged, sheathing her daggers. The weapons made a humming sound as they entered the sheaths. "Eh. I like sending messages." Acantha smiled, then turned to face Isolda. "If that's all?"
Isolda did need to be getting back, but Acantha clearly had skill. "Actually, I do have to leave. I was wondering if you would like to join me?" Isolda offered.
Acantha tilted her head. "Where are you going?" Acantha seemed skeptical, her dark blue eyes narrowed, and her arms crossed.
"The Inquisition." Isolda said. There was no point lying. Acantha sighed. "Does that mean no?" Isolda said, raising an eyebrow. Acantha fidgeted, tugging on her black-blue hair.
"No." Acantha said. Isolda turned to leave. "I mean, well," Isolda glanced over her shoulder. "It didn't mean no." Isolda waited, a smile barely concealed on her face. "Well, I, uh, yes?" Acantha finished, and it sounded almost like a question. Isolda's smile grew, and she nodded.
"Then follow me."
Chapter 3: Acantha, Inquisition Scout?
Isolda opened the doors and Acantha stepped through them. Why had she agreed again? Hadn't she, just yesterday, said something about never joining the Inquisition? Was that irony or hypocrisy? Did it really matter? Was this just a spiral of questions in an effort to ignore what was happening right now? Acantha glanced at the sky in a quick and silent prayer to the Maker.
"Right this way," Isolda said, gesturing for Acantha to fall into step beside her.
"I already help the Inquisition out, you know? I really don't need to be made into a formal Inquisition scout, actually," Acantha said.
Isolda smirked, and Acantha had to do a double take. "No one said you would become an Inquisition scout." Acantha opened her mouth, face strife with confusion, but Isolda continued. "After all, not just everyone can join the Inquisition. You will be tested."
Acantha wrinkled her nose. "Of course I can pass whatever test you throw at me!"
Isolda stopped and turned suddenly. "Naturally. I take that as an invitation for your initiation." Isolda gestured to the wall behind her, which had several targets set up. "I see you use daggers. Can you throw them?" A quick nod from Acantha and Isolda continued. "You will demonstrate your skills. We can then move onto dummies and practice duels."
Acantha nodded. Isolda watched over her tests of skill, along with another Inquisition scout. After a few days of testing her different abilities, Acantha was blindsided by Isolda waking her up at the crack of dawn and informed her that they were traveling to Skyhold. "I'm sorry?"
"Skyhold. Tharanil believes in having every official member of the Inquisition approved by herself or at least someone else in her inner circle if she isn't available. So, get up. We're leaving now," Isolda said. "We've prepared a horse for you, you do know how to ride, right?"
"Not... exactly?" Acantha said, struggling to shake the sleep from her brain.
"Then you'll learn on the road. Come on!"