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Taking Less Than You Need

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The Emerald Graves was filled with noise, but noise that made everything seem silent. The noises of birds chirping and small animals skittering on the ground were welcomed with the occasional bustle of the trees. Ara was perched on one of the tall oak trees that rooted into the soil. The soft chirps the nugs made when running around on the terrain below made the forest more serene than it should.

Ara was continuously jerking awake throughout the entire night. She was concerned what would happen if she entered the fade, and even more so if someone or something crept up on her earthly body. Each time her eyes became heavier with the weight of sleep, each time harder to stay awake than the last. Beside her sat a staff and a bow she crafted when she was still with the Inquisition. Ara had learned that magic wasn’t always the best tool to fight with. An arrow was quiet and deadly and would draw less attention than bolts of lightning and shards of ice. Sera had given her a few pointers on how to use a bow, but her instructions were as clear as a thunderstorm cloud. Ara crafted the bow after her clan was wiped out, a symbol of remembrance. It was made of ironbark and engraved in it was the usual story of Fen’Harel and his betrayal of the other gods. Ara had mixed feelings about the stories told of Fen’Harel after assuming the position of Inquisitor. Stories may be told of her that would be far from the truth when everyone who lived through Coryphaeus’ plan was long dead. Her motives in choosing the engraving were out of custom rather than desire.

            The sun peaked over the curve of Thedas, allowing Ara to let her muscles relax. She was the lone wolf once more, just like when she was in the clan. Ara was not anti-social but never felt strong bonds between any of her clan-mates. She frequently lived her weeks in the forest on a tree branch just like she was doing even now. The Inquisition had been different, everyone seemed to have the desire to follow her through any battle, and more friendships were built in Skyhold than any time in her life. But since the dangers of the world had been resolved, at least for a time, Ara went back to where she felt most comfortable, the forest. She was tracking slavers, rogue Templars, renegade mages, and everything in between. Contracts would be completed, but there was no one to claim the reward. Ara had become something of a legend and even appearing in cities had become a difficulty for her. Everyone wanted to meet the Herald of Andraste, the slayer of Corypheous, but she just wanted to be a lone elf, wanted to be Nehnan’Ara.

            Her targets were approaching; Templars who still held grudges against the freedom Ara had given to the mages. The red Templars had no coerce in Thedas any longer, without a leader they crumbled and without a source of Red Lyrium, they died out. No, these Templars were not part of that faction, but that didn’t make them any less of a threat to the mages.

The lot of them wore black armor with a darker Templar enigma on the breastplate. Their helmets were more customized than that of other Templars Ara had seen throughout the Graves. They were the same black iron that the rest of their mail was made out of except they were covered in spikes of lyrium, glowing blue and brightly especially when the sun glimmered on the crystals. The leader was walking in the pinnacle position of the group, right in the middle. Two Templars on all his sides making for a total sum of nine highly trained warriors Ara had to defeat.

            Sleep still pressed down on Ara’s shoulders as she continued to think of a plan to wipe out the Templars. Self-consciously grabbing her bow, Ara strung an arrow and pointed it at one of the Templars heads.  The horse-hair became more and more tense the harder Ara pulled back on the string. The arrow parted the air with a ‘whisp’ noise trailing from behind. One Templar tried to regain his balance before his body collapsed to the ground, an arrow in his forehead. Ara threw her cloak over her head, and drew energy from the fade to become invisible. She skidded down the tree, bark eating through her thin cloak, until her feet hit slammed the ground. A small ‘clink’ sounded from the ground as Ara had landed.

She frantically grasped at her neck and then chest to confirm her suspicion at what had made the sound.  “Why does everything have to be green?” Ara whispered angrily under her breath as she pawed for the lost object. Seconds seemed to turn into hours, the pendant was surely lost. It was a pendant that was a gift Solas had given her, said to wear around her neck, for then all the People would protect her. The Templars were searching for their companion’s assassin, which gave Ara time to pass her fingers through the blades of glass to find the necklace.  Her fingers came upon a cool feeling of metal; she tugged at it until the intertwined necklace came free of the mess of shrub. Ara’s breathing began to become more rhythmic and relaxed. She leaned against the base of the tree and cupped her ear to listen more intently to the Templars. They were still rummaging through the bushes, searching the sky and dark corners that the forest still bore.  Ara pulled the bow that was slung over her shoulder out of its position and began to search for another Templar as a target. She peered around the thick trunk only for one of the Templars to catch an eye of her.

            “Sonuvabitch! A knife-ear?” the Templar exclaimed as he picked his shield off of his back. Ara’s eyes froze into place, her hand grasping for her staff. Fenhedis, it’s up in the tree still. She thought as she laced another arrow into the bow. The Templar blocked the arrow and continued to charge at Ara. She whisked around only to find more Templars coming after her with swords, and a few others behind drawing from their lyrium. Ara called upon the anchor to allow herself to use its power to avoid her complete slaughter. It didn’t work. The Templars were drawing too much magic from their deposits of lyrium. Ara pushed herself off the ground and started running, only to meet her killer. The giant Templar, obviously who had taken too much lyrium, stood in front of her and pushed her to the ground. Ara couldn’t call upon any magic to save her, she looked up, paralyzed. The sword the Templar was carrying was slowly coming towards her and with that,

Ara’s mind went black.