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The Lost Age - An Introduction

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A Cloudreach shower was spread across Val Royeaux causing Les Portes Ouvertes to be filled with new customers hiding from the rain, on top of the regulars and their friends. The bouncers all looked harried, and the bar workers more so. Rocky had slipped out back to have some water and a lie down, Matilda actually had a queue around her, several people were asking after Dorian and Isabela who were booked up for the rest of the evening. It was a fairly typical busy weekend except for one detail - Ivy Amell (a semi-regular) was sat at the bar doing shot after shot with Morrigan (a very much not regular.) A few people shot worried glances their way and there was a space around the pair, despite the fact people were crammed into every available space. Everyone knew she was the Empress's pet apostate, no one quite knew where she came from. There were rumours she was a runaway Magister from Tevinter, other rumours she was a Chasind witch, and then their was the most common one that people believed the most but also dismissed the most - she was a Witch of the Wilds and daughter of the infamous Flemeth. No one dared ask her directly and Ivy Amell was scary enough in her own right - she had escaped the Circle and no one quite knew how, there were rumours she was a Grey Warden. She wouldn't be the first Circle Mage who joined them then left, nor would she be the first to escape the Calling. If she didn't destroy you outright, her connections were terrifying enough. She was the mistress of Cullen Rutherford - Templar and priest. The both them had a direct connection to Nara Cadash - head of the Cadash family, but Cullen was in charge of taking care of people... In a very different way from Les Portes Ouvertes. So the fact that both Ivy and Morrigan were having shots, giggling and having a heart-to-heart at the bar was considered both strange and terrifying. The employees were being professional but even they were wary and confused. Morrigan and Ivy, however, knowing they were no threat to anyone unless they chose to be, they found this hilarious. They didn't normally do this sort of thing it's true but they both needed a break from two very different things.

"So," Morrigan began, grimacing from the sudden hit of tequila and attempting to gracefully suck on the provided lime. "Is their any reason why you can't just... leave?" She asked with raised eyebrows. It was a simple question but loaded and hard to ask, it was one she wanted to say for a while but was never sure if she should. Now her inhibitions have been lowered it was a lot easier. Ivy flung her head back, Morrigan steadied her to stop her falling off the rickety bar stool.

"Where would I go? What would I do? Do you know how far his reach is? I'd never be able to escape," she said gesturing to the barman for another round of shots. "Besides, I don't really want to." They fell silent as the 30 year old bar woman with soft, fair hair came over. Flissa was the one who had taken their orders repeatedly. She'd been around the Adaar twins for as long as she could remember, she could handle the two apostates and she trust the bouncers. Plus it wasn't like they didn't have any of their own apostate around. As soon as she left the continued talking in hushed, slurred tones.

"You're clever and brave. You wouldn't need to hide and you could evade them. Go to North Thedas maybe? Tevinter, perhaps? Not Par Vollen, rather dangerous for women like us." Ivy poured the salt on Morrigan's thumb and she copied her. They crossed arms and licked each others thumbs after they took another shot of tequila... which neither of them liked very much but it served it's purpose.

"I -" Ivy hesitated. "I don't want to, I don't want to be hunted. Plus, I love him and I love what I do." Morrigan raised her eyebrows, and clumsily learnt on her best friend's shoulder. She pouted slightly and Ivy laughed, kissing her on the forehead. "Well, I'm learning to," Ivy admitted wrapping her arms around Morrigan. After a moments silence, Ivy spoke up again. "Can I stay with you tonight?" She whispered, Morrigan leant back and smiled understandingly.

"Of course, Kieran would love to see his Auntie," Morrigan smiled. "Max isn't home yet so I could use the company."

"Thank you," Ivy said quietly. "I miss my brother," she finished, resting her head on the bar. Morrigan stroked Ivy's hair understandingly.

"Me too, Ives, me too."

Not to far away from the pair Dorian Pavus was wrapping himself around a pole, moving his limbs in ways that seemed impossible. Kaeto Adaar, watched him from afar, leaning against the wall silently daring any of his admirers to touch or harm him. His eyes flitted across Dorian's smooth, bare, brown legs, and his artfully ruffled black hair to the middle-aged, shady looking men around him. The drunken, old customer was often the type to cop a feel (usually the male ones) so Kaeto stayed alert - he probably should've been keeping an eye on the other dancers too but he wasn't a regular bouncer here. He was just helping out and it was surprisingly different from his regular work as a mercenary/bodyguard. That being said, he had an idea of what the customers were like and the old men weren't dangerous. Creepy? Yes. Were regularly thrown out for harassing people who they didn't pay to harass? Yes. Likely to hurt Dorian on purpose? No. The one who Kaeto was most curious about was the younger man who was staring at him with a bored almost angry expression, he had asked Matilda if it was okay to ask him to leave - she had said since he hadn't done anything, no. In theory they were allowed to refuse service to anyone but for practical reasons they tried not to enforce this rule very often. However, Matilda's added "but keep an eye on him" told Kaeto all he needed to know. He wasn't being overprotective and neither was his paranoia tricking him: there was something wrong with this guy. Problem was he had yet to do anything but sit there and watch - he'd get closer but Dorian would be irritated. A bouncer by a podium would stop people gathering around it and that would mean less money for the dancer. Dorian appreciated Kaeto's efforts and understood he was worried but "Maker, I can take care of myself," he'd insist. It was true, Dorian was more than capable... Didn't stop Kaeto worrying though. He jumped when he was brought back to reality by a sudden presence at his elbow.

"How's it going, Adaar?" Krem asked tiredly sipping a bottle of the house brewed beer. Kaeto shrugged.

"Okay, I guess. Hey," he said nudging Krem and gesturing towards Dorian. "Do you know that guy? The blonde guy with the ponytail in the corner?" Their corner of the club was dark but Kaeto could make out Krem's grimace.

"Not by name but-" Krem hesitated. "The Chief's been keeping a watch on him, apparently he's been hanging around outside a lot particularly when Dorian's around. Don't think he's ever been inside though." Kaeto stared at Krem for a moment intently.

"What does Bull know about him?" Kaeto asked, blood was rushing to his skin and he could feel his scalp heating up. He took a deep breath to disguise the fact his breathing was becoming difficult.

"He didn't tell me much," Krem continued. "What I do know is he's from Tevinter and is very interested in Dorian, in a bad way." Kaeto patted Krem on the shoulder before setting off towards the podium.

"Thanks, man," Kaeto called over his shoulder whilst Krem stood their. Everyone around them could see the anger in Kaeto's shoulders and Krem wondered if he had in fact made a mistake in telling Kaeto all of this. This was confirmed when he saw Kaeto stand directly behind the man and start a conversation that didn't look too friendly.

"Keep looking forward and pretend we're having a friendly chat," Kaeto whispered, just loud enough for the blonde man to hear. His right hand gripped the blonde man's shoulder tightly, his left went down to his revolver just in case but he didn't think he'd need it. It was more of a security thing. When the man didn't turn around, Kaeto knew he had him. "What you're going to do is precisely a minute after I walk away you will stand up, and walk towards the entrance, you will go outside turn to your left and take three steps into the nearest alley. You will wait for me there. Take a sip of your drink for yes, have your head slammed in to the podium repeatedly until blood comes out of your eye sockets for no." The man didn't hesitate to take a sip of his cider and Kaeto patted him on the shoulder before walking away. He didn't look back to see if he was following him, he walked towards the door and waited under the grand staircase just next to the entrance with Rocky.

"Nice night, huh?" Rocky grunted as Kaeto stood next to him.

"Your telling me," Kaeto said with a sigh.

"Chief wouldn't like it you know," Rocky said suddenly. Kaeto looked at him sideways. "You probably know that."

"I don't know what you mean," Kaeto said with a smirk.

"Seriously," Rocky turned to him and for a second the worried stare made Kaeto forget he only came up to his elbow. "The Chief has been looking into this guy for a long time, there's-"

"Rocky," Kaeto interrupted running his hand through his long dreadlocks. "I'm not gonna kill him, I'm not even gonna touch him," he said in hushed tones. "I just want him not to hurt Dorian." Rocky nodded sympathetically.

"I get that, and the Chief will to. He-" Rocky hesitated. "He cares about you both a lot and-" He stopped.

"And what?" Kaeto pressed, this was all sound vaguely ominous.

"I think there might be a reason you found out from Krem and not him. I don't think he wanted you to know."

"Did he say that?" Kaeto said suddenly, slightly annoyed.

"No," Rocky replied, choosing his words carefully. He understood Kaeto's annoyance, he'd be irritated too. "But I get the impression he doesn't hide things from the both of you." Kaeto's expression shifted from annoyed to a little hurt.

"I -" Kaeto hesitated, he didn't really know what he wanted to say or what he wanted to hear. "Do you know why?" He asked, trying not to sound like a pleading child.

"I think it's just as simple as he doesn't want to worry either of you." Kaeto nodded and turned towards the entrance - at that moment a conveniant stop to this conversation occured. The blonde man headed out the door, throwing up the hood of his dark jacket. Kaeto didn't say goodbye to Rocky and followed the Blonde Man. As soon as he had done as Kaeto asked, turn left and three steps into the closest alley. Kaeto followed, ignoring the deep puddle he just stepped in that had soaked his calves, he went down the alley and found the man. He grabbed his shoulders and spun him around so his back hit the stone wall, Kaeto had chosen this spot particularly, the spotlight was angled so the light would hit the man's face but leave Kaeto in shadow. He didn't say anything at first, he just memorised the man's face. He had a long, crooked nose, two harsh amber eyes, skin a tad darker than Dorian's but of a similar tone, and his blonde hair curled slightly around his face and his high cheekbones. Kaeto's grip around the man's throat tightened.

"I know you've been watch Dorian," Kaeto began, growling and hoping it sounded like he knew more than he did. The fear in the man's eyes told him all he needed to know, he wasn't very good at this.

"I- i- uh," the man started to speak but struggled under the grip around his neck. Kaeto paused for a moment, the accent wasn't Tevinter, it was definitely Fereldan. Kaeto loosened his grip slightly. "I don't want to die for this," he said a little pathetically. Kaeto looked at the helpless man suspiciously - this was the man Bull was worried about? It had to be an act... right?

"Why are you after Dorian?" Kaeto said, a little more even this time.

"I was paid to keep an eye on the faggot-" The man started, to which Kaeto tightened the grip substantially on his throat. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" The man squealed. "I just mean - someone isn't happy about what he's doing, they want him to stop, He's from Tevinter. He told me not to hurt him!" Kaeto loosened his grip but used his free hand to pull his revolver from his bandoleer. He pushed against the man's temples. The man started squealing like a pig, Kaeto stood their patiently waiting for him to fall silent.

"Who sent you?" Kaeto asked uncharacteristically quietly.

"I- I don't know!" The Fereldan responded desperately. "Honestly I don't know! I don't want to die for this!"

"Then why come?" Kaeto asked, curiosity getting the better of him. He knew it didn't matter but the Inquisition were rather infamous, even in Fereldan... Especially so in some places.

"I didn't-" The Fereldan paused, gasping for breath. "I was well paid for having to step foot in this fa- place." Kaeto sighed and let go of the man.

"Leave," Kaeto growled. "If I see you again, I'll kill you." A simple threat, but his tone and stare told the man it was genuine. Kaeto heard his frantic steps but didn't turn to watch him run. He just walked back into the bar filled with anger and regret, feeling incredibly foolish. The first thing he did was look around to see that Dorian was okay. As soon as he saw he was perfectly happy and performing with Zevran - who he currently had on a leash and was making him kiss his feet - he went straight to the staircase and tried to unleash his anger out in his footsteps. It wasn't his break, and he was still technically working but Matilda and anyone who cared were currently too swept off their feet to notice as he climbed the deep red staircase leaving muddy, foot prints behind him the whole way.

Their was an anger inside Kaeto that he couldn't shift - he was angry at the pathetic man who was tailing Dorian, he was angry at Iron Bull for keeping secrets from him, he was angry at the person after Dorian, he was angry at himself for not realising how harmless the original disgusting man was. As he reached his, Dorian and Iron Bull's suite above Les Portes Ouvertes he felt overloaded with guilt. He should have known that Bull would've done something if he was a threat. He shoved his brass key into the large oak door, brashly stomping into the room, kicking his muddy boots off and falling onto the specially crafted bed, perfect size for two qunari and a human. He laid there face first feeling the soft silk bedding on his face, it was deep purple with a silver lining, he turned onto his back hugging one of the many cushions to his chest. He chose his favourite red one. He felt soothed by the tassles from one of the cushions tickling the tip of his curved left horn, He watched his dark grey fingers trace patterns on the red cushion and his anger started to ease, unfortunately it was quickly replaced by bitter sadness.

Krem had gone out for some fresh air and had found a bench not too far from the club to sit on with his beer while he tried not to think about what he just did. His first tactic to do this was to focus on his surroundings. After all, he was in the city of Val Royeaux, the city of culture and nobility... In the eyes of some. He laughed humourlessly as he looked around him wondering if the rest of the world would call it that if they saw this part. The rough part, the poor part, the part the nobles wouldn't dare to piss into. His eyes focused on the crumbling, dark brown buildings, the dark shadowy figures hurrying away and the homeless seeking out shelter and trying to keep warm. They were mostly elves, some humans, some drunk, most not - Krem shook that thought away immediately. He'd just come from a bar, who was he to judge? His thoughts went back to crumbling buildings, dying plants in the park behind him, the weeds coming up through the cracks in the pavement, the untended gardens, the graffiti covered walls, the smell of piss and the boarded up windows. It wasn't the Val Royeaux people picture - but this was more real for most of it's citizens. A lot more real than the market square which was the most of which a lot of people had seen. After a while, Krem became conscious of how wet and cold he was and grudgingly decided to go back into the bar. He didn't particularly want to face what he'd just done but what choice did he have? As soon as he walked in Rocky was right in front of him, Krem instantly shrunk backwards about thought about going outside.

"What did you tell Kaeto?" Rocky asked instantly.

"I thought he knew!" Krem responded trying to push past him.

"The Chief said he wasn't going to tell Dorian and Kaeto until he knew more!" Krem sighed and stopped attempted to leave this awkward conversation.

"I thought they should know," Krem replied awkwardly with a half-hearted shrug. He took Rocky's paused as a cue to leave before he could be stopped and almost ran to the grand staircase following the muddy footsteps and actually managed to laugh for a moment. Maker Kaeto, he thought. Matilda's going to kill you.

He continued upstairs and stood silently in front of Kaeto's door for a second wondering whether to knock. He pulled out his scratched old phone and glanced at the screen to see four missed calls from Maryden, two from Cole and several texts. He sighed and headed towards their suite. Maybe they'd be able to take his mind off of the whole thing.