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After Falls

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Adavae felt heavy and sore, like there was a burning in his very bones that he couldn’t get rid of. With a soft groan he forced his dry eyes open. His eyelids felt like fine sandpaper grating their way open across his sensitive eyes. The room was dark and blurry, his vision barely focusing on anything, but he could make out feet. He closed his eyes and tried to pull his hand to his head to possibly stifle some of the headache he was sporting but had to stop as he realized something was weighing his hands down. He blinked rapidly until he was able to focus on his arms, quickly coming to the realization that they were in thick, metal shackles that had a long, flat bar in-between his wrists instead of a chain. Mauve eyes looked back to the feet: boots, soldier’s boots.

The archer frowned in confusion and with a grunt he forced himself to sit up to look around. From between the unruly dreadlocks of red hair that fell in his face he could see he was in a dark, dank cell with four soldiers surrounding him, their swords pointed squarely at him, “Well, this is something to wake up to…” He murmured, mostly to himself.

The men tightened their holds on their swords and he could see a few lips curl in anger. He’d been in cells before, most of the time the soldiers didn’t look at the prisoner unless they were underpaid, didn’t give a damn, or gave too much of a damn. These men looked directly at him and seemed to be out for blood. They obviously cared deeply about whatever cause they worked for and somehow he had managed to wrong that cause. Typical. He tried to make out their armor as he settled on his knees but the shift and scratch of his clothes distracted him. What in the Void was he wearing and where were his leathers?

Whatever he had on was green and tan, with the bare minimum of leather and metal to be considered helpful. When did he change? Why was he in a cell? He knew there was something very important he should be remembering that would explain all of it, but he couldn’t quite reach it. He rolled his shoulders, trying to situate himself better when green suddenly lit the room and the sharp, low burn that was still in his bones suddenly flared to life like a spark hitting oil and took his breath away in a flash of pain that radiated from his left hand. He dropped his head and curled his body around the hand with a gasp, staring in shock at the green lightning-like light that arched along his hand and twisted up his arm.

He was still trying to process what was happening to his hand when the cell door swung open with a loud bang, forcing him to look up in surprise and clench his fist in an attempt to get the pain under control. Two women walked through the door, the brighter torch light silhouetting them from behind caused him to briefly close his eyes as they were forced to suddenly adjust to the wash of bright light, but he could hear swords being sheathed. When he was finally able to focus through the light the heavily armored, dark haired woman was looming over him and growling with an accent that he couldn’t quite place, “Tell me why we shouldn’t kill you now.”

His eyes darted to the hooded one behind her before moving back to the first and he was about to answer, but she overrode him, “The Conclave is destroyed.-“

That’s right, he had gone to the Conclave in hopes of helping peace between the mages and templars on behalf of the Trevelyan’s and with several other nobles from Ostwick and the Free Marches. Well, blackmailed and bribed was more precise. Where was Rayford, Kimby, Heather, all the others? “-Everyone who attended is dead.”

Oh. His stomach dropped.

“Except for you,” she concluded and his eyes narrowed.

“Ah, so you believe I did it then?” It wasn’t really a question, but he couldn’t keep the resignation from his tone as his insides twisted painfully at the idea.

As she leaned in he saw her grey eyes light with anger, but she didn’t answer. Instead she picked up the hand that was still sparking with green light and snarled, “Explain this.”

He frowned as she tossed it back down, wincing as the heavy shackles landed sharply on his legs, and said, “I would like an explanation for that as well. I certainly don’t remember it being there last I was… aware.”

What was the last thing he remembered anyway? He frowned, ignoring the two women as they circled him as he searched his memories. He didn’t get far however as the dark haired woman continued, “What do you mean by that?”

“I mean that I haven’t got a damned clue as to how or why my hand is sparkling green like a mage's fireball when I am not a mage!” He snapped at the woman, his patience non-existent.

“You’re lying!” She yelled, venom dripping from her words, and she grabbed him by the shirtfront, her other fist raised purposefully.

He braced himself for the blow, he really did need to learn better interrogation etiquette, when the hooded woman stepped in and pushed the more heavily armored woman back, “We need him, Cassandra!”

Cassandra, there was one name. Now he just needed the hooded woman’s. His mauve eyes moved to her blue ones and he took the moment to jump in, “Tell me what the hell is going on!” He demanded, trying to keep the desperate edge from his voice.

He got the idea, but that didn’t really explain what had happened. How was the Conclave destroyed? How had he alone survived and thus make him the prime suspect? What was this eerie green glow that was coming from his hand?

The hooded woman’s accented voice showed her Orlesian origins, “Do you remember what happened? How this began?”

Adavae let his eyes drop as he fought to remember, lips pressed into a thin line, “I remember running… Creatures were chasing me,” he took a longer pause as a shudder ran through him at the memory, “There was a green haze around everything and… a woman? She reached for me.”

“A woman? Who?” She pressed.

Adavae shook his head, “I don’t remember a face. I don’t remember anything after that aside from waking up here.”

Cassandra stepped between them then, he could see the silent communication pass between the two as Cassandra broke the other woman’s line of sight and forced her to refocus, “Go to the forward camp, Leliana,” good, another name, “I will take the prisoner to the rift.”

The accent finally clicked, Nevarran! That’s what it was. It was probably odd that he was focusing on that revelation when said Nevarran woman wanted his head, but it helped him tamp down on his panic and he could think better when he wasn’t panicking. He watched as Leliana left reluctantly and took the chance as Cassandra knelt before him to ask, “What did happen?”

She unlocked his shackles and deftly replaced them with a length of rope, fitted a bit too snugly around his wrists, “It will be easier to show you.”

Adavae frowned at that, not liking the mystery behind the words. She roughly helped him to his feet and then moved quickly from the building, Adavae trailing behind while his body tried to adjust to moving again. He wanted to ask more questions, but Cassandra's stride and how she purposefully looked away from him made him keep his mouth shut. He had been looking at the ground when the final doors opened and he noticed that the snow had a light green tinge. He blinked in confusion and paused in his steps. He didn't want to look up, having no clue what to expect, but as Cassandra started speaking he raised his eyes to the sky, "We call it 'The Breach'. It's a massive rift into the world of demons that grows larger with each passing hour."

A pillar of arcing green light joined the sky and the ground just over the mountains and he couldn't help notice that it looked remarkably like what was going on with his hand. Bolts of green lightning shot out of the hole in the sky and clouds surrounded the puncture like a whirlpool.

"To the Void with that," he breathed out, eyes locked on the Breach and his mouth hanging slightly open.

The heavily armored woman turned to him, her eyes silently weighing his reaction, "It's not the only one, just the largest. However, they were all caused by the explosion at the Conclave."

“I’m just… going to go back in the cell now-“ he had started to back up when Cassandra grabbed his bound wrists and dragged him forward again.

“Don’t think you can hide from what you have done!” She growled, face inches from his, her breath warm against his face.

"There's no way an explosion could do that!” He yelled back, “I don't even think Gaatlock could manag-" but as if to contradict him the twisted column of green sparked, then flared brightly and Adavae cut himself off in favor of taking a gasping breath as furious pain lanced up his arm again.

He dropped to his knees and clutched the limb to his chest as the pain blurred his vision. Cassandra released him as if burned. He focused on Cassandra through the pain as she dropped to one knee in front of him, using her to momentarily ground himself as she spoke yet again, "Each time the Breach expands, your mark grows and it is killing you. Whatever you may know about explosions, I doubt it applies to this one unless you truly did cause it," accusation lining her tone, "And unless we act, the Breach will grow until it swallows the world."

Through the pain he grit out, "Shouldn't you be bloody well stopping it then?"

"That has been the plan, but nothing we have done affects them. The only possible key, the only connection we have, is that mark on your hand," Cassandra explained.

He swallowed thickly as the pain finally died down and he looked between Cassandra and the sky. The archer let out a long sigh, "And you really think this is something I would do to myself?"

"Not intentionally. Whatever you did, it clearly went wrong and this is the result, " she theorized and Adavae fought to not roll his eyes.

However, she was right on one thing, whatever was in his hand was connected to the Breach, and if that meant he could close these rifts... With a hardening of his eyes he said, "What do you need me to do?"

Her eyes widened a bit in surprise, as if not expecting that answer, "You will help willingly, then?"

"Yes," he affirmed.

She stared for another long moment, then nodded curtly and moved to help him up. As they began moving through the town Cassandra kept a careful hand on his arm. The people around him looked like the only reason they hadn't grabbed their battered weapons, or even pitchforks and frying pans and cut him down on the spot, was because of the woman walking beside him. She began to speak as she noticed him looking about cautiously, "The people of Haven have already decided your fate. They need it. They mourn our most Holy, Divine Justinia. The Conclave was hers."

He winced slightly at the glares, snarls, hatred, and looks of complete disgust that were shot his way, "And there are really no other suspects?"

"No, you are the only one," she said lowly, daring him to give her a reason to act on that fact.

~~~/~~~/~~~

Getting to one of the rifts meant fighting their way there and after a brief standoff with Cassandra he had managed to retain the bow and arrows he now held in his hands to do just that. As they made their way through the mountains, the Seeker, as he found out she was, told him of how he had arrived in her hands. Apparently two days ago he had stumbled out of one of the rifts and promptly collapsed. Behind him had been a woman, though no one knew who she was. He had insisted that he did not know who that woman was when Cassandra asked, but it still nagged at him.

He shook his head to clear it, dreadlocks tossing about lightly and he glared at them. He wished he had his leather clasp to pull them back and out of the way. Tossing the bow over his shoulder he reached back and pulled out one of the dreads at the base of his neck and used it to tie the rest back. Cassandra raised an eyebrow at him.

“What?” He asked, “You braid your hair, I just use my own dreads to tie the others back. Same thing.”

She grunted at him then turned away, making Adavae silently snarl at her back. Their attention was pulled to the stairwell they were near a moment later and both their expressions hardened as they moved swiftly up to where several soldiers were trying to contain a horde of demons and a green… thing that hung low in the air. Without preamble Cassandra dove in with her sword raised and Adavae sent arrows in her wake. Cassandra drove through the demons, screaming to get the attention of all the creatures around her as her shield pummeled into a Terror’s back. Adavae kept his arrows precise, keeping the shades off the Seeker’s less defensible back.

A dwarf with blond hair was wielding a very interesting looking crossbow that Adavae made a mental note to ask him about, and a bald elf was tossing magic shields and lightning about with surprising exactness. Once the creatures were dispatched Adavae looked up at the rift and the bald elf strode forward with purpose. The archer tried to pull back but the elf snatched his glowing green hand before he could get far, “Quick, before more come through!” And thrust his hand towards the rift.

He had no idea how it happened, if it was him, the mark, or this elf, but suddenly the low burn that had taken up residence in his arm flared and a stream of warped, green lightning shot from his hand to the rift. He felt resistance, as if it was fighting him to stay open. He grimaced with determination and twisted his hand. As if by instinct he clasped it into a tight fist and pulled, wrenching it closed. The motion made Adavae shudder as he felt it snap shut. It was a strange feeling, like having a closing door glance his arm as it slammed closed.

He pulled back from the elf and looked at him in a mix of suspicion and relief, “What just happened?”

“You closed the rift,” the elf stated matter-of-factly as he folded his hands behind him studiously.

“I did, or the mark?” he asked, looking down at his hand.

“Both?” the elf offered, eyebrows raising, “Whatever magic opened the Breach in the sky also placed that mark on your hand. I theorized that the mark might be able to close the rifts that have opened in the wake of the Breach. It seems I was correct.”

Adavae couldn’t help noticing the smug edge to those words and he fought down a grin at the elf’s confidence. Cassandra moved to the archer’s elbow, hope lighting her words, “Meaning it could seal the Breach." Her voice was much more pleasant this way.

“Possibly,” the elf continued, “it seems you hold the key to our salvation.” The grey eyes focused on Adavae and the human couldn’t help a strange twist of his stomach.

It figures he’d find a way to get stuck in the middle of something like this. A strange sort of relief filled him as a deep, sarcastic voice broke into their little group, “Good news! Here I thought we’d be ass-deep in demons forever.”

Adavae turned to look at the dwarf and tilted his head at his choice of an open shirt that exposed his chest to the frozen air. Though he supposed if he had chest hair like that, he’d probably show it off as well, “Varric Tethras: rogue, storyteller, and occasionally unwelcome tagalong,” the marksman offered readily.

Varric winked at the Seeker and the utterly disgusted sound it pulled from her made him instantly like the dwarf. He nodded to the fellow rogue, “Good to meet you. Adavae Trevelyan, as I am sure you’ve already heard. I take it you’re not with the Chantry?”

The elven mage gave a short laugh, “You have to ask?”

“If I’m anything, I’m a prisoner, just like you,” the dwarf explained, fixing his gloves.

“You were brought here to tell your story to the Divine. Obviously that’s no longer needed,” Cassandra protested, her annoyance growing as she stepped towards Varric.

“And yet here I am. Lucky you, considering current events,” and he pointed up at the Breach as an explanation for everything.

Cassandra cut in then, “Your help is appreciated, Varric, but-“

“Have you been to the valley lately, Seeker?” he shot right back, “Your soldier’s aren’t in control anymore. You need me. And Bianca.”

It took him a moment, but Adavae realized he was talking about his crossbow, “Bianca?” He asked blandly.

Varric just grinned up at his fellow archer and Cassandra let out yet another disgusted sound. If they survived this Adavae was going to teach her how to do more than snarl, growl, or sigh disgustedly. As Cassandra stormed off the elf stepped forward again, “I am Solas, if introductions are to be made. It is good to see you yet live.”

“He means ‘I kept that mark from killing you while you slept’,” Varric filled in.

Adavae’s eyes lit up and he gave a respectful nod, “Thank you for that, how do you know so much about this?”

“Solas is an apostate and well versed in matters of the Fade,” Cassandra offered, having calmed down quickly from her exchange with Varric.

“Technically all mages are apostates now, Seeker. My travels have allowed me to learn much of the Fade, far beyond the experience of any circle mage. I came to offer whatever help I could with the Breach. If it is not closed we are all doomed, regardless of origin,” he said with an open gesture, backing up the comment.

“And when it’s all over?” Adavae asked, tilting his head slightly.

“One would hope that those in power will remember who helped and who did not,” Though little actual belief resided in the calm eyes.

“One would hope,” Adavae repeated, eyes barely flickering to Cassandra who was looking to the Breach, arm crossed and back straight as a plank.

Solas pushed past the awkward silence that tried to follow, “Cassandra, you should know: the magic used here is unlike any I have ever seen and your prisoner is no mage,” the Seeker turning to regard him carefully as he spoke, “In fact, I find it hard to believe any mage having such power.”

The warrior sighed, “Understood,” she snapped as she turned on her heel, “we need to get you to the Breach,” she finished, though not looking at Adavae.

“If I survive that long,” Adavae pointed out.

Cassandra turned and leveled a glare at him as she continued forward. Adavae clenched his teeth against another pulse from the mark, left hand balling into a fist as if that would help at all. Varric glanced up at him, then at the Seeker, but remained silent as they continued up the mountains in a grim silence.

~~~/~~~/~~~

Adavae stared at the jagged remains of the Temple of Sacred Ashes that loomed before them. After arguing with a man named Chancellor Roderick (he was infuriatingly entrenched in his rules and Chantry dictation, but that made him predictable. Small blessings, and at this point he was clinging to every single one he could find), they had started making their way through the mining compound and found the scouts barely managing against a rift. Once the demons were dispatched and rift closed, they had sent the party back down the mountain before continuing forward themselves. He paused, glancing back at the scout’s retreating forms and wincing slightly, they had barely made it in time.

The smallest of touches to his arm made him glance in Solas’ direction before looking away and following after the Seeker and Varric. The mage had taken to silently keeping him on track as they trekked up the mountain. It wasn’t that Adavae didn’t know what he had to do; he knew exactly what needed to be done. He just hated that he was the one that needed to do it, so he had allowed himself small moments of distraction along the way. Like wondering where the rings from his grandmother and aunt were; multiple times his hand had slipped up to touch where they usually hung around his neck but nothing was there. Or the room they found in the compound, he wanted to go back to see if anything interesting remained there. But he supposed it was too much to ask that he could just, you know… live normally. He grunted as he slid slightly on a bit of icy rock and looked back up at the charred, burnt, broken, and melted remains they were approaching.

The archer grimaced and his lips twisted as they strode through the ruins, Cassandra tossing him glances over her shoulder. His stomach wouldn’t allow his eyes to linger on the bodies for long, but they were everywhere so it was difficult to miss them. They were twisted and shrunken, burned into place by the explosion that killed them. Some were lain out on the ground, mouths open in forever silenced screams, others were standing or crouching trying to protect themselves from the inevitable. Yet he had survived; how and why? He resisted the urge to toss a glare skyward and swallowed down his nausea at the scene.

Varric sighed beside him, “Yeah, me too…” the dwarf murmured, his own eyes having trouble staying in one place too long.

“This is where they say you walked out of the rift,” Cassandra said suddenly, having been silent since they sent the scouts on their way.

She gestured to an area near the only discernable entrance. A brief flash of a memory made him pause. Someone pushing him forward; gold against the green and black that bled around him. Ground, real solid ground, footsteps running- “Hey Sharps?”

Adavae jerked slightly and focused on his fellow rogue, “Yes?” He asked, proud his voice stayed even.

“You left us a moment. Can’t have you leaving us for too long,” the dwarf pointed out, offering the best grin he could, considering their location.

Adavae managed the barest of smiles he could to the storyteller, “I’m not going anywhere, Varric. Promise.”

“You say that now,” Varric added and shook his head as Adavae shrugged.

They moved through the ruins until they stood on an alcove looking over what had to be the center of the explosion. Above the center a massive, green, twisting, spiking rift coiled up to the Breach that spiraled high in the sky. Adavae fought down his dread as Varric murmured, “The Breach is a long way up…”

No one got to say anything else as Leliana’s voice sounded behind them, “You made it, thank the Maker,” she said as she jogged up to them, relief evident in her voice.

Cassandra was quick to give orders, telling the Divine’s left hand to have their soldiers create a perimeter. Adavae watched as the grim-faced men and women jogged around the massive rift. Adavae stepped slowly towards the huge, jagged portal to the fade. He could feel the mark on his hand reacting to it, sending twists of odd vibrations and pain through him. He hadn’t realized how far he moved forward until Cassandra stepped in front of him to break the line of sight and he had to step back, “This is your chance to end this. Are you ready?”

The archer took a breath as he nodded and looked up at the Breach, “How in the Void am I getting up there?”

“You do not need to get up to it, this is the first rift,” Solas said, gesturing to the rift in front of them, “and it is the key. If we seal it, then perhaps we seal the Breach.”

There was a thin lining of hope in his words, but not quite enough to really notice unless you needed it. Adavae did. His hope that this could be pulled off was dwindling by the second. Cassandra nodded to the other side of him, “Let’s get down there then.”

Adavae nodded and glanced back at Solas and Varric as they followed. They looped around till they found a winding stairwell that they could climb down the remains of. As they moved, they passed red spikes growing from the ground that glowed and made his skin crawl. Varric piped up and explained about red lyrium. The idea that lyrium could be ‘evil’ was unnerving at best and all the more reason to get away from it as soon as possible. He dropped down and moved to the large rift, glowering up at it.

Solas moved forward to examine it and said, “It appears the rift is closed, albeit temporarily.”

The elf looked ready to speak again, but suddenly the air around them crackled and twisted and sent a massive shocking pain through Adavae’s arm before fading. The air itself seemed to warp before them, like a portal opening into another existence. A monstrous figure stood before a restrained woman, her arms glowing gold and red from the magic that bound her. Cassandra gasped in surprise beside him, “Divine Justinia!”

“Keep the sacrifice still,” a low and rumbling voice said, Adavae could feel it came from the monstrous black figure though no lips moved.

“Someone! Help me!” Justinia called, twisting in her confines, jaw set and lips pulled back in a determined snarl even as desperation lit her darting eyes.

What Adavae didn’t expect to see was himself running forth at the Divine’s call. It was very disconcerting to witness as his voice called, “What’s going on here!?” and he dropped into a stance ready for fighting.

“Run while you can! Warn them!” Justinia cried, and he could see himself back up.

“We have an intruder, slay him,” the blackened figure said, pointing to him with a clawed hand.

They didn’t see what else happened as the scene burst into light and then silence reigned for the briefest of moments before Cassandra had him by the shirt front, “You were there! Who attacked? And the Divine, is she…? Was this vision true? What are we seeing?”

“Dammit, Seeker! I don’t remember!” he snapped and managed to wrench himself out of her grasp.

“Echoes of what happened here, the fade bleeds into this place…” Came Solas’ calm voice, breaking Cassandra’s tirade, “With the mark, we should be able to open the rift, then seal it safely and properly,” he said as he turned and glanced at Cassandra for emphasis, “but it will attract attention from the other side.”

Cassandra reigned herself in as Solas spoke, clenching and unclenching her fists until they were finally still at her sides. At the mention of ‘attention’ Cassandra pulled herself together and grabbed her sword, “That means demons. Stand ready.”

Her sharp eyes looked back at Adavae one more time and she nodded to him as he straightened up. With a deep, steadying breath the archer moved forward and after a last cue from the Seeker he raised his glowing green hand. Opening was different from closing, closing was a pull, something he had to drag closed. Opening was a push, a force of will against the crack that had been formed in the air around him. With a grunt he threw his hand out in a wide arc, like he was forcing a door open, and the rift snapped open.

Without a second to lose he dodged to the side as a bolt of green lightning shot out from the now opened rift and a towering, utterly terrifying Pride demon rose, or so Solas called it as he yelled from the other side of the ruins. To Adavae it just looked like a spiked, bi-pedal monster that they needed to kill. Now.

Chapter Text

Adavae was getting tired of not knowing where he was when he woke up. At least he remembered what had happened this time, until he had blacked out that is. They had managed to fell the Pride Demon, even through the waves of shades and wraiths that had followed after the horned beast. Cassandra had landed the blow that finally sent the thing to the ground and Adavae had rushed forward to close the rift. As it had snapped closed it was like taking a kick to the stomach, several. All his breath fled him as he had lain gasping for air and the glowing mark feeling like it had sucked away any strength he had left. He could faintly remember voices calling to him, maybe one had been Varric? The noble shook the memories away with a sigh as he couldn't clearly remember.

What had surprised him most about his current state though was that he was not in a cell, not in chains, not even a person inside the cabin to watch over him. What did this mean? Was he free to go?

He pulled his hand from beneath the blanket he was laying under and stared at the mark. It still thrummed with slight pain, but it hadn’t pulsed or sent a wave of burning through him since he had awoke. Maybe they did it and the Breach was closed? He tucked the hand away again and took stock of the room he was in. It was a simple wooden hut with one window to the outside across from him that was closed against the winter chill. A fire burned brightly next to him in the stone fireplace and there were various things about the room: a desk, a chest half closed, shelves with books, animal hides on the wall, an elf- an elf?

The young girl that had just entered while he had been lost in examining the mark jumped and dropped the box she was holding with a small whimper of surprise as his eyes met hers and she took a step back, “I-I’m sorry my lord, I didn’t mean to wake you.”

He sat up gingerly, mindful of the fact that he was only in a thin pair of trousers below the blanket, “I was already awake, calm down. Where am I?”

Her eyes darted about as she fidgeted nervously, “H-Haven, m’lord.” 

“Back in Haven…” he paused, then focused on her more closely, “What of the Breach?”

“The Breach is still in the sky, but it stopped growing, like the mark on your hand. You saved us!” she exclaimed, excitement creeping into her voice before she seemed to realize it and her head ducked so she was staring at her toes.

It was at that moment that the mark flared to life again, though it wasn’t any more painful than a moment ago. It was as if speaking about it made it react. He glowered down at it until it receded a moment later. The elf girl finally raised her head to add, “It’s all anyone’s talked about for the last three days!” Her excitement clearly overwhelming her sense of propriety.

He lurched slightly at that, “I’ve been out for three days?” No wonder his stomach was already growling for food.

She managed a small nod before glancing over her shoulder, “Lady Cassandra asked t-to be informed when you woke, ser. She said, ‘At once’.”

He frowned and tilted his head towards her, “And, where is she?”

“In the Chantry, ser. I-I’ll…” she gestured to the door and then was out it before he could even confirm.

He sighed and covered his face, he would need to go see Cassandra then find out if he could get out of Haven as fast as a horse, or his feet, could carry him. Though he doubted it would be that easy. With a huff he ignored the stirring of noise outside the small cabin and dressed to make his way to the Chantry. He paused as something glinted on the desk and he sighed in relief, it was the rings from his grandmother and aunt. He'd wondered where they'd gone since he woke in the dungeons. He took them and put them on quickly, feeling better as he tucked them into his shirt and could feel them against his chest.

Adavae moved to the door and opened it casually but stopped in surprise, he didn’t expect to open the door to a crowd. For a moment he was a deer staring dumbstruck at an oncoming carriage, wide-eyes looking at the guards that held their fists over their hearts, standing straight and proud. Beyond them was a path that cut through what he assumed was every citizen of Haven. This was going to be a long walk.

~~~/~~~/~~~

The archer practically staggered out of the Chantry after another encounter with Chancellor Roderick, Cassandra, and Leliana. The Chancellor had left after threatening him with Chantry Judgment, and Cassandra telling the aggravating man they were no longer a part of the Chantry and to clear off. Adavae felt lightheaded and overwhelmed. He was in the middle of a heretical organization and he couldn’t leave while this damnedable mark was on his hand. He was stuck and that goaded at his flighty nature.

Finally pausing in his steps he looked up and flipped his middle finger to the heavens, not giving two-spits about who was watching. A surprised, rumbling laugh to the left caused him to look down and focus on the dwarven rogue, Varric, as he grinned at Adavae and said, “Well, that’s one way to put it. 

Adavae sighed and moved over to slump next to him, “It’s hardly enough with everything that’s happened. Void knows how many people have died in the last few days.”

“Yeah, and to top it off you’ve gone from the most wanted criminal in Thedas, to joining the armies of the faithful that you were a prisoner of just a few days ago. How’s that sitting?” Varric inquired, setting down the part from Bianca he had been cleaning.

Adavae grunted and leaned back, “Terribly. I’m stuck here unless I want my hide hunted for. Last time I stuck around in one place for too long it… didn’t turn out well.”

The dwarf gave a short hum, “Combative?”

“I prefer outspoken. I don’t like being told what to do or what to believe. That’s what a lot of people tend to do,” he explained, settling his hands behind him to lean against them and kick his feet out.

“I’ve known a lot of people that don’t play well with others, but rest assured we’re all dealing with this as best we can, Sharps,” Varric offered, trying to be diplomatic.

Adavae looked over at the dwarf with a small smile, “Guess it all comes down to the fact that we’re all in the same shit pile together.”

Varric choked on a laugh, “Maker, Sharps, I’m glad you aren’t a prim noble. Makes watching your back a lot easier.”

“I’m glad I can inspire such loyalty,” Adavae said with a raise of his chin and a smirk, “Certainly going to need a bit of it. Now, tell me about this crossbow of yours. Where in all the Void did you find that?”

Varric’s smile changed from relieved humor to a broad, proud grin, “Aaah, Bianca is my pride a joy. Won her off a Paragon, Branka, in a game of Wicked Grace. She was so angry she took off into the Deep Roads, never to be seen again. 

A snort was all Adavae gave to that, not believing him for a moment, “I’ll take that with a cup full of salt, storyteller.”

“Probably for the best,” he said with a wink.

They sat in a comfortable silence for a long time after that, Varric taking Bianca apart, cleaning or fixing parts, before piecing her back together. Calm and systematic. Adavae stared into the fire and ignored the whispers around him as he contemplated his next move. Finally, he leaned forward and crossed his arms, “Tell me about red lyrium.”

Varric’s movements stuttered to a halt and he looked at Adavae in grim surprise, “You don’t beat around that proverbial bush, do you?”

“Only with people I like,” the noble offered with a tip of a smile to his lips to try to reassure Varric.

“Well, that’s a bit of a story. Have you read the book I wrote? Tale of the Champion?” He asked as he gathered himself and leaning in.

Adavae shook his head honestly, “I hadn’t the chance. Before coming south I was traveling with a band of gypsies outside of Antiva. You don’t get much time for books between surviving, dancing, music, and negotiating with nobles,” he explained, smile widening at the memories.

Varric gave a low chuckle, “Well, you’ll have to tell me about that next. But I’ll give you the short version…” and he launched into a tale about Hawke and his travels into the Deep Roads in search of treasure. They found it, but found red lyrium and betrayal as well.

Adavae was particularly interested in how the lyrium had corrupted Knight-Commander Meredith, but she had been near it for years before it to truly affect her. He smiled at Varric as he finished the story and gave a bit of side information, “That’s quite the tale, I’ll have to get my hands on a copy for more details.”

“I can get one in your hands in a decent amount of time. Now, Antivan gypsies?” Varric pressed, making Adavae laugh.

“Yes, a playful but superstitious lot. They don’t follow the Chantry though they pay them lip service as necessary. Though never say that around them, they’ll drag you behind the wagons,” he warned, leaning close, “In all honesty they really have no religion to speak of other than they believe in spirits and gods of an elemental sort, I guess similar to the Avvar. But oh, do they have superstitions. Like eating the balls of a ram in the first month of fall will guarantee a summer child and what not,” he offered, grimacing at the memory of the leader of the caravan explaining that to him as he prepared them for his newly married daughter.

Varric gagged, “Andraste’s tits, Sharps!”

Adavae laughed at the exclamation, “What? I couldn’t think of a reasonable one, so may as well go all out!”

The storyteller laughed once he got over clenching his legs together, “I wonder what Ruffles has to say about them.”

“Ruffles?” Adavae asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, our ambassador. She’s Antivan. I’m sure you’ll meet her soon,” he said as he went about working on Bianca again.

“Ah, well, probably the usual then. ‘They are a band of heathen witches and apostates, the Chantry should take care of them. Do away with the lot.’ It’s the same story but no one ever actually does anything. Then they’d have to deal with all of them in the cities. Imagine what that would do!” The rogue said with a snicker.

“I rather not,” Varric’s blue eyes glanced to the right and he nudged his chin towards the nearby stairs, “but I think our Seeker wants a word with you.” 

Adavae raised his eyes to lock them on the approaching woman and sighed out, “Well, knickers on a Chantry board,” he said, Varric raising an eyebrow at him, but not asking as the other archer stood, “What can I do for you, Seeker?”

Her lips thinned slightly as she glanced at Varric, before moving back to Adavae, “We would like to see you in the Chantry. Word of our announcement to Chancellor Roderick has spread and Leliana and myself would like you to meet our Commander and Ambassador. You will be playing an important part in all this, your voice in a number of matters is needed.”

Surprise flickered across his features, “Oh? I thought I was just here to pose and posture?”

She crossed her arms, “You have the mark, but your decisions are your own. You have made that clear. It is better that we are aware and a part of them, than for you to be running off without any regard for the rest of us.”

“Hmm, I suppose. Well, lead the way Lady Pentaghast!” he said and gave a half-bow, arm extended out towards the Chantry.

She rolled her eyes and turned on her heel, expecting the younger man to follow. Behind him Varric gave a saluting wave and Adavae returned it as he meandered after Cassandra. He had to admit that while he didn’t agree with much of what the Seeker believed, she was an honest woman who wore her heart and emotion openly. That was something he found quite rare among people. As they entered the chantry Cassandra slowed her steps and looked to him with a considering expression, “Does it trouble you?”

It took a moment for Adavae to realize she meant the mark and he glanced down at it and frowned slightly, “It’s easy to ignore now that it’s not trying to claw its way up my arm, but I’m more concerned about what it is and what it’s for,” he said as he turned the gloved hand over.

The first smile he’d seen her allow surprised him somewhat as she said, “Hopefully in the days to come we will find out. But if the pain becomes too much, you should talk to Solas and the healers,” she advised.

The archer nodded, “I will, Seeker. I’m not particularly fond of increasing pain,” he said with a wane smile.

Now that he had had a bit of time to think, in a strange way she reminded him of Irramela. The Dalish Keeper was a mage, but also a warrior, a protector. She put her duty first, her emotions last, though while Cassandra was far more open about what those emotions were, Irramela would do her best to hide them away though she was more motherly. Cassandra continued to speak to keep the pause from lasting too long, “You’ve also given us time, and Solas thinks another attempt will be successful, if the mark has more power.”

“How much power?” He asked, turning his hand over to unconsciously examine it.

“The same level of power as was used to create the Breach. Certainly not something easy to come by,” she said with a small sigh.

“Oh yes, I’m sure adding power to it shouldn’t have any bad repercussions! It’ll be perfectly fine,” he said, sarcasm returning.

Cassandra snorted, “Keep up that sense of humor, we’ll all need it.”

“I would be happy to,” he said with a proud flip of his hair.

She shook her head and continued forward, leading him back into the war room and the door closing quickly behind them, “Adavae Trevelyan, I present the leader of the inquisition’s forces, Commander Cullen.”

“Such as they are, we lost many soldiers in the valley, I fear we will lose many more before this is through,” Cullen said grimly.

Perfect ray of sunshine, but at least he’s a gorgeous perfect ray of sunshine, Adavae thought to himself as he nodded in greeting but said nothing. How did you answer that anyway?

“This is Lady Josephine Montilyet, our ambassador and chief diplomat,” Cassandra continued, seeming to sense his discomfort.

He turned and had to grit his teeth slightly to not chuckle as he realized why Varric called her ‘Ruffles’. Those sleeves were ridiculous, but fashionable. He was quickly distracted as she spoke though, “A pleasure,” she said with a warm, practiced smile.

He had missed that accent more than he wanted to admit. It didn’t hurt that it came from a woman as gorgeous as her, “Piacere di conoscerti,” he said with a nod to her.

Her eyebrows rose in surprise, “You speak Antivan? Who taught you?”

He could see her rein herself in from further questions as he smirked, “A bit, but who taught me you would find… rather unsavory I’m afraid.”

Her surprise turned bemused, “Well, you shall have to tell me at some point!”

“Oh I will, when you’re not liable to scold me for it,” and folded his arms, a bit more comfortable. 

She forced her smile down in mild embarrassment when she caught Leliana’s slightly raised eyebrow. Cassandra cleared her throat and turned to Leliana, “And of course, you know Sister Leliana.”

The archer turned his attention to the once-bard, having recognized her name from the stories he had studied of the Fifth Blight, “A pleasure to meet you again.”

“You as well,” she said, turning towards him, “my position here requires a degree of-“

“She is our spymaster,” Cassandra cut in, not one for excessive words obviously.

Leliana gave her a blistering sidelong look that the Seeker easily ignored, “Tactfully put, Cassandra.”

“Those are some interesting titles, but at least yours are to the point,” he said with another quirk of his lips.

He saw a slight frown tug at Cullen’s lips, the man did not seem to approve of his more lighthearted quips considering recent events. Cassandra spoke beside him making him turn to her, “I mentioned we needed more power to close the Breach for good.”

“That means approaching the rebel mages for help,” Leliana said, her eyes taking on a steely set.

“And I still disagree,” Cullen cut in, “the templars could serve just as well.”

The exasperated sigh that Cassandra gave told the archer they had been circling this subject for some time now, “We need power, Commander. Enough power poured into that mark-“

“Might destroy us all. The templars could suppress the Breach, weaken it so-“

“Pure speculation,” came Leliana’s voice this time.

Adavae glanced at Josephine as the three continued to argue, cutting in as if it were a battle to who could talk the longest. She gave him a tired, though slightly amused look. “I was a templar,” Cullen continued, “I know what they’re capable of.”

‘Was’, Adavae repeated back to himself mentally. That one word spoke volumes and while Adavae had never done anything more than brush the surface of Tower politics to keep some of his closest friends and family out of the Circles, he knew the implications of no longer being a templar. The question was which of those implications were true of Cullen? He filed it away for later use as Josephine finally saw her chance to cut in, “Unfortunately neither group will even speak to us yet. The chantry has denounced us- and you specifically,” she said, gesturing to Adavae.

The archer snorted and shifted feet, allowing the other to roll and stretch in nonchalance, “Why me specifically?”

“Well,” Josephine continued, “some are calling you the ‘Herald of Andraste’, that frightens the Chantry.”

“Wait, what?” He asked in dismay, unable to keep it from his face as he stared somewhat dumbly at the ambassador.

He had heard it whispered about as he had sat with Varric, but in all honesty, he hadn’t believed it was directed at him and had ignored it. Now Josephine was saying it was him? He swallowed thickly, “How?” He asked incredulously.

“People saw what you did at the temple, how you stopped the Breach from growing. They have also heard about the woman seen in the rift when we first found you. They believe that was Andraste,” Cassandra filled in.

Adavae grimaced and brought a hand up to press to his temple, trying to press away the oncoming headache as Leliana spoke, “Even if we tried to stop that view from spreading-“

“Which we have not,” Cassandra cut in.

Leliana gave her a dark look, “The point is, everyone is talking about you.”

“And for that, the remaining clerics have declared it blasphemy,” Adavae snorted at the idea as the ambassador continued, “and we heretics for harboring you. It limits our options. Approaching the mages or templars for help is currently out of the question.”

As if taking a small amount of pity on the noble, Cullen stepped in with a sympathetic look, “It’s quite the title, isn’t it?” he said, quipping at Adavae’s early poke at their own titles, “How do you feel about it?”

“I’m not anyone’s Herald,” he said with a sigh, trying to keep the bite from his voice, “especially not hers,” yet he couldn’t help the touch of venom that seeped into that last word.

He could feel the ripple of surprise that traveled through the four leaders of the Inquisition, but the commander was quick to say, with a quirk of his lips, “I’m sure the chantry would agree.”

It took the edge off Adavae’s slip and he was glad of it. As the women continued discussing his title and Thedas’ reaction to it, all of which he listened to with half an ear, he offered the commander a small smile of thanks.

~~~/~~~/~~~ 

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. Cullen looked across the now empty practice grounds to see Adavae standing with his bow and arrow firing at an even pace at one of the practice targets. It was dusk, just after dinner and only the last rays of the sun and torches were about to light the targets Adavae was shooting at. Cullen looked to the messenger beside him and gave his final approval before he took off to Josephine and the commander moved over to the archer. He noticed how the pull of the bow was a bit too long and he was standing closer than he probably should be. Well some people got their aggression out with a sword and shield, others did in other ways. He kept a decent distance and watched for a moment, examining their herald, and watching his form. Despite his ability to shift himself to match the people around him, he had a regal bearing to him that he seemed to have a hard time letting go of. Leliana had mentioned it was one of the only things that would betray him when he wanted to blend in. Even now as Adavae pulled out another arrow and fired he didn’t slouch or shift, his form was perfect and specific. His hair was held out of his face now, allowing Cullen to see a certain youthfulness to the edges of the Herald’s face that was normally hidden by the long, thick locks of knotted hair and he wondered at his age. Surely he couldn’t be much younger than Cullen. His skills in combat and the air of definitiveness that often proved Varric’s nickname for him, were something that you earned through living life, “Satisfying at all?” He finally asked.

“The sound certainly is. My hands won’t be happy when I’m fletching new arrows though,” Adavae said, notching another from his belt quiver and letting it fire with grit teeth.

Cullen paused, “You fletch your own?”

“Any archer worth their skill does. Though I guess when supplies are low you make due,” Adavae said, another thunk sounding.

“Indeed, though I must admit I don’t pay too much attention as I’ve never had the skill. The chantry took the bow and arrow from my hands just as quickly as they gave it to me. I much prefer a sword and shield,” he explained, resting his hand comfortably on the pommel of his sword.

Adavae paused and looked at him out of the corner of his eyes, “Can’t say it doesn’t suit you well, ser,” and let a grin tip up one corner of his lips.

“I-Well, ummm- thank you,” the commander stuttered out, thrown off by the grin more than anything else.

The grin spread until Adavae was chuckling softly and the bow lowered, “Trouble with compliments, commander?”

“No-!” he caught himself being a bit loud, “I-Maker, can we please speak on something else?”

The grin softened and Adavae shrugged, firing another shot from just his peripheral vision, “As you wish, what do you want to speak about?”

Cullen paused, a bit concerned on the younger’s reaction to this question since it was often such a sensitive topic as of late, “Earlier today in the chantry, when you learned of the title that’s been given to you, you seemed… angry about it. May I ask why?”

Adavae gave him an odd look, “Is this going to turn into one of those ‘Oh, but the Maker has a greater plan, you should truly believe that’ speeches?”

Cullen snorted, “Hardly, I’ll not begrudge you your beliefs, as long as you do not begrudge me mine. And if they do not hurt the good this Inquisition can do.”

The archer seemed to consider that for a moment, then nodded and raised his bow again, “If you insist, I personally don’t believe that any gods exist and if they do they are long gone and there’s no need to spend time worshipping them when there’s nothing to be done for it,” and let another arrow fly.

“That’s reasonable,” he said simply after a moment, crossing his arms before him.

Adavae paused, “Really? That’s it? No ‘why’?”

“I said I would not contradict you, though I can’t say I’m not curious nor that I agree,” he admitted, tilting his head slightly.

Adavae watched him a moment more, cautious, then let one more arrow fly, “Perhaps another time we’ll discuss it further. For right now, what do you think?” he asked, pointing to the target.

Cullen looked over at the target and raised an eyebrow, it was a poor mimic of the Inquisition heraldry, looking like an eye with a poll through it, “Really?” He deadpanned.

Adavae laughed at his reaction, a cackle that ripped through the empty practice area. Cullen wasn’t sure if he should be terrified of the precision that Adavae demonstrated with a bow and arrow –because despite it being the bare lines the arrows were precisely in line and angled to the curves of the eye- or the things that he had and would use it for in the future, “Maker forbid you ever get an accomplice,” he said as another laugh rang out.

 

Chapter Text

Adavae had to physically resist glaring at the Quartermaster, Threnn. Her views on Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir set his teeth on edge. She had a point that Adavae had not been there, but from what he’d read of the ensuing issues with the Grey Warden and the Fifth Blight, Loghain was hardly unaware of what his actions would do. It seemed that rigorous education Malcom had put him through in Ostwick was still worth something. As she gathered herself he gave her a tight smile, “Yes well, get that requisition to Harritt please. I’m sure he can use it,” and turned quickly to leave before she could say much else.

 He’d spent the last few days running around Haven and trying to avoid any kind of ‘Herald’-like responsibility he could. That meant he started running errands and hiding within the servants when he could. He had taken to doing everything he could to lose Leliana’s spies when they caught sight of him and blending in, even shifting his accent at times. Varric had laughed when he had purposefully (though he claimed it was an accident) ousted him while he was helping one of the young elven maids, Vallya, carry the laundry. It caused the maid to practically drop the portion she’d been carrying to the snow to apologize. Adavae had dropped his own basket just to stop her from doing so as he shot Varric a bland look and straighten her up. After that the servants got keen on him when he tried to fit in with them and often ratted him out to Leliana’s spies, much to his displeasure.

Vallya still hid him though, she felt bad for having caused a scene and they had started chatting when they could. The cook Amalia, apothecary Adan, and smith Harritt did too. The three of them put him to work, but not by making him try to decide the course of an entire organization he didn’t want a part in. It wasn’t bound to last though. Eventually Leliana had found him herself, her look pinched but somewhat impressed as she took in his near-soldier garb, hidden red hair, and dusted face as he had eaten lunch with Vallya, but he could sense the frustration as well as she had told him to go see Threnn since there was something he might be able to do there, and then see Josephine afterwards. Apparently the ambassador had been looking for him for over a day now. Vallya had simply clapped him on the shoulder and given him a sympathetic shrug before Adavae had grumbled and taken his leave. Though he guessed he could call it some form of a success, he had avoided and evaded Leliana’s agents in their home base well enough to have her come after him herself, if only to make a point.

Now he was making his way through the Chantry to Josephine’s quarters to see what she needed and avoiding Leliana at all costs. He liked her, she was inspiring as a spymaster, but he had found the line of at least her frustrated side and he would need to find a way back into her good graces. He knocked as he came up to the door and the accented voice beckoned him to come in. Josephine was leaning over her desk, quill finishing up a line of one letter or another. He waited patiently for her to finish and when she looked up her eyebrows raised, “Oh, Herald! So Leliana finally managed to get you to come see me.”

Adavae shrugged, “I’m not here for my political relations, my Lady. They’re hardly anything you could utilize, but how can I help you, Miss Josephine?” He asked with a downward tilt of his head.

Josephine stood to move around her desk with a small huff, “Your ties are hardly anything to scoff at, Herald. Even though you have refused the Trevelyan inheritance as the first born and instead given it to your younger brother, you are still the heir to the Moussant and Beresford estates. I wanted to see if your family would be amenable to assisting the Inquisition? Having these names backing us would be of great assistance in the days to come.”

Adavae frowned slightly, “Not if it’s going to embroil them in this conflict unnecessarily, Lady Montilyet. My family and I may be on… odd terms, but I’ll not have them at the center more than they already have to be.”

Josephine gave him a sad smile, “I wish that I could say that they would be kept from this entirely, my Lord, but they’re involvement will only deepen. We’ve already gotten word of some of your rather…distant relatives are making claims to know you and to have enough influence to bring the Inquisition at beck and call.”

Adavae laughed at that, “I can imagine! I’ll give the names to Leliana. I’m positive she’ll enjoy striking her own version of fear into them,” and it would act as a good gift to sooth the spymaster a bit.

Josephine sighed in exasperation, “Really, Lord Trevelyan! We should be more amicable to the nobility. We will be dealing with them quite frequently.”

“Just as frequently we will be reminding them that I am very much their dreaded ‘Black Sheep’ sans magic. A little antagonization will do them and their soft skins a bit of good,” he pointed out as he folded his hands behind him and leaned towards the ambassador slightly.

“Yes, and you will not be the one quelling them when you’ve gone too far. I’m here to make sure that these relations go as smooth as possible,” She said as she folded her arms before her.

“While I am here to keep your job a challenge. Can’t have you slacking off with contented nobles,” he prodded, a grin lifting the right side of his lips.

“I beg your pardon! I would never!” She cried as her expression changed to indignation.

Her arms uncrossed and one hand went to point at his chest. He quickly grabbed hold of it and kissed the knuckles of the unoffered hand, making Josephine instantly sputter, “And that, my lady, is why this list goes to Leliana,” he said as he straightened, grin widening at the blush on her cheeks, and held out his other hand for the names.

Josephine floundered for a moment more then sighed, “I suppose I do have my hands full with the current visitors,” and pulled her hand away quickly as she moved to grab the letter and hand it over to Adavae.

The archer just smiled triumphantly as he took the letter. Josephine gave him a narrow look, keeping her distance this time and her arms crossed, “And contacting your family?”

“They will be amenable, ambassador. Especially my mother, grandfather Gabriel Moussant, and great aunt Mirabelle Beresford. They are the heads of each house right now,” he explained. 

Josephine nodded, “Thank you, Herald. Do try not to be too… challenging with the others.”

“I promise, ambassador. Anything I do will be because I know these people,” he explained, his expression softening to her, “You are just entirely too fun to tease.”

The Antivan sighed again, “I would appreciate that you refrain from such things in front of the other nobles.”

“Hmmm… perhaps with a promise of more of your lovely company in a less formal setting?” And the grin was back.

“So that you can plot more vicious games? Absolutely not!” And now there was a little lilt of a smile on her face as well.

“Oh! You wound me, Josephine! I’m only vicious with those that I find interesting,” he parried.

The blush tinted darker before she waved her hands, “Go to Leliana, Herald,” and began pushing him to the door.

“Is that a yes?” He asked, allowing himself to be pushed along.

Once he was over the threshold she moved to close the door. He put a hand up to stop it from closing, “Yes or no, my lady?”

“It is a maybe,” she said.

Adavae laughed at that and let the door close. 

~~~/~~~/~~~

Adavae dropped into the chair next to Solas and immediately leaned against the elf. Varric raised an eyebrow at the two as Solas just seemed to glance at him with a calm, sidelong look, then returned to his cards. The dwarf let it pass as he commented, "Long day avoiding everything, Sharps?"

"Long day of everyone managing to find me, Storyteller," Adavae grumbled, "Is it so bad to just want do a fairly tiny part so I can bolt at the first open door?"

Varric chuckled, "Aah, a fellow avoider, glad I'm in good company," he joked, picking up another card and setting one down.

"Do not enable him, Varric," Solas said with no real bite, but just enough undertone to be scolding.

Adavae grumbled and raised his head, "Didn't ask for this shit. None of it," he ground out.

"No one ever does,” Varric said, giving him a small smile, “I don’t know how many times Hawke got shitface drunk just to forget that he was in the middle of a hellstorm. It usually ended with Red and him dancing on tables with Junior drooling under Red’s boots, Daisy asleep on the waitress’s bosom, and Broody still trying to play cards with me but continually flash his cards at me and asking me to tell him what cards he was holding because he couldn’t see them right anymore. Then Sebastian trying to convince us we all need to get to the Chantry immediately for some sort of cleansing the next day.”

Adavae snorted and shifted to lean over the table, chin in hand, “I really need to meet them sometime. They all sound like they’d be great drinking partners.”

A new card was drawn and Varric grinned wide, “Angel of Death, Chuckles, show ‘em,” and set out his cards.

The mage looked at the two pair in Varric’s hand and sighed, “It seems, Varric, that you,” He showed his four set and two pair, “owe me that manuscript.”

Varric laughed, “All right, fair’s fair. I’ll have it to you as soon as I can.”

“Preferably before Adavae manages to escape our clutches,” Solas added, raising an eyebrow at the archer.

Adavae let his lip curl in distaste at the mage, making Varric laugh again.

~~~/~~~/~~~

Josephine wrapped her robe tighter around herself. She wanted to be back in her chambers, warm by the fire with Cassandra grumbling in her sleep nearby. However, after a letter from home that left her troubled at her siblings and another stall in the paper work she had been attempting to piece together from scratch, she couldn’t sleep. The cold of her and Minaeve’s office probably woke her up more, but she needed something to distract her. That meant work. 

What she didn’t expect was a quiet knock on her door in the wee hours of the morning. She frowned and stood, pulling her robe close and cracking the door open, “Oh! Herald? What are you doing here?”

“I would ask why you are awake, my lady?” He asked in return, stifling a yawn as he pulled his cloak a bit closer, “But if you must know it’s been… difficult to sleep since I woke from the explosion.”

Her look turned sympathetic, “I can understand. We all have had a difficult time with it.”

He nodded and then there was an awkward pause.

He cleared his throat, “Perhaps you can take a moment to walk with me?”

“Herald,” she said scandalously, “I’m hardly decent!” she whispered, hiding a bit more behind the door.

Her room with Cassandra was right next to her office and it was easy to slip between them, so she hadn’t thought about getting presentable. Adavae just chuckled, “Don’t worry, my lady. It’s only a few soldiers running about and they’ll hardly care. Plus,” he gestured to the cloak he wore, “this will more than sufficiently cover you up.”

“But then you will be quite cold,” she argued.

“Better cold than soaked through with rain,” he said with a wry smile.

The noblewoman pursed her lips, then sighed, “You aren’t going to leave this, are you?”

The smile turned playful, “Not tonight, no.”

She watched him carefully for a moment, taking in the weight to his normally bright eyes and the strain that managed to keep the thin smile in place. Her expression softened more as she came out from behind the door a bit, pulling her robe close. He averted his eyes politely and she laughed softly, “Give me your cloak, Herald,” she wrapped herself up in it and made sure it was sufficiently closed before saying, “All right, hera-“

“Adavae, just for tonight, my lady. In the morning you can go back to Herald, but for now…” Eyes that seemed too tired begged her.

She took a breath and nodded, then took a page from his own book, “If one of the nobles hear and start the wrong rumors it will be you cleaning that up,” the Antivan said with a small smile and a jab to his chest.

Adavae mocked hurt as he clutched his chest with a laugh, but she was happy to see the smile, “As you wish, Josie,” then straightened and held out his arm to her 

She took it daintily but she was quickly pressed against his side as they stepped out into the cold night air outside the Chantry, “Oh dear. 

Adavae shifted to allow her to press closer without putting an arm around her, careful of how that may look. They walked about quietly for a long time, she wanted to ask questions but breaking the quiet that hung around them felt almost sacrilegious. The stars were bright and clear, but with a green tint to them that came from the Breach. She sighed slightly, “I wish I could see the stars normally.”

“Get far enough away and I bet you can,” Adavae said softly beside her.

“H-…Adavae, are you thinking of leaving still?” she asked, concern on her features.

Adavae shrugged, then shushed her as they moved through the gates, keeping the conversation from the guards as he nodded to them in greeting. She did the same as the guards saluted them. Once they were out of ear shot he said, “I’m not here for your cause, Josephine. I don’t know how many times I must say that to all of you before it will sink in. I’m not very good at staying in one place.”

Josephine sighed, “I don’t know how I can stress to you enough that we need you here, Adavae. I do not know what gives you this need to keep moving, to run like you do, but no one will benefit if you leave.”

“Oh? The infamous Herald of Andraste, abandoning the Inquisition. I suppose that does look bad for you guys,” he said as they reached the docks and they stopped once they came to the end of one.

Josephine scoffed in annoyance, “That is not what I meant, Adavae!”

Adavae shrugged again and moved to sit on the edge of the dock, legs dangling over the edge. Josephine frowned before moving forward determinedly and sitting down beside him, “I meant that you could be killed. You would be unprotected. Unsupported. What would your family do should they lose you?”

He looked like he was about to say something painful, then stopped and shook himself, “I am not so easy to kill, Josie. It pains me to think that you may find me so easily offed.”

Josephine set her fists on her hips as she said, “You have not had armies after you, towns ready to lynch you! Adavae, I beg you to think more on this. We can help you.”

Those two-toned eyes peered at her strangely after her tirade and she pulled back questioningly, “What?”

“Your optimism, about the Inquisition is… surprising to me. All of you are so dedicated, Cassandra would go on for hours if allowed, Leliana is in a sharper, quiet manner, Cullen even started on his own speech about it. Even Varric and Solas are determined to see this through,” he said with a slightly confused look.

“Is it so strange to be passionate and dedicated about something? Especially something that will change Thedas in many ways?” She asked, curious about the man since even Leliana was having to dig deeper than expected to find specifics on him from before he reached Antiva.

“No, not at all. I’m just not used to it. My mother was the last person I came across that had this kind of passion and even then, it was… vindictive,” he said as he chose his words carefully.

“Vindictive? Lady Trevelyan is known for her harsh but diplomatic dealings. I’ve never heard of her being vindictive. Even after the fiasco with your father’s death,” Josephine said in surprise, eyes widening.

“Mother can hold her composure. It’s a very Moussant thing, I believe. Grandfather can look the picture of happiness and joy and the moment the person is well enough out of range he’ll rage worse than a drunk Kirkwall sailor,” Adavae explained.

The archer paused as Josephine bit back a giggle, “Oh, oh, I’m sorry! I should not have laughed at that.”

“Yes, you should have,” he contradicted with a sidelong grin.

As Josephine’s giggles finally died out she caught a glimpse of a look that she wasn’t sure what to do with. It was gentle, an expression she hadn’t truly seen on the man before. Calm, compassionate, all that sort, but not gentle. Adavae’s grin returned a second later and before she could ask anything the rustling of the lieutenants starting to wake the recruits could be heard. Adavae stood and offered her a hand, “And that is queue for me to return you to your quarters, miss.”

She paused, but let it slide and smiled as she took the offered hand and stood. The noble walked Josephine back to her chambers, speaking of his grandfather’s rather quirky nature and his love/hate relationship with the Grand Game. Once at her door she moved to give him back his cloak but he quickly declined it for the time being, saying she could keep it till she was decent and no longer in need of it. Josephine had shaken her head but kept the cloak as she slipped into her chambers with Cassandra with a murmured ‘Good night’ from them both. The warrior was just waking up as she moved to her wash bowl to try to freshen up. The seeker looked up at her and frowned, “You haven’t been working through the night again, Josephine?”

“I worked a bit,” she said with a shrug, “But Adavae and I spoke for a time about his family and the Inquisition,” she sighed, “He just seems so set against staying.”

“Adavae does not have much of a choice right now, ambassador, but I’ve no doubt he’ll run the first chance he gets as well. We must find a way to keep him here. If only for his safety,” the Seeker said, splashing water on her face.

“I agree, you’ll keep him from running as long as you can, I take it?” Josephine asked, though she already knew the answer.

“Even if I have to knock him out to do it,” she affirmed with a determined huff.

Josephine nodded and moving to dress for the day. 

~~~/~~~/~~~

Adavae walked slowly back to his cabin, thinking and deciding. It was a decision he was sure he was going to regret. He didn’t want to get pinned down, he hated the idea of it. However, he couldn’t help thinking back to all of it, Cassandra and Cullen’s determination, Leliana’s jaded but purposeful clarity, Solas’ decisiveness, Varric’s begrudging commitment, and Josephine’s passion. His mind flashed back to watching the antivan with her quiet giggles, a hand covering her mouth politely. She was truly something to behold when she laughed. Not that she was plain otherwise, her standing regally with her notes board was enough to make him stare, but the way her eyes danced as she laughed, or how she tried to hide her blushes? Adavae found it hard to resist doing what he could to pull any sort of reaction from her.

He sighed softly as he reached his cabin, nodded to his night guard Valorie, and moved inside. He rubbed his hands together and crouched in from of the fireplace where the fire was little more than embers, starting to put some logs on to light it up again. Once lit he warmed his hands which were colder than he realized. He stared at the fire as the sun rose, listening to the guards as they changed and knowing that Cassandra would be at his door soon, though maybe Vallya would beat her with breakfast. Adavae settled back onto the floor and folded his legs with a sigh, “Oh to the Void with it,” he snarled mostly to himself as he stood suddenly.

The noble went through getting himself dressed and soon he was in his normal garb with his weapons tossed over his shoulder, he needed to take them to Harritt and have them updated to something sturdier, maybe with a better hilt one his daggers. As he opened the door he saw Vallya just a few steps away with his breakfast, tea and an opened face sandwich. He smiled brightly at her and waved to his morning guard Duncan as he passed him. Vallya smiled back, “Brought your favorite, your worship!”

Adavae leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, “Wonderful, Vallya. I’ll have to eat it on the go, though. Too much to prepare for right now.”

“Oh? What do you have planned?” She asked curiously.

“You’ll see soon enough,” and took the loaded-up slab of bread in one hand and the mug in the other, before taking off as he ate.

He started to move up the stairs towards the Chantry when he caught sight of Cassandra leaving the inn. He flagged her down with a raised mug, “Morning Cassandra!”

She gave him a skeptical look, “Herald, you…are not hiding?”

“Avoiding, Cassandra. There is a vast difference!” He pointed out, to which she tried to retort but he cut her off, “Tell me seeker, what do you have planned in two days?”

“I-“ she stopped and her eyes narrowed as she asked instead, “Why?”

“We’re going to the Hinterlands,” he said as he took another bite of his food.

Her eyebrows shot up, pausing as she was caught off guard, “You…We are?”

“Yes, I guess you can chat with Cullen about any guard you want to come along and equipment. I’ll make sure any supplies we need for the area come through Leliana, and I’ll talk to Josephine about Mother Giselle,” he moved around the confused woman, once again raising her mug to her, “See you in the war room, seeker! 

He left Cassandra staring after him, the look on her face was well worth the decision.

Chapter Text

Adavae leaned against a tree atop the hill that looked out over to Fort Connor in the west and Redcliffe to the north, though the hills surrounding the village were barely visible. Since they had arrived in the Hinterlands they had managed to curb the fighting between the rogue templars to the southwest and the apostate mages in the northwest. They still hadn't gotten to Dennet, but they had secured the Crossroads and spoken with a Revered Mother, Mother Giselle, in regards to the opposition in the Chantry. She was a kind woman and focused on the people she tended, not giving much weight to the hierarchy that the Chantry seemed so obsessed with, though she knew well how to manipulate it.

The world needed more women like her. She didn’t care that he was not pious, or didn’t believe in the Maker, even if she probably believed he should. She cared that he was here to help, and that made him hope that more people like her were active. Chantry or not.

After she left for Haven they had remained to see what they could do to stabilize the region. Thus why they were so concerned about the rogue factions. They had been here for almost a month and there was still too much fighting. Now scouts had been sent out to try to get to Dennet to see if he was even alive. Adavae only hoped they hadn’t been sent to their deaths.

Now, their sights were set on Fort Connor. If they could take the Fort they could create a break in the hostilities and then force one faction back while just containing the other. The fort might be a good outpost in the future as well. He wanted to get the templars to the southwest taken care of first, though Cassandra had been pushing for the apostates. Maybe if they cleared out the templars though, the apostates would be more reasonable? The same could be said for either though.

He looked over his shoulder as he heard soft, gentle steps, "Morning Solas."

A small chuckle came from the bald elf, "Your hearing is good for a human."

"I'm sure you could be silent if you wanted to," he said, brushing the comment off.

Solas shrugged and leaned against his staff, calm eyes looking out over the terrain, "Perhaps. I am better at making sure you don't follow though," he said and allowing a small breeze of chilled air to waft over Adavae.

The archer shivered and grinned, "Careful Solas, I might get ideas."

The elf raised any eyebrow at the human, but his amused smile remained, "You seem to get too many of those, regardless."

"Generally, yes, but if you’re offering..." he trailed off and his grin widened.

Solas’ eyes rolled, though the smirk he wore remained, "I doubt the middle of an outposts made of tents is a place to have such an encounter,” The mage deflected.

Adavae laughed outright at that, "So would it be better if I took up the offer in Haven?"

"Absolutely not, Herald. What would your followers think then?" Solas playfully scolded the archer.

“That I have a healthy sexual drive, and the strange apostate is not so very strange,” Adavae offered.

Solas shook his head, “I quite prefer to be considered strange to somehow holy.”

“Then perhaps they’ll start thinking I’m strange? I would prefer that as well,” Adavae said with a sigh.

“Do their comments bother you that much?” The elf asked with an upward tilt of his chin.

Adavae’s lips twisted in a frown, “Unfortunately. Believing in a god that turned his back on us because we weren’t his perfect little creations? Foolish.”

“I agree, you humans have a strange way of… punishing yourselves,” the mage pointed out, straightening and turning to Adavae, “But I came here to let you know. Scout Harding has returned with news that Dennet and his are safe and soldiers from Haven has arrived at the Crossroads last night as well. It shouldn’t take them long to get to lake Luthias.”

Adavae nodded, "How many were they able to send?"

"Fifty strong I believe. Also, Corporal Vale requested you at the main tent. He said scouts are reporting a lull in the mage-templar fighting that may allow us to get to the fort," the mage relayed.

Adavae groaned, “And here I was hoping to get a bit more time to get you in a nearby tent. Though the thrill of just here is-“

“-not appealing in any way,” Solas finished for him before turning on his heel and moving away.

Adavae chuckled and followed Solas back to the camp. He couldn’t help it, Varric and Vale weren’t his type, Harding was too devoted to her work, and Cassandra got riled up too quickly and easily, plus he would be damned if he couldn’t try to get Varric and Cassandra to work out their differences through a bit of a tumble in the sheets. So that left Solas to really spar with, especially since the apostate seemed to not give a damn at how sexual it might get. Though when he did go somewhere Solas didn’t like he was very good at diverting Adavae, and the noble let him. It made for a lot of laughs, notes taken by Varric, and Cassandra turning interesting shades of red with disgusted sounds included.

As they arrived Solas moved away to the healing areas, speaking with the mage and priest there. Adavae broke off to the corporal and Harding, both looked up and saluted, "Herald, ser,” they said in unison, making Adavae roll his eyes.

He gave them a lazy, two-fingered salute in return, "Corporal, Scout, I understand we might have a chance at the fort?"

“Yes ser, the last big skirmish saw both sides take heavy losses, enough to call a retreat. Waste if you ask me, but it could work in our favor,” Harding explained, pointing to area on the map where the rogue mages and templars had retreated,

Adavae nodded, “I agree, though I can’t say I like putting up directly in-between them. A lot could go wrong very fast.”

“I know ser, but we’ve got Leliana’s agents in the north and south keeping an eye on the apostates and lines on the templars. If either move we’ll know. We have enough men now to keep the stronger faction, the apostates from what Harding says, off our backs while you get the templars taken care of,” Vale explained, moving a few pieces for the soldiers that had just arrived.

“Good, we’ll clear a path of any stragglers to the fort so we can setup while they’re still trying to recover. Just make sure you are ready to move in, Corporal. Once Cass is re-“ he had to duck as a fist went for his head and Cassandra dove for the archer, missing by inches.

“Call me ‘Cass’ one more time and I don’t care what the people are calling you. You’re still not well known enough that I can’t string you off a tree by your toes!” She snarled as Adavae laughed. 

“Oh come on! Cassandra is such a mouthful! Cass is so mu-Ack!” He had the breath knocked from him as Cassandra dove forward and drove her shoulder into his stomach and he flew back into a range of bushes and shrubs that managed to break his fall while stabbing him at the same time.

The seeker stood over him, breathing heavily and glowering at him as if he were the worst person on the planet, “No. Cassandra, and only Cassandra,” then turned on her heel and stormed away.

After Cassandra was out of view Harding moved cautiously over, “Well, that one way to piss her off.”

Blue-red eyes looked up at the scout before he burst into a fit of giggles and the field agent could only shake her head and walk away while the corporal hid his laughter behind a fist. The archer picked himself up when he was done, sporting his cuts and bruise happily as a mark of surviving the angry seeker.

~~~/~~~/~~~

Cassandra watched as Adavae cleaned his dagger on a dead templar’s clothing and sheathed it back to his side. They had just cleared out a group of mages and templars that had been fighting each other just inside the remnants of Fort Connor. They had only come across a few groups, small and easily taken care of. As she took stock of their little group, she thought briefly on how if someone had told her just over a month ago that she would be coming to trust these three with her life she would have punched them. Now though, despite Solas being enamored with demons, Varric’s blatant rebuffs of her attempts at making things civil, and Adavae’s inability to take anything seriously, she knew she could trust them.

Solas was incredibly adept with barriers, purges, mind blasts, and ice magic. He had every defensive skill mastered and could kite an enemy for what seemed like hours as he found ways to kill them off. But he didn’t need to as anyone who managed to get past Cassandra had the two archers on them like starved predators, protecting the mage fiercely. If Solas wasn’t in trouble though the two were raining down arrows with a precision that Cassandra had learned quickly to be wary off, but also trust.

Varric’s shots were loud and easily heard so she always knew where they were coming from. Adavae’s were silent, but careful and utterly spot on. She had been right to be afraid of the archer’s abilities after seeing them at the temple and in the training yard. His daggers were also a thing to be reckoned with. One rogue mercenary had managed to sneak up behind them, only to have Adavae’s daggers through his skull. She had to admit she was glad these three were on their side and not someone else’s. Pulling her thoughts together the seeker gestured to the spike of red lyrium that protruded from the wall of stone at the back of the remains of Fort Connor, “We should get rid of that.”

Adavae’s lip curled in a look of disgust, “Destroy it quickly, it makes my skin crawl.”

“Already? Usually it takes a bit to get under your skin,” Varric pointed out as Cassandra lifted her shield.

“It’s like… ants, itching and biting, makes me sick,” the archer said, truly looking green now.

“Then let’s get rid of it,” and with a cry of strength Cassandra slammed forward, smashing the piece into dust.

Adavae visibly shuddered and the seeker couldn’t help wondering if that wasn’t the extent of what he felt around the corrupted lyrium. With a sigh she pulled back and tossed her shield on her back, “I’ll go signal the scouts so we can start moving the troops in. Then we can head south.”

Adavae nodded, but Varric grumbled, “I still don’t like the idea of putting us in-between all this.”

“It’s not my favorite idea, Varric,” Adavae admitted, “If either forces were any larger I wouldn’t have allowed it. But Corporal Vale is right, with the way the forces sporadically attack one another we need to separate them, wedge between them if you will. Our soldiers will focus on defense against the north so we can move south. The camp at lake Luthias is a good strong hold for now. If we need to retreat, they can head back up there,” the rogue explained, relaying more of what the Corporal had told them earlier in the day.

“I get it, Sharps. Just still don’t like it,” the dwarf sighed out.

Cassandra frowned, Adavae had been careful to make sure that Corporal Vale was the one to give the orders and present the plan, especially to the new soldiers. The seeker had hoped Adavae would. Maybe he wouldn’t be the leader Leliana seemed to think he could be, as he was certainly fighting it tooth and nail. Her thoughts came up short as there was a sudden shift of the walls around them and a large ‘thud’ sound, then the ceiling above them was crumbling. A shower of dust and rocks forced her to raise her arms and rush forward as a slide of massive stones piled down behind her and where she had just been. She whirled on her heel to look for everyone. Varric was beside her but Solas and Adavae had been forced back by the crumbling fortress, “Herald!” She screamed.

She tried to move forward but Varric grabbed her by the belt and yanked her back with strength she didn’t know he had as more of the building collapsed in front of them, completely cutting them off from the other two. The seeker stared at the wall of stone that now lay in front of them. “Maker… Wh…what happened?” she said in dismay.

“The red lyrium must have been holding the place together. Now that it’s gone it’s just started crumbling. Shit, can you tell if they’re alive?” Varric asked as he began to touch over the rocks, looking for openings or a place they might be able to see through.

“I can… try,” she said, hoping that maybe Solas was casting something, she might be able to sense the magic then.

As Varric looked over the wall of debris, cursing and murmuring in worry, Cassandra raised a hand and tried to sense anything. There, faintly. They had to be in the back of the room, under where the fort had been cut into the mountain, “I can feel something but… Nothing more than I think Solas is casting something.”

“Good, that means they could be alive,” With a large breath he screamed, “Solas! Adavae! Can you hear me? Chuckles? Sharps?!”

“Maker…” she murmured again and then joined the dwarf, yelling and testing the debris, trying to move some away.

~~~/~~~/~~~

On the other side of the rubble Solas leaned on his staff and grunted slightly as the rocks above shifted. His eyes were locked on Adavae’s unconscious form beside him. When the rocks had started falling the human had pushed him back and earned a few rocks to the head. Now Solas was busy keeping them both alive by holding up a barrier that was keeping a beam and the boulders above it up. He could barely hear Cassandra and Varric screaming on the other side of the collapse, he had tried to call back, but they seemed not to hear him.

Adavae moaned beside him and the elf shifted towards him, “Adavae! Are you all right?” He asked, managing to crouch and move one hand to touch the younger’s shoulder.

The archer took a breath and blurry eyes looked up at him through blood and dust. For a second panic flashed over his features and Solas feared he may need to handle a panicking human, but Adavae froze, his breath held for a long moment, until he forced out a breath, then took another one in. When he finally faced Solas the panic was gone. What surprised the elf though was that those eyes were not the typical mauve color in the dim light that only his sparking barrier was casting. They were the luminescent green of an elf seeing in the dark. There was a pause as their eyes locked and Adavae’s breath stopped again. Then he swallowed and sat up, looking around to assess the damage, “Shit, did the entire building collapse around us?”

Solas huffed slightly, “It would seem so. I’m keeping this area clear with a barrier, but I don’t know how long that will last,” he said softly.

Worried eyes turned to him now and Solas was sure of it this time. He had been right to be suspicious previously. The noble’s movements were too quick and silent, hearing just that bit too good for him to have been entirely human. The moment was broken as yelling could be heard again. Adavae perked up at that and moved over to the wall of stone and began yelling back, “Cassandra! Varric!”

A muffled cry to the Maker and then the two were screaming again, he could discern little, his focus on the barrier and trying to figure out how to make it last. Adavae had his ear pressed to the stones, trying to listen, then pulled back, yelling an agreement, “What did the-“

He was cut off as Adavae turned and shook his head, “Save your strength. Varric is taking the horse back for help, they can’t move the boulders on their side and it’s all precarious right now. They don’t know what will fall and what won’t. Cassandra is staying to see if she can prove differently.”

“Understood,” he said with a grunt and Adavae began looking around.

He wasn’t sure what the half-elf was looking for though. The slightly glowing eyes caught his confused look and the rogue offered a smile, “If I can find a way to get some weight off you, I’m going to.”

Solas nodded, an affirming sound leaving him. That would be far more effective than Solas tiring or his mana reserves running out with the last lyrium potion. Adavae milled about the tiny space that they had been caught in, pushing at stones and grunting as he tested them. Solas and Adavae could stand in the space created by the mage’s barrier, barely, but the area around them was small. If Solas lifted his arms he could touch the rocks on either side. As it was, the rogue brushed and bumped into Solas with each movement. There was the sound of a rock moving and a murmured ‘fuck’ from Adavae 

Grey eyes glanced over and found Adavae had found a square-ish boulder free of the rest of the rubble and was moving it to try and wedge it under the edge of the beam that had hit the ground. It may not do much, if anything, but it was better than Adavae sitting idle.

Another series of curses, ‘fuck’ being included frequently, rolled out of Adavae as he tried to wedge it under the beam and Solas managed a small chuckle, “Hardly the time for that.”

Adavae looked surprised, but a smile managed to show, “I thought I was the joker?”

“Well, you currently aren’t doing your job very well,” he tried, voice strained.

The archer paused and hesitantly put a hand on his back, offering the little support he could as something on the other side shifted and cursing was heard once more. Adavae grimaced and looked between the wall and Solas. Nothing had shifted on their side so he relaxed and began moving the stone again. A few moments later and another brace of wood across the ground holding the stone in place and Solas was able to let the stone take some of the weight.

Adavae watched the apparatus of rocks and beams closely as Solas carefully allowed the barrier to weaken until a small shifting was heard and he stopped. Any more and the makeshift brace wouldn’t be able to take it. Adavae sighed a little, “Is that at least a bit better?”

Solas nodded, “Yes, thank you." 

Adavae nodded a bit is lower lip, looking around as if trying to find something else to do. Taking a breath Solas said firmly, “Adavae, sit down.”

The rogue stopped his fidgeting and sighed, “Sorry,” and dropped to the floor a bit heavily as they began to wait.

~~~/~~~/~~~

It had to have been hours, but Solas still held the barrier though more voices could be heard on the other side now. Adavae had found nothing else that he could do to help the elf aside from feed him the few lyrium potions they had to supplement his mana reserves and occasionally shifting his own strength underneath the beam. It was just enough to let Solas breathe every now and again. When he wasn’t helping Solas he was sitting and silently repeating a chant his grandmother had taught him or one of the lullabies Mimi had used to sing to him. Anything to keep his mind off the tiny space and the feeling of his chest collapsing in on itself that being trapped created. Finally, Solas had moved to sit down, still clutching his staff, and pulled Adavae over to lean against him in a comforting manner, like one would a frightened child almost.

When they had heard Varric screams when he arrived with half the camp and most of the soldiers to help relief had flooded Adavae and given him a moment of normal breathing. Now they could hear them milling about on the other side, but moving anything was slow, or they could just drop everything down on the Herald and apostate. Adavae had remained quiet as possible as he curled up to Solas, terrified sound alone might cause something to shift, but at this point Solas was exhausted and had removed his arm from around Adavae and instead was holding onto his staff with both hands, concentrating heavily on his spell casting. So Adavae was surprised when he demanded, “Talk.”

Adavae looked up in surprise, “About what?”

Solas grit his teeth and shot the younger a look before asking the first thing that came to mind, “Your mother or father?”

Adavae tensed for a moment, but then he sighed, “My father. My mother is of the Moussant’s in Orlais. My father was a hunter in the Tehvanal clan in the Free Marches and Orlais,” he paused, but the shining eyes glanced at Solas and his slowly crumbling resolve, so he kept going, “She says it was a one night stand on the way to visit her family in Orlais. When she was on the way back she planned to tell him but he had been killed in an attack from a local village. The clan was moving but the Keeper remembered her and told her the news. Mother and her little group helped distract the villagers long enough for the clan to get away. Keeper Irramela extended safety to me if my mother could not keep me, but my mother was determined to keep me. It was by luck that I got a mix of my father’s red eyes and my mother’s blue instead of one or the other.”

The mage frowned slightly, “Why would that be lucky? I understand it is a rare trait but…"


Adavae scrubbed a hand back through his dreadlocks with a breath, “The Trevelyan line is known for having rare red and blue eyes that look mauve, so she could better pass me off as the Bann’s son and not a bastard child. Rumors still flew as I got older though. Malcolm Trevelyan was a large man and most Moussant men were larger, tall and muscled with a penchance for swords. I was always slight in build and while I can handle a sword fine it’s not my preference.”

There was yet another pause as Adavae seemed to gather himself, “She told me when I was young, mostly because Malcolm knew by his own mechanisms I wasn’t his and he hated me. I needed to know why the person I called father was never kind to me, but doted on my twin brother and sister.”

“I am sorry,” Solas managed, voice soft through the sounds of shifting rubble.

“Thank you, I app-“ he didn’t get to finish what he was saying though as with a sudden roar the stones above them shifted and Solas covered his head with one hand as his barrier faltered for a moment, then came back.

Adavae scrambled closer to the elf as the alcove shrunk and checked him over, “Solas! Damn-“ he turned in the direction of where he could hear people screaming and yelled, “Stop! It’s falling on us!"

Solas gave a strangled sound and then barrier shattered again. Adavae reacted quickly and put his shoulders under the beam that was keeping the boulders from them. Solas’ barrier was back up but it was cracked and flickering, his staff bending and cracking dangerously as it was caught between the ground and the beam and it tried to handle some of the burden with Adavae. With a grunt the Herald took as much of the weight as he could, wood digging deep into his back and shoulders as he felt rocks that slipped through pummel him. Solas looked up at him, teeth grit and eyes desperate. Solas was on his feet now, grip on his staff trying to keep the staff in place, and Adavae was halfway to his own knees. The rogue did his best to straighten his back and put the strain on his shoulders instead, where he could hold it better.

“You can’t hold that, Adavae,” Solas said, with a grunt.

“Neither can you,” he managed, “You’re out of magic, they can’t blast through this or it will just all fall on us or we’ll get caught in the blast itself,” he rattled on, suddenly realizing why Solas had needed him to talk, but now that was too difficult.

Solas nodded, frustration in his eyes as he tried to push more magic out but they both knew there was nothing there. The moments stretched as they grit through them, but after what seemed like entirely too long a grating of stone and shower of dirt and pebbles and he looked up to see someone crawling through a hole that had been made above them. The light from torches barely illuminated their rescuers before they were being dragged out of the crumbling alcove as it disappeared under the rubble.

Adavae landed on the stone of the floor on the other side and stared up at the ends of the remaining walls and the night sky and Cassandra and Varric right above him, a mix of relief and wonder. Distantly he noted that they had been in there long enough for night to fall. He took deep breaths as he looked around and his eyes landing on Solas. The mage was bent forward on his knees, one hand holding him upright as Harding knelt beside him. The archer had no doubt he was covered in as much dust, sweat, and blood as Solas was. But they were alive. He let a grin touch his lips and his eyebrow jumped suggestively, “Shall we do that again some time?”

“Oh, of all the-“ Solas sighed and shook his head, waving his hand at him dismissively.

Adavae looked up at the people surrounding them, relieved smiles and laughter coming from them. He met Varric and Cassandra’s looks and nodded to them, they were all right.

Chapter Text

It was fair to say that Adavae was stubborn. It was also fair to say that Cassandra was more so. So, in a clash of stubbornness and lack of self-preservation (on Adavae's part) Cassandra had won the argument about what to do after the cave in and thus they found themselves back in Haven for resupply and reassessment once he and Solas were cleared for travel. The clearing out of the templars and mages had been left in the capable hands of Corporal Vale and his forces. Once in Haven, debriefing had been quick and talking to Mother Giselle had deemed that he couldn’t put off that trip to Val Royeaux any further. Whatever god actually existed, he hated them more right now. He had only been to Val Royeaux exactly once and it had ended up as a short trip as the first thing the other noble teenagers had done was try to assert their superiority. Adavae had ended that quickly by putting itch herbs in the mattresses of all their beds and when they tried to get revenge, firmly pinning their own prank of ice water from the top of doors back on them. He was a good aim by that time. His grandfather had politely apologized for Adavae's antics before taking him aside and congratulating him heartily before they made their way back to the inn, then the Moussant mansion to the northeast.

A small smile played over his lips at the memory and a warm chuckle pulled him back to present to look over at Varric. The dwarf set a large mug on front of him, "Tea, for the cold," he said before settling next to Adavae.

"Tea and?" Adavae asked, peering into the mug.

"Nothing this time. I've got a wine for you to try this evening," he explained, pulling his own drink close.

Adavae snorted, "I’d hope so. You’d best not be holding out on me, storyteller."

"Sharps, please, you wound me," Varric said with a hand over his chest.

"I'm sure you'll survive," he laughed.

"Survive, yes, but live? Not at all," Varric continued with a sigh. 

"And what have you done to send Varric into such dramatics, Herald?" Came a smooth voice from beside them.

"Only insulted his ability to procure alcohol on a regular basis. He’s too busy taking notes for his book," Adavae said after a short sip of the tea.

Solas slid into a seat across from them as Varric said, “It's gonna be great in the book though! That cave in gave me more material than I know what to do with! 'Hedge Mage and Herald of Andraste, bonding during near death experience! Perhaps....more?” He said theatrically as he peered between the two.

Solas groaned and Adavae burst into laughter. Varric joined in on the laughter as Solas said, "How many people are you going to try and setup Adavae with?"

"Everyone until one sticks," Varric said as his laughter died down, "I'm honestly thinking about opening a betting pool on who he gets with."

Solas rolled his eyes and Adavae snorted, "Can I be the first one with a bet on no one?"

"Sure, Sharps. How much?" Varric asked as he pulled out a quill and some paper.

Adavae leaned back and took another sip of tea, "20 gold, storyteller."

Varric whistled but wrote it down, noting a few more scribbles before looking to Solas. The elf scrutinized Adavae for a moment, "I will withhold for the time being. I do not believe all the players are present. I like to know my options."

"A patient man, good quality to have," Varric said with a nod and another scratch of quill.

Solas simply hummed and Adavae smiled into his drink, enjoying the camaraderie before they landed in Val Royeaux and tried to beat some sense into the Reverend Mothers.

This was going to be hell.

~~~\~~~\~~~

"You are not sleeping well," Solas said as he sat next to the archer.

They’d made it to Val Royeaux. They’d attempted to beat sense into people. They’d made no progress because apparently no one wanted to listen to reason and the archer had been reminded why he had avoided the Ostwick court like the Blight. He snorted, "No, it's hard to when your mind's still moving too fast. I certainly have enough to think about with the shit the chantry and the Order decided to fling at me.”

Solas folded his legs neatly as they looked out over the city of Val Royeaux, the distance making the city look beautiful once again as they left it behind, "Yet it is the turmoil of your dreams that are waking you up. Not the waking world’s unrest that’s keeping you awake."

For a moment they both said nothing. Adavae had no desire to confirm nor deny the words. Yet it made the feeling of suffocation that came from the dreams, of remembering being that small space again, seem more real than it should. Instead, he deflected, "So you're watching my dreams?"

He wouldn't put it past the mage. He'd been tossing and turning since the cave in and they did still share a tent regularly. Solas looked at him out of the corner of his eye, "I watch many people's dreams, but yours are... loud of late."

Adavae grimaced slightly, "I'd quiet them if I could."

"I know, but that often only pushes the problem away for a time. I have not watched any of the nightmares on more than at a cursory level… but some of them are memories, aren't they?" Came the soft question to avoid alerting any of the guards nearby of what their conversation might be about.

Adavae purposefully kept his gaze from Solas and silence reigned for a tense moment until the Herald finally said, "Keep watching other's dreams, Solas. Mine will subside. They always do."

Solas frowned but simply breathed sharply through his nose in annoyance and stood, moving away. Adavae swallowed back the bile in his throat and folded his arms over his chest against the chill of the night until morning came and they could continue on their way back to Haven.

~~~\~~~\~~~

"I never thought the Lord Seeker Lucius would do something like this," Cassandra said as she leaned over the war table with pursed lips.

They had just arrived back in Haven, two parties richer and one established religion more worn down by their own hands. Adavae sighed, "So you've said several times between here and Orlais. Now what do we do about it?"

"We make our own move since they have made theirs. I restate my suggestion of seeking the mage's, Herald," Leliana stepped in.

Adavae frowned slightly, he wasn't opposed to the idea because they needed the power the mages had. That didn’t mean he was confident in it, but it was the most open invitation available. He blew out a breath and nodded, “All right, I have a band of mercenaries to get from the Storm Coast first. I’ll stop back by Haven to restock before heading to Redcliffe to speak to the mages. So long as Josephine talks to nobles about Therinfall Redoubt.”

“Of course, Herald. Your showing at Val Royeaux has made that possible,” the Antivan said with a flourish of her pen.

The archer nodded before straightening, “That’s enough for now then. I’m going to go try to forget myself for a night. Do let me know if you need me to wear my Herald hat before tomorrow morning.”

Cullen rolled his eyes and Josephine chuckled softly before they began filing out. As Adavae was leaving the room, Leliana stopped him, "Herald, if you’ve a moment?"

He tilted his head but nodded and closed the door instead of leaving. He raised an eyebrow at her curiously, "Yes?"

"Now that you are willingly assisting with the Inquisition, I need to speak with you about some information that I've found," Leliana moved around the table.

Adavae folded his arms calmly over his chest while moving to lean against the war table, "It is in regard to your parentage," she added before he could try to dance around the conversation.

"And what have you learned about my parentage that would be so pressing?" He asked without missing a beat and keeping the tension from his posture.

"Your father was an elf. You are not, in fact, a Trevelyan," she said bluntly.

"And?" He continued, eyes narrowing and lips thinning.

"How much I may not wish it were so, this could affect the Inquisition heavily. The Herald revealed as a half-elf needs to be handled carefully,” she continued, her expression composed.

"I am well aware of the delicacy of the matter, Leliana. I've been dealing with it for all my life," he countered with a bit more force than he probably should have.

No one had ever figured it out and said anything before. Leliana seemed to pay his break in demeanor no mind though, "Then you understand my position. This is something that could change the tide of the situation of city elves, if used correctly."

Adavae closed his eyes briefly, "So I am not only to be your precious Herald of Andraste, I am to be some sort of symbol for the city elves?"

"And possibly the clans. You cannot deny that this puts you in a place of singular power that could help all of them," she emphasized, standing squarely before him. 

"And put those of my family, all sides of it, in peril at the same time. I'll not have them more entrenched in all of this than they already are just by their association to me," he argued back before pushing off the table to stand as well.

"The danger will be greater if we keep this secret," she held up a hand to cut him off as he started to speak, "I am not saying now, Adavae. But as the Inquisition grows, as our resources increase, we will have the ability to protect them. Your mother's portion of your family can take care of themselves and I can pass them information. Is there anyone within the Trevelyan's or Moussant’s that you would believe in need?"

He stared at her for a long moment before shaking his head. She nodded, "And your father's clan?"

The archer sighed, "They would need it, but they will not accept it."

Leliana nodded, "Few of the dalish would. But nevertheless, we would offer it."

"And find a way to provide it regardless," he affirmed, the statement partly a question.

Her lips tipped up in a smile, "Of course, Herald."

He relaxed somewhat, though he still watched her closely, "Who else gets this information?"

"Only Josephine. She needs to know in case something happens with the nobles, and if there are any that remember when you disappeared as a child she will need to know how to deflect it. She has been in contact with the individuals you named so she can see if they understand our position," Leliana advised him.

He nodded, "Understood. However, you will not use this information unless I give you leave, can I trust you for that?" Adavae needed to know that she would abide his wishes, whatever they may be.

She nodded again, "Absolutely, Herald." 

Adavae couldn't say he entirely believed her, but he nodded anyway and left the war room.

~~~\~~~\~~~

Leliana took a slow breath, leaning back against the table where Adavae had just been. She had known of their Herald's bloodlines for some time now. Mayda Trevelyan and her family had done well in covering Adavae's history and his travel, but Leliana had managed to piece together the truth when one of her informants had come across a ring with similar make as the one Adavae wore around his neck. It had been purchased from the Tehvanal clan during trade with a small village on the border of the Free Marches and Orlais. Much farther north than most went. Yet tracking the movements of the clan coincided with travel by Lady Trevelyan and Lord Moussant, always with Adavae in tow but never his twin siblings. There was other evidence within the events later leading to Malcolm Trevelyan's death all aiding in her conclusion.

Though it was mostly circumstantial and could all be swept aside with the right words to the right nobles, but to her, they became factual. She didn't know who in the clan was related to him, just that his father was of their clan, not Malcolm Trevelyan. The spymaster gathered herself and moved to the door and opened it to ask one of the guards, "Could you ask Lady Josephine to come to the war room?"

The guard nodded and moved off, the other remaining as he was. She closed the door and crossed her arms as she looked at the table before her. Another war, more of the faithful and noble dead, another teacher taken from her. Her heart ached and she missed Belia now more than ever. The dwarven warrior was a beacon of light and hope to so many, and now Leliana needed her for the anger that twisted her heart.

But she couldn't. Not right now. Belia was on a quest of her own, and Leliana couldn't always depend on her beloved like this. As the years in service had added up she had confessed much to her and found only kind understanding. She was not sure it would help her now even if she had the ability to call the Hero of Ferelden back from her quest.

~~~\~~~\~~~

Josephine watched from afar as the Iron Bull and his Chargers moved into Haven, Adavae sliding by the band of warriors without issue. She had already worked out the specifics of the Charger’s contract and just needed a few last pieces from the Iron Bull to make it all official. That made three new additions to the Inquisition since Adavae decided to actually work with them. It was a startling contrast and one that had Leliana only barely keeping the smug grin off her face.

Sera and Vivienne had both been surprises. That the First Enchanter would join them instead of remaining in Orlais with the court? It sent waves through the nobles, gentle waves, but enough to turn the right heads. Vivienne was already leveraging weight for supplies and freedom of movement between Orlais and Ferelden. It wouldn’t be long until they had their first few treaties in place.

Sera was a different story. Josephine had no idea what to do with her. However, Adavae seemed to realize that no one really did, so he kept her close. Leliana had only said that her usefulness would be proven in time. And if it meant she was only really useful to the Herald, then so be it. The Red Jennies were a wild card.

She made Adavae laugh though. Not to say he didn’t laugh often, but it was different. And Josephine was still examining the odd flutter it put in her chest.

Chapter Text

My Dearest Adavae,

I am so glad to hear you survived the Conclave. I had feared the worst when I heard what went on. To think that I may have lost you to that or the suspicion afterwards... It makes a mother's heart hurt. I have no doubt that you are being well treated or you would have found an escape route already. Though I am sure your more exuberant antics have garnered you some resistance.

Do keep yourself in one piece and visit home. The twins wish very much to visit you in your little movement, but Maker knows I can allow nothing of the sort. If they do happen by, could you send them back north please? I fear Maxwell has already started plotting.

Also, Mirabelle and those she keeps close are moving to your grandfather's in Orlais. Things in Starkhaven have become entirely too unstable and one of her age and mind should not be in such an environment. She is being well taken care of on the trip over. I was asked to pass on a more delicate matter though. It seems during the fighting after the Circles fell and when the riots started, Natyth and Wartoth were killed. 

Mirabelle has seen that they received proper burials. Natyth was given a small tomb in the mountain side and Wartoth was burned and his ashes spread across the Waking Sea as they passed close on route towards Orlais. I am sorry that I could not bring you this news sooner.

Please be safe my dear son, I do not wish to know the fear and loss that the aftermath of the Conclave brought again.

 

Sincerely,

Your Worried Mother, Mayda Moussant Trevelyan

~/~/~/~

Dearest Mother,

Thank you for telling me my dear friends, Wartoth and Natyth. As long as they died fighting I do not think more could have been asked for by them. You will have to tell me where Natyth’s tomb is. Even if she was considered casteless by the dwarves in Orzammar, I am glad Mirabelle still abided her belief in the Stone.

Could you let me know when Mirabelle is safe? I fear for her health, she tries to do too much for her age. I hope Grandfather doesn’t let her get away with too much, ever since Nana passed he’s catered to her every whim.

As for Maxwell and Evelyn, if they come by I have every intention of putting them to work for the Inquisition.

In the Free Marches.

In Ostwick.

Also, would there be any chance of checking on my great-aunt? I worry. As you know, what I am now brings more scrutiny to the table. I know you’ve worked hard over the years, but you couldn’t keep this forever it seems. I will do my best to stay alive, mother. I love you, do not worry about me.

 

Your Loving Son,

Adavae

~/~/~/~

My Lady Josephine Montilyet,

As it has been insisted on becoming more publicly known than I would like, at Adavae’s insistence, my first son is not the Trevelyan Heir. It was moved to my second oldest, Evelyn, in recent years and his insistence. He is, however, the full heir to the Moussant and Beresford holdings. My father and Aunt decided it was best if he received their titles and fortunes. As for his new title as Herald of Andraste, I am sure he is taking that well. If he starts playing vigilante against your wishes, please remind him that we can still very much track him down and make him stop that foolishness.

On another note, please make sure my son stays alive, Ambassador. I have little desire to find out of my son’s death after I have fought quite long and hard to keep him and the twins in their own respective single pieces. As it stands, the unrest in Ostwick will not allow me to travel at this time, so I am unable to see to this venture personally.

Lastly, should you come across any set of boy and girl twins that tend to favor large maces and smack each other’s heads together as greeting, please send them back north. Or notify Adavae. The twins are still under proper age to be joining a rebel battlefield.

 

Sincerely,

Lady Mayda Moussant Trevelyan

~/~/~/~

My Dear Brother Adavae,

I would like to start off by saying that you are a cruel man and should not have the power that the Inquisition has entrusted to you. If I plan to come south, I would have thought my elder brother would take me under his wing! Evelyn agrees with me, twins have to stick together, you know.

If we do come south you would have two valuable additions to your forces. Think about that while we plan our escape.

Also, mother is livid. Evie is worried. I think you are doing the right thing. Good luck.

 

Your appalled brother,

Maxwell Trevelyan

~/~/~/~

Elder Brother,

I must agree with Max on this. You are heartless to not offer your aide in our endeavor to assist your cause. Do you not want your family’s help? Have you no desire to see your twin siblings free of the noble confines of Ostwick and our shared blood? What would Andraste, the one you are now Herald for I might add, say to such lack of support?

Max is right though, I am worried. I’ve seen what happens. Please be careful.

 

Your Vehemently Opposed Sister,

Evelyn Trevelyan

 

P.S. Mother is doing as you wish.

~/~/~/~

Beloved Brother Maxwell and Stalwart Sister Evelyn,

I would take you both under my wing. In the Free Marches. In Ostwick. This answer will not change. Plus, you’re both only 17 and no I am not a good comparison so don’t even try it. And for you information, Evie, she agrees with me.

Mother will be angry no matter how I approach this, and Evie you needn’t worry, just keep your head up and stand tall.

 

Sincerely,

Your Unmoved Brother Adavae

 

P.S. Tell her thank you.

~/~/~/~

(In Orlesian) 

Adavae,

I’m sending this now because you’re being a poor sport about this whole ‘I survived the Conclave and am helping run an organization of needed and radical change’ thing. You survived the conclave, m’boy! You’re now an agent of change and stability that this world has needed for some time. Congratulations! You have to give me all the details! How many demons have you killed? Evil mercenaries? What about bears? Give me a few pages here! I need to be able to brag that my grandson is the Herald of Andraste! A leader in the Inquisition, I’ll not let you skimp out on this one. Not on your life.

I will be sending a few of my soldiers that wanted to help the cause your way. Make sure that commander of yours uses them well, though they are always welcome back here if they are not needed. Also, I will be sending Speckles as well. May she help you in your endeavors.

Beyond that, keep yourself and your family close at heart. We are here for you through all of this even if your mother is being a prude.

 

Sincerely,

Gabriel Moussant

 

P.S. Your Great Aunt Mirabelle has arrived safe with all of her entourage intact and a new addition it appears. A healthy baby girl named Ellie. Have a drink!

~/~/~/~

Grandfather, 

Enclosed is a full report from our spymaster along with numbers and details. I hope this is everything you need to brag as you want to.

If you do intend to send soldiers we would be more than happy to have them and Speckles would be a vast improvement from the ‘horse’ that they’ve provided. No offense, but he was a farm animal before, not meant for the sort of work we do. We should be able to reach Master Dennet soon though so we will have better soon, but Speckles is irreplaceable.

I’ll be raising a glass to Ellie’s birth tonight. I am glad that in all this chaos new life can still shine a light on what is happening.

 

Your Celebrating Grandson,

Adavae

 

[Attached is a fifteen page report with the barest details of Adavae’s activities and an estimation of numbers set in a graph.]

~/~/~/~

My Eldest Child,

Might I remind you that what you do affects many. Even more now that you bare a title you no doubt abhor. That said, yes, your great aunt and associates are well and continue as they always do. Your Leliana has contacted me in regard to this and I will play my part as you would no doubt ask me to. Let us hope that history does not repeat itself though. Pray to the Maker it does not.

 

Regards,

Lady Mayda Moussant Trevelyan

Chapter Text

"You know, you could have brought the Iron Lady to talk with the mage's. She might’ve been able to make them see reason. Why'd you bring me?" Varric asked as they moved between the mountains into Redcliffe, his shoulders slumped a bit in resignation.

Adavae chuckled at him, understanding his hesitance. He didn't want to be here either, but he’d been the one saddled with the lovely title of ‘Herald of Andraste’, so here he was. He turned to the dwarf with his normal, lopsided grin, "You’re a neutral party, Varric."

"Oh, that’s rich. I’m neutral so I get roped in. Where does that leave you?" H asked with a roll of his eyes.

"I’m just as magicless as the next person, but I’m supposed to play mediator or something akin to it. I need someone here without a real agenda, Varric,” he said with a shrug, “Besides, Vivienne wants power and influence. I prefer to give her that when it benefits us both.”

Solas spoke from just behind them, "A wise decision, Adavae. Her opinions are... twisted."

"Maybe, I can't say I don't know people that have fought their entire lives to be free of the Circles, but Templars aren't all bad," he added with a shrug, "the regular folk need to know they have some leg to stand on and she’s right when she says that mages need the company of each other."

Solas gave him a shrewd look, "How very diplomatic of you, Herald."

"Isn’t that what I’m supposed to be?" Adavae queried, about to go on when a loud crackling sound went off and green light flashed across them.

"Cassandra!" Adavae called, but the woman was already barreling to the front of their group and towards where the sounds of fighting had started.

Adavae followed and upon rounding the bend they found themselves dropped right in the middle of three guards failing miserably to fight off the demons pouring out of a rift at the gates of the town. Cassandra let out a bone-rattling cry that pulled the demon’s attention towards her while Solas threw up a shield, forcing the balls of green fire the wraiths were firing at them to bounce away. Adavae nocked his arrow and sent it into the shoulder of one of the Terrors as Cassandra smashed it with her shield, preventing the clawed hand from coming down on her. What was confusing though was the strange pockets of space where anything that entered it seemed to slow or speed up. It seemed to be focused around the rift so they had to get that closed fast.

It wasn't a long fight, and once the wave of demons had ebbed, Adavae held up his hand and with a twist and pull the rift snapped shut, “What… was that?” He said beneath his breath and looking to his companions.

“It looks as if it was distorting time itself,” Solas murmured, lips thin.

Adavae nodded in agreement but before he could say anymore the guards were racing past them, barely paying them any mind as they ran to get news of the closed rift to those inside. In the meantime, one of the Inquisition’s messengers, who must have gotten in before the rift opened, stepped forward, "Herald of Andraste."

The archer sighed internally at the title, having finally given up attempting to change how he was addressed, and nodded, "Report."

"We spread the word that the Inquisition was coming, ser. But you should know, no one was actually expecting us," he said with a fist over his heart.

The archer eyes narrowed, "Not even the First Enchanter?"

The messenger shook his head. Adavae frowned and glanced at Cassandra who nodded minutely at the signal to be ready for anything. She did not pull out her weapons, but her stance shifted. He gave instructions to the messenger to keep him and his fellows near the gates and not engage under any circumstances outside of self-preservation before moving deeper into the city himself.

~~~/~~~/~~~

Adavae could barely breathe through his anger. A Tevinter magister. The Blighted Grand Enchanter had done the worst thing possible and indentured herself, along with every last mage in Redcliffe, to a Tevinter Magister. He’d kept his calm and kept from lashing out. He’d seen what was going on, gauged reactions to Alexius, and met the oddball Tevinter named Dorian of House Pavus, and he’d done it all against a wall of panic and anger. His only choice had been to shut down as much of himself as he could, and he knew his traveling companions, even Cassandra, had noticed it.

There were no smiles or jokes, just a calm exterior with sharp questions. The mask was cracking as they reached Lake Luthias though. Scout Harding came up to him with a grim expression and Adavae raised a hand to stop her, “Send word to Josephine and Leliana, increase their focus on Therinfal Redoubt. I want us at their doorstep as soon as possible. I’m not touching the mages without back up.”

“Herald,” Harding affirmed with a nod and stepped away quickly.

He could see Cassandra step up beside him but before she could say anything he snapped, “I need to go hit something.”

The seeker raised an eyebrow, then grinned, “Well, I’d offer the dwarf, but he protests too much.”

Varric snorted behind them, “Seeker, did you just make a joke?”

“Hardly, it was an observation,” she said before nodding towards the open areas near the lake, “A sparing match then? I’d appreciate the distraction as well, though I question the immediate shift of the Inquisition’s focus.”

Adavae shook out his shoulders as he removed his bow and quiver before flipping one of his daggers out between his fingers, “I would think it would be obvious why. The mages had the possibility of doing something good, a chance to show that they could govern themselves. And what do they do?”

“They do the one thing that will make the rest of Thedas fear them more, join with Tevinter,” Solas said from the side, the mage having been stony and silent for the majority of the trip back to camp.

“Join is a terrible word for it. More like willingly made prisoners,” Varric adds.

“Willing or not, they’ve made our job a hell of a lot harder,” the archer said as he pulled out his other dagger and took a wide stance in front of Cassandra, who had her shield and sword at the ready, “I didn’t fancy trying to pry notice out of the Lord Seeker. Now it seems the only way.”

“So you’ve completely discredited the mages?” Cassandra asked before Adavae made his first attack.

She dodged the two quick back and forth swipes of the daggers easily, pulling back and using her shield to knock the side of the second blade away. Adavae kept hold of his weapons easily, flipping them and dancing easily around her as she turned, eyes locked on him. “No, but negotiating with Alexius, even with his son and Pavus helping to undermine him, would mean we’d be giving them twice as much as we’d be getting. If they didn’t try to stab us in the back first. Which they will.”

“Isn’t that what would be happening with the Lord Seeker?” Cassandra asked, and she ducked behind her shield to levy herself forward and try to take Adavae off his feet with a sharp shield bash.

He dodged easily, pushing against the bottom edge of her shield to put more distance between them. “Not us directly. The nobles would be. We’d have a buffer in the case of the Templars. A buffer can be leveraged, expanded, or shrunk. The nobles would be taking the brunt of it.”

“I see, use the nobles for resource and negotiation, while keeping the Inquisition’s interests centralized. But that still leaves the problem of a rather powerful force of mages on our door step,” Solas mused to the side.

Adavae dodged a thrust of her sword, dagger hilt ducking in to clank at Cassandra’s elbow in an almost playful manner. The seeker frowned as she knocked it away and drove forward while Adavae used the momentum of the blade being knocked away to spin out of the force of the drive and then used his other blade to block her sword from a side hit as she swept around. The clash of their blades rang a few more times, before Adavae pushed back and put distance between them again, “It does, but it’ll be Leliana’s job to keep them occupied. Once the Breach is sealed, then we can focus the templars onto the mages and their new Magister.”

“They could be gone by then, off to their new country and all that,” Varric argued.

“Then good riddance, if he just wants to grab them and go, then so be it. What will that actually do, though? Give Tevinter a few hundred more for their war against the Qunari? He’s here for more than that,” He paused to duck out of the way of one of Cassandra’s swings, “I don’t like the idea of it. Leaving some that didn’t have a choice, or that don’t know any better to the hands of Tevinter… But we don’t have the resources to handle both at the same time. Though Leliana’s spies can get the word out that the Inquisition is a better option, I don’t know how many would actually leave.”

His movements slowed at the thought and Cassandra saw it, she used her shield to drive at his knee with the blade over the top of it. It should have locked him against her blade unless he fell backwards. Adavae chose to roll with the momentum, letting the shield buckle his knee. He was faster and smaller than her though, and instead of getting locked in, he rolled down under the blade before popping back up to his feet to her side. He dove at Cassandra’s exposed side, the tip of his blade pressed to the opening just under her breastplate.

A tap on his shoulder let him know that he was just as dead though, her blade having been quickly flipped to place it at the side of his neck. He grinned up at her and she snorted with a small smile before they each pulled their blades back and stepped away. “We’re not in a situation where we can win both sides assuredly. Unless any of you have some ideas…”

He glanced between the other three but they either shook their heads or kept their silence. Adavae nodded, “Then we stay the course set. We head back to Haven, see where Josephine and Leliana stand, and take it from there, yes?”

A round of affirmative sounds and Adavae tucked away his daggers. The round with Cassandra had certainly helped calm his emotions and talking through his thought process helped to ensure that he wasn’t acting in blind rage. He still could hardly believe what the mages had done. It was horrifying to him, that anyone would dive in and prey on someone who was pressed between a rock and a hard place. Not taking Alexius’ offer… It would have been hard, they would have lost people, but they’d lose just as many in Tevinter’s military. It would just be later on. The short-sightedness was appalling.

It didn’t help that he kept on looking over his shoulder expecting to find her there, something at the ready to try and draw a bit more-… His hand went to his left arm unconsciously before he swallowed down the bit of panic that still remained under the rage. She was dead.

His group broke apart after that and the camp milled at its normal duties while he moved outside of it, just trying to take a few moments to piece himself back together. He didn’t expect Varric to drop down beside him and offer his whiskey to him. Adavae took it gladly and hissed as it burned down his throat, but it was an amazing distraction. “You know, you do pretty well as keeping it together goes,” the dwarf commented.

Adavae snorted, “Keeping what together?”

“Oh, don’t start that. The minute people started talking about magisters all the blood left your face. Cassandra didn’t notice it, Solas probably did, everyone else probably didn’t know the difference or were too focused on everything else going on. I don’t know what it is about magisters that-“

“It’s not magisters,” Adavae cut in with a sigh, “It’s the connotations of them.”

“Ahh, so blood mages and slaves,” Varric pushed and the archer shot him a glare.

Varric held up his hands, “Hey, I get it. Not all of them are bad though. I knew this cute as a peach blood mage once. She’d sooner hurt herself than a fly though, if it didn’t deserve it.”

“Well she can stay as far away from me as she can get. I don’t care how cute she is or how much she wouldn’t hurt the undeserving. I don’t tolerate it near me,” he snapped, trying to keep his voice from shaking.

Varric shrugged and nodded, “Understood. I’ve got to say though, you match Cassandra pretty well. Why don’t you use your blades more?”

A change of subject, but a welcome one, “I don’t like being in close quarters too long. I like the distance that the bow gives me.”

“Yeah, I’m the same way, makes saving other people’s asses is easier,” the dwarf joked, smirk back in place.

Adavae relaxed a bit more and let the other lead into another tale of how he saved Hawke’s ass several times over.

~~~/~~~/~~~

"Well Chief, your first assignment and you get to go straight to Therinfal Redoubt. The Herald must think highly of you, or he just wants to stick it to the nobles and templars," Krem said, his normal, lop-sided grin in place as he tested the sturdiness of the armor the gruff smith, Harritt, had made.

It was a far cry better than he had expected. Nothing fancy, that's for sure, but based off what even Adavae was wearing the inquisition tended to be more efficient than fanciful. Iron Bull grunted beside Krem, "If you ask me, it's the latter. Adavae may be playing along, but the guy's got a real chip on his shoulder. He's got to show it off somehow, and I'm just fine with that being through me. Means I probably get to scare a few nobles here and there. Not as satisfying as splitting skulls, but still fun.”

Krem snorted, "Judging by the reports of the Lord Seeker, some skull splitting may happen regardless."

"Probably, but again, not complaining," Iron Bull said with a grin as he leaned back in his chair.

"Inquisitor's interesting though. Didn't quite realize it was him when he approached me about why I was hanging around. He looked more like a merc than a leader of the Inquisition," Krem pointed out, having not really gone into those details when he reported back to the company.

"That's the ‘Vint in you coming out, Krem. Though you've never had a good eye for picking out the important ones outside of combat and frilly robes," Iron Bull needled at him.

Krem snorted, "Says the one that can't tell a chantry sister from a barmaid."

"Hey, that was one time and to be fair, the chantry sister moonlighted as a barmaid for the fun of it. So, it was an easy mix up," he said, pointing at the other with the knife he was sharpening.

Krem grinned and finally sat down, looking out over the troops that were milling about the camp that needed a small city to really run properly. Not this shamble of a town trying so hard to do what it could uphold a growing army, "You think is going to make it past this?"

Iron Bull hummed, looking out over it all as well, "Maybe. If they hunker down and get themselves a leader, pin Adavae down preferably, they could. But without a leader it will run out of steam. The five at the top right now will only be able to do so much. The main four are too divided in their abilities and what they are willing to do and who they will follow. Adavae won't do it easily, but if they could find a way to get him to stick around… that'd work."

"Didn't he already talk to you about that and pretty much said ‘no’?" Krem added.

"He did, that doesn't mean something won't change. It's more likely that he'll buckle under the necessity of him as their leader than the Chantry getting its crap together."

"True enough, puts him in a right piss of a place though," Krem said with a sympathetic sigh.

"Yeah, guy just seems to want to be left alone, but no one seems to want to give him that. Despite how hard he tries. Probably been running that gambit his whole life," the qunari said, leaning on his knees, legs pressed wide to stabilize himself on the too-small chair.

Krem grimaced, "Sounds familiar enough."

"What does?" Came a voice behind them.

A yelp was pulled from him at how close the voice was, turning to find Adavae practically leaning over his shoulder. Iron Bull didn't move, just smirked at the Herald, "Hey boss, how's it going?"

Krem took a breath, "Andraste's tits! I swear- how long have you been there?" he finally asked, half glowering at the archer.

"Long enough," Adavae shrugged, locks falling over his shoulders with the motion, "Certainly long enough to hear Bull's opinions on the Inquisition's leadership... again," and gave Iron Bull a pointed look.

"I'm just stating what you know is true, Adavae. Like it or not," Bull said with a half a shrug.

"So you've said, several times. I'd appreciate that you let it go before I toss you into a catapult and you become the first qunari to achieve flight," Adavae said with an annoyed shake of his head.

Bull laughed, "Well, I'd go out in style. Though I'd like to see you carry me into that."

"Who says I would?" and an eyebrow quirked up.

"Oh, so you'd use the resources you want nothing to do with?"

"If you insist that they're mine, then yes, I will use them against you specifically," giving him a hard look, "But only after Therinfal Redoubt. I want to see how much of a social disturbance we can cause with you and the nobles before teaching you to fly."

Bull laughed heartily again at that, smirking as they jibed at one another. Krem just shook his head, leaning back in his chair again.

Chapter Text

Adavae stared up at the massive Trevelyan Manor, eyes unable to look away like a moth to a flame. He swallowed hard, his grip white knuckled on his bow. They had just reached the Lord Seeker after arriving at Therinfal Redoubt, but the moment he touched him Adavae was transported here. How? Why here, of all places? This couldn’t be real though. It was too quiet and as he turned to see where the others were, he found no one and a wall that certainly had never been there as it should open to the market road. Iron Bull, Solas, and Varric were nowhere to be found though. He turned back to the manor and he forced himself to move, to figure out what was going on. He opened the large oak doors slowly, bow and arrow ready at his side in his right hand. He crept into the entry hall, the big family crest hanging everywhere like normal, with their colors draped over everything. It was ostentatious, but that was the Trevelyans for you. The end of the hall branched into several entrances. Stairs that when up to the main quarters on the second floor, then entrances to each side of the bottom of the stairs that went to the main hall, dining hall, servant’s quarters, and so on. He was about to move to the left to the kitchens when laughter from the upstairs was heard. He stepped back quickly and a moment later he watched as a strange mockery of his brother and sister raced down the stairs.

He stared slack jawed at Evelyn in a dress. It was a casual one, something any lady might wear, and a thing she wouldn't be caught dead in. She hated them and would sooner bash someone's head in with the pommel of her sword than wear it. But there she was, posture formal and giggling. Evelyn really only ever laughed loud and riotously.

He looked over to Maxwell and his breath left him as further shock took its place. Instead of the softer clothes that betrayed his more scholarly tendencies, he was half in armor, a shield on his back, looking every bit the large, imposing Trevelyan swordsman that he was most certainly not.

"Evie? Max?" He tried, but they brushed past him as if he wasn't there.

He frowned, uncertain, eyes darting around for any of the servants that would normally be there. He found none, so instead he steeled himself and followed them to the grand hall. He paused at the door, then took a deep breath and walked in. What greeted him sent his heart into his throat as his blood ran cold. There she sat, Helena, with her golden hair perfectly held in a twisted bun, brown eyes looking over Evelyn and Maxwell as they came in and greeted a very alive Malcolm Trevelyan.

Adavae almost staggered out of the room, visibly shaking as he stared at two dead people and two that walked out of his worst nightmares.

"Darlings, don't crowd your father," she said, mixing something off to the side.

"But mother-" Adavae didn't hear anything after that word fell from Evelyn's mouth.

Mother, they were calling her mother. The same thing she'd ordered them to while she kept them in cells and tortured him in front of them when they didn’t. How-why were they-?

His heart pounded in his ears and his bow came up to release an arrow at Helena. This was her fantasy, the one the apostate had spent days trying to torture out of his siblings, and then tried to bleed out of him. Instead of landing between her shoulder blades, it just went straight through her. "No, no, no," he murmured as he nocked another and let it fly, only for the same result.

He dropped his bow and pulled out his knives instead before going at her, only for him and the knives to pass through her. He stared as she kept about what she was doing, filling glasses with a dark red liquid. It was too thick to be wine, he knew wine well. Horror took him as she handed one goblet to Maxwell, then Evelyn, "Come, take your evening medicine. You know what happens when you don't."

"No!!" He screamed this time, staggering forward to grab at the cups but to no avail, he just went through them again.

"My my," came a familiar, yet completely distorted voice behind him.

He whipped around, knives at the ready, only to stop again, "J-Josephine?"

'Josephine' looked over her hands and Adavae realized that her form wasn't quite right, just that bit off, and her eyes were a startling, glowing green. He glanced back at the scene to find it completely frozen. He swallowed down the rage that boiled up inside and him and looked back. Not Josephine, but something trying to impersonate her. It grinned, "Yes, I did decently with this form. But it is not the one I am truly looking for," and then those green eyes were on him, "It is intriguing how much terror and hatred flows through you as you watch this scene. Brother, sister,” it pointed to Maxwell and Evelyn, “...bastard and bitch?" and gestured to Helena and Malcolm.

Adavae's eyes narrowed dangerously, "Demon," he said, for that was the only thing it could be, "Get out of my head. Take me back to Therinfal Redoubt!"

"Oh, but you haven't left, not at all. You're still there. But here? This is mine, I will take all of it, use it to become you, and you cannot stop me, Herald. For I am Envy, and I will know you," it snarled and then the world twisted nauseatingly around him until there was only a door before him in a stone room, no other person or way out.

He growled in frustration but strode forward to open the door. Smoke and fire greeted him, making him immediately throw a hand over his nose and mouth. As Adavae moved out into the burning forest he came up short as it abruptly opened into another scene that left him cold despite the flames around him. To his left was an aravel, one with the insignia of his father's clan, and all around him was the remnants of familiar elves. All of them dead and burning. The demon was going to pay for even considering this, for trying to use them against him. He took off running, looking for the demon and skidding to a halt as he found Envy wearing his face as he looked down at a forcefully bowed Irremela between two inquisition soldiers. Before he could growl something at the demon, the Keeper was speaking, "I should have known you'd turn out like this. Denying your heritage was just one step in many to you being just like every other half-child," and spat on the ground before the demon version of Adavae.

That struck too many cords for him to properly voice the venom he was just about to spit at the demon, making his gut twist with shame and guilt. Envy chuckled down at Irremela in the absence of his vitriol, "I think you'll find that I am exactly as you raised me, grande tante," a title the woman hated for its language of origin, "All tough skin and determined, just like you. Only I'll use it to actually get somewhere in life. Not just be a lowly Keeper for a clan of fugitives."

That snapped Adavae out of his stupor and his knife was flying at the demon. Envy caught it as it turned and the scene paused around them, "I got it right, didn't I? How she feels? How I could break her? Break you?"

"It would take so much more to break her. But you won't get the chance. You'd never fool her or the clan, you're not good enough,” Adavae shot back at him, carefully not looking at the battered Keeper.

Envy growled and sent the knife back at him, making him dodge to the side. When he looked back up both Envy and the people in the scene were gone, though the fire still raged around him. He grabbed the knife where it had embedded itself in a tree and dodged around the flames, looking for an exit or break in the fire. Eventually he found a strange door that opened on its own with a loud clunking noise to his right. He frowned in confusion but moved towards it. A door in the middle of a burning forest? What was Envy up to? He peered in cautiously, seeing nothing, but not trusting anything because of what Envy might pull. It was just a room though, like one at the chantry back in Haven.

He sighed and was about to leave when a soft voice said, "You're still you, good."

Adavae whipped around, his knives out again. He found a young man, probably younger than him, with a large hat and well-worn leathers, "Envy, I swear-"

"I'm not Envy, I'm Cole," the boy said, the comment simple and matter-of-fact, "I heard you call out, felt Envy reach in, so I reached as well, trying to help. Then I was falling, and then I was here, seeing you. It is good that you are still whole, but Envy is working quickly."

Adavae frowned, "How do I know you're not lying? Another illusion of Envy?" Adavae considered.

"I don't have a way to show you, I'm sorry. But I want to help, I swear it," Cole emphasized again.

Adavae glowered at him, but sighed, he didn't have much choice right now, "Fine, Cole, what do you propose I do to get out of this?"

Cole paused, thinking, arms folding over his chest, "Well, this is your mind, so you can change things if you concentrate. Envy has to work harder and the further up you go, the more it stretches.”

"Stretch it till it breaks," Adavae said with a nod.

Cole nodded in returned, moving silently past him and to a wall of flames.

"Try it here, think of water, not fire," he said with a gesture to the fire.

Adavae nodded slowly and stared hard at the flames as he thought of the seas waves lapping at a dock, a moment later they snuffed out into water instead. "Huh," he said softly, looking over at Cole, though still skeptical.

Cole lead him through the gap in the woods. However, he disappeared as they rounded a corner, making Adavae curse. A few more steps and he was suddenly in what looked like a system of dungeons. He swallowed and moved through them, stopping as he heard pacing. He turned to see Cassandra pacing in a cell, her armor gone, obviously having been fighting or something worse. Something he knew but didn’t want to recognize.

"Where is the Herald? He just sends his goons down here to 'deal' with me, pathetic. Let me face the manipulative bastard!" She snarled and gripped the bars, eyes narrowed at the guard.

The guard rolled his eyes, "He doesn't need to sully his hands with the likes of you. Don't worry, you'll be down here for a long time yet."

Adavae's lips curled in distain, "You could never hold her, demon."

"Hmmm, such faith and determination, and still - so much rage," a low cackle came as Adavae turned to see his own back disappear down the hall.

He growled and kept moving. He needed to keep stretching Envy. He stopped as he came to a scene with his grandfather being held before the Envy demon. Gabriel was in the tattered remains of his armor, normally bright and gleaming but not bent, tarnished, and dirtied, blood falling from a head wound and staining the black and greying, tightly curled hair of his beard. It stood out against the sallow tone of his normal warm toned, dark skin. "Oh Adavae, what have you become?"

"I have become better. No one is standing in the way of the Inquisition now," Envy said.

Several of the guards around them pipped up, agreeing and jeering at his grandfather, "People won't fall so easily for this, demon,” Adavae snapped, watching his grandfather’s defeated expression.

"Oh, they will, they will all come to kneel, or they will die. As they should,” it said before disappearing in a blip of green and black.

Adavae continued down the hall, common folk whispering of the reach of the Inquisition, or the terrifying force of destruction Envy had made it into. He saw Vallya whispering with a group of elves, cowering behind a group of soldiers as she served them food. Then there was Cullen, shackled to a wall and babbling about how the Inquisition was nothing more than a Butcher’s Pit. Another was Josephine, sweet Josephine shivering in the corner of a cell as she sobbed and begged the guard to tell her what she had done, asking why the Herald would not come speak with her. She could show she was innocent!

By the time he found Cole, staring at a brazier with a tilted head, he could feel how the edges of himself were become more and more tattered. One eye stared at him from under the edge of the large hat, he could feel the concern and worry but he simply shook his head at the strange boy. Cole nodded and pointed to the brazier, “It’s dark, but it isn’t real. Think of sparks.”

Adavae did as told, thinking of the sparks that lit from Harritt’s forge as hammer hit heated metal, and the brazier burst into green veilfire a moment later. He immediately felt a rush of relief fill him and he picked up a torch, “There are others now, it made them exist. Light will drive away what it brought,” Cole finished.

The archer nodded and moved through the scene that Envy had created, lighting the braziers as he saw his mind create them, always driving away the twisted guards and soldiers that taunted those he knew with jagged screams. As he finished, his edges felt more pieced together, where they should be. Though the vision he hand been given didn’t go away entirely.

From there it was an uphill battle, stairs and misshapen forests, and more stairs, then Cole jeering at Envy and causing more frustration. He could feel the hooks ripping out of him and he kept going. He dragged himself away from each one, ignoring the jibes that Envy sent at him over and over. Until he finally stood in front of the door of the castle again, eyes narrowed at the now malformed Envy, barely able to stay human and its voice distorted.

“No, no, no! Unfair! That thing is keeping you whole!” With a snarl, it came at Adavae.

Adavae dodged, but then it disappeared into nothing at he brought his knives down on what should have been its neck. He cursed his own mindscape for letting that happen and tried to whip around to look for it again. He’d pull out his bow, but he’d left it where he’d dropped it in the first vision and he couldn’t seem to muster the strength to make himself another. The demon was fast though and a moment later it had him by the neck, “We’ll start again. More pain this time. The Elder One still comes,” it said, a hand coming to try and brace over his face.

“It’s frightened of you,” came Cole’s voice nearby.

Envy’s head snapped towards him, “Stay out of-“

It was cut off as one of Adavae’s knives buried itself in its gut and he twisted in the loosened hold. He drove another knife into its neck and forced it back towards the door—

And then there was sound, everywhere. Proper sound, not the hallow, distorted noise that the demon created in his head. He heard the demon crash through the door and it stood. It no longer wore his face, there were no knives in it or in Adavae’s hands, but it was towering in height, with oblong limbs, pale and red splotched skin with a sightless face but awkward, wide jaws that opened in a horrid shriek before its form dissipated and skittered back behind a massive shield at the back of the hall. Adavae’s breath came in short, quick gasps, and his limbs shook. He remained still as the templars around him chattered in dismay and horror as they realized that the Lord Seeker was nothing but an Envy demon. His eyes darted about, trying to assess the situation: Was this real? How long was he gone? Where was Cole?

“Boss?” Iron Bull’s voice was warm and steady but laced with concern.

The single word from Bull made him breathe. He hadn’t realized how warped the sounds were while battling the Envy demon in his head. In his head, that’s what that was, in his head. This, this was real, right?

A hand, soothing and gentle, settled on his back and his eyes darted up to Solas on his left. Another breath and the elf looked at him out of the corner of his eye, like he knew. And he did, he had to. The elf stepped closer, “This is real, Adavae. I promise.”

Tension left him, and he almost fell where he stood. Bull quickly caught him, careful to keep him upright while Varric stepped forward with Barris, examining what was going on and ready to make a distraction once he saw the unsteady look on Adavae’s face. “The Lord Seeker? What- how is this possible?” Barris started.

That made Adavae square his shoulders and get his feet under him. He pushed off Bull with a small squeeze of his hand over the qunari’s arm in thanks and stepped forward, “Not the Lord Seeker, an imposter. What do you know of Envy?”

~~~/~~~/~~~

“What the hell did I just do?” Adavae asked as he stared up at the barren ceiling of his room.

It was all they had at this point, fresh out of a battle that made the dead pile too high, an Envy demon outdone, the Order disbanded, a plot to kill the Empress uncovered, and the Red Templars near decimated- a threat they didn’t even know existed until now.

“What you needed to,” came a familiar voice.

Adavae sucked in a sharp breath and turned, “Cole.”

A single blue eye peered at him from under the brim of his hat, hopeful but unsure. “So, you were real,” Adavae said with a smile.

“Of course, why wouldn’t I be?” He asked, confused.

“Simple, I thought you were something my mind cooked up in an attempt to protect itself. It’s nice to know my not that insane though,” and offered a smile to the other.

“I…suppose that is possible. But I am real,” and reached out a hand.

It was such a simple gestured, but it made Adavae pull back a little. He pressed back the memories of what Envy had done down and reached out, taking the offered hand. Yes, he was real, very real, and he couldn’t describe how good it felt to grip the other’s hand and know that he wasn’t making it up. A small smile touched Cole’s lips, “I helped?”

“Yes, Cole. You helped,” he wasn’t sure why Cole seemed to need that affirmation, but the smile widened and Adavae was suddenly glad he gave it.

He didn’t know how long they stayed like that, but eventually Cole urged him to lay back down and rest, still holding his hand.

Chapter Text

“Andraste’s tits, Sharps,” Varric said, one hand rubbing his forehead, the other tucked underneath his elbow to support it.

“Well, that’s one way to put it,” Bull added, leaning low over his knees where he sat on a too-small stool.

Cassandra’s stood with her fists clenched, perhaps wanting to pummel the ashen remains of the demon for good measure. It wouldn’t do any good though and she knew it. “How dare that demon try such a thing, in front of all of us!”

Solas only examining Adavae closely, “I do not feel any residual magic or Fade effects, aside from what the Mark normally creates. I can reasonably say that you survived Envy’s attack on your mind intact.”

“Reasonably?” Adavae said with an unimpressed look.

Solas smiled at him, evading the sarcasm in his voice, “You are fine, Adavae.”

The archer huffed but nodded as Solas stepped back. He had just informed them of what the Envy demon had done to him. The full extent of it. Previously, he had placated them with an oversimplification of what was done. Just that it had tried to get into his head. Not that it had been rooting around his mind and showing him horrifying visions and nightmares that still rattled him. Now he’d advised them of how dep the demon got, though not what the visions were about. Cassandra, who had been remaining with a few more groups of Inquisition soldiers just outside of the Redoubt instead of initially accompanying him, had practically lain siege to the keep when she heard the fighting break out. Now she was helping with clean up and organizing the remaining Templars and Adavae could breathe a bit better. Enough to give them a better idea of what went on.

He could have kept it a secret, but he had so many secrets. To harbor more felt counterproductive. He needed to make some changes though, the visions had given him more perspective than the Envy demon could ever imagine, and it almost made him laugh at the irony of it. Thinking about the visions reminded him that he hadn’t seen Cole since last night, he’d been gone when he woke. Straightening up, Adavae asked, “Have any of you seen an odd young man running about, pale skin and hair, blue eyes, thin, oddly dressed in a large brimmed hat?”

He mimicked that size of it and they each frowned, shaking their heads. Adavae pursed his lips and was about to add more, when said boy appeared, “I didn’t want to be in the way.”

The archer’s eyebrows rouse, then he chuckled as Varric cursed, Cassandra whipped out her sword instantly, and Iron Bull took in a surprised breath, though kept his composure. Barely. Solas looked instantly fascinated, taking a step toward Cole but reining himself in beyond that. Adavae smiled at the young man, “You’re fine, Cole. Have you felt anything that could suggest Envy will be back?”

“No, it is gone. None come to take its place, not here at least,” he paused, frowning, “But it still hurts you,” his eyes became frighteningly focused on Adavae and the archer’s breath hitched, “Just there, claws dug in deep, pulling at shame that shouldn’t be shame, guilt carried close, guilt that he’s dead because of you…” everyone was silent, Adavae felt like his gut had been ripped out, “…It’s not your fault. You weren’t born yet-I-I’m making it worse. I’m sorry!”

Solas finally stepped in, as if jarred by the apology, “Cole, it’s best not to be so frank about such things.”

“I’m sorry, normally I could make you forget, start over. But your eyes stick to me, it’s very hard,” Cole admitted, fidgeting in place.

“Don’t make me forget,” Adavae said in a breathless tone.

Cole paused again then nodded, “Forgetting makes it worse. I won’t. I promise.”

Solas quietly herded Cole away, speaking to him softly. It was only then that he noticed Bull and Cassandra had taken up defensive positions in front of him. It soothed something in him to know that they were at the ready even when he wasn’t. Cassandra spoke first, “Do not be fooled by it, Herald. It must be a demo-“

“Stop, Cassandra,” Varric said sharply, making the Seeker glower at him.

“I don’t know what he is,” Adavae cut in before they could start arguing, “He was there, inside my head, helping me fight Envy. He helped keep me whole when it felt like the seams were coming loose. He’s terrifying, but adorable all at once,” he admitted with a weary laugh.

“You.. trust him then?” Cassandra asked carefully.

“I do, and if he’ll come, he’s welcome in Haven,” he said, firmly.

She frowned, but nodded, putting her sword away. Clearly not happy, but willing to follow his judgement. “What did he mean? Guilt over someone dead before you were born?” Leave it to Cassandra to not let a detail like that go.

Adavae knew it wasn’t malicious, but it put a lump in his throat that he couldn’t quite talk around. Varric was quick to jump in, “Look Seeker, maybe we should table that conversation for another day. It’s been a tiring trip.”

Cassandra looked ready to let it go, but Adavae wasn’t. He could come to regret this, deeply, but he needed to say it. He needed to stop hiding from it like it was some sort of night terror. It wasn’t, it was his heritage, and maybe here, with the Inquisition and those that were being dubbed his ‘inner circle’ he could let it come to light. “No, this should be said.”

Varric looked back at him and gave him a long look before shrugging and stepping aside. Adavae took a moment to be surprised at the fact that Bull was now behind him, acting as a grounding point that he could lean up against. He took the offered comfort and leaned heavily on the qunari before speaking, “He was speaking of my father.”

“But Malcolm Tre-“

“-is not my father,” he ended for her.

“…Oh,” there was no accusation in her tone, no sudden drop of disgust, just surprise.

It was enough to know she only spoke in genuine surprise for him to continue, “My father was an elf. A Dalish elf to be exact. My mother met him when she was traveling, shortly after her marriage to the Bann. They shared a night and moved on. She found out she was with child while visiting my grandfather in Orlais. She went to the clan to try and tell him, believing it unfair to him that he wouldn’t even know he had a child. However, the townsfolk of a nearby village took a noble woman actually going to the clan willingly as a sign she was bewitched by them. Before she could even get halfway through telling them why she was back the villagers had attacked the clan. My father died during it.”

“Well,” Varric started, “You’re just full of revelations today, aren’t you Sharps.”

“Does that play into what happened with the Bann?” Bull pushed, leaving it vague enough to side step, but enough that Varric and Cassandra would be able to know there was more.

Adavae took his time in answering, not looking at anyone as he finally answered, “Yes.”

Another pregnant pause but when it became obvious that Adavae wasn’t going to say more, Cassandra sighed and nodded, “Thank you for telling us, Adavae. But how are we to handle this information?”

“I’ll talk to Leliana. She, Solas, and Josephine have been aware of my heritage for some time now. I grow tired of the secrets, but my clan needs to be aware of what’s going on. They have laws around human interaction and this will change things, even if I’m not giving out which clan it is. People will speculate. Varric… I’ve never asked this, but have you heard of whispers of my heritage?” He asked, turning to the dwarf.

Varric nodded, “That you aren’t the Bann’s son, that you are from an affair with an elven servant, and a few others along that line. None that point to the Dalish though.”

Adavae gave an understanding nod, “No need to change that. I do not wish any of you to act different or go about spreading this through the Inquisition. What I ask is that you all be mindful of what that means. Not that we could get backlash from the nobles and whatever other higher ups see fit to try to use this against us. I couldn’t care less what they think anymore. Instead, look to where you know there will be discrimination. Find it, suss it out, put in measures to make our narrative different.”

A smile tugged at Cassandra’s lips, “I will inform Cullen, and I will do my very best.”

Adavae smiled at her, “Thank you Cassandra. If the troops see you and Cullen making those moves it will go a long way to changing their behavior.”

Cassandra nodded and moved out of the room again, moving towards where the troops were milling about, still trying to organize and manage the damage. Adavae turned to Varric as the dwarf moved, “I’ll keep an ear to the ground and especially back in Haven. See if I ferret out anyone that harbors too much of the wrong opinions. Put a bit of the fear of Andraste’s Herald in them if I can manage it,” he offered.

“I’d appreciate it. See if you can get Blackwall to help. I’m sure he’ll be able to appreciate this kind of cause,” Adavae offered.

Varric nodded, then left with a lazy swagger. It was quiet for a while between he and Bull. He knew he needed to get up and move, get in the middle of things and start pushing where it all went. A lazy arm wrapped around his middle and he tensed. Bull huffed, “Take a few minutes, Boss. I don’t know how you slept through the night with what that demon did to you, but Cassandra and Varric have it for the moment.”

“Cole helped,” Adavae said quietly, “be good to him, Bull.”

A soft sigh and the qunari nodded, “I will, boss. We all will.”

~~~/~~~/~~~

It took a week for their smaller party to get back to Haven and already Adavae was wishing he was back at Therinfal Redoubt. At least there he hadn’t had to deal with two advisors questioning his every motive. Cassandra was at his back though, snarling at the Commander as he came at them, “Officers betraying their soldiers, Templars without leaders, and a demon imitating the Lord Seeker! We should have taken them to task and you wanted-“

“All those crimes were committed by their officers who are now dead as far as we can tell. The soldiers of the Order will serve, they would have served better with their Order intact,” Cullen cut in before his glare shot over to Adavae.

“These crimes put them at our mercy. Yet the terms of this alliance do not benefit the Inquisition as they should. You should have consulted us,” Leliana spoke sharply, her eyes on Adavae as well.

The archer glared at them both, “And what would you have had me do? Sit on my hands while I found a raven to send off a letter? Told them ‘wait here, I need a few weeks, maybe months to go argue my point with three other people’? I did what I had to in the moment, otherwise we would have lost them entirely!”

Josephine took the pause his argument created to step in, obviously trying to defuse the tension between them, “An alliance with the templars was our desired outcome. The Order put their trust in our Herald, shouldn’t we discuss their imminent arrival?”

Leliana let out a frustrated breath, “A few dozen veterans are coming ahead of the rest, to help seal the breach.”

“How soon?” Adavae asked, wanting to move forward and get as far away from the topic of the Order’s disbandment as possible.

“They’re almost here,” came Cole’s voice from behind Adavae, “Templars don’t like to be late.”

Dammit Cole.

~~~/~~~/~~~

Adavae’s grin softened as Josephine stumbled slightly at his compliment, “Really, you give me too much credit,” she said, glancing away bashfully.

She looked like she was about to ask him something else, but he cut in, “I do, need to talk to you about something else though.”

“Of course, Herald,” she acquiesced.

He stood, gathering what strength he could, “About my heritage. I believe I have been lax, in certain duties.”

Josephine’s eyes darted to Minaeve and Vallya that were talking in the corner urgently. Adavae kept his gaze on her, calm and as meaningful as he could make it. She seemed to take the meaning and nodded, “Certainly, what duties do you think are remiss?”

“I know that Leliana has been in touch with my grandmother and the Keeper for some time. I wish to send a more personal letter as well as something more formal from the Inquisition itself. They can still be delivered via the same means as Leliana is using and I wish to review the letter before it is sent. There are certain formalities that need to be taken for this communication to go well,” he explained, moving towards Josephine’s desk.

Minaeve looked to Josephine who gave a small motion to the door. The mage took Vallya’s arm and gestured her to the door. Vallya glanced at him and he gave her a small nod, she returned it, he liked how perceptive she was. They left, and Josephine let out a breath, “You are sure about this.”

“Guide the rumor mill, Josie. I am sure about this and yours and Leliana’s ability to handle it. The Envy demon… I always knew my secrets could be used against me, and they always will be. But maybe if I can start getting them out there, start making this worth something I believe in but never had the backbone to actually do anything about? Maybe I’ll stop viewing them as weaknesses,” he wasn’t looking at her now, looking instead at the names of the books on her shelves.

A soft hand came up to settle on his cheek and push his face to look at her. He could see her breath catch at the vulnerable look he gave her, but something steeled in her eyes, “I don’t know what the demon showed you, but I am glad you are starting this. I cannot say I will ever know the plight of you or the elves. I am not an elf, nor have I been immersed in your culture, dalish or otherwise. I can never know what standing in any of your shoes is like. But I will try, and I will try to make the Inquisition a vessel of change within the high ranks of society.”

The sincerity in her voice made him sag against her, his head dropping to her shoulder. Carefully, mindful of any discomfort that Josephine may display, he wrapped his arms around her and took a shaky breath. Josephine didn’t falter or move to pull away. Instead she wrapped her arms tightly around his shoulders, fingers tangling in the twists of his hair and smoothing them back as she allowed him a moment of comfort. He wondered briefly if it was odd for an inner circle to be this affectionate. Between Bull now being used regularly as a cushion, Sera being his favorite tent partner because waking up sprawled across each other didn’t mean a damn thing, and now hugging Josephine so easily… He wondered if he would start seeing such things with the others. The thought was gone just as quick though, as he found he didn’t care how other groups operated.

He pulled away slowly and looked up to give Josephine a smile. He couldn’t help thinking how beautiful she was as her dark eyes locked with his. It made his chest clench and he was suddenly very aware of the ring that hung beneath his shirt. He swallowed and straightened, clearing his throat and saying in a voice rougher than he thought it should be, “We should get to those letters.”

“O-oh, of course, Ada- Herald. Of course,” he watched her rein herself in and he took a moment to regret cutting the moment short.

Chapter Text

Blackwall’s breath made a tight knot in his throat as he looked up at the rift in the middle of the ruins of the Temple of Sacred Ashes. It was several times larger than any of the ones they had encountered in the Hinterlands or in the Fallow Mire. He couldn’t help the pause in his stride and Varric pulled up next to him, “Yeah, seeing this one does that to you. At least it’s not still spitting out demons this time.”

Blackwall grimaced, “I’ll count myself lucky, and you unlucky.”

Varric snorted, “I don’t have any kind of luck, Warden. Adavae, on the other hand, has the weirdest type of luck.”

Blackwall looked to their Herald. The man was nothing like he expected. He thought there would be a pious, selfless, chantry boy behind the title of Herald. Instead he found a smart-mouthed, hard-headed, roguish archer with a couple chips on his shoulder and elven heritage. That last bit shouldn’t make as much of an impact as it did, he knew that. Perhaps this was another test of his resolve, of his understanding his own words: ‘It’s what you do and how you do it that’s important’.

Adavae certainly challenged those words at times, and the man challenged himself. He could dance with nobles, then turn around and drink half of Haven under the table and still teach them drinking songs from the Free Marches and Antiva. The first time he’d seen Varric and him singing and dancing on the tables of Flissa’s tavern he’d about given himself a side stitch he’d laughed so much.

Now though? The man before him was staring up at the rift defiantly, daring it to stay open even with the templars behind him. It was like something out of a painting, the green light cast across sharp features, red hair contrasting the shifting green, his inner circle milling about him in preparation for the larger forces that came behind Blackwall. He glanced to his side as the veteran templars moved in after him and he could see how the scene struck them. Eyes wide and a mix of awed and reverent in some cases.

In this moment, it didn’t matter who sent this man to them, though most would say the Maker at the end of the day. He was here regardless, and he stood between them and destruction.

 

~~~/~~~/~~~

 

It was done, the damn thing was closed and the tension that had left Adavae’s chest once he saw the Breach snap shut with a blast of swirling green made him relax in a way he hadn’t in months. There was still more to be done, and he wasn’t so sure about leaving anymore, but at least this was done. They would need to see about the mages now. According to Leliana’s spies the castle was far too quiet, though some mages had taken the rumors her spies had started to heart and gone to Inquisition camps as refugees, so there was hope.

Now he had a drink in one hand as he held a hand out to a blushing Josephine, “Come on, Josie! Just one dance, I promise it’ll be fun!”

Josephine was blushing and bashful, partially hiding behind one hand, “Herald! This is…” She couldn’t seem to find the right words as he pulled her towards the circles of dancing people near the fires.

“This is celebrating, come and dance with me!” He said, putting down the drink and holding the now free hand out for her other.

She allowed her other hand to slip into his as he pulled her close, though keeping enough distance that she could safely pull away if she wanted, “I don’t know the steps,” she argued unconvincingly.

“The only step you need to remember is to keep moving!” and then he was swiping her into the throng of people.

He swung her around with relative ease, letting her get comfortable in the press of bodies around them. True to his words there were no steps to remember, just the constant twist and twirl of people moving to music that was hard to hear over laughter and conversation. She laughed and pulled closer, making Adavae smile wide and relax as they let the music take them. By the time the music ended, the musician’s hands and voices tired for the moment, he was pressed close to Josephine, smiling with his face inches from hers. She was smiling just as wide and uncontrolled at him, utterly breathless with her eyes dancing joyously.

He should move, he should step away and let propriety take over, but by the Void he didn’t want to. Their breaths mingled together, and it would be so easy to just lean that bit forward. He watched her eyes dart to his lips, a lustful edge darkening her expression. The pause lengthened and finally, Josephine made the decision for him. She licked her lips and pulled away just enough that it was clear that he needed to do the same.

Adavae stepped back, reining in his excitement, his impulses, “See, no need for any steps, my lady.”

“No, none at all,” she replied, still breathless.

He let his hand drop from her waist but kept the other clasped tightly as he led her back to her table. He caught Varric’s eye and the dwarf was grinning like a madman, Adavae just rolled his eyes at him. The dwarf wasn’t going to win the pot at least, he’d bet on Cassandra. But Adavae was sure that was only so no one would try to look beyond the arguments and bantering the two used as a wall to not look at why they were so drawn to one another.

He returned his attention to Josephine as they reached the tables and he bowed to kiss her hand, “A wonderful dance, Josie. We shall have to do that again this evening.”

“I agree, though hopefully not too much, I fear my feet might fall off in the process,” she jested, looking hesitant to leave.

She didn’t get a choice in the matter though, as the warning for approaching forces blared out. They both looked to the mountains around them, startled and disbelieving as he heard Cullen screaming, “Forces approaching! To arms!”

Adavae looked back to Josephine, “Get back to the chantry, get safe,” kissing her hand one more time, a small prayer for her safety, before going for his weapons and armor.

Josephine nodded quickly, mouth open but no words came out, staring after him for a moment before she was moving as well.

 

~~~/~~~/~~~

 

Haven had been burning a moment ago. Now it was buried beneath an avalanche that had rattled the survivors, and Josephine could do nothing but stare at it from between the trees and mountains. They were climbing through the mountain path Roderick was leading them through, held up by the mage, Dorian Pavus, that had come to warn them. Adavae had sent them on while he had left with a few in tow; Solas, Cassandra, and Sera. She could hear prayers and chants going on behind her, the chantry mothers and sisters trying to bring comfort to the survivors in the only way they could.

Josephine was praying in silence. Just a few hours ago she had been dancing in his arms, breaths away from a kiss, laughter and song encircling them. She still felt his arm around her waist and his hand in hers. Oh Maker, please don’t let her have lost this man already. So many were already gone, not their Herald too.

Not Adavae.

She could see that Leliana was already planning for the event, trying to think of how to keep the Inquisition together after the attack and the possibility of Adavae being lost. If they lost the Herald and three other key members of the Inquisition now it would be salt in a gaping, mortal wound. A part of her a hated that Leliana was already considering it, but the other part knew it had to be done. She would need to, but she needed a moment to hope.

A commotion down the line of survivors caught her attention and she moved quickly towards it, ready to quell any fight, instead she found Valorie, a panicked and desolate look on her face. Josephine grabbed her arm, “Valorie! Calm down, what is happening?”

The soldier to a moment to gather herself, “Lady Cassandra and the others have returned.”

Josephine took a breath, about to ask about Adavae when Valorie shook her head, “He’s-he’s not with them. He faced the dragon alone. He was in the avalanche,” her voice broke and she pulled out of Josephine’s hold, “I have to-have to tell the Commander, and Nightingale, the Inner Circle…”

She took off, but Josephine barely registered it. Adavae was in the Avalanche. No one could survive that. Oh Maker, why did you take him from us? She thought as her head dropped to hide the tears that fell.

Chapter Text

Adavae opened his eyes to debris, rocks, and snow above him. Everything hurt, everything felt like it’d been through a meat grinder. What the hell had happened to him? Oh, right, a dragon and Corypheus. And then an avalanche.

His life just seemed to be a continual game of ‘How complicated can we make it?’ and now he wasn’t sure he could move from this latest round. He had to though, he was alive at this moment, so he had to move. Was that a good enough argument for his broken and bruised body? It seemed to be because he rolled slowly onto his side and took stock of what didn’t move right.

His right arm was definitely broken above the elbow, at least it wasn’t his wrist or hand. Probably three or four broken ribs, a thousand bruises, and something off with his left ankle, but he didn’t think it was broken. His left hand moved to his necklace, still there.

Painfully slowly, he raised himself up to his knees. He needed to sling his arm if nothing else. He glanced around and took hold of some scraps he found, managing to rip off what he needed and create a loose sling, but it was enough to keep the limb from flailing around in ways that could make it worse. He limped his way to his feet and through the cave he was in, looking for an exit. What he found was a wraith, and while he had his daggers, his bow was gone and most of the arrows in his quiver were as well. He set his teeth and went for the dagger, but the movement made him very aware of the mark suddenly.

It sparked and flared dangerously, he wasn’t sure of what to make of it. It did attract the attention of the wraith though and it turned to shriek at him. In a fit of panic and a shard of ice came flying at him, he let his hand flail out and he watched as an arch of green ripped through the air and opened a rift just above the wraith. It dragged the demon and it’s projectile into it and snapped closed with a loud clap of sound that made his teeth hurt and caused him to fall back on his ass.

Adavae stared at where the rift and wraith had been. Right, so now he could make temporary rifts. Great. He slowly pulled himself back to his feet and limped on. When he reached the mouth of the cave he stared out into storm. This was how he died, alone in a cave or alone through a storm. At least out in the storm he was trying to survive, trying to find the Inquisition or any friendly party that would allow him to see to his wounds.

~~~/~~~/~~~

“…mother’s solstice flowers, grandmother’s veal soup, the sound of Mi-Mimi putting the sheets on…” He was listing things, anything he could remember, anything that was a thought, just to keep himself going.

If he talked, he didn’t think about how his body hurt. How his fingers and toes felt like they were going to fall off, how his left ankle barely held up any, how each breath felt like needles down his throat.

“…Negan’s stupid leather boots, Audra’s daughter Ellie, Mirabelle’s gardens, Josephine’s eyes…”

Every word was chattered out, through difficult breaths and slurs of someone ready to pass out. It felt like he should already be gone, but somehow his feet kept moving. He let them, thoughts falling from his lips even as his vision darkened.

Another step. Another Step..Another…step…A..no...ther..s…

He didn’t feel the snow beneath him when his body finally gave out.

~~~/~~~/~~~

Cassandra’s eyes raked over the frozen landscape of the mountains as they trudged through the snow. The main camp was not far back, but she and a number of volunteers were unable to believe that they should just accept that Adavae had been lost to the avalanche and not at least try to look for either the herald or other survivors that got missed.

It was her fault. She should have kept closer to Adavae when they saw the dragon coming. Instead, she’d barreled ahead to make sure the path was clear, only to look back and see Adavae lain out on the other side of the flames. Then the dragon was coming at them again and there was no time to think, only to run.

Maker above, she was a fool. Varric had pulled her along when she tried to go back, shouting at her that getting herself killed in the process wouldn’t help anyone, least of all Adavae. When the snow ran down the mountain, she knew he was alive up till then. She should have gone back. She wanted to rage at the dwarf, but he had been right at the same time. Could Adavae have done what he had if she stood beside him?

Cassandra swallowed down her thoughts and looked to one of the soldiers further to the right, “Any sightings?”

He shook his head. They were spread out, a system of torches between them to signal if someone had found something or if someone needed help. No one at the camp had stopped her when she said she was going to look, Cullen had helped organize it all and Josephine had been at the forefront of preparations for anyone they brought back. The venture was worth it even if they didn’t find the Herald, they’d found stragglers and brought them in, a few children that were nearly dead from the cold as well. Not Adavae though.

She continued trudging through the snow, bush, and rocks, when something caught her eye. On first look it seemed only a branch sticking out of the snow. On second, it looked like a leather covered hand. She raced for it, struggling with her torch. She fell to her knees as she reached to body and dug the partially covered person out, freezing for a moment, “Oh Maker, Adavae.”

With a frustrated growl she lit the torch and waved it frantically, her other hand searching for breath or a heartbeat, something to show he was alive. A yell signaled her light had been seen and she glanced up to see the soldier from before waving his own torch. She looked back to Adavae and stuck the torch in the snow. His lips were lips blue and snow clung to his hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes, “Herald, Adavae, Adavae, please breathe!”

Her desperate prayer was answered, and a rattling breath was dragging in and two-toned eyes barely opened, darting wildly about. Cassandra quickly grabbed the hand that was extended up out of the snow, gripping it tightly. It was the hand with the mark and it sparked under the contact but she ignored the strange twinge of magic it sent down her arm, “Adavae, can you understand me?”

There was a long pause as he slowly focused on her before a painful sounding slur of, “Cass…”

She burst into laughter, “Oh Maker, I never thought I would be so happy to hear you call me that.”

He didn’t seem to truly understand her words, instead grimacing, “Co’d…’urts…”

She nodded, “We’re getting you to camp, we’ll take care of you. I swear it.”

~~~/~~~/~~~

Solas practically tore through the camp towards where Cassandra had arrived with Adavae. He’d only needed to hear two words and a direction before he’d taken off. It wasn’t hard to find her, people crowding to get a glimpse of their Herald, still alive after everything. He could feel the awe of the people around him and if the situation were not so dire, perhaps he would have taken a moment to admire Adavae’s will to survive. He knew the state he had to be in though, there was no possible way he was walking on his own into camp. When the mage broke through the crowd his eyes narrowed, it was not a promising sight.

Adavae was draped over Cassandra’s back, a few cloaks covering him in an attempt to keep him from further cold. Snow clung to his clothes and had soaked them through, his hair was clearly frozen with frost on his eye lashes, and his skin was sallow, his lips entirely blue and bloodily broken where they’d chapped. Solas reached out to Cassandra, directing her with a hand on her arm as he whipped around to one of the servants, “The large tent near the main fires, clear it out. Get blankets and a lot of water. Have our mages set down heating runes inside and cold wards outside. Bring rags with the water. Go! Go!”

The man nodded and bolted off, Cullen was clearing a path with the other volunteers that had been out looking for Adavae and any other survivors. It didn’t take long for them to reach the tent, people rushing about them to do as Solas had ordered. He turned to Cassandra, “Put him on the floor, we need to get him out of those clothes before he can be put in the blankets.”

“The mages are using low level warming runes for now, so he won’t go into shock,” Mother Giselle said, having just arrived and already taking over orchestrating the people so Solas could focus on Adavae.

He nodded to her and helped Cassandra put Adavae down. He had out a knife, not bothering to try to salvage anything since the time it would take to do so could kill him, “Thank you Cassandra, we will take it from here.”

She paused, looking around as if for something to do. Mother Giselle stepped to her, “You have done what you could, Seeker. You brought him back to us. Now you need to let us work. We will see him wake again, I swear to you.”

Cassandra nodded shakily before removing herself from the fray. Moments later found Adavae wrapped in blankets, wounds patched, his extremities being slowly soaked with warm water to raise his body temperature. Solas had put a warming spell on his torso, making it so that his core would stabilize while they worked on other parts of his body. “Oh, dear child, what has the world put you through?”

Solas had not been paying mind to the marks across Adavae’s body, ones that told a story that wasn’t his to read. He looked up at Mother Giselle, “Far too much, it seems.”

He gave her a careful look, and she returned it with a gentle smile, “I know when to keep secrets, Master Solas. Adavae had no choice in this, so these I will carry to my grave if I must.”

Solas hummed, pushing down the protectiveness that coiled in his chest. He glanced at the Herald, the ice long gone from his hair and features, dried with a spell, before looking back to the hand he held to see what flesh he could salvage and what was dead already.

~~~/~~~/~~~

It had been hours since Adavae had been found, and so far the news was good. If you called a snapped humerus, cracked ribs, hypothermia, and Maker knew what else, good. He was recovering though, slowly becoming more lucid and aware. He survived everything and came back to them, mostly, in one piece.

Josephine had busied herself with keeping the other refugees calm, making sure everyone got food and water, blankets where they could be spared, and so on. Anything to keep her from thinking of how she-they- had almost lost Adav-their Herald. She brought a hand up to her face and covered it for a moment as she leaned over a listing of their supplies, a runner having just left her. Memories of people in flames flashed behind her eyelids, screams rang in her ears, and Adavae’s hard voice as she listened to him declare, ‘If that thing is here for me, I’ll make him fight for it.’

The memory sent a chill down her spine because he knew, they all knew he wouldn’t come back when he walked out the chantry doors. They’d chose to ignore it, but they had known. Yet he had. Somehow, he was in a tent just across the clearing from her. She wanted to check on him but there was so much to do, and she feared her reaction at seeing him.

“Josie,” she jumped at Leliana’s soft voice.

“Oh, Leliana, I was ju—" she started.

Leliana shook her head, “Josie, go to Adavae. For all our responsibilities, a moment spared for our Herald would not be remiss.”

Josephine’s jaw worked for a moment, but she slowly nodded, seeing the chance Leliana was giving her. She bit her lip and swallowed down her normal protests, “Thank you, Leliana.”

The spymaster nodded, touching her shoulder gently. Josephine smiled and moved quietly away and towards the tent. She had seen it after he’d been brought in, people darting in and out at the orders of Solas and Mother Giselle. The panicked and concerned looks they all had had made her want to run and go to Adavae all at once. But she’d only have be in the way. Maybe now…

She quieted her thoughts as she came to tent, examining the situation. Hours later it was quiet, with two guards standing outside. She knew them, Valorie and Jadeson, two that had been on duty for him back in Haven. They stood firm as ever, even if the haunt in their eyes was clear, yet they knew their duty. She would need to see if the others had survived Haven as well. She stepped up as Mother Giselle ducked out of the tent and smiled, “Good evening, Mother. How is he?”

Mother Giselle paused and smiled to her, “It is promising. He wakes and is more aware and understanding of where he is by the hour. His body is recovering, we were able to prevent him from going to into shock, thank the Maker,” she paused, “Will you watch him for a time? I have others I must tend to, but a friend nearby if he wakes would be a great kindness to him.”

“I-yes, of course!” Josephine said readily, “I will stay as long as I can.”

The revered mother nodded and opened the tent for her. It was mostly empty other than medicine, a pile of blankets, food that was being kept warm, water, and in the center Adavae. He was wrapped in blankets and bandages, though it was not as bad as she would have thought. Or maybe magic had been used to stem some of the frostbite.

“I don’t look that bad, do I?” Adavae’s normally brisk voice was low and hushed, twisted by pain and whatever else he was managing.

Josephine offered him a smile, “I fear the Inquisition will not be able to allow you to make public appearances any longer, Herald. The terrified screams would hurt the Inquisition’s reputation.”

A raspy laugh and those striking eyes opened to look at her. To see them open, to see Adavae whole and laughing, soothed everything that was twisting inside of her. She quietly settled into one of the stools next to him and folded her ankles over one another habitually, “In all honesty, Adavae, you look better than I thought you would.”

A tiny twitch of the dry, broken lips, “Solas says the Mark helped. When they brought me in he said it was… trying to protect me. The magic was salvaging what it could, where it could.”

“Then I am all the more glad that you have it,” she said, glancing at his left hand.

He frowned, “I’m not sure you’ll agree when I tell you what I’ve learned.”

She considered this, looking at her crossed feet, examining the tattered leather and skirt edges as thought. He opened his mouth to speak and she shook her head, “No, do not tell me. Not yet. Not until you are well, and we all can hear it. For now just… Heal, Adavae.”

Confusion knit his brow and she wasn’t even sure she understood what she was trying to say. But the emotion (Grief? Relief? Terror?) that stuck in her throat and tried to force tears from her eyes was raw and real. She didn’t stop herself as he reached out and took his hand, pulling it into her lap and gripping it tightly. She resisted pressing her lips to the calloused skin, resisted crying with the final confirmation that he was real and here, alive.

Adavae did not say anything either, instead he gripped her hand tightly in return, eventually drifting off again, but keeping his hold on her hand. When she finally did leave, Leliana peeking her head in to say she was needed, she left the smallest kiss on his knuckles, not allowing herself anymore before composing herself and facing the camp again.