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Absent In Effect

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There had been more survivors than expected from all the races. Not only the ancient Elves, who he had been confident were safe, but also their short-lived modern descendants as well as the Humans, Dwarves and Qunari. There had been deaths but it had not been absolute annihilation or even widespread. He thought the quicklings would not survive long, but was mostly relieved to have predicted incorrectly. It would have been a most regrettable sacrifice, but the alternative was unacceptable. For over a thousand years, the death of every elf had been on his hands, the loss of their immortality a consequence of his dreadful mistake in creating the veil. It was true that the survival of the mortals created complications in the matter of land rights, the humans in particular had ridiculous nationalistic claims against many of the ancient places, but he was confident that time and superior power would cause the fools to cede to the wisdom of their elders and inevitably capitulate. His kind were still greatly diminished in number but they had forever to expand their numbers and hopefully the shemlen elves would birth new generations that were as long-lived as their antecedents. Perhaps they would live longer themselves in the absence of the veil.

One of them stood before him now, shockingly charismatic for one so young, so shallow in experience. She spoke with confidence and apparent familiarity, called him by his true name, Solas. She seemed as though she knew him well, her voice breaking at times, perhaps with anger or perhaps softer sensibilities. She brushed impatiently at her eyes and blinked slowly at times. Was she concealing tears? Were they of anger or sorrow or something more complex? Did they all have such sharply unavoidable emotions? he wondered. When he awoke to the veil, he had found it difficult to discern whether they had any depth or finer sensibilities at all but over time his perceptions changed. All the same, he had not expected to see the expression of such passionate feeling for her kind and the other shemlen as well. She was surprisingly sophisticated in her arguments. She was … compelling. He agreed to most of her requests. Her reasoning was sound and did not conflict with his own goals. Besides, undignified though it was, he must seek to establish diplomatic relations with the various shemlen so they would understand the need to ally with him if the Forgotten Ones or the more dangerous of the Evanuris escaped their prisons before he was ready to deal with them. The concessions he made now would go a long way towards that aim.

Why did she continue standing there? She had made her arguments. He had agreed. Why did she seem to be expecting more?

He must have met her in the time after he woke from Uthenera, Yes, he was certain she had helped him. Was she Cassandra? No, that one had been human. He hoped she had survived, it was clear from what he had read in his journals that the Seeker had been an admirable creature of faith and purpose.

He looked at the woman before him, a female elf, one of the Dalish. This must be Inquisitor Lavellan then. Unfortunately, someone, perhaps even himself, had destroyed many of the passages in his writings that concerned themselves specifically with his personal accounting of her. He relied on those journals to tell him of what had happened in between the time he awoke from Uthenera to when he had fixed what he had broken. The efforts themselves had been personally damaging. He had overextended himself badly and due to the strain, he had lost a great deal of his recent memory following the discovery that he could not activate his own orb. He knew that his initial attempts to repair the harm he had done had been as wrong-footed as his acts in creating that same harm. He knew that he had joined an organization called The Inquisition, that this very young woman had led it and had therefore been instrumental in salvaging Thedas from his errors. He knew something of her virtues, weaknesses, habits and triumphs by reputation, if not reminiscence. He owed her much. She had helped him put it right, no matter how unwittingly, no matter the cost.

“I thank you, Inquisitor, for everything you have done that brought us to this moment. I admire what you have accomplished. There is no need for you to submit to further formalities in obtaining the promises I have made to you. They will not be forgotten. You may take your leave. One of my sentinels will be honoured to show you around the estate, should it please you.”

She nodded abruptly and turned, pausing once to almost, almost, glance back at him before continuing on, her shoulders sagging slightly.

It was unfortunate he had no memory of her. She was clearly remarkable.

It was a small price to pay, he thought.