The chains remained. Tight like leashes on her body. The wood plank around her wrists was useless but there was no point dealing with those as the other chains held her down. The cell was small and dark but it was dry at least. There was no window that gave her the illusion of the outside world. Just the one in the door that hinted at a world beyond this. Two guards were stationed out there like usual. She could hear them talking but she understood little of what was being said. There was only one word among many that she had come to realize referred to her.
It was as foreign as the rest but they seemed to think it was her, whatever it meant. She could guess by the tone and the way the guards looked at her. While they varied, it was clear that the word was nothing good.
They had come to her several times to talk to her. It was always the dark haired woman, but there were times she had a companion who seemed unusually fond of hoods. They all seemed to think she was responsible for something and she could not even figure out what that was. She remembered being in the ancient ruins, following Fingers as he led the way to some ancient treasure, and knee deep in stagnant water.
There was nothing that could explain this hostility. There were plenty of things in her past that would make someone irrationally angry at her but there had been nothing in recent memory to any one that was not from the area. She would certainly remember pissing off anyone like the angry woman or whomever she was serving.
She was getting tired of being called that. Every day, one of the guards would take it upon themselves to call her that word. One even had the nerve to try and hit her. It had been glorious to watch him stumble backwards after she landed her forehead square against his nose. Some of his blood even splattered on her face but she did not care. It just felt good to do something. She could not keep the smile off her face as the guard staggered away.
She was still grinning when other guards came to beat her into unconsciousness.
She no longer knew how long she had been in the dungeon. Time seemed to fade into one unending blur of days. Her body ached from being chained but no other guards attempted to be foolish. They had also stopped speaking to her which was a bonus in her mind. She was content to die in silence in this hole then have to hear them call her strange words in their language.
It was a bit surprising when she heard the door swing open and the approach of footsteps. She frowned at the people that were studying her. One was that Imperial woman who seemed to be in charge of her but her companion this time was an elf or at least that is what she assumed. He did not look like any elf she had encountered. He apparently shaved his head which was rather amusing to her. His features were similar but they were just a little less sharp and he was short.
“By the forge, you're short.” She mumbled under her breath at him but sat up to get a better look at him. He didn't smell like the others but then, that might have just been an elf smell as he was the first elf she had seen since she'd been locked in here.
He looked at her intently and she merely stared back at him. He was definitely not one of the high elves who sought to force their beliefs on the rest of the world but there was something about him that set her on edge. Not that anything about this situation put her at peace anyway.
She kept watching as he conversed with the dark haired woman again. She had no clue what the two of them were saying but she guessed it had to do with her, especially with how animated his hands were becoming when pointing at her.
It was slightly amusing to watch as it became clear that he seemed to be objecting to her treatment.
It was, however, surprising that he came over to her and grabbed the wooden brace around her wrists. He said something harsh towards the other woman and shook the wood. It was a little jarring but she paid it no mind.
Clearly it had some effect on the woman as she came over with a key. Ara felt her eyes going wide and she could not help pulling her hands up towards the key in a clear motion.
The dark haired woman said some harsh words at her and then more harsh words at the elf before she finally unlocked the part of the chains that held her to the floor.
Ara could not help the relief as she heard the iron hit the floor. She shuffled a little but got to her feet and straightened up. Her muscles were stiff and sore from crouching so long but it was better then still being chained down. She rolled her neck and then her shoulders, trying to relieve the tension that tightened across those muscles. There was an audible pop which seemed to echo in the cell. With a blink of her dark red eyes, she realized the entire troop was now staring at her.
“What?” She asked as if they could understand.
The elf said something to the other woman before moving to place a hand on the wood around her wrists. There were more things said but Ara merely shrugged. She had no idea what he was saying to her. Then he did something that none of the others had bothered to do.
“Solas.” He said as he pointed to himself.
She blinked before grinning. She made an awkward gesture towards him and repeated.
“Solas.” Then she pulled her hands back and tapped on her chest. “Ara.”
The elf beamed at her like she was a child but she paid it no mind as he then motioned for her to follow him. There was a brief glimmer of hope that he was taking her outside but she also regarded it warily.
“You better not be leading me to my execution.” Ara managed with a laugh before she followed.
The dungeon was much smaller then she thought it would be and the stairwell was clearly not meant for those taller then the human and elf. It was kind of amusing how they both seemed to be trying to intimidate each other. The human woman was fit and had the look of a fighter but the elf had the look of a survivor. He also seemed to carry himself around like he knew more then everyone else.
Probably true, he was an elf and nearly every one of those she had met had been holier then thou assholes.
She stopped when the elf said her name and put up a hand at the door way. He said more words she did not understand but there was something in his voice that almost seemed like a warning. Ara frowned but nodded. Whatever he said, she was going to follow with caution. Lest there be more guards who needed broken noses.
He pushed open the door and they stepped out into a grand hall. There were pillars and those fancy tapestries hung between them. She did not recognize the symbol but it was everywhere. She bit back any comment and merely followed the others through the hall. There were people in a variety of clothing but the most common theme seemed to be white and red robes but boy did they love to stare.
She had become accustomed to being stared at but this was something else. They were not staring because she had just come back from spelunking in some god forsaken ruin or that she had wiped another bandit group from existence. No, these stares were the looks someone gave something unknown that they had decided to fear and hate on principle.
She wished she knew the words in their language to tell them all to piss off.
Solas seemed to understand as he glanced back at her with a wry smile. She did her best to give a thumbs up and a smile but it was awkward with how her hands were bound. That smile only widened when she began to hear the sound of rain and then got to see the outside world as they opened the door for her.
She stepped outside and stood on the steps. Her head tilted back as she just let the rain hit her face. She felt one of the guards try to push her forward but she stood her ground. The shove got harsher and she still did not move. Ara made an annoyed snort noise as the guard looked ready to draw his sword on her.
The dark haired woman acted before any one else did, barking out a sharp command at the offending guard. Ara continued smiling at the rain but watched the guard out of the corner of her eye. She remembered him as the friend of the one who got his nose broken. They had both seemed to be very hot headed.
Perhaps he intended to take the moment of being outside as his chance for a little revenge on her or maybe he had some other lofty ideas, Ara simply did not care. Her world focused down to just him and her. She zoned out every other sound, even that delightful sound of rain. The moment she saw him make a lunge in her direction, she dodged to the side in a fluid motion.
Her knee came up in a solid blow to his midsection just as both of her hands came down in an axe handle smash to the back of his head.
She stepped back and put her hands in the air in case the other guards got it in their heads to start beating on her again. Solas was looking at her with a strange look so she gave him a smile and shrug. The Imperial woman was once more barking orders and Ara saw that she had drawn her sword.
The Imperial woman spoke to Solas again, her voice irritated but overly calm. He responded equally as calm but Ara could see the faint twitch of his cheek. She had no clue why, guessing maybe he was amused or perhaps he was irritated.
“Ara.” Solas said and motioned to her once more.
She blinked and glanced towards the Imperial but the woman was already busying herself with the guard who was unconscious for his efforts. Ara glanced back to Solas and he motioned again. Shrugging to herself, she moved to follow and walked with him.
Ara managed to keep her attention n where they were going instead of getting distracted with the simple joy of being outside. The faint but unmistakable noise of a hammer on an anvil got her a little more excited but she pushed that away until later. She doubted these people would let her around a hammer. She just hoped they had not decided to try and do away with her gear.
Solas remained silent as he led her towards a series of tiny houses that were out of the way of the main area of the village. For it was a village, she had realized.
He led her to one of the houses and pointed to it.
She blinked, suddenly thinking that Solas was not his name.
“Ara.” He pointed to one of the other houses next to his.
He did it again and she just stared. She was not a stupid creature but it still took several repeats for her to realize. His house and her house. She grimaced at the thought of the four walls and shook her head.
“Ara.” She said and pointed to a large rock that was against the wall surrounding the village.
Solas sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration.
“Solas.” Ara said, trying to make him understand. When he looked at her, she pointed at the house that was his and nodded. “Solas.” Then she pointed at the house that he had said was her's and she shook her head. She pointed once more at the rock and then moved to sit with her back against it. “Ara.”
Solas was clearly far more understanding then she was as he suddenly smiled and nodded. She felt a bit of elation that he had because she had no interest in going inside that wooden building. Ara had been penned up for so long that she just wanted to be in the open air, even if it was raining.
Solas approached her and she could see a key in his hand. She blinked up at him before grinning. Ara lifted up her arms for him but the moment he got close enough to put the key in the lock, she decided to make a point known. Pulling outward and flexing her arms, she caused the wood to splinter and break like it was fully rotten.
She could not help the cackle that came at the look on his face. She almost fell over sideways laughing as he back pedalled a few steps. He angrily said a few words in that strange language of theirs and she merely smiled at him. Solas gave a sigh at her and went into the house.
She thought about leaving but she was not going to go anywhere without her things. That and she had no idea where she was. So long as these people were not planning on killing her, this was as good a place as any. She closed her eyes and leaned against the rock, not caring as the rain soaked her through and through. It felt like it was washing the grime of the cell from her body. The smell of rain was perfect after smelling that cell for Malecath knows how long.
Ara peeked an eye open when she heard the sound of a nearby door opening. Sure enough, there was the elf returning. He looked a little annoyed at the rain, or possibly her for making him be out in the rain, but he moved to place a stool on the ground near her and sit. He had an assortment of things in his hands but they did not seem to be getting wet with the rain.
She guessed it was magic of some sort but she paid little attention to that thought as he presented her with a book. Ara stared at it blankly before he spoke. Like before, he was careful to pronounce the word and point at the object. He laid it in his lap and then held out a cup to her. Again, he said a single word and pointed at it.
Suddenly it dawned on her.
Forges help her, he was trying to teach her words.