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Twice Marked

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"Seriously, I'm still not sure how good this idea was", Lyssa muttered as they diverted for the umphtiest time into some side corridor because someone took too close a look at their Vallaslin.

"So far we haven't run into real trouble", Amara shrugged and Lyssa raised an eyebrow.

"So far, we also haven't heard anything of worth or note."

"Well, the Divine still hasn't talked to them, so…"

"By the way, where is she? Shouldn't she have been here hours ago?"

They shared a look, then Amara reset her bow on her shoulder and indicated to her friend to follow her.

"Come on. Time to do some actual spying."

Instinctively, Lyssa wanted to throw a barrier over both of them and refrained at the last second. The shimmer would not only make them more visible and infinitely more suspicious, the barrier would also do not much good in a building full of mages who could easily dispel it and Templars who could block her magic. Having Amara with her actual fighting skills with her did much to calm her down. She was so in over her head…

Amara found a way to one of the closed-off parts of the temple where they had seen several high-ranking members of the Chantry go in and out.

"Chances are she's in here somewhere", Amara murmured, eyeing the guards stationed at the entrance.

"Over there", Lyssa said, indicating a small corridor going into the same direction. "Maybe there's a servants' door."

"Let's have a look."

They were lucky. The door was small and inconspicuous and very thoroughly locked.

"They didn't expect someone with actual skills here, I take it", Amara grinned as she took out her lock picks and had the grace to look abashed when Lyssa gave her an offended look. "Current company excluded, of course."

"Of course", Lyssa said dryly, shaking her head.

It didn't take them long to find their way into the closed-off corridors, listening at doors and finding only empty, small bedrooms. Normally these rooms were open for all who made the pilgrimage here, but for the Conclave, they had been reserved exclusively for the Divine's staff - all of which were mingling with the representatives of the mage and Templar rebellion, talking and listening and waiting for the Divine to make her appearance.

"I can see it before my eyes - the Divine's giving her speech while we're searching through her underclothes", Lyssa said as they closed the door to another abandoned bedroom.

"Nah", Amara said, "they wanted to announce it with the gong, remember? We should be able to hear it even here."

"You're ri-" Lyssa stopped mid-sentence.

"What?"

"Shh!" She held up a hand, listening intently. "Did you hear that?"

Amara furrowed her brow as she strained her ears. Lyssa could see the moment when her friend heard it too. Voices. A grunt. The sound of a sword being drawn, barely audible. And there was more. Amara wouldn't be able to notice it but Lyssa could feel it in the air, on her skin, a slight tingle raising the hairs on her arms - magic. Powerful magic. She gripped her staff more tightly.

"Something's up", she whispered. "Magic."

Amara gave her a 'you don't say' look and together they made their way towards the noise.

 

They expected it - whatever 'it' was - to be behind another closed door. What they didn't expect was to turn a corner and stand in the midst of a huge ritual. Lyssa barely had the time to realize that the symbols, intricate circles and runes on the floor had been painted with blood, dark candle flames flickering between streams of magic. The power of the ritual took her breath away, her own magic surging up within her even without her noticing it as she saw dark, unrecognizable shades appearing and disappearing in several, interlocking ritualistic circles.

"Bring forth the sacrifice."

The voice boomed through the room but somehow, Lyssa knew it couldn't be heard outside. It was more inside of her than anything. A dreading horror rose inside her.

"Someone help me!"

Lyssa looked up. The Divine. She hovered in the middle of the ritual, her arms outstretched, bound by magic, her feet no longer touching the ground. An expression of intense horror and pain was carved into her face.

"What's going on here?!" Amara called out and the Divine looked down, a desperate hope dawning on her features as she saw them that died nearly immediately. "Run while you can! Warn them", she shouted.

Lyssa instinctively threw a barrier over herself and Amara but it dissolved in the magical streams. A high-pitched, screaming sound started somewhere in the back of Lyssa's head and she gasped as a huge, supernatural figure emerged from the dark - why was it suddenly dark?!

"We have intruders. Kill them. Now." The voice vibrated in all of her bones and Lyssa took another attempt of protecting herself and her friend, this time successfully. The magic danced across her fingertips and arched from one of the demons appearing to the next. Overhead, the Divine screamed and chaos broke out. One of Amara's arrow flew across the room at one of the shadowy figures who had turned towards them. It collapsed and suddenly, something was rolling towards them. Without thinking, more out of instinct than anything else, Lyssa stooped down towards it, reaching for it.

"No! It could be dangerous!" Amara threw herself at Lyssa and in the same second as both of their fingers touched the orb, the world exploded in green fire before everything went black.

 

Reality was tinged in green magic.

"Mara?", Lyssa whispered as she came to, blinking confused.

A groan told her that her friend was alive. Relief flooded Lyssa, as she stood up, looking around for the archer.

"Mara, wake up!", she whispered, shaking the other elf at the shoulder. Her staff was nowhere to be found and suddenly, she noticed the world around them. A cold dread spread throughout her. "Mythal protect us."

"Where are we?", groaned Amara as she pushed herself up. Lyssa gripped her friend's arm, her breath shallow.

"The Fade", she whispered as strange shapes started to take form around them.

"What?!"

"We need to find a way out. NOW!" Lyssa shouted the last word as she saw the incorporated fear crawling towards them. Amara took a stumbling step backwards, then she turned and followed her friend in desperate flight.

"Over there!", Amara exclaimed, pointing towards a shining figure made of pure light, changing course.

They barely made it. Lyssa felt something scraping at her calves as she stumbled behind Amara towards the woman reaching out to them, fingers of light and warmth touching them, spreading over them and something ripped through reality and spewed them forward.

The last thing Lyssa saw was the unconscious figure of Amara next to her, then oblivion took her.