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Of Wardens and Pariahs ch25--Don't Look25. Don't LookOf Wardens and Pariahs ch25--Don't Look by FyreQueen89
The two mages stared at each other for a shocked second before both demanded, "What are you doing back here?"
Wynne raised an eyebrow at the younger woman's surprise. "Is it really so difficult to believe I would return to my home?"
"No, but that was fast," Trinne muttered.
Wynne chuckled. "Don't sound so surprised, dear." Her gaze shifted to the men behind Trinne. "And I suppose these are fellow Grey Wardens?" She smiled slightly, as if confirming a private suspicion. "How's your arm, young man? Doing better?"
There was a half-second delay before Cousland realized she was talking to him and dragged his attention away from the huddled knot of children. "Hm?"
"Is your arm doing better, dear?" Wynne repeated.
"Oh. Yes, thank you."
Trinne frowned briefly, wondering how the two of them could possibly have met, before remembering the Kocari Wilds Incident and how grumpy Cousland had been that she'd almost hit him. Maybe you actually did some damage...
Acceptance ch 3131. At an ImpasseAcceptance ch 31 by FyreQueen89
Even after everyone's eaten and had chance to really wake up, none of us are particularly eager to speak first. It's like we all know what should be done, but no one wants to be the one who actually says it. Especially considering Velanna has a personal stake in things.
Finally, I reluctantly accept that--as the leader--this responsibility falls to me. "So... if anyone has a solution in mind that won't involve killing the Disciple, I'd love to hear it."
"Is that seriously what you're considering, Commander?" Velanna bursts out. "Leaving Seranni alone, to fend for herself?"
"Only because I can't see any other option," I reply. "Believe me, it hasn't actively done anything wrong and I'm extremely reluctant to kill it, but it's still spreading the Blight. So, like I said, if you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them."
"What about helping them relocate? Once Seranni is feeling better," she points out.
"Okay. Do you k
Acceptance ch 3030. Just CheckingAcceptance ch 30 by FyreQueen89
The blonde elf stares at me for a few seconds, no doubt caught off guard by the abruptness of my arrival--not to mention my demand or request or whatever you want to call it. Then she nods, pats the ground beside her. "Of course, Warden. What did you want to talk about?"
I sit cross-legged next to her, casting a wary look at the darkspawn as I do. "Just wanted to see how you're doin'. Make sure you didn't just put on a happy face for your sister yesterday."
Seranni chuckles knowingly. "You wanted to make sure the Taint hasn't gotten worse, in other words. Wouldn't Velanna have sensed if it had?"
"Maybe. And maybe if she did, she would ignore it. Velanna is a horribly biased source when it comes to you, Seranni. Not that I can blame her. Yes, I wanted to see if the Taint was worse, just to be sure. I really do want to know if there's anything you need, though. I know how the whole 'happy face for family' thing works; I've used it myself," I assu
Acceptance ch2929. Simple PragmatismAcceptance ch29 by FyreQueen89
When morning comes, I'm still stumped. It's a tricky enough situation even without the stick through the wheelspokes that is Seranni being here.
After staring at the wall for almost an hour, counting the warps and knots in the unpainted boards, one hand running absently up and down the arm Jowan's draped over me, I finally sigh and wiggle free to climb out of bed. Jowan--as always--is so deep asleep he doesn't even realize I'm gone, at least not beyond rolling onto his stomach almost immediately.
I smile slightly as I move to sit in the chair by the window--the only furniture in the room besides the bed. I need something different to stare at while I think, and the view of the treeline this room affords will do nicely. The chair creaks slightly as I settle into it and hug my knees into my chest.
The Disciple is not intentionally hurting people, it never has. On this count, at least, the Architect was right and successful. A peaceful darkspawn. However--and
The second floor proved quieter than the previous one – but it was a creepy kind of quiet, it sucked out all the relief from the prospect of catching a breath.
"It's cold in here." Alistair shivered, and Harvey had to agree, there was just something in the air, it felt like stepping on your own grave.
The vast atrium they entered via a staircase was empty, save for the piles of rubble scattered around, and–-the rogue noticed with a start, because he missed him at first-–a lone man who was seemingly trying to make sense of the mess. The older, balding male glanced in their direction, but wasn't overly surprised or alarmed by their presence. More like troubled.
"Please refrain from going into the stockroom," he stated formally. "It's a mess and I have not been able to get it into a state fit to be seen." Then, perhaps deciding that his business with the newcomers was finished, proceeded his search between the pieces of fallen debris. He fished out a bloodied scroll, or at least a piece of one, as far as the rogue could tell, examined it briefly, and then disappeared inside the alcove to their right.
"Owain..." Wynne followed after the man with almost motherly scorn.
The rest of the group exchanged glances-–Harvey searching for confirmation he wasn't the only one who found the encounter...odd. Alistair replied with an uncomfortable shrug and muttered something the rogue couldn't hear. Trinne... he either imagined it, or her scowl deepened even more.
Once again Harvey felt as if some crucial piece of information passed over his head. He sighed. Mages and their mage... things. Even the would-be templar was in the know. The rogue just hoped they'd found an ally in this insanity.
They quickly joined the quiet conversation inside the stockroom. The peculiar chill was still present even here, but thanks to a few strategically placed candles, the room gave an aura of cosyness, if not warmth.
"I was trying to tidy up, but there was little I could do," the man apologized in words, if not in tone.
You're not wrong. The rogue looked around, noting exactly what he expected to find. They wouldn't be able to stock up here. The place has been heavily looted, going by the state of shelves and crates. Most of them were empty, some even didn't survive the whole ordeal and lay in pieces between broken flasks and papers. He shuddered. It took some force to do that. He tried to picture what the shelves housed before they were cleared out, but he lacked the imagination. Amell on the other hand knew exactly what it had to be, because she gently stepped over what looked like a charred corpse-–while doing her best to avoid gazing at it-–and started rummaging through the rubble scattered around her on the floor.
Alistair asked if she needed any help, but the mage barked she was fine.
Well, then. She'd been on edge from the moment they entered the tower, and that was understandable. Harvey felt a pang of sympathy.
Wynne and the man called Owain were talking in hushed voices, and leaning his back against the wall, Harvey focused his attention there. A lone clerk looking after an empty room, the rogue wasn't sure why it unsettled him so. He appeared helpful enough, answering questions without a stutter, and Harvey doubted he'd be a better judge of character than Wynne, who called this place her home... But what was the point of him, really – of anyone being here, right in the open...when you could choose not to be? His eyes were drawn to the man's hands even as he was droning through his story. There was something wrong with the way he held his hands.
"I tried to leave when things got quiet, that is when I encountered the barrier," the balding man said, describing Wynne's creation. "Finding no way out, I returned to work.”
"Owain, you should have said something, I would have opened the door for you," the older mage tsked and shook her head.
It was his demeanor that was off, Harvey realized-–completely relaxed, as if the happenings in the Circle were someone else's problem. But he was aware of what was going on, he just admitted it! The rogue tensed, confused by receiving obviously mixed signals – was this a deception?
"The stockroom is familiar, I prefer to be here," Owain carried on.
Harvey felt the hair on his neck stand at attention. The man was either insane, or shocked out of his wit, or worst of all was lying, and Wynne was behaving as if she didn't notice a thing.
"Is he... alright?” he probed, trying to convince himself he was just being paranoid.
"Well, he doesn't seem to be hurt, are you, Owain?" The older mage fussed, and when the man answered with a 'no', she turned around and caught the rogue's perplexed expression. She understood. "I see you have doubts, young man. He's exactly as he appears, believe it or not. Owain here is a Tranquil, they do not have emotions. But there is nothing wrong with him, do not worry."
"Hmph, one could say that's exactly what's wrong with him." The thought might have been initially intended to be spoken under her breath. But it didn't come out that way. It came out like a lightning bolt aimed at your face, and from the look of it Amell wasn't in the mood to take it back.
"What, you're afraid he'll take offense?!" She kicked a piece of a broken bottle, and it shattered into a thousand little pieces. Her next words were venom. "Oh wait, guess what!” She gasped in mock - surprise. "No he won't! To do that you need to be able to get angry! Or have pride or something. And that's waaay beyond a Tranquil, believe me.”
"This is not a reason for you to disrespect him, when he's serving the Circle the best way he can!" Wynne was appalled.
"As if he had a choice!"
"They usually do."
Harvey got lost after that. Different contexts from two differing points of view on concepts he had no idea about. But it definitely explained why the usually forward leader decided to sit the whole encounter out. Corpses beat those so called Tranquils then, good to know. But this...this was getting out of hand.
"Look," he cut in, getting both womens' attention. "This isn't important now-" The statement earned him a scorching look from the black haired mage- "I just wanted to know if he can be trusted. What I'm trying to say, let's not draw too much attention to ourselves, alright?" he paused. "We are outnumbered as it is."
As on cue Alistair peaked his head outside the alcove, to check if they hadn't disturbed anything nasty. After a painfully long moment he gave them a sign the coast was clear. The luck smiled on them again.
"Fine, FINE.” Trinne admitted. "But," she turned to Wynne. "I'm not disrespecting him, I just can't understand how anyone can say that this is alright!” she fumed.
The older mage did the wise thing and simply responded. "This is not a discussion for now."
This whole time, the exhibit A of the ongoing argument was watching the debate with unchanging passiveness. "I would prefer not to die," he said finally. "I would prefer it if the Tower returned to the way it was. Perhaps Niall will succeed and save us all."
He definitely did not take any offense. Harvey eyed him in wonder.
"Niall?" The two mages echoed, obviously recognizing the name. Harvey was only thankful it was Alistair who asked the following question. He was afraid of starting the next great war.
"Niall is an enchanter, he came here with several others and took the Litany of Andralla," Owain explained.
"A nice guy," Trinne added. "A little dry with the facts, though. Litany of Andralla... That kind of rings a bell.”
"That protects from mind domination!” Wynne paled. "Is blood magic at work here?”
"I do not know," the Tranquil said.
The old mage covered her lips with a palm, deep in thought. Harvey understood that as bad as things were, right now they might have gotten a whole lot worse. "Niall was in the meeting. He would know. Blood magic. I was afraid of this,” she sighed. "Thank you Owain, this is important."
The Tranquil simply nodded.
"We should find Niall, the Litany will give us a fighting chance against any blood mages we encounter.”
And it was good to know there was someone out there fighting on their side. They definitely could use some help, Harvey thought.
They said their goodbyes, Owain once again refusing to move to a safer spot downstairs, even though Wynne promised him Petra and other mages would protect him. It didn't change his mind.
Harvey and Amell were the last ones to leave the alcove.
"This is still not right." The young mage glanced one last time in the direction of the Tranquil, who was picking up work where he left off.
"You mean leaving him here?"
"That too." She bit her lip, before looking at him, anger still present in her eyes. "But he should know better! He should try to save his own life. Care about it more, at least. Not stay here sorting out trash like it's Tuesday.”
"I'm just... really trying to keep up with all of this." Harvey shook his head, a roundabout way of admitting he wasn't sure what to think. But if she put it that way, he couldn't disagree.