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Hey Guys

Journal Entry: Sun Sep 27, 2015, 12:18 PM
Just wanted to let you know there's not going to be a new chapter for Acceptance this week. I am on vacation at the beach, and while I do have my computer, I had such a busy week the chapter didn't get finished. So unfortunately, I have to bump it a week. Sorry!

  • Reading: Deluge ~Lisa T. Bergren
  • Watching: Stargate: Atlantis
  • Playing: Pillars of Eternity(is harrrd)
  • Drinking: coffee


25. Don't Look

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... 

But Wynne was smiling warmly and murmuring how glad she was to hear it before returning to the matter at hand. "You still haven't told me what you're doing here, Trinne. Weren't you planning to never set foot in the Circle again?"

Trinne scowled at the reminder. "The Maker has a twisted sense of humor. And plans change. We're it as far as Grey Wardens go, so we came to get the mages' help against the Blight-"

"And were informed by the Knight-Commander that the Circle was indisposed?" Wynne finished for her, smiling thinly. "They may have abandoned us to our fate, but we are not all so helpless."

"Ya don't hafta tell me twice," Trinne snorted. "Hasn't stopped Greagoir from sending for the Right of Annulment."

"So they mean to..." Wynne's voice trailed off and she instinctively moved to place herself between the children and the door. "I will not see innocents pay for Uldred's crimes."

Uldred? I'm sensing a story there... Trinne raised an eyebrow. "The Right hasn't arrived yet, so I talked him into lettin' us try an' fix things. Save anyone still alive." She glanced toward the children and the pair of older apprentices with them.

"Good then." Wynne shifted her grip on her staff, expression determined. "Let me come with you. I can dispel the barrier I put in place-" she gestured toward the shimmering shield that blocked the doorway to the library- "and I imagine more help would be appreciated?"

Trinne bristled at the older woman's tone, but Alistair hastily spoke up. "Yes, thanks. Can never have too much help."

Tamping down her irritation, Trinne raked one hand through her hair. "Where's Irving? Greagoir said he won't unbar the door unless he hears from Irving that it's safe."

"I haven't seen him in some time," Wynne frowned. "Not since he told me to look after the children.  It seems that would be our path then; find Irving and get him out safely."

"Will... Will they be safe here?" Cousland spoke up, gaze still glued on the children.

"Of course, dear," Wynne said reassuringly. "Petra and Kinnon will look after them, and I assume nothing dangerous will make it past us?"

"Not if I have anything to say about it," Trinne muttered. "C'mon, we're wasting time."

"Wynne, are you sure about this?" Petra spoke up. "You were so badly hurt earlier. Maybe I should go instead?"

"No, I'll be fine, dear. Don't fret," Wynne promised.

"Yeah, we can do this. Nothin' to worry about," Trinne added.

"Refreshing as your confidence is, do not let it blind you to your weaknesses," Wynne cautioned, causing Trinne to roll her eyes.

Yep, here we go, gotta lecture me about something. "That's what you're for," she replied, voice dripping no small amount of sarcasm. "To keep me from gettin' too full of myself. Now like I said, we're wastin' time, let's go!"

Not looking entirely happy with Trinne's attitude, Wynne turned to face the barrier and dispelled it with a wave of her hand. "Be on your guard, Wardens." 


Almost immediately, they ran into a trio of abominations. It took every ounce of willpower Trinne possessed to not try and figure out who they'd been before becoming monsters. She could feel the bile climbing her throat as one by one, the things that had been mages, had been people she knew, fell to blades and magic. 

Once the fight was over, adrenaline fading but not gone, never gone while these things filled her home, the state of the library actually registered, and Trinne hand to clamp a hand over her mouth to keep from losing what little she'd had to eat that morning.

Shattered bookshelves had disgorged their contents in piles on the bloody floor, ruined tomes heaped around and over corpses in various stages of dismemberment. Despite her best efforts, a pained cry escaped her lips at the utter destruction of her favorite place in the whole blasted tower. As Trinne stood frozen, eyes scanning the bodies and ruined books even as her brain screamed Stop, this is  a mistake, her gaze swept over the still form of a pale, redheaded elf girl, eyes fixed and staring at nothing over wounds too horrible to look at.

"I hear the Surana girl has a crush on you."

He rolled his eyes, face going red, and focused intently on his book. "Yeah, right."

"No, seriously. She's cute. We can always find out for sure," she retorted impishly, preparing to flag down the elf in question.

"Trinne, don't you dare!"


And now the cute, shy little redhead who used to peek at Jowan over the top of her books was dead, torn apart and discarded like refuse in the remains of the gutted library.

One final gut-punch reminder that things would never be the same. It didn't improve her mood. Which was probably why she whipped around with a snapped "What?!" when someone touched her shoulder. 

Alistair snatched his hand back as if she'd tried to bite him. "I, um, I know this has to be hard for you, but we need to keep moving."

"Right, of course. Save the day now, puke my guts up later," she muttered sarcastically, deliberately not looking at the bodies littering the room as she pressed forward.

There were more demons to fight, both literal and figurative, as they made their way through the rest of the library. Memories assaulted her with almost the same ferocity as the spirits of rage they encountered. By the time they were mounting the stairs to the next floor, Trinne was already unsure how much more of this she could take.


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.

"Trinne Amell!"

"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.

"Who's Niall?"

"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. 

Of Wardens and Pariahs ch25--Don't Look
Yeah, so Trinne has some very strong feelings on the Rite of Tranquility. She didn't like even before it was a threat to her best friend, and now she really, really hates even the idea of it. Also, fun fact: the Surana mentioned here is an actual Warden I made who romanced Jowan. 8D Whee, I'm so mean to my alternate kids. As always, Alex wrote Harvey's part and did a damn good job with it. 

Of Wardens and Pariahs ch1--First Impressions

Of Wardens and Pariahs ch24--Home Sweet Home
Alistair, Wynne, Owain and Dragon Age in general belong to BioWare

Harvey belongs to freethegoats

Trinne is mine
31. At an Impasse

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 know anywhere they could go where it's livable but not inhabited by enough people to worry about either a repeat of here or someone spottin' them and gettin' a mob together?"

She's quiet, obviously thinking hard.

"Benign or no, it's still a darkspawn," Jerin speaks up. "Wouldn't it be better t' make other arrangements for Seranni--maybe she could come back with us--and just kill it?"

"The one problem with that is since it's a talking, sentient darkspawn, it and Seranni have formed a friendship of sorts. Think about it, Mahariel; she has the Taint. It may not be spreading in her, but I'd bet my favorite boots she could pass it to others. That means it's her only friend. And her reaction to the idea of killing it was about what you'd expect," I point out, playing with my braid.

"You said something to her?! With her being sick?" Velanna's head snaps up, eyes glinting with fury.

"No! I explained why both she and the Disciple needed to stay in the cave, and the Disciple was the one to bring up the option of killing it."

"See? It's even volunteerin'," Jerin mutters. "I say we kill it. A darkspawn is a darkspawn, an' just b'cause this one has better manners than most doesn't mean it's not still a threat."

Velanna glares. "And so, what, we should deprive my sister of the only truly understanding friend she has?"

"Look at it the other way," Jowan finally speaks up. "We should let more people die of the Taint just so Seranni can keep one particular friend?"

"No one asked you, shem," she growls, glaring at the table.

"Velanna, I asked for opinions," I remind her. "I want to hear from all of you. We need to work this out."

"Well, it's fairly obvious what they want," she snarls, pushing angrily away to her feet and storming off.

" 'Lanna-" Jerin calls after her, then sighs and stands as well. "I'll go talk to her."

"Should we start to worry if you're not back in an hour?" I offer, only half-joking.

"Nah. I'll be fine," he shakes his head. "There's somethin' deeper botherin' her, an' I just need t' figure out what it is."

After he's left as well, I turn to Jowan. "Is that really how you feel?"

"I don't know how I feel," he admits. "It's a hard choice, no denying that, and I'm pretty sure it's going to come down to you to make it. You know I'll support you no matter w-"

"No," I cut him off, pinching the bridge of my nose. "Much as I appreciate knowing that you'll back me up, whatever I decide, right now, I really need your honest, unvarnished opinion. I don't care what it is, I just need advice 'cause I don't know what to do!"

He silent for a long moment, thumb rubbing across the scar on his palm, before conceding, "Neither do I."


It wasn't hard to find Velanna; she was muttering to herself loudly enough Jerin could hear her long before he laid eyes on her.

She clammed up when he came into view, meeting him with frosty silence.

Well, that's not a good sign. He braced himself for this to go badly. "Velanna, what's wrong?"

She gave a harsh laugh. "Do you really need to ask that? After what you said back there? Can't you care about her for my sake, if nothing else?"

Jerin winced. "I do care! I want to help Seranni-"

"Then why push so hard to kill the only friend she has?" the mage cut him off.

"Because it's a darkspawn!" he retorted. "You heard Tabris; the thing is willin' to die! Oh, and last thing, if you'll recall--I said we should bring Seranni back to the Vigil with us! She'll be safe in the Vigil, and Grey Wardens are immune to the Taint-"

"The rest of the soldiers and staff aren't," Velanna pointed out. "She'd have to live in isolation and not have interaction-"

"She'd have that anyway," Jerin interrupted, cracking his knuckles. "She's always goin' t' have the Taint, she's always gonna need t' be careful around people so she doesn't get them sick. Wouldn't it be better for her t' live in a place where at least some of th' people can visit, be around her, become her friends,  without havin' t' worry about th' Taint?

"Well, yes, but," Velanna hesitated, arms hugged around herself in a show of more vulnerability than Jerin had ever seen from her.

"But what?" he prompted, stepping closer.

"I can't let her lose anything else!" she burst out. "She's lost her clan, her friends, her health, even her family because of me and my temper!"

Jerin blinked, momentarily unsure where to go with that. "But she hasn't lost all her family; she has you still."

"But I didn't protect her!" Velanna shot back. "The darkspawn took her, and... and I lost her for almost three years. It's my fault they were able to take her, and thus my fault she is the way she is."

"You mean Tainted?" Jerin clarified bluntly.

"Yes. Tainted. My choices have led to one of the best people I know becoming little better than a monster in the eyes of the world." She sighed. "I can't take away the one good thing she has in her life, vhenan. I won't."

He had to bite hiss tongue hard to keep from repeating his main concern. "I understand, emm'asha." But it's a darkspawn. Finally unable to take their distance, he stepped close enough to pull her into a long hug. Even as he felt her stiffen and relax, he had to wonder how they were ever going to settle this.
Acceptance ch 31
Oh, lordy, my kids are not making this easy. :P And Jerin and Velanna are definitely getting a lot more space than I was originally planning to give them, but this is a good thing. My plan for this chapter was to make it a bit longer to make up for not posting last week, but then all my glorious free time gotten eaten up by car trouble(Mom's, not mine, but I still had to play chauffeur) and other projects, and I barely got this finished in time, so sorry about that.  

Acceptance ch 1

Acceptance ch 30
Jowan, Velanna, Seranni and Dragon Age in general belon to BioWare

Rahna and Jerin are mine

Hey Guys

Journal Entry: Sun Sep 27, 2015, 12:18 PM
Just wanted to let you know there's not going to be a new chapter for Acceptance this week. I am on vacation at the beach, and while I do have my computer, I had such a busy week the chapter didn't get finished. So unfortunately, I have to bump it a week. Sorry!

  • Reading: Deluge ~Lisa T. Bergren
  • Watching: Stargate: Atlantis
  • Playing: Pillars of Eternity(is harrrd)
  • Drinking: coffee
30. Just Checking

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 assure her, which earns me a laugh.

"I have done that before," she acknowledges. "But not this time. Truly, all I need is food, water, and to get over this fever." She shifts restlessly. "James says that both me and Lin'sila have to stay in here. Why?"

I take a deep breath. I wish I didn't have to do this with an audience, but they both deserve an answer. "Because with you being sick and the Disciple having to forage for food, it's spreading the Taint. It's free of the Old Gods' call, maybe, but it's still a darkspawn. And I don't want there to be any bloodshed before I've had a chance to at least try and resolve things. We haven't told the mayor yet or anything, but people know there are Grey Wardens here."

"And the more concentrated your investigation seems, the more sure they'll be that you've found the cause..." Seranni goes even paler and looks over at the Disciple. "Is he going to be in danger?"

"It's possible," I nod, tracing patterns in the dirt with one finger. "That's part of why I think it's best you both stay here. The rest of why is we're already up to two deaths from the Taint, and I'd rather there not be any more."

"People are dead?!" she demands, eyes wide as she stares at the Disciple. "You said you were careful!"

"Do not be getting angry," it protests, raising one hand as if to ward off a blow. "This-- I was careful! Only was taking from the edges of fields, flocks. Nowhere close to people. This one is not wishing harm on anyone!"

"The blight you carry tainted the land," I explain, gently as I can bring myself to, considering this is a darkspawn. "That's why you have to stay in here. You can't infect Seranni and James will just have to keep his distance."

It's quiet for a moment. "Perhaps you should be killing me."

"No!" Seranni burst out, face flushing scarlet with the strength if her emotions. "You haven't done anything to deserve death! You're my friend! And-And I need you!"

It gingerly rests one hand on her arm. "No, you do not. You are being strong, and kind, and would be managing fine. And the James would be taking care of you." It looks over at James expectantly.

He nods. "Long as I can, anyway. My brother's already suspicious. I dunno how much longer you'll be safe here. Owen knows this place almost as well as I do."

"See? I will need you if we have to travel," Seranni almost begs.

"This is not why the Father freed us," the Disciple replies, tone almost sad. "He was wanting to end the fighting between us and men. If I am still killing, than the Warden-Commander should be killing me."

"I'm not killing anyone, not yet," I interject before Seranni can protest again. I'm a little worried that getting so excited is bad for her, with being sick and all. "I'd really rather not do it at all, to be honest." Duty as a Grey Warden be damned. There are other ways to protect besides killing. "For now, if you stay in here and James is careful when he brings you food, you can't get anyone else sick."

It still doesn't look too sure about this, but Seranni is relieved enough for both of them.

"Thank you, Warden," she breathes.

"With that settled, on to my other question. Namely, what have you been up to the past couple years?"

She looks at me quizzically. "Velanna didn't tell you? With how excited she was, I have to say I'm surprised."

"She just passed on a vague outline; you joined up with the Disciple near the city and you two have been since, nothin' more."

Seranni laughs. "Because there isn't anything more. Lin'sila and I are not adventurers, Wardens. We don't crave excitement or danger. All we need to be happy is companionship, food, and shelter." A dark smile. "We've actually made do without the last one before."

A piece clicks into place and I understand why she so vehemently opposed the idea of killing the Disciple. Once they move on from here, the darkspawn will be her only friend. There's a reason she listed companionship first, and it makes me even more determined to find a way to resolve this with no more death. Of any kind.

"I bet you two are very close, considerin' your circumstances," I mumble.

She nods. "We're all that's left of the Architect's operation from the silverite mine. No one else understands. Not even Velanna."

It's a blink and you miss it moment, but she sways slightly, and I decide it's time to go. "Well, I should probably let you get some rest. I've bothered you enough for one day, and Velanna'll prob'ly want to come visit you after she's awake."

"Probably," Seranni chuckles. "Good luck with the rest of your day, Warden."

"Thanks. Rest up." I uncurl myself from myself from my sitting position and stand.

James is quiet as we leave, at least until we've covered enough distance the hidden pair can't overhear us. "You do realize I live on a farm, right? My brothers are gonna need my help, 'specially with Ezekiel's arm busted. Owen's tryin' to do the work of two people--part of why he's so cranky. I can't keep takin' breaks to run you people out here. B'sides, every trip in there increases the chances of someone--probably Owen--findin' them."

I snort. "Good luck tellin' Velanna that. She'll probably storm off and try to find the cave on her own."

"I'm sufficiently warned," James deadpans. We're both silent the rest of the way back, each lost in our own thoughts.

I'm more than a little surprised when, upon returning to the farmhouse, I find all of the other awake--even if only just barely in Jowan's case. I chuckle and press a kiss to his temple. "Mornin' sleeyhead."

He just grunts and snags my wrist, tugging me around to sit in his lap.

I laugh as I let him. "I think somebody needs food. And then we really do need to talk."
Acceptance ch 30
Rahna fought me a little on this chapter. She doesn't like the tangled moral dilemma I've tossed in her lap. xD But she hasn't had to make any really, truly devastatingly hard calls during her time as a Warden. They all keep getting taken out of her hands by other people's actions(from Alistair killing the archdemon up through the peasant mob attacking. Even the Architect wasn't a particularly hard call to make), and I want her to face a choice between ruthless Grey Warden pragmatism and her own (mostly)merciful personality just to see what she does. She's not happy with me. xD Which means she and Jowan will probably get some fluff in one of the upcoming chapters. :giggle:

Acceptance ch 1

Acceptance ch29

Acceptance ch 31
Seranni, the Disciple, Jowan, and Dragon Age in general belong to BioWare

Rahna, James, and Owen belong to me
29. Simple Pragmatism

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 this is a big however--it still spreads the Taint. Still blights crops, animals, land, people. My mind goes to the widow I talked to yesterday, eyes red as she struggled to keep her voice level, tried to be strong because she knew her children could hear us. Her husband will never come home again. Because he was tainted while helping clear the infected land.

My long ago words to Nathaniel echo in my mind. "If only a fraction of them don't stay in the Deep Roads, the Taint will spread with them... I don't want to see the population of Thedas turned into ghouls." 

If Seranni's taint really isn't spreading and she's not blighting the land, maybe we need to kill the Disciple. I hate this part of being a Warden. Even if it is a darkspawn, killing innocents is not something I enjoy doing. 

But if it's spreading the Blight by its mere presence, is it truly innocent? a voice nags at the back of my brain. And it's a darkspawn. You're supposed to protect them world from them as well as the Blight, remember? 

What if Seranni needs it? I retort mentally. If I effectively doom her sister, Velanna will never so much as look at me again.

And how many lives is Velanna's cooperation worth? How many deaths are acceptable for one Grey Warden's sentimental attachment to her former life?

Maybe once Seranni is feeling better we can relocate them somewhere less populated, like the Anderfels, or Kocari Wilds, or the Frostbacks...

Or you could just kill the darkspawn like a Grey Warden should.

I curse under my breath, raking a hand through my hair as I stare at the trees. I wish Jowan hadn't stayed so quiet last night. I could really use a less emotionally invested opinion. The rest of us care too much. For Velanna, it's her sister, Jerin wants Velanna happy, and I know all too well the lengths people will go to for family. I've gone to those lengths, I can hardly blame Velanna for doing the same. Jowan's the only one out of the four of us without a personal stake in one outcome or the other.

"I hate this," I whisper to my knees. Pragmatically speaking, the Disciple is a darkspawn and is spreading the Taint, which has resulted in at least two deaths. It doesn't matter if it's doing so on purpose, as a Grey Warden, I have a responsibility to kill it. We gave it a second chance and it's still--however unintentionally--killing people.

But I'm far too emotionally driven to make a strictly pragmatic decision. We'd have to find some way to either take care of Seranni--maybe she could come back to the Vigil?--or enable her to take care of herself before I could even think about killing the Disciple. I need to get James to take me to visit her, so I can see how she's doing, in regards to both the Taint and her current illness. I know Velanna said the Taint hasn't spread since the Silverite Mine, but Velanna is the least unbiased source imaginable on this particular issue. I am possessed of enough pragmatism to not just take her word for it.

Since that's about the only course of action I can settle on for sure, I decide to go see if it's possible to carry out right now. I know it's early, but this is a farm. Farmers are usually up early.

Sure enough, I bump into one of James' brothers at the bottom of the stairs. He greets me with a smile that crinkles the corners of his sky blue eyes. "Mornin'. Didja have a good night's sleep? I'm Colin, by the way."

"Rahna. Nice to meet you, and yes, I did, thank you. Would you happen to know where I can find James?" I roll up my sleeves and brush hair out of my eyes.

"He's out in the barn with Owen," Colin replies. "Prob'ly answerin' a slew of wuestions regardin' where he was last night and how he happened t' bring four Grey Wardens home with 'im."

I can tell from the look he's giving me that he's curious as well, and I figure it can't hurt to indulge him a little. "He... sort of bumped into us bumped into us on his way back from visitin' his lady friend. We were so caught up in our investigation we'd lost track of time."

"Even after it got dark?" He raises an eyebrow.

"Mmhm. Two of the four of us are mages," I explain. "They provided illumination."

"Ah, well, friendly piece of advice, Rahna; James will likely be a little cranky, bein' short on sleep an' Owen havin' subjected him to questionin'."

"Thanks for the warning," I laugh. "I'll get out of your hair now." I head for the barn, pulling my hair back in a loose braid as I walk.

When I reach the barn, it's very obvious Colin's warning was a wise one; I can almost feel the tension rolling off James, and his brother looks rather surly as well. "Time for a break?" I joke.

"That might not be a bad idea," James mutters, shooting a meaningful glare at Owen's back.

"Hey, you're the one who's been gentleman enough t' make Pa proud the whole time you've courted Maisy. D'ya really expect me to swallow some bull about you  stayin' there far past dark--not to mention when her parents normally go to bed?" his brother fires back.

"C'mon, Owen, we didn't do anything. Just talked." James almost angrily pushes up his sleeves. "Or are you callin' me a liar?"

"All I'm sayin' is it's about as likely as Pa risin' from the dead that you were there the whole time, an' I don't understand why where you actually were is such a big damned secret!"

I garb James' arm as he begins to retort. "Okay, yeah, you two need some space to simmer down before you continue this conversation. James, walk with me."

He follows with only minimal resistance. "What did you need, Warden?"

"I wanna talk to Seranni," I inform him, releasing my grip on his arm. "Can you take me to see her?"

He nods, running a hand through his hair. "Why not? I need to take them food, anyway, if both of 'em hafta stay in the tunnels. And Owen at least is suspicious already, so sure. Let me get together some supplies and we'll be off."

It doesn't take him long to gather some basics that he's mostly sure his brothers won't miss, and then we set off for the cave entrance. James follows the wandering path through the tunnels that even if I was good with directions, I would be totally lost. Me being me, I couldn't find my way out if all the lives in Thedas depended on it. But finally we reach a point where one last curve leads to a wider section of tunnel--a cave within the cave--where a dark, raggedly clad figure and a familiar--if paler than I remember--elf sit engaged in quiet conversation. They look up as we approach.

"Hello, Seranni," I greet Velanna's sister. "I need to talk to you."
Acceptance ch29
Hey guys, sorry this is going up kinda late. I had to leave the house really early this morning and haven't had a chance to post until now.

Acceptance ch 1

Acceptance ch28 

Acceptance ch 30
Jowan, Seranni, Velanna and Dragon Age in general belong to BioWare

Rahna, James, Owen, and Jerin are mine

Think fast! Favorite character from How I Met Your Mother? 

6 deviants said Barney
3 deviants said Lily
3 deviants said Augh, I can't pick *headdesk*
2 deviants said Robin
2 deviants said Marshall
1 deviant said I LOVE THEM ALL
No deviants said Ted
No deviants said Ranjit(XD)


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