As a reminder:
Dragon Age is owned by BioWare, David Gaider, Felicia Day (Tallis) etc. etc. All the characters belong to their respective owners. I’m just making them dance like puppets for my own amusement and yours. So, while the world & characters belong to someone else, the action and story are mine.
So, probably NOT keeping the title. But, for now it tickles my geek bone.
This completes Chapter One of this story. If you missed the first part of the chapter, click the link.
When last we saw our protagonist, she’d been trying to find sleep while an ice storm hurled itself against her shutters. Unfortunately, a troublesome bit of her past has shown up. And, of course, brought trouble….
“Tal-Vashoth.” Sometimes, only Anders’ pungent phrasing was appropriate. “Andraste’s tits, woman! What changed? Last we spoke you were completely dedicated to those bastards.” Hawke’s stomach soured. “What have you done?”
Tal cut her off. “Like I said, I’ll tell you all about it. In due time. Right now, we need get going.”
Hawke raised a hand. “Wait.”
“I don’t hear my dog anymore.”
Tallis grimaced. “Then we really need to leave. Like, soon.” From somewhere in the lower region of the house, an explosion sounded. “Very soon,” she amended.
“I knew I should have killed you.” Hawke scrambled off the bed. She grabbed both her armor and staff from their niche. Years of campaigning had her yanking the silverite mesh over her head even as she sprinted for the door. As she neared the stairs leading into the main part of the house, another explosion rocked the edifice. Plaster sifted from the ceiling. From somewhere below – the kitchen? – she heard a happy exclamation.
As she raced down the stairs, Hawke didn’t bother looking around for Tal. She was sure that if the assassin had wanted her dead, she’d be cooling right now. At the bottom of the landing, she found Sandal standing with several Qunari warriors scattered about his feet. Not a hair was out of place and he appeared to be humming a song to himself. Even without obvious wounds, the horned, gray fighters were quite dead. Smoke eddied from the nearby kitchen door. His song skittered to a stop and he glanced soberly up at her as she approached.
“Where’s Bodahn, Sandal?”
Sadness settled over his face like an obscuring veil. He pointed towards the front hall. “Orana is hurt.”
Damn. It. Nothing she could do about that, now. Healing was definitely not within her sphere of magic. Hawke didn’t waste any further attempts at information gathering. She strode into the kitchen, mentally preparing a spell. The scene in kitchen however, brought her up short. On one wall, a large cooking hearth took up most of the space. Nearby were two Qunari warriors, encased in ice. Frost glittered in a wide pool around them. Spillover from whatever had frozen them had also snuffed the fire – which was sending up an acrid scrim of smoke in protest. Hawke examined the nearest Qunari. At her touch, he toppled over and shattered into a dozen chunks of bloody ice. “Powerful. I wonder how he does it?”
Tal spoke from behind her. “Me too. I thought dwarves couldn’t be mages? By the way, there aren’t any more of them in the house. At least, not alive.” A susurration of sound accompanied her daggers sliding back into their sheaths.
Turning, Hawke struggled with herself. Part of her wanted simply to obliterate the woman for bringing trouble into her home. But, I know she wouldn’t willingly put innocents in harm’s way. “Go to the front of my house. See if you can find a young elf maid. Sandal said she might be hurt.” That’s not the same thing as she wouldn’t put innocents in harm’s way, though.
Tal scurried away. In a couple of minutes, she was back. “Found her. There’s an older dwarf with her. He’s got a bandage around his arm. There’s another man there too. Human, a blonde. He’s wearing feathers?” Tal’s voice crept up in a disbelieving tone.
“Anders. He lives here. He’s a mage, too.” Hawke glared at Tal, daring her to say anything. Their last argument hung between them. Troubled gray eyes met hers.
“Then, I hope he has some healing spells. Not just for her, either.”
Hawke began making her way towards the front entrance. “Bodahn…the older dwarf? Is his wound that bad?”
“No. But there’s a mabari that’s been hurt. Most of his insides are…” Tal trailed off as Hawke swung about to stare at her.
“You have brought destruction and pain with you. As always. This time there had better be a damn good reason.” She turned and took a few steps before stopping again. Over her shoulder she added, “If my girl or my dog die…” She left the threat hanging and hurried to the front of the house.
“Oh, Mistress. I am so sorry. Please. I will be fine. Please, don’t trouble yourself about me.” Orana’s distress was palpable. Even with her grievous injuries, she struggled to sit up. Hawke’s heart went out to the ex-slave. All the attention being directed at her obviously unnerved her. “Where’s Wulf? Is Bodahn hurt? I need to…” Anders gently pushed the young woman back down.
“Don’t move, Orana. You’re still wounded even though you can’t really feel it.” In spite of his mild voice, Hawke knew he was furious. She could see lines of anger radiating down his face. She was in a killing rage, herself. Her mind turned back to the sight of her dog’s corpse. He’d been brutally killed while defending Orana and the house. She’d wrapped what remained of him in his favorite rug. Hawke’s breath hissed out in pain and a tear slid down her cheek. She knew that sort of loyalty unto death was typical of the breed, but she was devastated by the loss of her companion. Anders glanced up at her and then shot another enraged look at Tal. For her part, the elf was doing her best to be inconspicuous, sitting quietly on a nearby bench with her arms wrapped around her knees. Closing his eyes, Anders drew mana from the Fade to continue healing Orana. Soft blue mist encased her shoulder and arm as he worked to heal the javelin wound in her upper chest. They’d removed the barbed weapon, snapping off the head and drawing the rest of it through the hole it had left while she was still unconscious.
“Orana, can you tell me what happened?” Hawke knelt next to Anders and placed a hand on Orana’s good arm. Clammy fingers clutched at hers. Understanding dawned as she took in the panicked countenance. Inwardly, she viciously cursed the girl’s ex-master. Outwardly, she struggled to make her voice and face as kind as possible. “I’m not blaming you, Orana. It’s not your fault. You haven’t done anything wrong, nor are you going to be punished. Just tell me what happened.”
The little face peered at hers for a moment. Hawke simply waited, exuding patience. After a moment, Orana inclined her head towards Hawke, speaking in a low voice. On the off-chance that one of these people are responsible for the attack, Hawke realized. Remind never to go to the Imperium.
“I heard Wulf barking in the front hall. I ran to quiet him – everyone was asleep! But there were people in the house! Wulf was fighting them. And then, one of them threw…something? At me and it hurt. And then…and then you were here. Please, I am so sorry.” Tears coursed down her pale face. Anders nudged Hawke.
“That’s enough. She doesn’t know anything and you’re just upsetting her.” He touched a spot between her eyes, azure vapor trailing from his fingers. “Sleep now, Orana. Everything will be better in the morning.”
“But, it is…morning…” Orana’s words trailed off. Her eyes slid closed and she slumped over sideways as his spell took effect.
The healer stood, scooping the slight elf in his arms. He carried her to where Bodahn hovered near the door, worry in every line of his stocky body. “Here. Take her to her room. She’ll be asleep for a bit; don’t try to wake her. She is also going to be very hungry when she wakes. Make sure she eats as much as she wants.”
Bodahn gathered the girl carefully in his arms and moved slowly away. Hawke could hear him murmuring in a soothing voice to Sandal as he passed by. She swung her attention back over to Tal. Best be fast. Quickly summoning mana, she slammed the assassin to the ground. While Tal lay gasping, Hawke snarled a word of command, paralyzing the other woman against the floor. “You will tell me – right now – what is going on and why you have dragged me into it. And tell the truth, Tal. You’ve caused my dog’s death and my servant’s injury. I am in no mood for your usual games.” Through the haze of anger and grief that clouded her mind, she could sense Anders coming to stand behind her. He didn’t touch her, he knew better, but he did fix his irate gaze upon Tal as well.
From her prison on the floor, Tal gasped out, “I am so sorry, Hawke. I didn’t think that they would move this fast. I didn’t know…”
“That? Is a lie.” Hawke gestured. The shimmering bands of light encasing Tal compressed. “Upstairs, you said that we had to leave right away. So, you knew that someone was after you.” She listened dispassionately as a couple of the elf-woman’s ribs snapped.
“Yes!” Tal coughed, blood foaming on her lips. “I knew that they were after me!” Hawke made another complex sigil in the air and the bonds around her lessened somewhat. Agony lanced through Tal’s chest as she dragged in a lungful of air.
“Better talk quick. Sounds like you’ve punctured a lung.”
Anders frowned, looking at Hawke. He knew that she could be merciless when she chose, especially when those she cared for were threatened. But this? This was a new. “Miri?” Hawke didn’t even glance back. She simply raised a hand to quiet him and then knelt next to the stricken Tal.
“No more lies, Tallis. You will explain yourself. Or you will die. Choose.”