|hold on, I have a screenshot for that (twist_shimmy) wrote in peopleofthedas,|
@ 2011-03-01 09:21 pm UTC
|Entry tags:||dao character: leliana, dao character: oghren, dao character: riordan, dao character: shale, dao character: sten, dao character: zevran, dao pc: f!mahariel, dao pc: m!mahariel, fanfiction: au, fanfiction: general, series: vir lath sa'vunin|
A Dalish-centric AU gen fic featuring two Mahariel Wardens, one bastard prince, and lingering ghosts.
Title: Vir Lath Sa'vunin (We Love One More Day)
Authors: twist_shimmy and lenna_nightrunner
Post Word Count: 3540
Summary: When their parents died, Tesni Mahariel was left to raise her brother Caerwyn with the help of the rest of their clan. True to their penchant for getting into trouble, Caerwyn and Tamlen went hunting one day and ran afoul of a mirror, of all things. The next thing Tesni knew, Caerwyn had been recruited by the Grey Wardens. As if she’d let some shemlen just take her brother away! Determined to keep Caerwyn safe, Tesni goes after them, and antics ensue. She’ll stop the Blight to protect her family, Caerwyn will help--grumbling all the while--and Alistair will do his best to bond with his tattooed and bristly new brethren. When all is said and done, the blurred lines between friendship and blood bonds will draw them down a path that will change all three of them forever.
In which more people bleed.
Chapter Fifty-One: Time to Light the Fuse and Watch Your Whole World Come Undone. Chaos Soon Ensues, Blow it All to Kingdom Come. Nice One! (Abandoned Pools)
Word Count: 2140
It was two days before my ribs felt good enough for me to walk. Zevran tried to pay Sanga for the room and food, but she refused. "Least I can do, since they were working right under my roof and I didn’t even notice."
I suggested thanking Isabela somehow, but all Zevran would say was she didn’t need money, and we wouldn’t be able to give her something she wanted.
Two mornings later, I felt recovered enough to try my luck walking. Sanga re-dyed my hair for me before we left for the inn. "Come back when you’re better and I’ll teach you how to do this yourself."
When we walked back into the inn, the owner looked up from her normal place at the bar, took one look at my eye, and pretended like nothing was amiss. "Good day, sers."
I shrugged my shoulders tiredly. "Hello, Ruth." Talking still hurt more than it had a right to.
"Some soldiers come by wearin’ the regent’s colors while you was out."
Zevran and I froze. "Oh?" I said, forcing myself not to look around in paranoia.
"They was lookin’ for an elf with tattoos and red hair." She leaned forward to wipe at a spot on the bar. "I told ‘em wasn’t no elf like that here anymore."
I gave up on being stoic and sagged into a nearby chair. My ribs ached too much for the charade. "Thank you for that."
"You get that king-killing bastard and his boot-licking lackey out of power, and I’ll call it even."
We paid her double the normal rate for our rooms that week, just to be sure. And then I slept, and let my Grey Warden healing undo the damage done to me at the Pearl. I was worried that the delay would set the fat shem’s plan back, but Zevran wouldn’t allow me back out of the inn until I could grip a dagger and parry without wincing. My face was still a mess, but none of the shems noticed or cared. I tried not to think too much about that fact because I was worried I’d do something else stupid if I did.
Zevran and I spent the next week hitting Howe hard. We took his money, emptied his warehouses, and turned his guards and workers against him with a ruthlessness that made me almost admire the fat shem. A few days later, we walked to the market as usual to deprive handmaidens of their master’s coin, and heard a great roar coming from his estate.
"Howe’s workers are rioting," the fat shem said when we found him. "And half his guard won’t do anything about it because their payment got misplaced. Man’s got the worst luck, doesn’t he?"
Zevran and I looked at each other and smiled. It was time to put the rest of the plan in action.
“Shale,” I said, walking into her room that night, “you’re coming with us tomorrow.”
She turned her head from the window and stared at me with luminescent eyes. “What, do we need to kill more bandits for the cowardly guard? How thrilling.”
I crossed my arms and grinned at her. “Actually, I need you to tear down a building.”
There was a long pause. “If the icy elf is joking I am crushing it,” she said at last.
She moved to face me, rolling her neck and shoulders like I would after a long watch shift. “This should be interesting.”
I agreed with her; sleep was a long time coming. The next morning, after we put on armor, and weapons, I felt as excited as Shale sounded when we joined her in the other room.
“The painted and icy elves took their time.”
“Sorry, my dear,” Zevran said, “I was off scouting the estate. Everything is as chaotic as we could hope for.”
Shale shuffled her feet. “What is our plan?”
“We are going to sneak around the back--” he wiggled a finger when she began to scoff “--and you are going to break in through the front.”
“Better and better.”
I laughed despite myself. “Do whatever you need to get the rioters inside the estate.”
I nodded. “Crush the guards, shatter the door. Just don’t let them damage you.”
Shale snorted. “And what do I do once I’m inside?”
“Break things,” Zevran said. “You need to keep the guard busy while we get to Howe.”
“And I am meant to do this alone, am I?”
“Never underestimate the power of an angry throng of stonemasons, my friend.”
We attracted a great deal of attention walking toward the estate. Or, rather, Shale did. But once we reached the courtyard, Zevran’s words proved true: everyone assembled was far too angry to pay any mind to two knife-ears and a crystal-encrusted, smirking golem. Until, at least, Shale shoved through the crowd and stared down at the door guards. Behind her, a hush developed over the assembled workers. Elgar’nan huddled beside us, ears flat against his head, but no one in the crowd paid us any mind.
“Open the door.”
“W-we can’t,” stammered the guard to her left. “Howe’s orders. Doesn’t want to see these peo--”
“Quiet, you idiot!” shouted the guard to the right, but the crowd had already heard, and someone in the back began pelting rocks at the door.
Shale regarded the man on the right for a moment, then wound back and punched him into the wall. There was the groan of buckling of metal, the spray of blood, and an answering roar from the crowd, who had realized the golem was on their side.
“Open the door,” she said again, and the second guard tried to bolt, but a couple of burly workmen took him down. Shale watched them for a second, then turned her attention to the door and raised her fists.
Slam. Slam. The wood was coated in the dead guard’s blood from her main hand. Slam. Slam-crack. Crack.
“And that, my dear, is our cue,” Zevran said, taking me by the wrist and pulling me through the crowd and around the corner of the building. Above us, the few guards still working were fleeing their posts and headed for the front door.
It was disconcertingly easy to move through the castle once the door came down, and once Zevran questioned a young archer at bladepoint, it was even easier to find Howe’s rooms. Of course, he wasn’t in them, but there was a door leading to the dungeons.
I took down the door guard with a knife, and we were about to head further into the dungeons when a soft voice sounded from a cell. “One moment, if you please.”
I glanced at my mabari, but he didn’t growl like I expected. Then, I realized why: for the first time in weeks, my blood began to sing through my veins. Zevran stared at me in confusion as I practically bolted for the cell and came face-to-face with a man I had never seen before in my life, but whose blood felt soothing to mine.
“Hello, brother,” I said with a wan smile. “Shall I let you out?”
“That would be appreciated, yes.”
I felt along a braid for one of the lock-picks Zevran had taught me to always keep with me, and soon the strange Warden was free. I looked over his bruised and naked body and turned to strip the guard I’d just killed. “You need to get out of here while the riot is still going strong.” I gave him directions to our inn and handed him several sovereigns. “Room and food. You’ll find bandages and healing salves in my room. Ask Ruth to unlock the door.”
“Might I know your name?” he asked as Zevran helped him into the guard’s armor.
I blinked at him. “Does this seem like the best time for introductions, brother? Get going. We’ll talk later.”
The plan had been to get to Howe and kill him as quickly as possible, but there were so many people in the cells. Zevran didn’t complain as I let them all out, but Howe heard the commotion and was waiting for us once we finally arrived in the torture chamber he was working over a bearded man in.
“If you think I’ll be paying your guilds now, you’re sorely mistaken,” he drawled as he turned to face us. Then his eyes caught Zevran’s tattoo, and he frowned. “No, wait. You’re the assassin I hired to kill...” he stared at my face. “the Wardens. Ah.”
Zevran grinned. “Well, this is awkward!”
“Indeed.” He drew his axe. “But I’ll keep you both, all the same. Loghain will be much happier knowing you’re out of the game.”
I trained an arrow on his throat and fired as he lunge at me. He went down with a gurgle and Zevran decapitated him without fanfare. As Howe died, I stared down at him, bemused at how easy it had been. I kept forgetting that shem nobles weren’t good fighters. Not like they believed themselves to be, anyway.
Zevran poked at Howe with the toe of a boot. “And now we leave, yes?”
I shook my head and moved for the man strapped to the rack, delirious with pain.
Or not pain. “Alfstanna, is that you, sister?” He reached to cup my cheek, and I felt my chest constrict. The man had a fever, or....
Zevran caught his hand and stared at a ring trapped past a swollen joint on his middle finger. “Wait a minute, I know this man! Indirectly,” he elaborated when I stared at him. “This is the Knight-Lieutenant of Denerim. Tavish has been looking for him for months.”
I ran my hand over the man’s face as he began to sob. “Zev, get him out of here. I’m going to make sure no one else is trapped in this place.”
He began to free the Templar. “Of course, tesora. I shall take him to the chantry and then speak to Tavish myself. I doubt he’ll be wanting to back a man whose allies kidnap and torture his men.”
I sighed in relief. This had been worth the risk, then. Our mages would be safe. Zevran threw the man’s arm over his shoulders and began talking to him soothingly in Antivan, and after a moment’s thought I sent Elgar’nan with them. “Help them get out safely!”
We’d gotten most of the prisoners out. All that was left down here was a traumatized soldier, a flat-ear, and two noblemen. I let the blond shem loose and was about to start picking the lock on the redhead’s when the elf stopped my hand.
“That one deserves it. He raped and killed my cousin and my wife.”
I pulled away from the bars like they were on fire, and the man started cursing at me. “You fat whore! Get back here!”
“When I get out, you’ll regret this!” He kept howling until we were all out of sight. But once we were back on the main floor, I realized we had a new problem: soldiers had shown up and were kicking out the rioters, and a mage had Shale frozen in a ring of pale light near the main doors.
Fen’lin. The guards saw me and my battered entourage and stepped forward. I drew my bow and ordered the elf to flee for the servant’s exit with the others. They hobbled away, eyes wide with fear, as a tall woman in a dark ponytail strode toward me.
I kept my breathing easy and ordered myself not to panic. I was just another rioter to her. I wasn’t trapped yet.
She stared at my bow, and then my tattoo, and her eyes widened. “A Dalish? Why in the Maker’s name wou--” And then her sword was in her hands, and she was calling the rest of the guard to her. “It’s a Warden!”
Wonderful. A smart soldier. I pulled my arrow back to my cheek and targeted the mage who had Shale trapped, but even as I planned my escape I knew there were too many of them. There would have been too many even if Zevran, Shale, and Elgar’nan were still here.
“Drop your weapon.”
“Ma nuvenini.” When a guard moved in to take my bow, I handed him my quiver instead. He stared at my tattoos and stepped back awkwardly.
“Why are you here?” I stared at her in silence, and she sighed. “Who are you?”
“Speak common, knife-ear.”
“Ar dirth su’din. Elvareliii,” I shrugged, and one of the guards cuffed me across the face.
“Take her to the fort. She’ll talk there, one way or another,” my captor ordered, and I sighed and let them lead me away.
A fort was going to be hard to escape from.
Chapter Fifty-Two: I Found a Way Over the Fear and Through the Flames (The Alkaline Trio)
Word Count: 1400
I was frozen. My muscles wouldn't listen to me when I told them to duck as the archdemon rushed up from the trench. He was screaming and bellowing and flapping his giant wings, but I couldn't hear anything. I couldn't hear anything except his voice in my head.
Come to me. You're mine. Come to me.
My right foot stepped toward the edge, despite me telling it not to. Then my left.
"Caerwyn!" Leliana shouted, and tried to haul me back. My body resisted. Another step.
But he didn't fly near us. His call wasn't just for me, I realized. To him I was like one of the darkspawn: my blood felt the same. The thought should've made me sick, but instead I felt angry. I wasn't just one of his darkspawn. I was special.
“We're going to kill you, you ugly, dull-toothed, bat-winged lizard!" I screamed over its roar. “I'm not afraid of you! You can cry all you want, but I'm not yours! Do you hear me? I'm going to stick my daggers in your heart! I was made to destroy you! We were made to destroy you!"
Leliana caught my wrist and tugged hard. The archdemon kept bellowing, but I stopped my feet from moving forward. "You have no idea what's coming! You can't stop us! We're going to kill you! We're going to kill you!" I kept shouting and cursing at the archdemon until it flew out of sight.
"Caerwyn," Leliana pleaded, "calm down. It's gone." Her hand gripped my wrist until I went quiet. "It's gone."
"Hm," said Sten. "It is larger than I expected. We must kill it?"
"Didn't you hear me?" I growled in a hoarse voice, but Sten didn't react.
"Ugly as a duster, but his wings’ll make a great trophy," Oghren said. "I'll give 'im that."
Leliana slid her hand from my wrist and twined her fingers with mine. "That's what you see in your dreams." She frowned sympathetically. "And hear."
And the burning. And the call.
I shrugged and took a deep breath. Then I signalled for the others to follow me, and continued down toward the bridge.
The dreams didn't scare me after that. My blood kept burning and it was still almost impossible to sleep most of the time, but I'd seen him now. I knew he was real. And if he was real, he could bleed.
I was very good at making things bleed.
There were other dwarves there--a pitiful amount against the darkspawn. They didn't care about the Blight, and now that I'd seen how many it’d taken to make my blood burn so badly I finally understood why. We'd been fighting darkspawn on the surface for a few months. The alas'len'd been doing it for several ages.
More caves and tunnels and darkspawn and ghosts, and then...
It sent a shiver down my spine before I'd even figured out what it was saying. Rhyming like da’len's lessons. I had no idea what the words were supposed to mean, but I knew they weren't good. Lots of stuff about eating and changing.
When we found the alas'len who the voice belonged to my stomach went cold. Another one of them who’d had to eat darkspawn flesh, but different than the one in the cave. It wasn’t just the corruption. Something else’d happened to her. Whatever it was, there wasn’t much left of a person in there.
I wanted to kill her. If that'd happened to me, if I became like that, I'd want someone to put me out of my misery. But she was the only person who might know where Branka was. She knew what was next, and we got to fight it.
The thing the rhymes'd been about. A thing that created darkspawn. It was hideous and disgusting and very hard to kill, but very satisfying when we did. Sten's chestplate got dented when it tried to squeeze him to death and Chat’len’d gotten one of his paws trod on by a genlock, but other than that we made it through surprisingly well.
After the mother of the darkspawn was dead, the alas’len with the voice came back. She did know more about Branka, and when she told us what she’d done I was convinced for good that there was no way I was going to let Branka live. She’d done all of this. She’d corrupted and murdered her clan. She’d created darkspawn.
Oghren’s face became more and more set as we listened until it was almost as blank as Sten’s. I kept forgetting: Branka’d been his wife. She’d betrayed him, too. For once I felt sorry for the drunken sod. I could only imagine what it’d’ve been like to be in his place.
"I am dying of something worse than death," the voice said. "Betrayal."
An arrow'd pierced her heart before I'd even realized Leliana'd nocked it.
No one said anything as the corrupted alas’len fell to the dirt, dead. Leliana slung her bow back over her shoulder, and we moved on.
When Branka finally and very suddenly appeared, I forgot for a moment what we were supposed to do when we found her. Weeks and weeks underground, and the alas’len we’d been down there looking for’d finally shown up.
She was insane. Or evil. Maybe both, but at least one. She told us everything: what she’d done to her clan, why she’d done it, that she didn’t care how much they’d suffered. That they should’ve been glad to become corrupted and die for her. They needed the Anvil to control the golems. Anything to reclaim the alas’len cities. Anything to fight the darkspawn. I should’ve agreed with that. But this...
“I’ve given up everything and would sacrifice anything to get the Anvil of the Void.”
I should’ve agreed. Anything to kill the archdemon. Anything to end the Blight. Could I do it if I had to? Could I do something like this to my clan if it’d end the Blight? If it could save so many other people?
“Does that include Hespith and the others of your house?” Leliana said angrily.
She’d sacrifice anything. No, that was a lie. She hadn’t given up everything. She was still alive. She’d sent her clan to be killed while she waited for them to clear the way for her. She was a coward.
“Hespith shouldn’t have left. She was pledged to me, to die for me. They all were.”
"You horrible," Leliana began, her eyes full of hatred, "selfish, heartless--" Her voice choked. She reached for an arrow, and I turned to tell her not to shoot.
But then her bow clattered to the ground at our feet. I was just about to ask her what'd happened when she burst into tears.
I'd never seen her cry. I'd hardly ever seen anyone cry. I had no idea what you were supposed to do when people cried.
"Ma numin?iv" My languages got mixed up. "Ne pleure pasv. What's wrong?"
That was a stupid question, but she knew what I meant.
"S-she--" She took a deep, shaky breath. "She--"
Leliana clung to my shoulders and hid her face in the crook of my neck. She began sobbing, and all I could do was stand there while she cried against my skin.
"Don't cry," I said to her, and rubbed her back and arms the best I could through her armor. That's what she'd done for me what seemed like forever ago, when Tamlen-- "Don't cry."
Sten gave us a strange look, Chat'len paced with his teeth bared, and Oghren's knuckles turned white as he gripped his axe, his eyes fixed on his wife.
“What happened to you, Branka?” Oghren asked, and his face wasn’t set anymore. “You could talk to the girl I married for two seconds and see her brilliance!”
The insane alas’len looked down at Oghren and said coldly, “I am your Paragon.”
I looked up from Leliana and snorted. “Look like a dwarf to me.”
“And you will die like one,” said Sten.
For once, he and I agreed.
iMa nuvenin: As you like
iiEmma elvhen: I'm an elf
iiiAr... elvarel: Not going to happen. Too much effort.
ivMa numin? You're crying?
vNe plure pas: Don't cry.