Chapter 2

Appearances were deceiving, though.

Originally posted at
My Dreamwdith account. I also post on my site, The Process

 Comments welcome. :)
Advertisements

The Qunari Strike Back, Chapter 2

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 either Chapter 1.1 or Chapter 1.2, just click those links.   Ready for the next tease?  😀

Chapter Two

The roaring fire cast bright runners of light over the bedroom. Shadows flared and sizzled on the floor and walls. Outside, the wind still shrieked bloody murder. Inside, things appeared to have calmed down. Appearances were deceiving, though.

From where he lounged on the bed, Anders watched Hawke pace around the room, gathering things for her trip. Her agitation showed in the haphazard way she packed. Some items she thrust into the knapsack without care, while others she methodically folded into neat packages. At one point, she’d rolled a candle into a pair of socks and stuffed the both back into a drawer. He’d offered to help and had been curtly rebuffed.

He didn’t want to have this conversation. Maker, he didn’t want her to go at all. But if she took off in this mood, she was going to get herself killed.

“Miri, you’re trying to fold a book. Please, come sit down for a minute and talk to me.”

Hawke glanced down at her hands and made an exasperated noise. “I don’t want to argue, Anders.”

“Fine, I don’t want to argue either.” They were going to argue, he just knew it. Sighing, he braced himself and plunged ahead. “Why don’t you not go, this once? Why do you have to chase after that damn elf every time she crooks her little finger?” Anders stopped; his head fell back against the padded headboard. Mmm. Yummy foot. Now, she has to listen to what I have to say.

She stilled and pivoted on one bare foot to look at him. “Oh, I do, do I?”

“That’s not what I meant.” Well, actually it rather is what I meant. But you don’t want to hear that. He strove to keep that thought off his face. Usually, she could read him easily. Not when she was like this, though.

“Then why’d you say it? You must have meant it. People come to me for help, all the time. You don’t have a monopoly on helping people, you know!” She glared at him. “If you have a problem with that, maybe you should leave.”

He leapt to his feet and roared at her.  “Stop right there!” Faint blue lightning crackled in his eyes as he struggled to control his temper. Since moving in with her, his life had stabilized. He was better able to keep his fury contained. It didn’t mean that it was gone, though. It was still there, bubbling just below the surface. Waiting to rear its ugly head. It was worse during their infrequent fights. Power arced over his skin in fits and starts as he wrestled it back down.

Hawke stood motionless, green eyes wide.

Damn. Good job on scaring her. He continued in a more normal voice. “You’re trying to start a fight. I didn’t mean that the way it came out. While you do always seem to be bailing her out, that isn’t why I don’t want you to go.” He took a calming breath. “She’s dangerous, Miri. She’s dangerous and she uses people. Uses you.” Of course, that isn’t the only reason I don’t want her to go. He hadn’t missed the longing in Tal’s eyes whenever she looked at Hawke. He didn’t think it was for Miri’s martial prowess, either.

“Didn’t you hear what she said, Anders?” All the fight drained out of Hawke and she abruptly sat down on the bed. “Thousands of people – many of them mages! – are going to be killed simply because they left the Qun. Why did she even give up the scroll?”

“I thought she wasn’t going to?” That had baffled him, too.

“That is a question I intend to ask her, once she wakes up. How long will she sleep?”

“If left alone? All day. But you can rouse her. If you hit her hard enough.” There was still enough spite left in him to wish that he could watch when she woke up Tal. Or wake her up, himself.

Hawke surged back to her feet. “That won’t be a problem. She’s lucky that you healed her at all.” She snatched up her knapsack, emptying it out onto the bedspread. She began to repack it with precision. Her back was ramrod straight.

Anders stared at the stiff back of the woman he adored. She was angry that he had healed the elf? “What’s going on, Miri? Why are you mad at me? I haven’t done anything wrong.”

After a few moments, she gave a weighty sigh and shrugged. “I know. I just…I don’t know. Yes, you’re right.” For a moment, she seemed to soften somewhat. The tension left her shoulders and her glance lingered on Anders for a moment. Then her face darkened again. She stomped over to the wardrobe and yanked the door open.  “I don’t know if I should go and help her again. I don’t know if I can ignore her request, though. I am furious at her for…for…” she trailed off.

“Wulf and Orana. Do not forget it’s her fault. I repeat: she is dangerous. Why can’t someone else go this time?”

“Who else would you recommend? Aveline? She’s fabulous and all. But she just married that guard-boy. Fenris? That beacon of subtlety? Isabella would refuse – you’ve seen how she runs anytime anyone with horns even looks at her crosswise. Varric, I will be asking to come with me. Someone has to watch my back. And you are apparently too busy to do so.” She slammed the wardrobe closed again, without having retrieved anything from it.

Understanding dawned. “Ah, now we come to it.” He got up and tried to pull her into his arms but she shoved him backwards.

“No.”

“Sweetheart, I cannot leave. I cannot leave the refugees right now. Not with things so unsettled. You know better than anyone that shit trickles down. With the food shortages and unrest…they’re the ones suffering the most.”

She tossed his own argument back into his teeth. “And you have to be the one who saves them, is that it?”

Anders exhaled heavily. “Maker save me. No, I don’t have to be the one. But, I do seem to be the only person who is doing something. Do you want me to leave it to the viscount to take care of the poor, the refugees? He can’t even keep track of his own son or control that madwoman, Meredith!”

“Then give Aveline instructions! You know she wouldn’t let them suffer from neglect. Plus, she has the manpower that you don’t have.” Hawke’s tone turned wheedling. “I can’t do this without you by my side.”

He just snorted at that flagrant blandishment. “You managed just fine without me for many years.”

From the massive door, a small cough sounded. Bodahn stepped into the room, clearly uncomfortable at the intrusion. “Excuse me, messeres. But, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind coming with me? The young lady is up and asking for you.”

Hawke glanced over at Anders. “I thought you said she wasn’t going to wake up for a while?”

“She shouldn’t be awake yet. Unless? Bodahn, did something happen to her?”

They started for the door, trailing after the servant. Bodahn had the grace to look a bit uncomfortable. “It may be that she woke when I accidentally dropped her head on the floor. Err, twice. While getting her tucked into the guest bed.” His face flushed slightly and he added, “I did apologize most profusely for it but the young miss didn’t seem to mind.” He strode on, leading the way to the guest quarters. “I suppose you will want to be reprimanding me for this gross misappropriation of my duties?”

Anders glanced over at Hawke, trying to repress the giant grin trying to eat his face. Her eyes were streaming tears of silent laughter. Finally, she was able to gasp out in a reasonable approximation of her regular speaking voice, “Ahh, no. No, that won’t be necessary, Bodahn. Just don’t do it again, hmm?”

The Qunari Strike Back, Chapter 1.2

“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?”

Originally posted at
My Dreamwdith account. I also post on my site, The Process

 Comments welcome. :)

The Qunari Strike Back, Chapter 1.2

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.”

“What’s wrong?”

“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.

“Enchantment!”

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.”

Edit Before Zod

A title and post in which my geekiness shines like a beacon in the night.

As a student and a writer, I love TextPad so very, very much. Not because of its amazingly functional versatility or anything like that.

No, I love it because it is where I store my poor, lost sentences that I edit out of my writing.

Ha! You didn’t know I edited things, did you?

I make the pages BLEED.  In a figurative sense, of course.

 

 

 

I do. A lot.

I snip out unnecessary or repetitive sentences.

Sometimes, I can reuse them in other places. Other times, the phrases are just left there. Abandoned, the poor darlings; shivering in the bare confines of TextPad’s white space and pale framework.

The problem is that I often like the sentences that I have evicted. I don’t want to simply delete them. I want to keep them, love them, call them George. However, you have to be brutal with words. They’re slippery and treacherous. They can turn on you, without a moment’s notice. To effectively deal with them, a writer must be willing to do what is necessary.

For me that means consigning them to what amounts to the Phantom Zone. A folder full of these snippets, living so close to the full works – and yet denied the ability to join their brethren.
Bereft, they will wait there until I have use for them again.

Call me Zod.

Moo ha ha ha.

 

 

 

 

So, I am curious fellow word-dictators: what do YOU do with your prisoners of war? Do you simply execute them? Do you keep them?  Does your tax base support the long term support of them? Have they ever attempted a coup?