Power in Stories

“There's power in stories, though. That's all history is: the best tales. The ones that last. Might as well be mine.” – Varric Tethras

Sordid Fragments, Chapter 4 – Solas

He felt her as she climbed the hill, the echo of his old power a distinct background noise. Solas spun his staff around to slam the heavy iron-shod head down into a fallen demon’s skull and dared a glance back over his shoulder.

Soon. Soon he would know just what sort of echo of the Elvhen she was.

He had hoped to do so after she had finally awoken but her state had still been half-delirious then. From being a non-mage in the Fade, he’d told the Seeker, if the Commander’s report of her falling out of a rift was true. It was as likely an explanation as anything since the raw mortal mind was little prepared for such without the buffer of magical ability between them and it.

Then the scout had bolted into the room, clutching a bloodstained missive from the field. It had been a quick report, full of casualties and continued losses in the Commander’s hand – still remarkably sure despite the stress he was certainly under. That one thing had set the whole of Haven into a frenzy and he had done what he could to bring tempers back down.

Including volunteering to go up the mountain himself alongside the durgen’len Varric and whatever few men were left in Haven that could be spared. Leaving him merely hoping that the woman would make it up the hill in the wake of the Seeker’s wrath and the cold gaze of the Nightingale.

She was the key , perhaps, to fixing what he had inadvertently done.

“More fucking demons! You didn’t mention there were more of the shits, Seeker!”

Solas narrowed his eyes as he felt her move past him more than saw, his attention focused fully on a wraith that was far above the reach of any of the soldiers. As he spun his staff, casting sweep after sweep of fire towards it, he kept his eye on her as she leapt undaunted into the battle despite her shout.

And noted absently that she sounded very Ferelden with a touch of influence from other accents flavoring her tone. Was she a flat ear as the Dalish tended to call their city kin? One who had left a life with humans behind and turned her eyes to serving a culture that got so very much wrong?

The few Dalish Clans that he had attempted to speak with over the years had perhaps a touch of the native Ferelden accent but nothing so much as she. Whatever she was, he knew she was no Dalish elf by birth. Perhaps that would make speaking to her easier, given that there would be no knowledge of how things worked embedded into her mind.

She did, however, have the same brutal efficiency in battle that he had noticed of the Dalish. With her and the addition of the Seeker, it did not take long for the demons to be slain and now was the time. To show this one what she could do. To show her the power she wielded.

“Quickly!” he barked sharply as he stalked towards her through the snow. She looked at him, eyes green and sharp over the black-gray of Mythal’s branches across her cheeks, as he reached for her arm. The whip-snap of connection very nearly caught him entirely off guard, his own power recognizing him and reaching for him with a fervor he hadn’t quite expected. Solas pushed past it and continued, “Before more come through!”

The fuuuuuuuuu… ” she began, her voice trailing off into a surprised yelp of pain as the connection snapped together between the Mark and the rift above them. Two magics of the same source recognizing each other, talking to each other, in a way that made him ache for the days when magic merely was . The rift, which was far lesser in the wake of the power of the Mark, crackled several times before it snapped shut and the woman jerked her wrist away from him.

“The fucking fuck was that?” she exclaimed, her right hand coming up to cradle her left. Her ears twitched in obvious distress as she stared at him before turning to glare at the Seeker. “What the shit is this?”

“You closed the rift,” replied Solas, able to find calm again now that he wasn’t touching her. He could still feel the magic in her hand, like an old and distant song, but it wasn’t the nearly incapacitating feeling that actual connection brought. More time to adjust, perhaps, was needed before he was capable of ignoring her so readily.

He had not been awake again overlong, after all.

The woman stared at him for a long moment before she said, “I did the what ?”

Sighing, Solas gestured towards the Breach in the distance and intoned firmly, “Whatever magic was used to open the hole in the sky also placed that Mark upon your hand. I have theorized over many days that it might be able to close the rifts that have opened in the wake of the Breach. Though this is the first time we’ve been able to test such a thing.”

She was staring down at her hand now, her right hand still cradling it as she stared at the ‘gash’ that glowed through the glove covering her palm.

“Meaning it could close the Breach itself,” commented the Seeker, her voice filled with surprise and hope.

“Possibly,” he agreed with a slight nod towards her. He then turned to smile at the woman and said, “It seems you may hold the key to our salvation.”

That made her startle and she looked up with wide eyes. Then her brow furrowed and she dropped her hands to her sides, clenching her fists so hard that he could hear the leather of her gloves creak.

“I already said I’d fucking help,” she growled between bared teeth. He blinked back at her and started to open his mouth when the dwarf decided that it was apparently time to speak his piece.

“Good to know!” commented Varric as he fiddled with the sleeves of his coat. “I thought we were going to be ass-deep in demons forever.” He then looked up, grinning rakishly as he moved forward towards the woman. “Varric Tethras: rogue, storyteller, and occasionally unwelcome tagalong.”

Solas could see her arch her eyebrows then her mouth twitched into a smile as she said, “Meryell.” Then, “Let me guess…not a Chantry heel?”

The disgusted noise that the Seeker made along with the question had him chuckling and asking, “Is that a serious question?”

“Easy, Chuckles,” chided the dwarf with a smile. “She just woke up. Gotta be a bit disoriented.” Varric then winked at the elven woman and replied, “Technically I’m a prisoner like you.”

“I brought you here to tell your story to the Divine,” interrupted Cassandra, sounding annoyed. “Clearly that is no longer necessary. Your… help …is appreciated, Varric, but…”

Varric scoffed and interrupted, harshly asking, “Have you been in the valley lately, Seeker? Chuckles and I have. Much as I give credit to Curly, your soldiers aren’t in control anymore. You need me.”

He then folded his arms across his chest and added, “Not to mention I volunteered to come up here.”

As the Seeker sighed heavily and growled a Very well out from between her teeth, Solas looked at the female elf Meryell again as she was watching the other two. Gesturing at himself to draw her attention, he said, “My name is Solas, if there are to be introductions. I am pleased to see you still live.”

Her ears flicked in clear annoyance at that – ah, how wondrous it was to still see the reactions in some, so many had lost the ability – and spat, “That had better not be a damned slight on my skills.”

“No, no,” said Varric before he could reply, “he means I kept that mark from killing you while you slept .”

Solas watched as Meryell took that in and had the grace to huff out a curse under her breath – in Elvish of all things – before she said, “Shit. Sorry. I…” She frowned for a moment before she nodded to him and finished, “Thanks.”

Cassandra scoffed from where she stood away from them and kicked out at a set of boards that were nailed across the path that would lead them onward. “We are wasting time!” she called out to them. When the soldiers around them stood up, she called out, “No, we go on our own. Rest now that the rift is closed and be ready to hold this position if need be.”

There were several disappointed nods from around them but Solas had no focus for them. They were merely…ghosts. Shadows pattering through a world that had once been so much more than it was now. So much more than he had made it.

Shaking his head, he gestured ahead of them and asked the woman, “Shall we?”

Meryell let out a snort in reply before she shrugged, saying, “Whatever floats your boat across Calenhad,” as she stomped after the Seeker. Solas watched her go for a moment before he hummed softly, realizing that Varric was still with him.

“Bit of a firestarter, that one,” commented the dwarf with a laugh before he followed.

“Very much a mystery,” mused Solas aloud as he brought up the rear of the group, feeling the echoes of his magic moving ahead of him.

Now that he had shown her a glimpse of the power, what would she do with it?

He was eager to see.

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