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

The Sordid Tale of Meryell Verlen, Chapter 40

Meryell never thought that she could hate the words darling or dear .

Enchanter Vivienne had a very good chance of making that actually happen. Which was annoying because she frankly got a good giggle every time Dorian drawled darling at her.

“Can’t we just leave Lady Prissy Boots?” grumbled Sera as she flopped down onto the very fancy looking sofa Meryell had sat down on in the main hall of the overly large home while they were waiting for the former First Enchanter to do her preparations . “Not like we really need her lot.”

“Her influence could prove useful,” commented Solas from where he stood serenely off to the side, hands folded behind him. “Though it is not to mention that the offer of her joining us was already made by Josephine and accepted before our arrival.”

Sera stuck out her tongue in response and slumped lower so her head was halfway down the back of the sofa. “Didn’t ask you , Egg,” she muttered. “I asked Quizzy.”

Sighing, Meryell rolled her eyes and wondered why she’d brought the two of them again. Oh, right, because I left Dorian to help keep Cullen distracted, Varric needed a break, and I didn’t want to bring Cole because he’s been helping with Cullen’s nightmares.

Not that she minded their arguments. Half the time she was entertained by them more than anything as they each gave as good as they got. There had been worse fighting amongst the Fangs. But them on top ofVivienne , who she already didn’t like, was making her want to stab her daggers into her eyes.

At least Blackwall was quiet .

“Unfortunately Chuckles is right. Though not on the acceptance.” Meryell shook her head as she went on, “Fucking never confirmed or denied by word. Said she wanted to meet me before she went either way.”

“Maybe she heard you was a merc,” Sera said with as much of a shrug as she could manage.

“Or was offended by your eloquent tongue,” suggested Solas with a smirk. Meryell promptly flashed him a rude gesture and he laughed. “I do not believe the Commander would be much pleased if we were to do such. Not to mention that, as you said upon our meeting, you do not fuck your own kind.”

“And you sure as shit know that I didn’t mean it that way, asshole,” snapped Meryell as she glared at him. She caught sight of a somewhat horrified looking servant out of the corner of her eye and smiled at the poor girl. It apparently didn’t help because her eyes went wide and she disappeared with a sound that was akin to a bird’s chirp.

Blackwall let out a gruff snort where he leaned against his sword nearby, arms crossed around the quillons of the heavy blade. As she looked at him, he commented, “You’ve got quite an effect on people, lass.”

Managing a smirk, she shot back, “Not my fault folks get their knickers in a bunch.” She then sighed and asked aloud, “Shall we just head on to the Maker forsaken Storm Coast without her? It’s not like she’s heading there with us anyway.”

“Nonsense, darling,” came the Enchanter’s voice from above them. They all turned to look as Vivienne descended the stairs in an outfit that didn’t look like it would last one turn of a glass in the wilderness, let alone the weeks or months they tended to spend in the field or on the road. The mage smiled as she reached the base of the stairs, though the expression held very little warmth. “It would simply be a waste to not travel back together even if we are not going to the same destination.”

Like a fucking snake smiling was all Meryell could compare it to. She’d met complete and utter bastards with warmer smiles.

“Show you a fucking waste, you…” started growling Sera under her breath before Meryell kicked her right heel backwards to hit her in the back of the shin. That had the younger elf jerking upright and cursing a blue streak as she clutched at her leg. “ Fuck, Quiz .”

Blackwall laughed under his breath and rumbled, “You may have deserved that one, Fuzzhead.”

“Shaddup, Beardy.”

Meryell was watching Vivienne as the exchange went on and her eyes narrowed as the mage’s eyebrows went up in disdain. “How…lovely…your company is,” the Enchanter commented lightly. Her eyes shifted over to Solas then, taking in his tattered robes and light armor that was his preference along with the bare feet, and she sniffed delicately. “Very charming, my dear.”

Clenching her teeth together to keep herself from not saying something utterly fucking rude because the Inquisition could use this woman, Meryell growled, “Yeah, we’re a pretty fucking charming lot.”

If she’d been insulting her alone , things would be all right. She could take a hit. Sera, Blackwall, and even Chuckles were encompassed in her little bubble now though. And this woman was a damned strangersneering down her nose at them.

She didn’t normally let anyone talk shit about those she took into that bubble.

“A motley group,” commented Solas sagely, one eyebrow arched at her. He then murmured, “ Da’len. Ve mar’veth.

Ar eolasan, hahren ,” she rather snippily replied, narrowing her eyes at him. Why the fuck was everyone under the impression that she couldn’t keep her tongue curbed?

Oh, right, because she hadn’t fucking pulled out all the shit she’d learned on various jobs over the years. Not really. Not until recently when she had to prove to Josephine that she wasn’t completely inept at knowing court protocol and how to play the Game.

She’d never fully played it because she was an elf – and elves were servants or less in Orlais – but she knew how. Knowing how to read the score while on a job was as good as knowing how to play it sometimes.

Rising to her feet, Meryell smiled thinly up at Vivienne and said, “Just wait until you meet the rest of the family. You’ll fucking love ‘em.”

Sera cackled at that before she leapt up from the sofa, snatching up her bow and quiver from where she’d laid them on the floor. “Right her type, ain’t they?” she commented with a broad grin. The elf twirled her bow around her fingers before slinging it over her shoulders, propping her wrists on either end of it. She rocked back and forth from heel to toe for a moment before saying loudly, “So we gonna get movin’ or what? Red tin cans won’t kill themselves, Quiz.”

Blackwall snorted half a laugh and clapped the archer on the shoulder. “We’ll wait outside,” he uttered gruffly as he swung his sword up onto his shoulder. “Come on, Fuzzhead.”

“Aww, but Beardy …”

Meryell smiled as the pair moved towards the door, shaking her head a little at them. They were an odd pair but there was a genuine fondness to their relationship. It reminded her a little of her and Pod…without the initial ire between them.

“Are you certain you don’t need me to accompany you, darling?’ asked Vivienne lightly. “It seems so…cruel…to let you run off without a proper mage at hand.”

Now it was Meryell hissing, “ Ve mar’veth ,” to Solas as he bristled up like an angry hound, his pale eyes narrowed. The Enchanter merely flashed him a bored look and smiled.

“Oh don’t look so put out, my dear. It is well known that a mere apostate is simply no match for a well trained mage of a Circle.”

The bald elf’s ears twitched and Meryell growled, “ Solas .”

He glanced at her, one eyebrow slightly raised because she had never called him by his actual name to his face. Or ever. Then he flicked his eyes back to Vivienne and smiled grimly, his mouth a thin line.

“It is a pity, Enchanter,” he intoned dryly, “that you have so much pride in your own skills and talents that you cannot look beyond them at what others can offer.”

The Iron Lady laughed and the sound grated in Meryell’s ears before replying, “It is not pride , darling, but mere fact .”

Solas sniffed in an utterly unimpressed way before he murmured, “My statement stands.” He then sketched an eloquent bow, yet somehow made it feel like mockery , to the dark-skinned woman. “Enchanter.”

As he turned, he merely nodded his head at her with a murmured, “ Da’len ,” and Meryell made a note to tell Josephine to bring out all stops on what supplies he wanted for his paints. If only to keep hearing him turn his snark on the fucking bitch.

“Charming,” commented Vivienne with a chilly smile.

“Very,” agreed Meryell. She stepped up close to the taller woman, fixing her with a dark glare, and growled, “And they’re fucking mine . My friends. My family. You fuck with them , you fuck with me .”

The mage arched an elegant eyebrow and mused, “Your defense of them is admirable, Inquisitor, but such a group of misfits will never get you anywhere in life. It will certainly never keep the Inquisition in power for long.”

Smirking, Meryell replied coldly, “I think we’d give you a damned good surprise on how far we can get. A group of misfits stopped the Fifth Blight after all. If we can do as good as them…well, I’d say we’re doing just fine.” She then took a step back and idly rested a hand on the hilt of the dagger strapped behind her hips as she went on. “As for staying in power…we aren’t looking for that.”

She turned away then, moving to follow her companions and assuming that Vivienne would be behind her. After a moment, the Enchanter called out, “Do tell then, darling, what are you looking for?”

Stopping in the doorway that the big house’s doorman (Maker, she was sorry for that man, purely on having to work for the woman) had opened for her, Meryell glanced back at the mage and smiled.

“Come and find out,” she answered before she continued on her intended path. Before she passed fully out the door, however, she loudly called one last comment over her shoulder.

“And we’ll see if we’re on the same fucking page, Madame de Fer!”


When they rode into the Storm’s Solitude camp a full fifteen days after leaving Val Royeaux, Meryell was excited to see more than one familiar face amongst the soldiers and scouts that came to attention. “Harding!” she called out as she swung down from her Forder, giving the horse a heavy pat on the shoulder before she handed his reins off. “You’ve grown the camp since the last time I was here!”

Chuckling, the dwarf replied, “Not me, Inquisitor. I was actually leading a scouting team out in the Exalted Plains after we saw you in Crestwood.” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder as she added, “Your good soldier here is the one to thank for the camp growth. He’s even got you another camp already set up and most a third he’s been bothering the Red Templars from.”

Said good soldier was one of the other familiar faces and Meryell grinned at the dark-haired young man she’d first met in the Hinterlands. It had been almost a year since he’d been working on the map in the Outskirts camp and had given her the directions she’d needed to find Blackwall. She’d occasionally seen him in Skyhold or out in the field since then but had barely been able to say word one to him. “Treno!” she exclaimed. “You’re fucking moving up in the world, I see!”

Treno flushed a little in reply – the sort that came when one felt awkward about praise – and replied, “Aye, Inquisitor. Your good word paid off and the Commander gave me more responsibilities. I’m a Sergeant now.”

Sergeant Treno then.”

He laughed and said, “We can stay with just Treno, ser. Sorry, Inquisitor.”

Flapping a hand at him, Meryell said, “Pff, call me whatever. No skin off my tits.” When he blushed brightly and Harding laughed, she just grinned and continued on. “So! Sergeant. I want to hear what the fuck is going on. I hear we’ve got a militia being a semi-thorn in our backsides alongside the templars.”

“Aye, ser,” Treno replied with a sharp nod. “We have the exact locations of each of our maps in the command tent.”

“Then what the shite are we waiting for?” called out Sera just before Meryell could say something that was close enough to the same. “Come on, Quiz, I’ve got arrows and no fools to shoot!”

Shaking her head, she then heard Blackwall gruffly remark, “I’m certain we’ll see plenty of fools soon.”


“If only to perhaps earn a moment of silence in return,” commented Solas wryly.

“No one asked you , Eggy.”

“Ah, my apologies. I was unaware that my opinion could not be given freely. My mistake.”

Snorting a laugh at them, Meryell called out, “Enough, you lot! We’re on a stupid fucking timetable so let’s get in here, sort shit, and go home. How about that?”

Sera was suddenly at her side, the younger elf looping her arm through Meryell’s, and grinning happily. “I think that’s been the best idea this whole trip, Quiz,” she commented. Then she narrowed her eyes and asked, “Still get to shoot fools full of arrows though, right?”

“But of course,” replied Meryell in mock seriousness.

Grand . Beardy! Egg! Get your arses movin’! We got shit to kill!”

“News first, then kill shit,” Meryell noted sagely, laughing as Sera stuck out her tongue in response. She then turned to look at Treno and asked, “So…militia?”

He nodded and gestured for them to follow him over to the largest tent in the camp, leading them in past the soldier that stood guarding it to where a very young looking male elf in scout’s armor sat sorting through reports. “Inquisitor!” he yelped, leaping up. “Sergeant, I…”

Relax , Dervin,” Treno said sternly. “Are those the reports on the Blades of Hessarian?”

“Oh, yes, ser. Though there’s still that, ah…” Dervin paused after he handed the papers off to the camp’s officer and flicked a wide-eyed gaze between Meryell and Treno before he finished, “Problem.”

Problem? ” she repeated, arching an eyebrow at the sergeant. Treno sighed wearily in reply and flicked his fingers through the reports for a moment before he drew out a specific one. As he extended it towards her, Harding ducked into the tent with an oddly grim look on her face.

The dwarf was silent for a moment before she asked, “That about the missing scouts?”

“We have missing men?” Meryell asked, her eyes narrowed in concern. Why did the Inquisition forces keep getting themselves captured or just went up and missing? If they kept this up, it was going to become an uncomfortable trend.

“Possibly missing,” stressed Treno as he cast a slight frown towards Harding. He then went on, “We’ve been avoiding the group ourselves but once Harding arrived, we sent a group of our mixed scouts off to try and make contact with the Blades. Haven’t heard from them in five days.”

Arching an eyebrow, she mused aloud, “I’m guessing they were supposed to report back before now.”

“Two days ago,” answered Harding as she crossed her arms. “They’ve been out for over a week and the last report we received of their progress was four days ago. Thought they had a lead to get in with the group and were going to test their theory.”

Frowning heavily, Meryell squeezed Sera’s arm where it was still tucked through her own and looked down at the younger elf as she asked, “You up for pushing back shooting fools?”

“Shit, Quizzy, the frigging things I do for you,” she replied with an overly theatrical sigh. “Yeah, yeah, let’s go find your scouts.”

“Such a sacrifice,” commented Solas dryly. “I appear to have to amend my definition of the word. I was truly unaware that it involved the possibility of giving up the opportunity to shoot people full of arrows.”

“A grave mistake,” rumbled Blackwall and she could practically feel the man’s wry grin.

“Shaddup, Eggy. And don’t you start shite, Beardy.”

Sighing at the three of them, Meryell nodded towards Treno and Harding and said firmly, “Give us where they were working from. We’ll figure this shit out and hopefully have those scouts back in two shakes a nug’s tail.”

With all luck, this would turn out as good as the mission to rescue their captured soldiers in the Fallow Mire.

“You and your companions are very formidable, Your Worship.”

Meryell winced at the title, which was the one of the things she regretted from deciding to recruit the Blades of Hessarian instead of taking them out: they kept using that damned title. Not to mention that they as a whole treaded hard on the edge of zealotry and she’d always been hard pressed to deal with that sort. The group, however, had a strange sort of nobility in that they accepted her as their leader after she’d defeated the former in combat with the necklace they’d found notes on.

She’d been so close to taking them out that it was a little terrifying.

Anger at the death of her men had nearly sent her bolting spitting mad back towards the Storm’s Solitude camp. Blackwall, though, had stopped her and held up the letter they’d found in her face, sternly shaking it and noting that whoever had killed their men had orders from someone higher up.

“It doesn’t make it right ,” the man had said firmly, his eyes telling far more than he probably realized. “Maker, it isn’t right at all. But we can’t …no, we shouldn’t punish a soldier for following his orders. Not like this, lass.”

She’d narrowed her eyes at him and somehow managed to swallow the rage. Because, at the end of things, he was right. She’d done things on orders that she didn’t like. So had Folke. Cullen. Arnald. And so had Blackwall. She could feel it in her bones.

She just didn’t know which side he knew it from.

So they’d made the Mercy’s Crest, killed the fucker who’d ordered her men’s deaths (and found a lovely note detailing how exactly he thought of the Inquisition), and gained a whole militia of near bandits that had an overly healthy love of Andraste.

And she’d promptly told them they’d make up for the deaths of hers by doing whatever her Commander demanded for the loss. They didn’t talk work enough for her to know what he did in recompense for the death of his soldiers and her time in the Fangs didn’t lend any help. Most of them either had their family in the company, the company was their family, or their family didn’t want anything to do with a dirty, rotten mercenary . Arnald rarely had to leave the keep to give condolences and they were mostly given in large amounts of booze anyway.

The other thing they could do was help clear the Red Templars out of the damned Storm Coast. To say they’d taken to it with a fervor would have been a drastic understatement.

Forcing a smile, Meryell looked over at the man who’d come to stand next to her at the edge of the ancient port the templars had taken over. “You and yours aren’t too fucking bad yourself, Ivor,” she commented.

He merely smiled and shrugged. “To the common foe, perhaps, Your Worship. If you had chosen to kill us in return for your men, we very likely would not be standing here.”

“Against four people?” she asked with an arched eyebrow. “I don’t think one sodding man in my company would take that bet. Not in a nug’s year.”

Ivor chuckled at that and replied, “Perhaps you would be surprised.”

Meryell tilted her head at him curiously for a moment then shook her head. She wasn’t going to argue with the man, not with the Red Templars soundly routed and out of the Storm Coast. Not to mention the fact that they could probably take control of this port and bring it up back up to snuff.

Mmm, an access to the Waking Sea of their own wasn’t a bad idea at all.

Zarru could even arrange a few quiet supply runs from her sneakier seafaring friends. And they’d keep it nice and quiet from Josephine that most of those reputable sources of the Fangs’ second were just the best at hiding. Maybe.

After judging them reputable and then finding out they weren’t so much so, the ambassador might just be impressed. Once she was done being pissed, of course.

Smiling widely to herself, Meryell folded her arms as she gazed out at the choppy waves of the Waking Sea and asked, “Will the Blades of Hessarian serve, Ivor?”

“Wherever Andraste sees fit that you should send us, Your Worship,” he replied and she just barely managed to hold back her flinch. Maker’s swollen prick, it’d been hard enough dealing with the breathy, reverent little way that some of the Inquisition members called her Herald . She wasn’t certain she’d ever get used to the Blades if they kept calling her that.

“Here in the Storm Coast for now,” she said quickly, trying to shake the slight uneasiness off. “Our main forces are going to be focused elsewhere for the next few months so I need someone to…well…literally hold down the fucking fort. You think that’s you lot?”

Ivor just stared at her for a moment before he brought a clenched fist up over his heart and inclined his head slightly. Because Ivor was as Ferelden as she was and Fereldens didn’t bow to each other. Not unless they were being mocking. “The Blades will serve, Your Worship.”

“Good.” Meryell nodded sharply then asked, “Any way you and the rest can refer to me as something besides Your Worship ?”

Now the man looked confused and he asked, “Is that not the proper title? I have heard a great number of your soldiers speaking of you as Her Worship .”

Fucking fuck cunt , thought Meryell. Why can’t they just stick to Inquisitor? Or Herald? I can handle fucking Herald.

“I’m certain if you asked our ambassador she would tell you it was but I’m not…” Frowning, Meryell blew out a breath loudly before she went on, “I’m not comfortable with the term. Your Worship . I’m not some pretty statue to put up on some fucking stone plinth to bow and bend your head to.”

Turning her head, she stared hard at the man and hissed out, “ I have never claimed to be anything divine.”

“Neither did Andraste in her time,” commented Ivor mildly, sending a flash of panic through her. He then nodded and went on, “If it displeases, however, I will attempt to use another title and see that the others do the same. You proved worthy of wielding the Blades when you bore Mercy’s Crest and defeated Fredig. It is the least we can do.”

The man then tilted his head to the side and asked, “Will Inquisitor serve?”

“I’ll take it over Your Worship or Herald any day,” replied Meryell with a smile she didn’t feel. Andraste’s dimpled ass, she was tired of people thinking that she was holy.

Maybe if she took Andraste and the Maker’s names in vain more often…

They fell into silence then and stood there like that for several breaths before Ivor asked, “Where shall the Blades strike first, Inquisitor?”

Smiling out at the sea, Meryell replied, “Make me a port, Ivor. It would be useful for all of us to have it. And remember that you represent the Inquisition now so…” Breaking into a laugh, she finished, “Let’s try not to let our thievery get caught,” and held up the small pair of knives she’d stolen off of him.

He blinked at her before he threw back his head in a boisterous laugh, highly amused as he took them back from her and returned them to their sheaths. As he brought his fist back up to his heart again in a quick salute, Ivor said, “As you order, Inquisitor,” before he turned and strode off into the depths of the mix of cave and dwarven ruins.

Chuckling, Meryell smiled after him before she turned back to the view.

Other than the zealotry, she could probably get to like the de facto leader of the Blades of Hessarian.

And Josephine might even ignore the thievery if they gave the Inquisition a working port.

Fingers crossed, anyway.


Elven/Elvhen Translations

Ve mar’veth – turn your back (ve – away, behind / mar – your / veth – back, bottom)

Ar eolasan – I know

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