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 2 – Cassandra

The Conclave was over.

The Temple of Sacred Ashes was destroyed.

The Divine was dead.

And all that Cassandra Pentaghast had was an elven woman with Dalish markings on her face who’d fallen out of one of those tears in the Veil. According to the report of the soldiers and Cullen at least.

The woman herself still hadn’t woken with any clarity yet, just brief spats of mostly delirious mutterings that made no sense as she drifted back and forth between conscious and unconscious. Solas, the apostate elf who had showed up in Haven after the destruction had occurred, had been keeping an eye on her under watch of a handful of guards. He had informed her as of yesterday – day three of their wait for the woman to do more than lay there and moan – that whatever magic was on her hand was slowly killing her.

And all she could do was stand glaring at the Breach.

“Glaring at it won’t make it go away, Seeker.”

Letting out an exasperated breath, Cassandra growled, “I am not in the mood for your antics, Varric.”

There was only silence from the dwarf for a moment and she thought he was gone until she realized that he was standing next to her, thumbs thrust into the wide belt he wore. His eyes were on the Breach until he suddenly turned to look at her, lines she hadn’t noticed before crinkling at the corners. It was a reminder that the dwarf was her age and not younger as she had initially suspected due to his general behavior and personality.

“No antics here, Seeker,” he said and there was a note of weariness in his voice. Then he seemed to give himself a mental shake and asked, “How’s Curly with the troops out there?”

Cassandra fought to hide a grimace because the reports weren’t good. On the first day after the destruction of the Temple of Sacred Ashes, they had been hearing news like clockwork from Cullen. It had been surprising since their force was still so painfully small but he’d rallied their men with ease, split his lieutenants off in twos to handle more minor areas while he and his captain took the bulk towards the main area affected.

By the time they reached the ruin of the temple on the second day – the smell is…horrifying…and I will say no more of it was what Cullen had hastily written at their camp below it at the end of the first day – communication had stuttered. His immediate next missive had been four words and a set of initials.

There is a survivor. – CSR

And for a moment Cassandra had clasped Leliana’s hand and they had hoped .

Of course it had been for naught and now she was left with an unconscious woman, a dwarf she didn’t trust, an apostate that she trusted even less , and fragmented scraps of information coming in stuttering gasps from the one force between Haven and death.

She worried, privately, that she had perhaps recruited the man from Kirkwall and had become something edging towards a friend only to carry him to his death.

All of that went through her head and Cassandra simply replied, “Not well.”

Varric snorted, though the sound wasn’t the slightest bit amused. “Well, could be worse. At least we don’t have a red lyrium statue of a madwoman in our courtyard.”

“Small blessings,” she muttered, allowing herself a small quirk to her lips at the comment.

The dwarf started to open his mouth again and she braced herself for whatever might be coming next only to have blessed interruption.

“Seeker Cassandra! Seeker Cassandra!”

Turning her back on the Breach, she strode to meet the out of breath runner and reached out automatically to steady the young man as he nearly fell. “Take a moment,” she urged him. The last thing they needed was a member – any member – of their fledgling group down. They were already losing soldiers like flies to the demons despite Cullen’s best efforts.

“The…prisoner,” he gasped, his chest heaving for breath.

“She wakes?” interrupted Cassandra, urgency suddenly flaring through her. When he just nodded in response, she started to reach for his shoulders to help him sit when Varric was suddenly there on the man’s other side.

“Go, Seeker,” said the dwarf with a wave of his hand. “I’ve got him.”

For a moment she hesitated and then duty and the flickering echo of vengeance solidified inside her. Merely nodding at Varric and lightly clapping the runner on the shoulder, she began to make her way back towards the Chantry. As she went she heard Varric yell, “And don’t say I don’t do anything for you, Seeker!”

Growling under her breath, Cassandra put him out of her mind and focused on the task ahead. She could see Leliana standing in the open doors of the Chantry, arms folded as she waited, and wondered what they would find of their prisoner.

Murderer or victim?

As she nodded to the other woman and they fell into perfect step with each other, Left and Right Hand in sync, she knew one thing.

She would find answers.

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