Adventurers of the Inquisition: A Dragon Age RP (started)

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In the fray, Berund whirled his maul, battering and breaking all in its path. The Red Templars were resilient, but not so much to survive the dwarf's strikes for long. He carved a path for Inquisition soldiers to fill in and push through. Berund found himself joining up with his companions shortly after successfully enclosing a group of Templars that were promptly cut down.

Berund didn't bother asking where the Red Lyrium soldiers came from, or what their purpose was here. Those were questions for any Red Templar left alive after they were through. Crystal shards exploded beneath the force of the dwarf's steel, breaking with the bones beneath the blunt of his weapon. He fought without relent. Then he heard the roar. He saw the great wings in the sky. He felt the heat of the fire, even from where he stood. The flame's light poured into the slit in his helm and if one was looking closely, they would see that, for the first time in a very long time, they were wide with real fear.

"Blood, deformed people, and other things clearly out of the fade. Welcome to my world, and I hope you enjoy your stay."

"Berund! Please tell me we didn't just see what I think we saw. Please tell me a sodding archdemon..."

The voices of the others faded to little more than muffled cries. The darkness of the night grew and it was almost as if Berund was in the Deep Roads once more. His head felt heavy as it turned to look around him. The soldiers of the Inquisition appeared to be suddenly clad in Legionnaire armor and it wasn't Red Templars they clashed swords with, but all manner of darkspawn. The monster of a man that blocked their way was not a Lyrium beast but an ogre.

"...NOW!"

It was Jarrett's voice that rang in his ears, though Berund's eyes saw his commander shouting for him to retreat. Run for the tunnel.

"No," Berund growled. His hands wrung the grip of his maul tightly. His fear quickly turned into fury. He wouldn't retreat. He was not about to see his allies cut down for the second time. "Not again," he barked even louder. He slung his maul on his back and withdrew his axes. He charged as he roared loudly. "Not today!!"

Berund leapt onto the creature's back, the spikes of his axes acting like picks as he scaled the crystalline surface. With one of the points planted firmly into the shoulder of the monstrosity, Berund used the blade of his free ax to hack away at the back of the thing's neck, furiously spitting expletives the whole while.

The swarming Templar soldiers fell in groups to Ash's magic, even as twisted as their bodies were they seemed to hold enough blood that his magic could harm them. If the Inquisition soldiers noticed the arts of a Maleficar in use they didn't comment, but then again their attention was occupied by the great Behemoth before them. Still Ash's power created space for the others to fight, depriving the Behemoth of the support of its army.

Between the damage to its legs from Kari, Von, and Jarret's attacks and Berund chipped away at the thing's head the Behemoth looked ready to topple. Yet Nola's taunting continued to draw its attention and it staggered forward after the dwarf, managing two, three steps before it finally collapsed barely missing Nola who was quick enough to avoid it and crashing through its own wall of crystals, now rendered brittle with its demise. There was no time for cheering though, the Red Templars continued to swarm forwards and even in their diminished ranks the group could sight more behemoths lurching towards them. No doubt Haven's walls would not stand up to such creatures for long, but attempting to attack them would be suicide as the Red Templars had begun to close ranks and rain arrows and shards of red crystal down on the defenders.

"Quickly!" one of the soldiers said "through the gate!"

Eager to escape and follow the retreat command other soldiers were pushing through the gate, but the Red Templars were thick there as well. If they couldn't be pushed back in time then the wooden gate would not be able to close. Already Red Templars were inside the walls, and buildings were burning, and unless the gate were closed there would not even be a temporary respite from the assault.

Nola was scared. She wouldn't admit it if people asked but she was. As they made it through the gates her mind flashed back to the battle nearly two months gone now. She saw Freya, one of the companies more dexterous members, fall again as she took a bolt of lightning to the chest. The Lions only had just her and Ilyn now, even they were on their last legs. Ilyn called something she could hear before she shook her head, coming back to reality. Now was not the time!

She brought her shield up against a few arrows and a shard that came raining from behind them. Thee arrows bounced off but the shard sank through the metal, slightly jutting out on the other side. That would need to be reinforced. She clashed her ax on her shield again. "C'mon you bastards. You really gonna let someone who comes up to your waist kill you?" She called, drawing as many of the Templars to her as she could. Hopefully if they focus on one area the would fall faster.

Kari screaming in triumph as the monstrosity fell; wheeling about, she turned to face the next challenger and her heart sank. "Maker's Breath, there's no end..." She muttered as she saw more of the giant freaks and warped Templars surging forwards.

"Quickly! Through the gate!"

Her head snapped up, as she looked towards the soldier and the walls of Haven. Those won't hold for long...but better than nothing. Taking shelter against the corpse of the dead thing, she surged towards the gate after the hail of crystalline sharps stopped, a few of those striking glancing blows against her armour. "DEFEND THE CHANTRY!" She cried, hacking down a Templar that tried to get between her and the outer wall. "PROTECT THE CIVILIANS!"

"C'mon you bastards. You really gonna let someone who comes up to your waist kill you?"

As she passed Nola, Kari grabbed the dwarf by her shoulder. "The field is lost, don't fight them of their terms!"

Taking out the giant crystal-man went, though Ash found himself struggling to avoid the falling bits of crystals. Running towards the gate, he followed the others.

"Quickly! Through the gate!"

"Yes, I---" before he could finish the sentence, Kari shouted, at the top of her lungs, judging from how loudly it was.

"DEFEND THE CHANTRY! PROTECT THE CIVILIANS!"

Ash winced, was it really necessary to shout? Didn't they all get that? Or was it just Kari trying to compose herself in the middle of the fighting? He just sighed, and rubbed his ears. If nothing else, he wished he had been further away when she had decided to shout. Of course, perhaps the others were losing their cool -he wasn't sure, but that could be it- but to him this was an odd situation, to say the least. Odd, but not scary, not even with what looked like an archdemon flying around.

I don't want to die, here, though.

Of course, that was the first thing he needed to worry about. That and protecting the civilians, apparently, though he supposed that came with the job he had taken not long ago. Without hesitation, he raised his arms, calling down lighting that would surround them, spark as it hurt the enemies, though it was a somewhat weakened form of the spell, the larger the area, the more power he would have to sacrifice.

Let's see...

He started casting the spell, stepping a bit away from the fighting, but keeping a close distance to the others. That was a benefit he had, at least, his attacks were ranged, thus he had no reason to stand close to these strange templars.

As soon as the Behemoth fell he turned to see the rest of the attackers and knew that they'd be overwhelmed soon.

"Quickly! Through the gate!"

As many retreated through the gate Jarrett was one of the last to do so. "I don't mind being the last one in." Taking the time to kill a few of the Templars before rushing back through. Seeing the desperate defence made Jarrett dryly think the gate would be made of flesh soon. With the Templars unrelenting in their attack, Jarrett took note of Ash's ranged attacks. As he grabbed a smoke bomb, Jarrett called out to Ash, "Kill the Templars that come through!" Throwing it at his feet, he hoped this would give the group some advantage.

The hulking, red giant was down for the count, which gave the group only seconds of rest. Rach member weakening in some way, either from fear of army, flying beast, or even mental trauma. Then the rest of the enemy came. A sea of red, from the position Von looked at them, it seemed that the little Inquisition town was being eaten by the horde. It only reminded the Templar of ants, and how they consumed their pray with group attacks.

Fearing the horde tearing him and the others apart, he could only approve of the retreat. Today will not be a day of victory, Von reminded himself mentally. Along with his other screaming members, Von raised his sword, "Retreat!" It was the only word that bellowed out of his mouth. Then he followed the others back to the besieged Haven, and arriving at the gate, he spotted flying arrows.

Stumbling across the ground, Von recovered a harshly beaten shield, but it managed to stop the hail from raining down upon him. Immediately springing up afterward, the Templar threw the shield, and it easily glided into a Red Templar, cutting deeply into the neck. Ignoring the false blood spilling, he reunited with his group. "What next ... The blight?!" He asked in between breaths, his humour not even fading in battle.

"Okay, lets start running!"

Even as the mammoth lyrium-fiend fell, Berund hacked away at its skull. The crystal shell revealed flesh and bone which gave way to the steel edge of the ax. Blood and brains spattered with every blow, and before long there was very little of either left to be spattered about. The dwarf was in a fury and practically blind to everything around him. He could hardly even feel the crystal shards that battered his body. Until one of considerable size stuck the side of his helmet.

There was a bright flash in the Legionnaire's eyes and his ears rang incessantly. The force of the impact threw his helm from his head and himself from atop the behemoth. He could only lie in the dirt until his senses finally returned to him. There was a sudden sense of urgency that came back with it. He was at Haven's gate and hadn't much time to keep it from falling.

Berund saw his companions pushing back through the gate and pulled himself onto his feet. He staggered, still recovering from his daze, though only for a moment. He quickly steadied himself with no small amount of effort. Head cleared and a course chosen, he was ready with a second wind. He sucked in a great deal of air, cherishing it as if it was his last, then let loose a fearsome roar as he charged forward. Jarrett came into view briefly as he threw a smoke bomb at his own feet. In the span between the dwarf and the elf were several Red Templars pushing into the breach.

"Hyaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!" Berund yelled, his voice without words and full of anger. He caught the attention of a Templar, but before the Lyrium-addled soldier could turn to fight, the dwarf buried the spikes of his axes into the crystal-covered man and threw him aside. He carried on like this, striking left, then right, then left again, until he found himself in the shroud of smoke. The dwarf blinked a spray of blood from his eyes and halted his strikes when the silhouette before him materialized into a familiar face.

"Fancy seeing ye here, friend," Berund said, hailing the elf with a hearty laugh. He turned to face his wake in the smoke, waiting for more of the Templars to come into view. "Mightn't be the time fer discourse on strategy, but ye think we'll hold 'em off?"

The group made an excellent fighting withdrawal, hacking Templars to pieces as they made their way back to the gate of the town. Between Kari and Von pushing for the gate, and the others holding back further advances they made their way cutting and crushing through the gate. Even after it shut confusion from the smoke bombs and those paralyzed temporarily by the lightning kept the forces at bay for several moments longer, and when it settled the Red Templars fell back somewhat, seeming to hold until more behemoths could make their way to the fore, instead relying on archers and the corrupted dragon to assault the villages defenses.

"Damn impressive work out there," one soldier said to Kari, then turned to Berund "and climbing that, that thing. Don't think I've ever seen a dwarf stand so tall."

"Not that it will amount to anything," another said fearfully "the inquisition is doomed, what can we do against this?"

Terrified muttering confirmed that others shared the same sentiment, though many still clung to hope that the Herald would save them somehow. Others didn't talk at all, simply clutching their blades with white knuckled grips, or slumping down in the snow to rest and attend to their injuries. Those who had bows or staffs fired back at the oncoming army, but all around the village burned. Even if they somehow won the day at this point Haven was in ruins.

Then the Commander's voice rang out "We're evacuating!" he said "soldiers form up to escort the civilians, the Herald will distract the enemy while we retreat, we have found a path the enemy is unaware of."

Hope was renewed in many of the troops, though some feared even letting themselves have that, but Cullen held their respect if nothing else and steadily they marched into the chantry where the path was supposedly hidden. Even as they did so the walls shuddered, and then without warning a set of fast moving Red Templars leaped over them, their hands replaced by jagged shards of crystal there was no time to react as one eviscerated an unfortunate soldier who happened to be too close to where it landed before the thing disappeared under a smoke bomb. The others, making five in total, did the same vanishing almost the moment they hit the ground. These were clearly the scouts and assassins of the Red Templar's forces, and perhaps before they had lost their minds and become twisted monsters they had been the Templars who would watch mages from the shadows.

"Shadows!" one soldier cried out, naming the things before them "Don't let them get into the chantry!"

"If we stay to fight then we'll be left behind!" another cried out in despair, dropping his sword and running towards the chantry.

Ash couldn't describe the feelings running through his head as the attack continued. There was no despair, oddly enough, perhaps because it hadn't quite dawned upon him that this could kill them, that there were such a thing as them being doomed. Especially not with what he had gone through.

No. This isn't the way I'm going to die.

Not as long as he had fight still left in him. He could still channel magic, and even without it, he still would be able to act. He went through several lyrium potions as they fought, keeping the enemy from approaching, so he was relatively unharmed. For another moment, he fought. Then, word of that they were to move ahead, that they were evacuating.

"We're evacuating! Soldiers form up to escort the civilians, the Herald will distract the enemy while we retreat, we have found a path the enemy is unaware of."

The Herald, huh.

Ash hadn't been particularly interested in the Herald, not because he didn't believe in Andraste, but he felt disconnected. However, if she was making an effort of distracting the enemy to let the rest of the inquisition get away, then she was worthy of respect. He followed the others into the chantry, dust was knocked off the walls as they shook. Ashtalan was sure that if he took the chance to stop and examine the chantry closer, he would notice all the little details that made everything wrong, but he had pushed that aside. His madness was the only reason this sort of made sense, after all, too used to sighs such as these to get worried.

Of course, this could all be a nightmare.

Before he had time to linger on the thought, Red Templars arrived, suddenly. Scouts and assassins, moving through the shadow. Their attacks unnerved some of the other soldiers.

"Shadows! Don't let them get into the chantry!"

"If we stay to fight then we'll be left behind!"

The latter of them dropped his sword and ran away. Ash wondered if he should do the same, however, he quickly decided against it. He could attack while advancing, and started doing so, activating his blood-magic, and targetting those red templars he could spot, aiming to both boil their blood and corrupt it at the same time. All it took was for them to appear for the briefest moment.

The combined spells were powerful and worked quickly, but it couldn't be maintained for long without a greater source of blood, which he didn't have. Every spell cast was exhausting, and he had little choice but to cancel his magic after he had killed several of the templars. Getting his short-sword out, he was prepared in case someone would attempt to attack him, as he made sure no one was left behind.

Kari waved an acknowledgement of the compliment as she looked around. Sure they appeared to have a moment or two to breathe, but things were bad; the walls, such as they were, wouldn't last long against those...things outside, and walls no matter how good were a match for a dragon, archdemon...whatever the fuck that thing was.

"...the Inquisition is doomed, what can we do against this?"

"Fight." She replied flatly to the trooper. "We fight until those bastards hack us down. Maybe we get a few, maybe not, but we don't give those piss sucking nug fuckers the satisfaction of seeing use cower..."

"We're evacuating! Soldiers form up to escort the civilians, the Herald will distract the enemy while we retreat, we have found a path the enemy is unaware of."

"Or we bug out through the bathroom window." She said, her mouth twisting into a wry grin. "Personally, I'm in favour of the second option." Sharing a laugh with the nervous troops, she jumped a bit when the walls began to groan under the assault. Hustling people towards the chantry, her first warning that the enemy was over the wall was a terrible scream as the first man died.

"Shadows! Don't let them get into the chantry!"

Wheeling about, she caught a glimpse of yet another twisted horror, before it vanished into a cloud of smoke. Some of the Inquisition troops nerves failed, and they fled, but she held her ground; if she was to die today, she'd go down fighting. Placing herself as best she could between this new threat and the chantry, she looked for any sign of the bastards, while just off in the edge of her peripheral vision Ash did...something.

Suddenly a Templar staggered into view, twisting and writhing. Not one to waste a good opportunity Kari attacked, first destroying a knee and driving the 'thing' to the dirt and jamming the tip of her blade through it's throat.

"Mightn't be the time fer discourse on strategy, but ye think we'll hold 'em off?"

"No doubt. We share this moment of defeat with them." With a firm resolve he spoke, confident that while Haven was ruined, their resistance alone was a great insult to their enemy.

"We're evacuating! Soldiers form up to escort the civilians, the Herald will distract the enemy while we retreat, we have found a path the enemy is unaware of."

"C'mon, we're needed." When jogging uphill to prepare for the evacuation Jarrett stopped in his tracks at the sight of a new templar monster.

"Shadows! Don't let them get into the chantry!"

On the last stretch of ground to be sacrificed for the evacuation, the presence of these 'Shadows' was a somewhat interesting challenge to Jarrett. "One's on the right. Draw it's attention. I'll be right behind it." Making a guess, Jarrett disappeared as well, ready to counter one of the Shadows.

"C'mon, we're needed."

"Right," muttered Berund wiping the blood and sweat from his brow before dashing off to follow Jarrett. He was near enough to witness the surprise attack of the Red Templar assassins. Inquisition soldiers were felled, disemboweled by the agile foes. They were swift, perhaps even too swift for Berund to take head-on. Thankfully the elf seemed to have an idea.

"One's on the right. Draw it's attention. I'll be right behind it."

The dwarf nodded and circled around to the right, putting some distance between himself and the group to give the illusion of an easy target. He stood with his axes at the ready and his eyes watching all around him. "Come on, ye scrawny mongrels! Can't ye fight like decent men, or are ye too used to comin' in poofs? And I ain't meanin' the smoke!"

"Shadows! Don't let them get into the chantry!"

She whirled around to see the creatures vanish, barely getting a look at their twisted forms. She held back a groan of frustration. Was there no end to the bad surprises? When Jarrett vanished from sight and Berund broke off, shouting insults at the creatures Nola pulled away from the group, opposite of Berund. What better way to draw out quicker stealthier opponents than to be as annoying as possible. And better yet hopefully she could split their own party, making them even easier targets. She clashed her ax on her shield. "What's wrong boys? Too scared to fight a woman? Or are you called Shadows because you're harmless?" She called with a forced laugh in her voice. She wanted to get out of this place. Fast.

Von quickly dashed back to his friends, already he could feel the small cuts that started to bleed into a pattern. Grunting, he took a quickly glimpse of the corpses that surrounded them. Too many, he thought. Both civilian and defender were on the ground, and no matter what, it only seemed that the enemy had an infinite amount of numbers. Before he could turn back to the enemy, some of the Inquisition soldiers ran into the chantry.

Overhead he could hear soldiers screech, and a solid word that Kari emitted.
"...the Inquisition is doomed, what can we do against this?"
"Fight."

"Cowards." Von seemed to mutter under his breath. Then the introduction of the new enemies seemed to put most soldiers on edge. Flourishing his blades in defense, the metal seemed to gleam with feelings of its warrior. Scowling, Von was eager to charge, yet his patience was rewarded, as the enemies disappeared into nothing. "Damn heathens of the living!" He roared, challenging any to tackle him. Swiping the blood that dripped from his lip, Von immediately felt a presence.

With a quick kick of his heel, Von felt a large pounce on his two blades. Out of nowhere the Shadow leaped, yet thankfully, Von got away with a stumble. "You fail!" Von bellowed, quickly raising a sword to the clouded Heavens. Like before, a large pillar struck like lightning, forcing the enemies around Von to be thrown back. This even included those that neared his friends.

With a second of energy and a flick of his wrist, a dagger had already plunged in the Shadow's throat. "Hwuuuuah!" Von shouted as he jumped onto it, plunging his sword within his enemy's head. Something like blood seemed to spray out, splashing the Templar with a dark red substance. Yet before Von could recover, a light splash of red flowed out his mouth, and onto the ground below.

With this, Von realized his mistake. "Lyri-" Before he could finish, he threw up more blood. All of the current and past stress had formed into his body. The holy spell forced Von to be squeezed like a sponge. "Maker ... Damn it!" He spat, trying to drag himself upward, but tumbling down each time.

Andraste's Puckered Asshole they're fast! Kari thought, as she felt the razor sharp crystal of a 'Shadows' arm drag across her back. He'd thought the invisible prick was in front of her, but the strike said otherwise; fortunately her armour was stronger than one would expect...that was the only reason she wasn't dead yet. Wheeling about, her attack vanished in another puff of smoke, and her sword bit nothing but air. "Falon'Din piss on your ashes!" She yelled at the twisted shell of a man, but was answered with only a brittle-sounding cackle.

A few more soldiers, and slow to react civilians, ran past her towards the theoretical safety of the chantry building, while she sought to engage an invisible enemy. All around her the battle raged; the two dwarves hurling insults at their foes to draw them in, Ash had drawn his blade to defend himself...most likely, she thought, because he over extended himself, the elf unsurprisingly was nowhere to be seen and Von was...there! She turned towards the human, just as he moved against a Red Templar. There was a blinding flash, and a 'thud' that she felt in her bones, and the thing was dead. "Maker's Breath, that was impre-SHIT!" Still half-blinded from the flash, she rushed towards Von as best she could when she saw him cough up blood. Somebody must'a got him.

"Maker ... Damn it!"

Tough fucker. She thought as she saw him trying to push himself back up. "Hang on pink-skin." She said, grasping his collar, and hauling him up. "You ain't dead yet." Their height differences made slinging his arm over her shoulders impractical, so she instead stuck an arm under his and wrapped it across his chest, before starting to drag/carry Von towards 'safety'.

One by one the shadows fell to the group, one diving out to strike at Nola only to be intercepted by Jarrett, appearing suddenly and just as suddenly collapsing with his daggers buried in its back. Another pounced at Berund only to be hacked apart inside and out by his axes and Ash's magic. With that threat removed they moved into and through the chantry, among the last to make it out certainly but still they were out. People, soldiers and civilians alike, marched in terrified silence down the narrow trail away from the village, but the enemy wasn't pursuing them. Their goal was apparently the Herald, who was serving admirably as a distraction and a beacon of hope. Then one last shot flew from a trebuchet and the village was buried in snow.

A moment of silence passed over the refugees, the Herald, who had fought heroically on all of their behalf, was surely buried with the enemy beneath a mountain of snow. The village was gone, wiped from the map under a frozen wave, all to save them. Some cheered for the defeat of their foe, most mourned the hero that they thought was fallen. Still the order went out and they carried on marching, the Commander and Sister Nightingale dispatched agents and soldiers to search for any sign of the Herald, they said the Maker had saved her from the Fade, perhaps he would deliver her once more.

And they found her, perhaps the Maker had saved her or perhaps luck, but somehow she had survived the avalanche that had buried Haven. Still the base of the Inquisition was destroyed and a new powerful enemy had emerged, but some hope remained. Taking to song the leaders of the Inquisition kindled this hope.

Fear and exhaustion were replaced with hope and determination, the Inquisition had survived a seemingly impossible foe, healed a tear in the very sky, they would emerge triumphant from this yet. New orders were given, a new headquarters had been found supposedly by the elven Apostate Solas who acted as one of the Herald's companions. Some were skeptical, but when after days of marching through the mountains and snow they came upon the sight of the castle of Skyhold all doubts were lost. A fortress of stone situated high in the mountains, no army would dream of assaulting this place like they had Haven. Here the Inquisition could and would rebuild, become stronger than they had been before.

The weeks that followed were hectic, the Herald was named Inquisitor, merchants and allies gathered in the keep transforming it into a true headquarters, construction workers and dwarven architects were called in to make repairs to the parts of the castle that had crumbled, and more. Somehow in the middle of all the chaos the Commander managed to ensure the group was given their payment, as well as a place to stay in the barracks for the meantime. A formal invitation to join the Inquisition's forces was also extended, and while the organization rebuilt itself they were permitted to make some requisitions to better equip themselves, and access to the training grounds to keep their skills sharp. If they were going to represent the Inquisition they would not be shabbily equipped, or so the Commander insisted.

Finally after things had settled somewhat in Skyhold they were called to meet in the keep's tavern, apparently to receive their next mission. Arriving at the table they were greeted by the somewhat familiar face of Calien, the agent who had hired them in the first place, who smiled and offered to buy a round for all of them while he waited for everyone to arrive and get seated.

After the shadows had been taken care of, the group quickly made their way to the rest of the inquisition. Ash followed with careful steps, the silence that had spread through those marching was unnerving. He didn't have any choice but to consider what had happened as they walked. This was far from over.

As they left, they saw the Village being buried in snow. The Herald had no means of escape, from the looks of it, an admirable sacrifice. However, Ash hadn't known her personally, and apart from honouring what she had done and sacrificed with a similar silence to the one before, he didn't do anything. The leaders of the group insisted that they had to look for her, if they could find her.

They eventually did. Although the inquisition as a whole seemed to hold little hope, a chantry song filled the air. Though it held some familiarity, Ash didn't really know the lyrics, and closed his eyes instead as he listened. Though he hadn't been as filled with despair as many of the others -he had his own concerns- it still calmed him a little. It was unknown what awaited, but as a part of the Inquisition, he would have a chance to fight back.

Not long after that night, they started walking towards their new headquarters, somewhere that would be safe. Walking in as big a group as the inquisition was difficult at times for Ash, especially on the days where the hallucinations were worse than usual, but as he got closer, he could feel that this place was... safer. Softer, perhaps, it protected him a little from the demon's influence. Slowly, they were getting settled in, and he officially joined the inquisition, staying in the barracks, and helping with what he could. Occasionally he spent time with the others in the group. When he had the time to train, he approached the other mages, and soon he learned a fire (Flashfire) and a healing (Heal) spell, though it had proven difficult to learn through their methods, and instead he had spent most of the learning on his own, trying to figure it out in a more natural manner.

The weeks passed quickly for him until next mission.

Weeks Later

Ashtalan was very excited today. He had been given a new mission, but, more importantly, his staff and the new clothes were finally done. Mage clothes with armour, and a mage staff. The staff warmed up when he touched it, and he could feel the lyrium interact with his magic. He had always wanted one, and he could already tell that he was going to enjoy using it. It did fire attacks, firing small balls of fire on the enemy, and was dark brown with a red orb on top that glowed when he held it. His new robes were white and silver with touches of blue, and white fur lining most of it, while his boots were white with the bottom part a much darker blue. When travelling, he would wear a simple dark brown cape with a hood outside, if only because he still had his doubts about standing out too much.

Due to the details of the clothes, he had paid for part of the cost, as well as made some of his potions to aid the inquisition, making sure to give the other people in the group some of it if when they needed it, since they had worked together so well. Besides, the inquisition seemed to want them as a group, given that the others had been given their formal invitation at the same time as he had.

I wonder if we're all going on this mission, then.

He thought. Before heading over to the tavern, he had taken the chance to put on the clothes, they were soft, and new, and they actually fit. Ash couldn't remember the last time -had there ever been a time?- of him wearing clothes that actually fit, rather than what little he could find in stores or take from the corpses of someone who had attacked him. It was wonderful, and new, and it had been worth the wait, even if he had been waiting for weeks due to it not being prioritized.

If we are going to be together, I hope they'll notice... well, this.

With the staff in his hand, him still unable to control it well enough to make it stop glowing, Ash entered, only to see Calien, and... no one else. However, eager to get a compliment, he smiled to Calien.

"Hi, how have you been? And I'd like some hot milk with some mead in, then, nothing else," Ash started. "Also how do I look? I just got new clothes," he said, and sat down, waiting for the others. His eyes wandered a bit around, the last time he had been in the tavern, he had spotted that... guy again, the one with the odd hat. Given how no one seemed to notice, Ash thought he might just be seeing things, or perhaps the guy wasn't actually... there. Some sort of... spirit or something.

But it's been calm here. I feel a lot better, and I'm a lot more rested.

Taking a sip of the milk, he kept smiling, pleased with how things had turned out for him.

As they fled out the, hopefully, secret pathway out of Haven, Kari handed Von over to the healers. Sore and tired as she was from the fighting, she dug deep into what reserves of strength she had, helping civilians and what supplies they'd managed to evacuate along the road. Nobody talked unless they needed to and a palpable aura of despair and fear clung to everyone.

She'd been at the back of the line, assisting people in crossing a trick bit of pathway when the Herald made her move. Kari watched as the shot arced up and slammed into the mountainside above the town. Moments later a rumbling boom echoed across the valley, and the whole side of the mountain started to move. She and several other soldiers and civilians stopped to watch the avalanche, all in silence; as the rumbling echoed away, several people began to pray quietly, asking the Maker to take the Herald to His side. Kari raised a hand in a tavern salute, holding a mug that wasn't there. "Here's to the dead." She said softly. "And to the next man to die."

Sometime later the Inquisition made camp, and though spirits had risen after search teams found the Herald alive, the general mood was still very depressed. That began to change when someone started to sing; she half remembered the song from her childhood, as more voices joined the choir, she remembered more and more, and pretty soon she found herself joining in.

The following days of trudging through even more snow were tiring and cold, much to Kari's intense dislike, but eventually they found themselves at what was going to become the Inquisition's new home...Skyhold.

Weeks Later

Like the others, she'd opted to stay on with the Inquisition when offered; whoever this 'Coryphaeus' asshole was, he wasn't going to go away and the Inquisition seemed to be the only one trying to do anything about it. Taking the money she'd been paid for their first job, she immediately spent it on not only getting her armour repaired, but upgraded...after some badgering from Nola; as well as some improvements to her sword.

Thanks to Nola's expert skills, her vitaar soaked leathers were now bolstered by full obsidian plates covering her chest, back, upper arm and upper thighs, as well as obsidian gauntlets and boots. The final piece had been the most difficult to make, mostly because Nola had never had to work around a set of horns before; but she'd managed, and now Kari had a two piece, hinged, helm that latched together. The first time Kari stepped out of the forge Nola was using, in full kit, more than a few people seemed more than a little afraid of her...just what Kari was going for. The rest of her payment went to the 'Arcanist' Dagna, getting a lightning rune attached to her blade.

While her gear was being worked on, a chance conversation with the leader of the merc company 'Bull's Chargers', set her on the path of a greatsword style called 'The Way of the Reaver'. Unbeknownst to Kari her fighting style had already incorporated many elements of the Reaver style, but with the guidance of an instructor, her known techniques were sharpened [1], letting her savour the ruin of her enemies more. The training was brutal and punishing, but as the weeks passed she came to be able to utterly dominate her battle-space, to the extreme cost of anyone trying to stand against her[2].

Her formal training at an end, and life in Skyhold beginning to find its balance, she got a message saying that she was to meet in the tavern. Finally, been itching to get back to work. She thought, as she stepped through the door. Helm tucked under one arm, and her sword on her shoulder, she smiled as she recognized two faces at a table. "Long time no see." She said, leaning her blade against the table. "I'll have my usual." She added as a waitress came to take her order. A moment later two tankards of beer were set down beside her. Downing the first one in one long pull, she sighed and turned towards Ash. "Nice duds, they look good on ya."

[1] Oh, hit me harder!(Blood Frenzy), By the Maker, RUN!(Terrifying Fury)
[2] Guard-Smasher

Along the secret path heading out of Haven with what seemed to be the rest of the survivors, they were at situation that was best described desperate. Helping his allies guide the civilians to safety, Jarrett stopped to pick up a wounded archer he recognized. "On your feet Edgar." Supporting his friend, Jarrett made his way to the closest healer he could find. Edgar had indirectly inspired to accept the initial job the Inquisition gave him, one that led to them reuniting albeit under dire circumstances Jarrett dryly mused.

About to reach aid, Jarrett was caught off guard the sound of the massive avalanche behind them. "The Herald..." Edgar weakly commented in concern. Picking up the slack and passing him off to a healer Jarrett assured his friend that, "C'mon, we won't know if she's alright until she turns up again, one way or another." Despite this, even he was surprised when she turned up at the camp alive.

Having reached his limits he slumped down in the back of a tent, gently smiling as many began singing hopefully against the despair they faced. Jarrett didn't feel hope to the same extent as the others but that changed some days later when they arrived at Skyhold.

Weeks Later

Having officially joined the Inquisition at Skyhold, Jarrett had mostly spent the last few weeks using his payment to properly training and equipping himself to deal with the enemies they faced. The Inquisition allowed Jarrett a great deal of advantages in this, almost none of with he could've obtained as an assassin hiding in slums. Taking his cues from old armour and a set of scout gear, the Inquisition gave him a black and hooded set of modified sturdy scout gear.

He was impressed with the new gear, it allowed the easy access to his existing equipment and a great deal of thrown hidden blades he had learned to use. Perhaps most impressive was that his right gauntlet was outfitted with a hook and chain that could be used to hook and tackle distant foes. Training with Edgar over the past few weeks allowed Jarrett the accuracy needed to use these tools. The last pieces of equipment he was given were two dual ended blades, equipped with fire runes from the Arcanist Dagna.

Now he was messaged to meet at Skyhold's tavern. Sneaking up on Calien and the two members of his group already present he surprised the three. Joking in a friendlier manner than he used to, Jarrett spoke, "Perhaps I was here first. Need to stay better than the Templar Shadows after all." Grabbing a beer and beginning to sip it, Jarrett awaited further instructions.

On the edge of unconsciousness, Von barely recognized the giantess Kari carrying him to safety. Even then, Von could not raise his voice, only a gurgle of blood spilled out with each attempt. Within his mind, it was hazy, and darkness crept at the edge of his vision. Even for a second or two, he could swear there were voices.

The Templar and large savior successfully escaped with the others, and that was the point where unconsciousness hit. With the defeat of the Inquisition, destruction of base, and the Herald's valorous sacrifice, each member started to run together for survival, each person picking up after another. After a short while, a small group of three Templars found and followed carefully behind Kari and the unconscious Von. They observed where Kari was taking him, each wearing a face of concern.

By the time the Inquisition made camp in the snowy mountains, Von was given to a healer. Within safety, Kari excused herself, yet when she left the tent, the three Templars all gave a simple bow. For someone who was bleeding both externally and internally, it seemed that more healers came to him as time passed. Within that medical tent, the Templar trio stood near, giving their prayers with depressed faces.

The Herald returned, and it seemed that the camp had a small fire returned to them. Sheltered near the main fire, Von could feel himself being lifted. Not to the Golden City, but to consciousness. Quickly, voices came to alertness, each carrying a more hopeful feeling. The Templar only wondered if he was dead, or worse, in that familiar nightmare he faced. Then yet, voices talked quietly, as if it was a funeral he attended. In a panic, Von started to force his eyes to open.

"Oi, oi, he's waking up."
"It ... It worked?! Oh Maker, thank those healers."
"Surly he is one hard bastard to kill."

Fluttering his eyes open, the Templar could easily see three people surrounding him. One wearing official full Templar armour, including a shield, and blade. He wielded a thick face, short, brown hair, and a nose that knows a good punch. Overall the man looked like an aged wall. "Oooooh, I can certainly agree with that Gerald, maybe he could of executed that move again and wipe out the whole Red Templar army." His brute, low voice filled the tent.

Suddenly and a shock to Von, the man was punched hard enough to make him stumble out of the tent. Replacing him was a tall, muscled man. It seemed he wore only partial Templar armour, no arms or the Templar leggings. Instead he favoured pants, and a spear. His eyes looked like a lion, and his black ponytail flew with the breeze. To Von it reminded him of a hero from a banished book, tough face and all. "Don't make me tie you up naked outside again Kallem!" Gerald said with a hissing voice that could be described as a roar.

"Can we not do this again?" Another voice, much younger, quieter too, yet it held a dangerous edge. Moving his vision, Von saw a Templar in a heavy robe, bow on his back. The boy was certainly young, but his green eyes told experience. Unlike the others, he hair flowed long and below his shoulders. "Oh, sorry you had to see this." He said, giving a smile to Von. At this moment the injured Templar was starting to wonder where his comrades were, and why Kari left him here.

"Sault, you know he needs to start learn-"

Before any more words could be said, an echoing voice gracefully gave birth to a song. Soon enough, more and more voices were added. Even those Templars he had just met all started to sing. Surprised, Von felt he knew the song, as if it was one that was sung to him as a little babe. Without confirming his movement, he sat up. Almost being stopped by the newly met Sault, Von simply shook his head, and only started to sing along with them. His voice ever echoing with hope and determination.

With the songs end, those three members looked toward Selthen. "Forgive me for the late introductions. I am Gerald, and these are my companions. Sault is the little, thieving rogue over there." He said, batting an accusing eye at the innocent looking boy. "And that promising drunk is Kallem. If you are lucky, you won't buy drinks for him." He said, giving his own dark smile to the large man that forced his way inside. "Don't listen to the tosser, I'll be the best drinking buddy you ever had!" Kallem said, giving a jolly smile.

"Um, I'm Von ... Selthen Von Souchet."

With that a new friendship was created. Von created a bond with the fellow Templars. They tended to Von, telling him about what he did and how it inspired them. Certainly he did earn the scolding about using his power too much, because that is how he ended up here. Still, they forever reminded him how his determination gave kindle to their and other people's fire. Within enough time, Von was allowed to walk short distances, and with that time he tried to find his friends, yet with a camp of large size, he never found them.

The camp had packed up, and time seemed to go forward. Eventually Von only wore bandages wrapped around his chest, and a cloak over his back. The Inquisition was moving to the future. The injured Templar naturally fell into a pattern of solving problems, conflicts, and the occasional "who stole my beer?" argument among his new friends. It was leadership training all over again, except, Von knew he smiled much more.

Near the front of the pack, Von and new friends were some of the first to glimpse of Skyhold, their new home.
"It looks beautiful." Remarked Sault with a gasp.
"Certainly." Gerald said with a hard nod.
"Better have a tavern." Kallem said, following with a jolly laugh. Following up with his own laugh, Von looked at them. "Don't worry, drinks are on me!" He announced. The group of new four gave a loud cheer, which even earned them attention from some of the core Inquisition members.

Weeks later.

Skyhold started to feel like home. The cold became natural to all, and the keep was alive with each second. The loud clanks of soldiers, the chirps of merchants, and all around merriment made the atmosphere to seem alive like an Orlesian ball, or as Kallem corrected, "only without the uptight food and royal rod up everyone's arse." To the four, they became an official Templar squad with Von leading them, mostly thanks to Cullen and the lack of Templar numbers.

Housed within a small lower wing of skyhold facing the lake, the four seemed to gain presence. After all, not only were there unnatural events happening around Skyhold, but the mages had to deal with monthly pranks. Such things included, "where did my pants go?" and "where is my fan-fiction?" None Von's idea, but he loved the idea of fun.

Presently, Von stood outside the tavern, standing with his family dagger, new Templar sword (a present from the three), and new armour that came with an inquisition cloak. Naturally the Templar was now an Inquisition member, and entering the tavern to receive a new assignment with the others. From being injured, Von had much time with his new friends, and from that, he received a horn and hook/chain.

Ordering a mug of ale, he came to the table with the others and sat with a loud thud. "Haven't seen you all for a while." Von said, feeling a little awkward that he didn't see the others much during his injured period. "Anyway, glad we're all here again. We all look a little different ..." He said giving a nod to Ash. " ... And I'm same, but also internally." He said taking a large sip of the ale.

"One little thing, if you see a trio of dumb Templars squawking, scold them for me please ... I believe they didn't learn their lesson from trying to replace a mage's Deep Mushroom extract with Deathroot extract."

Being deep in the underground tunnel calmed Nolas nerves. The safety of the dark and the stone above her soothed her frayed spirit. The Archdemon had almost been too much, the horrors of her people all coming to them face to face. The creatures that had stolen their taigs. Taken their warriors. Pushing them closer and closer to extinction with every passing year. She shivered, thankful that the darkness hid her reactions.

She kept quiet during the march, preferring to concentrate on simply getting to wherever they were going. She carried what she could, her arms and back strong enough to take a heavier burden than those who couldn't. She held great respect of the Commander and The Nightingale, she did. But their idea that the Herald could still be alive after having a mountains worth of snow dumped on her was insane. And yet they were right. The Herald was alive and...maybe not well. Cold certainly. But alive and back with the Inquisition. She celebrated with the rest, drinking in the name of The Herald. As she was finally laying down to sleep it seemed the entire camp was raising up for another song. "Bloody surfacers, how do they all know the words to this song perfectly? Half of them are more drunk than I am." She grumbled to herself as she pulled a pillow over her head to sleep.

When they finally reached Skyhold Nola was happy to see good strong walls. She wasn't a architect but she new good strong walls when she saw 'em. Plenty of space and the main forge was a thing of pure beauty. She would need to pester the Forge Master to see if she could get in there long enough to make something.

Weeks Later

In her weeks in Skyhold, Nola made good on her word to sign up. They seemed more than happy to take on another smith who was as good with the blades she made as well as the hammer she used to make them. With her pay she was able to get a variety of metals, Paragon's Luster, pyrophite, even a little bit of Veridium; As well as some leather and cloth. She was even able to convince the Commander to release a few of the more precious metals. Not enough to hep her make a full suit of armor, barely enough to make a gauntlet. But she had ideas. An new War-horn caught her eye before she left the stalls however. She grabbed it and payed with a smile. With these ready to be used she set out to crafting better than what she had after being kicked out of Orzammar. It had served her well, but she needed it to be better.

She worked tirelessly over the next few weeks. From the time she rose in the morning, till the time she went to bed, her time was spent in a forge, working steadily on her armor and weapons. And ever minute she was smiling. Even when Kari came by to get her own upgrade she smiled, happy that the taller woman was taking her advice. The Helmet was especially fun. Such a challenge but in time it too was finished.

When everything was finally settled save for the small details on her shield, she removed her smiths apron and headed toward the tavern as she was instructed, enjoying the cool air on her arms. She didn't see thee point in walking in decked for war. Not here, not yet. She stepped inside whistling, joining the others with a wave.

"Hey all long time no see." She said with a smirk. "Von! Glad to see you up and about. Woulda visited but....well I've been preoccupied since we got to Skyhold."

Driven from Haven, forced to retreat with the remainder of the Inquisition, Berund marched onward with the troops. He only stopped momentarily to watch as the broken stronghold was buried under the snow. He was furious. Helpless. There was nothing he could do but wring his hands as the village disappeared from view. The dried blood on his face cracked as he grimaced in anguish.

Though as pained as the dwarf was at the sight, he was no more broken than those who had called Haven their home. As hard as they had fought, there was no victory that day. There was only the mitigation of an overwhelming loss. But it seemed, with the Herald's return, hope would not die. In the time after, Berund was able to recuperate and march on with lifted spirits.


During his time in Skyhold, Berund made his induction into the Inquisition official. And with part of his earnings, he requisitioned a new set of armor to be made instead of simply repairing his admittedly dated steel plate mail. His new armor was far more sturdy than his last, having been infused with Veridium. He even had his weapons strengthened with the same material, surprised they had the materials readily available in the time they did.

There was also ample opportunity for him to train, improving his combat movement and even learning the finer points of dirty fighting. It was an entirely different form of fighting than he was used to, using his hands and feet in equal measure as his steel. Though he could brawl when need be, he hadn't before used those methods in conjuction with his maul or axes. It was certainly an enlightening experience, something he would be sure to take full advantage of.

Berund was in the midst of training when he received the summons to the tavern. Certainly not one to turn down an opportunity for food and drink, he splashed some cool water on his face and made his way to the meeting.

Clad in his training tunic, Berund walked into tavern to the sight of his companions. He was ecstatic to see they all made the choice to remain in the employ of the Inquisition, and he looked forward to their next venture together. "Pleased to see you all again. And to think, I was worried the battle of Haven would've been a tad too discouraging."

"Also how do I look? I just got new clothes,"

"Quite well, you actually look like a mage now," Calien said "Though I can't imagine whoever had to make those was happy when they got your measurements, they must have been sewing for days."

Calien chuckled at his own remark, then turned to greet the others as they arrived, happily paying for their drinks.

"Long time no see."

"Indeed," he said "and it's certainly good to see you are all well, I know there are plenty who didn't make it out of Haven. But the Inquisition is becoming stronger than ever now!"

As he spoke he pulled out a map and unrolled it on the table, it was a map of the upper coast of Ferelden, stretching from Orzammar to Amaranthine, and eve depicting the Waking Sea above and the coast of the Free Marches. Calien studied it for a moment and then took a pen and marked a spot to the west of Amaranthine.

"How many of you have heard of Kal Hirol?" he asked, glancing at Berund and Nola, then back at the others "for those who might not be familiar its an old Dwarven city, lost to the Darkspawn ages ago. Some ten years back or so it was uncovered by the Warden Commander of Amaranthine during their efforts against the darkspawn threat following the Blight, astoundingly he managed to clear it out enough that the dwarves of Orzammar have been working on a reclamation effort. Unfortunately trouble seems to be revisiting the region."

It was common knowledge, at least for those who had been to Amaranthine, that the city had been all but destroyed by Darkspawn raids following the Blight. The Grey Wardens at Vigil's keep (called by some the Silver Order due to the Silverite armor the soldiers of Vigil's Keep wore) survived the raids and drove back the darkspawn however, and since had aided the people of Amaranthine in rebuilding.

"Something has been plaguing the reclamation effort, dwarves vanishing into the dark, attacks on their supplies and such. Personally I'd suspect Darkspawn, after all what else lives in the Deep roads, but they claim that Darkspawn aren't nearly clever or organized enough for what they're seeing," Calien continued "So Orzammar has asked the Inquisition for aid, and you've been selected as the investigative force, now are there any questions?"

Scrtached her head, thinking. "Kal Hirol....Kal Hirol.....that does sound familiar. But where from?" She shrugged as Calien continued. As he finished his explanation it finally came to her. "Oh yeah, now I remember! Apparently there was some form of screwed up Darkspawn down there. Even by normal standards. I was almost part of one of the expeditions to get the thaig up and running, got beat out by some lump of sod with better coin." She chuckles. "Now that I know somethings goin on down there, makes me wonder who got the dull end of the pick."

She didn't like the idea of fighting Darkspawn. They were dangerous beasts if the veterans warriors from Tapsters were to be believed. Dangerous in groups at least. No better than a average warrior alone. And even then they were only in large groups during blights, and one the surface.

"Now are there any questions?"

"A few, where will we be going down into the Deep Roads? Will we be meeting someone there, and if so who?"

"How many of you have heard of Kal Hirol? For those who might not be familiar it's an old Dwarven city, lost to the Darkspawn ages ago. Some ten years back or so it was uncovered by the Warden Commander of Amaranthine during their efforts against the Darkspawn threat following the Blight, astoundingly he managed to clear it out enough that the dwarves of Orzammar have been working on a reclamation effort. Unfortunately trouble seems to be revisiting the region."

Leaning forward, Kari peered down at the map, shaking her head 'no' when asked if she'd heard of Kal Hirol. That was followed by a resounding 'FUCK!' when Calien mentioned Darkspawn. She'd had her fill of the twisted bastards during the Blight, and could happily live out whatever time she had left never dealing with them again...but it looked like she wasn't going to be that lucky. "Just because the rock hounds say they don't think it was 'spawn, doesn't mean those freaks ain't sniffing about." She muttered.

"So Orzammar has asked the Inquisition for aid, and you've been selected as the investigative force, now are there any questions?"

"Fan-fucking-tastic." She said after Nola had finished. "I've got a couple, one of them ties in with what Nola asked. One, what's the pay? I joined on to fight 'Whatshisnuts' and his pet Vints. If I'd wanted to fight 'spawn I'd've joined the Wardens; and speaking of the Wardens, that gets me to my second question. Can we expect any support from the Wardens or Orzammar?"

"Nice duds, they look good on ya."

Ash smiled brightly at Kari's compliment, it was clear that he had taken a while to plan out the outfit. And it was so soft, he kept moving his hands just so that he could feel the fur in the sleeves against his skin.

"Quite well, you actually look like a mage now. Though I can't imagine whoever had to make those was happy when they got your measurements, they must have been sewing for days."

"More like weeks," he smirked as a reply to Calien. "Or rather, they worked on it when they weren't busy with the less custom-made items. I couldn't really have squeezed into what they seem to think a mage should wear, so I took the opportunity to choose what it looked like myself." He beamed, and chuckled at Jarrett's statement about that the elf might have been there first. For all Ash knew, that could be the truth, Jarrett was difficult to find and almost just as difficult to see through. However, Ash's heart sank a bit when Von entered.

"Anyway, glad we're all here again. We all look a little different... And I'm same, but also internally. One little thing, if you see a trio of dumb Templars squawking, scold them for me please ... I believe they didn't learn their lesson from trying to replace a mage's Deep Mushroom extract with Deathroot extract."

Ash frowned at the mention of the trio of templars. He'd have to move his stuff after hearing about that incident, in fear they'd try to do the same with some of his ingredients. Besides, the mages who had been in a circle -which was most of the others- spoke of these "pranks" with unease. From what little he had been told, he could understand why, it wasn't fun when the people who used to be your prisoners kept messing with you when you'd gotten outside.

"If I see them, I'll do more than scold them," Ash muttered as a response. It was mostly a joke, though he wasn't going to promise that he wouldn't send at least a little fireball after them. "And I would have visited you, but you were too busy to talk to me," he added, sounded a bit insulted. To be fair, he hadn't tried too hard after he had realized that Von had gotten himself new friends. Besides, while he personally had no experiences from the Circle, the mood of the other mages sort of affected him too, so Ash found himself unsure of whether he wanted to be around that many templars at once. In the end, he had decided against it.

Ashtalan greeted the others when they entered, the Qunari mage not keeping up the sullen tone he had spoken to Von in, and instead greeting them warmly. Finally, they had all gathered around, and Calien started speaking.

"How many of you have heard of Kal Hirol?"

Kal... Hirol.

Ash had read something about it years ago, though it was difficult to remember. It was a Dwarven... city of some kind, that had been overrun with Darkspawn. Or something. He nodded, it was familiar even if he was unclear on the details. Calien spoke, and Ash got what he knew confirmed, along with more information about it. Apparently it had been uncovered and had started being reclaimed.

I wonder why this is being brought up. Don't say our mission is going into that place... I've never been underground.

"Something has been plaguing the reclamation effort, dwarves vanishing into the dark, attacks on their supplies and such. Personally I'd suspect Darkspawn, after all what else lives in the Deep roads, but they claim that Darkspawn aren't nearly clever or organized enough for what they're seeing. So Orzammar has asked the Inquisition for aid, and you've been selected as the investigative force, now are there any questions?"

"Darkspawn?" Ash asked. After what he had been through, the Darkspawn didn't seem that frightening. Even so, there was a deep seated feeling of disdain that spread across his face. They'd made his life more than difficult when he was still a teen, after all. Still, he sat back, listening to Kari and Nola's questions. Those were good enough to cover most of his, though he had one of his own. Smiling, innocently, he spoke, though there was something in his tone that made it clear that it wasn't a joke of any kind.

"So, I get to burn and electrify a whole lot of Darkspawn? Or are we just supposed to try to keep as little attention to ourselves as possible, find out what's going on, and get out of there? I'm hoping for the former, because I'd like to repay them a bit from when I was still a child."

"So Orzammar has asked the Inquisition for aid, and you've been selected as the investigative force, now are there any questions?"

It hadn't seemed like there was anything vital Calien hadn't shared so Jarrett didn't feel the need to ask questions. He hadn't heard of Kal'Hirol before, but Nola's vague description did remind him of some uncomfortable rumours. He was hesitant to speak given Kari's colourful reaction and her second question.

"Can we expect any support from the Wardens or Orzammar?"

"If you want an honest answer I've heard good things about King Bhelen making progress with reclaiming thaigs. News about the Wardens has been unreliable as of late unfortunately. While it'd be rational to expect darkspawn you don't need to assume that. Those thaigs have a rich history and certain groups may have an interest in that, you understand?" Jarrett doubted the last of what he'd said but he hoped it would calm her. With that said, he turned his attention to who spoke next.

"So, I get to burn and electrify a whole lot of Darkspawn? Or are we just supposed to try to keep as little attention to ourselves as possible, find out what's going on, and get out of there? I'm hoping for the former, because I'd like to repay them a bit from when I was still a child."

Jarrett was somewhat amused by Ash's bloodlust. "Thinning a few of their number won't cause any tears." Commenting on and encouraging it, Jarrett was curious as to how such an attitude would work with Ash. Having said what he could to some of the group, he was satisfied to accept unless there were other concerns.

"And I would have visited you, but you were too busy to talk to me,"

Hearing the hurt tone from Ash slightly irritated Von. Furrowing his brow as he had a little eye twitch, which shook only a little in his ashen blue eyes. Picking up his mug and taking a large swig, the Templar looked reluctant to speak. "Well, there is a difference from being busy from unconsciousness, and being busy from recovering after becoming a squeezed human sponge." He said, the tone sounding more hurt than bold.

"Von! Glad to see you up and about. Woulda visited but....well I've been preoccupied since we got to Skyhold."

Von shook his head. "Tis no issue, I was plenty busy myself. I had to get up and back into health ... Well, once I was conscience that is." He said, an awkward smile barely appearing on his face. Yet he had no idea if the Templar Trio would let anyone in to see him besides Kari.

Before the mood in the air turned to black, Calien intervened with a map and a interesting question. Von almost sighed, but his eyes could only meet the Inquisition recruiter's as it was asked.

"How many of you have heard of Kal Hirol?"

Raising a brow, Von shook his head. "Never, I've been out of Kirkwall for most of my life, and even after that incident, I never had the urge to enter the Dwarven world ... I have heard news about their latest king, and how we don't want to get on his bad side." He said, bitterness hanging off the final Kirkwall memories. For a Templar, it was hard and unnerving to throw around the blame, so Von placed it on both sides, giving him a little self-guilt. Dragging himself away from the past, Von listened to the information.

With words such as "Darkspawn" and "Gray Wardens" being brought up, Von pinched his procerus and gently messaged it. "Demons and Darkspawn ... I can't tell which one is worse." He remarked quietly before their mission was revealed.

"So Orzammar has asked the Inquisition for aid, and you've been selected as the investigative force, now are there any questions?"

"None, but as Kari mentioned, support would be nice for a place many of us have never went. Still, exploring the Dwarven home would be interesting, and it would give me a chance to see if I'm in shape." Von said, moving his arms in a stretch. After his injury, Von was moved into the new Skyhold medical area. For most of the time everyone was getting settled in, he was recuperating, yet Kullem, Gerald, and Sault visited him each day. Even when he was somewhat recovered, they made sure his body was in a top form. After asking, they knew the position that Von had gained.

Smiling at the image of his new friends, Von completely finished his drink and let out a refreshed gasp.

"Thinning a few of their number won't cause any tears."

I suppose it wouldn't. Can Darkspawn even cry?

Ash shook his head. "No, I know it won't. It's because I want to rise above it, so to speak. Back then I was weak and helpless, and they ended up making my life quite a nightmare. I want to feel better about that, I suppose," he chuckled, scratching his cheek sheepishly.

"I'm just checking if I have the opportunity."

"None, but as Kari mentioned, support would be nice for a place many of us have never went. Still, exploring the Dwarven home would be interesting, and it would give me a chance to see if I'm in shape."

Ash raised an eyebrow. "If you're still injured, or suspect you might be, just stay behind," he said, speaking without holding back on the sharpness. Perhaps he was being rude, but it was true, if it was such a concern, perhaps underground wasn't the best place for one to make sure of that.

"If it's so difficult to recover from "becoming a squeezed human sponge" that you need to put up Templar guards, I'd rather not risk having you around to get hurt again." He had learned a healing spell so that it wouldn't be an issue, Von getting hurt had been the thing that pushed him to choose to learn it, after all. However, he wasn't going to tell any of the others that now. Hoping that he hadn't made the atmosphere around the table sour, he smiled again.

"Regardless, I'm sure Calien has more important things to say, so I'll stop chatting." He took another sip of his milk, and looked up at his staff, the orb was still glowing a soft maroon.

"If it's so difficult to recover from "becoming a squeezed human sponge" that you need to put up Templar guards, I'd rather not risk having you around to get hurt again."

A single ashen-blue eye twitched once again, more noticeable than the last. Breathing in deeply and closing his eyes, veins started to bulge on his hands and hair slipped in front of his face. Von, whom was gripping his metallic tankard tightly, slowly lowered it back onto the table. Allowing a soft breath to come out, the Templar opened his eyes again, yet the sharp gaze that was directed at Ash contained feelings of irritation and anger, some might even consider bloodlust. "It could be they are cautious, for who knows where the monsters lurk around here."

"Regardless, I'm sure Calien has more important things to say, so I'll stop chatting."

Swiping his ash-brown hair backwards and starting to rub the scar beside his right eye, Von gave a forced smile. "But yes, the monsters here are the Darkspawn. So I'd like to quickly wrap this up and leave soon as possible." He said, a tone leaving a desire to be absent from this current location as soon as possible. Internally, Von was reminded why he hated people who underestimated his abilities, but those people are dead.

"It could be they are cautious, for who knows where the monsters lurk around here."

Did you just call me a monster? How about you look at yourself, tiny. At least I never held anyone prisoner or oppressed a group of people.

Ash narrowed his eyes, feeling magic surging through his body. He had to remind himself of that the rest was there to to not test out his new staff on Von, though it gave off his intent with a bright -but brief- fire appearing around the orb. Ash forced it down, and anger got replaced by sadness. Hurt.

I'm not a monster.

He looked away from the others, pushing his cup away forcefully and hiding his face in his arms.

It's not my fault it ended up like this. I was only doing what I had to in order to survive. I was a child, how... how can someone like him judge me?

Ash had considered Von... different from the other templars. People who could hurt Ash. They'd fought together, after all, risked their life, he'd considered the other a part of the group Ash considered friends. However, he'd been wrong, of course he had.

"I want to leave too," Ash whispered from inside his arms, suddenly, good mood pretty much wiped away from his voice.

I'm not going to help him if he's about to die. Screw him. The Darkspawn can eat him.

"A few, where will we be going down into the Deep Roads? Will we be meeting someone there, and if so who?"

"I've got a couple, one of them ties in with what Nola asked. One, what's the pay? I joined on to fight 'Whatshisnuts' and his pet Vints. If I'd wanted to fight 'spawn I'd've joined the Wardens; and speaking of the Wardens, that gets me to my second question. Can we expect any support from the Wardens or Orzammar?"

"So, I get to burn and electrify a whole lot of Darkspawn? Or are we just supposed to try to keep as little attention to ourselves as possible, find out what's going on, and get out of there? I'm hoping for the former, because I'd like to repay them a bit from when I was still a child."

Calien listened to the questions, and prepared to answer them each in turn when Von and Ash had their spat. Sighing he shook his head and turned to address both of them.

"Enough you two," he said "if you can't get along then you can both be replaced by agents who can work together, now then the questions."

"Firstly you will be venturing into the Deep Roads, I can't say how far but Kal Hirol is accessible through a chasm on the surface so you will be entering it through there. The reclamation crews have done a lot of work in securing the site and surrounding passages or so I am told, though that doesn't mean there won't be any threat from the Darkspawn or whatever else lives down there," he said to Nola "as for your contact I believe they are a noble from House Orban, more than that we weren't told but House Orban has been leading the effort for a while now."

Next he turned to Kari "Pay will depend on what you face, same as last time, as for support Orzammar can't send anyone who isn't already there with the reclamation effort, and the Grey Wardens have been absent as of late, we sent a message to Vigil's Keep but have yet to hear back. As for Corypheus there is reason to suspect his involvement, Red Lyrium originated from the deep roads so there is some concern that he might have agents attempting to use Kal Hirol to secure a supply line to it, and even failing that Orzammar has allied itself with the Inquisition, we are performing this favor for them in part to cement that alliance, basically they'll owe us for this."

Finally he returned to Ash "If Darkspawn are involved then by all means fry up as many as you can, though unless it is related to your mission I would ask you to avoid seeking out danger in the Deep Roads," he said "If you uncover anything send a bird to let us know, if you can handle it yourselves that would be excellent but if the matter is too large we will send troops, for now though consider yourselves scouts."

Clapping his hands together Calien spoke to the group as a whole "Now then, if you have more questions I will be here for much of the night, otherwise I encourage you to get some rest, its a long road to Kal Hirol and we leave at dawn tomorrow."

"Now then, if you have more questions I will be here for much of the night, otherwise I encourage you to get some rest, its a long road to Kal Hirol and we leave at dawn tomorrow."

With those words spoken and the short silence that followed, Von was the first to break it. "Good." He said, a tone still full of bitterness, and a look that was equal with it. Moving quickly, he raised from his seat and quickly walked out of the tavern before anyone could address him. After all, he could easily recognize an environment where he was not welcome, Kirkwall taught him that well. Even if anyone did try to call to him, Von could not distinguish those words from the tavern banter that surrounded him as he left.

Exposed to the cool air surrounding Skyhold, Von gathered his cloak around him. Upon looking at the newly used fortress, he thought that returning to his recent Templar friends would only make it worse, for both them and his mind. After all, he wouldn't want to spread the poisonous thoughts he held at the moment. Sighing, white breath flowed out, as if it was the last source of decency that dwelled within him.

Giving an irritated grunt and obtaining the urge to kill something, Von walked up the stairs to the battlements, a perfect place to cool down both body and mind. Walking besides the short barriers, he fixed his gaze on the view that was laid before Skyhold. Tall, snow covered mountains, and the great highway that came to the fortress. Yet what interested him the most was the pale blue lake that was cradled in-between mountains.

"Boy, I wish I could fish." Von muttered, before cold gust swept up at him. "I sure fucked up ..." He said, with voice trailing after. Internally, Von felt like he had done something right. He would not feel bad for defending his friends, especially since they are something more than many of the current day Templars. Leaning against the barrier, Von allowed himself to stay with the coldness until he felt the desire to go back to his residency.

"Something has been plaguing the reclamation effort, dwarves vanishing into the dark, attacks on their supplies and such. Personally I'd suspect Darkspawn, after all what else lives in the Deep Roads..."

"...Darkspawn..."

"...Deep Roads..."

"...Darspawn."

These words hung in the air, echoing in Berund's mind. He raised his hands to his face, rubbing his eyes and temples, trying to soothe the ache that awoke inside his skull. A familiar ring began to fill his ears and beneath the lids of his eyes he saw the gnashing teeth and flesh-rending claws flashing across his vision. The dwarf's breaths grew heavy, his heart raced, and then he heard the screams.

Chills races across Berund's skin and he was pulled from the depths of his memories. The ringing faded. As did the ache in his temples. He looked around the table, hoping none had noticed his brief episode. He tried to focus on what was present to distance himself as much as he could from his previous thoughts. Calien spoke of where they were to move into Kal Hirol and something of an alliance with Orzammar.

"Now then, if you have more questions I will be here for much of the night, otherwise I encourage you to get some rest, its a long road to Kal Hirol and we leave at dawn tomorrow."

"Rest assured, I'll be sure to rest. And not a moment afore a hearty meal," Berund returned with a chuckle, more as a way to settle his nerves than anything else. He wasn't particularly eager for what would surely await them in the coming days. He'd hoped he'd seen the last of the Roads. So much for wishful thinking...

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