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

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Before Cailen could begin to answer questions, Von and Ash began to bicker, and after a moment Kari really had to fight the urge to smack both of them with the flat of her blade. "Maker give me the strength to deal with the idiots that cross my path." She muttered quietly, rubbing the bridge of her nose. After a sort reprimand from Cailen, he got back to the task at hand.

"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."

The pay situation was about what she'd expected, but getting official confirmation never hurt; the rest was a little more troubling. With nothing from Orzammar, save whoever was on site, they might lack the bodies to do a hell of a lot and the mention of the absence of the Wardens worried her further. She'd heard rumors that the Grey Wardens had been scarce as late, but she'd hoped it was just a rumor...sadly that didn't seem to be the case. However, the fact that Coriffyshit might be sniffing about didn't surprise her. That Maker-damned magister and his pet Vints, or their Red Templar minions, were everywhere it seemed nowadays.

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

"Sure thing boss." She replied, polishing off her second beer. She considered ordering another one or two for the road, but looking down at Ash with his head buried in his arms, she changed her mind. As Von stormed off she gathered up her kit, then grabbed Ash's shoulder and shook it lightly until the mage looked at her. Once she made eye contact, she jerked her head towards the door; the look on her face said she wasn't asking him to join her.

Nola sighed, temporarily ignoring the argument between Von and Ash. While Nola knew that Ash needed to grow a thicker skin, Von stepped to far. She would need to talk to him when they were done. She needed them both at their best. She looked back at Calien with an apologetic look as he continued. She nodded as he explained their situation. At the mention of House Orban, she froze. She recognized the name, how could she not? The name of the man who got you exiled from your home kinda stuck with a person. She heaved a sigh.

"Got ya Cailen. Dawn, gotta say that's one of the thing I do enjoy on the surface, sunrise is just beautiful." She said forcing a small smile onto her face. She needed her head on straight in the coming weeks. Glad I made a helmet. It'll make hiding myself that much easier. She thought standing. "I got a few more thing to take care of myself so I'll be heading out. Anybody needs me chances are I'll be in my tent by the forges." She said jerking a thumb over her shoulder.

As she stepped out into the cooling air, Nola spotted Von heading up the steps towards the battlements. Nuh-uh, I'm closing off this bad vein before it makes things worse. She thought following after the Templar. She lagged behind a bit, giving the Templar some time too let the cool air rush through his head before she approached him.

She thought she heard him mumble something about fish. Guess this is as good a time as any. She stepped up the final few stairs, scuffing her feet against the stone of Skyholds walls to give him some warning. She didn't say anything at first. She just stood beside him and leaned on the wall, taking in the view silently. Finally she spoke up. "Ya know, I bet these mountains have a decent supply of ore in them. Iron, Gold, Silver, maybe even lyrium." She said absentmindedly before looking at the Templar. "But I didn't exactly come up here to talk about ores did I?" She turned around, leaning her elbows on the wall. She fixed the Templar with a stare. "Why?" She asked, jerking her head back towards the tavern.

Ash only spent half of his attention on listening to the others. He didn't care anymore. Calien mentioned that they could get replaced by agents who knew how to get along, and Ash felt like letting it happen. Who needed another mission anyway? Who needed to try out the new staff, or try walking with his new clothes? What was the point?

I'm not a monster.

Even so, the thought made visions appear. Of people he had fought, scared looks in their eyes as he approached. Regular people, who were hesitant to get close to him only because of the way he looked. His mother, the day she had discovered that he had magic, and every time he had a really bad nightmare. His best friend, Sol, who suddenly needed to be somewhere else after seeing Ash's blood magic. The latter one lingered the most, because even if the other had insisted that it wasn't that, that it was to protect Ash, Ash had always feared it was due to him seeming like a bad person. Perhaps even a monster.

I miss him.

Of course, he had seen him again, in his nightmares. Thinking about that made things even worse. By the time his thoughts went back to the mission at hand again, Calien was already done going through the details.

"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."

Ash didn't want to leave, he wanted to stay there until the dark pit in his stomach went away. When he heard Von storm off, he felt slightly better. Von could go back to his friends, for all Ash cared, join their crew. Who needed him anyways? Von should just---

Suddenly he felt his shoulder get shaken, gently. It was Kari. At first, he lay there. At some point, tears had started welling up in his eyes, and he didn't want her to see. However, Kari kept shaking his shoulder, and he finally looked at her. Though his eyes weren't red, they were watery, and he spent a moment making sure they were dry before following her. As they walked, he spoke.

"I'm not a monster," he started. "It's not my fault."

"Why?"

Forcing his gaze from the ice blue lake, Von looked at Nola, and shrugged with an unnatural deadpan face. "Before you came, I began to wonder about that." He said, with a tone of uncertainly, tinted with fear. "I know I went too far, but that. It came out of nowhere." The Templar said, turning back to Skyhold. Closing his eyes and sighing, Von felt that his mind was ablaze with confusion, each common thought passing by, while the more abnormal one spoke to him.

"When I said Monster, I feel like I was implying that everyone is a monster at one point. Templars, mages, elves, humans, demons. Everything can become one in another's eye." Von said, shortly giving a short giggle. "That would be too philosophical though, I'm not my great, great grandfather." He said, taking each breath slowly, feeling that an answer was almost within his grasp. "Maybe my feelings are overflowing, and I'm just being immature that no one looked for me or forced their way in while I was sick." He said, giving a look of longing and loneliness.

Then it suddenly struck him, an answer dangerous enough to not only make Von question his abilities, but his overall self. "Or ..." He said, with his eyes suddenly becoming sharper than any blade he held, mixed with a unique fear that almost forced him to shake. "Lyrium." He said with disgust, forcing his eyes back to the lake, a well of fear started to swell up inside Von. "You ... You have probably at least heard how strict the Kirkwall Templar branch was." The struck Templar said, taking a couple more seconds to gather his thoughts.

"Imprisoning, killing mages. These were not all their crimes. We, or should I say the Templars, were pretty much forced to take Lyrium." Von said, his eyes once again became filled with hate. "My family were all Templars, and I still remember when I first tasted Lyrium. When I was but a child." He said again, clenching his hands into fists. Suddenly, Von slammed his fists onto the merlon in front of him. "Damn it, I'm an addict." He said, leaving a brief time of silence.

"Paranoia, obsession, and dementia, the effects of Lyrium addiction. It would explain what I saw in the forest ... After we saved that village."

"I'm not a monster. It's not my fault."

Kari didn't reply immediately, instead opting for silence until they reached a somewhat secluded area. "Bullshit." She stated without emphasis. "You've killed for coin, simply to line your pocket. That make you a monster...makes me a monster too; I've done things that would make most 'common' people recoil in horror, and I'm sure anyone else in our 'band' could say the same. We do the terrible things that need to be done so that others don't have to. If that makes me a 'monster' then so be it, I just have to live with the consequences; and if you want to keep on in this line of work, so will you." Her voice held no condemnations, she was simply stating the facts as she saw them.

"As for the 'other one'..." She added reaching up to lightly tap Ash's forehead with a gauntleted hand. "That doesn't make you a monster...just a scared kid who made a call in a desperate situation. Sure it kinda blew up in your face, but as you've told me...you'd had no mage training, how where you to know just how bad things might get? But sulking every time some windbag throws an insult your way won't help; you gotta learn to just brush it off. If you don't you run the risk of turning into a bitter and spiteful person..."

"Bullshit. You've killed for coin, simply to line your pocket. That make you a monster...makes me a monster too; I've done things that would make most 'common' people recoil in horror, and I'm sure anyone else in our 'band' could say the same. We do the terrible things that need to be done so that others don't have to. If that makes me a 'monster' then so be it, I just have to live with the consequences; and if you want to keep on in this line of work, so will you."

Ash rubbed his arm, a bit uneasy, though he nodded as Kari spoke. While he didn't enjoy being called a monster, she did have a point. Of course, he was sure that wasn't what Von had referred to, but it made him feel a little better to think of it like that. Monster was a bit strong of a term, but he had never claimed to be morally clean. However, then Kari continued.

"As for the 'other one'... That doesn't make you a monster...just a scared kid who made a call in a desperate situation. Sure it kinda blew up in your face, but as you've told me...you'd had no mage training, how where you to know just how bad things might get? But sulking every time some windbag throws an insult your way won't help; you gotta learn to just brush it off. If you don't you run the risk of turning into a bitter and spiteful person..."

He smiled sheepishly. "I know," he started, stepping back and forth. "I usually deal with insults okay, but... I don't know, I suppose I consider you guys to be something like friends, and I thought it went the other way as well. Stupid, I know, but I can't help it. And it feels a lot worse being called a monster by someone you'd like to get along with, who you've risked your life together with. Not the way you did, that's fine, I can understand that, but the whole... you know. And I was already upset because Von was complaining about not getting visits, when he was busy getting new friends either way.

New friends that probably frightens the mages, because the pranks reminds them of the circle. I know, because I've talked to the mages, and they're already uncomfortable with the presence of templars. But it's mostly the monster thing and the ignoring me that bothers me, I never really regarded templars as anything special, just more people I had to avoid. I just wish he wouldn't act so hurt when he was the one finding new friends and having them tell me to get away when I wanted to see how he was doing. I could've helped him, my mother taught me how to make potions and prepare bandages and stuff, and I know some healing magic now. But I wasn't allowed in. And he spent all his time with them afterwards, so when I saw them I figured I should keep away."

He knew that he was ranting by now, speaking in a quick murmur and looked back at Kari, his expression apologetic. She had probably not gotten half of it.

"I'm sorry... and thanks, really. I'm glad you understand, I really didn't intend for anything to go this way. I didn't intend to get upset either, I should be happy. I have a new mission, and new clothes, a staff..." he smiled more sincerely.

"Really though. Thank you. I'll try to behave next time. And I'll ignore people, especially Von, if they try to insult me again."

After several had left the tavern following the incident between Ash and Von, Jarrett made his annoyance known to Berund. "Damned fools. The sooner this ends, the sooner concerns bigger than either of them can be dealt with. If you're not alright yourself with the job, just call, alright?" Leavin the building he trailed Ash.

"I'm not a monster. It's not my fault."

Eavesdropping on his and Kari's chat he resisted the urge to groan at Ash's attitude. To his surprise, Kari echoed some of his thoughts.

"You've killed for coin, simply to line your pocket. That make you a monster...makes me a monster too; I've done things that would make most 'common' people recoil in horror, and I'm sure anyone else in our 'band' could say the same. We do the terrible things that need to be done so that others don't have to. If that makes me a 'monster' then so be it, I just have to live with the consequences; and if you want to keep on in this line of work, so will you."

He was half tempted to break out in applause at that speech. Jarrett noted to himself that he had to thank her for attempting to lift Ash's spirits. Once Kari finished the rest of what she had to say, Jarrett briefly spoke before leaving. "She's mostly right you know. But word of advice? Just because something isn't your fault doesn't mean you shouldn't bear it. Nor do you have to be alone in doing so. Now by the time we're leaving, they're shouldn't be any issues? Understand? "

Leaving as quickly as he appeared, he thought to himself whether or not to bother hoping the situation would be resolved. Somewhat at a loss of what to do, he eventually decided to just wander the area, seeing if anybody needed help until Calien summoned him again.

"Paranoia, obsession, and dementia, the effects of Lyrium addiction. It would explain what I saw in the forest ... After we saved that village."

Nola listen to Vons tale without a word. The man had seen much to be sure. But when it came to Lyrium he was preaching at the wrong dwarf. She snorted. "You seem to forget I came from Orzammar. You know, the sole provider to Lyirum to your order and the mages the world over? I've seen the effects of Lyirum can have one people. You all get the refined stuff. You ever see what happens to a miner who touches pure unrefined Lyirum? Everything you described and more. At least you can stop. I've seen smiths, miners, and merchants all go stark raving mad. The lucky ones just end up simple minded, barely able to speak more than a few words."

She crossed her arms over her chest and fixed him with a hard glare. "As for what Templar's can do I know all too well. My previous company served with them during the war. I saw what they did to mages they didn't kill out right. If that was any indication then whatever happened in Kirkwall wouldn't come as a surprise. But this isn't about the past, shit happened time to move on." She jabbed a finger at the Templar. "I'm gonna give you a warning cause I actually like you. I don't care how you do it, but make sure this doesn't happen again." She told him before turning to leave. She stopped just before the stairs. "I don't care for Templar's Von. I lost what I considered family because of their stupid war. Don't become like the rest of them." She told him before finally walking down the stairs and back towards her tent.

"I'm gonna give you a warning cause I actually like you. I don't care how you do it, but make sure this doesn't happen again."

Staying silent for most of Nola's talk, the Templar did not care much, after all, he had never been to Orzammar, and he heard no proof that the Kirwall Templars were only receiving refined Lyrium. After all, Meredith was a power crazy fool who sacrificed herself to the red Lyrium, who knows what she could have done to his Lyrium. Ignoring the glare and jab, Von's eyes went back to the lake. Something so cold and still could only remind one of death, possibly comfort. "I'm not about to make any promises." He said coldly, as if the lake had grasped his mind. "You may have seen it, but you haven't experienced it ... And I've heard of no Templar stopping."

"Don't become like the rest of them."

"Well ... Good thing most of them were given to Corypheus." He muttered bitterly as the dwarf left him. From that talk, Von only felt it made him feel worse. Looking over the battlements, he scowled at the small thought that said, "Jump." Instead, bitterness had filled him. "Tch, some friends." He clicked his tongue as the blows of the wind grew stronger. Sensing those dark feelings, the Templar began to walk across the battlements, feeling nothing, only the small whispers scratching in his head.


"They're nothing you know. Not friends or comrades."
"Shut up.
"They're all coddling that mage now, speaking in sweet tones to him."
"Shut up."
"They're planning against you, wanting you to fall and fail."
"Shut up, shut up!
"You're all alone now!"

"Shut up, demon!" Von bellowed in rage, pulling out and slamming his dagger in between the stones of the battlements. Before he knew it, nothing else spoke those sweet, dark tones, leaving Von to himself in the cold. Then he realized that last one was right. No one was around, not even the battlement patrols. Wrenching his dagger free, the Templar stormed off in anger, back to the tavern.

Stopping in front of Calien, Von hid his face under the hood of his cloak. "Could I possibly leave now, and scout the path to Kal Hirol ... I believe it would do me well." Von asked, his tone more honest and emotionless than before. The request was partially true, but he only wanted to be apart from everyone for a while. Von was considering to become mute again.

Kari stood quietly while Ash vented a bit; she only caught some of what he'd said, but that wasn't really the point to what she'd done. Mostly she just wanted to clear the air between Ash and Von; a toxic attitude between members of a company was a sure fire way to get people killed, and she did actually want to retire one day. That or get enough coin together to start her own company...maybe she should see if the dwarves'd be interested in singing on, assuming everyone survived everything that was currently happening. Don't make plans too far into the future until you're sure your gonna be around to see 'em through.

"I'm sorry... and thanks, really. I'm glad you understand, I really didn't intend for anything to go this way. I didn't intend to get upset either, I should be happy. I have a new mission, and new clothes, a staff...Really though. Thank you. I'll try to behave next time. And I'll ignore people, especially Von, if they try to insult me again."

"I wouldn't be too hard on the shem." She said, re-joining the conversation she'd been having with Ash. "I get the feeling, that he's got his own demons so-to-speak..."

"She's mostly right you know. But word of advice? Just because something isn't your fault doesn't mean you shouldn't bear it. Nor do you have to be alone in doing so. Now by the time we're leaving, they're shouldn't be any issues? Understand? "

The sudden voice behind her made Kari go for her blade on instinct, before she realized it was Jarrett. Just as quickly as he appeared and said his piece, he vanished back into the crowds of soldiers and civilians that inhabited Skyhold. "By the Dread Wolf..." She muttered, relaxing her grip. "If he does that again, that bloody 'rabbit' is liable to get flat-bladed by me..." Giving Ash a smirk, she couldn't help but chuckle. "It's never wise to startle a woman who stabs people for a living." Shaking her head, she laughed once more. "C'mon, I guess we should go get some bunk time in before we head out." She'd never been into any dwarven diggings before, and she really hoped she wouldn't have to spend her whole time hunched over like a farm hand during the harvest...but she wasn't too hopeful.

"I wouldn't be too hard on the shem. I get the feeling, that he's got his own demons so-to-speak..."

"The whatnow?" Ash asked, tilting his head. He was fairly sure that wasn't a Qunlat word, and he hadn't hung enough around elves to be familiar with their language. For a moment, he was somewhat confused, and then he realized that Kari had been talking about Von.

"Oh. Right." He scratched his nose, and looked at his feet. "Well, I know. I saw him when he came in, after the battle with the demon, all cold. I just... well, he probably wouldn't want me to go easy on him. I meant what I said about him staying behind. And--"

"She's mostly right you know. But word of advice? Just because something isn't your fault doesn't mean you shouldn't bear it. Nor do you have to be alone in doing so. Now by the time we're leaving, they're shouldn't be any issues? Understand?"

Where did he come from?

A brief nod, as Ash wasn't sure what to say. How could he be? With that, Jarrett disappeared again. Ash sighed, he hadn't noticed it before now, but he had placed his hand on where his short-sword normally was. He wasn't the only one, Kari looked like she had barely kept from striking. Ash wasn't that prepared, his years of seeing and hearing things that weren't there had caused his reaction to be somewhat softer. However, he had stepped away from where Jarrett had appeared.

"By the Dread Wolf..."

"No kidding," Ash replied, trying to spot where Jarrett had gone. Unsurprisingly, he failed to do so.

"If he does that again, that bloody 'rabbit' is liable to get flat-bladed by me... It's never wise to startle a woman who stabs people for a living."

"Or the guy who suffers from hallucinations," Ash added, and laughed along with her, in that chuckling manner of his. He couldn't help but find the situation amusing, though it was a little worrying that Jarrett apparently had decided to follow them just to listen in.

Unless he wanted to talk and we didn't notice him, of course.

Somehow, Ash doubted that. Jarrett would just have spoken up before in that case, right?

"C'mon, I guess we should go get some bunk time in before we head out."

"I suppose so," he replied, and felt at his coat and robe. Ash decided against a joke about "bunk time", figuring it wasn't really the time or place for that kind of joke. Nor did he think it would be very good either way. Thinking about the mission at hand, he wondered if the light color would be an issue where they were going. "I hope it's not too dirty underground," he muttered to himself, as he slowly followed along to the sleeping quarters. For a while, he didn't say anything else.

However, what Jarrett had said went through his mind. He didn't have a chance but to bear what wasn't his fault, it held him down and forced him to carry it.

"Do you think Jarrett had a point?" he asked, suddenly, curiously. Feeling almost a little hopeful. "In that I won't have to bear it alone?"

"Do you think Jarrett had a point? In that I won't have to bear it alone?"

She stood silently for a long moment as she thought of an answer. "Yes...and, no..." She said eventually. "On the one hand, yeah, anything that effects on of us can have implications for all of us, so if you need to vent or get something off your chest, somebody will listen; on the other hand..." She reached out and lightly tapped a finger on Ash's forehead. "The fight in there is all yours. Nobody else can go into your head to help with that demon, so you are on your own." She fell quiet for another moment, before giving Ash a small smile. "If it helps, remember this; while its wasting its time harassing you, its not trying to destroy some other young and inexperienced mage..."

"Yes...and, no... On the one hand, yeah, anything that effects one of us can have implications for all of us, so if you need to vent or get something off your chest, somebody will listen; on the other hand..."

She tapped his forehead again. Ash wondered if it was about to become a habit, if so he might have to explain that it wasn't actually in his head. Well, physically, anyways, if it had already been in his head, he'd be possessed, right?

"The fight in there is all yours. Nobody else can go into your head to help with that demon, so you are on your own. If it helps, remember this; while its wasting its time harassing you, its not trying to destroy some other young and inexperienced mage..."

"Thanks, it does helps. All of it. Of course, I still feel like a young and inexperienced mage," he replied. "I don't know how long it has been trying to take over me, though. almost 15 years, if we count the very first time I am sure that I saw it. However... I think there might be a solution. The mages have been talking about something called the Harrowing. It makes you face the demon in the fade, through the use of lyrium and such... I could enter, and kill it, and I'd be..."

He rubbed his arm, and chuckled, awkwardly. "Well, I wouldn't be completely fine, I don't think I'll ever be perfectly fine. But it'd be dead, I wouldn't have to worry about going insane, and... and I could do it myself. All I'd need is lyrium, and someone to make sure I don't get possessed, who would... kill me, if something went wrong." He smiled feeling refreshed. Perhaps it was because he had been reminded of something that could help him, or perhaps it was because he actually felt safe enough to bring it up for once.

I can't tell the other mages. Not the higher ups either.

He couldn't tell anyone. Well, before now.

"Do you think that'd work? Not now, of course, but after the mission, if we're going to help the dwarves... perhaps I could get what I needed for it to happen. If so, I might ask you be there to--" He pointed at her sword, and then his neck in an almost swooping motion. "If the demon wins. It shouldn't, I'm stronger than that, and I know it, I know it very well. It tries to fool me, but I know his tricks by now. But it would help if you or someone else I trust would make sure I don't take anyone else with me, should I make a mistake."

"Could I possibly leave now, and scout the path to Kal Hirol ... I believe it would do me well."

Berund overheard as he was finishing a bowl of hot stew. He was chewing on a particularly fat piece of beef when he decided to carry his bowl over to Calien's table. He set the wooden bowl down and ensconced himself across from Von.

"Look friend," he started, looking at Calien briefly, apologetic for the interruption, then back to Von. "Fer one, if yer gonna try to hide yerself, ye could do leagues better than just puttin' yer hood up. Second, if yer gonna go off scoutin' in the middle of the night, ye best have someone with ye. Yes, yer skilled with a blade, ye have experience, an' ye seem to have a decent head on yer shoulders, but if ye want to keep it on yer shoulders, yer gonna need to realize yer only one man. So if yer goin', then so am I. An' don't think I'm goin' 'cause I think ye need a nanny. Ye don't."

"But what ye do need..." There was a brief pause as he guzzled down the last of his stew, not very keen on letting it get cold. Then he wiped his mouth, released a contented sigh, and continued with a wink, "...is a proper scout. An' preferably a map. Calien, if ye will," the dwarf requested, hand outstretched to the man.

Kari had to do a bit of a double take when Ash asked her to stand watch over him when he went to deal with the demon that plagued him; she was...honoured at his trust. Remember your 'rule' A voice told her. Never get too close, people are unreliable...they die. She stood silent once more for a moment while her thoughts wrestled with themselves. Stuff that. She though finally. I've already signed on with this lot...and even if everything works out...I think I may just cash out. With a quite sigh, she shook her head, putting her thoughts to rest.

"I'm honoured you would put your trust in me." She said, with a half-smile. "Very well, should the worst come to pass, that Fade-sucking demon won't even get a chance to start gloating." Her half-smile became a wicked grin for just a moment. "But let's try and avoid that if at all possible, okay? Anyways, now that the serious stuff is out of the way, we should probably follow Cailen's advice and get some bunk time."

"...is a proper scout. An' preferably a map. Calien, if ye will,

Calien considered this briefly "The Inquisition already has scouts," he said "If you'd like to scope out the path tonight then by all means, just be back here and ready to leave with the rest in the morning."

"I understand needing some air and distance," he said "but in times like this it will be safer for our group to travel as a group rather than spread ourselves thin, you can borrow my map or get one from the quartermaster, but again try to be back in the morning or at least meet us on the road."

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

The night passed quickly and before long the group found themselves on the road out of Skyhold, the region of Amaranthine was some distance away but fortunately horses were provided for them. Besides the chasm granting access to Kal Hirol was closer than the city itself, or even Vigil's Keep, legendary stronghold of the wardens that it was. In such troubled times the roads were unsafe for many, though there were few who would risk tangling with a group that included two Qunari among their number, particularly not when the group belonged to the Inquisition. As it was the group saw a fair number of suspicious and hungry looks thrown their way on the road, but no real threats until they neared the chasm of Kal Hirol.

The chasm was a great ravine, a gash cut into the earth surrounded by sparse growth and dry earth, but the signs of occupation were very present. Human and elven workers had erected tents and other structures around the ravine, wooden stairways to let them pass in and out, and even thrown together cranes of sorts to let them haul out debris by rope. A number of the workers sported injuries, and not all looked to have been the result of job related incidents, and overall there was a frightened sense about the laborers. There were a few dwarves among them as well, some noticeably from Orzammar by the nervous way they glanced up at the sky, they seemed to be directing and overseeing the workers and even occasionally escorting groups of them down into or out of the Thaig. Calien paused briefly to speak with some of these before leading the group down the stairways and into the cave mouth below.

The light of the sun soon faded away, replaced by the soft blue glow of lyrium and the yellowish hue of smokeless torches, but before the group could go too far they were stopped. A haughty looking noble dwarf, accompanied surprisingly enough by a golem, barred their passage.

"So the Inquisition has finally arrived have they?" he said, halfway sneering "I told my fool brother that we'd handle this matter ourselves, like we Orzammar dwarves always have, I don't need surfacers or outsiders coming in to pilfer our relics."

Calien seemed confused by this "Are you Anso Orban?" he asked , trying to remain polite "If not then we need to speak with him."

"Anso was lost in a cave in two days ago," he said "I'm his brother Volshen, we'll let you know when we find him but until then you can go wait with the work crews up above."

Calien sighed "Wonderful," he said "Unless Anso makes a miraculous reappearance we aren't likely to gain entrance, unless any of you think you can talk sense into Volshen here we aren't likely to be able to do our job."

He sighed and rubbed his forehead briefly "Well if nothing else it could be worth talking to the workers, see if they know what we're up against, maybe find another way in," he said "I'll try and win over Volshen in the meantime, though not sure I brought enough wine to manage such."

The ride to Kal Hirol was uneventful for the most part, Kari finding she only had to glare at a couple of knuckle-draggers before they got the message. Arriving at the site itself, she noticed something in the air so-to-speak; everyone there was on edge, the workers throwing worried looks towards the chasm and a fair number of them sported injuries not generally associated with 'mining' work.

Gratefully dismounting her horse, she followed Cailen down the walk ways towards the thaig, only to stopped by an overdressed dwarf and a golem of all things.

"So the Inquisition has finally arrived have they? I told my fool brother that we'd handle this matter ourselves, like we Orzammar dwarves always have, I don't need surfacers or outsiders coming in to pilfer our relics."

"If we were going to steal any of your dusty crap we wouldn't have come riding through the front gate..." She muttered. While she'd never done any work for Orzammar dwarves before, she had met plenty of other 'people' like him...usually in Orlais. While Cailen tried to talk to the dwarf, Kari took a few deep breaths; those, and the stoic presence of the golem, stopped her from whacking the arrogant little fuck upside the head with the flat of her blade.

"Well if nothing else it could be worth talking to the workers, see if they know what we're up against, maybe find another way in, I'll try and win over Volshen in the meantime, though not sure I brought enough wine to manage such."

"Sure thing," She replied, as the group made their way back up. "Though my recommendation would be to stick a blade in him and blame it on the Darkspawn; you'd probably be doing Orzammar a public service." She added in a tone that wasn't entirely joking.

Ash's mind was elsewhere as they rode closer to Amaranthine. Although he had acted confident and tough about it at first, it had dawned upon him that he might not be as ready to battle darkspawn as he had said. Sure, they were just scouting ahead, and sure, he was a lot stronger, but he worried about getting afraid. A silly worry, of course, but what if he got so afraid that he couldn't act?

I don't get afraid, though.

He didn't tend to. However, his body might not listen to his mind, like it had done back when he was stuck in that cave. There were times he could have run and perhaps have made it, before he got too exhausted.

I'm being ridiculous.

It still occupied his mind, and he was almost startled when the others stopped. He stepped off the horse, giving it an extra pet -poor thing had to carry him, after all- before following the others. Taking a look around, at the chasm, and the dwarves, he wondered why they kept looking at the sky.

"Why do they do that?" he muttered to himself, as he got inside. The glow of Lyrium made him slightly uneasy, he had read that raw Lyrium was fatal to mages, even just getting close to it could be dangerous. Keeping away from the walls, Ash barely noticed the dwarf in the fancy clothes and with a golem.

"So the Inquisition has finally arrived have they? I told my fool brother that we'd handle this matter ourselves, like we Orzammar dwarves always have, I don't need surfacers or outsiders coming in to pilfer our relics."

Well, that's one way to be welcomed.

Ash wasn't especially intimidated by the dwarf, they were all rather short. Even the golem he figured he could blow up if he got the chance. However, he knew that he couldn't just destroy someone's stone man.

"If we were going to steal any of your dusty crap we wouldn't have come riding through the front gate..."

That got him chuckling to himself. Ash didn't have much to say about the rest, it was clear that they weren't going to get in unless they found another way or something. Once outside again, Calien spoke.

"Well if nothing else it could be worth talking to the workers, see if they know what we're up against, maybe find another way in, I'll try and win over Volshen in the meantime, though not sure I brought enough wine to manage such."

Ash tilted his head. "Do we really have to ask for permission to help them out? Surely it should be a given to just let us in." He then shrugged, if the dwarf wanted to be difficult, then they had to deal with that. Still stupid, though.

"If you want to talk to Volshen, I'm going with you. If he tries to do anything with that golem of his, I'll smash through it with a well-aimed bolt. I promise not to talk if you don't want me to, all I'll do is stand there and try to look as intimidating as his golem." He grinned, cheekily. Then he got rid of his smile and stood up, as stiffly as he could, with a stern expression.

"How is this? Do you think he'll get scared?"

Jarrett had to admit he was disappointed with the welcome his group was given. The dwarf that met them hadn't wasted much time in giving Jarrett a bad impression, particularly when he corrected Calien.

"Anso was lost in a cave in two days ago, I'm his brother Volshen, we'll let you know when we find him but until then you can go wait with the work crews up above."

"How much do you care for him?" Jarrett sharply glared at Volshen and it seemed he wasn't the only one of the group irritated.

"Do we really have to ask for permission to help them out? Surely it should be a given to just let us in."

"Fear and greed drive many acts, often those of pride." He bitterly noted to Ash. "Might be a hole in his security. I'll check for another way, just in case." He hated situations like this. Precautions are understandable but what they encountered went far beyond that and seemed far too familiar in attitude to him. Before leaving to scout the area he gave some advice to Ash. "Add some hate and superiority to that face."

Nola was grateful to have finally reached the chasm. By the ancestors she hated horses. But supplies were short, a cart was probably too much to spare. And horse back sure beat by foot. Still by the time they reached the canyon her legs were cramped and her backside sore. She looked around as they made their way through the camp, offering sympathetic looks to the other dwarves as they kept glancing skyward.

She dismounted with a grunt, grate full to finally be on the ground again. As she heard an obviously noble speak up she turned to face the man and her eyes widened. House Orban...perfect, that was just what she needed. She scrambled to pull her helmet over her head. She doubted if Volshen would recognize her, but better to stay hidden and sweltering than cause an incident. She would be constantly looking over her shoulder now. She fidgeted as Calien spoke to the man, wanting to get as far from the noble as soon as possible. When Calien finally gave them the go ahead to depart, she did so quickly, moving to the front of the group.

"Though my recommendation would be to stick a blade in him and blame it on the Darkspawn; you'd probably be doing Orzammar a public service."

Nola snorted at Kari's comment. "Barely even heard the place, and you've already got Dwarven politics down. You sure you aren't one of us on stilts?" She asked, trying to hide her nerves with humor. "Darkspawn trick would work in anything below Noble houses, but a few whispers in the right place you might get to be a guest of honor to a couple of other Houses in Orzammar, if you ever go."

"but in times like this it will be safer for our group to travel as a group rather than spread ourselves thin, you can borrow my map or get one from the quartermaster, but again try to be back in the morning or at least meet us on the road."

From the limited but gifted permission, Von felt a short bit of relief and blew out a light sigh. Internally, the Templar was happy he was allowed to escape Skyhold, at least for a bit before returning to his mission. It would allow him to calm the internal storm, or at the very least, bottle it up for a real battle against the Darkspawn hordes that is a guarantee below in the Deep Roads. Giving a short nod, he escaped the tavern, barely forgetting that Berund might be shortly behind him.

The rest of the time seemed to flow fast like the wind, for Von's horse was gifted with speed as it charged its way out of the Skyhold courts. For this short scouting mission, he would be pleased that the night was colder than his current heart, at least his hood would not reveal it


When the sun started to peek around the horizon, Von pulled over on the great roat to their destination. It was a little resting stop along Lake Calenhad, and before the group rode through, Von and Berund had some rations and game breakfast. Most of the time, the Templar was silent, keeping his back to the Storm Coast, the direction that Kirkwall was. Even if the Coastland hills blocked the view of the sea, Von could feel the city stare at him. It was that or the creeping paranoid that dwelled within his mind.

The two met up with the band of Inquisition Adventurers, where Von kept to the side, giving a nod greeting to each member before riding at the back of the pack, even when Ash went past, he gave a nod, yet Von's eyes were guilt driven toward the ground. It irritated him that he could not apologize immediately, but his mind chained him back, placing the fear that it was too soon or he would be ignored, or worse, attacked.

For the rest of the journey, Von remained silent, if it looked like anything, he was trying to meditate. Upon coming to Amaranthine and the chasm, the Templar looked straight, not even peeking at the Lyrium that crawled all over the enviroment. By the time they kindly 'met' the dwarf, Von could only sigh. "We should try to drown him in ale." Von smirked with an amusing tone, before adjusting his mood.

"Barely even heard the place, and you've already got Dwarven politics down. You sure you aren't one of us on stilts?"

Kari let out a short bark of laughter at Nola's remark. "Na, I've just spent enough time working for other over bred assholes to recognize one when I see them." The haste in which Nola'd donned her helmet made Kari raise an eyebrow, but she must have a good reason for it so she let it be.

"We should try to drown him in ale."

Her head snapped around and she gave Von a reproachful look. "You wouldn't dare." She said, her glower giving way to a rather wicked grin. "That'd be a waste of perfectly good ale, plus that fat little prick'd probably float...even if you gave him full plate." Chuckling at her own joke, she began to hum to herself.

Though the night's scouting was uneventful, Berund was just thankful to have some time to shut down his mind for a while, to not dwell on the venture into the Deep Roads. He can't remember the last time he had thought about it as much. Not to mention the memories of the night terrors had all but vanished until then. He considered if his decision to tag along with Von was unconsciously to avoid the risk of another fit. He suspected it was.

Berund had remained quiet for the rest of the trip to Kal Hirol. He had taken a position at the rear which was unusual for him, though he was thankful the others hadn't taken note of it. Or at the very least, made it apparent that they had. As they approached the thaig, the dwarf was careful to keep his head low. Though his ears did perk up at the mention of the name Orban. He was sure he had missed something during the initial discussions of the mission, but he hadn't expected to be met with an Orban. Fortunately he had remained towards the rear so he wasn't at risk of being noticed when he took a good look at the noble.

There was no mistaking the dwarf. Though with any luck, Volshen wouldn't recognize Berund and the former Legionnaire wouldn't have to deal with an awkward situation. He had noted Nola's sudden need to be kept from view. It seemed she kept the very same unease in the noble's presence that he had, but he hadn't the slightest notion why. He knew she was an Orzammar dwarf as well, but that was the extent of their connection as far as he had known. Evidently there was another. It was something to keep in mind at the very least.

"How much do you care for him?"

"Enough," Volshen replied, glaring back at Jarrett as though he felt the elf was accusing him of something "if I appear callous to his fate it is only because this is not the first tragedy to befall my family."

Once the group had some distance between themselves and the golem Calien listened carefully to their various suggestions.

"How is this? Do you think he'll get scared?"

"Intimidation huh? Not my usual approach, but with you putting on that face shouldn't be too hard," Calien said, forehead creased in thought.

"That'd be a waste of perfectly good ale, plus that fat little prick'd probably float...even if you gave him full plate."

"He's probably got his own stash anyways..." Calien's eyes lit up "and if we found it we might be able to apply some... Antivan political theory."

He clapped his hands together "Alright, those of you who think you can help with me, we'll try and talk some sense into Volshen," he said "the rest of you, question the workers, they might know what we're up against, other entrances, and if we're lucky where Volshen keeps his drink, I doubt its down below with the threat of the taint and such."

Followed at least by Ash Calien made his way back down the tunnel, again meeting Volshen and his golem, who for all appearances might as well have been a stone wall. Volshen stood with arms crossed and an expression that may as well have been carved from stone, the golem meanwhile settled for being actually made of stone.

"Back again? Don't you surfacers ever learn?" Volshen said "I'm not bartering with you."

"And we aren't bartering with you," Calien said, "We are here on the authority of your King and on the authority of the Inquisition, and we will fulfill the task given to us whether you like it or not."

"Is that so?" Volshen said, glare wandering over the group.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The others who went back the other way soon reached the camp, which had not changed since they passed through it on their way in. Workers milled about, often moving around the group without paying much attention to them, though others would glance at them with mixed hope and suspicion. Of particular interest were a few points, the dwarven foreman who was operating the makeshift crane that was hauling out rocks and artifacts alike by rope, as he seemed to be in charge of many of the workers. Also of interest were a number of injured workers up above, who lay on small cots in an open tent where a mage of some sort seemed to be tending to their wounds. Finally there were a number of workers taking a break, eating, drinking or playing games with cards or dice among themselves.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jarrett's scouting had not yet taken him far, and even so it was already clear it would be difficult to make much progress. Without the small village of tents around the chasm it grew difficult to spot as he gained distance, concealing by the uneven and barren terrain. The sickly vegetation combined with the shadows cast by the small hills made the whole area feel ominous, it was easy to imagine how only ten years ago the darkspawn would have lurked in those shadows to set upon unwary travelers.

Suddenly the ground seemed to give way beneath him, only quick feet kept his leg from slipping down the hole that opened up. The ground was unstable here, if only in a small patch, but stepping away and looking down the newly opened hole it was impossible to see how deep it went. An entrance? If so it was only a small one.

Against her better judgment, Kari decided to join Ash in supporting Cailen's talks with the dwarven fop. As they approached the dwarf and his 'bodyguard', she whispered in Ash's ear. "Follow my lead."

"Back again? Don't you surfacers ever learn? I'm not bartering with you."

"And we aren't bartering with you, we are here on the authority of your King and on the authority of the Inquisition, and we will fulfill the task given to us whether you like it or not."

"Is that so?"

As Volshen glared at them, Kari returned it in kind. She had a good glare, and she was rightly proud of it. She'd stopped more than a few fights, and even had a 'hardass' or two apologize to her, with just slight applications of her glare. She was just hoping that is things did go sideways, Ash had the punch to deal with that golem...her sword would be next to useless against it. The helmet Nola had made her was still tied to her hip, indicating she wasn't intending on starting a fight, but the great sword resting blade first against her broad shoulder said she wouldn't exactly back down from one either.

"Add some hate and superiority to that face."

Ash couldn't help but chuckle when Jarrett said that, his strict lines and intimidating expression becoming a softer, friendlier one.

"Okay, I'll remember to do that," he replied, still retaining an amused look in his eyes. Calien spoke next, considering Ash's idea.

"Intimidation huh? Not my usual approach, but with you putting on that face shouldn't be too hard,"

"Well, at least as long as no one makes me laugh." He sort of doubted they would, Ash could keep his sense of humour down if he had to.

"Alright, those of you who think you can help with me, we'll try and talk some sense into Volshen,"

Following Calien, Ash was sort of surprised he wasn't the only one going. Then again, perhaps Kari had decided to make sure they didn't mess up, she seemed like she knew a thing or two about intimidation.

"Follow my lead."

"Hm?" Ash briefly considered asking what she had meant, though as they got closer to Volshen, it became obvious. Standing on the opposite side of Calien, Ash tried to mimic Kari's expression and body language, hand close to his staff. The short-sword still hang at his hip, but he knew that magic would fare better against a golem, should there be a need to fight.

Two Qunari should be more than enough to make him reconsider trying to do anything by force, though.

Unless the Dwarf was a complete moron, of course. Ash had his suspicions regarding that. He listened to Volshen trying to make them leave, and Calien refusing to, holding his ground and refusing to even barter. That was probably what they needed to do, not give an inch -and he certainly needed some- to the dwarf.

"Is that so?"

A glare was cast upon them, and Ash glared back, trying to remember what Jarrett had told him, yet not looking too sullen. He still needed to look scary, after all. He didn't hesitate one bit, not even when his staff started burning, carefully, orange fire dancing around the red orb at the end of the weapon. Ash hadn't intended for that to happen, but he hoped it added to the intimidation rather than making it clear just how inexperienced with the use of a mage's weapon Ash was.

He shouldn't be able to tell, Dwarves don't deal a lot with a lot of magic, right?

Nola sighed with relief as Kari and Ash volunteered to deal with Orban. Good she wouldn't have to deal with him. She felt much better dealing with his workers, who would surely hold contempt for the Noble. They may pay well, but that doesn't mean the workers have to like their High-born employer. She left what was left of the group and made her way to one of the groups of works gambling, crouched over a small circle in the dirt by a larger rock for shade. She slipped off her helmet and leaned against the rock with a nod to those that looked up from their game.

She watched for a time, her back towards the area Orban had claimed as his own for his stay here. She chuckled with the others when one lost, urged others to make higher bets. She even joined in few rolls and broke even for the most part. Eventually she spoke up about something other than the game. "So gents," She said shaking the small cup, rattling the dice inside. "What can you tell me about the operation here." She said with a jerk of her head towards the entrance. "We've only heard rumors." She rolled the dice and swore as they came up with a bad roll. She handed over the small bet she had made.

Jarrett was uneasy because the atmosphere of the area, his instincts rising as the expected danger despite the improbability of being attacked. This may have saved him from a different danger as he nearly fell with as ground he stood on began to collapse into a hole. "Huh, good or bad luck?" He pondered to himself the situation, a part of him tempted to take his chances now. After failing to gauge it's depth Jarrett reluctantly returned primary area of the camp.

Hoping to return quickly, lest some fool fail to notice the hazard, he also had to quickly come up with an idea as to how to approach the situation. The possible advantage of bypassing Volshen was valuable to Jarrett and he was willing to accept the risks of doing so. He also thought that he should let at least one member of his group know what he was doing and keep quiet about if it was decided wise to do so. That the possible passage was also noticeably small was noted by him. "Ironically might be too small for the average dwarf. Definitely for Volshen, heh," he joked with a wicked grin.

Making his way to Calien, he hoped he could meet with one member of his group before then.

After the denial to the Deep Roads and their important objective, Von simply stood still, rolling his eyes as the Dwarf shrugged them off with a high amount of stubbornness. The emotion of anger swelled within him, enough to make him think that possibly one night, this Dwarf might be drowned, and not in ale. Giving a short sigh, Von pushed past the mental imagery of all the violent things he could do. within his mind.

Listening with Calien from a distance, Von nodded, but simply stood near the path to the dwarf with his hood up, of course though that would not be enough. The silent Templar leaned against a rough, stone wall and pulled out his family dagger, and started cleaning his nails, knowing that some of the more 'pleasant' members of the group would try their luck. Of course Von held the image of Kari in his mind throwing boulders at the stump of a person.

As he knew, the intimidating woman came, enough to give Von his own wicked smirk. Placing the unique dagger on his fingertips, he began to spin it without and touch. With this, he followed with a multitude of knife. Then Kari picked up their own intimidation techniques. Kari with her large hunk of iron, and Ash with his mystical balls.

Beginning to throw the knife upwards and catching it creatively, Von muttered the mystical words to change the weapon. "Von Souchet." He whispered under the hood, and suddenly the dagger in midair sparked with lightning. Still catching and throwing the weapon, Von, with surprise, started to feign a throw at the dwarf, but the dagger fell back to his hands harmlessly. In truth, Von thought that this was starting to get fun.

Berund was apprehensive about going about. While he wasn't exactly famous in Orzammar, he did have friends, some of which may have come to aid in the reclamation efforts. Needless to say, he wasn't exactly eager to be recognized.

The rest of the group seemed to have dispersed while Berund strayed with no direction in particular. After some time the elf had come into view, returning from his spelunking. The dwarf approached Jarrett as he walked towards Calien. "So, any luck finding another way around?"

Continuing to make his way to Calien, Jarrett was surprised to be met by Berund. He had to regain some of his composure, not having expected to encounter someone else first.

"So, any luck finding another way around?"

Nodding quietly to Berund he then gestured to move a bit away from anyone else near them. "A pit opened right beneath me, barely missed falling into it. Entrance is small, don't know how deep." Jarrett crossed his arms and grumbled, hoping Berund would be able to give a satisfying answer to what he was about to ask. "Plan? There should be one of our group to stay back to know what's going if anyone else goes. Let anyone who needs to know in case. I understand if you don't want to come with, but if you do we should find someone we can trust with this."

Jarrett was obviously distressed. He was much more used to only factoring in himself when it came to what he thought of as foolish plans. "If nothing else, the hazard should be noted to someone."

"Sodding surfacers," Volshen muttered, making an effort to remain stone faced, though his efforts to stare down Kari quickly proved futile (though it was difficult to tell if this was due solely to her intimidating visage, or if the effort of craning his neck to look up was involved). Ash's burning staff gave him a start, though he quickly forced a grin.

"You just try anything and my golem will grind you to a fine powder," he said "so don't think you can come in here and try to strongarm me like you're the damn carta."

"Mhm," Calien said, turning to Ash "How long do you think it would take you to turn that golem into so many pebbles?" then he turned to Kari and Von "After that dragon you all fought I'm sure one golem would be nothing right?"

Volshen snorted skeptically at this, but it was clear that they were having some effect on the dwarf. His eyes would occasionally dart to one side or the other, as if looking for the supporters he was accustomed to being surrounded by, though for now all he had was the golem watching stoically from behind him. Thus far it had remained motionless, save for a surprisingly quick twitch of its head when Von feigned throwing his dagger.

Meanwhile Jarrett and Berund drew closer, their steps joining those of the busy workers milling back and forth, echoing down the hallway. One dwarf foreman gave a curious glance towards Jarrett, overhearing the mention of a hazard, and began (without much subtlety) tailing them, trying to hear more of their conversation.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

"What can you tell me about the operation here."

"You're not with the bosses?" one of the workers asked, only to be swiftly cuffed by one of his fellows "of course she's not, look at that armor, you seen any dwarves around here wearing stuff like that?"

"Ow, you didn't have to hit me," the first commented rubbing the back of his head.

"Course I did, how else is sense going to get through your thick skull," the second said, then turned to Nola with an overly friendly grin "forgive my friend, he's a bit thick at times. So you want to know about the operation? Can't say there's been much to talk about, we just move rocks out of the cave, sometimes we move supplies into the cave, standard stuff really."

"Standard? I'd hardly call the damn ghosts standard," one of the others commented.

"Well I suppose there have been a few oddities," he continued, jingling coins in one hand "my memory seems a bit hazy at the moment though."

"Not sure how you could forget those things," the first said giving a shudder, only to be swiftly cuffed on the back of the head once more.

Nola quirked an eyebrow at the workers. Both were types she had expected, but the ghosts one mentioned? That was new. Maybe she had struck gold after all.

"Well I suppose there have been a few oddities, my memory seems a bit hazy at the moment though."

She eyed the dwarf a moment. "Funny how the mines tend to cut a mans memory short. Pa once told me a surefire cure though." She said before sliding her small amount of winnings from their games, about half a gold piece in total, as well as another five gold from her own pocket. Miners weren't paid much. She would be paid much more handsomely once this mission was finished.

"I've heard rumors about what you've all seen, but I want a first hand recollection. You tell me everything you've both seen about these 'ghosts' and dispel the talk of darkspawn down there and there might be more 'cure' coming your way."

"After that dragon you all fought I'm sure one golem would be nothing right?"

Kari gave Cailen a predatory smile that was a lot more confident than she actually felt. "Gimme an' Ash a minute and we'll have a nice new layer of gravel for this path...two minutes if tubby there actually knows how to use that thing." She said, jerking her head towards Volshen. This is of course assuming it doesn't crush either of us with its first back hand. Under the disguise of a lazy, arrogant sneer, she started to scan the area for a weapon better suited to rock breaking than her sword; her visual search was rewarded when she spotted a miner's sledgehammer leaning against a nearby wall. Hopefully Ash can keep it distracted long enough for me to reach it.

Still playing up her part, she lifted the blade from rest, and rolled her shoulders. "Still, after all that riding we did, it'll be nice to get a warm up in before we go deal with the real problem."

"You just try anything and my golem will grind you to a fine powder. So don't think you can come in here and try to strongarm me like you're the damn carta."

We're not afraid of this guy.

Ash thought, as he made sure to stand even more imposing, looking annoyed. The latter wasn't hard to do, he was annoyed. They were wasting time, he had to stand a little too close to Lyrium for his comfort, and the golem looked like it was mocking him.

"Mhm. How long do you think it would take you to turn that golem into so many pebbles?"

Ash grinned, though he didn't need to reply, as Kari did that for him right after.

"Gimme an' Ash a minute and we'll have a nice new layer of gravel for this path...two minutes if tubby there actually knows how to use that thing."

"I have to admit it's becoming more and more tempting to do so," Ash said in agreement with what Kari said. He noticed that she didn't seem as sure as she normally was, but Ash didn't dwell on it, only shrugged. It couldn't be that difficult to deal with a pile of rocks. They had dealt with worse things, by far.

"Of course, if the little guy lets us through, we won't have to waste a perfectly fine statue," he added, chuckling.

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