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

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"Newcomers! We'll handle the spawn, you take the emissary and the ogre!"

At first, it seemed like it would go well. Ash didn't like having his spells used against him, but as long as he didn't cast magic that could be controlled, it would be fine. Of course, then it became clear that the dwarves that had been down there would not be able to best the spawn.

But can I even help?

While he would have liked to help the group of dwarves, Ash honestly had no clue what to do. His magic would be turned on him until the emissary had been taken down. Or would it? Perhaps it only needed to be distracted, forced to protect itself?

"Right! Von, Berund, Nola. You deal with the spell flinger. The rest of us will get fatty!"

A bit hesitant still, Ash nodded. Listening to Kari was usually a good idea. Besides, as he saw Nola run towards the emissary, Ash took the chance to open a vein. Blood magic wouldn't be as easy to alter as a fire-ball, after all, especially not if it was just a self-buff.

Just in case it doesn't stop being a pain in the neck with the others attacking it, of course.

Maroon mist gathering around him, he started converting his blood to mana, and throwing lightning strikes at the ghostly ogre, hoping that the sudden strikes would be harder to foresee and therefore alter.

If we end this quickly...

He forced himself not to think about the group that was fighting the spawn. It would be fine, it always was. If not... well, then there hadn't been anything they could do in the first place.

Uncertain how the fight the animated spirits, Von was starting to step back, and his dagger shook with his vibrant hands. Yet as if the Maker saw his fright, Nola's horn rang out through the area, boosting morale to all, and that included Von. When the sound struck his ears, he stopped and stood still, taking a deep breath. Keep it together, everyone else is fighting them. Von though, which once again raised his burning determination.

Pulling out his Templar sword, he immediately blocked one strike from the spiritual enemy, and with his dagger, plunged it into the almost clear face. The spectral dwarf vanished immediately. Von's sense were right back onto the battlefield, and all in good sense of time as Kari's guiding voice flew through the battle.

"Right! Von, Berund, Nola. You deal with the spell flinger. The rest of us will get fatty!"

"Got it!" The Templar bellowed right back. Taking a second, he could see the darkspawn mage at the back. Starting to run, Von's feet allowed him to fly across the sea of bodies. Ducking, diving, and dodging, he successfully arrived at his chosen target. Spotting Nola's brave action, he wanted to deal with this enemy quickly, so that the danger would lessen for all.

Brought back to the fight, a ball of blazing energy swept past, barely missing Von's somewhat long hair. Feeling the heat, he dashed directly in front of the Emissary, cutting it's legs before making his way to the back. Knowing his plan of action, the Templar made sure to see Ash away from him. Once confirmed, he raised his sword hand, and the air seemed to waver. "Maker, I beseech you. To grant me the power to banish magic." He called, and the air exploded outward, immediately cutting off the Emissary's power.

As the enemy got up, Von launched a kick which booted the Emissary forward. Raising his blade for a strike, a sudden flash of heat spread throughout his mind, and the image of two yellow eyes glowed. Grasping his mind, Von looked back at the Darkspawn mage, which was out of his attack range. "The Emissary is open!" He yelled, hoping that Berund or someone would deliver the finishing blow.

A loud 'KLANG' echoed through the cavern when Berund's maul struck a charging ghost. The stone chest of the creature cracked as it was knocked onto its back before it was crushed by a second blow. Given the amount of force needed to break even that one, the dwarf knew he was going to have his work cut out for him.

"Right! Von, Berund, Nola. You deal with the spell flinger. The rest of us will get fatty!"

"All right, beanpole," Berund said, addressing the elf that stood beside him. "There's plenty o' those creatures 'twixt us an' them. I'll be the hammer, you the chisel?"

"Done." Jarrett briefly pondered that Berund was about to go against orders but trusted the dwarf to know what he was doing. Launching his hook to rush the ogre.

Briefly joking to himself that the dwarf mightn't catch up, aimed for the best opening he could see and plunged a dagger into it. That wasn't the end of it as he launched a chain of rapid strikes on the same spot, his movement precise enough that some only saw strikes that should be removing his hands.

Just as Berund was about to arrive, Jarrett pulled both daggers out and finished this chain with a merciless strike, screaming to himself with psychotic glee. Without a word he calmly leaped back from ogre, his daggers left in the beast so Berund could do his part.

Berund kicked and clobbered his way through the stony apparitions to get to the ogre, even against Kari's command. It was as if the dwarf was wearing a set of blinders, for the dwarf held a particularly intense hatred for all its kind. Even if this one was made of stone, its very presence made the former Legionnaire's blood boil.

When he had reached the large creature, he leapt towards its back. Jarrett had afforded him an opportunity to strike deep where he originally could not. The flat of the maul struck the pair of daggers at their pommel to send them further into the creature.

Kari and Berund carved a path to the ghostly ogre, monsters of rust and stone falling to their attacks in droves. Over their heads, making hair stand on end, Ash's blood fueled lightning crackled arcing across the scraps of metal making up the beasts hide. Darkspawn shoved aside by their assault were flanked and brought down by the charging dwarves, leaving a clear path for Berund and Jarrett's charge.

At the same moment Nola's cries did not gather the attention she had hoped for, these ghostly darkspawn appeared to be even more mindless than the creatures whose visages they bore. Certainly several did rush at her, but the majority continued their fighting, ignorant of her taunts. Still in the chaos Von was able to close distance between himself and the emissary and with his Templar powers he snatched its lightning from the air, sending it fizzling into nothing. Yet when Von called for assistance there was no one to take advantage of his opening. Ghostly shrieks charged at the Templar with rusted claws, and the emissary continued to pull at the fade, fighting back against his efforts to suppress its power.

The ogre bellowed, swinging its massive hands to try and swat away the elf, as one might swat a fly. Bits and scraps of its cobbled together form fell to the ground under the lightning quick assault though, as its clumsy blows failed to connect. Then the beast saw Berund making his charge and bellowed against, lowering its horns and charging to meet him. The clash resounded through the cavern and a cheer went up among the dwarves as the monster fell, Jarrett's daggers driven by the blow cleanly through it tearing out too much of its form for it to hold together.

The threat was far from finished though, still untouched by any blade or maul the emissary fought free of Von's templar powers. Dark red light seemed to blossom around it, casting an ill hue across the cavern and the darkspawn ghosts began to fight harder as the magic settled upon them causing their blades to burst into flames.

With the ogre felled Jarrett believed the battle shifted to his allies favour momentarily. The emissary remained and ignited the weapons of the ghosts, something he believed would greatly anger Kari. He'd deal with that when the time came however.

"Emissary needs one more push! Berund you best make up for lost ground and back up Von." Putting his faith in his group to take it out quick, Jarrett worried for the dwarven defenders. Turning back to their barricade, he rushed down as ghosts as he could before launching a merciless chain attack on them. Once the with the number of ghosts he hoped that would buy the defenders enough time before disappearing into the chaos, ready to backstab the emissary upon seeing an opening.

Kari felt the air crackle as Ash's magic sizzled past her, and she swore vehemently when she spotted Berund joining her charge. Why is that Maker damned idiot HERE? She thought. There was not time to worry about that now though. With a roar the 'ogre' charged Berund, and as the other two's blows connected, she drove the tip of her own blade into a fracture in the creature's body; as it died, her sense of accomplishment died before it sprang fully to life as she saw the unopposed emissary cast something on the weapons of the reanimated darkspawn, bathing their weapon in flame.

"HORSE FUCKING MORON!" She swore, directing a furious glare at Berund. Off to her side Jarrett was calling out, but she couldn't understand his words over the din of battle. Taking a deep breath she shouted as loud as she could, using her sword single handed-ly like a pointer. "Ash! Crowed control!" She hollered, pointing to the 'regular' darkspawn, even as Jarrett began tearing through them. "Von, Nola! Hit that prick again!" She called out, once again indicating to the emissary. The look she gave Berund a second time, threatened to make his armour smoke. "If you can't follow directions keep the fuck outta the way, lest your incompetence get someone useful killed!" She snapped. Going to a two handed grip, she looked to Cailen and jerked her head towards their foe. "Flank 'em" With that she charged the emissary, hoping to catch it in the side while it was distracted by Von or Nola.

The mental ringing had stopped after a few seconds, but that had placed Von in a position to be attacked. After a series of dodges, another slash came crashing down from the Darkspawn specter, but the Templar blocked it with his sword, and gave a countless number of stabs at this enemy, until it fell into nothingness. Spotting the open Emissary once again, the hopes that he held for a final attack would be smashed into dust as Von spotted the dashing Dwarf, who had ignored the orders from Kari.

It was as if someone had plucked Von's heart strings, the trust he had in the current plan became non-existent. "Why?.." He said with a hurt voice trailing off. Then once again, his mind went to the darkest of places. See... This is what happens when you trust a plan from someone who has it out for you. His mental spoke, which led to the Templar grinding his teeth as a pack of spectral Shrieks jumped out from the disguise of battle.

Meeting both his blades to the multitude of strikes, Von could feel the anger that rose within him. Eyes narrowed down, teeth remain clenched, and his fists bulged veins. All of the Templar demanded the view of some kind of blood or gushing defeat. That was when the claws of the enemy spawned fire, that curled out like the tongues of many snakes. That was when the strikes became faster, and aiming for more critical points on Von's body. Yet, he smiled at their effort.

"Von, Nola! Hit that prick again!"

"Uh... how about... no!" He squeezed out his loud voice, as the spectral Shrieks kept sticking to their relentless attack. The flames licking at the Templar's face, and right then he couldn't care for what the Qunari had to say, after all, he might become bait if he does. "My turn." He announced. With a bulging body, Von erupted, forcing all sides to stop their attack. Yet, as they tried to recover, it was all too late as he started spinning, twirling, becoming a whirlwind of metal and blade. As he came to the stop, most bodies fell to defeat, leaving one kneeling, who had accidentally joined the Shrieks effort.

Giving an unusual smile at the Dwarven ghost, Von walked over and immediately plunged the blade through the old armour, allowing the spirit of the stone to whisk away. Taking a deep breath, a new calm mind was raised, "rest in piece, memory of the stone." He mutter, soon noting his many cuts and scratches, he took one hit of his red potion. Remembering Nola's effort to distract the enemy forced, he dashed to help his other Dwarven comrade, by carving through even more of the ghosts.

"You can go help her if you want!" He tried yelling over the battle at Nola. As he yelled, it seemed a electric field was set up, striking at their enemies. Of course, such magic could only come from a mage. "Storm magic." He huffed, lowering his weapons in relief, yet he knew somewhere that he wanted the fight. Easily finding the source, he shot a disapproving glare at Ash, at least that's what he thought he was doing. In reality, it looked more of an insane glare that one would see when walking into worst of battlefields... and was there a hint of yellow in his eyes? No of course not.

Hmm, the mage, huh? An annoyance or protection, I can't decide. You could easily override it... But... Once again the inner-voice chimed, and while the mental demon made it seem like a natural thing to do, the Templar shook his head, for that would most likely lead to someone's death. Not only that, but that would mean having to use Lyrium at one point, and that means he would get closer to me. Von thought, leaving his own demon to cackle with delight as he closed his eyes in irritation.

Defeating the ogre had gone well, but something went wrong with taking down the Emissary, Berund had gone to take care of the spectral ogre instead of the emissary, and Nola and Von hadn't been able to take it down on their own. Ash had hoped they'd get that guy away quickly, because he felt forced into a small box of possible actions, one of the main ones being simply not acting at all.

"Ash! Crowed control!"

Let's hope this works, then.

Without hesitating, Ash created a field of lightning around the regular darkspawn. If everyone followed Kari's orders, he figured it wouldn't hurt to turn up the volume, to use as much mana as possible, as he drank a health potion. However, for some reason, Von kept to the middle of it, and he was either forced to stop his attack, or keep it up. He choose the latter, they were in the middle of a fight, and it was the only thing Ash could do, with the Emissary still alive. If Von was stupid enough to get hurt by it... well, then that was his problem.

What a moron.

Ash thought. Kari's plans seemed decent enough, and they needed a common idea, so why did no one follow what she said? If only so that everyone else could know what the heck people were doing, so they didn't accidentally throw lightning-fields at them.

"Emissary needs one more push! Berund you best make up for lost ground and back up Von."

"Right you are, friend," Berund huffed, uprooting his maul from the broken ogre.

"If you can't follow directions keep the fuck outta the way, lest your incompetence get someone useful killed!"

The dwarf only scoffed and shook his head in response. He knew what he was doing, and he didn't need some horned hothead scolding him. He heard the sound of grating stone as a ghost had readied a strike with its sword. It was halted as its head exploded into rubble and dust from the flat of Berund's maul. He kicked the lifeless stone body away and hurried off towards the emissary.

Nola growled in frustration as few spawn than she had expected came after her. Still, it had made the fight towards the Emissary easier for Berund and Von. Or for Von at least as she spotted the other dwarf charging for the ghostly ogre. She couldn't exactly blame the Ex Legionnaire, but even his experience should have pointed him towards the caster first. Her thoughts were quickly interrupted as the long dead Darkspawn fell upon her. She stood her ground and moved her shield to meet the blows from the rusted blades, lashing out with her own when she could.

"Von, Nola! Hit that prick again!"

"Workin on it!" She could over the clash of metal. The spawn that came at her falling slowly. One blade against may would take a while unless the one was the size of Kari. She was still thankful when Von came cleaving through the spawn that had rushed her.

"You can go help her if you want!"

Her gratitude was quickly wash away as sh saw Von preparing to go off on his own. Again. "Wrong human! Get your ass back in there and help us take care of the emissary! Be a coward on your own time!" She yelled at him before turning back to the caster. Now was not the time for childish fits. She knocked a Ghost to the side, her shield denting the rusted helm and stone as she pushed forward to the emissary.

"Wrong human! Get your ass back in there and help us take care of the emissary! Be a coward on your own time!"

The voice spoke through the internal laugh, and as Von opened his eyes, he witnessed the dwarf woman running toward the fight. He was happy, yet partially insulted. "I so would, but..." His sarcastic indicated tone the lightning field he was currently trapped in. "Don't worry though, I'll be fine here. At least I won't be bait again." He said with bitterness towards that short back. The Templar thought it was reckless simply running back into the fight. Isn't she injured? He asked himself.

Feeling guilty of not re-joining the fight, Von recalled the situation of the surrounded Nola, his meeting with the gnashing of the Shrieks, and the sudden demands of Kari. The Templar clamped his teeth shut. A leader wouldn't do that, they would take care for all members, and she surly wouldn't mind if I died as a twisted lump of flesh, he mentally told himself. Slight anger raised within him, and finally, both voices agreed to the same thing.
Tch, what a terrible leader.
"Tch, what a terrible leader... But..."

Noticing the fact he disobeyed something, surly he would be confronted. "I'll tell that to her damn face." He muttered as rings of battle still echoed, yet he still heard his deep breathing. ...Though, more calmly than her, and I'll apologize. I have to show them I'm somewhat better, or tell them the truth. He thought, preparing himself to feel both mentally and physically worse. "I'll probably have to dodge until she tires out... if she does." He muttered again, giving an uneasy smirk.

"Anyway, time for a first step." He told himself, slapping himself lightly, ignoring any and all profanity that came from his split personality, inner-voice, demon, thing. Once again spotting Ash, he cupped his hands. "Good job, Ash!" The Templar yelled, hoping that the mage heard that, after all, he knows that he was extremely mean to him. Uncertain that the meaning reached him, once again, Von yelled. "That isn't sarcasm, it is the truth... Also sorry for being a... uh... dick!" He yelled once again, making sure that his face was positive, and his tone was generous.

The battle raged on, moving steadily into the groups favor. With the dwarves rallying at the fall of the ogre the remaining darkspawn ghosts were pushed back and encircled around their emissary. Calien lobbed an antivan fire into the tightly packed grouping, and Ash's lightning mopped up many of the ghosts afflicted by the flames. Hissing in mindless anger the Emissary threw out hexes left and right, afflicting the attackers with stabbing pains and biting insects. Still the group pushed forward, Kari, Nola and Berund carving a path through the defenders while Von picked off stragglers. The Emissary raised its staff and blocked one blow from Kari's sword, sending a hollow ringing through the cavern, only to be struck in the side by Berund's maul driving it back and sending fragments of stone skipping across the ground.

Hissing again a spell formed in the air around it only to be cut short by a blow from Nola knocking the staff from its grip. Still it gathered lighting around its rusted claws and then, fell as Jarrett's daggers plunged into its back. Another cheer rang out from the dwarves and without the support of their mage the remaining ghosts fell one by one.

Laughing Anso pulled his maul from a pile of rubble that had once been an enemy "Held yourselves up well surfacers!" he said "fastest I've seen that Ogre go down yet, and we've killed it probably twenty times now."

"You mean these things come back?" Calien asked, examining the chips striking monsters of stone had put in his sword before sheathing it.

"Aye," Anso said "Hard to tell how often down here, but they come like this every dozen hours or so it feels like, we'd move but it'd likely be even more dangerous pushing into the dark with our wounded. We've been trying to tunnel back through the collapse but no luck."

"So you've been trapped here?" Calien said "ever since you got lost down here?"

Anso shrugged "I've had scouts looking for other paths, so far all that's done is cost me men," he said "and we weren't lost, we had to collapse the cavern to kill this... thing. Not sure we succeeded either."

The dwarf shuddered at the memory "you're free to take what you need from our supplies, meager as they are," he said "and I suppose I can answer whatever questions you might have, talking is better than silence down here, better hearing voices of friends than whatever might be moving out there in the dark."

Calien nodded then turned to Ash "see if your magic can help their wounded," he said, forehead wrinkling as he tried to think up a plan of some sort.

The battle ended, the group cheered, and yet, the danger in the air still lingered. Waiting for the lightning magic to be disabled, Von gave a wave of thanks to Ash, before giving himself a physical check. Scraps, scratches, and cuts. Yet thanks to the potion he took, many have seemed to stop bleeding for the moment. "This place is more dangerous than I thought." He muttered softly, unconsciously going for a Lyrium potion. Yet his current and sane mind was quicker, which allowed him to brush his hand off gently, and sighed.

"Well, it could be worse." He said, placing a uncertain smile on his face. Starting to walk, he heard Calien and Anso speak.

"You mean these things come back?"

"And we thought demons were bad..." Von announced, coming to the dwarf and Inquisition squad leader. "I'm impressed with you and your team, Anso. I've heard difficult challenges that lay in the Deep Roads, yet you survive things that I had no idea existed." He said, giving a generous nod to the Dwarf. "Your brother is one of them, and if I may say, he is a stubborn arse, but... have any of his men reached you?" He asked with intrigue, after all, if they got Anso back to the surface, less people will be sacrificed to the Deep Roads.

"Anyway, onto the main point. I believe we would have more luck scouting, but splitting from the group..." His voice trailed off into uncertainty, but shortly met Calien's eyes with his own serious look. "No matter what the circumstances, I just want to say that no one should be left alone. Back within that battle, I was left alone and almost fell prey to those Darkspawn. The ones that linger in the darkness." He said, looking around the environment.

"Thanks to adrenaline and multiple steel, I survived. I don't mean to sound paranoid like before, but they might be in the shadows even now."

"Good job, Ash! That isn't sarcasm, it is the truth... Also sorry for being a... uh... dick!"

Ash raised an eyebrow, but gave a brief nod. It was odd to hear the praise and the apology, especially from Von. The Qunari mage didn't even bother to consider if it was a trick or not, if it was, then he'd deal with that later.

I suppose I should apologize for... this, then.

"Sorry for the shock!" he replied, wondering if Von could hear him. He wasn't sure what else to do, but he disabled the electric magic, it didn't seen necessary anymore. The darkspawn were falling, and he felt light-headed and dizzy. When the fighting was over, he almost collapsed where he stood, sitting down and closing his eyes. Most of the conversations around got ignored in favour of simply sitting there, drinking more health-potions and one for mana, and then healing the small wound he had given himself.

I wonder if I should talk more to Von...

Ash didn't really know what had changed during the battle, but he wasn't sure he needed or wanted to know. Besides, both Von and Berund had ignored Kari, so he assumed she would be busy with the two of them first.

"see if your magic can help their wounded,"

"Eh?" Ash said, looking up at Calien with dazed eyes. "Oh, I... yeah, give me a moment," he muttered, and forced himself up and over to the dwarves. Leaning on a broken off piece of... he wasn't sure entirely what it was... he assessed the situation, and then started healing the dwarves, wanting nothing but to fall asleep or at least take a breather himself.

As the last stone and steel darkspawn fell, Kari let out a relived sigh, and turned an unhappy eye to her sword; using it to pry and break the creatures had been pretty hard on the blade. Armour held up well. She thought, making note to thank Nola for her work.

"Held yourselves up well surfacers! Fastest I've seen that Ogre go down yet, and we've killed it probably twenty times now."

"You've gotta be fucking with us..." She said, giving the dwarf a hard look; but from the look in his eyes she could see there was it was no jest. "Oh what I wouldn't give for a barrel or twelve of gaatlok..." She sighed. While Cailen and Anso talked, Kari took some water from what remained in one of the dwarves casks. Not as much as her body wanted, but now was not the time to be greedy.

Distancing herself from Von and Berund; lest she do or say something that wouldn't help their current situation, she followed Ash towards the wounded. Resting her sword and helm with in arms reach, she began to lend a hand. "Hey...umm...Ash..." She said a bit hesitantly. This was something she needed to ask him, though she really didn't even want to think about the possibility. "Can I ask you a favour? It's not something pleasant, but it may put my mind at ease..."

"Hey...umm...Ash... Can I ask you a favour? It's not something pleasant, but it may put my mind at ease..."

Ash was thankful for help, though the question was unexpected. As he started healing one of the more severely hurt of the dwarves, using his knowledge of herbs and bandaging to fix as much as he could before actually using his healing skill, he looked at her.

"Sure, I've already asked you about something unpleasant, haven't I?" he said, smiling tiredly. "Let's... see...give me a moment..." he spent a moment in deep concentration as his hands glowed in a soft blue glow, mending flesh. He didn't have that much experience with the magic yet, though that'd change by the time he was done with this gang. It was clear that he was deeply concentrated on the task.

Good thing I made an extra batch of potions.

"There," he said. "Now you've got my attention again. What did you want to ask about?"

"Now you've got my attention again. What did you want to ask about?"

She finished up she was doing, and sighed. "It's the darkspawn." She said finally. "I've heard what they do to women, how they try and take them alive...during the Blight I didn't think about it much, I was above ground, we had decent fortifications, and never faced a really heavy attack; but here, we could get blindsided by something we can't hold against." Closing her eyes, she suppressed a shudder. "You're the only one in the group with any real range. If shit goes sideways while I'm out front, I need you to make sure they can't drag me off...at least not breathing; I don't want to end up as some monster spawning breeder."

"Held yourselves up well surfacers! Fastest I've seen that Ogre go down yet, and we've killed it probably twenty times now."

Quickly counting the numbers, Jarrett grimaced at the danger the dwarves faced. "You've been down here... a while." He muttered quietly, hoping no one heard the obvious statement.

Awkwardly waiting for Calien and Anso to finish speaking he went up to his group's apparent leader. "Got a few ideas on how to move forward. Talk to you about it when everyone's had a moment. Just keep in mind if the fat bastard up top and his men haven't noticed we're gone already, it won't be long. No knowing what they'll do, just keep that in mind." Giving Calien all Jarrett thought he needed for the moment, he moved to one of his other concerns.

"Berund! Quick word?" Running over to his friend Jarrett was a bit more at ease than a moment ago. "Great work on the ogre. Just forward word, anyone comes pissed at you, might want to downplay your disagreements. And I hate to be a bother but I might need a favour."

"It's the darkspawn. I've heard what they do to women, how they try and take them alive...during the Blight I didn't think about it much, I was above ground, we had decent fortifications, and never faced a really heavy attack; but here, we could get blindsided by something we can't hold against."

"Oh." Ash frowned, he knew what she was talking about. It hadn't really been one of his worries -and personally it still wasn't since he was a guy-, so he hadn't thought about it, but it made sense that Kari would do. Probably Nola as well, she surely knew about it.

So she wants me to make sure she can't be taken alive?

Confirmation came as she finished speaking.

"You're the only one in the group with any real range. If shit goes sideways while I'm out front, I need you to make sure they can't drag me off...at least not breathing; I don't want to end up as some monster spawning breeder."

"Don't worry, I won't let them take you. Or Nola," he glanced over at the dwarven woman, then back at Kari. It wasn't very pleasant having to say it, but he would be willing to kill them, if it was the only opportunity.

"I'd hate to harm any of you, and honestly, I think whatever lives down here would be harder to kill than you guys, but you've got my word. I won't let them take you alive, and I won't allow anything like that to happen, if that means I'll have to... murder you as they drag you off, then so be it." He smiled, carefully, then went back to healing. He figured that he couldn't do anything else than promise to do his best and hope nothing bad happened.

I'll have to keep an eye out. For her. For both of them. I'm sure they would be willing to do the same for me.

"Don't worry, I won't let them take you. Or Nola, I'd hate to harm any of you, and honestly, I think whatever lives down here would be harder to kill than you guys, but you've got my word. I won't let them take you alive, and I won't allow anything like that to happen, if that means I'll have to... murder you as they drag you off, then so be it."

"Thank you," She replied quietly, tending to a battered dwarven fighter. "I know...it's not an easy thing to be asked to do...but in a weird way, it puts my mind at ease." With that she gave Ash a companionable pat on the shoulder and finished what she was doing, before moving on to assist the next wounded dwarf; one didn't work as a soldier-for-hire without learning at least a few things about tending wounds.

Nola stood for a moment after the rest of the ancient enemies fell, listening for more approaching from the darkness. When she was sure things were quite she sigh and relaxed her shoulders. She slid her blade into it's sheath and made her way behind the barricade. She didn't bother talking to Anso, preferring to keep her helmet on so as to avoid any awkward conversations. Then she heard her name mentioned between the two giants as they tended to the wounded. She let out a grim laugh before making her way to the two.

"Thanks for the promise there Ash, but with luck you won't have too. If it looks like I'm in a losing fight I'll gladly cut my own throat." she shivered at the thought of being taken alive. "If I can make a request though? Use lightning, hopefully that would numb the pain."

Berund isolated himself from the majority of the group, shifting the crumbled remnants of the stone ogre. Now that he had a moment to reflect, he considered exactly what he'd done. Or rather what he'd not done. He was disappointed in his own bloodlust. It didn't feel right to not have a clear head. These caves hadn't taken him years before, but they seemed very set on taking him now. If he carried on so recklessly he would only succeed in allowing them to do so. Or worse, allow them to take one of his comrades.

"Berund! Quick word? Great work on the ogre. Just forward word, anyone comes pissed at you, might want to downplay your disagreements. And I hate to be a bother but I might need a favour."

"Bah!" The dwarf scoffed, waving off the notion. "If it's Kari yer talkin' about, no need to worry. I've gone toe-to-toe with foes twice as tall an' half as ugly," he joked with a hearty laugh. "I'll be just fine. An' don't forget, it was yer blades that went through the beast. All I did was give 'em a bit of a push. Now, what's this 'favor' ye had in mind?"

"If it's Kari yer talkin' about, no need to worry. I've gone toe-to-toe with foes twice as tall an' half as ugly,"

"Wouldn't that ugly part mean she's more dangerous than others you've met in that category?" Mostly going along with joke, Jarrett still took a second to seriously contemplate the ugly part.

"I'll be just fine. An' don't forget, it was yer blades that went through the beast. All I did was give 'em a bit of a push. Now, what's this 'favor' ye had in mind?"

"Please, the compliment isn't needed. The favour might not be needed but I might need your back on it." Hesitating a moment, Jarrett swallowed the fear of asking the request. "Scouting. Hiding in the shadows, thinning a few and looking for the best path forward. You seem like the best to tag along."

"Wouldn't that ugly part mean she's more dangerous than others you've met in that category?"

"My thinkin' is the prettier somethin' is, the less yer inclined to hit it," Berund replied with a shrug.

"Please, the compliment isn't needed. The favour might not be needed but I might need your back on it. Scouting. Hiding in the shadows, thinning a few and looking for the best path forward. You seem like the best to tag along."

"Well, ye came to the right dwarf," said the former Legionnaire with no small amount of pride. "I've been doin' exactly that for the better part of my life. Rest assured, friend, ye'll have my full support. Just say the word and I'll be at the ready."

"My thinkin' is the prettier somethin' is, the less yer inclined to hit it,"

"Logical enough." Jarrett put his hand to his chin, giving a moment of thought to the idea. Whether he had differences in difficulty killing something based on it's looks was something he hadn't considered. 'Is this something others have to think about?', he thought to himself. As Berund spoke up, Jarrett gave himself a small slap to refocus his attention.

"Well, ye came to the right dwarf, I've been doin' exactly that for the better part of my life. Rest assured, friend, ye'll have my full support. Just say the word and I'll be at the ready."

"Thanks. We get the okay for this, we'll check if Anso has anything that's better suited for this than defending. Now just follow my lead for the moment." Gesturing to Berund to follow him, he moved to Calien and stood at attention. "Sir, any orders?"

"I know...it's not an easy thing to be asked to do...but in a weird way, it puts my mind at ease."

"I know the feeling," he smiled. "You know, when I asked you about... you know, if anything goes wrong during my harrowing? Knowing that you'd chop the head of the demon, should it ever get access to my body, it made me feel like I could do it. As if my life isn't over, just yet, like I might not have to keep waiting for it to take over my body or for me to take my own life out of fear that it will be able to break me."

He healed another person, and took more than a sip of the lyrium potion. Eventually, he had to be done, but right now there seemed to be an endless stream of hurt dwarves. Luckily Kari helped them. Having heard their conversation, Nola came over as well.

"Thanks for the promise there Ash, but with luck you won't have too. If it looks like I'm in a losing fight I'll gladly cut my own throat. If I can make a request though? Use lightning, hopefully that would numb the pain."

"Really? I was planning on burning you alive or boiling your blood from inside your body," he said, though he quickly gave her a; "No; I would never" kind of shake of head. "But yes, I was thinking about that. Lightning would be best. I'm not planning on letting it get that far, though, just as I assume you guys aren't. I really don't want anyone to get hurt."

Calien found a place to sit and rest, watching the others as they talked or tried to help the dwarves. He was glad to see them setting aside the squabbles they had had on the surface, there was no room for division against whatever it was they were facing.

"Anyway, onto the main point. I believe we would have more luck scouting, but splitting from the group..."

Calien nodded, mulling this over "Yes, I think you have a point there," he said "we can't just sit here, and we need to know more about this foe."

He frowned, forehead creased in thought and then began digging around in his bag. Eventually he pulled out a small, worn copy of a book title "Tales of the Champion" with a small signature on the cover and began leafing through it. Eventually he came to the page he was looking for and stopped, jabbing his finger on it.

"Monsters made of rock, the champion of Kirkwall encountered something similar on his trip to the deep roads," he said "they called them the Profane, probably not the same thing we're facing, but it does sound similar, and the deep roads where he encountered them was the same place red lyrium was first found."

Anso snorted "Tethras's writing? Not long ago I'd have dismissed it as ridiculous, but after what I've seen lately I'm not so sure."

"And those darkspawn we encountered had red lyrium on them!" Calien said "there could be a connection."

"So now the spawn are behind this?" Anso said "why can't they just keep to digging up their blasted dragons?"

Calien looked back over the group, Ash was clearly exhausted but then all of them were tired from the battle. They could hardly rest long though, if what Anso said was true then the ghosts would be back all too soon.

"Sir, any orders?"

Calien turned to address Berund and Jarrett first "I don't suppose either of you could track the darkspawn? Find out where the ones we encountered were heading?"

Then he turned to Ash "And Ash, I know you're tired but would it be possible for you to sense the red lyrium? If there is some down here we need to find it and destroy it."

Anso chuckled "Not the best plan, but its more than I've got," he said "I can give you the reports of my scouts that made it back, not that they'll help much, and if you need a weapon well plenty of my boys can't use theirs anymore. We've too many injured to move from this position, bad as the ghosts are at least they're predictable, we'd die much faster out there with the spawn and no fortifications."

Finishing up with her last dwarf, Kari listened silently to Ash and Nola for a bit. "Don't kid yourselves." She said finally, standing and stretching. "However it goes down, it will hurt a fuck of a lot. I got caught in the outer edges of a lightning blast a while ago and...well let's just say it was not fun. That said, anything would be preferable to what'll happen if the 'spawn grab us." Shivering at the thought of that, she picked up her gear. "But this is all 'what ifs' and 'maybes', better that we get the fuck outta this pit and not have to worry about such things at all."

"Don't kid yourselves. However it goes down, it will hurt a fuck of a lot. I got caught in the outer edges of a lightning blast a while ago and...well let's just say it was not fun. That said, anything would be preferable to what'll happen if the 'spawn grab us. But this is all 'what ifs' and 'maybes', better that we get the fuck outta this pit and not have to worry about such things at all."

"Oh, right, sorry," Ash said, sheepishly, and yawned a bit. "I didn't mean to... you know, offend, I just thought it might help not to be so grim about it..." with that, he shut his mouth and went back to work, unsure of what he could say in order to make the situation slightly less awkward.

"And Ash, I know you're tired but would it be possible for you to sense the red lyrium? If there is some down here we need to find it and destroy it."

Ash blinked, for a brief moment, distracted by his current task. It took a couple of seconds before he realized what he had been asked to do.

"What was I... oh, right. Finding red lyrium." He stood up, and started walking around, trying to sense it. While he was tired, he never really stopped being aware of the "fade stuff". Sometimes he even felt it stronger, perhaps because of him being closer to dreaming.

"Hm..." he muttered to himself, as he thought he might be sensing something. Whether it was red lyrium or not would soon be clear, the red stuff had a certain unpleasant feel to it that could not be mistaken for something else.

"I don't suppose either of you could track the darkspawn? Find out where the ones we encountered were heading?"

"Perfect sir. It's done." Giving a nod and grinning satisfyingly he spoke to Berund. "You've got any preperations, now's the only chance. I'm grabbing what's useful from Anso then making my move. Don't be afraid to ask for a breather though."

With a light jog Jarrett approached the defenders leader. "I'm heading scouting and I want to know if you have anything suited for that. If you try to dissuade me without decent reason, it's a waste. Pardon me, I just want to be clear that I'm determined to make a way out."

"You've got any preperations, now's the only chance. I'm grabbing what's useful from Anso then making my move. Don't be afraid to ask for a breather though."

The dwarf chuckled at the elf's remark, calling after him with feigned offense. "I don't know if that's a wisecrack at my age or my weight, but any more smartness an' I'll have half a mind to knock some manners into ye!"

Though Berund couldn't deny that he was relieved to have what little time there was to recuperate. He wasn't about to allow himself to lose momentum by taking too long to recover. He was a Legionnaire Scout, and by the Stone, he would press on like one.

Anso's cache of supplies was not particularly impressive, though it did contain a number of weapons and shields of different sorts all of fine dwarven make and even a few emblazoned with runes to aid in fighting the darkspawn. Any supply of healing or other restorative potions was all but exhausted, though a few bombs of different elements remained (apparently a gift from the stores at Vigils Keep). There was also a decent amount of armor, sadly not fit for any non-dwarves to wear but of high quality all the same. Some of Anso's men watched the group as they moved about the encampment, but none seemed to hold any malice in their gazes, their expressions were a mixture of hopelessness and determination.

Once the group was supplied they set out, Jarrett and Berund leading the way with the rest close behind. Anso's charts gave a rough map to the surrounding Deep Roads, matching up closely with what the group had seen coming in and providing notes that proved quite useful to scouting. Ash's own efforts at sensing for red lyrium seemed to give them direction as well, as he began to hear a sort of distorted song in the air. With their guidance it wasn't long before the group had found some oddities.

Exploring through the twisting tunnels they found a pack of darkspawn, devoured by some unknown creature, their bodies reduced to a mangled mess. But the remains showed they had found the right path, some of the spawn had vials of red lyrium on them, the sound of it ringing in Ash's ears now that he was listening for it, an awful, stressing noise. But more than that he could hear the song, free of distortions, ringing in the distance. Pure lyrium was getting close, a strong vein of it.

Continuing onwards the distortions fell behind them and ahead the tunnels split, the chart was at its end but the song could be heard loudest down the leftmost path, though those familiar enough with lyrium could hear a sort of distortion to it again, ringing softly under the more pure song. Down the other path though was a trail of darkspawn blood, whatever was devouring the monsters had dragged some bodies that way. More perceptive members of the group might have noted claw marks gouged into the walls and floor along that path, and Ash in particular could feel some sort of spell being worked in that direction, the unmistakable feel of blood magic.

"Which way do we go?" Calien asked, glancing between Ash and the rogues "or do we split up here?"

Setting out from the Dwarven barricade, Kari hung near the back in a rear guard position. When they found the savaged Darkspawn, she shuddered. Dear Maker, She thought. If you can hear me...if you are there...can we not find whatever did that. Things that ate Darkspawn were high on her 'Do Not Fuck With' list. The advance was uneventful, creepy and unsettling, but uneventful. Eventually they came to a fork in the tunnel, and down one of them was obviously the lair of whatever was chewing up the 'spawn.

"Which way do we go? Or do we split up here?"

"My professional opinion?" She said, bringing up the rear, and keeping a wary eye on the way they'd come. "We split up we increase the chances of running into serious trouble. A pack of 'spawn that the lot of us could handle, might pose too great a challenge for a smaller party. Whatever way we go, I suggest we all go."

Nola had tried to keep as quiet as she could in the camp. Anso actually seemed to have a decent head on his shoulders, which meant a better memory. And possibly an idea of who she had been before leaving Orzammar. Even if he did prove to be more level headed than his idiot brother, Nola didn't want to take the chance of a pissed off Noble knowing where or who she was. So she kept her helmet on her voice down, and herself away from the other dwarves until the were ready to depart.

She was only partially relieved when they left however, what they found in the lost halls of the deep roads were disturbing to say the least. Whatever could eat darkswapn on this level and still come back for more was.....bad news.

"Which way do we go? Or do we split up here?"

"My professional opinion? We split up we increase the chances of running into serious trouble. A pack of 'spawn that the lot of us could handle, might pose too great a challenge for a smaller party. Whatever way we go, I suggest we all go."

"Aye the giant speaks the truth, boss man. If there's safety in numbers on the surface, doubly so for down here. The more ears and eyes we have grouped together the better our chances."

Ash didn't feel well as they walked, he felt strong influences of both red lyrium and pure lyrium, tugging at him, singing in his mind and dulling his senses. It was dangerous and unsettling, and it didn't help that he couldn't tell where the whispers came from, if they were real, the lyrium, or just him wandering more and more into madness again. He tried to keep himself occupied, look for ingredients to pick up, or something to loot, but it was difficult to do. And it was still dark, no one was talking, and he didn't want to bother Calien.

It's fine. I promised I wouldn't be in the way, I have to... I have to trust in that it's nothing. Just the lyrium.

"Which way do we go? Or do we split up here?"

"My professional opinion? We split up we increase the chances of running into serious trouble. A pack of 'spawn that the lot of us could handle, might pose too great a challenge for a smaller party. Whatever way we go, I suggest we all go."

"Aye the giant speaks the truth, boss man. If there's safety in numbers on the surface, doubly so for down here. The more ears and eyes we have grouped together the better our chances."

Ash had to agree with the women. "We're not splitting up here. It's far too dangerous. And I don't like this place." He was already grasping his staff between his hands, the orb glowing softly, fire flickering on top of it, growing in intensity every time he thought he heard or felt something. Currently, the fire was crackling, as if it was burning through something.

"One road, the left one, has... it has red lyrium, I think. I can hear the distortion it makes, and the singing, and whispering..." His voice shook a little due to him being unsure, Ash wasn't sure whether the whispering was relevant or not. "The other road has traces of blood magic. It's not my own, there's something down here, someone. I'm not sure where we're going, but... if we want to know what's going on, I suppose we have to take the path to the right." He looked at the entrance to the right path, then at his feet.

If this is it, does that mean we can leave soon?

"There's claw-marks too. Oh, and blood, like darkspawn was dragged... for the blood-magic, obviously. If they were sacrificed, then something big's happened, blood magic can be frightening once you start using other people's blood for the spells."

He started walking ahead, they needed to know what was going on. Carefully stepping around the blood, Ash minded his boots.

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