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

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Nola gave both the scout a pat on the back, glad to see the two men had taken down a nice little group of Darkspawn. She had no reason to keep her helmet on for now. Anso saw her face, he would probably remember her sooner or later. She just hoped they'd be gone before that. At the sound of pounding boots her head whipped around towards the noise, noticing the group of surviving Dwarves running towards them.

"Hands over your ears! It's going to-"

Her hands went to her ears as he spoke, probably half a second before the explosives went off. She lowered her hands and listened, straining to hear anything else that might have heard the blast. Thankfully, all seemed quiet.

"Everyone alright? Good, let's get moving back! Calien, your group and my men will cover the rear!"

As Anso gave the orders, Nola nodded and set her helmet back on her head. Now she needed to be ready for any thing. Much like the ogre that had in fact heard the explosion go off. How the hulking brute had stayed quiet for so long Nola wasn't sure.

"Maker's puckered asshole, does it ever stop!?"

Nola grimaced behind her helmet. "Nope, welcome to the Deep Roads." She called drawing her own blade. She was a step behind Kari, giving the Qunari enough room to swing that blade of hers. Nola circled to the other side of the armored beast, her blade ringing against her shield. "C'mon ya overgrown goat! Bite sized snack right here!"

With the final preparations for the bomb starting, Von had found a small resting spot between two rocks on a small perch. His eyes viewed the whole area, yet while hoping everyone else would leave him be. With that wish fulfilled, the small time was spent on cleaning equipment and sharpening his blades.

With his now clean armour re-equipped, the Templar was jotting a couple of points in his journal while taking time to eat some dried nug meat. He was slowly coming to find the morsel rather delicious, even more so without the taste of Lyrium coating his gullet.

How would one describe this day? Difficult? Arduous? Relentless? I don't know, my own mind is in-between "numb", "gut-wrenching", and "beaten into paste." I never knew Lyrium withdrawal was this bad. It could make one jealous or envious of mages, it might even be another reason on the long list.

How stupid. 'Twas our own ambition that locked us into this cage. I don't know whether I should insult the arrogance of our kind or spit on the image of my deceased family. How bitter, how dirty. I have no idea how to act now.

Has anyone escaped?
Have other Templars broken free of thi

"Hands on your ears! It's going to-"

The sudden explosion rocked the area, sending Von into panic and behind the cover of stone, but it only took a second to realize what it was, and he gave a sigh of relief. "Give me a break." He muttered, and as if in response to that, a loud roar pierced the air. That was all that was needed to make the Templar to get ready for combat.

By that time, the orge burst from the cloud of dust and smoke. Standing up, Von pulled out his horn and blew into it, sending the loud noise into the cavern, in hopes that everyone would hear it and prepare for whatever comes next.

"For the Inquisition! Stop it here!"

Hearing the inspirational call of their group leader, Von jumped down from his resting spot and quickly sprinted to the group. Yet seeing the glint of the ogre armour, he stalked to get behind it. He had planned to attack while it was distracted. The legs were a prime target, and if he could get a good hit in and make it fall, it would only make the fight easier. With that goal in mind, the Templar hoped that this fight would be a quick, yet his mind expected something worse.

"Hands on your ears!" Anso called out "Its going to-"

Anso's voice carried, but Berund was lost in thought, seated on a shelf in the stone along the wall. His ears perked up, still processing the words. He was unprepared when?the shock wave came. The thunder rocked through the cavern and in his ears until all he could hear was a steady ringing. It was piercing and his head ached. He removed his helm and let it fall unceremoniously to the ground. He cradled his head and massaged his temples with little success in relieving the sharp pain.

The dwarf cursed himself under his breathe for letting his mind wander as it did. There was some respite in the gradual dissipation of the ache. The ringing continued but other sounds were coming?through with it.

"...back! Calien, your group and my men will cover the rear!"

Not a moment wasted, Berund silently lamented. He picked up his helm and was on his feet when he heard the roar. It stilled him where he stood. Again came the piercing ache and the ringing along with it. Then he saw the beast. His heart raced as he prepared to meet the ogre's charge.?His muscles tensed. His breath drew deep. He stepped forward.

The dwarf's own breathing didn't reach his ears. He couldn't even be sure that he was. He was only sure of his step. And sure-footed, he closed the distance between him and the plated ogre. It was being stabbed, grabbed, distracted, and doused with smoke. The Templar had a target. And so did the Legionnaire. He focused on the opposite knee and swung.

As massive as the armored ogre was it was not impervious to magic, and Ash's powers caused it to stumble its limbs momentarily ceasing to obey its commands. It caught itself with its hands, pushing itself off before truly falling flat but nevertheless it was left momentarily on the same level as the others, an opening Kari was quick to take advantage of. Her blade bit into the flesh of its armpit, left exposed by gaps in the armor, and black blood spurted out, its corruption making it burn like acid where it touched one of the defenders.

The ogre roared and seemed to shake off the blood magic afflicting it, but it had no time to recover further before a smoke bomb impacted on its head leaving it blinded and further enraging it. It swung its arms wildly as if trying to swat away insects, though its blindness prevented it from doing serious damage. In the confusion Jarrett's hook caught on a piece of plate and the nimble elf swung behind the monster.

As the beasts vision cleared it was greeted with the clanging of blade on shield, the taunting cries of Nola. Snorting it charged at her, reaching out with both hands to grab the dwarf. Her blade cut into it but there was little she could do against its seemingly impossible strength as it lifted her bodily off the ground and began to squeeze.

Still her distraction served its purpose admirably, the monster did not notice Von or Berund swinging around behind it and when they struck its knees buckled and it stumbled forward, its grip loosening just enough for Nola to have room to act. By now the darkspawn was bleeding from a number of wounds, angered and confused by the assault all around; but Ogres were notoriously difficult to bring down and this one was far from dead.

Kari grinned fiercely behind her helm as Ash's magic drove the beast down, just as she closed on it, aiming for the weak spot. Black blood splashed across her as her blade bit into the ogre; her skin felt like it was burning, and she snarled in pain, as the corruption worked its way through the gaps in her armour. Remember the first thing you were taught about fighting Darkspawn. Don?t get their blood in your mouth!

Ducking a wild swipe as it was blinded by a smoke bomb, she wheeled about in time to see it snatch up Nola. Fade damn it! Even as sturdy as dwarves were, getting tossed about by an ogre could do some serious damage; but fortunately before it could do too much, Von and Berund seemed to hobble it. "Check on Nola!" She called out as she charged back into the fray; 'half-swording' to stiffen the blade, and give her a bit more control, she came in from behind driving her sword as deep as she could into the small of its back. As blade met corrupted flesh, she shifted her hands and pushed with the intention of driving her sword in up to the hilt.

Nola gave a short bark of a laugh when the beast turned to look at her. Good, the beast was taking the bait. The beast proved far more nimble than she had expected though. Her eyes widened beneath her helm as the ogre charged forward and lifted her from the ground. "How sweet of you!" She growled as her blade bit into the creatures hand, seeming to do nothing but enrage the beast more. "But I prefer that my men haveARGGH!" Her comment was cut short as she felt the darkspawn begin to squeeze. She felt something crack beneath her armor as she let out a cry of pain.

Then she felt the grip loosen and she fell to the ground backing out of the way as fast as she could. She kept her hand pressed to her side, blade still in her grip. She probably had a few broken ribs, but now wasn't the time to deal with them. They had to take this beast down first. "Worry about me later! Drop the ogre first!" she said waving away any assistance that came her way. She could still stand, it just harder to move was all. She shift her blade to her shield hand, just long enough to hold it as she lifted her helmet up. She grabbed her horn, the fight was going to draw attention anyway, might as well try and spur on her allies. She put her lips to the horn and blew, a deep call echoing in the cavern.[1]

[1] Horn of Valor Activated

It was an encouraging sight to see the Ogre fall to the ground, even if it was just temporarily. Maker, how he was getting tired of running into Darkspawn, though he still felt a certain satisfaction when his magic had an effect. It was almost intoxicating. Ash would have prepared to pull the blood out of the Ogre next, he had even started going through the motions for it, but then he saw the colour. Black.

Oh. Right. Getting caught up in simple revenge-thoughts during the fight, huh, Ash, that'd be dangerous. I shouldn't get this easily distracted.

Glad he had given it a second thought, he instead focused on keeping the blood sort of away from the others -using his blood magic to sort of steer it away- though as Nola cried out in pain.

"Worry about me later! Drop the ogre first!"

"Hah, don't underestimate me, I can do both!" Ash said, pleased with his current lack of danger and ability to do as he wanted from where he stood. With some care, he sent a healing spell towards Nola, giving her some relief and healing some, if not all, of her injuries.

You're welcome.

Then he instantly started preparing a second spell. Not one that could possibly hit those near, but one that would instead drain the Ogre from within. He was getting light-headed either way, so a little healing to himself would do him well. It wouldn't do a whole lot of damage, but it was the best he could do without possibly throwing boiling Darkspawn blood onto the others, or electrocuting them. Or burning them.

Maker. If only they had the decency to just throw their swords and whatnot at it.

He joked in his mind, as the spell was finished. Draining the Ogre's life, he felt revitalized, between that and the magic energy in the air, he almost felt well. He was almost, sort of, okay with being where he was too, though he certainly wanted to get out as soon as he could. Of course, he had to keep his eyes open, even if he was -relatively- safe from this distance, the others needed his help.

Successfully getting behind the ogre, Jarrett glanced back at the ogre and saw it viscously attack Nola after she taunted the monster. "Reckless. Admirable." Despite knowing the dangers of such a massive beast Nola gained it's attention anyway, an action which struck a chord with Jarrett. Her being freed from the ogre's grasp thanks to her allies did nothing to sully her bravery in his eyes.

"Worry about me later! Drop the ogre first!"

Even now, she continued to fight on as she blew her horn, inspiring Jarrett. "You've a hero's soul woman!" Seizing the opportunity he rushed and followed Kari's lead, he showed unimaginable speed and fury in laying waste to the beast's back, hoping to tear apart it's spine. "Berund, Von, you wanna help Nola? Rip out this thing's skull!"

The beast had not yet been felled, but it was brought to its knees. It was vulnerable. He charged the ogre from the rear leapt onto its back. He used Kari's sword as a stepping stone to propel himself further until his legs were on either side of the beasts neck. He whipped his maul around the ogre's head and put its handle into its jaws like the bit of a horse's tack. Taking Jarrett's advice to heart, he tucked his arms beneath the bar then pulled upward and back.

"Come on, ye bastard!" Berund bellowed through clenched teeth. He yanked and pulled, cursing the beast. "Yer big, yer tough, but yer 'bout to learn that 'round these parts I am The Brute! So come on, ye bastard, and die!!"

The effort of the group bought their enemy to its knees, its blood visible through the gashes in its flesh, and with magic or blade pounding it from each side, the Darkspawn would soon fall into a puddle of its own crimson defeat. The Templar remained behind the Ogre, but took one step back as it went partially down. He couldn't help but think this was a little easy for the group.

Blaming his recent state of mind, Von quickly shrugged off his pessimism, and dashed sideways to the front side of the Ogre. Hearing the loud calls of his comrades, the Templar transferred his dagger to the strong hand and flung it with strong force. The dagger was thrown with more strength, aimed true, cutting through the air with audible effect, and it impacted and sunk deep into the left eye.

Clenching his fist in part victory, he had forgot that he was now a simple fly in front of the bloodthirsty giant, and a log-like arm swung directly into Von's form. Just like his knife, it was too late to dodge, and the muscle mass came into contact with Von's abdomen, easily splintering his ribs. The force blew its way through the human, and the fragile body was hurled in a small arc away from the battle, eventually colliding with the unforgiving stone.

Back slamming against rock, blood immediately spurt out of Selthen's mouth, which dotted his clean armour. The human used his remaining energy to flip onto his stomach and turn towards the Orgre. With a last gasp, he bellowed his family name with vengence.

"Von Souchet!"

Lightning burst out of the dagger, onto the Ogre's facial flesh.

Nola's horn rang out loud and clear through the cavern, spurring the group to new heights. Meanwhile the Ogre, still reeling from the previous blows stumbled under the new wave of attacks. Kari's blade caught on armor but still dug deep enough to draw blood, meanwhile Jarrett's more precise strikes found gaps in the armor but against such a beast the blades could not dig deep enough to reach vital organs.

The Ogre began to lift itself up, roaring with anger and pain only for Ash's magic struck it once more draining its vitality and for a brief moment leaving it paralyzed with weakness. A brief opening but all that was required for Berund and Von to deliver their attacks. Von's blade sunk through the slot in the monsters helmet and presumably into the eye beneath, enraging it and drawing out a vicious counterattack which the templar failed to dodge. The lightning bursting forth from the blade surged through the beasts flesh burning and contorting its flesh. Finally Berund, building on the efforts of Kari and Jarrett, using her blade and the wounds in its flesh as footholds, scrambled atop the monster and brought his strength to bear against its head.

For several moments the creature struggled against the dwarf, but as it attempted to jerk back and throw the dwarf off Kari's blade sunk deeper into its flesh. It thrashed wildly and threw him off, stumbled, and collapsed into an expanding pool of its own corrupt blood.

"Well done," Anso said "now come on before more come, the way is clear!"

The relief was palpable in the dwarf's voice and while his fellows seemed too exhausted to give a proper cheer that same feeling seemed to move through them. Slowly the group moved back through the newly reopened tunnel, soon meeting the dwarf workers and soldiers within Kal Hirol. The injured were steadily moved towards safer quarters where their injuries could be treated and others were simply taken to the nearest bed where they could rest. Eventually only the group and Anso remained, alongside Volshen and his golem.

"Brother," Volshen said, squirming slightly "you're alive."

"Was there ever any doubt?" Anso said with a laugh, slowly Volshen's expression shifted, betraying relief and panic.

"I've managed things as best I could, tried to solve the problems ourselves," Volshen said.

"You should have followed our king's example, traditionalism is-," Anso said, before Volshen cut him off.

"Yes, you can save the lecture," he said, angry and embarrassed, before glancing to the group "you have my thanks."

"There, now that wasn't so hard," Anso said with a laugh, clapping his brother on the back. His expression quickly turned serious however as he turned to Calien "now then, you should treat your injured then I think I should have a talk with your dwarves. Your help in the tunnels was invaluable but my family has a long memory."

A look of confusion crossed both Volshen and Calien's faces, and Calien turned to Nola and Berund.

"What does he mean?" he said.

Announcing his family name, and witnessing the fall of the Ogre. The prone form of Von finally relaxed onto the stone. While uncomfortable, the cold, smooth greyness allowed him to give a single breath of relief. Which was when a torrent of pain twisted in his chest. Mumbling about pain and his ribs, the Templar flipped onto his back, pulled a red potion out of his pocket, ripped the cork out and shoved it into his mouth.

Gulping the whole potion in a matter of seconds, he let out a gasp of pleasure as he pulled the container free from his mouth and savoured the bitter yet reassuring taste. "Don't worry, I'm okay!" He said, throwing up his arm with a thumbs up. Taking his time regaining his footing, Von walked slowly, clutching his chest with one hand. "... somewhat." He said with slight worried tone. That was when a fire was regained in his eyes, and his mouth opened.

"now come on before more come, the way is clear!"

"Just what I wanted to say. But first!" Von said, but made a quickly walked to the fallen Ogre, examining the corpse with a sense of urgency. "Ah, there you are." He said, spotting his dagger and firmly placing a hand on it. Yet there was resistance. Annoyance raised within his cheeks, and the Templar was forced to plant a foot on the grimy yet crackling flesh of the Darkspawn's face. Giving one strong heave, the blade was free. Mumbling a curse under his breath, Von gave the Ogre a single kick of vengeance.

With the group leaving quickly, Von chased after them. As they all journeyed back to the surface. He managed to keep away from the clutches of pain by cleaning his weaponry. After a surprisingly amount of time, the whole group burst into the sunlight of the surface, and Von could only marvel at the sight.

"The surface, I could kiss the ground... if I wasn't tired."
Yet before he could go grab any medical assistance, bought up an interesting topic.

Nola sighed with relief with the ogre finally dropped, slumping to the rock wall with a groan. She was impressed that Ash had been able to help her and hinder the ogre within such a short amount of time. She still felt like a bronto had stepped on her, but better that an ogre crushing her. She shifted and winced, probably still had a few cracked ribs, but better they be cracked than fully broken. Damn the drawven resistance to magic, Ash probably could have fixed completely if it weren't for that.

"Well done, now come on before more come, the way is clear!"

Nola pushed herself to her feet with a groan. She wanted to rest, let Ash take time to finish healing her. But getting out was still a much better idea.

When they made it outside, Nola covered her eyes with her hand. She had gotten used to the dim light of the caves again, and the open sky gave her a feeling of vertigo all over again. The Darkspawn infested Deep Roads she could do with out, but she still missed the comfort of the caves of Orzammar.

After the wounded dwarves limped or were carried towards the medical tent, Nola tried to stand still, hoping to minimize the pain chest felt in her side till Cailen dismissed them for their own rest. Then Anso spoke up, and her breath caught in her chest. The deep lord knew. Great, just perfect. She avoided looking at either Calien or Anso. "Can we uh....can we take Anso's advice and talk about it after I get my ribs looked at?" She asked shifting her feet, wincing.

Ash didn't stop using his blood-magic before he was sure both the ogre and the other darkspawn were gone. When he did, a sudden and almost devastating feeling of tiredness returned, though it quickly got ignored, as the path was cleared and the group was alone.

"Well done, now come on before more come, the way is clear!"

"You don't have to ask me twice," Ash said, following the others on the way out. As he made it out, he took a deep breath, letting the air fill his lungs. Maker, how good it felt to breathe fresh air, to get away from those lyrium-riddled, dark and claustrophobic caves. Especially after they almost had gotten stuck in there for good.

Next time they want someone to go through the tunnels, I'm going to refuse. I don't care if they'd need a blood mage for it, or that I was the only one in the world who could do it, I simply won't.

Of course, given that he wasn't anything like the inquisitor, he knew his skills, while valuable, were not unique or irreplacable. Stretching so that his already long body appeared even taller, he hummed to himself, a short pleasant melody that made him feel better. While he paid a bit of attention to the dwarven reunion, he was more concerned with his own reunion with stuff like plants, the sun, the sound of actual animals, anything he had been lacking in the caves. It was a bit ruined by the fact that his stay that close to the lyrium -and the veil had seemed thin around some parts of the tunnels- had made his mind a bit scrambled, but it was nothing that couldn't be fixed with a bit of squinting and optimistic thoughts.

Everything is fine now. And I'll keep looking at Calien to ensure it stays that way.

He had found out something interesting. Calien was a bit of a coward -and being able to show that honestly was a good thing- someone who reacted to events around them with more expressions and words than others in the group. That meant, out of the ones there, he was the safest bet for someone to watch for reactions. Right now, however, he simply wanted to rest, and had almost nodded off where he stood when Calien addressed the group about something about Nola and Berund and Anso. Dwarves affairs, he assumed.

"What does he mean?"

Ash shrugged, he didn't know. Of course, he wasn't the one the question was directed at either, and though it was difficult, he decided to simply stand there, eyes closed and leaning against the wall, letting them handle it the way they wanted to. Personally, Ash would've just had suggested they all leave, especially if the conversation was going to be difficult. However, it was their problem, and they were allowed to handle it the way they felt the most comfortable with.

"Can we uh....can we take Anso's advice and talk about it after I get my ribs looked at?"

Ash opened one eye, looking at Nola, speaking calmly, relaxed even. He probably appeared rather lazy right now, but he was in the mood for lazy. "Want me to take a look at it? I don't know how much I could do for you during the battle, but I should be able to heal it more completely now that it's over. I'd prefer to do it right now, though," he added, mostly as a way for Nola to be able to get away from the questions if she wanted to. He had noted Von getting slung across the cavern, but the man had been well enough to walk out of there, so he had decided not to do anything. Besides, Von was... difficult. Very difficult.

"If Von wants me to heal him, I can do that too, but I'm not going to force anyone, and he might prefer not to have a mage do something like that to him. It is mostly magic, after all." Perhaps he was petty, but he didn't really want to address the other directly. It felt less likely to end in an argument this way.

As Berund used her blade as a step up, Kari gave the dwarf a boost, using the movement to grind the blade a little deeper into the ogre. As the corrupted beast flailed about in its weakened state, she braced herself and pushed, twisting as she did, to try and cause as much damage to it as possible. Weakened by Ash's magic and assaulted by blades from all directions, it eventually succumbed to it wounds and collapsed...forward fortunately, or Kari may have found herself pinned under the stinking monster.

After taking a moment or two to gather herself, she attempted to retrieve her sword only to find it had been driven almost three quarters of the way to the hilt during all that commotion; while she wrenched her blade free, she laughed as Von kicked it in the head...personally she'd have pissed on it, but the lack of a cock made that a bit difficult.

"Well done, now come on before more come, the way is clear!"

During the evacuation, she hung near the back, yes she was tired as was everybody else in the party, but she was in a better state than any of the dwarves; that said, she was extremely happy to see the warriors from Kal Hirol...though less so about Volshen and his pet glowing rock pile.

Fortunately Volshen did seem to be genuinely grateful to see his brother instead of pitching a fit over having his 'orders' ignored...like most Orlesian nobles Kari could think of. She was just starting to feel good about the whole mission, when Anso turned back towards Cailen.

"Now then, you should treat your injured then I think I should have a talk with your dwarves. Your help in the tunnels was invaluable but my family has a long memory."

Oh shit... She thought. She couldn't think of a reason why Anso and his family may have issue with Nola or Berund, but the tone in Anso's voice made her ears twitch. Off to her side, both Nola and Ash made comments about getting the groups wounded patched up, but she was only partially listening; most of her attention was on Anso, Volshen, the golem and the warriors that had arrived with Volshen.

Keeping her greatsword in the 'middle' guard position she'd been carrying it in, she slipped her main hand off the grip and pulled the knife from her belt; it was a utility blade, not a throwing weapon and her own skills in that vein where limited at best, but she figured she stood a half decent chance of hitting Volshen. With any luck that would provide enough of a distraction for her to close on Anso before the golem reacted. Knife free, she returned her main hand to the grip of her sword, sandwiching the knife between she hand and the sword.

Muscles tensed, she took slow deep breaths and waited to launch the instant one of the dwarves made a hostile move.

Having done his best to weaken the ogre, Jarrett looked at Berund charging towards the monster. As his friend dealt the final blows, Jarrett looked around at the group. They had all played a part in felling this monster in planning and chaos. His heart racing with adrenaline the next few seconds were missed by Jarrett, save one glimpse of quiet pride. This feeling carried on for little longer, as Jarrett was brought back in to reality by the feeling of blood flowing past boots.

"Gah! Damn poison, too close for comfort!" He said as the leapt back in bizarre panic and glad he didn't have any open foot wounds. "Eugh, disgusting stuff.' He said as he patted himself down, trying to get rid of any blood dripping from his attire.

"Well done, now come on before more come, the way is clear!"

"Gotcha." Moving up to Anso he glanced at the rest of his group and rolled his eyes at Von. 'Is he going insane again? Ugh.' is what Jarrett thought. He knew how to translate that into reality. "Don't do that, 'specially with that much poison." He said trying to play off his previous overreaction. The rest of the journey was a relief, but the dangers of what remained in the deep roads troubled Jarrett. Worse yet seeing Volshen again proved a discomforting experience when he brought up the dwarves in Jarrett's group.

"Now then, you should treat your injured then I think I should have a talk with your dwarves. Your help in the tunnels was invaluable but my family has a long memory."

'Now what business could this traditionalist ass have? Nothing he'd want anyone else to hear possibly.' He thought to himself.

"What does he mean?"

"Calien, it's apparent this is a private matter. If he wishes so, then I guess there is no choice." He said to his leader, walking away and trying to lure Calien away. Jarrett didn't have any intentions of leaving the conversation private, he had no choice. Jarrett admired Calien's strengths but believed was too conservative in decisions, so Jarrett privately plotted to eavesdrop on the conversation.

Nola nearly sighed with relief when Ash offered to take a look at the groups wounds. Good, they could avoid this as long as possible. With luck Cailen would approve of leaving immediately, but her hopes weren't high. She turned to look at ash, noticing Kari's movement into a more defensive position. She had to stop a smile. It was nice to knew the giantess liked the group enough to step in front of a potential ally for the Inquisition. Even Jarrett seemed to prefer for secrets to be kept. "Yeah Ash, I'd appreciate it." She said nodding towards the mage.

The ogre lurched one final time just as Berund began to reorient himself. The ringing in his ears finally quieted. He picked himself off the cavern floor and dusted himself off. Fortunately, he thought, he was free of any taint from the beast's blood. No doubt it was as corrupt as he remembered. His maul fell not far from him. He wiped the drool from its handle with a grimace. The stench was horrendous. The consistency was unsettling. As much as he'd like to give it a thorough cleaning they had to get moving.

They moved through the tunnel and the brothers were reunited. Even after all that happened they still managed to embrace the fraternal habit of butting heads. The former Legionnaire couldn't help but smile. But that quickly faded once Anso requested that they talk. He knew this conversation was going to come. He'd have to hope he was ready for it.

"What does he mean?" Calien said.

"Old business," Berund said plainly. He didn't wish to offend Calien. But the fact remained it was a personal matter. And though he didn't know what business Nola had with the Orban's, he was confident that she felt the same. Either way, it seemed there may have been some respite, however temporary, when she asked that her wounds be tended to first.

"Old business,"

Calien sighed "If you say so, I'll leave it to you then," he said, clearly to tired to press the issue "if it concerns the Inquisition though then I will expect to hear a report."

With that Calien turned and left, making his way towards the surface. He didn't seem especially injured from their foray into the deep roads but their time down there, however brief, had clearly left him exhausted and a bit rattled, Anso followed along shortly after Calien. After Calien had departed Volshen coughed into his fist, then approached the group somewhat meekly.

"I'm not sure what my brother is concerned about with you lot," the dwarf said "but as far as I see it we owe you," the dwarf gritted his teeth for a moment then continued "and the inquisition a debt, and by the Ancestors my family repays our debts."

With his piece (begrudgingly) said Volshen turned to depart, his Golem trailing a short distance behind him.

On the surface the medical tents were overflowing with the injured dwarves, many were forced to sit outside waiting for a surgeon to become available. Those that had the energy, and were not severely wounded, took to celebrating. Several casks stamped with Orzammar's seal were cracked open and shared liberally. Those dwarves were happy to stand aside for the surfacers that had saved them should they make their way into the tent.

While the dwarves from the deep roads were happy to make way for them others, workers human, elven and dwarven alike, crowded around the members of the group who made their way to the surface. Questions were flying, "did you really fight an ogre?" "I heard it was a dragon!" "Don't be stoopid, it was a great big iron golem!, while the overseers shouted and tried to pull their workforce back in line, to little success.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

"Oh they love you now," Ash heard a little voice in his ear "just wait though, soon enough you'll be alone again and then who will you call on?"

The voice gave a low, wheezing laugh, and faded into silence.

After Volshen said he piece and left, Kari let out a sigh, and sheathed her knife. Resting the flat of her blade against her shoulder, she cocked an questioning eyebrow at the two dwarves, but said nothing; there was definitely a story there, but she didn't think it was her place to push the issue...yet.

Finding a spot to shed her gear, Kari traded her armour for her tabard and went to join the celebration; part of her just wanted to curl up in a corner, write a bit then go to sleep...but on the other hand dwarves had strong booze and were fun to drink with.

Entering the tent, she was thronged by excited dwarves who hammered her with questions until she quietly raised a hand. "It's been a long, tiring, and Maker damned unpleasant day." She said with a smile. "I'm going to need to sit down and get some food, and a stiff drink or two, before anything else." Almost before she'd finished speaking, a pair of dwarves cleared her a spot at the end of one of the simple tables they had set up, and a plate of seared nug and pint of dwarven ale appeared on the table.

With a grateful nod to those involved, she inhaled the nug, and downed the ale in one pull to the laughing approval of those around her. Taking her time with the second helping of both that arrived just as quickly, she looked at the gathering mob. "Okay, what do you want to know?"

"If Von wants me to heal him, I can do that too, but I'm not going to force anyone, and he might prefer not to have a mage do something like that to him. It is mostly magic, after all."

After his ears pricked up due to the talk between dwarves, Von turned his attention to the Dwarven Champion and Mage. His name had came up, and in a somewhat disappointing way. Coming up behind them, he clasped the shoulders of both." I'm glad you're worrying for me, but I'll be fine, I took a potion. But some booze here and some eats there, and my ribs will be back in place." He said, flashing a small, downhearted smile. "I'm just desperate to smell some surface air. The next time I go underground, I hope it's Orzammar."

Letting go, he walked around the two, and came to the main group, and witnessed how personal this topic was.

"Old business,"

Unsure how long this personal business will go on for. Once again, the Templar came behind, and clasped Berund's shoulder. "Don't worry, we'll make sure that they save you two a tankard... or ten." He chuckled, flashing a bright, devilish smile. Feeling his fatigue, Von gave a nod before letting go and the people who have already left. The surface was a sight sorely missed by the former noble. Sure, it isn't a estate, nor a inn, but still, the freedom of the air and sky felt comforting. It won't be any time soon that he'll want to see another Darkspawn... and more importantly, another Lyrium vein.

That was when he was hit by many, many questions, by elf, human, and dwarves. It was a surprising experience. "Whoa there!" He said, spotting a Kari entering the tent. "Ah, hopefully she can save a table..." He mumbled to himself, but while the pain somewhat remained, and his body was about to crumble, a neat little smile couldn't but help indulge. "Alright you dirty sweat-rags. I'll tell you all ya' want. Head into the tent give me a second!" He yelled, getting into the festive mood.

Distracting the eager mob for a few seconds, the tired Von came across a really nice patch of dirt, and with one solid nod, he decided where to set up camp. Setting up his bedroll and tent in a matter of minutes, the human threw off his armour, cloak, pack, blade, before revealing his forest-coloured tunic and taking off to the tent. The mood and smell of alcohol overwhelmed him, and Von could only screw up his expression before a wooden tankard from thrust into his hand.

"Okay, what do you want to know?"

"Honestly, I believe we should tell them... tell them about the most fucking ugly Darkspawn you've seen, and not the one that talked." He said loudly and immediately thrust the drink to his mouth. Beginning the first chug of many drinks to come. Internally, he could only think, it's not bad rowdy once in a while...

"Everyone, listen carefully to us. We'll most likely speak about this thing once, before I drink it away from my memory. Cheers to that!" He said, raising his cup to the whole room.

"Yeah Ash, I'd appreciate it."

"Okay then, I'll help you out," Ash smiled. As was about to lean down to heal her -she was a fair bit shorter than him, after all- he felt Von's hand on his shoulder.

"I'm glad you're worrying for me, but I'll be fine, I took a potion. But some booze here and some eats there, and my ribs will be back in place."

"Okay," Ash said, unsure of how to address Von without sounding worried or uncomfortable. Even if Von was back to normal -and he wasn't entirely sure of that- there still had been a rather unpleasant situation.

I want to get along with people, though.

Hiding all of his doubts and insecurity regarding the man, he added; "Save some for me, okay?" and gave a short chuckle. When Von had left, he leaned down to heal Nola.

"It would be easier without the armour, but I have a feeling that neither of us want to be spending too much time doing this... especially if it could mean we get to leave before any uncomfortable conversations," he said, motioning towards where Anso had been standing. "Let's see... I had expected the spell to do more than this, I suppose I should've expected your resistance to do something," he said, sheepishly. It took the rest of his mana, but he managed to patch her up. Sure, it would likely be sore still, and she was probably exhausted themselves. "That should be it, I'm not entirely sure but it should be all repaired now. If not... then sorry, I don't have any more energy." He gave an apologetic smile, before standing up.

"I'm going to head outside now. Want to come along?" Whether she did or not, he was surprised to see the others flocked by people asking how it had gone. Even him, as he approached the tent where the others were.

"Everyone, listen carefully to us. We'll most likely speak about this thing once, before I drink it away from my memory, hah!"

He heard Von say, and Ash grinned. "Oh, I'm sure..."

"Oh they love you now. Just wait though, soon enough you'll be alone again and then who will you call on?"

Not you at least.

He stopped talking, and felt his expression get less cheery. Ash mood changed suddenly, he couldn't help but feel depressed as he heard the demon speak. Even with all the happiness around him, the joy of being outside, he was brought into the reality of his own situation. He could never be pleased, could he? Right now, it hit him a little too hard.

If only I hadn't been tired... and hungry, and... I shouldn't let anyone know how I'm feeling. It'd only ruin the mood.

He didn't want to sleep, though, and he certainly didn't feel like eating anymore. A drink would've been nice, but he didn't want to go through the effort of getting one. Addressing those of the others who were closest, he thought he might give a heads up before leaving.

"I'm... going to rest for a little while, in case Calien wonders where I've gone."

He forced his way past those who had flocked around them, they were loud but he ignored them, just kept walking till it looked like he could be alone. The Qunari mage sat down. With his legs pulled close to his torso, Ash rested his head in his arms, looking at his feet. His chest felt heavy, and his throat felt painfully strained, as if he was about to cry. He wasn't, but he was happy no one was around to see him if he did.

It's better like this. To be sad all alone.

He wondered if the demon hadn't spoken the truth. Eventually, he would be alone, right? Either alone or dead.

Perhaps getting attached isn't the best idea.

Perhaps it was better not to rely on people like he had. While it was a stupid demon who had said it, it was a reality that it was only during a situation like this that anyone would respect someone like him. Even if they did, it didn't change that it was the Inquisition and the threat they faced that had caused them to group together like this, not friendship or anything like that. Ash would, eventually, end up alone, yet again, demon or no demon.

Ugh. I hate it when I agree with that bastard.

"I'm not sure what my brother is concerned about with you lot, but as far as I see it we owe you and the inquisition a debt, and by the Ancestors my family repays our debts."

Things did not proceed as Jarrett thought they would. Indeed, Volshen left only gratitude, however reluctantly. However this was by and large irrelevant to Jarrett, at least immediately. "Thanks. It's good to have people able to rely on each other. Consider the name Jarrett trustworthy, sir." He said while politely bowing. 'Well, if nothing else, better to make this something I'm able to use. He thought to himself.

With that bit of business done, he saw know better use of his time than approaching Calien. "So, what'd you think of this job?"

Nola nodded as she began to unbuckle her armor. She grunted she lifted her breastplate away from her body, revealing a simple under shirt. The damn thing felt heavier than it should have.She was going to be very happy once her ribs were patched up.

"Let's see... I had expected the spell to do more than this, I suppose I should've expected your resistance to do something,"

She shook her head with a smile, wincing a little as the movement sent a bolt of pain down her chest. "No worries Big guy. I was able to move at least thanks to that. Don't know how your surface armies get by without constant healers." She said with a chuckle as she felt a warmth spreading through her as the Qunari literally worked his magic. She sighed relief as the pain subsided. Sure she still felt sore, but it was better than what she had before.

"That should be it, I'm not entirely sure but it should be all repaired now. If not... then sorry, I don't have any more energy."

"Nope that'll do. I owe ya big time, Ash." She grimaced "One we're outta here, and if I'm not kicked out of the Inquisition once the higher ups learn about my past with House Orban, I'll buy you a drink." She shook her head. She needed to think for a moment, try to workout how this 'talk' with Anso was going to go. "Nah you go ahead, I'll catch up later." She said as she began to strap back into her armor. After making sure it was secure, she left the tent, looking for Berund. This talk involved him as much as it did her, she didn't want either of them off guard.

She found him in the clearing, resting against a rock. Probably just trying to avoid the talk as much as I am. She thought moving to the dwarven scout. "Her Berund, got a minute?" she asked more to be polite than anything. She glanced around, hoping Anso wasn't nearby. "We need to talk. I don't know why House Orban has it out for you too, but my guess it ain't any better than why he has it out for me." She crossed her arms over her chest. "As much as I hate to say it, I think we need to know each other's past a little, if only so we're not caught off guard when we talk with Anso."

"Hey Berund, got a minute?" she asked more to be polite than anything. She glanced around, hoping Anso wasn't nearby. "We need to talk. I don't know why House Orban has it out for you too, but my guess it ain't any better than why he has it out for me." She crossed her arms over her chest. "As much as I hate to say it, I think we need to know each other's past a little, if only so we're not caught off guard when we talk with Anso."

"Hmm," Berund audibly mulled. He shifted in his seat and scratched his chin. "I'm not opposed to that. S'pose I'll go first then. As ye know, I was a scout in the Legion. I was a volunteer. Mind you, it wasn't somethin' I had planned on doin'." He looked down and began making lines in the dirt. "My family has been the guard of a house of nobles fer generations. Mostly without trouble. Until my fool of a brother decided to draw a sword on one of 'em. Left a stain that I had to wipe away, servin' in the Legion. Didn't know how else. Anyway, I found a way out as ye can see. And if I had to take a guess why Anso's eager to talk, well..." There was a pause. "The name of the house of nobles my family has guarded? Orban."

Nola listened quietly as Berund spoke. A bodyguard from generations of bodyguards, stepping up to wipe away shame on his house. At least his name would be recorded for the memories. Her's was probably just a blank spot on her familial slate. She sighed when he finished speaking. The name of the house was no surprise, they shared a common element to their stories. "Well a better past than mine at least. Though you're probably not gonna care to hear my story now that I know yours. Just uh....try not to kill me once ya hear the whole thing." She sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"In case it wasn't obvious, I wasn't born a warrior. Never wanted to join the army or the Silent Sisters. I was happy at my forge, and was looking forward to teaching my own daughter how to work it." She placed her hands on her hips and looked down, kicking at the dirt. "Till I started getting commission's from an Orban. The noble come's in one night while I'm tryin to work, smelling like he had just drank Tapster's out of their stock of wine. Now drunk's of any other caste I could handle. Most see the heavy hammer and hot metal and stay away. This one didn't, and started pawing at me. I must have shrugged him away wrong or something, cause next thing I know, his hand i beneath my hammer on a down swing. A few quick mistakes later and he's dead on my floor, the bloody mace in my hand." She grimaced. "You can guess how the rest went. Short trial, no defense, then thrown to the Deeproads. Finding the Legion never crossed my mind, just escape from the Darkspawn. Found my way to the surface somehow." Nola shook her head. "My first kill, and not one I was proud of." She looked up, eyeing the other dwarf, half ready to dart away should he get violent. "My guess is Anso is more concerned about me than you."

"So, what'd you think of this job?"

"If I never set foot in the Deep Roads again it'll be too soon," Calien replied "I still can't believe we made it out in as good of shape as we did."

He frowned for a moment then shook his head "I should be thankful, more thankful at least," he said "but something is still troubling me, that creature... The Child as that spawn called it, what do you think happened to it?"

________________________________________________________________________________

Outside the medical tent the crowd was enthused by Von and Kari's offers to explain, if only just once, what had happened. Even the dwarves who had been rescued seemed amused by the prospect of hearing the tale, no doubt they'd relate their own later to more sober minds.

"Okay, what do you want to know?"

"Was there a dragon?" a dirt covered elf worker asked.

"You mean, how many dragons were there!" a dwarf soldier, his arm in a sling, called out. Laughter and excited murmurings spread through the crowd.

"I heard you wrestled with the ghost of Paragon Hirol himself," another soldier called out, barely managing to keep a straight face.

"Did you mention a talking darkspawn?" a human worker asked, his expression a mix of awe and terror at the thought of such a monster "those haven't been seen since they attacked Amaranthine!"

________________________________________________________________________________

"Oh did I ruin your good mood?" the demon whispered with an unsettling smoothness "not to worry, we can have our own celebration right here, just you and me, what do you say?"

For a moment Ash's hallucinations were completely absent, if anything the world seemed brighter, more alive and more vibrant than before. Then it faded and the norm he had become accustomed to resumed.

"Come now, you just need someone to teach you how to relax," the last word lingered in the air for a few moments before fading, "you should take the chance while you have it, who knows what might be coming all too soon."

The demon gave a short chuckle "certainly not I."

"If I never set foot in the Deep Roads again it'll be too soon, I still can't believe we made it out in as good of shape as we did."

"Understandable, heh." Jarrett dryly laughed, acknowledging to himself that his group were in a problem that should've been far beyond them.

"But something is still troubling me, that creature... The Child as that spawn called it, what do you think happened to it?"

"That's gotten to you too?" The small bit of light in Jarrett's face faded, leaving him looking only dry and worried. The Child was a loose end and if his trade had taught him anything there shouldn't only exist when they could be turned to your advantage. Only a insane evil matching that of the darkspawn would believe such a monster could be useful, so Jarrett absolutely did not want to leave the worry of a rampaging monster in the back of his mind.

"I think it's still alive, waiting to wreak havoc at any moment and any defence we set up would be torn apart. I don't want to kick this problem down the road, I want to make sure it's dead, but it's your call what to do." What little he knew of the darkspawn only told tales of innocents cut down in an instant and the vengeful tide that would push them back. Personally, Jarrett wanted to skip the first step.

"Was there a dragon?"
"You mean, how many dragons were there!"
"I heard you wrestled with the ghost of Paragon Hirol himself,"
"Did you mention a talking darkspawn? Those haven't been seen since they attacked Amaranthine!"

"One at a time good people." Kari replied with a laugh. "I've had a long and shitty day..." Smiling, and much to the obvious annoyance to some, she took a moment to have a long drink. "Alright then, where were we? Ah yes...questions."

"Sadly there were no dragons." She sighed with a shudder. "Fuck, I'd've preferred a dragon, Fade take them, I taken a whole nest of 'em." Shaking her head a bit the smiled. "Did see ghosts, though can't say if that Paragon of yours was there. Ghosts of dwarves and 'spawn clashed in a battle that happened long ago; that would've been creepy enough, but then one of 'em decide to make a stone ogre...which yes, sounds as shitty as you think."

"Well after we avoided getting killed by all that, we went to see if we could stop it, so Anso and his lot could get out. Found some weird ass red lyrium that made my skin crawl, i-" She stopped, supressing a shudder. "That's all I'll say on that...it's gonna give me enough Maker-damned nightmares as it is." After a bit more food, and a few more pulls of ale to push those memories aside, she went on. "We did meet one of those talking 'Spawn...and its 'pet' that seemed to feed on lesser 'Spawn...but the less said about that shit the better."

"After that shit show, Anso's boys blew up the red stuff and we got the fuck outta there...when a real ogre showed up." Some of the crowd looked incredulous. "If you don't believe me, that's your business, but the rest of my party can back everything I said and Anso and his men saw the ghosts and the last ogre...damn, they were dealing with the ghost well before we showed up." Raising her arms, and unintentionally flashing a fair bit of skin, she stretched, her joints making a rapid succession of 'pops'. "Anything else?"

"Oh did I ruin your good mood? Not to worry, we can have our own celebration right here, just you and me, what do you say?"

Ash felt a mixed feeling as he saw the world vivid and different, clean almost, from how he saw it. From what he had since long come to consider the norm. On some days, it was far worse, but he could feel his chest hurt, feeling heavy, as he saw how beautiful it really all was.

Don't stop it. Don't take it away again.

He wished it would stay that way, he wished he could beg the demon not to let it fade back into how it had to be. Yet, Ash would not beg the demon, he would not follow its whims.

"Come now, you just need someone to teach you how to relax, you should take the chance while you have it, who knows what might be coming all too soon."

The demon chuckled.

"certainly not I."

"I had someone who taught me how to relax, someone I felt safe around," Ash replied, whispering bitterly. "But he's... I don't know. I wish I knew what happened to him. For all I know, I never did see him a second time. Or he could have died, perhaps one of those nightmares of yours really were true." He refused to let the demon know he was upset, yet his voice shook a little as he asked.

"Did he even exist? Or was Solthe just a trick, someone you created in my mind so that I could be hurt? I know you couldn't make me believe all of this is fake, it is far too intricate and complicated. But him... did you just try to fool me into thinking that there was someone out there who honestly cared about someone like me, apart from my own mother, so that I could get hurt when I saw him scared? So that I could miss him, and get my hopes up every time another nightmare had him appear, only to make me feel worse, even lonelier, when you had him die? Always, always because of me, so that the loss would be mixed with guilt."

He looked at the sky, having made himself sadder at the thought. Ash felt a couple of tears roll down his cheek, the thought of his best friend being nothing more than a trick made him feel terrible. However, among his difficult feelings and thoughts, there was still his stubbornness and unwillingness to give up.

"Whichever it is, I would never, ever give you a way to come into this world. Did you think I would just lay down and give up because you showed me what you've stolen from me? That I so foolishly put into your hands in a desperate moment? That you could try to pretend you'd help me? I would sooner die than trust you. Go away, or I'll deal with you myself." He knew the demon must have found out about his intention, but then he realized, it may not have.

No need to keep it a secret, I suppose. It's been in my thoughts for quite a while now.

Perhaps he could scare it away, not have to risk his life at all. If nothing else, it would release some steam, and he was willing to do a lot to feel a little better right now. Besides, it did sound as if the demon had a suspicion, or perhaps just an inkling.

"Oh yeah, perhaps the spirit, Duty, and Skyhold kept you away long enough for you not to figure it out, but I've learned something. There are mages who have told me how I can go inside and defeat you myself. Have my own little harrowing, as they call it. Did you know that? Your trickery and misguided grooming might have made me strong enough to be a fitting host, but it also made me more than powerful enough to kill you. And I will, soon. So don't play with me, I'm not your prey anymore."

The dwarf's knuckles flushed white as his fists clenched. "You what?" Berund asked through gritted teeth. He rose to his feet with startling speed. His gaze was biting. He huffed sharply and paced back and forth across the cavern floor. "This," he began with a heavy breath, "this is just perfect! I leave my home to wipe the blemish on my family's name only for it to be muddied again. With blood no less. If my brother wasn't so witless, if I wasn't so foolhardy, so quick to throw myself into the deep," he paced faster, fists clenching and unclenching.

"You," Berund proclaimed, accusatory finger pointed at Nola, feet stilled. "If ye'd done anythin' else! Great Ancestor's, what kind of blighted joke is this? Somewhere there's a pile o' bones in these blighted rocks just rattlin', laughin' away. That right?" He called into the empty cavern, stepping towards the dark passage. "C'mon then, let's hear it! Ha! HAAA!!"

The dwarf knew anger and he knew loss. But Nola's words pierced him deep. An irrational part of him wanted to break every last inch of the Deep Roads into dust. Ten years. "Ten years of my life in these caves. In this darkness. Things the fortunate only have to endure in night terrors. For ten years. I could have been home. Beside the hearth. But I was hasty. I just had to be the good one. I could have even prevented this if I was just there. If I'd just let my brother's mark fade with the passage of time, if I wasn't so rash. Ten years undone by a single swing..."

Nola took a step back, her hands half raised, ready to defend herself. Thankfully the blow never came. But the other dwarf's words cut as deep as any blade. She had realized when he said he guarded the Orban family that her actions had undone his. But hearing it out loud, that she had made his sacrifice meaningless? It hurt, a lot, more than any magic could hope to fix. But when Berund went into the last bit of his rant, she got angry. When she spoke her voice was quiet. "Yeah, yeah you're right you could have been home. With a family that loved you, accepted you. But you made a choice. One that your Family honored you for. Your name will be passed down through your family with pride. Maybe even have a Nephew named after you."

She scowled at the ground. "Your parents are proud for your sacrifice, your brother, if he had any sense in him, turned is life around in your memory. And you got brother's you could rely on down there. But what did my stupid actions get me? Exiled." She spat the word out like poison. "My name was stuck from the records. My parents disowning me that night. By the Stone the deshyrs had to argue to give me a weapon before they sent me away. Into the Deep Rodes, alone. Need I remind you what the 'Spawn do to women they catch?"

The anger left her as she spoke and left a hollow pit in her chest. "As far as anyone cares, I never even existed. No one will remember my name, no one will proudly say they hold a Norzak weapon again. Ten years you've been dead, at least you died a hero. Ten years since I was erased from existence." She leaned against the rock, suddenly very tired, and heaved a sigh before continuing. "If you're gonna kill me, save it till after we talk with Anso. He may let you do it for him." For the first time in forever, she just wanted to be away from the Deep Rodes.

"Fuck, I'd've preferred a dragon, Fade take them, I taken a whole nest of 'em."

"I... I can agree with that. Probably lose an arm... or two, but better than that other thing." Von spoke after the Qunari, finding his gaze at the end of his tankard. Slamming it down, he raised it upward, spinning a finger, and ultimately signalling for another. It was as a castle servant, people were pushing and shoving to refill it, desiring and lusting for more detail.

"At least with a Dragon, you can see something nice before dying. But that 'spawn would give you nightmares in the Fade, stone, or wherever you'd go after dying to that." He said, finding his hand on his tankard once again. Yet after taking one sip, he noticed the somewhat shocked crowd. "But we still kicked both of their fucking arses!" He yelled, raising his tankard to the rowdy tent, and chugging the ale.

"We did meet one of those talking 'Spawn...and its 'pet' that seemed to feed on lesser 'Spawn...but the less said about that shit the better."

Von could only nod in the middle of his large gulp. The moment was something out of a nightmare, and the worst part is that it was covered in re lyruim. It was like Von's specific nightmare came to life, but after this, that creature would certainly reappear, either in reality, or a real nightmare. The worst part is that no amount of drinking would erase it. "In all hon-" The Templar belched, quickly placing a hand on his mouth out of habit before relaxing again. "...Pardon, but in all honesty. I would more of us would need a damn drink after all that." He said, looking around the tent for others.

"After that shit show, Anso's boys blew up the red stuff and we got the fuck outta there...when a real ogre showed up."

"It was certainly real... and armoured. I have no idea where it, or the other Darkspawn, came from... but it's dead." He said to back up Kari's fact, yet there was something unnerving about that fact. Just how many Darkspawn bases were down in the Deeproads? The Warden did a massive dent to their strongholds last time they went down there. Or that's how the stories told it, how they cut down waves of Darkspawn to reach some sort of Paragon to rally the Dwarven forces. Such a long tale, and just how much of it was true? He would believe authors, but then again, he knew Varric.

"At this rate, we're going to run out of ale." Von muttered, shaking the remaining liquid within his tankard.

"I think it's still alive, waiting to wreak havoc at any moment and any defence we set up would be torn apart. I don't want to kick this problem down the road, I want to make sure it's dead, but it's your call what to do."

Calien nodded "I understand, though I'm afraid that until it sticks its head out again there isn't much we can do about it. Even the dwarves don't know the full extent of the deep roads and it could be hiding anywhere down there for all we know."

He shuddered at the thought of those blighted tunnels.

"Anso and Volshen are aware of it at least, and they'll inform King Bhelen," he said "I suppose if we're lucky it'll just go on eating spawn down there in the dark and we'll hear no more of it, but I doubt that will happen. If we do run into it again though we should have a plan, some way to get through its hide or deal with that red lyrium growing out of it."

He shook his head "A problem for another time, for now I think we could all use some rest."

___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Oh yeah, perhaps the spirit, Duty, and Skyhold kept you away long enough for you not to figure it out, but I've learned something. There are mages who have told me how I can go inside and defeat you myself. Have my own little harrowing, as they call it. Did you know that? Your trickery and misguided grooming might have made me strong enough to be a fitting host, but it also made me more than powerful enough to kill you. And I will, soon. So don't play with me, I'm not your prey anymore."

For a precious few moments the demon was silent, perhaps taken aback by his statement, perhaps simply considering the threat. Still the silence was telling, in his dealings with it before the demon had often preferred to have the last word, departing with a muttered remark and a chilling laugh. Now though his words were the ones that caused the break, if only for a moment.

The silence broke with a low chuckle "You're thinking about paying me a visit? How nice, I'll have to straighten the place up," the demon said, beneath its humorous veneer there was a hint of restrained anger however "my domain is always open to visitors, so welcoming in fact that many find they never leave."

The demon sighed "And to think, I was considering offering you help, information you might have valued. It seems you need some time though, let that temper of yours settle down a bit before you do something you will regret."

With that the demon's voice faded, and surprisingly so too did Ash's visions to an extent, or rather they remained but lessened to an extent. Whether this was the demon withdrawing its influence out of fear of the threat, or to make preparations of some sort, was impossible to say though the change was welcome.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

"At this rate, we're going to run out of ale."

"Not before we drink ourselves into a stupor!" one of the soldiers cried, leading to a cheer spreading throughout the assembled workers.

The questions and celebrations continued well on into the night, though eventually all involved either made their ways back to their tents or at least found a comfortable patch of dirt to fall onto. No doubt there would be a fair number of headaches and other soreness in the morning but for now a satisfied air hung over the camp.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

A tent was set up specifically for the group, and messengers were sent out to inform them of it. It was quite large as such things went and had enough cots for all of them. Certainly it wasn't the finest accommodations in the world but after the deep roads no doubt some of them could fall asleep on a rock.

Calien greeted each of them as they arrived, asking if they'd been seen to by a surgeon, and informing them that they would likely be departing for Skyhold on the morrow. None of the specters reported in Hirol had been seen since they'd shattered the red lyrium in the roads so as far as could be told their mission had been resolved for now.

"Not before we drink ourselves into a stupor!"

"Say what?" Von could only mutter, as he found his eyes, once more, at the bottom of the wooden tankard. Yet, this time, he placed it carefully on the table, and it was almost immediately filled up. This... this will not be good for tomorrow. He thought, giving a small smirk as he remembered the last time he had this kind of experience. Back when he had just graduated from being a Templar recruit. The whole squad was roped up into drinking a lot. It was an event that would not happen often in the future.

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Questions and booze, questions and booze, or was it booze and questions? Von thought, stumbling out of the drink tent, tankard still in hand. "O-oh... this." He muttered weakly, placing the tankard just by the tent entrance. Even now the cheer and drinking continued. "Heh... Dwarves. Do they have stone livers?" The Templar said happily, giving a small belch. Yet this time, he could not be bothered covering up his drunk nature.

Using the rest of his energy to find his belongings and the Inquisition tent, Von slowly walked through the entrance. Meeting Calien, he put up his hand, signalling that he doesn't need any more medical attention. A surgeon was on break in the tent, and gave him a short look over. Apparently the potion healed most of the damage, but they placed some poultice and clothe around the area. "Should... should be good tomorrow. I hope. Apart from that, goooooodnight." He said, placing his belongings by the nearest cot, and flopping into it.

That night, there was no nightmares to be seen.

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