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

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"You're thinking about paying me a visit? How nice, I'll have to straighten the place up, my domain is always open to visitors, so welcoming in fact that many find they never leave."

"It's good to know I'm not the only one you've been hassling over the years," Ash replied, dryly. "No need to make an effort, though, I don't care what your grave looks like." He thought that was a good thing to say, though he instantly started wondering just what that "straightening would do". His doubts got further enhanced as the demon spoke again.

"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."

Ash felt his heart sink as he heard that. Not because it made him particularly sad, but because the demon had a point. He was sure he wouldn't regret killing the demon, but telling it he was going after it...

I shouldn't have done that, should I?

It had left, which was a relief, but what was it doing? Was it preparing for him coming, using the grasp it usually held Ash in?

We have to get back to Skyhold. I have to do this as quickly as I can.

No goodbyes or rest, or anything. He cursed himself for not preparing to do it on the road, though it hardly mattered now.

Relax, Ash. This doesn't change anything. I'm still stronger. I think.

He curled up, allowing some of his doubts to build up as he sat there. It was getting dark outside, and he felt tired, but Ash didn't know where to go or if there was even any reason to. Someone he didn't know came to tell him there was a tent for the group. He didn't feel like joining the others, but he was hungry and there had to be food, somewhere. He also needed some water.

Walking briefly through the party, not looking at anyone or stopping up, he got some food and drink then went towards the inquisition tent. Ash finished his food and drink before coming close enough for Calien to talk to him, but rather than reply he simply covered his ears and lay down on the cot the furthest from the others. He undressed down to the soft underclothing, before turning the other way and staring at the tent-wall. For a while, he stayed awake, feeling upset and wanting to talk to someone, yet not finding any words. He couldn't bring himself to rely on anyone, not now. Not when they would just leave.

Eventually, he got too tired and the cot was too comfortable compared to the rock for him to force himself to stay awake. Slowly and unwillingly, he drifted into sleep.

"Not before we drink ourselves into a stupor!"

"Now that man has the right idea!" Kari cried, to the approval of those around her. Polishing of her current tankard in one breath, she banged it down on the rough table with a laugh and pushed it away as another full one saw set by her. How long can you keep doing this? A small voice in her head asked her. Until the memories drown themselves to death... She replied. Outwardly, she joined in a bawdy tavern song with some of the dwarves.

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Eventually Kari had drank her fill, and with more than a little help, she stumbled to her feet and headed for the tent that had been set up for them. As she left the impromptu tavern, one of the more sober miners offered to collect her gear from where she'd stored it and bring it to the ten, an offer for which she was most grateful.

Arriving at the tent, she thanked the miner and collected her stuff before greeting Cailen with a nod. "I'm fine..."She mumbled as she staggered past, and flopped onto a cot beside Ash, where she was asleep in moments.

"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."

As much as he hated to admit, there options were very limited. The trail of The Child was blocked off and long cold. Blocking off tunnels would hardly slow it even if all parties allowed. Even with the aid of all the people here a full scouting of the deep roads in this area would be too inefficient and unsafe. Turning to his leading Jarrett gave a defeated sigh.

"Anso and Volshen are aware of it at least, and they'll inform King Bhelen, 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."

"I concede to your point." Jarrett thought that Calien, as unnerved as he clearly was, deserved credit for his commitment. He believed that it wasn't fear that stopped Calien from wanting to hunt The Child. He was still after all recommending some form of plan after all.

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

"At least resting here means we can help if needed." With options limited he decided to find a suitable place to rest. Being informed of the tent they were assigned, Jarrett waited outside it for the rest of the group.

"Honor? Pride?" Berund asked sharply, turning his back to the passageway to face Nola. "Yes, all these things I would have if one of the charges under my house wasn't cut down. He was callous and a fool but he didn't deserve to die. I should've been there," he remarked again. A brother shamed, the other miles away-there were simply too few Browers to keep ward.

The dwarf's fury had simmered down but it remained within him. He looked to the dirt and shook his head, defeated. "No, I don't think there is pride to be had in my absence. Not anymore." He looked at Nola again, anger still in his gaze but one that was contained. "If, by the end of this, your death is ordered...rest assured, it won't be by my hand. Now let's just get this over with." He gathered his things and made for the camp, not eager for the coming conversation.

Dawn broke and slowly members of the camp, the party included began to wake. For many it would be hours before they were fully awake, after the festivities of the night before no one was especially eager to return to work least of all those who had had too much to drink. Gradually though activity resumed and before too long a messenger was dispatched to the tent, a nervous looking dwarf who informed Berund and Nola that Anso and Volshen wished to speak with them.

If they had any thought to avoid the confrontation they were dissuaded by the fact that Anso and Volshen were waiting not far outside their tent with a complement of soldiers. Both of the dwarves, and many of their soldiers, looked uncomfortable standing under the open sky.

"My brother and I have had a lengthy discussion on what to do," Anso said, "It has proven a more difficult matter than simply one of honor."

He gritted his teeth, expression annoyed "I would think that my families honor might be the most important matter, muddle perhaps only by the assistance you have rendered to me, but my brother brought up several other aspects of the situation."

Volshen cleared his throat "Beyond the offences to our family, and the punishment Berund specifically has apparently escaped there is the matter of your service to the Inquisition, as you are their agents administering punishment on you would fall to them rather than to Orzammar."

Anso spoke up "You are casteless now, and effectively dead in the eyes of our laws regardless of whether or not you have evaded the intent of your punishment," he said "But as a matter of honor I cannot help but feel that the spirit of the law has been defied by that evasion."

"Brother..." Volshen said, sounding nervous.

"Nevertheless my hands are bound," Anso said "I will refrain from informing the Inquisition of your past misdeeds only because of the debt I owe you, still I must ask do you feel you have been sufficiently punished for your crimes?"

________________________________________________________________________________

Inside the tent Calien paced anxiously "I don't suppose any of you know what any of this means?" he said "I can't make out what they're saying from here."

He frowned and glanced over the group "they seem to suspect Berund and Nola of something," he said "we aren't going to stand back and let them sentence them though, are we?"

He seemed somewhat nervous, seeming to look to the group for guidance. He certainly had no desire to offend the allies of the Inquisition by interfering in their matters of justice, but neither did he wish to see any members of the party harmed.

Nola groaned as a messenger finally came to bring them to the Orban brother's. She strapped herself into her armor, if only because to make herself feel more at ease. She didn't bother to bring her weapons though, no need to antagonize them more than they already were. She was really glad she decided against it when she saw his group of soldiers behind them. She sighed and crossed her arm's ready for whatever accusations were thrown at her.

What she wasn't expecting, was for them to be mad at Berund. Not only did they want to strip him of his name and caste as they did her, they wanted him punished further? No, no no no she was not gonna let this happen again. Not because of what she did. "Your hands are bound? YOUR HANDS ARE BOUND?!" She said, her voice raising. "Nug shit your hands are bound! This son of a rock licker..." She jabbed a finger at Berund. "Gives his life, his station, and ten damn years knee deep in Darkspawn, only to have you Deep Lords crawl up here and tell him his sentence wasn't followed?! And now your trying to erase his name from the Memories?! Fuck that!" She took a step forward, jabbing her finger at the Orban's.

"How dare you even think that your family honor is worth a nug's ass compared to what this man has sacrificed for you. You damn deep lords haven't a clue what it's like in our abandoned tunnels. You spent what? A week down there? He spent 10 years down there, dealing what you dealt with every damn day, with no chance of rescue. All to make sure your shiny boots weren't sullied by the blood of his brother." She locked eyes with Anso. "Not only did he do exactly what he was told to do, which is make sure your sorry asses don't get over run by Darkspawn, but now he's risking his Stone Sense to protect you form something just as bad! One of the first fucking 'Spawn is leading the trouble's here on the surface, as is responsible for that Red Lyrium spreading like a sickness! But of course your more worried about him not following your order to the letter. You damn deshyr's are all the same, so obsessed with your own position you don't see what's happening around you." She scowled at both Orban's her fist's clenched at her side. "You think your honor is so damn precious? Then keep this in mind. The Inquisition just saved you and your soldier's from becoming food for the 'Spawn. And among them were a murderer and what you consider a disgraced Legion Soldier. And if you do forget? Your soldier's won't. And neither will their families." She finished, crossing her arms again, glaring at Anso.

Despite, or perhaps because of how much she'd had to drink the night before, Kari was up fairly early, if for no other reason than she really needed to use the latrine. Returning to their tent, she watched as Berund and Nola left the tent and move towards an unhappy looking pair of dwarf lords and their armed retainers. "Well shit..." She muttered as stepped inside, dodging Cailen as he paced nervously. That man is bloody useless... Casting aside her tabard, she began to pull her armour on with practiced speed.

"They seem to suspect Berund and Nola of something, we aren't going to stand back and let them sentence them though, are we?"

"You're supposed to be the one in charge of this little shit show aren't you?" She snapped at the Antivan. "Grow some balls and make a decision. P-" Kari was cut off by Nola's very audible tirade against Anso. Cinching up the last bit of her armour, she smiled to herself and put her helmet on. Go get 'em! Fully armoured, she took up her blade and pushed past Cailen as he stood, peering out the tent flap. "Personally, I'm going to go cover my teammates back, and drop the first nug-fucker who moves wrong." She growled. "And if that bothers you, too fucking bad."

Approaching the dwarves at a slow and even pace, she kept her weapon in a relaxed put ready position, much like the retainers were doing. Stopping a few feet behind Nola and Berund, she didn't say a word, instead sweeping her eyes back and forth across the soldiers, trying to gauge their mood, and piecing together possible courses of action in her head.

A dream.
A sweet dream.
No nightmare in sight.

Something that's rare in this day and age, where Darkspawn roam, and a dark plot could hatch any second. In fact, one was already in the works, and both reality and nightmare mix. Yet such a thing did not exist in this dream. It was as if all was normal in the world, and everything didn't happen. The Templar's dreams showed shining, stone towers, bustling with all kinds of people. Templar and Mage greeted each other politely on the sidewalk, some even began conversation. Even at his own Estate, the Von Souchet family were actually what they're suppose to be, family.

It was a rare sight, everyone wore faces, and Von could swear to himself, that this was the very first time his own father had a wide grin on his face. The sight of this beautiful landscape was clearer even than real life, it seems that the muddled mentality was clean here. Yet, there was one face he could not see. A womanly figure with a white, simple dress. He knew her, but no name was recalled. Approaching the large, happy group, he could only say one thing. "Who are you?" His voice released with the sense of longing, but then a thunderous voice boomed.

"YOUR HANDS ARE BOUND?!"

That dream ended.

With Nola's loud voice hanging in the air, Von could not help but roll out of his cot, and the first thing to meet him was the cold, soft dirt below the tent. Emitting a groan, he sputtered several curse words in common tongue, and one in Dwarvish he picked up last night. That was when he was reminded of the worst thing that could possibly happen to him. A hangover. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck..." The Templar curses the ground with speed, as if he attempted to match the ground's dirtiness. Picking himself off the floor, Von slowly surveyed the tent, easily picking up Kari and Calien by the front of the tent, which was funnily enough beside his bedding.

"Maker's curses, who yells on such a morning." He mutters, immediately getting out of his morning mindset as he peeked around the tent door, and observed Nola's roars of anger. "Politics, I've had enough of the damned thing to last me a lifetime... and I've only heard the stories about the Dwarvern kin-" Von said, but his last word was caught on Kari as she left the tent with her gear. "W-what! Right now?!" He blabbered. Fearing for bloodshed his gaze went back and forth between Kari and Calien. Ultimately throwing up his arms, he grabbed his blade and dagger following the Qunari.

"For fuck sake, we just drank together last night." He mutters as he finally stops beside Kari, yet the warrior said nothing, allowing her eyes and blade to do the talking. Not accepting a chaotic outcome, Von believed in a suggestion that many races in the area practised. "Hey everyone, I don't know the circumstances, but before we turn this nice, soft dirt into a bloody mess, why don't we sort this problem out with an orderly duel?" He said with a hand clasped on his forehead and a tired face.

Ash enjoyed sleeping when the demon was away, and he enjoyed staying in bed for at least an hour after waking up, sleeping on and off and enjoying the warmth and lack of, well, anything. It wasn't the softest sleeping-place, but his warm, fuzzy sleepiness made it comfortable, almost impossible to leave. Besides, he was in a lair, fighters all around him, no reason to feel uneasy. The sound of people moving about was getting a little annoying, but it wasn't before Calien spoke that Ash was forced to try to make an attempt to make out what the other was saying.

"I don't suppose any of you know what any of this means? I can't make out what they're saying from here. They seem to suspect Berund and Nola of something, we aren't going to stand back and let them sentence them though, are we?"

"It'll be fine, I'm sure," Ash muttered in a sleepy haze, not at all paying attention to the situation around him, nor giving much thought to what Calien was worried about. Berund and Nola could handle themselves, right? Besides, what kind of danger could they be in?

They'll be back soon.

However, Kari did not agree with that notion and got rather annoyed with Calien, even getting her equipment.

"Personally, I'm going to go cover my teammates back, and drop the first nug-fucker who moves wrong. And if that bothers you, too fucking bad."

Ash yawned, the sound of Nola's voice along with Kari now rather angrily disapproving of Calien's lack of confidence made it difficult for him to just close his eyes. Especially since he was forced to see what was actually going on. Sliding into his robes -the good thing about not wearing a lot of armour was that it took very little time to get back into- he then made his way over to Calien, who he suspected was feeling even more nervous. During this time, Von too decided to leave, and Ash suspected it wouldn't get easier to calm either of them down. He wasn't sure what they were planning, but it felt risky, a fight couldn't help anything.

I don't really get it... but we can't let them ruin what we came here for, right? Nor can't let anyone hurt Berund or Nola.

"Hey, boss, don't fuss, it's going to be fine," Ash spoke in a comforting, calm manner, embracing the other with a warm hug. Calien seemed surprised, but hugged back a little, only for Ash to hold him tighter. If it had not been apparent yet, it was clear now that Ash was just half-awake, wanting to deal with whatever kept him from sleeping a little longer "Kari's got a point, though. We can't just let this happen. We should make sure there's no fighting. Don't worry, I have your back, it's not scary."

He might need a little more of a push, though.

The other was a little too cowardly sometimes.

Without giving Calien a choice, the sleepy Ash lifted him up and hoisted him across his shoulder with a boldness he would not have portrayed had he not been in the state of very barely awake. The Antivan struggled, but Ash would not have any of it, keeping the other in place. Despite Calien making it difficult for him to walk, Ash only stretched a bit, and headed outside. Shortly afterwards, he got far enough and put Calien down not far from the others -but trying to be a bit subtle about their presence and him carrying Calien, as he had slowly come to realize why this was not the best way to get his superior out there-, crossing his arms and stepping a little away from the other.

"Uhm, what do you think we should do?" he muttered, not daring to look at Calien. Actually, he was pretty obviously making an effort not to look at the Antivian. The other had to be pretty mad, especially considering the struggling, and Ash didn't want to see just how angry Calien was.

Jarrett was one of the first to wake up, starting the day with exercises meant for the long trip he expected. Ready to move at a moments notice he was caught off guard by Berund and Nola's meeting with Anso and Volshen. He quietly muttered to himself, "Too much to hope for him to leave well enough alone I bet."

"I don't suppose any of you know what any of this means? I can't make out what they're saying from here. They seem to suspect Berund and Nola of something, we aren't going to stand back and let them sentence them though, are we?"

"Not good. Things are going to escalate." He continued to mutter, trying to assess the course of action to take. It was quickly decided for him however.

"Personally, I'm going to go cover my teammates back, and drop the first nug-fucker who moves wrong. And if that bothers you, too fucking bad."

Watching Kari leave the tent left Jarrett annoyed at best. He saw only foolish conviction that if the group was not careful would only make things worse for everyone, even the friends she wanted to help. "Doesn't seem to be much room for subtlety." He said to Calien wryly. "We want things to go smoothly, right? Gather all your wits then." He left the tent as Ash picked up Calien and made his way to the meeting. Picking up his speed he saw Kari's methodical pace and grew more worried. If he had to bet on what he thought she'd be likely to do next, Jarrett would say she was ready to tear down the half the camp.

The next move would be critical, there couldn't be room for error. With a breath he stepped past Kari, giving her a glare of pure menace, then moved past Nola and Berund, humbly presenting himself to all present. "My apologies for the intrusion! I know this is a private matter and I dare not listen to a word you do not wish for me to hear, but I must know if everything is all right." Hidden behind the face of the worried weakling he showed, was the same true personality he showed to Kari. Inside was absolute confidence, giving him power. Power that made him believe that he was ready to seize control of the situation.

Anso stood impassively through Nola's rebuke, though Volshen looked considerably more affected by it, glancing back and forth between her and his brother. The dwarves around them similarly seemed affected by it, from many of their expressions it was clear they supported Nola and Berund more than Anso and Volshen on this matter. Before they could respond however Calien was hauled outside by Ash, struggling and protesting in vain against the larger Qunari before he was set down.

"Uhm, what do you think we should do?"

"You, I, arg," Calien said, embarrassed and annoyed by having been picked up and carried, he took a deep breath to steady himself before speaking "We should be going, we've completed our mission here and should return to Skyhold, besides its clear we aren't welcome here."

"That would be best," Anso said "I do not mean to appear ungrateful for your rescue, I will be sure to carry word of the Inquisitions actions here to King Bhelen."

Calien hesitated for a moment, but the words Kari and Jarrett had said to him all to recently still lingered and he spoke up "You have a funny way of showing your gratitude, our mission in no way demanded we venture into the Deep Roads to rescue you, and those two in particular were invaluable in our efforts."

This seemed to anger Anso, he gritted his teeth but Volshen spoke up before he had the chance.

"Bhelen has been pushing for the casteless to be included in the recordings of the Shaperate," Volshen said, it was clearly a notion he did not care a great deal for yet he continued to speak "If they wish it I could bring mention of the deeds of these two to him personally, he would likely wish for it to be added to their existing records as opposed to being stricken from the records as has been tradition with regards to surface dwarves. He would likely appreciate it as an example to support his policies. If you prefer we can instead bring no mention, you would remain dead in our records."

"Dead and remembered as having committed themselves to their punishments," Anso said, though some of the fire in him about this had died. He could see that his own men were against him in this. He sighed "But enough, I suppose we might owe you that much, and it would serve to further mark the Inquisition in the memories."

Calien turned to Nola and Berund "It's up to you two."

"Volshen, I would appreciate ye to make efforts to bring these recent events to Bhelen. And I can't expect ye'll go through with this, but..." Berund hesitated. The prospect of being marked as a mere surface dwarf. Casteless. Regardless of the progressive policies, there would always be traditionalists. And his father was one such person.

"Don't let me be stripped of my title. If there's one thing I learned the past couple of days is that I'm a Legionnaire through and through. Ten years that was conditioned into my body and mind, ten years in the Roads and that's never left. It never will. Whether I take arms against the blights beneath the surface or above it, it's the fight of the Legion that drives my hand. I'll always know that. But my father needs to know that."

The dwarf turned to Anso, stern and unwavering. "Ye seem to know the importance of honor. I know it too, else I'd not have volunteered as I did. It was by no sentence, by no ruling but my own that I join the dead. I'm not the deserter my presence here would have ye believe. Remember that."

Nola's jaw dropped when they offered to put casteless back into the memories. That was....unprecedented. Against tradition. And it would allow her to actually exist again in the eyes of her people. She uncrossed her arms and looked down, thinking. She wouldn't be a smith, and she'd still probably never be allowed to be in Orzammar again. But...this was the next best thing, wasn't it.

She looked at Berund as he began to speak. He made his choice long ago, and he wanted to stick with it, no matter what had happened afterword. That was something Nola could respect. but at least he had that. She was nothing at this point. So a chance to be at least casteless and be remembered for saving a noble? Yeah she wasn't going to let the chance slip by. "I do not have such a luxury to turn this offer down. Yes I would prefer you bring word of my actions at least. Better be remembered a murderer who tried to redeem herself, rather than not at all."

Kari stood motionless as people talked around her, watching the mood and movements of the men that were backing the dwarven nobles. Fortunately, they seemed as upset by the nobles words as Berund and Nola, so the chances of one of them doing something hasty were pretty slim.

The others came over, some said their piece in an attempt to calm things, though Ash earned himself a glare from behind her faceplate...even if he did get Cailen to stop cowering in the tent.

"Ye seem to know the importance of honor. I know it too, else I'd not have volunteered as I did. It was by no sentence, by no ruling but my own that I join the dead. I'm not the deserter my presence here would have ye believe. Remember that."

Right...he mentioned he was in the Legion. Doesn't strike me as the type to cut and run...regardless of his other problems. Still, makes sense they'd be a might pissed at him if they thought he'd bailed...still doesn't explain why they wanted Nola

"I do not have such a luxury to turn this offer down. Yes I would prefer you bring word of my actions at least. Better be remembered a murderer who tried to redeem herself, rather than not at all."

Ok so that'd do it...though Nobs only care if it's one of their own...heh.

Despite herself, Kari couldn't help but start to chuckle after Nola spoke. "Killed someone did ya?" She said finally, looking at Nola from behind. "Lemme guess. Some Nob comes on with his knob out, figuring the 'wretched little commoner' will be soo grateful to get plowed by his little prick? You said 'No', he didn't listen and got himself killed, and you had to bail, because of course since he was a Nob he can't have been wrong...bloody well did Thedas a favour by culling one of that lot..."

Maker damn you girl, sometimes you just need to shut up.

"You, I, arg,"

Ash kept making a great effort to look away, Calien really had to be angry with him. "Sorry," he muttered, again, meekly.

"We should be going, we've completed our mission here and should return to Skyhold, besides its clear we aren't welcome here."

Even if we saved their lives, huh. Figures.

They did, however, end up giving both Nola and Berund some offers after having their hands somewhat twisted by Calien, and Ash was glad it seemed like the offers were fair, at least by their responses.

"Ye seem to know the importance of honor. I know it too, else I'd not have volunteered as I did. It was by no sentence, by no ruling but my own that I join the dead. I'm not the deserter my presence here would have ye believe. Remember that."

"I do not have such a luxury to turn this offer down. Yes I would prefer you bring word of my actions at least. Better be remembered a murderer who tried to redeem herself, rather than not at all."

From the sound of it, their experiences were rather different, though Ash didn't know enough about the dwarven culture to know why either were so important. It seemed that things were working out, though, and that was good.

And then Kari spoke.

"Killed someone did ya? Lemme guess. Some Nob comes on with his knob out, figuring the 'wretched little commoner' will be soo grateful to get plowed by his little prick? You said 'No', he didn't listen and got himself killed, and you had to bail, because of course since he was a Nob he can't have been wrong...bloody well did Thedas a favour by culling one of that lot..."

Ash couldn't help but to stare at Kari, mouth open mind and his entire being stunned. What in the name of Andraste had she just said?! In what world was that an appropriate thing to say? He didn't know what the situation with Nola and having killed someone was, but how could insulting the dead help them? It was probably someone important too, someone who the nobles could get angry over.

"Uh. That wasn't a good idea," he whispered to himself, the only one close to hear him would be Calien, if the Antivian even did hear him. Ash felt like whatever Calien had done to make the situation good, had been ruined. Ash didn't like risking making the situation worse, but this felt bad. Without making much of a fuss, he just raised his hand, sheepishly.

"I think we should just leave now, boss," he said, and looked to the dwarves, then at Kari, and then back at the dwarves. "I really think we've worn out our welcome."

Recomposing himself so as to watch events unfold in a passive manner, he was caught off guard by some of what was said. It wasn't that some dwarven tradition was about to bent in some way but that Volshen was allowing it. Jarrett thought to himself, "King Bhelen... the more I hear of him the more I like."

Things were going well with the discussion that Jarrett didn't believe he needed to intervene. Berund and Nola were both seemingly happy with the end result and the group may yet leave on amicable terms with Anso and Volshen despite some clashes here. For a moment Jarrett had hope, something he knew was dangerous to hold. He would perhaps be proven right in that belief shortly.

"Killed someone did ya? Lemme guess. Some Nob comes on with his knob out, figuring the 'wretched little commoner' will be soo grateful to get plowed by his little prick? You said 'No', he didn't listen and got himself killed, and you had to bail, because of course since he was a Nob he can't have been wrong...bloody well did Thedas a favour by culling one of that lot..."

Jarrett was completely flabbergasted. "By what idiocy did she think she should speak?! Is this speech really supposed attempt to support her friends?! Could she not wait one minute?!" His thoughts racing in his head Jarrett surveyed all present and could tell that Ash was worried as well. He was talking to Calien about something and knowing Ash Jarrett guessed that Ash wanted to get out of here. Not the worst course of action. Still it mightn't be enough for now. He looked at Kari, and let free his sharp menacing gaze at her.

"What are you doing miss? Show some degree of respect here, please! Anso if you have seen some of her behaviour in the deep roads you may know of her... behaviour. The fault is ours so I apologise. Calien, we should not harass these dwarves further."

"Uh-huh ... that happened." Von began to mutter and scratch behind his head. For this situation, he is happy and fine with the outcome. No one has made a single cut, slash, or stab at the other party. Not just that, but a good event had just happened to the two dwarves in the party, he was told that by the surprised posture and speech. "Well, that's good for you two... even if I don't understand what it means." He said lowering his other hand from the dagger hilt to his side.

"Killed someone did ya? Lemme guess. Some Nob comes on with his knob out, figuring the 'wretched little commoner' will be soo grateful to get plowed by his little prick? You said 'No', he didn't listen and got himself killed, and you had to bail, because of course since he was a Nob he can't have been wrong...bloody well did Thedas a favour by culling one of that lot..."

Holy Mother Andraste. Is she trying to get us killed?! The thought made an echo within. With Kari blurting that out, and with most of the party flabbergasted, Von was thrust in the same position, ending up biting his lip and slowly sucking in air with the awkward atmosphere. "We might get to see a duel after all." He mutters with a small smirk. "Well... maybe it would be best for all parties if we ignore the drunk rambling, and leave on a happy note." He said with happy tone and smile. That was when the Templar started walking slowly back to the tent, quickly stopping by Jarrett, Ash, and the carried Calien.

"What are you doing miss? Show some degree of respect here, please! Anso if you have seen some of her behaviour in the deep roads you may now of her... behaviour. The fault is ours so I apologise. Calien, we should not harass these dwarves further."

"I think we should just leave now, boss,"

"I'm fine with road rations, if we leave now and leave the charismatic matters to mistress Montilyet, we might not end up crushed by a hangover, a platoon of enemies, and a golem." He said with a pained smirk, before picking up his pace to gather his possessions.

I'd rather deal with this hangover than a pack of angry Dwarves.

Volshen nodded solemnly as Berund and Nola made their decision, "So be it," he said "consider our debt settled then."

Anso gritted his teeth but nodded as well, Nola and Berund's responses seemed to give him pause. He seemed ready to respond when Kari made her outburst, fury rose in his eyes at her remark though the others making apologies settled this somewhat.

"I will overlook your insults this once surfacer, you know nothing about what you speak," Anso said "you should be on your way, my patience wears thin."

Anso turned to Nola and Berund as he and Volshen began to depart "If you are truly working towards redemption or upholding the legion then I will admit you have made strides," he said, his voice tinged with respect in spite of his clear disliking for them "I cannot forgive the harm you have caused my family but you have my word as a noble that I will bring mention of your deeds here to Bhelen."

With that he and Volshen left, some of the dwarven soldiers with them lingered offering thanks for their rescue, many had a somewhat apologetic tone to their speech, clearly Anso's views were not held by all.

Calien turned to the group "It's time we be off," he declared "pack your things, with luck we'll be at Skyhold before long."

He paused and then spoke "Whatever complications we had we did good work here, the Inquisition should be proud to have you as it's agents," he said, then turned to Kari "You spoke out of hand there, and very nearly endangered our relations with Orzammar. You may think poorly of me as a leader but that does not give you the privilege to be so rash."

Without waiting for a response he turned to head into the tent. Soon enough the party was packed and once more on the road to Skyhold. In spite of the troubled times the roads of Ferelden were safe enough, guarded by soldiers of the Inquisition and Ferelden both and the trip was both quick and uneventful.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Skyhold

The group arrived at Skyhold to find the fortress changed in their absence, repairs that had been underway during their departure had completed and the walls and halls looked sturdier than before. Beyond that new recruits and trainers had arrived, serving both as an example of how quickly the influence of the Inquisition was growing and offering better and more specialized training to those who had the skill and desire to seek it.

For now the group would have time to rest and prepare for the events that might lie ahead. Supplies of all sorts, even lyrium, were available thanks to the Inquisitions expanding nexus of trade (word had it that the Inquisitor had acquired the assistance of interested parties from Val Royeaux itself).

"I will overlook your insults this once surfacer, you know nothing about what you speak, you should be on your way, my patience wears thin."

Try it rock licker, She thought, glaring at Anso through the face plate of her helm. try it and see how much height you loose. Her grip tightened on the hilt of her blade, before she made herself relax and lower her sword completely, resting the tip of it on the ground.

"You spoke out of hand there, and very nearly endangered our relations with Orzammar. You may think poorly of me as a leader but that does not give you the privilege to be so rash."

Spineless little Antivan. If those nug fuckers decided they wanted to take Nola with them, you'd 'ev let them...they're welcome to Berund though. As Cailen walked off, she raised her visor and spat on the ground behind him. "Think poorly of you?" She snorted, muttering to herself. "That's like calling the Waking Sea a little wet." Turning on her heel, away from the dwarves, she headed back to the tent to gather her things.


Kari kept to herself on the way back to Skyhold, only really interacting with the others if she was addressed directly; otherwise anytime they made camp, she either wrote in her book, or did maintenance of her gear.


Finding Skyhold even busier than when they'd left, Kari milled about, killing time by training until she had a chance encounter. Working on her swordplay against a practice dummy, a bronze skinned elf approached her and asked if Kari wanted a real fight. Never one to pass up a good sparring match she said yes, and was astounded when the elf, who she was pretty sure she could pick up with one hand, drove her to her knees in mere moments; that was when the elf introduced herself as 'Breaker Thram'.

"By the Maker!" Kari gasped as she pulled herself back to her feet. "Last time somebody kicked my ass that hard I was still a little girl." "That is the way of the Reaver." Thram replied. "Always attack, and if your enemy hits you, you hit him harder." Kari smiled and rolled her head around her shoulders. "I like that, it's like what my dad told me when he taught me to fight 'When in doubt hit them, and if that doesn't work, hit them harder.' "

"Good advice. I have watched you train, you have the power, speed and aggressiveness needed to make a good starting point. If you wish I could teach you how to become a true Reaver. Teach you to harness the blood of the dragon to sow bloody terror in your enemies. To turn every blow they make against you into one more nail in their coffins. To win bloody victory over any who would harm you. What do you say?" Breaker Thram held out her arm. Kari listened, and thought...for at least a full moment, before clasping Thram's forearm with a smile. "How do we begin?"

Nola smiled with relief when the Orban's said their requests would be honored. She wasn't going to be just a chip in the Memories anymore. Her name would be recorded again, maybe even bet allowed back into Orzammar again once things had settled down a little. She flinched when Kari spoke, her shoulders hunching up as if she were bracing for a hit. By the ancestors she liked the woman, probably the second best person she had met on the surface. But damn the woman had the tact of of a hungry bronto. Thankfully Anso didn't hold it against the rest of the group, and left amicably. For all the shit the Nobles pulled, dishonestly wasn't high on the list of behavior they found acceptable, so Nola had little worry he would betray is word. After sharing a few words with the remaining soldiers, the warrior left for the tent to finish packing, ready to head back to Skyhold.

On the way back, her good mood from how things turned out was obvious. She whistled while they traveled when appropriate. She even took the time to draw in her book when she could, trying to recreate the sights of Orzammar from memory.

When they arrived back in Skyhold, she was surprised to see how busy the place was. It was running on a skeleton crew when they left. Now it had representatives from just about everywhere. She was happy to see this expanded to supplies as well. Soon she was back to work at the forge, repairing her own equipment along with anyone else who asked. With more than enough lyrium, she was even able to apply some enchantments with the help of Dagna. A Lightning Rune for her sword, and one of Protection for her shield. If that...thing in the Deeproads was any indication, her equipment was going to need to be stronger. When she wasn't at the forge, she was training. She knew her biggest draw back was mobility, her armor and shorter stature just didn't lend well to keeping up with the more mobile enemies they had fought so far. Not to mention the enemies that towered over her that were able to knock her away. Watching a few of the more nimble warriors train gave her an idea though. If she couldn't make it to the faster, more mobile enemies, then she could bring them to her. With a strong length of chain and a four pronged hook, she devised something that just might help. She got more than a few strange looks and laughs, but those were quickly dispelled when she was able to snap one of the training dummies off it's post with a hard pull.

With the situation finished, Jarrett quietly packed and left with the group. He was genuinely happy for Nola and Berund even if he didn't fully understand dwarven politics. However he believed that he would have to find a way to put a leash on Kari. Even Calien for his supposed poor leadership as Kari insisted was aware of the problem she had and could pose. Other than the fate of The Child, her attitude bothered Jarrett the most on the trip back.

Once at Skyhold Jarrett soon learned at sought out a new trainer that had arrived in his group's absence. He sought out the elf Heir and briefly trained under her, but he knew her training was only the start of what he desired to be. He wished to be truly unseen in movements and to outplay his enemies. To this end he began practicing new exercises within Skyhold, scouting out people of interest, blending into crowds and even began to prepare a secondary alias should he need it. It wasn't long before he was a walking Shadow.

Ash kept quiet for the trip home. It wasn't just that he didn't want to talk to Calien about what he had done -especially not as the leader's ire had been drawn by Kari-, but also that he simply felt... tired. He needed to think, there was so much on his mind. Part of him was unprepared for what awaited, wishing that the road would get longer. However, he knew he need to get back as quickly as possible, get to it so that he could hinder whatever the demon was preparing. He could not give himself more time than this.

The trip back was spent in a solemn silence when it came to him, not approaching anyone around unless he had to, and hardly speaking. He felt small, in an odd way. As if his issues would swallow him if he didn't stop worrying, yet if he stopped, it would be a death sentence.

I need to be prepare.

However, he also needed to make sure the demon did not have the chance to prepare.

If only I could stop time.

In the end, they arrived, and he had to face it. It was now, or risking something worse happening, perhaps even his own state of mind being the reason for his demise. Getting what he needed for it wasn't difficult, asking the right people and explaining, if only part, of his situation was enough for him to learn what needed to be done. After a night's sleep -or rather, a night of occasional sleep mixed with writing a letter for someone to send to his mother if something happened- he was almost ready. He just needed to ask Kari about one thing.

"Hi, Kari," he said, feeling his head grow light. He was really doing it. "You said you could keep an eye on me when I did my harrowing. Well... something happened, and I need to do that now. Like, we're ready to do it now. Soon. In an hour or something." Awaiting her reply, he stepped back and forth, both eager and very nervous.

Kari was sitting in a quiet corner of the roof top garden, reading a collection of writings on the 'Way of the Reaver' and just enjoying sitting still. She hurt all over; Breaker Thram was pushing her and several other interested Inquisition soldiers as hard as she could...and by the Maker that elf could push!

At least half of the initial trainees had dropped out, and Kari was pretty sure Thram would've killed another third of the remaining people if Commander Cullen hadn't made her use blunted training blades. As she sat there, her thoughts on her own training were disrupted by the approach of someone. "Oh, hello Ash."

"Hi, Kari, you said you could keep an eye on me when I did my harrowing. Well... something happened, and I need to do that now. Like, we're ready to do it now. Soon. In an hour or something."

"Well then, I best get my gear." She replied with a sigh, not because of Ash's request, but because everything from her horns to her toes seemed to ache. Marking her place in her readings, she pushed herself up to stand beside the fidgeting mage-to-be. Placing a hand on his shoulder, she smiled at him. "You've been keeping the little prick at bay already, so now you just get to punt him in the cock and tell him to 'fuck off' face-to-face...you'll be fine."

"You've been keeping the little prick at bay already, so now you just get to punt him in the cock and tell him to 'fuck off' face-to-face...you'll be fine."

Ash nodded. "I hope so," he said, though he smiled. "If something happens... thanks, for keeping everything safe. But, and this is going to sound unreasonable... but please be sure." He looked at the ground. "I don't want to die." With that, he asked the mages to proceed. It was going to be difficult, but he wanted it over with, now that everything had gotten to this point. His own words repeated in his mind as they started.

I don't want to die.

However, at least he could be sure he was only risking his own life. And there was an odd sense of comfort in that.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ash thought it was odd getting congratulated by people who didn't know the real reason for him doing this, but it felt nice. His body was worn and getting back into his own world, to a brighter, more vivid place than he remembered it being. A templar clapped him on the shoulder, congratulating him, and Ash was all smiles, thanking the mages before they left and wondering why so many had come to witness it. Perhaps they simply had not seen anything like it. It was sort of embarrassing, not to mention, what if something had happened?

Even so, he was too happy to keep it down for long, and though he wanted to look mature and grown up, have this sagely, yet happy feeling about him after this "harrowing" of his, the moment the last person apart from Kari left the chamber, Ash threw his arms around her neck. "I did it!" he said and what little power he had was spent jumping excitedly. "I'm fine! The demon died, and I, and everything is so... and it's so..." he felt tears run down his face and wanted to hide it, so he decided against letting go just yet. Making a failed attempt to mask the sobbing in his voice, he spoke.

"Thanks, Kari. Really. It means a lot that you were here. It made me feel safer to know I had your support and... you know I'm crying, don't you?"

"I hope so," he said, though he smiled. "If something happens... thanks, for keeping everything safe. But, and this is going to sound unreasonable... but please be sure. I don't want to die."

"That doesn't sound unreasonable at all. No sane person wants to die." She countered, giving him a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder. After Ash told her where his Harrowing was going to be held, Kari returned to the barracks to collect her armour and weapon.

Arriving at the location, the reception she got from the former Circle Mages and ex-Templars was less than welcoming; but after some insisting from Ash, and her promise to follow the ex-Templar's lead, they let her in. As Ash took the lyrium and lay down, she stood ready over him

---------

After what seemed like hours, Ash began to stir and she tensed up while one of the former Templar's checked to see if he was still 'himself'. When it was confirmed that he wasn't possessed, she let out a massive sigh of relief. "Thank the Maker..." She whispered softly.

"I did it! I'm fine! The demon died, and I, and everything is so... and it's so... Thanks, Kari. Really. It means a lot that you were here. It made me feel safer to know I had your support and... you know I'm crying, don't you?"

"I'm glad I was able to help." She replied. "And I'm really glad I was only needed for moral support." After the furor from the Harrowing began to die down, she took her leave of as and his new Mage compatriots and went to talk to one of Sister Nightingale's agents who was tracking down some information on the location of a dragon for Kari and the other who were training under Thram.



Moving with the flow of traffic in to the castle proper, she drew more than a few looks from her uneven appearance, but that was of little concern. The group's first task was to find Breaker Thram and finish what they'd gone out to hunt the dragon for. Once the infusion was made and consumed, and they'd practiced a few times, Thram shook their hands one by one and wished them luck. Now free, Kari changed into her tabard and headed to the forge with her battered armour and a few gifts...and an odd request.

Weaving her way through the other smiths, she dropped her stuff in an out of the way spot and leant against an occupied anvil beside Nola. "Hey short stuff!" She chirped. "Can I borrow you skills for a bit?" Firstly, she pulled out her cuirass which was gouged and dented, and had several punctures just below rib level. "I was hoping you could repair this," She said waving to the armour. "And see if you can work this into a dagger or knife." She added, unwrapping a dragon's tooth that was as long as her hand. "Oh, and I'm hoping you can make two of these," She said, placing her busted horn on a nearby work bench. "And then mount them." She added, reaching up to tap the broken stump with a finger. "May as well make them match." She grinned.

Along with the gear she'd brought with her, Kari had also been carrying a large sack, which had rattled a bit when she set it down. "As compensation for your time and talents, I brought you a present." Pulling the sack forwards, she dropped it at Nola's feet, the sack spilling open enough to show a Deshyr's ransom in dragon scales.

Nola let the hot blade sink into the barrel oil, smiling as the hot blade hissed in the cooler liquid. She grabbed a near by rag and wiped away sweat from her forehead. When she heard the heavy footsteps behind her, she turned to see Kari, a sack in her arms. "Hey giant." She returned with a smile. "Sure whatcha need?" She asked stepping closer as Kari bent to reach into the sack.

She nodded as Kari asked hr to patch up her armor. She had heard about the dragon slaying mission a group had gone on. Clearly Kari had been on it too. And when she brought out the dragon tooth, Nola laughed. "Ahh good woman! I can make you a dagger sharp enough to pierce steel and tougher besides. Ohhh this'll be fun." If that had been all Kari asked of her, Nola would have been a happy dwarf. But there was more. When Kari pulled out a busted horn, Nola did a double take at the giant's head. "Huh, Thought something looked different." Now this wasn't something she hadn't tried before. She motioned for Kari to have a seat so she could get a better look at the damage. After a few minutes of examining and measuring the break she stepped back. "Hmmm, the process it's self shouldn't be too tough. It actually shouldn't be too different from working with the dragon tooth. You uhh....might wanna go get a few drinks in ya though. Dunno if the whole process is gonna hurt." She said thinking, already piecing together how to make artificial horns.

As she started to get thing prepared, Kari mentioned Payment. "Nah don't worry....about..." She began only for her jaw to drop. Watching the scales tip to the floor nearly made the smith fall back herself. Drake scales was something most smiths aspired to work with. Some got a chance to work with them, others wouldn't. But Dragon Scale were a totally different beast. Only a handful in an age would ever get to work with Dragon Scales. And Kari just waltzes in with a sack full. Her lips split into a grin as she began to laugh grabbing up the sack happily. "HA! Ohhhh Kari you don't know just how much this is worth to me! I should be paying you! The dagger, the armor, even the sodding horns. Whatever you need I'm yours! All of it and more!" Even the impending doom of the world wasn't enough to bring down The smiths mood now. She was back in the memories and she got to work with Dragon Scales. She could die a happy woman after today. She took the sack of scales and tucked them by her forge, away from the flame. "Go, go get some drink in ya while I get to work on these! I give you my word as a smith, you're getting my absolute best on this order!" She said hurrying to get the metals together.

Kari laughed at Nola's obvious delight, and was glad the little smith wasn't sore at her for nearly fucking things up with Orzamaar. "Well any excuse to go for a drink works for me; but if you're worried about hurting me, don't." Reaching up she tapped her remaining horn. "These are like hair or fingernails...no sensation in them. I've met Tal-Vashoth that've had their horns removed entirely, I think in an attempt to blend in...because that'll happen when you're a head taller than everyone else." She added with a wry grin.

With that she left Nola to her smithy and headed for the Herald's Rest. After picking up a pint she was corralled into a game of Wicked Grace by 'Dalish' from the Bull Chargers; it seemed that they were down a body for a good game of card, what with 'The Chief' off wrecking shit with the Herald and a few of the other Chargers off on a job. Kari had shared more than a few drinks with members of the Chargers since joining, but she was glad Bull was elsewhere; he seemed nice enough, but there was a persistent rumour that he was a Ben-Hassrath agent, which given what she'd heard of the organization, made her a bit nervous when he was about. Enough of that, there's drinks to be had and money to make.


She pushed through the door to the smithy with a scowl on her face. "Sodding dwarf." She muttered darkly. "Bastard must've stashed those cards in his moustache." Kari let out a huff as she sat on a bench nearby where Nola was working. "Nola, if you're even invited to play cards with the Bulls Chargers...don't. Maker damn him, there is no way Rocky is that lucky. I don't know wither I want to strangle him, or taking him on a tour of the gambling houses of Orlais so he can fleece the nobles..."

If Berund were a crass man, he would've spat on the ground before Kari for her blatant disrespect. But the dwarf held his tongue and thanked the Orbans for their consideration. He knew they'd make good on their word. Even as reluctant as Anso was about the whole ordeal. He felt an old chapter of his life had finally reached some form of closure. It wasn't clean, it wasn't painless, but it was done.

Berund was mostly at peace for the trip. Mostly only because he was still irked by the revelation that his dwarven companion had slain someone from under his house's watch. He couldn't say he was fond of that particular Orban, but it hurt nonetheless. For better or worse, there would be plenty of time along to way to collect his thoughts on the matter. And likely build some steam to vent once they arrived...


"C'mon, you sodding half-pint," goaded the hefty man in the pit. His fists were raised, skin peeling from his knuckles, the folds packed with drying blood and dirt. He circled the inside of the pen, taking broad sidesteps. He spit out a mouthful of blood and phlegm into the middle of the foot-traced ring. "Have you not half as much fight to boot?"

"Oh, I've got quite enough for ye, I'll wager," Berund huffed. He circled the pen in the opposite direction, mirroring the man's step. His fists were just as bloodied and caked with earth. The grit would've stung atop his raw knuckles but they were already numb. "Now quit yer talkin' and swing!"

The man lunged forward and delivered a swift jab. Berund blocked the punch to his nose but was swiftly clipped when the man threw a left hook across his temple. The dwarf was rocked briefly before throwing several straights to the man's sides. There was a soft pop as a rib dislocated.

The man coughed forcefully, a spray of blood erupting from his pursed lips. In a snap reaction, he threw a hard punch into Berund's eye. The dwarf was almost floored, he reeled to the side but held himself upright with a widened stance. He turned his body, arm out, balled fist, and practically punched through the man's jaw. His opponent was spun on the ball of his foot and fell, face first, into the dirt.

Once Berund's ears stopped ringing, the cheers of the small crowd that gathered reached him. He looked around and raised his hands, his left clasped over his right, then gave them a brief shake. He winced as the feeling flushed back into his hands. The exposed flesh of his knuckles were raw and hot. He followed a pair that had taken it upon themselves to haul the unconscious man to the healer, looking to get himself patched up while they were at it. Then a strong drink after that.


Bandaged knuckles, swollen temple, and an eye blacker than the blood of darkspawn, the boxed dwarf sat atop a stool at the bar in Herald's Rest. Pouring a tall flagon of black mead was a dwarf that introduced himself as Cabot. And as much as Berund's wounds were smarting, the server seemed smarter still.

"Have you tried not getting hit?" Cabot offered.

Berund chuckled."Tried. I find it easier to just to make sure I'm the one getting hit the least."

"Then I'd really hate to see the other guy," said the bartender. "But in case you don't like having the head of a newborn Qunari," Cabot remarked, pointing at his own forehead, denoting the large lump on Berund's. "I suggest learning how to dodge."

"I'll take that under consideration," Berund replied with a nod and a wink. The bartender smiled in good humor and went back to work. The bandaged Brower sat and drank, taking long draws from his flagon as he considered the bit of advice. He knew he wasn't the most agile. He was quick, but there wasn't a great deal of grace or finesse about his movement. It didn't help that he was far off from his peak physical condition.

Time had been too kind for the dwarf. Or rather, food and drink over time. He had a feeling there'd be a fair bit a time before another call to duty. Perhaps it was time to regain some of his lost deftness. It didn't take long for the matter to be settled. Starting immediately, he'd push himself harder than he had in years. After he was finished with his mead, of course.

Nola held the iron cup full of molten metal with a pair of calipers. She moved quickly and carefully as she poured the molten iron into the molds steadily, not even flinching when she heard Kari storming in. She smirked as she lifted the googles from her eyes, grabbing the mold with a pair of tong and dipping it into a barrel of water with a violent hiss. "Count yourself lucky then. You know what humans say about playing cards with Dwarves. Course...they also say to never play with Qunari or elves either. The former are so stoned faced no one can tell if they're bluffing. The latter never pay off debts." She stepped back and pulled her gloves off, turning to Kari. "Course I only killed people who cheated to win a game, but that's just me." She said with a laugh.

She stepped behind Kari and pulled over a stool. Even sitting the woman was still taller than her, and she needed to be at the right height to set these things correctly. She grabbed a measuring rope and quickly wrapped it around the base of the taller woman's broken horn. "Hmmm 3 marks around and...." She held the cord against the intact horn and compared it to the broken one. "4 from the point." She mumbled marking the intact horn with a knife before hopping off the stool, nodding. "Alright, should be ready to cut this thing off." She hopped off again and grabbed a small saw, prodding the blade gently with her thumb, checking the sharpness. "You sure you wanna go through with this? I can always just attach the metal one and save the other in case the other one snaps off." She asked eyeing the giant.

When the giant gave her a nod, she responded in kind. "Alright then." She said climbing on the stool again. "Now...this might feel weird." She said before beginning to saw at the horn. Within a few minutes, the horn was off. With a quick puff of air, Nola blew away the remaining dust and hopped down. "There, that should help the balance at least. Now for cool bits." She said reaching into the barrel with a pair of tongs. The new horns were cooled and ready to be attached. "Now if the saw felt weird, this is gonna feel REALLY weird. And hold still, wouldn't want these things on crooked." She said grabbing a bag of screws. The process took a long time, but Nola was taking her time, she wanted to make sure this was done right. She didn't want to be reattaching these damn things every other day. After about an hour, Nola was done. "There, now headbutting poor slobs will kill 'em instead of knocking them out. Just ya know....keep it the the idiots tryin to kill us."

Ash's day had gotten exhausting as he took the chance to join some of the other mages in one of their training sessions. He figured he could return the interest and help he had received. However, along with a more vibrant world around him, he felt the presence of magic in a stronger way. Just trying to focus on it made his head turn. The demon had dulled his senses and brought his mind into the fade when it suited the demon, but Ash realized that the keen presence of the fade still remained, in some ways it felt stronger, though mostly in the way it was used in magic. Quietly, he had approached one of the senior enchanters, and asked about how expelling pure mana worked, and why the fade always felt as if it was present. Gregor, the enchanter had just smiled and explained some of it, asking him details about both.

But I can't mention anything about the demon.

Instead he went into detail about how he had found out he was a mage, and his sensitivity to the presence of the fade. The senior enchanter had been curious about it, and explained that it was different for everyone, before thoughtfully adding that Ash seemed to be on the more sensitive side, having a strong connection to the fade.

"Come and see me some time. I know you just had your harrowing, but you've never had any teachers, as far as I know. Is that correct? If so, I'd like to see what you can do, and perhaps give you a few pointers, explain the things you don't know. We're all part of the inquisition, after all, and I would feel bad if I knew you went on missions without knowing the basics."

Ash would very much have liked to do that as soon as possible. However, it would have to wait. Despite the fact that the chance to learn about magic in a way one couldn't from simply reading a book, was interesting, there was no doubt in Ash's mind what the first priority was now that he could no longer be fooled by the demon.

I should see her as soon as possible.

Several days later, Ash stretched as he got back to Skyhold. He had already reported that he had returned, and had taken his stuff back to his bed. Luckily, no one had decided to occupy his place when he got there, though that was probably because it would have been quite disastrous, had they made him angry. At least it seemed like some people thought of it like that. Besides, Ash would have gotten really upset if someone had done that, he had found a comfortable place to sleep, where he could put his hot milk on a nearby shelf and drink it in bed. Losing that would have been a tragedy. Idly, he wondered where the others had gone. He had tried to look for Kari, but he couldn't find her where he expected to find her. Jarrett was impossible to find, while Von he wasn't sure if he should be looking for. Berund he had an inkling of, but he decided that Nola was the safest bet. She was predictable in where she spent her time, though it was a good kind of predictable.

That was why he headed for the forge, only to open the door and be faced with a confusing situation. Something had happened to Kari's horns, something Nola did. Best case scenario, they had been dipped in metal, and worst case... turning pale -as pale as he could turn anyhow- he looked at them. "What happened to your horns?!" he asked, horrified. Then he saw the sawed off piece of horn, and added; "Oh no! Why would you do that?" He felt at his own horns, holding them without really realizing it himself. However, Ash knew this wasn't very nice, and decided to try to be a little more considerate about it. "Uhm, no, I'm sorry, it looks good, and I'll just be on my way..." he said, turning around and leaving through the door.

Oh maker, did I really see that? And shouldn't I have I been more polite?

He sat down not far from the door to the forge, sighing. He really had messed up, hadn't he? But it had just been so shocking, seeing Kari's horns like that.

I wonder if something happened...

"Course I only killed people who cheated to win a game, but that's just me."

"Andraste's tits," Kari chuckled. "Best keep you out of Orlais then; you'd break your axe before you ran out of asshats to hit." Once Nola set to work, Kari kept her mouth closed, as to not risk distracting the dwarf while she worked...Kari had a vested interest in things going smoothly after all. Sitting stock still while Nola took her measures and made her cuts, Kari let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding when Nola declared she was finished.

"There, now headbutting poor slobs will kill 'em instead of knocking them out. Just ya know....keep it to the idiots tryin' to kill us."

"I'll do my best, but if another drunk Orlesian fop tries to grab my ass again, I make not promises." She grinned. Reaching up tentatively, she ran a hand along the smooth metal of her new horn until she reached the tip. Testing it lightly with the tip of a finger she was glad to feel that Nola had kept the fairly broad, like the end of a framing nail...less chance of it bending or breaking. I need to find a mirror! "Oh Gods thank you so much!" She exclaimed, lifting the smaller woman off the ground and hugging her. She'd just set Nola on the ground, when she heard another voice behind her.

"What happened to your horns?! Oh no! Why would you do that? Uhm, no, I'm sorry, it looks good, and I'll just be on my way...

Turning about, she saw Ash standing there with a rather shocked look on his face while he clutched at his own horns; and before she even begin to explain, he disappeared back the way he'd come. Looking back to Nola, Kari shook her head with a bemused grin. "That boy is a bit to high strung...must be a mage thing." Reaching up to touch her new horns again, she beamed at Nola. "Thanks again for fixing my horns, I'm going to go see if I can calm Ash down." Stepping out of the forge she spotted Ash, and made her way over to him. "So, how've ya been?" She asked. "Have a good trip home?"

Nola chuckled at Kari's comment before jumping to the ground to give Kari enough room to examine her new horns. At least she was pragmatic about the whole thing. She shook her head with a smile when Kari thanked her. "Eh it was no trou..." She began to say before she felt herself lifted from the ground and pulled into a tight hug. She certainly wasn't expecting that. She laughed all the same "Alright, alright put be down ya over grown goat." After she felt her feet touch the ground again, she heard a new voice.

"What happened to your horns?! Oh no! Why would you do that? Uhm, no, I'm sorry, it looks good, and I'll just be on my way...

Nola raised an eyebrow at that, shaking her head. "Gotta be a mage thing..." She said agreeing with Kari. "Say hey to the guy for me though. He probably wouldn't want to see me till after your done talking with him. 'Sides, I still got work to do on the rest of your stuff." She said turning back to the forge. First on her list was the armor, new horns and a new knife would just go to waste of Kari died before she could use 'em.

"So, how've ya been? Have a good trip home?"

"Yeah, it was great," he looked at her, smile quickly changing into a more embarrassed expression. It still looked rather odd to him, he remembered all the stories his mother told him about qunari with broken horns, how she'd always thought it was as if breaking an arm or a leg, only it couldn't be fixed. She had told him of how the Saarebas had their horns removed to show they were dangerous, and it made him even more afraid of losing his horns. Still, Kari's horns were her horns, and he didn't know why she had done it anyways.

"I'm sorry, I really am. I didn't mean to get so... shocked. Really, it's not an issue, and it shouldn't be either, it was just unexpected. It was very rude of me to react like that." Of course it wasn't only that, but he didn't want to explain it further, because then he'd just seem childish or at least cowardly.

"Oh, and does this mean you've done that thing? The dragon thing?" He had only heard some of it before leaving. "Did that go well?"

"Its fine," Kari replied with a chuckle as Ash got all flustered. "The hunt went well, though it did lead to this." She added, reaching up to tap her new horns. "We were wearing the beast down, when I ended up directly in front of it. It decided to try and eat me, but I guess between my size and the others hacking at it, it couldn't down me in one gulp." Pulling open the side of her tabard, and revealing she was only in her small clothes under the simple garment, she showed Ash a relatively fresh scar on her midsection.

"Instead, I ended up half way into its mouth, and Nola makes some damn fine armour, but getting chewed on by a dragon is a bit much of any armour." Letting her covering fall closed, she sat back and stretched. "Well since I wasn't exactly keen on play the role of 'lunch', I started to head-butt the inside of its mouth...you know, jam the tips of my horns into the top? Well any ways, the dragon wasn't a fan of that as you can imagine, so it spat me out. Broke my left horn on the landing. Once I got back, I figured I may as well get Nola to do the both of them to keep the weight even. Oh and Nola say 'Hi' by the way."

Berund, with a considerably reduced forehead and fading black eye, was found just coming back after a long run. He made for the well and drew a small bit of water. He removed his shirt began to splash himself with the cool water. He sighed contently and appreciated the respite. And the respite would be brief.?The dwarf had more training to look forward to today, even more vigorous than the previous days. He certainly wasn't kidding himself when he'd work harder than he had in many years.

Lately he'd been on the training grounds more often than not. He finished his days sore and started the next even sorer. But he refused to lose his momentum. And it was paying off very noticeably. He was lighter on his feet, more agile, and quite a bit smaller around the waist. Even at his age it was apparent he wasn't beyond mastering the art of Evasion.

The dwarf trained with fists, sticks, and poles, all to learn how best to avoid being hit by them. Each day ended with fewer and fewer welts. It was a less conventional means to gauge his progress, but it was nonetheless effective. If only he could say the same for his armor, which fit loosely, the plates clacking against each other when he moved. He was due for another refitting. But at least this time it wasn't because he was growing...

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