|A Study in Spheres
Author: The Half Mad Writer PM
Forced to remain behind after the Battle of Denerim, Enchanter Watson is placed in the charge of Sherlock Holmes, who introduces Watson to his unique profession and invites him along to help solve the mystery of a murdered templar. Based on "A Study in Scarlet".Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery/Adventure - Sherlock Holmes - Chapters: 10 - Words: 26,685 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 10-31-12 - Published: 07-01-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8277009
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Dragon Age, and that's probably a good thing. Sherlock Holmes is public domain, but just for safety, it was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and not by me.
Author's Note: Hello, everyone, and welcome to that-thing-I've-been-working-on-in-my-free-time.
Some business before we start; while I've tried to set this story up in such a way that a reader doesn't need too much prior knowledge of either Dragon Age or Sherlock Holmes in order to enjoy the story. The problem with crossovers, though, is that you may come across something you don't understand. If that's the case, the people over at the DA wiki have done a damn good job of cataloging much of the lore present the game. Pull it open in a different tab and have a read of the articles if you need them. Don't worry, this story isn't going anywhere.
Or you could play the game, which I recommend anyway, because it is awesome.
If I've done my job, though, you shouldn't need to worry about that. Now, let's get started, before I bore you to death with my author's note.
A Study in Spheres
From the writings of Enchanter John H. Watson, spirit healer and mage of the Circle of Magi
The City of Denerim, Capitol of Ferelden
My wound has healed to a point that I can put quill to paper once again. Stamford says this is a good thing. He is unable to watch me every moment, and he insists that I keep a record of where I am going and what I am doing. I doubt such a record is for Stamford himself. He's been quite accommodating for a templar, and quite a pleasant conversationalist. However, he says I must note my activities, so I'll do so.
Only twice since discussing the matter with Stamford have I been outside of the small house where we were forced to make temporary residence after the battle. Both were short walks around the market square for the fresh air – or, to be more exact, what is left of the market square. The battle hit this part of the city harder than any other, save the main gates. I am sure the mages who have already returned to the Circle Tower have noted the degree of destruction, so I needn't bother to repeat it here. Repairs are underway, but it will be some time before anyone will be setting up stalls.
On both my trips outside, I was struck by the smell. The air was not quite so fresh as I was led to believe, and I don't know what sort of effect this will have on my health. It is a common jape from Orlais or Tevinter that Ferelden smells like wet dog. I daresay they can afford to add burned Darkspawn to the list, for I guess will be some months before the smell will fully vanish.
Small groups of refugees are already returning to their homes. They mill around in small groups, congregating by the Chantry. It is amazing that the building still stands – either luck or the Maker had a hand in its preservation, or perhaps both.
As Stamford instructed, I am keeping a respectful distance so as to avoid frightening the people. It is a sad and sobering truth that mages will never be fully accepted simply because we were born with talents that people cannot understand. Even so, though, I respect the fears of the people and obey the templars. If that is what needs to be done to keep the peace, I am willing to do it and encourage others to do the same. Still, though, I cannot help but hope for the future. The Blight was defeated with the help of mages. I know that Enchanter Wynne aided in some way and now stands proudly behind the new king.
I hear tales, however, of an apostate woman sometimes seen in the company of the Hero of Ferelden during the events of the Blight. The tales describe her as beautiful, with raven hair and pale skin. Perhaps if I were in a more fit condition I would ask for leave to search for the truth of these rumors, but since I cannot barely make it around the market without being winded and clutching my wound, I'm afraid that will have to be postponed.
Stamford and I had what began as a fairly innocent discussion about this very topic as we were having a drink at a small pub called the Criterion. I wouldn't note it except for what has come after, as this conversation was the beginning of strange and extraordinary events.
"I'm being ordered back to the Circle Tower." Stamford said to me as if from nowhere. "The Knight-Commander wants me to leave Denerim within the fortnight."
I had been enjoying a pint of ale until he spoke. When he made his announcement to me, I dropped my glass back onto the table. As I leaned back in my chair, I could feel the frown stretching across my face, despite my best efforts to keep my expression neutral. "I'm going to have to make the trip back to Lake Calenhad."
Stamford shook his head. "I don't think that's going to happen."
"I don't have much of a choice, do I? Besides, I'm getting stronger with each day. I think the walks around the market are helping."
"Walking around the market is one thing, John." Stamford said and took another drink. "The journey to Lake Calenhad is another. It's a long journey, and a hard one. What parts of Ferelden aren't still in the grip of the Darkspawn are overrun by bandits and rebels. You wouldn't make it two days outside of the city."
I couldn't help but to frown at that. "What do you think I should do, then? I can't stay here without a templar escort."
"Well, before the Blight, you might have been housed at the Chantry or at the Wonders of Thedas until you were healthy enough to make the trip. Nowadays, we don't have that luxury, so you'll probably just be kept at Fort Drakon or in a cell in the Palace Dungeons." Stamford's lips did a very funny thing just then. The ends twisted up into a funny expression. Not quite a grin, not quite a smile, but still amused. "There is another option, though..."
"What is it?"
"Are you sure you want to know?" He asked, the funny expression on his face becoming more pronounced. "I think that a cell would probably be very comfortable. They can set you up with one that isn't covered in bits of Darkspawn."
By this point in the conversation, I was getting worried. "Maker, Stamford, speak plainly. What is this terrible other option?"
"There's this... person." Stamford raised a finger to his chin, as if trying to figure out the best way to explain the situation to me. "I don't know much about him. He's an elf, lives in the Alienage with the rest of his kind. The templars are instructed to go to him if we ever have a problem that no one else can solve, and as long as we can pay, he'll be able to help. I've only ever met him twice before... a bit of an odd one."
"Odd?" I asked. "How is he odd?"
Stamford downed the rest of his glass and stood. "Let's go and see him, and you can see for yourself."
By then, night had well and truly fallen on Denerim. As we made our way through the gate and across the bridge into the Alienage, I turned to Stamford. "How do you even know that this elf of yours will be awake at this hour?"
Stamford let out a sigh. "Trust me, John. He's awake."
We passed across the bridge and into the Alienage. I had not been down into this part of Denerim before, and it soon struck me why this was the case. Many of the buildings had been demolished by the battle, lying in splinters and shattered bits. Stamford and I walked through the square and turned down a street, walking deeper into the Alienage. For a moment, I wondered if we were going to be accosted by muggers. Then I looked to my left and saw a templar in full armor, and remembered that I would be fine.
"The locals call this one 'Baker Street'." Stamford explained as we turned down another narrow street. "I think there's a bakery somewhere on it, but I've never asked." We stopped at a small door about halfway down the street. Stamford raised a fist and knocked three times in quick succession.
Presently, the door was opened by a elf woman. She was short and looked to have a few years on her, none of them particularly kind. She glared up at us, and I did my best to smile and look non-threatening. For a moment, none of us spoke.
The elf woman was the one to break the silence. "Please tell me you're here to arrest him."
"Good evening, Mrs. Hudson. What has he done now?" Stamford looked very much as if he was holding back a laugh.
"I don't know! Locked his door, barricaded himself in his room, and now I'm hearing explosions. Explosions!" Mrs. Hudson threw her hands dramatically into the air, as if to emphasize the point. "He's probably setting the whole upstairs on fire. That madman is going to finish the job the Darkspawn started! He's a one-man Blight!"
Stamford moved towards the door, and Mrs. Hudson opened it so that we could pass through into the small hallway beyond. "Don't worry, ma'am. I'll take care of it." Then, leaving her muttering to herself about explosions and Darkspawn, we headed up a small flight of stairs until we came to the locked door at the top of them.
True to form, the moment I stepped on the top step, there came a terrific blast from beyond the locked door. Moments later, I became aware of a whooping sound and several heavy footfalls. Stamford shot me a knowing look, raised his hand, and pounded on the door.
"Go away!" A voice inside the room snapped.
Stamford pounded on the door again. "Holmes! Holmes, open this bloody door immediately!"
Inside the room, the footfalls suddenly grew louder and louder. The door suddenly flew open, and standing before us was an elf with black hair and sharp features. He stared, wide-eyed, at Stamford and myself before suddenly lunging forward and clasping Stamford on either side of his face, grinning like a madman.
"Stamford! You couldn't have come at a better moment. I've done it! You'll want to see this immediately. I've done it! I've done it!" His voice was manic and quick-paced, and his eyes burned with the fires of victory.
"Alright, Holmes." Stamford reached up and pushed the elf's hands away. "What have you done?"
Holmes turned and led the way into the room beyond. As we passed through the doorway, I saw that the room was cluttered with all manner of books and instruments on and around a single table. Two doors sat in the back of the room and a window to the side offered a view of the street below. The fireplace in the corner was unlit, but the room was filled with an unnatural haze. The only light came from a series of blue and green fires that sat in dishes on the table. Holmes himself took up a position near the table, taking excitedly and so quickly that I could barely distinguish what he was saying.
"I was reading notes on all of the apostate mages arrested in the last five years at the Chantry – the interesting information in the archives, and not that nonsense you lot have in the front bit – and I realized that there's no way to tell if a fire is lit by magic or by is just a natural occurrence. Say a barn happens to light on fire while a mage is hiding out in the town. If that mage is caught, they'll be blamed for the fire and killed, even if they protest their innocence. I've at last discovered a way to tell if a fire had traces of lyrium, and therefore, if a fire was set using magical means."
Stamford raised an eyebrow. "And how did you do that, Holmes? It seems impossible to me."
"Of course it does." Holmes said dryly, turning to the table. He pointed at one of the flames. "The trick is to mix some of the ash with a combination of some deathroot and a concentrator agent and set a fire directly under it. The flames pass through the mixture. If the flame turns green, like so, there was little to no magic present in the fire. If it burns blue," Holmes indicated another fire. "then the fire was definitely set by a mage."
"I see." said Stamford in a tone that clearly said he didn't. "I'll be sure to mention your work to the Knight-Commander."
"Oh, do." replied Holmes in a tone that clearly said he didn't expect Stamford to.
I cleared my throat, and Stamford looked over at me. "If you're done playing with fire, I'd like to introduce you to my companion. John, this is Sherlock Holmes. Holmes, John Watson."
Holmes turned to regard me with a curious stare. After a moment, he stuck his hand out to me and held it there. I took it and gave it a small shake. Holmes cocked his head to the side and studied me for another moment before speaking. "Please to meet you, Enchanter Watson. I'm sure you haven't been to the Alienage since obtaining your injury in the Battle of Denerim, so I must apologize for the mess outside and hope that the journey was not too difficult."
I turned to look at Stamford. "You sent word ahead that we were coming?"
"Not at all." Stamford's grin had begun to return now that Holmes was focused on me. "I've told him nothing."
"Then how..." I began, before Holmes interrupted me.
"You're in the company of a templar and your robe and staff make it obvious you are a mage, but you lack the characteristic burns on your fingers of an apprentice. The fact that you are with a templar at all suggests that you are not a senior enchanter, as you could very easily get leave to travel with that sort of status, hence, Enchanter Watson. As to the battle, I perceived that you had a slight limp upon entering and a slight shortness of breath. Furthermore, your robes are disheveled and poorly assembled on your person, as your are right-handed and have been forced to dress yourself primarily with your left hand. That you are here at all and not with the rest of the mages at Lake Calenhad suggests a role in the Battle of Denerim, and all of those signs point to an injury, though not an apparent one, likely a shoulder wound that is small but got infected. Hence, Enchanter Watson, Battle of Denerim, injury." He spoke all this with a bored expression on his face, as if he had expected me to know this and was being forced to explain things to a child.
I looked back and forth between Holmes and Stamford for a few moments of silence. Stamford was trying very hard not to laugh, and Holmes looked as if he was waiting for some sort of expected response. When at last I spoke, all I could find to say was "That was astonishing."
"Really?" Holmes' eyebrows went up. "That is not the response I usually get." He turned and strode back over to the table, bending over his fires with his back to me and Stamford. "I enjoy the recreational use of a pipe."
"Do you?" I asked, confused.
"Oh, yes. Often. Sometimes two or three at a time. I also conduct experiments in here of a scientific nature, and sometimes they can get quite loud and cause quite a mess. This wouldn't bother you?"
I shook my head. "I used to live in a tower with apprentices. I am used to loud noises and foul smells at all hours of the day."
"What are my other faults?" Holmes twisted his head again, trying very hard to think of some. "I sometimes descend into silence for days on end and will speak to no one. Do not engage me in conversation during this time. Simply leave me to my own devices and I will be social again when the mood has passed. Oh! And I play the violin at all hours of the day. It was a gift from an Antivan prince. Helps me to think. That wouldn't bother you, would it?"
"That depends on how good you are." I answered. "I enjoy a good melody so long as the player is skilled at his craft."
Holmes clapped his hands together and spun on his heels. "Brilliant! What are your faults, then, Watson? If Stamford is going to ask me to consider keeping an eye on you until you can return to Lake Calenhad, then I think it is only fair if I know what difficulties you will bring to my life."
I did not bother to ask how he know Stamford's purpose when the templar hadn't even told me. "Well, I keep odd sleeping hours and don't get out of bed if I can help it. I don't go out much, or bring anyone to see me. I'd also like to avoid arguments, as I'm in no condition to be angry too often. I have a different set of faults when I'm well, of course, but I can't see how that will matter much."
With a laugh, Holmes crossed over to Stamford and thrust something into the templar's hand. "I'll take him. Don't you worry, Stamford, I'll keep a close eye on your mage. You can trust me, I assure you. I won't even charge you for it – just send along enough to cover his room and board, and I'll take care of the rest."
"Really?" Stamford's jaw nearly dropped, and he stared blankly at Sherlock Holmes. "No charge?"
"I didn't say that. I said enough to cover room and board. As to the benefits to me, I daresay it will be nice to have someone around who is not constantly hounding me about not burning the city down. Just being his things by tomorrow, if he has any beyond what he is currently wearing. He can have the spare bedroom, if he gives me a few moments to remove the dead cat." Seeing the expression of disgust creeping onto Stamford's face, Holmes snorted. "It was dead when I found it. I was examining the rate of decomposition when exposed to elfroot."
"I... see..." said Stamford, taking a step towards the door. "Well, good luck to you, John. Send word ahead when you are well enough to return to the Circle Tower. If we don't hear from you in three months, we'll send someone to... investigate what has happened to you." He offered a curt not to Holmes, and then vanished out the door, leaving me alone in my new temporary residence.
Sherlock Holmes stared after Stamford for a moment. Then he threw his head back and let out a great laugh. "Templars." was all he said, before turning back to his table. When he spun around to face me again, he was holding one of the flaming dishes. "Hold this for me a moment, Watson. I have one last matter to attend to, and then I will clean out the spare bedroom for you."
The instant I took hold of the dish, he suddenly took a leap backwards and slammed his hands against the table, and the other flames suddenly roared up, nearly blinding me. I let out a cry and nearly dropped the dish I was holding. Holmes let out a cry of delight and seized the last dish from my hands, throwing it back on the table and ignoring the sudden bursting of blue flames from it. From somewhere below us, Mrs. Hudson began shouting and outside, a dog began to bark.
That is how I came to live at the residence of Sherlock Holmes. I swear to the Maker that this is the truth. I will note more about Sherlock Holmes at a future date, if my new friend doesn't succeed in blowing me up first.