There are several things I have witnessed in life that have left my head spinning.
Honestly, you name it, and I have probably seen it.
But an actual tear in the actual sky?
That is taking matters a step too far.
I nearly spill my ink pot all over the parchment I am scribbling on when my office door suddenly flies open. I look up to see a dark haired Antivan woman standing by the door, her grey eyes wide with shock.
"They're back! Cassandra and the prisoner are back!"
I immediately jump off my chair and stride past Josephine—for that is the Antivan woman's name—and into the Chantry hallway.
"Where are they?" I ask, my eyes frantically searching the hall before me.
"The prisoner is unconscious," Jospehine responds. "Cassandra and Leliana are on their way to brief us."
Right on cue, the Chantry doors open, revealing two women rushing to meet us. We run towards them and meet them halfway.
"What happened? Is it sealed?" I ask the stern-faced brunette.
"Yes," Cassandra responds curtly. "It is just as we suspected. The prisoner's mark… it can seal the rifts."
"Thank the Maker," I close my eyes and breathe a sigh of relief.
"But the prisoner," Leliana says, her blue eyes troubled. "She's taken quite a blow. I fear she may not recover."
"She will," Cassandra replies with confidence. "She is strong. She'll make it."
"Who is she?" I ask, curiosity quickly replacing my relief.
"A young noble woman," Leliana replies. "From the Trevelyan family, I believe."
"She's not Fereldan, then," I murmur to myself. "What on earth was she doing at the Conclave?"
"We don't know that yet," Cassandra replies. "We'll have plenty of time to drill her once she is awake."
I nod, surprised to find myself somewhat concerned for this mysterious prisoner's welfare.
"Is someone tending to her?" I ask the women.
"Yes. Adan is looking after her as we speak," Cassandra says. She looks tired.
"I'm going to lie down for a moment," she says, as though reading my mind. "Josephine, let me know if the prisoner awakes. I have already instructed the servants to inform us as soon as she is conscious."
"I will," Josephine nods. "Go and rest, Cassandra. You look exhausted."
"I feel exhausted," she says, starting to head to her chamber.
"I should get going as well," Leliana says. "I have several messages I need to send before nightfall."
"Of course," I nod. Jospehine and I just stand there, watching Leliana disappear out the Chantry doors into the camp.
"Well, that's a relief, isn't it?" I smile.
"I'll be relieved once we find out what exactly happened at the Conclave," Josephine sighs, scribbling some notes on her parchment.
"Small steps, lady Montilyet," I reply as I start to retire to my office. "We'll get there."
It was not until breakfast this morning that a servant elf excitedly informed Cassandra of the prisoner's revival.
"How did she seem? Ill?" Cassandra asked the elf.
"She seemed fine, my lady," the elf replied. "She ate her breakfast as I showed her where her clothes were and told her to meet you at the Chantry as soon as she was ready."
"Good," Cassandra nods and dabs at her lips with a napkin. She pushes her half-eaten plate away and stands up. Her gaze meets mine across the table.
"Leliana and I will talk to her first," she tells me. "She is familiar with us. She may feel uncomfortable if all of us were to corner her for an interrogation."
"I agree," I nod. "I'll be at the recruit camp should you need me."
I down my glass of water and head to the recruit camp outside the village gates to oversee the combat training of our newest recruits.
Around an hour later, as I watch a soldier literally fall flat on his ass after a failed evasion attempt, I feel the hem of my coat being tugged at. I quickly turn around and look down to see the same elf from this morning, her expression terrified.
"Please, Ser," she stutters shakily, "Lady Pentaghast requires your presence in the war room, Ser."
"Thank you," I say, giving her a small smile to put the poor thing at ease. "I'll be there momentarily."
I turn back to the sparring recruits before me, shaking my head when I see one of them drop his shield as he attempts to block a strike.
"Keep going at it, recruits!" I yell out over the bustle. "Trevor!" I yell out to a nearby Templar.
"Keep an eye out over them for me, would you?"
"Of course, Ser."
I quickly make my way to the war room in the Chantry. I was surprised to only find Leliana and Josephine waiting for me.
"Where's Cassandra and our guest?" I ask as I take a place between them behind the mahogany table.
"On their way, I'm sure," Josephine responds.
"In the meantime, have a look at this report from Redcliffe, Commander," Leliana says. I take the report from her and scan it. I'm almost halfway through when the war room door opens.
I look up without placing the report down and see Cassandra walk in first, stern as usual. But my eyes quickly move past her, eager to finally see this mysterious savior the people have now dubbed "The Herald of Andraste".
I feel the report slipping through my fingers and almost hit the table.
"Everyone," Cassandra says, her eyes on the Herald. "This is Lady Trevelyan."
"You can call me Evelyn," she says quietly.
"This is Ser Cullen, Commander of the Inquisition forces."
The Herald's eyes, a warm, honey brown hue, drift towards my face, and meet my own. I see them momentarily widen when our gazes lock, and I feel a jolt in my stomach. I clear my throat—a nervous habit of mine—and straighten up, placing Leliana's report down on the table.
"Such as they are," I reply with a wry smile, referring to the so-called forces under my command. "It's an honour to meet you, Herald."
She nods and smiles back, her eyes lingering on mine.
"And this is Jospehine Montilyet, our Ambassador," Cassandra continues.
The Herald immediately slides her gaze over to Josephine, politely nodding in acknowledgment.
"And Leliana you already know," Cassandra finishes. "She's our spy master," she adds with a smirk.
"Thank you, Cassandra," Leliana says with a heavy dose of sarcasm. "How very… tactful of you."
My smile widens as I watch the Herald raise her eyebrows and chuckle in amusement.
The introduction chatter drifting into mere background noise, I find myself studying her face, taking in every delicate detail.
I start and feel my face turn incredibly warm when her honey-brown eyes abruptly meet mine again.
Maker's breath, did she catch me staring at her?
Typical. So. Infuriatingly. Typical.
"Well, I'm going to show the Herald around camp," Cassandra announces, her hand on the door handle. "I will see you all at dinner. We can discuss our next course of action after breakfast tomorrow."
She then gently places her hand against the Herald's upper back—almost in a protective, sisterly way—and guides her back out into the hall.
I can't help but feel a little disappointed when I hear the heavy doors shut loudly behind them.
"Well," Jospehine says, looking at me and Leliana. "She's certainly not what I expected her to be."
"And what did you expect her to be, Josey?" Leliana smiles.
"I'm not sure…" Josephine responds softly. "Certainly not a young, pretty little Trevelyan."
Leliana chuckles and gathers her things.
"She is rather easy on the eyes, isn't she?" she smiles. Her blue eyes flit over to mine, glinting mischievously. "Our Commander seems quite taken by her."
I start sputtering almost immediately.
"I—I don't know what you're talking about," I respond defensively, pretending to busy myself with her discarded report, the heat in my face intensifying.
"Hmmm, sure you don't," she smirks, winking over my shoulder at Josephine.
I ignore them as I prepare to leave the war room.
"I will see you ladies at dinner," I tell them formally, before yanking open the door and quickly stepping out, eager to hide my now surely red face. I quickly stride over to my office and shut the door behind me. I throw Leliana's report on my desk and rest my hands against the polished wooden surface, staring out the window before me.
As I watch the snowflakes gather up into a sparkling white blanket on the windowsill, my mind drifts back to the only time I had ever been so struck by a woman upon first sight.
Ten years ago.
In the Ferelden Circle Tower.
And now, sure as the breach that scars the heavens, it's happening again.
But I don't want to allow it.
I shouldn't allow it.