They came through an archway and heard mages speaking in hushed whispers. About Uldred. Elanda wanted to learn more, but they had already heard them. And they were attacked by mages. Mages who had resorted to blood magic.
After defeating two of them, almost easily, Elanda kicked one to the ground, hoping she would talk. Much to Elanda's much hidden relief. She did.
"Please, please." The mage begged, "I just want my life."
"You know..." Elanda said, coming to eye level and fixing the front of the woman's robes, "I'm sure the others you killed could say the same thing."
Uldred had come back from Ostagar, far before Wynne had, and convinced the Circle that Loghain was to be trusted. That they should support Loghain and in turn he would have the Chantry give them more freedom.
Elanda's fists tightened, when the mage looked up at Elanda with frightened eyes, "Please we were only doing this for our freedom."
"How have you helped your future fellow mages?" Elanda asked, trying to keep her anger within. It was getting difficult, "Tell me how this helps the mages after you?"
"Sometimes... Drastic measures have to be taken for the first step. But we didn't mean for it to go this far."
Elanda sighed, "So if you were in my situation. What would you tell me?" She asked, "Because I have no idea what to do with you."
"I-I could run." The mage explained, "Run to the Chantry and seek penance."
"The Chantry would never take you, you know." Alistair crossed his arms, "They're very picky about who they let in. Harlots, murderers, yes. Malifecarum? Oh no..."
"Your ignorance betrays you, Alistair. The Chantry accepts everyone and anyone."
"You must have a memory of a different Chantry, then, Leliana." Alistair argued, "Because the Chantry I know would not hesitate to shove a sword of mercy right through her heart."
Once again, Elanda was given a choice to offer redemption and faced with the same questions. Could she give it? She had offered redemption to the Lothering bandits and didn't take it; she offered redemption to Sten, to Jowan and now... If she turned her back and slayed this mage, what good would she have done then? Could she let another blood mage go? After all of the damage done...?
She helped the girl to her feet, "I will let you go." Elanda said softly, "But I will not help you escape."
"Thank you! May the eye of the Maker watch you for your mercy." She blessed them as she ran off.
"Well aren't you merciful lately?" Morrigan quipped.
Elanda quickly shoved her way past Morrigan, "Let's go. We've dallied long enough."
There was silence for a long time as they walked the stairs to the next floor.
Morrigan, of course decided to bring it upon herself to end the monotonous silence.
"So I take it you did not enjoy your Templar training?" Elanda frowned, she knew Morrigan must have been sifting through proper topics to talk about in such a... Setting.
"That's directed at me, I take it?" Alistair's tone alone said that anything would be better than hearing Morrigan talk, Elanda could sense his eye-roll.
"Do you see any others who have failed at their religious instruction?"
Alistair groaned, "I didn't fail. I was recruited into the Grey Wardens."
"And if you hadn't been recruited?" Morrigan asked, "What would have happened, instead?"
Alistair released a heavy sigh, "I would've turned into a drooling lunatic, slaughtered the grand cleric and run around the streets of Denerim in my small clothes, I guess."
Morrigan released a small but victorious chuckle, "Your self-awareness does you credit."
"I thought you'd like that." Alistair spat back.
In the next floor however, they found Hunger abominations, shambling corpses and a mage named Godwin who was Void-bent on staying hidden in a closet.
Elanda left him to his strange closet, the man was safe and if he wanted to make for the barrier, he could do just that. She needed to continue onwards.
They came upon more arguing mages, and they turned to fight the group, Elanda bashed the one who she thought was the one trying to summon a spell, Alistair following her, Leliana was able to swiftly end the mage who was running after them.
What Elanda didn't see, as she was too busy dealing with one mage is the other, last mage had turned into an abomination.
She gave the mage a sword through his stomach and was about to pull out her sword when she saw a blur of silver appear next to her and shove her to the side. A hunger abomination, bigger than they had seen so far, had drawed back it's clawed hand and went to swing at her blind side when Alistair had pushed her to the side as his shield took the brunt of the blow.
Alistair grit his teeth and forcefully pushed back the attack and rammed the abomination into the wall, driving his sword upwards going through its chest, and out of the jaw before quickly ripping it out as it turned to a nasty bloody mess on the wall and the floor.
"See?" Alistair asked lowly as he passed her shooting a look of concern, "Even fearless leaders need defending every once in a while."
"This is Irving's office." Wynne said as they walked into a room, "I half expected to find him here." She said with a sigh, "I suppose it was just too much to hope for."
"Look around." Elanda said, "There's got to be something here that we can use."
"Like what?" Wynne asked, almost horrified.
"I don't know." Elanda said, "But with blood magic we can't be sure of anything, can we? If we find anything, we'll bring it to you or Morrigan if it can be of use. If not: We put it back. Deal?"
Wynne sighed with a nod.
"Rummaging through a First Enchanter's office while he is indisposed... How very clever of you." Morrigan purred, but kept near the door.
Elanda went to a chest that had caught her eye in the back of the room, Leliana and Wynne went to a book shelf while Alistair went to his desk.
Elanda found that the chest opened with ease. In it, she saw a black book. Thick and leather bound. She was horrified that the enchanter had something like this. She didn't want to show it to Wynne and break Wynne's heart that Irving may have dabbled in... Not so good magics, but she didn't want Morrigan's hands on this either.
And since Elanda wasn't a mage, it was best safe with her for the time being... Wasn't it? Until she had a better idea of what to do with it.
"Anything?" She asked, closing the lid.
"Sadly nothing." Leliana sighed.
"Just a journal page by Irving. Something about setting up some sort of retreat so Uldred could share his gift of being able to easily manipulate the apprectices with the other enchanters." Alistair shrugged, "I don't know what that means."
"We won't know for sure now." Wynne sighed reluctantly, "We best get a move on if we are to do anything about the tower."
"Well. What glorious knowledge to know you can read, Alistair." Morrigan chuckled, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
In the Great Hall, Elanda fought her first Arcane Horror. A tall floating monstrosity. Blackended face, long pointed fingers. Elanda saw it as it kept summoning the corpses that they had just slain.
She had to kill it. To keep the corpses from raising. She gave the corpse in front of her a kick to the stomach and as it fell backwards she ran towards it.
"Elanda!" Alistair shouted, seeing her run towards a ball of magical energy. He wanted to move, but if he did, Wynne, Leliana and as much as he hated her, Morrigan, wouldn't be protected for very long.
Leliana was quick to redirect her arrows at the Arcane Horror, but Elanda slammed her shield in front of her as it took the hit of magical energy.
She kept her feet to the floor and bit her lip as she kept on her feet.
Alistair knocked the head of the corpse clean off and focused on smiting the Arcane Horror before its next attack. He had succeeded right after the second attack, Elanda barely had enough time to jump off of some debris that was in her way and stab her sword in the crook of it's neck.
She smirked as she panted, running in heavy armor was not the smartest thing in the world. It let off a shriek of a laugh before disinegrating into a pile of black ash. She felt a pressure let out of her shoulder and when she looked down, she felt, more than saw that she was bleeding. The blasted thing has dug his claws into her shoulder.
Elanda leaned her helmeted head against the doorframe. No demons or abominations in the room. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a gulp of air.
She laughed as Alistair, Leliana, Wynne and Morrigan all came running with worried expressions. She found herself surprised at Morrigan more than anyone.
"Did you see that?" She let out a breathy laugh, "That was... Awesome."
"Maker..." Wynne said, forcing Elanda to sit down, "Let's look at that shoulder." She said, quickly unbuckling the pauldrons, and moving the cloth of the tunic to the side, just enough to get gilmpses of the wouds. Wynne saw black dust around the puncture holes of the claws. she wiped it away and found that it was just the ash, and was thankful it was nothing more, "Warden, you are lucky I'm a healer." Wynne scolded as her hands gently glowed with bright blue magic.
"And lucky you were here." Alistair agreed, Leliana glanced at him, "F-For Elanda's sake..."
"I was just fulfilling my role of fearless leader." She grimaced, tightening her fist as she felt the flesh quickly heal all in one go. Maker, it was painful.
"Fearless, or reckless?" Leliana frowned, crossing her arms.
The healing left a slight tingling over the wounds and Wynne secured Elanda's pauldrons after pulling the tunic to it's original place
"Aren't leaders a little bit of both?" Elanda asked, slowly moving her shoulder around.
"Your self-awareness does you credit." Morrigan smirked, now that the concern for a woman who had snapped at her hours before was gone.
"Let's try to avoid this in the future, shall we?" Wynne asked, like a mother correcting a mistake.
"Yes." Alistair looked at Elanda, "Let's."
Elanda kept her weapons out, "I cannot promise anything." She buckled her pauldrons back on, "You are my first concern in battle." She stood up and began to walk forwards, not noticing that Alistair was looking at her with a resolute expression. He would try to keep her safe.