"You're not doing it right." Leliana scolded, her hands resting across her chest, her foot thumping against the gravel. The bright afternoon sun cascaded over Skyhold, casting shadows from the buildings over them.
"Leliana..." He lowered the bow in his hands, "This blighted thing won't cooperate."
She laughed, "Because you've got it all wrong."
"Can't you give me my sword back?"
Her eyes darted to the sword a couple of feet away from them, then looked back at him with a smirk, "No."
He sighed and threw his head back, "This is getting us nowhere."
"Here." She gently grabbed the bow from his hand and readied her stance. "Hold it tightly with one hand," She raised the bow, "Ready the arrow and pull back," She pulled the bowstring back until her right hand grazed her face, "Eye down your target," She closed one eye and took a deep breath, "Then, release." The arrow flew from the bow, hitting the bullseye of the target that was almost forty yards away.
He scoffed with playfulness filling his tone, "Now you're just showing off."
Another laugh came from her chest. She lowered the bow and smiled at him, "You're making this much harder than it truly is, Inquisitor."
"Part of my charm." He smirked, his eyes shining against the light of the sun, "You know, I have a thing or two we could do besides this..."
She smiled toward the ground, her cheeks growing pink, "As much as I'd love to know what you had in mind, I believe it's about time we did something a bit more productive."
He chuckled, "I'd say what I'm thinking is very productive."
She laughed, and rested the bow at her feet. She slunk closer to him, his eyes growing with enticement. She rested a hand on his chest, and pulled on a grin. "Brady..." She whispered on his lips. He leaned into her, his hands finding the small of her back. As he was about to kiss her, she swept a leg over his, taking out both of them and making him fall hard on his back. "When's the last time you practiced your hand-to-hand?"
He looked up at her and groaned, throwing his head back against the dirt and closing his eyes, "That wasn't even fair."
She grinned, "Nobody ever accused me of playing fair." She held out a hand to him. He sat up and grabbed it tightly. With a tug, he pulled her on top of him, sending her down hard against his body.
Her fiery hair peeked out of her hood. He moved a misplaced piece behind her ear. "If you want to fight dirty..."
She pressed her head against his chest, suppressing a giggle.
As Brady was about to speak, Cullen's voice joined them. "I hope I'm not interrupting..." He barbed with a grin.
They both looked up at him, his body shadowing over theirs. Leliana pressed against Brady's chest and pulled herself up. He groaned at the sudden pressure, and then got up as well. "Commander." Brady cleared his throat, brushing off the dirt off of his white shirt.
Cullen crossed his arms, "A Grey Warden has arrived to Skyhold, and he's refusing any details until he speaks to you."
Brady furrowed his brows and looked to Leliana, who simply shrugged. "Did he at least share a name?"
Cullen shook his head, "No. But this requires your immediate attention, if that wasn't apparent already."
"Alright." Brady grabbed his sword from the ground and began to walk towards the fortress, "I'm curious to see what our Warden friend has to say."
Cullen and Leliana followed behind, heading up the fleets of stone stairs and into the throne room. Brady noticed a man in distinct warden armor standing to his back to him. The man's shoulder length black hair stopped just before his armor began, and he stood in a stoic stance. As they grew closer, the Grey Warden turned, and looked directly at Brady with his steel grey eyes.
"You must be Inquisitor Trevelyan," He spoke with a Ferelden accent, "An honor to finally meet you."
"And you are?" Brady replied.
"Nathaniel Howe," Leliana announced, "The years have been kind to you."
"Leliana," He beamed with a smile, "Always a pleasure, m'lady."
Brady shook his hand with a firm grip. "What brings you to Skyhold, Warden Howe?"
Nathaniel let go of the Inquisitor's hand and stood up straight, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. "I would prefer we speak somewhere more privately, Inquisitor." He looked around to the wandering eyes that cluttered the throne room.
Brady nodded and agreement, and motioned towards the war room. Nathaniel followed his lead and upon entering Josephine's office, closed the door shut behind them. Leliana walked over to where Josephine was sitting. Josephine's hands were folded on the desk as she leaned forward to better hear the conversation. Cullen stayed at Brady's side with a weariness only he could possess.
"I assume these are all trusted associates..." Nathaniel narrowed his eyes at Brady.
"These are my advisers, warden... I assure you that we are in a safe setting." Brady answered with confidence swelling in his tone.
"Very well," Nathaniel stood up straight again, causing Cullen to do the same. "I am coming from Weisshaupt to ask for your aid personally, Inquisitor."
"My aid?" Brady questioned.
Leliana chimed in, "We stopped getting communication from Weisshaupt about six months ago."
Nathaniel chuckled, "That sounds about right. The First Warden has done everything in his power to suppress any idea of the rebellion."
"Rebellion?" Cullen furrowed his brows at Nathaniel. Cullen looked over to Brady, "Maker's breath, this has Hawke written all over it."
"Cullen..." Josephine scolded. He hushed at her voice.
Nathaniel looked to Cullen, "I have read The Tale of the Champion, and could see why one would assume Serah Hawke had something to do with this," Nathaniel gave him a short grin, "And I'm not saying she didn't have anything to do with this... but the issue goes far deeper than her push."
Brady crossed his arms over his chest, "So the Grey Wardens need my help to stop a rebellion?"
"No, Inquisitor," Nathaniel shook his head with grim eyes, "We need your help to start one."
Brady's eyes grew larger, while Cullen let out a sigh, "We cannot get involved in this, Inquisitor. The Grey Wardens should learn to clean up after themselves for a change."
"How has it gotten so bad at the fortress?" Leliana let out a thought.
Josephine leaned a bit closer, "The nobles from the Anderfels have been whispering about The First Warden's ambitious goals for sometime... it is possible that the wardens are tired of the politicking he brings to The Order."
"The First Warden begun all of this." Nathaniel confirmed with an edge in his tone.
"Warden Howe," Brady cocked an eyebrow, "Surely there is more to this rebellion than the annoyance of the First Warden's politicking."
"Of course, Inquisitor." Nathaniel nodded. He looked around to the others in the room, their eyes waiting for him to continue. "Warden-Commander Cousland arrived in Weisshaupt several months ago with alarming discovery."
"A cure to the Calling." Brady assumed.
"Precisely. He presented it to the First Warden, alongside Hawke. The First Warden was- less than pleased at the discovery." Nathaniel studied the Inquisitor's face, who stood stoic in front of him.
"The Calling, from what I've read and heard, is a terrible shadow over any warden." Brady narrowed his eyes in thought, "Why would the First Warden look at it with negativity?"
Nathaniel let out a dark chuckle, "Then you see the conflict, Inquisitor. There are wardens who see this as a hope for longer lives, a way out of the curse the Joining brings us. Then there are others, like the First Warden, who see this as a desecration on our very Order."
Brady nodded with an understanding. Nathaniel relaxed underneath his armor. Cullen spoke up, "With all due respect, Warden Howe, I don't see how the Inquisition could help."
Nathaniel tensed up again, the back of his neck growing hot. "The First Warden is a man who only has his own personal agendas as priority, if that wasn't apparent. He has Warden-Commander Cousland incarcerated. Do you understand? The Hero Of Ferelden is in a dungeon because of the First Warden's opposition."
"Damon?" Leliana's voice was a squeak. "Is he alright?"
"He's fine as of the time I had left." Nathaniel confirmed, "Oghren was in charge of watching over him. Lady Morrigan is not pleased, though."
"Morrigan? She's in the Anderfels as well?" Brady Inquired.
"She's the one who sent me here. Her specific instructions being to gain your support and not breathe a word of the rebellion to anyone else besides you." his back straightened, "We were hoping due to your assistance of the Order at Adamant, you could once again grace us with your help."
Leliana's voice dropped, "Inquisitor..." He looked over to her. Her eyes were full of a worry he only saw her express once before- above him on the floor of Meredith's stronghold.
His eyes connected with the floor for a moment, and he brought his eyes back to Nathaniel. "We will assist your rebellion, Warden Howe, but we must do it with a deft touch."
"Inquisitor," Cullen argued, "The Anderfels are weeks away from here. Even if you're certain-"
Nathaniel raised his voice over Cullen's, "There is another thing Lady Morrigan wanted me to inform you of." Brady waited for him to continue, as did everyone else in the room. "She spared details to me, of course. But she said she had left something in Skyhold prior to her departure. and that you would know 'exactly what I am talking about.'" He emulated her tone with a severe accuracy.
He furrowed his brows in thought, and his eyes widened quickly at realization. He let out an amused laugh, "The Eluvian." He turned to Josephine and let out an order, "We need the full support of our allies before we go to Weisshaupt. Get in touch with King Alistair. I'm sure he would take too kindly to one of his close friends being imprisoned." She nodded, and scribbled on her parchment. He allowed a sly smirk to graze his lips, "As for Celene, she owes me a favor or two."
"Thank you, Inquisitor." Nathaniel bowed his head in gratitude, "My orders are to head to Vigil's Keep and convince them to support our cause. I'm sure we will see each other again very soon."
"In war: victory, warden." Brady smiled. Nathaniel shot him a smirk, and exited the room.
At his leave, Cullen spoke up. "Are we sure we want to support this? The wardens have been making this bed for years. If you ask me, maybe it's time they slept in it."
Brady shot him an authoritative look, "I've made my decision, commander." With his words, Cullen hushed.
"Inquisitor, allow me to speak to The King of Ferelden." Leliana leaned forward, "I could convince him quickly to help."
"As could I, Leliana." Josephine's voice carried a joking tone.
"I could go to Denerim," She suggested, "It's always nice to visit Alistair." She spoke with an informality in her words.
"Very well." Brady nodded his head, and directed his attention to Josephine, "Contact Celene and Briala. Convince them it's about time they visit Skyhold."
"Of course," She smirked, "What is the lure? Art or magic?"
"Fashion." Brady grinned, "And a chance for the Marquise to stretch her legs."
Josephine looked down at her parchment and began to scribble. With a nod, he exited the room.
Brady sat at the desk in his quarters with a quill in his left hand. He looked down with scorn at the parchment resting on his desk. He had planned to at least put words to a strategy, but his mind was failing him.
"Troubled?" Leliana spoke, her silent entrance going unnoticed and startling him.
He let out a chuckle, "I don't think I'll ever get used to that."
She walked over to behind his seat and ran her hands down his slowly rising chest. He settled deep into the chair and closed his eyes. She rested her cheek against his. "What are you thinking?" She asked, her voice no louder than a whisper against his ear.
"Are we doing the right thing?" He asked, his eyes looking over to her.
She hummed lightly and replied, "I believe so." He soothed underneath her soft touch.
His eyes fluttered shut, "When do you leave for Denerim?"
"In the morning."
"I wish I could join you." He pressed his lips into a thin line and caused a wrinkle to appear between his brows. "I don't like the idea of you going alone. You should take Bull and Blackwall with you, just in case."
"I'm taking my agents with me... much more subtle." She pressed a kiss on his cheek, causing his face to relax. His light stubble tickled the soft skin of her face. "I'm more concerned on how you're going to bend Celene to cooperate."
"Really good tea." He grinned.
"Inquisitor..." she patted his chest, "Seriously."
He let out a short sigh and looked up at her, "The Orlesian wardens could cause a problem if they become leaderless. I'll present the issue to Celene and Briala and hope that they don't want to deal with another complicated issue so soon after the Civil War."
Leliana patted his chest and walked over to his bed. She sat down and crossed her legs, resting her folded hands on her knee. He watched her, an unintended grin grazing his face at the sight of her grace. She reached in her pocket and pulled out a vile full of assorted herbs. She toyed with the remedy and pointed it at Brady, "Cullen wanted me to give this to you."
Brady got up from his chair and walked over to her, grabbing the vile gently and pulling off the cap. He scrunched his face and threw it back in one gulp. He winced, then threw the empty vile into the waste bucket the rested close to his desk.
"Does it help? She asked, her brows arching, "With the dreams?"
He sat down close to her, "I've slept better," He admitted. "Whether that's due to the remedy or you, I don't know."
She let out a chuckle, her cheeks gaining color, "I guess you'll find out soon enough." She took his hand into hers and rested their intertwined fingers on her lap. He squeezed her hand gently. His free hand caressed her face, causing her ocean orbs to overflow with a bliss that washed across her entire body. Her face leaned toward his warm touch. He placed a kiss on her forehead, causing a hum from her chest to vibrate the air. "I should go before somebody starts asking questions."
He frowned with protest as she got up and her hand slipped away from his. He let out a labor sigh. She noticed, and looked back at him with a smirk and pecked his lips with a small haste.
"Will you be back tonight?" He asked as she began to exit his quarters.
She arched one brow and pulled at a grin, "Maybe."