Bull sat down with a heavy sigh at the small stone wall near the Crossroads. The road on either side of him was littered with corpses of both apostates and templars; pathetic idiots who were so busy trying to kill each other that they didn't even notice that the world was falling apart around them, the demon army pouring out of the Breach in the sky, or that innocent people died during their fights. Or worse, they noticed, and they just didn't care.
He was glad to use them as a distraction while he waited for the Inquisition agents to arrive. It was better than to sit here, waiting and getting lost in his own dark thoughts. That way insanity lay, and Bull wasn't so sure he'd be able to get through this with a clear head.
Bull's contacts, the ones not directly involved with the Ben Hassrath, informed him of the stirring unrest in Hinterlands, the endless fights between apostates and rogue templars that grew even more brutal after the explosion… and of the Chantry Mother who tried her best to help during all this chaos. Who invited the newly named Herald of Andraste to meet with her at the Crossroads.
"Water, Chief?" Krem asked in a quiet voice from his side.
He took the water skin gratefully and took a long drink, "Thanks."
Krem and the rest of the Chargers were… subdued, since the explosion. Rush and her (no, he refused to name it death), her disappearance left a mark on them all. But Bull was determined to stick to his plan. They were going to join the inquisition, they were going to catch those bastards who caused this, and they will make them pay for messing with the Chargers. Whatever it took.
Now the only thing left was for the Inquisition's Herald to show up.
If only his reports weren't so sketchy. One guy said the Herald was some human noble, another that it was either a Carta dwarf or an elven mage. Yet another claimed a proud Vashoth mercenary was at their head, but that was too ridiculous to consider. One of the elves even whispered that the Herald wasn't a single person but a group of four different people, one from each race, who will together lead them all to salvation.
So basically, Bull had no idea who will arrive.
Sudden noise from the mountain path made him look up just in time to see a group of four people arrive. For a single crazy moment, he entertained the notion that the 'group' theory was right after all… when he noticed there were no Vashoth among them. He would be surprised if there were.
And their leader… His eye widened.
Rush smiled sardonically and lifted her hand in greeting. Her palm glowed bright green. "Hey, guys."
Bull threw his head back, and laughed.
- The End -
The 'Ruined' Elven Party
Taven lifted his head when he noticed their approach. He lifted an eyebrow when he realized who came to visit them here in the Emerald Graves. "Hello, Rush. Nice to meet you again," he smiled the moment he recognized her.
"Good day, Taven," Rush greeted with a friendly smile of her own. It was always nice to meet old friends - especially friends that had useful advoce. She looked around the ancient elven ruins with curiosity. "What is this place?"
Taven went on to explain how important Red Crossing was to his people. Going by the tension in a couple new faces she didn't remember being with Taven's group before, Rush had a feeling the rest of the elves would have protested fiercely at his decision to share so much as the name of this place, if he obviously didn't already know her from before. She wondered if they'd have pulled any info out of the elves, had she not known Taven already. Probably not.
"You know, we could help you out with all…" she waved her hand around at the half-broken Aravels, meager portions of badly cooked food and the still locked ruins, "…this. You have but to ask, friend."
"We would of course be grateful for your help. Especially since we, err," Taven scratched the back of his head and added in a small voice, "We don't know how to get past the ancient elven defenses."
Rush suppressed a smile and turned to Solas. He will probably have an idea on how to open this thing…
(End result: Taven and his group survive, meet Corypheus' people on their way out and defeat them with Inquisition's help. Everyone's happy, the Dalish have another important piece of their history and nobody died - aside from Red Templars and/or Venatori, but nobody cares about them.)
Where IS the Mage Rebellion?
"We should gain the mages' assistance in closing the Breach," Josephine looks up from her ever present clipboard to see the reactions of the rest of the Inquisition's leaders. Such as they were.
"Oh? And where should we start looking for them?" Cullen interrupted and Rush was surprised to hear the bitterness in his voice. And… did the commander just glare at her? "The mage rebellion fell apart, as you may have noticed. Most mages found themselves employed by mercenary companies, universities, local villages, or rich nobles from what I know."
"But… what about that group in Redcliffe?" Leliana asked in shock, no doubt wrong-footed by the realization that her information might not be as accurate as she thought.
"Bah, a couple crazy libertarians, lazy layabouts who want to be served and not lift a finger and some apprentices, too young to be of much use in any fight or capable of doing any jobs. No one of importance. Damn, even the Tranquil mages left. The ex-Tranquils just about Fade Walked out of there, too."
No, she wasn't mistaken, he was glaring at her. "So why can't we contact the mercenary groups? The Chantry does know where the Mages are all employed, thanks to their official contracts, right?"
Josephine shook her head, "I'm afraid it's not that easy, Lady Trevelyan," she contradicted sadly. "The Inquisition cannot currently afford to pay for their services, and we cannot simply ask them to abandon their current positions to help us without any recompense. Trying to pay them would put us in debt for years, especially without the Chantry support. We already employ as many mages as we can afford. Perhaps that will be enough."
"And perhaps we should look to the Templars at Therinfal for help, if we're not sure," Cullen interjected stoically.
Rush only lifted an eyebrow, "The Templars are that much more organized? I was under the impression that they have found employment as well."
"True," Cullen agreed with a sigh. "But only a few of them did compared to the mages. While powerful, templar abilities only give them true advantage over mages and magic, not much else. If we don't fight mages, we are nothing more than warriors. Mercenary companies and city guard already have more than enough of those, so I imagine the demand for their skills isn't that high. We'd get more help against the Breach among the templars, trust me."
The leaders bickered for a couple more minutes, before Rush just sighed and stood up. "Very well. Since the Mages are so hard to reach, we will go and court the templar's favor. Leliana, please send the Trio to Redcliffe and have Lavellan bring the apprentices here, to Haven. Any mage can help, even if we taught them only a single spell. They'll be better off with us. Josephine, please gather the Inquisition's noble allies. I… will go and try to persuade the Templars to help us."
She turned to go and muttered under her breath, hoping none of them will hear her. "Let's just hope Rylan didn't have too many friends among these particular 'righteous knights'…"
(And that's how Rush accidentally dismantled both the Templar's and the Mage's Rebellion. It might have also pulled the rug out from under Corypheus, since his plot with the templars failed and there were pretty much no capable mages ready to fight and become Venatori conscripts either. On the other hand, there were way too few oculara around to find all the necessary shards to unlock the Temple of Pride, but then, Rush didn't really consider that a drawback… Since it meant there were also a lot less dead Tranquil mages. Also, I like Ser Barris, and it kills me every time I have to go and help the mages, that I have to leave him to the horrible fate of becoming a Red Templar monster...)
A Different Inquisition (alias Useful Agents are Useful)
Cadash fell into the chair at Haven's tavern, while Adaar threw herself down next to him and all but went to sleep right on the floor. Lavellan didn't seem much better but was still too high up on adrenalin from their journey to sit around, so he went to fetch them drinks.
Rush lifted surprised eyes at them from where she leaned against Bull during her precious moment of free time. "Ah, you're back! So, how did your trip to the Emprise du Lion go?"
Adaar lifted her head an inch, glared at Rush, and said one word: "Ugh." Then laid her head back down and closed her eyes.
Rush grinned. "That bad?"
Cadash groaned, "You know how I wanted to find the illegal lyrium supplier? Well, your spymaster's tip was right. We've found them. Red Templars poisoning people, trying to turn giants into red lyrium monsters and a huge-ass fucking Demon controlling them from behind the scenes."
"What?" she asked incredulously and straightened up to give him her full attention.
"Red Lyrium templars bought a mine in the Highlands from some idiotic noble, and employed locals to work for them. Then they poisoned the water supply with Red Lyrium for some reason. Over thirty people dead, several more caught the Blight. I've already given your Commander all the documents we're found in the mine. Maybe he can make sense of why they did that." Cadash sighed and shook his head. "After that, we've had to fight our way through a Giant with red lyrium sticking out of his back, more Red Templars than I can count and a fucking Demon who tried his best to mess with our heads and offer us some shitty deal so we'd let him go. Didn't work out too well for him. It. But hey, good news, too - you now got the super-famous disgraced Michel de Chevin as an Inquisition Agent. Your leaders are already arguing on how best to use him."
Rush stayed silent for a second, trying to absorb it all. Then she shook her head, "Only you, Cadash. Only you…" struggling not to laugh at his disgruntled expression.
The man just sighed. "Yeah. My job is weird. I should have been a nug farmer."
(End Result: 50 people dead, instead of 50 people LEFT in the entire Highlands… Because that part of DAI always bothered me; the Inquisition arrived way too late, but still congratulated itself on a job well done, despite the corpse littered ground and 2% chance of getting all the Red Lyrium out, even with digging… If only some talented, enterprising group of adventurers checked it out sooner, right? After all, the level cap is only there to prevent you from going there too soon, so it will fit DAI timeline… And I so enjoy messing with DAI timeline.)
What happened at the Conclave?
Rush rushed into the room. "What's going on here?!"
Rush walked up to Bull at the tavern, happily drinking with the Chargers and a couple unfortunate soldiers he roped into another one of his drinking contests. She smirked; those guys will regret their decision in the morning. Cullen will no doubt ride their asses extra hard, for drinking to excess.
…But that was not why she was there.
She sat very, very close to him, and leaned in, "Hey, Bull. Do you have some… free time?" This will be the first time they had time to be together since the Conclave blew up. She couldn't wait to have him again, she thought with a smile.
"Sure, Boss. For you, always."
That gave her a pause. 'Wait a moment…' The smile froze on her face. Well, she was sort of the one in command now, but… did that mean he will… they… Her eyes widened as she stared at him in shock.
Bull met her eyes with his own…
…and sent her an evil grin.
- The End -
A/N: 175 pages. 80k words. My longest work yet :)
For those who are wondering: I have no plans for a sequel right now, even though I do have several more ideas how this could go. As it stands now, this is it – the entire work.
I hope you liked it. If you did, please leave a comment. I love to hear from you :)