Her dreams are a pillar of flame on the horizon.

Commanding. Beckoning.

His inner eye is drawn to it, this new constant in his dreamscape as compelling an obsession as he'd ever known. Even here, in the furthest, coldest reaches of the Fade, he can feel the heat of it, licking along his outermost senses. Tantalizing him. Tempting him.

The longing, deep and terrible, gnaws at him once more and he knows that he could be there but for the lack of a single step. Circle the fire and sit, as he'd once done, a wolf pretending to be a dog. In comfort and company. Just a step.

A step he can never take.

Can never let himself take. It didn't matter that her wrathful presence within his soul underscored the dire death toll of his oath, and something in his core demanded he address his own sins. Or that in her grief and rage she still called to him, heartsick and just as alone.

More alone now than ever.

The both of them.

Yet, he still dreams. Of her. Of their all too brief familiarity and treasured few intimacies. Shame averts his gaze from where it longs to linger. In that short span between meeting and parting, he'd caused her so much pain. Sorrows heaped upon sorrows. Yesterday, today and for many tomorrows yet.

He marvels at how she could even still dream with such ferocity. If only he'd foreseen-

A bitter bark of laughter leaves his lips. Clever me, he thinks as a pang tears through his heart. So clever and yet so foolish. Unprepared. For so ... many unexpected ….

The self-loathing is kinder this time and lets him out with just a few ragged pants. The guilt can be reforged. Loss makes for a sharper, more vengeful edge. He knows this well.

The other Evanuris will come to know it, too. They, and their pets.


In the meantime, her radiance drags his gaze forward again and dangles before him the sweet, aching recollection of the softness of her hair between his fingers, the parting of her lips around his name-

"Solas …."

A shiver rolls through his being as he pulls further into himself and his web of intrigue. Its hungry strands wait for his cunning fingers to pull, to pluck. To play a requiem for the death of the world.

But it is not time. Not yet.

So, the Dread Wolf takes the small moment of calm to rest.

And remember ….

"What did you do?" she demanded, cold glint in her narrowed eyes. Something feral danced around the corners of her generous mouth, threatening a snarl.

Solas let go of her hand before she could wrench it away, as she seemed inclined to do. Muscles bunched at her jawline, a twitch on the edge of violence.

Taking a step back, he said, "I did nothing. The credit is yours."

Her glare went flat with doubt and suspicion as he explained further, but the stare didn't relent, even as she clenched her marked hand into a fist. An impulse to tell her to keep it open seized him. His magic, energies intrinsic to he alone leaked from that tiny fissure, and he would bathe all day in it if he could. If he dared.

If he had the strength, he'd take it now. Devour it back into himself.

But he couldn't. Bitterness tore away inside him, leaving a coppery tang in his mouth.

Solas bit the inside of his cheek to quell any unwise words. His eyes started to dry out from the long, piercing glower confronting him. But damned if he'd be the first to blink. A challenge given must be answered. He could do that much at least, weak though he found himself now.

Cassandra spoke then, breaking the tension, "Meaning it could close the Breach itself."

The elf maid's grey eyes flicked upward toward that great hole in the sky, with its emerald cascade of raw potential. They widened, awe and terror lurking just under the surface of stark uncertainty.

Solas took a moment to indulge in a touch of disdain for such superstitious ignorance. The tiniest gloat for the simple of understanding. But then, her features smoothed out and emotion fled her gaze, leaving them steely and clear as they found his again just as he finished, "It seems you're the key to our salvation."

Her eyes slid over him, through him as the others began to speak, making introductions. She turned full circle to give each her full and polite regard, all except him. He told her his name in turn and she didn't give him more than a nod to acknowledge she'd heard. Nor thanks when told it had been he that kept her alive when she'd been newly inflicted with the mark.

Irritation at being so summarily dismissed slithered through him like an ugly cancer, before he remembered himself. Be small. Be humble. Solas schooled his expression into an amiable neutral as he followed the small troupe down into the valley. Down to the temple. Conversation speculating on the why and how of these strange events flew back and forth between members of the group, with the elf maid chiming in only a few words at a time. Her face gave away nothing, but Solas could tell she listened and pored over every word. Even his, though he imagined it galled her.

"By the way, what's your name, Sticks?" said Varric, all smirk and robust chest hair. He craned his neck up to look at her.

The most miniscule of hesitations before she answered, "My clan is Lavellan. Those who might call, call me Alas."

Dirt? His brow wrinkled despite his firm control. Most peculiar. Or cruel. Or … fictional. He couldn't decide which could be more likely. He dropped back a step so she couldn't see his scowl. Or his scrutiny.

"Bah! That's boring. I like mine better. Sticks, it is. Suits you better, tall thing that you are." The dwarf forged ahead with a hum of satisfaction.

"As you will. It matters little," she replied, hands resting with ease on the hilts of two rusty old daggers at her hip. A rogue then? Not a mage? Pity. And a little mortifying that a quickened child would be the one to bear his stored might.

Solas chased disappointment and discomfort away with a heavy sigh. He stared at his hand, where residual energies still chased along his nerves. Strange, though, he could have sworn ….