Chapter Twenty Two: Power
Bree rubbed the side of her face bearing Solas' invisible mark. Solas noted her action but did not comment, the mark didn't cause her pain unless he willed it. He didn't look away when she saw him looking at her. "Does it hurt you?" he asked after a period of silence.
She thought of a sharp retort but decided against it. "No," she answered simply. It was an honest answer because it really didn't hurt…it just felt strange knowing that it was there. "Just feels…odd."
"Complete your task to me and it will be gone, Da'len," he replied and she found herself growing accustom to him calling her that. For the longest time the only people who called her that were her mother and Balian. She didn't like it but didn't fight it.
Anders' eyes narrowed upon hearing this not sure what deal with the devil Bree had made. It probably wasn't good. He didn't need to know what it was to infer that. "What task?"
Bree glanced back past Solas and to Anders. "Payment for Solas' help," she answered, before he could comment further she changed the subject. "Tell me more about the Wraith," Bree requested slowing Kyp so she could ride next to Solas.
The Elf casually looked over to her. "Such as?"
"How do we kill it?"
Solas thought a moment. He'd seen the Wraiths in the dreams he did manage to have and each reminded him of corrupted spirits but didn't embody one specific emotion or virtue. "From what I've seen they're tied to a specific item like an amulet or-…"
"Precisely," he replied with a gentle smile. "These Wraiths desire power, I saw one possess a mage consume it and move to another."
Bree didn't like the sound of that and she would be lying if she said she wasn't interested in having Solas teach her how to Dream like he did. "So we destroy the talisman?"
"If it can be destroyed yes but I fear it will be much harder…your friend may not survive."
Anders had tuned into the conversation but up until then hadn't said anything. "My son is not so easy to kill," he growled.
Malcolm was dangerous. Plain and simple. "Your son is a truly special mage, Anders. I've never encountered anyone like him. How long as he harbored the spirit?"
He didn't like talking about this but answered him. "I don't know. His power manifested when he was 6 and it was present then."
Solas thought that truly unusual and, despite the situation, a mystery he was happy to solve. "Was Tess with child at Adamant?"
Anders bristled but answered away. "I'm not sure." It was a true answer, they found out she was pregnant shortly after the siege at Adamant but it was nearly impossible to determine when they had conceived. Maybe this mage he'd rather see dead was onto something, maybe Malcolm was born with the spirit because they were physically in the Fade when Vengeance left to fight the Nightmare.
Solas harrumphed quietly and went back to Bree's original question. "Unfortunately, at this moment I don't know exactly how to kill it." It troubled him and Bree could see it but it was an honest answer so no one rebutted with a comment.
Bree knew they were close to their destination, it wasn't the surroundings that tipped her off it was the magical feel in the air and the gentle vibration in the Fade that both she and Solas were sensitive to. They also could feel the ground vibrating as well, the horses were becoming nervous. Bree knew that it was Malcolm and she couldn't imagine the level of magic he was producing for them to feel it this far away.
Solas was unnerved. He hadn't sensed this much power in a very long time and they couldn't even see him yet. It occurred to him that saving this mage was a huge mistake but he followed Bree. He'd told her he'd try to save him and he was going to do just that.
They dismounted and went the rest of the way on foot, they were losing the light but it was still bright enough for them to see. There was a figure near and the three of them collectively cocked their heads.
"Cole?" Bree questioned seeing the strange rogue standing before them. "What are you doing here?"
The spirit approached them with the eerie movement that reminded Bree of Malcolm, how could she not have seen what Malcolm was before. "Watching over him," he replied and turned to look at Malcolm pacing in the distance. "Someone please help me," Cole begged and looked to the others. He wasn't speaking of himself he was referring to Malcolm. "He's scared. And he's losing."
"How did you know?" Anders inquired and Cole looked at him directly.
Cole always knew if something was wrong with Malcolm, he'd never feel it to this degree but the bond he shared with Malcolm couldn't be explained. "I felt him. I can always feel him."
Bree gave him the look her mother had given everyone who knew what Malcolm was and never shared. "You knew he was possessed."
"Yes." Cole answered.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Now she sounded like her mother.
"No one asked."
A thousand responses flooded her mind but she couldn't settle on one. He knew the whole time and never said anything because no one asked. She heard Solas chuckle softly and wanted to punch him.
Malcolm was pacing, the Wraith had him now but didn't have full control. The Wraith had been trying to leave the site for a while but couldn't get its would-be host to comply. It fought him every step but the spirit of Justice was worse, the mage was strange…and appeared to require the spirit to survive. The Wraith could replace the spirit but the form called Justice was hard to eradicate.
It sensed the presence of three more mages and the lingering presence of something else that had been there for a while. It had been too preoccupied with the internal war to worry about the other being that had shown up but kept its distance.
The red eyes of the Wraith dredged up the memory of the last time Bree had seen them and she swallowed hard. She'd never forget those eyes trying to kill her. Solas took it all in; his appearance, the magic charge in the air, all of it. Anders had seen it all in his lifetime, from life at the circle to the Architect to physically entering the Fade at Adamant, as such, not much bothered him, but seeing those alien red eyes gave him a dreadful feeling.
"Malcolm," Anders breathed as the paternal instinct to protect his son nearly overpowered him.
The Wraith was focusing on the most powerful of them, Solas, but shifted to Anders after being addressed. "The one called Malcolm is dead."
Anders twirled his staff, the signature move indicating he was ready to fight. "You will give me my son back or I will drive you out myself," He tamped his staff down and a pulse of creation magic dissipated the thick ambient magic that hung in the air. As soon as he did that the Wraith responded the way Anders figured it would.
The Wraith's chain lightening hit everyone in its path. Solas shouldered it best and sent a bolt of his own back smacking the double possessed mage square in the chest. He barely registered it and Solas blinked. The initial attack told Solas a lot, the Wraith was amplifying the power and resistance somehow but it was also attacking the same way it's host would telling him that the Wraith was using Malcolm's knowledge.
The group scattered when the Wraith attacked again focusing on Anders and Cole since the rogue managed to get too close. He attacked them with lightening and dropped a heavy gravity fist on Solas and Bree. Solas was a bit surprised that the mage was able to cast both at the same time. Malcolm was a truly astonishing mage.
Malcolm struggled against the Wraith, he was aware of his actions but it was fuzzy, like a dream. He was hurting those he loved and so he fought. The three forms of Malcolm showed in rapid sequence many times. "I…will not...be CONTROLLED!" His distorted voice ended with his own. He had the Wraith quelled for the moment but knew it wouldn't last. He dropped to his knees and clenched his fists close to his chest.
"Mal," he heard his father say and saw him reach out to touch him.
"No!" he cried. "Stay away. I can't…get away. Get away now."
Anders ignored it his son's frantic warning. Cole hung back leery of how Malcolm felt. "Malcolm," Anders said and touched his son's shoulder. Malcolm jumped to his feet quickly to get away.
"Stay away! Don't touch me!"
"We're here to help you."
"No one can help me," the spirit said and he was starting to lose it again. The Wraith was winning. "Stay away."
"Malcolm, listen to me!" Anders barked. He watched his son warring with the thing that possessed him. "You fight this! You hear me? Fight!" His son was the strongest person he'd ever known, no mage came close to him and that wasn't just the proud father side of him thinking that.
Fighting the Wraith caused Malcolm physical pain. He screamed and lost to the Wraith. The eyes changed to the red and without preamble released lightening from his right hand into Cole and Anders. It was so strong it knocked them back and another from the other hand. The force of it should have killed them.
Being completely aware of what he was doing drove him mad. He saw his father take the lightening to the chest. "STOP!" Malcolm yelled in the Fade violently taking control back from the Wraith. His nose bled in the Fade and in the real but he forced the Wraith to relinquish control.
The attack ceased and he turned away with his head in his hands screaming away the pain in his head. He tasted the blood now streaming from his nose and felt a warm sticky substance coming from his ears too. Fighting the Wraith was going to kill him. He had to end this, he was losing this fight no matter how valiantly he fought. Malcolm couldn't bear to watch helplessly as his power killed people he cared about. The Wraith pressed him but he fought against it, he felt the drain of his power which meant Justice was losing the battle as well. He pulled the knife from his boot and held it to his throat. "I'm sorry."
"Mal, no!" he heard everyone yell but his father's voice rang through perfectly.
"I won't hurt anyone else!" he said and drew the knife down the left side of his neck aiming for his carotid.
Anders saw the blood and felt like he was going to be sick in the middle of all this. It wasn't the sight of the blood it was the sight of his son's blood as he tried to take his own life. The few seconds to realize that the Wraith had seized control and managed to shallow the cut felt like a lifetime to Anders but despite it all he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that his son was still alive.
His relief was momentary as the Wraith gained a firm hold on Malcolm, eyes flashing red and immediately attacking. Lightening from both hands hit Anders and Cole; Bree raised the Aegis deflecting some of the arching bolts from herself and Solas.
"Malcolm, stop!" Bree yelled as he turned his attention to the barrier that kept sending his bolts back to him or in far off corners. "Malcolm!"
The Wraith saw the Aegis as a challenge again and focused more hitting her with all the power he could muster with force.
The Aegis was impenetrable but its time was limited. If it ran out before Malcolm tapped out of mana the amount of force he as throwing at them would crush them. "He can't penetrate the Aegis," Solas called staying well within the barrier. It was smaller than what her mother could produce but Bree didn't have the anchor for support. It wouldn't last forever. "Keep him busy."
"Great plan!" she snapped back and conjured more power as her mother had taught her to reinforce it but time was running out. He was focusing it all on her.
Solas ignored the backtalk and created the strongest dispel glyph he'd ever done. It worked last time he fought him and he hoped that it would work this time. The ancient mage dropped it squarely on Malcolm's head and double possessed mage staggered and dropped to one knee. Solas expected the next move from his previous encounter. The mage drew the blades and attacked heading for Bree.
Malcolm never made past another rogue that appeared in front of him. The Antivan slashers clanged loudly against the Dwarven made daggers that belonged to Cole. It may have looked like Malcolm but it didn't fight with the precision that Malcolm had. The Wraith may have been using his knowledge but a rogue was different than a mage.
"I know you're in there." Cole said pushing back against him causing the blade to screech against each other.
"Malcolm is dead," the Wraith replied as they fought.
That was a lie; Malcolm was very much alive as was Justice. "Wrong," Cole said, he could feel Malcolm slipping but he was there.
The only fight that would have been more intense to watch would have been Malcolm versus Zevran but this was quick and brutal. Malcolm was aiming to kill and Cole was aiming to contain. Two unique beings pitted against each other.
The Wraith caught Cole on the right cheek with a blade and Cole finally had enough. He slashed his right hand causing him to drop the right Antivan Slasher and pressed his hand onto Malcolm's temple. "Sleep."
The Wraith wearing Malcolm's body collapsed.
Anders' body was still tingling; Malcolm's power was immense and shocking to say the least. "Why don't you lead with that next time?" he snapped as Bree helped him to his feet.
"It won't last forever." The strange rogue replied putting his daggers away as they clustered around Malcolm's crumpled body. "Violent, vicious, red…pushing, pressing, powerful."
After what Solas had just seen they had no time to waste. Cole's unique power to subdue Malcolm and company wouldn't last forever. "We must enter the Fade and confront the Wraith there. Bree and I can enter at will Anders-…"
"I know the ritual." Anders cut him off kneeling next to Malcolm tenderly brushing the hair from his face. His hand lit up to heal the cut on his neck but Solas barked a warning.
"Do not heal him." The glare from Anders could have curdled milk, Solas understood his need to protect his son but it was dangerous. "Do not touch him and do not heal him, either one could make you a target for it."
All Anders wanted to do was save him and he'd do anything to accomplish that. "I'll gladly take my sons place."
"Commendable, however, you are not strong enough…not nearly. It will subsume you and move on. No. It must stay within Malcolm," Solas didn't give Anders much time to argue and turned to Cole. "Cole, if we cannot excise the Wraith you must kill him." Solas went on and Anders shot back to his feet.
Solas was growing irritated and it showed on his face. "Your son is the most powerful mage I have ever seen in this world. That Wraith is from an entirely unknown plane and it will kill us all if it manages to get complete control of him."
"I am not going to let you murder my son because you want to get rid of a rival," Anders snarled.
He couldn't help but feel offended, he said he would help and that was what he was prepared to do. "If I wanted to do that I wouldn't have helped at all. I will honor the agreement with Bree and help save your son but if we cannot he must die. He knows it too…that's why he tried to take his own life." Solas had a point and Anders saw it he just had trouble getting behind it. His tone softened understanding that this was very difficult for Anders. "You must trust me, Anders; I will do everything in my power to save your son."
"We'll get him out," Bree added with a tone that ended the discussion. She sounded like her mother and Solas nearly smiled. "We don't have time to argue about this."
"Anders, prepare yourself. Bree, the talisman." Everything needed to be done quickly and Bree returned with the box containing the talisman she should have left buried.
Solas set the talisman, box and all, on the ground and lightly tugged on Bree's arm to pull her around it and stand beside him. It was a strange action to Bree, almost like something her father would do to protect her. He passed her his staff and with both hand hovering over the ancient relic uttered an Elven incantation that she couldn't really understand. It was an old dialect of that she was sure of, his hand glowed with blue magic and his eyes changed like Malcolm's did when the spirit had him. She didn't pretend to understand Solas or his magic but he was fascinating to watch.
The talisman vibrated and was incased in a blue that was so bright it was nearly white. Solas continued the incantation and his hands shook like he was struggling against an unseen force, eyes closed and totally focused. The magic in the air changed and seemed to all pull toward them, or more specifically the talisman, and then she realized what he was doing. Suddenly, Solas clapped his hands together in a manner that showed the finality of it. With an otherworldly screeching scream the talisman imploded and shattered into dust.
"You used the ambient magic to overload and destroy it," she said and Solas gave her a smile like he was proud of her.
Not quite but she was close. "Simplified, but yes," he replied with a smile. "With the talisman gone we should be able to vanquish the Wraith and release Malcolm."
"Should?" she questioned and put a hand on his arm to stop him from moving. "Solas."
There were no guarantees. They were dealing with magic and beings that were only seen by one Dreamer. He could make this worse but he had to be confident. If he failed to kill the Wraith in the Fade then he could simply kill Malcolm and eliminate the issue that way. He looked down at her hand on his arm. "This won't be easy, Da'len."
The staves were set in a triangle around all those going into the Fade, added power that was merely a drop in a bucket but better than nothing. Cole sat cross legged at Malcolm's head with the everite slashers in his lap. His job was to watch over them and kill a young man he'd bonded with years before. He also had the perfect opportunity to kill Solas, sleeping and vulnerable, but he dismissed that after a moment's consideration.
Bree had never entered the Fade in a situation like this before, the danger in the air it got worse when she was there standing in the middle of it. The ruin restored to its previous self in a way she never imagined. Solas and Anders were there. She found herself wanting to learn from Solas…everything he did seemed so easy but this was the man who had put her family through so much pain.
Her attention shifted to the task at hand and the trio moved to the vibrating magic.
Malcolm was in the center of the fully restored temple, the design one that Bree and Anders had never seen. It matched the architecture that Cole managed to describe and Bree got her first look at a temple millions of years in the past. The mage was slumped on his knees with the Wraith nowhere to be found.
"Malcolm!" Anders was in front of him in seconds. Every injury he'd shown in the real was reflected in the Fade. The cut on his hand and neck and blood was coming from his nose and ears. He looked terrible. Drained and tired but still hanging on.
"Father," Malcolm pleaded. He was hanging on…barely. "Father, please help me."
Anders had never heard his son cry and this was as close as he got, he was struggling and it showed. Anders felt his heart break. He cupped his son's face in his hands. "I will, my boy, I'm here."
Malcolm's sea blue eyes disappeared flashing spirit blue, a familiar eerie sight. "We do not have much time," the Spirit's voice said through Malcolm and then a blue ethereal form materialized behind Malcolm's form.
Anders blinked still shocked by this and rose to his feet. "Justice?" he asked but he kicked himself for that, of course it was Justice.
"I am the exemplar of Justice shaped by your son…I am not entirely the Justice that you knew."
Anders had about a billion questions that were unanswered by Justice. The Fade or the situation seemed to separate the two into mage and spirit, any other time they were the exact same person. Malcolm was Justice and Justice was Malcolm. He really only had one question: Why? Why Malcolm?
"Solas?" Bree asked and the Elf looked like he was thinking.
"We need to hurry. If the demon gains full control of Malcolm's mind it will corrupt and absorb Justice for power, not to mention the impact it will have on the Fade."
"Impact on the Fade?" Bree asked.
"The Wraith does not belong here, the Fade makes it powerful but it cannot move freely. If left to its own devices it could damage the Fade. You have to kill it here," Justice explained and looked as if it heard something. "We have to hurry."
The red entity formed but didn't attack; it formed in Malcolm's image much like Justice and surveyed the group. "How interesting," it sing-songed. Not only to the presence of those before it but also to the little trick that knocked Malcolm cold. It decided to deal with the strange being responsible later. "What do you expect to do?"
'Cheeky fucker,' Bree thought. "You're going to let him go."
The Wraith directed it attention to her in a subtle way, all it had to do was wait and Malcolm would be his. There was no way the young mage could hold out forever. "No," it said and shifted to Solas. "You however…"
"You will not find me so easy to possess." Solas replied coldly and Wraith backed off, wary of the mage who felt different from the rest.
"Leave him, now," Bree ordered.
"I will not," it snarled and leapt for the one that it deemed the weakest, the one he knew as Bree. Bree didn't need the aegis or anyone to protect her she activated the spirit blade, side stepped and slashed the red entity across the abdomen.
It shrieked painfully then roared angrily at her. "Leave!" she ordered and it refused.
The Wraith made the effort to avoid the weapon she had since the damage it caused was immense. "No!" The situation deteriorated as the entity attacked her, it couldn't body hop but it attempted to focus on Bree. It slashed at her and shrilled as the Spirit Blade caught its taloned hand. It roared at her in anger and pain moving to attack with all its might. Anders attacked it before it could get to Bree and its weakness was found. Spirit damage hurt it.
It was mad, madder than it had been, its host nearly useless at the moment and the pain the weapons used by the one called Anders and the one called Bree frightened it. "I will devour you all!" it roared loudly.
"LEAVE!" Anders roared and he stamped the staff down hard to reiterate his order. The Fade vibrated. The Wraith seemed to grow in size and slashed out at Anders but this hit was blocked by the staff that emitted painful power. It lunged for him but was intercepted heavily by a blue entity. Justice and the Wraith collided and Malcolm felt the drain on his already weakened body.
Bree knelt down before Malcolm and cupped her hands on his face. "Hold on, Mal," she said quietly and closed her eyes. Dreamers could do more than just enter the Fade at will; if they focused enough they could alter perceptions of the Fade, other people's Dreams, and even kill someone. She didn't need to kill Malcolm but she needed to alter his perception of it, and there by the Wraith's. The thing was powerful and it fed on Malcolm's strength, she needed to trick it.
Solas figured out what she was doing and cast a spell on Malcolm and Bree, the more the Wraith and Justice fought the faster it drained him. It was clear that Malcolm couldn't live without the Spirit and the situation had pushed them to the brink.
The Wraith shrieked in fear for the first time as a measure of strength surged back to Malcolm and waned from the Wraith. Justice seized the opportunity and struck it hard. It roared angrily and tried to escape Justice by attacking Anders. Anders struck with his staff and it was easy to discover that any spirit damage was effective.
"It's weak…we must destroy it," Justice called.
The Wraith targeted Solas next. The ancient mage raised a barrier and repelled its attack making it scream again in anger. It renewed its effort to control Malcolm and his scream of pain Bree felt too. "Stay with me, brother, stay with me," he heard her say in his head.
"I will have you all!" the Wraith roared as it came away from Solas' barrier.
"Then come get it!" Anders roared back in kind. "You want power? Then you shall have it!" Anders planted his staff into the ground with a mighty grunt and the Fade vibrated.
Anders wasn't the greatest mage alive but he'd learned a great deal over the years, Tess was by far one of the best teachers he'd ever met but the Warden-Commander taught him more than anyone else in his life. Gripping the Lyrium enhanced staff with his right hand he summoned an orb of light in his left, cleansing magic.
Solas felt the magic in the area increase and cast his second spell to protect Bree and Malcolm. He was committed; if nothing else he'd persevere to protect Bree.
The cleansing magic brightened and Solas could see an enormous amount of spirit energy beginning to manifest, swirling around the veteran Spirit Healer.
"You will not have my son," Anders growled the steadfast determination in his voice and expression never wavered. The Wraith roared angrily as the intense light magic took the desired effect. Everything Anders had from his strength to his own life force went to the powerful old magic he was casting. He could feel the drain on his life, he was fading rapidly.
The light had fully engulfed them so bright you couldn't look at it. Solas multitasked maintaining the spell on Bree and Malcolm and maintaining the barrier. He heard the Wraith scream but this wasn't its angry, violent roar…this was a scream of desperation. Anders was hurting it.
It roared a powerful, angry, painful sound but Anders was deaf to it. 'Almost there,' Anders thought. Just as he was ready to release the channeled energy he'd built up he heard a voice in his head, a familiar one. "He would have died in the womb leaving the Fade." It was Justice, answering the one question he never got an answer to. Why did you take my son? Justice saved his son's life.
"Goodbye, my friend," he said out loud to Justice. He couldn't hold the power anymore, it reached its peak and now it was time to end this. "I'm sorry, my love," he muttered hoping that Tess would understand, hoping that Malcolm would understand. He released the massive ball of magic he'd pulled from himself and the fade and the power manifested into a great orb sucking the sound from the Fade before exploding in a deafening crack.
Cole felt Anders' staff vibrate to his left and he looked at Anders' sleeping body. "No," he said as he felt the mage die.
Malcolm, Bree, and Solas all awoke like they'd been startled from sleep by a loud sound. Solas and Bree clutched their heads and screamed in agony. The pain shooting through the pair of Dreamers was worse than any migraine or misfired spell. Solas felt the energy of the Fade shift on a basic level, the magic Anders had called on nearly ripped the Veil wide open. He'd witnessed some awe inspiring things in his extremely long life but that was truly a sight. A father calling on ancient magic like that to save his son wasn't something he'd ever forget.
Malcolm gasped several times, he was whole again. Justice was with him, the Wraith was gone and so was the pain. "Father," he panicked as he remembered what Justice saw. "Dad!" He repeated and scrambled over to Anders' still body. A death in the Fade usually resulted in a tranquil mage, this was different, he could feel it. "No. No. No. No," he begged and his hands hovered over him. He was shaky and weak but he was going to try everything. He felt what his father did, saw what Justice had. The white healing orbs disappeared but there was nothing left to save. "No, Dad, no...," he sounded as heartbroken as anyone could be. Malcolm couldn't help but sob as he gathered his father's limp body up into his arms. "I'm sorry…I'm so sorry," he sobbed cradling him in his lap.
Bree came up to him ignoring the migraine and as she touched his back he flinched. "Mal."
This was his fault – no it was her fault – she brought him here. "Get away from me," he snarled angrily but she ignored it, she wasn't going to leave him.
"NOW!" he roared and a pulse of magic emanated from him knocking her away and the rest flat on their backs. He'd never been so upset.
Malcolm felt whole again but he also felt a piece of him had been ripped away. His father was a big part of his life no matter how much they'd fought. For him to die like that, however noble…it should never have happened. He ignored them all, Solas included. He walked giving his father precedence with Kyp. The black beast was spirited but walked quietly with him as if he knew situation. He'd lost complete track of time but hadn't lost his way. He found home quickly.
"Mal," Lily said and ran into his arms. He didn't look well, he looked terrible to be frank and she hugged him tight. He closed his eyes and squeezed her; he could stay here for the rest of his life. Lily noticed the body slung over Kyp and gasped.
"I'm alright." He replied automatically knowing she recognized the body. "I need to get a pyre going."
She put a hand on his cheek but saw the light in him had dwindled, she didn't know what happened to him but he looked like the definition of sadness. "Mal…"
"I'm alright." He said but she didn't believe him. He could never lie to her…for as long as he'd known her she could see right through him.
"No you're not," she replied gently and he took her hand kissing it.
He couldn't respond, he didn't know how to respond. He squeezed her hand and tended to his father.
Preparing the body was a task that only Malcolm was suited for. As he removed certain things from his father's body he thought about how he was going to tell his mother about this. How could he tell her that he died to save him? How could he tell her that this was his fault? All he'd needed to do was tell Bree no. She'd gotten him into trouble before but nothing like this. They had an equal share in his father's death but she was far from forgiven.
He took the wedding band off knowing his mother would want to have it and the necklace his father had always worn. A curious necklace that he'd been told was a gift from his mother, a Tevinter Chantry amulet that Anders never took off.
He scratched the bandage on his neck and hissed at its tenderness. He could heal that and the cut on his hand from Cole but he decided not to. They were reminders. At least, that what he told himself.
"Want me to change it?" Lily asked suddenly appearing on his left.
Malcolm shook his head. "No. No, I'll tend it."
She wrapped her arms around his left arm and laced her right fingers to his. "What happened?"
Before the funeral pyre could proceed Chasind came from the woodwork to pay their respects to the healer that had resided in the Wilds for years. Anders healed all sorts and he never asked for payment. He cured fever, mended bones, delivered children…Malcolm saw how loved his father really was.
Malcolm's eyes fell on Bree who had kept her distance from him after his outburst. He felt angry when he saw her, thought about her. She brought him there. He was also ashamed to blame her as well. All he had to do was say no. He pushed it to the back of his mind and returned his attention to those who had gathered.
Solas observed him, he knew his welcome would quickly be overstayed but he was extremely curious about the young man. Malcolm was the most unique mage he ever seen in his life…ever. He took a chance to talk to him. Malcolm felt…different. "How are you?" he asked seeming to startle the young man as he looked on. Malcolm said nothing in reply but he did give the enemy mage a strange look. "I can sense something different…something that Wraith did to you and I suppose you know it as well."
Not an overstatement, he really didn't feel like himself but he couldn't place what was wrong. The Wraith was the most horrifying experience he'd ever had. He knew he was going to have nightmares until he died. He still didn't know why Solas was actually talking to him. He returned his attention to aimlessly watching Vanna pay her respects.
Solas was quiet for a moment. He respected Anders more in death then he did in life…it was a horrible thing to think but he would never forget what he saw. "It's strange to realize that Bree ran to me to save you but it wasn't me who actually did it," Solas said and Malcolm turned his look to him. "You are a truly extraordinary young man, Malcolm Hawke."
Malcolm scoffed as Solas got the first reaction out of him. "Extraordinary? My father is dead because of my 'extraordinariness'," he hissed.
Solas shook his head. "That's not entirely true. You were a victim of circumstance. The Wraith sensed your power as it sensed mine but the spirit you harbor gave it the opportunity. You fought it. Refused to allow it to win."
"Lot of good it did me," he muttered.
Solas sighed, it really wasn't his fault and he felt for him. "What your father did was extraordinary. It's not often that I am impressed but I was…by him and by you."
Malcolm was tired of this and felt strange, like a welling of magic that he couldn't control. He felt like he was a kid again learning to control it. He'd never had a control problem. "Leave," he snapped to Solas. "You helped save my life so I'll spare you just this once."
Solas wasn't going to argue with him, he did what he promised Bree and even saw them back to safety. He nodded. He liked this young man…more than he really should since Malcolm was without a doubt his biggest threat. "Please pass my condolences for your loss to your mother," he bowed respectfully and left.
Malcolm's hand twitched, he wanted to kill him but there had been enough death, enough pain, and enough sadness. Solas was a complex man, that much was clear…the enemy of the Inquisition just came to help save his life. He briefly counted how many people would string him up for letting him go…he stopped counting at five.
Anders had a fear of having his corpse possessed and coming back as an Arcane Horror so he's always told Tess that he wanted to be burned and not buried. Malcolm overheard this wish and honored it. As troubled as he was, as difficult as he always had been he never meant to hurt anyone. So when Malcolm lit the pyre he said one single verse of the Chant. His father hated the Chantry but his mother taught it to him. He settled on a verse from the Trials that had always stuck with him. Maybe it was because of Justice. "Draw your last breath, my friends. Cross the Veil and the Fade and all the stars in the sky. Rest at the Maker's right hand, and be forgiven."
Malcolm hissed as Lily pulled the bandage off his neck. He said he would handle it himself but it turned out she helped him anyway. "How did this happen?" she asked knowing a clean cut knife wound when she saw it.
There was no way he was going to elaborate. He remembered clearly the decision to take his own life to protect everyone. "You don't want to know."
She tossed the blood stained bandage away and picked up the clean wet cloth. "Why don't you just heal it?"
It stung as she cleaned the dried blood away. The quick stitches he put it were holding and no infection was seen or smelled. "Because I don't want to," he answered quietly and she thought about pressing but decided her love had been through enough.
She prodded the wound making sure there was no pus and ignored Malcolm's grimace. "Which poultice?" she asked and he didn't answer for a moment. He was lost at the sight of her, Lily wasn't a Healer but she had a gentle touch and a bedside manner to die for. She was also beautiful in her deerskin leggings and furs. Her long blonde hair was tied in a solid braid that hung over her left shoulder. "Mal?"
He blinked and pointed to the bowl he mixed up earlier. "That one. Be generous with it." The sticky mix of herbs stung like mad as she was as gentle as possible. "Ah, damn that stings worse than I remember."
"What about the one on your hand?"
"You enjoying playing Healer?" he flirted and she giggled and blushed.
"You seem to enjoy playing the Healer."
"Depends on who I'm healing," he was flirting with her and she was happy to see the playful side of him cut through the apparent sadness. She rolled the cloth around his neck to secure its place. Bandaging a neck was tricky. "Not that tight."
She wasn't a healer but this wasn't her first time. She'd bandaged wounds before and watched Malcolm and Anders work. "Relax; I'm not going to choke you." Malcolm chuckled to her comment.
Bree appeared at the threshold and swallowed hard. "Mal?" she questioned and he turned to her but said nothing.
"Leave him alone," Lily spoke up with a protective tone as she wiped her hands off. The next bandage to tend to on his hand could wait. "You've done enough."
Bree's attention shifted to Lily, the hunter's desired effect. "I had no idea this would happen," she said trying to figure out a way to apologize to Malcolm.
"Well it did. They wouldn't have been out there if it wasn't for you." Lily's words were completely correct but there was nothing Bree could do to take it back.
Malcolm's eyes flicked between them and smiled internally at Lily's valiant defense of him. Her tone would have made him defend Bree but right now he didn't want to. The idea of that disgusted him but so did the idea that it was her fault.
The loss for words Bree felt was breathtaking. No apology could ever make up for this. "I'm sorry."
"That's not going to bring him back," she snarled in reply. Malcolm still remained silent. "Go. Leave him be for a night." Bree backed off and heeded the clear warning from the Chasind girl and left. Lily turned back to him and was a little less gentle in removing the soiled bandage on his hand. "She can go be with that lurker."
To that Malcolm spoke. "Be nice. Cole helped save us all."
His tone told her to tread carefully as she repeated the process on his hand that she'd done on his neck. "He's strange."
"He's like me…sort of. He's the Spirit of Compassion; you'll probably forget you ever met him in the morning." The wound on his hand hurt less than the one on his neck. He should just heal it and be done with it but he treated that like the one on his neck. Only this one Cole gave him. "He always knows when I'm in trouble and he always comes to help."
Bree wasn't surprised when Solas vanished without as much as a word. Being bound to him meant that he could find her whenever he wished. She stood outside in the chilly night air and sighed heavily. She tried not to think about what would happen when she got back to Skyhold. How was she going to explain all this? Could she even explain it?
"You alright?" a voice asked and she turned to see Cole.
"You seem to be asking me that a lot lately." She commented.
"You seem to be getting into trouble a lot lately," he rebutted. "He's hurting and very confused but he still loves you."
Bree didn't respond to that, Malcolm just sat there and didn't defend her when Lily spoke her mind. "But he blames me."
Cole nodded, he knew that and there was nothing anyone could do to change that until Malcolm came to terms with it all. "You cannot give him the Relic, Bree."
Bree heard his words and wrestled with that, she had so much on her mind she didn't know what to do. She had some time to figure it out; the trip back to Skyhold was going to take some time. She didn't sleep that night, she couldn't sleep. There was too much on her mind and she didn't want to open herself up to Solas. Not yet…not until she came to terms with her bargain and his mark. She'd never been so unraveled and confused.
The horses were readied by Bree, she couldn't sleep but Malcolm still wouldn't talk to her. Even when he saw that she had groomed and saddled Kyp for him. He patted Kyp's neck and spared her a single glance over the horse's back before turning away.
Lily was not happy, not at all. "Why are you leaving again? Stay here..." Malcolm sighed; he was so tired but wanted to get this done.
He secured his father's staff to Kyp and turned to her. "I have to. I have to tell my mother what happened and get her home safe." Bree was near and he knew that she could hear him.
"She ca-…" his look was enough to make her stop talking. There was only so much abuse he would let her take no matter how he felt about this. "Every time you leave something bad happens."
He stepped closer and leaned down to kiss her. He didn't want to leave her but he had to. "I love you," he said softly as he pulled her into him. "And I'm coming back and I'm gonna stay."
Bree could feel Cole staring at her. He knew that she was bound to Solas and Solas wanted the Relic, he also knew that she had to have made some kind of deal just to get him to help. He was worried about her and it showed. She mounted the bay gelding settling in the saddle. She missed Skye.
Snow was setting in at Skyhold but the road was still passable. Malcolm was silent, not the same person that she knew before they made a mess. She thought about talking to him, trying to start some kind of conversation with him but she decided not to. Cole was his usual chatty self so Bree didn't engage in too much conversation. It left her a lot of time to think…how was she going to explain this?
As they crossed the bridge into the fortress it didn't take long for the craziness to begin. Ulrich took the horses but took in their somber expressions and didn't say much else.
"Where have you been?" Khrys demanded at the sight of Bree and Malcolm.
Malcolm was finding it difficult to control his powers now and the fortress vibrated for a moment. "Where's my mother?" he asked clenching his fists tight and forcing himself to focus on control.
She narrowed her eyes at his tone and could see something was wrong. "Garden," she answered hearing the seriousness in his voice. He left quickly without anything else to say and Khrys' attention turned to Bree. "What happened?"
"Anders is dead."
Holding the staff was unsettling for Malcolm, it wasn't that is was his father's staff, he'd held and even used Freedom's Call on numerous occasions but it felt unsettlingly different now. The stave's magic had shifted, somehow it had shifted.
He saw Tess across the garden and dreaded the next few moments. He didn't want to tell her any of this but when she spied him he knew he was committed.
"Where've you been, young man?" her tone of motherly displeasure almost made him feel normal but that passed. She saw the look on his face and noticed the staff, something Malcolm didn't carry. Her husband wouldn't willingly part with the magical item so she knew something had happened. "No…"
Malcolm saw her quickly deduce it and the rest was a blur, an emotional, traumatic blur. At some point they ended up in Skyhold's small chapel.
She sat at one of the pews and Malcolm leaned the unnerving staff against the wall remaining silent as he looked at the tall statue of Andraste. His faith was dubious on a good day but he felt more at ease here in this room than he had in days.
"I gave him a pyre at home," he said quietly. His mother looked like she was in a state of shock. She'd nearly lost Anders several times but her husband was the most resilient man she'd ever known. "I…I thought you would want these."
She took the wedding band and the Tevinter amulet she'd given him so long ago in Kirkwall. "I gave him this in Kirkwall," she said quietly looking at the amulet. "He thought I was trying to get him killed…your father had trust issues when I met him," she managed a slight chuckle at the jab at her late husband that he would have found amusing. "But once he put it on he never took it off…"
"You did what!?" Khrys exclaimed and her voice echoed off the rotunda walls. Balian sat down at the couch and laced his fingers across his stomach in quiet observation. The strange parental unit that he was technically a part of consisted of himself, Michel, Khrys, and Dorian…all were present and Bree looked terribly guilty of something.
"I'm sorry…all I wanted to do was help. I got Malcolm to come with me because I thought it would be safer with him."
"Instead you got him into serious trouble," Michel said sternly. He never pulled his punches with her, he was always honest and right now he wasn't happy.
She swallowed hard and looked at the Chevalier. "I just wanted to help…the Wraith is a part of the same magic as the Relic…Solas said it predates his empire." It all felt like an attack, an attack on her by those she loved.
Khrys' glower deepened but Dorian beat her to the next question. "Why didn't you come back here?" Dorian asked his tone just as stern as the others. He was the last to know about the map she referred to and it pissed him off.
"There was no time and like it or not Solas knows more about that thing downstairs then we do," Bree replied and caught the quiet look from Balian, an indifferent but almost sympathetic look. The Elf observed the forceful inquisition but said nothing…for the moment.
"So you went to Solas? He kidnapped you and you went back willingly!?" Khrys said incredulously. She was furious with that idea. More furious then she had been in a long time and never more furious with her daughter.
Bree felt her personal armor hardening, as much of a mistake as her endeavor had been it was done and over and handled to the best of her ability. "He could help and he did."
"You went to Solas!" her mother exclaimed again. "Leaving out the fact that you knew how to find him, the man is trying to destroy us all! He attacked Vigil's Keep, killed Nathaniel, and then took you a-…"
"I know I was there," Bree snarled in return.
Khrys' posture straightened. "Are you giving me attitude, young lady?" she growled but Bree held her stare.
"How did Anders die?" Dorian asked as Khrys and Bree exchanged glowers.
Bree didn't have much of an answer for that. She actually wasn't sure. Solas had explained briefly that he used himself up to aid in destroying the Wraith. "He destroyed the Wraith and it killed him to do it." Her tone told them that she felt responsible for her part in it all.
The fact they lost an ally like Anders and nearly lost Malcolm angered Michel. "We told you not to go. I told you not to go…it wasn't safe. You went anyway and it clearly wasn't safe."
"Michel," Balian warned but only got a glare from the Chevalier.
"I know it's my fault and there's nothing I can do to change that!" she yelled and walked away not even trying to hide the fact that she was crying.
The room wasn't sure how to act once she left. It was her fault, she went after being told no, but she couldn't have foreseen the mess that Malcolm got in. She did what she had to do even though Malcolm paid the price.
"Think you guys were a bit hard on her?" Balian commented and the other three exchanged awkward looks.
The short answer was, yes. The answer was also, no. It was a complicated situation. Michel was angry because he loved Bree just as much as they did and was as protective as they came. She made a mistake and she knew it and she needed to learn the consequences. Khrys and Dorian were angry for it all…she saw Solas, left without permission, and a very dear friend was dead.
Balian didn't say much but didn't need to on most occasions. Dorian felt he was right, they were a bit hard on her. "Damnit," he cursed and walked away going after his daughter.
"I told her not go," Michel grumbled to Khrys and she nodded. She was there when they'd both said no.
"I know," she replied and rubbed her forehead as Balian got to his feet.
"It's not like she planned what happened," the scarred Elf said. "You all should lighten up. We've all made mistakes," he said and walked away leaving them to glower on their own.
Dorian tapped on his daughter's door. There was no answer but he entered away. "Gabriella?" Any admonishment he had been considering vanished when he saw her crying in near hysterics. It didn't matter how angry or upset he was, he fell victim to the classic father weakness: if your daughter is crying it doesn't matter why, you do anything to stop it. "Shhh…it's okay," he soothed and sat down to comfort her in his arms.
"Dad, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," she cried as she let it all go at that moment.
There was no talking to her, there was just letting her cry it all out. "I know. I know. It's okay." As big of a mistake she'd made she'd had no intention of hurting anyone. She loved Malcolm like a brother and by the description of what happened Malcolm was traumatized and angry.
Skyhold shook in one violent vibration startling everyone at the table. Khrys yelped as her plate jumped a few inches. Michel, Dorian, and Balian straightened it all out. "He needs to get some control over that." Khrys commented knowing the source of it was Malcolm and his overclocked power.
"He lost his father and went through a very traumatic event outside of that," Dorian defended straightening out the dishes in front of him.
"Do we know exactly what he is now?" Michel asked.
"A very troubled young man," Khrys answered. "He was powerful before…Tess says he's even more so now."
Tess felt the pulse of magic shake the castle to its core and knew who it had come from. Force Mages were rare but she'd trained him and knew his control was a mess right now.
Her son was having a nightmare. Something in his dreams upset him so much he lost a measure of control. When she entered the room Skyhold began to vibrate again. He was up from the nightmare but having a tough time controlling himself now. The castle shook more as he struggled with it and the static in the room increased.
"Mal. Mal," Tess coached and approached him carefully. "Stop. You'll destroy the castle." She took his hands and Malcolm managed to control himself.
Malcolm was upset at everything, something had changed in him and he wasn't sure what. His power, which he'd always had a firm handle on, was all askew and harder to control. It scared him. Scared him so much he was afraid he would hurt someone or everyone. "I don't know what's happening to me."
"You're powerful, Mal, you always have been. Nothing has changed, you know how to control it."
"I can't…he died to save me…he died because of me."
"Yes. You're his son. He loved you so much he sacrificed himself," she said.
"I didn't want that. I never wanted that. I tried to kill myse-…" he trailed off as the words hung in his mouth. He tried to kill himself. The healing cut on his neck itched when he thought of it. Then he saw his father's face bathed in the white light that destroyed the Wraith, a disorienting image from Justice. "I'm sorry, Mom. I am so sorry."
"You have nothing to be sorry for. Your control is your love for all of us. Just like your father the innate Healer. Remember that, Malcolm, that is your control," she told him in a firm caring tone. She was the one who'd coached him so long ago and he tried to focus on that. Tried to remember that it was the fact that he loved his family so much it helped him control the destructive magic he had command of. There were other factors of course that he learned later but the basis of it all was love. He was a healer before he was a destroyer. As he thought of that the magic threatening to destroy it all quelled. It was merely a stop gap…he had become something more thanks to the Wraith.
Working on his control again made Malcolm feel like a child. His chosen place was on the ramparts, high up in the mountains seemed to help to control the force magic that was more dangerous than anything right now. He sat on the wall with his feet dangling and eyes closed; a calming practice that allowed him to focus, calmly, and methodically. It was harder this time though, when he was younger he only had the idea that he was different to contend with, only had to figure out how to reconcile the spirit that had shaped him. Now he had so much more, painful, frightening memories that haunted him forever. The pain of receiving the Wraith, he could still feel the pain though it was long gone, like taking an electrical charge to the brain a thousand times but never dying. He could hear himself screaming and his skin crawled. The attack on Bree…the first frightening event he saw through his own eyes. Her scream was something he would never forget. He'd attacked his own father and then tried to take his own life.
His father…they had butted heads since he was a kid but despite the shouting and fighting through the years he loved him and it was evident that his father loved him so much he died to save him. His father. His focus waned again as he heard the final words from Justice to Anders. The truth of how he came to be. His control drifted more and the ancient stones that made up Skyhold vibrated again. The memory of his mother sobbing when he told her pushed him further from steady control he had.
"I can help you forget." Cole said suddenly appearing behind him.
Malcolm's eyes opened and he looked at Cole, the vibration in the stone abruptly stopping. Cole wasn't exactly the same as Malcolm but he was as close as he could get. They had bonded when they met, when Cole finished the training that Zevran started. Cole had always known what Malcolm was, had always seen the spirit in him, was the only one in Skyhold Malcolm had told. Cole never told anyone because no one had asked but he wouldn't have anyway as Malcolm asked him not to tell anyone. "I don't want to forget," he replied not even noticing that the voice came from the spirit. It was difficult for him to tell now.
Cole could see right through him, he blamed himself and he blamed Bree. He decided to address the former first. "It was not your fault."
"He died because of me, how it is not my fault?"
"He died to protect you," he answered. "It's not her fault either."
Malcolm knew that, on some level he knew that Bree wasn't to blame for any of this but it was hard to accept that this was some unfortunate accident. "I…I know." The castle started to shake again as his control slipped with the memories. This was dangerous. He was a danger now. "That Wraith did something to me…something I can't control."
Cole put his right hand on Malcolm right forearm and the shaking ceased again. "I can help you."
Malcolm considered it. If he let Cole work his magic what would he remember? Would he remember his father's ultimate sacrifice? Would he remember the truth? "Could you make it temporary?"
Malcolm slipped off the wall and looked at Cole. "Then no," he decided. "I won't forget him or what he did but a part of me died with that Wraith." He gave a slight head bow to Cole and walked away, one thing was certain…he couldn't stay in Skyhold.
"Nobody can save me now," Cole uttered as he watched the troubled mage leave him.
Tess found her son in the familiar task of preparing Kyp for a long journey. She didn't need to ask him what he was doing she could tell by how the horse looked. "Going somewhere?" she asked and Malcolm barely batted an eye to her.
"I can't stay here," he answered flatly.
"Please," he cut her off. "you know I can't stay…I will rip this castle down if I lose control again and I-…"
"I know. I understand, but you don't have to do this alone. You have me, Khrys, Dorian, Bree…" his expression to Bree's name made her change tones. "It was not her fault do you understand me?"
He looked affronted. "I know that." But he still preferred to blame someone and she was it. "I'm going to go somewhere where I may not hurt anyone."
"Take this," she said presenting him with Freedom's Call.
Malcolm hesitated but not just because it was his father's famous staff but because it didn't feel normal anymore. Just like how he felt, something wasn't right and while he couldn't put his finger on the issue with himself he knew that the staff now felt like the Relic only subtly. He took it and the thrumming coursed through him. It was unsettling and he quickly secured it to the saddle. He couldn't let it go fast enough.
The fact that she and Malcolm had said six words to each other in weeks bothered Bree. Bothered her considerably but there wasn't much she could do about it. If he didn't want to say anything to her no one could make him but when she learned he was leaving she made a last ditch effort.
"I hear you're leaving." she said and Malcolm stopped in mid motion. He thought about turning to look at her but didn't know how he'd handle that. He knew what happened wasn't her fault. He knew that she didn't kill his father but the teenager in him beat out the logical spirit. Seeing her made him think of it. Think of attacking her, think of the Wraith forcing his control, the excruciating pain. "I know you blame me…and that's okay but I wanted to say I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Mal." When he didn't turn to her after a moment she turned to walk away. Michel was right, this was her fault.
It hurt to know that he blamed her but it was her burden to bear. His father was dead and that was that. Hands grabbed her shoulders and turned her. Before she knew it she was wrapped in a hug from Malcolm. "I know it's not your fault," he said quietly. He could let her go like that. Couldn't let her think that she nearly got him kill, got his father killed. "I love you," he was gone as quickly as he arrived.
Bree sat by the fire in her mother's chambers of all places. It was strange even for her dream to be sitting there. Granted she spent a lot of time there when she was a child but Dreamer's dreamt of places they wished. Perhaps she felt comfortable there. Her dream was complicated by the presence of Solas. Strange indeed.
"Could you possibly leave me alone?" she muttered lacing her fingers where she sat and sighed heavily.
Solas sat down in the chair across from her. It felt equally strange for him to be there…after all these years he'd only seen it a handful of times in Khrys' dream. Last time he saw it was when Khrys nearly died of fever while pregnant. He looked at the bed that hadn't changed from his memories and then looked at her. "It's your dream not mine, Da'len."
"Fantastic. Get out," She said plainly.
Solas chuckled. "How are you?" he asked, even in her dream she didn't look well.
She huffed and gave him a glare. Solas wasn't in armor this time, he was in the same tan and green robes she remembered when he'd kidnapped her. He looked better in his armor, more dangerous. Now he just looked like an unassuming Elf. There was something attractive about him and it disturbed the hell out of her. "Solas, go away," she ordered promptly.
He ignored it. "How is Malcolm?"
She paused taking a moment before speaking. "Different," she answered, it was the only answer she was willing to give and it was the truth. "Go away."
Solas harrumphed quietly. That young man was a problem…a problem that he exacerbated. "The time has come."
"You'll get the Relic when I say so," she responded with a bit of a growl.
Solas blinked and nearly smiled at the defiance, he was careful not to anger her as the last time he did that in her dream she kicked him out and he had a headache for three days. "Now, Da'len," he warned and the mark seared causing her to hiss. "I only have so much patience."
"Get out!" she barked and Solas left willingly this time rather than receive the boot.
Bree woke in the middle of the night and sat up calmly. Solas would never let her be, he may not have been able to get into Skyhold with its defenses but if she denied him his will or went back on her word to give him the Relic she didn't want to know what he would do. She thought of how she would do it. The Relic was guarded, it was unsettling to carry, and getting out of Skyhold would be decidedly more difficult now. She got up and paced, planning her move, planning on how to betray everyone.
Skyhold had gotten colder, much colder but the pass wasn't blocked yet. Bree sat on her father's horse in the valley in the outskirts of Herald. The black mare shifted under her clearly uneasy with the weather, the darkness, or the Relic in the saddlebag. The valley had gotten cold and it was threatening to snow. She pulled the fur cloak tighter, once she did this there was no turning back. It started snowing as she waited and the mare shifted under her bored with standing still.
"I'll be honest, Da'len, I didn't think you would actually do this," Solas said suddenly appearing in the darkness.
If he had a mount she hadn't heard it. He was on foot looking the same as he did when she last saw him. Her mind crashed with thoughts centered on what she was about to do. What would everyone think? What would they do? Would they kill her for treason? Lock her in prison? Exile her? "You don't have to do this," she said in reply and she saw the mage smile.
"Yes I do," he said simply. He'd come too far and done too much to stop this now; he gave up the love of his life. "Do you have it?"
Bree dismounted and the choices ran through her mind again. She reached into the saddle back and removed the troublesome item wrapped in a cloth. The palpable power of the thing was nearly overwhelming. It was so strong that even he didn't want to touch it when she approached with it. "Cole said this thing wiped out an entire city."
Solas would be lying if he said the thing didn't scare him a little. He had no opinion of it until now, he wasn't even holding it and it was already making him uneasy. His attention was also on Bree, she wasn't stupid and she wasn't naïve. "It is the most powerful foci in existence."
"You better be damn sure before you use this." She added and Solas had every intention of studying the hell out of this thing before doing anything to activate it. She passed it to him and felt the world shift as it transferred to his hands.
He had a long way to go before he even thought about activating it…he had to figure out how first. Cole was right; it destroyed a civilization in a cataclysmic fashion. He wanted to sunder the veil not blow up the world. He held the wrapped up Relic in his left hand and gently touched the left side of her face with his right. The mark stung, glowed, then vanished. Its removal hurt and she squeezed her eyes shut. When she opened her eyes Solas was gone.
Before she'd returned to Skyhold word had gotten out. The Relic was gone, she was gone, and the guards had reported it all. What's done was done. Bree had a bet in her mind going on how it was going to play out, if she was to be exiled or thrown in the dungeon. She dismounted the black mare, unsaddled her and before she got out of the stables she heard guards.
She saw Thom and three of his guards. By the look on his face, he knew it all and she was in deep, deep trouble. "You've gone and done it this time, Little One," he said and Bree sighed. "Take her. Prison. Put her in a cell."
Dorian stormed through Skyhold barely dressed, into the dungeon, down the hall and right into Thom's face. He wasn't mad, he was furious. By now all of Skyhold heard that the Relic was gone and Bree was behind it all, he was angry about that but she was now in a cell and that infuriated him.
"Get my daughter out of that cell!" he ordered the warrior as they squared off.
"No." Thom replied simply. He was drawing the line, Bree had been shown that she could do whatever she liked and get away with it. Attacking the guards, stealing the Relic, and absconding with it…it had to carry a consequence.
"I'm not asking!" he roared. The protective father in him came out in full force and for the first time in a very long time he threatened a member of the Inquisition and meant it. Flame appeared in his left hand but Thom didn't flinch.
Bree watched the exchange from her cell. "Dad, its fine, I'll stay."
His rage grew, he was so angry with her. "You be quiet!" her father roared turning his fury to her. "I've had enough of you!" Bree fell silent as her father was beyond angry. Dorian redirected his fury be to Thom. "Let her out! Now!"
"I will not." The Captain replied. "She committed treason."
Dorian growled, annoyed. "She did not."
"She did and you know it. She's not coming out of that cell. That's the end of it."
"I will not tell you again. You let my daughter out or I will earn the Warden-Queen's favor and kill you." Said the magister.
"What's going on here?" Khrys interrupted with Fenris at her side.
"I was about to kill Thom if he doesn't release our daughter." Dorian replied and Khrys' eyes flicked from one person to the other. She heard about it all. Bree had gotten into the Vault, assaulted the guards, and taken the Relic. According to Cole, she gave it to Solas.
Dorian was furious; she could see that, she could feel the magic coming from him. Thom wasn't going to back down either; he had his issues with how betrayal had been handled. Ross was still in a cell after all and it still angered him. Bree, however, looked calm. Guilty but calm. "Let her out, Thom."
"What!?" Thom said suprised.
Thom Rainier was one of the most loyal men she had. Ever since she met him he spoke his mind and didn't mind going head to head with her. Lately, he was sore of the same issue with one of his men still in a cell and it was quite frankly irritating. "Thom, damnit! Just let her out!" Khrys snapped.
Thom refused. "Inquisitor, no, I cannot allow this to continue."
"Thom, either let her out of your own accord or you go into a cell and I'll find someone to let her out for me," she snapped and the Captain growled his sheer frustration. He did as asked but growled about it the whole time.
Dorian snatched Bree's arm and lead her off swiftly followed by Khrys and Fenris.
Bree now understood the full meaning of the Inquisition. She sat at the table while everyone relevant stood around her. Her parents, Michel, Balian, Thom, and Cullen and they all looked angry…except maybe Balian. Balian was like the nice Uncle who never got riled.
"You assaulted two Templars, Bree." Cullen said calmly and leaned down on the table. "Lysette already wants your head," he preemptively held his hand up to silence Dorian. "Anything to say for yourself?"
"No," she answered and Cullen shot the other end of the table a collective glare to silence them. He was running this, not them.
"That is not the way you want to go with this," Cullen replied with his calm but commanding tone. "You better explain to me, right here right now, why you assault two Templars in their dreams and betrayed the Inquisition. You have one chance."
Bree took a moment and looked around the room with a difficult gulp. It was hard to look at Thom, the contempt he had was written all over his face. Michel was still, he loved her like a daughter and she knew under his calm demeanor he was not happy with her. Her mother was calm like she usually was, always the peacekeeper but the first one to disciple her when she screwed up. Balian leaned on the wall practically invisible like any good bodyguard. Her father…he was the most visibly angry. Worse than how he was with Jean.
"I had to do it," she said and Cullen stood up straight.
"Why?" he asked and she didn't answer right away. "Answer me."
"It was part of the deal for him helping me with Malcolm," she said. "He held up his end of the deal…I would have had to do it anyway, the mark from him was to force me to bring it to him anyway."
"So you did an end run and gave it to him anyway?" Khrys hissed.
"You wouldn't understand," she muttered and Khrys' temper flared.
"I know him better than you do, young lady," she snapped. "You gave him the means to destroy us."
There was no way she could defend herself from this. There was no way to skew it, no way to explain it. "He doesn't know how to work it yet!"
"That is not a good defense!" her mother countered.
"Every dream I have has him in it! If I didn't give it to him now I would have had to later!" she shouted back and Cullen stepped in.
"Alright, alright, stop," Cullen intervened. Bree hadn't asked about the two Templars which irritated him but she probably knew that they were okay. Still didn't make anyone feel any better. "Bree, I've known you since you were born…I've never considered you a threat. You attacked two Templars, took a weapon of untold destruction and gave it to the enemy of Thedas," Cullen said as Bree listened. Hearing it like that gave her a perspective that she already knew about but it sank in now. "There's nothing you can say or do to fix this."
Bree nodded, she couldn't explain it or justify it.
"Which is why I put her in a cell," Thom added. "Which is where she should go back."
Dorian glared. "We'll talk about you throwing my daughter in a cell."
"No. We won't," he replied coldly. "I did what I'm supposed to do. Any other person would still be in that cell." Thom added as Cullen and Bree saw it descend into another argument.
"I want to leave Skyhold," Bree announced over them and they fell silent. "You can't trust me here."
"That we can agree on," Thom muttered.
Dorian growled his aggravation. "You want to be here, Thom, shut up," Dorian warned.
"Knock it off," Khrys snapped at them.
"I want to go to Orlais," Bree added and the squabbling people stopped squabbling and looked at her. "I have an open invitation from the Emperor."
"You what!?" Dorian yelled.
"Cullen," Khrys gestured and the Commander nodded leaving the room with Thom. "What do you mean you have an invitation from Gaspard?"
"He wrote me a letter. Says I'm welcome to come and stay for a while," she answered.
"You mean stay with the Prince?" Khrys hissed and Dorian sighed.
"No," she replied. "Gaspard just offered some time away from Skyhold."
"Before or after you plotted his whole thing?" Michel asked and Bree swallowed again.
"You are not going to Orlais," Khrys decided adamantly. "You are going to stay right here and come up with a way to fix the fucking mess you made."
"I think she should go," Dorian said and Khrys glare at him with a shocked and angry look.
"Are you kidding?"
"I'm not going to let her sit in a cell, she can't undo what she's done and Val Royeaux will be as safe as anywhere else we can muster." The mage replied and Khrys scoffed loudly.
"Until someone assassinates Gaspard," Khrys snapped and then let out a sigh coming to the realization that Dorian was actually right. If she stayed here after this it would be tough and people wouldn't trust her or them. "Fine…you can go to Orlais."
Michel agreed with getting her out of Skyhold. He was angry with her like everyone else but wanted to protect her. "I'll go with her," Michel added and Khrys looked at her lover. "Make sure she gets there safe."
Bree sat through the awkwardness of it all. Seeing her father the cool head about Orlais and her mother being the one that came unglued was different. She did what she had to do but explaining it was impossible. She hoped Orlais would put an end to the worst months of her life.
PS: Okay, so the beginning part of that sucked to write. He was a favorite.
Music listened to for that part are
How to Save a Life (courtesy of the best Anders vid on youtube)
Arsonists Lullaby by Hozier (courtesy of my tireless Beta)
Nothing Else Matters by Apocalyptica