The legal bits:
I don't own anything but my own ideas. You know the drill.
This story has an M rating. It contains the following adult themes: polyamory, nudity, foul language, adult themes, violence, sexual themes, slight non-consensual themes, gore, abuse, character death, and I'm sure a plethora of other things. If any of this offends you, this is really not the story for you (or the game, for that matter.)
So, this is loosely following my third play through of Dragon Age: Inquisition. I have completed my first, half way through my second, and now going slowly through this one. The first chapter is a bit bland, since it mostly just follows the initial happenings, which don't leave a lot of room for extra dialogue and changes. They will get more interesting, I promise.
There will be a companion piece to this that is from the views of some of the other characters, but that comes later as it will contain a lot of spoilers for both the game and this story.
With that, enjoy!
Chapter 1: Let Chaos be Undone
Smell was the first sense that Wren was aware of. Stale water, cold stone, fear. She startled, jerking awake as if pulling her head from under deep waters. The world around her swirled and refused to come into focus. Bright, hazel-green eyes fluttered open, and she looked to her right, as if expecting someone to have been there, talking to her in rushed whispers. But her eyes met only the bare steel tip of a sword. It took her a moment to figure out where she was. A stone and straw floor, the shift of armored guards, the nervous energy. For a brief second, she feared that she was coming out of her Harrowing again…
The snap of power and shock of pain from her left hand grabbed her attention, making her gasp and pull her had away, as if pulling it from a flame.
The door slammed open, and two female figures strode into her cell with anger and purpose radiating off of them. They circled her for a moment, studying her, before the one in armor leaned down and snarled in Wren's ear, "Tell me why we shouldn't kill you now." Her thick accent was distinctive, and fairly unfamiliar.
'Kill me? Are they Templars?'
The woman stepped away, pacing a little, "The Conclave is destroyed. Everyone who attended is dead."
Wren looked up, startled at the news. 'Impossible! Curt, you can't be!'
"Except for you." There was no mistaking the tone- this woman thought Wren was responsible, but the young mage was too stunned at the news to respond. She merely watched her captor in wide eyed panic until the woman grabbed her left hand briefly, "Explain this."
Words finally came to Wren, struggling through the confusion, "I-I…can't." Her slight accent sounded thick with her fear.
"What do you mean you can't?!"
"I don't know what that is, or how it got there!" she shouted in panic.
The woman lunged at her, grabbing her robes roughly, "You're lying!"
It was only then that the silent one stepped in, pushing the first away. "We need her, Cassandra."
'All those people… gone. Curt, Dinall… God's above, the Divine!'
The quiet woman approached her with a calmer demeanor, "Do you remember what happened? How this began?"
Wren struggled through her muddled mind. Images flickered in her mind, emotions, brief pieces of conversations. What did she remember? "I remember… running. These… things chasing me. And then…" an image flashed before her, a vague form, a sense of safety, a desperate hope, "-a woman? She… reached out to me. But then…" That was all. It faded away, and only the cell remained.
The woman called Cassandra pushed her companion away now, "Go to the forward camp, Leliana. I will take her to the Rift."
Wren looked up, completely lost to what that could mean, as Cassandra came forward with a small bit of rope. She undid the iron shackles and bound the mages hands in the rough fibers instead. Desperate for information, Wren begged for anything, "What did happen?"
Cassandra regarded her warily, helping her to her feet and leading her towards the door, "It… will be easier to show you…"
The light blinded her for a moment as she followed her escort outside. The cold wind bit through the thin cloth of her tunic, and Wren was briefly thankful for the armor she wore over. It did not take her long to see what Cassandra meant. In the sky above Haven, where the Temple of Sacred Ashes once stood, was a tear in the very fabric of their reality. It swirled with green light and hummed with menacing intent.
Cassandra stood a little in front of her, staring at the tear with resignation, "We call it 'The Breach.' It's a massive rift into the world of demons, that grows with each passing hour."
Wren stared in wonder, 'She means it is a tear into the Fade! Is that possible?'
She turned to regard the captive, "It's not the only such Rift, just the largest. All were caused by the explosion at the Conclave." Stepping closer, her face was serious and beseeching, "Unless we act, the Breach may grow until it swallows the world."
Before Wren could ask anything else, a jolt of green lightening thundered down from the Breach, and at the same moment the strange mark on her hand seemed to answer with an electric pain of its own. The shock of it and the immense agony that followed dropped the mage to her knees. She screamed, and curled forward in some vague need to hide her hand from the Breach.
Cassandra dropped next to the mage, urgency giving her voice a pleading edge, "Each time the Breach expands, your Mark spreads… And it is killing you." She paused a moment, while Wren caught her breath, "It may be the key to stopping this, but there isn't much time."
Wren took a shaky breath, not even thinking as she spoke, "If it will close the Breach, I will do what I can." She didn't need this warrior to tell her the dangers to the world from anything that demons could come so easily through. Her life mattered little now, but the world did not deserve to perish from the beasts that would rip through the Veil.
Cassandra nodded her approval, and assisted her to her feet once again. They continued on, down the path that Wren knew led towards the Temple. They passed cabins filled with frantic noise, tents full of injured soldiers and civilians alike. Each person that spared them a glance would give a nod to Cassandra, and a vehement glare to the young mage.
Cassandra saw the looks, "They have decided your guilt. They need it. The people of Haven mourn our most Holy, Divine Justinia, Head of the Chantry. The Conclave was hers." The followed the rough trail, the smell of burning and the distant screams of fighting drifted on the bitter wind. "It was a chance for peace between mages and Templars. She brought their leaders together." Her voice hitched, "Now they are dead." They walked up the steps and through the first set of gates, guarded by weary uniforms. "We lash out, like the sky. But we must think beyond ourselves, as she did. Until the Breach is sealed." The woman's obvious passion kept Wren silent. A wash of guilt came over her, knowing that if her own kind had not rebelled, then this might not have happened. 'You do not need to tell me what the Conclave meant. I was there. I wanted it to end in peace. We all did.'
The bridge before them was a wash of activity, but Wren had only a moment to take it in before Cassandra stopped her with a hand and turned around, her eyes searching the mage's for a moment before pulling out a dagger, "There will be a trial. I can promise no more." She cut the rope bonds, and stepped back. "Come, it is not far."
Wren was surprised by her actions, but even more surprised that this woman was giving her a modicum of trust. She couldn't help but ask, though, "Where are you taking me?"
"Your Mark must be tested on something smaller than the Breach." Called Cassandra over her well armored shoulder.
'That does not tell me anything,' Wren thought, but followed none the less. The bridge held mostly soldiers, though a few Chantry sisters stood with them, preaching to the lost souls or praying with them. The mage passed a row of bodies, all covered in cloth and ready for burial. The smell was subdued in the cold of the mountain pass, but she could still see blood and other fluids leaking onto the bridge. 'What happened to these people?'
At Cassandra's order, the second gates were opened, and Wren was led into the valley and further up the path. A strange and disorienting sense of déjà vu washed over her, 'How long ago was it, that I walked hand in hand with Curt, hope in our hearts, ready to assist our leaders in the peace talks to follow?'
The way was littered with barricades and soldiers. Some were gripping their swords tightly, blood dripping from recent wounds. Others were edgy, stunned, pale, and unmarked by anything yet but fear. As they ran up the path, balls of Fade energy rained down around them, knocking soldiers aside, crumbling barricades, burning through the forest. Another bolt of green from the Breach, and another staggering blast of pain from the Mark on her hand sent Wren to the ground. Cassandra was quick to help her up, steadying her with hands on her shoulders, "The pulses are coming faster now." She turned at trotted onward, keeping up an explanation, "The larger the Breach grows, the more Rifts appear, the more we must make haste."
The mage mulled it over a moment, before her curiosity got the better of her, "How did I survive the blast?"
Cassandra glanced back at her, before continuing on, "They say you leapt out of a Rift, and then fell unconscious. They say a woman was in the Rift behind you." She paused ominously, "No one knew who she was."
There was another gate, and another bridge, though this was clear of most debris. A group of soldiers ran ahead of them, and just as they reached the gate beyond, a ball of energy slammed into the stone, shattering the bridge and sending Wren, Cassandra, and the now surely dead soldiers, tumbling onto the frozen river below. Wren pushed herself up a little, just as another flaming ball came screaming down to the ice in front of them. From the boiling wreckage appeared a demon, snarling and screaming as it rushed them.
"Stay behind me!" Cassandra shouted, stumbling to her feet and pulling out her sword as she charged the abomination. Wren staggered to her own feet and just before her bubbled more of that Fade energy, whispers and vicious hissing spewing forth. Desperate to protect herself, she cast about for a useable weapon. Swords, bows, and daggers abound, and she was about to reach for one in desperation, when the familiar sight of a Chantry Staff caught her attention. She snatched it from its crate and sprang into the familiar action of battle- searing the emerging demon with fire and lighting, and sparing a moment to cast a protective barrier over Cassandra.
The demons were weaker outside of the Fade, and were quickly dispatched. Wren looked around, trying to ensure that no other creatures were coming. She relaxed slightly when she saw that they were alone, "It's over."
With no warning, Cassandra stormed her, sword still drawn and dripping demonic ichor, "Drop your weapon! Now!"
Adrenaline still pumping and indignation flaring, Wren snarled back, "Do you really think I need a staff to be dangerous?" These people were terrified of her magic one moment, and completely incompetent about its uses the next! A staff is but a focus, a way to channel the power a mage wields.
Breathing heavily, Cassandra took a menacing step forward, "Is that supposed to reassure me?"
"I haven't used my magic on you yet."
The glared at each other, both poised for action, waiting for the other to make a move.
Sighing, Cassandra was the first to give, slowly sheathing her sword. "You're right." She straightened, and shook her head, "You don't need a staff, but you should have one. I cannot protect you." The warrior turned to continue up the path, Wren cautiously following. Almost as an afterthought, Cassandra paused to address the mage, "I should remember that you came willingly…"
The path became less obvious as the debris from the explosion had brought down much of the mountain peaks. They struggled through another encounter with demons and vicious spirits, working together to dispatch their enemies. With every defeated enemy, Cassandra seemed to relax more around her, shouting advice about the techniques each enemy used, or tactics they should use.
Bodies littered the way, both from the explosion, and from the fighting still raging along the path. Wren could feel each pulse of power from the Breach, though it was easier now to block some of the pain.
The long stairs, referred to as The Steps to Truth by their chantry guides before the Conclave, let her know how close they were now. She could hear the clash of battle and the cries of the wounded, clearer now that they were so close. Cassandra seemed to gain another surge of energy at the sound, running ahead with her sword drawn, "We must help them!"
Ahead, through what once was a welcoming garden, was a small group of fighters. Without hesitation, Cassandra leaped into the fray against the demons. Wren paused a moment to gape at the strange, rippling thing that hovered above them. The demons seemed drawn to it and she could feel the ribbons of power that connected it to them. 'This must be a Rift!'
The last demon was dispatched, and one of the fighters grabbed her hand, dragging her towards the growling Rift, "Quickly, before more come through!" He yanked her arm up, pointing the Mark at the Rift. She could feel his magic call to hers, urging her to focus her Will through it. It came on instinct, rushing like a gale through her body and out of the Mark. A blast of power and a rippling cord of energy shot from her hand and into the Rift. The feedback of magic was intense, but she grit her teeth and pushed through, forcing her Will to overpower the magic of the Fade. With a sucking sound and a blinding snap of light, the Rift shut, and the energy faded away.
She turned to the mage beside her, a look of confusion marring her features while she cradled her bruised wrist and pulsing hand, "What did you do?"
The man waved away the question, "I did nothing. The credit is yours."
She glanced down at her hand, feeling the magic recede and the light from the mark fade a little, "I closed that? How?"
The other mage was ready with his answer, "Whatever magic opened the Breach in the sky, also placed that Mark upon your hand." His voice was calm, the tone that of a professor teaching a student, "I theorized the Mark might be able to close the Rifts that have opened in the Breach's Wake- and it seems I was correct." He sounded pleased with himself.
Cassandra joined the conversation, hope palpable around her, "You mean it could also close the Breach itself." It sounded like this was a conversation they had already been through.
The man nodded, "Possibly." His attention returned to Wren, "It seems you hold the key to our salvation." There was an air of confidence about him that gave weight to his words. It was only then that Wren noticed his ears and lithe form, 'An elf?' She could feel power humming from him, practically crackling around his hands. 'I don't remember him from the gathering before… the Conclave.'
"Good to know." A different voice dragged her attention away from the elven mage, "I thought we'd be ass-deep in demons forever." The sarcasm was evident enough in his voice, and Wren was a little surprised to see a Dwarf standing there, adjusting his gloves. Satisfied, he turned and addressed her, "Varric Tethras: Rogue, Storyteller, and occasionally, unwelcome tagalong." The last comment was addressed to Cassandra with a smirk and a wink. By the snarl on Cassandra's face, she knew the man.
Unsure of what else to say, Wren cast about for something, "That… is a nice crossbow you have there." It wasn't too far off the mark- the crossbow was unique, and the rogue had wielded it in battle with serious expertise. Varric smiled, "Ah, isn't she? Bianca and I have been through a lot together." He gave the weapon an adoring smile, like you would a lover.
Wren couldn't help but laugh a little, "You named your crossbow Bianca?"
He winked back at her, "Of course! And she'll be great company in the valley."
Cassandra stepped between them, hand gesturing sharply, "Absolutely not! Your help is appreciated Varric, but-"
He interrupted her, "Have you been in the valley lately, Seeker?" Wren looked startled, 'Cassandra is a Seeker?' "Your soldiers aren't in control anymore. You need me."
The two stared at each other a moment longer, Varric with steady confidence and Cassandra with warring emotions. Finally, with a disgusted sigh, she turned her back. The dwarf smiled, triumphant.
Stepping closer to her again, the elf lifted his hand to his chest, "My name is Solas, if there are to be introductions." He gave her a smile that didn't seem to reach his eyes. " I am pleased to see you live."
Varric shook his head, "He means, 'I kept that Mark from killing you while you slept.'"
Wren turned back to Solas with a new view of the elf. "You must know a great deal about it, to keep it from killing me." Solas' lip twitched, and he seemed to approve.
"Unlike you," Cassandra put in, "Solas is an apostate."
Before Wren could correct her, the elf responded, "Technically, all mages are apostate now, Cassandra." He returned his attention to Wren, taking on the teaching tone again, "My travels have allowed me to learn much of the Fade, far beyond the experience of any Circle Mage." There was almost a condescending tone to that, and Wren got the impression that he did not approve of the Circle. A true apostate, then. "I came to offer whatever help I can give with the Breach. If it is not closed, we are all doomed, regardless of origin."
Wren was impressed a little, since most apostates she had met during the rebellion were more selfish in their views, "That's a commendable attitude."
He shrugged, "Merely the sensible one. Although sense appears to be in short supply right now." Wren wasn't sure who that was a jab at, but she felt that it was not actually directed at her. The elf turned to address the Seeker, "Cassandra, you should know: the magic involved here is unlike any I have seen. Your prisoner is a mage," he gave a small nod to Wren, "but I find it difficult to imagine any mage having such power."
Cassandra nodded, "Understood." and turned to lead the party further along, "We must get to the forward camp quickly."
Solas followed behind her, and Varric strolled forward as well, shrugging a bit, "Well… Bianca's excited!" Wren quirked an eyebrow at him, before trailing behind them. The struggled over the shattered stone and tumbled out buildings. They had to go around the main road, making the path more treacherous. Demons and shades stalked any stragglers, and the group was quick to dispatch them. Wren felt the power from the Breach grow as she got closer, and she cast a wary glance up at the tear in the sky, worrying about what would happen when she finally came to it.
A scream of pain from the top of the stairs they were climbing spurred them into action once again. The sight that greeted them was a grim one- soldiers attempting to guard a gate, assaulted by demons and yet another Rift. Wren wasted no time, chaining lightning between the Shades to get their attention away from the doomed soldiers. It worked, and she found herself dancing away from the claws of the demons, blasting them with her power and moving closer to the Rift. She could see the ribbons of power now, and new that not only did the demons get their power through the Rift, but that the Rift was kept open by their presence. She didn't try to close it until the last demon was banished, and immediately lifted her hand, as Solas had done, watching her Will form a cord of power that closed the unsightly tear.
As soon as the Rift was closed, Cassandra hurried forward and gave the order to open the gate. The soldiers outside of it were relieved, returning to their stations behind the barricades and pulling their wounded through the gate.
Solas gave a nod to Wren, "We are clear for the moment. Well done." She preened a little, despite herself, at the praise from the, so far, rather stoic elf, as elves did not give praise lightly.
The bridge between the gates was, once again, full of people. This time there were more soldiers and fewer Chantry folk. The mood here was somber, the soldiers more battle weary- veterans, then. As she followed Cassandra's purposeful walk, an argument ahead gained her attention. The woman that had accompanied Cassandra earlier, Leliana, was being shouted at by an old Chantry man, both scowling fiercely at the other.
"Enough! I will not have it!" He snarled, turning to look at the papers strewn across the table placed before the command tent. He looked up, spying the party and smiling in a predatory way, "Ah. Here they come."
The red-haired woman pushed passed him, addressing Cassandra with obvious relief, "You made it! Chancellor Roderick, this is-"
"-I know who she is." He hissed, moving closer standing up straighter as he addressed the Seeker, "As Grand Chancellor of the Chantry, I hereby order you to take this criminal to Val Royeaux to face execution." He jabbed an angry finger toward Wren, though he seemed unwilling to look directly at her.
Cassandra visibly bristled at his presumptive attitude, "Order me? You are a glorified clerk! A bureaucrat!" she spat, standing almost protectively in front of the young mage.
The Chancellor did not back down, sneering at the warrior, "And you are a Thug! But a thug that supposedly serves the Chantry!"
Leliana cut him off, "We serve the Most Holy, Chancellor, as you well know."
The chancellor threw up his arms, hands gesturing her to stop, "Justinia is dead! We must elect a replacement and obey Her orders on the matter!"
Wren snarled under her breath, sick of the game this man was trying to bait the women into, "Don't talk about me like I'm not even here!"
His wrath turned to her, obvious disgust written on his face, "YOU shouldn't even be here!"
He returned his attention to Cassandra, and Wren had to close her eyes and practice her breathing exercise just to keep from leaping over the table and throttling the man herself. She admired Cassandra's ability to stay fairly calm, and prayed to whatever gods were listening that the man would shut up soon.
When the argument turned to tactics, Cassandra caught her off guard by turning to Wren and asking for her thoughts on what actions they should take. She looked over at the Chancellor, glaring a little, "We should charge with the soldiers. I won't live long enough for your trial anyways." Not that she really cared that much. What was left to live for? With the Divine dead, the Conclave destroyed, and a magic hole in the sky- everyone would be blaming the mages, apostates all, and her life would be hell. And with everyone she knew and cared about dead… What would her own life be worth anymore? Close the Breach, save the world, and don't be around to deal with the fallout. Seemed like a sound plan.
As the group departed, heading for the next gate, the Chancellor took his parting shot, "On your head be the consequences, Seeker."
Wren found herself growling under her breath, 'Curt, if you are listening from the Fade, tell your Dread Wolf to take that man.'
Commander Cullen simply bled Templar. Wren could almost hear the lyrium singing through his veins. He was handsome, in that rough sort of way, but the mere idea of working near a Templar was enough to set Wren on edge. It was difficult to keep the sneer from her face, but the Breach called, and this man was in charge of the soldiers who would keep her safe enough to close it. She watched him warily as he ordered some of his soldiers forward with them, before helping one of his injured back the way they came.
They entered the Temple of Sacred Ashes, greeting by the gagging smell of charring flesh and hot brimstone. The devastation was incomprehensible, but the warped burning bodies… She could almost hear their screams, like an echo imprinted on the fabric of the world. She wondered, in morbid curiosity, if any of the twisted forms were her friends…
They came around the corner, and got their first view of the Breach itself. It was twisted and moving, restless and searching for more magic. There was a Rift below it, snapping and thundering with power- larger than any she had yet seen. She could feel the tendrils as they passed over, sparking the Mark upon her hand. 'Gods above… The Breach. It is enormous.' The power was oppressive. She didn't need lyrium to feel the Fade and how close it was to the surface of the world. Cassandra turned to her, "
This is your chance to end this. Are you ready?"
Wren nodded, wrenching her eyes from the monstrosity that crackled in the sky, "I'll try, but I don't know if I can reach that, much less close it."
"No," Solas interrupted, "This Rift was the first, and it is the key." His eyes burned into hers, "Seal it, and perhaps we seal the Breach." Wren nodded, taking what little hope he was offering her.
A woman of action, Cassandra turned and searched around them, "Then let's find a way down."
When they reached the center of the Temple, and were close enough to the Rift that Wren would be able to channel her power through it, Cassandra gave a nod and Wren flung up her hand, opening the Rift instead of closing it. The ground shook and thunder deafened them. Energy burst forth and coalesced into a dreadful shape that Wren recognized from her Harrowing. 'A Pride Demon!' Cassandra signaled, and the archers above fired arrows at the beast, though it seemed to have little effect.
The battle began in earnest, and it was immediately evident that this was a more powerful enemy that they had yet faced. Desperately, Cassandra called out to the group, "We must strip its defenses! Wear it down!"
Wren dodged a ball of lighting energy, rolling towards the Rift. She looked up at it, her mind whirling, 'If I disrupt the Rift, I might disrupt the ribbon of power to the Demon.´ Throwing caution to the wind, she pushed her hand through the twisted energies, and forced her Will upon the Rift, seeking to interrupt the flow of power between it and Pride. It worked, and as the disruption sent a shockwave out, the demon was stunned by the sudden loss of power. Everyone took immediate advantage of its disorientation and weakness.
Lesser demons poured from the Rift as it reformed, trying to defend their gateway into the physical realm. Wren ignored them, allowing the archers to pick them off while she worked on the demon. She found herself next to Solas, the two of them fighting in tandem to disrupt the demon's abilities and tear down its defenses. Despite the situation, she had to admire the ease with each he wielded magic. She found herself mimicking his movements and choice in spells, trusting his expertise in all things Fade to know how best to strike Pride.
Finally, the beast fell, and the ribbons to the world were severed. Cassandra's voice reached Wren across the cacophonous echoes of power from the Breach, "Now! Seal the Rift!"
Wren dropped the staff, and turned back to the tear, calling upon every ounce of energy and Will left to her. The power twisted in her, struggling against her and ripping at her very core.
But she gained hold of it, and with a final push and cry of triumph, her Will overcame, and the Rift snapped close with a deafening boom.
Wren had only a moment to celebrate, before her body trembled, and she fell.