By dusk, Leliana found herself in Brady's empty quarters, scoffing at the sloppy addendum in Brady's hand scrawled at the bottom of a griffon-stamped letter. Brady wrote that his location was disclosed in the writing above, followed by a pitiful apology that begged for her forgiveness. Their pursuit of Marjolaine prompted her to advise Cassandra to strike a deal with Samson. The possibility of Damon and Morrigan finding the dagger was likely enough; their recruitment of Brady almost made it certain.
Cassandra disputed the suggestion until Leliana read her the letter addressed to Damon. "The dagger must be returned to the Chantry," Cassandra said to Leliana that evening. "Do what must be done."
Anora, pleased with the compromise, went straight to the Palace dungeon with Leliana. As Anora went for the door to Samson's cell, Leliana stopped her with a hand on her shoulder.
"Let me talk to him alone."
Anora turned around and crossed her arms over her chest. She asked if Leliana was sure she could secure such a sensitive deal.
"I would not ask of this if I was not certain I could handle it," Leliana said. "I do have a request, however. The deal I wish to make; it is not what we spoke of."
Anora led Leliana away from the door and asked for an explanation. Leliana recalled an old conversation in the War Room before the Inquisition's occupation of the Arbor Wilds. Brady had made what seemed then as an inconsequential comment on the research of red lyrium. Josephine's reply about the difficulty of studying a living red templar informed Leliana's proposal: Limited freedom in exchange for Samson's cooperation with the currently stagnant progress on red lyrium research.
"You must trust me," Leliana said. "When he bites, it will be to everyone's benefit."
Anora nodded and stepped out of the way, allowing Leliana to enter the dark holding cell alone. Inside, Samson's figure was lit beneath faltering candlelight. His hand and foot were wrapped in blood speckled bandages. He watched as Leliana dragged a wooden chair across the floor and placed it in front of where he sat. Leliana sat down and crossed a leg over her knee, knitting her hands together atop of her lap, her eyes studying the weariness on Samson's face.
"This act of yours: The taunts, the lies. All to achieve a death wish. More specifically, for Brady to deal the killing blow." Leliana said.
Samson craned his chin. "Now why would I want that?"
"It's quite obvious, no? If he were to kill you, it would be in cold blood. An act of revenge. A thing like that may corrupt a heart. Tear someone apart from the inside out."
Samson curled his upper lip. "That would imply I believe him to be some paragon of good. And he is not. You see what he did to me. Your eyes keep trying to avoid it, but it is far too hard to ignore, isn't it?"
"I am sure he did not act unprovoked."
"Is that what you truly believe? Or does convincing yourself of that make it easier for you?" Samson said. Leliana held an unblinking stare into his crimson eyes. He scoffed and deflated into his seat.
"You believe the surface shows you enough about a man to judge him."
"Doesn't it?" Samson replied. "Are we not our actions?"
"I do not believe that. Not about Brady, and not about you."
Samson turned his head away. "Spare me the Chantry rhetoric, Nightingale."
"The chantry failed you," Leliana said.
Samson's eyes snapped forward, his brows knitted as he gazed at her with a frown. "You know not what you speak of."
"What they did to you and Maddox was wrong. You showed compassion for your charges and Meredith punished you unjustly for it."
"Even when you served Corypheus, you held that compassion. You held onto your heart."
"And you blame yourself for the fate of the red templars and for the fate of Maddox—"
"Dammit, I said enough!"
Leliana tented her hands. "The Inquisition murdered the men that believed in you. The men that followed you." Her eyes narrowed, "The Inquisitor cut through your men. He stopped you and your cause. You hate him."
"I envy him," Samson snapped, glaring into Leliana's widened eyes. His nose crinkled, "There's no pain on this world comparable to bleeding for a cause… only to find that you are the monster— the evil— you thought you fought against."
"You are no monster, Samson," Leliana said, shaking her head with a sigh. "Misguided, but not a monster."
"Corypheus showed more power to me than the Maker ever did. So, I supported him and his campaign. I lied— like an Orlesian. Rebelled like a Ferelden. I did no more evil than what already existed in this world. You all did the same. And yet—" Samson bared his teeth— "I am the one left damned."
"It is not too late. You still have a chance to repent," Leliana said. "Atone."
Samson's finger tapped against the armrest of his chair. His eyes darted away to stare into oblivion. After a moment, he murmured, "Have you seen what has happened to the people who have believed in me? They perished so I can continue this blighted life."
"Don't speak of him like you understand. Your inquisitor killed him."
"Who told you that? Corypheus?"
"Does it matter?" he sneered. "It's the truth. Maddox was nothing but a faithful friend to me and he murdered him for it."
"The Inquisitor did not murder Maddox."
"Lies," he retorted with venom on his tongue. "That is all your type does."
Leliana leaned forward and spoke in an even tone, "Maddox took a lethal amount of poison. He remained true to you until the very end. The Inquisitor attempted to resuscitate, but it was too late."
"That matters not." Samson said. "If it was not for him, Maddox would not have been forced to take his own life. The Inquisitor is responsible— no matter how indirectly. He is responsible for Maddox's death." Samson sprung forward, "Maddox did not deserve such a fate. Not in Kirkwall and not in that blighted temple."
Leliana closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and composed herself. "After Maddox perished, Brady carried his body out of the temple and returned him to Skyhold for a proper pyre."
Samson glanced into Leliana's eyes, his bottom lip quivering as his frown deepened. His voice quaked, "Still your tongue of these cruel lies."
"Look at me. This is no lie." Leliana continued, "Brady insisted his name be listed amongst our own: Inquisition soldiers, agents, and others who died for our cause." Leliana straightened. Her eyes stabbed into Samson. "That is the true nature of the man you insist is a monster."
Samson's crimson eyes watered and welled. As he shook his head, his eyelids shut and forced tears to crawl down his cheeks. His head fell with a whisper of the Maker's name.
"You have walked in the darkness for far too long." Leliana stretched out her hand and laid it on top of Samson's padded bandages. He glanced at her touch and sucked in a sharp breath through his nose. Leliana spoke slow, "I can offer you a deal: you assist the research of red lyrium with the possibility of supervised freedom in exchange for information about Florianne, Calpernia, and the dagger."
"I want to visit Maddox. Where his ashes rest." Samson said after a long silence. "I'll tell you everything if you promise me," he sniffled and rose his swollen eyes to Leliana. "You promise me, Leliana—"
Leliana nodded. "Of course."
A sullen smile appeared on his face. "Thank you."
Leliana remained. For an hour, she listened to Samson retell the story of his life. When he laughed, she laughed. When he cried, she offered comfort and kindness. Leliana's smallest shows of compassion made Samson light with a dim glow, like candlelight dancing in a window at the end of a rural road on a fog-filled night. His open wounds would take time to heal, but perhaps they ceased to bleed.
A knock on the dungeon door beckoned for Leliana's exit. They shared a look of disappointment. Once she reached the door, Samson called out: "Will I see you again?"
"Of course, Raleigh," she turned and said, leaving him with a final smile.
The one on his face remained long after her departure.