I decided to follow up "An Antivan Nightmare" with an expanded version of the end of the fade section of the Broken Circle quest. Was going to be another one-shot but around the point where the Sloth demon shows up I realized it was getting a little long and I was nowhere near done. Will probably end up being around 2 chapters, chapter 2 being about a quarter finished already.
If anyone hasn't read my first story, Lyna is my current PC (my avatar image), she's romancing Zevran, they're trying to recruit the mages.
Again, please let me know if I missed any horrible grammatical errors or if I've accidentally substituted words that don't make sense. (Like just now I noticed I had "harms" where "arms" should be and that's not right.) Or basic spelling, if you spot something let me know. (My spell checker is being uppity and is flagging "ok" even if the "ok" is part of a word. Like "look". It's a little annoying. Hate to think what else it's doing that I am not noticing.)
Disclaimer: Bioware owns everything good, like Dragon Age and Wynne and Shale and Zevran. Etc.
Lyna stared at Niall, her violet eyes apprehensive. The mage nodded encouragingly from across the pedestal, his form flickering slightly as he struggled to remain, to help the brave elf who'd done the impossible. The two of them glanced down at the glassy surface of the oddly glowing pedestal, noting how every line was now shimmering slightly, each glyph seemingly stamped into the surface of the water. It was done... almost. Lyna had killed all five of the demons that had maintained the barrier around that central island. She had even located each of her companions, not that it seemed to do much good; Shale and Wynne had each disappeared, just like Zevran, mere moments after they recalled their mission and remembered where they were.
The elf bit her lip, her mind lingering on the assassin for a moment before she shook her head and banished her foolish longings from her mind. At least Shale and Wynne had been easier to deal with. A sharp slap, often the perfect cure for hysteria, brought the mage back to her senses and Shale... well, the golem just needed a stern talking to in order to un-freeze herself from her perfectly still Honnleath pose.
Lyna sighed, drawing the attention of the mage. "I suppose I should get on with it then..." She gazed at Niall, not liking how ghostly he was starting to look. She reached out to touch his arm, a concerned look in her eyes as she said, "Just hang on a little longer, ok? I'm going to get us out of here." Niall just smiled a little sadly at her and whispered, "Good luck... and I'm sure your friends are ok. You freed them, they will find their way back."
The rogue nodded, not daring to meet his eyes again. They both knew she was worried, no point in dwelling on it. Readying her bow, Lyna took a long steadying breath and plunged her free hand into the icy surface of the pedestal, long fingers curling around the outline of a rune representing that central island. She glanced up in time to see Niall's parting wave as she dematerialized, her soul shifting through the Beyond to face the Sloth demon in his lair.
Wynne rubbed her hand absently across her cheek, still feeling slightly amused at the actions of the strange elf with the purplish tattoos. She drifted though some strange, soft white area, feeling the presence of her guardian spirit around her as she floated. The mage's thoughts lingered briefly on how easily the demon had apparently duped her, locking her in a nightmare where the blood of innocent apprentices was on her hands. She still felt dreadfully melancholy when she thought about it, but the tiny Dalish had stopped her unbecoming hysterics before they got rolling with a well placed slap. Wynne chuckled, the sound echoing strangely in the pale white glow. She wondered how the elf was doing; Lyna had been, as soon as she knew Wynne was herself again, immediately forthcoming with a plethora of details regarding the current situation. The barriers, the five warding demons, the Sloth demon. Almost as if she knew Wynne had only a few moments before being whisked away. The mage had sensed a wrenching sadness in the girl, and had been about to ask if the young Warden was alright before she was sent to this warm, white... limbo, for lack of a better term. She suspected, though, that her time here was drawing to a close, that the diminutive elf had nearly opened the way to Sloth. Wynne smiled faintly as she felt the faint tingling, so similar to what she felt when she was sent here. She knew the time had come.
Shale was bored. She drifted though some sort of.. white.... oh ugh it was white and what if it was from the pigeons. Oh perish the thought. Let's just stop that thought right there. It's... something else. Something else that was white. Like.... cotton? Fabric that was white, yes that's just fine.
Now where had It gone now. The golem hoped it was almost time to squash the pesky demon's head. It had promised that heads would be squished, and while Shale normally didn't pay much attention to fleshy things, all full of horrible liquids, It seemed somewhat less useless then most. Obviously from some higher stock of genetic material. She decided she would ask It later, surely It would know why it was so obviously superior to all those other squishy bags of fluid. After all, It hadn't even needed a control rod this time to crack the paralysis that had gripped her. Oh. Is that tingling? Maybe it was time for the demon squishing. Wonderful.
It was peaceful here. Zevran didn't care. He didn't want to be here, he wanted to get out of this horrible white place, needed to make sure she was truly alright. She had looked so alarmed as he was pulled away, ripped out of her soft embrace, and then he was here. What if she wasn't ok? After what he'd... The assassin cut the thought off, his golden eyes searching the vast white glow for something, anything, that might indicate a way out. He clenched his jaw, his thoughts dwelling on the dainty elven archer and how she'd wormed her way into his... mind. Yes, certainly just his thoughts. And why shouldn't he think on her, what with those lovely lavender eyes, pale skin that shimmered under the moon when they held watch together; her ceaselessly curious questions about Antiva, how she blushed as the assassin sprinkled his stories with lascivious suggestions.
Damnit, he needed to get out of here, to apologize for turning her own blade, one he had even given her, against the smooth skin of her throat. And then she had asked him if he was alright. Of course he was alright, why wouldn't he be just fine? It's not as if he had laughed as she cried and begged him and Taliesin had cut her thr... No no no. Zevran closed his eyes, his hands moving up to rub his temples as if to physically banish the unwanted thoughts from his mind. What right did he have to think of Lyna, of how her lavender eyes darkened to a stormy blue-violet when he kissed her, how she shivered under his skilled hands in the quiet stillness of her tent. Of the soft sigh she made against his skin as she fell asleep in his arms... No NO. He had no right, not after what he'd done. Maker damn him to hell, he needed to get out of this blasted place, if only to make sure she was alright.
His golden eyes snapped open. He felt something, something new. Something like the sensation that brought him here. Was he finally getting out? Would he finally get to see if she was truly ok?
Lyna stumbled slightly as she materialized on the central island, her eyes immediately scanning the area, looking for the demon. She was surprised when she spotted it instantly, maybe a hundred feet away. It was just sitting there, apparently daydreaming and staring up into the smoky brown-grey nothing that passed for a sky here in this part of the Beyond. She stepped cautiously towards it, her longbow held before her half-drawn with an arrow at the ready. This was it, the final challenge. The elf hoped she was up to the task. Her heart yearned for her companions, and hoped killing this Sloth creature would allow them all to get out of here. She suspected that Niall didn't have much time left... though if she really thought about it - which she refused to do - she would be forced to admit that it was already far too late for the sadly brave mage who had helped her decipher pedestal.
Shaking her head and gathering her focus, she raised her bow slightly, but froze when she heard a slow, chilling voice that seemed to cut right through her.
"Well well well, what do we have we here..." The Sloth demon turned its head slightly, its skinless face partially covered by the strange blood-red hood it wore. It continued to speak, it's exposed teeth gleaming dully in the misty yellow light as it mocked her.
"A rebellious minion? An escaped slave?" It laughed, the sound draining the color from Lyna's face as the tip of her readied arrow dropped slightly. The demons eyes glowed red through the narrow slits in the hood as it stared at her.
"My my, but you do have some gall. But playtime is over. You all have to go back now." Lyna blinked at that, and suddenly she felt them. She could sense her friends, they were there, right behind her, she could feel it with every fiber of her being. She risked a glance over her shoulder, her violet gaze flickering briefly over the solid presence of Shale and the comforting warmth of Wynne before she focused on the Antivan. He was ok. He was still alive, and they were all ok and maybe this demon wasn't so terrible after all, with them beside her. Zevran was looking at her and if she didn't know better - which she did but a girl is allowed to dream once in awhile, especially when she is in the Beyond - she'd say that was almost a loving look in his golden eyes. Good thing she knew better. She flashed her friends a quick smile, her gaze lingering ever so briefly on the elf before she turned back to Sloth. The ice water that had apparently flooded her veins when the demon spoke warmed quickly, replaced by a fierce need to save him... them. Save them.
Narrowing her violet eyes and ignoring her briefly roiling emotions, she stared at the demon, daring it to even flinch in the wrong direction. It almost seemed to smirk. Lyna winced slightly as it's voice cut through her again. "If you go back quietly, I'll do better this time." The things voice was silky smooth, seeming to promise happiness and love and home with every chilling syllable.
Shale spoke up, "Is it time to squish the demons head yet? It said we would, and I certainly hope It would not lie about something like that."
The demon glanced at the golem before refocusing on Lyna, sensing that she was the driving force behind their resistance. The elf swayed slightly, suddenly feeling it's creeping presence in her mind, shuddering as it searched her memories for something it could use. Advancing swiftly, Wynne stood just behind the faltering rogue and addressed the demon in a strident voice. "You cannot hold us demon. We found each other in this place and you cannot stand against us!"
But the demon had found a hook. It stood and faced them as it said in a slow, almost languid tone, "I'll make you much... happier." It fastened it's glowing eyes on the archer, and suddenly twisted the fade around them. They found themselves in a sunny forest glade, the demon a vague outline still some sixty feet away. Lyna shuddered slightly and immediately began to trudge away from her three alarmed companions, longbow held limply at her side. They heard musical laughter not far away, and they quickly moved to follow the tiny elf. Suddenly, Lyna paused, slung her longbow over her shoulder, and resumed walking, only now with her normal grace, so common to the Dalish elves in their sun-dappled woodland home.
Wynne and Shale shared a concerned look, - an unusual enough event for the golem, Wynne noted silently - and the mage glanced over to where the Sloth demon was still barely visible and again seated.
Zevran's golden eyes were fixed on Lyna, not daring to let her out of his sight. He picked up speed, hoping to keep the delicate archer out of trouble in this alarmingly complete dreamland apparently centered on his Lyna, to keep her here. Wait, not his Lyna. Where had that thought come from? No matter, he could figure it out later. Right now she needed his help.
In less then a minute, Lyna had led the companions to what looked like the outskirts of a Dalish camp. Wynne and Zevran managed to catch up to the graceful elf as she came to a stop next to a large oak, Shale hanging back slightly, nobody liking the vaguely glassy look in the girl's eyes. The assassin and mage looked around quietly, both understanding that they would need to get a handle on things before they could bring the Dalish out of this dream.
"Mamae!" They heard the excited exclamation before they saw the cause. Lyna suddenly smiled a brilliant, rarely seen smile and spun around, scooping up an elfling no more then three years old. The child had pale gold hair, braided and bedecked haphazardly with wildflowers, and large violet eyes. Lyna nuzzled the girls face, her ebony hair spilling silkily over her shoulder as the elfling shrieked in childish glee. "Mamae! Uncle Tamlen was teaching me about Vir Tanadahl! And then I told Hahren when he was telling stories, but then Uncle got in trouble because Keeper told him I was too little. I'm not too little am I?"
Lyna laughed merrily, seemingly oblivious to the human and elf standing a few feet away, the girl-child still in her arms. "Yes da'len, you know you're not supposed to show off in front of the other children. Just because your Uncle is a bad bad man who teaches you the way two years early, does not mean you should go telling everyone." She spun the girl up into the air and was rewarded with another shriek of laughter before the girl was caught and put back on her feet. A tall blond elf with markings reminicient of a bow and arrow came around a tree and said, "Ahh, there you are lethalline. Has Nerana been telling tall tales again?" The man ruffled the girls hair and laughed, "She's a troublemaker you know. Always trying to get me in some sort of trouble with the Keeper."
"You know it's your own fault, teaching her about Vir Tanadahl already. Not that she wouldn't cause trouble anyway..." Lyna looked down at the elfing with a warm, glowing sort of expression. The girl grined impishly up at Lyna then darted away after some other children, laughing joyfully. Unnoticed by either of the elves, Zevran was unable to suppress a shudder. Wynne made a note of his reaction, but did not say anything, still not quite sure how to pull their leader out of her dream.
"I swear, she takes after her father. And where is he, I might ask? At least when he's around he can keep YOU out of trouble, if not himself, Tamlen." Lyna watched the elf child run off before turning her attention to the tall elf at her side. His light blue eyes met her merry violet ones, an amused look on his face. "Well how should I know? I swear, every time I turn around either that girl of yours or your silly husband has vanished into the shadows. I don't know where you found him lethalline, but he's even more trouble then little Nerana!"
Lyna laughed and shruged, turning to walk further into the camp while saying, "Where do you think she gets it! Not from me surely... Ah well, I'm sure he's around somewhere." She paused when Tamlen did not follow, and turned to face him, her violet eyes curious. "Tamlen?"
Tamlen stared at Wynne, apparently ignoring Zevran's presence entirely. "Where'd you get the shem, Lyna?" Lyna blinked, her eyes vaguely confused. "Oh I... well she is..." The elf fumbles for words while staring at Wynne, also not seeing Zevran standing right there, staring at her with his jaw clenched. "I honestly don't remember, lethalline. Oh well, she'll have to introduce herself to the Keeper." Lyna narrows her eyes and steps up to the mage, her gaze hard. "Yes, shemlen? You go find the Keeper if you are going to be in our camp. Right away, yes? Do not cause trouble." With that, she turned and stalked away, pulling Tamlen with her, and disappearing into the midst of the camp.
aha cliffhanger! I'm part way through the last bit though, shouldn't take too long to finish. We'll see if the muse keeps hanging out.