A/N (Aroihkin's Notes) 03.25.2010:

I've been getting little ideas, with no real specific PC in mind most of the time. Because I'd like to link them all (or almost all) together, and it's easier with an origin to work off of, I went with city elf. It's the origin, complete with later-game repercussions, that I'm the most familiar with.

This one... is an OC that previous readers of mine will probably recognize very quickly, folded into yet another new setting. Don't worry, she's retained the broken nose and the charming disposition, as well as legendary people skills. I may eventually use her name, but for now I amuse myself with trying to avoid it, just like the game itself often does. Also, I haven't encountered any stories with a female elf sword-and-board tank yet, and no real accounts of anyone playing it either... it's also not something seen much (at all?) in-game, that I can recall.

I won't be sticking to this narration style, probably. Opinion request: should I post individual bits as individual stories, particularly as the writing-style is subject to change, or should I make this multi-chapter even if things jump around in order? I'm not intending to make this one big re-telling of the game; only writing what comes to mind and mostly in the order it comes to mind in...

Reviews are loved forever and ever.

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"What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?"
-- irresistible force paradox

When you hear that your targets are apparently an ex-Templar man and an elven woman, you expect certain things of the group your mage -- helpless damsel! Help, help! -- leads up the road at a calculated run. You expect the human man to be in heavy armor, carrying a shield and a sword, like any good would-be Templar. Certainly, you don't expect him to jump to the side of the trail when the tree comes down, unhooking a longbow and knocking an arrow like he means it...

You have to expect the elf to be a delicate, pretty thing, perhaps with hard eyes, and either a bow or a pair of daggers as slender and sharp as your own. That is how they are among the Dalish, the city streets, and even the Crows, after all. And you should know, you always spot the elves in a crowd first, which is why you spot this one so quickly. You really don't expect to find yourself backpedaling, just a little, at the realization of that that is the elf woman, in the heavy chain mail, with the huge shield, charging straight at you even as the tree crunches against the ground and the first crossbow bolts fly. You're obviously the leader -- "Grey Wardens die here!" -- of your group, and the woman with the shield is their leader, and the two are destined to meet with a crunch you will surely hear for years, if you have years left to hear anything in.

Well, you were right about the eyes, at least. You don't realize that the shield is even harder than they are until it hits the side of your head, once, twice, three times precisely ten seconds later. What pair of daggers can fend that off? You should have jumped from the shadows, from stealth, with poison and whispers between her shoulder-blades, not let her come at you as though you were an Ogre. Assassins are made of glass and bone, elves doubly so, just as she should have been, and she's barking orders to her companions, voice carrying like thunder over the sounds of battle, terrible and harsh and not at all pretty and delicate. Something about the archers you placed on the cliff...

The sounds of battle are starting to turn into sounds of pain all around you, and your vision flickers white from another blow from that blasted shield that your daggers can't seem to get around. As you fall, and your vision fades to black, you think it appropriate that you've been taken out by an elven woman whose eyes gleam like cold, hard revenge.

When you wake up later with your wrists and ankles tightly bound, even you can't help but groan in disoriented pain. These Fereldans with their dogs and their mud and their thick, grey stews... it shouldn't surprise you to find an elf who fights more with shield than with sword. Blunt, brutal, to the point and exceedingly painful, just like the entire dismal country. --Yes, you definitely have a concussion.

That blasted shield bites into the mud a few inches from your face as it's dropped, edge-down, and you can't help but wince at the noise it makes, steel scraping against loose stone. A gloved hand rests atop it, and its owner leans down a little to look at you, looming. It's hard to focus, because Maker does the side of your head hurt...

"Talk," a rough voice grunts, not in the least pretty or feminine, though you can tell it's a woman's. Did she swallow hot ash? Gargle with broken glass? It sounds worse now that it isn't shouting over a battlefield. But, you realize with some dismay, you really have nothing left to lose, and so talk you do.

You can barely keep track of the things you say. It goes without comment that you flirt with -- or perhaps at -- your captor, even though you're having a hard time seeing much of her face. The sun is so very bright today, much more than before the concussion, and you wonder aloud if someone might turn it down a bit for you.

"Yeah," that voice replies, gloved fingers tapping one-two-three-four against the shield, and you only barely manage to avoid wincing as it feels like the tapping is inside your skull, "concussions happen around me."

Your options were to die as an expendable nothing among the Crows, or to die here. Dying here was preferable -- still is preferable -- and so you let your mouth run. What's the worst that could happen? She could put the rim of that shield through your throat, right here, and end it far cleaner than the Crows would. It looks heavy enough that with the strength it takes to wield it like she does, she should be able to take your head off in a few agonizing whacks from the dull edge.

It's not until the ex-Templar -- the only man in the little group, so you know it must be the other Warden -- exclaims something at her that you realize you've bargained for your life, surprisingly, and even more surprisingly she's accepted it. The gloved hand leaves the shield and draws a knife, reaching down to slit the ropes at your wrists and ankles and then offering a hand up.

Your head clears just enough to remember the vow you make as it tumbles from your lips, managing to keep your expression flat as you make an abrupt little bow at the end. Dear Maker, but your head is killing you worse than any hangover, and half your face feels swollen and stiff.

She slaps a thick poultice-pouch from her belt into your gloved hand before releasing it, and then picks up her shield and wordlessly continues walking down the road. The others stare at you for a moment, and share glances with each other as you apply the elfroot-paste to your temple and stumble along behind her. The leash is invisible, but it's there, and you prefer to keep some slack to it if you can; you have traded one servitude for another, you know, but this one surely cannot be any worse... the unknown is less frightening when the known is certain death.

At worst... perhaps you will run. And never, ever stop, lest poisoned daggers or heavy steel shields catch up to your back.

-- --: -x- :-- --
Dragon Age belongs to someone else.
All here that is not found in the canon... is mine.
Never steal if you value your spleen.