A/N This is not an AU fanfic, it's entirely possible, if you made the correct dialogue choices and from a mage origin.
Who's Levyn? Anyone who's a big fan of our poor bloodmage friend would tell you.
Thanks for Niksche for the beta. I have some of the best beta in the world! I love you all deeply!
Dragon Age: Origins
Chapter One – Brecilian Passage, The Gatecrasher
South Brecilian Forest.
The fog curled around the bulky trees and leafy branches. Like a thick blanket, it blocked the sunlight, wrapping the entire forest in its grip, creating an invisible barrier, and making even identifying one's own outstretched fingers difficult. The moisture in the air was so heavy; it was almost certain one could squeeze water out of it. Other than the sound of water streaming, under the green ferns and low bushes, animal voices of all kinds could be heard echoing across the woods. Magpies, birds, wild cats, bears, and wolves could be heard here.
A hooded figure moved swiftly between the trees, fallen leaves and twigs crackling beneath footsteps on the forest floor. Some animals stirred, moving away in fright. The beige robe the hung across the figure's shoulders was battered and stained. Patches of dry blood could be spotted here and there on the swirl-pattern fabric. The large ironbark staff that swung across the back suggested it was a mage. He paused to check his surroundings, as if he was ensuring no one followed him. Finally, when he came to a small clearing by the stream, he stopped and removed his hood, revealing his dark, slightly longer hair and pale skin. His eyes were as clear as the blue sky. The stubble on his face almost could be categorized as a beard.
It was Jowan.
He scooped a handful of water from the stream. His mind still dwelled in the memory of his dear friend. It had been months since he rescued the refugees at the edge of the Brecilian Forest. Months since he last saw his childhood friend, now a Grey Warden. Her green eyes, full of sadness and unwillingness to part, were still imprinted deep in his memory. Even now, her last emotional sob and goodbye caused a thickness to rise in his throat.
"Where will you go now?" asked his friend.
"I don't know," sighed Jowan. "Anywhere that doesn't have Templars who want to slit my throat, perhaps."
"Join us, Jowan." The little elf made her plea one last time: "With us, no one dare to touch even a single strand of yourhair."
"Nice offer, but no." Jowan grinned. "You have enough burdens with you already."
"Burden?" Oghren hiccupped behind his friend.
"Oh, shush!" Another companion, Zevran, gave the Dwarf a sidelong glare.
"Jowan…." His Grey Warden friend didn't know what else to say. She continued to look into his piercing blue eyes. It took him all his strength to pull away.
"Well… I suppose this is goodbye." The former mage picked up his rucksack and his staff. "Farewell, Neph…my dear friend. Thanks for…everything."
He managed to walk all the way to the top of the hill before hearing Neph's tearful cry: "JOWAN!"
He sprung around, just in time to see the petite elf run all the way from the bottom of the hill and into his arms. Her face was streaked in tears. She did not say anything, but held her best friend tightly for a good long minute, as if trying to imprint his scent onto her memory, before releasing him again.
"Farewell, Jowan," she whispered: "May your life treat you much more fairly from now on."
Jowan sighed and finished drinking the water in his palm.
In some way, he was free. He was no longer called Jowan; instead, he used an alias, Levyn, for his new life. No more Templars chasing after him, partially because his phylactery was destroyed by no one but himself, which lead to a rather disastrous exit for him; and partially because of the Blight, which Neph had briefly told him about when they met again in Redcliff after that… rather disastrous exit. Almost every man available in Ferelden had been summoned to Denerim, preparing for the final battle against the darkspawn and the legendary Archdemon and had not yet returned to their post. One of Neph's companions suggested a hut deep in the Korcari Wilds and suggested a much longer but safer route to get there.
"It should be unoccupied at the moment." Morrigan caste Neph a side glance "It's very comfy, let me assure you. And it's enchanted, so no one, not even darkspawn, can find you."
Jowan – no, Levyn – found a tree stump and sat down. He pulled out the map from his rucksack and studied the vellum document intensely for the next twenty minutes or so. He was near the edge of the forest. In about another day's journey, he would enter the notorious Korcari Wilds. Approximately another day's travel, and he should arrive at his destination. Then he could remain in there for a little while, perhaps until the Blight buzz quieted down, or he might stay in the area and help the locals.
With every man and his mabari now occupied in the north, it would be much safer to hide in the south. Besides, he reckoned he might end up helping more people here than being up north. Most outposts here were so remote, and had been attacked or overrun by the darkspawn more than once.
Levyn folded the map and tucked it back to the sack. He stood up and was about to continue on his journey when he heard heavy footsteps coming toward his direction. From his experience it did not sound like animals, as they usually traveled light and quiet, most of time avoiding humans as much as possible. It was too heavy for typical refugees, as they also usually traveled light in times like this. Only two possibilities remained – Templars or darkspawn. And he dreaded to meet either one of them.
He pulled up his hood, quickly pushed the nearby fern aside and dived in. He lowered himself to a much more obscure position. The heavy stomping footsteps drew near; in the split seconds, the plants around him began to die out and bend into twisted shapes.
He was correct. Those were darkspawn.
Chin nearly touching the ground, the mage watched as the pack of darkspawn moved past him. With the leafy plants and ferns dying around him, the blood mage was surprised they did not even notice him. As the matter of fact, this particular pack of darkspawn seemed to be going somewhere in a hurry.
Levyn frowned. Now, he had never heard of darkspawn in a hurry to go somewhere, so much so that they completely missed what was right under their noses. This was unusual, very unusual indeed. What were they doing, and where were they going in such a hurry?
The pack was quickly disappearing; he needed to act fast if he decided to do something. Against all his logic sense, he did. With practiced stealth, Very shiftily, the mage rose from his position and quietly followed the darkspawn from a safe distance. Those creatures traveled unbelievably fast, he had to cast Haste on himself several times in order to catch up with them. Soon, the scenery around him began to change. Strange plantations, shimmering in strange glows, started to appear among the dead trees. Giant, empty cocoons were spotted among the dry ferns. Puddles of blood and rotten flesh could be seen everywhere. Even the animals hidden in the shadows seemed to change. Jowan could have sworn he spotted beady eyes, sparkling with something sinister, behind some thorny growths. This was once the Brecilian Forest? He shivered with the thought.
It didn't take the darkspawn long to arrive at their destination. It was a medium-size farm. Whoever used to live there should probably be one of those dead bodies scattered around the place. The whole farm was drenched in blood. The rotten flesh smell filled his nose. The mage had to quickly cover his mouth to stop himself from screaming.
Judging by the decoration, minus the blood and dead bodies, the darkspawn had probably gate crashed some kind of party. Several men were skewered on a smashed carriage; some were hanging under the roof of the main house. Near the barn, a large cow was gutted and its contents poured out. A half-eaten headless horse lay near the well. The bloodstained tablecloth was torn and hung flying in the early afternoon wind. Half-eaten food, along with some kind of body parts were strewn everywhere.
Carefully hiding behind a large ale barrel, the blood mage did a rough mental count. Including the pack he was following, there were four Genlocks, two Hurlock, one Genlock Emissary, one what seemed to be a Hurlock Emissary, one shriek and one of the most hideous bug-looking creature he had ever seen in his life. A new breed of darkspawn, perhaps? Why would such a large group of darkspawn attack this farm, right in the middle of nowhere? What was so special about this farm? He was under the impression the Blight was finished, months ago, why was there still such a large group of them here, on the surface?
What came next nearly knocked him out of his hiding spot.
The Genlock Emissary, who had seemed to be studying a corpse lying not very far from the main house, suddenly stood up and barked, "This one is alive!"
Levyn could not believe what he had just heard. A talking darkspawn? What was the world coming to?
"Urhh…who ate her eyeballs?" The talking Hurlock clicked his tongue. "The Scholar would not be pleased!"
Other darkspawn seemed to stir and grunt a little bit. Finally, one of the Genlock pointed at the Shriek and snorted. It looked like it was the Sharlock who was the guilty one. The mage's heart ached. Poor girl.
"We were specifically given the orders not to touch the females, and yet you slaughtered all of them. Have you already fed her the flesh, no?"
The Hurlock shook his head. He picked up the girl and pushed her a little. The girl, who seemed about Levyn's age, plus or minus a few years, seemed unconscious. She swung a little in the talking darkspawn's hand. "Humph…. Very well, we do need all the females we can get after suffering such a heavy loss…. Take her with us! We are leaving!"
The other darkspawn roared and began moving toward one of the exits at the other side of the farm. The talking Hurlock swung the girl over his shoulder and prepared to leave as well. Levyn bit his lower lip, wondering if he should save the girl. If he wanted to save her, how would he take on those darkspawn, considering most of them were twice as big as he was?
The Genlock already disappeared out of sight when Levyn decided to act. The mage waved his staff and murmured an Earthquake spell. Immediately the whole farm began to shake, knocking most of the darkspawn over. The ironbark staff waved again, this time sending a bolt of chain lightening toward the dark creatures. Unable to stand still and nearly having the living daylights zapped out of his twisted body, the talking Hurlock dropped the girl. Seizing this chance, Levyn quickly cast a Haste spell on himself before rushing past the darkspawn group, picking up the girl in the process.
He did not dare stop, himself nor the spell. The mage, carrying the unconscious girl, ran with all his might, all the way until the scenery surrounding him changed back to normal greenery again. Finally, when he was certain he had managed to shake off those dark creatures, he started to slow down.
Panted like a mabari, Levyn stopped at a small stream. He carefully put the girl down and collapsed next to a tree.
"Maker's breath…" The blood mage clutched his heart, his lungs hungrily gasping for more air. "All…this…running…is… killing…me…"
And for Andraste's sake, he hoped he made a good decision this time, snatching a girl from a contingent of darkspawn. It was way more dangerous than saving a few refugees from werewolves or bandits. This could really cost his life! If all he sought was death, he should have done that a few months ago, back in the Redcliff castle, when Neph decided to release him from that dungeon. He could have insisted to stay and help. He was sure when the Arl woke up, he would have been rightfully executed on the spot. That would save a lot of trouble. At least his body would remain intact…to a degree.
The blood mage turned his head slightly and cast a side-glance on the girl who had just escaped from the darkspawn's grasp. She was slim, and from what he felt as he carried her across the forest, she was light as a feather. She wore a white-ish dress, which was now severely battered, barely covered her bruised body and stained with blood. Her long dark hair that seemed to have been braided and pinned in a neat bun earlier, was now loosened, uncoiled and had knots of dried blood in some of it. Her small face, while mostly obscured by her long hair, seemed to have some deep cuts and smudges of dried blood in some areas. The most horrific part, Levyn jolted in fright, was the two large crimson gashes, replacing what used to be her eyes.
The talking darkspawn mentioned one of them plucked her eyeballs out when having a big feast on those humans. Maker's mercy! It must have been downright painful. He absently touched his own eyes; he suddenly pondered what were they planning to do with her once they were back to the Deep Roads. Store her away for food?
Now what was he going to do? An apostate on the run with a girl who has had her eyes poked out by some darkspawn? Oh, how promising.
At least he should clean her wounds up a little.
Levyn slowly pushed himself away from the soft grass and dragged himself into a sitting position. He stared at the girl for a few minutes before stumbling back to his feet. He located his rucksack in the nearby bushes, untied the drawstring and yanked it open. His hands rummaged within the bag for a couple of seconds and withdrew a few vials of Potent Health Poultice from the bottom. The spells he cast earlier had drained nearly all his mana, or he would use some Healing Spells to fix some of her injuries. He managed to find a reasonably clean handkerchief in his pack and wet it in the stream. The blood mage returned to the still unconscious girl and very gently and carefully, he began to peel away some of her hair and clean some of those nasty bloodstains and dirt off her face.
He poured a few drops of Poultice and used them on the cuts and gashes. They immediately started to heal. The blood mage rummaged in his pack again, found another torn shirt and ripped it into strips. He soaked them with the Poultice and wrapped them around the girl's head, covering her eyes.
Well, at least when she woke up, she wouldn't have a heart attack upon seeing herself in the mirror. Arh, if she managed to isee/i at all.
With the cleaning mostly done, he slid an arm under her neck and propped her head up, before tilting the remaining contents inside the vial into her mouth. When he was sure the girl had swallowed it all, Levyn uncorked the last vial and made the girl drink it, too.
"Humph." He dropped the empty glass tube next to his feet and leaned backward. He studied the unconscious girl for a while before letting out a relieved sigh. "That seems better."
The girl still looked pale, her temperature still felt pretty high, but at least her skin didn't look as if it were made of wax anymore.
The blood mage grinned slightly at himself, pulled out a blanket from his bag and gently tugged it around the still unconscious girl. Levyn looked up, shading his eyes with one hand.
The Sun was setting; perhaps he should camp here tonight.
The sound of leaves and dry branches suddenly stirred and crackled behind him. Levyn went rigid. The darkspawn had caught up with him already? The mage cursed under his breath. He should have run a little farther. He was way too careless, stopped too early and spent way too long on this spot. He always did. Rushed ahead before planning everything carefully or thought about the consequences. How many of them were there this time? Five? Six? Or all ten of them? His mana still hadn't recovered fully; this time, they were definitely doomed.
Levyn's hand slowly moved toward his rucksack and found a dagger inside. It was given to him by the Antivan assassin companion of Neph, who adored all things crafty, or preferably, Antivan. The carving and decoration of the knife was excellent, and on this occasion, it was just as good as for another use.
He inhaled deeply and wondered how many of them he would slay before he fell.
The movement drew nearer. The tall ferns near the stream were pushed aside. A small child, about the age of three, emerged. It was a boy, who seemed just as surprised as the blood mage was. He cocked his head sideways and stared at Levyn for a minute or two, seemingly unable to decide if the man who sat in front of him was a darkspawn or something else.
"Wha—?" Levyn almost collapsed out of sheer relief. "….a boy?"
More rustling from the thick bushes: "Boo? I told you, don't run off. There is no darkspawn here, but there are still lots of wild animals arou—"
Another man emerged from the trees. It was a well built, olive-skinned man. Wearing only the simplest chainmail armour, a small dagger on his belt, and a large wicker- weave hat. He did not seem to expect to bump into anyone here, either. He blinked at the mage for a minute. "Oh."
"Thank the Maker, I thought…I thought…." Levyn started to laugh.
"Darkspawn don't usually come to this area. The Brecillian Passage is safely guarded by the spirit." The man grinned.
"That's…good to know." The mage smiled, both to the man and the boy. "This one is yours?"
"Yes." The man smiled. "We usually stopp by this stream before heading back to Gwaren. Boo is quite familiar with this area. Oh, forgive my manners. My name is Jethro. We are, armh…what you northerners call? The Chasind."
"Levyn." The mage reached out his hand and shook with the father.
"…So, I take it you were here because of darkspawn?" asked Jethro.
"Yes." Levyn nodded. "Well, in some way—"
His words were interrupted by the excited squeak from Boo, who seemed to have just discovered the girl who lay next to the stream and thought she was a gigantic toy for him to play with. Jethro arched his eyebrow and approached the girl for a closer look. His face darkened a few degrees as soon as he bent down and examined her.
"A friend of yours?" Jethro rubbed his stubbled chin.
"The reason I am running away from the darkspawn." Levyn sighed. "Saw they bloodbathed the entire farm. They were taking her back to the Deep Roads."
"For a good reason," said the Chasind thoughtfully. "Poor thing. She was selected to be the broodmother."
"Huh?" Colour began to withdraw from the blood mage's face. "Brood…mother?"
"During the Blight, we Chasind heard tales, tales of how the twisted creatures dragged the females back underground, to the darkness. There they were transformed into their kind, into the female darkspawn. These tales were more or less confirmed by the surface Dwarves and those who fought with the tainted creatures down below. Was she the only female there?"
"The only one who was still breathing."
"And they already dug her eyes out? Goodness, they must be desperate." Jethro chuckled a little. "They all behave like that since the battle." He meant the battle of the Denerim.
"Yeah, that's rather comforting to know." Levyn's mouth twisted slightly.
"Still." The Chasind stood up. "She needs a good rest and a good check up, with the gashes of her on her face and the fever of hers. And there is no way you are going to get one in the middle of nowhere. Why don't you join us? Our wagon isn't far away."
"We are heading back to Gwaren, an old fishing town not very far from here." Jethro picked up Boo and added: "It's a town mixed with Chasind, dwarf, elves and Feraldan. The Chantry rules are not as strict as you have experienced up north."
"You…you know?" And here, Levyn thought he'd been hiding it quite well.
"What else will you be doing around this area, risking being attacked by the darkspawn or Blight beast at any minute?" Jethro smirked. "Come on, I will introduce you to my wife."