Summary: Different take on the City Elf origin: A young elven craftswoman, friend of the queen, respected member of the Elven community. A nobleman's obsession with her causes her carefully planned future to take a different path. M for adult themes, language, violence, and sexual content
I own nothing save for Adela (well, and maybe her stylized halla figurine). Bioware has my eternal gratitude for creating this world and letting me play in their sandbox.
DragonAge: Origins: The Halla Reborn
Chapter 1 - Two years before origins event
A quick, precise movement of the pen knife, and the offending sliver flaked off the ivory form. Long, dexterous fingers lovingly smoothed the intricately carved surface before placing the small figure of a halla into the box with several other similar figures. 'Ah, the Queen will like these,' the young elven woman thought, a pleased smile forming upon her lips. Brushing back a stray blonde lock and neatly tucking it behind one delicate, pointed ear, she turned to another halla figurine. This one was far more intricately carved in a more stylized design, representing a form similar to ancient elven works of art. The horns were longer and more curved than the other figures, it's tale swooping upwards and over its back. Other curling carvings embellished the surface of the figure itself. Picking it up, impossibly blue eyes scrutinized its shape, alert for any imperfections. Satisfied, she placed the figure in the box with its less intricate brethren, placed a cover over the top, and picked it up under one arm.
An older elven man looked up from his work bench, holding in his hands the wooden beginnings of a toy soldier. Smiling at the girl, offering a slight nod, Cyrion Tabris went back to his work. There were many other orders for the pair of skilled artists to fulfill, but Cyrion knew well that his daughter was anxious to get the figurines to the palace.
"I am certain the Queen, and most importantly Lord Alaric's daughter, will be most pleased with your works, my daughter," he replied as his gaze shifted back to the partially formed toy in his hands.
Adela smiled softly at her father, turning slightly to place a quick kiss on his cheek. "I am certain Anora will like them well enough." Despite her confident words, a finger tapped anxiously on the box.
"Ah, now child," Cyrion's hands continued to work the wood even as his eyes left it to seek out his daughter's face, "your apprenticeship ended and now you are worried your first complete order will be less than acceptable?"
Adela grinned. "At least my first order is for Anora," she turned toward the door, one slender hand on the handle, "she always likes my work."
Cyrion laughed. "Of course she does. She has good taste."
With a nod, Adela turned the handle and left the tiny workshop, stepping out into the Denerim Alienage that had been her home for her entire life.
Dirty, squalid, poverty ridden…the Alienage was thus to those who did not understand that there was so much more to it than what was seen by the eyes of those fortunate - or less fortunate - not to live in one. Yes, these conditions did, indeed, exist for the elves that lived there. As in all of Fereldan's cities, the elves were segregated away from human citizens, called upon mostly as laborers or servants, and thought of as less than, well, human. But for many who lived within the Alienage, they knew that there was also closeness, family, a shared history that, although the human populations throughout Thedas had tried to wipe completely clean, still existed. Nothing - not slavery, war, famine, pestilence, not even an Exalted March itself - could take away the pride elves felt for their history. Gone though it may be, never to be recovered, mostly forgotten, it still had existed, had been. And, for those like the craftsman Cyrion and his equally talented daughter, that was enough.
And so, always feeling pride in her Alienage, Adela stepped out into the rubbish strewn walkway and made her way to the high gate that cordoned off the Alienage from the rest of Denerim. And, with a slight nod of her blonde head to the guard at the gate, the young elven woman walked through the market place and toward the section of the city where the nobles - including the Arl of Denerim - lived.
Adela always disliked going through this part of the city. She always felt she was being closely scrutinized, either by those looking for an elf to be the "cause" of some trouble or some lecherous noble looking for some "company". While Adela herself had never been accosted, she still was fully aware that such could happen. And so, she always made certain to leave her knives back at the workshop or home as elves were not allowed weapons of any kind and to be caught with a weapon meant imprisonment or worse. She always kept her eyes straight ahead, on course, and did not make eye contact with any of the denizens of this particular quarter.
She was thusly fully unaware of the pair of cold emerald green eyes that followed her every move as she passed the Arl's estate. Fully unaware that these same eyes always sought her out and watched her either in the marketplace or as she passed by the mansion on her way to the palace.
Thurlow scowled out from his post in front of the Royal Palace. He hated guard duty. Not only did his feet ache, but it was Maker awful boring. Brown eyes scoured the area beyond the gates. Wait, what was this? A familiar feminine figure was walking up to the gates. Was it…? Yes, it was. A smile forming on his rugged features, Thurlow stood straight, offering a slight bow to the slender elven woman who walked purposefully toward him. Thurlow watched as the thoughtful, carefully guarded expression upon her lovely face fell and her expression lit up upon sight of him. Thurlow, like others who guarded the front gates, were always polite and friendly to the young elven lass. To do otherwise (as some of Thurlow's fellow guards had the misfortune to learn) would be to invite, at best censure, at worse expulsion. Everyone knew that the elven craftswoman was considered a friend to the queen and though many could not understand the peculiarity of the friendship, none had been foolish enough to test it since the first few times she visited the palace. Adela graced the guard with a wider smile, a slight bow of her head, and a wink as she passed by and into the courtyard.
The butler met Adela at the door, bowing before her as he sent a maid off to alert the queen to the elven woman's arrival. Adela took the opportunity to glance around the huge foyer, its walls lined with comfortable chairs, a huge staircase curving upwards along the furthest wall. Adela smirked slightly at the opulence of the room, imagining how luxurious the other rooms of the palace must be if such expense went into the entryway of the castle. She did not notice as a handsome human man, golden hair swept back from his face with two braids, dressed in expensive doublet and hose, made his way down the stairs, a happy grin spreading across his face upon sight of the girl.
"Adela!" the man cried as he hurried to her side.
Quickly and with the grace inbred to her race, Adela dropped into a low, floor sweeping curtsey. The man laughed at her as he pulled her up. "No, no, none of that! You are practically family!" he laughed again. "Can you picture Loghain bowing to me?"
Adela allowed a slightly scandalized expression to cross her face. "I certainly hope you are not comparing my irregular visits to the palace on par with Loghain's near residence here?"
"Ha! Of course not! Although," and he bent down slightly, a conspirator tone gracing his elegant voice, "I believe Anora would agree that your company is far more pleasant."
His grin and good humor was infectious. Adela knew how loved Cailan was by the subjects of Fereldan, and with his easy manners and quick wit, it was easy to see why. Unlike many other girls, however, Adela was nearly - but not completely - immune to his good looks. Not that she didn't find him attractive. She just never allowed her thoughts to venture beyond the thought that he was attractive. He was married and, regardless of what rumors may say, she was fairly certain he was devoted to his wife.
"Adela," a smooth, cultured feminine voice called from one of the alcoves, "I had not been aware of your arrival." Anora, queen of Fereldan, glided across the porcelain tiles of the foyer, her father, Loghain Mac Tir, Hero of River Dane, followed, a slight scowl (Adela believed it was always there) on his stern features. Again, Adela dropped into a graceful curtsy, ignoring Cailan's sniggers behind her as well as the slightly disapproving look that shone in Anora's clear blue eyes.
"Adela, I'm certain my husband has already said that this is not necessary," Anora scolded as she stopped before the smaller elven woman, a smile forming on her perfect lips. "You are a friend and a guest…"
Shaking her head, Adela replied, "And you are the queen of Fereldan and need to expect that, even a friend and guest must show proper respect for one's betters." Grinning at the small lines forming between Anora's brows, Adela held up the box. "And, I bear gifts."
With a happy gasp, Anora took the box from Adela's hands, and led Adela to the small room off the foyer where she and her father had been moments before, Loghain and Cailan following closely behind.
While Anora and Cailan inspected the figurines, Adela looked around the room, taking in the books - Books! - that lined the walls as well as the comfortable furnishings. She presumed this was a study, perhaps a waiting room for visitors awaiting announcement into the palace. She had never had to wait long before being called into either Anora or Cailan's presence whenever she arrived at the palace - whether she was bearing crafts ordered by the palace or just for a visit. Shrugging, she turned her gaze from the books and noticed Loghain watching her. Raising her right eyebrow, she met his openly frank expression with one of her own. A slight quirk of the corners of his mouth was the only response to her scrutiny, and then he, too, went over to inspect her work. Sighing with relief, she turned her gaze once again to the books, trying to hide her nervousness as the nobles examined her work.
Anora had pulled out the six matching hallas, leaving the odd one - Adela's pride and joy - still in the box. Turning with the figurines in hand, Anora caught Adela's attention. "These are exquisite, Adela," there was an almost breathless quality to Anora's soft voice. "I am simply in awe of the quality of the work. Your father is extremely talented."
A blush forming pink on her cheeks, the young elven woman responded, "Those are my work, Anora. I carved them."
Three pair of eyes turned to her. The blush deepened. "It looks like there is talent in the Tabris line," Cailan chuckled, openly admiring the young girl. Loghain's expression was more thoughtful, and then his eyes turned to the lone halla left in the box. He picked it up, examining it, noting the difference between it and the other six.
Anora turned, placing the six back in the box. "I will call for the seneschal and arrange for payment of these," she smiled as she passed by Adela, placing a cool hand on her arm as Adela opened her mouth to protest. "They are lovely, and you will be paid for these." and with a look to her husband, left the room. Cailan offered a slight grin and followed his wife.
Adela fidgeted slightly. She had never been left in a room alone with Loghain. She admitted, the man made her nervous. He was always watching, scrutinizing, taking everything in with very little word. Yes, she could meet his gaze, when she felt fortified by knowing friends - particularly Anora - was present. But now? She was just nervous. And, to try and cover up her nervousness, she moved closer to the books and pretended to examine them with care.
She nearly jumped when she heard his voice. "This one is done in a different style," he observed in a dry voice.
Turning her attention to the Teryn, she replied, with a slight quiver in her voice, "Ahm, yes. Well, I had found a book depicting ancient elven artworks. I copied it and decided to include it with the others. I knew Anora wouldn't want to give an odd set, but I thought she may like it nonetheless." She smiled as her eyes went to the small figure held in his large hands. Her work of art. She was quite pleased by it, and had wanted Anora to have it.
Anora returned, followed closely by the seneschal, a smallish man, balding and with a perpetual scowl on his face (far more severe than even Loghain's, Adela thought). As Adela turned her attention back to the queen and seneschal, Loghain's eyes went back to the ivory figure in his hands. Glancing at the elven woman's back, he pocketed the figure, and, with a bow to his daughter, left the room.