Disclaimer: I own absolutely and completely nothing. Bioware has that particular pleasure.
Author's note: Randomly, I noticed that Arsinoe de Blassenville had put up a small list of plot bunnies. I have no idea why I chose to just do one of them and it will probably make no sense. But please to notice that the style of writing - even though I like long sentences which keep getting longer and longer - are supposed to tie in with the whole subject of the prompt. Hence, forgive the odd english, I truly know more commas and 'and's are good for your health and patience. Quick one-shot update and no more updates until the end of the month~
Prompt: Alistair is secretly evil, and taking Orlesian gold. Plotting to kill Cailan in battle, which is why he's furious about being sent to the Tower of Ishal. Delays lighting the beacon deliberately and attacks PC when ogre killed. The PC can (a.) Die (b.) Crawl out and report to Loghain. All credit to Arsinoe de Blassenville. PC is a city elf. What can one say? It is just my favorite.
Word count: 2.132.
She had been raised in an Alienage. All her life between the feet of humans, running back and forth through the streets, avoiding those who could harm, who would if she gave them the slightest inclination to do so. She knew when to avoid people. She knew very well when to escape, when to run, when to hide, those things were taught while in a crib or being fed in her mother's arms. They had taken her mother and she had learned from that too. Before her wedding, the elf had thought to run but hadn't. Duty was more important than that and she knew this was something she could not run away from. After her wedding, she had known she would need to flee the Arling as soon as humanly possible. But hadn't, Shianni was more important than that. After killing the Arl's son, it was pure fear which flowed through her veins and she knew, she just knew she would die if she stayed in Denerim. Duncan had been her way out, her life, her sole escape.
And she was a smart elf. Her hand had grasped the human's in acceptance once, her arms held her father and cousin twice and then her feet were carrying her away to Ostagar. She was a smart elf, she knew exactly when to flee. Except maybe she wasn't that smart because running away into a virtual darkspawn nest was little more than jumping directly from the pan into the fire.
Tabris, she introduced herself. She was Tabris and nothing else. No name of her own – that was private and they didn't deserve it – and no possessions. Quietly, the woman slipped through King and Generals, tried to be silent when possible because she didn't want to be there and maybe there was some way to leave if she remained unseen and unheard. Duncan was a little mad. To bring her here, a street urchin who usually turned around when faced with danger, was he a fool? Courage belonged to big men, those with swords and not frail little daggers, those covered in armors and not splintmail stolen from dead men. Ah, foolish human. It was fine though. He looked elsewhere and she'd be gone – only this fool of a man had saved her life and there was the debt between them and on his hands.
That debt had made her walk into the wilds with strange humans – scary humans, disgusting ones, ones she would avoid – risk her life in battle and unknown situations alike. She wasn't a warrior. She was a mere street urchin and that would never change. But even urchins, even little rats could be dangerous if facing unknown odds with a sharp blade on their hands. Tabris learned quickly that anything – even nightmares – died if stabbed enough times.
Fear forced the blood down her throat. If she didn't drink, oh Duncan would kill her. Poor Jory. She understood Jory. Some people couldn't afford to die, just like her. But his fear made him fight and her fear made her drink. Better the death that you know, better the danger you cannot stop. Always keep fleeing, that was how she had been raised, always escape, always keep yourself a step ahead. Only the Taint didn't kill her and she escaped again.
A Grey Warden. They called her one, told her she was a warrior now. She, the little elf. She, the little woman, the murderer. It sounded like a shackle she couldn't escape already and she had only been using it for thirty minutes when her first mission was decided. A mission. It was official and even more ridiculous when the King said it. Hold a torch. Light the signal. Leave. You won't have to fight, just light the beacon. Her smile was also ridiculous but it had just occurred to her that she had escaped the battle and kept escaping – and the General calls her wise, smart to not throw herself so easily into danger. Others would do what she could not. After all, the shackles didn't matter, the name didn't matter because she was still an elf, still an urchin, still a little girl and she couldn't fight like everyone else. But Tabris knew that most of all, she was very good at running.
Ishal turned the whole thing upside down once more. Everything in her blood told her to flee, to turn around and search for a safe place. A signal couldn't be that important, could it? If only she was alone, she could flee, if only she was by herself. It was not being a coward, it was being wise. To engage an enemy too powerful, much more than yourself, is pure foolishness. But she was not alone so Tabris struggled by, trying to keep herself a step ahead of the men following her, pure despair pushing her to hurt every enemy which crossed her path. Kill everything until she could leave, that was the way to do it, all up the tower, through all the rooms, through the Ogre which waited for them. An ogre dies like everything else, she learned. Betrayal does not.
The world tipped on its edge again. His words didn't make sense, only the blade did against her flesh and they still made little sense as the blood flowed so she kept running from the sword, escaping, because understanding wouldn't allow her to live. Alistair killing the others, Alistair pushing her aside, trying to keep her from lighting the beacon, Alistair and words about Orlesians and the King, the King had to die, the Empress wanted it and something about a marriage that wouldn't happen. Humans spoke a lot. They spoke especially when they thought elves were back against a wall and about to die. He talked and talked some more and her eyes roamed for escape, a little hole, a window and blood kept her awake as it thundered in her ears and down her skin.
Again she ran, one foot after the other – Maker, though the darkness comes upon me – and the tower seemed even bigger than on the way up but she was fast, must faster than he was, a better runner – I shall embrace the light – Besides, she was a little elf. Who would fear she could talk with someone? Only he did and his footsteps shadowed hers so clearly, so fast. How could he run so fast with that armor? – I shall weather the storm – Duncan would hear her or maybe he wouldn't because he trusted Alistair but the King would. Only the King was in battle and in danger because of darkspawn, of betrayal, of those he didn't expect but one of his man knew, one of them would hear her even though he didn't trust – I shall endure. – And so she ran. And ran. And ran. And ran some more until her lungs started to complain loudly in her ears and darkspawn refused to follow her – the little urchin, running like a madwoman through rogues and sentries until distorted features turned softer, kinder and confused.
"Let me pass." Humans stared at her uncertainly, at her ears, she couldn't bother herself to care. "Let me pass," she repeated, pulling the helm out and her head up, one breath at a time. "I have news for the Teyrn. Important. Urgent. Just let me pass, Maker damn you." Ah, she could almost see herself in their eyes. Blood covered, crazy and panting, sweat dripping from every pore and soaking her armor, of course they would line up to receive her.
The only thing Tabris had always been good at was running. So she steeled herself, drowned her little cowardly – wise – voice used so often beneath duty. If the King died, her people would suffer to and, for them, she would do anything. In mere seconds, the elf found herself past the sentries, past the warriors, past those screaming behind her, sounding the alarm in front of her while she kept running and running and there was something in her blood that felt like fire but it helped her run so run she did.
It was the General himself who managed to stop her and hardly lightly. His shield lashed out against her face – a tooth breaking, blood slipping past and inside – stopping her mad dash and it probably managed to kill her life-preserving instinct with the metal because her hands found his armor and held as she screamed, rambled because well, she was already a madwoman, why not keep going?
"He's going to kill the King." Loghain stared at her in silence, the brow furrowed in three little lines. Those were neat lines. All was neat in this man, structure, body, armor, laws and duty. "Alistair. The Orlesians. He said there was gold and they were coming and they don't care about the Blight, they just want him and there was a marriage that was supposed to be but won't."
No sense. She was making no sense and she knew it but he was a hero. She heard the stories, she saw the man, she believed them even though he was a human and she was an elf, a thief. She trusted in him to do the right thing because she never would. She would just run. Hence the rambling and confused words – Alistair's – that made no sense to her. Tabris could almost see the pattern of thought behind the general's eyes as he listened, the way his free hand gestured others to leave her alone – the free one because the other was still between hers, trapped and hardly trying to flee – and how he made sense of something no one should be able to get. Mad. Completely mad and out of her mind. She should have run away while she had the chance.
But then, his free hand rested on her head, very lightly like a father and his eyes looked proud? Proud why? She ran. Running was all she was good at.
"You did well," he said simply. "Cauthrien. Sound the charge. We are saving the king." And then the elf was alone, everyone walking around her, leaving in her little corner, standing and bleeding with her duty fulfilled. Was she supposed to run again? She didn't feel running. In fact, she could just lower herself to the floor, close her eyes and sleep the rest of her life away. That would be enough.
Except the Teyrn didn't seem to agree. He was back in but a moment, grasping her arm roughly, shaking her from side to side – her eyes had closed, that was odd – while he shouted for something else. Someone. Someone wearing robes, covered from head to toe and gloved fingers which kept shining like jewels. Light and cure. Her pain disappeared, her tiredness with it.
"Better, I believe." Loghain had hard eyes, she noticed almost candidly. Hard posture, hard expression but his eyes were pure steel, silverite into human form. A stiff nod followed his words. "Cauthrien will give you a better sword. I believe you can be trusted not to stab anything bar darkspawn."
"A better sword?" She could almost see her frown in his eyes. "I don't…"
"You were the one who ran here with stories of betrayal and scared half my men. If I have to battle for your words, I won't do it alone." It sounded like a threat. Was it a threat? She couldn't understand and his smile, just the faintest trace, the lightest sliver of a twitch of his lips didn't help. It seemed feline and definitely dangerous. She felt like fleeing. "Though on a positive side, I think you are far too naïve to come up with these tales. You might even find the bastard. Use the new sword then."
It sounded like an order. It was an order though Grey Wardens weren't exactly supposed to cater to anyone's whims, Duncan said. Then again, it was a sensible order. Loghain left without any other comment to lead the charge, trusting her to follow.
Tabris could have fled that moment. Run and run and run as the mage finished healing her wounds and restoring her health to a proper condition. She was neither a warrior nor a Warden. She was a street urchin, a thief, a murderer, betrayed and betrayer. But most of all, she was an elf and knew when to run and when not to. And elves never get mad. They get even.
She runs through Ostagar killing all in her path to the King, killing anything and everything which harms her with a small borrowed dagger which once belonged to her mother. Because her new sword, beautiful and deadly, that one is soiled solely with the traitor's blood.
Also good at killing, she learns of herself. The Teyrn approves.