nine: the immortal
It would be so easy to leave her here, and let her burn with the rest.
Flemeth hesitates. The talons of her free forehand scrape at the stone of the Tower of Ishal, eliciting a scream of protest from where gem-hard claw meets floor. She has the one who is arguably important, unconscious in the talons of her other forehand: the bastard prince, moth to the flame that Morrigan will become.
Still. There is something about the other Grey Warden. She reminds Flemeth of someone. She cranes her neck, brings her narrow head down and flares her nostrils as she breathes deeply the scent of the mage.
She will be useful, this one. The possibilities spin out in starbursts in Flemeth's skull, flashes and visions of the future and past all tangled together, clawing at her mind. She makes a low groan; the kenning has never gotten easier to bear, and even in the shape of a dragon the age of her mortal form is weighing on her.
Still, the many voices of the kenning are unanimous: that it would be a mercy to let this one die, but it is a mercy that Flemeth cannot afford.
I could say that I am sorry for what I must do, little one, but I do so hate to lie.
She closes her talons around the mage—gently, gently! She is dying, a crossbow bolt through her lung, a large blood vessel bulging and ready to tear, a cracked skull with bleeding beneath it. She will take mending, it is sure, long mending; but she is young, and stronger than she looks.
And she has one other thing: that simple animal instinct for survival.
Flemeth spreads her wings, and they crack like sails as she crouches and takes to the air. Below her, the darkspawn pay her no attention and the humans are too busy dying to look up. But 'tis always that way, is it not? They are ever too busy dying to look up.
She flies back to her little hut with the two unconscious Wardens in her grip. The weave is coming together, and Flemeth's long-dormant plans are waking, one by one. There is death before her, and death behind her, and in between these two humans who will play all unwittingly in a game that is larger than either of them will ever suspect.
In the back of her mind, the voices of things that never lived laugh, and laugh, and laugh.
Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.
C. S. Lewis
And this completes "Imperfect Creature". Yes, I'm planning on doing at least one more of these, probably another nine-parter. (Why nine? I'm actually not sure, it's just the number that seems right.) Votes for who gets to speak up are gladly accepted! (Jowan and Irving are already on the list.)
Happy New Year, everyone!