What Storms Wash Clean the Sky
Bloomingtide, 9:5 Dragon
"For she who trusts in the Maker, fire is her water.
As the moth sees light and goes toward flame,
She should see fire and go towards Light."
The Revered Mother paused to take a breath, and the silence of the nave was filled and overwhelmed by the raucous cries of gulls. Varel smothered a smile and bowed his head. There was a storm coming from the north; the gulls would ride the winds south when the Waking Sea was in a temper. One landed in the open doorway of the nave and cried harshly before the Templar on the door shooed it away.
Mother Elspeth tightened her jaw and continued speaking. Varel was no longer listening. The Arl was coming back soon, scuttlebutt went, and Varel still had his vambrace to repair as well as a watch to stand tonight. It would be Lieutenant Pemreth leading his watch tonight, and Pemreth was a stickler for regulation. There would be no sitting in a spot out of the wind with a sturdy needle and thread, not with the Whip (as the Lieutenant was not-so-fondly known behind his back) on watch.
If there was one thing Varel had learned in the six months he had been stationed at the Vigil, it was that there was never enough time. They were short-staffed—the whole country was short-staffed, after the rebellion—and as a recruit Varel found himself pulling double shifts most days. They were allowed a Chantry service twice a week. Most of the recruits took full advantage not out of piety but as a chance to sit down.
Beside him, Lyris breathed out in that hissing way that meant that she was about to start snoring. He elbowed her, and she snorted and sat straight upright, looking around wildly. "Thanks," she muttered as she settled back into her usual slouch. He shot her a warning look, and she gave him half a smile in return.
Lyris had arrived the same day that Varel had, the strong-jawed daughter of a farmholder. She had the broad shoulders and musculature of someone who tossed around hay bales and grain sacks and the occasional piglet all day long, and she scared the water right out of most of the recruits.
Varel quite liked her. She reminded him of his older brothers.
The Revered Mother droned on, and an hour later they were released out into the courtyard. "Where are you off to, then?" Lyris asked him as he turned towards the barracks. "We're expected at practice."
"Busted a strap on one of my vambraces last night," he said. "Going to run and try to get Roland to fix it for me. Cover for me?"
Lyris grinned. "I'll tell Bothan you're in the jakes. If he asks any further, I'll start describing the noises you were making."
He hit her on the shoulder. "That's m'girl, all right."
"Too right!" She shoved him playfully, and then took off trotting across the courtyard. Gulls skirled up before her in explosions of white wings and screeching. Varel shook his head and headed to his bunk, where he'd left the vambrace in question.
To get to the recruit barracks, Varel had to pass under a set of window that belonged to the quarters that were reserved for those in who were no longer raw recruits but not yet officers. He heard the sound of voices coming from the open windows of the common room on that floor. "—and we're getting a bunch of farmers in," one voice said with more than a little disdain. It wasn't anyone Varel knew.
Another voice replied, this one deeper than his friend. "I know, right? Gonna send them all crying back to their mamas before the spring's done. Especially that tall one with the horse face."
The first speaker made a noise that was something like a snort. "Yeh, well, tourney'll sort the chickens out, won't it?" He gave a gulping chuckle. "Heh. Poor baby chickens, never know what hit them."
Varel froze. Tourney? What tourney? He kept listening, but the owners of the voices retreated from the window, their words becoming indistinct.
Rumor is like a wild dog, he remembered his father telling him. Always bites the hand held out to it.
Still, it was something to keep in mind. He went to collect his broken armor, turning it over in his mind.
Roland was broad-faced and wide of shoulder, and he looked much like his father, who was a blacksmith in the village closest to the farmhold Varel had been born on. Like Varel, he'd come to Vigil's Keep in the hope of plying a trade. He'd had a stroke of luck in that the resident armorer was badly in need of extra hands, and Roland's training as a blacksmith easily translated.
Roland's father didn't know how to write, but Varel's mother had been Chantry-educated, so when Varel had received a letter from her a month ago there was also a message for Roland. Varel had carried the letter to Roland, and read it aloud to him. There had been a strange expression on his face as Varel read. Later, Roland mentioned offhandedly to Varel that he hadn't heard from his father for the three years he'd been at the Keep.
He was making adjustments with a small hammer to a pauldron when Varel walked into the armory. "Hey, small fry," Roland said. "What can I do for you?"
"Broke a strap on a vambrace," Varel said. "If you have a moment or two?"
"Give it over." Roland held out a hand, and Varel handed it over. "You've got a sharp spot on your cuirass, do you?" He was holding up one end of the broken strap on the upper part of the vambrace. Without both straps intact, the vambrace wouldn't stay on correctly. "Bring it in tomorrow, I'll file it down for you. The quality of the armor they give you recruits is terrible. Fine dwarven crafts, my ass. Anyway, give me an hour, I'll replace the strap."
"Thanks." Varel shifted in place, thinking about what he had overheard earlier. "Do you know if there's going to be a tourney sometime soon?"
Roland stood stock still. "Where did you hear that?"
"Overheard it." He eyed Roland, who looked exceedingly reluctant to speak. "All right, spill."
Roland went to the door of the armory and pulled it closed. "Look, I'm not supposed to tell you this, and you didn't hear it from me. It's less a tourney than a series of tests. Once the Arl is back, and he's settled in, he'll order a series of fights to first blood. Winners fight each other. The top tier gets to stay, the rest get sent home."
Varel frowned. "But why the secrecy?"
"Let me put it this way." Roland glanced towards the open window, and lowered his voice even more. "The only recruits who don't know about it are the ones from the farmholds. The noble brats know, and have been preparing. They'll be well-armed, well-armored, and the chickens—which would be you—aren't. Which is why, if you ask around, most of the guards here at the Vigil come from noble families, even though in theory the Arl recruits from all over the arling."
"That's not exactly fair, is it?" And there was Varel's father's voice again, telling him that life isn't fair, son, there are people who start out ahead and others behind, and if you're behind it takes a lot of work and luck to catch up—if it's even possible. "You'd think the Arl would want the best, not just the nobles."
Roland snorted. "I think in Arl Rendon's mind, the best and nobles are the same thing. He makes a little show of recruiting people from the farmholds, but most of them don't last long here." He glanced to the side. "You've got about two weeks until they spring the tourney on you."
The recruits from rich families had the benefit of instruction in swordwork, better arms and armor, and they had the advantage of knowing this was coming. The rest of them would be blindsided. Varel thought with some despair of the little farmhold he'd been born on, all mud and pigs and wheat and a life of weary entrapment. Getting recruited had been Varel's chance to escape to something better, something he was more suited for. And despite the grinding drudgery that was the life of a guard recruit, he was enjoying it.
No, going back to the farmhold was not an option. None at all.
"Thanks," he told Roland. "I have to go, I'll be back after practice for the vambrace." He yanked open the armory door and hurried towards the practice ground, to the accompaniment of mocking laughter from the gulls on the wall.
He had to get to practice. Then, he would plan.
"There are problems that require hitting to solve, and problems that require thinking." Lyris flexed her arm, as if to demonstrate which solution she was more in favor of.
"I think this is going to require both," Varel said, looking glumly out into the dim, damp world beyond the walls of the Vigil. They were sitting by a brazier in one of the guard towers, taking a break between wall patrols. The storm that the gulls had promised was arriving, beginning with a soaking rain and a rising wind. "We really have two problems here. One, we don't have the kind of training or experience that the noble recruits have. Two, the swords they gave us are barely better than potmetal, and our armor's not much better. First problem is worse, though. Good weapons won't do us any good if we don't know how to use them."
Lyris sniffed, then glanced over her shoulder. Fortunately, the Whip seemed to be staying put for the moment. He'd come by, sooner or later, but until then this was probably the best place in the Vigil for a private conversation. "You're fast, Varel, and you're smart. And when I hit something, it surely stays hit. We've had some training. What we don't have is real experience, other than hitting bandits with shovels."
"That was you," he pointed out. "I've been on boar and bear hunts, and that's about all. Not much for bandits in my neck of the woods. So how do we get experience?"
His fellow recruit grinned, and a look that might have been impish crossed her face. "Same place we get better equipment. I've heard there's caches of armor and weapons in the levels of the Vigil below the basement."
"Oh, no," he said. "If that rumor is true, it means that the other rumors are true. Like the ones about the demons."
"Could all be lies." Lyris smiled lazily. "Could be true, though. We can't tell until we go and look, can we?"
It was stupid. It was insane.
It...sounded like it might be fun.
You are going to regret this, Varel.
But looking at the smile on Lyris's face that had widened to a grin, he honestly didn't care.
Varel had expected many things of the levels of tunnels underneath Vigil's Keep. Demons, darkspawn, dwarves, danger, all of those things that started with D.
What he hadn't expected was that it was really rather boring.
They had been walking for an hour, using a charcoal stick to mark their turnings, and all they had seen was rocks, dust, more rocks, and a gnawed bone that might have been from a cow. No caches of weapons. Nothing living.
Above them, the storm the seagulls had promised was fully underway. The weather was so bad that the evening's practice had been cancelled, and it had seemed too good to be true—they suddenly had a free evening. The other recruits had been talking about pooling their money and buying some moonshine. Lyris and Varel had slipped off after dinner, timing their passage through the basement to shift change, and met just beyond the door that led down in the caverns below the keep.
Lyris was leading the way, lantern held high. She stopped abruptly enough that Varel ran into her, their cuirasses clattering together. "Ow! Hold up, Var."
He peered over her shoulder. "What?"
She nodded down the corridor. "Spiderwebs."
"It's a tunnel. I'm sure they have spiders down here."
She glanced over her shoulder at him. "Var. Look at them."
He did. The spiderwebs actually choked the tunnel head of them, filling the corridor with filmy white. And they looked thick. Thick enough to trap a human.
Something behind the web stirred.
The spider was the size of a large dog, its feet making horrible scraping noises on the stone as it slipped through the web and rushed them, mandibles wide. Varel froze for an instant as something ancient and cowardly in the back of his brain tried to make a run for it, insisting that there were too many legs, way way way too many legs—
He forced his hand to his sword, brought up his shield, and charged.
The spider didn't last long, despite the dull edges of his and Lyris's swords. "See, that's more like it!" she crowed as she scraped greenish ichor off of her greatsword. "Finally, something to hit."
Varel used his own sword to push aside a sheet of spiderweb, peering into the darkness beyond. "So I have a question," he said. "Just what does a spider that size eat?"
Lyris clapped him on the shoulder. "Want to go find out?"
He thought about the fact that they were officially absent without leave, about the night of sleep he was missing, about just how much tomorrow was going to hurt if they didn't get back to their beds soon.
He pulled the spiderweb aside with a soft tearing noise. "After you, m'lady."
She laughed at him but stepped through the web, and he followed.
They very quickly found out what the spiders ate.
Little slithery things that crept back into cracks in the stone when they heard Varel and Lyris's footsteps. More giant spiders. Horrible little creatures with skin tough as leather and toothy lamprey mouths. Those attacked in packs and made little meeps when they were hit. The noises were almost cute, but the creatures themselves were not. At all.
They had found two daggers, one ancient two-handed hammer, a shield that had seen better days an Age or two ago...and that was all. No cache.
"We'd better get back," Varel said. "I'm not sure these tunnels are ever going to end, and it must be almost dawn."
Lyris made a frustrated noise in the back of her throat. "I suppose. Let's just poke our noses down that next corridor, and head back." Without waiting for him to reply, she strode down the tunnel, made a sharp right turn and vanished from sight. Varel muttered a curse—she had the lantern—and hurried after her before the light faded entirely.
Ahead of him, there was a cracking sound, and a cry from Lyris—half surprise, half pain—and then a series of thumping noises like someone falling down stairs, a small tinkle of broken glass. The light from the lantern went out.
"Lyris?" Varel called. "Lyris? What happened?"
There was no answer. Varel felt his way to the wall, then cautiously moved forward, pausing every few inches to listen. He felt his way to where the texture of the floor changed from stone to wood. With one foot, he gingerly prodded the wood; it gave under his touch.
"Rotted," he muttered. There was the sound of movement from below, then a groan. "Lyris?" he called again. "Is that you?"
"Owww," came a disembodied voice from somewhere below him. "Yeah. Kinda fell through the floor. Think I broke my leg. Or my ankle. Or something." She paused, and he heard clattering noises. "Well, well. Isn't this interesting."
"I landed on top of a bunch of shields, I think. Probably all junk, but I think we found our cache." Her voice had turned bitter. "Not that it's going to help now."
"We'll get you out," he said, trying to sound confident.
"To what?" she asked. "Varel, I'm going to miss the tourney. They're probably just going to go ahead and send me home." Her voice had gotten hard and sharp. "Home. To my rat bastard of an uncle and trees with the word whore carved into them. Sod it. I am not going back."
He rested the side of his head against stone. "There are other places. Caravans go to Denerim. Mercenary companies. Plenty of places strong arms are needed."
"Yeah. Well. Have to get out first."
"Working on it." Think, Varel, think!
He breathed in, forced himself to pay attention to the rhythm of his heartbeat and his breath. He closed his eyes; it made no difference to the inky blackness that was all he could see. So. They had not one problem, but several.
First problem: it was dark. The lantern was broken. Without light, they wouldn't be able to see the marks on the walls. The tunnels twisted and turned; without light, he didn't know if he could make it back to the safety of the Keep basement.
Second problem: There were things down here that didn't need light to hunt by.
Third problem: Lyris was what sounded like fifteen or so feet below him, and if she'd broken her leg he had to get her out soon. They had rope—rather, Lyris had the rope. He was still going to have to haul her out.
Fourth problem: There wasn't a soul who knew they were down here. Nobody was going to come looking.
Well, that last just meant they had to get their own asses out of this. So. The worst, and first, problem was the dark. "I'll be back," he called to Lyris.
"Think I'll stay here," she called back. "Since it's so cozy and all."
He felt his way along the wall, counting steps. Ten steps to the intersection. Seventy-five after the turn. Turn left; another hundred and twenty-two steps. The darkness was almost a physical thing, like some strange fluid that pressed down on him. The silence, too, was nearly complete, except for Varel's harsh breathing and the scrape of his boots against stone.
And as he walked and counted, the hairs on the back of his neck started to rise.
It's nothing. Just the dark. The dark can't hurt you.
Yet as he walked, counted, listened, he could feel...something. Something that his mind flinched away from contemplating the nature of. Something ancient that slept down in these tunnels. The Avvars had had strange gods and stranger rituals, and the Vigil was built on a mountain of bones.
His left hand touched wood.
He breathed out, relieved. He remembered seeing a splintered edge of this set of beams—ah, there. He pulled out one of the daggers they'd found, and went to work. With something to focus on other than the darkness, the sensation of presence he had felt started to recede. Just a fancy, after all. Brought on by the dark.
A few minutes later, he'd managed to hack off a rough chunk of wood about as long as his forearm and thick as his wrist. He had a handkerchief tucked into the bag of sundries he carried. Andraste Bless, Ma. Never go anywhere without a handkerchief, indeed. He wrapped the cloth around one end of the torch, and tied it tight. And in a stroke of luck, he happened to be carrying the little bottle of lantern oil that they'd brought just in case they'd gotten stuck down here longer than they meant.
Then it was up to flint and tinder and oil and little sparks that seemed like small suns in the darkness. Varel wasn't particularly religious, but he prayed then.
If the torch refused to light, there was a good chance that both he and Lyris would die down here in the dark. And he'd never get the chance to figure out if he liked the fact that she was reminding him less and less of his brothers as time went on. He was starting to get the idea that maybe the most interesting way to see the world might be to follow her around and see happened.
Focus, Varel. Torch. Now.
He struck steel against flint. Spark. Spark. Spark.
The world swam into focus; he had to shade his eyes for a moment. Then he hurried back along the tunnel, counting steps—and turn—more steps—
He could see what had happened, now. What Lyris had fallen through was something of a trap door. It had been installed ages ago, and the wood had slowly rotted away. It would have looked solid enough, but Lyris had gone right through it. He could see the remnants of ancient runes in the wood; it had been hidden by magic, then. She probably hadn't even noticed the change in footing.
The ancient builders of the catacombs had had the foresight to install torch brackets every ten feet or so. Varel secured his makeshift torch to one and peered down into the hole. "Lyris? You awake?"
"Sod it, Lyris! Wake up!"
There was a ragged intake of breath below him. "I'm not deaf, you know. Just busted."
He swallowed down the terror that had forced its way into his throat. "Good. You have the rope, right?"
Varel could see half of her face in the wavering light of the torch, a pain-pinched half-moon. "Fat lot of good it does me down here."
He rolled his eyes. "Well, toss it up already."
"Give me a moment." From below him there was the sound of rummaging. "There's one bit in particular that I landed on—ah, right here." She rustled around a bit, and then said, "Stand back from the hole a bit. I don't want to hit you. Would be just my luck if I brained you with this thing."
Varel stepped back, and a moment later something long and skinny flew up from the hole, trailing thin rope behind it. It made a metallic sound as it scraped along the floor.
After stepping on the rope to make sure it didn't fall back down the hole, he picked up the object it was tied to. It was a sword, finer work than he'd ever owned, as good or better than the swords the noble recruits carried for all that it was in an antique style and there was a bit of rust on it. "I don't think what's down there is junk," he said, going to the edge of the hole again. "Not by a long shot."
"Which is why I've made a bundle of some of it and tied it to this end of the rope," Lyris said. She grinned up at him. "All right, Var. Let's do this thing already."
It took perhaps a half an hour to extricate Lyris from the hole, a little bit longer before she was able to stand even with him supporting her. He splinted her ankle with a couple of sheathed daggers, which seemed to help, but she was still going to be leaning on him hard all the way up.
He more or less bodily hauled her along the stone corridors, her arm over his shoulders, the bundle of weaponry that Lyris had made banging into his hip on the other side.. He joked with her, or tried to, but after a while she just stopped responding. It was taking all of her energy to stay conscious. To fill the silence and give her something to focus on, he kept talking.
He told her about his mother and father, his older brothers (though not that she reminded him of them, and besides it wasn't quite true anymore), the farmhold. "What about you? he asked. "What was your place like?"
Lyris roused a bit. "Ma, Pa both dead. Darkspawn got 'em. My uncle took me in. Less said about him, the better." She breathed out. "Didn't get along with the kids on the farmhold. Figured out early on that I was going to have to rabbit fast and far, some day. Made it as far as the Vigil." Her head dipped forward. "Damned leg. I was going to be good, Varel. Make Captain some day."
"We'll figure something out," he told her, and then realized that the we sounded awfully solid all of a sudden. "Let's just get up to the infirmary."
She wouldn't let him put down the bundle of weapons until they reached the basement. He hid the bundle under a pile of ancient sacks when they got there, and then proceeded to haul Lyris, half-conscious, up to the Keep proper. The stairs were a nightmare.
It was after dawn when they emerged into the open air. The storm had finally vented its full fury, leaving the sky scrubbed clean. Mist was rising from the stones of the inner ward where the rays of the sun hit, turning golden in the clear light.
They paused in the basement doorway, and Varel stooped a little to adjust Lyris's arm across his shoulders. "Hey," he said. "It's a beautiful morning."
She lifted her head, looked out at the inner ward. One side of her pain-pinched mouth twitched upward. "Yeah." She straightened her shoulders, got her good leg underneath of her "I guess it is."
In the end, Varel ended up lying his head off about where they had been and what they'd been up to. A fall down the basement stairs provided a reasonable explanation for Lyris's broken ankle, and in his refusal to talk about why they were in the basement in the first place Varel could see the healer's assumption that they had snuck off for a tumble.
He went to see her, and they talked about mundane things, her ankle, the duty rotations, who was snogging who. He didn't ask her if she'd felt the same thing he had down in the dark, that ancient, immense presence. He was honestly afraid that the answer would be yes.
The tourney was announced just as Roland had predicted and Lyris was still bedridden, her ankle splinted and her rage at being immobile boundless. A pair of grim-looking men that the older guards identified as Grey Wardens arrived. Recruiting, said the scuttlebutt. They're trying to build up their numbers again.
He came up to see her just before the tourney started. He'd filched a honey-cake from the kitchen for her, figuring that nobody would think to bring her one. The sword that she'd thrown at him was hanging on his belt. After he'd cleaned the rust off and tended to the edge, it had turned out to be a fine weapon. He was a little afraid that someone was going to ask him where he'd gotten it, but so far nobody had seemed to notice.
She was asleep when he arrived. Her dark hair was getting longer, almost long enough to fan across the pillow. Her face was turned towards the window, to the sunlight.
And maybe she wasn't some noble lady, pampered and petted, and maybe her jaw was strong and stubborn and her nose a little crooked. He liked her face anyway, and the rest of her, and maybe after he lost today he'd come back and they'd talk about what came next.
She didn't wake as he approached her cot. He decided to let her sleep, and put the wrapped honey-cake on the table next to her.
Then he took a deep breath, reminded himself that fighting men was nothing compared to fighting giant spiders with their hairy legs and their gleaming little eyes (so many legs and eyes, so very many), and went out to face the lists.
To his extremely great surprise, Varel almost won.
Maybe there had been something to Lyris's idea that getting some real experience would help. Maybe it was the sword, which Varel could have sworn had moments when it glowed a little. Maybe it was the fact that he'd known this was coming, and had been training as hard and as often as he could manage. He'd warned the other recruits, of course, but many of them hadn't quite taken him seriously, not soon enough to make a difference.
Whatever the reason, he was undefeated until he reached the top tier and was pitted against the noble brats. There were mutters of sodding chicken, but he didn't detect any outright hostility. He finally lost to a bruiser from Amaranthine, but by the time that happened Varel was firmly ensconced in the upper end of the lists.
The Arl was there, smiling like a cat, hooded eyes revealing nothing. And so were the Grey Wardens, who watched the proceedings without any evidence of emotion. Varel wondered idly what it would be like to be a Warden, to get to see the world and fight darkspawn. Beside the Arl stood his wife, a pretty, awkward thing who held the Arl's first son in his arms. The tourney was ostensibly in celebration of the birth of Nathaniel Howe, and Varel would have believed it, if he hadn't known the truth.
He meant to go see Lyris right afterward, but after the tourney was over there was a celebratory feast, and a party that lasted long into the night. By the time he extricated himself it was after midnight, and he figured he'd catch a few hours of sleep and go see her in the morning.
Only when he did, she wasn't there.
Her cot was neatly made, and her clothing and armor was missing. There was a folded piece of paper on the cot, a bold V scrawled on the outside.
One of the nurses, a compact woman with more energy than grace whose name he could never remember, came up behind him. "Afraid you missed her, young man," she said to him. "Got packed off early this morning by those fellows who look like they never smile. Note's for you, though."
He thanked her and stepped into the room. The light was too bright, all of a sudden, the world feeling hollow all around him. He picked up the note and unfolded it; Lyris's scrawl was lopsided and looping.
Got recruited into the Wardens, they say they have someone who can fix my ankle right up. Sorry about not saying goodbye. I'm bad at goodbyes, and they were in a hurry.
You'll be a good soldier. I'll come back some day, Wardens travel a lot.
Congratulations, by the way. And, yes, I did have to ask how to spell that.
"Are you all right?" the nurse asked.
It took an effort of will to respond. "I will be."
He never saw her again. When he found out about the Joining, he thought he understood why.
He blinked and turned towards the voice. Nathaniel, now grown (and a Grey Warden, of all things!) was still standing there, waiting for a response. "Ah. Sorry. Woolgathering." He was trying not to hold his father's crimes against young Nathaniel, to let bygones be bygones, but there was so much that the lad had never learned, that he'd been too busy worshiping his father to ever see. "We moved the oil barrels to the second floor, next to the stillroom. The kitchen had a bad fire a few years ago, and the lamp oil nearly went up with the kitchen. We decided to take precautions."
"Thank you." Nathaniel turned away, his back ramrod-straight.
Varel cleared his throat. "And, Nathaniel?" The archer paused, looked over his shoulder. "Tell the Warden-Commander to be careful down there. It's necessary work, but there are a lot of old and hungry things in the tunnels below the Vigil. Not just darkspawn."
Nathaniel didn't answer, just nodded and closed the door of Varel's office.
In a drawer of Varel's desk, there was a worn piece of paper, folded edges fraying. He wouldn't pull it out and look at it; the words were engraved into his memory. He kept it close, anyway.
I'll come back, some day.
She never had. But he was a good soldier, that much was true. He didn't fault the Wardens for seeing in her what he'd seen. And after she'd left, he'd turned his hand to serving the arling with everything in him, spending his life making sure that the people and the land were safe and protected.
They had lost much, when the darkspawn attacked, but they would rebuild. He wished Lyris could be there to see it.
There was a cup of tea on his desk, next to the account books he still had to go through. He picked it up, curling his fingers around the glazed surface of it. He raised it a bit, to her memory; to the memory of the boy he had been, reckless and convinced he was mostly immortal.
"To absent friends," he murmured, and drank.
This was written for the PeopleOfThedas Sugar and Spice Valentine's day exchange. My swap partner loves Varel, and I wanted to write something that would show him as a young man with the seeds of the person he would later become apparent within him.
And so, this story.
The summary was written by the incomparable twist_shimmy—and it's a much better summary than I would have managed on my own.
And also—there is fanart for this story, and it is AMAZING. http : / / peopleofthedas .dreamwidth .org / 258637. html (remove spaces)