Dragon Age Abomination's Origins
Chapter 32: The Brecilian Forest
Disclaimer: I don't own Dragon Age. I just own my wit and my creativity. Now, read and review.
Beta Reader: Albert
Last Update: 11/24/2014
The Brecilian Forest, a special forest that had spirits that dwelled among the animals, and a forest that was considered one of most dangerous forests in all of Thedas and it was a place where Aveline and her companions were currently lost.
"We're not lost!" Reina yelled.
"We beg to differ," Aveline stated. "We've been going in circles."
"How would you know?" Reina asked.
"We are the ones drawing the map," Aveline simply stated while holding up a map. "We have passed that tall tree with roots growing on the bedrock three times already."
Reina looked embarrassed before stating, "Sorry, I sometimes get lost in here. The forest shifts to keep people confused. It is much like the Fade in its ability to change."
Reina then looked up at the sun before pointing right, "This way."
"Are you sure my little Dalish?" Zevran asked in amusement.
"Yeah, I believe it is this way," Reina had muttered the last part.
She proved to be right as the Wondering Keeper lead them into a strange clearing. There was a tent so ragged that it had not been used for years. Yet, in the center of the clearing was a campfire that's roared near a stump that was fluorescent green. A green created not by moss, but by paint you put on a home. A home that they found out was occupied by something that performed the impossible. Out of the stump, from a hole that was too small for even a small child, jumped out an old man that was over 5ft tall. He appeared in front of the group in a gold Tevinter style robes, waving his fists around as if he wanted to fight.
He then pleaded in a paranoid voice, "Oh dear, oh dear! Not a werewolf and not even a spirit, what are the woods coming too? Also, since when can abominations walk around sane?" the mad hermit asked Aveline.
"Since when do mad hermits talk?" Aveline asked the man as he developed a mischievous smile.
"Oh she has some wit. I wonder will you be more fun than the trees and animals of this forest?" the mad hermit asked with a deep laughed as Reina narrowed her eyes at the man.
"Are you the thief who took my friend, the Elder Tree's acorn?" Reina asked.
"Maybe I did and maybe I didn't! Have you come to claim it back? Oh what fun!" the mad hermit exclaimed. "But we are getting ahead of ourselves already. Ask a question and you'll get a question, but give an answer and you'll revive the same! Oh, I do love to trade!"
"You… want us to answer a question?" Reina twitched at the mad man.
"Wouldn't I have to ask you a question first?" the hermit asked.
"Isn't that a question?" Leliana asked.
"Would you know a question if it was asked?" the hermit asked Leliana.
"Are you mocking us, little man?" Sten asked in frustration.
"I don't know. Are you mocking me?" Hermit asked back.
"This is ridiculous," Eleanor muttered.
"No!" the mad hermit yelled. "That is not a question and if it is to be an answer, it is an answer to a question I've not asked! Have you no sense for the rules?"
"Be careful," Wynne advised. "This is no ordinary man. He is a mage… driven mad perhaps, but still powerful."
"Of course he is," Aveline stated with distaste. "He's a blood mage and has used it for centuries to stay alive. It has driven him insane, as if he had developed brain cancer."
"No fair revealing my secrets and bringing mages into a guessing game," the mad Hermit exclaimed with a pout. "Will you play by the rules or not?"
"Then… would you like to ask us a question?" Eleanor asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I think it is your turn to ask, is it not?" the Mad Hermit asked. "Ask; ask away, I dare you."
"Do you have the Elder Tree's acorn?" Aveline asked.
"Ah…" the Hermit exclaimed, "suddenly it all becomes clear. You are here, that talking tree is there, it all makes sense now. As a matter of a fact, yes, I do have that tree's acorn. I stole it and it was easy. Silly tree should have locked it up tighter. But I am not giving it up for a simple price. I want something of equal value for it if we trade for such a conquest. But that's all I have to say about that. An answer for an answer, there you go!"
"Do you want to ask me another question?" Aveline asked.
"May, I? Oh, yes, I think I might!" the man stated. "Now… what shall be the first? Oh, yes! What are all your names?"
"I am Grey Warden Aveline Wolf Oracle," Aveline stated to begin the introduction.
"I am Leliana."
"We are Wondering Keeper Reina and her companion Kissara."
"Teyrn Eleanor Cousland."
"I am Senior Enchanter Wynne."
"Zevran is my name."
"Sten of the Beresaad," Sten stated proudly as he was the last to introduce himself.
"Ah-ha! So you all claim!" the man exclaimed as he seem to jump around. "They sent you, didn't they? But you all are too tricky, and you all are trying to fool me! Well, I'm onto you all! Just so you know. But it is you turn to ask now. Ask! Ask away! I dare you."
"Who are you exactly?" Leliana asked out of curiosity.
"Who am I? Why do you want to know? Did THEY send you? Did THEY tell you to ask?" the mad Hermit asked with anticipation.
"Who's this 'they' you keep on talking about?" Reina asked, to her regret as the man went into a new rant.
"Oh, oh, oh! Did they tell you to be an innocent stranger, with a head full of fluff and nothing? I'm trickier than I look! Ha, ha! I survive still, and the trees they leave me be! Ha, ha! I've won! THEY will never find me! Never!"
"We found you," Aveline pointed out.
"So you did! But I'm watching you! If THEY sent you, I'll know!" the man yelled at the group.
Soon they went into a cycle of questions and answers. The man asked if they had training of arcane arts, where they were born and if they went to Val Royeaux, the capitol of Orlais. The group in return had asked about the forest and they tried to trade for the acorn. Unfortunately, they did not have anything he considered of value as he already had the items they could trade and he cared little for money. Though Aveline was able to trade for a book and a helmet with one of her own books and a ring they found in the forest. The helmet was useful to Eleanor for it had runes that added protection and power. It came to the point that both realized they had nothing else to offer, the group decided to leave.
"We don't have anything else to ask," Aveline stated.
"Oh no?" The mad Hermit cried before he stabilized to a paranoid/crazy state, "Well, you just let me know if you change your mind. Run along and tell THEM whatever you wish… I intend to keep digging!"
As the old man moved to another part of the forest clearing, the group went by the stump. Aveline stopped to examine it while the Mad Hermit was digging near his tent, or in it, the tent was so tattered that it was hard to tell. As he was distracted, Aveline remarked, "What are the odds that the acorn is in the stump."
Aveline was about to bend down and retrieve it when Zevran stopped her. "Hmm, no offense, but might I try? I've got a quick hand, after all."
"Go ahead," Aveline had commanded.
Zevran smiled as he got down on his knees to pick through the stump. "Ha! Let's see… when was the last time I slipped my hand into some dark hole? Hmmm… I remember there is a long story about that."
"One I probably would like to hear," Reina explained with a coy smile.
Zevran smiled and pulled out an acorn. "And there we go! It was definitely trapped, but I am too awesome by far. Here's it is."
Unfortunately, the mad hermit was not so busy digging that he missed seeing them take the acorn. "You're robbers that are what you are! THEY sent you, didn't they? Well, I'll show you! THEY won't get away with this!"
The mad hermit had stopped his ranting to pull out mage's staff before he summon help in the form of two rage demons. He did not waste a second to order an attack, but neither did the Warden's group as the three mages immediately responded with Mana Clash. They sent a wave of mana around the two demons and the mad hermit. The wave of mana definitely hurt the two rage demons that roared in frustration but the hermit only twitched in annoyance. The spell barely harmed him.
It quickly became apparent that he would be the heavy hitter in this attack. Leliana and Eleanor, fearing the spells he would unleashed, used their archery skills to pin him down. The attacks forced the Hermit to use his Arcane Shield to deflect the dozens of arrows they fired on him as he put a lot of power into the shield spell. However, despite the extra power, a few still passed through the shield to pin down his legs and just litter his body with arrows.
As the archers kept the mad mage distracted, Zevran and Sten ran towards the two rage demons. Only to be forced to jump to the side when the rage demons fired a torrent of fire, but it only slowed them down as they rebounded for a continued attack. They soon reached the demons and Sten killed one of them with a slash across the entire body. The other demon had slithered back to the mad hermit before Zevran could reach it. He was forced back by the mad hermit's spells until the others joined up with Zevran.
While the rage demon backed up in fear, the mad hermit hurled his epitaph at the group while he hid behind his Arcane Shield, "THEY won't get me, for I will get you all!"
The Mad Hermit then cut his hand to use blood magic as he slung his own blood out at one of the archers. Leliana was able to jump out of the way, but Eleanor was not able to react fast enough as magical blood splashed onto her. Eleanor screamed and began to convulse as she was brought under the hermit's control. All the others could do was watch in horror as Eleanor was quickly brought under the mad hermit's control.
Eleanor slowly faced Leliana and was about to take aim at her friends when Wynne used Root Grab to grab a hold of the noblewoman. Eleanor struggled to break Wynne's grip until Aveline used Dispel to break the mad hermit's hold on Eleanor. Eleanor felt a wave of relief as she slumped to the ground. The roots retracted while Wynne rushed over to treat Eleanor and bring her back to full health.
Seeing Eleanor down, the surviving rage demon tried to rushed the line to kill Eleanor. Aveline stopped it by using Cone of Cold to freeze the demon dead in its tracks. The demon shattered and dispersed the moment Kissara ran up and head butted it. As the group watched the demon fall, the hermit took advantage of their distraction and used a Grease Spell, followed by a Fire Ball to create a field of fire under their feet. Reina responded, without thinking and with a bit in panic, Shockwave to disperse the fires and knocked them off their feet away from the flames. Aveline and Wynne quickly recovered and used Group Heal to repair the damages done from the flames and Reina's act to disperse the fire. The bruises and blisters were quickly healed within seconds as the hermit tried to regain his bearing.
Reina stared at the hermit with pure anger when she used a combine spell of Earth Quake and Quick Sand to create Thundering Earth. The spell created a roll of thunder under his feet and muddy earth that made it almost impossible to walk properly. Meanwhile, Leliana and a fully healed Eleanor, who was back in the game, took advantage of the disruption by going on the offensive by firing arrow upon arrow. The three mages soon joined the two archers as they started to wear the hermit down.
Aveline used Stinging Swarm and Leach Swarm to litter the hermit with bug bites, before swelling his body to near bursting with Walking Bomb and Valiant Bomb. At the same time, Reina and Wynne added their own spells. Reina made the hermit vulnerable with entropy hexes and debility spells she knew. Every one of them was deadly on their own, but together they made the hermit vulnerable to all spells and attacks flung at him. And he could do nothing as Wynne used Root Grab to hold him in place as she leached off his magic with Mana Drain and Parasite Drain.
The mad hermit was in pain but he was not out of the fight as he summoned a large burst of magic to increase his incredible power for a needed boost. The man had laughed as he summoned large area spells, Inferno and Tornado, to create Ragging Tornado in the middle of the group. The flaming tornado was intense as it produced a blue flame that had forced the group to split up and run away from the swirling flames. The tornado gave the hermit relief as he used the time to fire off an Anti-Magic burst to dispel all the magic around him. He eliminated the spells underneath his feet, the swarming insects, the hexes and variety of spells on him, and the flaming tornado in front of him.
With the tornado and spells now gone the hermit turned his attention to Aveline and tried to use Spirit Bomb and Valiant Bomb for revenge. Aveline saw the attack coming was able to use Spell Shield to block both spells and used a large chunk of power to stop them. The raw amount of mana the hermit put in the spell was almost too much for Aveline as she fell to her knees.
If they had hit anyone else without Aveline's mana stores and the spell shield, it would have probably been an instant kill. Instead, it left a weaken Aveline that Wynne rushed over as she used several restoration spells to restore Aveline's mana supplies, taking two of the mages out of the fight. And the mad hermit, still having the advantage, did not stop as he used Slam to hurl Kissara into Leliana and Eleanor, taking down the group's long-range support.
The mad hermit now turned his attention to Reina and a charging Sten. He was about to attack them, when a hidden Zevran struck from behind. Zevran attacked him in a flurry of strikes that made the man bleed. However, the mad hermit was able to use Push to send Zevran flying off to the side and out of his hair to resume his attack.
Only for the mad hermit to get his very own surprise, he had failed to pay attention to the warrior charging at him to attack. He realized his mistake when Sten stabbed the man in the stomach with his long broad sword. Blood poor out of the mad hermit as Sten tighten his grip, thinking it was a kill. It was not kill as the mad hermit gave a grunt before he summoned the blood from his stomach wound. He then used the blood to strike out at Sten, sending him flying back before he slumped in front of a tree.
The mad hermit slowly pulled Sten's blade from his belly as Reina moved to finish the man off with her very own combo spell. With the quake spell to loosen the rook bellow, she began to pull and manipulate the roots under her feet. The tree themselves would aid her as roots shopped a rook into a spike before it was hurtle through the ground and right through the hermit's head and deep within his brain. The mad man stood for a second, unable to process his brain was gone before he fell to the ground, KO'd. The group had won this tough fight and insured the mage was not coming back by Zevran walked over with a grunt and beheading the man.
As the group began to recover, Aveline, Wynne, and Reina noticed that Sten had not risen up from battle and lay there in severe pain. He grunted, unable to get up as the three mage rushed to his aid. They soon worked the flow of magic and potions as Aveline told the elf assassin, her mother, and her lover to bring the qunari's blade over. The blade so heavy, that it took all three to lift it up and bring it over to Sten. The blade only Sten could lift easily was set down at his side to calm him down as the mages worked on him.
Sten grimaced as Aveline and Wynne treated his wounds with magic while Reina stood to the side holding his hand and healed Sten's minor wounds, even if she was less skilled then her fellow mages. Sten was still unhinged by magic, as the Qun that believed magic is dangerous. It was only due to the fact he slowly got used to magic and Aveline finding his sword that he did not object to magic healing him. He just laid there as he fingers gentle brushed his sword, Asala.
As Sten was brought to full health, they got another visitor as an elf in green Tevinter style robes rushed into the clearing. Only to stop when he saw the burnt ground, mounds of earth and the signs of battle all around, "Oh my, what happened here?"
"We were attacked by that mad hermit," Eleanor explained.
"On the bright side, that insane creature is now dead," Reina shot back.
"That is amazing that you were able to win," the elf stated in wow. "He was a very powerful man. Did you lose anyone?"
"No my friend, no one died," Zevran explained, which forced the mage to become even more amazed. "Our qunari friend was injured and we are treating his wounds. Unless fortune is against us, our tall friend will live to grunt another day."
"Thanks the Creators for small miracles," the man called out as he came closer. It revealed a man with long red hair and Dalish markings on his face. "Do you require any assistance? I am a very capable healer."
"No, we are fine, I just finished treating…" Wynne's voice trailed off as Sten began to rise, but stopped when she focused on the elf's face. "Aneirin…?"
The elf Aneirin approached and stated in shock, "Wait, I… I remember your face… but younger, more impulsive, sterner…. Wynne is that you?"
Wynne nodded with small tears before she whispered out, "I thought they killed you."
"They very nearly did," Aneirin stated with disdain. "The Templars found me while I was searching for the Dalish… they ran me through and left me for dead. Luckily, the Dalish found me and saved my life. I traveled with them for a bit before I went my own way. The forest is my home now."
Wynne was almost in tears at Aneirin's words as she ran up to him, leaving the two mages to finish patching up Sten, "I brought this on you. Oh, I was a dreadful mentor, harsh and impatient… I am sorry for the way I treated you."
However, Aneirin just gave a small, amused smile. "I have put that behind me and you should too. I didn't fit in with the Templars and your Chantry… my path lays elsewhere."
Wynne had other ideas as she tried to reason with him, "Irving is a reasonable man. He will find some way for you to return. The circle needs new blood. It needs to change."
Aneirin, however disagreed, "I have fond memories of Irving. He was always kind to me. I will consider your proposal and perhaps I will speak with Irving. However, I promise nothing." Aneirin turned to Aveline, "Perhaps she is the mage you seek. She is a Grey Warden and if I am not mistaken the sane abomination I have been hearing about. I thought you were just stories, but I guess seeing is believing."
Aneirin then developed a thoughtful look as he added, "She knows much from her travels and being a part demon would know more about the Fade then most would. So why not ask her?"
Aveline raised an eyebrow, "How can you tell we are an abomination. Most Templars don't even know unless we reveal it, and usually, they are very good at their job."
"My years in the circle were not a complete waste. I learned more than I let on. You taught me things Wynne, even if you didn't know it," Aneirin explained before holding up a wooden amulet. A very powerful amulet as it protects the user from harmful magic and all the elements except physical attacks. "It is made from the hardened sap of a tree native to this forest. It's been something of a lucky charm for me, and now I want you to have it."
Wynne hesitated before accepting the gift with a hug, "I accept it with honor. May your gods smile on you Aneirin."
"And on you as well," Aneirin return the bow before he gave her a hug. Wynne returned the hug before the two went their separate ways.
The group was now heading back towards the Elder Tree to return its acorn. As they traveled, Wynne went up to ask Aveline, "Have you given any thought as to what Aneirin said? There is wisdom in his words. You as a mage and your knowledge of the Fade created by your… unique situation could be what the Circle needs most."
Aveline sighed as she saw this coming, "We would be lying if we said that we will go and live at the Circle. But, there is still so much for us to see and we plan to travel with Leliana." Leliana smiled warmly at Aveline before she continued, "However, we don't think it is too much to ask for use to stop by from time to time and give a lecture to students, if you don't mind."
Wynne laughed before stating, "No, in fact I welcome it. I think the students can learn much from what you know." Wynne sobered up before she continued, "I will not live long enough to see the Circle rebuilt, and returned to its status as a strong and glorious place. That will be a dream that I take to my grave. However, it doesn't have to be a dream for you."
Aveline looked up to state, "We think you underestimate your lifespan and your own importance. We think you will and if not, you have a say as you lay the ground work for it to happen."
Wynne smiled and was about to thank Aveline when Eleanor and Leliana stopped them. "Quite, I hear some rumbling up ahead," Eleanor stated.
"Follow me," Leliana commanded.
The group nodded and slowly crept through the foliage right behind Leliana and Eleanor. As they drew close to the sound, they noticed three werewolves were dragging away a female werewolf that put up strong resistance against them as she growled out, "I will not go back."
The three ignored her as they continued to drag the struggling werewolf, not paying attention to the forces watching them behind the foliage. Seeing enough of the struggle, Aveline motioned to the archers and gave them a silent order to take out all of werewolves except the struggling one. The two complied and took aim with their bows. They fired in rapid sequence and the three werewolves were dead before they knew they were under attack. The three plopped down as the struggling werewolf stood up to sit on one of her knees.
The group approached the werewolf, cautiously, as she struggled to be erect words, "P-please… help… listen… I am not… the mindless beast I appear to be…"
"What happened to you?" Leliana asked with concern as she moved closer.
"They… cursed me… cursed me to transform into this creature. The curse, it… it burns in me!" the werewolf screamed in tears. "I… fled into the forest. The werewolves, they… took me in. But I had to return. I had to! I am… I was once an elf, one of the Dalish folk. Do you know of my clan?"
"You are from Zathrian's clan?" Eleanor asked.
"Yes, I thought… I thought you knew them. I can smell that… that you have met with the Dalish recently, and one of you is a member of the Dalish. So you know what happened to us," the werewolf spoke in a soft growl.
"You're heavily wounded," Wynne stated as she observed the woman. "Please let me try to heal you."
"No…" the werewolf told the elder mage to move away. "I cannot be healed, not even… by magic. Please you must listen… My name is Danyla. My husband… he is called Athras. Please, you must… bring him a message."
"There is death in her eyes," Sten stated. "It will not be long."
"This is too cruel," Leliana muttered under her breath.
"The scarf I wear…" Danyla stated as she pulled out a long scarf that was under her neck, "Take it to him. Tell him I love him. Tell him… I am dead and with the gods. I beg you…"
"I know the person you speak of," Reina stated while taking the scarf. "I will make sure he gets it, I promise you as a Wondering Keeper."
"Thank you," Danyla smiled at Reina. "I want him to be at peace… He is a good man. Please do not… let him suffer thinking of me." Danyla then began to scream out, "Ah, the pain! The curse… is fire in my blood! Please! End it for me! End it quickly!"
"Wait," Aveline ordered. "We need answers, please help us."
"I… I will tell you… what I know. If you promise… to end my pain," Danyla pleaded.
"We promise," Aveline promised to Danyla.
"Then… then know this: the werewolves are no longer… violent animals," Danyla explained. "They have… overcome the curse, like I have. There is an old ruin in the center of the forest… You may find them there. They will think… that you mean to kill them." Danyla seemed to struggle with her affliction, as if she wanted to tell more, but could not. "I can tell you no more… the pain! It is… too much. Please… fulfill… your promise…"
Aveline sighed before pulling out one of her swords, "As you wish."
Aveline did not even hesitate as she stabbed Danyla in the heart, followed by a twist of the blade before she pulled it out as Danyla fell to the ground. Her last words, "Gods… bless you…" before she went to the endless sleep of death.
Holding the scarf tightly, Reina spoke up, "I think this needs to be returned to her husband as soon as possible."
Zevran smiled, as he stated, "A bit of a romantic aren't you."
Reina smiled as she nodded, "A bit. I am also a bit of a softy."
Reina's smile then morphed into a frown before she continued to speak, "Athras was the reason I began to suspect Zathrian was lying about the werewolves. Zathrian told Athras that Danyla had died. That is to be expected. But what was unexpected is that he did not bring a body back nor did he talk about the condition he found Danyla. Athras also suspected something was up but couldn't do anything without risking the clan. Now, he will finally have the answer he needs and something to remember her by."
"I agree," Eleanor stated. "If I could have something that belonged to Bryce, I would be most grateful and I could say the same about Athras and his wife."
Aveline slowly nodded before asking, "Reina, can you get to the Dalish Camp on your own?"
"I have some skills in shape shifting, so it will not be problem," Reina told the group. "I just transform into a hawk, and then I just fly to the camp and back, easily. Just say the word."
Aveline nodded before barking out orders, "Okay, you head back to camp while we head to the Elder Tree. We will meet you there before we head to the ruins. Also, tell anyone you can trust to keep an eye on Zathrian, and if possible question him."
"Why?" Leliana asked before Reina could.
"Too many things don't make sense and they are starting to point to him," Aveline explain. "The spirit of the forest disappeared, the werewolves having a grudge against Zathrian and his people, and Zathrian is withholding information from us and his own clan. It is as if he wants everyone to stumble in the dark, while he keeps something hidden from everyone, perhaps even himself. He knows far more than he is telling everyone, and his anger is blinding him to the point that he has become irrational and possibly dangerous."
"Got you and I'll tell the others to keep an eye open," Reina nodded before she turned towards Kissara. "Stay with them and keep them safe. I'll be back soon."
Kissara gave a roar of acknowledgment before Reina transformed into a bird and flew off with the scarf in her claws.
In the western part of the forest, Shianni lead her team on a hunt. The group was on the search for fallen blue trees covered in moss. A hunt that did not last long as Shianni spotted two of them in a clearing and directed her companions towards them. As they approached two living trees moved to reveal that they were sylvans. They moved to attack but soon regretted attacking the well-oiled machine of the Wardens. Shayle and Oghren were the first to strike as Shayle bull rushed one of the sylvans. The golem punched one of the sylvan's legs right from under them. Shayle then jumped on top of the walking tree to hold it in place while Oghren practiced his logger skills.
While Oghren made firewood, Alistair and Ranger attacked the second walking tree. Their attacks kept the sylvan distracted as Morrigan struck it with Vulnerability Hex, Leach Swarm, and Draining Life to drain the tree of its energy at a rapid pace while Shianni rushed the tree. She jumped up on the arm and quickly climbed up to its head. Once she reached the top, she stabbed it multiple times in the head, drilling holes for the leaches to swarm in. Eventually, the tree fell to the ground, dead after rotting from the inside out.
As the tree lay on the ground dead, Alistair came up with an amused smile, "So, four log sets of ironbark and eight sylvans. You think that will be enough for Master Varathorn?"
"It better be," Shianni commented. "We collected enough for an army."
"Well then, I suggest we finish collecting the wood and head back for our reward instead of staying in harm's way," Morrigan added.
They were about to leave when they heard a piercing screeched that fill the air. Shianni looked up to see a hawk flying towards them, with a silver scarf in its feet. It dived towards the group and then pulled up at the last minute just before a white flash of light appeared. The hawk was revealed to be Reina, as she stood calmly in front of the group, alone. Her very presence without the others made them worry that something was wrong.
Shianni asked in a steady, calm voice, "What's wrong? Is everything alright?"
"Everyone is fine, but we found out some things we felt you need to know," Reina stated before explaining everything that happened since they were separated. She told them about the scarf she was delivering to the camp, and she was headed in that direction until she saw them and decided to meet them and relay what had been happening.
"Are you here to ask for aid in crushing stuff?" Shayle asked. "I would really like to help crush stuff."
"No, it would still be best if we continue the plan," Reina explained. "However, perhaps you could handle returning the scarf to Danyla's husband, Athras, for me. Also, it may be a good idea to keep an eye on Zathrian."
"You think the Keeper will cause trouble?" Alistair asked.
"I hope not, but he seems to hold many secrets that he is unwilling to share that make him look suspicious," Reina explained after telling them Aveline's own conclusion.
Shianni nodded in silence as she took the scarf, "We'll keep an eye on Zathrian and demand answers. We also will give this scarf to Athras when we get the chance."
"Thank you, it will be a big help," Reina stated before she turned into a hawk to fly away as her fellow Wardens went back to camp with the extracted ironbark.
It did not take long for Reina to rejoin the group and just in time as Aveline had just returned the acorn to the Elder Tree.
The old sylvan smiled as he exclaimed, "My joy soars to new heights indeed! I am reunited with my seed!" The Elder Tree calmed down before pulling out a branch from one of his limbs. It was magically enchanted as it formed a staff, which the Elder gave to Reina. "As I promised, here it is. I hope its magic pleases thee. Keep this branch of mine with thee, and pass throughout the forest free. I wish thee well, my mortal and immortal friends. Thou brought my sadness to its end. May the sunlight find you, thy days are long, thy winters kind, and thy roots be strong."
The Elder Tree then went to sleep after wrapping itself to look like a regular tree. Once they realized their job was done, Reina, with her wooden staff in hand, headed to the eastern part of the Brecilian forest.
Near the center of the forest, Aveline's group encountered an unnatural mist that blocked their path. Reina explained she had encountered such mists before. The mist is a defense mechanism as it uses magic to confuse people and makes them wander around for hours or even days. It is not made to kill people, but it certainly is disorientating.
However, now they can bypass the defense as Reina used the stick from the Elder Tree to disperse the mist. With the mist cleared, it revealed a paved path leading to a large stone structure that was in the center of the forest, the old elven ruins was up ahead. As they move closer to the temple ruins, howls filled the air as his group came face to face with Swiftrunner and accompanied by six other werewolves.
Swiftrunner growled, "The forest has not been vigilant enough. Still you come. You are stronger than we could have anticipated. Zathrian's Dalish chose well. But you do not belong here, not you outsiders or the Dalish woman and her feline companion. You must leave this place!"
"There is no need for violence," Aveline argued. "We can talk this through and settle this dispute peacefully."
Swiftrunner snarled in response, "You were sent by the treacherous Dalish to kill Witherfang! I will not stand by and allow that to happen!"
"We have no intention of killing anyone else if we can help it," Aveline stated without an ounce of emotion. "Not you, not the Dalish and not Witherfang. We can still talk."
"I do not believe you," Swiftrunner told Aveline. "I will not risk believing you." Swiftrunner then gave a deep growled before he stated, "You are an intruder in our home! You come to kill, as all your kind does! We have learned this lesson well and that is why we will not let you pass. Brothers and sisters, attack!"
As the werewolves rushed them, Wynne quickly responded with Containment spell to hold Swiftrunner in place to keep the bigger threat away. However, the other werewolves continued to attack while Reina used wave to drench two of the werewolves with water before Aveline electrocuted them with Lightening. They fell to the ground, burnt to a crisp as two others were slain by Eleanor and Leliana with their superb marksmanship as their arrows found their targets, right between the eyes. The last two were taken down by the remaining party members. One was pinned by Sten while Zevran slit its throat. The other mauled by Kissara before she ripped out its throat.
Swiftrunner, now alone on the field, broke free of the containment spell and backed away as Aveline approached the creature. Aveline drew close, her magic swirled around her as she prepared to take down Swiftrunner. That was until she was hit in the chest and sent flying on to her back. Aveline skidded several feet before she fell to the ground in pain with her head slowly rose up to see what hit her as she sucked in air. She got a good look at her attacker, a white wolf with brown vines growing out it its legs. The two stared at each other before the wolf gave a deep howl and retreated with Swiftrunner. Rabid werewolves appeared on the scene to cover the two's escape.
Reina attacked the insane werewolves using Toxic Field and Tornado, to create a field toxic to life. The rabid werewolves found out the hard way as they ran head first into the field. They stopped in their tracks as they began coughing out blood and hacked themselves to death. As the toxic field did its work, Leliana helped Aveline up as the mage healed her chest injury inflicted by the white wolf. By the time the toxic field had dispersed, Aveline was not only healthy, but her bruises were gone as well. She was ready to continue, unlike the rabid creatures that lay dead on the grassy field.
The group gave chase, following the path to the ruins and stopped when they spotted werewolves guarding the entrance. The creatures backed up slowly, afraid to engage the 'outsiders.' The group was close enough to hear their growls as they addressed each other.
"Gatekeeper, the intruders are coming closer," one of the werewolves reported to a tall, grey werewolf with many scars. "The forest is not keeping them out and Swiftrunner failed to stop them!"
"The intruders have deceived their way into the forest's heart and we can't hold them back!" Gatekeeper then growled out orders to his men, "Everyone now fall back to the ruins! Protect the Lady!" The Gatekeeper gave one last howl before all the surviving werewolves ran deep into the ruins.
Once they were gone from sight, Eleanor asked the group. "Who is this Lady? I thought they were defending Witherfang."
"Maybe they are one and the same," Zevran suggested. "Maybe Witherfang is a beautiful, savage creature, instead of a handsome, savage creature."
"Zathrian insisted that Witherfang was male," Reina countered before she admitted that maybe Zevran was right. "However, he may be wrong, or he doesn't want to admit what or who Witherfang really is."
Reina then looked at Zevran to ask with small smile, "Though I am not sure it will be beautiful. Also, why can't a male be beautiful? I mean you're beautiful."
Zevran cooed, "I am not beautiful, I am handsome. Women such as you have the right to be called beautiful while men like me are handsome allowing us to tame such beauty, such as Witherfang, if she is a she. It's a gender thing."
"Discussions like this are pointless," Sten stated before Reina could continue to flirt. "We should worry about the mission."
Aveline looked at the ruins to state, "Come on, we have a ruin to investigate and we may get some answers along the way."
The group nodded before they entered the ancient ruins.
In the Dalish Camp, Shianni and her team had just delivered the news to Athras about his dead mate, Dylan. Athras was grateful for the news and his wife scarf. He rewarded them with a special amulet. Although it was nothing special compared to some of the items they had received or collected, they accepted it as a point of honor more than anything else did. They also improved their image among the Dalish by providing the ironbark they collected to the clan for free.
After they finished improving relationship with the clan, Shianni's team went to look for Zathrian to get answers he was not willing to part with about the curse. They searched high and low for Zathrian but could not find him. So they went to Lanaya for information, "Lanaya, can you tell us where Zathrian is?"
"I'm sorry, but you just missed him," Lanaya stated to the group. "I believe he went into the forest. Though he didn't say why…" Lanaya looked nervous with her eyes downcast, as though she had a tragic idea as to what Zathrian did and where he was.
"Lanaya, what's wrong?" Shianni asked.
"I am fearful of Zathrian," Lanaya admitted with almost disgust. "He… he was so angry at the werewolves. Whenever you mention them, he showed a cold furry. It is as though he blames them… for something that happened… a long time ago."
"You believe he knew all about the werewolves?" Alistair asked.
Lanaya looked down before she stuttered, "I… I don't know. I want to believe he isn't the reason. I'll keep my nose out of it, as his apprentice should."
"Even if it hurts your clan," Shianni asked in persuasion.
Lanaya looked down in sadness, unsure how to respond. Luckily, Alistair came in to thank her for the information, which Lanaya was grateful as it gave her more time to think. After the group left Lanaya to her thoughts, Morrigan went up to ask, "So, what should we do Grey Wardens? Should we try and warn Aveline, or do we sit here and do nothing?"
Shianni sighed in frustration when she took up the mantle of command, "We can't do anything. By now, they are at the ruins. By the time we get there to help, it will be too late to do anything. The best we can do is sit here and hope for best while preparing for the worst."
The others nodded and began to move around the camp, while Alistair remained behind to asked, "Are you sure this is the best idea?"
Shianni looking up to Alistair with sad eyes before she answered, "No, but it's the best we can hope for."
Alistair nodded as he stood beside Shianni, giving her a hug to share her burden.
Done and hope you enjoy this latest chapter of Dragon Age. Please review if you like, dislike or just plain want to say you read it. Thanks again for reading.
1) Rule number one of any game, always check your map to find out if you are lost or not.
2) The Mad Hermit has robes thanks to a modification. Though it's not regular Tevinter style, I made them Tevinter in this case.
3) It seems the more a person uses blood magic in combat, the more insane they become. Maybe there is a correlation. I know he is old, for Zathrian tells you he is and that he is part of the lore of the tower, before it sunk underground.
4) Yep, I killed the Mad Hermit, though I fear I may have given him too much power, but he is a blood mage centuries old, so his power is understandable.
5) The qunari are unhinged around magic and Sten is no different.
6) The Hermit was near Aneirin's camp, so he should hear the commotion.
7) Like I said, when Aveline makes a deal, she always completes it, whether she sees it through to the end or exploits a loophole around it.
8) I do not plan to have the whole group go into the ruins. There will be too many storming the place.