The Deserter

The elf, one such as her, armed to the teeth, a scowl present on her lips, her icy eyes moving to scan each corner and shadow in the Undercity, was a strange sight. Refugees from every part of the blighted area of Ferelden watched her with curious eyes. No one of any worth wandered Darktown.

Not unless you were looking for trouble.

Any thief with half a brain, however, avoided this armored elf. It was obvious she was well-trained, from the way she gripped the pommel of the dagger at her side to the strong way she squared her shoulders with every movement. Indeed, the weighty satchel that clinked at her side did not go unnoticed, but neither did the warrior's aura.

And Kallian Tabris was a warrior like none these people had ever seen. They had heard of her, of course, but the tales of the Hero of Ferelden never mentioned her appearance, and it was not like she carried around the Archdemon's head upon her shoulders, showing off that she had done the impossible and lived to tell about it.

Her armor clinked with every step she made, her footfalls throwing up the dust and dirt of the Undercity, and with growing trepidation, Tabris moved forward.

The information that she had gotten about "The Healer" had been protracted from a series of various contacts within Kirkwall. Whether or not the information itself was relevant or even worth Tabris' time was to be seen, but there were little blurbs of leads she could follow up on if this one proved to be moot, and useless.

Two people were listed as those who would know of the Healer: A dwarf in the Merchant Quarter named Tethras, and a noblewoman in Hightown who went by the name Hawke. Tabris had heard that name before, it was a name on many people's lips here, of the Ferelden who'd risen from poverty to take up the old Amell Estate.

She would seek them out if need be. Maker knows how many times she'd been given misleading information about lesser things. This, however was a matter of average importance, a lookout for potential Wardens, and Tabris had taken up the burden of rooting out useful warriors, mages and rogues.

There was no point for her return to the Court in Denerim, she was an elf and as such, still a second-class citizen, and the arling of Amaranthine was being well-kept by the seneschal, and her resolve to find Morrigan had ended with Tabris shoving a knife into the putrid bitch's heart and pushing her through the Eluvian Mirror.

Tabris' footfalls ended as she approached the front of a dirty building. For a second, it almost appeared vacant, but there was a lantern flickering in the window, and at this, her dark eyebrows furrowed. A small boy gazed emptily at her, as did his older brother, their curious gazes falling upon this strange woman.

"This secrecy," She thought to herself, arms crossed over her chest, blue eyes narrowed expectedly at the closed thatch doors. "It simply screams 'I'm an apostate!'. How the Knight-Commander hasn't managed to force down this door is something that will forever remain a mystery."

The elven Grey Warden dreaded the thought of having to deal with Meredith should this matter, man, person fall into a Templar's hands. She'd heard frightening tales of the woman, all of which concerned the horrid treatment of the mages in the Gallows. Tabris rolled her shoulders, fingers twitching slightly at the handle of the dagger, as if she were going to whip it right out and fight whomever was inside the building.

Recent events had put the Warden-Commander of Ferelden on her guard, and a certain paranoia had begun to snap wildly at her ankles. Regardless, it did not matter.

In peace, vigilance.

She was who she was. The Blight and its aftermath had shaped her forever.

Tentatively, she pushed open the door, her eyes set within her eyes, her shoulders as taut as a bowstring.

"—I'm just saying Blondie," There was a dwarf with blond hair making hand gestures at a taller man, who had his back turned to him. Tabris could have sworn the mage scoffed. "If you don't tell me all the details, I'll make it up as I go along. And I'm a compulsive liar."

"Go away, Varric." Said the mage.

Ah, it seemed that she wouldn't have to track Tethras down, after all. Varric, the dwarf, turned around, revealing a sturdy body, one which showed enough chest hair to be turned into a carpet. He cocked an eyebrow at Tabris, but left anyway, shutting the door behind him.

"Are you the Healer?" Tabris, asked, immediately upon Varric's departure from the room. The mage seemed to stiffen, just a little, but he turned around…

And it took Tabris only a split-second to realize who it was. Anders reached immediately for the staff strapped to his back, a blue glow touched his fingertips and settled in his eyes, and Tabris did the same, fingers clutching to the twin daggers in her hands.

"Commander." Came Anders' voice. There was a small inflection in his tone, as though he were happy, to see someone familiar , but enraged as well. The perplexing notion of it staggered Tabris, and her grip tightened on the daggers.

"Anders," Tabris replied, her voice bearing that same, lecturing drawl she always took with him. The surprise of seeing one of her own again had faded quickly with the threat of having fireballs thrown at her. "I suggest you put that away before someone gets hurt. Namely, you."

"I left the Wardens," He breathed out. Loose strands of ash blond hair hung in his eyes. "I hoped you wouldn't show up, but you, the Templars, all of it's got a tendency to follow me around."

Tabris stopped, dead, her eyes fixated on the intricate span of blue lines that traced his skin for only a moment. Anders, realizing either what he was doing or whom he was yelling at, put a hand to his forehead, squeezing shut his eyes. Her eyes narrowed, a crinkle appearing between her eyes. Though her first instinct screamed Attack! she lowered her weapons, her armor plating clinking in response. The glowing ceased, fading away as quickly as it had come, leaving no trace that there had been anything there.

The lantern in the window flickered, ominously. And the tension between the two Wardens grew thicker still. Anders brandished his staff, watching the ex-arlessa of Amaranthine as she held the daggers in her hands high enough to have them be registered as a threat in the apostate's eyes.

"It's funny, isn't it," She responded, a predatory gleam in her blue eyes. "Who you can run into in the Free Marches? Just the other day I saw a Templar, one that I'd saved back during the Blight; he was sniffing around Lowtown, looking for magickers. They crack down hard, around here, Anders."

Anders watched her carefully, and with a sigh of slight frustration, he placed the staff back on his back. He shut his eyes, looking away from his former Commander, fists balled up at his sides, "Why are you telling me this?"

As though she'd found exactly what she'd been looking for, Tabris sheathed the twin daggers, crossing her arms over her chest, "Just trying to figure out why you're here, of all places. Kirkwall's not known for its kindness towards mages."

"Or Fereldens." He jested, cocking an eyebrow. Tabris scowled.

"Don't joke, Anders. I don't have the patience for deserters." She spat the last word out as if it were poison, and his shoulders stiffened again. Tabris let her face harden, and she took in his appearance.

His hair wasn't quite as long as it had been in Amaranthine, in fact, it seemed almost as if he'd taken to cutting it himself. He still had that annoying ponytail, one that she herself had pulled at constantly to get his attention or to divert him away from his blasted cat, Ser Pounce-A-Lot. The past five years since the Blight and her stint in Amaranthine had been harsh to him.

There were lines under his eyes that she didn't remember.

The feathered shoulders were ridiculous, she supposed. It reduced his surly persona by only a little.

"Are you done staring at me yet?" Anders asked, crossing his own arms across his chest. For a second, Tabris could have sworn he appeared intimidated. "I'd like to know when I should start running."

"You've changed." Tabris replied, her voice wavering slightly, and those eyes of her softening for only a small moment. She stopped a smile from crawling across her face. Show no weakness, no affection, no care… if they know you care about anything, they'll ruin it. Just like they ruined Nelaros, just like they ruined Shianni, just like they ruined your life.

Anders seemed caught off guard by this, and he shifted his weight uneasily under her piercing eyes. Kallian Tabris could be summed up in one word: Lethal. Everything about her screamed dominance, power, strength… She was a wolf in sheep's clothing, and a sheep underneath wolf's furs. The apostate didn't say anything; he just watched Tabris with cold eyes.

"I expect a snappy remark from you, or something fanciful, ridiculous. I expect you to run. But you're just standing there." She gestured at him with a single hand. "You're not going to run away, Anders. Don't threaten what you can't deliver."

"You're here to take me back to the Grey Wardens, aren't you?" He took on a more aggressive tone, there were hints of something threatening underneath there. Something Tabris didn't recognize. "The only thing I can do is run. I'm not going back."

"Or you can fight," Tabris offered. Her own paranoia drove her to touch the pommel of her daggers once more. "And I'll decide if I should take you back or not. Don't be so foolish as to think that I won't drag you back, kicking and screaming, to Amaranthine."

"Did you become a Templar," He seemed to grind out the word whenever he spoke it. Tabris, when she had first met him, had wondered often what made him so angry towards the Order. The dissent in him was staggering. "In the past few years, when I wasn't looking?"

"Would that surprise you?" She hadn't, but it seemed necessary to provoke him. "You know my opinions on those too weak to resist the temptations of demons." She looked at him pointedly.

Oh yes, she had recognized the lines that traced his face. She had seen enough maleficar and abominations to last her a lifetime, and she knew the signs of possession. A look of shock passed over his face, but it disappeared quickly, replaced by one of slight anguish. If she had been anyone except the hard-ass she was, Tabris would have felt bad for him, would have let her heart bleed for him. A harsh line appeared between his eyes, and Anders glared at her.

"Don't." He warned, quietly.

"So, Anders, what exactly did you succumb to? Desire?" She was reminded of Connor, if only for a moment. "Pride? Sloth?"

"Justice." He ground out, his voice a near growl.

Tabris straightened, slightly, her voice as slithery as a snake upon the ground, "You didn't. I know you didn't. Justice… Kristoff's body was at the Keep, dead. The spirit was gone."

"No, it wasn't." Anders corrected, his fingers twitched slightly, itching for the feel of the smooth staff in his palm. "Justice… he wasn't gone. I wanted to help him."

"You idiot." Her accent slipped into that elven brogue of hers. She brandished the daggers, again, eyes hardening into chips of ice.

Anders opened his mouth to speak, but the door to the clinic was flung open once more, and two women stood side-by-side. One, a thin, lithe elf with short, braided hair and eyes like the flame on a candle. The other, a warrior with eyes just as icy as Tabris' and hair like that of a moonless night.

Tabris, sensing danger, strapped her weapons to her back, turning towards the intruders. The warrior was looking hostilely at her, holding a freshly baked pie in her hands with slight fervor.

"I… ooh, are we intruding?" The elf asked, a slight blush on her cheeks. She was looking at her human companion with worried eyes. "Humans get upset when people eavesdrop, don't they?"

The warrior simply looked at Tabris with a fire in her eyes that reminded Tabris so much of her own. The elf looked from warrior to Hero, her cheeks flushing crimson. Tabris glanced over her shoulder, back at Anders, who was now looking at the ground and shifting his feet uneasily.

"I will tell the Grey Wardens you are dead. Do not expect them to pop up at your doorstep, again." Her voice wavered slightly. Was she being too kind? Did this show weakness? "And Anders?"

"What?" He spat.

"Don't lose control." She said. The warrior's eyes widened, as did the elf's. "I'll not have you and Justice blowing up a Chantry, or something equally insane." She looked at the warrior, and the pie. "You've got people who care about you, now. People with enough weaponry to stock half the Grey Wardens. If this young lady here," She now looked pointedly at the warrior. "Hadn't shown up, I would've been inclined to stab you for deserting. For letting your own desires get the better of you. But…"

The warrior seemed to stiffen, and the pie in her hands dipped down slightly. Tabris let a rare smile come to her face, something she was afraid of showing.

"It's obvious that you've stopped running. It's obvious that you're doing something to help the mages here, why else would you be in the City of Chains after all?" Tabris shook her head, letting a small snort of disgust pass through her lips. "I have wrongly labeled you an abomination. Justice was… is your friend. But you're losing control, don't think I didn't see it. The Anders I know didn't let people get the best of him. You can win this."

"Why did you even come here?" Anders interrupted her little tirade. And the two women at his doorstep looked awkwardly at one another.

"To find a Grey Warden recruit." Tabris replied. "Instead, I found an apostate. And a friend. Two friends, to be precise."

"I was never your friend," Anders argued, his eyes narrowing. "You didn't even like me!"

"Didn't I?" Tabris moved forward, leaving, raising a hand as way of a parting. "Goodbye, Anders. Don't get killed."

Her eyes traveled to the two women in the doorway. Merrill and Hawke watched Tabris leave with careful eyes. Tabris stopped, right in front of Hawke, and looked down at the girl. Metaphorically, of course. For even though she was the Hero of Ferelden, she was an elf, and as such that made her shorter than this human.

"Take care of him." Were her last, parting words before pushing Hawke aside.

Tabris wandered through Darktown, a headache starting at the back of her head. Why hadn't she just killed Anders? It had been easy, to kill, before. She had done so with Morrigan, had murdered Loghain, had thrown a knife into the head of Brother Genitivi. A grimace began at the edge of her lips, contorting her features.

She had shown weakness, that day. They could have seen her weakness.

Tabris paused in her footfalls. Her eyes fell to the ground. The tattoo that was curled around the right half of her face crinkled as she scowled darkly.

She was a Grey Warden. She was not allowed to care about anyone. Anything. Her grounds remained neutral. Her stances against traitors, and deserters and despots strung her along. But it was hard, hard to kill someone you knew on a personal level. Hard to kill someone you had argued with for hours, over the treatment of mages.

The elf raised a hand to her forehead, squeezing shut her icy eyes.

They were coming after her. She could feel it. And what then? Would there be any vigilance in peace? Any victory in the wars that were no doubt hovering on the horizon? Her role as savior of the world was not yet over, and she could feel it.

She had allowed herself to care. She had allowed herself weakness.

For a second, she thought of the warrior that had interrupted her and Anders' little tiff, had thought of how much she saw of herself in that woman's eyes. The grimace pulled even lower at her features.

There was something larger on the horizon, and she had allowed herself to care.

I left "They" ambiguous. It's implied that the Warden and Hawke (And their LI) are missing, and that it's connected. This is mainly my piss-poor attempt at building up to DA3? Yeah. Oh, and that line about Anders and the Chantry? I threw it in for shits and giggles. This was really just a character study. I'm trying to get a grip on Anders' new character so I can go back to writing angsty oneshots instead of little shorts.

Anyway, my Tabris is pure evil. (At least this Tabris. The one that hooked up with Alistair was Andraste-Incarnate I swear.) She's also my canon-Warden. And man, did she and Anders fight in Awakening. I loved my Blondie, but this Warden was having none of him. (She still gave him Ser Pounce-A-Lot, though. I couldn't resist.)

Feedback is appreciated!