Disclaim: I don't own anything.(DA or Halo)
This is an unfinished draft.
They were only a day and a half away from Denerim, but the group was getting even more impatient. The wretched skies and soaked land mirrored the low morale of the heroes. They were running out of supplies and discipline. The addition of the newcomer only made their situation more aggravating. His presence resulted in some of the crew becoming weary and chippy. Sten's unfriendliness was annoying, but tolerable because even the qunari was open to questions and even asking some himself. This new member of the group, this Franklin, this man preferred to stay a stranger.
He was the strong and silent type; but that annoyed everyone to death, thought Elissa. His silence and stoicism even deadened Alistair's usual cheery state.
Enquiring about how a human could be so pale and massive, John just stared at him and ignored it, which was the normal answer most UNSC personnel and soldiers received when they tried to be engaging with the Spartan so that they could confirm the person behind the armor was indeed organic. John's light hostility to questions was simply irking. Wynne, Zevran, Elissa, Morrigan, and company all had deep questions to ask of John. The mystery individual was too bizarre to leave alone. Yet, they still felt like they were talking to a mobile stone wall that was carrying their heavy luggage as if they were feathered pillows. His silky smooth black uniform was odd also. It seemed so utilitarian and comforting, but also an exotic fashion that was certainly not native.
Even worse, Leliana was starting to think that Franklin had mental problems. On one solitary occasion through the forest, so that she could gather fuel for the fire, she perchance, but still stealthily, came upon the stranger, whom she found acting profoundly awkward. Holding a thin rectangular object in his large palm, he seemed to be speaking to himself. His incredibly deep voice seemed to be addressing another person, but there was no one present. She kept hearing the name "Cortana" repeatedly.
"Cortana, I don't have much time to do a full depth report, but I'll make it short"
"My situation is stable for now. I've managed to attain reliable guides to the target city. I'm not giving out too much about myself, but they seem like a reliable. If chance allows, I may even stick with them to see more of this world in depth," knowing that he and Cortana were likely stuck on this bizarre planet.
Using her rogue abilities, Leliana decided against staying any further. She silently disappeared into the darkening forest under the dusk like a ghost. It was not in her new style to intrude on others as she had done in her past profession. The stranger's odd behavior still troubled her though. He either had an imaginary friend or an invisible one to share his lunacy with since his brief words connotatively suggested that his origin was…
"Ow! What in the name of Andraste…," she grimaced, after seemingly smacking herself into something that seemed like an unmovable object. Looking up, Franklin blurred into her vision and to her embarrassment, he said, "Sorry, I didn't see you."
"It's the twilight hours. It has an effect on the bearings of some," John casually acknowledged.
"You're right, if we dither here any longer, it'll be pitched black soon and we'll be truly lost in our bearings. Come on, let us gather the wood quickly," she smiled half-heartedly.
I've just made a fool of myself, she thought. For all that was good about my skills, it seems that he has bested me. By Andraste, I didn't even hear footsteps or a brush of movement. How is it even possible for him to…
"Oooo Lelilianaaaaaa! Would you just bloody stick the wood into the fire already," demanded Alistair. "Otherwise, I'm making you pea soup again."
"Uh, are you alright? Is something wrong, Leliana?" he inquired.
"Our new friend, the peculiar one, he's well…a bit scary and at the same time, surprising," she admitted.
"And how so?" the Templar wondered.
"Besides his nonchalance and social awkwardness, I can't really describe it entirely. He's obviously got many secrets and oddities. His behemoth frame, for instance, disparately betrays his actual deftness with guile. He has the physique and demeanor of an overly stern soldier, yet does not wield a weapon. If he does, it's not one I've been able to glimpse."
"Are you sure you're alright? I don't particularly favor the man either, but we shouldn't over- think," Alistair sought to say. "Anyhow, it's best to wait and see his intentions and what kind of person he turns out to be, even if trying to talk to him is like talking with a Tranquil."
Nevertheless, the group ventured forward, ever so closer and closer to Denerim. The nearer they got to the city, the more refugees, visitors, soldiers, and traders they saw on the roadway. At least they wouldn't have to deal with bandits for now.
At last, their arrival at the fortress city was met with the cacophony of urban-dwellers, be they citizens, merchants, foreigners, or guards; they were all accustomed to talking loudly over each other, due to the structurally tight and confined layout of the city, which bunched so many pathetic souls to constraining and unhealthy living standards. For most of the city, comfortable living space was a commodity not found in many portions of the capital. Even the large estates or institutions belonging to Ferelden's political and cultural elites could not escape the suffocating atmosphere of city life, especially for their guards in terms of security.
Hustling through the bustling city, the compressed band of visitors was squeezing themselves between crowds as they perambulated towards the main market district. Alistair, positioning himself at the forefront, brought the group onto a narrow street that he thought would cut down their travel time and the struggle to make it through the crowds of citizens. The new pathway initially seemed open and commodious…until they ran into another queue of people. Evidently, Alistair wasn't the first one to think of and choose this shortcut. Life here was visibly quick-paced and on this occasion, a little bit more chaotic than usual:
"Why in the world did we listen to that buffoon of an ex-Templar's idea to take his shortcut? It's quite obvious we're going even slower. And whoever that is, for the love of…get your hand off my…" Morrigan shouted, as she pushed through the citizenry.
"Oh, sorry miss. My son, Sandal, has horrible coordination and uh, he gets really nervous around so many people," Bodahn apologized.
"Well, tell him to grab onto you and not me next time," the sorceress demanded.
"What? You mean your unmentionable lady things…" derided Alistair as he pushed through the funnel of people created by the narrowing path.
"Haha, laugh it up churl and I'll make sure you die a virgin, little man," she replied poignantly.
"Erm…can we not talk about that please. Oh, er, I think we're here," he asserted, as the group left the shade of the towering buildings that overshadowed the tight road on two sides and instead, they traversed onto an open area that operated under the gentle rays of the sun and the breeze of the open sky.
With everyone accounted for, the group dispersed at the central Denerim market district so that various members could attend to their personal needs. Zevran headed off in the direction of the nearest brothel. Wynne and Morrigan were off to the Wonder of Thedas shop for mages. Even Sten managed to guide himself towards an alluring bakery shop. He claimed that he was researching the differences between qunari and human eating habits. With the exception of Alistair, Elissa, Leliana, and Franklin (John), they preferred to examine the weapons, armor, and mixed merchants that would buy and sell any assorted item so that they could offload their surplus inventory and any unneeded goods. Fortunately, that was an easy task, but also with some awkward looks from the sellers at John, who then stared backed even harder.
In mind for some refreshments also after unburdening themselves of their old weight, Elissa welcomed the Spartan towards a tavern named the Gnawed Noble Tavern.
Only a few paces away from the bar's entrance, a man in massive armor veered into their path.
Accompanied by three of his lackeys, a certain Ser Landry introduced himself to Elissa determinedly.
Commencing the movement of his lips, "I recognize you…from Ostagar," he said.
"Andraste's blood, you're a Grey Warden. Duncan's apprentice! You killed my friend and good King Cailan. I demand satisfaction, ser!"
"Let me guess, you believe Loghain's charges against the Grey Wardens. They're absolutely false and so is anything that Loghain claims," replied Elissa.
"So you would compound slander on top of treason? You dare smear Teyrn Loghain's word?" exclaimed the chivalrous knight.
"If by satisfaction, you mean a duel, then I shall be happy to beat the chivalry out of you.
Where shall we meet?" Elissa smirked.
"The alley behind the Wonder of Thedas, good ser. And bring your companions also," urged Ser Landry.
The two sides convened at the decided address, but it was uncertain if the meeting was single combat or a group function. Ser Landry did not care and so left the decision to Elissa, who was already confident in her abilities as a lone fighter, but she was now accustomed to now operating in a squad. She preferred having the comfort of support, but the foreign bloke was the dark horse. He had the makings of a frontline soldier, but was hardly armed or equipped to defend himself. Has he ever even held a sword, which she never saw at all? Would he even agree to dual on their behalf? She hoped to convince him somehow and so approached him.
"Franklin, may I ask you a question…or rather a favor?"
John then tilted down his head at her in affirmation.
She began by saying, "You seem like or appear to be a very capable person. I'd reckon you were a formidable force on the battlefield with much experience, since I can't help but see the various scars on you…
O folly! I sound like a simpleton"
"So you want backup and a showcase of my abilities," he knew.
"By all means, if you don't mind," she answered
"As long as the favor is returned," he said with no intention of generosity. "And I'll need a weapon, also."
That was a bit of a problem for Elissa, since they sold most of the valuables or donated them to their allied representatives back at camp, especially the weapons and armor. She perused her mind for a solution and then finally relented. She would give him her family heirloom.
"Well, you can borrow my family sword and shield," she suggested. She always carried them as her replacement weapons and out of sentiment. One of these days, she was going to bash Rendon Howe's face in with her family crest and then cut him down with the Cousland's family sword. The only thing concerning that matter that she had qualms about was whether she would stick his head on a pike or not, for all to see. Anyhow, she went to quickly fetch items and then returned to Franklin with his requests.
John received the sword and shield and then promptly turned towards Ser Landry's band. His close quarter's combat training and the use of the energy sword before honed his swordsmanship's skill somewhat, but he was still a novice. He held the two items with a pretention of mastery. His would rely on his reflexes to see him through.
"Shall we begin," he asked Elissa. She nodded 'yes' in reply and then arranged the details with Ser Landry.
Each side stared down the other with their weapons bandied about. They were still separated by a dozen paces, but Ser Landry was the first advance his side. Elissa's side responded in return with a slow march.
John looked at his opponent coming closer. His pugnator was wearing silverite light armor and tightly held a longsword with both of his hands. John already saw and advantage for himself as he heard a clang that was followed by more bouts of clashes. Landry's fighter than rushed him, intending to conduct a power strike at him. The large blade descended on him, but the Spartan easily avoided the strike with a swerve to the side. It was John's turn, who then decided to bash his opponent into submission with first, a light bash that staggered his opponent back and then with lightning speed, lashed out at the opposing combatant with a resounding shield bash that knocked the air out of the man and at the same time, flat onto the ground.
The soldier stared at the helpless figure on the ground and then dropped both sword and board from his hands. With a mischievous thought, he picked up the man's body and raised him over his head like a log of wood. He timed himself for just a second, and then tossed the pathetic form in the intended direction with such force that heavy body flattened both Alistair and his opponent. The display caused a distraction that allowed Leliana to give her foe a critical strike to the side of his ribs. Her delivery caused her adversary to clutch to his side and then he fell also to ground as Leliana slashed the back of his knees with both her blades.
The agonizing screams of his men did not distract Ser Landry. Both he and Cousland were too focused on each other. The Cousland was a pup he thought. She had much feistiness in her attacks, but they were still unrefined. She relied on brute strength and perhaps emotional rage also. He thought those things were a weakness that would doom his enemy. Yet, he was on the defensive since his foe was unrelenting with her swift swings and slices. He had hoped to tire her out and when she was drained, he would unleash his own onslaught. But that was not to be so because he only then realized that all his men had fallen.
A large figure appeared behind him.
Ser Landry then found himself shivering and thought to himself for one last time as the giant behind crushed his skull in with a vicious punch.
The fight didn't seem fair at all. Franklin ended Ser Landry's life and Leliana for another's. That left two survivors, whom Elissa spared so that they could relay the message about what happens to those who confront the Grey Wardens. They had the permanent wounds to show it.
Elissa and her friends spent a little time to recompose themselves. Once they got over the fatigue of the fight, they debated where to go next, or even to find entertainment despite the day's event.
But none of them was ready to discuss about John yet. He was a man they wanted in on their grand task.
Sorry to say, but I'm a terrible writer and this is the last chapter.( Dragon Age II also killed any hope I had in the universe.)
Enjoy this terrible chapter.