The sun is low in the sky, casting long shadows about the marketplace. She leans over the balcony, taking in the buzz of conversation that drifts up from the street below. She scours the marketplace and then she sees him, walking across the square. He cuts a striking figure with his white hair and tattoos. It amuses her to see the women's heads turn as he passes by. He never notices, or never cares to.
She hears the heavy door downstairs slam shut, followed by the clanking of armor as he runs up the stairs to the first floor.
She smiles. "Next time you go out I'm coming with you."
"Maybe," he says, frowning.
"Oh Fenris, you don't own me."
He looks at her sharply.
"What?" she says.
"You said that - once before."
"Did I?" she shrugs.
He looks disappointed. He pours a large goblet of wine and sits out on the covered balcony. Aryana sits beside him but he says nothing more.
The silence between them starts to feel uncomfortable. She opens her arms wide and throws small arcs of lightning between her hands. "Perhaps if we go back to Kirkwall I'll remember something?"
"Most of your friends have left, but I suppose it's worth a try." He looks at her, searching her face for something.
He's so unhappy. An odd, persistent feeling tugs relentlessly at her thoughts.
"Were we close, before?" she asks.
"Yes," he says, and his voice is strange.
~~~ o ~~~
He's been sure for a while now that the bear is following him: while this may be disconcerting to most, to him it is comforting.
He takes a stand on the path. "Greetings," he says loudly, looking back towards the animal.
The bear stops short in its tracks. Its outline shimmers slightly and reshapes into the form of a dark-skinned woman.
"Identify yourself," she says.
"I'm just a healer," he replies.
She walks around him once, measuring him up with her eyes. She touches his chin lightly, tilts his head a little, as if that gives her a better view of him.
"We thought the templars had you."
"You think you know me?" he says.
"I ask the questions," she says.
"Who told you what I look like? A woman, long brown hair?"
"Yes, " she says.
His heart starts pounding.
"A Rivaini sailor," she says.
"No," he says, "I meant another, slight, pale, a powerful mage."
"Oh, no," she says.
"Are you sure?"
"The rest were men." The woman frowns, as if trying to remember their names. "They left quite quickly, except for Jason."
He swallows hard. She's left Ferelden then. He couldn't blame her, not after everything that happened.
"Is it nearby, the sanctuary? I've been walking for so long, I thought I was lost," he says.
"You've already walked past the place you are seeking. You are fortunate to have crossed my path."
"You're a scout?"
"Scout, guard, patrol, call me what you will."
"Can you take me there?"
"You would be welcome there, but… "
"I need to be sure of you."
He turns up his hands and shrugs slightly.
She walks around him slowly. "They told me that there's something you carry with you, something only you would have."
He is quiet for a moment, then he opens his bag and takes out a small embroidered pillow-case, unfolds it and holds it out.
The woman smiles.
"Brother Anders, we are honored to welcome you to our group."
~~~ o ~~~