BioWare kind of owns…A Gathering of Heroes
A CMDA challenge – Favourite Wardens are thrown together and compare their responses to choices made in Dragon Age: Origins.
These Wardens are characters other ffnet writers have created, and with their gracious permission (oops - except for Reyavie's), I've included them in this, hoping to have one for each Origin slot (fail!).
Warning: Spoilers for ChampionTheWonderSnail's 'Wishing You Weren't Here', 'Wish You Were Here' and Reyavie's 'Denerim and Rainesfere'.
Elissa's blood flowed copiously, covering her from head to toe; every sinew and muscle felt torn and twisted. The skeletons continued their pursuit with tireless determination, drawing closer and closer with each clacking step. The deadly perseverance of the Harvester's vassals was almost admirable. What had made her think she could do battle with such monstrosities by herself?
A sword pierced her chest, slicing through leather, skin, and bone to find her heart. As she stared at the skeleton's oddly grinning skull, a surging sense of release mingled with the shock. The Harvester's servant had fulfilled her greatest desire - never had she been more ready to stand beside long-dead family, friends and her beloved Sam.
Collapsing onto her knees, tears of relief cascaded from Elissa's dying eyes at the thought of her deliverance. The Calling and probability of becoming a broodmother were no longer to be feared. The long, ceaseless nightmare over, she was finally free...
"Damn it all! That's the fifth death!"
A booming voice shattered the momentary serenity of death's embrace, seemingly coming from all directions at once. The Maker? No, the disembodied voice was female. Andraste?
"Maker, I hope not!" Elissa blinked in astonishment as the unseen woman launched into a tirade of ear-shattering expletives that would have made a pirate blush. The Commander of the Grey called upon the last of her reserve of strength, raising bloody, broken hands to cover her ringing ears. The shouting ceased, as did the sound of clanking armour and clicking bones. The chamber darkened. A powerful gust of air whirled about her, grabbing her body, lifting her into the air, and then depositing her unceremoniously onto a flat, humming floor. Where was she? The Fade? Another unknown part of the Deep Roads? Was she alive or dead?
Wearily, the young woman struggled to get back on her feet, watching in amazement as the wound in her chest began to mend, bones binding and edge of flesh joining, becoming seamless. What magic was this? Slowly taking in the shadowy surroundings, she became aware of the odd pillars and towers forming corridors in every direction. A blistering wind blasted from a distant part of the chamber, covering her with swirling dust and debris. Some of the towers glowed red in the darkness.
With a tired sigh, Elissa Cousland turned her back to the gusts in hopes of finding escape from the eerie cavern.
Dazed and disoriented, Merran Amell woke in a hot, dark, and dusty chamber, an arrowhead pressed against her brow. Squinting slightly, she squeaked. "H-hel-hello?"
"Who are you, and more importantly, where are we?" snapped the woman behind the arrow.
The mage held her hands up to show her lack of weapons (really important when dealing with bloodthirsty, impatient types, she'd learned), and put on her most beguiling smile before realizing that all attempts to placate the angry archer would be lost in the gloom. "Um, I'm Merran. I'm a Grey Warden. Also, I'm a mage who can turn those icky darkspawn into amphibians. If you don't stick me with anything pointy, I can create a fire so we can look at who we're talking to."
The arrow disappeared as a hand reached out of the pitch-black to grasp hers. Pulling Merran up from the floor, the rogue grunted. "We do need light. Where do you hail from, Warden?"
Small flames flickered and danced over the mage's hands, revealing the narrowed brown eyes of the woman standing an arm's length away. Long brunette hair was pulled back into a disheveled ponytail, the sun-bronzed face and shoulders mostly hidden beneath dried blood splattered over helm, hair and leather armour. Merran felt the all too familiar tug of taint, and began hopping up and down in delight. "Oh, oh, oh…you're a Grey Warden, too!" she chirped excitedly.
Two black eyebrows arched up, the archer's previously stoic face showing a glimmer of amusement as she drily responded. "Actually, I am Elissa, Commander of the Grey Wardens of Ferelden."
Merran stepped back in confusion, and was about to scratch her head when she remembered the flames flickering around her fingers. "You can't be. The Commander, that is. Alistair is the Commander in Ferelden."
Elissa snorted. "I assure you, my good woman, I am the Commander. You must have received a blow to the head when you arrived here. Last I checked, Alistair was king, married to Queen Anora."
The mage's jaw dropped. "Alistair? Married to that…that…that prig? Not in this lifetime! He's married to me! King Fergus Cousland is the one who performed the ceremony!"
Her own mouth now hanging open, Elissa Cousland stared at the indignant Merran.
Cel Mahariel was incensed. Head still hurting from another shield bashing, she suddenly smirked at the thought of the damage she would inflict on him in response, after the fog lifted. Damned shem had hit her so hard she'd blacked out and was now stuck somewhere in the Beyond. Or was it the Fade? Were they in the Deep Roads? Last she remembered, she'd been explaining the cold, hard facts of life to Alistair after dealing with his gold-digging sister, then…wham…here she was. From behind, voices floated in the darkness, barely made out as the hot, pulsating wind whistled in her ears.
"...Ser Pounce-A-Lot loved Sylvie! They would ride on Cullen's back and zip around Vigil's Keep for hours!"
"Truly? You made Cullen a Grey Warden? Commendable. Sylvie is your Mabari, I take it?"
"Oh, no, no! Cullen is our Mabari, and Sylvie is the ever-bleeping Velanna's pet tree…er…twig…uh…branched thingy."
Snort. "You named a bitch after Cullen the rabid Templar? Hahahaha…urk!"
"She is not a b-word!" Merran turned to glare at the ex-noble. "She's…heyyyy!"
Hastily calling up an imprisonment spell, Merran zeroed in on the tattooed elf currently attached to the shoulder of the struggling Commander. Jabbing and swiping a dagger in the proximity of Elissa's neck, the terrifying creature was maniacally cackling all the while. The elf soon fell with a metallic thunk to the ground, demonic fury blazing within her eyes.
"Are you okay?"
Elissa rubbed her neck. "It would appear I am unharmed. Thank you."
They stood side by side, waiting for the spell to relinquish its hold on the disturbingly violent woman before them.
"She's tainted," murmured Merran.
"Hmmm…another Warden from another reality, no doubt; I wonder if our predicament has anything to do with the mirror Morrigan went through."
Snicker. "Yup, Morrigan did like those mirrors, didn't she? Wonder what'll happen if she ends up looking just like Flemeth." Another snicker.
The elf stirred and coughed, slowly rising to her feet. Catching sight of the two humans, her face twisted into a snarl. "All shems must die!" Mahariel howled as she leapt at Merran, only to be hexed, yet again.
"Oh, great. Lost in Maker-knows-where-land with a shemicidal, shemophobic crazy elf lady. Fantastic." Elissa shook her head in disgust. What next?
Assan raised his head to sniff the searing air. She was here, somewhere. Had to be. Dust tickled at his snout, causing him to sneeze.
"Assan! Where are you?"
He pricked his ears, listening for her. The muffled clink of heavy armour could barely be heard over the wind. Honing in on the faint but familiar footfall, he finally caught her scent. With great care, the Mabari stalked uneasily through the corridor. Unusually shaped buildings and fence-like pillars emitted a heat he knew would burn if touched, an odd vibration from the floor tickling his paws. At last he saw her. His lady. Barking, he ran to her side, tiny stub of a tail wiggling with joy.
Tasha Tabris knelt before the great dog, checking him over for any wounds. A warning growl rumbled in his chest. Fangs bared, he glared over her shoulder. Eyes finally adjusted to the dark, she glanced back, and saw the approach of a mage with flaming hands alongside a rogue bearing a short-bow.
"…then we adopted Amethyne from the Alienage, and I wanted to adopt Dagna, too. Ooooh, she is soooo adorable!"
"Amethyne? I wish I had thought of that. I met her mother, Iona, just before the castle was overtaken. I'm sure she died, as most did that night. I tried speaking with Amethyne before assisting Ser Otto, but the girl was too distracted. As for Dagna, I'm not sure she should be trusted. Do you not remember the cat in Wilhelm's tower? Cute at first glance, but when her true nature was revealed? Nasty. One cannot be too careful when addressing adorable."
Tasha stepped forward to greet the chatting women. Tainted women she realized, eyes widening in surprise. Grey Wardens? Suddenly sensing another tainted body behind her, she twirled, reaching for her sword, only spotting the shadow when a glinting dagger was in her face. Before time allowed any reaction, the dagger vanished and the shadow grunted.
"An elf. Not shem. You're okay. Nice dog. Big teeth."
Tasha peered into the darkness, barely making out the crouching form of the female elf now patting a confused Assan's head. "City Elf?" she queried.
"Dalish!" Mahariel growled.
"Ah. And these would be your companions?"
Mahariel snorted. "No. But they're Wardens. Was told not to kill Wardenshems."
To her rear, a woman squealed. "Oh…look! Another Warden! And she has a Mabari!"
Tasha turned around, staring at the hopping mage for a moment before glancing up at the other human. The lack of illumination could not hide the hint of baffled humour upon the stern face of the rogue. "I'm Tasha from Denerim. Assan is my Mabari. May I ask where we are? Last thing I remember, Assan and I were caught in a storm while travelling to Amaranthine. This place is not familiar to me."
The more serious Warden responded first. "Elissa from Highever. No-one here knows this place. It seems to be an alternate reality for us all."
"I'm Merran of the Circle Tower. Pleased to meet you!" chirped the cheery mage. "And I don't know if you know, but methinks Assan is tainted, too!" Merran gawked at the enormous hound.
Tasha chuckled. "He was curious at Jowan and Loghain's Joining and decided to taste the drink himself. He is now a Grey Warden, just as we are."
"Ohhhhh. You let Loghain become a Warden! Just like Elissa! Mind you, it was because she hoped the Joining would kill him. But, in the end, it was death by Archdemon. My Loghain accidentally got zapped into a frog. I could have unzapped him, but he'd already hopped over to Anora, who squished him. All gooey-like! With crunching bones! It was…icky."
Tasha blinked, bewildered.
Assan snorted, amused.
Freyja Aeducan huffed as she climbed the last of the stairs leading to the top of the Tower of Ishal. Finally! With Alistair the Idiot-turned-Comrade at her back, she swung open the last door. No longer the Orzammar Princess, she was ready to show her worth as the newest member of the Grey…
"Aaiiiii! Die! Shem! Die!"
Horror filled her at the sight of the screeching, flying, dagger-wielding elf. She ducked, allowing the creature to soar over her. Spinning around to defend herself from further attack, Freyja watched as the elf's daggers shattered a red-glowing tower.
A snapping, crackling explosion of metal and glass engulfed them both.
The other Wardens stared, horrified, as more towers began to explode, creating a fiery inferno of massive proportions.
All Elissa could hear as the flames consumed her was The Booming Voice's outraged shout.
"Damn it all! My X-box is on fire!"
Elissa Cousland - Observations
Merran Amell - ChampionTheWonderSnail's 'Wishing You Weren't Here'/'Wish You Were Here'
Cel (crazy elf lady) Mahariel from Corvus corone's 'You Said What Now?'
Tasha Tabris and Assan - Reyavie's 'Denerim and Rainesfere'/'Redcliffe and Amaranthine'
Freyja Aeducan - Abydos Jackson's 'Anam Cara'
The Booming Voice - Rox the Fox (alias of roxfox1962)