Prologue – City Elf – Wedding

Agrona POV

The Alienage of Denerim isn't the height of luxury. Far from it, truth be told. It is where the city elves live, those who chose to work alongside humans when the Dales fell in ages past. Elder Valendrian mentioned another kind of elf in his stories: the Dalish, who refused to submit. Sometimes I wonder if that would be better. To wander the continent, seeing all these new places, and to scoff at any human who tried to shackle us again.

But perhaps not. There's always uncertainty in change. Here, at least, we know what to expect. We are the servants, the laborers. We are the freed slaves, freed by Andraste herself, beneath the gaze of our former masters. The humans… they beat us. They rape us. Few care, least of all nobles. At least, that is what it appears.

But the Alienage is my home, the home of my family. The home of my friends. This is where I will stay for the rest of my life. This is what I guard with everything I have.

I am the wolf who hides among the dogs. Never will I bow. Never will I break.

I have strange dreams sometimes. I always have. Not scary exactly… but strange…

That said, this one might take the prize.

I watched as mages cast some spell, one that rippled the air around them. Slowly each began to fall, yelling in pain… turning black and purple. Their skin twisting and corroding.

The once-human-creatures then turned on their fellow people… and attacked. Again… and again… and again… slaughtering everyone in their path, corrupting the very land they walked on.

The scene shifted to a dark cavern with a large bridge. Dwarves, bloody and tired, stood there, staring at a door held back with only pieces of wood. There were many odd creatures among the dwarves. Stone warriors with light peaking through their joints. I wondered if they were the golems Valendrian once told a story about…

The doors crashed open and the creatures charged through. Not one of the dwarves escaped their swords.

Wings filled my vision and suddenly, I was looking at a forest filled with the creatures… and losing to the small army that faced them.

No… not small army… it only seemed like it. A handful of fighters, working together seamlessly to destroy the creatures and save the village they were defending. They chased the creatures into the forest, intent on wiping them out.

But the forest shifted colors… and no longer was there an army. There was only a man in odd armor, running through the woods, intent on finding something.
That something turned out to be a squad… all dead. The man walked over to one of the bodies, examining it… and creatures slowly appeared, trying to ambush him.

'Trying' being key. He knifed one and kicked the other over a cliff, as easily as one might breathe. The man walked away, shaking his head in worry…

And in the distance, a storm rumbled… with clouds darker than I've ever seen…

That's when I woke up, disoriented and confused. I always was after a dream like that. Mom had always taken my hand, brushed my hair, and made me warm milk with honey to soothe me back to sleep.

But Mom didn't do any of those things anymore.

"Agrona," someone called. "Are you awake?"

"No," I answered instantly, turning over to go back to sleep. Two good things about the odd dreams. 1) they rarely occurred and 2) they never occurred twice in one night.

"Come on, sleepyhead!" the voice coaxed. "Get up! Your betrothed is here!"

Betrothed? Huh? Oh… right… Father had arranged a marriage to an elf from Highever…

Damn. Looks like my freedom was gone.

…Wait… he was here?

"What?" I yelped, rolling out of bed, barely managing to land on my feet. "What do you mean he's here?"

"Calm down, cousin!" the voice laughed. I looked up to see the owner was my best friend, Shianni. She was smiling… and had the subtle scent of alcohol around her. How long did I sleep? Late enough for her to hit the bottle, apparently. "He's just in the city."

"Clarify things earlier, Shi," I grumbled, annoyed.
"Sorry?" Never a more fake apology have I heard. "Do you want some help?"

"Keep him away," I sighed. "I, apparently, need to get ready to be married."

Shianni patted my head. "Now, now, don't fret. I'm sure you'll walk all over him in no time."

I batted her hand away. "Joy of joys. I'm being bound to a stranger, yet all celebrate."


"Well, since I doubt I'll be able to sneak off, I guess I'll suffer through." I managed a smile. "Go on. Keep him away from the house. I'll find Soris after I get dressed."

"All right then!" she chirped, grabbing me in a quick hug before dashing off, humming a little tune under her breath.

At least one person is excited… I sighed, but moved to the small chest by my bed. That is where I hid my wedding dress after the grueling hours of having it pinned and mended and standing up as straight as I could manage. It was, perhaps, the nicest pieces of clothing I've owned. It could even be the nicest piece of clothing in the Alienage period as Dad had gotten it as a gift from his employer, some Bann, when he heard I was getting married.

But if I had the choice, I'd never wear it. At all. But… that was silly dreaming. A child's dream. And, upon being wed, I was no longer a child. That is the tradition among city elves. Grow up and, when you're deemed an adult, your parents and the Elder start hunting for a spouse. Preferably from another Alienage, to bring new blood in.

My betrothed was a smith from Highever… and I've heard nothing but praise. How handsome he was, how kind, how skilled, etc, etc. A girl's dream.

But not this girl's. For Maker's sake, I didn't even know his name.

And, no matter how much I wanted, hiding in my room wasn't going to make him go away. So, with a heavy sigh, I opened the chest and changed into the blasted dress.

A few minutes later, I was in the dress, staring at my mirror. My mirror, another sign of the comparative wealth my family enjoys.

Staring back at me was a small elf with sharp features. Her black hair (with that odd blue tint) hung loosely around her shoulders. Red eyes (blood eyes, unusual) were set in a face with freckles across the nose (adorable, Mom would tease). More freckles dotted her otherwise pale skin, a sign of long days spent outside… days that would come to an end. A wife does not go out and play with the children.

Most importantly, though, the elf girl was wearing a white dress. It was low-cut, and off the shoulders, making it actually seem like I had curves. Long, trailing, lace sleeves dangled from thin (muscled) arms. The skirt part had a lace overlay thing and easily reached my ankles. I remember how much they had to cut the bottom. I was much shorter than the previous wearer.

Most importantly, though… it was white. "I look horrible."

"Child, you look beautiful." I turned see Dad in the doorway, eyes misty with tears. "Oh, if only Adaia could have seen you."

"I look horrible in white." He shook his head in exasperation. "I do!"

"So you claimed, repeatedly, during your fitting. No one believes you."

"Why can't it be black? Or red?" I look good in those colors.

"And look like you're showing up to a funeral? Or worse, that you have murdered someone before the wedding?" he asked, raising a brow. "You're getting your red flowers, despite my protests."

"They'll match my eyes." My unusual eyes that I loved so much. I'm not sure which parent they came from. Supposedly, one of my great-great grandparents had them.

Dad sighed. "White is the color of purity."

"I'm not pure."

"No one expects you to be. Especially in an Alienage with good wine and nice young men and ladies."

I grinned. "Like how you actually met Mom?"

He took the teasing with remarkable dignity. "Yes, exactly. So don't fret about that."

"I'm not fretting. That's his problem, not mine." I paused. "But you know that's not what I was talking about."

He sighed. "You will not continue your nighttime burglaries, child."

"It got us extra food!" I hissed. "Extra money. No one complained!"

"It's what killed your mother, in the end."

"I'd rather die doing that than waste away as some smith's wife."

"Agrona." I knew that tone. That tone that said, 'Enough. You've crossed a line'. I hated that tone.

"I'm eighteen and you bought a husband for me," I continued, stubbornly.


I scowled. "Fine. Whatever. I'll pretend to be the nice, charming alienage twit everyone wants me to be." I made to storm off.

But Dad grabbed me in a hug. "I only want what's best for you."

"…I know…"

"Now… I want a promise you won't sneak out at night."

"…I'm teaching my kids knives." Like Mom did for me.

"You can talk that over with Nelaros." Nelaros… so that's his name.

"I'm still teaching them."

"Sometimes I think you're still six-years-old with pigtails and skinned knees," Dad commented, chuckling. "But you're not." He pulled away, lightly pushing me towards the door. "Find Soris. He's probably about to fret himself ill. Again."

"All right," I laughed.

"And you can help me find Shianni's husband next year." Shianni really should have been married this year with Soris and I, but her parents recent (unjust) death made everyone think it would be best to wait a year. She seemed fine now (months later) except for her tendency to reach for the alcohol a little too quickly.

"Okay." I'll at least help find a person she could stand. And sneak her info.

Kissing Dad on the cheek, I dashed out of the house, making certain to raise the hem so it wouldn't get stained. Because that would be horrible.

The center of the Alienage, where all ceremonies and festivities occurred, was easy to find. That's where the Vhendahl was located, its giant branches visible from anywhere inside the city. Mom always said it was a symbol of how grand life could be, even in the slums. It used to be that all Alienages had one. But now… well, some chose to have firewood instead of symbolism. There was a call a few years back, during a particularly cold winter, for us to do the same. Elder Valendrian nearly pitched a fit in response and the call died.

"Goodness… could that really be…?" An incredulous, vaguely familiar voice broke my thoughts. I turned to see an elf couple nearby, staring at me. "Agrona?"

"Yes?" I answered, wary. It's not often elves harm their own without case… but it has been known to happen. And this dress marked me as 'money'.

"Oh, Blessed Maker!" the elf woman smiled wide. She had been the one to speak before. "Oh, if only Adaia could have seen you!"

"You know my mom?" I asked, before their faces finally triggered a memory. "Oh, wait. You're Dilwyn and Gethon."

They nodded. The woman, Dilwyn, kept talking, "I was wondering if you remembered. We last saw you at Adaia's funeral…" Mom had died two years ago, killed by some guards for 'causing trouble'. In reality, she had been stopping the guards from raping a girl.

"Are you here for the wedding?" I asked, trying to stop that thought path.

"But of course!" Dilwyn giggled, smiling. "We promised your mother, long ago, that we would be present for her daughter's wedding. So… here we are."

"That being said," Gethon interrupted. "You seem in a rush."

"Yes, I'm looking for my cousin. He's getting married today too." I sighed. "I hope to catch him before he escapes."

"Ah… I remember something like that…" Gethon grinned. "I managed to get out of the city before my father caught me. A record."

"Yes, but he dragged you back and kept you in sight until well after the ceremony!" Dilwyn laughed. "I was always surprised Adaia didn't try to escape, if only for the principal." She eyed me. "I hope you aren't trying."

"In this dress?" I asked, incredulous. "I'd be caught within the minute."

"Your cousin might be as well, providing he is the one is the brightly colored silks," Gethon teased. "We'll let you catch him."

I curtseyed, clumsily. "Thank you for attending."

"Our honor… oh!" Dilwyn exclaimed, frantically searching her bag for something. "I almost forgot! Here." She shoved a pouch into my hand. "We saved this for you." The two walked off before I could manage a thank you.

Glancing around, I looked into the pouch and saw… bright light. "Ow…" I rubbed my eyes, blinking rapidly to clear the tears. I moved over to shade, so that I wouldn't be blinded again and looking in. this time I saw silver. Silver coins… I reached in and counted. Then re-counted. Then counted again. Fifteen. Fifteen silver coins, more than I've ever had at once, even on a theft.

I'd have to make a point at thanking them later.

"Ah… Agrona…" something tells me a lot of voices will be calling me out of my thoughts today. I shook my head, closed the pouch, and turned to the sound of this voice. Nessa, a dear friend. Almost as dear as Shianni. I had wanted her as a bridesmaid, but she had gently refused. Seeing her with her parents, and all their possessions, finally answered why.

"What's happened?" I asked, walking over.

Nessa smiled thinly, worried and sad. "Truth be told, I was hoping we'd be long gone before either of your weddings… so that we wouldn't ruin anything."

"Gone? What for?"

"The human who owned our house wants to sell it for storage or something." She shrugged. "So… we're off to Ostagar."

"Ostagar?" that seems like an odd place.

"The King just issued a proclamation for laborers. Apparently, an army is building up in the South… and everyone knows elves are the best laborers!" Nessa forced a laugh. I think even a child could tell it was fake.

"And you can't stay here?"

She shook her head. "Everywhere is too expensive. We'd need ten silvers to buy a house and set up a shop. But no one has that much money to spare…"

I grinned, reached into the pouch for ten of those blinding silver coins, and held them out to her. "Here!"

"Where…?" she breathed, slowly grabbing the coins, counting them. "So much… how?" she looked at me in wonder. "Theft?"

"Wedding present." I waved off her protestation. "But I'd rather use the money to keep a good friend, a good family, in the Alienage."

She smiled wide, near tears. "Thank you so much!" She glanced at her parents. "Of course… they are notorious for not wanting charity… but I can convince them. I know it!" She threw her arms around me in a hug. "You are amazing!"

"Yes, indeed." I laughed. "Know where Soris is?"

"I think I saw him slinking around over in that alley." She pointed with a wry grin. "Or as well as he could. His wedding clothes are bright."

"To keep us from escaping." I grinned. "See you after the ceremony then?"

"Of course! Wouldn't miss it!" she dashed to her parents as I dashed to the alley, looking around for a hiding elf in bright clothes.

I didn't find him there. I did find two children, though. Playing. How cute!

"Ha!" the little girl yelled as they burst out of an abandoned building. "I win!"

"No fair!" the boy pouted. "You cheated!"

"Did not!"

"Did to!"

"Did not!"

"Did to!"


"Excuse me, little ones," I cut in, amused.

"Agrona!" they chimed running towards me. Normally, that would be fine. I was typically the one who played around with the children, though I could rarely remember their names.

But not today, so, with regret, I warded them away. "I can't play at the moment…"

"Why not?" the little girl asked.

"I have to find my cousin, Soris. Have you seen him?"

"The scaredy-elf?" the boy asked.

I grinned. "Yes, the scaredy-elf."

"He went that way!" they pointed further down the alley… back to where it led to the center again. Damn you, Soris. Leading people in a circle.

"Thank you, sweets." I patted them both on the head. "I'll play after the ceremony, okay?"

"Okay!" and they ran off, no doubt to play another game.

While I returned to my search. Which ended very quickly… with his back towards me… oh, this is too tempting. I slowly snuck up on him…

"Got you!" I declared, grabbing him from behind, laughing.

"Agrona!" He yelled, half terrified. "Maker's mercy!"

"How could I resist?" I teased. "I'm surprised you didn't make an escape attempt." I paused, looking at his clothing. It was bright. "Never mind. Not with those clothes."

"So I figured. Thus, I decided to save dignity and celebrate the end of our independence in the most quiet way possible."

"Oh, I'd gladly run. Want to see whether we can?"

"Oh, come on! You've nothing to fear. You're betrothed is a freaking dream come true. Mine…" he sighed. "Mine's a mouse."

"Maybe someone will give you a cage as a gift, then!"

He rolled his eyes. "Very funny."

"I thought so!" I laughed. "So, the rumors are true and my betrothed is handsome?"

"I'd trade for him," Soris teased before sighing. "I guess we have to do rounds? Say hello?"

"More like we need to find Shianni. For one, I still need my flowers. And for two, everyone was insistent I find you."

He raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you the rebellious one, miss thief?"

"Rogue," I corrected. "And those are details. Victimless details."


"Let's just find Shianni."

"Ah, yes… let's find our bouncy, uncontrollable cousin." He sighed again. "I think everyone's excited but us."

"Weddings are more for the guests, aren't they?" I shrugged before grabbing his arm. "Come one. She's probably not far."

Sure enough, she wasn't. She, and the other two bridesmaids (Nola and Mallora), was just on the other side of the Town Center, picking out the flowers they would arrange in my hair.

And so were they. Shems, three of them. Dressed in finery and strutting about like they were actually worth something.

"It's a party," one of them said, voice as smooth as a snake. I guessed he was the leader. "Grab a whore and have some fun, boys."

"Touch me and I'll gut you, pig!" Shianni snapped, eyes flashing in anger. Shianni and I… well, we like to say we have 'fire'. Everyone else says we have tempers. Bad ones. Unlike most elves. Most elves shied away from trouble.

Like Soris who was looking at the scene with fear and hesitation. "I… don't think we should get involved. This looks like trouble." I glared. "Oh, please don't glare at me. You're scary like that."

I switched to a smirk. "Objection noted. Now, move."

"Try to be diplomatic."

"I don't have a weapon." I stormed over to the shems.

"Good," he muttered as he followed. "The last thing we need in you killing a human. They'd probably exterminate us if you did."

"What's this…?" the shem leader murmured when he saw me walk up. He looked me up and down and gave a low whistle. "Another lovely one to keep me company?"

"Dream on, shem," I bit out, smiling wide. I noticed Shianni running to grab a bottle. Oh, fun! "And get out."

He drew himself up. Like he was someone important. "Do you have any idea who I am, elf?"

My smile widened, baring teeth. "A shem who's about to suffer a head injury."

"Huh?" he managed a half-turn before Shianni swung the bottle at his head. He hit the ground hard, out like a candle. I barely hid laughter.

"You… do you know what you just did?" one of the leader's flunkies yelled. "He's Vaughan, the son of the Arl of Denerim."

Oh. I guess he was someone important. Pity.

Shianni looked terrified. Actually, everyone did.

Except me. Titles don't impress me. Especially the ones held by shems. "Then imagine what we'll do to you, little boy."

"You…" the flunky trailed off, unwilling to test my bluff. "You'll regret this!" with the clichéd threat hanging in the air, the two flunkies picked up their leader and, awkwardly, carried him out of the Alienage.

"I…" Shianni murmured, guiltily, dropping the bottle. "I really messed up."

"Yeah. You should have swung harder," I commented seriously, nudging the bottle. "I mean, look at this. No blood, no cracks…"

"Agrona!" She tried to scold before dissolving into giggles.

"Why are my cousins so bloody-minded?" Soris complained to the sky. "That said… I mean… he's not going to say an elf woman knocked him out. At least, I don't think so. He'd lose a lot more pride than he would gain in satisfaction, I think."

"True…" Shianni nodded. "Ah… anyway, I think I'll go finish getting ready. The ceremony is going to start soon." She noticed something behind us. "Oh and your betrotheds are heading this way, bye!" she ran off.

Huh? I turned and saw two stranger elves walking towards us. A man and a woman, wearing very nice clothes. So… these were the people we'd marry…

…Well, looks like everyone was right. The male was handsome. The woman was pretty… though somewhat homely. Like a little mouse. It was an apt comparison.

"What was that about?" the woman asked, voice soft. She seemed shy.

"Oh, nothing!" Soris said with fake cheerfulness. "Just a noble who decided to drink a little early, no big deal!"

"And I thought I was bad at lying," I muttered.

"Well, cousin…" Ignoring me, Soris stepped beside the woman. "This is my betrothed, Valora."

"A pleasure." I curtseyed before slinking up to the male, smiling flirtatiously. Might as well pretend I was enjoying the idea of marrying a stranger. "So… This handsome elf is my betrothed?"

"I must admit, I was not expected such a warm greeting," he commented, eyes sparkling mischievously. "I am Nelaros."

"Agrona," I replied, noticing Soris and Valora were talking. Awkwardly.

"Are you nervous?" he asked, concerned. He, too, had taken note of Soris and Valora. "I am, somewhat."

"A little," I lied. More like annoyed. "Thought seeing you has diminished it a bit." Not quite a lie. After all, if one thing they said was true, perhaps some of the others would too.

He smiled, gently grabbing my hand and kissing it. "I will spend every waking moment learning how to make you happy."

…Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.

"Cousin…" Soris all but begged. "Don't you think we should finish getting ready?"

"Ah, right…" I shrugged. "I still have to do my hair."

"I think it's lovely," Nelaros murmured.

"But that is the opinion of one who is star-strucked!" Valora laughed. Ah, so she was more vibrant around people she knows. I was right about her being shy, then. "That being said, we must finish getting ready ourselves…" she smiled. "Don't go disappearing on us."

"Or we'll come find you," Nelaros quipped, grinning, before the two walked away.

Almost as soon as they were gone, though, Soris whispered, "Maker's Mercy!"

"I thought they were charming," I commented.

"Huh? Oh, yes, charming. Very. Not what I was swearing about."

"Then what?"

"That." Soris pointed over near the orphanage. I looked and saw… another shem. Only this one was different from most I've seen. Armed, for one. Armed and dangerous. He moved about with a grace I've rarely seen in anyone, reading for any movement.

And he looked like the man in my dream. The one who killed those creatures without pause. So… for the first time, I felt afraid of a shem. "One shouldn't cause much trouble, yes?"

"I'm more worried about our boys," Soris said, glancing around. "You know… with the wine…"

"Okay. Let's kill him." When in doubt, make Soris yelp.

"All right… wait, what?" he yelped, as expected. "He's armed and-!"

"Relax…" I laughed. "I'm joking. It'll be too messy. Dad would hurt me if I stained this dress."

He stared at me for a long moment. "You… really scare me sometimes."

"Only sometimes?" I grinned before marching over to the odd shem. Soris followed like a puppy.

"Hello," I greeted. There. Polite enough, yes?"

The shem seemed to think so. "Ah, yes. Hello." He studied our clothes. "I believe some congratulations are in order?"

"Ah… thank you…" a shem who… congratulates an elf? How odd.

"Was there something you needed?" he seemed like enough. For a shem.

"May I ask what you are doing here in the Alienage?"

He seemed amused. "I was looking something."

"And this something?"

"My business, I'm afraid… though I might have found it."

"Then I trust you'll be leaving then?"

"Not quite yet."

I drew myself up, trying to seem taller. "I'm afraid I must ask you to leave."

The shem chuckled. "Faced with an unknown and armed human and she maintains composure. Quite the feat for a young elf, isn't it, Valendrian?"

"True… though the ability to keep one's weapon sheathed during a peace is an even greater gift. That being said…" Elder Valendrian approached then, smiling. "That being said, it appears the little wolf thinks you are a threat to her charges, old friend."

'Little wolf' was Valendrian's nickname for me. I got it when I was eight and beat back some dogs who were trying to steal food from Shianni and Soris.

…Wait… did he just call this shem friend? "Oh, I'm so sorry!" I managed to get out right as Soris exclaimed, "The Elder has friends?"

"I'll pretend I didn't hear that, Soris," Valendrian commented dryly, before nodding at me. "It's quite all right, little wolf. Duncan doesn't visit very often anymore. He is the leader of the Grey Wardens of Fereldan."

"Not that," the shem, Duncan, cut in, chuckling. "That says much. We Grey Wardens are few in Fereldan."

Grey Wardens… all I knew about them was that they were the ones who saved the world from the darkspawn centuries ago… and they were a group of some of the most skilled fighters in Thedas, no matter what race or gender you were.

"So, my friend," Valendrian spoke. "What brings you here?

"Many things…" Duncan began, glancing at me. "But do not worry. My concerns can wait until after the wedding." He smiled. "Just pretend I am not here."

"I take that to mean, once again, you shall be wandering the Alienage, looking for recruits." Valendrian sighed. "Children, just treat Duncan as my guest… and get to your places. We're waiting for you."

"Yes, Elder," we chorused, bowing to them both before running to the Wedding Platform.

We got there just in time. Shianni pulled me off to the side to quickly put flowers in my hair (red somethings; I never did learn what) before shooing me to the platform itself.

Nelaros smiled warmly at me as I came up beside him. "Ready?"

"Sure!" I smiled. Let's just get this over with.

Elder Valendrian appeared then and immediately began his speech. When he finished, the Chantry priestess started the ceremony. I tuned her out, looking over the crowd. I've known these people all my life. I've stolen for them, killed for them… it's nice to see them smiling, laughing. Ah… there was Dad, beaming through tears. Probably thinking of Mom…

What was that shem doing here? That… Vaughan person!

Face dark with anger, Vaughan shoved his way past the crowd and onto the platform, interrupting the priestess.

"My lord!" she spluttered.

Vaughan faked a smile. Again, I was reminded of a snake. "I'm sorry, but…" he chuckled. "I'm having a party and we're a little short on… female guests."

"So we thought we'd grab some from here!" ugh, he brought his two flunkies again. The one who spoke had grabbed Mallora and Nola by the shoulders, keeping them from escaping. Another, silent and grinning wickedly, had Shianni by the arms.

"My lord!" the priestess yelled, angry and appalled. "This is a wedding!"

"If you insist on dressing up your pets and playing ceremonies, that's you business," Vaughan scoffed. "But don't pretend this is an actual wedding." He looked around, glancing at all the females nearby. "Let's take… those two…" he gestured at Mallora and Nola. "The one in the tight dress…" he nodded at Valora. "And… where's the bitch who hit me?"

"Right here, milord!" Flunky 2 shoved Shianni towards Vaughan, careful to keep a good grip on her.

Which spoke of moderate intelligence on his part. Shianni was struggling to break his grip. "Let me go, you stuff-shirt, son of a-!"

Vaughan interrupted with a laugh. "Oh, she's going to be a fun one…" He finally looked at me. Well, 'look' was too tame. Stared more like. "And here's the pretty bride from earlier…"

Nelaros moved in front of me, murmuring, "I won't let him take you."

I looked at him like he was an idiot. "He has weapons. You don't."

"But he'll-!"

"I have a much better change of getting out of there than the others." Especially if I could steal a dagger or two. "Trust me."

"…And well-formed, if a little small…" I caught Vaughan muttering. He had, apparently, been giving me a through look-over. Lovely. He stepped closer. Nelaros didn't move.

"Nelaros!" I hissed. He ignored me, continuing to glare at Vaughan… protecting me.

"Now, now," Vaughan said with that fake smile. "I'm sure we'd like to avoid… unpleasantness, yes?"

I hate being protected. I slipped passed Nelaros, to his protest, and glared up at the hateful snake-like… I hesitate to call him 'shem'. It's an insult to the other shems. "You want me? Fine. Let the others go."

"What fire… what protectiveness…" he breathed, smiling wide. "Unfortunately, though, it won't be much of a party without a lot of… guests…"

His greedy smile was the last thing I saw before something hit me hard and I blacked out.

Author's note: All right. Here's Agrona's prologue again. ^^ Not too many changes here, I think. I tried to make her more like a petulant child to make her development a tad more obvious. Not certain how much I succeeded.

*cough* anyway, this might be edited heavily as I'm having someone look at it. But I felt like posting something to commemorate surviving my first chem exam of the year. Enjoy?