Chapter 11

Bethany kept reading and re-reading the pages that Elaine had marked with red ink at some point during her travels. She frowned as the magic unravelled before her and cringed at the descriptions as she read further and further. She glanced over at her tight lipped cousin, "this should be impossible…we can't do this."

Elaine glanced at Bethany, an unreadable look in her eyes, "I can do this if you can't, the spell will save-"

Bethany clamped a tight hand on Elaine's shoulder, "the spell will kill someone unwilling to die, this is worse than blood-magic, it makes it become your own. Marian wouldn't want this…my sister and I wouldn't do this!

Elaine shook her head tiredly as she shifted her son in her arms. "I have killed in cold blood, and I know for a fact that Marian has as well." She was silent for a minute before she looked over Bethany, "you don't know everything about Marian, leave it at that."

Bethany shook her head, "I don't believe you. I won't believe you, whatever happened to make you this cold?" She asked frustrated as she glared at her cousin, someone she realized with growing uncertainty that she didn't understand or trust fully.

"We'll be there soon. You had best get some sleep or read more of the spell." Elaine turns away from the brooding mage and flicks the reins again, urging the horses to go faster.

Merrill stares about the murky fog around her as she treads softly deeper into the darkness that surrounds Marian's mind. It felt as though she had walked for ages when she finally saw Marian up ahead. "Oh Marian," Merrill gasped softly as she edged closer to her.

Marian was sleeping against a flowing fountain where the light is shining brightly; a dark chain trailed from her wrist, her leg wrapped in what looked like a bandage made up of darkness. Merrill followed the chains with her eyes as she griped her staff tightly, recognition of the demon dawning.

The 'demon' looked up at her in surprise before she recovered and smiled softly. "Have you come to join us?" She asked sweetly as Merrill shook her head, her eyes narrowing in anger and fear.

"I know what you are; I will not deal with you." Mentally gathering her strength Merrill glared at the demon in front of her as she slammed her staff into the ground, unleashing a bright flare of brilliant shining light. "Release her and leave us!"

"Oh, I think not." The Demon smiled coldly as she watched the elf tremble with fury. "I like my new plaything; I do plan to keep her for some time…" She paused and smiled sickeningly at Merrill, "unless my dear, you'd like to make a deal?"

Merrill was silent as she stared back at the demon, all too aware of her arguments with Hawke years ago, that she'd never consort with a deal, never broker a deal again… the mirror had taught her the backlash was too great.

"You're not sure are you?" The demon smiled knowingly, "I understand that pressure you're going through." She watched as the elf took another breath, gripping her staff tightly. "We don't we just talk, little one?"

Merrill took another deep breath and sighed, her eyes still tightly shut. She could do this, there is always a way. You don't have to like it, but there's always a way to make it happen. She remembered Hawke telling her once during their very first fight about the mirror.

Her eyes opened as Merrill smiled coldly at the demon and flared as a green light shone around her. "There will be no deal, demon. I have my own way to deal with your threats."

Elaine stalked through the harbour, her pace hurried and angry as she mulled over all the magic she'd learned since she'd left the Circle. There was little doubt in her mind that this was a Siren from the earlier and much darker ages of the world. Often drawn to raw corrupted lyrium they almost never left the Deep Roads although given the recent Kirkwall battle, and what few stories Isabella had told her, she was not all that surprised to see one now.

"All that time around the Architect is leaving me jaded." Elaine tugged her ponytail scowling as she ignored everything in her path. She closed her eyes briefly for a minute. Looking down at Isaac, she smiled sadly as she stroke his cheek; "one day you'll grow up and there'll be nothing to harm you. Just a normal child." She scanned the crowd and frowned as she reached out to find Hector and smiled satisfied with his location. He was heading back now, hopefully he had gotten a prisoner from the city guard.

A sacrifice unwilling did not need to be someone of pure heart. Elaine mused as she continued to walk around the crates, her eyes narrow and grim. She stopped at one of the merchant's kiosks and purchased a plain dagger. Simple and sweet, just kill and wait for Hawke to be revived. Elaine couldn't fanthom how Marian would react. She wasn't sure if this bothered her or not. It simply had to be done. Much like before she was betrayed by her brother and sold out to the Circle of Magic.

"Don't let go, we have to run faster!" Her hand is grasped tightly as her cousin pulls her up off the ground, her bright blue eyes wide with fear as she tugs at her hand again.

"I can't!" Elaine cries as she pants and Hawke shakes her head, "you have to, we need to!"

The Templars behind them are yelling as they come closer to the two children as Hawke glares at them and pulls Elaine into a run. Hawke trips flying over the edge of a ravine as Elaine closes follows pulled down by Hawke's panicked grip.

"Shortcut…" Elaine gasps as she blinks and Hawke nods, a slight trickle of blood trailing down her face from a small cut. A shout and a shadow looms over them, Elaine raises her hand up with a scream and a second land the solider falls to the ground trapped in an unknown magical spell, Hawke stabs a small dagger through the eye slot in his helmet.

"Daddy can help us…" Hawke mutters as she pushes onward, dragging her stunned cousin behind her. 'Survival at any cost… always protect those you love, no matter the cost.' Hawke chants the words over and over as she and Elaine run into the woods. The grizzled smith had always told her that when training.

"Stop!" The lead Templar calls out as they chase the children into the woods, slowly but steadily gaining on the young children.

Four adults look up in shock at the shouts as the two children stumble out of the forest, clothing torn and bloodstained. A shout is all it takes for several arrows and a bolt of magic to kill the two Templars that emerge from the forest behind the children.

Elaine sighed softly as she ran her hand through her hair and tugging her ponytail lightly as Isabella and Bethany catch up to her. "I hate boats," she muttered darkly as she stepped onto the gangplank ignoring Isabella's protesting that it's a ship, not a boat, and Bethany's cold look.