Prologue

"Enough, Varric," Cassandra Pentaghast snapped. "I have heard enough." "Ah, but Seeker," the dwarven story-teller mockingly complained, "I haven't gotten to the best part of my story; the Battle of the Gallows!" "I don't need to hear it from you; it is obvious what happened."

Cassandra seemed extremely irked. "Garret Hawke, Champion of Kirkwall, publically denounces Knight Commander Meredith, champions the mages of the Circle, and, barely three days later, takes control of the City Guard and all the mercenaries in the city, and launches an unprovoked attack on the Gallows, slaughters almost every templar stationed there, has himself made Viscount, and cuts all ties to the Chantry just as every Circle rebels in a similar manner he did, throwing the world into chaos, and ensuring the Divine could devote no resources to take back Kirkwall, ensuring his power is unchallenged. Anyone could have guessed as much."

Varric stared at the Seeker of Truth, then his face twisted into an expression of pure rage. "Unprovoked? Unprovoked! UNPROVOKED!" His voice was rising each time until his screaming at the top of his voice, and Cassandra knew she had been mistaken; Varric had never lost his temper through the entire interrogation. He had been obnoxious, sarcastic, and at times had flat out lied, but he had never been angry, let alone furious. Whatever the reason for Hawke's assault on the Gallows, it must have been truly reprehensible that it would elicit such a reaction from the normally carefree dwarf.

"I see my preconceptions about the Champion's motives were incorrect," Cassandra commented, trying not to show the unease at what Varric had to say on the subject, knowing that whatever the dwarf was going to say, it was the absolute truth, and no exaggeration. "You can bet your dragon-slaying ass you're incorrect! Can you honestly say anyone would react differently to what the bitch had done to him?" Varric stopped, and then continued, looking as if he would be sick. "After sicing that bastard Alrik on poor Daisy, knowing full well what he would do to the poor girl, did you honestly expect anything less from the Dragon of Kirkwall?"

"Alrik?" Cassandra asked. "I thought you killed him while with the Abomination, Anders, looking for evidence of his "Tranquil Solution?" "As did we," Varric spat. "We were wrong. Just thinking about what that monster did to Merrill… I wish I could resurrect him, so I could nail his hands to a board and lower him into a pit of starving wolves, feet first. And I was just her friend. Can you even begin to imagine what Hawke felt? He loves the girl with all his heart."

Cassandra was beginning to feel slightly sick; she had always believed the in the integrity of all who served the Chantry, and had at first assumed that Varric's description of Ser Alrik's sadism as the exaggerations the dwarf was famous for. Judging by the shear hatred in Varric's voice, however, Alrik's atrocities were not among them. She didn't wish to hear what the dwarf had to say, but she had to; it was vital to understanding what had happened in Kirkwall in the last few years.

"Alright, Varric," the Seeker sighed. "Tell me what really happened." Varric nodded stiffly, crossed his arms, and began to talk.