A/N I've been meaning to write this one-shot for a long time now, but NaNoWriMo and university kept taking over all my time. But, now I've finally managed to write it. The story is set in my "Eternal Waking Dream" universe, but can be read as a standalone as well.
"Sixth time he got himself thrown in solitary… I blew up a classroom in order to get the same punishment. I remained there for three months, he for a year. Seventh time he actually got away."
She remembered his face in solitary… pale, haunted, desperately wanting to get away, to escape. For him it was prison, for her it was freedom… no sneers, no taunts, no fights… she hadn't done it for him, she had done it for herself because she couldn't stand them anymore, because Jowan couldn't be everywhere and they were too many."
~ Excerpt from Eternal Waking Dream
When things got too much for her she blew up the classroom… it was during Senior Enchanter Sweeney's lesson as after all that time the sneers, the taunts and the looks full of hatred she snapped. She did not have a legendary control over her powers like they believed… she was not some sort of prodigy like they sneered. She was almost young enough to still be a child and she was fed up with the abuse and the beatings.
The Templars promptly hauled her out of the classroom and applied their favorite means of correction… mages were not allowed to lose control, it didn't matter how old or young they were. Those who lost control were made Tranquil. However, she had not been in the mood to remain meek and quiet while they canned her until her skin turned raw. She cried out, cursed them, kicked and scratched until they threw her in the dungeons coldly informing her she would remain there until her attitude would improve.
Anders was in solitary just in the next cell… she knew that, she had heard Gregoir and Irving talking about it. After he had ran away a good six months ago they did not even allow him to see anyone else, they just threw him in the dungeons. Sometimes she crept by the stairs of the dungeons and sent Mr. Wiggums down, hoping the cat would find Anders. The mage was not what she would have called her friend, but she admired him and he was one of the few that did not mock her.
She scratched and pounded on the wall separating the two cells, wanting to see if anyone heard her. At first it was faint, but soon a shy scratch answered her. She smiled and knew that he was truly there… she had been allowed to see him once, but he had not been able to see her. He was pale, haunted, desperate to get out… the Templars wanted it to be a lesson, she had taken it as a plea for help.
She was not brave like him… she was not human like him… she was an elf and elves were forced into submission from the moment of their birth. She could not fight the Templars, but she could answer in her own way. She would keep the one who fought them alive.
At first she did not know what to do… when she had tried to talk to him a smite had been sent her way leaving her dizzy and wobbly, especially since a barrier had been erected in order to prevent her from casting. The smite merely made her head spin so she did not try a direct conversation again.
When she first uttered a verse of the Chant of Light, she did it to remind herself that not all was lost. She did it for herself not for Anders…
"All men are the Work of our Maker's Hands. Those who bring harm without provocation to the least of His children are hated and accursed by the Maker."
When a faint scratch accompanied her words, she repeated them louder and louder, knowing that the Templar could not take this away from her… it would be hypocritical of them.
"Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow.
In their blood the Maker's will is written."
She smirked in the dark at that line and knew that in the other cell Anders was smirking as well imagining the Templars bristling with fury. Not so righteous anymore, are we?
"All men are the Work of our Maker's Hands,
From the lowest slaves
To the highest kings."
More verses that had them blistering with fury… she wondered whether she had truly heard the soft clapping coming from the other room. When she had gotten weary of repeating the chant of light over and over again she turned towards the tales of the past.
"The first Blight had already raged for 90 years. The world was in chaos. At Weisshaupt fortress in the desolate Anderfels, a meeting transpired. Soldiers of the Imperium, seasoned veterans who had known nothing their entire lifetimes except hopeless war, came together. When they left Weisshaupt, they had renounced their oaths to the Imperium. They were soldiers no longer: They were the Grey Wardens."
She sometimes wondered what it would be like, being part of the Grey Wardens, fighting darkspawn and being free. She would have traded her life with almost anything in all of Thedas.
"In War, Victory. In Peace, Vigilance. In Death, Sacrifice."
The change of topic seemed to make them furious… she used the way they brought the meals to count how many days had passed but when they started bringing it early or late her whole calculations were thrown overboard. Sometimes she was starving… sometimes she could not eat another bite when they brought the meals… yet she continued fighting in the only way she could.
"Alienages have existed for as long as elves and shems have lived in the same lands. Ours isn't even the worst: They say that Val Royeaux has ten thousand elves living in a space no bigger than Denerim's market. Their walls are supposed to be so high that daylight doesn't reach the vhenadahl until midday."
She remembered these words from childhood, before she had been taken away by the Templars. Her mother used to remind her that not all was as dire as it seemed, especially during those days when they were hungry and the walls of the Alienge seemed to be crumbling down upon them.
"Here, we're among family. We look out for each other. Here, we do what we can to remember the old ways. The flat–ears who've gone out there, they're stuck. They'll never be human, and they've gone and thrown away being elven, too. So where does that leave them? Nowhere."
In the Alienage they were themselves… at least until the humans and the Templars came.
"If you want to survive, you must learn the rules and realize that sometimes, sacrifices are necessary."
Irving had told her that countless times over the years… in her heart she knew these words were true, but that did not mean she liked them. Right now she was bending those rules as much as she dared…
After three months they let her out… the light hurt her eyes as she left the dungeons. Before stepping out she turned around one last time. Anders' face followed her out, but now there was determination etched on it. He would get out, she was sure of it and one day he would be free…