Disclaimer: Dragon Age belongs to Bioware and EA Games. Characters from Thor belong to Marvel and whoever else…
AN: This chapter may have been out sooner if I didn't have to work at all hours before and after Christmas. Also, I was stuck for a bit during the middle of writing this chapter. LOL. Anyway, I got a fantastic beta for the story and it's none other than Suilven, one of the most talented Dragon Age authors on the site…^_^ More author notes at the end.
The Trickster Mage
He reached out to the strange casket, the bluish energy glowing from within. As he picked it up with both hands, he noticed that his skin had turned blue.
"Stop!" a strong commanding voice called out, making him turn around. He saw an older man, hair and beard as white as snow, his right eye covered with a metallic-looking patch.
He placed the casket back on its altar and turned to face the other fully. Slowly, he walked over to the man, anger growing with every step as his skin returned to its pale color. He felt the very air chill around him as he narrowed his eyes and spoke.
"Am I cursed?"
"No," the old man said softly, his one remaining eye showing sadness.
Not satisfied with that answer, he asked in a more forceful tone. "Then what am I?"
"You are my son."
Lucas slowly opened his eyes, groaning a bit. His body was aching all over due to using that strange magic instead of resorting to blood magic. He still felt the whispers of that unfamiliar energy running through his frame, giving him tantalizing whispers of power that was his for the taking. This sensation unsettled the mage, but what bothered him more was the strange dream he just had. It felt more like a memory than a dream, however. He felt great love for that old man in his dream, but also great sadness and anger. Was that his real father?
The mage was shaken out of his reverie when he felt a warm hand on his shoulder. He then realized that his head was being cradled in his mother's lap and slowly sat up. His green eyes glanced around and noticed that the templar was coughing badly and was lying on the ground, Aveline kneeling next to her husband.
"Bethany?" he asked. His was throat dry and sore. Leandra made him turn his head and he saw that she was already sitting up, leaning against a boulder. Carver was next to her, giving her sips from their only waterskin.
Lucas allowed a small smile appear on his pale face, feeling a sense of relief and accomplishment. At that moment, he was glad for that strange magic because it had enabled him to bring his little sister back to life. He gave his mother a grateful look and managed to stand back up, albeit a little slowly.
That got Carver's attention and he stood up as well, walking over to his older brother. "What sort of magic was that?" he asked bluntly. "I don't remember Father doing anything like that."
Lucas looked at his brother from the corner of his eye, keeping his main attention on Aveline and Wesley. "I do not know, Brother," he said truthfully. "When I saw that ogre grab Bethany and toss her aside, I…I don't know. I felt anger… not the kind that you and the others have seen. This was true anger. I wanted to destroy anything and everything that hurt our sister."
Before the younger man could say anything, they saw more darkspawn approaching them. Lucas narrowed his eyes while he gripped his staff. After using that alien magic, the staff no longer felt like something his father used to use. It now truly felt like it was his own, like it was an extension of himself. He spun it around for a moment and then got into a fighting position, his younger brother doing the same with his greatsword.
Just before the creatures attacked, a growl was heard from above them. They all turned their heads to look up and were shocked. They saw an extremely large dragon unfurl its wings and roared loudly. It distracted the darkspawn as it jumped up into the air and flew down, breathing fire onto the creatures. It attacked the vile things with more fire and swept them aside with its tail. Once all the darkspawn in the area were dead, the dragon turned its fearsome gaze at the group and then focused on Lucas.
"Just wonderful," the apostate said stiffly through gritted teeth. "We get out of the frying pan and into the fire…literally."
The dragon rumbled a bit. To Lucas, it almost seemed like the thing was laughing at him. It moved towards him and the others, causing him to take a defensive stance in front of his family. The dragon glowed and it seemed like it was shrinking, transforming into an old woman wearing a strange headdress and leather clothing that no old woman in her right mind should be wearing. When it appeared that the old woman did not mean any harm, for now, Lucas just crossed his arms, staring at her.
"Well, well, what have we here?" she asked, knowing there would be no answer, as she stopped a few feet away from the apostate. "It used to be we never got visitors to the Wilds, but now they show up in hordes!"
Lucas was impressed that the Old Hag, a name he thought was fitting for the strange woman, was able to change her shape. It stirred up something deep within his mind, but it proved to be too elusive for him to grasp. He felt a little angry that he could not access parts of his mind. It was almost as if something was blocking him on purpose. Growling to himself, he stared at the Old Hag once again.
"Impressive," he said nonchalantly, inspecting his leather wrist-guards for dirt, pretending that the dragon's appearance and subsequent change did not startle him. He then smirked at the woman, masking his feeling of being intimidated. "Where'd you learn how to turn into a dragon?" The apostate hoped that maybe the Hag would explain how to change shape.
The leather-clad old woman chuckled darkly. "Perhaps I am a dragon. If so, count yourself lucky. The smell of burning darkspawn does nothing for the appetite." Her golden eyes bored into emerald green.
Those eyes…Lucas was sure he had seen those eyes before. They were nearly the same as the Rag Woman he had met back in Lothering before their escape. He was about to say something to her when she started talking again.
The Old Hag had turned around and began to walk away as she spoke. "If you wish to flee the darkspawn, you should know that you are heading in the wrong direction."
"So you're just going to leave us here?" Carver called out incredulously, his voice slightly whining. His body was twitching slightly, adrenaline still running through his veins. It took nearly all of Lucas' patience to not smack his brother.
"And why not?" the Old Hag said, her golden eyes flashing. She smirked as she turned back around and faced the group, her arms crossing in front of her chest. "I spotted a most curious sight, a mighty ogre vanquished in a sea of green flame. But now my curiosity is sated, and you are safe… for the moment. Is that not enough?"
Lucas shoved his brother and tilted his head to one side. "You could show me that trick of yours. That looks rather useful."
The old woman laughed heartily and sneered at him. "I daresay it is! Such a clever tongue for a mage… but befitting for the Trickster. Tell me, my silver-tongued Trickster; how do you intend to outrun the Blight?"
Before Lucas could answer her, Carver stepped in front of his brother as if trying to protect him. "We're going to Kirkwall–in the Free Marches."
The Old Hag chuckled and rubbed her chin with an armored finger. "Kirkwall?" she asked, not really expecting an answer. "My, but that is quite the voyage you plan. So far… simply to flee the darkspawn."
Lucas was beginning to get impatient with the old woman's words. She was skipping around what she truly wanted and answering in riddles. At any other time, he wouldn't have minded having a spar with words with her, but not at the expense of his family. They were the most important thing on his mind right now.
"Any better suggestions?" he asked snidely, his eyes narrowing into slits. Carver noticed his older brother's expression and slowly started to back up. "I hear the Deep Roads are vacant now. A dragon of your stature should-"
"Brother," Carver said, his voice a low hiss as he tried to get Lucas' attention.
"-be able to set up a nest quite easily there," the apostate stated, not even paying any attention to the warrior.
"Brother," Carver said again, a little louder this time.
Lucas either didn't hear his little brother, or he just ignored him. "Maybe the darkspawn would think that you're an Archdemon. Just imagine, hordes of disgusting darkspawn listening and doing your every whim. I'm sure that it's a dream come true for an Old Hag who thinks that it's appropriate to dress in leathers that show off every little wrinkle."
"Lucas Hawke!" Carver said, throwing a rock that hit his brother in the head. "Do you want to get us killed?"
Lucas turned to face the tall youth, his eyes showing how furious he was. "Carver, Little Brother, I am sick of this Old Hag," he gestured at the now smirking woman, "leading us around in circles with her words. She seems to know who I am and I want answers… No, that isn't right, I NEED answers!"
The old woman laughed loudly, getting everyone's attention on her once again. "Oh, you I like!" she said, her eyes showing her own wicked amusement. "Hurtled into the chaos you fight… and the world will shake before you." She turned around for a moment, looking up at the smoke-filled sky. "Is it fate or chance? I can never decide."
"Decide quickly, you Old Hag," Lucas said, his hands tightening into fists.
The old woman chuckled as she looked down at the ground and then turned to face the black haired mage. "One should not make rash decisions, Trickster. That's when things, even when planned out, can and will go wrong."
"What do you mean by that?" the mage asked hotly, his eyes flashing.
The laughter that came out of the old woman's mouth sent chills down Lucas' spine. "You will find out in the fullness of time, dear boy, but now we both have other matters to attend to." She glanced at the group and studied Bethany for a moment before turning her gaze onto Carver. The young man fidgeted slightly at her scrutiny, causing the shape-shifter to smirk at him before gazing at Aveline. She noticed that the warrior woman wasn't paying much attention to what was going on due to the templar on the ground.
"Believe it or not, it appears fortune smiles on all of us today," she said, looking at everyone. "I may be able to help you yet."
"There must be a catch," the apostate mage said, his arms crossing in front of his chest once again.
"There is always a catch. Life is a catch! I suggest you catch it while you can." The tone of the old woman's voice left no room for any argument.
Carver looked at his sister and then at his older brother. He looked rather uneasy at the whole situation. "Should we even trust her?" he asked vehemently. "We don't even know what she is!"
It became apparent that Aveline was paying attention to her surroundings when she said, "I know what she is. The Witch of the Wilds."
"That would explain much," Lucas said as he studied the leather-clad old woman.
"Some call me that. Also Flemeth. Asha'bellanar. An 'old hag who talks too much!'"
The last statement made the eldest Hawke sibling chuckle. "I was just thinking that last part," he said, amusement finally showing in his eyes.
The old woman, now known as Flemeth, chuckled as well. "Anyway, I offer you this: I will get your group past the horde in exchange for a simple delivery to a place not far out of your way. Would you do this for a 'Witch of the Wilds'?"
Lucas turned around and glanced at every member of the group. His mabari was sitting next to Bethany while his sister was watching him and Flemeth intently. Carver was shifting his weight from foot to foot, unsettled with everything that has happened. Aveline was glancing at him, her husband, and Flemeth carefully. The mage went over to his mother and gently placed a hand on Leandra's shoulder. He then looked directly into the old woman's eyes.
"So, you're a Chasind legend…do you really steal children?" Lucas asked, mischief dancing in his eyes. "I personally wouldn't find the taste of urchins very appetizing." Carver groaned loudly while Bethany put her face in her hand and shook her head. Leandra just sighed. Aveline rolled her eyes and gave the male apostate a calculating gaze.
"Bah! As if I had nothing better to do," Flemeth said, her attention now only on Lucas and Bethany and completely ignoring Carver.
Bethany managed to stand up and slowly went to her elder brother and mother. She smiled gratefully at her brother when he put a steadying hand on her shoulder. She glanced at the old woman. "So you're an apostate," she said softly, her brown eyes studying the legendary figure.
Flemeth laughed slightly and narrowed her eyes at the young woman. "Yes, we have so much in common," she said scornfully. "It's amazing that a slight thing such as you was able to survive. Perhaps you should not have. The world is a dangerous place for a timid creature."
Lucas released his sister and gripped his staff so tightly that his knuckles were becoming white. "Do not insult my sister, Flemeth," he said boldly, his whole posture becoming predatory. "Especially if you truly want our help." Unbeknownst to the apostate, flickers of green flames danced along his staff.
This caused the witch to stare at the man. She laughed, the tone of which was unkind. This man amused her and she decided that she should keep an eye on him. He was definitely going to change the face of Thedas forever; especially when, not if, he regained all of his memories and power.
By this time, Carver was getting rather impatient. The old woman was annoying at best and her laughter was getting on his nerves. "You would go through all that trouble just to have something delivered?" he asked in an insolent tone. He thought that his older brother had done enough talking.
Flemeth glanced at the young man and rolled her eyes, dismissing the warrior from her mind. "I have… an appointment to keep. It is far more convenient this way. Happily, you're not without your own needs."
Lucas slowly walked up to the Old Hag, Bethany following behind him. "How much trouble will this delivery be, exactly?"
The old woman raised an eyebrow at him and crossed her arms. "About as much trouble as my saving your lives not five minutes ago."
"That's a good point, Brother," Bethany said softly. Lucas glanced at her and nodded.
"My sister is right on that," he said and looked at Flemeth.
Flemeth chuckled enigmatically. "If you knew my daughter, you'd know how seldom I hear that."
Lucas breathed slowly and closed his eyes for a moment before looking back at the group. "Should we even trust her?" he asked everyone present.
Aveline eyed the male apostate, the younger woman and the Witch of the Wilds. She then gazed upon her husband. "Wesley is injured. We'll never escape the darkspawn."
The dark haired templar coughed and was apparently getting weaker by the moment. "If you need to, leave me behind."
The warrior woman reached down and caressed Wesley's cheek. "No! I said I would drag you if I had to, and I meant it!" she said emphatically.
Lucas felt his heart clench a bit as he watched Wesley and Aveline exchange loving glances. He looked at the ground for a moment before watching the couple once again. He found himself fascinated by the ginger haired woman despite the fact that she was married to a templar. He then faced Flemeth.
"We don't have much choice," he said, resigned to whatever fate the witch had in mind for them.
Flemeth appeared to be sympathetic at the moment, her eyes dimming a bit before returning back to their former intensity. "We never do. There is a clan of Dalish elves near the city of Kirkwall," she said as she handed an amulet over to Lucas. "Deliver this amulet to their Keeper, Marethari. Do as she asks with it and any debt between us is paid in full. Before I take you anywhere, however, there is another matter…" She looked at Wesley and took a step towards him and Aveline with Lucas and Bethany following her.
The tall woman saw the trio headed in her direction and she stood up suddenly. "No! Leave him alone!"
"What has been done to your man is within his blood already." The tone in Flemeth's voice made Aveline back off just for a moment.
Aveline clenched her fists, glaring at the witch. "You lie!"
The templar coughed loudly, getting his wife's attention as she knelt beside him. "She's right, Aveline," he said quietly, the rasping in his breath getting louder. "I can feel the corruption inside me."
Lucas knelt opposite Wesley and placed a hand over the man's chest. He let out a glimmer of healing magic, sighing as he felt the darkness within the templar's body and soul. He looked up and shook his head at Aveline. The look in her green eyes made the apostate feel even worse.
"What are you talking about? I've never felt anything like this before," the mage said, his eyes looking into Aveline's and then at Wesley. "It feels a little like the sensation I got from those darkspawn."
Wesley nodded; his eyes had taken on a milky sheen and black veins were showing on his now pale skin. "It's from the darkspawn. All that blood came from when that creature sliced my back. I knew… when it happened."
Aveline's eyes became bright with unshed tears. "Then… then how much time before you…?"
Flemeth walked over to the ginger haired warrior, a true sympathetic look on her face. "Not long now, if I'm any judge."
Lucas glanced at Aveline and Flemeth before saying something. "I couldn't heal him with my limited healing abilities." He saw the glare the warrior woman was giving him and he held up his hands in surrender. "What I used to revive my sister only happened when I was angry. I don't know how to access that power consciously." He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose before looking up at the old woman. "This corruption is the permanent sort. I don't know what could cure it."
"The only cure I know of is to become a Grey Warden," Flemeth said as she stared at the fallen templar.
Aveline covered her eyes with her hand for a moment before giving the others a look of despair. "And they all died at Ostagar."
The Witch of the Wilds shook her head. "Not all, but the last are now beyond your reach."
Wesley moved his hand slightly, getting his wife's attention once more. "Aveline. Listen to me."
Aveline gripped the templar's leather pauldrons tightly, a tear starting to fall from her left eye. "You can't ask me this! I won't!"
"Please, my love… The corruption is a slow death. I can't…" Wesley started coughing once more, blood staining his lips.
The pleading in the templar's voice made Lucas close his eyes tightly. He fingered the dagger that was hanging from his belt and then gazed at the warrior woman. Tears were now falling freely from her eyes, making her cheeks glisten in the setting sun. The sight made the mage's breath hitch a bit while his heart was aching as he observed the woman's anguish. He just knew that if Aveline was the one to grant her husband mercy, it would eat away at the strong woman's soul and break her.
He made his decision and reached over, gently clasping the woman's shoulder. "I'm sorry, Aveline. This has to be done," he said as gently as he could. "I will do this for you."
Aveline nodded, her face still wet with her tears. She stood up and walked over to Carver, Bethany and Leandra. The Hawke matriarch embraced the taller woman, whispering soothing words in the younger woman's ear. Leandra turned Aveline away so she would not be able to see Lucas do what must be done.
Lucas glanced up at his mother, nodding at her in thanks. He looked back at Wesley and was surprised to see a slight smile on the man's face. The templar motioned for the apostate to lean forward. He whispered something in his ear.
"Take care of my Aveline for me, mage. Tell her… tell her to not dwell on what could have been. Tell her to be happy. You are a rare one, mage… Promise me that you will make sure she will be happy and that you will take care of her."
The apostate almost drew back from the templar's words, surprised. "Wh–what? What are you talking about?"
Wesley coughed again, more blood on his lips. "I am not blind mage. Now, promise me!"
Lucas took in a deep, unsteady breath and nodded. "I promise that I will ensure Aveline will be… happy. I'll try to take care of her, but she does not look like a woman who wants to be taken care of."
Soft chuckles emanated from the templar before choking for a moment. Lucas pulled out his dagger and slowly placed the tip of the blade against a weak spot in the other man's armor. He almost threw his dagger away when Wesley placed his hands over Lucas'.
"Thank you," Wesley said quietly and nodded. At that moment, the mage pushed the blade deep into Wesley's chest. He watched the light die from the templar's face and reached over to close the man's eyes. He slowly stood up and turned to face Aveline. The tall woman was now looking at him; her face was a mask of stone.
Lucas wanted to say something to her, but he was unable to find the words. He could no longer look into the woman's eyes so he stared at the ground. He glanced up, surprised that Flemeth had actually put a hand on his shoulder.
"Without an end, there can be no peace," she said before turning around and starting to walk away. "Your struggles have only just begun."
It had been nearly two weeks since Flemeth had brought Lucas and his family, including Aveline, to Gwaren. The ship the group had managed to get aboard was not too bad, if one discounted the rats and the odors of sickness and death that emanated from the hold. The stench of despair overwhelmed the apostate and he had to leave.
When he found himself on the deck, Lucas took in a deep breath and inhaled the salty sea air. He stood by the railing and looked up at the heavens, watching the clouds float by on the gentle breeze. The cries of the gulls that flew around the ship were a welcome change from the wailing of despair from many of the refugees. He stared out into the open expanse of the sea as he allowed his mind to wander…
Lucas was leaning against a hoe as he took a small break. He was helping Malcolm and Garrett prepare the small field near their house for the spring planting. He had a small smile on his face as he had watched the father lead his seventeen-year-old son off to the side to take a break as well. He had developed a fondness for the Hawke family during his recuperation and had let them give him the name of Lucas.
He was about to resume his task when Malcolm told Garrett to head back to the house and walked over to him. The older man smiled at him, the lines around his eyes crinkling deeply.
"How are you feeling today?" the patriarch asked as he motioned for Lucas to follow him.
Lucas shrugged as he was led to a distant part of the field. Once they were at the edge of the property, Malcolm kept on walking. A few minutes later, they found themselves by the edge of a small lake, the water shining like smooth glass.
"I suppose I'm doing okay," Lucas said as he picked up a rock and threw it into the water. "I still don't know who I am and why I was injured. I am grateful that you found me. I probably would have died if not for you and your family."
Malcolm stared off into the distance, his mood pensive. "It was not by chance that I found you, my son."
The older man's statement startled Lucas. He faced the man, his arms crossed in front of his chest. "Explain. Now."
The chuckle from Malcolm was empty and lacked any mirth. "I was trained as a Circle mage from when I was only eight years old. But I still had the memories of my parents fighting the templars. What those Chantry tools did not realize was that my father was also an apostate and he had taught me much. He also told me to never tell anyone of my special gift."
"What does this have to do with anything?" Lucas asked, his eyes narrowing. "And why do you keep calling me your son? I am not your flesh and blood and we both do not know how old I am."
The older man smiled softly as he glanced at Lucas from the corner of his eyes. "Leandra doesn't know about this and neither do my children. If the templars and the Chantry knew of my gift, I would have been killed. Or most likely, I'd have been made Tranquil and my gift used against mages." Malcolm took in a deep breath. "I can see things and events before they happen. I have a chance to change what I see if the outcome ends in disaster. That's how I found you. I can also see a person's past if I am touching them in some manner."
"What?" Lucas asked incredulously. "So finding me was not by chance?"
"No, son. I saved you from someone who wanted to use you and your abilities. I saw your past and there was much darkness. I cannot tell you what I saw," Malcolm said sternly when he noticed Lucas' questioning gaze. "But because of what I saw in your past and what I have seen of your future, I named you Lucas for it means 'the light'. And as for you being my son… that is something that I will explain some other time. Just know that Leandra loves you like she is your mother. You may have only been with us for just a couple of months, but you are now a part of the family. You are part of MY family, Lucas Hawke. Never ever doubt this."
Lucas stirred from his memories when he heard someone clear their throat. He turned around and saw Aveline standing on the deck behind him. During their time on the ship, he had given the tall woman space and let her mourn the death of her husband. He also knew that the woman was avoiding him and he accepted the fact that she probably hated him for being the one to kill Wesley.
"What can I do for you?" the apostate asked calmly as he nodded at her and turned back to look at the water.
"It has come to my attention that I have been remiss in… thanking you in bringing me with your family," Aveline said as she came closer to Lucas. "I do thank you, Hawke."
Lucas kept his gaze out at sea and waved his hand in a careless manner. "Think nothing of it, Aveline. I made a promise and I keep my promises."
The ginger haired woman sighed in annoyance. "Anyway, Leandra asked me to check up on you and to tell you that she saved the bread from dinner."
"Ah yes… the wonderful leavings the upstanding crew of this ship have left for the Fereldan refugees. We should all be grateful for the scurvy and other diseases that we have succumbed to while on this floating deathtrap. Luckily for us, Bethany is a more than adequate healer." Lucas still would not turn around to look at the woman. He knew that his eyes were probably angry for how they all have been treated by the crew.
"We should be thankful that we were allowed on board!" Aveline said, hissing the words at the mage. "Why must you be difficult? I am trying to be friends with you."
Lucas sighed and finally turned around to glance at the warrior woman. "You are right, Aveline and I am sorry for acting this way. It's just… I'm sorry."
Aveline shook her head for a moment and gave the taller man a slight smile. "I'll be below deck, back in the hold, Hawke. Come back down soon if only to keep that mabari of yours from eating all the food."
The mage chuckled as he ran a hand through his black hair. "I think Fenrir(1) is the only thing on board that won't get sick by the food on this boat." He watched the woman laugh for a moment before going back down. Once she was out of sight, Lucas turned his gaze back to the sea. According to one of the deck hands, they should be docking in Kirkwall within a day or two.
Whatever happened now, Lucas knew that they were at the beginning of something big. And the mage was excited to see what will come and to the Void for whoever gets in his way in providing for his family.
AN: I'm so glad to have a beta now. Now I don't have as many mistakes. *snickers* Anyway, please go check out Suilven's stories because they are just awesome…^_^ I also just want to thank everyone one the amazing amount of reviews, alerts and favorites this story has gotten so far. It makes me feel good that people are liking this…^_^
Much of the dialogue between Lucas and Flemeth did come straight from the game with a few changes so it would fit with the story...^_^
(1) Fenrir is the name of a wolf-like creature and is actually one of Loki's children in Norse mythology.
For those who don't leave a signed review:
HellNyte – Thanks. I am glad you like this and I do plan on having fun…^_^