Welcome to my next story diving into the world of Dragon Age 2.
Having a read over this first chapter I realized I stuck to the script fairly closely but those people who have read my stories before know that I am not one to really stay in line with how the game plays so that won't really last for long. I change things, add new elements and new characters, make my characters unique within their world and put in place story arcs that you will not find in the game. So if you desire a story that sticks regimentally within the game or even the lore of Dragon Age this is NOT FOR YOU! I am taking you on a journey through my imagination into the world of Aeoryn Hawke and it is a world very different to what you have ever encountered before!
I encourage you to review, those who have read my ME story will attest that the chapters come out faster with a little reviewer encouragement. ;)
Leandra Hawke started to her feet in shock and fear as the front door of their little house burst open. Her first thoughts were that the templars had found them but it was not steel plate armor that dashed towards her, it was the blood stained leathers of her eldest daughter Aeoryn.
"Darkspawn are heading this way right now we have to leave." Aeoryn looked around quickly for her little sisters Bethany and Rachel. Fifteen year old Rachel was scrambling to her feet but she couldn't see Bethany, she was exhausted but if she slowed down now they were all doomed.
"Bethany's at Mara's." Leandra wasn't quite sure she'd heard her daughter right, the King's army had been defeated by the Darkspawn horde? That didn't seem possible but it was the only explanation for her daughter's presence. "Carver!" Aeoryn yelled over her shoulder for her little brother, Bethany's twin.
His head appeared in the doorway, his long black hair was kept in traditional Ferelden plaits and he flicked one out of his face quickly.
"Get them to the pass, Bethany and I'll meet you there!" she ordered him firmly, time was of the essence and they had so little of it before everything was lost.
"We should stay together!" He argued, frowning at her, the only reason he'd left the battle was because she'd dragged him away, he would have fought to the death otherwise.
Aeoryn took her mother by the hand and led her to the door, "They won't be able to backtrack fast enough to get Bethany and get out of here before the horde arrive." While their mother was healthy she was an older woman who no longer had the stamina of her youth, nor of her children, and little Rachel was still just a kid.
Carver looked to their mother and acknowledged that Aeoryn was right, he nodded, "Come quickly."
"We won't be far behind you." Aeoryn promised and took one last look at their home of seven years. It wasn't the first they'd left behind in a hurry, in fact the last one they hadn't left fast enough and their father had been killed by the templars as an apostate mage. The protection of the family had fallen to her and she'd only been sixteen. They had built this home from the ground up yet she barely spared it a glance as she turned and sprinted out after her family, picking up Bethany's staff as she went. They'd started over more than once they could do it again… as long as they survived the Darkspawn.
Aeoryn had only one thing on her mind. Bethany. She'd dedicated her life to protecting her little sisters from the templars and she wasn't going to lose one to Darkspawn now. Sprinting along the well trodden path to the O'Hanolin property that was on the outskirts of the town, Lothering, she didn't pay any attention to the golden fields to her right or the gentle flowing creek to her left. She did, however, pay very close attention to the swampland forest in the distance, the beginning of the Korcari Wilds, for that was where the Darkspawn would come from. Her heart pounded even faster in her chest at the darkness that was moving through the trees. The Darkspawn were coming.
Bethany sensed something was wrong and looked towards the Wilds. She knew that Aeoryn and Carver were out there somewhere with the Kings army defending them from the Darkspawn. It made her usually sunny company somewhat duller of late but the spawn were a greater threat than the templars at the moment and Aeoryn, her beautiful and highly protective older sister, hadn't even hesitated at the call for volunteers to bolster the Kings army.
Mara threw a stone at her daydreaming friend, "Beth, they'll be fine, nothing can take your sister and brother down, you know that." She grinned, knowing exactly what had her best friend preoccupied.
Bethany managed a small smile and looked back to her apologetically, "Sorry, I'm not much company right now."
Mara sighed and simply shook her head, "It's alright, we're all worried for them." The Hawkes were an amazing family and she wished she had a sister like Aeoryn.
Aeoryn caught sight of the pair sitting outside under one of the trees by the creek that passed very close to the family residence. She was too breathless to call out to them from a distance and by the time she reached them she could see actual shapes moving through the trees and not just darkness.
Bethany and Mara both looked up at the sound of someone running towards them. The sight of bloodied and determined Aeoryn struck fear in their hearts. Bethany surged to her feet and ran towards her sister. That movement saved her life.
A blistering ball of fire from a Darkspawn Necromancer struck the ground where the pair had been sitting. Mara never stood a chance.
Bethany instinctively shielded herself from the blast with her magic and turned back to see Mara nothing but a blackened lump of flesh. The sight froze her.
Aeoryn notched an arrow on the run and skidded to her knee, drawing back her powerful bow she raised it and let loose, murmuring an enchantment on the arrow as it slipped through her fingers. Not waiting to see if it struck its mark she picked up Bethany's staff and ran to her sister, "Beth she's with the Maker now. Mother, Rachel and Carver are waiting for us we must go."
Bethany sobbed but turned back to Aeoryn, accepting her staff and breaking into flight at her sisters behest. They'd run from templars before but this was so much worse for the templars had simply targeted their family, the Darkspawn would destroy everything in their path. "What happened?" Bethany called over her shoulder.
"Just run, we have to reach the pass." Aeoryn pushed her harder than she'd ever done before but even then the Darkspawn were hot on their heels. They could hold off for a little while when they reached the pass, it would funnel the spawn and give mother time to put some distance between them.
The sisters ran for their lives.
"I see them, mother, Rachel and Carver." Bethany called over her shoulder, they were approaching the hills and taking a huge risk cutting across to the east instead of north and away from the Wilds.
Aeoryn saw them as well, "Tell them to run." She gasped, all too aware of the beasts trailing them.
"Carver!" Bethany screamed at the top of her lungs.
Carver whirled around at his twins call, his eyes widened at the foul creatures giving chase to his sisters.
"Run!" Bethany motioned with her free hand, gripping her staff tightly.
Carver hadn't pushed mother because of her age, but they'd run out of time, "I'm sorry mother." He grunted then hefted her over his shoulder.
Leandra gasped but didn't struggle as her son broke into a sprint, "The girls!" she watched in horror as Aeoryn stopped running and knelt to send the few arrows she had left into the darkspawn that were closing in.
"They'll be fine, Air won't let anything happen to Beth." Carver reassured her, not looking back but concentrating on what was in front of him.
Rachel followed, terrified at the darkness and evil hunger she could sense behind them.
Aeoryn loosed her last arrow but still they came, at least Bethany had a greater head start. The short break from running had also given her a chance to catch her breath a little. Surging to her feet she continued after her family.
Carver made the pass and only looked back to make sure Rachel was keeping up, he had no doubt that Aeoryn would cover their backs. He swore as dark movement ahead caught his attention. Quickly he put his mother down and drew his two-handed great sword.
Leandra collapsed to her knees as her son charged a small pack of Darkspawn, his sword cleaving through them fiercely.
Carver's sword was quickly joined by both Bethany and Rachel's magic, fireballs and icicles throwing back the creatures with the sickening stench of burning rotten flesh.
Aeoryn reached the pass to see her brother and sisters dispatching a number of scouts and knew that by the time they'd been dealt with the ones following them would catch them. Instead of joining her siblings she turned back to face the twenty or so coming up from behind. Shrugging off her empty quiver she tossed it and her bow aside, her hunting knives would have to suffice for this. Concentrating on catching her breath and keeping her mind clear and calm she stood in readiness. She would die for her family.
The first of the Darkspawn reached the still human and with a fearsome roar went to attack her. It blinked and the human was no longer still. A blur of movement was the last thing it saw.
Aeoryn ripped through the vile creatures that threatened her family without mercy or hesitation. Her blades tore throats, blocked their ghastly jagged swords and moved faster than they could keep track of.
Carver struck down the last of the scouting party, "What's taking Aeoryn so long!" he snarled, spinning around to demand why his big sister hadn't helped at all.
Both Carver and Bethany turned in time to see a Darkspawn swinging its sword for Aeoryn's head from behind her. Before either could cry out a warning Aeoryn spun, her left hand blocking the blow while her right sliced across the creatures throat in a graceful and powerful display that continued as numerous spawn bore down on her.
Carver sprinted to her aid.
Bethany unleashed a fiery display that melted the very earth itself.
Rachel stumbled over to their mother, exhausted already.
In minutes the trio had killed all the Darkspawn following them.
Aeoryn looked back out to the valley, the Darkspawn were just reaching Lothering, that would slow them down but not for long.
Carver stood beside her, also looking out to Lothering.
"We couldn't save them Carver." She murmured, more to herself than to him.
Carver nodded, "I know. Come on." He gave her shoulder a squeeze, the greatest lesson she'd ever taught him was that family came first.
They left the scene to walk quickly over to where Bethany was helping their mother to her feet.
"Everything we've built, it's all gone." Leandra sobbed, tears streaming down her cheeks as all they had to show for their lives were the clothes on their backs, everything else was gone.
"I'm sorry mother, but at least we're alive, that's no small feat." Aeoryn didn't hug her mother as she was covered in putrid Darkspawn blood but she did reach out and gently touched her arm.
Leandra took a deep breath and wiped her eyes, "Yes, you're right."
"Why? Why did we wait?" Bethany demanded angrily, the death of her best friend still fresh in her mind, looking accusingly between Aeoryn and Carver.
"Why're you looking at us? We've been running since Ostagar!" Carver snapped back, riling at the accusation that belittled everything they'd been through.
"Now isn't the time, we need to keep moving." Aeoryn shook her head at them, tightening her quiver strap and shouldering her bow.
"Listen to your sister." Leandra encouraged the twins.
Aeoryn walked off quickly with her mother a step behind her and Rachel running up to take hold of her hand.
"Wait, where're we going?" Bethany demanded, but followed quickly.
"It doesn't matter, as long as we go together." Aeoryn didn't stop, they didn't have time to stop and chat.
Carver didn't argue with that logic and followed, keeping a sharp eye out behind them for more trouble as it was bound to come, they were nowhere near out of this mess yet.
Leandra considered the question further, with her husband long dead and a Blight threatening the land Ferelden was no longer safe for them. "We can go to Kirkwall."
Aeoryn stopped in her tracks and turned suddenly in surprise, "Kirkwall! That wouldn't be my first preference." She looked to Bethany who was just as shocked.
"There are a lot of templars in Kirkwall mother." Bethany reminded her softly, highly concerned at that thought. Kirkwall was across the seas and was the centre of the Templar order for the Free Marches, north of Ferelden.
"I know, but we have family there and an estate. The Amell's have always been highly regarded." Leandra acknowledged, she didn't talk about her childhood home often. Her family were nobles and she'd turned her back on them by running away with an apostate, her parents had died when the twins were born eighteen years ago leaving only her brother, Gamlen.
"Then we'll need to get to Gwaren and take ship." Bethany took a deep breath, meeting her sisters gaze, Aeoryn's deep blue eyes were pools of mystery even to her but right now her sister was asking silently if she was okay with this. Bethany just nodded.
Aeoryn stepped over to her and slid her hand behind Bethany's neck, pressing her forehead against Bethany's, "You know I'll never let anything happen to you." She whispered.
Bethany sniffed and nodded, "I know." That was the only comfort she had right now.
Rachel didn't know much about Kirkwall but sensed that it was not a good place for apostates as Aeoryn then turned to her and kissed her forehead, "You either."
Rachel sniffed and leaned into her big sister, she was always safe in Air's arms.
"We'd better move." Carver grunted, he could hear more Darkspawn nearby.
Aeoryn quickly turned to lead them on, the rocky track taking them higher into the hills where she hoped to circumvent the horde. It wasn't long before they came across another scouting party, only they were already attacking someone. "Rachel hold this." She quickly shed her bow and quiver that were useless to her at this point in time.
Rachel caught her big sisters bow, a bow that had protected them from templars all of her life. She watched with big blue eyes as Aeoryn, Carver and Bethany dashed forward towards the Darkspawn that were intent on something she couldn't see.
Aeoryn didn't roar or waste energy yelling at her enemy, she was a silent assassin as she sprinted up behind them and slit their throats.
Carver, however, bellowed with rage, leaping high in the air and slamming his blade down hard and fast to cleave a Darkspawn in two.
Bethany swung her staff calling on the elemental powers of fire and ice to burn and shred the monsters that were out of reach of her sister and brother.
Aeoryn came into sight of the Darkspawns intended targets and almost regretted intervening at the sight of steel plate armor and the shield of a templar as well as a woman who was obviously a skilled soldier herself.
The templar cried out in pain as a Darkspawn struck him from behind, sending him sprawling.
The woman responded instantly and threw herself at the Darkspawn that was moving in for the kill, "You will not have him!" she roared fiercely.
Aeoryn dodged a wide swipe and turned her face as Bethany impaled the creatures head with an icicle. She ducked another and dove forward out of the press giving Bethany room to incinerate them.
The explosion of fire passed his wife as she slew the Darkspawn that had wounded him caught the templars attention. His eyes widened and he gasped for breath, clutching his side in agony that was numbing compared to the trio approaching, one of whom was an obvious apostate.
Aveline scrambled over to her husband, Wesley, and helped him to sit, moving him aside, "They will not have you." She hissed, kissing his cheek.
Aeoryn reached the woman barely in time as two Darkspawn lunged at her back, she tackled both aside.
Aveline hadn't realized they were no longer alone until that moment, the blonde woman risking her life for her and her husband. She was momentarily caught off guard at the graceful way the stranger fought, it was as though she danced and she looked... familiar. The roar of a man quickly snapped her out of it and her despair turned to hope as two others raced in to their rescue. Picking up her husbands dropped shield she rejoined the fight. The apostate didn't concern her at the moment, in fact she was very glad for the girl's presence as she torched numerous Darkspawn at once.
When the last fell Aeoryn jogged over to Bethany who was looking pale and trembled a little at the amount of magic she'd used. "Are you alright?" she asked softly.
Bethany just nodded and hugged her sister tightly.
Aveline helped Wesley to his feet and grimaced at the look on his face.
"Apostate!" He declared, a little shakily but with determination.
Aeoryn released Bethany and turned to face the people they'd just saved.
"My how the Maker has a sense of humor, first Darkspawn and now a templar." Bethany sighed, rolling her eyes sarcastically.
"Wesley." Aveline warned him softly but he started walking painfully towards the young woman.
"The Darkspawn are clear in their intent, an apostate is always unknown. The Order dictates…" he gripped his sword though even with all his bluster he knew he wouldn't be able to wield it.
Bethany's eyes widened at the clear meaning of what he was about to do.
Aeoryn stepped between them, glaring at the templar, her knives still drawn and now ready to kill in defense of her little sister.
Wesley met her fierce blue eyes and maintained contact with them for only a moment.
"Dear, they saved us the Maker understands." Aveline reminded him softly, she could see that there was no way the blonde woman would let her husband near the dark haired girl who was quite obviously her sister.
Wesley knew he didn't have the strength and backed away, "Yes of course, you're right."
"I am Aveline Vallen, this is my husband Ser Wesley." Aveline introduced them, noting the older woman and young girl that joined them.
"An odd place for you to be, most of his fellows left with the Chantry." Aeoryn wasn't about to divulge their names just yet even if the red haired Aveline seemed reasonable.
"He was on his way to find me. Bad luck and timing." Aveline steadied her wavering husband, noting that the woman did not relax yet.
"The nice templar has been persuaded to postpone his hunt for illegal mages, let's not press the issue shall we?" Bethany suggested softly, knowing that her sister would strike down the templar without a second thought if he threatened them.
"Wise girl." Aveline nodded in acknowledgment, realizing that it would take both of them to keep her husband and the sister from coming to blows but more importantly that they needed to work together to escape this.
Aeoryn didn't sheath her hunting blades yet but she did relax, "I'm Aeoryn Hawke, my brother Carver, sisters Bethany and Rachel and mother Leandra." she introduced them quickly though her tone remained cautious. The woman was a born soldier, tall, broad, muscular and cut quite the imposing figure in her Ferelden Officer's uniform, she made her husband look like a boy in comparison now that they stood side by side.
Recognition lit Aveline's eyes, "Hawke, you were training the volunteers at Ostagar." she could see it now in her mind, she'd been very impressed with how the woman had handled the terrified young men from villages who'd had no military experience but knew that their families were at stake so had given their lives to defend them.
"You were at Ostagar? Then you know we were defeated…" Carver began to grouse.
Aveline interjected quickly, "We fell to betrayal, not the Darkspawn, this arm of the horde will not have the same advantage." She pointed out, nodding towards the Wilds.
"You were betrayed?" Bethany looked to Carver who was half facing her.
"We were to draw the Darkspawn into battle and Teyrn Logain was to send in reinforcements to crush them from the sides. His reinforcements never came, it was a massacre, one we've still not escaped yet." Aeoryn responded softly over her shoulder, very aware of her baby sister listening in and the horror that was being inflicted upon her young mind.
"North and east are cut off." Aveline readied herself to continue traveling, if Wesley didn't endanger the apostate then this family was their only hope.
"As is west." Aeoryn informed them, it had appeared that was where the couple had been heading.
"Well we can't go south, we'll never get through the Wilds." Carver shook his head.
"If the options are south or die, we'll take our chances with south." Aeoryn looked to her brother firmly to dissuade further argument.
Carver bit his lip from retaliation, this wasn't the time or place.
"South it is." Aveline stepped forward.
Aeoryn looked to Wesley, "As long as work together you have nothing to fear from us, should you seek to harm my sisters, however, then not even your wife will keep me from you."
He nodded, "Understood."
"Rachel, think you can do something for his injury?" Aeoryn turned to their little sister who'd shown an aptitude for healing magic.
Rachel's eyes widened and she shook her head, too afraid of the templar and the darkness she could feel growing in his blood.
Aeoryn frowned slightly at the fear she could see in her eyes, "Rachel?" she asked far more softly and held her hand out to her.
Rachel swallowed and quickly jogged over, taking Aeoryn's hand and pulling her down to whisper in her ear.
Aeoryn closed her eyes and turned away for a moment.
Rachel looked up at her sister for an answer.
Aeoryn didn't get the chance to answer as Carver stiffened.
"We gotta move!" He called instantly at the sight of a couple Darkspawn stragglers heading their way without real purpose just yet.
Aeoryn pointed to a path that climbed higher into the hills, "That way, go!" she gave Rachel a little push.
Rachel shouldered Aeoryn's quiver and carried her bow valiantly as Aeoryn didn't move to lead them but back to deal with the Darkspawn. She ran as ordered and took the lead, closely followed by Bethany.
Carver, seeing that Aeoryn was going to handle the spawn once again hefted his mother over his shoulder and followed his sisters.
Aveline supported Wesley and practically dragged him after the others, his groans making her heart beat even faster.
Aeoryn kept low and quiet as she stalked the Darkspawn, she counted only six of them. They didn't last very long against the highly protective and lethal warrior. Before following the others however, she took a moment to crouch in the dirt and tap into her inner reserves of energy, allowing them to flow through her, rejuvenate her.
Rachel slowed and turned back at the strange sensation, the warm tingling down her spine that was almost reassuring. Her eyes picked out Aeoryn from their vantage point.
"Don't slow down." Bethany gasped breathlessly as she caught up to their little sister.
Rachel nodded, Aeoryn was getting up and ready to race after them, but she'd felt magic in her sister. Air wasn't a mage though. How was that possible?
It didn't take long at all for Aeoryn to power up the slope. She overtook Aveline and Wesley, then Carver and mother and reached Bethany and Rachel just as Rachel reached the top of the hill. Not wanting to dash straight into more Darkspawn she slowed them down and checked it out quickly. It was clear. It was a clear run to the Wilds from here but they wouldn't be able to maintain this kind of pace for very long. Looking back to Aveline and Wesley she nodded to them, "We're heading to Kirkwall by Gwaren. The bulk of the horde is south west," she pointed back towards Lothering, "but they'll be heading north east to the fertile plains where more people are."
"So we head south and cut around behind them to get a clear shot to the coast." Aveline understood, it was dangerous but it could be done and explained the scythe like movement of the horde around them.
Carver put their mother down and grumpily followed his big sister who had been the one deciding their fates since father had been killed. She had been stifling him for so long, she was better at him with the bow, in combat, everyone looked up to and adored her and everywhere they went he wasn't Carver, he was 'Hawke's little brother'.
They'd managed to make it half an hour without running into trouble. Wesley was walking by himself again but his blood was burning hot within his veins. Leandra kept pace with the wounded templar, he might be a templar but he was also a man and he obviously had a little compassion in him or at least common sense. Rachel held her mother's hand, standing opposite the darkening templar and becoming more and more anxious of him by the minute as she felt him changing. Bethany and Carver walked side by side though neither of them was speaking to the other as their concentration was taken up keeping an eye out for Darkspawn. Aveline was staying by Aeoryn Hawke's side as she sensed of all of them she was not only the leader, but the most dangerous and as such it was prudent to remain on good terms with her.
Aeoryn glanced at the red haired soldier beside her, "Aveline, your husband, Wesley," she began to talk ever so softly so that the others couldn't hear.
"He will not be a problem, I promise, he is an honorable man." Aveline assured her, thinking Hawke was concerned about him being a templar and her sisters.
"I'm sure he is, you may just wish to walk with him." Aeoryn suggested, even she could smell the taint in his blood now.
Aveline frowned and looked to her warily, "Tired of my company already?"
Aeoryn took a deep breath and glanced over her shoulder at the small group following her, she caught eyes with Wesley and held his gaze.
Wesley swallowed as there was something different in her eyes, understanding and sympathy. She knew. He bowed his head in acknowledgment.
"His wound is beyond Rachel's healing ability and she is a gifted healer. He's lost a lot of blood, I think you should cherish what time you have with him." Aeoryn suggested gently, only glancing at Aveline as she led them on.
Aveline looked back to her husband, he was looking very pale and the veins in his neck were starting to stand out. She paused to wait for him, her heart racing at the thought of losing him.
The ground began to shake.
Everyone slowed, looking around the sparsely wooded hillside around them warily.
The shaking began to increase as did a thundering sound from over the rise.
Aeoryn drew her blades and jogged ahead. Before she reached the rise a horned head appeared and grew in size and stature to reveal it belonged to a charging ogre. "Take cover!" she yelled over her shoulder, her first thoughts of how on earth she was going to protect her family from this mighty beast that towered over them.
The gray skinned ogre roared, saliva flinging from its wide jaw of yellowed jagged teeth. It charged at the pitiful creatures before it. Swatting aside the first one like a bug.
Aeoryn cried out in pain as she hit a boulder side on, she felt the instant crack of several of her ribs.
Bethany, Carver and Aveline dove out of the way fearfully seeing how easily it had swatted Aeoryn aside.
The only one other than Aeoryn who stood before the creature was little Rachel as it stormed towards her and her mother. Drawing every ounce of power she had she threw an ice spear at its face.
The ogre roared and raised its armor plated arm to deflect the attack. Then to everyone's horror it reached down for the little blonde haired, blue eyed teen who looked so much like Aeoryn.
Carver felt frozen in place, unable to move, to even raise his sword or cry out for Rachel to move.
Bethany screamed, eyes only for her baby sister.
For Aeoryn time itself slowed. Gripping the hilts of her blades she ignored the pain radiated from her chest and shot to her feet. In the blink of an eye she was moving towards the beast. She was void of all emotion, of all thought and yet all of her senses were at the highest they had ever been. She could feel everything, Carver's trembling lip, Bethany's racing heart as she passed them. Leaping high she brought both blades over her head intent on ramming them down into the skull of the ogre as hard as she possibly could.
Rachel sobbed as the ogre's massive fist enveloped her and lifted her from the ground. Looking up at it the last thing she saw was her sister's fierce expression from behind the horned brutish face of the ogre, hunting knives glinting above her head in the afternoon light. Hope flickered across her face, Aeoryn had always protected her. Then there was intense pain and everything went from red to black.
The ogre crushed the pitiful creature that had tried to harm it with one powerful clenching of its fist, it was completely unaware of the threat from behind.
Aeoryn cried out in rage and agony as blood sprayed from her sister. With more than just physical power she slammed down so hard and fast that her hunting knives pierced through the supposedly impenetrable skull of the ogre.
The ogres roar was silenced and it fell forward under the weight of the attack.
Aeoryn's inertia threw her several meters passed the ogre and into a tree, her world went black.
"Rachel!" Leandra ran to the body of her baby girl in horror, falling to her knees beside her. "No, no, no, no, no!" she sobbed.
Bethany's sob caught in her throat as she slowed her headlong rush. There was no doubt, bright and effervescent Rachel was gone forever. She could see it, her mind just couldn't process it. Aeoryn had always been able to protect them from everything, she had never seen a person move so fast in her life but it hadn't been enough. Looking past her crying mother she looked to where Aeoryn had fallen. Her heart pounded and eyes widened, Aeoryn wasn't moving!
Carver just sat where he was, tears streaming down his face, grief freezing him in place.
Bethany knelt down beside Aeoryn and carefully rolled her over, "Aeoryn? Come on now, wake up." She sniffed, she gently patted Aeoryn's cheek.
Aeoryn gasped and came too quickly, she groaned and grimaced in pain, her right arm protectively covering her chest.
"Relax, Aeoryn look at me, look at me." Bethany urged, taking hold of Aeoryn's face, she might not have been as good at healing as Rachel but she could still heal.
Aeoryn bit her lip and looked up at Bethany, nodding that she was ready.
Bethany held her hand over Aeoryn's chest, felt the crushed lung, the broken ribs, the lingering dullness of a concussion.
Aeoryn relaxed under Bethany's touch and released herself to her sister's energy flow.
Bethany leaned down and kissed Aeoryn lightly on the lips when she was done.
Aeoryn sat up and hugged her, "Thank you." She murmured softly, meaning it with every fiber of her being.
"I love you Aeoryn." Bethany sobbed holding her tightly, there was no telling if it would be the last time she could say those words to her. There was a long way to go and thousands of Darkspawn, perhaps it was merciful that Rachel was spared the torment of what was to come.
"Love you to, Beth." Aeoryn returned gently. She looked over to where her mother was rocking the broken body of their little sister, crying out in anguish. "We have to keep moving. Beth, can you…" she pulled back and looked into her sisters tear filled brown eyes, "can you help mother?" She whispered.
Bethany sobbed but nodded.
The sisters joined the others around Rachel's body.
"I'm sorry for your loss, she is with the Maker now." Wesley attempted to offer even the smallest consolation to the distraught mother.
Aeoryn pulled her blades from the Ogre's head, struggling to internalize her grief as now wasn't the time for her to grieve, not if they wanted to get out of this alive. Crouching down beside Rachel's body, opposite her mother she took a deep breath and reached out to her mother, "She died bravely mother."
"I don't want a hero! I want my daughter! How could you let this happen? She was your sister, my baby girl!" Leandra yelled angrily in her grief.
Aeoryn closed her eyes and bowed her head, taking the accusation without comment but not letting it show just how deeply that knife sank into her heart. She had seen that flicker of hope in Rachel's eyes at the sight of her... and she had failed. Oh Maker how she had failed.
"Mother it wasn't her fault..." Bethany tried to defend Aeoryn but Aeoryn looked up and shook her head.
"Mother we can't stay here, more spawn are coming, we must say our goodbyes when we're safe or we'll be joining her." Aeoryn stood and did the hardest thing she'd ever done, she turned from them and walked away.
Bethany understood what Aeoryn was doing and she was right, if they didn't keep moving they were all dead. She gently took her mother by the shoulders, "Come mother, let me return her to the ashes." She urged softly.
Leandra let her younger daughter pull her away from her baby girl in a daze.
Only Aveline saw through the stiffness of Hawke, saw the whiteness of her knuckles as she clenched her hunting blades and knew that Hawke was grieving just as deeply as Leandra. A deep respect began to grow in her heart for the woman who put aside her own emotions for the safety of others. As she was watching the woman she saw an instant change in her.
Aeoryn's heart lurched in her chest as Darkspawn began to fill the area ahead of them.
"Flames, we're too late!" Aveline drew her sword and rushed forward to join Hawke.
Carver managed to pull himself together and joined them, together the trio rushed headlong into battle while Bethany kept at a distance with her mother and Wesley but aided the fight with her magic. Even Wesley was impressed with her. The greatest fears for templars was that mages would either turn to blood magic or become possessed and yet with everything on the line Bethany Hawke resorted to neither.
"There's no end to them!" Carver yelled over to Aeoryn, beginning to despair at the never ending sea of foul creatures and the increasing burning in his tiring arms.
"I'm with you Carver, together we can do this, stay strong!" Aeoryn called to him firmly.
A few minutes later there was a rumble from overhead and everything on the small battlefield stopped and looked up.
The human's stared in disbelief as a dragon appeared.
Aeoryn threw Carver aside as the dragon unleashed a blazing fury of fire, decimating the Darkspawn.
The dragon passed overhead several times until all the Darkspawn were burning lumps of meat and ash. Then it landed in the cleared field before them and began to not only glow, but to shrink in size.
Aeoryn stood and waited warily as it approached and took human form. An older looking woman with white wavy hair, slender in a red leather armor that looked of ancient design and dragon horns curving behind her head from her temples.
"It used to be we never got visitors to the Wilds, now they come in Hordes." The woman chuckled with wry mirth, taking in the humans before her but taking very special note of the blonde woman standing warily and without fear.
Aeoryn gave a small smile at the woman's sense of humor, "Neat trick, how'd you learn how to become a dragon?" she asked, her tone light in keeping with the tone set by the woman.
The woman came to a stop before her and smirked, "Perhaps I am a dragon. If so, be thankful that the smell of burning Darkspawn does nothing for the appetite."
Aeoryn felt the scrutiny of the woman and waited, there was something about her strange golden eyes that felt as though she was seeing into her soul.
Bethany joined them, standing close to her sister, "What are you exactly?" She asked curiously.
"I know what she is, she's Flemeth the witch of the wilds. The Chasind legends tell of her kidnapping children and terrorizing clans." Aveline answered, highly concerned about Wesley at the moment as he'd collapsed during the fiery display, his skin was gray and his veins were growing blacker by the minute.
"Pfft, as if I've got nothing better to do." Flemeth scoffed mockingly, she turned to leave having seen what she'd wanted to see.
"Wait, you can't just leave us here." Bethany insisted, they all knew the tales of Flemeth but none of them mentioned her being able to turn into a dragon and helping people.
"Can't I? And why not?" Flemeth turned back with her wry grin. "I saw a curious sight, a mighty ogre vanquished. I wanted to see who could perform such a deed and now my curiosity is sated." She nodded to the blonde woman respectfully.
Aeoryn returned the nod, "Thank you for your assistance, Flemeth, we shall be on our way."
Flemeth made no move to turn away this time, impressed by the fact that this woman didn't ask for help, her inner strength was greater than any she had seen in a long, long time and there was something very unique about this one. "And where is it you intend to go?" she asked curiously.
Aeoryn gave a small smile, "Do you have anywhere in mind? I hear the Deep roads are vacant."
Flemeth burst out laughing, very pleased by that answer, "Oh you I like!" she became more serious, "Hurtled into the chaos you fight and the world will tremble before you."
Aeoryn frowned slightly, wondering what that could possibly mean.
Carver frowned at his sister, wondering what she was playing at, "We're going to Kirkwall in the Free Marches."
"Kirkwall? My, my, that is quite the journey you plan." Her eyes became calculating, "It just so happens that there is a Dalish clan near Kirkwall." She removed an amulet from around her neck. "Deliver this to them and I shall lead you safely through the Wilds."
Aeoryn accepted the amulet, "Why would you go to all that trouble to have this delivered?"
"Because I have an appointment to keep." Flemeth smiled secretively.
"We shouldn't trust her." Carver growled warily.
"We don't have much choice, Carver. She knows the Wilds, we do not." Aeoryn responded softly, not wanting to offend Flemeth.
"Before we go, there is one more thing that must be done." Flemeth looked to the fallen templar and strode towards him.
"No, you will not harm him." Aveline surged to her feet defensively.
Flemeth became sympathetic, "What has been done to your man is already in his blood." She offered sadly.
Aeoryn joined them, knowing full well that Flemeth was right.
"She's, she's right my love." Wesley wheezed, his mind and heart set on what had to be done.
Aveline looked down to him with pain etched into her being and tears in her green eyes, she knelt beside him and took his hand, holding it against her face.
"Is there nothing you can do for him?" Aeoryn asked Flemeth softly.
"The only cure I know of is to join the Wardens." Flemeth responded, looking between the wife and husband expectantly.
"And they all died at Ostagar." Aeoryn shook her head sadly.
"Not all, but the last are beyond your reach now." Flemeth acknowledged, besides she knew the survivors didn't even know how to concoct the Joining. It would be interesting to watch their progress indeed and if Lana Cousland would survive their journey not having undergone the Joining herself thereby being susceptible to the taint.
"The taint is a slow, painful death, please give me peace." Wesley pleaded with his wife, he knew that if he wasn't killed now then he would turn on them, no matter how much he loved her.
Aveline took a deep, shaky breath, unable to speak through her tight throat and chest.
Aeoryn knelt opposite Aveline, "It's up to you Aveline, I cannot decide his fate." She urged tenderly.
"Please, my love, do this for me?" Wesley held up his knife shakily, his dull eyes pleading with her.
Aveline took the knife and leaned down to kiss him one last time, not able to say she loved him in any other way. She pulled back and held the blade to his throat.
"Be strong my love." He nodded to her.
In a swift move she did the hardest thing she had ever had to do, she slit the throat of the man she loved and watched him die quickly. His blood was such a deep red it was almost black but as his last breath gurgled away there was peace on his face.
"There can be no beginning, without an end." Flemeth murmured sagely. "Your journey has only just begun."
With that they left the bodies of their loved ones and followed Flemeth through the Wilds. True to her word they encountered no more Darkspawn or danger of any kind.