Prologue

Lillianth's Journal

Present Day—After the Fifth Blight

As I sat in the Hanging Man tavern, I observed around me, trying to make myself inconspicuous as possible, my face hidden from view. I ordered an ale. I observed the man sitting at the bar a few feet away from me. He looked terrible: his blond hair was long and filthy as well as his beard, his clothes were shabby and bedraggled, I could smell him from where I was sitting: he hadn't bathed in a long time. He drank and drank. He looked broken. He sang drunkenly a mournful tune of his lost love, which pierced my heart. I understood his pain for I had lost my love many years ago.

I watched as he began flirting with one of the barmaids. He was hoping to get out of paying for his drinks. Just then, a big angry man and a group of his friends approached him.

"Are you trying to flirt with my woman?" he said.

"So what if I was?" spat the drunk man. "I can do whatever I want."

"I don't take kindly to those who try to steal my woman."

Eventually, what turned out to be a mere shouting match eventually became physical. The drunk man punched the big man. Soon all of the big man's friends grabbed him and dragged him outside. I decided to follow them, knowing it was my duty to do so. Stealthily, I went out the back and watched as all the men began beating him: punching and kicking. The drunk man tried to fight back but was outnumbered one to three.

The man laid in the mud, beaten and moaning in pain, covered in blood, filth and bruises. The men decided to degrade him more: they kicked him in the ribs and groin, laughed and mocked him, and then spat and pissed on him. Just as the big man was about to piss on the poor man, I sneaked up behind him, grabbing his hair to expose his neck and pressed the tip of my Dar'Misu into his jugular.

"Leave him alone!" I demanded.

"What are you gonna do about it, sweetheart?"

The men were about to draw their weapons.

"Tell your men to back off!" I told him. "If they don't, I'll cut your throat."

"Do as she says."

The men sheathed their weapons and backed off slowly. I slowly lowered my Dar'Misu and let the big man go. Soon, the big man tore off my hood to see who had the nerve to confront them. They were shocked to see that I was not just a woman, but a Dalish elf.

"You should be ashamed of yourselves," I scolded. "Ganging up on this poor man."

"This ain't no poor man," the big man said. "This is the most disgraced sonofabitch in of all of Felderan. He got what he deserved. Besides, why the hell do you care, you knife-eared bitch?"

Enraged, I slashed at the big man's face, which he cried out in pain. He was about to unsheathe his sword when I pointed my dagger into the big man's Adam's apple.

"That was only a warning," I threatened. "I'm not afraid to take on all three of you. Be thankful I didn't slice anything more precious to you." Slowly, I dragged Dar'Misu to the big man's genitals; he whimpered in pain as I pressed the tip there. "Now, get out of here. I'll be sure the barman knows not to serve you again."

"Bitch!" said the big man.

The men left. I knelt down towards to check on the beaten man. Truly, this was a broken man; he had given up on life. A beaten, dirty dog. He was covered in blood, muck, spit, piss and bruises. One eye was swollen shut and purple, his lip was split and he was bleeding from his mouth. I felt pity for him. That poor creature! Then, I saw he was wearing a medallion on his neck...one I recognized immediately.

"Where did you get this?" I demanded, pointing Dar'Misu at his face. "Did you steal it?"

"No," he moaned. "It was given to me...by my love."

I looked into the man's one good eye and saw...eyes that I couldn't forget...

"Alistair," I whispered.

"Lilli-" he moaned and then passed out.


An excerpt from Alistair's Journal

I wasn't too sure what I was seeing, but I was too drunk to recognize anyone or anything. All I know is that my heart and pride were broken; I was nothing more than a disgraced royal. Exiled and shamed. Though none of it mattered anymore since my love was gone forever. Many months I have searched for her and found nothing.

As I lay in the street, beaten and surely on the verge of death, in the mud. The men laughed, kicked me in the ribs and groin, then they spit and pissed on me, calling me 'some king'. I wanted to weep like a child after the vicious beating, feeling the wet mud on my clothes and the warm piss and spit hitting my hair and face.

Just then, I heard an angry voice came from the dark and a flash of a blade in the dim light of the tavern. It sounded female...yet vaguely familiar. She threatened the leader and ordered them to leave and scolding them in the process. My vision was too blurred and my ears were filled with piss that I wasn't too sure who it was.

Soon, the men left. The figure knelt beside me to check on me. For a moment, she saw the necklace I was wearing that my love had given me.

"Where did you get this? Did you steal it?" she demanded, pointing her dagger at me.

"No..." I moaned. For a moment, I saw her eyes...her face...it was her! The angel that had saved me...