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As weeks went by Kiinalyn found her fondness of her rescuer, Alistair, growing and her practically instant friendship with the dwarf, Varric, entertaining beyond measure. The pirate captain, Isabela, had long ago given the impression that the she wanted nothing to do with Kiinalyn. Which was by far fine with her for she was learning so much from being around the two gentlemen. Given the many conversations that she had with the two so far, she had been given a proper understanding of the social functions of today's world from Alistair including the mages, the Chantry, Templars, and about the country, Ferelden, that he ruled. In return she explained to him about the old hierarchy of Skyrim, the holds, the jarls that managed them, the High King and his unjust death by the hands of Ulfric Stormcloak which was the final push to the start of the civil war in her time. She told him of the times where the darkspawn did not exist to terrorize the lands and how the Fade did not exist to them, but, of course, that didn't mean that the lands were entirely free of other fearsome creatures. There were the constant dangers of necromancers and daedra that wormed their influence into their world and of the days where mages didn't have to live in fear of demons haunting them in their dreams of possessing them and when they were able to walk the streets of cities as free citizens.
With Varric she got as much as she could out of him about the history of his people, but soon it became obvious that he wasn't exactly a dwarven historian. Which really didn't matter to her for she was just grateful for any scrap of information he was able to give her. After all, she couldn't dare believe that after so many years that the dwarven race had finally resurfaced. Back in her days in Skyrim she had always been fascinated with the mystery of the disappearance of the Dwemer people. Could Varric and his people be the possible future generation of the Dwemers that disappeared so long ago? It was hard to come to a definite conclusion since, after all, Varric was the one and only dwarf she had ever met. And back in her time no one could remember what a Dwemer even looked like.
Now even though Varric wasn't too in touch with his dwarven roots he certainly was one a hell of a storyteller and that was how they spent most of their time together. Swapping stories. He had told her of his adventures with his friend Hawk during his years in Kirkwall, in the Free Marches and of his and his brother's expedition down into what they called the Deep Roads where the darkspawn dwelt. Now, that wasn't such a happy tale once she heard him explain about his brother's betrayal.
Her stories, on the other hand, consisted of her own personal quests, adventures and of the guilds and other factions she had joined in her wanderings across Skyrim. As well, she told tales of the many beasts and monsters that had once walked the lands including those that she had heard in stories and myths as well as the ones she had come face to face with and put a blade to. Varric had been very thrilled to hear those particular tales. She told him of the falmor, hag ravens, goblins, saber tooth cats, daedra, ghosts, necromancers, frost spiders, trolls, giants, and, of course, dragons-just to name a few of Skyrim's more formidable foes. And when she told him of the ruins of the dwemer, his possible ancestors, and the metal machines that were found to wander their halls, the dwarf had, surprisingly, been at a loss for words.
Finally, three weeks had passed once they had discovered the location of Titus who was, apparently, a magister in the city of the Tevinter Imperium. A place, according to Varric, where it was very easy to find yourself, almost instantly, in the wrong crowd. Apparently, you could step right off the boat and already you would be surrounded by people whom you definitely didn't want to be associated with. And Titus seemed to be an important mage considering the recognition and the respect that he received from his fellow mages. At least that is what Varric said according to his sources. Kiinalyn had to hand it to Varric, he sure had some good connections-almost has good as she had in Skyrim. Back in those days she practically had eyes and ears in every hold and village across the province.
Once they had docked in Tevinter it wasn't long before Kiinalyn found herself being a hitchhiker once more. Apparently, the same contact of Varric's was able to get them entry into a formal party where Titus was rumored to be making an appearance.
"Well, don't you look rather dashing," she complimented Alistair as he placed her gem in the inner breast pocket of his formal coat, therefore, leaving Kiinalyn to see nothing from within the gem other than the inner lining fabric of the pocket. So much for setting her eyes on this famed mage city mostly known for its poor reputation of demon dealing blood mages as Varric had so kindly explained to her earlier.
"Thanks, though I was never a big fan of these formal affairs," Alistair commented as she felt him start down the plank that led him off the ship onto the docks.
"Normally I would say the same thing, but the only real formal appearances I had to deal with was at the Blue Palace when the High Queen requested me. I had to dress a little neater for those occasions. But the dress code for the rest of the Jarl's of Skyrim was pretty lax. If only you had attended some of Jarl Balgruuf's parties. Now he knew how to entertain his guests." After all Nords sure knew how to have a grand time. The average Nord pretty much drank till they dropped stone cold on the floor.
"You were part of the Queen's court?" Alistair asked with interest.
"Yes, she was known as Elisif the Fair, Widow of High King Torygg. I was given the honor after I assisted the Imperial army in taking down Ulfric Stormcloak and putting an end to the rebellion."
"Is there anything you haven't done?" He said with good humor.
They didn't continue the conversation after that. His silence signaling Kiinalyn that there were too many people around to carry on. No need to draw attention to him as a crazy man speaking out loud to himself. However, their silence allowed her to hear the hustle and bustle of the city she was unable to see. She heard the typical sounds found in any city-vendors calling out to by-passers to buy their product, the squeaky wheels of carts passing by, the chatter of animals that local farmers were trying to sell as fresh food for people's tables. From the noise around them she was able to pick out a very distinctive voice.
"You should really talk to Kiin sometime, Rivani," she heard Varric say. Due to the volume of his voice it seemed that he was close by; most likely walking directly behind Alistair. "You could learn a lot from her." Kiin, right, that was her. She remembered having a chat with Varric a few days ago about him trying to pick out a suitable nickname for her. Kiin was more typically used for practical situations claiming that her full name was a mouth full to say in conversations. But that alone didn't satisfy him. He was still on the quest to give her her "true" nickname.
"I'm satisfied with what I know, Varric, thank you very much," she heard Isabela retort. The pirate sounded like she really didn't want to have the particular conversation that the two of them were having.
"Aw, are you still hung up over your first meeting? First impressions aren't everything, you know."
"You know it's bad enough that my entire crew thinks that you and Alistair are slowly starting to lose your minds after all the times they've caught you talking to that rock."
"Hey, we've tried to be discreet. But what can I say? She's never short on conversation. You should really hear some of her stories. She's a very independent lady just like yourself. I'm sure once you two get talking you'll find out that you have plenty in common."
"I very much doubt that." Isabela said skeptically.
"Then prove it," Kiinalyn heard Alistair join in. She heard a rustling sound from beyond her vision. Before she knew it she was greeted with the light of the afternoon sun as she found herself thrown into the air. The world around her was spinning as if she were trapped in a whirlwind. "Here, you're in charge of her today."
The world came to a sudden lurch as Isabela instinctively caught her.
"What?! No way. Not happening," the pirate argued.
"Uh huh. Now remember to play nice," Varric chided her.
"I have no interest in making friends with old dead people." Kiinalyn was certainly loving the fact of how they were talking about her as if she wasn't here. She wasn't exactly all that thrilled to be found, literally, thrown into the pirate's care.
"Oh, come on. She's young in spirit." She heard Alistair laugh at his own joke. "Give her a chance, Isabela. Who knows, you might just like her."
With the two of them ganging up on the pirate Kiinalyn heard Isabela give in. "Fine, but only for today and today only."
"That's my girl," Varric said.
"Whatever. If she ends up sucking out my soul I'm blaming you."
Varric snickered. "I wouldn't expect anything less."
Kiinalyn rolled her eyes inside her gemstone prison. This was definitely going to be one hell of a long party.
Kiinalyn observed her new surroundings with interest as her new carrier, Isabela, followed behind Alistair and Varric into the estate that was hosting the formal ball. Now as much as she had a particular dislike of the pirate queen she had to give the woman a silent thank you for fastening her gem onto her belt with a leather cord instead of stashing her in a pocket as Alistair had done. She finally had a better view of what was going on around her.
Kiinalyn watched Isabela grab for a glass of champagne off a passing tray from a server. Not paying any particular attention as Varric and Alistair began talking to a slight, blonde-haired woman a short distance away. They seemed fine on their own at the moment so Kiinalyn decided to follow Isabela's lead and take in the finer details of the room and the new company that they found themselves in.
It seemed like any other formal occasion that she had attended. The hall was spotless and decorated in a stunning way for the occasion to flaunt status and to make guests look on at them with envy. Long tables were set up with enough food to feed all of Solitude, while the help went around serving drinks in delicate glassware on silver serving trays. As for the people in the room, besides for the help in their uniforms, there pretty much wasn't a guest in sight that wasn't covered in head to toe in fine silk and embroidery and decorated in gems encased in silver or gold. Just one glance at the crowd surrounding them told Kiinalyn that this particular soiree outshone any event that the High Queen ever held, but that didn't automatically make it all the more bearable to attend if the chatter she was picking up was any indication.
Since first entering the estate Kiinalyn spoke for the first time in a quiet voice, as to not attract too much attention. "You know from the specks of conversation I've been able to pick up you are definitely going to need a stronger drink to get you through this party."
Isabela sighed, already bored. "You don't say."
"Let me introduce you—" they both heard a nearby mage say. "He found my house slaves—excellent quality elf slaves—" Kiinalyn felt her very soul stiffen at the mention of slaves.
"Ugh," Isabela said with disgust. "Kill me now."
Kiinalyn instantly felt a wave of depression wash over her. "You know it never use to be this bad. Slavery, that is. I mean it happened, you would hear the rare story of it, but it was never on this level. This flaunting bragging arrogant oblivious level of incompetence. It's no wonder that mages are treated the way they are today. Mages like this give the rest a bad name." Back in her days of living there was the odd tale or two that floated around about slavery in the province, but those were quickly silenced. However, those in far off lands were not taken care of so quickly only because there were no laws in those lands that prevented them. Kiinalyn had even heard a rumor of a wealthy man in a foreign country that had the hobby of collecting people.
"Weren't they always arrogant?" she could barely hear Isabela whisper.
"Aren't there always a few in every group?" She countered. "Mages will always be doubted and mistrusted; there is no helping that. Everyone will always have their suspicions and for good reasons. But at least in my time mages, across Tamriel, had their freedom and the right to live their lives as they saw fit."
Looking back on her memories as an apprentice at the College of Winterhold-Kiinalyn had discovered her gift at a young age while her Uncle Malcom was still alive. She thought of joining the Mages Guild in the Imperial City to learn more of what she was capable of, but the care for her uncle was too important at the time. He had owned a small plot of farmland on the outskirts of the city so when Kiinalyn hadn't been assisting him running the farm she did odd jobs for the merchants in the Market District to earn extra coin. This ensured that she and her uncle had enough coin to live comfortably without having to worry about money. She had put off her own dreams during these times. Uncle Malcom wasn't exactly a wealthy man, but he lived a comfortable life and knew what was important in it and he made certain that she was taken care of properly with the coin they both made. Though she wouldn't be able to learn more about the arcane arts till she joined the guild at the College of Winterhold, Kiinalyn had learned a little of the craft from an old friend of her mother's-a kind argonian woman named Rasa who had owned a small arcane shop in the Market District. In return for running small errands for her, Rana taught Kiinalyn the simplest of spells and everything she knew of potion making. Rasa had been a master in healing as well, but since Kiinalyn had been at such a young age then the argonian could only teach her so much of the art.
Kiinalyn had fond memories of her and Rasa in the little shop when the merchants would close up for the night. She always felt a calming effect of the endless number of candles Rana would easily light up with a wave of her scaly hand and of the scent burning of incense. Three times a week they would sit huddled in the dimly lit room as if sharing secrets with one another well into the night before finally Rasa took her home. Over the years Rasa had become almost like a second mother to her. Kiinalyn's soul ached to have those days back again. Those were some of the happiest memories of her childhood.
Isabela sipped her glass. "Some of these mages should be locked up."
"Yes, some," she agreed. "But not all." After all Kiinalyn had known more than her fair share of good mages when she was alive. "Here and everywhere. Not all mages deserve to live in a tower to waste away in for the rest of their days. Just what kind of life is that?" Kiinalyn couldn't imagine a life like that. She couldn't believe how strict and complex the lives of mage's had become. The rules and the extent the Chantry and its Templars had gone to to see mages locked up in nothing short than a prison cell was ridiculous. Just what exactly had happened in the many years that she had been locked away for?
"What's got your knickers in a twist?" Isabela asked, hearing the bite in her tone. "If ghost have knickers, that is."
Yes, just what was it that bothered her so? It wasn't that she felt that she had to stand up for mages everywhere. After all, she knew from experience that there were those individuals out there that were rotten to the core. But this seeing and hearing these mages talk about power and brag about slaves… just thinking about it now sparked a fury in her. "It's this party, these mages, this whole damn country disgusts me. It's just—I can't… This is not the future that I fought for. This isn't the way it's suppose to be!"
Was this truly the outcome of everything she went through to ensure the world had a future? It couldn't be. It couldn't be true. Not after all the blood, sweat, and tears she went through to put an end to Alduin and therefore saving all of Nirn.
No doubt the pirate had questions about her outburst, but just before Isabela was able to open her mouth to voice them a tall, dark, gentleman approached her.
"Isabela! I didn't mean to surprise you. Escort for the king now? Just transport and security, or-"
"Don't. Say. A. Word," the woman tactfully cut him off. Seemed like these two were old acquaintances of sorts.
Kiinalyn started paying closer attention to their exchange. The well dressed man seemed taken aback at the pirate's response. "- Mae asked me to watch for your ship and keep it off the registry," she heard him continue in mid sentence. "I didn't think you were still alive, to be honest."
"I'm alive." Though Isabela seemed to refuse to give him any more details beyond that.
"Don't mistaken me, I'm very glad. Maybe after this, we can catch up over drinks?" Isabela continued to give him the cold shoulder.
"You're awfully quiet, you know."The pirate broke her silence.
"I'm imagining you as a legless cockroach, rolling in your filth and waiting to die."
Kiinalyn felt her curiosity increase as their conversation continued. It was obvious that the two had a history of some sorts. Something that involved the illusion of the pirate woman's death. Now this party was starting to get more interesting to her.
"- You owe me!" The man cried out in a hushed voice. "How would you like it if I told the King about the Venefication Sea?"
Kiinalyn could visibly see something inside Isabela snap causing the pirate to completely lose her cool facade.
"Nothing happened there, Devon," pulling one of her elegant daggers on him to emphasize her point. Literally. "Nothing happened. You understand?" When the man nodded his head in understanding she walked away without another word. Shielding her dagger as she went.
Kiinalyn couldn't keep quiet about the exchange for very long. Her curiosity getting the better of her. "What was that all about?"
"Nothing that concerns you," Isabela said in an icy tone.
"I highly doubt—"
"It's none of your damn business! Take the hint already."
Kiinalyn saw Isabela's face flash briefly with a sea of emotion. Hurt. Regret. Anger. Guilt. Kiinalyn had seen looks like that before on folks long since forgotten. Looks of troubled souls that bore a burden, a heavy conscience that they kept to themselves; alone. She chose not to press the matter. "Have it your way then."
Isabela made her way over to Alistair and Varric who were still in the company of the blonde woman that Kiinalyn had seen with them earlier.
"What did I miss? Is the magister pointing out her slaves?"
Varric had quickly introduced the woman as Mae, widower to his second cousin. She was a mage, one of the more pleasant magisters in Tevinter.
"Everyone has slaves in Tevinter, Darling," Mae stated before her bright blue eyes caught something behind them. "Kaffas! He's early."
As they all turned Kiinalyn was able to catch a glimpse of the guest of honor, Titus, enter the room. The crowd of magisters parting before him as though he were a god to be worshipped. Already she was getting a bad vibe from the man. There was something cunning and sinister in the way he moved and addressed his fellow mages as he soaked up their undivided attention. Cocky bastard.
Alistair was already on the move giving out instructions as he weaved his way through the crowd. "Spread out and be ready."
Varric seemed a little hesitant. "You're sure—"
"Now," the king stressed.
Kiinalyn watched helplessly as Alistair descended down the staircase to the main floor towards his target. You would think a seasoned warrior like himself would have enough sense not to go charging head strong into battle against a powerful mage surrounded by his adoring peer, that were, don't forget, mages themselves.
"Does he always just jump in on the spur of the moment?" she asked exasperated by the king's actions.
"I'm afraid so," Isabela surprisingly responded.
She sighed. "Idiot."
"Now that I agree with." Isabela followed behind by a few strides. Unsheathing her dual daggers as she went. Before the pirate's feet even reach the main floor the fighting had already broken out. The sounds of swords clashing and magic crackling through the air around them.
"Talos above, don't I feel useful." Kiinalyn mumbled sarcastically to herself barely able to do nothing more than that as the surrounding chaos left her helplessly swinging hazardously on the pirate's hip. If Kiinalyn had a physical body right now her skills certainly would be found handy in this situation.
"Isabela behind you!"
Isabela spun around in time to swipe at the man that came charging at her. "Well, good to know you're not completely useless." That was the closest thing to a compliment that Kiinalyn had heard from her yet.
Kiinalyn made a smirk that no one could see. "Well, I might not have a blade, but at least acting as a second pair of eyes for you is better than nothing. You got another one coming on your left flank."
The pirate turned to face the threat dodging a blow before sinking a blade through the man's rib cage. "Thanks."
"Plenty of time for that later." Kiinalyn quickly brushed her off as she spotted a familiar face in the crowd around them. "Right now you might want to consider wrenching that man off Alistair before he finds a sword in himself."
Now Kiinalyn knew that normally Isabela didn't take orders well, since she was the one that usually gave them. But with Alistair's life at stake there was little she could say on the matter. "Right."
And so she flew to the King's aid to back him up throwing the man off Alistair before beheading the man with a swift slash of her dagger. The pirate now stood back to back with Alistair. "It's funny how many parties I go to end up like this."
Kiinalyn couldn't help but laugh at the comment as a memory came to mind. "Same here. I crashed an embassy party once. Now that was fun." More so because it was being held by the Thalmor themselves. The only thing Kiinalyn felt guilty about at that party was not causing even more chaos than she did.
Alistair stabbed a man in the gut with his sword. "As glad as I am to see you two getting along I really don't think it's that funny."
As the herd of mages was starting to thin Alistair noted that they did, in fact, need to take one of them for questioning about Titus since the magister had, oh so ruefully, left their company without so much as a goodbye. So when Isabela set her eyes on the first mage she saw she went bounding right after him.
Up ahead Kiinalyn saw the man that she recognized as Devon get in the way of the fleeing mage. As the man charged him he didn't hesitate to wound Isabela's old acquaintance by giving him a good slash in his left bicep. Once the man had made contact with Devon was the moment Isabela chose to pounce on him. Tackling him to the ground while crushing his face in a painful matter into the tiled floor.
"Isabela," Devon breathed out with relief. "Thank you… I thought he was going to–" He was cut off suddenly as the pirate stabbed him in the heart.
Kiinalyn watched with wide eyes from inside her gem as she saw the man go down. Blood gushing out of him creating a pool around his dead corpse. "Was that really necessary?!" she cried out.
Isabela looked blankly down at the corpse. "To me, yes."
Before Kiinalyn could question her further Varric and Mae had joined them with Alistair just lingering behind them.
"I think that's the last of them," Alistair called out to them. But Kiinalyn saw movement behind him. A lingering mage and with Alistair's back turned to him the man took the opportunity to blast a spell of inferno upon him.
There was little she could do to help him. "Look out!"
"Shit!" Isabela cursed.
At hearing Kiinalyn's warning cry Alistair turned to face the threat behind him. He saw the mage cast his hands out before him and suddenly all he saw was fire. By the time Alistair realized what was going on there was no time to avoid the blast of heat. In a last minute attempt to protect himself Alistair closed his eyes and raised his arms to cover his face. He knew it was a fruitless attempt to defend himself, but he saw no other options he was too close to the mage to do anything else. All he could do was pray to the Maker that the blast wouldn't kill him instantly or wouldn't suffer too long from the severe burns he would no doubt receive from the spell. So Alistair prepared himself for the pain that was about to engulf him. He felt the air around him spike up in temperature, but never felt the flames that he knew were sure to come. Maybe his death had been too swift for his physical body to feel any pain. Confused at what was happening Alistair peeked his eyes open to find himself still breathing, still alive. Opening his eyes all the way he found himself in a shimmering blue bubble. Beyond it were the flames of the fire licking around him but being prevented from reaching him by the barrier that protected him. When the flames from the spell subsided he saw the mage that had cast them stand before him in awe when a bolt suddenly pierced the mage's chest. Only when the man fell dead to the floor did the shield around him collapsed on itself becoming a ball of light, no bigger than the size of Alistair's fist.
Alistair breathed out a sigh of relief. He turned to look back at Mae standing with the others. She was the only mage among them here that would protect him with magic. But seeing the equally stunned look of her's as with the rest of his companions made him think otherwise. She did not seem responsible for the deed. He turned back to the hovering ball of light just as it flew right at him.
"You idiot!" he heard Kiinalyn's voice screeched at him from within. "What kind of careless naive excuse of a fighter are you?! Just what exactly was going through that head of yours to rush in like you did? If it weren't for Isabela you would have a sword through your gut and be bleeding out on the floor right now. Do you have a death wish or something?!"
Alistair could do little more than gape like a fish at the spectacle before him. Was this Kiinalyn's very soul before him?
"Kiin!?" Varric called out as the rest of the group rushed up to them.
"What?!" she reeled on the dwarf. Alistair noted that it was Kiinalyn's obvious fury directed at him and his actions that was blinding her from what was really happening.
Varric seemed unsure of how to go on. "How should I say this? You're—You're—"
"Spit it out, Varric!" Kiinalyn was beyond rage at this point. This party, these mages, Alistair's blind jump into battle was enough to send her temper over the edge.
The dwarf simply pointed at her. For a long moment a silence hung in the air.
"Well, that's…Huh, this is a new development," Kiinalyn said as she continued to float in place.
"How did you do that?" Alistair asked once he found his voice.
"I… I don't know." She admitted. She was stumped as to this new development of her's was all about.
Alistair looked in wonder at the light that was Kiinalyn. If Kiinalyn had a face of her own right now it would probably be just as shocked as theirs were. How had she done that exactly? As he understood her situation Kiinalyn was trapped in the star with no maneuverability, never mind powers.
"Does this mean you're free?" Alistair dared asked. Kiinalyn floated a short distance away from them before halting. It was involuntary, of course, as she felt some invisible wall block her way denying her from breaking some kind of boundary. Her weightless orb form bounced in place.
"No, I'm still anchored to the star," she said with some disappointment. No doubt, the star had some sort of useable leash, which would make sense since her soul was still was a prisoner of it.
"But I wonder…" she mussed.
So just what did this unforeseen development mean for Kiinalyn? For them? Alistair approached her slowly. "How did you even do that? Protect me, that is?"
"I created a ward around you," she told him simply.
"But how?" he stressed. Did a soul alone have some kind of powers he wasn't aware of?
"With magic, of course." As if were the most obvious thing in the world. "I created a ward around you."
"You're a mage?" Surprise evident in his voice. Not once in all of his conversations with Kiinalyn had she mentioned this fact. And an important fact at that. But the pieces of the puzzle were slowly starting to come together now. How else would that explain how she protected him from that mage?
"Well, yes. Well, I was once. Did I not already tell you this?"
"You kind of left that little detail out," Varric said.
"Oh, well, now you know."
Alistair was completely taken aback at this new piece of information about his ghostly friend. He had known that Kiinalyn had been a scholar, an adventurer, and a skilled swordsman during her time, but never did she even hint at the fact that she possessed any skills of the arcane arts. Grateful as he was for her saving him Alistair definitely had some questions for Kiinalyn later about this.
The mage, Mae, was staring at Kiinalyn's new ghostly form with interest. "Friend of yours I'm assuming, Varric?"
Varric sighed. "It's a long story, Mae."