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Re: Excerpt from a Story I have been working on. Set in the Dragon Age Universe.

by ShroudedDragons
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Original Post

Excerpt from a Story I have been working on. Set in the Dragon Age Universe.

[ Edited ]
★★★★ Novice
Set in the Dragon Age Universe
The untold story set in the third age of Thedas. An evil stirs, bringing about events which lead to discovery that will change the fate of the Wardens forever, and that of two lives.

“Gareth!” Ariel had seen the dark speck, now climbing at a frightening speed.
“What is it now,” Gareth called over, “Another one of those cursed nugs?”
Gareth had never liked the hairless things particularly much. It had been far too treacherous to take the alternate route but as it turned out, this one fared no better.
“No, would you just look--below!”
At her hesitance he squinted down into the abyss trying to see whatever creature existed…and much to his despair, he saw the pale eyes, and those wretched teeth.
Being the Warden Gareth was, the sight of Darkspawn was no less horrifying, they defied all laws of nature, and what gripped him the most was the fact that they were actually nothing more than people in their most terrifying, decaying form.
Where there is one he thought to himself, there are always more.
Ariel had now unslung her bow and began to loose the first of many arrows striking the Shriek just below the neck. Down it fell until it could no longer be seen through the darkness beneath. As quickly as it had gone more came scrambling up with wretched sounds and evil chants until it blocked out all other noise, as if the darkness beckoned to them, so loud was their cacophony.
“We need to go now! Gareth,” Ariel bellowed, “Just push off the ledge and fast, I will not be able to give you much time once they all start scaling the Cliff side!”
By that stage the droning and twisted cries only grew louder, and more potent… but then, like the calm before a storm the chorus simply stopped. The ascent had begun.
Ariel watched in horror as the Darkspawn raced up the Cliffside like ravenous beasts at the scent of a blood trail, so savage was their fury. Gareth at this stage was still on the other side trying desperately to push himself off, but to no avail.
“The rope,” he yelled, “The damned rope is caught, I can’t get off this blasted thing!” Desperation, kicked in.
All his years in training as a Warden was not going to end in some Cliffside ravine, not like this. Ariel watched in despair as the Darkspawn streamed up towards him, but in all her years training as a Bard, she knew of only one way out of this; A clear mind and a deft touch is all that was needed, and knew just the thing.
“Gareth! I’m going to loose an arrow with rope into that crevice near your hand, once there you must secure it!”
Gareth protested, “You’re going to do what!?”
But before he could protest any longer Ariel had plucked the heaviest arrow, nocked it and fired directly into the crack only inches from his face.
A fine shot she noted.
Gareth was out of options and saw no alternative. He fastened the shaft until the rope was as taut as a bow string, and Ariel too secured her end with many loops around a small boulder. It was done.
The Darkspawn were furious now, they snarled with fangs of death and wicked hearts. Gareth could see them clambering up with even more ferocity, fire burning in their eyes. For every one Ariel shot down, three more replaced it, she could not keep them off him for much longer, and time was running out.

She noticed Gareth was struggling on the rope as he scaled across, the heavy armour didn’t help but she could not believe he was still carrying that shield which vexed him further.
“Forget the damned Shield!” She said pleadingly, “There is no time.”
Gareth considered this and much to his own heartache, he thought it was best. Even a gift from the First Warden himself had no relevance down here it seemed. With great regret he unfastened the shield from his back and let it plunge into the abyss, never to be seen again. Another gift for the Darkspawn to use he thought bitterly.
 As the Darkspawn had now reached the lodged rope, Ariel thought it best to unleash her remaining arrows in a volley, casting down many back into the shadows below. The ravine was now crawling with them, snarling and taunting as Gareth reached the other side. Lunging he had just managed to get a foothold on the ledge as Ariel cut the rope, casting down whatever tried to follow into shadow.
“Here your hand,” grasping his arm. With one final effort Gareth hauled himself up, Ariel clasping the rope so as to not fall in herself. He was over.
Scrambling they made towards a row of boulders avoiding bolts from wicked crossbows whistling by as they splintered on the rocks like icicles.
“My shield would have been very handy right about now,” he said breathlessly as they jumped behind the largest boulder.
“What a cruel twist of fate,” sweat dripping from his brow and stinging his eyes.
Ariel stared daggers at him, but then, and only then, did she saw a deepness in his now reddened eyes, a sincerity even, the hard features of his face revealing of some greater loss, but she said not a word. Now was not the time for such thoughts though, they had to move.
Peering over the boulders, they witnessed the mass of creatures that stood where they had just been not moments ago. They had lost all their fury and were now aimlessly wandering, searching even. It was as if some unknown entity had subdued the beasts, so docile they seemed now.
“What in the Maker's name has happened to them, why aren’t they doing anything?” Ariel had a puzzled expression on her face, staring confusion.
Gareth meanwhile was so lost in prayer that all else seemed a distant memory. She noticed he clasped something, and at that moment she could feel the presence of magic.
“So let it be,” he murmured. “Let us go.” Gesturing towards an orifice that was not but fifteen strides ahead of them.
“Quietly now, and keep low, I am unsure of how long the beasts will be subdued.”
Ariel was stunned.
“Are you not going to tell me what you just did there,” she whispered, keeping quiet enough so as to not draw attention as they made their way towards the opening.
“Put simply,” he murmured, “They cannot sense me nor can I them. I broke the connection, albeit temporarily that a Warden and a Darkspawn feel when in close proximity, so let us go, shall we?”
With that Gareth stepped through the opening, leaving Ariel bewildered. Just who was he really, she thought to herself, stepping through the crevice.

After their narrow escape from the Darkspawn filled ravine, Gareth and Ariel were now starting to make good headway. They had passed many a treacherous cavern, journeying through parts which would have had them scratching their heads if not for Gareth’s Warden Sense. Ever since venturing down he had always felt something, a presence which lingered but kept to the shadows watching, always watching. Gareth had kept his blade ready after that.
They ventured further, deeper into the beyond, until they came across what seemed like the first bit of civilization they’d seen for some time. Only it wasn’t civilized. They had found the Deep Roads.
The old Dwarven highway now nothing but ruin. It was said they spanned all over Thedas, even rumours of such roads crossing into unknown lands. But for now it had been long overrun with Darkspawn filth and any attempt to reclaim them futile. The Wardens know this; any attempt would end in slaughter.
The Dwarves tried long ago but to no avail, only fragments can be recovered now; Thaigs from centuries past.
As Gareth and Ariel journeyed them, they became to understand the plight of the Dwarves. Corruption ruled this place now, the walls covered in lichen, the pillars now veiled behind layers of tainted filth. The beauty that was once the pride of the Dwarves was now like the ashes of a fire long since burned. The taint ruled this place now. There would be no other.
Ariel had suddenly halted, her eyes alight with awe, taking in the colossal figure which stood proud above all that was defiled here. A great statue stood, taller and much grander than anything she had ever seen, or even read about for that matter. Gareth had walked alongside her, taking in the sheer size of the colossal being.
“Yes, they are quite remarkable beyond comprehension aren’t they?” he said, eyes searching hers.
It was the first time anything had been said between them since the ravine, so as to not draw unwanted attention. Ariel gazed upon the mighty structure; she had read about such things in her time as a Bard but to see it first-hand was something else altogether, after a moment she said, “Incredible, still standing after all this time. I think I now believe what they mean by true
Dwarven craftsmanship,” letting curiosity get the upper hand she strode towards the base of the figure, tracing her fingers against the smoothness of the stone. After a moment Gareth had too joined her at the base of the statue
“Remnants of an age long since passed,” keeping his voice low, “and forgotten sadly,” placing a hand upon the stone as if trying to discern the figure it represented.
Ariel had wondered what Gareth meant by ‘forgotten’. Surely such things weren’t lost to history…were they? After a time absorbing in the might that dwarfed them she decided to ask the question.
“How?" Feeling the smoothness of the cold stone upon her palm.
“How can such history and tragedy be forgotten when it clearly stands here before us,” she added in a low voice, watching Gareth as he fell silent, staring off into the passage ahead as if caught in some trance or distant memory.
He looked at her now, eyes cold and dark like he had seen something unpleasant, finally he spoke.
“Perhaps not forgotten,” gesturing towards the great ceiling it was holding up, “but ignored, and people have just simply chosen not to think about such things as if they were nothing but fantasy.” The features of his face now weary and drawn after the gruelling trek, but continued on all the same.
“You see, only when the Darkspawn rise upon the surface do people start to care and realise that horrors do exist. But once they’ve disappeared below the surface again and the archdemon is no more, to most, after some time, the Darkspawn become myth again…bedtime stories for young children. Much like the Grey Wardens.” the last words said with some hint of anger.
“Little do many know of the happenings beneath? Of course we cannot always live in fear of such things. But for the Kings and queens, emperors and empresses, whomever, it must always be a concern, which is sadly not.” he finished.
Ariel could see the dark and saddened expression that washed over his face, no matter how much he tried to cover it up. She had never seen or heard him like this before and it troubled her greatly. Could things really be as bad as what he described? Do the powers of Orlais,and Tevinter even not take the threat of Darkspawn seriously? A silence fell upon them, Gareth had moved on from the figure and was now studying the walls, while Ariel looked upon these relics with a much renewed interest…and sorrow.
After some time, Gareth approached her with some news.

“I may have found a way out of here,” he motioned towards the glyphs that were set into the stone wall.
“Going by these markings, there appears to be another crossroad further down this passageway, now if we take the left path it is possible we may reach an exit within 2 days” he said, “Solid walking of course.”
Ariel had now wandered over, eyeing the glyphs as she went by.
“And what of the Darkspawn,” she questioned, doubt creeping in “There is no saying we won’t encounter more,” at her words Gareth looked away, his expression somewhat darkened.
“Well yes, there is that, which would only delay us further,” Pacing now he continued. “But Maker willing I hope to avoid them as much as we possibly can. See here?” gesturing towards the glyphs “These markings may lead us to one of the very few safe passages that the Dwarves built in for quick escapes. Now whether they still exist or not is another thing, but right now, we’re out of options. It is a risk we must take.”
They both considered the idea for a time, mulling over thoughts and possibilities that may or may not eventuate. What if there was none of these so called safe passages left? And even if they found one what then? There was no way of knowing how far they’d actually come, not knowing exactly where here actually was in this Maker cursed place. The air was thick and musty, stifling the thoughts from Gareth’s head as he tried to study the remaining glyphs. Ariel watched on dubiously, not knowing if he could truly understand them or was merely making assumptions, both thoughts made her edgy. After sometime she decided to take a look herself, applying whatever knowledge she had gained through both the University of Orlais and the Bards.
“So…” she said suddenly “can you interpret the meaning?” Gareth looked over, observing that she too was also trying her hand at deciphering them.
“Not exactly, but from what I can gather these ones here are only meant as a guide, and usually-,” he stopped short, staring off into the passage beyond, eyes squinting into the darkness ahead.
Ariel at that moment saw the faintest flicker of hope in his eyes, albeit fleeting, continuing he went on “Well, usually they appear before a crossroad. All these passages must link up to someplace and so the Dwarves decided to mark them with glyphs for any who lost their way. Of course one had to be able to read such things, which many did of course back then…but now though, it has sadly become a lost art.” Turning his attention towards to the runes, he noticed something odd. On one of the glyphs a strange inscription was made, of the likes he’d never encountered.
Ariel noticing his confusion wandered over to take a closer look. This glyph, he thought, was entirely segregated from the rest, along with a unique looking symbol which looked oddly like…a rearing Griffon. The symbol of the Grey Wardens.
“Impossible, this it cannot be,” he spoke as if lost in some trance. Ariel saw it too.
“Is that what I think it is, the-, “
“Symbol of the Grey Wardens, yes, yes it is.” Gareth finished. Ariel could hardly believe what she heard. Why on earth would the Dwarves have included their Symbol on this rune? What was so special about this rune? As it turned out, Gareth had already known the answer, turning towards her now he spoke.
“I think we may have just found our way out of here,” he stood tall now, it was as if the sight of it renewed the vigour in his limbs, tears glistened in his eyes. “That rune is--Dwarven for outpost…,” he let the words hang in the air. Ariel motioned towards the passage ahead “You mean to say out there lies a…Grey Warden Outpost?” she stammered out, almost not believing her own words.
“Yes, down here. It is almost unheard of, as if—,” at that moment Gareth felt a sensation as cold as a winters wind wash over him. Something was here, lurking in the shadows, he could feel its presence. The presence he’d been feeling had returned.
“Hold,” keeping his voice low, “we’re not alone, I fear what I felt earlier has returned. We’ve been watched this whole time.” Ariel had now taken out her twin silverite daggers, she kept them close, and her fingers going white so hard was the grip as she scanned the impenetrable darkness beyond. She spoke up, cautiously.
“What is it, Darkspawn or something more,” a wave of panic gripped her. No amount of training had prepared her to fight like this, in these conditions, against monsters. She felt as if the shadows beyond were beckoning, eyes always watching. The torches they’d acquired earlier were beginning to lose their strength. Gareth hesitated for a moment, trying to make sense of this hum he now felt, penetrating his thoughts...
“I cannot say,” he finally replied, “but whatever lurks out here is also aware of us too. I can feel it.”
Striding towards a disused torch scones that dotted the passageways, he now used what little fire was left of his to reignite one. After a moment, Gareth unsheathed his now battered sword and took off into the shadows ahead. Ariel, shocked at seeing him take off protested.
“What are you doing!? Its madness—,“
Gareth turned with a look that would have cut through the stoutest of hearts. “I must, it is the only way, whatever it is, beyond here lies the outpost. Do not worry Ariel, I will return. Of this I can promise you.” Was all he said taking off. Before Ariel could protest any longer he was gone…whatever light he took with him was swallowed up by the endless sea of shadow.


It had felt like hours since Ariel had last seen Gareth depart into the shadows. She was starting to become worried; more so than she had ever been on this journey so far, it at all. Well, I can’t just stay here and wait for the Darkspawn to make up their minds, she had thought lightly, better to throw myself at the damned things then become sitting meat! Trying to ease her mind, she had often wondered what it would be like being a Grey Warden, putting everything you have behind in the hope of bringing some good to this world. Fighting off evil in the hope of staving off another Blight.
Ahh the Blight, she thought, eyes lost in the guttering light.
Recalling her memory of the many books she’d read about how the nations of Thedas united under a common threat; such things were never discussed openly at the University of Orlais. If only people would take a moment to learn about the past wrongs and rights, the many great battles that have plagued Thedas over the centuries, the monumental discoveries, all things that have shaped the great continent into what it is today.
If only they knew, she thought again.
Returning her focus back to the present, Ariel considered her options for a time; does she simply just wait here for the torches to gutter and to let Maker knows what come? Or does she try to make sense of this place, perhaps even seek out the Warden Outpost herself? Gareth may even be there, she pondered once again. After a moment, much to her own surprise, she chose neither of the options that raced through her mind and instead decided to see if she could, in fact decipher the remaining glyphs in hope of finding out even more secrets. Might as well, she thought to herself, if Gareth’s any indication, I’ll be here a while yet, and went to work.


The air was dense, and far too stale for Gareth’s liking as he made his way through what seemed like an endless sea of darkness. His torch had already burned more than half its wick with no way knowing if he’d find anymore. Only once had he encountered what seemed like the faint reflection off a lichen covered wall, but even then Gareth was not convinced. It were as if he were a lone star travelling amongst the darkest of nights, relying purely on his sense of direction and the faint light his torch now offered; if you could even call it that. Gareth had wondered just how long he’d been down here for; was it minutes? Hours? Perhaps…even days? Even time it had lost all meaning down here, wherever here actually was. He had often wondered about Ariel after taking off; he had given her his word that he’d return but Gareth imagined that only to be a small comfort when down in a place such as this.
Would she be there when he returned? Was she safe? What if it had been hours?
All these thoughts plagued his mind and brought with it a sense of fear he was unaccustomed to. So lost in thought was he that Gareth only just realized he was following nothing. The presence had disappeared.
Hurriedly he retraced his steps as best one could in this light but nothing, not even a sound.
“Blast it,” he muttered. “Hello, who is out there, show yourself,” hoping to draw some form of attention, “I mean you no harm,” he bellowed once more as his voice echoed.
Nothing.
He knew it wasn’t the smartest thing to do considering the Darkspawn maybe nearby but something told him this was no such creature. Gareth was tired, frustrated and out of options, if he was going to perish down here then he would do so with honour, as a true Warden; like the Wardens of old.
He tried again, “Reveal yourself! I have followed you all this way, wherever you have led me come forth! And out of the shadows!” his voice carrying until it was nothing but a hum in the distance. He guessed he was in some great ravine or chamber with grand walls and a ceiling as high as the sky itself, the light revealed nothing but void. A sensation of dread washed over him; was there ever a presence? Was it just some mental trick his mind played being down here as they are? Gareth was almost at the edge of giving in entirely when something caught his attention. Albeit a sound… a whisper even? A chime perhaps. Whatever it was Gareth was sure of it, and then as if on que the sound came again like whispers in the dark.
“Come forth!” Gareth shouted, sweat beading off his face, his breathing had become laboured so thick was the air.
“I have had enough games, these riddles in the dark, step into the light!” and like the opening of a door on a fierce storm a great force gushed through extinguishing what little light remained on the torch, and much like a snubbed out candle the light was no more.
All was plunged into shadow.


“Here we stand, let it be known, all we protect, beneath the stone”
Ariel repeated aloud as if saying so would reveal the answer. Having now spent a good amount of time trying to decipher the remaining glyphs she had discovered there appeared to be something more to this ‘Griffon Glyph’ as she had now called it. Being isolated from the other Dwarven glyphs it appeared to her that more inscriptions were written below it, all bearing the same symbol; the rearing image of a griffon. Ariel was amazed by the discovery, not only was it a single glyph, but entire rows of them were also written underneath inscribed with different markings.
“All we protect…beneath the stone,” having deciphered the first line she pondered.
What were they protecting? Why have an outpost here in the first place?

Ariel’s mind raced as she began to think of all the books of Grey Wardens she’d read, Gareth’s expression when he’d seen the symbol, everything and anything that may help.
Not once in all their time together did she ever doubt him. Not back at prison, and especially not down here. But something had changed in him since, as if a shadow followed his every move; a dreaded cloud that lingered. Ariel had never asked, assuming it to just be the atmosphere of this dreaded place, the weight of the stone above.
Steering herself away from such thoughts, she continued translating the other lines, hoping to uncover what others thought lost forever. Picking apart her brain from a past she had not so easily forgotten.
From a young age, Ariel always enjoyed learning about history. No matter what kind, whether it be Dwarven or Elven, she had loved the ancient stories and mysteries that surrounded them. Her time at the University of Orlais gave her much to enjoy. From text studies on the ‘Secrets of the Dwarves’ to travelling as a group to learn about the ‘Lost tales of the Elvhen'. Once, she became so enthralled by it all that she had almost convinced herself to seek out these lost treasures personally in hope of making some monumental discovery; That was, of course, until she had realized how foolish and treacherous such an undertaking could be.
It was only when Ariel had joined the Bards, had her appetite for exploration been regained. Being a Bard was not only knowing how to twist nobles into your favour, she mused, but also required a deep understanding of history and how all things came to be, which she revelled in.
Then there came the great Orlesian game.
Although Ariel's travels had taken her to many a nobles Chateau, or grand villa, she had never actually been to any real historical sites.
Until now.
Her Bardic duties had merely just scraped on what she thought existed. Books are one thing, but experience is another.
Assassinate some noble at Chateau such and such, gather intelligence from some villa dating back ages long since passed. 
All impressive sights she thought aloud.
But not the mystery she had been looking for. Still, Ariel had performed her duties with crisp efficiency taking some pleasure sending some unworthy noble family packing out of their century’s old villa.
That was until she’d been given a task that would ultimately end up as her grandest, and last Ariel recalled bitterly.

“Ariel! How many times must I tell you there can be no sightseeing, no observing or taking in the lavish sights whatever they may be? Just how many times must you insult my respect with the nobility by not doing exactly as you’re told?” Lady Marquette stormed in, eyes ablaze like a ravenous demon, her dark hair tussled, and her face like that of carved stone.

Ariel couldn’t understand what she’d done wrong. Having had completed the task given to her with the usual subtlety and craft performed by the Bards of Orlais, she was totally taken aback by such a tirade, hurt even. Glaring back at her now, Ariel thought it best to not react with the same intensity.

“If I may, Lady Marquette, I cannot understand what has—“but before she could finish, Lady Marquette cut her off with the fierce yet crisp manner of the Royal Court.
“Don’t you question me, girl, you think you have any right to ask in your position? I know what you did, don’t think there is anything you can say that would change what already cannot be undone…I know what you stole” she finished, the last words met her with a piercing gaze. 

Ariel thought she was in some bad dream, not only was she accused of insulting the Lady’s respect…but accused of stealing too? Something that carried severe ramifications? She knew there were others who had something against her, but she dismissed them as nothing more than competition. But to actively plot against her? Well that was one line nobody crossed, and at that moment she felt like the world was suddenly crumbling in around her.
She ran.

Ariel knew her fate was already sealed regardless. Lady Marquette would undoubtedly have exiled her which ultimately meant one day she’d find herself with a dagger in the back. That was the game after all. She couldn’t stay here, she had to get out.
Racing through the door now, Ariel broke into a sprint hearing the piercing calls of alarm, staggering she knocked over some rare vase, a gift from the Emperor she thought, gaining a slight satisfaction as she heard it shatter against the hard stone floor. Continuing through the corridor, Ariel suddenly heard the clatter of armour racing upstairs.
The guards had come. Quickly she managed to slip herself inside a closet, leaving the door ajar so to not draw attention. She saw them charging through, Chevaliers she thought. Of course, Lady Marquette always had the best. Their silverite swords were drawn, gleaming a pale blue in the lamplight as they hurried past her at a crisp pace, stride for stride.
Hearing the distant sounds of metal upon metal, Ariel slipped out and made her way towards the lower room, stealthily stalking the stairs as a lioness hunts prey. Silently now, she strode across the finely embroidered Antivan carpet noting the delicate features sown into the piece. The door was only meters away when she heard a shout.
Spinning on her heels, she drew the pair of silverite daggers at her waist, beautiful they were in the moonlight. One of the Chevaliers had stayed behind it seemed, and had now too drawn his blade, shield raised high, in the typical Bear mauls the Wolves stance.
Like two territorial rams, they circled, glaring into each other’s eyes. Ariel knew she couldn't be drawn into a full melee, she had neither the time nor the experience to match, he knew this too. Having always kept her fighting skills in tune, Ariel didn’t necessarily have to kill the man, but just wound him enough so she could make a break for it. She made the first move.
Lunging, Ariel made a strike to his gauntlet, expecting this the Chevalier dropped his stance so that his blade met the force of her strike glancing off uselessly. Diving forward she emerged behind him, fingering the dagger she now held it aimed directly behind his lower leg whilst driving her other dagger into his left calf, sinking deep; although she may not have had the power to match him in a full confrontation, a quick flight such as this played into her hands.
Agony reached his lips, grunting under the limp he now possessed. Rolling up Ariel engaged again this time feinting a blow to his shield. Unaware of the move, the Chevalier went to parry the strike, overcommitting his stance, and just as he did she dove under his attempted deflection, with her dagger in hand she sank deep into his other calf. Searing pain reached him, dropping now, the Chevalier managed to keep himself from completely collapsing with his shield. Ariel flipped up sheathing her daggers.

“I will not kill you, Chevalier, but this duel is lost,” Ariel said, breathing hard. “Find it within your honour to know when such a duel is over, do not attempt to stop me now.” With that she went to make for the door only to be stopped by the muttered words of the wounded man. “It won’t stop with me—, “the man spoke, pain gripping his face “the Lady, she’ll send more after you. Just what have--you done girl…” staring up at her now the Chevalier gave a grunt of pain but nodded in respect, as all do after such a duel before sheathing his blade. She returned the gesture. What I must, she thought.
Racing out the door, Ariel made for the path ahead, the moonlight illuminating the shadows that danced across as she sped past the many statues that dotted the villa; Great beasts were set upon the lawn, figures of Wyverns with their fierce teeth, monuments of a by gone era recalling the glory that is still Orlais. Seeing the path ahead, she gave one last look to where’d she’d been not half an hour ago, the villa stood tall among-st all else; its elegant windows and imposing columns gave the look of luxury whom one would mistake for the Emperors himself. The life that had seemed irreplaceable to Ariel was now the image of some dreaded nightmare, a dream she had hoped of never waking from. Gritting her teeth, she made her way towards the only direction which seemed hidden. Sweating profusely from the warm autumn night, she sped off into the forest ahead, shadows trailed her every step.

Startled, Ariel awoke to find she’d fallen asleep. The torch she’d held earlier now lay beside the wall, with only the faintest embers of light remaining. The light it offered was barely enough to keep the shadows at bay.
Staring at the stone, a strange glint caught her eye, of something not entirely revealed, but eluding her all the same. Shifting herself from where she lay, the gleam appeared where the floor meets the wall. Picking up what remained of the torch, she carefully examined the unusual substance. Tracing her fingers along the stone she noticed the rough sensation of chiselled rock.
More glyph s. She reminded herself. Excitement growing, Ariel carefully brought the embers over, hoping to reveal whatever secret this carried. The gleam shone a brilliant but faint blue, and all along the substance lit up to reveal glyph s that would gone unnoticed had she not lay on the floor.
“Incredible,” she whispered. “Lyrium...these glyph s were protected, hidden from all.”
Heart racing, Ariel started to read what only few may have in their lifetimes…
I may be the first to look upon these in centuries. The runes had begun in Dwarven but manifested into something else, words mixed and letters roamed. Her breath caught as she realized what the Lyrium truly revealed. To her utter amazement the glyph s transformed from Dwarvish into the common tongue, revealing the inscription as plain as day.
“They were meant to be read-, “stammering Ariel began to read the century’s old code.
“A Champion will rise. When all else seems lost. The evil will demise. At his or her cost.”
“The Bane of the Spawn. That led the hearts of men. Shall be reborn anew. In the first light of Dawn.”
“The People will gather. United as one. Then will they realize. All that can be undone.”
“Then Banners will fly. The people shall band. With blades drawn high. At the Grey Wardens last stand”
“A Blade born of fire. People will see. All will admire. Hope shall never flee."

“This is no code… but a prophecy,” the words caught in her throat as she said them.
Ariel could not believe what she had read. All this time thinking they were merely directions, and yet they happened to be one of the greatest if not chilling inscriptions she had ever seen. Grasping what little left she had of her torch, Ariel unpacked her satchel, took out some paper and began tracing the inscription using the charcoal that was on hand.
Once finished, Ariel quickly packed what little she had taken out, grabbed the torch and charged off into the shadows.
I must get to Gareth, she thought. This could change the fate of the Wardens forever.
And sped off down the passage.
 
Gareth awoke to the searing pain of heat and smoke filling his lungs. Blinking away the haze that clouded his vision, he noticed the entire room was ablaze. The acrid smell of burning flesh greeted his nostrils, while his eyes beheld the horror that was unfolding. Grey Warden banners hung in strands, flames licking up the walls, the desk at his side nothing but charred ash. The sudden realization of screams penetrated his thoughts, bringing him out of the shock that threatened to overpower him entirely.
“Gareth!” The voice cried out in panic. “Gareth! Get ou—“
Coughing away the fifth that dared to suffocate him, he made towards the shrieks of pain…a voice he recognized turning his blood to ice.
“Livia! Livia! I’m coming just---“the smoke shrouded his eyes, the heat of the flames so intense now his armour was buckling under the duress. Staggering his way through the now half collapsed doorway, he made for what seemed like a window. Grasping the hilt of his blade he battered away the glass, now slinging the shield over his back he jumped out landing awkwardly, his legs buckling under the fall. Scrambling away from the now engulfed building, he collapsed on the grass. Soothing night air greeted his lungs, coughing and spluttering away the vile soot. Calling upon the strength that remained in his limbs he staggered to his feet, face blackened by ash, armour scorched and battered; at that moment he seemed like a figure from the fade itself. The headquarters Gareth had once commanded were now a beacon in the night for all to see. Glancing over he managed to take in what remained of the great standard that had stood as a reminder to all; The Rearing Griffon of the Wardens. Once a symbol of protection for the people of Rivain, it was now nothing more than a charred out husk.
The panicked call for help came again. Steering himself away he rounded a corner which opened up to a path leading towards the market district. His mind hammered, the smoke stinging his now reddened eyes making it hard to discern the shadowy figures that stood before him. The presence of magic filled the air, Gareth, now drawing his sword of gleaming silverite made to lunge, but before he could gather his shield a streak of light hit him square on the breastplate, sending him to the ground. The hardness of stone met his fall, knocking the air from his lungs. Gareth gritted his teeth, urging his now battered body off the paved stone.
“Get away from her you *!” Gathering his shield, he knew there was only one chance left, whoever these sorcerers were, he needed to deal with them quickly; having learned the many forms of combat taught during his years of training, Gareth readied himself in the stance which allowed for a steady defence, while allowing for a quick step if needed. Shield raised, sword low he advanced.
Three of the four figures remained, where the other had gone Gareth had no idea. Livia was the priority, nothing else mattered. A sinister voice pierced the slow hum of magic that cut through the silence of the night.
“You see Gareth, this is what becomes of those who meddle in the affairs of others that…well…just don’t concern a man such as yourself,” the voice said coldly. Those words hit him like an icy wind, a voice he recognized
“This whole affair could have been avoided if you’d only stuck to whatever it is you Wardens actually do. The order is no longer needed Gareth can you not see, you are obsolete now, an old relic that yet lingers in times where such things are surpassed by greater powers.”
The voice said again, this time the shadowy man moved towards him holding aloft a staff that gleamed wickedly in the wan moonlight. At Gareth’s horror two others came from the shadows holding a figure, a face stricken with terror, eyes searching for his own, eyes he knew. Gareth’s blood turned to ice.
It was Livia.
“She has nothing to do with his!” he yelled with a voice which had pierced many a battlefield. Lowering his shield Gareth had drawn his blade up so it met the gaze of the man in black. His eyes just discernible under the veil that covered his features.
“Ahh Gareth…,” the man said again, matching his stare “Just when will you realize that all actions, no matter how noble you may think they are, demand a reaction.”
With that a flare of brilliant green energy gathered at the staffs head, projecting forth a torrent of staggering force. Gareth, seeing this, managed to react just in time so his shield met the impact of the blast. The metal protested at the unnatural energy which now consumed it, screeching as it started to warp under the immense pressure. Grunting he advanced towards them now, knowing this had to be ended swiftly; having fought with and perfected the techniques used to defeat Dark Spawn emissaries, Gareth knew there was only a small window of opportunity where one could counter-attack. But he was no Templar.
Searing pain now racked his body, a dark energy enveloped him, tendrils dancing around suffocating the air from his lungs. The strength leaving his already tired limbs as his sword dropped, clattering on the stony path, the shield now nothing more but a smoking piece of distorted metal. On his knees, Gareth saw the world buzz around him, faces and shadows, voices, calling, sneering.
 Confusion reigned.
His already scorched armour began to crumple under the sickly aura that now grew darker and more menacing. Staring up at the man, hands to the ground so as to not fall completely, Gareth saw the satisfaction now gleaming in his eyes, as if he’d slain some mighty beast; the eyes of a predator. Matching his gaze, Gareth had seen that look before and it chilled him to the bone.
“You always were the damnable coward, Vexus.” He managed, each breath shorter than the last.
“Always hiding behind your magic—“he struggled, but went on. “Never one to face up to a real danger when we fought the Dark spawn-- you insult the Grey Wardens with your lies, your words of venom—the words of a snake.” finishing coldly.
Gareth was now spent, he had no more left in him. Try as he might, the hex that Vexus had placed on him was slowly crushing the life from his bones, and it wouldn’t be long now before the end came. Grief and anger struck him, a fierce rage that set his heart ablaze, one of his own had turned their back on the Order, and Livia…oh Livia, why have you been brought into this… the thought made his mind scream with fury.
They would not take her as long as he still drew breath, he thought. They will not have her.
Vexus stepped back as if wounded by the words, donning a grin that told otherwise.
“Here we go again about the Wardens… see this is why you’ll never understand—“but before he could finish the agonizing cries of two men cut him short.
 It was Livia.
To Gareth’s utter disbelief, she’d managed to break free of the two men and was now burning them alive with one of their own staffs, eyes ablaze with the fury of a High Dragon defending its young.
Vexus stared incredulously, but remained composed all the same.
“And here I thought this was going to be another disinteresting affair. Well, girl, you most certainly proved me wrong,” turning to Gareth “Pretty, no?” and flared his own staff of brilliant green.
Gareth’s head swam, his eye’s shrouded by some form of veil, the scene becoming distant and twisting into itself. It was now like he were a spectator watching some duel at the Grand Tourney, yet his body lingered, motionless. He made out bolts of fire and spectacular green light, flashes from parallel magic’s colliding, sparks flying, coiling, as each placed a ward of protection around themselves. But the fire was fading and became weaker by the minute, the man, Vexus, had performed some ritual now drawing power from the two corpses that lay at his feet. Blood magic.
Livia’s energy was failing.
Gareth could do nothing but watch, his eyes fogged in this distorted reality, he now witnessed the horror that he was reliving. This nightmare he tried so hard to keep away, yet it lingered, always there, buzzing at his minds edge. Vexus had now finished drawing whatever power remained in those corpses and had turned to her, seeing the faltering shimmer of light which now collapsed under her now depleted body. Gareth knew what happened next. No matter how much he screamed, pain gripped his mind, his heart aching, all which remained of him fled in that moment, and a moment he wished he’d ever witnessed.
Vexus strode over with the ample pride of one who’d tasted victory time and time again, gripping Livia by the throat. Gareth saw the flow of dark energy coalescing around him even from where he was, his own body still lying motionless on the stone. The scene lurched again, projecting images of horror, faces, screams, and the all-consuming fire that now burned within. Banners flew, high over, now torn and spattered with the blood of his comrades. Faces he’d seen, lives flashed, fleeting moments of all the things he cherished now twisted into some contorted nightmare.
 The first night they’d made love. The night after their joining.
 A moment so precious, so innocent, so fleeting, now flashed before him. As quickly as it passed another image pushed its way in, a face, her face, the subtle brown of her eyes, her delicate features, and the smoothness of her hair all came before him sending a grief like no other. One of loss, and desire.
His eyes protested under the scene which now came flooding back. Vexus had now summoned the power within draining whatever energy remained in Livia’s now lifeless body.
“Ah Livia” the voice was distant but metallic, lost in the lurching haze.
 “We could have been partners, you and I. Just think about the power we could have wielded together. No need for any of this Warden business, but you just had to fall into the trap that so many do. Love is a fool’s game.” The last words said as he searched for Gareth’s eyes through the convulsive light which illuminated the scene.
Gareth could feel those eyes upon his own, eyes as cold as the chill which now gripped his heart.
 The scene had now dissolved, lurching and coiling upon itself until only what seemed like smoke remained. A new voice entered and a light shone through. One so distant, so lost, yet one he recognized.
“Gareth” it said, so soft, gentle were the words that now graced his ears.
“Gareth, you must return. Do not linger in a past where only sorrow lies. What has happened is but a distant memory now….this was never about me, “the voice seemed pained at those words. “The Wardens needs you now more than ever, they will need you before the end, Revasan. A great evil stirs in the shadows, figures are amassing, and the time has come.” The voice soothing, as if it some spirit had been sent to guide him into the beyond.
That name hit him like a blow. A name he’d long since left behind.
“Livia—I-I…how can this be,” stammering, searching for words that eluded him.
She spoke again in soft whispers. “Rise now Gareth. Hope yet remains. A blade long thought lost has awoken. A blade born of fire. All things have yet to be…Arise, champion. You know what must be done,” her words now lost in the dwindling light. He wanted nothing more than to follow her, to let his life end, but the words that resounded in his mind told him otherwise.
Another voice came now, one of panic, alarm, Gareth could feel the faint tug of hands pulling him away from the lucid dream that now vanished before his eyes.
He awoke to the pain of a hard slap across the face.
It was Ariel.
 
“Maker’s breath Gareth!”
Ariel saw him coming too his senses, gazing at the now soothing light which flowed throughout the passage and beyond.
She had journeyed as far as the torch would allow, praying to the Maker for guidance in this damnable place. It was then she had seen the faint gleam of a light, and had raced after it assuming it to be Gareth. What she found though was not him at all, at least not how she thought she’d find him. He was lying motionless on the ground, his hair smeared with blood from the fall he’d taken. Seeing him now though, Ariel thought it lucky she’d managed to get here. Something had guided her she remembered, that faint light which lurked ahead, not allowing her to get too close, but stopping if she’d lingered too far. Gareth was now standing up and stared at her now like he’d seen a ghost.
“Ariel? How in the Maker’s name did you get down here?” a look of genuine surprise showed on him as she stared into those icy blue eyes.
“Lucky for you I did, that wound on your head would have bled you out in a few hours.” Looking at the remaining supplies she had brought in the satchel which now lay sprawled on the stone. “Plus, something brought me to you. I cannot say how or why but there was a light. Very faint, but gleaming like a beacon in the dark, and it just brought me here.”
A light, Gareth could vaguely remember the dream he had. The presence he’d felt.
“You have my thanks Ariel, truly. I believe there is more at work here than there seems” Wincing at the pain that now racked his head.
“This bandage how—, “
“I managed to stitch you up as best I could, the wound was quite severe, but it will heal overtime.” She cut in, now seeing the sincere look of a man who’d have to count his blessings before sleep.
“Thank you, Ariel,” placing a hand upon her shoulder, a simple gesture of gratitude. She nodded in reply.
Taking in the vast amount of stone which now illuminated in the light which flowed throughout this cavernous mass, Gareth tried to recall what little he remembered.
Ariel had now walked towards the satchel and took out the tracings of the runes she’d found earlier on. This couldn’t wait.
“Gareth there is something you must see,” she handed him the faded smudging’s of glyphs bearing odd symbols, he took it, puzzled.
“You found more?” scanning the page.
“Yes, much more. I believe we may just be the first to look upon these in centuries. And what they describe is even more chilling. These runes were meant to be read Gareth.”
He stopped, staring at the page intently. His face as hard as the stone around them. So it is true, the images came flooding back. Faces, visions all that he’d wish to be merely lucid thoughts of a man unconscious was now starting to make sense. The presence, the light, her voice. The prophecy. A blade born of fire.
“It speaks of a prophecy, one who will unite the lands against some ancient evil.” Ariel said, breaking the silence.
“It also appears to be telling of a blade, one mighty enough to expel the darkness and unite the people under a single banner.”
Gareth felt the air go still around him.
‘They will need you before the end, Revasan,’ his mind was racing.
‘A blade long thought lost has awoken.’
‘A great evil stirs in the shadows.’
‘Arise…champion.’
The presence. It was all Livia. Her spirit yet lingered.
He shook himself free of thought, staring with what seemed like lidless eyes, having not even blinked.
It was all so clear now, as if a dense fog had lifted.
She had led them down here.
The thought brought shivers to his spine. Gareth had often heard of certain restless souls, the dead that were not yet done with life. Always lingering in the between world known as the veil, but he always assumed them to be idle fantasies of young mages or stories to frighten away children who dared to enter burial grounds. For it to actually become a reality, and Livia, made his skin crawl.
But if he could do anything, anything at all, Gareth would do whatever needed to be done, and that was what had earned him the role of Warden-Commander. He would do for her in death in what he had been powerless to do for her in life, and the rest of the continent it would seem. Gareth would not fail this time, and Maker help those who would stand in his way.
In peace, Vigilance. In War, Victory. In Death, Sacrifice. The time had come. The Wardens would stand once again. Even if it cost him his own life, a sacrifice worthy of the tales of old.
The startled voice of Ariel broke the stillness that now hung.
“Gareth? Is everything alright?” Picking up the page that he never even realised was on the ground.
“Ah yes, everything is--fine. You’re right, these inscriptions do tell of a prophecy Ariel, of a blade born of fire.” He had now started to gather whatever items they needed for the journey ahead. He stared at the light that streamed through the cavern. Ariel noticed it too.
“And of the evils demise? Just what is this speaking of? Another blight?” The light had become an aura now, so bright it seemed in this pit beneath the earth. A channel of energy it was, now pulsating through the cavern leading into the passage below.
“Of that I cannot say, but something stirs, of this, I do know.” It appeared the light or energy was now concentrated into a single swirling beam.
“I would suggest we start making a move towards wherever this beam is heading, it would seem the answers we seek are beckoning to be found.” He gestured to the tunnel ahead.
Deciding to see no use of the torches, they ventured forward, the light guiding them illuminating the rock which slowly turned into chiseled stone as they journeyed towards their goal. The blade born of fire and a prophecy, which their fates were now inevitably caught up in. A quest which would ultimately shape the events that followed.
 
End of part
 
Message 1 of 3 (1,098 Views)

Re: Excerpt from a Story I have been working on. Set in the Dragon Age Universe.

Community Manager

@ShroudedDragons

 

What a nice piece of fanfiction we have here Standard smile Keep up the good work! I would love to read more stories from you.

 

/Ataashi

Message 2 of 3 (895 Views)
Highlighted

Re: Excerpt from a Story I have been working on. Set in the Dragon Age Universe.

[ Edited ]
★★★★ Novice

@EA_Ataashi

 

Thank you! It's coming along rather well apart from some minor editing and fix ups which will need to be done but I've managed to squeeze some more story into this thread (from highlighted line) to end the first part (reached the maximum text limit now.) I have a part 2 which I have also been working on and will have make a new thread for that to fit. I really do appreciate the feedback!

 

Regards ShroudedDragons (A.K.A Ragnar Hawke)

Message 3 of 3 (885 Views)
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