The light was now resplendently shaping its way through the dark depths as a pulsating beam. It had been days, travelling through caverns which slowly revealed the fragments of an age, a past lost, passages which had now led Ariel and Gareth through some of the most incredible bits of stonework ever known.
The walls were murals, telling stories of something ancient, a power held within. Battles were depicted, a united people being led by Wardens atop majestic Griffon mounts. Elves, Dwarfs, and Men, all fighting for the same cause, a world where Darkspawn were the only true enemy. They passed many more as they neared what seemed like the end. One such image displayed what looked like a large temple complex, only the figures within were not gathered in prayer, but in assembly. At the centre there was a weapon of sorts, the carvings showing lines as it gleamed before the people. Stories and images preserved by the stone itself, history heavy with secrets resonating from these passages, and as the two of them neared the end of the ledge which now appeared, they could not believe the scene which had materialized before them.
The Grey Warden Outpost, majestic in all its glory. A place that spoke of mystery’s yet revealed.
The aura had filled the entire cavern, revealing a fortress, built entirely of stone but styled in a way that seemed almost…Elvish. Staring out it appeared like that of another world. Waterfalls more splendid than anything of which they’d seen before. Grand buildings stood tall, spiralling towards the limitless ceiling, roofs glistened with the misty veil produced by the gushing water flowing directly above ending in a ravine below. The place held a certain glow, like something not of this world, an apparition even, yet it seemed as real as the stone they stood upon. A path cut into the cliff, trailing down from where they stood, snaking its way towards massive doors, wings on either side, gleaming like the Sun Gates of Val Royeaux itself.
They started making their way down the narrow path as Ariel spoke, awed. “This is incredible, how—how can this be? Some hidden place untouched by the corruption which now rules these depths,” Gareth had barely noticed, so entranced was he by the scene which now confronted them. Two mighty Griffons towered, gleaming, either side of the door, crafted of the same material and standing guard with the proud stature that one would expect of such impressive beasts. An imposing sight to whomever tried to besiege this near impregnable fortress. The doors were closed, wings sprawled on either side of the opening, the beam which had guided them here stopped, replaced by a radiance which surrounded the air. Gareth took in the sight, never had he imagined such beauty, such skill of stone, of metal and all that made up this realm. It seemed impossible that such a thing could be abandoned and yet preserved like it was, or even exist for that matter. Gareth spoke softly as he made for the door.
“This has to be it, the blade must dwell somewhere within. The prophecy spoke of a light, the first light of dawn where the blade is reborn anew, yet I see no natural light, only the glow of something foreign. This door bars our way.” His eyes searching. Ariel was now beside him, scanning over the smudging’s she’s traced earlier.
“I can’t make out anything that leads to a door, or even how we’re supposed to—“trailing off, suddenly lost in thought. Ariel remembered lying motionless on the ground, back where she’d discovered the prophecy. The embers of light which produced a glimmer, one of a brilliant yet pale blue. Of course. It was that simple.
“Gareth, did we bring anything bright…like something which can produce a light of its own?”
He looked at her curiously, trying to read what she was planning. “Ahh, well the torches are gone. And as for any substance that produces light…hmm I may have something. Why do you—“without letting him finish, she raced over to where he’d left his own pack at the base of a Griffon. Gareth watched in disbelief as she emptied the entire canvas bag, scanning for whatever it was she needed. “What in the Maker’s—“
“Aha, found it. This will do nicely.” Now racing back she took out what little glow stone she found and approached the door, holding them close. Gareth now too was directly beside her, glaring with eyes that seemed more annoyed than surprised. “You know you could of just—“
“Sshh, listen.” The faintest gleam started to appear, accompanied by a noise resembling chimes. That got Gareth’s attention. “How did you know to do that”? He asked, quizzically.
“The Deep Roads, back where you’d left me. I awoke on the floor and noticed the embers revealing the faintest of glimmers, one of Lyrium. This was how I manged to read the prophecy.” She finished, turning back towards the now gleaming door.
“Well, that certainly explains a lot. Lyrium runes hmmm, got to give it to those crafty dwarves—“Only what he saw was not Dwarven at all, but that of another dialect…one of wisdom, of sorrow.
Revasan, a voice in his head now spoke in hushed whispers. Gareth stared wide eyed, realizing it was not the voice in his mind at all, but the words his eyes now read.
‘Andaran atish’an, Tel garas solasan, Dirthara-ma ghilana mala taren, in Revasan. La gara, In Atish’an, In, Din’an, La In Enasalin.’
“Elven…these words are Elven.” Ariel whispered in amazement. The inscription shone with a glare that made her squint. It appeared the Lyrium was more concentrated here than in the prophecy she read earlier.
“This must be it, the final piece that reveals the light of dawn, and the blade born of fire…” Ariel trailed off, now looking at Gareth who muttered something she could barely discern. She’d seen those eyes before, back when they first discovered the glyph that revealed the Outpost. Eyes of a life long since passed, yet lingered.
Suddenly, he turned, awakening from whatever trance had overtaken him, speaking now in a soft tone.
“Ariel, when you first discovered the glyphs, what dialect did they show?” Ariel responded curiously.
“Dwarven, the runes at first appeared in their original form but the Lyrium transformed them into the common tongue.” She could see the excited gleam which now overtook him.
“If the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men all had a hand in this...” he trailed off searching. “The prophecy spoke of a united people, no?” he said again.
Ariel met his gaze, seeing what had now become clear.
“Yes, meaning this could only be that all were united, not just a single race. The first inscription you say was Dwarven, but the Lyrium had translated into the common tongue.” He looked over now at the still words that still yet glistened. “Each dialect had a share in the creating prophecy, the hiding of the blade, but it speaks of one in particular…the answer lies in the prophecy itself. Ariel do you remember the second verse?” She now recalled the line.
“Yes. ‘The bane of the spawn. That led the hearts of men. Shall be reborn anew. In the first light of dawn’…I--”
“Yes.” Gareth said now glancing over towards the door. “Men, sharing the common tongue. And dawn, the first light of dawn will reveal the words which will ultimately…” his words low, “reveal the blade.” Ariel was stunned. The three dialects were the key, and the language of men was the answer, the prophecy meant simply as a guide. They both stood back in amazement. A great stream of light, as soft and mellow as that of a winter’s morning shone through from the cavern above, gleaming against the doors of gold. The words began to alter, manifesting, letters and words roaming back to front, until then, all at once, the line was as clear the light that now diffused through the air, sending a warmth that soothed their numbing limbs. Gareth and Ariel now read the line as one.
‘Enter this place in peace’ they repeated, the doors starting to stir. “Come not to a prideful place. May you learn to guide your mind. In the place where freedom dwells,” the door now gleaming so bright it was blinding, “and enter, In Peace, In Death, and in Victory.’ A deafening sound like that of a massive bolt resonated. A searing light ran up the seam, unravelling whatever magic held this incredible structure in place, hinges straining under the immensity of the twin doors that now departed before their eyes. Gareth and Ariel watched on as the massive structures had finished their work, leaving only a pathway that led to the keep ahead. It was then the reverberating sound came, like that of chimes on a windy day, glancing off the walls as they now broke into a jog heading towards the courtyard ahead. As much as they’d hope it to be a simple taking of the blade itself, a lingering dread always assumed the worst. Only a few strides away from the keep door, Gareth saw something materialize right before his eyes, a transparent being, not of flesh, or stone, but of energy… it was then they’d realized this place wasn’t abandoned after all but guarded, too late now he thought. The spirits had them surrounded.
Gareth twisted, sword in hand, not in a threatening position but one of caution, uncertainty at what was to follow. Ariel too, had drawn her bow, arrow nocked but refrained from pulling. Standing back to back, they noticed the beings closed full circle around them, with a professionalism which spoke of elite troops. Their spears glittered, their helmets stood proud atop their heads, eyes indiscernible from the shimmer which gleamed around them. Their breastplates emblazoned with the dual wings of the door before them, shields as tall as the beings themselves, and on them a coat of arms unlike the sorts of anything they’d ever laid eyes upon. It was a triad in the form of a circle, three heads twisting, and each one only a few spaces apart so it encompassed the full circle. The head of a Dragon, a goat like creature and another which Gareth had no name for.
The spirited beings were stock-still, not even a shuffle, or a sound, like automatons they seemed, unyielding and stark against the beauty of the courtyard they were in. Flowers of such immense colour and fragrance grew, dotting a path leading to what they gathered was the main entrance. Trees also stood, majestic with trunks like pillars of stone, their branches twisting with leaves of gold and forever climbing. And at the centre of the courtyard, a fountain shone veiled in glistening mists, two Griffons carved on either side, water spouting from their awesome beaks leading into a basin of pure light. It truly was a sight to behold.
It was then another sound came, the voice of a command but in a dialect foreign to their ears. Two of the warriors had stood aside and the path cleared as another spirit had strode its way from the door of the keep, this one different, one of whom had the look man in charge, one who commanded respect. He was very tall, at least a good three feet above Gareth, who had considered himself no small man. The being wore armour finely decorated with filaments of what seemed like gold, and his chest plate bore the arms of that on the shield of the warriors. Only one stood out amongst the rest though, the goat creature Gareth had recalled was of no goat at all, but a deer, that of a Halla. The Symbol of the Elves.
Ariel had dropped her bow, a sign of respect to the figure who loomed over them. Nudging at Gareth, she nodded to the floor and he followed her eyes, seeing bow she was gesturing at, he too sheathed his blade. They were unsure how this would end, the man fixed them with a gaze through eyes of gleaming light. A look of curiosity seemed to cross over his features, one of a mutual respect. One of Warmth.
“Aneth ara, travellers. We have been expecting your arrival, and it seems you’ve come no sooner than was told. We welcome your presence here, in this place of peace, a place where the freedom of all dwells. A place lost yet found.” The spirit gave a nod to the warriors behind and two more beings emerged, one small but stout, and another who matched Gareth’s height. The Dwarf’s chest piece was adorned with that of a head, one of a golem like figure he’d heard in the tales, while the man’s held the symbol head of a Dragon breathing fire. The two had now joined the tall Elven man staring with the same curious yet hard look.
“This is Durak, heir of Endrin Stonehammer, first paragon of the realm of Dwarves,” the Dwarf nodded, “and this,” the Elven man gestured to his right, “this is Garalenth of house Pentaghast, a founder of this most blessed Order that once was, and is yet to be,” the man bowed at the words. Ariel and Gareth watched spellbound as the trio walked towards the fountain of light. “And we,” the Elven man said, “Are of a time when both Elves, Dwarves and Men walked under the one banner, the order you only know too well, Gareth…Revasan,” the elf finished, now turning towards a figure that approached slowly from the behind the fountain. Ariel could see the figure of what seemed like a woman, pulsating with light, setting the water ablaze with glittering droplets as she strode past. Gareth watched on, not believing the figure that his eyes were now projecting, it seemed like the Prophetess herself.
“It cannot be,” was all he whispered.
The woman walked upon the grass, steps of gold trailing in her wake. The Elven man had followed suit, “And this,” he said slowly, a smile now curled upon his lips, “well, I’m sure you need no introduction as to whom this is…” The woman now stood before Gareth, eyes radiating with a light that melted his heart.
“You came, lethallin, as I knew you would. As was prophesised.” Gareth felt the soothing sensation of warmth as the woman he now knew graced his hand.
“Livia,” he trailed searching for the right words, “The dream I had, the words you spoke, I realized your spirit yet lingered, now leading me here to this place, but…why? Just how are you here?,” there was so much more he had wanted to say, how she came to be, the incident that broke him on that fateful night so many years ago, but he fought off such questions. Now he was here for whatever fate had for him and the prophecy that was come.
Livia gazed deeply at him now, her eyes like pools of tranquillity.
“There is so much you do not know, Gareth. All will be revealed in good time, of this you will both see.” Now turning towards Ariel, “And Ariel, do not think I have been turning a blind eye to you my dear. I have seen all that was and is yet to be,” taking Ariels hand upon her own she could see the eyes of one who had escaped a troubled past, one of sorrow, “I have you to thank, in the cave, I watched as you tended his wounds. You have much importance in the events that are yet to come. Know this, Ariel La’han.” She whispered, stepping back. The words went through her like some elixir, restoring sharpness to a weary mind.
“And so now you must all be very tired, one would assume,” the elf said, as he and Livia had now started to walk back towards Durak and Garalenth who awaited by the fountain. “All your questions will be answered in good measure I’m sure, but for now you must rest, there is much to discuss come morning.” Gareth wondered if there ever was such a thing as morning or night in this realm but he didn’t bother questioning. Seeing Livia here, right before his eyes was all that consumed him, he noticed the feint tattoo of a circle which surrounded her face, like that of the shields on the warriors. There was something odd about all this, the elf mentioned an order but not the Wardens directly…was there some other secret association within the group itself? His mind spinning out hundreds of possible questions, which he thought would have to wait until morning…all but one question at least.
“And you elf,” Gareth strode towards the group, Ariel in toe, “Who are you exactly. You never told us your name?” the elf halted, turning around meeting their gazes with an amusing look. “No, I didn’t did I? How rude of me, you have my apologies, both of you, staring deeply, “I am Theneras, the keeper of this realm and all that you see before you. Now if that is all?” turning towards Gareth.
“Yes. That would be all, thank you.” Nodding, the elf, who called himself Theneras, made towards the door giving them one final glance, “I will have one of the guards show you to your quarters,” and disappeared into the keep. Durak and Garalenth also had now gone, while Livia remained in the courtyard, watching them both intently as a guard led them away to their rooms.
A large structure now loomed over them, with the same wondrous stonework which first took them back at the ledge. It was chiselled to perfection, and cladded with a form of tiling they had never seen before. Mosaics and tapestries were depicted as they now walked through a narrow corridor.
I've finally found some time during a break to come back to your awesome story! And it was a break well spend
Thanks again for sharing it with us!
I'm glad you've enjoyed it so far! It's a privilege to be able to share something like this with the Thedosian community.
I'll keep adding more parts and editing bits as time goes on.