Dread Rites

Chapter 2

The Iron Bull remembered their first kiss rather fondly. He already knew what he liked about the Vint, and he enjoyed stoking the fires that lit up his eyes. The Bull liked to push, was always curious to see how far he could get before he was inevitably burned.

Dorian liked to drink, it was a habit that The Bull saw borne from something old and dark. Something that would sometimes turn the mage’s eyes somber when he realized he’d had one too many and set the bottle aside as if guilty. Of course these things didn’t make him any less of a fun drunk – he was as loud and animated and fiery as ever.

There was a window there, between the fun Dorian and the sad one. The Bull enjoyed that space of lucidity, what he liked to call Honest Dorian.

The Bull had to be careful though, because Honest Dorian didn’t come out in public. It wasn’t a sight beheld within the taverns, but one that could be seen while they were out with Thidran doing Inquisition work.

That night everyone was exhausted, but not quite tired yet. The Bull made their dinner, Varric was spinning one of his many yarns, Thidran supplied the drink, and Dorian was keeping the fire going without the need to find more firewood. The air was light and companionable, bodies relaxed with alcohol and a good day’s work.

“You know, I had a pony once. My father got me one as a boy to help me learn how to ride.” And there it was, Honest Dorian coming out of his hiding place with one of those charming smiles. He was speaking in reference to one of Varric’s stories. “Mean little bastard. Broke my toe.” He huffed unpleasantly.

The Bull decided to prod, “Probably didn’t like the golden bridle.”

“Are you saying I was spoiled?” the mage huffed, lips turning down in something that wasn’t quite a frown. No, a pout perhaps, one that made his eyes stand out against the firelight.

“Were you?” The Bull countered easily, a smirk pulling unbidden at his lips. He saw the sideways glance he got from Thidran.

Dorian let out a disgruntled sound, “I was Halward’s only child, his greatest creation. Of course he spoiled me!” There was something longing in the man’s eyes now, the subject needed changing.

“Is that the reason you’re a little rebel?” the Qunari prodded, “Wanting after a pair of big, strapping Qunari?”

The man sputtered and huffed, “I beg your pardon?”

“Oh I bet you like to beg.” The Bull rumbled, his voice dropping into a growl that originated from somewhere deep in his chest, “I see your wandering eyes, mage. The only thing you lack is the courage to ask.”

Dorian’s eyes were wide and scandalized, and Thidran looked equally perturbed. Varric just seemed overly amused by the whole thing.

“You think I would ask, Bull?” The incredulous look faded to something more primal, eyes narrowed and lips split into something ankin to a grin, but the flash of teeth was predatory, “I don’t ask or beg. When I want something, I take it.”

The mage knew how to stoke more than just the campfire.

“Then take it, Vint.”

That primal look faded to something more smug, “I told you, Bull. I take it if I want it.” He lifted his ale to his lips and took a triumphant pull as The Bull’s possessive side made his skin sit too tight on his muscles.

Varric was laughing, breaking the spell between them, “You sure told him, Sparkler!”

Thidran sighed and shook his head, but he wore his own tired smile. He finished off his drink and set it aside, “Bull, will you take first watch?” He asked kindly as he stood from his place by the fire.

“Sure thing, Boss.” He nodded readily. Thidran had taken first watch the night before, and deserved a full night’s sleep.

Varric was still chuckling, but he too stood and stretched, “I’ll get second watch then. I’m sure Sparkler wants his beauty sleep.”

“As if I need beauty sleep. But I’ll never pass up more of it.” The mage also finished off his drink, but made no move to get up yet. He nodded as Thidran and Varric retired to their tents.

No sooner had the flap on Varric’s tent closed, The Bull turned to look back at the fire only to find himself with a lapful of Vint, sure hands gripping his horns, and in the next instant, he was being kissed.

Of course it wasn’t the innocent kiss of virgin, nor the salacious kiss of a veteran barmaid. It was something aggressive, fiery, and all consuming. Dorian demanded The Bull’s entire attention, and even with a considerably smaller body managed to get the Qunari pushed back until he had to use an elbow for support, the other hand having come up to grip Dorian’s hip to hang on to something.

A tongue slid across The Bull’s lips, and when he didn’t open fast enough he was met with rough teeth biting down with force that sent arcs of electricity down his back. The hands on his horns were angling him exactly how Dorian wanted, and soon enough there was very little of The Bull that wasn’t being invaded by the Vint in his lap.

He heard the sound of black painted nails scraping across the grain of his horns, but one hand relented, slid down and smoothed across one of The Bull’s ears and started massaging it with precise fingers. It drew the most helpless, wanton sound from deep within his chest and he felt Dorian’s triumphant grin against his lips. That didn’t mean he stopped however, pressing in further, demanding more. Another bite, a tug on his ear, The Bull’s mind was swimming with sensations pulled in every direction.

Dorian had pulled himself up to The Bull’s stomach to keep better balance, and neither of them got any friction though he could feel the human’s erection pressed against him.

When the mage finally deigned to pull away from their kiss with a wet sound, The Bull let his head drop back because he had to admit that was the first time he’d ever been kissed within an inch of his life. He really hoped it wouldn’t be the last. Above him, Dorian sat smug and oh so pretty, his lips pulled in that predator’s grin as he surveyed his own work.

However a moment later, Dorian’s eyes glanced to the side as he caught something. The Bull followed that gaze and saw Varric standing in front of Thidran’s tent, the other Qunari’s head sticking out as they had both seemed to catch the show with amusement.

Defiance laced the mage’s features, but the grin didn’t fade. He stood up and stepped off of The Bull, sauntering towards his tent with swaying hips, as if he knew The Bull couldn’t keep his eyes off that fine display of ass.

To The Iron Bull, it was eerie how things had changed by not changing at all. Dorian spent most of his days up in Skyhold’s library, settled in his usual chair, a book open in his lap and notes settled on the arm. To an outsider there didn’t seem to be much difference – but those who knew the mage saw everything.

He was no longer distracted by the window or caught hiding smutty novels in the cleft of his dry tomes. He was silent and calculating, actually getting work done instead of griping about the Library’s selection.

It was painful to watch, but the real surprise came after the second night. The Bull had barely slept at all since the incident at the Storm Coast, so when his bedroom door opened that night he was alert and ready to face whatever was barging in on his space. He hadn’t expected to see Dorian coming to settle on the edge of the bed like he used to do every night before. The Bull sat there frozen for a long moment at the mage went about unlacing his boots, “Uhh, Dorian?”

The man looked up, blinking slowly at The Bull, “Yes?”

He was confused honestly. “What’re you…doing?”

“This is where we sleep.” Came the automatic reply, and it brought some small semblance of peace that even now, Dorian came to his side. But the emotionless shell was disturbing, “This is where I have slept for months.”

The Bull swallowed, sitting up carefully. Dorian set his boots aside and looked over to The Bull, and he wanted to see confusion or curiosity but he saw none of that. If he asked the man to leave, he would have and wouldn’t be hurt from the request.

He was hardly aware of reaching out to pull Dorian into his arms, cradling him as he had done on their venture back from the Coast. He wanted to feel to press of the man’s face against his skin, but the mage just sat quiet and compliant in his arms. “You’re right.” The Bull finally said, “This is your bed as much as mine.”

Silence filled the space around them, then was replaced by an awkwardness that only The Bull felt because Dorian would be entirely oblivious to it. After a few moments, however, the man began to squirm in the Qunari’s hold, “I am quite tired.”

“Oh… Yeah.” He let Dorian go and watched him work his way beneath the sheets, curling on his side nested in the pillow. Normally the man demanded to be in a nest of pillows on all sides save for The Bull on one. He liked to feel surrounded, protected, warm.

It was as if things were still the same and yet everything was so achingly different.

The Bull remembered the first and only time he saw Dorian cry. It had been a quiet night in Skyhold, and nothing seemed at all out of the ordinary as The Bull made his way from the tavern, late as he always did only to notice the one thing out of place. It was something small, that only his Ben-Hassrath training picked up as he took note of one extra light from Skyhold’s rookery, one so very uncommon for the time of night.

Dorian must have been on a kick – he had those sometimes. He would spend all night working if someone didn’t tell him to stop. It usually involved getting a new book of some sort, but it didn’t really matter. The Bull would find the mage and pull him from his work, offer him a bed for the night…

However when he reached the top of the steps into the Inquisition’s library he paused. Instead of finding the mage with his head buried in books, he saw him leaning against the wall into his little nook, shoulders and arms pulled in as if to make himself smaller. There was something pained in the air.

Normally The Bull’s curiosity would have him approach in silence for a closer look, but Dorian appeared to be woolgathering about something, easily startled, and a startled mage meant errant spells. So as he approached, he let his feet drag on the flagstone, announcing his presence just enough that Dorian’s eyes turned away from the window.

The Bull stopped when he saw those normally bright eyes dulled with grief, glassy with restrained emotion. They stared at each other, unsure of what to say before Dorian turned his attention back to the closed window, “Did you need something?”

“Saw the light on. Figured you were balls deep in some boring book.” The Bull admitted with a shrug, daring to take a step forward. Their relationship was still as it had been during their first kiss, spontaneous and furious, and whatever fleeting moments they had together were over as quickly as they began.

The mage let out a huff through his nose, “As charming as always but no.” He said firmly, his tone indicating he wanted the Qunari to leave. When he didn’t, the tension in the air grew before it suddenly deflated with the sinking of Dorian’s shoulders, “I got a letter today. You met Felix briefly, yes?” He didn’t leave room for an answer, “The letter was regarding him, and how he went before the Magisterium. He spoke of our dear Inquisitor, a glowing testimonial. Everyone back home is talking – Felix always was as good as his word.”

The Bull remembered Felix, and more specifically he recalled the state of health the young man had been in when they parted ways. He knew already why there was a darkness in Dorian’s eyes.

“The Blight caught up with him, however. He’s dead.” He said the word with no sugar or ease to himself, none of his usual flowery poetics. The news had hit the words out of him it seemed. However when The Bull opened his mouth the mage turned a gaze sharpened like the fine edge of a knife on him, “If the words on your tongue are ‘I’m sorry’ then leave.”

He closed his mouth and sighed, reaching up to rub the back of his neck. He had never been good at giving comfort – outside of the bedroom at least. He had a feeling that trying that route was a good way to get himself burned by a very pissy mage. “Why’re you mourning?” The Bull asked, deciding to be as blunt as Dorian felt in that moment.

The mage’s gaze was wary and perhaps a touch disgusted.

“Felix was dying. We both knew it. Now he’s not in pain anymore.” He folded his arms over his chest and the edge of Dorian’s glare softened as he looked away again, “On top of that, he made a good impression. On you, in Tevinter it seems, even his father was ready to rip apart Thedas in the hopes of fixing him. The way I see it, there’s nothing to mourn. Celebrate his life.”

For a moment that seemed to work, but then Dorian slowly began to tense up again, his arms folding over his chest defensively, “He was my friend. I will mourn, damnit I will grieve his loss because he was my only-“ He cinched his jaw, “I would like to be left alone, Bull. I appreciate the attempt but…”

“Were you gonna say he was your only friend?” The Bull asked, keeping the insulted growl from his voice because the mage didn’t need his anger in that moment.

Silence filled the space between them for a long moment while Dorian chose his words with the same consideration he showed in a game of chess, “I was… But that isn’t true. But he was my only friend from Tevinter. The only one I could properly trust at any rate. When I was studying late at night under his father’s roof he would sneak me treats from the kitchen. ‘Don’t get in trouble on my account.’ I would tell him, ‘I like trouble.’ Was his reply.” A sad smile touched the corners of his lips.

Dorian was lonely. The love he had for his country was darkened by the loss of one of the only people which he saw as good.

The Bull stepped forward and wrapped a gentle hand around a slim shoulder, the one left exposed by his clothing. He couldn’t think of anything to say that would lift the man’s spirit, wasn’t sure there was anything that could do that. But at least he could offer a buffer against the loneliness he refused to let swallow the mage. He could do that much, at least.

Very slowly the mage relaxed back against The Bull’s chest, while the hand that had been on his shoulder adjusted and came down to hold around his chest, resting on a sun-painted forearm. No words were exchanged, but the hostility was gone from the air and the fight drained from the mage resting against him. The only thing that pulled them both from their thoughts was when something wet slid down The Bull’s forearm. He glanced down just in time to catch sight of another tear hitting his skin.

“Ugh…” Dorian said, his voice thin, “Apologies. I should…” He tried to pull away, to hide away his exposure but The Bull wouldn’t let him. “Bull…”

“You’re alright.” He soothed, tightening his hold just slightly, “I’m not gonna tell anyone.”

“It’s not about you telling anyone, it’s not becoming of me to…”

“Have emotion?” The Bull scoffed, his hand loosening up enough so that he could straighten and turn Dorian around to face him. The mage tried to resist, and turned his face away but one kohl stained eye was still easily visible, etching dark lines down the man’s face.

He didn’t cry like others The Bull had seen. Krem was angry and loud, Stitches was clingy. But Dorian was silent and stubborn, trying to rebuild a wall that had broken inside of himself. No runny nose or quivering lip, just watery eyes that ran down his cheeks in defiance of the mage’s wishes.

The Bull reached up and carefully wiped one away, but Dorian pulled and glared, “I don’t need your pity.” He snapped and tried to walk around the Qunari, tried to flee the scene but was stopped by a strong arm pulling him back in. “Vishante Kaffas, let me go!”

“It’s not pity, Dorian.” He said firmly.

“Well whatever it is, I don’t like it!”

That, for some unfathomable reason, made The Bull chuckle. “Tell me about Felix.” He challenged, “I want to give proper honors to a man who could bring the great Dorian of House Pavus…to tears.”

For a breathless instant, The Bull was sure he would end up charred on the floor. But the moment passed and Dorian’s defiance and fury quelled. His head came forward and rested against The Bull’s chest, “He was strong…” the mage admitted in a broken voice, “Stronger than I’ll ever be.” And what little Dorian had managed to rebuild of his wall came crashing down as a pair of arms slid around broad shoulders for support. With his face hidden, he cried in soft sounds into the Qunari’s scarred flesh.

The Bull gathered him up into his arms and moved them to the armchair by the window, sitting down and letting Dorian curl against him. The mage was a comfortable weight in his arms, and his nose eventually made its way into the junction of The Bull’s neck. He felt every tear that defiantly fell from the mage’s eyes and didn’t say a word as he held the man close.

Three months crawled by with all the speed of a glacier in Skyhold. Perhaps it didn’t help that The Bull refused to go on any outings with either the Inquisitor or the Chargers, not when Dorian was in the state that he was. But the mage’s behavior (or rather, lack thereof) was something that drained him both body and mind. Each night when the man came to bed he would settle in beside The Bull and be asleep in minutes, where his partner would lay awake for hours.

He was sitting in the Tavern, his flagon of ale hardly touched and his mind distant to the sounds around him. He didn’t even notice Thidran enter the building, or the Chargers vacate the table at the Inquisitor’s word. The only thing that pulled him from his mind was the sharp kick to his knee and made him jolt, “Uh, what’s up Boss? Need something?”

“As a matter of fact,” Thidran said, his tone giving no room for nonsense. It was his Inquisitor voice, the one he used when he wouldn’t be denied… “We’re headed to the Emerald Graves tomorrow. You’re accompanying us.”

The Bull cleared his throat, loathe to challenge his friend and superior, “As nice as that sounds…”

“You’re going, Bull. You need to get out of Skyhold.” He said resolutely, his eyes narrowing.

The man sighed, “I just don’t think-“

“No, that’s the problem. You’re doing too much thinking. Too much worrying. I won’t accept it anymore. We are doing everything in our power to help Dorian right now, but you still have a duty to the Inquisition. You’re coming, and that’s that.” Thidran didn’t allow a rebuttal as he turned to leave the Tavern, pausing to offer his smile to a few patrons who looked down on themselves.

The Bull sat there for a few long minutes after Thidran was gone, then finished off his drink and stood up. Krem watched him as he left the building, and was by his side a moment later as he was climbing the stairs to the ramparts.

They were silent, not entering the bedroom and instead just stood side by side, watching the night sky. “What if we can’t fix him, Krem?” He finally felt the words tumble from his mouth, his eye dropping down to the mountains before them.

His Lieutenant scoffed, “If there’s anyone in this world who can fix Dorian, they’re here in Skyhold.”

“Yeah but…what if there’s not? I mean…Tranquil have existed for centuries, I’ve never heard of one being…cured.” He shrugged weakly, leaning against the stone wall.

Krem shrugged, “Then that’s it, isn’t it?” He looked to The Bull carefully, studying the lines of defeat that were worn into the Qunari’s features, “If there’s nothing we can do, then it’s exactly that. We’ll move on.”

“But Dorian can’t just move on Krem!” The Bull snapped, glaring harshly.

The words that came next hung heavily in the air and settled an unpleasant weight on The Bull’s chest, “Hasn’t he though?” Silence for a moment before the man pressed on, “He moved on because he doesn’t know how to do anything else right now. But you do. So we’ll fight, we’ll fight until we find an answer, whatever it is. Then we’ll go forward from there.”

It wasn’t the answer he wanted and they both knew that. He wasn’t sure what would happen if he got the answer he was afraid of in the end.

“Go with the Boss tomorrow, Chief. Spend some time away from Skyhold. Get your head back on.” He gave the Qunari a gentle nudge, “We’ll be here, we’ll keep an eye on him and you know that. But you’re not doing anyone any good wallowing like this.”

The Bull just grunted as he straightened up. A strong hand came down to pat Krem’s shoulder before he walked over to his door and moved away from the unsettling conversation.

The fear of permanently losing Dorian was one that stemmed from something deeper than just passion or even love. As Tal’vashoth he felt without reason or purpose, and without Dorian to ground himself on…

The ride back to Skyhold from the Coast had been understandably quiet and tense. The Bull hated that everyone felt on edge around him, but as they entered the gates, he leaned over to Thidran, “I would appreciate if this were kept quiet…for now.” He asked, knowing gossip was inevitable but if it meant he could have one night…

Dorian had not gone to the Coast with them, Thidran had deemed it unsafe for a Tevinter Mage to go to a Qunari raid. Who knew? But the Boss was right, and even The Bull knew that. And now it meant that his tentative lover didn’t know he was hurting, it meant that he could lose himself in a night of sex.

But from the second The Bull stepped up into the library with his arms wide and a grin on his face, the mage seemed to feel something was off. The smile on his lips was betrayed by the wariness in his eyes, “Everything go alright?” He asked as his book was set aside so he could stand.

“I came back in one piece didn’t I?” The Bull grinned, and in the next moment he had grabbed Dorian by the hips and had him pinned against the wall with a kiss.

The mage responded naturally, with a moment of returned affections before pushing at the Qunari, “Really you brute?” His eyes scanned the area for a safer place.

The Bull just leaned down and nuzzled against Dorian’s ear, letting him hear a low growl that he knew turned the mage’s knees soft, “Yes really. If not here, then your room. Either way, you’re going to be naked in the next five minutes.”

He felt the shudder run through the man, felt the swell of pride that gave him.

It was rare that they fucked in Dorian’s room, and whenever they did the mage often kicked him out shortly after. At least when they stayed in The Bull’s room it was Dorian who would creep out in the night, when he thought the other asleep. But he didn’t care about those things when all he wanted was the feel of another body beneath his.

Yet as they lay together afterwards, the mage made no voice for the other to leave the red silken sheets they were curled in. Instead it was the mage who extracted himself a moment later, stretching his nude body with all of the flare of a man who knew just how gorgeous he was.

“Don’t tell me you’re running off already.” The Bull grumbled, watching as Dorian padded around to gather up his clothing.

“Hardly. I’ll be back in a moment.” He said, fingers moving deftly to thread each button back to its proper state.

The Bull grunted this time, “Want me gone?” he asked honestly, because that’s how this usually went.

He was met with a strange look, one that was challenging and curious, “Only if you want to be gone.” The mage left a moment later and The Bull sat there pondering the words until his return.

The door clicked closed and Dorian approached with two large bottles of unmarked alcohol. He gave one to The Bull and went back to the other side of the bed, toeing off his boots before settling back against the nest of pillows.

“What’re we drinking to?” The Bull questioned aloud, not going to fight free alcohol at a time like this. He used his teeth to pull out the cork.

He felt Dorian shrug beside him, “You tell me, if you’d like.” He set his own cork aside and lifted the bottle to his lips for a pull, “Or we could just…drink.”

The Bull was quiet as he mulled that over, then lifted the bottle and took a long drink in answer. Soon enough he had a warm body leaning against his own and the night passed more easily than it had in days. The mage didn’t press or question, and halfway through their drinks they fucked again long and lazy.

That was the first morning he woke with Dorian next to him, the scents of the room surrounding them while the morning sun tried to sneak its way up to their faces. It was a strange comfort, until the sound of pained groaning made him worry. The mage held a hand over his head, swallowing hard, his normally immaculate look disheveled and imperfect, “Ugh…my head.”

“Yeah,” he chuckled, keeping his voice soft, “It’ll do that to you.”

“I hate you.” The mage openly griped before shoving his aching head against The Bull’s body, “But you’re so warm.”

The Bull was silent for a few minutes while his lover ailed with loud contempt. His eye settled on the empty bottle on Dorian’s nightstand, the one the mage had been drinking from, “Honestly I’m surprised you’re not dead…or a whole hell of a lot worse.” He admitted honestly. Most people, especially humans, could only take a few swigs of his firewater before they were down and out. “Why’d you drink the whole thing?”

“Couldn’t…have you drinking alone now could I?” Very slowly, Dorian pulled himself from The Bull’s side and stood, hobbling over to his dresser where he extracted a small pouch, then went over to the tray on his vanity which contained a pitcher of water and a glass. He emptied the pouch into the glass and poured the water in, stirring it with his finger until steam was rising from the top.

The room was in a comfortable quiet while the mage swallowed down the contents of the glass and settled down on the chair in front of his vanity, holding his head.

“I drink alone all the time.” The Bull finally informed.

Dorian shook his head, “You drink with others in the Tavern, with your Chargers, with the Inquisitor. But you loathe to drink alone.” He was relaxing more every few seconds as whatever concoction he had taken was working its way into his system.

“Pretty perceptive of you.” Was the only response he could manage.

“Now…care to tell me about that lost look in your eye, Bull?” Dorian was making his way back to the bed, settling down lightly and with a slight wince. “You weren’t injured, nor were you loud and jubilant. Something happened at the Coast. Something that drove you to need an outlet more than a partner.”

It hit The Bull in that moment how sharp the mage’s eyes were. It was perhaps a little frightening to know he had spent most of his life training to be unreadable to others, and yet Dorian had known something wasn’t right almost instantly. He swallowed the lump in his throat and sighed, dropping his chin to his chest.

Dorian still didn’t press.

“I turned against the Qun. I’m Tal’vashoth now.” He said flatly, “True-fucking-gray.” He growled angrily, and found himself launching into a retelling of the events at the Coast. It wasn’t the same way he would tell the Inquisitor, or write a report. He voiced his worries, his struggles, and his treachery.

“All my life,” he finally said, “I gave everything for them. And the one time I ask for something back…”

Arms slid around his shoulders and a naked body settled in his lap as Dorian leaned in close. “And because of that sacrifice, your Chargers walked away with their lives.”

“And the Dreadnaught went down!” The Bull snapped angrily, but Dorian didn’t even flinch. “Hundreds of men died.”

“Because they refused to be saved, Bull.” The mage’s tone was stern, “Had you been given the opportunity, I know you and Thidran would have done anything to save that ship, even if it meant breaking the alliance. But you were a leader to your men, you took charge of them and yourself.”

The Bull’s skin felt too tight, his mind was too loud. He squirmed where he sat but Dorian wasn’t going to let go. “You’re just biased.” He snapped, “You’re glad they’re dead.”

“I won’t say I’m not.” The man agreed, “But that isn’t the issue here.” He sighed, “You walked out of there alive, as did Thidran and your Chargers. I’m grateful for that.”

It was the truth, but it didn’t stop the anger and self-loathing.

A gentle hand tipped The Bull’s chin up and he was met with an unwavering gaze, “Tell me, why is it you gave yourself the name, The Iron Bull? Why is it you celebrate with your men? Why is it you fight alongside Thidran, a Tal’vashoth? Why do you fight at my side, or take me to bed? I hate…to put this on you, Bull, but you haven’t been of the Qun for longer than you realize.”

It felt like a slap to the face and this time The Bull did shove Dorian back as he stood up to his full height, growling down at the mage who finally had the sense to look unnerved. “Turning against the Qun, going Tal’vashoth, I leave myself open to…to becoming mindless! A monster!”

“Is Thidran a mindless monster?” the man snapped quickly, “You will only become mindless if you want to be that way!”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about you spoiled bastard! You spent your life with a silver spoon up your ass, you had no responsibility or worries!” He was grabbing his pants and harness, pulling them on with sharp movements. “Everyone hates you people, but you don’t want to turn your back on them do you? How’s that mirror treating you?” The words were spat in such a venomous rage that the guilt didn’t wait for him to calm down to settle on his chest.

He fled the room, slamming the door hard enough that all of Skyhold likely heard. Anything to banish the sight of the hurt in Dorian’s eyes…

The Emerald Graves wasn’t a pleasant place by name alone. Such a beautiful forest hid dark secrets and morbid tales – but one wouldn’t know as much from the ecstatic look on Solas’ face as they walked their given path. He wasn’t sure he had ever seen the mage smile so much as he tittered on about the Fade and all of the stories the ruins in the forest could tell. And Thidran listened to each one with a dopey sort of smile on his face.

The Bull had to imagine that love was hard when it was only one-sided.

Cassandra was accompanying them as well, in search of evidence regarding the Seekers who had gone missing. Investigating Corypheus’ lurking spots seemed like as good of a place as any to start. The Seeker was quiet company though, always tense with shoulders drawn as tight as a bowstring.

Three days of searching gave them a result, to The Bull’s surprise. With countless Red Templar marinating in their own poisoned blood, Cassandra recovered her first real clue. Her hope was as loud as her voice as she spoke her thoughts, about her worries for her fellow Seekers. It was the most animated The Bull had ever seen her.

But they weren’t the only ones to take notice while walking through Troll lands.

The Bull saw it first and his blood burned for a fight. He didn’t say anything as he broke their path and drew his axe, charging the creature with blind rage.

He didn’t recall any specifics about the fight. There was a lot of yelling, a lot of pain, a lot of blood. He remembered the feel of ripping one of the monster’s tusks out of its face, jamming it in the eye. He remembered the fire in his lungs at each breath he took, like he couldn’t get enough air and yet had too much all at once.

BULL!” Thidran’s voice topped a shout as he grabbed and shook his friend, wrenching him away from the felled Troll, and slowly he felt lucidity returning. “It’s dead Bull!”

The Troll’s chest was a gored mess of blood and bone, the beast long since dead. That blood was stained across The Bull’s chest, hands, and axe and he realized with a sickening feeling that he had gone into a senseless rage.

It was something that had happened before, but only when he was severely injured or emotional. He dropped his axe and backed away from the Troll, staring down at his hands as if they had betrayed him.

“It’s alright, Bull.” Thidran’s voice was soft now, “We’ll get to camp, it’ll be alright.”

Nothing was alright…

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.