Tale of the Stranger (or How I Met Selena Hawke)

Chapter 19

Garrett Hawke was pacing in front of the fireplace in the main foyer, dressed in his heaviest plate armour, shield and sword strapped to his back. He wanted to be out there, searching with Varric and Isabela, but he knew that he would just get in the way and slow them down. He was better at the killing maiming, not the stealth and intrigue.

Anders sat at the writing desk nearby, legs twitching with the suppressed need to move. He was torn between his desire to comfort Hawke and tear Thedas apart to find Selena. Even Justice seemed bent on finding the woman, though Anders believed the spirit just wanted to be able to keep an eye on her at all times.

Thankfully, Leandra had chosen to remain at the DeLauncet's, on the off chance that Selena would return there instead of coming home. No one knew when she had disappeared or if she'd been kidnapped or not. The last anyone had seen of her, she'd excused herself to find a water-closet and just never returned. By the time she was missed, it was nearing eleven bells and people were preparing to return home to retire.

Garrett's first stop, after checking to see if she'd gone home, was to the Hanged Man. If anyone could ferret her out, it was Varric. The dwarf had woken Isabela to help and the two had gone to sleuth her out.

Apparently, in their searching, they had informed their other friends about what had transpired. Aveline had alerted her guard to be on the lookout and had gone to speak with the DeLauncet's and Leandra.

Merrill had convinced other elves of the Alienage to scour Darktown and parts of Lowtown that they had access to. How she managed to get other elves to help, Garrett had no idea, except that whenever possible, Selena liked to shop in the Alienage and over paid for everything that they'd let her get away with. Quite a few Elvehn children that might have otherwise starved owed her for the good meals they were able to eat.

Sebastian Vael was sitting in the chantry, praying. As if that will really help, Garrett snorted to himself. Whatever. Keep his dirty fingers off Selena that way, anyway.

And Fenris was here, sitting on a bench in the entryway, looking stoic and calm but for the slivers of wood he was slowly peeling away with his gauntlets. The elf had burst in, brands glowing in righteous fury, threatening to remove hearts, spleens, whatever he could get his hands on. It took several minutes for Garrett to calm the elf, all the harder as he wanted to rip and shred just as badly.

He felt Anders stand behind him and he turned, barreling into the mage's chest, arms grasping to hold him. He smoothed his hands down the back of Hawke's neck, unable to really reach around the large man's armour. Garrett was shaking with unused adrenaline, wanting nothing more than to find Selena and hold her tight. “Hush, love,” he soothed. “We'll find her. We'll bring her home.”

Suddenly the front door burst open with a bang. Garret spun, sword in hand, Anders and Fenris similarly ready and armed. Standing there was Varric, panting heavily, blood trickling from a gash to his forehead. The men rushed forward, Anders quickly healing the small cut. “Found her...on the coast...cave...two guys at first...more showed after I got there...And Petrice.” he panted.

“Where's Isabela?” Fenris demanded.

“Still keeping watch. If she can get in and get Starlight out, she's going to try, but I told her to not take any more chances than necessary. Wait for us if she had to.”

As one, the men nodded and prepared for war.

Bodahn had gone to find Aveline and a contingent of guard, then to find Merrill and her elves, but the boys weren't prepared to wait. With Varric and Spirit in the lead, they moved as quickly as they could to the coast. It took nearly an hour, but they found themselves at a small inlet, almost hidden from their vantage point on the cliffs unless you knew it was there. Garrett searched the area fruitlessly, trying to spot Isabela.

“Shit! Could she have gone down already?”

“No. Now hush already! You make enough noise to wake the dead.”

Garrett nearly had his sword drawn before he realized that the sultry whisper belonged to Izzy. She crept slowly from a patch of shadow that he would have sworn wasn't big enough to hide a nug and sauntered closer to the group.

“What's the situation, Rivaini?” Varric asked, prepping Bianca.

“No change so far,” she replied, glancing down towards the hidden cave, obscured by rock and brush. “About twenty men all told, plus Petrice and a Templar. Fenris growled deep in his chest and began to flare his brands. “Down, there, handsome,” Isabela chided. “Don't want to let them know we're here just yet.”

“Then what's the plan, Isabela,” Garrett ground through his teeth. “It's getting fucking cold out here and she's in nothing but a damn gown! She'll freeze out here, assuming they haven't-” He couldn't finish the sentence, his breath hitching at the thought of someone hurting her. Anders reached out to place a hand on his shoulder and he took the mage's hand in his own. “We can't lose her, Iz. We just can't.”

“I get it, Sugar. Trust me, I do. None of us want to lose her.”Isabela whispered. “Now, it's next to impossible to get down to the inlet without being seen. I can stick to shadows and do it, but you guys just haven't a clue when it comes to hiding. So what I'm going to do is sneak down there, try and lure as many of them as I can out into the open. Then I want Anders and Varric to rain fire on them. Once the majority are down, Hawke, you and Fenris rush down to take out the stragglers and whoever's left in the cave.”

“I want Petrice alive,” Garrett growled. “Aveline's coming and I want her humiliated and beaten. Death would be too quick.”

The others nodded, unwilling to argue with him at this point. They could see the signs of one of his rages and weren't about to stand in the way of him.

And then Isabela was gone, melded back into the shadows that were her second home. It took mere minutes for her to make it down the hidden path to the inlet and begin hurling rocks and epithets towards the mouth of the cave. A dozen men rushed from the opening and the fight was on.

When Isabela had asked for a rain of fire, she wasn't kidding. Anders called on the fire of his magic, not an ability he used often, but still one of his most powerful, and called down fireball after fireball from the sky. Even Justice got in the act, adding power to the spell to keep his mana lasting longer.

Thank you, my friend.

She is special to you. We will help her. For now.

Explosive arrows joined the fray, some of Varric's most powerful. He usually saved these for the big guns, but nothing was too good to help save Starlight. In his heart he knew that if they lost her, they would fall apart, and maybe Kirkwall with them. Maybe even all of Thedas.

With screams of rage, Hawke and Fenris ran down the path, attacking the men that exited the cave to help their brothers. The held nothing back, removing limbs, heads, bodily organs, whatever came within reach of their swords. It was a bloodbath, nearly two dozen men dead at their feet.

Merrill, Aveline and the guard arrived just as the last body fell from Garrett's sword. The elf girl reached to touch Hawke's arm, but turned into Isabela's embrace instead. “Is she-?”

“In the cave,” Varric said. “With Petrice and a Templar.”

The Guard Captain nodded and motioned for her men to surround the cave to prevent escape. Garrett had Anders, Merrill and Varric wait outside as well. They were better at long range warfare and the cave was anything but.

“All right, Petrice!” Aveline called into the mouth of the cave. “You're surrounded by the guard. Release your prisoner and come out peacefully!”

They heard a scuffle inside but no answer.

“Last chance, Petrice! You have to the count of five before we storm the cave!”

There was more noise, a loud grunt and what sounded like the very beginning of a scream. Garrett panicked and rushed in, Fenris close at his heels, the others soon behind. What met his eyes was not the horror he expected. The Templar was dead, throat cut ear to ear. Petrice was backed into the wall of the cave, blade to her throat. And Selena...

Selena stood with blade in hand, ropes dangling from her wrists, dress a mass of rips and tears and blood. Her face was a mask of gore, a feral smile splitting her mouth. Her eyes were glazed, a look Garrett knew well. She was ready to kill.

It was Fenris that stepped forward first. He reached his hand out slowly towards her. “Selena?”

She blinked, slowly, as though coming out of a dream. “F-Fenris? Please tell me I'm not dreaming and you're really here?”

He took a step closer, into her field of vision so that she could keep her eyes on Petrice. “We're really here, Selena. Let me take care of Petrice for you so you can rest.” He carefully reached out to take the blade from her fingers.

“Yes. Rest would be good. Is Garrett here? Anders?” she replied softly.

“Yes. Yes, we're here.” Garrett answered.

She didn't turn towards him but she smiled. “Good. I was afraid you would think I left or something just as silly.” she chuckled, a sad watery sound.

Her knees began to buckle and Fenris moved in, scooping her against him and securing her knife in a move. Aveline rushed in to secure a now demanding Petrice, expounding her ties to the Chantry to a deaf ear. The Guard Captain could care less. Her only concession to the Chantry would be informing the Grand Cleric that one of her Mother's would be arrested for kidnapping.

Garrett watched all of this for a moment before turning and exiting the cave. Selena looked after him in concern but Fenris reached up to brush a lock of hair from her face. “It's all right, carrisimi. He is a berserker and has not expended all of his rage. He has gone to find something to fight. He will return, I promise.” She looked up into the elf's guileless eyes and nodded, then buried her face into his neck. Fenris stiffened for a moment, awaiting the pain that inevitably came with the touch of skin upon him. When it never came, he relaxed and began to carefully stroke her hair with his gauntletted hands.

Anders rushed into the cave in Garrett's wake, smiling and tearful. Selena looked up at his entrance and left Fenris' embrace to rush to the mage. He felt a momentary pang of jealousy, but tamped it down. She was not his to be jealous of. No matter how much he wished it were different.

“Love!” Anders cried, wrapping his arms around Selena. “Love, are you all right? Are you hurt?”

“No. I'm...I'm okay, Anders,” she said softly, burying her face in his feathered shoulder. “I just want to go home.” Anders tightened his grip and looked up at Fenris. The elf was looking at her wistfully, a slight smile curving at his lips. He looked up and met the mage's eyes, the smile broadening. Anders smiled back. In this one thing they could see eye-to-eye. They would take Selena home.

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