Fenris moaned in pain next to the mage. “Fool mage. Heal me already, before I tear that bleeding heart of yours out of your chest!”
Anders looked down at the elf and was shocked – Fenris’ lyrium brands had all turned from their usual white to completely black. He then tried to call upon his healing magic to try and ease the elf’s pain.
That’s when Anders screamed. “My magic! What happened to my magic?!”
“What do you mean, mage?” Fenris grunted through his pain.
“My magic … it’s gone.” Anders whispered sorrowfully. “I can’t feel it anymore. Even when dosed with magebane, unable to cast, I could always feel my magic. It’s … it’s completely gone!”
“You don’t sound like you’ve been made tranquil,” Fenris grunted again.
“No, I … I don’t feel tranquil. But my connection to the Fade is definitely cut off,” Anders began and then seemed to panic anew. “Justice … Justice is also gone. Oh Maker, what have we done?!”
“You mean what Merrill has done. We wouldn’t be in this mess if we hadn’t helped that damnable blood mage!” Fenris growled.
“What should we do? I feel crippled without my magic,” Anders whined.
“This is definitely one time I wish you did have your magic,” Fenris said through gritted teeth. “This pain threatens to overwhelm me again. Do you have any healing potions?”
Anders rifled through one of the small packs on his belt and found a potion. “Here, hopefully this will help.”
Fenris grabbed the vial and drank the potion greedily, grimacing at the bitter taste of elfroot. It slowly seemed to take the edge off the pain, although it didn’t dull it completely. “Thanks.”
Anders nodded, still looking panicked.
Fenris sighed, taking off his gauntlets and gestured for the mage to come closer. “Let’s rest until daylight, and then we can figure out where we are and how to get back to Kirkwall.”
Anders curled up next to the elf, drawing comfort from the familiar despite their years of mutual animosity. Right now he was too frightened to think straight and he just clung to Fenris like a terrified child.
As Fenris drifted to sleep, he kept picturing himself tearing Merrill’s heart from her body, assuming he’d ever be able to use his lyrium ghost abilities again.
First they would have to find their way back home.
Anders and Fenris were awakened by a frightening noise. It started off in the distance, a loud rumble coming from the sky. They looked up as the sound approached closer and closer until it flew directly overhead, roaring loudly. At first they thought it might be a dragon, but it was the strangest dragon they had ever seen – the body was sleek and cylindrical, with no obvious head, and the wings were oddly shaped and stationary.
“What was that?” Anders asked.
Fenris merely shook his head.
Fenris was still in considerable pain, but thankfully less than he had been. For the first time he actually took notice that his lyrium lines had changed color. Something had happened to the lyrium in his skin, which explained why he’d been experiencing so much pain.
“Are there any more potions?” Fenris asked hoarsely.
Anders checked and drew out another vial “Only one. I wasn’t expecting to be transported out of Kirkwall or I would have stocked up more.”
“Hopefully we can find more elfroot along the way. Whatever happened to my brands is causing me considerable pain,” Fenris explained.
“I figured as much last night. I’m guessing whatever cut me off from the Fade also affected the lyrium in your skin,” Anders speculated.
Once the healing potion took the edge off of Fenris’ pain, they got up and started walking. In the distance they still heard strange sounds, like the distant rumble of continuous thunder. At first they were trying to walk in the opposite direction from the sounds, until it became clear that they came from every direction. Based on the sun’s position and the current temperature, they figured they were somewhere north of Kirkwall, and so they decided to head south, which led them downhill and out of the mountainous terrain they found themselves in.
They had walked for perhaps an hour when the sounds kept getting louder. Anders was annoyed that they hadn’t seen any familiar healing herbs along the way. The trees and grasses seemed similar to areas he’d been to in other areas of Thedas, but everything else seemed … strange.
Suddenly the trees became sparse, and instead of opening up to a meadow or field, it opened up to … the strangest sight they had yet seen. They came upon what was clearly a roadway, and they discovered what was making the strange sounds they had heard: odd looking carriages that were propelled very fast along the roadway … without horses.
“What foul magic is this!?” Fenris growled, still in a foul mood because of his pain.
“We’re not in Tevinter, are we?” Anders asked, in awe.
“I have been away from Tevinter for nearly ten years now, but no. Tevinter couldn’t have changed that much since I ran from Danarius,” Fenris replied.
“Then where in Thedas are we?!” Anders asked.
“I don’t know, but perhaps we should avoid the roadway for now. We have no idea what forms of magic are in use in this land.” Fenris suggested.
“What if we follow the roadway from within the tree line, so we can’t be seen?” Anders recommended. “I would bet this roadway leads to a village or city of some sort. Perhaps there we can get some answers?”
So they decided to follow the roadway traveling east, hoping it would bring them to some sort of civilization soon. They walked for several hours seemingly continuing to angle downhill, coming further out of the mountainous terrain, until the forest receded entirely and they were faced with yet another roadway perpendicular to the one they were already following. There were some sparse establishments on the other side of the roadways here, but it seemed a daunting task to try and cross one with all the carriages speeding along them.
Fenris and Anders had spotted a small stream a short trek back the way they had come and decided it was best to head back to that and make camp within the trees, as the daylight was receding fast.
When they reached the stream they trekked along it back into the tree line. They greedily drank from the stream after their long day of walking. They both remarked on how the water tasted odd to them compared to streams they had drank from near Kirkwall, but thought nothing more of it. They had no provisions with them so they had to sleep on empty stomachs, curled up next to each other for warmth.
Several hours later, while it was still dark, Anders stirred and noted how the sounds from the roadway were greatly diminished from earlier. He nudged Fenris. “Hey it sounds like there are almost no carriages on the roadway now. Do you think we should make an attempt to cross one?”
Fenris nodded in agreement and they set out, back to the crossroads they had seen earlier. There were indeed almost no carriages to be seen and it was a matter of relative ease to cross the roadways now. They made their way across to a large, well-lit establishment that appeared yet to be open, despite the late hour.
“How much coin do you have Fenris? I have about ten silver on me currently,” Anders asked the elf.
“I have about fifty silver. Hopefully they have food for purchase at this hour,” Fenris replied.
They walked towards the door, looking at it all in wonder. The establishment must belong to a powerful mage to have so many lights glowing. The temperature was also noticeably cooler inside as they stepped through the door. A continuous cooling spell seemed to be in effect.
The merchant immediately took notice and yelled at Fenris “Hey! Can’t you read, freak!? No shirt, no shoes, NO SERVICE!”
Fenris looked down at his bare feet and for the first time felt ashamed at never having acquired the habit of wearing boots.
“I’ll go wait outside Anders. Please whatever you get, don’t buy anything for me with fish. I hate fish.” Fenris said with a sigh and made his way back outside to sit on a bench near the entrance.
Anders spent some time looking over the strange food choices, trying to ask the merchant questions, but was soundly ignored. He finally settled on a couple of what looked like sausages rotating slowly on what appeared to be heated metal rollers. He also grabbed what looked like ale in bottles from inside of a large cabinet with glass doors, powered by more cold magic.
When Anders approached the counter with his selections, the merchant dully said “I.D.”
“Excuse me? What is I.D.?” Anders asked, honestly.
“Identification? Photo I.D.? Something that proves to me that you are of a legal age to drink those?” the merchant asked with a sneer.
“I’m sorry, I have no such identification. I have never heard of a legal age to drink, but assuredly someone that is in his thirties should be old enough?” Anders inquired.
“Yeah, the legal age is twenty-one, but if you can’t prove you’re in your thirties, I can’t sell you those,” the merchant explained.
“Well then what can you sell me?” Anders asked, becoming annoyed.
The merchant walked out from behind his counter and grabbed the beer putting them back, and instead grabbing two bottles of something dark brown, nearly black.
“I can sell you soda. These OK?” the merchant asked.
“I suppose they’ll have to do, thank you,” Anders replied politely.
“That’ll be eight dollars and fifty-seven cents,” the merchant stated.
“I don’t have dollars, but I have silver. Will five silver be enough?” Anders asked, holding out the coin.
“Whoa buddy, we don’t accept foreign currency here. You gotta pay with American money,” said the merchant testily.
“It’s the only coin I have, and my friend and I are starving. We haven’t eaten in over a day now. Please, there must be some way we can pay for this,” Anders responded.
The merchant sighed. “Look, fine I’ll let you have it, on one condition; I never see either of you two again. Now get out of here before I change my mind!”
“Thank you!” Anders said gratefully, grabbing the sausages and bottles of something called ‘soda,’ and rushed back outside.
“Here Fenris, it’s all I could get,” Anders explained. He then sat next to Fenris greedily consuming the sausage and then washing it down with the strange soda.
“Mmm sweet. I like it.” Anders said after his first tentative taste. Fenris also nodded in approval.
Anders then explained to Fenris what had happened inside and the fact that their coin was not acceptable in this land, and that they needed something called ‘I.D.’ in order to purchase ale or other alcohol.
The sun had just started to crest on the horizon as they finished their small meal. “Where to now?” Anders asked the elf.
“We keep following the roadway until we find the city it leads to,” Fenris responded with a shrug. “Perhaps someone there can tell us more about where we are and how to get back to Kirkwall.”
So the mage and elf set back out, following the strange roadway east.