Rite of the Maleficarum: Book I

Destroying the Beast

"Well," the demon roared angrily, "That bargaining chip is off the table I guess."

Hawke screamed at the beast as Fenris collapsed onto the dirt. She knew Anders and Aveline were holding her back. They pulled her away, retreating farther from the creature.

"So, Champion," the beast growled, "Are we still in the mood to bargain?"

Varric, Sebastian and Merrill stood, grouping up and slowly moving toward where the others were standing. Hawke felt a calming affect taking place and knew Anders was attempting to relieve her from the shock so she could focus. She slowed her breath and considered the situation. The beast was doing an awful lot of talking, she thought. A suspicious amount, in fact. Had Justice successfully destroyed its form in the Fade? Had her companions here done enough damage that it was weakened? Was it biding its time, hoping she thought the situation futile? She could only hope Anders had caught her look from before, and decided to call its bluff.

It all happened in mere seconds. Hawke stepped forward and Anders staff hit the ground, sending out a violent shockwave that rocked the beast, causing it to lose its balance. Arrows rang past her, striking the beast in its eyes, and disorienting it further. Aveline, shield on her arm, slid into place in front of Hawke as she stepped onto the shield, pressing up with all the force the guard captain could muster and launching Hawke into the air. Simultaneously, Anders and Merrill fueled her jump, allowing her to reach the height of the demon's monstrous face. Hawke took a moment to enjoy its look of shock shortly before she dug her greatsword fully into its forehead. With all the power she could muster, she dragged the sword downward with her, slicing the beast's face in two. She fell backward to the ground below, the impact knocking the wind out of her.

The demon roared, grasping at its decimated face with its talons. The ground beneath them shook violently, but it was no act of either mage. Rocks rolled and the earth cracked beneath the beast, which fell back, clearly dead.

"It's collapsing!" Aveline announced, and she helped Hawke to her feet, "Retreat!"

Hawke couldn't see the others in the chaos, but she saw Anders holding a protection spell upwards toward the ceiling, shielding them from falling rocks.

"Fenris," Hawke managed, and Aveline nodded.

Rain was pouring down as Hawke and Aveline carried Fenris from the mouth of the cave. The ground bucked under their feet and heavy rocks fell from the roof of the cave's entrance, rolling through the path behind them. They laid the elf's body down on the sand as lightning flashed across the sky, the thunder rolling through not seconds later.

It was bad, Hawke knew, now that her initial instincts were wearing off, the ones that had allowed her to not panic long enough to murder the demon and get the man out of the cave. It was very bad. Rain poured down her face as she ripped the plate off her arms, tearing at her undershirt and pressing the ripped fabric to Fenris's stomach. She put as much pressure as she could on the wound in an attempt to staunch the bleeding, but the fabric filled quickly with his blood.

The rain fell in heavy sheets, dampening the sounds of her companions, drowning out the noises of the world. The situation became very clear, in this moment. Fenris writhed in pain, the wound so deep, unfathomably deep. Blood was everywhere, and parts that should not be outside of his body were. Fenris was going to die. She pressed her bloody hand to his cheek to get him to look at her.

"Focus on me," she said and felt the tears leave her eyes, though they were lost in the wetness that fell from the sky. His face pulled into a deep grimace, but he appeared to be trying. Eventually, he locked his eyes on hers, and the world fell quiet, save the steady beating of rain.

"Good, just look at me. Nothing else is happening, it's just us," she assured, tears falling freely down her face now. He seemed to calm a bit, looking at her lovingly. He almost seemed at peace.

"I love you, Hawke," he managed.

"No, Fenris!" she demanded, but it was too late, he was unconscious. She clutched his face in her bloody hands, trying to shake him awake. She felt Aveline grasp her shoulders, attempting to calm her. The sounds of the world crashed back down on her, rain pounded unforgivingly, a nearby strike of lightning causing thunder to roar deafeningly. She heard her companions running about and managed a quick look up.

Everyone had made it out alive, it seemed, all but Anders, who just then stalked out of the cave, rocks rolling behind him and glowing with the fury of Justice. He immediately dropped to his knees at Fenris's side and pressed a hand to his chest, reaching up with the other in an ardent fist. A brilliant emerald light emanated from the mage and Hawke watched in awe as Fenris's smaller wounds closed, one by one. She moved her hand away from his stomach, watching as a band of green light began to encircle the fatal wound, rotating quicker and quicker. How Anders had it in him, she did not know, but as the beautiful light flashed out of existence, it revealed Fenris's stomach, new, pink skin having replaced the gaping wound. And then the mage fell, exhausted, onto the wet sand next to them.

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