Bethany lay on the damp ground in such a way that it is impossible to tell if she’s breathing or not. He’s afraid to hope that Bethany’s heart wasn’t crushed. Triss groans, her bloody hand reaching to Fenris as her precious life blood spills to quench the ground’s thirst.
“Leto,” her voice is soft and full of pain and heartache when she sees his eyes on the dark haired human. With her last breath she tries one final time to get his attention and passes without Fenris giving her so much as a glance.
Varric is forced to his feet. “Slave,” Dante signals for the dwarf to be dragged before the frozen warrior. With a flick of his wrist and a short dance of his fingers Fenris is forced to kneel, he’s now eye level with Varric. “I feel you need a reminder,” he casually steps around Triss’ corpse as though he were side stepping a bit of trash in the street.
“Disobedience,” he grabs Varric’s hair, pulling back his head to expose the neck. “Has a price,” he produces a blade and prepares to slit the storyteller’s throat.
Fenris, still a prisoner of magic and powerless to intervene, is forced to watch as the hated mage brings the gleaming metal into view. He can see the fear in the rogue’s brown eyes and is powerless to do anything but witness the demise of his dear friend.
Suddenly a dagger flies through the air striking the mage in the shoulder, forcing him to drop his weapon. A bolt strikes and kills one of the guards standing near Varric. Laird and Thanus watch their comrade fall. Varric takes advantage of the distractions and moves away from the Magister and guards.
“Dad,” Varric scurries towards his daughter, who had fired killing shot.
“What? How?” Dante hunches over, holding his wounded arm close. His expression is a mixture of shock and anger as he stares at Bianca and Isana, wondering how they got free.
“Don’t you just hate it when people change their plans and don’t tell you,” the pirate teases, her sword resting casually on her shoulder and a smug grin upon her lips.
“Don’t just stand there,” Laird and Thanus are in just as much shock as their Tevinter employer. “Do something!” Laird draws his weapons and charge the two women, Thanus has to retrieve one from his fallen companion.
Dante cries out with pain as he pulls the dagger from his shoulder. Letting it drop he casts a simple healing spell on himself and watches as Isana manages to fire off one more bolt which soars towards Laird but he manages to avoid the inexperienced shot. Varric grabs the crossbow from his daughter.
“Dodge this,” he fires an expertly aimed shot into Laird’s chest, killing the man before he hits the ground.
Thanus’ blade is blocked by Bianca’s, but he manages to force her back far enough so that he can kick Varric. The archer stumbles back, bumps into Isana and the pair tumble to the ground a with few choice curse words.
Dante prepares a second spell but is interrupted by Isabela lunging towards him. He yelps and instinctively releases a burst of mana which disorients the pirate.
“Slave,” Dante raises his hands as his magic builds. “Defend your master,” he releases his mana and Fenris’ body moves against his will to block Isabela’s attack, saving Dante.
“I’m not in control,” he manages to tell her.
“Shit,” she ducks low, avoiding his massive two handed sword. She dodges his next blow, but doesn’t counter attack for she doesn’t want to kill her friend. The elf brings his blade down, and Isabela manages to block, but the force of the impact drives her to her knees.
“Kill me,” he applies more force, but she manages to get back onto her feet. “Kill me before I kill you.”
“No,” with gritted teeth she manages to throw weight enough to get him off balance. “No,” she takes a couple of steps back. “I’m here to save you.”
“Save yourself,” he pleads as he swings at her again. “Kill me.”
Dante roars in pain and his hold over Fenris is broken. The warrior and pirate look towards the mage and can see that the cooking fire had flared up and caught the magister’s robes on fire.
“How clever,” he growls after quickly stripping off his long robe, leaving him in a simple pair of leggings and an elaborately embroidered silk tunic. “To hide from Templars you pretend to be a rogue.” Bethany staggers to her feet, obviously still in pain from Triss’ attempt to crush her heart.
“Fenris,” she grits her teeth in pain. “Will stay free,” summons her magic and throws a fireball at Dante who quickly summons a shield to block the fiery attack.
“Tell me Circle Mage,” his tone is condescending as he slowly approaches his opponent. “Do you really think you can best me.” The ground suddenly lurches and Bethany is violently thrown off her feet.
“I am a Magister of the Tevinter Empire,” a storm of small stones begins to rain down on Bethany who’s doing her best to shield her face and avoid the rocks. “I have killed dozens of rivals in magical combat,” a burst of mana makes Bethany’s head spin. “As I will do with you!” He spins quickly with one hand stretches out and a massive earthen wall encircles the pair.
Thanus moves quickly, striking Isana with the pommel of his sword, rendering her unconscious. Bianca calls to her daughter and the human uses the distraction to kick her in the chest, knocking the wind from her. Varric fires a bolt, but misses as Thanus ducks and rushes in. He tackles the archer and pins him beneath his weight. He makes an attempt to stab Varric’s heart, but the storyteller parries with his crossbow’s hidden blade and the sword impales his shoulder just below the collar bone and twists the blade. Varric screams but attempts to use the opening to slash at older guard, despite the pain. The human’s reflexes have been honed by countless battles; he drops the blade and grabs the crossbow’s stock.
Bianca runs over, her blades moving in a deadly arc. Thanus rips the crossbow out of the archer’s grasp and uses the blade to block Bianca’s attack. Moving quickly he drops the crossbow and grabs the red-haired dwarf’s wrists. He uses his strength to stop her attacks, but the woman surprises him by suddenly jerking forward and slamming her forehead into the bridge of his nose. He cries out and pushes her away.
Blood is gushing from his broken nose and his eyes are tearing with pain, but still he manages to retrieve his dropped blade. Varric struggles to aim his beloved crossbow with one fully functional arm while Bianca regains her footing. Varric attempts to shoot Thanus, but his shot goes wild and high, sailing over the earthen arena Dante had magically summoned.
Cursing he drops to one knee, using his raised knee to balance and aim his weapon. Bianca closes the distance between her and the human, her swords gleam in the diminishing light. The pair dance in the glow of the dying day neither able to gain the advantage. They circle each other, striking, blocking and parrying.
“Come on, Beautiful,” he tries aiming his beloved crossbow by balancing her on his knee. “Give me a shot.” He grits his teeth, his finger steady on the trigger he knows patience is the key to getting the shot.
Bianca crouches and spins with her blades in an effort to knock Thanus down and Varric takes advantage of the brief opening. Thanus jumps and avoids Bianca’s sweeping attack, but he can’t evade Varric’s bolt. Thanus cries out and falls onto his back. Bianca rushes in for the kill, but Thanus brings his legs up, planting his feet on her belly he sends her soaring through the air. Her landing knocks the air from her lungs. She drops her twin blades and rolls onto all fours desperate to catch her next breath. Thanus quickly gets to his feet, pulling the bolt from his side and limps over the dwarven woman, who’s still struggling to breath.
Varric makes another shot and the bolt grazes the human’s armour and does nothing to halt his progression towards the storyteller’s beloved. The blonde quickly prepares a second shot, again balancing his weapon on his knee to steady his shot. His bolt flies as planned, and it strikes Thanus in the shoulder, but the projectile doesn’t penetrate the metal pauldron.
Varric leaps to his feet and dashes towards the human guard. With a defiant cry he body slams the human causing both of them to tumble to the ground. Thanus drops the bolt and the two wrestle for control over Bianca’s bayonet. Thanus is able to use his height and Varric’s injury to pin the dwarf and pull the weapon from the archer’s hands. The dwarf stops moving at the feel of cold steel against his throat.
“I want you to know,” he raises the weapon with the intention of delivering a killing blow. “It’s nothing personal,” a dagger flies through the air and lodges into his throat. Thanus drops Bianca to the left of Varric’s head, gurgling as he clutches his throat.
“To me, it’s very personal.” Bianca’s tone is cold and unfeeling. The human slumps over, collapsing to the right of Varric; his dying sounds are wet and nauseous noises.
Bethany quickly raises a barrier, blocking the fist-sized stones Dante is magically hurling at her. They strike with such force that she’s pushed back into the earthen wall, but don’t penetrate her shield. The sounds of shattering rocks drown out the cries of Fenris and Isabela.
Once the magical onslaught eases, Bethany summons a freezing arc of ice beneath Dante’s feet. The ice crystallizes with a soft crackling sound, ensnaring Dante’s right boot. Stalagmites of thick ice erupted towards the heavens, a thin layer of frost creeps up the Magister’s right leg, drawing a yelp of surprise and pain. Bethany did not hesitate before crafting her next attack, a barrage of ice daggers. Several shards slice his clothes and skin as he drops to the ground. A powerful gust of wind from Dante’s outstretched hand knocks the dark haired woman back into the earthen wall. Her ears ring from the impact and her head swims.
“Very clever, Circle Mage,” he gets back onto his feet, an explosion of rock keeps her off balance and unable to weave her next spell. “Mayhap, I’ll just keep you for my own,” he sends a large chuck of gypsum soaring towards Bethany; it hits her full force in the gut. She doubles over, arms wrapped about her midsection. “It will bring me such pleasure to know the torment it will cause the slave as I force him to watch while I defile you.”
“He’s not a slave,” she screams while throwing a massive ball of raw power. Dante raises his mystical shield but still has to struggle to remain on his feet. “His name is Fenris,” he punctuates each word with either ice or fire. “And he will remain free!” She holds nothing back from the lightening which cracks the air with an earth trembling boom. Dante’s shield shatters and both mages drop to their knees, breathing hard.
“You are a passionate one,” Dante sneers, but can’t find the strength to get to his feet.
“Shut up,” she snarls. Her legs are trembling too much for her to stand, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.
He manages to stand but must lean against the wall for support. “Tell me, Circle Mage,” while she’s distracted with her own efforts to rise, he produces a small knife from his boot. “Are you this passionate in all aspects of life?”
“Shut up,” her teeth are clenched and she has to lean against the wall to remain upright.
“I bet you’re a vocal one, am I right,” he’s deliberately provoking her and she’s falling for it. She never sees him carve a quick rune into his arm. His eyes glow blood red as his casts his spell.
“Maker help me, if you don’t shut up,” her is mana summoned, but she never gets a chance to release it, giant mystical hands emerge from the swirling crimson clouds and grab the petite woman. Terror shoots through her, she knows this spell, and she’s heard many stories about how this spell can be used to rip a man apart. She knows no counter attack for this spell, and to make things worse she can feel her mana being drained by this enchantment.
With the slightest of gestures from his delicate hand she can feel the glowing hands pull her arms outward until her left shoulder pops and she cries out with shock.
“You amuse me, Circle Mage,” he casually picks up one of her enchanted weapons. “I’ve never killed anyone with a weapon before,” he eyes the weapon and tests its weight. “It might be interesting to know what it feels like,” he grasps the hilt firmly and Bethany is surprised he doesn’t notice the enchantment in it. He strikes a pose that he’s seen other sword fighters use when they plan to thrust their blade into their opponent, but it is obvious that weapons are not his forte. “Who knows, I may develop a taste for it.”
She goes deep to summon the last, waning shreds of her magic to reach out to the enchantment in the sword. She closes her eyes and pictures herself holding the blades and sends fire through the hilt. Her strength is vanishing, but if she can pull off this one last trick it may just save her life.
Dante screams as heat suddenly erupts from the hilt and he finds his right arm engulfed in a blue flame. With his concentration broken Bethany is released and drops to the ground. She quickly grabs her other weapon and runs Dante through.
“If you’re going to kill someone with a blade just do it, don’t stand around talking about it.”
Dante uses his dying breath and a final burst of magic to drive jagged spears of rock into the dark haired woman’s gut. With a shriek she jumps aside, but the crude projectile tears through her armour and slices deep into her side. With a final wet sigh he closes his eyes. Bethany cries out in pain and slaps her hands over the injury. Blood pours from the wounds and she drops to her knees. Tears stream down her face as she looks up at the towering twenty foot tall walls encircling her. She can hear Fenris calling to her from the other side.
“Fenris,” her voice is strong as her vision grays from pain. “I love you,” her voice softer as tears of pain spill down her cheeks as giggles of relief escape her lips.
Gaeris emerges from his hiding spot and looks around at the carnage. He yelps and cowers when Isabela approaches him with blades in hand.
“He’s a slave,” Bianca calls over as she helps her daughter stand. “Don’t hurt him.”
“I guess this makes you free,” the pirate sheaths her weapons and places a hand on her cocked hip.
“I,” he fumbles with the torn hem of his tunic. “I can’t. I have to go back,” his voice is timid as he looks around at the dead bodies. “I can’t leave them. Will you take me back to Tevinter?”
“Are you out of your bleedin’ mind,” The pirate can’t keep the shocked tone from her voice. “You want to go back to Tevinter? To be a slave?”
“My brother and daughter are still there. I can’t leave them. Please, just to the border, there’s an Inn there and I can make my way back from there. I just,” again he looks around. “If I don’t return they’ll be punished in my place.” Suddenly his eyes brighten. “I can cook, and sing. I’m very good at polishing armour and setting up tents and if you wish company at night,” he lets his words hang.
“Rivani, I know what you’re thinking, and it’s not right to take advantage.”
“You sound like Hawke,” she groans while rolling her eyes.
“Speaking of Hawke, where’s Bethany,” Varric looks about and sees Fenris climbing a tall wall of earth and rock.
“Stay with Isana,” Bianca pulls her blade from Thanus’ neck. “Isabela, with me,” she bolts towards the elf. Varric grumbles, but knows in his wounded state he won’t be much help. He kneels down beside his unconscious daughter and checks her injuries.
“I can help,” Gaeris hesitantly joins the blonde storyteller.
“Well, aren’t you a Jack-Of-All-Trades,” Varric gives his permission with a gesture.
“It doesn’t take much skill to bind a wound,” he doesn’t look away from Isana. “I think she’ll be fine. Please allow me to get the medical kit and I can tend to you as well.”
“You’re not like the other slave I’ve met,” Varric watches Gaeris set down the physiker’s kit.
“Few have the capacity to carry that much rage,” despite himself the elf chuckles.
“True, but I meant Orana. She’s rather quiet, submissive, and I hesitate to say it, but broken. You’re not like that,” he hisses in pain as Gaeris helps him out of his tunic.
“I’m sorry,” he sets the clothing aside. “I wasn’t born into slavery. My mother became ill and we didn’t have the coin to take her to a healer,” his touch is inexperienced as he examines the wound. He carefully applies a healing salve, doing his best to not cause more pain.
“My brother and I soon realized that frequent trips to the local physiker would put the family so far into debt that all of us, my brother and I along with four sisters, would be sold in order to satisfy the creditors. Froderick, my brother, and I couldn’t stand the idea of our sisters as slaves. You see they’re quite beautiful and we’ve heard the stories,” he presses a gauze over the wound, Varric groans from the pressure applied.
“So my brother and I convinced our eldest sister to auction us off,” it’s obviously a painful memory, but speaking as he works keeps his mind off the emotional anguish. “We were fortunate enough to be purchased by the same master, and the money was enough to take mother to a healer and pay off all of our debts,” Gaeris carefully wraps bandages about the wound.
“And your wife,” Varric helps the elf tie off the bandages..
“Slaves are not permitted to marry, nor can we have...relations without our master’s consent.”
“But you have a daughter.”
“Yes, I have a merciful master,” he helps the dwarf into his coat. “Genna, my daughter’s mother, was born into slavery and was very much as you described. I’ll mend and clean your shirt as we travel.”
“Genna had a difficult pregnancy and there are laws dictating the type of healer and physiker a slave may use. As merciful as our master is…nothing could be done and Genna died giving birth to Alya. I have hope that one day Froderick, Alya and I will be free.”
“Yes, it’s rare, but it does happen. Even slaves can have a dream.”