On the Road Again
We wandered through the city for what felt like hours before we finally found a place to stay. Damon’s string of complaints about our prolonged absence had begun to wear on my nerves, so naturally when Rook pointed out the charming little inn, I was very, very happy to say “Okay” to staying there. The exterior was far less tattered than most of the surrounding buildings, obviously still an older place, but it was in good repair. Quaint little flower boxes filled with different colored mums sat in all the windows and in pots along the large porch. The door was ornately carved with filigree along the edges and a sun where most would put a small window to look through.
Upon entering we were greeted by a friendly old man who introduced himself as Arros Rosshil, the owner of the inn. He toured us through the place, commenting here and there on little knick knacks his wife had placed here and there. Most of them were family heirlooms of little importance, though some had rather interesting stories behind them. One in particular being a short sword with a rose encrusted into the handle, it was mounted over the fireplace in the large sitting room. “My great-grandfather took down three hundred orks with that blade.” Arros explained to us, his chest swelling with pride, “He was a commander in the army when the orks ran around all willy nilly, slaying whomever suited their fancy. Finally got taken down in Dale around 130 years ago. Pitty really, but he was a good man, He was nearly seventy by the time he was killed.” He shook his head and continued the tour, never said another word about it.
The inn itself was quite homey. It had an open kitchen that allowed guests to cook their own meals if they chose to, as well as a bar near the door, and a large but cozy sitting area towards the back wall of the main room. A small staircase lead up to the upper level of the inn where the guests stayed, a grand total of about eight small rooms and a couple larger ones for traveling families.
Once the tour was over Arros introduced us to his wife, a very kind woman who seemed to enjoy nothing more than taking care of people, and his daughter Ariiantha, who ran the bar. “Father used to do it.” Ariiantha told us as we chatted over some drinks, “But when he developed the shakes a few years back, and started getting more drink on the counter top than in the glass, we decided it was time for me to take over.” Arros smilled sheepishy at her remarks, but didn’t argue.
Damon took a shine to Ariiantha, and the two of them spent a good portion of the night talking and laughing, while the rest of us caught up. Rook and I in particular, had a lot of catching up to do. We spent hours sitting and talking about what had happened in our lives since we had seen each other last. We had both spent several years traveling throughout the continent, coming across different villages, often the same ones though we missed each other every time. While I had been teaching at The Capital University, Rook had reestablished the guild of assassins he had been working for, The Bleak Disciples, and was now the master. This had been his first time out of the guild in several months. “The world thinks that ‘Rook the Blackheart’ is dead.” he told me, “So I’ve been able to see Father and the others more offten. I introduced them to my wife and my son before they were taken. I’m sorry you weren’t able to be there for that, you’re not very easy to reach, after all.” Tears began to well up in his eyes as he talked about them more, and I wrapped my arm around him.
“I know, Lucas. I know. You’ve had more than your share of loss.” His eyes found mine again, but a slight smile could be seen behind the tears.
“Thank you Andraste.” He said softly, placing a kiss on my forehead “You have no idea how much you have given me in my life.” We were interrupted then, when Damon approached us, a bottle of wine in one hand, and a hunk of bread in the other.
“So,” he said, plopping down in front of us “what’s the story with you two? Did we reunite a couple love birds or something? Or did you just get chummy on the way here?” Rook rolled his eyes at the question, and began removing the armor from his arm. When he reached the black cloth underneath he rolled it up to his elbow so that the tattoo underneath could be seen. A string of arcane fire ran the length of Rook’s arm, as well as across his left shoulder and the back of his neck. “What’s that supposed to mean?” Damon asked, confused.
I smiled and began undoing the buttons to the robe I wore over my leather training clothes. The robe fell off of my shoulders, exposing the vest underneath, and the dragon tattoo that ran the majority of my left side. Damon’s eyes widened “So do you guys belong to a cult or something?” We both laughed, and shook our heads before replacing our coverings.
“We’re not in a cult.” Rook laughed, “We’re siblings. Andraste is my older sister, by adoption.”
“So what’s with the tattoos?”
“It’s a mark that our father gives to each of us. It identifies weapons.” Damon’s eyes flitted back and forth between the two of us, and began asking a string of questions about our family, until Patches called us over to where he was sitting, near the fire.
“I have been thinking.” he groweled, “Whoever attacked the tram was working with Mortimer, and from what I’ve gathered, he won’t be a problem any longer. Not for us anyway. So, I propose that we take a few days to stock up, and then go our separate ways. I’m sure we all have business to take care of, whether it be in the capital itself, or somewhere else. Do we have an agreement?” We all nodded, and a general murmur of consensus rang through the small group before we said goodnight, and made our way to our respective rooms.
I woke the next morning before everyone else, or so I thought. I came down the stairs to find the Avenger walking out the door. “Going somewhere Varis?” I asked. When he turned to me, he made a rather rude gesture and continued out the door. After the initial shock wore off, I made my way to the kitchen of the inn, where I found Ariiantha busying herself with the stove.
“Good morning.” She chimed as I walked into the room, “You’re quite the early riser, aren’t you?” I smiled and chuckled to myself, people often forget that Fae Elves don’t sleep. “So, are you planning on staying in town?” She asked, turning around with two mugs of warm tea, and handing one to me.
“No,” I smiled and took the cup she offered me before continuing “I’m heading home for a while actually. I live about two weeks journey from here if you walk. It’s been a while since I rested in my own home.”
“Well, that sounds lovely. Do you spend a lot of time traveling then?”
“I suppose that is a good way to put it.” I said, with a smile. She looked confused at my responce, but before she could say anything Rook came into the room. He was fully clothed, though slightly bleary eyed. He gave a half wave and made his way over to the kettle, where hot water was boiling, and gestured to it.
“Do you mind?” he asked Ariiantha, who smiled and shook her head. Rook nodded his thanks and pored the hot water into a mug, before he dumped a small bag into it. “Coffee.” He said, in response to our confused looks. We both nodded, and he sat down next to me, giving me a one armed hug as he did so. “Morning, Flame.”
“Good morning. Since when do you drink coffee?” I asked, gesturing to his cup.
“Oh, you know,” he laughed “About 100 years ago. Back when the guild was starting back up, and I was under even more stress.” I nodded, unable to think of a rebuttle, and continued to sip at my tea.
“A hundred years?” Ariiantha said, her voice held a hint of disbelief and amazment. “Are you both that old?”
“I’m actually older than Rook.” I laughed.
“Only by two years.” He said with a chuckle “Not exactly a very long time for a Fae Elf and a light Elf.” He turned to Ariiantha, “But yes, we are both over a hundred years old. Though we are both still very young for our kind. We can live over six hundred years.” She looked as though she was going to start asking questions, but her curiosity was cut short by a very loud bang upstairs.
“How?!” we heard Patches bellowed “How in Nastrond do you lose a person Damon?!”
“What do you mean how?! He snuck out! What would you like me to do? Track the man down? Gods only know where he is by now!” The two of them came into the kitchen as they yelled, a very annoyed Arc following close behind.
“Morning Rook, Andraste.” Arc growled before turning to damon and grabbing him by the back of his neck. He drug him to a chair and all but threw him down in it. Leaning down until he was almost nose to nose with the boy he said quietly “Now listen carefully. I am tired of hearing the two of you go at it, and more often than not you are the instigator, boy. You will learn to hold your tongue or I’m going to let Patches get angry with you. You may still be a child, but that does not excuse your attitude towards your elders. Am I understood?” Damon nodded, but said nothing. His arms crossed in a pout and he looked away from Arc, who turned to Patches and said “That’s the end of it. Alright? Leave the boy alone.” Patches snorted in agreement and made his way to the large armchair by the fire, where he sat down and began to polish his ax.
Arc took a seat opposite Rook, and turned to me, “So,” he said, obviously trying to lighten the mood, “You two never did tell us how you came to be siblings. Obviously it’s not a blood relation, seeing as Rook here is an elf.”
“I’m actually half Fae Elf.” Rook laughed, “But you’re right. I am adopted. Andraste’s family took me in for a while after my family was killed. I had been training with the assassin’s guild for nearly a year when I was actually sent to kill Andraste. She stopped me, we ended up... I guess you could call it dancing, and became fast friends. Her father agreed to pay for me to attend The Collage of Magi, and I came back home with her when we went on break. Father began to teach me how to control my warlock abilities better, and before I knew it I was a member of the family.”
Arc’s eyebrows raised “Dancing?” he chuckled, “You went from trying to kill each other, to dancing?” The two of us burst out laughing and turned to eachother.
“Should we show them?” Rook asked
“I think we should.” I said with a laugh “Follow us.” the two of us, Arc, Patches, Damon, and even Ariiantha made our way out of the inn and out of a small gate to a very open space of land just outside the wall. I began walking in a circle, drawing out our boundary line while Rook gave them the run down on the rules for watching us.
“We have to warn you.” he said, his voice full of concern “This is not something that you can get close to. We can’t be responsible for what happens if you cross that line. So, trust me when I say, stay a minimum of ten feet from the line at all times. Understood.” They all raised an eyebrow, Patches scoffed but nodded just the same as the others and Rook gave a quick nod of thanks before stepping into the circle himself. As soon as he entered the circle a ring of purple and gold flames ignited around us and I heard gasps from Ariiantha and Damon. We took our bows and began to circle each other, staff and rapier at the ready. Finally, after several moments, the dance began with the clash of weapons.
We moved to the rhythm that seemed to flow effortlessly through us, connecting our minds in a way that allowed us to almost read each other’s thoughts. Every strike was the beat of a drum, and every step we took was the melody of the flutes, countering perfectly to each other so that every movement seemed like a perfectly choreographed dance. We carried on like this for an unknown amount of time, trying every new trick we had learned in our time apart and continuously trying to best each other until, finally, we stopped our breathing slightly heavy and our weapons pointing into the ground. We had ended back to back without even realizing it.
“I’m not sure,” I heard Ariiantha say quietly to Damon “whether to find that beautiful or terrifying.
“I would say both.” The three men chorused, their eyes still wide.
The flames around us died down, and we moved forward towards the rest of them, both smiling, our arms around each other’s waists. “We did tell you we were trained for battle. What did you think we would do?” Rook laughed.
“You said battle.” Arc said quietly, “Not massacre.”
Rook and I laughed and shook our heads before leading the rest of them inside. The next three days were uneventful and full of running around, replenishing or stores and repairing damage to our weapons.
When the time to say goodbye came out was bittersweet. Though Rook promised to see me soon, it was still hard to say goodbye after just finding him again. “Don’t worry, Flame. I’ll be at father’s next time you visit.” He said, softly kissing the top of my head. “I’m not going anywhere, ever again.”
I would be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear at that. I had missed my little brother, and knowing he was back in my life again was comforting beyond words. I left the city with a smile on my face, and humming the song we used to sing.