Chapter 1 – A New Path
I opened my eyes and realized I was falling towards the ground. What happened? I don’t recognize this place. Red stones. Broken walls. Shattered world. Why I am falling so slow? Somehow it felt like my own body was pulling me down. My mind shouted for my arms to reach out in front of me and brace for the impact but my reflexes were absent. I shouted for them to move faster but they did not obey me. A sharp fear pierced my mind when I looked at my left hand. I remembered running. I could hear skittering and shrieking. I could not let those things consume me, or become real, and cause my heart to burst. Then, the light blinded me. Did I make it to the light? Suddenly, I remembered I was falling. Too late. The ground was already there and my arms crumpled under my own weight. Before my eyes shut behind the green glow of my hand, I could see boots hurrying towards me. Friend or foe….
A familiar pain returned to my left hand but I do not want to open my eyes. I do not want to awaken into a chaotic world in which I did not belong. A different world? My memory was fleeting. I remembered… nothing but wanting to keep my eyes shuts. I choose to disbelieve. The pain in my left hand was pulling at me but I would not let it become part of my reality. Despite my best efforts, I could feel reality swirling around me and the pain trying to pull me through it. I struggled against the pull but then I realized that was not struggling against the pain but the fear. I became confused because I could not remember why I was fearful. What has caused this turbulence within myself? Is being afraid of something unknown good or bad? Should I be afraid that I cannot remember? Suddenly, I remembered to find the calm. If I did not find that calm place I should never escape from my situation. In my calmness I told myself, “Fear means I am still alive and that I can react.”
My thoughts turned towards the present and away from unknown events. I put my senses to the task of assessing my physical situation. My arms felt weighted. My fingers rubbed against the metal around my wrist without arising any suspicion. In case there was suspicion to be had. With the thought of being watched, I listen for noise to identify my guards. One guard was sighing softly; she must be anxious to finish her shift. I could hear chink of armor. Another coughed. With the noise the four guards were making, they did not make a secret of their presence but why would they when I am in shackles. I shivered from the cold. I opened my eyes to observe the world I now kneeled in. My attention was immediately drawn to my left hand. A spark of green light burst from it. I gasped in surprise even though I knew it was there. I need to get use to the magic spark in my hand. My eyes then noticed the carving on the floor. A chantry sun. I was in the possession of the chantry. I am not sure what to think of that.
It wasn’t until the door opened that I even noticed that the guards had their swords pointed me. The presences of the swords could not match the individual presence of the women that walked into the room. Their aura spoke volumes even when I could only make the outline of their figures. Powerful women. Both Commanding. The one with the short dark hair walked behind me and moved to the right while I was trying to follow her movement, the other walked towards me from the right like one was baiting me while the other attacked. I expected the red head to speak because her indignant mask could not hide the pain in her eyes. At least not from me, anyway. Suddenly, the dark hair woman bent down to speak in my ear, “Tell me why we shouldn’t kill you now.” Her words unsettled me. Must have been their plan. “The conclave is destroyed. Everyone who attended is dead. Except for you.”
What is this lady talking about? I remember going to the conclave but not how I ended up here. Is she serious? One look at her face told me that she was not. I got the feeling that her ireful air was something rather permanent. This women certainly put me on edge. She is making the assumption that I am responsible for the death of those at the conclave. I cannot say I would assume any different if I not make a distinction between the two. I went straight to the point, “You think I’m responsible.”
The dark haired woman grabbed my left and told me harshly, “Explain this.” As if to respond, my hand sparked and crackled green light. Seems like my left hand has a sense of humor. I would understand the irony except the dark fiery and the miserable red left no room for humor in my prison. Despite my position at this moment, I could not help but feel a deep sorrow for the ones that died at the conclave. I wanted to be upset and yell at the dark haired women that she was being unjust towards me and that her assumption of me was false but I only felt anguish. I lost something I could not even recall but looking at the women I wondered what they lost. That must be the reason behind their actions. I felt sorry that I did not have answers for them. I could only give them one answer, “I can’t.”
“What do you mean you can’t?” she asked with a tone that revealed she was obviously not pleased with my answer or rather my lack of giving an answer.
At this point I was worried that this situation would get worse and not turn out in my favor. If I even had a chance in the first place. With both women circling me like starving crows, my worry only grew. I can only tell what I know which was nothing. I could not hide the panic in my voice, “I don’t know what that is, or how it got there.”
“You’re lying!” she accused me, as she pushed me. I didn’t even have time to react before the other lady stopped her from getting violent with me. I could see it in her eyes; she wanted to someone to blame and I was the obvious target.
The redhead spoke as she motioned the dark haired back, “We need her, Cassandra.” The angry women had a name finally….not that it helped me any. Cassandra was clear not the logical one.
The redhead turned and looked at me as if waiting for me to say something. I wonder if this was a part of their ploy but keeping silent would not help my situation. I needed to say something that would appeal to them. In this situation I simply need to speak the truth, “I can’t believe it. All those people… dead?”
They are switching tactics. I did not respond as they wanted to Cassandra. Time for a new strategy. Now the redhead spoke, “Do you remember what happened? How this began?”
“I remember running. Things were chasing me, and then… A women?” I spoke with great thought trying to remember. To my surprise, I was much more willing to be open with the redhead. If this was their plan all along then I better be careful around these women but it also made me want to get to know then better. Well, how can I not admire their intelligence? Powerful women, each in their own right. I can see that much already.
“A women?” said the redhead with a hint of confusion or disbelief. I couldn’t tell because I was looking at Cassandra walking around me. Keeping me distracted.
I continued with my story or rather remnants of my memory, “She reached out to me, but then…” I couldn’t remember past that.
Cassandra interrupt my attempts to remember as she spoke to the other women, “Go to the forward camp, Leliana. I will take her to the rift.” Leliana followed Cassandra’s instructions. Leliana sounds familiar. So, does Cassandra for that matter but trying to remember where I heard those name hurt my brain at the moment.
After Leliana left , Cassandra kneeled down in front of me and started to unhook the chained connected to my handcuffs. At this point, I just wanted answers too. “What did happen?” I asked.
Cassandra helped me stand and said, “It will be easier to show you.”
What is waiting for me out there? Once Cassandra opens that door…. I’m not scared but uncertain. I am uncertain what the world holds for me on the other side. Cassandra could not even explain it which means it’s beyond words. In this case, the lack of works probably meant it would be something I would not like but I get the impression not one I have seen so far likes it. As I watched Cassandra walk closer to the doors, this feeling inside me grew. I did not quite feel like I had anxiety because somehow I did not dread what was on the other side. Whatever was there can’t be worse than those demons spider things chasing me. Right? If I survived that I can survive Cassandra’s mystery.
Cassandra went to push the doors open and I felt a rush of cold fresh air. It brought me relief and a new found sense of purpose. The Keeper of my clan would always talk about how winds would bring change. I always thought that kind of silly as I grew up because I never understood why an elven god would blow wind to make something change. I can’t imagine the wind making me choose a certain path based on a plan created by a deific being. I stood at the doors and felt the wind dance in my hair like it was inviting me to step outside like my Keeper inviting me outside. I felt comfort at the thought that my Keeper was there to invite me outside. The thought gave me safety in knowing that I was not the alone once I walk out the door unless I chose to be. I knew as I stepped outside, I was in fact walking towards a fork in my own path. I decided in that moment that I would not be push or pulled down any path that was not of my own choosing. Nor would I run in fear.