I’ve been updating my Dragon Age fanfic weekly over at AO3 (Archive of Our Own) and because I was initially sharing my writing here, I felt a little careless that I had ignored the updating here as well.
I write under a pseudonym on the AO3 because I wasn’t sure of what kind of writing I was going to explore through this avenue, and this may sound odd, but I thought I might be embarrassed.
Truth is, I really enjoy writing this story, and I have written a “mature” chapter (or two) which involves a little smut. I like that word. It’s totally tame, especially compared to some of the stories I’ve read on the site, but it was something I wanted to challenge myself to write. There’s a first time for everything, right?!
I will not be posting the more mature chapters here, but will share the link when they go up, as you have to choose acceptance for such content before continuing on the site. That’s for any of you minors out there. 😉
I appreciate your continued support, and would love your feedback when we get to those racier scenes as it’s so different and new for me, but until then, enjoy Chapter Two of Redcliffe and The Circle.
The village had been under siege for days from a horde of undead from the castle, and the lad had been on lookout duty awaiting reinforcements, as they were ill prepared to survive another attack. The people had taken refuge in the Chantry, hence the silence. We followed the path that twisted down the hillside past the windmill, as the boy tried to catch his breath amidst prayers and thanks.
The heart of the village had been built on stilts and it rose slightly above Lake Calenhad. I do not know why I found this odd. Perhaps because I could not understand how it was defensible? I found that having that idea was odd as well. The silence had been deceiving. From a distance the village seemed almost abandoned, but there was a great amount of noise coming from the Chantry, and we were informed that the leaders of the town could be found within.
Villagers and soldiers moved quietly about, looking beleaguered and downtrodden after many days of turmoil. The few knights present seemed to be gathering supplies and organizing what they could in preparation for yet another onslaught. A small training area was filled with young, inept men, and it was clear that if they were going to survive the night, they would need help.
The doors to the Chantry were heavy, probably reinforced, which was good, and took a little effort to open. The stench of fear was palpable. The villagers were like refugees in their own town, huddled together, praying for mercy. I overheard conversations of plans to leave the area, traveling to destinations outside Ferelden in the hopes they might outrun the evils here and the Blight. I heard mention of Kirkwall, a city across the Waking Sea that was taking in refugees, and it reiterated to me that no matter what, we had to succeed.
The moment that thought settled in my mind, I shivered. “No matter what” was a broad phrase with many meanings, but how many dire circumstances could one country survive? An undead army was on the march in Redcliffe, the Brecilian Forest had had werewolves, darkspawn were scorching the earth in droves with an archdemon at their backs, and civil war was tearing us apart at the seams. Then there were the other facts, such as the king was dead, the Wardens betrayed, and there were only five people (and a trusty mabari) trying to unite all the inhabitants of Ferelden against the Blight.
A man stood in the center of a small group of soldiers and Templars, clearly the one in charge. When the men disbanded, I saw him rub his face in exhaustion and frustration – the burden of responsibility. We could sympathize.
His name was Teagan, the brother of the Arl, and he remembered Alistair as a boy. His appearance softened, and he greeted us warmly, even referring to me as “my lady”. I was relieved that he bore mages no ill will, despite the magical nature of the attacks. He even made a remark about my beauty to which I could not help but blush. He was sly in his flirtation, and I was compelled to return the compliment. I was unsure how Alistair might respond, but it was all so new and unfamiliar, and honestly, it was harmless. I was starting to feel more like a woman, and less like a thing…it was nice to discover there was a distinction.
We learned from Bann Teagan that the castle had been inaccessible for days, and no one had been heard from, including the Arl and his family. He had been duty bound to protect the village and its people, but with many of the castle’s soldiers scattered in search of a cure for the Arl’s strange illness, they were unprepared and incapable of doing more than riding out the storm behind the Chantry’s walls.
We took it upon ourselves to do what we could to help the situation by recruiting those in the village who had abilities to lend. In our efforts we discovered an elven spy, who, after some persuading, offered us Loghain’s name as his contractor. That man had his claws dug deeply into every region; playing a game we knew nothing about.
I knew very little of the politics outside the Circle, we had our own, but from what I understood the Arl was a powerful man with a swaying voice in the political circles. This was one of the reasons Alistair suggested we seek him out. He would be a strong ally against Loghain, and that was something we desperately needed. Obviously, this is why he had been singled out with hostile intent, so he couldn’t offer us his help or stand against Loghain. Rescuing him now seemed a priority, and in order to reach him we would have to defeat this current threat.
Night fell, and what came with it was something I could barely believe.
My time in the Circle was a time of study. We were taught about demons and spirits and the dangers of blood magic, but for the most part, it was clinical, with the exception of the Harrowing. The Fade was an elusive entity, almost beyond study. The ever-present threat of possession and the possibility of becoming an abomination were always at the back of a mage’s mind, but within the Circle walls, for the most part, these things were just ideas. We, as mages, had little experience with fighting, let alone actually defending ourselves against a legitimate threat.
I’ll never forget that moment I saw my first darkspawn in the Kocari Wilds. My stomach sank, and with it my heart, that something so truly horrific could exist. They were beings of anger and hatred, with no other sense then to fight and kill. They had no language beyond the garbled noises they made, and yet they could unite and strike in formation, leaving death and devastation in their wake. They scorched the very earth and left twisted remnants of themselves behind as reminders to those lucky enough to survive, that true evil existed and was living among them. Or below them, as it were.
I learned quickly that they were almost as frail as any mortal, as they were made of flesh and bone just as we were, so when I got my first glimpse of the creatures that now stormed towards us from the castle, I almost felt a sense of relief. They were half skeleton beings with fleshy remains that hung like ribbons from various body parts. Some wore bits of armor and carried weapons and shields, but they appeared fragile in their bony state.
They descended upon us in a cloud of bright green magic, and as I struck them, I realized their frail state was merely an illusion. The magic that bound them was powerful, and it took more effort than I could have imagined to defeat them. Wave upon wave of the undead came from multiple directions, and for some time, I feared it may be never ending, but in the end we were victorious, but not without a few close calls.
Alistair, Sten, and Keiko had run into the thick of battle, and there were a couple of times when I saw them nearly surrounded and a panic and fear I had never felt before crept in. I would yell out commands to both Morrigan and Leliana and somehow we were able to hold back the impending doom that seemed inevitable. This would be one of those arguments for why it was best to avoid personal connections within ranks – impaired judgment – something I would deliberate over when I was alone.
I sent out healing magic when I saw each of them wane in strength or stamina, and I was overcome with relief when the last of the corpses were struck down with no others on the horizon.
The Circle had definitely not prepared me for this.
We reunited in the main square and I looked everyone over in case they needed additional healing, but other than being exhausted from battle, everyone was miraculously unharmed save a few minor cuts and bruises. I made a mental note to remember to ask the First Enchanter for more training in spells that would be useful in protecting my companions amidst battle when we traveled to the Circle for aid. Maybe even Morrigan could teach me a few new tricks. I would ask her when we were next in camp. For now, we had to plan our next move.