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Bound by the Past

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1 Bound by the Past on Sat Jun 03, 2017 10:19 am

1065

A new dawn was about to rise upon the city of Varvol.  Gentle winds rolled down from the mountains making the summer night chillier than usual.  What went unseen in the darkness was a figure cloaked in smoky shadows coming in and out of the ether every so often in different places of the surrounding countryside.  Royquin Elwin appeared once more in the forest overlooking the ancient decaying city, trying to locate the source of his unease.

It took but a moment to determine it wasn’t in Varvol.  His eyes went from the mighty Skyreach Citadel to trace the long abandoned trail that wound its way through the valley.  He vanished once more in a puff of smoke and shadows, appearing this time at the split in the trail.  Royquin closed his eyes and cleared his mind of the building anxiety and unease.  The magical presence that tried to hide itself was up the higher path, Royquin could feel it.

His eyes snapped open and his hands began to shake in trepidation at the thought of the very familiar presence.  He bolted off into a run up the upper trail with a hand at the hilt of his sword.  Sounds of screeching metal on stone that echoed off the rocks spurn him to faster speeds.  Royquin nearly tripped as he hastily stopped.

The trail-turned-ravine opened up into a fairly wide domed building.  At the opposite end was a tall and wide mirror being slowly exposed by the metal double-doors opening up.  In front of the mirror was a hooded figure and a lit brazier at either side.  The figure turned to the approaching Royquin; its face covered by a smiling mask.  “Ah Royquin, good of you to come.  It has been a great many centuries, hasn’t it?”

Royquin tried his hardest to keep his face stoic and his fear in check as he looked at his opposite.  “Smiling Sorcerer.  What brings you back?”

The Smiling Sorcerer let out an exacerbated sigh before he turned his attention back to the mirror.  “The world has been stagnant for long enough, don’t you think?  This past century has been one of regression as the affairs of petty warlords and silly Berns become only interested in the local.  That plague of mine put a stop to all that for the last decade, and everyone is recovering nicely from it.”

“You caused that plague?”

A small laugh came from the Sorcerer.  “Don’t be silly dear Smith.  Gonaen made it; I merely took advantage of poor crops and dreadful famine so the plague could reach its full potential,” he explained, his staff waved through the air in a ritualistic manner.  Royquin blanched at the casual answer.  “Now I say it is time for some change, for some progress once more.”

Royquin hesitantly took a step forward.  “What would unleashing those monsters accomplish?”

“Oh Smith.  I thought you of all people would know the forging process.  You have to melt the ore, remove the slag, and fashion the crude shape before you can temper it to perfection.”

“And this is you smelting the populace?”

The chalk circle around the Sorcerer began to glow and rise into the air.  After it cleared his head the circle rotated to vertical and went into the mirror.  When the mirror glowed the Sorcerer tapped the butt of his staff into the ground, the mana crystal atop it glowed a dull green and the braziers vanished.  The Smiling Sorcerer walked to the exit and took the mask off when he was close enough to Royquin.  “Exactly.  Now the question I look forward to seeing answer; who gets tempered and who gets slagged?”  His unmarred doll-like face cracke a smile.  The Smiling Sorcerer went outside before disappearing in a flash of light.

Royquin fought to keep his breathing under control from being so close to the man.  The sight of the pulsating purple mirror gave him something to concentrate on.  When he calmed down Royquin dashed outside to head for the other half of the trail.  It was time for him to open the dungeon once more.
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9:29 Dragon

It was close to midday as two dalish elves stalked their prey through the light forest of Southron Hills.  They picked up the trail of an injured deer so time before and were now closing in on it.  Lyna nocked an arrow and pulled back on the string, her prey none the wiser as it drank from the creek.  Something spooked the deer as Lyna loosed the arrow; it flew past where the deer held its head just a second before.

The elf cursed as the deer bolted as fast it could on it injured leg and ran over the short hill.  Sounds of heavy footsteps and people crashing through branches came from nearby.  Lyna’s hunting partner, Tamlen, made his way to the noise.  His bow was readied and Tamlen went into the open ahead of the whatever was coming.

A human nearly ran into Tamlen in his stumbling fear, but fell back onto his backside.  Another two humans joined their friend; all three were out of breath from their exertion.  “It’s a dalish!” the brunette on his butt cried.

“And you three are somewhere you’re not supposed to be,” Tamlen replied with a cold demeanor in his voice.

The red-haired human stepped forward while his friend was helped back to his feet by the third.  “Let us pass elf.  You have no right to stop us.”

“No?  We’ll see about that, won’t we?” Tamlen said.  Lyna decided now was a good time to back up her partner.  “You’re just in time.  I found these....humans lurking in the bushes.  Bandits, no doubt.”

The red-head pleaded, “We aren’t bandits, I swear!  Please don’t hurt us!”

“You shemlen are pathetic.  It’s hard to believe you ever drove us from our homeland.”

“We’ve never done anything to you dalish!  We didn’t even know this forest was yours,” the brunette spoke once more.

“This forest isn’t ours, fool.  You’ve stumbled too close to our camp.  You shems are like vermin--we can’t trust you not to make mischief.  What do you say Lyna?  What should we do with them?”

“Why are you here shemlen?” Lyna asked, venom in her words.

“Does it matter?  Hunting or banditry, we’ve have to move the camp if we let them live.”

“L-look....we didn’t come to be trouble.  We just found a cave...” the brunette said.

The red-head interrupted, “Yes, a cave!  With ruins like I’ve never seen.  We thought there might be, uh....”

“Treasure,” Tamlen finished, menacingly stepping closer.  “So, more akin to thieves than actual bandits.”

“Prove it.  I’d like to see such ruins,” Lyna stated.

“So would I.  I’ve never heard of ruins in these parts.”

The red-head came closer.  “I...I have proof.”  He produced a small smooth gem from his coin pouch.  “Here...we found this just inside the entrance.”

Tamlen’s eyes widened as he examined the proof.  “This stone has carvings.  Is this elvish?  Written elvish?”

“There’s more in the ruins.  We didn’t get very far in, though...”

“Why not?” Lyna inquired.

“There was a demon!  It was huge, with black eyes.  Thank the Maker we were able to outrun it.”

Tamlen scoffed.  “A demon.  Where is this cave?”

“Just off to the west.  There’s a cave in the rock face, and a huge hole just inside.”

“How about you show us,” Lyna demanded.

“If we do that will you let us go?”  The two elves shared a knowing look with each other, but relaxed their posture.  All three humans sighed in relief as the bows are no longer aimed at them.  “Alright, we’ll show you to the entrance.”

It took some time for the humans to trace their manic chase back to the source.  But they managed to get back to the cave right over a creek.  “There, just as we said,” the brunette stated.  “Can we go now?  I don’t want to be here.”

Lyna motioned for them to leave.  She waited until they a good distance away before loosing an arrow into the brunette’s heart.  Tamlen followed up by shooting the third in the back of the head.  The red-haired one managed to escape them, but suffered two arrows to the back and another in his arm.  “Well, that was fun.  Want to explore this place?”

“Certainly, these carvings make me curious,” Tamlen replied.  “But, its strange though....I don’t recall ever seeing this cave before, do you?”

“No, and that makes me nervous.  We should tell the keeper before we go in.”

“Always the careful one.  Fine, but I’m not running back until I know there is something worth making a fuss over.  Let’s at least see what’s there.  How dangerous could it be?”  Both of them drew swords before heading down.  There wasn’t much to the cave until the bottom.  Natural earthworks gave way to stone flooring and walls.  Tamlen continued in.

The only sign of recent activity in the complex were paw prints in the dust.  Lyna shallowed as she nervously followed close behind Tamlen as he tracked the prints.  They led farther into the complex, Lyna kept calm despite her mounting worry.  Tamlen ran off in a hallway as he spotted something up ahead.  Lyna caught up and looked at what had his attention.

“I can’t believe this.  You recognize this statue, don’t you?”

Lyna stared hard at the stone statue.  A woman in robes and free-flowing hair holding a spear, her draconic wings depicted in bronze.  “It’s worn, but looks vaguely familiar...” she admitted.

“Back when our people lived in Arlathan, statues like these honored the Creators.  When the shems enslaved us, much of that lore was lost.”  Tamlen shook his head.  “This looks like shem architecture...with a statue of our people.  Can these ruins date back to the time of Arlathan?”

Lyna shrugged.  “We’re nowhere near Arlathan.  This....this proves nothing.”

“We must’ve lived in other places.  Even if we didn’t, its architects knew of our gods.”  Tamlen had to struggle to tear himself away from the statue, intent of exploring the rest of the place.  It was a while before they came across the busted remains of the only door in the entire place.  It was also where the paw prints led.  A roar came from within.  “Bereskarn!”

The bear-thing charged through the doorway at the dalish.  Lyna dropped her sword and back away, loosing arrow after arrow into the creature as it attacked Tamlen.  All he could do was keep making quick jabs at the thing while backing up.  It finally got tired of Lyna shooting its butt so turned around to charge.  Tamlen jumped on its back and stabbed into its neck repeatedly.

Lyna ran to her friend as he wiped the blood off his blade.  “What was that thing?”

“A bear corrupted by darkspawn,” Tamlen answered.

“The keeper needs to know about that.”

“Certainly, but after we check out that last room.”  Tamlen sheathed his sword and Lyna retrieved hers.  The room they entered showed no signs of habitation, like the bereskarn had only recently taken up residence there.  At the entire back wall was a mirror that was glowing in a pulsating purple.  Tamlen looked about the room.  “This place makes me nervous,” he confessed.

Lyna nocked an arrow just in case.  “Yeah.”

“I wasn’t expecting this place to....feel quite like this.  Maybe this wasn’t the best idea...”

“But, regardless, we’re here.  Now, what do you make of it?”

“I’m not sure.  This looks like a very old shem place.  Why did they build this, and why would elven artifacts be in here?  Maybe some of our ancestors lived here, in caves and tunnels like the durgenlen.”

“It sure doesn’t feel like anyone’s home.”

“Yeah.  I have the odd sensation that we’ve....disturbed something.  Like we just walked into a dragon’s lair.”

“I think now would be a good time to go get the keeper.”

“Just one last thing, though, to check out.”  Tamlen slowly approached the mirror.  He looked at the engravings on the outlining.  “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  I wonder what the writing says.”

“The keeper should be able to translate it.”

“Maybe, but she’s not here to help us.  Odd that it isn’t broken like almost everything else, especially with that bereskarn lumbering around in here.  I wonder what this writing is for.  Maybe this isn’t...”  Tamlen jumped back a step.  “Did you see that?  I think something moved inside the mirror.”  He moved towards it with an outstretched hand.

“Stay away from it Tamlen!”

“Hold on!  I just want to see what it is.”  A ripple appeared in the mirror.  “Did you see it?  There it is again.  Can you feel that?  I think it knows we’re here,” Tamlen said as he drew closer.  “I just need to take a closer look...”

Curious, Lyna joined him.  “It’s showing me places.  Mountains....and and a city that I’ve never seen or heard of before.  I can see...another city...underground.”  His hand brushed the surface of the mirror.  It filled with a purple fog.  “And...there’s a great blackness...It saw me.  Help, I can’t look away!”  The last thing Lyna saw as she was blasted back into the far wall was an immense flash of light, then her world went dark.
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It had been two days since scouting parties were sent up to investigate the grinding noise.  Two days since they discovered the uncovered mirror.  A watch was quickly established with mostly reports of nothing to give back.  The only change that occurred was when the mirror went from its purple hue to a glowing blue.

Even now, in the heat of summer, two members of the Protector Guard stood unflinchingly in front of the mirror.  They were covered head-to-toe in the finest plate armor that Varvol could produce, tough durable mail in between the plate and padded gambeson, with high-quality halberds and arming swords ready to defend their homes.  As part of the watch there was a third person in simple clothes with a sword nestled on his hip.

Suddenly, shapes emerged from the mirror; pale things with shriveled skin of varying heights and wearing wildly different armors.  Both guards quickly moved from their spots inside the building to just outside the entrance.  The third man sprinted out and down the path.

The enemy howled and screeched as more of them came through.  It took only a bit before they charged the two Protector Guard.  One of the taller lot was speared in the face, a little one had an axe head dropped onto the crown of its head, and others suffered similar fates as they pressed their weight of numbers against the two.

One of the bigger things managed to make it past the halberds and slashed at the breastplate of one.  The thing looked confused as its sword bounced off with nothing happening to its opponent.  It was stabbed in the face by a third Protector Guard who had just arrived.  The three men maintained their line against the aggressor.  It was several brutal minutes as fresh enemies kept coming while the three began to feel exhaustion from combat and the summer heat.  One of the enemy got past their halberds and smashed its mace into one of their gauntlets.

Meanwhile, the runner arrived at the throne room of King Valganis.  He dropped to his knee in front of the monarch.  “Sire, the magic gate room is under attack!”

Valganis looked to his right to the tall man in plate.  The man looked down; Valganis nodded.  “Protector Guard!  March to Battle!”

As the armored man moved to the door, Valganis called out, “Edward, good luck.”

Edward nodded in response before leaving.  There were an immediate thirty men behind him as they double-timed up the trail.  From around the bend many of the creatures came into sight of the city.

The one clad in plate and horned helm roared at Edward before charging.  Edward saw the approaching creature and the way it held its two-handed ax in preparation to attack.  He readied his stance and lowered his halberd.  When the opponent swung Edward parried, moving his right foot forward.  His halberd’s momentum was deftly changed and the pick head of it stabbed into the creature’s armpit.  The creature reared its head up as its cried in pain.  Edward swiveled his weapon out of his opponent and slashed the spearhead across the thing’s neck; shifting his footing to throw his full weight behind the cut.

Other, less armored, things crashed into the line of Protector Guard.  They were promptly killed by stabs or the occasional ax strike from the second line.  Edward had no difficulty in killing three more of the creatures in quick succession.  A small one came on his flank, but was stabbed by multiple halberds to the head or upper torso.

The fight didn’t last for too much longer, and after it was done the Protector Guard continued their speedy trip up the trail.  There were occasional enemy bodies along the way; after the split the bodies became frequent.  At the building there was only one guard standing, ready for another attack.  The other two lay dead.  Edward approached the survivor.  “Guard, report!”

“My lord, we tried to hold them here; but we failed.  They kept coming and eventually their reinforcements overcame our advantageous position.  Hughes and Darrow didn’t make it.”  His men marched into the building while Edward looks over the many scratches and dents in the survivor’s chest plate.  “Oh, these.  I don’t what to say my lord.  They seemed to have an obsession with striking our chest, but they seemed surprised when it did nothing.”

“Could be they expected their swords to pierce our armor,” Edward speculated out loud.  “Maybe theirs isn’t of the same quality as ours.  Anyway, are you able to fight?”

“Yes, my lord.  You need someone to go through that gate I will volunteer to go first.”  Edward nods at his words.  With all 32 of them in the building Edward walks to the mirror with his weapon ahead.  Nothing came through it.  The Protector Guard waited for a while, but still nothing came.

Edward waited for a few more minutes before calling the volunteer forward.  The young minotaur, William, slowly pushed his hand into the mirror and brought it back out.  Nothing appeared to be wrong with it.  With one last breath William walked into the mirror and disappeared.  It was a moment of bated breath before William came back through.

“There were a few more of them waiting on the other side but I took care of them.”

Edward nods before turning to the others.  “The king is mustering a force to come here.  Until then we will ensure no more of those things can come over to our side.  It is up to us to establish a presence over there and safeguard our home.”

He moved aside so his soldiers could march into the mirror in two lines.  William went in after them.  Edward took one last look at the scene of carnage that litter the vicinity before walking into the mirror himself and disappearing with his men.
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Lyna took in her surroundings when she finally awoke.  She was in the keeper’s aravel.  Confusion drove her efforts to stumble out of the small straw bed.  The sun stung her eyes when she got outside so Lyna threw a hand up to shield them.

An elf in red garments, Fenarel, walked up to her.  “You’re awake!” he exclaims.  “You’ve the Creator’s own luck lethallin.  Everyone’s been worried sick.  How do you feel?”

“How did I get here?”

“A shem brought you back two days ago.  He was a Grey Warden and appeared out of nowhere with you slung over his shoulder.  You were delirious with fever.  He said he found you outside a cave in the forest, unconscious and alone.  He left you here and ran off again.  The keeper’s been using the old magic to heal you.”

“Is anyone looking for Tamlen?”

“Of course!  Most of the hunters are off looking for him right now.  But the keeper wanted to talk to you as soon as you awoke.  I’ll take you to her.”  Lyna nodded before she followed.  The camp was in the midst of packing up, various people stopped what they were doing to look at Lyna as she passed.  Keeper Marethari sat at one of the fires with the stew bubbling in a pot.

“It is good to see you awake da’len.  Please sit down,” the gray-haired elf said.  She filled a bowl and gave it to Lyna when the huntress was seated.  “It is fortunate that Duncan found you when he did.  I know not what dark power held you, but it nearly bled the life from you.  It was difficult even for my magic to keep you alive.”

“Then Tamlen could be sick as well.”  Lyna started voraciously eating her food.

“If he encountered the same thing you did, yes.  The Grey Warden said he found you alone outside a cave, already stricken.  Duncan thought there may have been darkspawn creatures inside the cave.  Is that true?”

“Only a bear that suffered darkspawn corruption.”

“It may have wounded you then.  What else did you find?”

“Only a mirror.  Tamlen touched it and knocked me away in a flash.”

“A mirror?  And it caused all this?  I’ve never heard of such a thing in all the lore we have collected.”  The keeper sighed before continuing, “I was hoping for answers when you awoke, but there are only more questions.  And Tamlen remains missing.  If he is as sick as you were his condition is grave.  Duncan returned to the cave to search for darkspawn, but we cannot rely on him to look for Tamlen as well.  We must go ourselves, and quickly.  Do you feel well enough to show us the way da’len?  Without you, we will not find it.”

Lyna finished her stew.  “I am up to it keeper.”

“I am relieved to hear it.  Take Merrill to the cave.  Find Tamlen if you can, but do it swiftly.”

Fenarel spoke up.  “Keeper, if you will allow it, I would like to accompany them in their search.”

“Are you sure about this?  I’m already putting Merrill at risk for this.”

“I want to do this.”  The keeper nodded her approval.  “Come Lyna, best we hurry with our task.”

Merrill was found near the halla at the edge of the camp.  The dainty elf seemed oblivious to their presence as she watched the halla graze.  Lyna cleared her throat, startling Merrill.  “Oh, hello.  The keeper asked me to accompany you back to the cave.  Are you ready to go?”

“Will you be looking at the artifacts in there?” Lyna asked.

“Yes, no, maybe...if there is time.  The keeper said ‘Tamlen is more important than any lore down there’, and that is what we have to do.  I am curious about what you found but Tamlen is our main objective.  We must make haste; he may not have much time.”

“Aren’t you worried about the sickness?”

“How bad could it be?  The keeper cured you and I learned much of her magic.”  With that settled the three elves were off.  As they wandered through the forest none of them felt at ease.  “It’s too quiet; no animals, no...nothing.  As if the very air is disturbed.”

“As if the sickness is spreading to th...” Lyna said before another voice cut her off.

“Help me!  Somebody, please help!” some screamed from close by.  They rushed towards it with all haste.  What they found was an elf in human clothes trying to back himself into a hole under an overhanging tree.  Closing in on him and surrounding him were tens of pale, shriveled looking men.

“What are those things?  Are they darkspawn?” Merrill asked in a low tone.

“What else could they be?” Lyna replied, just as quietly.

“I’ve never seen anything like them.  You can smell the evil on them.”

Before they could react an upright walking bull-creature clad in plate and holding a greatsword appeared on the crest by the tree and jumped down.  His light swing split a darkspawn’s head in half.  The bull-creature put itself between the helpless elf and the darkspawn, its sword raised to the side of its head with blade pointed forward.  Another tall darkspawn rushed forth, but a step and swing from the bull cleaved its head off.

“Ooh, pretty horns on that one,” Merrill observed.  The bull parried a swing from another and deftly used that to flip his blade over his opponent’s and slice the throat.  “And the way it moved his hooves during that last move.”

“Shouldn’t we help out our new ally?” Fenarel stated.  Multiple darkspawn started to attack and forcing the bull to act defensively.  Lyna quickly loosed an arrow that pierced the back on one’s skull.

“You’re right.  Let’s help him out.”  Fenarel drew a sword and charged while Merrill sent a fireball at another.  A second died to Lyna before they were alerted by the screaming of the burning short darkspawn.  In the darkspawn’s confusion the bull swiftly cut two down and stabbed a third in the throat.  Fenarel reared his sword back on the final approach and smashed the side of one’s head in before it could block.

One lofted its sword over the head and swung down at Fenarel.  He was brought to his knee during the block.  Another came to the right and brought its axe back for a heavy attack, but several small bolts of lightning stopped it dead.  An arrow from the side found its mark and the ax darkspawn toppled over.

Lyna looked over to see five people garbed in green.  Four of them loosed arrows into the closest darkspawn while the fifth held out its hand towards the melee.  Suddenly, a few within the darkspawn band attacked their fellows.  The confusion it caused allowed for Lyna to join her clansmen in the melee without drawing the enemy’s attention.  Fenarel and Lyna paired off and dueled with the few darkspawn that came near them while Merrill used her magic to end those that tried to outflank them.  The bull quickly ended any who challenged him with a move or two, and the green continued their onslaught until they ran out of arrows.

The last enemy darkspawn slashed at a turncoat twice and stabbed through the chest and armor of the other one.  When it saw the bull approaching the darkspawn roared and charged.  It wound its sword to the side for a powerful strike.  The bull merely clamped his left arm shut and braced as the darkspawn swung.  A loud thud happened as the sword struck the side of the bull’s plate, but a scratch was the only sign of damage.  Its sword was quickly wrapped up by the bull’s arm and its life ended by a swift thrust from the greatsword.

Lyna and Fenarel relaxed as they wiped blood off their blades; the bull doing the same.  Not wanting to appear hostile to their new ally, both put their swords away.  Lyna got a good look at the heraldry on the cape when the bull turned to the elf he rescued.  She had never seen one like that before; a gold crown and serpent-like dragon resting on a red diagonal stripe over black.

Merrill joined back up with them.  “Aren’t we going to try and talk to our new friend?”  The two hunters tensed up as the other five approached with swords drawn; Merrill nervously waved.
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William walked over to the person he had just saved.  He made a show of sheathing his massive blade while calming talking to the frightened person.  “You’re safe from...whatever those things are.  My name is William,” he said while thumping his chest with his other hand.  “What’s yours?”

The pointy-eared male looked past him to the field of corpses.  He pointed to himself, and all William could understand was “....Darrian.”  William slowly reached out his hand which Darrian accepted, and gently pulled him out of the hole.

William turned around to another of the lanky, angular featured people looking up at him.  It was clear to him that this lady wanted to fawn over him and he wasn’t sure why.  He just wished she would stop soon.

“Sir, that’s all the monsters in the region,” the zauber yelled to him.

“Good.  Let’s cart them off for the fire like all the rest.”  One of the scouts bowed and ran off to the compound.
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Lyna decided to just stand back and watch as the foreign soldiers looked over the corpses and stabbed at any that didn’t show any clear visible wounds.  She noticed the green garbs that almost entirely covered them hid a great deal of the mail they wore.  They looked to have oddly shaped heads, but she soon out why.  After they were done, one of them drew back the hood to take off the mail coif underneath and the padded cloth coif under that.

“They’re shemlen,” Lyna stated, staring at the black hair and round ears of their unmasked ally.  She must’ve been staring too intently at him cause his gaze was directed to her by a subordinate.  The man merely smiled and waved at her.  Lyna turned around, and noticed that Merrill wasn’t there.  “Where did she go?”

“Over to the bull-man,” Fenarel replied, lightly gesturing towards the plate-clad figure.  The black-head yelled something to the bull-man which was followed up on.  “You think that is about us?” Fenarel asked as one of the humans ran away.

“I don’t know.  But, they don’t seem like they’re from around here.”

“That is certain,” Darrian said as he and Merrill got close.  “I don’t recognize their standard and I can’t understand what they’re saying.”  He proceeded to brush the dirt off of himself.  “Where are my manners?  I’m Darrian of the Gwaren Alienage.”

“What are you doing out here?” Lyna inquired.

“I was on my way to Denerim when my family came under attack by darkspawn.  I was the only one who survived, and then a bunch of local villagers tried to gut me as I passed through.  They thought I had killed two of them a couple of days ago.”

“Hmmm, yeah.  So, what are you going to do now?”

“I think I’ll go with them.”  Darrian indicated the humans and bull.  “Possibly join their army.  I’ve been trained how to use a sword since I was young, but that guy was something else.”

Carts and more men had shown up.  The bodies of darkspawn were loaded up in a timely manner.  While that was going on the bull approached them.  He gestured that they should follow him.  Lyna looked to Fenarel and Merrill before shrugging and catching up to the bull-man.
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King Valganis and Edward looked at the statue in the underground complex.  “So...” Valganis said, “....there is a statue of Tasha here.”

“Possibly so your majesty.  We checked behind it and there is evidence of a bronze tail as well; must’ve broken off at some point though.”

“But, why is she holding a spear?  Tasha is always depicted with her fire and sword.”

Edward rubbed the back of his head.  “I don’t know.  But, this proves that ancient Nestav had some connection with this place.”

Valganis turned away.  “Great, first the attack by those ‘things’ and now this to coincide with the dungeon being opened.  I feel a resurgence of the Cult of Tasha might happen cause of this.”  He shook his head to dispel the unpleasant thought.  “Do we know what they’re called?”

“One of the men joked that they should be called ‘scabs’ based on their appearance of being burn victims.  William, the minotaur, thinks they should be referred to as ‘buffels’ on account of their lack of skill and their compensation through brute strength.”

“Scab works for now; from what I’ve heard they’re about as threatening.”

“Maybe they require greater numbers to be menacing.”

“Not under my rule.  I want the entrance turned into a fort.  We may have been lucky this time but I want to ensure those scabs can’t directly threaten us again.”  Edward nodded as King Valganis left for the mirror room.
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Lyna was in the mirror room with the other elves and the Grey Warden Duncan.  At each corner of the room was a plate-clad human wielding one of their ax/spear/knife hybrid staff weapons.  Merrill looked only slightly less chipper than usual.  “So, these are the ruins?  Interesting.  They’re definitely of human origin, but I saw elven artifacts scattered throughout.”

“And we still haven’t found Tamlen--or what’s left of him,” Lyna interjected.

“You won’t be finding him,” Duncan stated.  “It is only because of your keeper, and your willpower, that you are even alive right now.  This Tamlen has been alone and unaided for days now; he had no chance.”

“But, what about his body?” Merrill objected.

“The darkspawn would have taken it.”

“But why?” Fenarel asked.  “Not to eat it...I hope.”

“Darkspawn are evil creatures, and it is best to leave it at that.  I’m.....sorry.”

The dalish elves looked sullenly down at the floor, but Darrian stared at the mirror.  “What is this thing?”

“I know it is Tevinter in origin,” Duncan replied.  “Used as a means of communication, but over time some simply...broke.  But it looks as if it could be used for transportation as well.”

“You mean these people came from within that thing?”

“Possibly, but it’s strange.  I was told of these mirrors having the darkspawn taint but none of the newcomers have it coursing through their veins like Lyna here.  I assumed this was the source of the sickness.”

“But, it looks clear and not evil,” Merrill said.

“Exactly.  So either this isn’t the source, or it has been cleansed.”  The sound of metal steps on stone came closer from the hallway.  “Ah, it seems we have company.”

Two humans entered; one covered in plate.  The other sported brown hair, a mustache and beard, and wore a crown on his head.  His plate armor was tinged gold.  Duncan bowed courteously to the king with Darrian following suit.  William came in after the humans.  There was a brief discussion held between the two humans; the group assumed it concerned them.

Finally, the king shook his head and walked to the mirror.  Before he could it Darrian rushed to him and knelt at his side.  “Your Majesty, if you will allow it I would like to join your army.”  All the king could do was look to William who could only shrug and gesture to the mirror while talking.  The king pointed to him then Darrian and gestured that they should follow him.  All three soon disappeared into the mirror.

The other leader motioned for the rest of them to follow him.  He lead them outside and gestured them to go away.  Merrill spoke up when they far away from the humans, “Why did they let us go?”

“They knew we wouldn’t have been of much use to them with our inability to understand each other right now,” Duncan answered.  “I am just glad that is over with.  We should hurry back to your keeper though.  There is much I have to discuss with her concerning your sickness Lyna.”

“But I feel fine,” Lyna retorted.

“Only for the moment.  Soon it will come back, and in time it could spread to the rest of your clan.”  They hurried back to inform the clan and keeper of the strangers that came from the mirror.  After a long discussion between Duncan and the keeper it was decided that Lyna would attempt to join the Grey Wardens, for her own sake and the safety of the clan.

So, with a heavy heart, she left her people in the evening to an uncertain future.  One past the bounds of her heritage and traditions.

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