What do we have here?"What do we have here?" the Templar says, and this is bad, this is very bad. They are too little, too small, and Bethany is shaking where she has curled up against the base of the tree, try to hide but utterly unable to.
Carver is going to have to protect his sister.
"Leave us alone," he tells them, his tiny little voice barely enough to be heard over the sound of the Templar's laughter at the sight of a boy no older than seven trying to defend his sister with nothing more than a tree branch as a weapon.
"Look at the little soldier," the Templar says, then bats away the stick with barely any effort.
Behind him, Bethany gives a strangled little shriek.
"You can't have my sister!"
And then there is a rush of fire and light, so strong that Carver has to shut his eyes for fear of being blinded, and when it is over the Templar has fallen to the ground, gasping for breath. There is another flash of magic that raises the hair on Carver's arms, and the Templar falls silent.
"Are you two all right?" their father says, gathering them both up in his arms. Bethany clutches to him, burying her face in his broad chest.
"Carver tried to save me," she says in a quiet little voice. "He did."
And Carver says nothing, but his father's grip tightens on him.
"You are so brave," his father says, and it makes Carver's heart feel light. "So, so brave."
Break FreeAt first, it is just the smallest moments. Anders will take a breath and Justice will be able to slip out, just for a second. Not long enough to do anything, just long enough to see that there is still something beyond the cage that is Anders' mind. And then that moment will end and he will be inside once more, looking at the world through the eyes of another, unable to do anything more than think.
But, over time, as the mage stops trusting him, begins to doubt in himself and everything they have stood for over the years they have been together, Justice finds that the cracks, this small chances at freedom, have become large. And he slips out more often, for more and more time, and he breathes in these small tastes of freedom as though each could be their last.
But there is only one way that he will ever truly be free, and his work here is not yet done. And if Anders is to falter in this path, well, then Justice must do this for him.
The Chantry must fall. And then they will both be free.
Malcolm and Hawke"What should we call her?" Leandra says, looking at where her husband holds their daughter cradled in his arms. There is such a soft look in his eyes as he looks down at their daughter that it makes her heart ache. "I know we talked about it before, but I'm not sure anything we came up quite fits her."
Malcolm looks up, and that soft look is replaced by something slightly more mischievous. "Oh, I don't know. Ebon is a good name, don't you think?"
"Or Red-tailed. It's a unique name, don't you think?"
Leandra raises an eyebrow at him. "That's one way of putting it."
"Or Chicken. Chicken Hawke has a nice ring to it."
She glares at him for that. "Malcolm, are you seriously suggesting that we name out daughter Chicken? Because, if you are, I might have to hurt you."
Their daughter gives a small yawn and all of Malcolm's attention falls back to her, the most ridiculously sweet smile on his face that she has ever seen.
"Or Lady," he says softly. "My little Lady Hawke."
"Malcolm," Leandra says warningly, because she is not going to name their daughter Lady.
And they don't name her any of those things, but Malcolm still calls their daughter Lady Hawke. And sometimes Red-tailed Hawke, just when he's feeling particularly ridiculous.
Of course we have cheese. It's a cheese shop
>The first time, she had been rather shocked, almost to the point of speechlessness. She'd pointed out the cheeses that the cloaked man had requested, accepted the (far more than she'd asked for) coin for them, and stared dumbly as he'd left.
Then she'd gone and told her husband - well, not really told, more like flailed about a bit and spoken incoherently - that she was pretty certain the King of Ferelden had just walked into their shop.
The second time was much the same, but the third time, well, by the the whole "do you have any cheese? Exotic, delicious cheese?' thing as becoming...well, far more amusing than it should have been, but a bit pointless and annoying.
"Yes, of course we have cheese," she tells him. "See the sign? It's got a giant cheese wheel on it. Also, you were here last week. We didn't suddenly turn into a boot-making store or something. Um...I mean...yes, we have cheese here, your majesty."
"Oh," says the King, who apparently stammers more than she would have ever thought a king would. "Well, I'll just...buy some cheese. Yes. And then I'll...um...go! Yes!"
A King in her cheese shop buying cheese. Would wonders never cease?
How did it get on the ceiling?"Well," says Sigrun, wiping blood from her face, "that didn't end how I expected."
"I didn't really think it would explode, either." Kiva reaches down and helps pull a somewhat stunned looking Nathaniel to his feet. "Come on, Howe. Don't let one exploding dragon get you down."
"I'd like to get down," they hear, and they look up to see Carver dangling from a ledge some distance above them. "In fact, I would really, really like it if one of you found a way for me to get down from here."
"Just drop," Sigrun says. "It's not that far."
"Would you be offended if I told you I don't trust you?"
"Very offended. In fact, my heart would break. It would be crushed. Like a grape."
"Probably not the best time for this, Sigrun," Nathaniel says. "He is sort of high up there."
"If the dragon hadn't exploded, we could use it as a ladder...or something," Kiva says, looking at and trying to find a safe way down for Carver. "Try going to your left! It looks like there might be a way to climb down!"
"Right! Because I can definitely move from here and not fall!"
"Just try, you stupid idiot!" Sigrun calls out to him. "Besides, if you die, you won't be able to pay me for that bet I won the other day!"
"I hate you. So much."
"Hate you, too. And it's three sovereigns, just so you know."
Imaginary FriendHawke sits upon her throne, foot tapping gently on the stone as she listens to yet another petitioner. There are so many things to do as Viscount, things she never would have imagined that she would need to deal with.
"You never think things through," he tells her, and she sees him from the corner of her eye, standing there beside her throne.
She ignores him.
"Did you think of anything, before siding with them?" he asks her, gesturing to the Templar on her other side. "Of what it would mean?"
"You forced my hand," she says, and the Templar shoots her a startled look. Hawke shakes her head slightly, turns her attention back to those before her.
"You made the wrong choice," he tells her, and he is closer now, hands on the side of her throne, face so close. She does not look at him. "But you have your precious throne, and all the power you ever wished for."
She grits her teeth. Ignore him, and he'll go away. He has to go away.
"You cannot hold order here forever," he says. "The Circles are breaking. Do you think your sister will stay at your side through all of this?"
"I did what I had to," she tells him. Again, the Templar glances at her, concern etched on his face.
"She'll join them, you know. She will. And you will have to decide what to do them. But we already both know the wisdom of your choices."
"Do not question my decision!" Her voice is loud enough now to be heard around the throne room, and all other voices fall silent. And then, more quietly, she says only three words. "Go away, Anders."
But ghosts do not have to listen to the living.
Something old, something new...The first thing he has to do when he starts running is leave behind his robes. They're far to indicative of him being an apostate, and they're far too ornate for where he is going. Still, he likes his robes.
So he cuts bits of the top off, fashioning half a coat. He keeps the feathers and fur; he likes those, too.
There's an old coat that he finds hanging in someone's yard, obviously just washed, and he takes that. It's fade leather, old and worn, and it will do nicely.
His boots, thought, those he buys, with the spare money he has left over after buying ingredients for potions and salves. Everything else might be falling to pieces, needing to be wrapped in bandages or stitched back together, but a nice pair of boots means he'll be able to move easily without worry about the soles coming off in the middle of something important.
That, and he has a little bit of vanity left
Make a Move"You know, Carver," says Nathaniel as he raises his drink to his lips, "it would be easier for everyone if one of you two just admitted you liked the other."
Carver levels a glare at the archer. "Right. Because that will make everything better. Besides, it worked so well for you."
Nathaniel's brows draw together. "What are you talking about?" he asks, and if Carver was't already rather tipsy, he probably wouldn't have continued talking. But, as it was, Carver was just shy of being drunk and his self preservation instinct was completely shot.
"You and the Commander. Telling each other that you have feelings."
Nathaniel's expression grows darker. "Not that it's any of your business, but we haven't Discussed any of that, I mean."
"Exactly! You're both still...swanning around doing nothing to fix the situation, and you're lecturing me about going and telling a certain person - who would probably punch me in the face if I so much as suggested I had feelings for her - that I like her? Are you stupid?"
Some people have a little voice in their head that tells them when they should just stop. Carver doesn't really have one.
Someplace to be flyingShe should be...sad. Well, maybe sad. At least, she shouldn't be smiling and laughing and all of that, but she is.
The Chantry is in pieces - Kirkwall is in pieces, burning like it did after the Qunari - and Hawke is little better. They're all on the run, likely never to return again. Well, okay,Hawke probably won't return again, at least not without an army. Leader of the mages now and all that. Will probably end up doing something hopelessly selfless and stupid and Varric will write stories about how epic it was.
But that's not what Isabela cares about right now. Right now, she stands on the deck of the ship - her ship - and feels the spray of the sea, the wind catching at her hair and skin and clothing, and she feels at home.
Later - maybe - she'll think about what happened in Kirkwall. Think about Anders and mages and Templars, and the way the world will go up in flames. But, for now, she has aship. She is at sea, and she can do nothing more than laugh.