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That night, for the first time, I dreamed of something that wasn’t walls of red rock, teeming with the thrashing bodies of darkspawn, and yet had the unmistakeable touch of their filth about it.
I was at Soldier’s Peak, and the snow that blanketed the bare stone told me we were in the brittle grip of winter. I stood alone on the rampart, looking down over the narrow cut through the hills, and it was so cold that my ears stung, and my breath hung like ice on the air. Above me, the sky looked black, boiling with thick, greasy cloud, and everything smelled like bad eggs and offal.
I looked around, searching for some sign of life, but everything was still… deathly still. Grief ran through me like hot sand, though I couldn’t have said why. There must have been a battle, or a number of battles, yet I didn’t remember them; I knew nothing but a tide of loss and regret and guilt and—when I turned again—the empty fortress seemed filled with bones. I could smell blood, hear screams… and then there was silence. Everything seemed stifled, blurred.
A sound crept into the stillness then: a low, harsh grating, like metal scraping slowly against stone. It grew louder and more insistent as, behind me, the statue of Warden-Commander Asturian began to move, lurching jerkily from its pedestal. I spun around, wide-eyed with horror at the thing unfolding like some kind of stone crab, a man and yet not a man, but a creature jaded with the moss and scales of years and now, somehow, changing before me. The great plates of the Warden-Commander armour, emblazoned with the rampant white griffon—the same armour I’d seen in countless portraits lining the Great Hall, and the same armour the rotted body of Sophia Dryden had still been encased in when the demon that had fed upon her tried to turn me—bloomed from pale, lichen-rimed stone to deep, metallic blue as Asturian straightened up. His hands had rested upon a sword almost as long as he was tall, and he grasped it in gauntleted hands, as if bracing himself against its strength, weary and unsteady after so long a sleep.
Colour crawled into the stone figure’s cheeks, and the face framed by that heavy helmet now seemed hewn from flesh instead of rock… except for the eyes. I flinched, crying out in alarm as that pale, sightless gaze turned on me; a gaze that was still solid stone. Asturian moved towards me, and I made to run but couldn’t, trapped by what I now saw—as I looked down in terror at my body—was heavy plate armour so unlike my leathers it didn’t seem possible I could ever have got into it. Great winged pauldrons of steel curled from my shoulders, my chest and legs bound in overlapping plates of bright silver. I flexed my fingers, staring down at my hands to find them encased in strange, silver gauntlets, their movements clumsy and numb, as if someone else was controlling them.
So complete was my confusion, so enveloping the sense of fear and unease, that I almost forgot the apparition bearing down on me. I supposed it must be a demon, and began to wonder if more had escaped our cleansing of the Peak.
Asturian lifted his blade. I reached for the daggers I wore at my hips, but they weren’t they, and the sword slung across my back was not the light, simple blade I knew. Suddenly, a heavy, dull greatsword was in my grip, and though it was far lighter than it looked, it was too big for me, and I could barely lift the thing, much less swing it with much precision.
The old Commander did not attack me, however. He merely levied his blade at my head, then shifted it to the side and pointed with the softly shimmering metal, sightless eyes fixed on the dark sky behind me. My boots crunched on the snow as I turned, squinting out across the hills, and cold air lanced my lungs like a knife.
At that moment, a shrieking roar rent the air. It was beyond loud; a sound like a physical presence that throbbed and gnawed at the ears. It seemed to hum through everything, vile and violent, like a glass blade of hatred.
I saw the outline of a huge, red dragon swooping through the clouds. Fire belched from its mouth, and ash blackened the sky yet further, until it was falling like dark rain, choking and blinding me. It was on everything, in everything, and I felt it start to swallow me whole, a seething mantel of slow death as, all the while, the dragon’s screams shook apart the very walls upon which I stood.
I awoke in a panic, with those noises echoing in my head, and my body half-convinced it was still trapped in a suit of plate armour.
The undershirt I slept in—lived in, practically, as Maker knew we didn’t get many opportunities to wash or change our clothes—was stuck to my skin but, as I freed my legs from my blankets and inspected them, wriggling my toes to prove I still had feet, I was relieved to see my usual soft breeches, and no semblance of metal.
Beside me, a great, warm, slobbery lump of mabari hound stirred, and whined quizzically. Maethor had snuck into my tent after the fire lost its warmth, and I was, as usual, grateful for his company. I rolled over, buried my face in the hound’s stale fur, and breathed heavily until the panic passed.
I wasn’t sure if that had been a Grey Warden dream, or just good old-fashioned fear. Either way, it took me a long while to get back to sleep.
We did indeed start early in the morning. By dawn, we were already moving and, as the sun washed through the grey-stained sky, sluicing thin, watery light over the trees and the ever-present mud, rain began to spot my shoulders.
The group was rather subdued, but then I doubted any of them were eager to head back towards the Brecilian Forest. In truth, I wouldn’t have been surprised if at least one of them had refused, or mounted a more persistent argument in favour of ignoring the Dalish and heading back towards Lake Calenhad.
No one did, though. Of all of them—excepting Maethor, who was blessed with that permanent canine cheerfulness—Zevran seemed happiest. That struck me as odd, considering he’d been the one injured last time, yet I supposed, for him, that probably meant the worst had happened. In any case, he’d know what to watch for… and he did have more experience of the Dalish than any of us. Perhaps, I thought, he was looking forward to the possibility of finding them, maybe even reconnecting with something of the mother he’d never known.
Morrigan, too, seemed more relaxed as the trees that cloaked the hillsides grew thicker. It was her natural habit, of course; dangerous, unpredictable wildland, where she could stride out with that black iron staff of hers beating savage strikes on the ground, and know that she was probably the scariest thing in the forest. I hid a smile at that thought, but I rather hoped she was… if only for our sakes.
Leliana was comparatively quiet, those sharp eyes of hers always on the move, peering into the shadowed recesses between the trees, or looking back down the slopes we covered, as if plotting some kind of map behind her eyes.
“It’s strange, isn’t it?” she said, after a while. “Only a little more than two decades ago, King Maric’s rebel forces were swarming over these very hills. Do you think they came this way?”
“Don’t know,” Alistair said shortly, with that rather pained expression he always seemed to get when anyone mentioned Maric.
He looked haggard this morning; I assumed his dreams had been worse than mine, though I wondered if they were the same. I decided to ask him about it when I had the chance, though I wasn’t quite sure how to put it to words.
“We could be walking in his very footsteps,” Leliana mused, gazing contemplatively at the trees.
Alistair grunted. At the far left of the group, striding out a little way apart from the rest of us, Morrigan chuckled dryly.
“Really, if it enthrals you so, why not write a song of it? Play with your pretty stories of kings and battles, if you will. You have taken up the instruments of a bard again, have you not?”
Leliana blinked, and shot the witch a small frown. “It is a very small lute, that is all. I had thought to pick out a few songs in the evenings, and—”
“Oh, wonderful! Yes, I’m sure we can hardly wait.” Disdain positively oozed from Morrigan’s words. “Why not begin by composing a suitable ballad to commemorate the events at Redcliffe?”
I said nothing. It was curious to see how easily Morrigan fell back on this old, arch spite of hers… and I wondered if she perhaps wasn’t as comfortable here as her long, springing stride made her look.
Leliana grimaced. “Redcliffe? But what happened there was horrible! Why would I want to speak of that?”
A handful of birds chattered and flapped in the trees, causing Maethor to break off into the undergrowth in search of the feathery interlopers. He scuffled and woofed about, then came out again with a piece of bracken draped rakishly over one ear, jaws wide and tail wagging.
Morrigan smiled, and it was like a sharp, white knife. “Why? Surely, a bard takes events of great import and puts them to tale. ’Tis not so?”
Leliana shook her head vehemently. “No! I mean… not like that. So many people died, and they were violated by unimaginable evil forces.”
“There, now.” The witch smirked. “That was not so difficult, was it? You may wish to add some music, of course.”
“Morrigan! That is vile.” Leliana pouted, looking truly hurt, as if the memories were raw and bloody wounds. “You… you make it sound as if you enjoyed what happened there. I can barely stomach to think of it.”
She had a point. I took a deep breath, focusing on the smell of damp earth and pine trees, instead of remembering walking corpses, and the stink of death and burning oil. To my right, Zevran was watching the two women with polite interest, and Wynne was paying attention, too. Of course, neither of them had seen the devastation in Redcliffe village first-hand, or the things we’d had to fight through to get to the castle… although the story had been passed on, at least in pieces.
Morrigan shrugged. “But we were successful in the end, as you recall. Victory without cost has little worth.”
“How can you say that?” Leliana shuddered, the light rain frizzing her brightly burnished hair. “When I think of what that poor little boy went through… no. No, to glorify what happened there would be wrong.”
Morrigan snorted. “Hmph. And then who will learn from those events? I would think on it some more, were I you.”
Alistair sighed tautly, and it was the sound of patience wearing thin. “I don’t think anyone needs to learn from Redcliffe. At least not until Arl Eamon’s well. The sooner it can all be forgotten, the better.”
A tale hung there, I thought. Had he ever truly been a templar, I might have expected Alistair to take the view that—unwitting child or not—Connor’s releasing the demon was an example of why the Circle needed to take children like him into its care. The fact that Lady Isolde had tried to hide her son’s powers in the effort to protect him was testament to the fear and stigma associated with mages and perhaps, if the rules were not so arbitrarily enforced, there would have been fewer of them willing to turn to forbidden magic in order to snatch their chances at freedom, or change. We’d seen that in the Tower although, as Wynne had said at the time, there were some means that could never justify the end.
And yet, Alistair didn’t seem for a moment to sway towards that debate. His sole concern, I thought, was for Eamon… and probably covering up any complicity he might have had in Isolde’s deceit.
To think that his loyalty was so unwavering was a little worrying although, of course, I knew it already. Once he chose to bestow it, Alistair’s allegiance was unshakeable, and that was a thought that, in its own small way, gave me just as much comfort as it did concern.
We traipsed on in silence for a while and, of all of us, I noticed that Sten seemed the least relaxed. In truth, he looked even more wary of the trees than me, and I supposed there were probably two reasons for that. Firstly, he had the deepest distrust of magic I’d ever known, more so even than the old folk back in the alienage who used to spit at the mention of the word, and make hasty holy signs on their fingers. I remembered the things Sten had said in the tavern at Redcliffe, and how he’d seemed to take the demons of Soldier’s Peak almost as a personal insult. Possessed trees, I decided, most likely sat ill with him.
Also, this was deeply Fereldan land. I might have grown up behind walls, and under skies crowded with towers, gables, and washing lines, but I still knew that the trees, the mud—the whole cold, vaguely desolate stubbornness of this place—was very much in keeping with our national character. We were, after all, the plucky little plain-speaking country whose plucky, plain-speaking inhabitants had thrown off the gilded yoke of Orlesian rule, when we should have been no more than a backwater province of the Empire. We were at our best when the challenges were greatest, and we had the favour of Fate on our side, even when things seemed grim.
Well, it was a good thing to believe about one’s country, wasn’t it? And it made being born elven—elven and Fereldan—seem less of a burden, because ours was a nation that hoarded misfortunes and disadvantages like coins.
Still, I decided it must all be very different to Sten’s homeland.
I slowed my pace a bit and dropped to the back of the group, drawing level with the massive, silent figure. Sten reminded me of an oxcart sometimes—inasmuch as one person, even as big as he, could do. It was something to do with the way he trudged along, carrying his pack and several of the other party essentials, including the heavy cooking pot, barely ever tiring and hardly saying a word. When it was very quiet, and there weren’t even birds calling overhead, his low, even breathing was almost like the steady rumble of a set of axles.
I peered up at him, waiting for the moment those brilliant eyes acknowledged me before I spoke. He glanced down at me and grunted quietly, much as one might observe the mild annoyance of a fly in the room.
“You wish something of me?”
“I was just thinking how different this must be to where you’re from,” I said with a shrug, nodding at the muddy, rutted ground under our feet, and the thick waves of trees shrouding the hillsides.
We would make the pass in another hour or so, most likely, and I was beginning to entertain fond notions of having a cosy woodland camp set up before dark, even though all experience and practicality warned me it wouldn’t happen.
Sten let out a short, eloquently weary breath.
“I mean,” I continued doggedly, refusing to take the hint, “I expect you find Ferelden very strange. I… I was thinking about what you said; about how we’re always trying to change our place in life? The qunari think very differently, don’t they?”
He eyed me critically. “We know our roles. They are set for us, written in the Qun. All those who follow the Qun have a place under it. Asit tal-eb.”
I frowned. “Which means—?”
“‘They way things are meant to be’,” he said, and I could have sworn there was a note of terrible, aching melancholy in his voice.
It vanished quickly, buried in the low, calm implacability of his words, but I caught onto the thread of it, my curiosity roused.
“You sound a bit homesick, Sten,” I offered, on the basis that he might either tell me a little more of his people, or possibly strike me dead where I stood.
Instead, the qunari simply took a long breath and, lifting his broad head to the tree-fringed sky, let the light rain spatter against his face.
I stared. I hadn’t really expected that admission. He glanced at me, his eyes like banked coals against the weather-beaten bronze of his face. The thin lines of scars I had not noticed before criss-crossed his skin—one on his right cheek, one on his chin—and though they were but hair-thin lines, I wondered in what battles he’d come by them.
Sten frowned briefly, and turned his attention back to the muddy ground ahead. “It is strange to be in a crowd and hear a language that is not your own. To see faces that are and aren’t like yours. I… miss the smells of Seheron. Tea and incense, and the sea. Ferelden smells of wet dogs,” he added, with an accusatory look at Maethor, who had his front paws up on the bark of a nearby fir tree, and had apparently just been offended by a squirrel.
I smiled. “Ah, that. Yes. Still… wet dog isn’t so bad, is it?”
Sten sniffed pointedly. “They say skunks do not mind the smell of other skunks, either.”
If that was what he called a sense of humour, it was dry to the point of arid. However, it didn’t get to me the way that ‘excelling at poverty’ crack of his had, and I just grinned, brazening out the slight.
“Few more weeks of it really getting into the back of your throat, you’ll not even realise there is a smell,” I said cheerfully.
Sten gave a small, jaded ‘hmm’, but said nothing else, and I supposed I should stop pushing my luck.
We headed on, and everything was quiet, but for the dull, damp thuds of our feet, and the small sounds of our pack and bedrolls creaking at their straps. We were nearing the mouth of the pass, leaving the Southrons behind and heading into what the map marked as forest, though there seemed no such clear-cut difference around me.
Overhead, the trees seemed to be growing closer together, linking their fingers in some dark, numinous pact. The bare, black bones of those that had shed their leaves, and the thick, deep greens of those that held their needles all seemed to meld, making the air heavy with the smell of earth and growth, even through the drowsy cold of their winter sleep.
Given everything that had happened when the others had first ventured into the forest, I felt our actual entrance into the pass should have been marked with a little more dramatic flair. There was no great fanfare, however, and nothing truly unusual; we just quietly left the last traces of paths behind us, and the trees rose up all around, no longer flanked or constrained by the gritty banks of hillsides.
The rain had petered out, at least for a while, and the ground was growing soft with pine needles, and the mulch of old leaves and brush. The light began to turn dappled, a green-filtered, soft hue to it, and although it was all very pretty—in a faintly foreboding kind of way—I wasn’t entirely sure we hadn’t been lured into a waiting trap, as if some lock might suddenly snap closed behind us.
“All right,” Alistair said, drawing to a halt near a particularly large fir tree. “Which way from here?”
Zevran nodded to the right hand side of what—had there been any real space between the drifts of pine needles, rotted leaves, tree roots and assorted bits of undergrowth—might have been the path.
“This is the route we took last time. I do not know how much of it you care to repeat.”
One tree stood out among the others: a gnarled oak, a bit like our vhenadahl, back in the alienage, only smaller and more crumpled by the years, instead of growing tall and strong, without competition.
Wynne paced a little way towards its wizened boughs, and I tensed, as if the thing might suddenly spring into life and snatch her up. It didn’t, and she paused by its trunk, leaning one hand against the rough bark.
“Look, here.” She stooped stiffly, picking something out the earth at her feet. “I thought I saw something….”
She straightened and held out her palm, showing a small arrowhead resting there. It was like the other she’d found; the thing that had convinced me we needed to at least try to find the Dalish. It was their make, certainly: a beautiful thing, of carefully knapped and polished flint, fine as glass and sharp as wire.
Morrigan sniffed archly. “Those things are all over the forest, old woman,” she said, with a dismissive wave of her hand.
I moved over to Wynne, peering in fascination at that tiny, deadly thing, its smooth surface like an ocean-ground stone, the colour of storm clouds.
I bit my lip, and nodded in the direction Zevran had indicated. “We go this way… but carefully.”
Nobody argued and, full of that new, eager sense of power, I strode off into the thicket, not even waiting for the others to follow. Maethor trotted unquestioningly after me, and I didn’t bother to look back.
I’d thought the forest would be a consistent creature. I had never really been in one before but, as far as I was aware, there were trees, and more trees, and maybe the occasional babbling brook or mossy clearing… the kind of places the heroes of my childhood story books might have rested before they battled dragons or rescued princesses.
Naturally, I was wrong.
It proved very difficult to maintain any sense of direction within the forest. I knew that, to the north, lay Dragon’s Peak, and Denerim, and that there were many, many acres of woodland between that and the passes south, which the map said led to Gwaren and—to the west—the Korcari Wilds.
Either of those destinations would have meant several weeks’ travel through the unforgiving, tangled terrain but, as we had no wish to accidentally stumble either into Loghain’s own lands, or a wilderness that was probably filled with darkspawn by now, the distance was a heartening factor. Still, within the first few hours, what few bearings I’d had were pretty much lost completely.
I didn’t dare say anything, though I think Morrigan knew. I just kept going the way we’d started, but she picked up her pace, striding out ahead and to the left of me. It was as if she was just making her own way, as she was wont to do, but it made it easy enough to follow her, and by her example, to pick the less tortuous routes through the undergrowth.
We didn’t see any strange or demonic things. No possessed trees, no wolves… and definitely no signs of the Dalish.
After a while—time being just as hard as distance to determine in the forest, where there was no clear, uninterrupted glimpse of the sun—we passed the place where Zevran had been injured. Or, at least, he thought we did. Morrigan argued that we were heading further east than that particular spot, and Wynne was growing tight-lipped and looking tired.
I waded in before the burgeoning disagreement got any more heated, and suggested we find somewhere to rest for a little while, seeing as there seemed to be no imminent danger.
“Just a little while,” I wheedled, inserting myself between the witch and the assassin—never a good middle ground to find oneself upon. “Then we’ll push on, look for some sign of the Dalish, maybe near water? They must need fresh water.”
As did we. It stood to reason there were almost certainly a few streams running through the forest’s northerly edges; we weren’t all that far from the Drakon, though reaching it would have meant journeying farther out of our way than we’d planned.
“Fine. Have it your way.” Morrigan relented with evident reluctantly, throwing her hands into the air with a gesture of frustrated finality.
Far more gracefully, Zevran inclined his head. “As you wish.”
Unfortunately, that left me taking point, picking an uneasy path through the trees—and with Morrigan no longer of a mind to offer me surreptitious aid. I felt sure I’d seen the same tree root three times before we happened upon a small clearing that looked like a safe spot to rest.
Nothing in the forest was truly empty, but that small round of space lay like a tomb, thickly carpeted with the flaky, soft mulch that shrouded our steps, and dominated by the fallen corpse of a mighty tree, now rotted and worn to a pocked, bleached skeleton. The thick, green shoots of eager saplings sprung up nearby as other, more ancient trees looked on, as if silently mourning or contemplating their felled brother… or perhaps smirking amongst themselves, like successful conspirators.
It was hard to tell, but easy to realise that the forest was getting to me. I saw mysticism in everything, intimidated by the unfamiliar alchemy of plants and the low, vibrant thrum of life that filled the silence, and yet masqueraded behind its veneer. Oh, yes, it was quiet in the forest—right up until you really listened. Then, everything had a voice. The creak and crack of trees growing, dying, the whisper of the still, stifled air and the scurries of small, soft creatures… it all wove together, oppressive in its beautiful illusion of quietness, and it made me long for the loud, gaudy simplicity of a city.
As had become routine during our time on the road, we took turns answering the call of nature in the most private few stands of bushes available—not entirely as awkward now as it had once been, but still not the highlight of the day—then dumped our gear and sank to a grateful rest, albeit a brief one. Wynne, still looking drawn and tired, sat primly on one torn-up root of the fallen tree, as if it was a bench placed there just for her use. Alistair perched solicitously nearby, watching her with badly shielded concern, while Zevran clambered up agilely onto the tree’s split, peeling trunk. There, he settled himself with an appreciative sigh, face tipped back to catch the shafts of sunlight that were stronger here than they had been all day. With his ornate Antivan leathers, that tattoo on his cheek, and the pale flax of his hair against his skin’s dark tan, he seemed as foreign as ever to me, and I couldn’t help thinking of the story he’d told me of his Dalish mother.
Maybe there was a wildness that ran in the blood, as silent as the forest seemed, until its call was heard.
Personally, I didn’t quite trust the amount of beetles, woodlice, and small burrowing things that made their home in dead trees, so I sat on my pack, eyeing the leaf litter with faint suspicion every time something appeared to scuttle within it. Nature was all very well, but I was used to associating insect activity with things like cockroaches, maggots, rot beetle, termites, and any of the other host of pests that infested the alienage houses. The thought of them all being at large out here—quite apart from the possibility of wolves, demons, Dalish, and maybe even darkspawn—was mildly unnerving.
Still, even Sten seemed glad of the rest. He hunkered down near one of those tall, straight trees, with his arms propped across his knees, and stared into the middle distance. He looked as if he was deep in mediation, just like he did when he’d sit by his tent of an evening. I often wondered what he was thinking about at those times, but asking seemed impolite.
“We’ve probably got a good bit of daylight left,” Alistair said speculatively, squinting up at the canopy, and the ragged hole in it the fallen tree he was sitting on had made. “Ooh, look. Clouds. D’you think it’s going to rain again?”
“Hardly matters,” Morrigan said darkly, from the position she’d adopted at the edge of the clearing, her back against a tree, arms folded across her pale, jewel-draped bosom. She seemed distracted, glancing off into the trees from time to time, as if she could hear something the rest of us could not. “We should find shelter well before sundown. There are things in this place one does not wish to stumble upon in the dark.”
He smirked. “‘One’ meaning you, I suppose? Hah… scared, are we?”
Those golden eyes narrowed as she glared at him, her lip slightly curled. “I am merely advising caution for fools such as you. ’Twould please me far more to leave you to your own stupid devices, but make no mistake: I do not fear this place. ’Tis a home from home… although without Mother in it.” The venom dropped from her voice suddenly, and she appeared to consider this, then gave a brief, brittle smile. “Which, when considered so, makes it seem far more hospitable.”
Alistair wrinkled his nose. “Maker save us, now she’s making jokes….”
“It is the influence of your biting wit and jovial good spirits, Alistair,” Zevran said lazily, from his cat-like sprawl at the top of the trunk. His eyes were closed, and a faint smile wreathed his lips, though he still seemed aware of the face that Alistair pulled in response. “Oh, now… it was merely a suggestion.”
It was nice to stop, even if it was just for a little while. The chance to give my aching muscles a few moments’ recuperation was invaluable although, as soon as I’d stopped walking, the dull ache of exertion did begin to give way to actual pain. My tongue felt dry and thick, too, so I allowed myself a sip of the water we were now closely rationing, and let the thin beams of sunlight skim my skin.
A little way off, Leliana knelt at the edge of the clearing, and appeared to be rummaging around in the undergrowth. I frowned, curious as to what she was doing. I thought maybe she’d found another arrowhead, or some other sign of the Dalish passing this way, and I was perplexed when she came up with a handful of small white flowers.
“Oh, I had so hoped I would find some of these!” she exclaimed brightly, clasping them to her nose and sniffing deeply.
“I hope they do not give you a rash,” Morrigan said, in an acerbic tone that rather suggested otherwise.
“I know those,” Alistair chipped in. “Andraste’s Grace, aren’t they?”
“Yes.” Leliana nodded as she got to her feet, stowing some of the flowers in her belt pouch and—I was not the least bit surprised to see—delicately tucking one tiny bloom into her hair. “My mother used to keep them, dried, in her closet, amongst her clothes. They always smelled so pretty… as did she.”
Her broad smile faltered then, grew sad, and diminished. Wynne cleared her throat.
“Well, this has been a welcome rest, but I think we should move on if we mean to make the most of the light.”
Alistair looked at her in concern, brow furrowed. “Are you sure you’re all right? We can rest longer if—”
“I’m fine,” she said curtly. “And I shall be all the better when we move on.”
He didn’t look convinced—and I didn’t miss the glance he shot at me, as if he wanted me to back him up—but she made a valid case. The days were growing ever shorter, and we’d lose the light even quicker in the forest.
“All right,” I said, getting slowly to my feet and shouldering my pack… and trying to ignore the throbbing protests of my muscles. “Let’s get going. This way, yes?” I pointed to the opposite side of the clearing we’d come in from. “This is east?”
Morrigan sighed. “That is south. But it will do. Another half day into the forest, we agreed. If there is no sign of the Dalish by then, we have likely already missed them.” She narrowed her eyes, and cast one of those long, piercing looks into the trees. “I would not be surprised. They would be fools to linger instead of moving north… away from the darkspawn.”
She said nothing else and, with a sudden turn upon her heel and a flap of those heavy, dark robes, she was striding off into the brush.
It seemed sensible to follow.