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Shadows of Corruption


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#11
Macman253

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Wind could feel his lungs burn as he ran, his blood was on fire. He glanced over his should to see Abraham cut down a pack of Genlocks but he knew instantly he would get overrun. The elf skidded to a stop, turned, drew a second arrow and bit a raven fletching off then laid it on the stave of his bow with another arrow already in place and took aim with both arrows in a flat draw. After a moment he fired, the arrows sprang out. One sinking into the forehead of a Hurlock that had been catching up to Abraham. The other taking a Genlock in the chest, sending the small Darkspawn flying back a few feet from the impact.

 

Wind smirked under his facemask and spung on his heel to resume running for his life.

 

"I am surprised that worked." He thought as he ran, he glanced over his shoulder to see the horde of Darkspawn behind them and decided to be proud about it later, right now he had more immediate concerns.



#12
AurianaValoria1

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Celeste, of course, was completely oblivious to changing hands, her limbs limp as she was hauled along. However, her blank unconsciousness was disturbed by a ripple of strange energy that her mind detected very close by. It was not enough to push her subconscious into the Fade, but it did make a slight, involuntary grimace pull at the edge of her mouth...

 

Meanwhile, Abraham cursed at Wind up ahead when two of the Dalish elf's arrows flew past the warrior's head; Abraham was unaware of those arrows subduing a pair of Darkspawn who were dangerously close to catching up with him. As he sprinted to catch up with those ahead of him, the aged warrior felt a heavy concern on his mind beginning to fade as the roar of the horde weakened with the growing distance between them. It would not be long now before they would reach the main roads, and from there, the way to Orzammar. It would most certainly be much clearer and calmer, since it was not long they had passed through this very same route in peace.

 

As the remaining survivors were able to slow their peace somewhat upon arriving to the safer paths kept clear of danger by the dwarves, the former Templar sighed from sheer fatigue before finally sheathing his greatsword. Once his hands were empty, he glanced up ahead at the Dalish elf, the dwarf brute, and the unconscious mage who rested upon the shoulders of said dwarf. Somewhat concerned for the lady's health, Abraham took note to fetch a healer once they arrived at the thaig.
 

==============================================

 

Eight Hours Later

 

When the survivors of the expedition finally stumbled back through the gates of Orzammar, they made a beeline for the city's newly-built Chantry in the Commons, which had supposedly been sponsored with the aid of the Grey Wardens during the Fifth Blight. The place had grown slightly since then, but only slightly, as the dwarves made it hard on anyone who converted to the Chant of Light. It was a small, cramped, shop-turned-shrine, conveniently located adjacent to the Tapster's Tavern, and there was only Brother Burkel to provide aid. Celeste had been placed in the side room that was the makeshift, one-bed infirmary. She had been put on the tiny cot, a blanket draped over her, and Brother Burkel had said a few words of prayer for her, but that was all that could be offered until she awoke.

 

Having taken a seat upon one of the few benches within the Chantry, Abraham removed his gauntlets and cleaned his hands with a nearby cistern of water, his mind still numb from the encounter with death. It almost seemed too good to be true that he and the others managed to survive. With an exhausted sigh of relief, Abraham retrieved his brairwood pipe; a few pinches of finely scented tobacco and a lit match later, he was sitting contently in his bloodstained silverite armor as he released great plumes of cinnamon-smelling smoke after each breath. Still, his mind worried for the mage.

 

Finally, an hour or so later, Celeste began to stir, the pale blue silks of her robe rustling under the fur blanket. Her eyes fluttered open slowly, matching the shade of her garments, and staring wide-eyed as she did not realize where she was, the stone above her head devoid of engraving and nondescript in appearance. The mage sat up straight in the bed, tossing the cover off as her breath began to quicken in a near-panic.

 

"What...where..?" she glanced around, not remembering getting to this place or the details of the fight before she lost consciousness, "Ser Gabriel?"
 

The aged warrior of the group stood from his seat upon hearing a woman's voice call out from the Chantry's infirmary, and his ornate smoking pipe ushered another puff of smoke in response. Glancing towards Wind and Oren, Abraham gave a shallow nod as he spoke, "I'll she what she has to say." Without another word, he ventured into the side room where the mage was resting and met her icy blue gaze reassuringly.

"Greetings, my lady." Abraham addressed her, inhaling another breath from his pipe, "You're back at Orzammar and alive, more importantly. I am Abraham Rohart of our failed expedition."

While his tone was gruff, it was also sincere and almost apologetic for the calamity that had doomed most of the mercenaries who accompanied them into the Deep Roads.
 

Celeste looked up at the silver-clad man, recognizing him from their brief introductions to each other at the start of this ill-fated journey. She met his green eyes and thought she saw kindness in them, past their piercing gaze. The scent of smoke that accompanied his entry into the room briefly reminded her of her father. She gave him a weak smile to answer his greeting, but this quickly faded once she glimpsed the yet-present blood stains on his shimmering armor. Dread knotted itself in her stomach as she finally replied in a faint voice, "Where is Ser Gabriel?"

 

Unsure of whom the mage was speaking of, the former Templar only shook his head before he sighed, releasing another heavy veil of smoke. "Only four of us have made it back to Orzammar, and the other two are an elf and a dwarf."
 

Celeste looked as though she had been punched. She murmured in a strained tone, "The Templar who...was...with...me..." The last few words came out choked. As she spoke, she began to remember those horrible moments before she blacked out, and she instantly wished she could wipe the images from her mind. The moment of Gabriel's death, his reaching out to her even as he died, as if she could still save him...

 

"Oh Maker, no," the mage dissolved into wracking sobs mixed with anguished cries as the full weight of grief slammed into her like a fist; she buried her face in her hands to hide her twisted countenance, and the tears ran like rivers down her cheeks, blurring her vision and stinging her eyes with hot, raw emotion.

 

Immediately cringing at the sight of Celeste collapsing into a sobbing fit, Abraham was unsure of what to do or say. He knew most mages were only allowed to travel outside of the Circle when accompanied by Templars, but this woman's response to the death of her Templar seemed to hint at a closer relationship. Biting his lip, Abraham eventually attempted to comfort the mage with a hesitant voice, "I'm sure the Maker is proud of your companion's sacrifice..."
 

"He'd better be!" she shrieked, unaware she was in a Chantry, such as it was. Her face was a mixture of rage and nearly unbearable sadness as she stood and pointed with ferocity, "He'd better be at the Maker's side...because if he isn't I will find him in the Fade and drag him there myself!" Celeste then collapsed back onto the bed, grief pulling her through rage, despair, and back again, "Oh, poor Gabriel...my dearest friend..."

 

She hid her face for a few moments in silence, wiping her eyes with her sleeves, then continuing to talk for no apparent reason, "They're not all bad, you know. The Templars." She sniffed, "Gabriel...was my friend, if you can believe it. The only constant I ever had in my life." She smiled miserably, "The other Circle mages wouldn't put up with me. I like to talk too much, you see. Like to share what I know and discuss theory. And the other Templars would not pay me the time of day even for a nice 'hello'. I was too silly. Too frivolous, they said. They had no patience for talk, however small."

 

She paused, "But he was always there. Silent for the most part, but it was a comfort just to know." The mage lifted her gaze to Abraham's again, "He saved my life before. Took me through a third floor window of the Circle tower to save me from demons. Not a scratch on him for the armor, of course. But we both almost drowned in the lake," she managed to laugh a little at the memory, "I was picking glass shards out of my hair for a week after that."

 

The mage swallowed hard, "Despite all that, we only just talked in earnest a few days ago. Finally managed to break that stoic silence of his. And now..." she trailed, tears slowly tracking down her face in pure sadness, "Now, it doesn't even matter, does it? It's like...like it never happened."

 

Abraham remained silent as he listened intently to what Celeste had to say since doing so might be comforting for her to some extent. Her past with Gabriel seemed to run very deep, and Abraham frequently inhaled through his pipe and expelled its scented smoke during the one-sided discussion. Once he felt it was his turn to speak, the old warrior said earnestly, "It means something, or else you wouldn't be here talking with me."

Adjusting his pipe for a moment, he took a moment to blow an impressive smoke ring towards the ceiling before he continued speaking, "In all my years of serving with the Order, I could count on one hand how many Templars I knew would have done as much for any mage as this Gabriel fellow did for you, especially with that corrupted Circle mess not too long ago."
 

Celeste suddenly cocked her head at him, "You are...were...a Templar? I thought I felt..." she hesitated, "I can sense it, a bit. It's an odd feeling to describe. I think it's the lyrium."

 

Sighing, she added, "I...am sorry. I should not have said so much. I just...I just don't know what I am going to do without him. He was like a rock wall that was always there. And now...now I feel like a feather adrift in a storm. And with this mission failed...with so many dead...what are we going to do?"



#13
Macman253

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Wind smiled wider then usual when they had safely arrived at Orzammar. He had not been to the dwarven city in years, last time he came here is when he did some contract work for The Crows. The assassin followed close with his compatriots, in case any of the merchant's relatives may wish revenge on him. The elf didn't much like the Chantry, he hadn't any logical reason about his dislike of them, he just found them off-putting and boring. When they entered the small converted chapel he nodded.

 

"Nice place." He sniffed the air and smiled. "Smells like faith and things of that nature." He said in his impenetrable Antivan accent. While Celeste was being tended Wind kept near, sitting on the floor nearby and tending to his arrowheads with a small sharpening file. When the young mage woke, he stood, he had taken off his hood to reveal his handsome features and a warm grin upon his face. He stood silently, watching the exchange, remembering the feeling of losing someone close to you. She made him think of his Clan. He felt a tug at his heart. It was a memory he had not visited in quite a long time and it still hurt him, even after nearly ten years.

 

The Elf forced a smile when he realized his had faded. "Best to let her see a smiling face, then a mirror of her own loss on another." He thought as he stood with his feet apart and his hand resting on his hip and the other clutching the top horn of his Dalish shortbow, the other end of the bow pressed against the wooden floor of the shop-turned-chapel they now stood in. Strapped to each leg was a pair of Crow Blades, in special sheathes on his chestarmor were specially crafted throwing knives that bore the same jagged saw like blade structure as the twin blades on his legs.

 

"Well, we are alive." He finally said. "Way I see it, we can take full advantage of our situation and go about our lives." He said with a slight shrug. "Or..." He continued, pausing for effect. "...We can learn more about who employed us, and then sent us into a Darkspawn infested Thaig." The elf kicked the bow with his foot and flipped it over in a very flourished motion then came to lean on it with both hands crossed over the horn of the bow. He leaned in and gestured to the Templar. "What say you Templar? Up for some thrilling heroics?" He asked with a wry smirk.


Edited by Macman253, 20 December 2015 - 08:07 AM.


#14
nethgros

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When they had finally entered the gates of Orzammar Oren breathed a great sigh of relief, it was not very often anyone lived to tell the tale of an encounter with so many darkspawn, let alone four people. Yet he could see this elf and man were quite well equipped, so it didn't surprise him they could be so capable. This woman on the other hand was very, very lucky.

 

He had almost taken them into Dust Town to see the local healer when he remembered just who these people were; there was no way they would be welcome. Instead he took him to the strangest place in the city, right where these strangers would fit in, the new Chantry building. He had never actually been inside, but he had seen it several times, and heard more griping about it than anything else in his life, even though it was relatively new.

 

He didn't consider his veneration of the Stone to be a religion, so the concept of what the Chantry was outside of this building was very foreign to him. But he did know a little something about his companion's affiliation, which was literally engraved on his chest. Oren didn't learn much about the Templars, except that they were related to the Chantry through their policing of magi, they were very capable fighters, and it was best to go for the legs first to cripple them before delivering a deathblow past their plate. His other companion was very obviously an Antivan Crow, from his thick Antivan accent to his Crow blades everything about the elf screamed assassin. He thought an assassin might hide his affiliation a bit more, but further thinking would lead him to realize with the skill this Crow had employed against the darkspawn nary a soul could best him if they decided to do something with that information. The woman on his shoulders was a different story, he knew nothing about her. He hadn't paid her much mind on the journey, only noting her looks and her robe, which he had mistaken for a dress. In Oren's mind, Celeste was some sort of average human woman whos interest in something in the Deep Roads had misplaced her here, which would surely become her tomb.

 

The Chantry itself felt very uninviting to Oren. The idolatry within was bizarre, and the only familiar sight was this white sun he had seen so many times that almost served as the Chantry's symbol. He turned over Celeste reluctantly to the single dwarf here, who took her aside so she could rest. He tried not to think too much about what possessed this dwarf to bring the surfacer's gods down here, and sat out in the hall. He felt very awkward until Abraham took out his pipe and began filling it with his tobacco. He thought it very strange that he found the smell pleasant, as the smell of his own lichen he smoked was noxious and repelling, though he was used to it now. Oren brought out his own stone pipe and after packing it filled with his treated lichen he began filling this temple with smoke of his own. Contrasting with Abraham's graceful plumes he expelled, Oren violently coughed up many small, thick tufts of smoke.

 

He nodded slightly with his eyes closed and his head down when Abraham left to check on Celeste, deciding to wait here. He wished to meet this woman he had helped saved before even thinking to return to Dust Town.



#15
FreemasonGamer

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The aged Templar continued to puff almost graceful plumes of cinnamon-smelling smoke from his briarwood pipe as the topic at hand fueled a hushed conversation between the mage, the Antivan Crow, and himself. Once Wind addressed the possibility of seeking out their employers, Abraham nodded in agreement while a heavy grimace betrayed his deeply-rooted contemplation. The leaders of their expedition were undoubtedly dead, their corpses littering the depths below their feet. So, it was left up to those four to inform their employer of their failure in the Deep Roads, which was a prospect even Abraham's humbled ego did not fancy.

 

Heaving a sigh laden with smoke, the elderly warrior stroked his bread thoughtfully as he spoke, "Agreed. It would be wise to approach those who employed us of this tragedy, even if doing will be painful to word it lightly."

 

While his mind was still grinding on the eventuality of informing their employer—some well-off merchant of Denerim—that they would not be returning to the surface with any artifacts or loot, Abraham did acknowledge the aching fatigue challenging his battered and bruised form. The weight of his silverite armor bared down upon his spent body, seemingly sapping what strength he had left with every breath he took. Quickly shaking his head to cast out such tiring thoughts, the former Templar nodded once more and addressed Celeste.

 

"Once you feel rested enough to make the trip, Lady Celeste, the four of us can look into possibly finding refuge at the Tapster's Tavern. Once we recover and regather there, we can see about making our way to Redcliffe." Glancing over towards the Dalish elf, Abraham explained, "I remember hearing that some proteges of our mutual employer will be waiting there with our second sum of pay. It would be bad business on our part to not tell them of our losses."

 

While he also humored himself with the unlikely possibility of remaining in Orzammar for a short time in case any other survivors from their failed expedition managed to escape the Deep Roads, Abraham kept it to himself as he straightened his back. When he noticed the dwarf's absence in the room, the aged warrior quickly noted to both the mage and the assassin, "I'll go check on our companion," before seeking out Oren in the adjacent hall. Peering down at the stout individual who frequently coughed out ragged tufts of smoke from his stone pipe, Abraham cleared his throat and released a relaxed plume of smoke himself before speaking to the dwarf.

 

"My companions and I are going to occupy Tapster's Tavern until we are prepared to return to the surface," He informed Oren simply, "You're welcome to accompany us in our search up there for the individuals who paid for us to delve into the Roads."


Edited by FreemasonGamer, 23 December 2015 - 02:36 AM.


#16
AurianaValoria1

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Celeste found it difficult to keep listening; it was taking a great effort to push the grief that was nearly consuming her to the back of her mind. She knew that Gabriel would not want her to dwell on him so, but losing the only semblance of a friend she had ever had was taking its toll on her, regardless. When the conversation turned to their employers, Celeste suddenly remembered that they had indeed been paid half of the money up front, and her stomach flipped with a sense of dread.

 

"Oh, Maker," the mage rubbed her temples and bent her head, "This is not going to turn out well, I just know it..."

 

Then, glancing around, she started patting the bedding and looking under the cot before cursing, "Andraste's ashes, I've lost my staff, too!"

 

Sighing, she stood from the cot and ran a hand through her thick blonde hair, "I...think I can leave now." Slowly, she followed Abraham's footsteps, wincing as her joints felt stiff, "Sooner we get some rooms, the sooner we can start back to Redcliffe. Maker knows I can't do anything else, now..." the mage trailed as she thought of her options and came up with nothing. It would be something that would also prey on her mind in the days to come.



#17
Macman253

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Wind smiled and nodded. He agreed with getting a room at Tapsters. The assassin slung his bow over his torso and drew his hood over his face.

 

"No time like the present." He said as he stepped through the door of the store-turned-chantry and into Orzammar proper. The Dalish Elf walked nonchalantly, seeming to be impervious to the near death experience he had a little less then half a day earlier. The elf walked into Tapsters, the dim hum of conversation died for a moment as the elf entered. Wind looked up to see more then a few dwarven faces staring at him with various expressions. After a moment the sound level returned to normal and he was ignored.

 

"Guess elves are uncommon here." He thought and gave a slight shrug. The elf sat at the smallish chair in the corner of the room. He waved over the dwarf serving girl and calmly ordered a pint of ale and some food.



#18
FreemasonGamer

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Following the Crow out of the Chantry and into the streets of Orzammar was a simple task for Abraham since such an elf plainly stuck out like a sore thumb among the sparse crowd of dwarves that resided in the grand thaig. The Templar also spared an occasional glance over his shoulder to ensure Celeste was keeping up with them, and they all soon arrived at the Tapster's Tavern, which buzzed with activity and merriment like any successful establishment of its kind should. Once they arrived within the tavern that smelled heavily of dwarven spirit and food, Abraham decided to stand next to the bar and ordered himself a simple meal, keeping an eye on his companions while he stood there.

 

The jolly drinking songs and blustering attempts at dancing eased Abraham's tension as he waited for his plate and mug, and he disregarded the occasional looks or whispers aimed at him. After all, a six-foot tall monolith of bloodstained silverite must have been an unusual sight to these dwarves. After paying for his mug of dwarven liquor and a plate loaded with subterranean vegetables and a pair of roasted nug legs, the aged warrior sighed a breath of relief and earnestly enjoyed the meal as if it was his last, which it very well could have been based on the events of the previous evening in the Deep Roads.



#19
AurianaValoria1

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Celeste felt eyes on her as she entered the tavern with the others, but she saw none of them herself; it felt as if she were moving in a dream, everything around her blurred except what was right in front of her. She sat beside Abraham, moving silently as a wraith, as she had no idea where else she should be, and her order was the same as his, because knew not what else to purchase. For all her textbook knowledge, she had little experience in the outside world, and right now, it showed. That on top of the depression that wrapped its shadowed arms around her shoulders dampened all enthusiasm and choked any inquisitiveness or adventurousness she might have had under normal circumstances.

 

She sat for the longest time unmoving, her silk robes spilling off the edges of her stool and puddling on the floor due to its short height. She poked one roasted nug leg with her fork and sighed heavily, then tentatively picked up her tankard and peered inside. The dark liquid, with even its aroma astonishingly potent, was not that inviting to her. Knowing she had to try to eat and drink, though, she carefully put the tankard to her lips and took a tiny sip.

 

Just that much was enough to knock the wind out of the mage. She coughed and spluttered as the ale seared her throat and parched her tongue, her eyes watering. More than one dwarf who had been watching her laughed aloud at the sight, and she could feel her pale cheeks turning red as she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. This did nothing to help her state of mind, and she found herself staring at her full plate to keep herself from meeting the eyes of those around her.



#20
Macman253

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Wind smiled at the dwarf serving girl as she brought him a leg of Nug, bread and cheese and some ale. The elf gladly picked up the Nug leg and bit into it. He had Nug before, it tasted bland and earthy, because of these reasons he had little to no love for it but after the near death adventure in the deep roads this particular Nug leg tasted as if he was made by gods. His hunger took over and he began to devour the Nug leg and bread in large bites, washing them both down with gulps of ale.

 

He ordered a second plate and kept to himself as he ate.






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