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Shadows of Corruption


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#21
FreemasonGamer

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Abraham was contently satisfied after finishing his meal and a mug of dwarf brew, and he sighed peacefully before glancing to his other companions. At first, the Templar was all shades of surprised when he saw Wind impressively begin to devour his second plate of food without concern; Abraham did not often encounter an elf with such an appetite. Although, the aged man's bewildered amusement quickly faded when Celeste was nearly knocked off her stool from a single sip of dwarven spirit. After casting a disapproving leer at the dwarves whose blustering laughter was aimed at the already fragile mage, Abraham tentatively patted Celeste's shoulder until her choking fit subsided.

 

"If it's any consolation, the first taste is always the harshest," He said to her as he withdrew his smoking pipe and tobacco tin, beginning to stuff the fragrant substance into the intricate briarwood pipe, "Not that I would suggest something as strong a dwarven drink to someone unaccustomed to alcohol, anyhow."

 

Once his smoking pipe was full, Abraham struck a match and took a moment to carefully ignite the fine cinnamon-scented tobacco within it. A few moments passed before he soon began to exhale one elegant plume after another, savoring the scent and taste with every breath. "Now that I think about it," Abraham remarked, using a softened tone as a sad shadow briefly hazed his evergreen-colored gaze, "I never was very fond of drinking until I started smoking."

 

Savoring a moment of wordless silence, the aged Templar side-glanced at Celeste and studied her all too familiar disposition. Her withered confidence and withdrawn attitude rang a familiar chord within Abraham, and he considered the man she mentioned, Gabriel, in careful contemplation. While Abraham was not one who preferred to jump to conclusions or to stick his nose into others' business, he soon came to believe that this young mage's deceased Templar companion was more than merely an assigned comrade.

 

Shaking his head to dispell his brooding, Abraham sighed after exhaling a particularly long breath of cinnamon-scented smoke. "It's damn difficult losing folks you care for, ain't it?" He mumbled quietly to Celeste before ordering himself a second mug of powerful dwarven liquor.


Edited by FreemasonGamer, 02 January 2016 - 09:17 PM.


#22
AurianaValoria1

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Celeste sighed heavily again and took another sip of the ale - a larger one this time - forcing herself to swallow it and almost welcoming the following burn that engulfed her throat as one equally hot tear leaked down her cheek; she had cried too much earlier to cry in earnest any more. Though she did not say it, she welcomed the soft cinnamon fragrance that then wafted towards her from Abraham's pipe. It was oddly comforting, and it made her remember the exotic spices her father used to have transported across Ferelden. She was abruptly brought out of her memories, however, when the former Templar asked his question, even though she had barely heard it over the din of the tavern.

 

"Yes," was her small reply as she remained focused on her plate, as she did not have the strength to meet his eyes.

 

Then, for the first time, Celeste began to do some soul-searching regarding Ser Gabriel Delaney. She had never actually tried to formulate how exactly she felt about the Templar...her Templar. She always thought of him as hers, ever since he had been assigned to watch over her. It was not a matter of possession, though, but fact. He was, quite literally, her designated guardian. She remembered telling Abraham that Gabriel was her friend, but she really was not certain friendship was what they had...or even if it was all that they had. She assigned the word "friend" to him because she did not know what else to call him. But having had no true friend before, the mage was unsure if the word truly applied. What was he, then?

 

He was quiet, mostly, yet he was still attentive. He was even at her elbow to run errands to the tower storeroom a few times when she was in the middle of sensitive studies - an unrequired and certainly unexpected service - and after a few days of routine work with the same spell components, he did not even need to be prompted to know when she was out of something and what she would need next. Despite this helpfulness, however, he also kept his distance from her, always mindful of his proximity. She had at first thought it caution on his part, but the methodical execution by which he had maintained an almost precise distance of five paces or more made her attribute it more to a respectful acknowledgment of personal space. Thus, he was also kind. And this kindness was doubled with courage when he saved her life from Uldred's minions, risking his own neck to keep her away from the demons and abominations that had shattered the Ferelden Circle. This courage was proven five times over in the Deep Roads, too, when he stood between her and death without hesitation.

 

And yet, in the few years they knew each other, Celeste could count the times on one hand that they might have spoken in earnest, and most of those conversations had taken place within the last week. They were simple ones - about their families, about their childhoods, about what they wanted to do in the future. A weak smile pulled at her lips as she remembered his ambition to become Knight-Commander Greagoir's successor. Maker...that he hadn't had the opportunity...

 

It made his loss hurt all the more, that she had just begun to know him and where he might go when he had been extinguished like a bright Chantry taper.

 

"I did care about him," she suddenly added, and it felt like a weight was lifted to acknowledge that simple fact, "Strange as it sounds."

 

And she knew how strange it might have sounded, indeed. She was part of a small minority in the Circle  - those who actually respected the Templars and what they did. She would welcome a Templar blade if it meant saving someone else from her wrath as an abomination. They had a noble purpose, even if some amongst their ranks abused their power. It was undeniable that there were some monsters in those suits of armor. But there were noble men like Gabriel who too often were overlooked by mage and knightly superior alike.

 

The mages who desired to be free from the yoke of the Chantry had a saying that was similar to: "Mages are people, too."

 

Celeste took another sip of her ale and closed her eyes as she thought bitterly, So are Templars.

 

She finally opened her eyes again and brought them up to meet Abraham's. Shaking her head, she gave a defeated laugh as she sank into self-ridicule, "I can't help but think I could have saved him. I'm a healer, I could have...the way he reached out to me...it's like he knew...like he was grasping for hope..."


Edited by AurianaValoria1, 03 January 2016 - 02:11 AM.


#23
Macman253

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Wind listened with his keen ears, the various conversations were mundane in nature. One dwarf lamented his marital woes to a trusted confidant. Another were swapping tales of the Deep Roads. He heard the murmurings of his two companions. The elf drew one of his Crow-Blades and used it to cut a chunk of Nug meat from the shank that had been delivered and listened. As he did he failed to notice the voices from behind him.

 

"Dag, that blade the knife-ear is using looks familiar." Said the one dwarf, he wore a light green tunic and hood. His beard was patchy and long compared to his companions short shaved beard and bald head. He also wore a green tunic. The bald dwarf looked over Wind's shoulder to notice the unique knife he possessed. The balding dwarf turned his head to his companion. "Yeah, what of it?" Asked the dwarf called Dag. The longbearded dwarf gestured to Wind. "Were you not 'ere a few years back when the bosses brother got chopped up by a blade like that?" He asked Dag. The burly dwarf looked back again and then returned his gaze to his friend. "Wasn't he killed by one of them Antivian Crow type fellas'?" Dag asked, a stupid look on his face as he did. The dwarf smacked Dag on the forehead. "Think about it mate! The boss put te' word out... c'mon. Let's go tell him we found one of them Crows." The dwarf stood, tossing some coins on the table next to a half ate plate of food. Dag swept a leg of Nug into his pocket and took a few rolls for good measure to be eaten on the way as they left Tapsters.

 

Wind turned his head to regard the two departing dwarves with little interest other then checking his pockets after they had left. It would not have been the first time he had his pockets dipped while he sat at a tavern. Comfortable everything is where it was before he sat down he turned his attention back to the quiet conversation of his compatriots. Oblivious to the situation brewing...



#24
FreemasonGamer

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Abraham steadily exhaled one plume of cinnamon-scented smoke from his briarwood pipe after another as he listened to Celeste, acknowledging the young lady's fragile emotional state with intent silence. While such a thing as a mage caring and grieving for her deceased Templar would have baffled most others, Abraham knew all too well that such bonds were rare but not unheard of among the Circles of Magi. At the very least, the old Templar was glad to simply offer an attentive ear to the woman's woes, if only to help ease the burden of her loss. However, he quickly smoldered when Celeste began to torture herself even further with sorrowful words aimed at what she could have done to save Gabriel. Clearing his throat quietly, the aged warrior straightened his posture and took a hardy drink from his mug of ale before casting his dark emerald gaze over to his grieving companion.

 

"Listen up and listen well, young lady," Abraham addressed the mage in a stern yet compassionate voice, "Your friend, Gabriel, wouldn't want you to blame yourself for his death. It was just as much his decision to follow our expedition into the Deep Roads as it was yours, and there was nothing either of you could have done to prevent the end that befell him. What you can do, however, is muster the strength to keep going and make sure his sacrifice to keep you safe wasn't for nothing."

 

A heavy smolder remained upon Abraham's brow after he concluded his sentiment, and he took a few moments to drain his mug of its pungent contents to soothe his brooding thoughts. The man's experience with such loss had unexpectedly cut into his mood as he tried to help Celeste cope with her own, and he habitually suppressed his riled feelings with the reservoir of alcohol in his grasp.

 

Once his second mug was empty, Abraham rested it on the counter and draw a long, weighty breath before he mumbled mystically, "Years ago, I was once told the dead pity us more than we pity them. It took me a while to understand that."

 

The Templar then looked over his shoulder at Wind momentarily, and he was not surprised when he noticed more than a few dwarves frequently leering at the unusual elf. Rolling his shoulders, which caused a cascade of metallic clinks and jangles from shifting his silverite armor, Abraham returned his gaze to Celeste and noted, "I won't lie to you and say that recovering from his death will be easy, but it is not impossible."

 

On that note, Abraham looked across the bar to the dwarven barmaid and gathered what coin he had in hopes of possibly renting the three of them some safe and marginally pleasant rooms where they could rest before returning to the surface in the morning.


Edited by FreemasonGamer, 06 January 2016 - 07:59 PM.


#25
AurianaValoria1

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Celeste's cheeks reddened with shame as Abraham gently scolded her. He was right, of course, but his words still stung. She could not help but think that the spirit who so often aided her, Duty, would approve of Abraham's words. As if reinforcing this notion, she thought she felt a brief sensation of warmth in the back of her mind, to which she carefully hid any reaction. Few people outside the Circle made any difference between Spirit Healers and Maleficarum, mostly due to ignorance, and if anyone suspected her contact with anything from the Fade, she was sure she would be run out of Orzammar. Or worse.

 

Clearing her throat, she finally spoke up again, "I'm sorry. I should not have subjected you to so much of my...personal problems. I have no right to drag you down with my grief. It is my burden to bear, and mine alone." She then took a deep breath and offered a forced smile, "I think I will be better tomorrow."

 

Noticing him fishing out some coins, Celeste remembered the small pouches of advance money that the representatives of the expedition sponsors had given them before the group's entrance into Orzammar. Producing her own pouch of coins, she placed enough for her own room on the counter, "Here...my part of it. I won't have someone else sacrificing their fair share of money for me."


Edited by AurianaValoria1, 07 January 2016 - 01:32 AM.


#26
Macman253

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Wind smiled as he heard the conversation between his companions. The elf laid a few coins out for his food and stood. He walked over quietly and dropped another handful on the same pile as Celeste and Abraham.

 

"I'd be dead before lettin' a templar buy me a room at Tapsters." He said with a gentle smile and warm chuckle as he patted the Templar on the armor plated shoulder. Wind glanced at a dwarf sitting in the corner that was giving him a long stare. A prey-instinct cued in the back of his skull.

 

"Something's up." He thought as he noticed the dwarf quickly tried to hide his gaze in the mug of liquor he had. He knew his only hope of getting away without shedding undue blood is by getting out of Orzammar by morning.

 

Wind turned his eyes back to his companions, "I think it best we set for Redridge early in the morning." He said awkwardly. Trying to hide his concern, the last thing he wanted was for his companions to be caught in the crossfire of his past.



#27
FreemasonGamer

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Abraham shook his head dismissively when Celeste began to apologize for her woes, clearing his voice before arguing softly, "So long as you are a companion of mine, I'll always have a moment to hear you out on any burden. Remember that, young lady."

 

When the young mage and Wind also contributed to the payment of their rooms, the venerable Templar smiled and returned a notable sum of silver coinage back to his coin pouch. While he often thought of himself as at least a marginally generous individual, Abraham was reassured that his current companions were also not of the greedy variety. Soon, the dwarven barkeep of Tapster's graciously took the money in exchange for three keys to some of the rooms near the back. Accepting his key of the three and straightening his posture, Abraham then addressed Wind in particularly, "Aye, we have no need to linger here longer than necessary."

 

He then spared one observing glance at Celeste, considering her disposition once more, before he began to maneuver through the tavern portion of the establishment. With any luck, he might even have some peace to himself so he would clean his armor, which had slowly begun to reek from the dried stains of darkspawn blood.


Edited by FreemasonGamer, 11 January 2016 - 08:37 PM.


#28
AurianaValoria1

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Celeste silently listened to Abraham and Wind's words, then took her room key and departed the commons with soundless movement, her slippers soft on the cold stone floor. She agreed that it would be best to leave as soon as possible, and to that end, she practically fell into her bed; she wanted nothing more than to experience blessed nothingness until dawn.

 

Luckily for her, Duty had enough good sense to leave her be for the night.

 

The following morning (which could only be discerned by the sands of the hourglass), Celeste immediately regretted not eating the night before. Her stomach growled loudly, and its needs overrode anything else she might have been feeling. With hair uncombed and robes rumpled, she wandered into the commons and paid for a hearty breakfast; the dwarven waitress had barely even set the meal in front of her before the young mage dove into whatever sort of hot porridge it was, eating as though she had not seen food for days.



#29
Macman253

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Wind woke slowly, he stood up after rubbing the sleep from his eyes and rolled his shoulder until it make a loud popping noise. The elf silently put his clothes on, retrieved his gear and walked out of the room. When he came down the stairs he was idly whistling a tune to see Celeste devouring her breakfast. He chuckled mildly and approached, sitting next to her. He ran his hand through his hair to flatten his bedhead.

 

"Hungry I take it?" He said with a smile, the waitress approached. Wind turned to regard her, "Toast, eggs and a pint of bitter." He said and nodded to her, she turned away from them. Wind faced Celeste. "So, how does a mage end up takin' a job in the Deep Roads?" He asked curiously, he had met many mages in his time, albeit more then a few of them usually ended with him killing them but he had met more then a few Apostate mages in The Hanged Man when he lived in Kirkwall.



#30
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Having stayed up an hour, at least, to clean his armor after retiring to his room last evening, Abraham was reluctant to rise the next morning. His entire body ached from head to toe as a reminder of the strenuous experience he and the others had endured less than three days ago. Once he convinced his old bones to into motion, the venerable Templar took his time equipping his freshly polished silverite armor, which gleamed radiantly in torch's light. By the time he left his room, Abraham was fully awake, more or less, and ready to devour an ample breakfast.

 

He arrived in the commons of Tapster's to discover only a fraction of its usual number of patrons present; of the handful of those enjoying their morning meals, he easily spotted his two companions, Celeste and Wind, conversing at the bar. His footsteps landed heavily on the unforgiving stone floor as he approached them, and the man took a seat beside the Antivan Crow. Abraham listened idly to Wind's inquiries aimed at the mage among them as he ordered himself a plateful of breakfast, nodding slightly to their Dalish companion.

 

"This might be blunt of me to presume, but I believe our Circle mage was most likely approached by agents of our mutual employer. Our employer, whom, on that note, we should inform of our... misfortune. If we are fortunate and our steeds are rested, we should arrive at Redcliffe to meet with the liaison there within a few days." He mumbled, his statement veering swiftly from one of sarcasm to broodiness.

 

Heartily consuming his meal, the Templar brought forth his briarwood pipe and habitually filled it with scented tobacco, igniting the cinnamon-fragranced mulch with the strike of a match. He continued his meal with several hefty plumes of smoke before he remarked to Celeste over Wind's shoulder, "Good to see you eat something, young lady. You had me concerned there for a little while; we can't have any of the three of us withering away after making it this far." While he would never blatantly speak of such a thing, Abraham found Celeste's gangly, lithe frame to be particularly concerning when her grief threatened to diminish her appetite.


Edited by FreemasonGamer, 15 January 2016 - 02:30 AM.





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