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A Mage against the Blight - DAO FanFiction Novel


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Hello, fellow Wardens. I am going to post my Dragon Age Fan Fiction Novel here today, so that you might enjoy reading it. Since I am not very confident in my english skills, I would like to be informed about certain failures I make, so that I can correct them and learn to not do them again ^_^


I hope you enjoy it!



Dragon Age Origins – A Mage against the Blight


Fading in suns light. Fading at our side.
Reaching for stars embrace – but got left in darkness.

Were there is only fear and sorrow
I will come playing my song
Were the Ones – left and forgotten
Wait for light

When the time numbs all our cryings
I will come playing my song
And if the spirits care to listen
I'll gladly let them sing along.

There is no happiness in the heart of my past
There is nothing left but ruins and dust. There is death.
And with no place to call home
With nowhere left to go
I'll keep on playing under trees and stars till the dawn of day – the new day

Were there is no law or justice
I will come playing my song
Were the Ones – left and forgotten
Wait for dawn

When the time takes all hopes from us
I will come playing my song
And if the spirits care to listen
I'll gladly play all night long

With little luck and endless pain from days long gone.
There is nothing left but ruins and dust. There is death
And with loneliness harbored
With hardships endless on the road
I'll keep on playing for flowers and rivers until dawn – till I am gone

Spirits, sing with me – let me hear your names
I shall remember them all until I join you one day
May the trees be your stairway
May the leaves carry you high
Until you reach the stars one night and be free – goodbye

I'll keep playing all night... .

This is the song for this lyric prologue >> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuNhTLVgV2Y

Edited by EoniaBansbane
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Chapter 0 - Mages Destiny



“Fourteen years... . I still can't forget... Fourteen years...and nothing has changed... I still hear it clear in my mind... The devastation... The horror... The suffering... ..my sins... And yet I still live... I'm sitting here in the corner of my room, still reading the same old books over and over again. Templars watching us from every side, but it's no bother for me. I'm passing the pages of the books, knowing what was described on them. Fourteen years. Since this I'm spying the world from across the fade. Living hidden from the reality outside my sunken world of old pages and papers. Prisoner of the tower of magi. Why...? Why didn't they kill me, when they had the chance... . I'm a soul of injustice... . I'm sinner. And now... I'm a mage of this circle....”

A young boy was sitting alone under the fading light. One candle glowing kept the room free of darkness. The boy stared down on the inked sides of his book. His dark hair reminded of crows feathers. Pitch black with a slight blue sparkling, when the candles fire danced for him. Sometimes he looked up and around himself. The Templars passed by his room often. Gazing inside and watching him closely. But the boy did not care. He closed the book and laid it on his bosom. Gathering breath and thoughts, he massaged his eyes to clean off the struggle. He seemed to think of thousand words to explain his pain to the Maker. The brown eyes watched down for a bit, while the light of the candle struck the floor. After some thoughts the young boy fetched the book and stowed it into a shelf near his desk. Then he grabbed another book, with a blue-backed of leather out and started writing. “Dear Diary, I again read all the books about Andrastes life and the ways of the Maker. Those stories aren't interesting anymore. They sadden me much and I began to remember this day. I remember the time before I came here. The village, the people and the forests are so close. I can feel them sometimes. I feel the wind on my face and the grass between my fingers. I can smell the spring flowers, which blooms around the houses. .... But all this is long past. It's a memory now, which pains me more than ever before. I wish I could do something. Not to forget it, but to make it never happen. ... … …” He stopped his hand. The inked feather floated above the page and little driblets painted a black spot. The boy sighed deeply and swallowed the force of sorrow down. Then he started writing again. “I managed the Harrowing last Monday. Ser Gregoir and the first enchanter Irving were very proud of my abilities. I'm not sure, though... . Magic is filthy and brought more pain upon us than we imagined... . Without the spirits help, I surely had lost to that demon... . He saved me... . More than once... . But I still struggle to tell anyone of his existence and guidance... Master Irving and Ser Gregoir, both of them know me well. They knew me long enough to understand... . They are the only people inside the tower and maybe even on this side of the world that I really can trust. But would they believe me? … … … I'm confused and restless. I have only little friends and little contact to others in the circle. In the end, it could be the best for all if it stays that way. Maybe... … But I have bored you enough with my thinking's today, diary. Now I will go to the chantry, like every night. But first I have to see Master Irving again. He wants to introduce me to someone. I hope that I don't have to talk with that person. Regards - Ignitz the sinner” The young boy placed the book back from where he took it. He put out the candle and walked to the door. As he was about to leave a Templar came by. Ignitz bowed slightly and closed the door. In the hall, there were many Templar on patrol. They greet him too, but he only waved his hand this time. There was no smile and no word.

The torches burned brightly and lightened the hall, leading shifting shadows through the statues guarding the walls. The young boy stared at the stoned men and women, ignoring the Templars on his way. At the end of it, Ignitz walked down the stairway. He entered the lower level of the tower and knocked on a big black painted wooden door right in front of him. "Master Irving? It's me, Ignitz. May I come in?” An old mans voice answered his question: “Sure, my boy. Please, come in.” After opening the door, Ignitz stood before two people. Both were not far from the study table, what was covered with thousands of books. Bookshelves were placed at the walls, holding many tomes, artifacts and magical items. The room felt warm and caring, yet knowledge seem to fly around like a dusty cloud. Ignitz looked around before approaching his master. An old man with a grey beard and dark eyes, wearing a green robe. His skin was crumbly and marked his elder age. Beside him stood another man with a dark taint, covered in a shining silver armor with a white robe. His hair and beard were black and fuzzy. He watched the boy with eyes, shining like the fire of a spirit. Bright and white. It gave such a spooky aura that it frightened the boy. Ignitz came closer, starring at the guest of his master with suspiciousness. “Ignitz, this is Duncan.”, the first enchanter explained, “He's a Grey Warden and came to search for new recruits.” “It's nice meeting Irving's best student in the tower. I heard good thinks about you, even from Ser Gregoir.”, the Warden friendly approaches, but Ignitz did not respond to him in a same manner. “I see...”, he said rather calm and distant, “I welcome you, master Warden.” He looked to his master questioning: “But what does this have to do with me, First Enchanter?” “Well... .” Irving began to explain, “Duncan is in need of more skilled Wardens to fight an incoming Blight. Mages rarely were able to become Grey Wardens. Duncan needs any help he can get. So I thought... .” “I'm sorry... . I'm not interested.” Ignitz answer rolled through the silent hall. He shook his head while starting to leave Irving's room: “Grey Wardens fight the Blight, which was a cause of mages failures... . I will not go and make the mistakes of the past over and over again.” Duncan watched the boy with interest, while Irving tried to convince him. “My my, student. We've learned from the past failures. Nothing will start over, as long as we stand focus on our goal.” “Master, this is insanity! I won't risk this. You best know what I've done... . You saw me!” The boy bit his lips in force to swallow the anger and memory. It was like he was forcing himself to silence. “I will not leave the tower to put children and families in danger again.”, he then muttered ashamed of himself, “I'm a sinner, first enchanter. I can't... . I'm sorry.” Then he walked off without looking back. Irving shook his head, disappointed and a bit merciful. Duncan walked over to him. “An interesting little mage.”, he said, “He seems to understand the power given to him. Maybe even a bit too well... .” Irving nodded approving: “Yes... . That is right, Duncan. And if I guess well, you're not going to leave until you changed his mind.” Duncan smiled, thinking of the resistance this boy could give him. “He's young...and yet still he's knowledgeable like his masters.”

Duncan followed the boy outside, leaving Irving to his duties. The old man looked after him, knowing he can't stop it anymore. Ignitz was wandering back the hallway. Neither the mages nor the Templar seem to bother him much. He just continued on and passed through a door on the right. Not knowing that Duncan was following him all the time. Ignitz mind was filled with fury and despite to himself. It made him sad. He lid a candle in one big hall and walked with the light toward the middle of the room. He gazed around himself and the darkness seem to be his only companion this night. Ignitz was sure that he was alone now. He passed by the way and crossed through the lines of benches in the hall. Finally he stopped at the statue of Andraste, putting on the candlelight's around it. He kneed before the stoned idol and began his prayer. It was a silencing singing that kept the noise from the outside down. It was not loud at all, but still seem to fill every little space. The old Warden slowly left his hiding spot in the shadows. He tried to be as quiet as possible, so he wouldn't disturb the boy. Duncan set down on the bench at the last right corner. He muted by the prayer and listened carefully. Ignitz voice was now the alpha of every sound in the hall... .

“Maker - oh Maker.
One who blessed us - one who leads us.
See me - watch me - while I'm praying your name.

Andraste - oh bride.
Chosen woman - broken defender of us all .
See me - watch me - while I'm singing your name.

Holy idols for all of us people.
Savior and Guardian - for the people which you both loved and guided.
I'm praying - I'm bidding - searching for answers - searching for freedom.

Freedom for body - freedom for soul.
Rescued from the chains, which kept me from living without fear.

Holy idols - please listen to me.
My singing - my praying - is not for me.
It's for the people - for children - for creatures and plants - for the sea and the lands.
Save them – Maker.
Protect them – Andraste.
From the curse, I hold within me.

So let it be.”

Silence came over the hall. Ignitz stood up to engulf the flames of the candles again, but a voice shocks him to the bones. “An unusually prayer, my friend.” The boy quickly turned around and glanced at Duncan sitting on the bench. “What?! You! What are you doing here?” Ignitz was furious, but also impressed that he hasn't recognized him beforehand. “It's really odd for a mage to pray for safety to other people. And even more odd, that he thinks of him as a cursed one.” Duncan answered and stood up. He walked towards the boy with his arms crossed before his chest. “It's no answer to my question, Warden. What are you doing here?” Duncan watched the statue of Andraste: “A curse. The most mages tell me it's a gift of the Maker, but you're praying for safety from it.” ”Stop avoiding my question!”, Ignitz shouted through the dark hall, waving his hand angry. Duncan seems to bother him much more than the Templars. The old man laughed slightly, what makes the boy even more furious. “Listen, Warden. I said I'm not interested! It doesn't matter to me how much you need mages to fight the Blight! I won't go!” Duncan looked at the angered face of the boy. His eyes seem to pierce through his soul. “You said, that you're a sinner before. Could you explain this to me?” “What? Why don't you go ask master Irving or Ser Gregoir!”, Ignitz muttered before he walked away, “I don't have time for such foolishness.” “But time enough to pray for death... .”, Duncan answered and made the boy stop. Time was standing still. Ignitz looked over his shoulder. Sorrow has taken his eyes. “How can you understand? ...You never saw the horrors we endure each night we dream... .” He left the Warden, who was even more curious about the boy now. The young mage left the chantry and nearly ran into a young man wearing a scale armor. “Whoa! Sorry!”, he yelled surprised and dodged around the boy, “Didn't see you there.” The young man caught Ignitz attention. He looked cheerful and friendly, but it was an unknown face for him. The aura coming from his smile, his soul, felt familiar. Ignitz watched him walking around like he was looking for someone. He wondered for a moment and lowered his speed. He walked backwards, watching the young man interested and confused. Slowly he turned around and tried to forget the encounter, but he wasn't aware that it would be so hard.

Days and weeks passed by the tower. Duncan stayed and so did the ominous young man. In time Ignitz learned that the youngster was called Alistair. He happened to ran into him all the time. He smiled and joked around a lot. It irritated the boy. The two were very stubborn and wouldn't leave the tower. Everyday was a fight for sanity and silence. Ignitz found no rest and no peace anymore. The Warden wouldn't leave him alone. One day at the chantry, Ignitz was questioned about his past again. The two men followed him all over the place and he really wished for peace once more.

“Why wouldn't you tell us about it?”, Alistair joked again and smiled at the frustrated boy, “Its not like you burned a chantry down, is it?” The mage gazed at the youngster and crunched his teeth. He was irritated to the limit. “Come on.”, Alistair dogged him. “No...”, he answered. They repeated this pattern several times as Ignitz was about to leave the chantry chamber, the young man blocked his way and grinned slightly. “Come on. Please!” “I said no!”, Ignitz yelled at him and punched him right into the face. His anger was strained enough and he couldn't shove it down any longer. His punch was hard and made Alistair's nose bleed. Duncan walked over worried, but stopped with a surprised look on his face as Ignitz started to panic. The boy kneed down to the young man and tried to help him desperately. “Oh no! What have I done!?”, he stuttered and looked around hasty, “Oh no! Oh no! I...I'm so sorry. I...I didn't want this! Are you alright?” The behavior of Ignitz made Duncan think. The boy struck Alistair down, but he regretted it right away. He panicked and got worried within no time. Was he acting on emotion alone this time? The young mage went outside and got one of the Templar to help out. Duncan pointed at Ignitz and wanted him to come over. Alistair was taken outside the chantry and Ignitz was left alone with the Warden once more. He took a deep breath and walked back to Duncan. First both stared at each other. Duncan saw the desperation clearly within his eyes. Ignitz sighed once more, not knowing if he would be ready to reveal himself. “Do you wish to talk now?”, Duncan asked with a soft and caring voice. Ignitz sighed anew unsure. He looked at the Warden and felt somehow save. It was like Duncan gave away an aura of safety and understanding. “Can you imagine a child? Three years old? Sitting at a lake at night, covered in blood all over?”, the boy described. Duncan sat down again and nodded. He listened well and tried to see this picture. “The child...was me... . And I was covered in the blood...of my first victims... . The first victims...of my magical skills... .” The boy sat down on a bench next to Duncan, watching the light of the candles. “That's how they found me. The Templars... .” He gathered his thoughts once more. He embraced his legs and placed his forehead against the knees. It was painful to watch, even for Duncan. And so the boy told him the whole story....

“My father was a mage as well... . We lived not far from Lake Calenhad... . In a village hidden in the near forests... . No one there knew that he was a mage, I guess... . We lived a good life... … ...so I thought... . But fathers greed for power was intense... . I was just three years old, but I never forgot this day... . Two days before my fourth birthday. At night, he summoned something from this place all here call....the Fade... . I was still awake and hungry so I went downstairs... . I had to go through the living room and there I saw him... Father was standing in a circle... . It was glowing on the carpet... . He stood right above mother and....and... .” The boy struggled telling. His hands nervously grabbed around his neck. Tears ran over his face. Again he swallowed the words and whispered them. “He beheaded mother...and laughed at me... . I remember that voice... ...this ...inhuman... ...laughter... . I hear it...every time I close my eyes... .” The boy cowered in his position. He clawed his fingers around his robe. The eyes drowned within his tears. “I don't know what happened next... . Mothers eyes looked at me... . All became silent and my cries muted within my throat. Then a lightning stroke by... . And a creature awoke... . Father laughed... . I screamed and the roof started rotting... . Then another creature came forth the ground... It was bigger and smelled like... . I don't know... . Rotten... Bathed in filth... There is nothing I could compare too... . Its eyes stared at me with hunger, but it first ripped father and his creature in half... . It ate them... . Crunched their bones... I ran... . I just ran... .” He started shaking his head and pushed it against the knees. “Everything was so dark that day... . But I could feel it. Beside me... . Behind me... . Everywhere... It killed everything while hunting me... . A Mabari tried to protect the children of it's master, when I passed through the village gate... . I heard it screaming when I left... . The guards screamed and the whole forest seem to drown in the blood of these people... . While running...I heard them... . The cries... . This...terror... . I never stopped once... . I never looked back... . When I reached Lake Calenhad...it found me... . I thought I was going to die like them, but... . It just disappeared. It spit the blood and remains of its victims down on me... . Laughed at me and...vanished... . The whisper of this thing was hunting me... . Saying to me...~I fulfilled your wish, mortal.~ ... ... ... . It is true... . I killed them... I killed them all... ..I'm the sinner... .”

Ignitz cowered on his bench. After he ended his story, Duncan realized the pain and suffering he kept away. “You were young, Ignitz... .”, he said to him, “You wanted justice. That's not a sin... . What happened was a cause that your father brought to himself, even if your power summoned this creature.” Ignitz looked at the old man grieving with pain. “No... . Age is meaningless... And even if father made it happen... . It was because of me that it came to this...” “Would it been better if you had died?”, Duncan asked him. Ignitz did not know how to respond at first. He gazed into the dark, his tears dripping from the cheeks. “It would've been better if the Templars had killed me that day...” “So they did not. You should try making the best of this time.” The boy looked at Duncan quite sour. It was like the old man was mocking him. “Like joining your order and fight a failure mages produced with magic...” The boy shook his head. “Why do you bother so much? I don't understand it... . I said it before. I said it over and over, but you keep asking. I won't go, Warden.” “You said that what you've done was injustice. But... Why do you pray for freedom, when you could choose between dead or mollification?” Ignitz looked at the Warden with disapprove: “We are given life for a purpose, Warden. Ending it on our own is injustice... . And to force others in doing so as well... . Wishing... It's the only way left for me... .” “So you really think that killing yourself or to force someone to kill you would be injustice?” Duncan looked at the boy with much interest and awaited his clear answer. “Yes... .”, he said and Duncan asked right away: “But isn't praying for death a clear call to the Maker? So you would ask or in this case force the Maker to end you?” “What?! It's... ......I....” Duncan looked at him, holding a smile behind. The confusion of Ignitz was a very awkward moment. “Damn it!”, the boy shouted angered by his own foolishness. “Wouldn't it be better to use your skills for good? Like stopping the Blight?”, Duncan asked again. “But the Blight was a failure caused by mages... . Why would magic help making it better?” Duncan smiled at the boy, standing up and laying his hand onto his shoulder. “Maybe it can't... . But maybe it can, too. To find out, we have to try.” Ignitz looked up to the Warden. He became silent and gazed into the depths. Moments passed before the boy hung his head and sighed deeply. He stroke away the tears on his cheeks before looking at the Warden again. ”.....Huh.... ... . You're more stubborn than Ser Gregoir, Warden... . Fine. I'll accept.” Then Ignitz looked away and sighed once more. “But please... Don't tell him about it... Don't tell anybody... I do not deserve pity... ...mercy... Nor do I want it... ...”

“Dear Diary. I met Duncan, leader of the Grey Warden in Ferelden. He's kinda ...strange person... . He asked me to join the Wardens. I refused several times over, but he never left. What was he looking for? Was I really the one he was searching for? What is so special about me? I wonder... He never left until he convinced me to join his order. Even after I was so rude to the beginning, he never gave up until I accepted. And I even hurt his other follower. I broke his nose. It's impressive, somehow. Or maybe scary... . Tomorrow we're leaving the tower for Denerim, to ask King Cailan for assistance. There I shall join the other recruits for the ritual too. I promised Master Irving and Ser Gregoir that I'll never use my power for evil. The travel will be long, but I now have no other way to go. I hope it was the right decision. ... I told Duty about what happened. He was surprised. He wants me to reveal him to the Wardens, but...would they believe me? I should keep it to myself until I know for sure... Maybe I do that after the joining ritual. I hope everything goes fine. ... Regards - Ignitz the sinner”

Edited by EoniaBansbane
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Chapter 1 - The new Warden Generation

“Dear Diary, - It's been two days since Duncan, Alistair and I left the circle. We traveled across the north highway towards Denerim. I never expected this. I once saw these plains and plants in pictures and books. I once lived in this...outside world. I was out here, but it feels so unreal now. Like a dream. These beautiful colors. The smells and sounds. So nice... Duncan thinks that it might be, because of the long time I lived in the tower. Alistair, the one that traveled with Duncan, used to be a Templar in practice. I don't know why he stares at me like that. Maybe he thinks that I fear him? That I am scared of his Templar abilities? Or does he fear me for breaking his nose? I did not talk much with him since that accident... I hope he's not mad with me. Duncan said that we both going to fight together often after the joining. I hope that we can get along somehow, even with these...differences. Duncan wants me to be more social. He said that I am to timid, or something like that. I don't know if this is really necessary. I don't have much to talk about anyway. I lost so much since I left the tower. My nice dark room, the library with all its books, the creature laboratory and that nice cranking sound that went through the halls when the Templars walked by the door. There is so many stuff I had left behind. Mostly the books, artifacts and the loneliness. I can't go back there now. Never again, so they say... Master Irving said that the Wardens are now my new family, but how can someone replace the only family one knew? I really miss my bookshelf. I miss all the books about the history of Ferelden. All the places described in it... . Maybe I will see some of them myself. The only things that I took with me on my journey are my magician robe, my Ice staff, the violin that Ser Gregoir used to play when I was younger and you, my Diary. It's not much, but all I really need. Duncan and Alistair seem to understand each other well. I'm a bit at a loss here... . Hopefully I can get along with Alistair as well. I hope we arrive at Denerim soon... . Regards - Ignitz the sinner.”

Ignitz closed the diary fast as the young man with blond-brown hair jumped behind him, trying to spy onto the pages. “What are you writing there all the time?”, he asked the mage and tousled with the iron glove through his black hair. “It's none of your business, Alistair.” The mage lifted the hand off his head. Alistair was grinning and looked teasing down to Ignitz. “What is so important? Do you write a little love story?” He laughed, but Ignitz ignored his childish behavior and walked a bit faster. “Guess again, if you like. I won't tell you.”, he said and went towards Duncan. He looked up to him, irritation in his eyes and frustration all over his face. “Do you really think that he could be a good Warden as well?” “Who?”, Duncan asked joking, “Alistair? Why not?” He laughed at the angry expression of the mage. Ignitz placed his diary back in his rucksack while listening to Duncan laughing. “Haha. Don't worry. He's more capable than he looks.” “It's not his looks that disturbs me. It's his behavior.” Duncan glanced at the boy and than to Alistair, who caught up to them. “Man, you're really gloomy.”, he said to Ignitz. The boy looked over to him and started arguing. “I'm not gloomy!” “What then? Maybe depressed?” “I'm all fine right now, thank you!” “Oh, so that's how you look when you're happy?” “Enough!”, Duncan interrupted them slightly angered, “You two should try to get along. We can't let such silly discussions separate us, understood?” Both looked at him and muttered their discontent: “Yes, Duncan... . Sorry... .”

After another day of long travel, they reached Denerim at night. A giant city protected by high walls. Ignitz was impressed by Denerims palace and the high buildings of wood and stone. He never saw such facilities, beside the pictures in his books and the paintings at the tower. It was like he was walking through a dream world. The guards, the people, the animals. Everything caught his attention at once. The sweet scent of baked goods at the market, the birds singing on the roofs and the people seem to talk all at once. It was so crowded that he felt lost. Still he tried to follow his Warden commander. Duncan guided them to the Grey Wardens headquarter. He entered the base. The two recruits followed. The hall was decorated with the banner of the griffon and a long blue carpet greets their boots. “Welcome, Duncan.” A man with short black hair, a bristly beard and gloomy white eyes approached the group. They crossed the arms and bowed slightly to welcome each other. Ignitz studied the move with curiosity, while Alistair was wondering a bit. “Riordan, my friend.”, Duncan said friendly, “It's good to see you.” “The same goes for me, old friend. Ah, and I can see you have two new capable recruits.” The two went over to look at Alistair and Ignitz. Alistair greeted the Warden, while Ignitz scrutinized Riordan. “Well met, young boys. I'm Riordan, one of the Grey Wardens of---” “You're from Orlais...”, Ignitz broke into the greeting, silencing the group with his observing response. “That's right, young boy. Is...that a problem with you?” The mage shook his head. “Ah, sorry for interrupting you.”, he apologized and waved his hands, “No, no. I only asked to get assurance. I read several historical texts about Orlais. To hate people because of the crimes of the past that have no concern to those of the present is injustice, like it is to hate people without knowing them.” “Hm... . An interesting boy, Duncan.” “Riordan. These are Alistair and Ignitz. Alistair was trained to become a Templar and Ignitz is one of Irving's master students of the circles tower.”, Duncan explained. “A Templar and a mage. What an odd combination.” Alistair seemed to be a bit nervous. Riordan and Duncan lead them into a hall, where two other recruits where waiting. One was a little filthy looking elf with dark brown hair and a funny tattoo along his cheeks. It reminded Ignitz of the talons of eagles. The other one was a tall man with a shaved head and dark blue eyes. A gigantic ax was hanging on his back. The elf got two daggers stuck on his belt. Both looked at the other two slightly annoyed. Within the hall was a great fire pit in the middle of the room, which heated the chamber and scared the shadows away. “Now that everyone is attended, we can start the joining.” “Is everything ready, Riordan?”, Duncan asked and looked around, watching every recruit. “Yes, everything is ready.” “Good.” He turned to the four recruits and began to explain: “Before we can begin with the ritual, you four have to master a task first.” “Nice.”, Alistair stumbled in, “More surprises.” Ignitz instead was ready for anything: “What do you want us to do, master Duncan.” “You will go into the nearby woods with me, searching for a group of darkspawn scouts. The king's patrols have spotted them for about three days.”, Riordan explained, “We will seek them out, eliminate them and fetch four bottles of their blood.” The elf with the dark brown hair waved away: “So we need to prove our skills against the darkspawns itself?” “That's right, Falon.” Duncan gazed at all the recruits while Riordan explains the task. After the explanation, they went to the larder. “So.”, Duncan inspected the stored items, “You need to be prepared when first encountering darkspawns. So choose a weapon and some armory.” Alistair decided to take a balanced Warden long sword and his Templar shield together with a fine iron scale mail. Falon took a bow and light leather armor with a pair of leather boots and gloves. The colossal, silent man didn't take anything. He decided to use his own equipment. Ignitz took longer than the rest of the group expected. When he came back, his preparations seem not to have changed much, beside a shield of hardwood and a sword on his back. “I... .”, so he spoke, “I take this sword and shield with me.” “A mage with a sword??” Alistair was clueless. He never heard of a mage fighting with swords. “I'm more than just a mage, Alistair. I learned how to fight with sword and shield. A...friend of my taught me. Besides, I wasn't done yet.” Ignitz looked to Riordan and Duncan. “I take the shield and the sword with me. And I took a leather shirt and a light chainmail too.” “What?!”, Falon ask, “A chainmail?! Wouldn't that slow you down?” Ignitz muttered: “Do you all have to act so surprised? I said before, I'm not just any mage.” “Then what mage are you?!”, Felon asked again. The crew started laughing, but Ignitz felt a bit uncomfortable. Was it that strange, he wondered. Duncan nodded and approached the little group. “Good.”, he said, “Rest now. You have much to accomplish tomorrow.”

"Dear Diary, - I don't know how to explain this. I've got such a strange feeling inside me. Always, when I look around myself. When I smelled the grass on the road and the leaves upon the tree branches, even when I hear the birds singing. I can't explain it. It all makes me...somehow excited and...happy. Even when I'm around other people. They stare at me like I was some Griffon, awakened from the depths of history. Like I was some kind of monster or crazy man. Maybe they don't see mages often without Templar around them. You know, I stopped praying every night. It would take too much time getting up late and leaving for the Chantry every time. I don't even know if I could find my way back... . I don't want to disturb Duncan's mission, so I pray at camp or in my room when it gets dark. But today I will enjoy my first clear night sky. Regards - Ignitz the sinner.”

Ignitz closed his diary and laid it down on his belly. He stared toward the roof, while he was laying on the bed. He started to investigate his room. While looking around, he pressed the diary closer. "It's a nice room... .”, he thought, while he looked around. The room inhabits a study desk, a great bed, a bench under a great single window where a single candle burned, a coat hanger. It was filled in every corner, but still all seemed so empty for him. "It's a nice room... , but it's still not home... .” Ignitz jumped up and looked to the door. He left the bed and walked toward the coat hanger, took his mage cloak from it and put his boots on. He dressed up and walked over to the desk, where a violin case leaned on the table. He took it, put out the candle and left the room. In the silent, dark hall only the moonlight enlightened the pass along the windowed floor. Ignitz was watching out to the sky. He searched for a way outside the hall and passed by the many rooms of the other Wardens. The wooden floor squeaked, gritted and creaked under his foods, but no one seemed to hear it. When the floor crossed he opened a window and jumped over to a nice place on a nearby roof. Ignitz didn't hesitated once. Crawling up the roof was like two times louder than his walk through the hall, but still it mattered little for him. Finally sitting on a perfect position, Ignitz took the violin out of the case and stored his diary in it. His eyes focused on the stars above his head. Sorrow drowned his soul and for one moment, his eyes seemed to blacken. He grabbed the violin with soft hands and stroke over the fine wood. “I miss the tower...”, he thought with grieve. Than his play began. It was a heart taking melody, filled with intensive emotions of sorrow, yearning and regrets. His hand held the violin bow and stroke it over the strings of his instrument like a gentle wind. The guards and people of Denerim were listening to the lovely melody without knowing where it came from. They stared up to the sky and wondered, but muted in awe.

Ignitz was bound by his music. He remembered the halls and walls of the tower. He saw the faces of mages and the Templar. The boy sighed deeply and at the end of his play a voice asked from his left side: "Do you play better when you're sitting more than ten feeds over the ground?” Ignitz turned to his side and spotted Alistair, trying to reach him up there. He nearly fell of the roof, while jumping over from the window. "Whoa! Whoa!” He rowed with his arms in the air, close to fall backward down into the street. Ignitz slithered down to him, grabbing one of his arms and dragging him on the roofs site. Both set down and Alistair was fighting for breath. He thought he's now going to break his back. "Why you're still awake, Alistair?”, Ignitz asked a bit angered by his appearance, "Shouldn't you rest before tomorrow?” ”I could ask you that too. How did you get over here without falling off, like me?!” Alistair was truly worried, even if he tried to joke around like always. "I jumped.”, Ignitz said. "Really?” "Yes.” Both stopped talking again and Alistair looked at Ignitz slightly mad. "You don't want to tell me that I'm fat or something, do you?” "Why should I? It doesn't matter to me.”, Ignitz answered raising his hands in innocent. Then he started starring at Alistair wondering. "What?”, the Templar asked confused. "I'm still wondering why you're not sleeping.” Alistair sat a bit away from the pit between the window and the roof, frightened to fall again. "Well, I heard the music and wondered where it came from, so I walked the hall along and found an open window. When I looked up the roof, I thought a bard had lost his way and tried to ask--” "Uh... . Alistair. I was just trying to find someplace to play.” Ignitz gave himself a face palm and crawled up again. Alistair followed him muttering: "Yeah. So there is nowhere better to play than on the roof. Did you do that in the tower too?” "Yes.”, the mage answered clear. "What?!” "Is this so strange? We can't go outside, so I played on the roof top. Well... . I had to convince Ser Gregoir first, but he saw no problem with that.” Alistair crawled beside him, gazing shocked at his face: "He allowed you to play on the top roof of the tower?! Without the doubt or fear that you could escape or even fall?!” Ignitz wondered even more. "Why do you care about that? I'm a mage and you're a Templar. Shouldn't you hate or distrust me or something?” Alistair hit him with his fist soft on the shoulder. "Don't be silly. I'm not a full Templar. I never swore my vows. I got recruited before I had to.” He smiled at the boy: "Besides, Duncan said we should try to get along, so I have to care for the smaller members of us recruits.” Ignitz looked at him protesting. "I'm not small!” Alistair began laughing and almost lost his footing. “Whoa, whoa!” Ignitz grabbed his collar and dragged him back. "Careful, Alistair!” "Whoa! Thanks, that was a close.” “It's...nothing. Don't mind.” Silence surrounded them again. They both sat on the old roof and started starring to the sky. Only the stars and the Moon were watching them. Ignitz putted his violin back at its place and grabbed the diary. He embraced it with his arms, like he feared the wind could steal it away. "Say, Ignitz.”, Alistair asked, "Why do you never speak to anyone?” Ignitz thought for a moment, before he answered with little depression. "I don't want to share my life with other... . They could become friends... Its something I don't want...” "Huh?” The young mage stood up, grabbed and closed the violin case, slithered the roof down and waited at the windows side for Alistair. "Come... .”, he said, "We have to rest, so we're ready for tomorrow... .” And so his eyes filled with sorrow again.

"Dear Diary, - My mind seemed to die... . I...hate myself for what I've said to Alistair... . I...really want to be friend with someone in this world... . But it's better this way... . I don't want to rest my suffer on their shoulders, like I already did with Duty... . Why must life be so cruel? Why must we decide which way we have to go? I wish there was any way to save Alistair and his friendly nature from my cursed powers... . I will pray again. Pray for him to forget about me... . And that he can become a Grey Warden. - Regards - Ignitz the sinner.”

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Chapter 2 - The Wolf in sheep's clothing

Deep grey flashes covered the surrealistically heaven. Sorrow drowned the colors of happiness and hope. All ways seem to go nowhere. Islands of ashes and tragedy float around the dark enlightened waves, while the songs and laughter of mystical voices reached their shores. Between all this fragile dancing, Ignitz walked along the silent castle ruin of one island. In his left hand laid a blue feather, shining brightly like a star. It was an obscure sight inside this entire colorless world. In the other hand rested a book, which red binding was falling apart like glass. Ignitz wrote on the books grey pages and the blue ink of the feather remembered the hollowed songs. Beside him stood a ghostly knight, who looked much like a Templar. His armor was strong and heavy looking. The helmet had wing ornaments on each side. His bright white eyes gazed around from the little carved opening in his headgear. He glanced to the boy, who sat down on a boulder. Watchful and protective. Inside his hands rested a sword of marvel size. “So... ...you seem to like this...Alistair human... .”, he said and walked towards the boy. “It's not that I...like him, Duty... .”, Ignitz answered a bit embarrassed, “I just...think that he's...okay...for a Templar.... .” The ghost was confused: “Is this some other way for you mortals to say that you like one another?” The mage shook his head smiling, but denying. He placed the feather on the books pages and gazed up to his ghostly friend. “It's a bit different, Duty..., but...it's okay if you don't understand.” “Why do you mutter about it so much, my friend?” Ignitz watched the wandering islands around. His eyes were drowning in his inner pain. “I really do want to be friends with Alistair..., but I can't... . I may drag him into more problems, more pain than he deserves... .” “I see... . It's your duty to keep him safe.” Ignitz nodded and stood up. “Yes, my friend. It's my duty.” He looked into the grey, surrealistically heaven and whispered. “I don't want him to carry my sins...or to pity me... . It's better for all of them...if they just ignore my presence... .” “My friend, it's your duty to keep them save from your power, but to imprison yourself for it... . Do you really think you could live without happiness?” Ignitz stared at the ghost. The sorrow hasn't faded yet. His voice was filled with suffer. “I deserve no happiness, Duty... . I deserve not even life... .” The ghost shook his head. He took the boy in his embrace and rested his head on the black hair. “That's not true... . And you know it.” Ignitz smiled and chuckled slightly. “I know... . Sorry... . I...I shouldn't talk like this... .” He laid his forehead against the ghosts chest plate and closed his eyes. “You're the only friend I have, Duty... . If it weren't for you... . I don't think I could make it... .” “You always care for others more than for yourself... . Since the first time I met you, young friend.” He released the boy from his embrace and nodded at him. “You're sense for the good is tremendous, but you lack the will to stay alive... . That's what made you a target for so many demons... .” “I do fear them, Duty... . The one from the Harrowing...more than all the others... I will try not to fall prey to one... . Especially not him...” “That's why I am at your side, my friend.”, the ghost assured Ignitz, “Don't worry. I won't let any demon harm you.” The boy smiled and nodded grateful. “Thank you, spirit of duty... . I know that I can trust my life to you... .”

The next day the group wandered around the forests. The air was fresh, because it had rained this morning. The grass was slippery and the smell of the refreshed leaves was covering the woods. Falon was bored and walked alongside Alistair and Ignitz. Riordan lead the group while the great silent man slowly followed him. “Man, this is boring.”, the elf muttered disappointed watching at Alistair, “When do we get to see these darkspawns?” “How should I know?”, Alistair answered, “Do I look like a darkspawn to you?” “Maybe?”, he laughed and dodged a hit from the Templar, “Whoa! Easy, fellow! I was just joking. Are all humans that aggressive or what?” He turned his eyes at Ignitz who looked around the area. It confused Falon very much. “What's up with him?” Alistair gazed at the mage, who silently spied around. He was amazed by the beauty of the forest. It was clear that he never came out of the tower often. Alistair smiled slightly and looked over to Falon. “He's a mage from the tower of mages. Maybe you already know this, but I tell you anyway.” The former Templar stared up to the tree tops and started to explain. “He lived in a tower in the middle of a lake for many years. He may not recognize the look or smell of freedom and nature.” “Okay, okay", the elf muttered, “Man, I just wanted to know what's up with him. No need for telling me his whole life story.” Riordan laughed slightly, while he listened to the conversation of the young recruits. Ignitz stared around himself. This world was completely different from what he learned from his books. The tower was everything he had known so far. The memories of free life was tainted deeply. The smells and flavors are already faded and vanquished from his mind. His eyes gazed around and his nose took in the sweet smell of flowers and wet grass. “This is...so different... . It's...so..pure...”

Near a clearing inside the forest, where a small pond emerged to the surface, Ignitz walked into a little circle of flowers. He looked at them with a strange, questioning look. "Never seen a flower yet?”, Falon teased him, "That must have been a very odd life you had, then. Only knowing the world from written papers.” "Great.”, Alistair points at him angry, "Can't you just shut it once? Idiot.” “Don't tell me what to say to anybody, human!”, the elf yelled back. “Stop it, both of you.”, Riordan interfered and luckily separates the two. Alistair walked towards the young mage, who seemed to ignore it all. His eyes stared down on the flowers. The little plants and white petals made him smile softly. Riordan started patrolling, while the giant man still stayed silent. "Hey.”, Alistair approached the boy and kneed beside him. "These are...snowdrops, right?”, Ignitz asked him. Alistair looked at the flower. "Yeah. That's right. You...know these kind of...flowers?” The boy nodded slightly. He stroke the petals gently and careful. It was an odd picture for Alistair. "Snowdrops resemble consolation. Most graveyards in Ferelden use these kinds of flowers in memorial ceremonies.”, he explained to the Templar. It was a bit sad to think of. "So you had flowers in the tower?”, Alistair asked and smiled friendly. "No... .”, Ignitz answered, "But I read many books about plants and flowers.” His hand caressed the leaves. It felt odd on his skin. It was so much different than the pages of his books. Ignitz smiled slightly: "They...they are beautiful... .” Suddenly Riordan stopped. His expression was very serious. It was like he listened to something. Fast he headed back and took his sword in hand. “Listen. They're close, so be ready. Some darkspawns attack out of nowhere. We Grey Wardens however can feel them.” The giant man took his ax from the back: "Hm... .” Alistair equipped his sword and shield and Falon goes with the bow first. Ignitz looked around. He stood up and left the flowers. He took his sword and shield to his side and closed his eyes. “Duty... . I hope you will watch me from the fade. You taught me well, you'll see.”

The woods became silent. It was awful suppressing. The birds singing had gone and even the wind seemed to struggle. A sudden howling frightened the young recruits. Without a warning an arrow rushed through the air and pierced into a tree not far from Riordan. “They're coming! Be ready and strong!” From the bushes they approached the four warriors and surrounded them. Driving them to the pond. “Holy maker... .”, Alistair mumbled shaking. He never saw such disgustingly looking creatures. Manlike abominations. Skinless Mindless Their smell was gross and intense. The shrieks of those creatures resounded far into the woods. Hunger and corruption embraced their eyes. Some were small and had green-like faces, others looked like rotten human bodies. “Genlocks and Hurlocks... .”, Riordan whispered, “But more than we expected.” Falon did not fear the beasts. His arrows rushed through the air and pierced into the enemies. “Now, this I call fun! Hahaha!” Alistair can't believe this elf, but he hesitated no longer too. His heart demanded him to protect the mage from the incoming force. With new bravery, he stormed onward to the enemy, cleaving his sword through their flesh. The giant slayed the beasts on the opposite side of the battlefield. His ax leaves no darkspawn standing. Their screeches filled the air, like their tainted blood the ground. Riordan too was fighting on the other side and watched that no one would get into too much trouble. His sword let the darkspawn bleeding on the ground. Suddenly an Alpha Hurlock appeared behind the ranks. A giant darkspawn covered in a golden armor. In his hands he held an ax, which was big like a child. He jumped off the knoll at the pond. His fall let the water break over the shore. He rushed forward to slay the Templar. Alistair dodged his first ax swing and tried to defend himself with his shield. The sharp blade nearly broke through the wood and left deep scars on it. “Holy maker! What is that thing?!” Alistair found no way out of the confrontation. The beast was not letting him get away. Riordan went over: "Alistair!”, but the darkspawns blocked his way. Falon tried to help Alistair, but he missed the monster. "Shoot!” The elf let his guard down. He got surrounded by two Genlocks and Falon couldn't shot at this close range. “Damn it!”, he muttered angry and switched to his daggers, “Move it, Alistair! Get away from--” ”Alistair! Get down!” Ignitz voice resounded like an eagles cry over the trees. Alistair's reflexes told him to crouch down. Over his head an arrow of Thunder rolled through and hit the Alpha Hurlock, so he felt backwards. He hold the burning space on his armor screaming with pain. The Genlocks looked toward the mage, who ran against them with a battle cry, holding his sword and shield. He jumped a little forward and smashed his shield against one Genlocks head. The other one tried to hit the boy, but Falon smashed it from its feet. Both stabbed their blades into the shrieking beasts. Then the elf switched back to the bow and shot the Alpha Hurlock down again, who tried to get up. Riordan ordered: “Move together! We need to stand up against them!” A fireball hit the ground, behind him, smashing Riordan a step forward. Riordan rolled over and looked back at his side. “Damn! Magician!” “Leave this to me!”, Alistair shouted and looked at Ignitz, who approached the Alpha Hurlock. The young mage raised his hand and pressed his fingers up, whispering strange words. They floated around the air like wind, brushing through the tree tops. Then he strengthened his hand and ice engulfed the big darkspawn. The Alpha Hurlock began freeze from the legs upwards. Ignitz watched the monster, while it embraced by a cold blast of ice. He pressed his fist to the ground. “Stone Fist!”, he shouted and rose the arm again, followed by a massive stone arm structure. Ignitz punched forward and shattered the Alpha Hurlock with this magic. The mage turned around and watched Falon and the others fighting. He glanced at Alistair, who was attacking the Genlock mage. In a reflex on a movement of the mage beast, he threw his shield like a discus. Another darkspawn appeared and grabbed him from underground. He shocked and looked at its claw on his leg. Ignitz took the sword and pierced it through the arm of the beast. Quickly he cast the spell of Thunder once more and shocked it off of his leg. While the sound of fighting rung to his head and the smell of darkspawn blood filled the air, Ignitz gazed around and whispered to himself: “Magic fights magic... . And magicians failures will went over... .” He closed his eyes in mercy and aversion. "Maker... . Forgive me..., for I have sinned again... .” Riordan and the others slayed the last darkspawns. The recruits watched over the corpses of these monsters. The giant investigated them, to be assured that every beast was dead. Riordan approached the young mage, smiling with amazement: "This was most impressive, young boy. You all did well.”, he complimented the group. Ignitz stared at the Warden, sorrow in his eyes. He looked to the flower field what perished under the tainted blood of the darkspawns. Tears crossed his face and he walked toward the vanishing garden. "So....that happens with those...who got tainted by their blood... ?” Riordan nodded, but didn't answered the question with words. Alistair took Ignitz's sword and shield to carry it for him. The boy watched a single snowdrop dying between his fingers. ”… … … .” He looked around and then to Alistair, who glanced at him with compassion. He reached sword and shield toward the boy, who stood up and took both back. "Let's go ... . I don't want to see this any longer... .” "Why do you grieve so much?”, Falon ask more confused about the mage. Ignitz turned around and stared to the flower field again. His shivering voice seemed to be all what now crossed the forests clearing: "All this beauty...wasted for nothing... . And even if we won..., this clearing has lost everything... .” The elf didn't understand it, but before he could answer the mage, he went on: "I sinned again... .” "Again?”, Falon asked. Riordan looked at the corpses around himself. "Why do you think so? You've destroyed the ones who wanted to destroy everything. To stop the Blight... It is no sin at all.” "To stop it may not be a sin, master Riordan... . But to feel excitement and pleasure in killing others and enjoying them to die...is unforgivable... .”

"Dear Diary, - today I saw what the Blight can destroy... . I know from books and scripts what might lies inside the failure of this abominations called darkspawns. Even if those creatures are meant to be slain..., I can't resist feeling sorry for their demise... . ... . And yet still I enjoyed their death's... . Why did it pleasured me so much? Now I regret leaving the tower even more... . But I will still hold on. We took the blood with us and tomorrow we will reach Denerim again. Then we'll take place in the joining ritual, but... . But still, deep in my heart... . I don't know if I am still worthy of being a Grey Warden... . I have to wait... . To wait and...to pray... . Regards - Ignitz the sinner"

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Chapter 3 - Justice and Betrayal

"Join us brothers and sisters. Join us in the shadows where we stand vigilant. Join us as for we carry the duty that cannot be forsworn. And should you perish, know that your sacrifice will not be forgotten. And that one day we shall join you."

"Dear, Diary, - I don't know how long I was unconscious. These words were the last I remember. I drank the blood of the darkspawn, like Duncan and Riordan told us to. I was the first of us. I smelled the Blight within it. Hesitated... and then I saw darkness around me. I was sure that I was going die... . But I heard this... voice... . This... howling... . And then I saw a shade within the fade. It was huge and smelled intense like the toxic blood of these vicious creatures... . It was so... frightening. I can't put it in words... . Not even in written ones... . I wish to forget this pain... . This burning... . I wish...for mercy... . But the Maker wants me to suffer longer... . Regards - Ignitz the Sinner."

Ignitz sat on a bed in the middle of an old crumbled building. His eyes stared down the veiled red book on his lap, holding the blue shining feather in his hand. "And I'm still in the fade... ." He looked around the grey sky and the old ruins. It seemed that he was all alone out here, watched by the eyes of the demons and ghosts, maybe. Ignitz stood up and walked down the ruined hallway. "Am I dreaming? Or am I dead?", he thought by himself, "How long I've been here? ... This silence around myself drives me crazy... ." Suddenly his body felt heavy and he broke down to his knees. "Uh! What...? What's going on?!" Howling rolled over the chamber and forced the boy back on his feet. He looked around himself. "What is this?!" A shadow rushed over his head. The howling followed it. "Maker's... mercy... ." He looked upon the shadow, sitting on a little island above the ruins. Deadly white eyes stared down at him. Cleaving through his soul and burning fear into his mind. Deep violet scales were shining and the whole fade seemed to fall apart under its merciless shriek of terror. A dragon. No. Something more dangerous was staring down at him. His howling ripped upon his black sharp tusks, driving the mage back to the wall. Fear drowned his eyes and without noticing it, he stopped breathing. The howling became louder and raged havoc among the veils isles. Suddenly a ray of lightning stroke Ignitz eyes and without knowing how, he awoke in the great hall of the Wardens headquarter. It was all dark around him. He spied frightened to the walls and sides and fell off. "Whoa!" He spied around himself closely. "What? Am I... awake?" "As far as I can feel it, yes.", someone answered him. He looked behind himself and underneath his back he spotted Alistair laying on the ground. "Ah! Alistair?!" The Templar pressed the mage a bit away and held his head in pain. "Oh, man. You couldn't choose a better moment for a panic awake, do you?" Ignitz stared at him questioning. "Hm? What's wrong?" "I can't remember... . What... what happened?", the mage respond. He held his head confused and laid his hands on the eyes. Alistair helped him up and lead the way. Both sat on a bench in the hall and the Templar began to explain: "Well, Ignitz. Where should I start? The birth, the tower, Duncan's recruiting... ?" "Stop fooling around, Alistair. I mean... what happened after I drunk the blood?" "Hehehe. Okay, okay. After you drunk it, you lost conscious and fell over. Duncan and Riordan said that you'll live, but I was not sure of it. You were sleeping for two full days." Ignitz was shocked: "What?? Two days?!" "Yes. Duncan said that you've seen the nightmares and... maybe even feel them more intense than anyone of us... . You... were, well... . You were sweating strong...and sometimes... you screamed names... ." The boy silenced and watched into the hallway. "Names?" "Yeah, but I don't know which one. I wasn't there.", Alistair explained and looked into the frightened face of his companion. "Well, after Duncan left for the castle again, I was ordered to bring you to the chantry. They wanted them to take a look at you. All were really worried." "What about Riordan and the other recruits?", Ignitz ask curious. Alistair suddenly changed into a gloomy mood. He looked away from the boy and took off a small pendant that he wore. "Riordan left for Orlais.", he said sadly, "Falon followed him and...this big silent guy... . His name was Lloyd, I think. He...died...at the joining... ." "Died?!" Alistair nodded and gave the pendant to him: "Here, we have all to carry one of these pendants with us. There is some of the...blood inside so we won't forget... those who weren't so lucky like us." "I...understand... . May the Maker...watch over him... ." Both silenced again and watched each other merciful, thinking of the burden they would carry towards the future.

"Dear Diary, - Another month passed since I last wrote you. The days went over like wind in the autumn. But nothing seem to have changed at all. I've got some weird nightmares and dreams. I've got more appetite lately too, just like Alistair, so it seems to be a normal state for grey Wardens. He snuck into the larder and ate nearly everything in it. All laughed at him excluding me. I was reading the documents and books in the great library, so it doesn't matter much to me. I was sitting alone all day. I never talked much with the other Wardens, not even with Duncan or Alistair if it wasn't necessary. Still I tried to get over myself, but without any luck. Alistair's talking about not being a real Templar and doing the right things annoyed me much. I know what is right and I never hated him because he was going to become a Templar. And still he seem to have nothing else to talk about. Even his jokes never changed... . I'm still not sure if I have done the right thing by joining the Wardens. At least I do not have to worry about living to long... .

We've got a mission assigned by the church, because of the help we need from the circle. We will head for Ostagar soon to stop a larger horde of darkspawn emerging north from the Korcari Wilds. The church allows mages to come, but only if we Wardens prove us loyal to the Maker... Sometimes people making fighting this Blight really hard... I wonder if master Irving or Ser Gregoir will join us at Ostagar... Well, first we have to get this mission done...

We were told to search for them near the north beach. Three Maleficar. Bloodmages which were responsible for resend murders in town, so the chantry says. Is it true? I don't know... . Master Duncan, Alistair and I are going to end them. But Duncan seems to hate this, even if it was a request given by the king in the name of the chantry. It's like the old days before the joining. Well... . I'll talk like it was much of a journey, but we're still at the start. I should try to concentrate on my mission for now. Regards - Ignitz the sinner."

The mage sat at the campfire as a voice called his gaze away from the book he was holding. "Ignitz? Do you want some stew?", the Templar asked him politely. "Oh! It's ready already? So soon?" Duncan looked after the tents of both young Wardens before joining them for dinner. The three camped near a forest clearing at the beach, where they investigated. The sand was white and clear. Shells lined up at the beach shore and the green treetops painted the place in a harmonic color. "Are you sure this is eatable, Alistair?", Ignitz asked his friend concerned, while he eyed suspiciously on the cooked meal inside the pot. Some kind of grey colored soup with a most odd stench. The mage couldn't separate the meat from the vegetables. "What? This is real old way Ferelden stew. Didn't you get something like that in the tower, too?" Alistair was a bit hurt by the words of his companion. "Well... .", Ignitz explained, "We mostly ate fruit soup, meat and bread, but this I see the first time... ." "Then maybe you should try it.", he answered smiling, "Trust me. It don't taste so bad, even if it looks kinda odd." Duncan grinned and sat on the other side of the campfire, while watching them arguing. "Well... ." "Come on.", Alistair forced, "Try it or else you'll regret it later." Ignitz was not sure about this. He hesitated and inspected the stew once more. Alistair gave him a bowl full of the delicate, grey stew. The young boy got dizzy by the stench of the soup. "Hm... fine... ." So he took a full spoon and ate it. Alistair smiled but it faded away, while he was looking how the face of his comrade turned slightly bleached. Blue veils cross over his eyes and then he jumped up and run to a tree nearby. His bowl was falling down and wasted for earths health. He held his mouth and stumbled through the bushes. Ignitz fast vanished behind them and disgorged. Alistair jumped up. "What?! My food can't be that bad!!" He rushed toward the mage and Duncan just sat near the fire laughing about them. Ignitz crouched at the trees backside, only seeing stars and bubbles before his eyes. His dizziness broke him down, so he had to hold onto the stump of the tree not to fall in his own vomit. Alistair came to him, stopping behind the mage and turned around to keep his eyes free of the disgorged meal. "Uäh... . That's not really nice, you know! My cooking isn't that bad! You just have a nooo taste!", he argued with voice and hands, "You just--" "Alistair?", the mage responded wimpy, "Was... was... was there... ch ... cheese in the... the stew?" "Well, yes... , but--" Ignitz smashed his head against the tree stump. "Oh... Maker... " Alistair turned his glance around to look at the crouching mage: "What? What about it?" The boy tried to get up and leaned on the tree. "I... have... ." "What? Allergy against good home cooking?", Alistair jokily responded. "No", the mage answered and tried to overwhelm the dry heave, "I have... lactose intolerance... ." "You have what??" Alistair didn't understand it, turning towards the mage, who disgorged again. Alistair wasn't so pleased by that view. "Uh... I...have an allergy against dairy goods.", he answered pained. His face was pale and his eyes were runny. Duncan came up with a wide grinning on his face. He looked down to Ignitz and laughed slightly: "You should have told him earlier, Ignitz. Maybe this won't had happen." Ignitz grunt mad: "How should I have known that he....he would put cheese in a dish like that!" Then again he sunk to his knees and felt dizzy. His comrades laughed at him and helped him up. Together they sat around the campfire. Alistair searched for a bottle of water and gave it to the ill mage. "Here. Drink something. Better than letting us see your meals again.", he teased the boy. Ignitz took a sip from the bottle and stared into the fire to forget his ill feelings. But it was not that easy. "Uh... . I will stay away from your cooking from now on, Alistair... ." "Come on. Was it my fault that I had no idea of your illness?" The boy grabbed his rucksack and stood up. "I'm going to sleep now... ." "So early, Ignitz?", Duncan was quite surprised. "Yes, Sir... . First I must get my head free...of this food... . And I also....feel a bit shattered.... ." "Huh?" Alistair didn't quite follow the last part. He just watched the boy leaving the fireplace for his tent and didn't get any answer. No one mentioned something falling off his rucksack on top of Alistair's belongings. Not even Ignitz himself. He went into the tent. Everything was dark inside and smelled like a herb garden. The smell was coming from a little pile of herbs and green grasses laying on an old paper. "Goodness... . This smells fine... . It's kind of regenerating.", the boy thought before smashing his bag on the left side of his resting place. He laid down and closed his eyes. "I just hope....I don't get those...strange nightmares.....again.... ." He rolled over and was fast asleep.

After the boy had left, the Templar looked over to his warden mentor. "Tell me, Duncan.", he asked, "Ignitz. He...he is from the circle of mages, right?" The old man looked to him with a very strict, but yet friendly expression. "Yes, that is true, Alistair. You were there with me, were you not? Did he not look like that for you?" "Not...really... . I saw some of the mages and even was present in one of the Harrowing that a mage must solve to become full part of it... ." He looked over to the tent of Ignitz and talked further: "He...just don't look like one of them... . His eyes are so....sad sometimes. And he seems to avoid people... . Like... ." "Like he would try to protect them from something.", Duncan ended his thoughts, "Yes... . He has many terrible memories on his mind and a great responsibility for his doings... . Ignitz fears that his might could be more of a danger than it would help... ." "And that's why he avoids even comrades?" Duncan looked into the fire with a merciful glance on his dark eyes. "No... .", he answered sad, "That's not the only reason... . Sadly... ." "Huh?" "I can't answer you further, Alistair... ." He looked to the Templar a bit uneasy: "Go sleep now. We have still much to do, tomorrow." "What? Wait!", he argued, "What other reason did he have? Tell me, Duncan. Please. I...I want to understand him better." "I can't, Alistair, because I gave him the very same promise about his past that I once given to you. All I can give you as answer is...that something terrible took part in his past... ." "I see... . Then I will not ask again, Duncan. Thanks for answering." Alistair took his belongings and walked to his tent. "Good night.", he shouted before entering his tent. He sat down on his resting place, muttering about the young mage and what Duncan told him. "Hm... ." Frustrated about not knowing all, he smashed his rucksack aside. Out of a bundle of scarves, where he placed his bread inside, a book rolled out. Alistair reached his hand out for it. As his fingers rubbed over the odd black leathery book, he mentioned that it felt somehow scared and worn off. "Huh? That's not my... .", he thought and took a closer look. Nothing was written on both binding sides. Not even on the spine. Only a faded picture of a bird was visible. "I don't remember this thing... . Hm... ." His curiosity let him open the middle of the book. It was filled with childish, dark colored pictures and incorrect written words like fear, pain, suffer and ate. "What is that? Looks like a bunch of child pictures... . F..ear... . Huh?", Alistair tried to figure the paintings out. One showed the face of a man, somehow. It was overdrawn with black ink, like someone tried to erase it. Another picture showed a black shapeless block lying inside a red river, crossing a brown circle. Still Alistair couldn't understand their meanings. He rolled the sides over and came onto a point where someone has written something. He began to read the part, where his hand stopped throwing the pages over. When he began to recognize parts of the written words, he looked pages back and sweated fearing within his thoughts.

"... ... ...still....I can't deny it... . They're all dead... . It took me time to learn the words for finally speaking up my mind..... ..., but what does this change now... ? Words won't bring them back... . He got them all and.....I am responsible for this.... . I hear they're screaming behind my back... . I hear them crying, whining, suffering... . How can I ever face anyone out there! .... . I .....I wish....I would die....all......their death's... .

... ... ... ...

Three years since this day... . But every year felt the same... . Mindless faces surrounding me... . They all don't know... . Looking up to my abilities and admire me for every test I pass. ....Blinded fools! Don't they see the demon behind me?! Don't they hear the voices of those who had died for my reasons! Why?! Why do they ignore everything by starring onto the surface!

... ... ... ...

I was so foolish... . I should let them kill me... . Just one strike... . One blade and everything would have been over... . Why do they hesitate... ? Because I am young? ....So young...and full of these creeping dark... . Only two know what happened...and they promised not to tell anyone... . I...don't wish them to know...even if I wished they would've known... . This stench still lingers in my nose... . I never forget it... . Or that taste on my lips... . ...the Blood... .

... ... ... ...

Mother.... . Please....stand up.... . Father is dead. His head was crunched by the beast I summoned... .

... ... ... ...

It follows me... . It hunts me... . I sealed it, did I not? Like I called it... . Without wanting it... . It spilled the remains of the townspeople upon me... . I remember their eyes... . Their names... .

... ... ... ...

Nothing will change... . Not the pain, not the suffer.... . Not the injustice I called upon them... . I will stay victim and sinner both alike... . So only your pages will remember my story.....as well as I do... .

Regards - Ignitz the Sinner"

"Sinner.... . Maker's....breath... . " Alistair stared down at the book. He suddenly smashed closed it and threw it away. "Maker... .", he mumbled and tried to hide his sweating, pale face under his pillow. Tears drop from his eyes, but his heart couldn't say if it was sympathy or fear. After the campfires light was fading, he still couldn't find a way to sleep. His head remembered the words written in the book. "His diary... .", he mumbled with the feeling, like the black book was watching him from the backside, "It was...his diary... . His first one... ."

One the start of the next day, soon as the sun rose upon the coast, the trio of Grey Wardens was searching for the Mages again. Alistair walked a bit behind the group, still trapped in the words he had read inside the book last night. Suddenly someone knocked on his armor. "Alistair?" He looked to his side and saw the boy walking next to him. "Is...everything alright?", he asked his friend, staring at him worried. The sunlight brightens his shining soul flooded eyes. Alistair didn't answer right away, like he always had. He stared at Ignitz, sweating and not knowing what he might be thinking. He left his side and walked faster. "It's nothing.", he muttered. Ignitz was curious and a bit worried about the Templar, even if his heart tried to deny it. Duncan scouted the area around the beach and spotted a body laying on the shore. "Over there!", he commanded and rushed to the place. His recruits followed him. Alistair backed away by the stench of the corpse they found. "Ugh... ." "Ignitz. Could you look upon these wounds? Are they--" "Yes.", he interrupted Duncan and crouched next to him, "There is no mistaking. These wounds are of magical nature... . I would suggest...that this poor soul was put under a sleep spell, before his attackers wounded his chest and drained the blood right out of his body... ." "Bloodmagic... .", Alistair mumbled. Duncan stood up and scoped the area. "You two wait here. I will scout a little further. Be on guard. They might still be around." Ignitz nodded, but Alistair's eyes were caught up by the gross corpse before them. Duncan left and he was moving pretty fast. Not long and he was out of sight for the two. Ignitz looked across the sea. He thought of much things: "What happened...? Are these Maleficar truly still around? ... ... . This corpse is smelling already..., but....even if he isn't that old..., he wouldn't smell so disgusting, because of the sea water... . And.... . Wouldn't the flow already had him swept away?.... .... . Like they wanted us...to find it?.... ." "Hey.. .", a voice dragged him out of his thoughts. He turned around to Alistair, still watching the corpse, who seemed to think of something. "Yes? Is something on your mind, Alistair?", the boy asked mannered and watched the glare of his friends eyes changing. "Can...I ask you something?" Ignitz was a little confused. "Sure. What do you want to know?" Alistair suddenly dropped his rucksack down and drew the black book out of it. "This... .", he presented it to the boy, "...is yours, right?" Ignitz stared at it confused and shocked. He shook his head slightly. "My... . How did you....?" "You dropped it last night while you were off to bed... . It's....your diary...., right? Your....first... ." Suddenly the mage got enraged and shouted at Alistair, dragging the book out of his grip. "You read it?! You have read it?! Why you--?!" And both began to argue hardly. "So what was written in it are truly your words after all!! What insanity goes through your mind?! How--!" "Shut up! Shut up, you bastard!!" Ignitz embraced the book screaming like mad. "Traitor!! Monster!! How did I ever suggested trusting you! Betrayer!!" Alistair stared at him angry and a little confused: "What? You calling me a traitor! A betrayer!" Ignitz glare rose to a more hated state. His eyes glowed like open fire. "....I should have known it... . Duty is all what last eternally... . Alistair... . Don't ever..... . Don't ever talk to me again!" He jumped over the corpse, ignoring the shouts of the Templar who wanted him to wait up. He drove out a wave, that hurls sand into the air, so Alistair's sight was slim. As he could gaze upon the beach again, the boy was vanished. "Huh? Where...where is... ?" "Alistair!", Duncan screamed and ran toward him, "Alistair! What happened?! Where is Ignitz?" Still the Templar boy does not know what really happened in the end, but he tried to explain it to Duncan somehow: "Ignitz and I... . We....we got into a little fight here... . I gave him something back, that he dropped onto my stuff yesterday night, I think. He became really furious and we began to yell at each other. In the end...he run off... . He was only two or three steps away when he suddenly...disappeared... ." Duncan shook his head. "This isn't good... . We have to find him. I spotted some more corpses around the forest clearings. The Maleficar aren't far I think... ." "I'm sorry, Duncan... . I don't know why I lost...my cool so easily... ." The old Warden tried to figure out where the boy could be heading. "I hope he won't do what I think... . Alistair. What was the last he told you, before he vanished!" Alistair looked at him, concentrating on remembering his words: "I think he was talking about...Duty... . Yes. That duty is all what last eternally... . Or something like that... ." "Then we have little time. Come!" Duncan rushed onward. Both Wardens ran through the bright sandy beach, with a bad sense in the air following them. Corpses hung on trees at the forest clearing and gathered like a path of slaughter before their shocked eyes. Suddenly Alistair stopped visceral. He looked around himself. Scouting but unsure what to search for. "Alistair?! What are you waiting for?!" "The air.... . Duncan! The air here! It feels....different... . Something is not right... . It's...like an anvil would sit on my shoulders." "What?" "Maybe I just...imagine it... ." Duncan looked around and tried to feel the same sense, but he couldn't. "No... .", he answered the young boy, "I think you do sense it... . Something...related to the magic... . Maybe...the veil is thin here... ." Suddenly a scream emerged not far from them. They rushed in it's direction, hoping to not find their friend in danger.

Near a cliff, the waves were more forceful. Stones grew out of the blue grasp of the sea and the clouds closed the sight to the heaven. Alistair and Duncan came into a fight, embracing the beach. Shocked they stared on the white sand, all tainted with the red rivers of blood. Fresh slain bodies covered the ground, wearing black robes, which drowned in the lake that has been built by their blood. In the middle of this massacre, six other people stood their ground, holding staffs, sword and shield. Under them, Ignitz. His whole body was covered with blood, one could barely see his face. Only the eyes remained unchanged. Enlighten white-blue, glowing focused on his enemies. "....Only five....more... .", he mumbled to himself exhausted, "Just a few...more... ." His sword was red, like a garnet jewel. Duncan and Alistair drew their weapons, rushing to the side of their comrade. "Ignitz!", they screamed. dragging the boy out of his focus. He turned around, letting his guard down. He didn't saw the spells of the mages coming. "Behind you!", Alistair shouted and the young Warden gazed back with shock. "Damn it!" A black cloud hit him on the arm, but seemed to pass through him into the ground. "What?! No!" Duncan and Alistair stumbled directly into the place, where the cloud vanished and stopped moving. "What?! Urgh! I...can't move!" Suddenly a symbol appeared across the ground. A leaf shaped wave that was shining like the sun. Alistair tried to free himself by force. His force was drifting against nothing as the symbol crossed his feed and he stumbled forward, nearly falling over. "Whoa, whoa!" The young mage cast the spell and was doing another one at that moment to shield them from a rain of thunderbolts. Duncan brought his shield and moved forward to the boy. "Ignitz! This was foolish. Coming here alone!" But he was not answering. Ignitz eyes were glowing with rage and anger. Pure hatred had taken his heart. The mage rushed forward to another Maleficar who tried to cast more powerful spells. He send his shield flying and interrupted him. Then he towered his blade upon his head and slashed it through the Bloodmage's body. The blood rained on him, while the swords edge ripped his chest wide open. The scream was unbelievable lout and painful, but Ignitz didn't care one bit. It freezes the veins of Alistair. He never saw him acting this merciless and cruel A fireball swirled over to the boy, who fast casts a spell of blazing ice that engulfed the flames. The frozen rock was then torn in half by the boys blade and he kicked up his shield back into his hand. A minor crumble was raging through the ground. Alistair felt it beneath his legs. "Another one gone... .", Ignitz voice crawled to his ears, with creeping emotionless tender, "...four more to...go... ." Duncan fought two of the mages off to the cliffs. Ignitz bothered not to follow them and concentrated on the two left. He rushed forward, while both were caring out two higher spells. Alistair couldn't stand it any more and threw his shield after his former companion, screaming angry: "Stop this bloodshed, sinner!!" Ignitz forced himself to stop, so the shield crossed his way forward. He turned over to look at the Templar with anger, forgetting the mages for one single moment. “Do not interfere, Alistair!!”, he yelled back and his eyes were lost in anger thirsting for blood. And then a storm struck him out of the blue. A raging cyclone of thunder and unbound powerful wind encircled him. The beach was drifting high up, sand was floating into the air and stones got dragged from the cliff. Duncan covered from the falling rocks behind a crumble. The mages, he chased where taken by the strong winds and carried to the black clouds. Alistair tried to duck himself into the sand, staring under his shielding arms to search for Ignitz, who was standing nearly in the middle of this chaotic storm. The bolts struggled against the ground and this sense of danger was rising again. Alistair tried to warn them, but the storm was to strong. Inside it, Ignitz prepared an area cleaning spell, to stop the storm. He mumbled angry, while concentrating: "Stupid, Templar! This is all his fault... . I...must stand....my ground.... ." His boots were glowing grey, keeping him on spot, so the raging winds wouldn't take him away. He cast his spell to dispel the storm, but suddenly a wave of danger hit his mind too. But too late... . His spell cleared the area, but also ripped the thin veil on this coast apart. Black fog was dwelling out of the ground and poison-green fissures painted the beach like hell. Screams, laughter and howling rained down on them. The sky became grey and white. It was like the whole air around them began to burn, while breathing. Fading while they watched. "What is this?!", one of the Maleficar wondered and was suddenly grasped by invisible hands. Claws which raged over his skin, wanting to bury themselves into his heart. He screamed for help, waving his hands trying to hit something that cannot be seen. The same happened to the other one. His bones broke under the weight of the ghostly hands, that seemed to come from another side. "What have I done... ?", Ignitz mumbled. His eyes stared at the Bloodmages. They saw it. They saw them. He saw their faces. "Hunger... .", he shivered in every word, "....desire.... . .....Demons... ." "Ignitz!", a familiar voice shouted to him. He slowly turned around, watching the two other Maleficar falling from the sky, crushing nearby onto the fissured coast line. The whole place was covered in a thin veil. Silky and green so he couldn't even see Alistair's face, who still called for him. "Who is there?", he asked himself, breaking apart on his stand. He spied more parts of the veil. Ruins, isles and the everlasting grey sky above. Suddenly his feet began burning. Something touched him from beneath the ground. It crawled up his legs like an insect. Slowly and spiked like a needled worm. He looked down hasty and was grabbed by a long hot paw. A hand what smouldered and burned in his eyes. "Argh! No!", he screamed fearing, "Let go off me, demon!" He stared into the eye of the godforsaken monster. A bright sun, that flamed inside a skull of magma. "Anger... . ..no... ...no...you're..." Ignitz was startled by the size of the demon, who laughed him in the face: "Hehehe... . What strange pranks fate could play... . The one mage, who never let himself to show any weaknesses before... . And now...burning in my claws... ." The beast was gigantic. Its body molted down, but was everlasting. Its eyes were brighter than the sun. Ashes, burned roots, branches and bones stretched from its body like an armor. The upper body alone was about the size of two grown men. Part of it was sunken in the sand and ashed the ground slowly. The young mage tried to free himself. "Argh! No matter what! You won't take my mind in, Hatred!" "Hahaha! You're mind? What need would it have to me, mortal!" Ignitz tried to push the hand of the demon off his body, but it only burned his skin more. He screamed with pain and suffered the heat of the demons body. "Get away Hatred! I won't let you possess me!" The demon glanced to him amused: "Oh? ... ..huhuhu... . Oh no... . I am something more.... Something worse.... ." He came near the boys ear and whispered: "I am you... ." Shocked the boy tried to move, but his legs were covered in the magma of the demon. "Hahahahaha. You're mind is useless to me, mage.... . Hatred is not sheltered by thinking alone... . It corrupts it, but it feasts on your heart... . Like I will do now!" The demon, named Hatred pushed his enormous skull-like head against the mages chest. His whole molten skin covered the boys body everywhere. Ignitz couldn't move anywhere. His arms were caught and his body strained to the demons flames. His painful screams sounded afar across the fade and the mortal world. He cried and whined in his suffering. "Nooo! Argh! Duty! I beg you! Help me! Anyone! Please!! Help me!!" "No one can help you know, boy! Your heart will be mine at last!" Ignitz power was fading. His eyes began to turn black. He lost sight and breath. He was close to pass out. Suddenly he spotted a faint, ghostly figure rushing through the grey veils. He recognized his moving and slightly smiled. "D....Duty... ." The demon couldn't move away and looked over to the appearing ghost. "What?! No! Not you again!!" "Stay away from him, Evil!", he shouted raising his sword to attack. "You won't catch me, fool! I'm almost through his heart! He will be mine!! He--!" But in the same moment as Duty rose his sword to free his friend from the demon, Ignitz was dragged out of the grip of Hatred. The boys eyes caught a last glimpse, before the pain drained him of his power. "A...listair... ." He only recognized Hatred screaming for vengeance, then someone dragged him along the beach. He remembered holding something, but it all remained in darkness for him... .

"Why.... . Why did he cared?... .

....Alistair... .

Please answer me... . Why did you aided me....if you hated me so much... . Liar... . You are... . And I am....the sinner... . I beg you...traitor! I must know! Why did you do that?!"

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Chapter 4 - Chains of the Fade

"For how long.... ? How.....long.... . The pain..... . It burns so strong... . I feel nothing but this fire on my skin... . This....endless cold and sharp flame... . Darkness... . It's everything I see... . It's like I drifted... . I was not in the fade....nor was I in my own realm.... . So cold.... . The air. It's freezing cold here..., but still....I can feel the fire.... . What.....what happened to me?... ."

Blackness. Nothingness. Deep night was surrounding the mage. He couldn't move nor could he see. All what he felt was this cold wind on his face and warming soft clouds beneath his back. He felt the blood struggling forth his eyes and nose. Smell and taste were embraced by death. Night seemed everlasting. "Did....I...die....?", he thought while only black walls remained before his eyes. "I...I can barely feel myself breathing... . What....happened....?" He tried to recall the past things. But every picture was drowned by the blood, he felt on his cheeks. "A.....Alistair.... . He...was there... . And....Duncan... . ...Maleficar... . The veil...broke... Did....did I failed... ? Had....Hatred...defeated me...?" Suddenly the realm filled with thousands of voices. They resounded from everywhere, burring the boy within the darkness. His head hurt much, but he couldn't lift his arms to cover his ears. The voices became louder and more intense. None was familiar to him. "St...stop it... . My...my head... . It...it...it hurts!" He closed his eyes, trying to concentrate, but the voices wouldn't stop. Words ripped apart, gathered anew and became clear for him, but still they don't gave much clues. Living, rage, hopeful, beg, deny... . "....What are these... ? What is...what is happening to me....?" Hands grabbed his arms and legs. Tending to them. He felt much pain, screamed and tried to force them away, but he was powerless. "Argh! No Let it go!! Stop it!! It burns! It burns!! Help!! Please!!" It was like the hands flay his skin from legs and arms. He felt only the bones. Cold and without shelter. Then a voice came out of the dark. Warm and known to him. "Will..he..alright?" He tried to see something, but the darkness won't open to his wishes for light. "A......Alistair?... ." And again everything went silent. Noiseless veils of night above him. He closed his eyes and thought. "So...it's over... . I....I am dead... ."

Not knowing how long he was laying there on the warm ground, getting treated by the invisible hands now and then, he lost nearly all his hope and track of time. All his will of living. Suddenly a drop landed on his cheek, wandering down the skin and waking him. He stared into the sky, still covered in darkness, but filled with raindrops. He began to move and get himself up on his knees again. "Uh...... ...uh... . What....? What is this....this rain?" He opened his hand to the rain, caught several drips and exam them. They looked like molten silver, but ran off his fingers like water. His eyes followed the drop to the grey ground. He touched and felt cold and dried. He wondered and was puzzled, because it was like he was touching ashes. Then he began to look around. There was no end to the field around him. No north or south, neither west or east. But the plain, like it look, was filled with hills formed like hands and skulls. Giant notes and letters surmounting the little mage. Covered with faceless masks and bodies of women and men alike. "What is this place?!", he muttered, "This doesn't seem to be the fade... . It...doesn't feels so... ." He stood up and marched on the way without end, followed by the eyeless glares of the dead-like bodies around him. The rain stopped from time to time and started over and over again. He did not know how long he was walking. Time was nothing but a word in this realm. "This is no dream... . If it would....I could change it...but... . !!" Suddenly he lost his strength again, collapsing onto the ground. He shivered all over and tried to get back on his feet. Staring into his empty hands, while they dried out. "What?! What's...happening!!" And then the rain started over again. He could hear a voice. Crying. Whining... . "Who is there?! Show yourself!!", he demanded, but the voice didn't reacted to his call. It spoke without hearing to his shouts. "Forgive me... . If I hadn't... . What should I do? ….I can't... . I....can't kill him... . Maker.... . Save him.... . I beg you.... . Save him... ." "Alistair? Alistair!" And again the whispers faded away. "Wait! Alistair! What do you mean? Who do you have to kill?! Alistair!!" But the voice vanished in the trails of darkness. "Maker... . Where am I...? And what is going on?! Why these voices?! These feelings?! The suffering and the pain?! I...I don't understand." Ignitz was laying his dried out hands on his face. He thought a while before standing up and getting back on his way into nothingness. Trying to calm himself, to forget about the rain and the surroundings, the voices and everything, he began to sing a song. Quietly and only to his very soul. The song was more like a prayer. Words without melody, without rhythm. But still they kept the boy onward and raised his courage to walk along the road. He looked around but the whole world seemed to reset itself. It was like he was walking in circles all the time. When his spirit was losing hope, the voices came back and tried to talk to something. But he couldn't figure out, what they were searching for. Neither what he was searching for. He lost it all. Time was standing. No day, neither dawn. Only endless night and a path without end. All power was drained from Ignitz and he stumbled over his own feet, falling on his knees crying. It's driving him insane. He couldn't figure out how the place was build up. Or even what this world was. He cried and pressed his fingers into his face. "It's no use... . It's useless! Even if I walk thousands of miles, I won't reach an end!! ...It's useless... . Hopeless... . ....Maker.... . Is this... the punishment?... . My end? .... . Duncan..... . I'm so sorry... . For failing you... ." He moved his hands aside, staring into them. Staring on his faces skin, molten to a bleeding soup of flesh. His tears rolled over it like on a stripe of leather. "Andraste... . Why....?" He embraced himself and tried to think to find an answer to this. "I thought I was ready for dead. I....I thought I wouldn't mind.... . But....this is....so....sick... . My skin is melting away and my soul.... . It's like I'm trapped in fear itself... . I.....I want to go.... . I want to go....home... . Duncan.... Duty... . .... . Maker...... . Somebody... . Help... ." "No! I can't!" The voices began to rage again. Louder than ever. They encircled him and pierced through his unstable mind. "I can't, Duncan!" The boy was nearly broken and stared hopeless into the darkness above: "... .... Alistair?" Suddenly he felt a breath inside his neck. He nearly choked on it as the fresh wind entered his body. The boy was shocked and confused. He felt pain in his legs and arms, but more on his chest. "Urgh! What?! What's happening?! Alistair? Alistair!!" The grey earth crumbled and out of the fissures grew black towers in the shape of the paws and claws of wolves and crows. Crawling toward him like roots and branches spreading from a tree. "Maker!" He screamed dodging the attacks of the black boned fingers. The pain was stronger and slowed his movements. The voices shouted out of all directions against his head. "You must, Alistair! Because he is your friend! Show mercy with him...and free him from this...agony... ." "I can't! It's my fault that he ended up like this! It's my fault! And he has to pay for it!!" "...I'm sorry, Alistair... ." "No... . I'm sorry. I am so sorry, Ignitz... . I wish....I wish I could have the....the chance to tell you....how sorry I am... . For not saving you... ." As the voices felt in sorrow and Ignitz pain rose, the ground began to burn, to enlarge in open fields of silver fire. The drops of the rain ripped open Ignitz right eye, but he felt like it was tranquilized by it's touch. "Maker! What happens!?", the voices screamed like beasts attacked in an ambush. Bursting fires burned on his skin and the shouts raged around his head. He was frightened and suffered even more as the roots of black bones tried tearing him apart. Everything rushed through his mind like a thunderbolt, as he screamed for him. As he screamed for help. A black spear stared with red jeweled eyes down on him. It pointed at him with deadly greed. The laughter of Hatred rose from the depth and the protective touch of Duty caressed his cheeks. The vine forced itself through the rain and chaos, he struggled for a scream and was drowning in his own tears of fear. It pierced through his heart and clinched around his neck, trying to suffocate the boy... … .

And then suddenly he couldn't scream anymore. His voice only whispered into a room of silence. "....Alistair..... …. ." He tried to open his eyes once more, starring faded into a hall. Dark and red. Wooden walls gloom and were covered with burning marks. Like a flaming snake had wandered over the chamber. The scent of coals and fires mixed with the rhythm of his own breathing. ".... …..Alis....tair..... .", he whispered, engulfed by pain. "Maker! He's alive!", the familiar voice came to him. Drowning in the sea of incoming dark. "Beware, Alistair!", another voice approaches his weakened mind, "We do not know, if this is a demons trap." But the young Templar walked over to the bed, his friend was laying on without listening. "Ignitz? Are you...? Are...you?" He saw the tears in the eyes of his friend. "Alistair!" The voice now was clear to the young mage. It was Duncan, who was enraged by Alistair's trusting. He moved next to him holding his blade in his hand. His eyes were full of sorrow, but yet serious. "Look at him, Alistair. Look at what his power had done to this place. What it had formed his body into... ." "But... . Duncan... . He's... ." Ignitz eyes spied around the room. He recognized radical changes in his sight. One spotted blue streams vanishing inside the black burned wood. The other experienced everything in a normal way. His right eye burned and felt like it was about to pop out of his face. "He's...right..., Alistair... .", he answered them both, "If...this is.....was...my...doing.... . I... may.....be to dangerous.... . To ....dangerous....to...stay alive... ." "What?! What are you talking about?!" Duncan stared at the boy, who desperately wished for his end. The eyes were golden, not soul white or blue, like they used to be. They were covered in this strange gold like fire. Scars of blue glowing skin danced along his cheeks like the waves of the ocean. "...Alistair.... . I...I'm so sorry.... ." "No.", the Templar said, not understanding what was going on, "I have to apologize... . If...if I hadn't... ." Ignitz tried to look at him, but all faded in his eyes. Even his breath was so cold and unreal to him. "No... . You....you were right...to do...so... . I've....I..have....hidden myself...behind this secret.... . For so long.... ." Duncan looked at Alistair. "I think now is the time, Alistair. Tell us...what you have learned from the book." Alistair nodded and began to explain: "Ignitz... . All I could read out of this book... . It had something to do....with murder....and death... . You summoned something..and it...it has killed... . Everything... . But...what..what was it really about...? I didn't understand.. ." Ignitz smiled slightly and cried. His tears broke to trails upon his tendered face. He felt stinging pain on his right eye. Burning like a cup of heated needles on him. "I'm....sorry.....Alistair... .", he answered whiny, "I....was so...enraged... . All...I wanted...was to live....without getting judged by the past... . Without....getting hated or pitied by people....who know, but didn't saw it.... . ....it's wrong.... . It was....so wrong... ." He tried to get up. Tried to reach his friend, but a heavy weight kept him on the bed. He smelled the dust of burned woven fabric and doves. He even felt the small hills of ashes under his head. "It...was only one... . One single...sin... . But...it...was the worst....thing....somebody could do... . Somebody could feel... . I....wanted to deny...my fault first.... . But....I can't escape it... . I can't leave it...behind.... . Because...without me.....no one....would remember them.... ." "Ignitz... ." Duncan took the sword down. Hopefully not mistaken that his pupil is still himself. The mage fought for breath. His chest wasn't moving and his eyes darkened again. "I....I can't.....breath.... ." Alistair took him by the shoulders and dragged him up quickly, so that he was sitting on the bed. As he saw the ashes under his legs, Ignitz opened his eyes wide in shock and confusion. It was like his nightmare had followed him. "Ah! What...?! What happened to me?!" Some kind of black boots covered his legs from half the length to the feet. The same goes for his arms and a spiky belt surrounded his wrist. His eyes gazed upon his shoulders. They also were covered in the same strange gear. He was shocked. Recognizing them from not long ago. "The....black...roots... .", he mumbled. "Do... . Do you know something... ?", Alistair asked him. Ignitz shook his head, but not denying. It was more like he couldn't believe it himself. "I....I don't know... . When...when I was sleeping... . Fading... . I had this...weird dream... . I saw roots....trying to tear me apart... . They...they look like this...this bone...things... . Rain...rain of silver spikes.... . Fires... . Fields of nothingness.... ." He tried to move all the time, but neither his hands or legs would. "Ignitz.... ." Alistair stared at his friend in sorrow....and regret.... . “Thank you, Alistair...”, he said and smiled faint at his friend. His will was close to shatter in front of everyone. He cried and rested his head on Alistairs shoulder. “If you...wouldn't have come... ...Hatred would have got me... ...I would've been gone... ...I'm...so sorry for what I said... ...”

"Dear Diary, - Several days have passed since I last wrote you... . I'm still feeling sick... . But.... . …. . I was so stupid.... . Alistair was so friendly... . All the time.... . He didn't understand what I had written in the book... . I was so young back then... . I only scribbled words I knew and painted black and red pictures inside.... . The next lines where more clear....but he didn't read them... . He was afraid of knowing the truth.... . Like I was.....in some way... . I'm so stupid... . I'm a complete idiot, ...but Alistair didn't cared... . After I told him everything.... . He said that he really pitied me, but he won't tell anybody... . He promised me. After I came back to health and could handle the weight of this...armor...thing..., I told every Grey Warden about it... . I don't wanted to hide it from them any longer. Duncan said that it is better not to spread it out to the public, because of the risks and fear I would sow. I....I was so happy that they all seem to forgive my failures... . They all even missed me and made a -welcome back- party. I....did not know....that they cared...so much.... . But not only them... . Duty... . He even followed me...into this world... . His spirit found shelter inside a washed up shark body... . It was so strange... . Even in his new form...he got the same eyes... . Staring through the flesh... . Seeing only the soul within the people.... . I feel so sorry... . I...chained him here... . Chains... . Yes... . That was what he called the armor on me.... . The chains....of the Fade.... .

The Maker gave me another chance.... . Or maybe he likes to torture me... . Soon I will know. The king is marching with us. We go to Ostagar where the horde will break forth to this world... . At last....I will fight for what I was chosen... . I hope my skills are worth the trust. I need to focus the spells on both.... . Fighting...and protecting... . I hope I find time to write you soon.... .

Regards – Ignitz Amell – Sinner, chained by the Maker."

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Chapter 5 - Three Feathers of Hope

"Dear Diary, - We reached Ostagar several weeks ago... . I had less time to write you... Battle preparations, scouting missions and patrols occupied me more than I expected first. This is a sickening sight... The taint of those creatures spread over the forest... Many trees lying dead before the walls of Ostagar... Yet the troops seem confident enough. All seems to go well so far, too... . We defeated many of the darkspawns and stopped their assault to the north. But I am not sure about victory yet... . Sometimes...I hear him in my dreams... . The archdemon... . I can't understand his roaring, but I can feel it on my skin... . Even after I awake... . I barely sleep anymore and the Mabari kept me awake most of the time, anyway. I feel very weary, but I have to stay strong.

We've got many good men and women here, who are ready to die for their king and country... . The lord of Highever send his son here not long ago. I escorted him during his first scout mission. I think his name was Fergus. He's really friendly and kindhearted, but also very worried about his wife and son... . I can understand that... War is never easy if you have a family waiting for you to return... It's funny, though... . He treated me more like a child than a Warden. Sometimes I think he tries to see his son in me... I can't blame him... I'm only seventeen, one of the youngest recruits the Wardens had in a long time. But Fergus's courage is remarkable. Even tho he's afraid of the darkspawns, he never decided to flee the battlefield. I really envy that spirit... . Hopefully he get the chance to see his wife and son again soon... .

I even met some mages in camp. One of them was one of the teachers. Most are senior enchanters. I spoke little to them, though... . My life was separated from those living in the tower now. I do wonder how Ser Gregoir and Master Irving do. I hope they are fine... . I still play the violin Ser Gregoir gave me when I left the tower... . Sometimes the soldiers gather around the fire in front of our tent and listen... . I wonder if they know that I play songs to guide the dead to the Maker... . But maybe the songs gives them some comfort... I hope it does...

There is also the king. Cailan is his name. He's a bit overconfident and hasty sometimes... . And he thinks highly of us Wardens... . Maybe it's because of our history... . Yet I can sense some tense and unease in his eyes... . He's probably more nervous about the Blight than we all together, but he forces himself to remain calm... . Trying to stop panic from spreading among the troops... .

And there is this other man from the castle... . Teyrn Loghain. All say he's some kind of old hero of the land. Master tactician and warlord. ...I don't know... . Well, I do know about the history of this man, but personally? His eyes and his spirit are so cold... . It's like looking through a wasteland of ice... . Maybe I imagine it, but I have such a bad feeling just looking at him. He's somehow...scary... .

Duncan went to Highever, in search for good recruits. He came back not long ago, but I still haven't seen him today. The ash warriors and I went on patrol this morning. It was already dark when we came back... . I wish I could have gone with Alistair and the new recruits too, but the other Wardens wanted me and Duty to stay and protect the fortress and front lines. After the patrol I saw his royal highness, king Cailan and Duncan. It was the first time I had the chance to see him, since he was gone. Duncan gave me a new journal and went to the old temple where the joining was held. They also wanted to discuss the strategy of the upcoming battle tonight. The darkspawn move closer, but the horde, no matter how many we have slain already, seems to grow larger in numbers every day. The joining includes three new recruits. I should stay away, Duncan said. Maybe he was concerned about me, getting sad and discouraged by watching... . I don't know. Even the king wasn't so happy and confident like always... . What could have happened... ? Alistair had gone with the new recruits into the Wilds and will be present at their joining... . Maybe that's the reason why I can't go... One elder and the younger initiates should be present. I was partly older than Alistair as a Grey Warden... Oh, well, I should stop thinking about it so much. I barely saw one of them. Well, I was never a group person anyway... . Still... . I wonder if they survive... . I really hope they do... . We're to few here... . We will need all the help we can get... .

--- --- ---

Diary... . This could be my last note to you... . The last words I ever write... . I don't know why I think that way all day since I came to Ostagar.... . This bad feeling I get... . I can't deny it... . I can't forget it... . And it won't get away... . It's like a dark cloud is hanging over Ostagar... . Today more than ever before... . Like....I was walking....through my own....grave.

Duncan gave me a new journal, so I could write on after the battle... . But somehow...I feel like this will never happen... .

I hope I am wrong... . I hope it not for myself, but for those who still have so much good in their hearts... . They all...deserve to live on... .

Regards - Ignitz the Sinner"

The young mage closed his book and stared into the fireplace near Duncan's tent. The fire danced through his golden eyes. He wondered so much and feared even more. "Maker... . Let them all leave in peace... . Let them survive...for I want to be the sacrifice for victory... ." He didn't saw Alistair coming and waving. "Hey, Ignitz!", he said with a smile, but a deep depression laying inside his greeting tonight. "Alistair... . ...How was it?.... .", the mage asked his friend. "Well... . It was--!! Whoa!" The Templar boy jumped back scared as a massive shark came flying swiftly from the dark night. "Gosh! I never get used to this... .", Alistair moaned mad. His friend smiled and greeted his companion. "Hehe. Hello, Duty. Joining us at the fire?" The great shark growled and stared uneasily into the fire. Its scales were shining like the plates of a metal armor, colored in dark blue. The belly was light grey, marked with scars of past battles. The fins were long, pointy and flat. Its white hollow eyes were freaking Alistair out a bit. There was a thin layer of water surrounding its body, keeping it alive and flying. “Rrrrgh...”, the shark growled troubled. "I know... . I'm worried too, my friend... ." "Somehow crazy that you're the only one that seems to understand this fishy mumbling." Ignitz giggled and tried to make sense. "I think it's because we knew each other for so long... . We sometimes spoke on eye lashing alone... ." "Crazy if you ask me. Hehehe.", Alistair joined his friend at the fire again. His silly natural changed a bit. Maybe because of the incoming fight. "To answer your question from before, Ignitz. Only one has survived this time... ." "Sad... . Really... . I hope those who died find piece in the realm of the Maker... . ... . Say. Who is the one that lived?" "Oh, yes. That's the daughter of the Teyrn of Highever, Brice Cousland. Her name is Elissa." "Cousland? So she's the sister of Fergus. The one I escorted a while ago." Alistair nodded: "Yes, that's right." His eyes turned away in sorrow. He spied into the fire and explained further. "See. The Teyrn was murdered by Arl Howe's men. She's the only survivor as far as we know... ." Ignitz understood. His sad eyes and the grieve on his face forced upcoming tears away. But there also was anger laying awake. It troubled Duty slightly. "The only survivor... . That's sad... . I hope she's fine... . Losing someone so special like parents can be harder than any war... . I wonder how Fergus will take this... . I wonder if she can tell him... . Poor man... ." Alistair looked over to him wondering. "Huh. That's a switch. You only know her by name and still you seem to grieve for her loss like her own brother." The young mage smiled. He placed his hand on his shark friends head. Water encircled his fingers. "I may have problems with social contacts, Alistair, but I'm not made of stone... . I grieve for all like they were family..." He looked at the Templar wondering. "Where is she now?" "Oh, Elissa is with Duncan at the war meeting. He wanted her to join him there." As he started thinking of the coming battle, Ignitz got silent all of a sudden... . He stood up and walked to the tent. "What now?", Alistair asked. "I'm going to play for them... .", Ignitz answered, "...maybe it's the last time I get the chance... . They deserve guidance to peace.... ."

--- --- ---

After the king ended the meeting, Duncan ordered Ignitz to join the rest on the battlefield. Alistair and Elissa went to another task at the tower of Ishal. Worries and doubts were flying above the minds of all tonight. It started to rain as the king reached the battlefield. Ignitz stood inside the main force. Duty was right next to him. "Rrrgh.... .", he growled angered. "I know... .", his friend answered, "I can sense them too... ." He took his staff and readied for battle. He stared into the Blight. The horde that approached out of the Wilds. Their roaring rolled through the dark sky, lashed by thunder strikes and followed by the barking of the Mabari. Fear came upon some warriors. Ignitz yet stood strong and calmed his heart. "Maker... . If I shall die... . May it be the atonement for my sins... . For their lives... . And for our victory today... ." On his left side stood a woman with flaming orange hair and a strong chevalier sword. "Do you think we win, Warden?", she asked him. He stared up to the lady. Her determined eyes looked back on him. "If we think of failing, victory will never come... . We Wardens will fight...until our breathes are fading forever... ." He spotted a young boy not far in the back. Black hair. Angry, wild eyes. He was chaining his hands faithful around his two-handed sword. Somehow Ignitz got a strange feeling, like he would know him somehow. "Here they come!", the woman muttered. Ignitz focused back on the battlefield. The darkspawns raged upon the ground. One of them came out of the horde, placing himself in front of them. His golden armor made him look like a devil underneath the forceful rain. The whole storm engaged him in fear. Hurlocks sharpened their swords, Genlocks growled and howled. The horde shrieked to scare the warriors. The drums of war have reached the heart of everyone present. The great darkspawn ordered the attack. The monsters stomped toward the lines, but still the young Warden wasn't going to back away. "Archers!", the king ordered from above Ignitz position. Arrows rained down on the enemy lines, only short moments later. "Hounds!", his next order was, as the center of the horde drew near. The Mabari ran against the darkspawn horde, forcing their teeth and claws into their flesh. But some got killed by their prey. Ending their lives on the tainted swords of Hurlocks. Ignitz closed his eyes sadly. Hurt by the last whimper of the poor creatures. The king raised his sword up and commanded the assault. "For Ferelden!" Ignitz took a last deep breath before he was going to follow the soldiers. Stones of fire floating by and destroyed towers and walls. Rubble sepulchered people. He heard it, even within this horror of clashing steel and screams. "Look out!", a soldier was shouting. Ignitz opened his eyes hasty and saw one of the burning projectiles coming down at him. He reacted fast and drained nearby rubble onto his right arm, forming it into an arm of stone. He punched up quickly and smashed the fireball. Now Ignitz was surely back on the battlefield. "It's time to meet destiny, my friend.", he told Duty and both entered the fight without further hesitation.

--- --- ---

"The battle seemed endless... . With every darkspawn slain, two new came out of the Wilds. My spells enlighten the dark battleground. Soldiers had fallen before my eyes. Duty protected my position from direct attacks. I burned them. I froze them solid. Chained their flesh with lightnings. My eyes spied up to the tower every time I could, but no light was engulfing the peak. When will they come?"

--- --- ---

Duncan and king Cailan fought side by side. The old Warden spotted a group of dark spawn leaving the battlefield toward the east. "Ignitz!", he shouted at the boy, who burned the horde in front of himself. He turned around, trying to find his mentor fast. "A small part of the horde went east!" The boy was confused. "East? But...there is only the wall towards Ostagar... . Why would they--? !!" Lost in his thoughts, he didn't noticed the Hurlock approaching. Nearly on the way of losing his head, he was saved by the fast charge of Duty. The shark ripped the darkspawn warrior in half. "Move it, Ignitz! Find out what they plan! Quick!" The mage nodded and ran after the group. His friend spit out the remains of the upper body from the Hurlock and followed. "Why is he so...? Do he think that they might be smarter than we thought?" He rushed along the battlefield hearing the screams of warriors and soldiers behind him. Pure madness and devastation. Arrows leaped out for his life. He grabbed the shield of a dead soldier and covered from the shower. Ignitz reached the east part of the battlefield. He couldn't believe his eyes. There was a big hole dug in the wall. "What the--?!" He spotted some Genlock entering it. "That hole... . It's not made from the outside... . But... ." Fast the both companions moved to the entrance and killed the next group of darkspawn trying to enter. "Keep them busy, Duty! I have an idea!", the mage said to his friend and walked inside, putting his staff on his back. Some steps away from the entrance hole he started to cast another spell. The shark danced around the enemies and swallowed one darkspawn after another. "Quick! To me, my friend!", Ignitz shouted and the shark floated right behind him. As the darkspawn tried to follow them, the mage unleashed the power and broke the upper wall side apart, sepulchered them all under the rubble. "You stay were you are, beasts!", he spoke to them and grabbed the dorsal fin of his friend as he passed by and both escaped the collapse. Inside the dug hole they heard some of the blighted creatures screaming. Slowly they came inside some old hall, covered in giant spider webs. Some of the Genlock laid on the ground, bleeding and half eaten. "Slowly... . ", Ignitz whispered, "I think the spiders aren't happy about the visitors... . We shouldn't try to disturb them... ." But he sensed the unease in the air. Then a screaming from the backdoor shocked them both. A Hurlock rushed out of it and got ambushed by a giant spider. It pinned the monster on the ground, forcing the mandibles right into its head. "Ugh... . That's disgusting...and bad timing, too... ." Ignitz thought quickly. "Okay. Quick, Duty!", he commanded and hold onto his friends back, "Maybe we can float fast through the hall, without fighting." "Rrrrgh... .", the shark growled and floated near the ground. "Of course. Don't worry. I watch your back." The shark's water shield was one finger size above its skin. It didn't soaked inside the mages filthy robe. Small vibrant waves came from the tip of its nose. Duty charged forward with high speed, avoiding webs and spiders. Ignitz laid close on his friends back, like a rider on his horse. Duty followed the strong smell of the darkspawns to navigate in the twisted dark hallways. Spiders came from the roof and attacked the Genlocks and Hurlocks on the ground. They tried to get the shark too, but it was too fast for their aimed attacks. The darkness shaped the room and Ignitz did not know were he should look. Until the moment his shark got slower. They've reached an enlightened room. He looked down the hole, which was her entrance and tried to figure out were they ended up now. His mind was puzzled, but the slain darkspawns and soldiers around gave him an idea. He again stared into the hole, still hearing the blighted creatures screaming. "Well... . I think I owe these spiders some thanks... ." Ignitz looked around and investigated a Genlock on the ground. "Hm... . This one is fresh... .", he judged, "And this rounded centered building part... . Are we in a tower?" He jumped up shocked and ran towards the near stairway. "The tower of Ishal! Oh Maker. Alistair!" The two rushed up into the next chamber. Ignitz had to hold his breath disgusted. The hall was filled with fires, skeletons and corpses. "Dear Maker... . This is unbelievable... .", he thought and tried to avoid stepping on flesh or bones. He had to lean on his friends side, who was angered and terrified by the cruelty of their foes. They managed to pass by and followed the trail of dead darkspawns. "Maker! Let them be save! Please! Let him be save!", he prayed within every step he took. He didn't noticed the Ballistics standing around nor the wind coming through the windows. His mind was clouded with worries. Ignitz reached the next stairway. "Faster!", he shouted, "We need to find them!" On the next level they found another circle of pierced corpses and piles of bones. He tried to avoid breathing in for the moment they passed through. Not far from there, Ignitz and Duty spotted a little group of Mabari hounds killing another darkspawn. "Hounds?", he wondered. The dogs stared at him and his shark. They seemed to be wondering as well, but they didn't attack them. "Good job, you guys.", he praised them and moved onward to the stairway. One Genlock blocked the door, but the mage didn't stopped his sprint. He used a spell and closed toward it. A wave of energy knocked the Genlock against the wall behind it. Bones shattered. Duty floated at it and turned around swiftly, smashing his tail fin forcefully against the creature, shattering armor and body. "Move it!", Ignitz shouted angry at another Genlock left behind and slithered along the floor, facing the next stairway. His shark friend teared this one up with his razor teeth. "Hold on, Alistair! Hold on!", he prayed and ran up the steps. A long growling and howl made him wait. It gave him cold shivers. He rushed through the door and to the top of the tower. Through the entrance he saw a man being thrown to the air. "Maker! No!" Ignitz found Alistair together with a girl fighting a big Ogre. The grey skinned monster was huge and terrifying. The teeth were still covered with blood and spittle. The eyes stared down on the frail humans with hunger. On the other side of the room was a dead soldier. His head was bleeding and his arms broken and twisted. Not far from a pile of barrels laid a Mabari dog on the ground, forcing himself to stand up again. The Ogre growled, that stone and dust fell from the roof. Suddenly the giant was hit by a bold of lightning. The stones rained down around it and the beast focused on the one who attacked him. "Begone, darkspawn!", the mage provoked the monster, "Come and get me!" "Ignitz?!" Alistair was surprised to see his comrade standing there. The girl beside him was too, but grateful as well. "Come here if you want fresh meat, bastard!", Ignitz insulted the Ogre and threw a fireball at it. The monster covered it's face behind the muscled arm. Enraged by the mages irritating interference, it started to charge at him. The colossus tried to smash the puny human, but the mage dodged it's punch quite smart. He froze the ground in a half moon and slithered on his back around the beast, positioning himself right behind it. Ignitz cast a lighting upon his foes back and another ice path behind himself. As the giant went around and tried to hit him this time, he jumped on the ice and glided backward by shooting another fireball after the beast. "That's it! Way to go!", Alistair cheered for him and waited for an opportunity to strike the Ogre down. The giant went berserk. The human picked on him like a mosquito. It went after him and slipped on the ice, while trying to grab hold of the mage. The monster fell on it's face, Alistair rushed forward to give it the killing blow. "Now you're finished!" But the Ogre howled furious. It hit Alistair back with it's great horns and growled even louder than before. "Alistair!", Ignitz ran over, forgetting his safety. The Ogre used this opportunity and hit the mage right in his run. Ignitz rolled over the ground screaming. The Mabari barked angry at the beast, which walked over to the boy. The woman tried to distract the beast with a rain of arrows. Alistair shouted after the beast and grabbed shield and sword to arms again. "Urgh. Damn it!" He couldn't walk very fast. Ignitz didn't hear anything anymore. His ears rung so hard that the whole place numbed. The walls were moving and faded before his eyes. Blood came out of nose and ears. He felt the warm touch on his skin. Ignitz felt the pain of the Ogres punch all over his body. His legs and arms couldn't hold him. As the Ogres spittle dripped down on him, he thought he was done for. Suddenly a huge, dull scream reached his ears. The shadow of the giant went away from him. His head cleared and he heard Alistair screaming: "What is he doing?!" Ignitz stared up to the huge darkspawn and spotted Duty on the shoulder of the monster. The teeth of his friend clawed deep into the beast. "Duty!" He tried to force himself up again, hearing the voice of his friend in his mind. "I will protect you! I won't let you perish!" The shark fought the Ogre with courage and bravery. Even as it dragged him off the shoulder, Duty didn't gave up. It crushed it's left horn by dragging it along the flight. Than he struck back at it. The roaring of both engulfed the tower's peak. The Ogre tried to grab the shark and it bit him right in the paws. Both fought determined to bring the other down. Duty tried to tear the paw of the beast off. Blood was emerging from underneath the jaw, slowly covering the ground. The Ogre screamed, because the teeth of the shark forced themselves inside it's hand, but it didn't let go. In fact it grabbed the waving tail and torn the shark in half. Limbs broke under the pressure of both strong beasts. Even as the pain reached Duty, he refused to let go of the Ogre. "Nooo! Duty! Nooo!" Ignitz stared shocked at his friends body ripping. It was like Duty still looked at him. Like he was trying to beg forgiveness for leaving. Ignitz eyes were flooded by tears. He screamed furious. All pain did not matter anymore. What remained was the unspeakable hatred and anger he felt. He saw the eyes of Duty's murderer and rage took over his mind. Within his hand, Ignitz cast a spell of ice and smacked it upon the Ogre's face, freezing it from top to shoulders. The conical blizzard was enormous. It even covered the wall behind the Ogre's head in ice. The beasts face was covered by a glacier, Ignitz summoned a giant fist of rubble. He placed all his anger, all his hatred in this punch and cracked the ice and the monsters head in one blow. "My god... .", Alistair mumbled and stared at the falling darkspawn giant. He felt the anger that came from the mage, somehow. Some kind of warm wind on his cheek, but it smelt like brimstone. The blood came out of the smashed frozen pieces and soon covered a wide space on the tower, as the Ogre hit the ground. The woman was impressed and scared by the young mages power. Slowly she walked over to the Mabari, who dug his head frightened. He whimpered at her. "It's okay.", she said with a soft voice, "It's over now... ." Ignitz walked over to the body of his former friend. Duty wasn't moving, but the jaw still crunched the paw. The shark's insides covered the floor. The mage kneed in it and tried to wake him up. "Duty?", he whispered with tears all over his face, "It's over... . Do you hear? I killed it. We're... . We're fine... ." He looked upon the body of his companion. "Don't worry. I...I can heal you. You'll live. You...you won't die. Please! Please...don't go!" "Do not grieve, my little friend.", the voice of Duty scared the boy and made him look at the shark's eyes. "I was honored...that you gave me....purpose... .", he said with his voice fading, "My duty was to protect you....and I can go happily...knowing....that I fulfilled it till the end... . The only regret....I have....is not.... ...to be able... ...to... ...protect you....you're whole... ...mortal... ...life.... . Dear ....friend... . Forgive.......me.... ." Ignitz embraced the bleeding shark body, fearing for his friend's end. "No! Please! Don't leave me alone!", he begged and cried, "Duty! No! This is my fault! This is all my fault! If I had stayed focused--!! Duty! Don't go! Please!!" But the voice of his friend was gone. It faded from whispers to nothingness. The white shine in the shark's eyes were gone and silenced plagued the boy with greater sorrow. Alistair lighted the beacon's fire and looked at his friends suffering. He didn't knew what to say. It was awful to watch. And even the young woman seemed taken by grieve for the mages loss.

--- --- ---

"Why? Why does this happen?! Why him? Maker... . Why did you take him? Duty... . He didn't deserved it... . He didn't..... . No... . I've....I've killed him... . Duty... . My friend... . My...only friend.... . Please.... . Forgive me... . Don't leave me alone... . Please! Don't leave me.... ."

--- --- ---

Some time had passed since the beacon was lightened. The Wardens didn't got any answers from the battlefield. The cries of falling men and women continued. Ignitz was sitting inside the blood and guts of his dead friend. He didn't moved from it and covered his mind with silence and sorrow. Alistair watched the flames while the young woman cared for her Mabari. "Do you think it's over soon?", she asked. Before Alistair could even answer, arrows rained down on them. They tried to protect themselves, but got overwhelmed by darkspawns. Ignitz got hit by three arrows on the back. As he fell over his dead friend Duty's body, his eyes stared up. He only saw shades of breaking walls and giant creatures around the hall. The roar of a dragon was the last he heard before losing consciousness.

"Arrows in my sorrow... . What a pitiful dead... . But it doesn't matter... . Duty... . I'm sorry... . I disappointed you... . You were the one person in my life...that made it precious for me... . You were my friend... . The only one I've had to begin... . The only one...that never left me... Never lied to me... You were my best...friend... ...Duty... ... .Duty... ...."

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Chapter 6 - The Way of the Wardens

“.... ...It's like a nightmare... . A never ending nightmare... . ...Duty... . I failed you... .” Ignitz sat on an island in the middle of a swamp. His eyes stared into the Wilds, but nothing seemed to touch his glare. The skin beneath his eyes was red and wet by the tears he had cried since his awakening. Everything had fallen apart. There was no reason, no life burning within his heart. An old woman stepped forward. “Still in grieve, I see... .”, she said with a dry voice, “It's so curious how one can still breath with all this sorrow embracing the throat.” But the young mage ignored her words. He didn't hear them. Anger about his failing and grieve for the loss made him deaf for anything. The old lady walked around the boy, but he no reaction came from him. “Well, little Warden... . You know that the end is only part of this world.” Ignitz closed his eyes and tried to stop breathing. He wanted to leave. His mind focused on memories of his friend, Duty. When both went on adventures in the fade... . Picturing on the days he protected him from the nightmares about the darkspawn.... . Remembering the nights he played his songs for the souls, while his friend was the only one truly hearing their meaning. “Yes, mother.”, another female voice dragged him out of his brooding, “The other two are alright. I think they awake soon.” Ignitz turned around, starting to breath again and listened to the two women talking. “This filthy dog is really starting to annoy me, mother. Couldn't you have left it on the tower?” “What now, my dear?”, the old hag laughed, “You join animals all day in the Wilds. Why so impatient with one that is a bit smarter than the most? And what about you, boy?” The old woman laid her eyes upon the mage again, “Will you choose death again? Like the days before?” Ignitz stared at the two women. The one old, with grey hair and crumbled skin. The other beautiful, with black hair and very slim clothing. He looked at them. Thinking... . His golden eyes reflected their faces and the sky behind. “... … . You're an very old being, lady... .”, he responded, still captured in grieve, “Not many people can see....through the soul of another.... . Still... . I don't know... . I can't see a path before me... .” He turned away, looking into the Wilds again. “I followed Duncan into the Order... . I tried hard...to be the warrior, the Grey Warden, he wanted me to be... . Everything...to atone for my sins... . And now I have more to atone... . I never thought I might have to make choices like this... .” He placed his face inside his hands, falling into grieve again. “Now I've lost the only true friend I had my entire life... . Out of one failure I did... . And...here I am... . Still living on... . Why does the Maker hates me so much... ?” The younger woman raised her shoulders, muttering disdainful: “Urgh... . This -Maker- stuff again... . Can't he stop brooding and just cut himself?” ”Oh, Morrigan. This little boy is tangled up in questions and regrets.”, the old woman laughed, “It's natural that he tries to blame it on something more powerful than himself.” “I try to understand why he spares me all the time... . So many others were so much more worthy to live on! All I did was making people suffer!” Ignitz watched the animals running through the Wilds as he shouted at the women. He stood up and faced them with a strange cloud of anger clawing on his shoulders. Ignitz tried to find answers, but there were none to be found. Again his face sunk into his hands. It gave him headaches. “Why... ?”, he thought denying, “I didn't deserve it... . They all...were far more worthy.....to live on.... .” The girl named Morrigan raised her hands mad and just left the boy with the old woman. She went into the hut again, that was standing in the middle of the island. The boy looked up to the old lady. His eyes were red and dry, but he still felt like crying again. “I have to thank you, ma'am... . For saving them... .” “Oh, dear. You wish for your end and never cared about others much, yet you try to protect others from it, still avoiding them. Do you really think that's what your Duncan wanted you to be?” The youngster shook his head. “No... .”, he said, “But...how does anyone changes? ….I lived a life in separation from others... . I tried to have as less friends as possible... . No one should grieve for me... . No one should remember me... . And after this...no one will... .” “You think to less of yourself... .”, the woman said, “You're mind is clear. You know what you do and why. You're strong and smart, lad. You even know things that I never expected to find outside the Wilds.” The boy shook his head. “How do you know about that?”, he wondered. The lady just smiled at him. Ignitz cleaned his back robe from the leaves and dirt. He stared at the woman guessing her intentions. “You mean the shape shifting?”, he wondered quite scared about the thought, “The tower had old tomes about it. Mostly in master Irving's study. I never really saw someone changing and I never believed it possible...” He stared at his armor angry. “I woke up on places in the tower I shouldn't have been... I never thought that I might do that on my own... Like a reflex awoken in my sleep... Forming into birds or spiders. I used to watch them in the laboratories... But...since that incident...I never seemed to have done it again... .” “...I see... .”, the woman smiled at him, “Some call something like you a savant.” “I don't think I live up to such a title...” “And what about the Grey Wardens? Will you give them up...like this...ability... ?” The mage started to think again. He was unsure about the answer. “Would I give up?... . Will I....leave... ? But what would happen to the land? … . To the people? … … … . What would happen with--?”

“It's a lie!”, a familiar voice shouted from inside the hut. He smashed open the door and bashed outside. “Alistair?”, the boy wondered. The Templar boy seemed outraged. As he saw Ignitz standing by the old lady, his eyes turned more desperate and teary. He walked up to him and embraced his comrade. “You're....You're alive.... .”, he whaled, “I knew she lied! I knew she...she... .” Alistair recognized now that his friend was placing his head against his shoulder. He cried deeply. “So it was no lie at all... . This can't be... .” Ignitz avoided looking at him. He didn't want to disturb Alistair further with his red cried eyes. “I'm sorry... . If I hadn't left them... .” Alistair shook his head: “It wasn't your fault... . If you haven't come for us, we would have died before lighting the beacon... .” “The....beacon... .” Ignitz turned around to the old woman. “Tell us, ma'am. The beacon... . The battle... . I must know everything you remember.” “It is easy...”, she told them and crossed her arms, “The man who should respond to you're signal fire turned his back and left.” The two looked at her shocked. “What!?” Ignitz tried to remember the details he caught. “Wait... The hole... That hole that lead from the battlefield to the tower of Ishal!” He walked up and down in front of Alistair and the old woman. The Templar couldn't believe this and listened to his friend muttering about the fight. “This whole thing was planed by him. He wanted the beacon lightened for the assault. We did, but he did not react. Instead he retreats... He dug a tunnel inside tower down into lower chambers full of giant spiders... The tunnel ended right underneath the east side of the battlefield!” “What!?”, Alistair yelled angry. “That's were I came in from, Alistair. That tunnel was suppose to lead the darkspawns into the tower! He wanted the beacon mission to fail!!” “That bloody bastard!!” Suddenly his mood changed from angry to deeply saddened. He looked out into the Wilds like Ignitz did before him. “And now the order is broken...” Ignitz knew no response to this. He tried to find words of courage for his comrade. The door of the hut suddenly opened again. “See?”, the old hag said to the two depressed boys, “Here is your fellow Grey Warden. You worry too much, young man.” A girl with a royal armor made of silverite came out of the hut. Her hair was colored violet and her eyes were green. She had a tattoo with many stripes, lines and little hooks on her face. Young and delicate she seemed through the eye and sorrow has also taken her smile. The Mabari followed her outside and stood by the girls side as Morrigan closed the door once more angered by the dog. One hand of the lady held a falcon helmet. The woman looked at the three standing together. “You...you're alive! I thought you'd were dead for sure...” “I'm fine, Alistair.”, she answered slightly smiling, “I appreciate your concern ...Morrigan told me about...what happened...” She looked a bit down, but lifted her gaze while facing Ignitz. “Isn't he the mage with the shark?” The boy wasn't so found of being reminded on Duty. His eyes still were red from all that crying. “Please, Elissa. Be more sensitive... This...shark was his best friend...” Surprised she bowed and apologized at once: “I see. I..I'm sorry, Ser mage. I didn't mean to offend you... I'm very sorry about...your friend...” Ignitz looked at her a bit puzzled. She didn't seemed much like Fergus Cousland. She wasn't as cheerful or maybe it was because of the losses they've taken. He smiled at her and shook his head. “Its okay... I'm not mad... I... ...I just hope that he died without any regrets...” Now he bowed slightly before her. “My name is Ignitz Amell, mage of the circle and a Grey Warden like Alistair and yourself, Lady Elissa Cousland.” She opened her eyes wide in surprise. “How do you know?” “Alistair told me about you and your brother Fergus also told me much.” “Fergus! You know my brother!? Where is he!? Was he in the fight!?” Elissa panicked slightly, but the mage sat her at ease with a shook of his head. “No, he wasn't there. He was scouting the west of the Wilds. He and his men might still be alive and trying to reach for a nearby city now that this battle is lost...” The three looked at each other grim with anger and disapproval to the man they've trusted in the ambush. “This doesn't seem real.”, Alistair muttered with shivering hands, “If it weren't for Morrigan's mother, we'd be dead on top of that tower.” “Do not talk about me as if I am not present, lad.” The old lady warned him with her dry voice. The three turned over to her. “I didn't mean... but what do we call you?”, Alistair started stuttering, “You never told us your name.” “Names are pretty, but useless.”, the old woman answered calm, “The Chasind folk call me Flemeth. I suppose it will do.” Ignitz remembered that name. He saw it in many old folklore books and some of the younger apprentices in the tower used to tell ghost stories about her. Some sort of legendary witch or so, but he couldn't grasp it all. Elissa knew about the legends, too. She was shocked to find herself now in the company of a living legend. Alistair stared at her at awe and slightly worried. “The Flemeth...”, he stuttered again, “...from the legends? Daveth was right--you're the Witch of the Wilds, aren't you?” Flemeth seemed annoyed by Alistairs questioning her every word. “And what does that mean? I know a bit of magic, and it served you three well, has it not?” “If you're the Flemeth from the legends, then you must be very old and powerful.”, Elissa stated amazed. Ignitz found that this whole conversation was getting out of hand. “Must I?”, Flemeth laughed, “Age and power are relative, it depends on who is asking. In you're case yes, in both counts.” “Then why didn't you save Duncan?”, Alistair asked with sorrow in his voice. He looked like he was about to cry again, “He is...was our leader.” “I'm sorry for your Duncan.”, she said with a concerned and apologizing gaze towards Alistair, “But you must control your grieve.” She turned to all three and explained: “It has always been the Grey Wardens' duty to unite the lands against the Blight. Or did that changed while I wasn't looking?” Ignitz was furious. He waved his hands and scrubbed through his dark hair puzzled and irritated by every thought. “The land is hardly united, thanks to Loghain.”, he muttered. “This makes no sense! Why would Loghain do this?!”, Alistair joined in the anger. “Now that's a good question.”, Flemeth nodded, “Men's heart hold shadows darker than any tainted creature. “ The mage couldn't help but thinking that she actually was looking at him while saying that. “Perhaps he believes the Blight is an army he could outmaneuver. Perhaps he does not see that the evil behind it is the true threat.” Alistair realized what the witch tried to point out. “The archdemon.” “What is this archdemon, exactly?”, Elissa asked. “Uh, right.”, Ignitz nodded at her, “You were just made a Grey Warden, so you know little...” Flemeth explained it to her. “It is said that, long ago, the Maker send the Old Gods of the ancient Tevinter Imperium to slumber in prisons deep beneath the surface. An archdemon is an Old God awakened and tainted by darkspawn. Believe that or not, history says it's a fearsome and immortal thing. And only fools ignore history.” “Than we need to find this archdemon.”, Ignitz suggested. Alistair shook his head not sure about this. “By ourselves? No Grey Warden has ever defeated a Blight without the army of a half-dozen nations at his back. Not to mention, I don't know how.” He seemed a bit angered by their certain situation. “How to kill the archdemon or how to raise an army? It seems to me, those are two different questions, hmm?”, Flemeth interrupted them, “Have the Wardens no allies these days?” She faced Alistair and he felt like facing a dragon itself. “I... I don't know.”, he answered, “Duncan said that the Grey Wardens of Orlais had been called. And Arl Eamon would never stand for this, surely.” Elissa seemed to know of that name. “Arl Eamon? The Arl of Redcliffe?” Alistair nodded: “I suppose... Arl Eamon wasn't at Ostagar, he still has all his men. And he was Cailan's uncle. I know him. He's a good men, respected in the Landsmeet.” Suddenly Alistair became more confident as he kept talking. “Of course! We could go to Redcliffe and appeal to him for help!” Elissa was caught up by his spirited behavior and also got an idea. “We can also use the treaties Flemeth gave us during our first visit here!” Her dog barked agreeing on this. “Ah, there is a smart lad.”, Flemeth praised her. “Of course! The treaties! Grey Wardens can demand aid from dwarves, elves, mages and other places! They're obligated to help us during a Blight!” Ignitz agreed with them. “This sounds... ...it sounds right...” “I may be old, but dwarves, elves, mages, this Arl Eamon, and who knows what else... this sounds like an army to me.”, Flemeth answered them and smiled at their growing confidence. “So can we do this?”, Alistair asked the other two, “...Go to Redcliffe and these other places and... build an army?” “Whoa!”, Ignitz stopped his rising spirit a bit, “Let's not get ahead of ourselves!” The old lady laughed, but she agreed partly with him. “Take one step at a time, but it is not so bad to know where those steps lead you, yes?” The mage felt her gaze pressing on him. He knew what she was going on about. Ignitz finally realized that the death of his old friend from the Fade was not the end of his road at all. He had to move on or everything he had done would've been for nothing. “It's always been the Grey Wardens' duty to stand against a Blight.”, Alistair said with new courage at heart, “And right now, we're the Grey Wardens.” The old hag looked at the three that had finally decided the way. She saw the determination in each ones eyes. Even the young fragile mage who was about to give up living at all managed to find new hope. “So you are set, then?”, she asked them, “Ready to be Grey Wardens?” “Yes.”, Ignitz answered her with a smile, “Thanks for everything, Flemeth.” “No, no.”, she waved her hands, “Thank you. You're the Grey Wardens' here, not I.” She smiled back at them and looked to the hut. Morrigan joined the little crowed outside. “There is, however, one more thing I can offer you...”, Flemeth told them and looked at Morrigan coming to her side. “The stew is bubbling, mother, dear.”, Morrigan said and looked at the Wardens, “Shall we have guests for the eve or none?” “The Grey Wardens' are leaving shortly, girl. And you will be joining them.”, she answered. The three Wardens looked at Flemeth puzzled and surprised. Morrigan didn't catch it at first, but turned around to the old lady with shock. “Such a shame--What?” That was the right word to describe this situation. Neither Ignitz, Alistair nor Elissa could grasp this outcome fast enough. “You hear me, girl.”, Flemeth teased the young woman, “The last time I looked, you had ears!” The lady Cousland tried to talk Flemeth out of it politely. “Thank you, but if Morrigan doesn't wish to join us...” “Have I no say in this?”, Morrigan interrupted mad. “You have been itching to get out of the Wilds for years.”, she explained with a smile, “Here is your chance. As for you, Wardens, consider this repayment for your lives.” The three looked at her still confused. Ignitz smiled slightly and nodded. “Very well, we'll take her with us.” Alistair didn't seemed to thrilled by the idea. If it was Morrigan's seductive appearance or just the fact that he didn't trust this peace. He felt uneasy with the plan on taking her along. “Not to...look a gift horse in the mouth, but won't this add to our problems? Out of the Wilds, she's an apostate.” “If you do not wish help from us illegal mages, young ma, perhaps I should have left you on that tower.”, Flemeth glanced at him serious. Alistair shook his hand defending. “Point taken.”, he muttered frightened by the old woman. “Mother...”, Morrigan still argued around this issue, “...this is not how I wanted this. I am not even ready--” The old witch turned to her daughter and looked at her worried and understanding. “You must be ready. Alone, these three must unite Ferelden against the darkspawn. They need you, Morrigan. Without you, they will surely fail, and all will perish under the Blight. Even I.” Ignitz felt this humiliation of herself. Like she knew that her power was not enough to stop this. He felt sorry, for both. “I...understand.”, Morrigan finally agreed. “And you, Wardens?”, she looked at the three, “Do you understand, too? I give you, what I hold dearest above anything in this world, and I do so, because you must succeed.” “We understand.”, Ignitz assured her, “Don't worry. We keep her save.” Morrigan didn't like that one bit, but she couldn't help it anymore. “Then I will go and grab my things, if I may.”, she said and went back into the hut.

Ignitz, too, gathered his rucksack and the few things left in it. The diaries he kept in it, the few herbs and bandages he brought from the Quartermaster, an old coat, that was far too big, and a nice knife that Fergus gave him while they were on patrol once. It saddened him to realize that his violin was missing. But he still got his staff. Slowly he took it and looked at the carvings on the hardened wood. The white bark was covered with various names of peoples. Some family names showed up more than once. Flemeth went to him and gave another book to the boy. “Here. You might find use for this.”, she said dry. The boy looked on the empty pages. There was a little piece of graphite stone in it that painted the inner pages grey. It was a big book, not fitting for a diary. He thought about it and looked at the old lady. “What could I use it for, lady Flemeth? It's a bit big for a diary... And the pages aren't very thick for ink...” “Maybe if you watch the living around you, the answer will reveal itself to you, boy.”, she told him. The young mage didn't understand, but he bowed thankful anyway. Morrigan rejoined the group and had her bundle packed. She also had a staff that looked like the branch of a black-white tree in hand. Alistair and Elissa were also packed up and ready to go. Swords, Shields and bag packs were taken for the long way ahead. “I am at your disposal, Grey Warden. I suggested heading for the village to the north. It is not far and you find much things you will need.”, she explained, “But if you will I can be your silent guide. Its you're choice.” Ignitz rose his shoulders unconcerned. “I don't mind you speak what you think. I am no one to forbid once mouth.” “I agree, unless Alistair has something against it.”, Elissa agreed and both looked at the Templar. He had a grim and distrustful glare, pointing at Morrigan. “By the look of his glare, I certainly know the answer already.”, Morrigan giggled slightly. Alistair looked at his two comrades, crossing his arms on the chest. “Its just... do you really want to take her with us, just because her mother says so?”, he muttered disturbed by the idea. Ignitz shook his head and patted the Templar on the shoulder. “Alistair. We need every help we can get. No time to get picky.” The boy smiled at him, his eyes were still red and the sorrow wasn't all faded yet. “Well, that's... true... Grey Wardens always took people from everywhere in.” “I'm so pleased with you're decision.”, Morrigan teased him and Alistair turned away angry. Elissa had to smirk slightly while the big boy stomped away from the hut. “Farewell, mother. Don't forget the stew on the fire! I wouldn't like to come back to a burned down hut.”, the young mage lady jested, but Flemeth took it a bit serious. “Pah! It is more likely that, should you return this entire region, including my hut, will be devoured by the Blight.” “I didn't... what I meant was...”, Morrigan seemed to regret her teasing on her old mother. “I know.”, Flemeth sat her mind at ease, “Do try to have fun, dear.” The two said their farewell and the little group of five went on their way north.

“I won't fail you, Duty... I will survive... And when this Blight ends... I will join you... I promise...”

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Chapter 7 - Lothering - A Tale of Priests, Warriors and Merchants

"Dear Warden Journal, - Yes... I think I will start calling it a journal from now on. I do not write for my own anymore. Its partly a member of our little group... Duncan gave it to me and I will fill every page, I swear. - We left the Wilds... Morrigan guided our small group passed the horde and further north. I studied the treaties on the way. The major groups that are named in it are the Dalish elves, the dwarves and the mages... ...So I get my chance to see if the tower and my tutors are alright. I just wish I could bring the violin from Ser Gregoir with me... It's a shame... Well, no sense in bickering about it all day. We're close to the village. I hope the people there will be alright. Alistair and Elissa think it would be best to lay low and cover ourselves. We do not know if Loghain planned ahead of us... I covered myself with the coat that was to big for me. Its really handy right about now. I can cover the Chains of Fade armor, so I would attract less attention. I'm sure many people would panic if they saw a little boy, wearing an armor that looks like body remains. walking into the village. Morrigan does not like to cloak herself, but she promised not to provoke any suspicion. I hope we'll be alright... ...If we find someplace safe to rest, I promise to write you again, Journal. I will tell you about the people I meet, the crew and what we did all day. In fact, I think I will start writing only at night if I get the chance. I will do so before I go and pray.

Regards – Ignitz the Sinner"

"How do you manage to walk and write at the same time?", Elissa asked the young mage. Ignitz closed the journal and placed it back in his rucksack. "I did this all the time.", he explained smiling, "Taking notes, reading books and still keep one eye on the way--! Oh! Canavaris!" The woman looked at him confused: "Cana-what?" The boy went over to a plant growing near an old fence from an abandoned farmland. "Canavaris. Most people know it as Elfroot.", he explained exited about his finding, "Its used in many healing potions, antidotes, salves and for disinfection." The girl giggled as she saw the twinkling eyes of the young mage. "You react like you never saw Elfroot before." Alistair tapped her on the shoulder. "I bet he hasn't." Morrigan ignored their childish chit chat and went on. Ignitz took the Elfroot and followed the others. He walked next to Elissa again, inspecting the plant and her flat leaves. "Well, I saw some, but never one wild growing. Most of the Elfroot we get are already prepared for use. This one is the most fresh example of Canavaris I ever held in hand." He took a look around himself, enjoying the fresh air and the green lands. "Even though I am in the outside world for nearly six months now, I still find so many amazing things. Its different from just starring at pictures in books." He looked over to Elissa and noticed her Mabari. His gaze focused on the eyes that stared back at him. "I never got close to a Mabari like this. Those at Ostagar were all a bit hostile to me..." "Well, most of them were taught for war and combat after all. But I think that they tried to avoid you, because of that shark... Oh! Sorry..." Elissa didn't meant to remind the boy of this. Ignitz smiled and pulled his hood over as they closed in on the village. The road was old and most of it weathered and broken apart. "What's its name?", he asked her once more and looked at the dog again. Elissa eyed over and patted the Mabari's head. "His name is Barkspawn." Alistair and Ignitz looked at her confused, thinking she would jest at them. "Barkspawn!?", the two asked disbelieving her. "Yeah.", she said embarrassed by their gazes, "I always liked stories about Grey Wardens and darkspawn, when I was little! When I got my Mabari I named it Barkspawn, so stop starring at me like that!!" She ran off and the dog followed her happy barking. Ignitz smiled and Alistair still giggled about the name.

The three walked across the imperial highway, a street made of white stone that stood high above the ground. Sadly most of it was about to fall apart. The trees were thin and winter already touched their treetops. Dogs barked from afar and birds flew over their heads. Not far to the north east of them, they spotted a little village busting with people activity. Wagons and crates, tents and benches covered most of the ground. A group of shady figures blocked their way however. They stopped them from getting into town. "Wake up, men!", one of them yelled and walked over to them, "More travelers to attend to." Ignitz pulled the hood deeper over the head and closed the cloak, so that his armor would stay hidden. The lady Cousland looked at the bunch of bandits despised and readied her sword arm. She traveled with a great sword and shield on her back and the Cousland Family sword hanging left of the belt around her waist. Morrigan was annoyed about the delay and Alistair wasn't sure if they should get involved with this. Barkspawn growled at the bandits. The obvious leader of them pointed at Ignitz, who was hiding his face under the hood. His scars and the golden eyes were glowing strongly under the shadow. "I'd guess that fellow is the leader.", the bandit said and grinned at them. One of his comrades grabbed his shoulder and looked a bit disturbed, but also quite simple minded. "Errr... They don't look much like them others, you know.", he mentioned as he inspected the little crew of well armed wanderers, "Uh... Maybe we should just let these ones pass..." "Nonsense!", the leader shouted and grinned back at the crew, "Greetings travelers!" "Highwaymen.", Alistair whispered and warned his friends, "Preying on those fleeing the darkspawn, I suppose." Morrigan moaned angry and looked at him unimpressed. "They are fools to get in our way. I say teach them a lesson." "Now is that any way to greet someone?", the bandit leader shook his head overconfident in his luck with those five, "Tsk, tsk, tsk. A simple ten silvers and you're free to move on." "You should listen to you're friend. We're not refugees.", Ignitz stated to them in hope to get them to move aside peacefully. "What did I tell you?", the big one told his leader, "No wagons, and this one looks armed!" He pointed at Alistair who carried a shield and sword on his back. The leader slapped his face and moaned annoyed by this. "The toll applies to everyone, Hanric. That's why it is a toll and not, say, a refugee tax." The simple minded fool slowly followed the thinking of his leader. Ignitz moved his hand slowly to the knife he placed on his belt. "Oh, right.", the big bandit said, "Even if you're no refugee, you still gotta pay." "Forget it. We're not paying.", Elissa said clear to them. The leader of the highwaymen wasn't so pleased about this. Ignitz looked to the side and saw the bleeding corpse of a Templar behind some crates. Surely a victim of those evil men. "Well, I can't say that I am pleased to hear that. We have rules, you know?", the leader muttered sour. "Right.", his big partner Hanric agreed, "We get to ransack your corpses then. Those are the rules." "Try it, dirtball! I'll be glad giving you cold silver for you're blood!", Elissa provoked them and grabbed her great sword. "Well, this is going nowhere.", the leader laughed, "Let's finish this, gents!" Barkspawn jumped at the big one and knocked him right off his feet. Ignitz pulled the knife out and cut the throat of the bandit left to the right of his leader. Alistair grabbed his shield and sword charging at the bandit leader and knocked him straight in a line of crates. Two archer aimed at the group. Morrigan cast a spell from the back row, smashing both of them to the sides. One fell of the highway, the other landed straight in Elissa's slash, striking him and Hanric in one blow. The dog jumped to the side on a command before the blade could reach him. After this short assault, Ignitz walked towards the leader, pointing his knife straight at his nose. The bandit stood up and waved his hands in defeat. "All right! We surrender!", he stuttered scared, "We-we-we're just trying to get by, before the darkspawn get us all!" The group gathered around the leader. He now realized that the others were dead and he was alone. "Get by?", Elissa yelled at him angry, "You're a criminal!" "Yes, I'm a criminal; I admit it. I apologize.", the leader answered with slight sarcasm. Ignitz felt this burning hate for this despicable man. His eyes and the glowing from the scars disturbed the bandit very much. He felt like falling prey to an archdemon. Ignitz pointed the knife at the leaders throat and his dark glare seemed to be cutting. Even with all this hate on his mind, Ignitz lowered the blade and watched the bandit closely relaxing a bit. "I'm turning you in to the authorities.", the boy said serious, "You will answer to justice like anybody else. For those you have robbed as for you're comrades you lead into dead..." The bandit shook his head and walked backwards against the crates. "There aren't any! Just templars, and they'll execute me!" The boy looked at him sharp. He won't accept a no. "They'll do what they must. Come with me." "I'm not going down without a fight!", the bandit yelled and desperately grabbed his blade. Elissa, however, was faster and punched her sword through the highwayman's chest, piercing his armor and leaving him chocking and bleeding to death. Ignitz despite this act. "...and so he died anyhow...", he muttered and folds his hands for prayer. Silently he whispered a chant of guidance and forgiveness for the men they just had slain. "Ignitz?", Alistair wondered just like the two women and even the Mabari was confused. As the boy finished praying he looked at them. "No matter what sin, what race or believe... Everyone deserves to be moaned..." He looked over to the Templar covered by crates. He placed them aside to take a closer look at the body. "Poor man...", he mumbled and saw some documents and a locket with an insignia on it. He took it, so he could return it to the chantry. They might know who this man was and pray also for his guidance to the Maker. "Let us go...", the boy sighed and dragged the hood deeper over the head. It was like he wanted to hide from the coming dawn.

Crossing the arch of the highway, down towards the roadway, the crew stopped as Alistair tried to speak his mind. "Well there it is. Lothering. Pretty as a painting." The Templar boy seemed a bit off while saying this. Ignitz stopped and turned around to look at him. "Ah, so you finally decided to rejoin us, have you?", Morrigan teased him, "Falling on your blade in grief seems like too much trouble, I take it?" Elissa slapped her face moaning in despair of loosing her sanity around those two. Even Ignitz found it quite curious, as they went on, that those two seemed to hate each other so much. "Is my being upset so hard to understand?", Alistair started arguing, "Have you never lost someone important to you? Just what would you do if your mother died?" "Before or after I stopped laughing?", Morrigan answered smirking. "Right. Very creepy. Forget I asked.", he avoided anymore conflict for the better of the group and turned away from her. "What did you want to talk about, Alistair?", Elissa asked curious. She kneed down and petted her Mabari while listening to the conversation. "His Navel, I suspect.", Morrigan started teasing him again. She walked over to the edge of the highway lower road and sat on the low wall. "He certainly has been contemplating it for long enough." "Oh, I get it. This is the part where we're shocked to discover how you've never had a friend you're entire life." "I can be friendly when I desire to. Alas, desiring to be more intelligent does not make it so." "Could you two cut that out, please?", Ignitz tried to stop this childish argumentation. He rubbed his forehead irritated and hoped that the two be more serious now. "Anyway...", Alistair pouted as he got scolded by his friend and looked more focused at him, "I thought we should talk about, where we intent to go, first." Elissa stood up and engaged in the conversation. "We should try and use those treaties, I assume." "I agree.", Alistair nodded, "Have you looked at them." "No, she hasn't.", Ignitz explained, "But I have. The major groups are the dwarves of Orzammar, the Dalish elves and the circle of magi." He looked at the group serious and tried to focus their mind on the objectives they had. Not even realizing that he was acting like a leader for the group. "Orzammar is far from here, deep in the Frostback Mountains to the west. The Dalish are told to travel through the Brecilian Forest to the east, so I suggest looking there for clues that might lead us to one of their tribes. The circle shouldn't be a problem." He smiled while talking about the tower. Good memories were connected with it and he was confident that they would listen. "I know Ser Gregoir, the commander of the Templars in the tower. And I also know the first Enchanter very well. So I believe there will be no trouble with it." "Wow, you're quite knowledgeable, little man.", Elissa was astonished, "We also should consider Arl Eamon, right." Alistair agreed with her. "I also still think that Arl Eamon is our best bet for help. We might even want to go to him first." "Right.", Ignitz acknowledged, "I think you said he was from Redcliffe, right? That is somewhere to the south of the circle of Magi... Near lake Calenhad..." He seemed to try drawing a map in his mind while considering the positions of each place. "So we would have to go west along the mountain passes. Yes. Redcliffe might be the closest of them all." "Than this is settled. Let's go to Redcliffe. Some of Highever's Knights might have gone there after the castle was taken... And Fergus might go there, too. If he isn't here." Elissa hoped for more survivors of the massacre. Being the only one alive placed such a heavy burden on her. The mage agreed as did Alistair. "Finally. Can we go now?" Morrigan was quite bored after this stop and wanted to move along. The crew had their goal pinned and now they only need to prepare.

Slowly they walked down to the refugee camp in front of Lothering. Kids played while elders and grown ups tended to wounded and shared supplies. Many looked very badly shaped. Hunger and exhaustion had made those men and women weary of their lives. It hit the young mage hard and he struggled walking passed them like this. He wondered if he couldn't do anything. As they got closer to the entrance, Alistair and Morrigan started fighting again. "I have a wonder, Alistair, if you will indulge me.", Morrigan started. The Templar looked at her with a frown. "Do I have a choice?" "Of the three of you that remain, are you not the senior Grey Warden here? I find it curious that you allow another to lead, while you follow." Alistair shook his head. "No, Ignitz became a Warden before me, so he's the eldest of us." The woman answered this raising her shoulders: "But he's far younger in age, as is the lady Cousland. Or am I wrong with that?" Alistair muttered annoyed and tried to avoid her presence by looking away. "You find that curious, do you?" Morrigan seemed quite interested in this matter, but it gave Ignitz a headache just listening to them. "In fact, you defer to a new recruit. Is this a policy of the Grey Wardens? Or simply a personal one?" "What do you want to hear? That I prefer to follow? I do." Alistair ended his sentence quite fast as if he hoped she would stop picking on him. "You sound so very defensive.", she laughed. "Couldn't you crawl into a bush somewhere and die? That would be great, thanks.", he than answered mad and irritated. "You two. Stop it...", Ignitz wished and hoped they would just leave it be. The dog barked as if he found this conversation quite amusing. The crew went into the village. Houses and streets were protected by a wall of wood. Refugees were all over the place. Goats, Chickens., Ox and dogs filled the place. It looked like everyone was aware of the incoming darkspawn horde. A relieve for the young mage, though he had worries that these people would get killed. He hoped they manage to escape them. A templar blocked their way and rose his hand. "You there.", he shouted at them and they followed his voice, "If you seek shelter, I warn you: There is none to be found." Ignitz came close to the tall man. His friend Alistair worried that one might notice him and Morrigan being mages. "Move on if you can. Lothering is lost.", the templar told them depressed. "What do you mean?", the young boy asked him. As he looked at Ignitz, he noticed the strange golden glow in his eyes, but the scars stopped from shining. He found it odd, but he couldn't feel anything strange about him yet. "We had refugees streaming from the south for the last two days. The chantry and tavern are full to bursting.", he explained exhausted and totally at a loss, "There simply isn't enough food to go around, and we templars can barely keep order. You'd be better off elsewhere, my friend." Ignitz felt the pressure this man had for the last few days. He's was at his limit. The young boy smiled and nodded. "You're doing what you can, Ser. I'm sure. Don't worry about us. We'll heed your warning." "Best of luck, wherever you might go.", he said and let them pass. Morrigan yawned quite bored. "Oh, I hate this village already. If you don't mind, I would prefer a bit time...and space for myself.", she said and went on. "Fine by me.", Alistair approved with the idea still sour. Ignitz nodded and pointed to the west. "Alright. We'll meet at the mill by sunset, Morrigan. Is this fine by you?" The witch agreed and left the group for now. Ignitz grabbed his bag and pulled a little leather bundle out. "I stashed some of the gold I got from trades with the Quartermaster in Ostagar. It's not much, but I think we should try get us some supplies." Elissa agreed and also grabbed a leather bundle from her bag. "I too have some money left.", she said and had an idea, "I've got it. How about I take some of the gold and get us some tents, mats and food." Alistair agreed and offered his help. "I help. We might need some cooking supplies, too. I can guess that nobody wants to eat crumby bread and roots all day." Ignitz smiled and nodded again. "Okay. I take some of my. I will try help some of the people here in town." "Ignitz..." "Don't worry, Alistair. I stay out of trouble... No magic inside the village and I won't do dangerous stuff without help. I might even find us some more comrades here." The templar grinned at him. "Then I hope not another one like Morrigan." The three left the mage and he sighed slightly. Now he was on his own in the city. People ran across the street. Some looked quite disturbed and worried. Crying and children shouted. It was a very busy place. Similar with Ostagar, but far more depressing and frightening.

Ignitz looked around himself. He saw the desperation in the peoples eyes. "Those are peasants... No warriors... And there are not many templars here... If they don't move this will be a massacre... Just like Ostagar..." His thoughts worried him much. He decided to investigate the situation. Suddenly a girl ran him down on the street. She fell over and lost a pack of bandages. "Ouch...", Ignitz muttered, luckily he wasn't knocked down by her. He saw the girl holding her head, sitting on the ground. He reached his hand to help her up without even thinking first. The girl looked at him with big brown eyes and velvet lips. Her black, half-shorted hair made her face look pale in comparison. She stared at Ignitz as he stood over her and tried to help her up. His eyes were unnaturally bright and reminded of gold coins. The scars on his face were glowing faint. It disturbed her a little bit, but she still grabbed his hand and let him help her. The two went over and took the bandages. "I'm sorry...", Ignitz said to her, "I wasn't paying attention." "Its okay, mister. Well... Goodbye." She left quickly and went over to a couple. One was a boy with black hair and a staff, the other was a young lady with two daggers bound to her belt. Both had black hair and looked nearly identical, beside of their gender. He felt the same strange bound from those three, like he did with that black haired boy on the battlefield at Ostagar. He watched them go and vanishing in the crowed of people. "...strange...", he muttered and shook his head. He pulled the hood back again and went to investigate the village. On a little bridge he found a child looking for his mother. He convinced it to go to the chantry and even gave the young one a silver coin so it could eat. Ignitz also found a group of elves that were in need of help. He shared his coins with them too and let them know that the bandits are no more. The family thanked him and went to see if there was still something left to save. The young mage hoped that the Maker would give them luck. On his way, helping villagers and refugees alike, Ignitz came to the fields, listening to people arguing over food and limited supplies. The Chasind, a folk from the Wilds were involved. He knew tales about them being barbarians, but also honorable men. The desperation of the people spread everywhere. It filled the air he was breathing, so he believed. Suddenly Ignitz heard someone speaking in a language he never heard before. "Shok ebasit hissra. Meraad astaarit, meraad itwasit, aban aqun. Maraas shokra. Anaan esaam Qun." The boy turned around swiftly and looked at a cage chained to fences and the ground. There was a man sitting in it. Grey skin, white hair and a short, bristly beard. Strong muscular body, a serious look and completely defenseless, so it seemed. Ignitz walked around the cage, slowly, so he would not disturb the man within his strange prayer. As he noticed the boy, the man gazed at him with violet sparkling eyes. Ignitz felt like he was staring at Amethyst. It was fascinating. "You aren't one of my captors." The man's voice was deep and intimidating, but remorseful and sad. It caught the boy's interest. "I will not amuse you any more than I have the other humans. Leave me in peace." The man looked away and closed his eyes again, but the boy didn't leave. He sat in front of the cage, decreasing his height to the man. He now was about one head smaller instead. Ignitz looked at him curious. The man felt his gaze upon his skin and looked back at the boy. Both stared at each other in silence. The boy seemed confused. "You're a prisoner? Who put you here?", he asked while dragging the long cloak over his armor. He was quite nervous, but something made him talk with this man. Ignitz thought while waiting for the man's reply. "Why am I talking with this man?? I...I never spoke to anybody just out of curiosity before... This is strange..." The man muttered slightly annoyed by the boy, but gave him an answer. "I'm in a cage, am I not? I've been placed here by the chantry." "You look quite different than most people I have seen...", Ignitz began a conversation with this person. "I am Sten of the Beresaad--the vanguard--of the qunari peoples." "Qunari.", Ignitz thought amazed and gazed shocked at the giant of a man. He seemed not surprised by the boys reaction, but that changed as the little one smiled at him friendly. "I am Ignitz Amell. Pleased to meet you." "You mock me.", Sten said surprised, "Or you show manners I had not come to expect in your lands." He became depressed again. His mood was gloomy, his eyes turned away and he sighed exhausted, so it seemed. "Though it matters little, now. I will die soon enough. I suggest you leave me to my fate." "But I don't want to...", Ignitz replied and still smiled friendly, "You don't seem like a criminal to me, mister Sten. What did you do to end up in here?" "I am convicted of murder.", the qunari told him, "Have the villagers not spoken of it?" The boy widened his eyes in terror as his ears caught the word he feared the most. The shock was clear in his gaze, it confused even Sten a bit. "Murder...", he whispered deeply sunken in thoughts. He looked at the grass and dried earth beneath the cage. Images of blood flooded carpets and pulsing insides rushed pass his minds eyes as he continued repeating this word over and over. He shook his head and looked at the qunari prisoner again. His face was pale and the glow on scars and eyes grew stronger. "Are you...guilty?" Sten looked at the boy quite confused. The kid was about to cry as far as he could tell, but he did not know why. "Are you asking if I feel guilt, or if I am responsible for the deed. However I feel, whatever I've done, my life is forfeit now." He looked at the boy and saw a tear crossing the shining blue skin on his cheek. "That is not true, mister Sten.", he said, "But... If you feel guilty about the murder, why did you do it?" Ignitz question seemed to anger Sten. He turned away in despite of the boy. "Either you have an enviable memory, or a pitiable life, to know nothing of regret." The boy realized that his question offended the qunari. He nearly shook his hands in apology, and would have revealed his disturbing armor. He quickly grabbed onto the cloak and bowed his head. "No no no.", he stuttered, "That's....that's not what I meant to say, mister Sten! I'm sorry if my question offended you! Really! It's...its just...such a waste..." The efforts of this child to make him feel better, surprised Sten anew. He was different than the other people in the village. "Aren't you interested in seeking atonement?"", the boy explained. "Death will be my atonement." "But that is not the right way...", the boy went on, "Its not just... Not if you feel regret for what you've done..." He paused and coughed slightly. Ignitz looked slightly ill to Sten. His eyes lost their glow and the skin around was red. His skin was very pale and he seemed to be in pain. Still he looked at him with a smile and tears in the eyes, he did not care to whip away. "There are other ways to redeem yourself." "Perhaps. What does your wisdom say is equal to my crime?" Now the qunari was eager to hear the boy out. Ignitz smiled at him and the tear was soaked into the fabric of the cloak. "If regret is within the heard, one must follow the path redemption – not the way of death, for they might change the world." The qunari was surprised with this quote. The boy laughed slightly. "Hehehe... Well, its a quote from a history book I have read... But I had to punch someone in the face first to truly understand its meaning... … Sometimes death is no answer... Like in your case, mister Sten. Murder is bad, but since this whole world is in danger right now, it weights little to the counts of death my enemies had delivered to us... So I would suggest that you could help me defending this lands against the Blight." "The Blight?", Sten got very interested, then, "Are you a Grey Warden, then?" The boy nodded at him. "Yes, I am.", he said and closed his eyes in sorrow, "One of the three last surviving ones..." "Surprising." Sten seemed to be in deep thoughts as he inspected the boy with greater interest. His whole cold avoiding attitude was gone by now, but he still seemed in doubts. "My people have heard legends about the Grey Wardens' strength and skill...though I suppose not every legend is true." "Only few are, mister Sten. Only few are...", the boy agreed, "I wonder if the revered mother would let you free..." "Perhaps if you told her the Grey Wardens need my assistance. It seems as likely to bring my death as waiting here." The boy nodded and stood up, still hiding his abominable armor beneath the long cloak. He pulled the hood back over his face. "I'll leave you for now.", he said and walked back into the village. He turned around once more and smiled at the qunari. "But don't worry, mister Sten. I'll be back as fast as I can. I promise." "Farewell, then.", Sten answered and looked after the boy, "My thanks, human." It seemed like Ignitz brought hope back to the qunari warrior.


The young mage walked passed the refugee camps. He spotted someone wearing a chantry robe. “Maybe that's the revered mother!”, he thought, “With all these people gathering here, she might be more likely to spend her time outside with the desperate.” He followed the woman he saw. She went into the tavern. The music was lout and the peoples voices even louder. Everything was like the Templar at the gate predicted. The houses and streets are bustling full. Tents circled around the building. A blacksmith was working not far. The hammer hitting the anvil was jingling quite clear. Ignitz went inside in hope to find the woman he saw, but what he found wasn't the helpful soul he sought. Two men in bright silverite armor came at him as he entered the tavern. “Well. Look what we have here, men. I think we've just been blessed.” The two approached Ignitz at the door. The boy pulled the hood deeper into his face, but the bright light illuminating across his cheeks and the golden glow of his eyes made it hard for him to hide. “Didn't we spend all morning asking about a fellow by this very description? And everyone said they hadn't seen him?” One of the two men pointed at Ignitz. He stepped back slightly as the other stared angry at him. “It seemed we've been lied to.” Suddenly the woman with the priests robe he saw on the street came up and tried to calm the conversation. “Gentlemen, surely there is no need for trouble. These are no doubt simply more poor souls seeking refuge.” The woman rose her hands in defense for the poor boy. Her red hair and the pretty, yet young and mild face comforted the mage. The emphasis of this woman reminded Ignitz of Riordan. Her blue eyes were different however. He found no answer to that thought. “They are more than that.”, the soldier yelled and growled intimidating at the chantry girl, “Now stay out of our way, Sister. You protect these traitors, you'll get the same as them.” Ignitz wanted to pull his hands out from underneath the cloak, but he feared to spread more panic. Some of the refugees and villagers in the tavern already fled to the upper level. Other hid behind tables and counter. The fireplace was heating the small bar room and children seek shelter in the kitchen with the maiden. “Let's talk before things get out of hand.”, the boy suggested. He saw the terror in the eyes of the peasants. “I doubt he would listen. He blindly follows his master's commands.”, the chantry girl said, but she seemed happy that the boy considered peaceful negotiation about violence. “I am not the blind one!”, the man shouted and clinched his fists together, “I served at Ostagar, where the Teyrn saved us from the Grey Wardens' treachery! I serve him gladly! Enough talk. Take the Warden into custody. Kill the sister and anyone else who gets in your way.” This order spread a bulk of panic in the small tavern. People jumped behind tables, benches and ran up the stairs. “Right. Let's make this quick!” “You can't do that!”, Ignitz yelled at them and grabbed the soldiers arm, “They are innocent!” The soldier punched the boy in the face and he fell backwards against the door. The hood went of his head. The man came at him shouting, the sword high above his shoulder. Ignitz duck, blocking the approach with his legs against the soldiers belly. He swung his sword and teared through the wooden door. People outside started screaming. The chantry sister fought alongside the boy. She grabbed a dagger from inside her sleeves and attacked the bowman in the back of the room. She unarmed them quickly while Ignitz had to fight off two armed soldiers. The sword was stuck and the boy crawled back on his feet. He gave the soldier a punch to the nose, jumped around him and grabbed the shield from his back. With a hard kick he send one over the counter, breaking bottles, glasses and a shelf filled with liqueur. “Sorry.”, he apologized to the bar keeper and blocked the ax of his next opponent. The boy grabbed his arm and pummeled the shield several times against the mans head before knocking him over a table. The archers bows were cut in half by the chantry sister. She was grabbed around the neck by the commander, who was armed with a giant sword. Ignitz smashed the shield on his helmet, so he would let go of the girl. The commander turned around. “Why you--!!” The boy hit the hand of the man with the shield, sending the sword flying to the door. The commander ran after it. “May I?”, the chantry girl asked and grabbed the shield. Ignitz looked at her, then at his empty hands and lastly back at her while she threw the shield so that it slithered over the ground. The commander slipped over it and landed on his back. The giant blade hit right behind him on the ground and Ignitz took it into his care. As the commander tried to reach for the blade stuck in the door, he was stopped by Ignitz, pointing the giant swords edge at him. “Don't even think of it.”, he warned him. “All right, you won!”, the commander stood up and waved his hands defeated, “We surrender!” “Good.”, the sister said with a smile, “They've learned their lesson and we can all stop fighting now.” The mage boy looked at the soldiers. “You're...Loghain's men, right?”, his voice was rough, fading within anger, but he kept his cool, “Killing innocent people... You can be glad that it did not occurred... Leave... Take a message to Loghain.” “W-what do you want to tell him?”, the commander asked and his soldiers slowly left the tavern, always being watched by the girl and the mage. They don't wanted them to get anymore ideas. “Tell him the following. He'll pay for what he's done. We're coming for him. And remember, soldier. If you dare to harm one innocent person on your way back, I will hear from it and I will hunt you till your punishment soaks my blade. Now go!” “I tell him. Right away. Now. Thank you.”, he stuttered and left the tavern as well. Ignitz let the sword slip from his grasp. He sighed and seemed relieved. “You don't mean it, right?”, the girl wondered. He turned around and smiled at her. “No, just trying to scare him into doing the right thing... I learned this from Ser Gregoir.” “I see.”, she laughed slightly. “And this, Ser Gregoir was it? Did he also gave you this intimidating looking armor?” Ignitz looked down and noticed that he completely forgot about the cloak not covering the armor. He grabbed the ends hasty and covered it up again. “Oh, my!”, he looked around shocked, but it seemed that the guests were more concerned about what happened just now. “Please, ma'am. Keep it down and for yourself. I don't want to scare people with...it...” He pulled the hood back over his black hair. “Don't worry, I won't tell.”, she assured him and bowed slightly, “I apologize for interfering, but I couldn't just sit by and not help.” “I appreciate what you tried to do. I'm just glad no one had to die today...” The boy sighed deeply. He doesn't want anymore dead. He had seen enough of it already. “I am glad you found it in your heart to offer those men mercy. Let me introduce myself. I am Leliana, one of the lay sisters of the chantry here in Lothering. Or I was.”The young woman smiled at the boy who pulled the hood deep to hide his face. “I am Ignitz Amell. A pleasure.”, he introduced himself. “Those men said you're a Grey Warden. You will be battling the darkspawn, yes? That is what Grey Wardens do?” The young mage looked down a bit, sighing anew. “Well, yes... But most of us died at Ostagar...” “I know. I know after what happened you'll be need all the help you can get. That's why I will be coming along.” Her last sentence was spoken quite hasty, but determined. Ignitz looked at her a bit puzzled. “Well... I will need help, that's true.” “That and the Maker wants me to go with you.” This answer was unexpected. The boy looked at her even more confused than ever. It was strange, but he partly believed it. “Can you...elaborate?”, he asked, hoping not to offend Leliana. The girl seemed nervous in explaining it. Maybe she doubt if he would believe her. “I-I know that sounds... absolutely insane--but it's true! I had a dream... a vision!” Ignitz looked at her with interest and listened carefully as she explained. “Look at the people here. They are lost in their despair, and this darkness, this chaos... will spread. The Maker doesn't want this. What you do, what you are meant to do, is the Maker's work. Let me help.”, she plead to the boy. He looked at her speechless at first. Ignitz was lost for a moment. His thoughts went off as he puzzled about this occurrence. “The Maker made me suffer...but... maybe she's right... What if he saves me and punishes me for a purpose? ...What if all of this...has a true meaning...” He closed his eyes and started mumbling a bit. After another short moment of silence, Ignitz smiled anew and answered her. “Very well. I will not turn away help when it is offered.” “Thank you. I appreciate giving this chance. I will not let you down.”, she promised happy. He nodded and remembered why he came to the tavern in the first place. “By the way, Miss Leliana. I am searching for the revered mother. Is she still in the chantry or does she helps with the refugees outside?” “Oh, she must be at the chantry. The Templars thought it might be to dangerous for her to stay outside.”, she said and followed the boy outside. He dragged the sword out of wooden door and took the shield from the ground. The two left the tavern and went back south towards the chantry.

As the lay sister, Leliana and Ignitz reached the walls surrounding the chantry, both heard the yelling preaches of somebody. It sounded like a man filled with sorrow, desperation and fear. It chilled the boy and he feared that these preaches could cause people to panic even more. On their way towards the entrance, the two ran into Alistair. He waved over to his friend. “What a nice surprise.”, he teased him, “I didn't knew you were a ladies man, Ignitz. Hahaha.” “What do you mean by that?”, Ignitz wondered. He was at a loss with that. He turned around slightly and introduced the two. “This is Miss Leliana, one of the former lay sisters here in Lothering. She offered to help us, so I agreed.” “I see.” Alistair looked at the woman and wondered if she was even capable of fighting. “There is another person I wish to take with us, too. That's why I came here. I need to talk with the revered mother.” The look on Ignitz face became more serious by the minute. “I also ran into a little squad of Teyrn Loghain...” “What?!”, Alistair responded with shock, “What happened!?” The boy shook his head disgusted by their actions from before. “They tried to take me into custody and wanted to kill whoever gets in their way.” He clinched his fist together and crunched the teeth. The golden shine of his eyes turned slightly orange. It was like watching a candlelight dancing. “This bastard!”, his friend responded and also showed his despise and anger. Ignitz tried to focus their thoughts somewhere else. “How are the preparations so far?”, he asked to quickly change objectives, “Where is Elissa?” The boy looked around and spotted her speaking with a merchant. There was an unfamiliar knight with her. Red hair and a kind look on the face. “Oh, we're almost done. We brought three tents and some cooking supplies, food and bandages. We had to talk that guy out so that he wouldn't charge too much for the food.”, Alistair explained, “Oh, and we went out helping the chantry with some stuff to get a bit more money. We needed to restock for better weapons and armor.” He pulled a sword, that he had hanging over his back. He handed it over to Ignitz with a smile. “This is a sword they gave us for payment. It's called 'Oath Keeper' or something like that. I figured it might suit you better than one of us. But it seems you already got one yourself.” Ignitz took the sword that Alistair handed him. He threw the one he got from Loghain's men down in the dirt. He hoped that no one would look at him much while his cloak was opened. He feared that someone might panic and spread it around. His eyes looked over the blue embarked sheath. It was made of silverite, decorated with ornaments of vines, leaves and trees. He pulled the sword from it and looked at the blade. His face was reflected by the clear, sharp steel blade. The hilt was strong and simple. Leather was bound around it. The blade itself seemed to glow slightly. Ignitz placed it back in the sheath with care. “This sword is untainted...”, he said a bit sad, “...and I don't know how many innocent this soldier had killed with his blade till it reached my hand... ...Oath Keeper... ...It...feels strange holding it somehow.” “Maybe its because that this sword is original made for templars...”, Alistair wondered. “I don't know... Maybe...”, he answered and bound the sword to his belt, closing his cloak fast again, “...but I will keep it. Thanks, Alistair.” The Templar boy waved at him. “No problem. So, who's the other guy you want to recruit in, hm?” Ignitz hesitated to tell him at first. “Uh... ….uhm... ...Its...its a qunari...” Alistair jumped back surprised. “What!? Really?! A real qunari!?” “You mean the prisoner, no?”, Leliana asked and he struggled nodding at her, “That's why you wanted to see the revered mother. I see.” She seemed not so surprised, but a bit worried. “And who is that?”, Ignitz again tried to change the subject. “Hm? The guy with the red hair?”, Alistair pointed over to the man standing by Elissa's side, “That's Ser Roland Gilmore. He's one of the Highever Knights who escaped.” “Ah, I see.” The boy walked pass Alistair and wanted to enter the chantry. “W-wait! Are you sure we should...take a Qunari prisoner with us?”, he asked disturbed by it. “Sure.”, the boy answered him smiling and went on. Leliana followed him and Alistair came too. The three were caught in the preaches of the mad doom prophet shouting in front of the chantry. “The legions of evil are on your doorsteps! They will feast upon our hearts!” The man was one of the Chasind people. Ignitz looked at him as he started his preachings again. Foul words of despair and destruction, scaring children, men and woman alike. “Please! You're scaring the children!”, one of the elder people begged him to stop, but the man just got louder. “Better to slit their throats now than let them suffer at darkspawn hands!” The doom preacher turned around and looked at Ignitz and his two friends. His eyes widened as he saw into the face of the young boy hidden underneath the hood. He pointed at him in fear. “There! One of their minions is already amongst us! This man bears their evil stench! Can you not see the vile blackness that fills him!” Ignitz looked at the man with sorrow. The gentle shine of his golden eyes seemed to touch the Doomsayer. “Why don't you keep you're voice down?”, he asked him with a soft caring voice. “I watched the black horde descend on my people! I will not be silent!” “P-Please! Stop! Somebody shut his mouth!”, the elder argued. One of the younger farmer was already caught in the hopelessness this man had spread. “But isn't he right? The bann left us! We're going to die!” “This minion is but the first of those who come to destroy us!” Ignitz gazed into the frightened eyes of the doomsayer. His merciful glare reached to his soul and the man stopped shouting for a moment. “What happened to you?”, the boy asked concerned and came closer. “My family, my clan...”, he stuttered in sorrow, “Those creatures butchered them all. Some of us fled here, but we cannot escape the darkspawn!” “It must have been horrible.”, the mage tried to calm him and reached his hand to the man's shoulder, “How did you escape?” The Chasind punched his hand away and started yelling again. He seemed frightened by the child. “No! I won't listen to the words of a man tainted by darkspawn!” The man stepped away from the kid with the strange looking glove on his hand. Ignitz now realized that he had shown part of his armor, but he did not care much anymore. The concern for this man was greater than the fear of peoples reaction to the Chains of Fade. “I'm not evil.”, he assured and smiled beneath the shadows of his hood. The golden light of his eyes gazed merciful, caring and soothing upon the Chasind. “Please, won't you talk to me?”, he asked gently and friendly. His kindhearted attitude and this child's innocent kept people from panicking. They listened to him, looking at the doomsayer and the boy with unrest and nervousness. “I...ran, hearing my wife's screams as they dragged her off.”, the Chasind man told him. He started crying. The memory seemed to hunt him. Ignitz felt the relation to that pain. “Poor man...”, he whispered and shook his head, “But... You are not honoring her death --their death-- by acting like this.” “Are you...calling me a coward!?”, the man yelled anew. He pointed at Ignitz. The boy looked at him still caring. He shook his head once more. “No... No I'm not...”, he said steady, “I'm calling you an idiot. Listen to yourself for a moment!” The boy became more serious and walked up on the man. His gaze was stronger and determined. “You tell those people to rather die than trying to fight for life! You tell them to kill their children! Those they love and care for!! You think you're people would've wanted this!? You think you're wife would have wanted this??” The Chasind became silent for a moment and hung his head. He clinched the fists and crunched the teeth ashamed of his own words coming back from the lips of a child. “I...I have shamed my ancestors. But the blackness will come...” The doomsayer ran off, but he stopped yelling and preaching. The peasants looked at the crew of three. Alistair and Leliana stared to Ignitz who seemed taken by the Chasind's words more than any of the others around. “They surely will come... But dying won't accomplish anything... If we die without trying...it won't change anything... ...for anybody...” A chantry brother who had listened till now came up to him. His eyes searched answers in the unfamiliar face of the boy. “He was right, wasn't he?”, he asked nervous, “There is no hope for us...” This question angered the mage and he pointed his finger at the brother. “Shame on you! Of all people, I never had thought to here these words from you're kin!!”, he yelled and started circling his gaze upon the people that surrounded him, “There is always hope. Hope is the last to die on the battlefield. Muster you're courage! For Maker's sake, don't give in without even trying!” The brother hung his head and nodded. “You're right!”, he answered determined, “We can't give up!” One of the farmers was still unsure about all this. The situation was too much for him to handle. “But... we can't fight!”, he pointed out, “What are we supposed to do?” Another came from the back and placed his hand assuring on his shoulder. He nodded at him. “We can't lie down and die, either.” “There is always a way.”, Ignitz explained to them regaining his calmness, “Fighting is just one of many...” “We must go north, to Denerim!”, the farmer said and dragged the other along. The people finally found the way they had to go for survival. Ignitz was pleased with this outcome. The Chantry brother bowed to him thankful and helped the farmers prepare. “Although people think they can pass every river, sometimes it takes another to see the path cleared...”, he muttered, earning him a confused gaze from Alistair. “What?” “It was something that Ser Gregoir once told me, when I was little...” He covered himself up in the cloak again. The three went to the chantry and entered the building.


The chantry was without a doubt the biggest building in town. The wooden ceiling, the walls of stones and rosette colored windows. It was very crowded inside. Many people prayed for guidance, others tried to find shelter here. The chantry staff was working all over the place. Templars watched the hallway along the red carpet, towards the pedestal for the preaching and prayers. Some benches were thrown over. Certainly there were some violent activities going on. Many of the people around looked at them, desperation marking their eyes. Voices overlapped. Ignitz didn't know where to listen first. This place made his head spin, but it was also a place of great calm for him. He sighed deeply and released the doubts and dark auras of the outside world. The boy entered the hall steady, laying his hands together, honoring the Maker and his chosen bride. A group of templars dispersed in the middle of the hall. One of them looked at them with a smile. A dark tanned man with black, long grown hair and a gentle, friendly expression. The mage boy went over to him with joy. “Ser Bryant.”, he called out to him happy. “Yes?”, he wondered, “Who might you be?” “Its me, Ser! Ignitz Amell.”, the boy said and took the hood off. The Templar was quite surprised, but glad to see him. “Ignitz? The shy little mage from the tower? My, it has been quite a long time.” “Yes, it has...”, he agreed, “About three years... ...well in a couple of days it will be three years on count.” “Still wrapping your head around minor things, I see. What are you doing here anyway? If I recall right, you were not the type of mage who would leave the tower.” Ignitz nodded and smiled. “I did leave, but more official than one might think. I am one of the Grey Wardens' now.” He turned around and introduced his friends and allies to the Templar. “These are my comrades, Ser Bryant. Alistair of the Grey Wardens' and Sister Leliana. She might be known to you already.” “I...see.”, he seemed a bit worried, but stayed polite and greeted the crew, “I'm Ser Bryant, commander of the Lothering Templars.” He turned to Ignitz and placed his hand worried on the kids shoulder. “You must be careful about what you say now, Ignitz. Teyrn Loghain declared all Wardens' traitors, responsible for the king's death. You know this I hope.” The two looked at him shocked. “What?!”, they yelled not believing. Ignitz stared into Ser Bryant's dark eyes. “He claimed we're responsible?” “And set a bounty on any who survived.”, he explained and grabbed the boy at both shoulders. He noticed that the kid was about to burst with fury. Ignitz hung his head, crunching the teeth with anger. He closed the eyes with pressure. The marks on his face were glowing, showing the veins beneath the skin. It worried the Templar much. “I don't think the Grey Wardens' would be as careless or malicious as the Teyrn claims, but either way, there it is.”, he said and smiled, “But knowing you as one of them strengthen my believe that they are innocent, Ignitz.” The youngster looked at him. He sighed deeply and placed his hand on top of the templars right arm. “Thanks, Ser Bryant... I just hope that others might believe so too...” “It is best if you don't linger, though... Just in case.”, he suggested and laughed slightly, “By the way, Ignitz. When did you decide to wear an armor? And where did you got this strange markings?” The little one laughed and hid the armor beneath the cloak again. “It's a long story, Ser Bryant... A painful one at that, too...” “I see...” Ignitz sighed once more before continuing the conversation. “Is the revered mother here? I wish to speak to her.”, he asked. “Yes, she is in her office, I think.”, the knight commander answered and pointed over his shoulder,” I hope its not another complaint about those bandits... Maker's breath! How many times do we have to chase them off?!” “Well...about that.”, Ignitz stuttered nervous, “We...uhm...kinda...killed them.” Ser Bryant looked at him a bit disturbed. “You...killed...them?!” “I wanted to turn them in, but they fought back...” “All of them? Just the two of you?! By yourself?!” “No, no, no! We we're five when we got here, Ser Bryant... “ “Its true.”, another templar came by and reassured his story, “I saw it from my post. It was over so fast we didn't even had time to get over there.” He bowed before the small crew honoring their skills. He left the group and returned to his duties. “Sad that it had to come to that, but then they asked for it.”, Ser Bryant said, “Here. Take this key.” He handed Ignitz a small, rusty key and pushed his hand close, so that he would keep it. “It opens the cabinet on the far wall. I know you would never accept anything in return for your doing, but do me a favor and take it. You can use the extra help, I am sure.” The boy looked at him. His heart demanded to refuse the gift. He did not want to take any advantages from those poor people. It made him sad, but he knew that Bryant would never take it back. “Thanks, Ser Bryant...”, he said grateful, but conflicted. “Maker bless you, Ignitz. And all who travel with you... Was there anything else I could help you with?” “Maybe.”, the boy mentioned and took out a locket from his bag, “I found this locket with a note by a corpse outside Lothering. The armor looked much like those of a templar, but...” He grabbed in the bag again and took his journal out where he had stored some notes, “...I also found these notes there. They state that this poor soul might have been a knight named Ser Henric. Do you know him?” Bryant shook his head and looked at the findings several times. “No... I don't know him, but it could be one of the Redcliffe Knights that had come to town.” He pointed at someone standing at a table not far from them. This man was reading a large tome. “Hey, I know that one.”, Alistair said and took locket and notes, “I ask him, Ignitz. You better go meet with the revered mother.” He walked over to the knight without even waiting for Ignitz to answer. Maybe they both were good friends in the past. “Well, let us go to the revered mother, no?”, Leliana tapped the boy on the shoulder. He looked at her and nodded. “Alright.”, he turned to Ser Bryant and bowed grateful, “Thanks for everything, Ser Bryant. Maker watch over you.” “Over us all...”, he bowed as well. The two went on. Ignitz felt bad about the people. The chant that the priests were singing calmed him slightly, but every step into the crying and whining were hard. He used the key on the cabinet shown by Ser Bryant and took only what he would need. Three packs of bandages, some herbs and a book about animals and plants of Ferelden. Leliana went to the left chamber of the chantry and came back after a short while. She changed her robe and geared herself with a leather armor. She also brought her own rucksack filled with supplies, a sword in addition to the dagger she already had and a long bow and arrows. “It looks like you've been preparing for awhile now.”, Ignitz wondered. Leliana smiled, but she couldn't hide her worries as she gazed upon the tired and unsettled eyes of the Warden. The two went into the office of the revered mother. Two Templars guarded it, greeting them with straight standing and a nod. The revered mother, an elderly woman with grey hair and slightly tanned skin, was sitting next to a table on a chair. She looked at her guests with a soft, comforting smile. “Good day, Sister Leliana.”, she greeted the girl next to Ignitz, “I'm surprised to see you're still in Lothering.” The girl smiled and bowed slightly in front of the old lady. “It is good to see you as well, your Reverence.” “I do not recognize your companion.” The boy bowed before the elder woman and smiled. It was faint and tired, but the revered mother felt the sincerity behind it. “My name is Ignitz Amell, your Reverence. It is a pleasure meeting you in this house of the Maker.” “Greetings.”, she replied and wondered, “Will you be making a donation to the chantry? Our need has never been greater.” “What tithe is acceptable?”, he asked while searching his pouches and pockets, wondering if he hasn't given every coin to Alistair and Elissa already. “Might I suggest thirty silver?”, she answered. He freed his right arm from the cover of the cloak and showed five golden coins laying in the palm of his black glove. “I can offer five sovereigns.”, he said as he saw the coins in his hand. He also realized that he released the cover of his armor. It made him nervous. He could not predict how the revered mother would react on it. But she gave little concern. Her blue eyes looked at the boy grateful for his offer. She took the coins and put them inside a wooden box. “These poor souls will weep at your generosity. Thank you!”, she said with appreciation. The elder woman placed her hands on her lap and looked at him calmly. “What can I do for you, then?” Ignitz bowed slightly, knowing his bidding might be much to ask for. “I want to talk about Sten, the qunari you imprisoned.” The old lady stood up, slightly nervous and insecure. “It might have been kinder to execute him, but I leave his fate to the Maker. Why does he interest you?” She looked at Ignitz calmly, stared into his gilded eyes and saw pity, mercy and, to her surprise, a flickering of related understanding. “Your Reverence... I know it'll be hard to understand my request... And even harder to accept it... Sten told me what happened... What he did... Maybe not all of it, but enough for me... He was wrong in his action...” The woman listened to the boy and shook her head several times over. “He butchered an entire farmhold. Only the youngest hid long enough to survive.”, she explained to him pained by the thoughts of it, “The child said that his father found the qunari gravely wounded and took him in. That kindness was repaid with murder. The bann's men found the qunari just...standing amidst the carnage. He did not resist them.” Now the boy listened and shook his head. He wandered across the room thinking, sighing and holding back the sorrow. He muttered a prayer for the lost and the dead while hearing out the revered mother. “Why would he do such a thing?”, he wondered. Ignitz thought about it and started pitting the qunari even more. He felt like they both had a common past somehow. Even though he had no evidence for it, the boy felt that Sten wasn't a murderer on purpose. “He would not say, though he acknowledged his guilt.”, she explained still confused and frightened by it, “Even the seasoned knights who apprehended him were disturbed by the carnage. However docile he appears, don't be fooled. This qunari is a danger.” “This qunari has a name, your Reverence.”, the boy answered slightly angered, “Whatever he might be and whatever he might have done... Calling one by its name is the least honor we can give... Humans are no more different than them...” He sighed deeply and faced the revered mother again. “Is there any way I can convince you to release him?”, he asked blunt. The old lady looked at him shocked. A moment passed with no word spoken between the two. Leliana observed the conversation fascinated, furious and a bit at awe. She wondered what was going through the young boys head as he stated his request. “Then his next victims might count you and me as their murderers.” The revered mother shook her head once again. “I don't think you'll have to worry, your Reverence... I was thinking that you might release him into my custody... I want him to fight alongside me...against evil that is far greater of a danger than he would be...” The boy tried to avoid naming his order, but hoped she would see the purpose behind his request. The old lady thought for a while. She was unsure if this was a good idea. Her gaze turned towards Leliana. “And what do you say on this, Leliana?”, she asked the girl unsettled, “You know your friend better than I.” Friends? Ignitz wondered if this word was appropriate in this case. Both hardly know each other. They had just met. Would her opinion be that highly valued? “These are... unusual times, your Reverence. With us, the qunari might do some good. I'm sure of it, in fact.”, she answered. Again Ignitz felt anger rising. Was he the only one who saw Sten as a person, not as a member of a race? He shook his head, trying to avoid yelling. The revered mother sighed concerned, but yielded before the two. She went to her desk and opened the drawer, picking a leather band with keys from it and handed it to Leliana. “Were things not so desperate... Very well, I trust you. Take these keys to his cage, and Maker watch over you.” Leliana took the keys and bowed grateful for her trust. “Thanks you, your Reverence. Your trust is not misplaced.” Ignitz nodded relieved that she agreed to his request. The old lady pointed at a chest next to her desk. “Also, we've stored his gear here. Take it with you as you depart.” He again nodded and went to the chest. A sudden pain overwhelmed the boy as he kneed down to open it. He struggled against every struck of suffer. The eyes closed, sweating and crunching the teeth, Ignitz pushed open the chests top and found a strange set of armor in it. Most of it looked like simple cloth and leather, but it was very heavy and thick. The boots made of an unfamiliar metal were partly bandaged. The last piece of the set were two steel gauntlets. At least that what he thought it would be. Ignitz couldn't tell. He took the equipment so that boots and gloves would be on top of the gear. The strange robe like heavy armor he hold with both hands, pushing it against his chest. It was hard to carry it otherwise. The two left the office, feeling the concerned gaze of the revered mother following them. They walked straight to the main doors where Alistair was waiting for them. Ignitz tried to move out fast. He feared that some of the peasants and villagers would see his armor. That and the pain forcing against his knees and legs made it hard to stay very focused and calm. “Done?”, Alistair asked. He looked at them both quite troubled. “I've got some bad news. We should rejoin with the rest as fast as possible.” Ignitz wondered and nodded agreeing. “Right. Then you go get lady Cousland. Leliana and I will go and release Sten. Morrigan surely awaits us by the Mill. We should gather there.” The three left the chantry with determination.

Outside, Alistair went to search for Elissa, Ser Gilmore and Barkspawn. Meanwhile Leliana and Ignitz went back to where the cage was standing. The qunari was surprised as he spotted the boy coming back to his prison. The young one placed the armor on the ground, next to the cage door. He turned around, receiving something from a woman he hasn't met before. Ignitz came towards the door and Sten stood up, looking at the kid in front of the door with the keys in his hand. “I have the keys to open your cage.” “I confess, I did not think the priestess would part with it.” That confused Ignitz for a moment. “Priestess?”, he wondered, but let it be for now. He smiled at Sten. “She agreed to release you into my custody.” The giant seemed not thrilled, but also not upset with this. It was hard to read his thoughts, so the mage boy realized. “So be it.”, Sten stated, “Set me free and I shall follow you against the Blight.” The boy nodded and opened the cage. He stepped back and let Sten come outside. The qunari took a deep breath as he finally left his prison. He turned to the boy. His glare was like stone. “And so it is done. I will follow you into battle. In doing so I shall find my atonement.” Ignitz nodded at him, smiling calmly and gentle. It confused Sten slightly. “Thank you, Mister Sten.”, he answered grateful and bowed before him, “Glad to have you with us.” The giant took his armor pieces and listened to the boy. “May we proceed? I am eager to be elsewhere.” “Let's go over to the Mill. That's where we wanted to regroup.”, Leliana reminded them. “Right.”, the boy said and turned around to Sten. “Do you need some time to get ready? Or--” “I am always ready, Warden.” Sten seemed a bit strange. He was completely calm and determined, maybe even a little cold. It made Ignitz wonder, but also curious. The three went on their way to the Mill. Morrigan was already awaiting them. She leaned on the wall with an amazed look on her face. “My, my... It looks like you found yourself quite the helper, little Warden.”, she giggled. Ignitz walked by nodding and looked at the door. It wasn't locked as he found out. “True...”, he muttered and looked at the qunari, “Mister Sten. If you'd like to change into you're battle outfit, you could do it inside here.” Sten looked at him puzzled, but no word left his lips. He walked up the small hill and entered the Mill, closing the door behind him. Ignitz stared at the door for some time, worried about Sten's condition. “Hopefully the others won't take so long.”, he mumbled and turned to the girls, “Alistair sounded serious... Something must've happened...”
Time passed by and shortly after the remaining four members of this adventurous crew joined the others. “Finally...”, Morrigan sighed annoyed, “It's about time.” Sten returned as well, stretching the fingers inside the gauntlets. “Woah!”, Elissa yelped surprised, “That's quite a big fella you picked up there.” “One of the Qunari, if I am not mistaken.”, a man with red hair answered. He was wearing a similar armor like Elissa. Ignitz recalled seeing him before. It was near the chantry. “You must be Ser Gilmore, right?”, he asked and bowed polite, “A pleasure. My name is Ignitz Amell.” He pointed to the ones surrounding him, lifting his arms slightly, but keeping eye contact to the soldier. “These are Miss Morrigan, Sister Leliana and Mister Sten.” Then he turned to Leliana and Sten and introduced them to the rest. “And those are Lady Elissa Cousland and Alistair, my fellow Grey Warden Comrades.” Sten looked at all of them closely. He was just nodding. “Hmpf.” Leliana smiled and bowed as well. “A pleasure meeting you all.” “Could we get on with it already.”, Morrigan bickered annoyed, “Wasn't there something important going on?” The young mage nodded and looked to Alistair. “That's right. Alistair... What exactly happened? It surely looked like it was getting to you much.” “Like everything lately.”, Morrigan teased him again. “Just shut up, Morrigan. This is serious.”, he turned to Ignitz and started explaining, “The knight in the chantry, remember? He was one of Arl Eamon's men. He searched for the Urn of Sacred Ashes.” Ignitz crossed his arms listening and thinking. “Urn of Sacred Ashes? The one that is told about in the old tales?” He nodded and continued: “Yeah. Apparently Loghain is claiming the Wardens responsible for Cailan's death. That is one major problem for us. But it seems we're not the only targets. Arl Eamon fell ill. Gravely.” “What?!” “The knight was send to find the Urn, because no magic had yet helped to cure him. And he fell ill not long before the attack...and defeat at Ostagar...” “Maker's mercy...”, Ignitz shook his head, “Magic has no effect?! How--!?” He tried to wrap his head around it, but there was no explanation yet to be found. “If the Arl is sick beyond healers power... We have to go! Quickly! I have to see for myself!!” He turned around still feeling the pain in his legs. “Woah! Not so fast, Ignitz!”, Elissa held him back, “First we should make sure we're prepared so far.” She pointed to the bunch of supplies they brought. “We've got only two tents, but enough food for at least 4 days travel. Well... For five people at least. Some bandages and repair tools for our equipment.” “Oh! Right.”, the boy realized and looked at Sten, “Mister Sten will need a weapon. What do you prefer, Sir?” “Sten will do, Warden... I fight best with two-handed swords.” Elissa unbound her sword from the back and gave it to him. “Here.”, she presented it, “You can take mine for the time being. I still got my families longsword and the Cousland shield.” The qunari took it with a nodding motion and bound it to his back. The Mabari barked happy and eager to leave. “Don't worry about the tents.”, Morrigan sighed, “I have my own.” “So do I. It's big enough for two.”, Leliana mentioned. “Great. Then the guys can figure out how to share their space with each other.”, Elissa laughed. “Don't worry of the food supply, Lady Elissa. Since we planed on going to Redcliffe anyway, I picked a route. If I calculated it right we only will take about two to three days travel.”, Ignitz reassured her and took part of the supply gear. “Then we should be heading out.”, Roland suggested. The group agreed. The supplies were portioned to everyone.


As the group set out for the north crossing, they heard screams coming from the highway. “Someone help us!!” Ignitz reacted immediately, drawing the Oath Keeper from the sheath, running towards them. He ignored everything, like he was caged, chained and dragged into it. “Ignitz!”, Alistair yelled, but the boy did not listen. He threw the backpack off, raced towards the stairway up to the highway. He even ignored his cloak getting pulled up by the trust of his own movements. He felt them. He felt their foul presence. Two dwarves covered between the rubble of their wagon and wares. Their oxes were stuck. The highway was destroyed and darkspawn cornered them in a dead end. Ignitz jumped over the last part of the wall and right into the group of attackers. Their leader, an Alpha Hurlock, turned around, meeting the Oath Keeper face first by Ignitz strong swing. “Agghh!”, he slayed it and turned around to the next one, cutting off its arm, “Back off! You won't get passed me!!” He grabbed the sword with both hands and decapitated the Hurlock. Another one was charging at him from the back. Sten was the next to reach the battle ground. He lifted the little darkspawn with one swing of his blade and cleaved it in half. Genlocks stood afar and took aim at them. Leliana's arrows came flying from the stairway hitting one of them and breaking off the attack. Alistair jumped in front of Ignitz and rose his shield. The arrow bounced right off of it. “Next time – planing – then charging.”, he said to the young mage. Roland took care of the last one. The road was safe once more as were the two dwarves and their oxes. “Mighty timely arrival, my friend. I am much obliged.”, one of the dwarves came at them. He looked at Ignitz, the one that appeared to their rescue first. The dwarf had a short, but impressive breaded beard, light orange colored hair and was dressed like a merchant. The other one looked at them a bit strange. Mindless happy and oddly calm smiling. “You're welcome.”, Ignitz nodded and was happy to have helped. His sword went back into the sheath. He now realized that his armor was completely uncovered. Again he pulled the cloak over it hasty. His hands were shaking and he had a hard time just standing. “The name is Bodahn Feddic, merchant and entrepreneur.” The dwarf looked to the young lad next to his side. “This here is my son, Sandal. Say hello, my boy.” “Hello.”, the boy greeted the group. Delighted by their politeness, Ignitz lightened up a bit. Finally all of the remaining followers arrived at the road. Elissa pushed Ignitz's bag into his hold. “Don't think I'm going to carry it all the way for you.”, she muttered sore. “Sorry.”, he apologized, but she waved and walked cover to Roland and her Mabari. “Road's mighty dangerous these days.”, Bodahn said and seemed to wonder, “Might if I ask what brings you out here? Perhaps we're going the same way.” Ignitz was confused. These dwarves have seen the armor. They must have. But neither of them was afraid of him. How can this vicious looking thing not scare them? He listened to the dwarf. More people would surely be good, but he feared for their safety. “I doubt you want to travel with a Grey Warden...”, he answered sincere. The boy didn't want to lie just to keep them away. Maybe their status would do the trick alright. The merchant was surprised. Shocked even, but he wasn't angry or frightened. “Grey Wardens, hm? My, that does rather explains a lot.” He folded his hands nervous. Maybe he was afraid that his answer would be respectless towards his saviors. “No offense, but I suspect there's more excitement on your path than my boy and I could handle.” “Yeah...”, Ignitz agreed, “I don't want to put you in harms way, sir...” “Allow me to bid you farewell and good fortune, though.”, the merchant nodded and smiled underneath his fuzzy beard. “Goodbye.”, the lad said too and smiled at the group. It was a warm and friendly gesture that gave the young mage again more confidence in his decision. Bodahn pulled the sleeves back and looked at his son, Sandal. “Now, then. Let's get this mess cleaned up, shall we?”, he said to him. Both went to gather what's left in the carnage. The group of warriors however decided to went on. “Farewell, sir. And good luck to you too...”, Ignitz answered and turned around. He went and took the lead again. Soon the crew left the sights of Lothering, moving on to the west.

The sun waned. Night was about to come. The stars began to gather in the sky. Exhaustion showed on the faces of this fellowship. Only Ignitz was still going fast. “Hey, Ignitz!”, Alistair tried to slow him down. The young lad did not listened. “No time.”, he kept saying. Suddenly the Templar grabbed his arm. “Ignitz!” “Not now!”, the boy shouted at him with an angry glare. “Ignitz. It's going to be dark soon. We're all exhausted and--.” “We have no time.”, Ignitz argued with him, “The Arl is ill. Loghain is still plotting against us and the Darkspawn won't rest--.” “You're bleeding!”, Alistair shouted back at him. Ignitz was confused. “What?” Alistair lifted his arm and showed it to Ignitz. He really was bleeding. His robe was soaked at the edges around his elbow. The same was for his other arm. Shocked the young mage gazed upon them. He finally felt the weakening in his knees. Ignitz shivered all over. The gang gathered together. “Ignitz... Let's rest for today...”, Alistair suggested. The boy placed his hands on his face and nodded. “...okay...”, he muttered, breathing hard, “...but as soon as dawn arises..we're going...” Alistair agreed. Finally, darkness arrived. The crew build their camp near a pond and the edge of the forest. Ser Gilmore and Alistair gathered firewood while the rest prepared the tents. Morrigan stayed farther away from the rest. Leliana placed some blankets around the fireplace. Barkspawn watched out for wild animals near the camp. Sten put up the tent for him and Ignitz. The young boy took care of his bleeding wounds first. He sat on an old stump and mixed herbs together for a salve. Soon silence came over their camp. And only Sten and Ignitz were still awake...
The young mage sat next to the fireplace and kept staring into his empty book, that was given to him by Flemeth. He still had no use for it. “Shouldn't you rest, Warden?”, Sten asked as he approached the fireplace. Ignitz turned around and saw the Qunari coming closer. He smiled at him. “I'm not tired, Mister Sten...” “The weariness on your eyes say otherwise.” The tall man sat next to the young lad. Ignitz sighed deeply, starring into the empty pages of his book. “That's not the travel...”, he explained, “It's a wound... One that can't be healed by any medicine I know...” Sten looked at the boy and wondered how he found words like this in his young age. “How about you?”, the boy than asked and looked at him, “Are you all right? You were in that cage for weeks...” “You are concerned?”, Sten seemed to wonder and shook his head, “No need. I am fit enough to fight.” The young lad looked at the bandages around his elbows. “Wish I could say that right now...” “What is this strange...armor? It does not look like something made by hammer and forge.” Ignitz stared up to the sky. The stars filled the darkness of this night. “It is...was an accident...” “Accident?” The Qunari did not understand the meaning of this. “Yeah... It grew on me like roots from a tree... It buries deep inside the flesh...and grows larger each passing day... Sometimes pieces fall of and rot away... But it always leaves me with pain... It became a part of me... Even though I didn't want it... And I have to bear with it...” “You're quite...different from other humans...” Ignitz smiled at him. Suddenly the two got visitors. A wagon pulled by two oxes arrived at their camp. Ignitz remembered the two dwarves from Lothering. He stood up and placed his book on the stump . Slowly he walked over to them. “Mister Feddic?”, he wondered. The dwarf merchant jumped of the wagon and smiled at him friendly, pulling back the hood of his cloak. “Ah! It's good to see you, my timely rescuer! Bodahn Feddic at your service once again.” The boy smiled slightly amused by this anew introduction. “What are you doing out here during the dark, sir? The road is mighty dangerous at night...” “True. That is why we went to look for a good place to camp. I saw your camp and thought to myself, -What safer place to rest for the evening than in a camp of a Grey Warden?-” “You wish to stay with us?”, he wondered a bit puzzled. Bodahn nodded with a friendly smile underneath his beard. “Yes, yes. And I'm perfectly willing to offer you a fine discount for the inconvenience of our presence. How does that sound? Good? Yes?” Ignitz smiled friendly and laughed slightly too. “Hehe... That's really generous of you, sir... I would find it in my heart to guide you and you're boy safely to these troubled times...” “Wonderful! Thank the gentleman, won't you boy?”, Bodahn looked at his son Sandal, who joined the two in front of the wagon. The kid still had that carefree smile on his face. “Thank you, sir.” Ignitz nodded politely and was happy to help. “Make yourself at home, good sirs... I might return later.“ He turned around and left the dwarves to their business for now. Swiftly he returned to Sten at the fireplace and sat down on the stump. His hands reached for the empty book he had left, while his attention was drawn by Sten's question. “Is this a good idea? Those two don't look much like warriors.” “They are not, Mister Sten.”, Ignitz explained, “They are merchants and they need protection. Besides... If we already travel to Redcliffe, we might as well travel all the way together. It's saver . They also provide us with wares. Everybody earns something by that.” “If you say so.” The Qunari was not really convinced by this. He looked at the dwarves for a while before ignoring them completely again. Ignitz however wanted to keep talking and tried to think of a good topic.“Say, Mister Sten. I never met a Qunari before. Could you tell me about your people.” The giant gazed into the flames. “No.”, was his answer. It came to a great surprise to the young mage. “I wasn't expecting that.” “Get used to disappointment.”, Sten answered and explained himself, “People are not simple. They cannot be summarized for easy reference in the manner of: -The elves are a lithe, pointy-eared people who excel in poverty.” Ignitz was quite confused. Did he offended him somehow? “I'm sorry, Mister Sten.”, he apologized puzzled, “...but aren't you a bit hostile?” Sten looked at him. His stone glare was frightening somehow, but more wondrous for the little mage. “Many humans have said that to me. I do not understand it. If I were indeed hostile, you would be bleeding.” That made even less sense for Ignitz. He stared at the giant confused. “So...this is you being calm and helpful?” “Couldn't you tell?” Sten's attitude was strange. Never before had Ignitz met somebody like him. He closed the empty book and smiled again. He tried to keep talking with the Qunari. It made him stop thinking to much of the past. “I'm glad that I didn't offend you somehow, Mister Sten. I'm just a bit too curious for my own good, I guess...” He laughed slightly. Sten didn't care much. “Say, you said you were in the army, right?” “I am.”, he answered calmly. “Have you ever fought in a war, Mister Sten?” The two looked at each other again. Sten seemed to be a bit annoyed by all these questions. “I have always fought in war, human.” “So you must know your ways around a battlefield, then. Right?” “Some of them. They aren't all alike.” Sten sighed and stood up facing the fireplace in front. “I do not see how this matters.”, he muttered, “Seheron and Par Vollen are distant. Ferelden and the darkspawn are immediate.” Ignitz looked at him. He felt that distant longing for home within Sten's words. It saddened him. He gazed upon the cover of his book with sorrow. Home. Two in heart, but only one true to it's meaning. Ignitz stood up and nodded. “Thank you for talking with me, Mister Sten. I'm sorry if it has bothered you in any way...”, he bowed slightly and tried to smile. However the weariness on his eyes still remained. “I will go to sleep now... Maybe I really need some rest... Good night.” He turned around and walked over to their tent. “I will try...but I doubt I will find it...”

“Dear Warden Journal,

Our first night camp after what happened at Ostagar. I cannot shake the sorrow of that day, but I will try. We traveled through Lothering and managed to fend of Loghain's men. He claims us responsible for King Cailan's dead... Many people now have to suffer... We could have hold them off... We would've won... ... I will not rest until this Blight is defeated. I swear it. And gladly I am not alone on this... Many new faces have joined me and my fellow Wardens. Ser Roland Gilmore, Sister Leliana, Miss Morrigan and the Qunari warrior named Sten. They are all such good people. I hope that I can keep them save...


There is something else... I feel kinda strange lately... Maybe it's just the feeling of loss... Maybe I am really just tired... But...somehow... ...somehow I cannot shake the feeling that...the pain got stronger...

I hope I just imagining it...

Regards – Ignitz the Sinner.”

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Chapter 8 - Honnleath - Power of the Burning Soul

Dawn has arrived. It still was dark outside, but the crew started packing up the camp. Ignitz walked over to Alistair while Sten took care of the big tent. The Templar boy was curious about two familiar faces that seemed to have arrived over night. “Is this Bodahn and his son?”, he muttered. The mage laughed and nodded. “Hehe. Yeah. They arrived last night while you all were still asleep.”, he explained and the rest of the crew gathered around, “I agreed to let them travel with us since we all go to Redcliffe.” “But didn't you say it was to dangerous for them?” The boy nodded and looked towards the two dwarves. “Yes, but I guessed that since they go the same way as we do, we could provide them with protection as they would provide us with supplies and transportation.” “Hm. I guess that's a fair deal.”, Alistair smirked. Elissa muttered very disturbed and rubbed her forehead. The two made their wagon ready and took care of their oxes. Sten and Morrigan carried their bags over to the wagon. Elissa gave hers to Roland and let Leliana drag him along. She went over to Ignitz and Alistair seeking some advice. “Guys, could I have a moment of your time?”, she asked. Both turned around answering at the same time exactly. “Sure.” “There was some stuff about the Wardens that I wished to ask you about.” Ignitz agreed with a nod of his head. “Of course, you're still new to this all. Ask away.” “Well...this night I had a...strange dream...” “Bad dreams, huh?”, Alistair pointed out. Elissa looked away, frightened by the thought of this nightmare. “It seemed so real...” “Well it is real. Sort of.”, Alistair explained, “You see, part of being a Grey Warden is being able to hear the darkspawn. That's what your dream was. Hearing them.” Ignitz nodded. “It's not a very pleasant experience at that...” Elissa looked at them quite puzzled. “Hearing...the darkspawn...?” “The archdemon, it...'talks' to the horde, and we feel it just as they do. That's why we know this is really a Blight.” Elissa looked to the ground and then back at them. “The archdemon? Is that the dragon?” “I don't know if it's really a dragon, but it sure looks like one. But yes, that's the archdemon.” Ignitz sighed deeply. He rubbed his arm uncomfortable with the thought of that creature. Alistair put his hand on the boys shoulder and tried to comfort him somehow. Then he further explained: “It takes a bit, but eventually you can block the dreams out. Some of the older Grey Wardens say they can understand the archdemon a bit, but I sure can't.” “Neither can I...”, Ignitz said and sighed, “But his presence alone is scaring the void into my heart...” “It must be even worse for you, right Ignitz?”, Elissa wondered and looked at the boy, “I...heard mages are really close connected to the dream world...” “I haven't slept much in a long time now...”, he answered, but tried to smile. “Thanks for telling me, guys. Guess I have to get used to it.” “That's what I'm hear for. To deliver unpleasant news and witty one-liners.”, Alistair joked to make both feel better. They smiled at his comment, but Elissa still seemed a bit troubled. “Say, Ignitz. That...armor...” He looked down on it, but this time he smiled at it. “I realized that it doesn't matter... Some people might judge me of it... Some won't... It is part of me... So I should live on with it...and stop hiding...” He turned around and looked over to Sten. A deep sigh fled his lips. “I know many people now that suffer the same judgment...” Finally the crew was ready to leave. A long road was lying ahead, but thanks to Bodahn it was easier to handle the trip. The crew got to put their bags on the wagon and be prepared for any trouble the road might throw at them.

For a time the road seemed very calm. Bodahn sat in his wagon seat and Sandal next to him. The oxes pulled the wagon over the muddy road. Morrigan and Leliana sat in the back together with Elissa Cousland. Ser Gilmore and Alistair walked on the right side of the wagon. Ignitz and Sten on the left. Barkspawn ran around, sniffing and scouting. He was quite excited about the way. Bodahn and Ignitz had a conversation about several strange items that the merchant encountered during his days. “Yes, that was quite an interesting object.”, he said and grabbed something around his belt, “But not as strange as this.” Ignitz looked at it. It was some sort of staff. Small in size and covered with strange ruins. The shape was elegant and very unusual. “What is that?”, Ignitz asked curious. “I'm not sure. Some fellow gave it to me on Sulcher's Path. He said it was...um...a control rod, I think. Brought it somewhere in Jader, he told.” “A control rod?”, Ignitz wondered even more interested, “Such as those used by the ancient dwarves to control golems??” “Yes, those kind. But never saw one for myself so far besides this one.” “Can I have a look at it?” The merchant gave it to Ignitz and he started examining the staff curious. Bodahn kept talking about what had occurred with this staff. “The fellow who gave it to me said something about a place called Honnleath where a golem could be found. And some strange password. Something like....Dulef gar...or so. Hm, I wonder if that fella wasn't just crazy.” Ignitz went over to the backside of the wagon. “Sister Leliana? Could you give me the map, please?” Leliana looked around and found the map hanging in the bandolier of Ignitz bag. She handed it to him. “What are you searching for? Do you want to go there?” “What?”, Alistair disapproved, “We can't just change plans here, Ignitz.” “Hmpf... Magic...”, Sten muttered as he looked at Ignitz searching the map. “That's not magic, Mister Sten. Dwarves have no mages. How golems were made is a secret and mystery to every scholar across Thedas. Nobody knows exactly how they work or came to exist.” He stroke his finger over the map and located the place mentioned by Bodahn. “There we go. Honnleath. It's a bit further to the south at the summit of the mountains. Let's see...” He started rambling and calculating. It gave Alistair a headache. The others looked at him. “...and that...”, he went on, “...so we would arrive same dated.... Good...” “What?”, Alistair asked hesitant. “I measured the route and it won't take us from our previous goal much if we take the road through across the mountain sideway. In fact, if we went north from Honnleath towards Redcliffe, we might even safe some traveling time.” “That sound great.”, Elissa said, “But you sure about this?” “Please.”, the young lad begged, “People could still be there and they might need help if the darkspawn get there. It's our duty to save the innocent! Please! Consider it!” “You just want to find that golem, don't you?”, Alistair muttered annoyed. Like two brothers they both argued with each other. Roland laughed slightly at the boys attempt to convince his fellow Warden. “I think we should try it.”, he said. Elissa nodded and Leliana agreed to. “Where you go, Warden, I shall go.”, Sten stated. “My, this golem could be worth the trouble.”, Morrigan thought. “Argh, fine.”, Alistair submitted to the overall greater numbers, “Hopefully it is worth it.” Ignitz smiled happy about their approval. Together with the merchant, the band of warriors left for Honnleath. However, something quite unpredictable was about to strike them.


For a time the road seemed very calm. Bodahn sat in his wagon seat and Sandal next to him. The oxes pulled the wagon over the muddy road. Morrigan and Leliana sat in the back together with Elissa Cousland. Ser Gilmore and Alistair walked on the right side of the wagon. Ignitz and Sten on the left. Barkspawn ran around, sniffing and scouting. He was quite excited about the way. Bodahn and Ignitz had a conversation about several strange items that the merchant encountered during his days. “Yes, that was quite an interesting object.”, he said and grabbed something around his belt, “But not as strange as this.” Ignitz looked at it. It was some sort of staff. Small in size and covered with strange ruins. The shape was elegant and very unusual. “What is that?”, Ignitz asked curious. “I'm not sure. Some fellow gave it to me on Sulcher's Path. He said it was...um...a control rod, I think. Brought it somewhere in Jader, he told.” “A control rod?”, Ignitz wondered even more interested, “Such as those used by the ancient dwarves to control golems??” “Yes, those kind. But never saw one for myself so far besides this one.” “Can I have a look at it?” The merchant gave it to Ignitz and he started examining the staff curious. Bodahn kept talking about what had occurred with this staff. “The fellow who gave it to me said something about a place called Honnleath where a golem could be found. And some strange password. Something like....Dulef gar...or so. Hm, I wonder if that fella wasn't just crazy.” Ignitz went over to the backside of the wagon. “Sister Leliana? Could you give me the map, please?” Leliana looked around and found the map hanging in the bandolier of Ignitz bag. She handed it to him. “What are you searching for? Do you want to go there?” “What?”, Alistair disapproved, “We can't just change plans here, Ignitz.” “Hmpf... Magic...”, Sten muttered as he looked at Ignitz searching the map. “That's not magic, Mister Sten. Dwarves have no mages. How golems were made is a secret and mystery to every scholar across Thedas. Nobody knows exactly how they work or came to exist.” He stroke his finger over the map and located the place mentioned by Bodahn. “There we go. Honnleath. It's a bit further to the south at the summit of the mountains. Let's see...” He started rambling and calculating. It gave Alistair a headache. The others looked at him. “...and that...”, he went on, “...so we would arrive same dated.... Good...” “What?”, Alistair asked hesitant. “I measured the route and it won't take us from our previous goal much if we take the road through across the mountain sideway. In fact, if we went north from Honnleath towards Redcliffe, we might even safe some traveling time.” “That sound great.”, Elissa said, “But you sure about this?” “Please.”, the young lad begged, “People could still be there and they might need help if the darkspawn get there. It's our duty to save the innocent! Please! Consider it!” “You just want to find that golem, don't you?”, Alistair muttered annoyed. Like two brothers they both argued with each other. Roland laughed slightly at the boys attempt to convince his fellow Warden. “I think we should try it.”, he said. Elissa nodded and Leliana agreed to. “Where you go, Warden, I shall go.”, Sten stated. “My, this golem could be worth the trouble.”, Morrigan thought. “Argh, fine.”, Alistair submitted to the overall greater numbers, “Hopefully it is worth it.” Ignitz smiled happy about their approval. Together with the merchant, the band of warriors left for Honnleath. However, something quite unpredictable was about to strike them.

The road was quite along their path. The sun of the day was dimming as they finally arrived in Honnleath. However, the sight of this once peaceful place was already disturbed. Along the town walls, blood and corpses covered the street. Bodahn was quite nervous about this. “This isn't looking good.”, Alistair muttered as he walked up to Ignitz, who prayed for the dead. “Yes...”, he agreed, “I can feel them...” He pulled his sword and shield to his side, ready to take on the threat ahead. “Sister Leliana? Can you give us cover from the back row?” “Sure.”, she answered and pulled out her bow. Standing in the back of the wagon slowly the group approached the city gate. The dead were hanging from the roof tops or lied scattered across the road. Alistair, Sten and Ignitz took the front while Elissa, Barkspawn and Roland stayed at the back. Morrigan and Leliana stood inside the wagon that followed between these warriors line. “Don't worry, Mister Bodahn.”, the young mage assured him, “Nothing will pass to your cart.” People screamed up ahead and came running towards the cart. A group of Genlock ran after them, trying to slay the fleeing flock. “Stay back, mister Bodahn!” Ignitz charged at them, followed by Sten and Alistair. Leliana shot one through the eye and Morrigan chained their bodies into a stand still. The people ran passed the wagon and the warriors. “Enchantment?”, Sandal asked quite puzzled it seemed. Alistair and Ignitz struck down the other two Genlock. Sten spotted a Hurlock coming from inside the town. He slashed it through the shoulder. It screamed and alerted another group of darkspawns. “There are more of them!”, Alistair stated. “Stay here, Bodahn, until we secured the town!”, Elissa said and went to help the others. Followed by Roland, Barkspawn, Morrigan and Leliana, the young lady rushed to the field and charged into battle. Ignitz shielded himself from the arrow assault of three Genlock. Amongst these creatures there was a Hurlock magician. “Mister Sten, look out!”, he warned him. Quickly the Qunari warrior evaded the incoming globe of ice. It hit the wall behind him and spread icicles and frost all over the gate post. As the creature tried to cast another spell, something blocked it off. Alistair muttered a strange calling, somewhat like a spell and drained the power from that darkspawn mage. Elissa charged at it with a fearsome battle cry. Her families blade twinkled in the fading sunlight as it carved through the darkspawns head. Roland and Sten battled a group of Hurlock, Leliana took out the archers that had bunk down Ignitz in the corner of some buildings. Finally Morrigan threw a fireball at them and finished these beasts of, but it was not yet over. Ignitz felt more of them nearby. “This way.”, he said and pointed to the upper level of town, “I scan still sens more of them.” The group gathered and made a more tactical approach this time. Stealth over bashful encounter. Ignitz, Elissa, Roland and Alistair took the lead. They readied their shields for archers and gave cover to the rest. At the top, the young mage spotted a strange statue amongst the burning buildings and corpses. “That must be the golem...”, he whispered to himself. They moved further and finally spotted the remaining darkspawns, lead by an Alpha Hurlock. Those blighted creatures spared no moment for thoughts and charged straight at the group. “Now!”, Ignitz shouted and the four shield battlers pummeled the attackers back. Swiftly they duck and Sten took them out with a nice horizontal swing of his giant blade. Barkspawn came out of their ranks and jumped the Alpha Hurlock that had dodged the Qunari's strike. It teared through it's face like a saw. In the back two Hurlocks tried to get a good aim at them. “Archers!”, Alistair yelled and Leliana took care of one as did Morrigan. Genlocks stormed out of a building. Roland and Elissa took care of the three. Another Hurlock charged from a door and ended speared on Sten's blade. Then the assault of the darkspawn stopped. Finally the town was safer. The wind was going and turned the wheels of the two great mills. A tower was demolished and many wooden houses had suffered great damage. Corpses of people covered the streets and stairs. Silence came to Honnleath once more. However, Ignitz found it odd to find so little victims. Maybe the town managed to evacuate the place. There was still a little aura of filth left, but it was underneath them somewhere. A bit hesitant Ignitz agreed to let Bodahn and Sandal join them in the town square. Elissa and Roland went to get the two dwarves. Ignitz stopped and took the time to pray for the fallen. As the four returned the group gathered around the strange statue. Ignitz examined it very closely. He was fascinated. “Incredible.”, he rambled like drifting into another realm, “Those crystals and runes. And this magnificent form. It's a real masterpiece!” “It looks like... like a golem, doesn't it?”, Leliana agreed, “An actual golem, and not a statue at all. I wonder how it ended up here, of all places?” “Uh, Ignitz?”, Alistair poked him on the back, “Less gloating. We're here for a reason, remember?” The boy giggled and brushed through his hair embarrassed. “Sorry, I know. It's just that I have read so much about golems. And all we had in the tower were little fragments of broken ones. This is the first time I actually see one!” He turned around and took the control rod out. “Hope this'll works. ...Dulef gar.” A moment they waited, but nothing happened. Ignitz looked at the rod. The symbols on it were glowing. “Hm... The rod seems fine, but I guess the password is not the right one.” “What?”, Alistair bickered annoyed of this failure, “Does that means we came here for nothing!?” Ignitz thought for a moment. Suddenly a strange presence touched his mind. He trembled scared and sank to his knees. “Ignitz!”, his friends worried and rushed to his side. Alistair helped him up as he recovered. “There...there is something here... ...beneath... It's...it's presence...”, he stuttered and looked around, “That is not good... We have to go down somehow.” “What are you talking about, sirrah?”, Bodahn was confused as were the others. “There is something down there. It's not a darkspawn... It...” “Then we should take it out!”, Elissa suggested. “Yeah.”, the mage agreed. Leliana looked around and spotted an open door. She moved towards it with care and found a stairway that lead into a basement. “Maybe it's from down here.”, she wondered. The door lead underneath the tower of the town. Ignitz walked over and stared into the darkness of this place. He could feel the darkspawn crawling down inside that place, but also another threat. “I hope I'm mistaken... I don't want to see that thing again.”, he thought by himself and shook his head. The boy turned around and looked at his friends gathering close at the door. “We cannot go all. The path might be narrow and make both close and ranged combat very hard within a large group.”, he explained and made a decision, “Alistair. You, Mister Sten and Sister Leliana will go down with me. The rest stays here and guard the wagon, alright?” “No fair.”, Elissa pouted, “Urhg... But no time to argue too. Okay, we stay here and keep watch.” The boy nodded at her and took a last deep breath before descending into the darkness below Honnleath. Followed by his friends he tried to hide his fear of this presence he felt.
The first steps were made. Torches were lid and made the way a bit more comfortable for the four warriors. Halls of stone, littered with blood and the bodies of the dead. Books and papers were thrown all over the place. In the distance they could hear the screeching darkspawn creatures. “Careful.”, Alistair advised and took his sword and shield in front. Ignitz stayed close to him and gazed upon the weird stone fragments all over the place. Through the fading light they walked and reached a scavenged library. The darkspawn had infested this place and charged at them as they reached through the door. “Back!”, Alistair shouted and left for the first room. Ignitz rammed a shelf behind him on the wall. A phial with a flame symbol caught his eye. Quickly he grabbed it and threw it at the first Hurlock to come out of the door. “Away with you, devils!” The phial broke and the liquid spread all over the Hurlock. Sten took one of the torches and hurled it over to them, setting the substance at blaze. The darkspawn and everyone behind it started catching on fire. Leliana took the opportunity to take some of them out. As the fire burned out and the door seemed to be passable, an arrow rushed through the air and passed sharp Ignitz's face. He jumped to the side with a racing heart beat. “Watch out! There archers in there.” Sten awaited the foes that couldn't see them anymore. The Genlock who stepped through the door was stabbed by his blade and the next behind it beheaded with a swift swing. Finally the wave was dealt with. The four entered the room cautious. Many old and rotten books were placed on the ground. “Oh, my... Those tomes look quite old...”, Ignitz muttered and tried to figure out their use. “Hm... ...hm... ...no... These are to decayed... I can't figure out what their use was...” “Let's move on, then.”, Alistair suggested, “Careful.” Next to the bookshelves was a small shrine of sort. Ignitz wondered what it was used for. The statue wasn't Andraste, that was for sure. However, the face and much of the body was already weathered. The air tasted wet and it became colder as they walked deeper into the caverns. The smell of Met and Wine came to their noses. Soon they arrived in a small wine cellar, but still they weren't close to end their journey underneath the ground. Then they entered a bigger hall. Cages hung from the ceiling and swung above endless pits. Ominous paintings, trophies of exotic animals and weapons decorated the walls. Benches used by alchemists or magical crafting stood vigil inside the dark room. Darkspawns had gathered around a barrier of some sort. Peasants were cornered behind it and it looked like their shielding wasn't going to last. “No!”, Ignitz yelled and brought the blighted creatures attention upon them. Genlocks and Hurlocks charged. “Stay back!”, Sten said and pushed forward. He clinched his blade close to the darkspawn and pressed them against the wall, cutting their throats. Alistair blocked arrows coming from a small balcony to their right, while Leliana took aim at them. Ignitz rushed toward the Genlock mage in front of the barrier. He knocked every single darkspawn over that tried to stop him. The blighted mage cast a spell at him. Ignitz raised his shield in an attempt to blocking it. A spear of lighting shot out of the Genlocks staff and hit the shield, throwing the boy backwards to the ground. “Argh!” He pulled himself together. The darkspawn started surrounding him. Sten came to his side and punched two of them aside. The young lad pulled the knife from his belt and hurled it over to the blighted mage, piercing it's skull. Leliana took care of the last archer and Alistair of one more Genlock. The area was save ones more. The people behind the barrier looked at them grateful, but also scared. No wonder. Ignitz stood up and nodded thankful to his comrades before he approached the barrier. “By the Maker! We're saved!”, a woman yelled relieved. The others looked at the strange group of travelers. Ignitz didn't care any longer if it scared people. He didn't need to hide it anymore. “It's okay.”, he spoke soothing and friendly, “We destroyed the threat. Quickly, you must leave.” One of the villagers came up to him and looked into his eyes. A man with blond braided hair. “You...weren't send by the bann, were you? To save us?” He seemed cautious about them. Ignitz smiled, but shook his head. “No. We're Grey Wardens. Well, Alistair and me are. Sister Leliana and Mister Sten are comrades of us.” “A Grey Warden? Here? Thank the Maker for our luck!”, he said relieved, but looked puzzled at them, then, “But if you weren't send by someone, why are you here? If you don't mind me asking.” Ignitz wondered if he maybe knows something about the golem outside. “A merchant told us about this place, actually.”, he tried to explain. “A merchant? Why would a merchant--! Oh... I think I see. This is about Shale, isn't it. I should have known.” The strange man seemed not so happy about it. Something wasn't right. He waved his hand above the barrier and it changed its energy. The protective violet aura turned into a golden gloom. The people ran outside and towards a ladder on the far left end of the hall. Maybe a faster way to the surface. The man however stayed and wanted them to enter. Ignitz touched the barrier with caution. It felt like he was pushing on water. Sure to be save from it's power he entered and walked over to the man. The strange villager was quite angry about something. “Shale?”, Ignitz asked a bit confused. “That damnable golem brought us nothing but trouble. My mother sold the rod years ago, after it killed my father, and good riddance.” Ignitz was surprised. The golem belonged to that man's father? It puzzled him even more. And this story as well. “Killed your father? What do you mean?” “My name is Matthias. My father's name was Wilhelm, mage to the arls of Redcliffe and a hero in the war against Orlais. And what did he get?”, the man explained angry, “One day my mother found him outside the tower, with so many broken bones that she could barely recognize him, and Shale standing over him just like it is now.” “Hmpf... Magic...”, Sten muttered annoyed by this topic. Alistair shook his head and smirked sarcastic: “Oh, great. A killer golem. Just the thing we needed.” “I'm worried about all this, Ignitz.”, Leliana said. The boy shook his head and tried to form a picture of what has happened here. “My father deserved better than that, but if you really want to wake Shale up...well, it's yours now.”, he said and turned towards a door on the end of the little safe room. “Expect that the rod did not reacted to the words.”, Ignitz explained. Matthias saw how this might have occurred. “My mother might have passed along the wrong command phrase when she sold the rod. She said that she never wanted to see Shale active again.” “That would make sense.”, Ignitz agreed, “It must have been hard for you two...” “Listen. I'll tell you the command phrase...but you need to help me first.”, the man begged, “I know you saved my life already, and I'm grateful, but my daughter is inside the laboratory! She was afraid and ran too far in before I could stop her! I don't know how she made it past my father's defenses. One of the men tried to go after her. He got killed! But...you could find her, couldn't you?” Ignitz looked into the depth behind that door. He felt the presence closing in on him. It was unbearable. However, knowing that a child is down there made him worry less for his well being. “Don't worry, sir. I will try to find her. But, maybe you can help me. What killed this man who went after her?”, he asked without stating the feeling that arose in him. “There are defenses my father put down here to keep strangers out.”, Matthias explained unclear, “I knew about the barrier, I've got the key for that, but the rest? We never came down here. Ever.” Ignitz stared into the depths anew. His fears lived up again. However, the well being of that missing child was now more important. He took a deep breath and made his way over to the door. “I'll try to find her.”, he assured Matthias with a smile, “We'll be fine.” Alistair felt something changing within his friend. But he didn't want to say something. This could make it worse or maybe he just imagined it.


The four travelers went into the hall that lied behind the door. The path was like the hiding hole of a vicious snake. Tight caverns. Small rooms, covered in year old spider webbing. The path was already taken by roots and weed. The ceiling came closer to them and made Ignitz feel even more uncomfortable. A otherworldly scream screeched through the dark hallway that no light seemed to have ever touched. “What was that?”, Alistair wondered. Ignitz stepped back a little. He pounced against Sten who lightened his frightened heart with a strong grip around the shoulder. Ignitz looked up to him and nodded. His face was covered in sweat. “Why is it so hot? Or is it just me?”, he thought and took all his courage to move forward. They managed to find their way to the place where the villager died, mentioned by Matthias. His corpse was torn up, the belly ripped wide open. The smell of rotting flesh was insufferable. “That's...so....gross...”, Leliana said. Ignitz tried to avoid looking at the man. He felt like walking backwards in time. This wasn't the place to dwell in the past however. He stepped around the carcass with the hand against nose and mouth. Another screech reached his ears. Out of the dark a hand grabbed his shoulder. He turned around and stared into a bright orb. A light amongst a veil of dark torn shadow cloth. “Shadow!”, he screamed and tried to grab his sword. But another pulled his arm up and screamed into his face. “Ignitz!”, Leliana shouted. Quickly they've got surrounded. Sten reached for Ignitz who tried to free himself from the two shades. “Let me go! Go away! No!!” The Qunari's sword cleaved through the shadows body and drove one of them away. Ignitz grabbed his sword fast and slashed it at the orb eye of the other one. Alistair and Leliana bravely fought of two more. “Warden?”, Sten asked as he helped Ignitz up. “I'm okay.”, he stuttered quite fast and frightened, “I'm okay.” Suddenly another thing crawled from the dark. A face hung from the low ceiling. Ribs and spine were circling in a cloud of black ashes and dust around it. Ripped and burned flesh within. A skull deformed to a face of pure terror. “A...a....ASHWRATH!”, Ignitz screamed as he saw the beast coming closer. He stumbled backwards scared and Sten had to protect him. Both he and Alistair blocked it's long, thin arms and claws. It's scream was even louder than those of the Shades. It teared through Ignitz skull. The memory awoke again. He felt like time has returned to a moment that he wished never to see again. Leliana shot at the beast, but nothing seems to affect it. Both boys couldn't stop his approach from the darkness any longer. “NO! GO AWAY!!”, Ignitz yelled at the monster and threw his sword at it. The blade was glimmering white as it hits the Ashwrath and stuck to his spine. “Now!”, Alistair commanded. He and Sten pulled the swords back and made the beast stumble. They slashed simultaneously against its head and shattered it. Without it, the Ashwrath fell apart. The Oath Keeper fell to the ground. Ignitz crawled over to the wall and clinched to it in fear. He was breathing uncontrollable. Leliana walked over to him and tried to calm him down. “I'm fine!”, he yelled and avoided eye contact. He was ashamed of his fear. Alistair brought his sword back and handed it over. “It's okay...”, he said. That is not how Sten saw it for sure. He looked disappointed at the boy. Ignitz took the sword, but he avoided looking at his comrades. “Let's go...”, he said quietly. The four of them went on. They've reached some sort of mine. Roots of a big tree grew deep into the earth. Bridges of wooden planks were all that held them from falling into the depths beneath. Inside these stone walls, light embraced the darkness. Tiny glows from crystals deep inside the boulders. “Where are we?”, Leliana wondered. “Close to the presence...”, Ignitz muttered and went on. He felt it. Something was trapped here. Through another narrow path and a second barrier, they finally met with the girl that has to be Matthias daughter. “What do you mean you never climbed a tree? Don't cats like to be on trees?” She seemed to be with company. A cat was sitting next to her. Small, beautiful with fox-red tiger stripe fur. Ignitz stared at the cat. Something about this room seemed odd. The presence he had felt so far just...vanished. As if it existed outside, but not inside here. They approached the girl and she finally seemed to have seen them. “Oh, look! Someone has come to play!”, she said excited and looked at them, “We were playing a guessing game. It's more fun with more people.” She smiled and petted the cat. Ignitz was confused, not only by the girl and her pet, but also how this room was arranged. Nothing inside but a puzzle, a ward and this strange uneasy feeling. “You're safe.”, he said with a smile, “You're father was worried. You really shouldn't make him worry like that.” “Father...?”, she said and laughed, “You can tell him I'm fine. Maybe he'll come and stay with us too.” “Anyway, you should go if you're not hear to play. Kitty finds you distracting.” Ignitz looked at the cat and was confused. “The cat finds me...distracting?” “Kitty is clever!”, the girl explained excited, “She says you'll want to take me back to my father, but I'm not going. She would be lonely!” The eyes of the cat started glowing in a strange violet light as its voice resonated from its body. “You are so kind, Amalia. I would miss you dearly if you left.” The voice of that cat was alluring and deceivingly attractive. Ignitz now knew what it was and reacted on it. He grabbed the girl at her arm and tried pulling her away. “Step away from that creature, Amalia! Hurry!” The girl however dragged herself to freedom and went back to the cat. “No! Leave me alone! Kitty!” “Nothing you say will convince Amalia to go with you. She loves only me now. I am her friend, while you are just a stranger.” The young lad stared at the cat with anger. “What have you done to her?!” “I have done nothing.”, it mocked him surely, “I am all but powerless in here. The mage made sure of that, didn't he? I cannot leave this chamber. No, Amalia found me. After decades of isolation, her company is most...welcome.” “Foul demon.”, Ignitz crunched his teeth with fury. He clutched the fists together. If it wasn't for this girl, the cat surely would lie bleeding by now. The cat stretched her limbs and enjoyed the boys helplessness before it. “It seems we're at an impasse, so let me propose a...compromise of sort.” Ignitz didn't like this. The cat seemed to smile at him delightful of his tangling into its strings. “Release me, mortal, and let me have the girl. Let us return to her father and leave this place forever.” “Do you really think I would let you posses that child, demon!?”, he answered infuriated. The cat stayed calm. It felt superior to this human and no fear crossed its mind. “That's such a crude way of putting it.”, she rambled, “I do not wish to harm Amalia. I merely want to see your world through her eyes. Is that so wrong?” “More than just wrong..:”, he muttered and tried to find another solution to this. He didn't want to harm the girl or give her a shock of a live time. “Damn it... ...Fine. I let you go, but you have to leave the girl alone!”, he suggested and hoped the demon would take this. “Otherwise I leave you stuck down here.” “Hm... But I like this one.”, the cat muttered and looked to the girl. Amalia smiled happily. “I like you too, Kitty” “But...if it means escaping this prison, I am willing to leave on my own. I agree to your terms.” Ignitz was relieved, but also confused. This was far to easy. Did the demon might got soft or exhausted during the time it was imprisoned here? He wondered, but it mattered little now. He listened to the cat and hoped to save the girl from its vicious pet. “The mages wards hold me in this chamber, and only a mortal can approach them.”, the cat explained and turned around. Its eyes glanced over the strange puzzle. Little bridges of flames danced over small runic symbols painted in red. It seemed to be some sort of platform maze. The plates looked like they were meant to be pushed around. “Amalia tried to break them, but she is not clever enough to figure it out. But you might be.” “Ignitz are you sure about that?!”, Alistair disapproved to this idea. “I don't see a better way...”, he answered also not found of the idea, “It's the best option we have right now... Stay back...” He walked over to the puzzle and looked across it to figure out what to do. “I will do it. Keep an eye on that cat for now...” “Oh, this is so exciting!”, Amalia celebrated, “Kitty is going to be free!” “Not if I can help it...”, Ignitz thought and looked over the platform puzzle. He was still sweating. The fear hung over his heart. He tried to concentrate on the puzzle. Six of the platforms already stuck together by fire. However they ended in nowhere. He spotted little arrows on each edge. North, west, south and east. The arrows hold power inside. “...hm...maybe they aim the fire on its way...”, he muttered and tried a combination. “First west... Second north... Third west...”, he talked to himself while figuring out the maze. “...Fourth west... Fifth...north... ...Sixth...west... ...Seventh and Eighth...north... ...Ninth and Tenth...west... ...got it!” As the fire bounced off each runic symbol of the sun, it made its way across the bridge that Ignitz had created for it. Still he felt like he failed more than he succeeded. As the last bridge was formed, the barrier of the room died out and freed the cat. “Yes...I can feel the magic fading. Oh, I had forgotten how it feels not to be caged!” “Kitty? What's happening?” Amalia seemed to have been freed from the demons spell as well. However, Ignitz doubt she would listen to him. “A wonderful thing, my dear, for both of us.”, the cat spoke with delight. Alistair, Sten and Leliana blocked her path. Ignitz ran over to their side and spread his arms. “No! Keep your hands off the girl, demon!” The cat stretched her claws and gazed upon the boy interfering with her plans. “I have changed my mind. I like the girl. I do not think I will find another like her.” Amalia looked quite confused. “Oh? So I get to go with you after all?” “You foul creature!”, Leliana yelled. “You won't pass us!”, Alistair agreed in anger. “Do you wish to harm her?”, the cat played and stared at the girl. Ignitz fury broke lose. He shouted at her, using a Seal spell at the cat. “No! I won't allow it!!”. The seal surrounded the cat. “Bah! I will take her anyhow! She is mine!” Finally Amalia came to her senses. “Kitty! You're scaring me! I won't let you inside me! I won't!” “Run, Amalia! Run to your father!”, Ignitz yelled and the girl listened and left the chamber. The cat transformed and took her original shape. “Demon of Greed and Desire!”, Ignitz growled at her. He looked at the female body with the backbone tail. Her eyes were black like the void. Horns grew from her head and flames danced like hair in the wind. She looked quite alluring and beautiful. Clothes grew out of her skin. Silk, ruched sleeves and stockings. Sten was surprised. He never expected the lad to be capable of doing this. The desire demon smiled at him as if victory was already decided. She floated backwards and slowly vanished in the shadows. “Damn it!” Alistair looked around and tried to find her. He had sword and shield ready. “Out of the way!”, Ignitz yelled at Sten and Leliana, passing by them and towards the entrance. He speared his sword into the ground and reached his hands to it. “Repulsion!”, he shouted and a new ward appeared at the spot where the blade stuck. The symbols shape was like a Glyph. White, fine lines that drew a circle with eight limb star in the middle. The desire demon tried to pass it while hidden, but the ward blocked her off and pushed her back into the chamber. “No! You insect!!” Ignitz walked back into the room. He had no weapon at hand, but that was of no concern to him. “Its over, demon! I won't let you escape!” “You're a...mage?”, Sten stared puzzled at him. “Alistair hit him lightly on the shoulder. “Ask later. Let us take care of that thing first.”, he suggested. “Hmm...”, Sten just muttered and seemed to be disapproving to this change of things. “You fools! I will destroy you!!” The demon screeched and Ignitz prepared for her to attack. However, she was not. Her scream was more of a calling. Ignitz stepped forward to seal the demon back into the Fade, but something disrupted him. He felt something grabbing his legs. “What the--??”, he stared down and saw Rage Demon appear. “Rage demon!”, Alistair yelled, “Watch out!” Four of these molten flame beasts crawled upon them from beneath the surface. The small chamber filled fast with with them. “Not him!”, Ignitz screamed in fear. His eyes did not see the demons of Rage. He heard their shouts and laughter. He felt their burning heat as their arms and claws wrapped around his limbs. It was like that time. And his face appeared in front of him. “No! Stay away! Go away!!”, he yelled and ice formed in his hands. He smashed the shivering, frozen fists into them and froze their heads. He kept yelling, “Stay away! Stay away!!”, and kept throwing ice across the chamber. The desire demon took the opportunity and hurled the lad across the room with a strong whip of her tail. “Argh!” Ignitz hit the wall and fell to the ground. Sten charged through the frozen rage demons, smashing them into pieces. Leliana took aim at the demon. Alistair tried to get closer, but the beast unleashed a wave that knocked him back too. He rose his shield in defense. Sten attacked the demon and she blocked his slash with her hands. Leliana shot an arrow to her legs, getting her attention. “Now, Alistair!”, she signaled and the young Templar rushed towards the fiendish creature, piercing his sword straight through her side. “Aaaaah!”, it screamed. Flames spread from the wound and Alistair pulled the blade out. The three back away and watched the demon dying, cursing their existence. It levitated into the air before breaking down to the ground, bleeding out and finally returning into ashes. Alistair sighed relieved and ran over to Ignitz. The boy cowered at the wall with his hands over the head. He cried and shivered. “Ignitz. Are you okay?”, his Grey Warden comrade asked and looked at him. The boy dared to gaze at his friendly sight. He felt haunted. Ignitz couldn't speak. He pushed his forehead against Alistair's plate armor. “What...what is it...?”, Leliana asked worried. Sten stood beside them and was confused, disappointed and angry. “Bad memory...”, Alistair answered and stroke the boy over the black hair, trying to comfort him somehow, “A really bad memory...”

It took them some time, but Ignitz finally recovered. Slowly. “I'm sorry, mister Sten... I guess I forgot to tell you about it...”, he apologized to the Qunari and removed the Ward in front of the doorway. “Hmpf...”, the giant only answered, making the boy feel even more uncomfortable. He sighed and tried to pull his sword out of the ground. But it was stuck, somehow. “I..argh..guess I have to explain...argh...some stuff when were back at camp...argh... Come on... Get out!” He pulled with all his strength, but the blade wouldn't budge. Sten stepped up and pulled it out in one try, giving it back to the young Warden. He seemed angry with the boy or maybe him being a mage disturbed him. “What about that presence you felt?”, Leliana wondered. “It is gone...”, he said and looked back into the chamber, “Maybe the power of that demon breached the chamber or it was coming from the ward of that mage... But...I can still feel the presence of shades around here... We should be careful.” The four made their way back. Along the darkness of this place, Shadows attacked in few numbers, but nothing that hold them up long. Soon they arrived back. Matthias and his daughter were still waiting. “You did it!”, Matthias yelled with joy, “You freed her! Thanks you so much!” Amalia clinched to her father's hand and whined regretful. “I'm sorry I ran away, Daddy! I was so scared!” “Its alright, butterfly. You're save, now. All the bad creatures are gone.” Ignitz nodded and was glad that the child managed to return. “I'm glad that your daughter is safe now... And I'm also glad that we managed to destroy those...bad creatures.” He tried to be thoughtful around the girl. It already had seen so much horror. “The phrase to activate Shale is -dulen harn-, if you still want that bloody thing. I wouldn't if I were you.”, Matthias said and took his girl by the hand, “Now we should go, and quickly. Thanks you again. We ow you our lives.” He left with Amalia the same way as the villagers did. Ignitz sighed once more. He looked back at the door. His hands twitched. “Go to the ladder, guys. I'm follow you shortly.” The Leliana and Alistair nodded at him and went to the ladder. Sten looked at Ignitz, who went the other way. He turned around and followed the others. The boy concentrated, pulling stones from around with his magic. He stretched the hand towards the door of the laboratory. The stones and boulders pressed together and sealed the way. Ignitz took a deep breath and placed a seal upon the debris. “...may linger...and let the seal drive them back to shadow lands...”, he muttered and folded his hands, “Maker above, who watches me. May you and your bride here my prayer. Blessed the earth below and the sky above...and let those who died upon these grounds, by my had or by those of my friends and foes, be granted a place at your side... May they find piece...and harmony once more...” He turned around and joined his comrades. Together they left the underground and returned to the surface.
The others waited at the wagon, close to the golem. The fires have burned out and the sun was almost gone. Elissa spotted them first to arrive from the opposite building. “Finally.”, she muttered bored, “Saving a bunch of people AND slow like snails...” Ignitz looked around. “So that house was part of the tower? Hm...”, he looked at the golem and pulled out the control rod. “Well... here goes nothing.” “Wait. Wait.”, Alistair grabbed him by the shoulder, “You heard what that guy, Matthias, said, right? Do you really want something like THAT with us??” The boy nodded. “Sure, I do.”, he said and smiled. However, the stress and intensity of what they had faced in those caverns still clouded his vision. “Alistair... Trust me, okay?” Their little argument confused the crew that was left on the surface. Elissa wondered why they had to discuss this further. Ignitz was determined. He walked towards the golem and took one last moment to calm himself. Again he pointed the control rod at the inactive golem. “Dulen Harn.”, he spoke as his friends gathered around him. At first it seemed that nothing was going to happen. Suddenly the arms of the golem moved. Sand and dust was falling off. The eyes started glowing. Runes across the forehead and limbs of the stone giant showed and it began to move. The golem freed its arms and stretched his shoulders. Ignitz stared at it fascinated. His eyes were glowing like coins under the sun. The golem looked at him and its quirky voice wasn't exactly what the young lad had expected. It sighed displeased at the sight of Ignitz. “I knew that the day would come when somebody would find the control rod. And of course it is another mage, yes. That is what it is, yes? Yes. Just my luck.” “Ah! How do you know I am a mage?”, Ignitz wondered surprised. “It thinks these crystals are simply for show, I see.”, the golem seemed to mock the little boy who stared at it with awe, “It thinks I cannot sense the energy it commands. Humph.” “How fascinating! This is so...incredible!”, Ignitz praised the golem's knowledge and ability. He seemed not to notice that it tried to make fun of him somehow. “I stood here in this spot and watched the wretched little villagers scurry around me for, oh, I have no idea how long. Many, many years.” “Oh, you poor dear! That must have been... really, really boring.”, Leliana pitied the golem for its demise. Alistair shook his head and placed his palm right over the face. “And the villagers had no idea they were being watched?”, he said and shivered slightly, “Creepy.” “Then one wonders that you wouldn't be grateful to the one who allowed you to stretch your legs, golem.“, Morrigan answered to that and pointed at Ignitz. Elissa laughed as he saw the boy standing and gloating with a big smile at the golem. “Hahaha. I guess he lost it right there.” “I was just beginning to get used to the quiet, too.”, the golem pointed out as the people around it started talking to much. It looked towards the young lad that held the control rod and asked curiously: “Tell me, are all the villagers dead?” Ignitz shook his head. “No, not all of them.”, he answered smiling. “Some got away, then?`”, the golem sighed disappointed, “How unfortunate...” Ignitz wondered if that golem is just frustrated about it, because it stood so long in one place. He rubbed his eyes and tried to avoid the village all the way, so it wouldn't get mad with them. “If it does not bother you, but I wonder... Do you have a name?”, he asked polite. The golem rolled its eyes. “Perhaps. I may have forgotten after all the years of being called 'golem'.”, it started rambling, “-Golem. Fetch me that chair.- -Do be a good golem and squash that insipid bandit.- And let's not forget -Golem, pick me up. I tire of walking.-” Ignitz felt sorry for that poor creature. “How horrible... You were used like a slave? That is not right...” The golem stared at the boy. Something seemed to disturb it. “It...does have the control rod, doesn't it? I am awake, so...it... must...” “Is something wrong?”, Ignitz wondered and walked around the golem, “You don't look damaged... Is something the matter? Do you feel unwell?” He was quite friendly towards that thing of stone. It gave the crew puzzling looks on their faces. “I see the control rod, yet I feel...” The golem stared at the little staff in Ignitz hand. What was going on? The golem needed to be sure. “Go on.”, it demanded from the boy, “Order me to do something.” “Uh... uhm, okay.”, Ignitz was confused and was thinking. He looked around and pointed to a spot on the left, giving the command. “All right. Walk over there.” But the golem refused to move. It confused the mage and even the golem itself. “This is the strangest day ever.”, Roland mumbled in the back. Elissa and Barkspawn agreed on that. “And...nothing? I feel nothing.”, the golem rambled, “I feel no compulsion to carry out its command. I suppose it means the rod is...broken?” Ignitz looked at it. He wondered that, too. “Maybe it is...but... Shouldn't you be happy about that?” “Hmm.”, the golem thought loudly, “I suppose if I can't be commanded, this means...I have free will, yes?” “You still don't sound very thrilled about that.”, Bodahn mentioned from his wagon. “Enchantment?”, his son seems to agree. “It is simply...what should I do?”, the golem asked aimlessly into the group of travelers before it, “I have no memories, beyond watching this village for so long. I have no purpose... I find myself at a bit of a loss.” It focused back on the young mage that holds its control rod. “What about it? It must have awakened me for some reason, no? What did it intend to do with me?” Ignitz scrubbed through his black hair slightly embarrassed. “Well, uh... Too be honest. I hadn't given it much thought.” His comrades looked at him surprised, angry and yelled in disbelieving. ”WHAT!?!?!” “I see.”, the golem joined them in their misery, “Wonderful.” It shook the head, what sounded in a loud grinding noise. “I suppose I have two options, do I not? Go with it or... go elsewhere? I...do not even know what lies beyond this village.” Ignitz scratched his head puzzled. “Well....um... What do you want to do?”, he asked the golem for its opinion. “I watched this village for so long, unable to move or act. My memories of what was before are...vague at best. So I have no idea what I want to do. I am glad to be mobile, is that not enough?” “Uh...I guess so...”, Ignitz said perplex, but then he smiled at the stone giant and placed the control rod in a fitting on his belt, “You're more then welcome to travel with us. Maybe you find what you want during our journey.” Alistair tabbed him on the shoulder. The boy turned around and looked at his displeased face. “Are... you certain you want to bring that thing with us? It could be dangerous. And large.” “Alistair, that is not very polite. Don't treat him like an object.”, he said mad. “Besides... Think of it as a portable battering ram.”, Morrigan jested. “Good point. Better it than me, anyhow.”, Alistair agreed sour That made the boy even more frustrated. “Could you both please stop that! He's not an object. Period.” “I will follow it, then... for now at least. I am called Shale, by the way.” The boy bowed before the huge stone man and smiled. “My name is Ignitz Amell. Pleased to meet you.” He also began introducing the rest while they prepared for their journey to Redcliffe. “These are Sister Leliana, my fellow Grey Wardens – Alistair and Lady Elissa Cousland, the Highever Knight Ser Roland Gilmore, Miss Morrigan, Mister Sten, Mister Bodahn Feddic, a merchant, and his son Sandal, and Barkspawn the Mabari Warhound. I hope we all get along, Mister Shale.” The golem inspected the strange group of traveling warriors. “This should be interesting.”, it said with a fainted smile. The band of travelers finally left the town. Bodahn steering the wagon, Sandal sitting next to him. Alistair and Roland walking on the left side with Barkspawn, Sten and Ignitz walking on the right. The girls were sitting in the back and Shale followed shortly after the young mage, Ignitz. At the gate they passed a pole where a chicken walked by. Shale stopped and looked down at it angry. Ignitz heard it squeaking and turned around, but it was not there anymore. Only a big red spot next to a darkspawn corpse. Shale rose the shoulders, but its left feet was stained, too. The boy wondered if it had scared the chicken away and maybe stomped on the corpse by accident. “Come on, Mister Shale, or we lose sight of them.”, he rose his hand and waved waiting for the golem to follow. The group of travelers left Honnleath behind, a town of mystery and magic.

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