Actions

Work Header

This Shit is Weird: The Inquisitior Mina Lavellan Story

Chapter Text

Please note: This fic is extremely heavy with mentions of depression, rape, and suicide. Due to this, I will not give trigger warnings for every little mention of this. I understand if you don't read this because of that. I don't want you to suffer if you don't have to. If you need someone to talk to, my inbox is always open (my Tumblr url is the same as here, and my Discord url is QueenElsa#0842 (feel free to add me as a friend, but message me saying this is where you found me, as I'm likely to reject random friend requests from people who I don't share a server with)). There are also various suicide hotlines that lets you talk, or even text, with a professional anonymously. That number differs depending on what country you are from, however.

I would also highly recommend that you watch Dawn of the Seeker before reading this. It's only about an hour and a half long, and is on Hulu and (I think) Amazon. You have to pay $2.99 (I think that was the price) to rent it on Amazon, but it's free with the Hulu subscription. Here is the Hulu link (if it doesn't work, please let me know).

If you haven't read Blessings and Curses (my fic where I give Cullen and Mina kids), I would recommend reading that for similar reasons that you watch Episodes 4-6 of Star Wars before you watch Episodes 1-3. However, I will be changing some things in this fic, so it isn't necessarily required. I will also probably rewrite that fic to better fit with my timeline and remove a pretty major AU with that one (that I didn't know about until I read a fic that depicted the events of Trespasser (fucking egg...)). I will post up to chapter 11 of that one before I post the first real chapter of this one.

A little thing about the title of this fic: I couldn't come up with a better title for it, so I just went with Varric's. My friend literally said, "Varric’s spirit possessed you for that title and he would be proud" (copied and pasted directly from the conversation we had)

Full disclosure: I haven't played Origins at all yet (I only recently downloaded it, but it won't let me load the game for some damn reason *sad face*), and I haven't finished Act 1 of DA2. Therefore, I rely heavily on what my friend says about the games, reading other fanfics, and the DA wiki. Edit (Nov. 4, 2019): I was finally able to get DAO to work a few weeks ago, and a few days/weeks (idr for sure) before that, I was finally able to get past Act 1 of DA2, so I know a little more now than I did when I started this, but my knowledge is still pretty limited. 

I also haven't finished a playthrough with any romance other than Cullen's. More specifically, I've only finished exactly ONE playthrough altogether, and that was Mina's. I have started Cass and Josie romances, but I haven't finished them yet. Thank the Maker/Creators for YouTube!

Up until In Your Heart Shall Burn, I am using screenshots from my Trevelyan archer who is also romancing Cullen. I ran out of room on my laptop just before that quest and had to stop, however. I will likely use YouTube for the remaining quests, or my screenshots from Mina's playthrough for the First Kiss Scene and THE SCENE.

This fic will have all of the main game, and likely the Jaws of Hakkon, The Descent, and Trespasser DLCs. I keep dying on what I think is the final battle of The Descent so I haven't played Trespasser yet, but hopefully I will get to soon.

I don't have a beta reader other than myself and the spelling/grammar check in Microsoft Word. My friend who offered to be my beta reader for Blessings and Curses backed out on me on that one. Therefore, any mistakes are my own, and have gone undetected by both Word and several readthroughs by myself. If you notice any major mistakes, please let me know so I can fix them.

I try to keep my chapters around 5k words each. Some will have more, others will have less, but I will try to keep it as close to 5k as possible.

 

Anyways, stay tuned for this story. I already have over 70k words and almost 150 pages written, so I hope to publish soon. I'm super excited about it! Creators, I already have Mina's Winter Palace gown, as well as her, Cass, and Josie's wedding gowns, veils, and accessories picked out! My mom has agreed to draw them for me, so I don't have to pay hundreds of dollars to have all of my wanted poses commissioned. I will probably still have a smut scene commissioned, but I'm still thinking about it. If you are or know any affordable/reasonably priced artists, let me know.

Chapter Text

Mina wakes to an intense burning pain in her left hand. She opens her eyes and realizes she’s in shackles. She opens her left hand and gasps when an eerie green light appears from a scar like mark on her palm, causing that same intense burning pain to shoot up her hand and arm again.

Fenedhis! she thinks. What in the Beyond is this? And how did it get there? How did I get here? Wherever here is

Suddenly, the door in front of Mina opens and the guards she didn’t realize were in the room unsheathe their swords and point them at her as two women approach her from the now open door. The guards sheathe their swords as the women get within a few feet of Mina.

What do these shemlen want with me? Mina thinks as she sees their stern faces. What did I ever do to them?

One of them begins to circle her. “Tell me why we shouldn’t kill you now,” she says in Mina’s ear from behind her. “The Conclave is destroyed. Everyone who attended is dead.” She points at Mina. “Except for you.”

“What do you mean everyone’s dead?” Mina asks the woman. “Honestly, I don’t know what you shems want with me, or why I’m even chained like this, but I highly doubt I did anything wrong!”

The woman doesn’t seem to like that answer, as she grabs Mina’s left hand and pulls it. It pulses again. “Explain this,” she snarls.

“I… can’t.” Mina says through the pain as the woman throws the arm back down.

“What do you mean you can’t?” the woman screams. To Mina, it sounds like she’s on the verge of tears.

“I don’t know what that is, or how it got there,” Mina replies.

Again, the woman does not like that answer, as she pulls Mina up by her collar. “You’re lying!” she screams in her face.

The other woman makes her let go of Mina. “We need her, Cassandra,” she says.

Mina tries to process what the woman—Cassandra, apparently—just told her. “I can’t believe it,” she says. “All those people… dead?”

The other woman steps forward. “Do you remember what happened?” she asks. “How this began?”

Mina thinks on this for a bit. “I remember running,” she says after a bit. “Things were chasing me, and then… a woman?”

The woman is shocked. “A woman?” she asks.

Mina slightly nods. “She reached out to me, but then…” Why can’t I remember anything?!

Cassandra begins to back the other woman towards the door. “Go to the forward camp, Leliana,” she says. “I will take her to the rift.”

The woman named Leliana nods and leaves. Cassandra walks toward Mina and begins to unlock the shackles.

“What did happen?” Mina asks Cassandra as she replaces the shackles with rope.

“It will be easier to show you,” Cassandra replies as she helps Mina to her feet.

Cassandra leads Mina out of the dungeon and out of the building Mina recognizes might be a Chantry. She has to shield her eyes once outside to let them adjust to the bright light. What she sees when she looks up scares, as well as shocks her.

“We call it ‘The Breach’,” Cassandra explains. “It’s a massive rift into the world of demons that grows larger with each passing hour. It’s not the only such rift. Just the largest. All were caused by the explosion at the Conclave.”

“An explosion can do that?” Mina asks.

“This one did,” Cassandra replies. “Unless we act, the Breach may grow until it swallows the world.”

As if on cue, the Breach expands, shooting a pain up Mina’s left hand and arm, causing her to scream out and fall to her knees.

“Each time the Breach expands, your mark spreads… and it is killing you,” Cassandra says as she kneels next to Mina. “It may be the key to stopping this, but there isn’t much time.”

These shems think I did it don’t they? Mina thinks to herself. That’s crazy! I would never do such a thing to myself! She takes a deep breath. It will be best if she doesn’t piss them off more than she already has. She looks at the Breach and then back at Cassandra. “I understand.”

Cassandra raises an eyebrow. “Then…?”

“I’ll do what I can. Whatever it takes.”

Cassandra gives Mina a slight smile as she helps her back to her feet. She leads her through a village of some sort where people are giving her disgusted looks, some even spitting at her feet.

Creators, what did I get myself into? Mina thinks.

As if reading her mind, Cassandra explains: “They have decided your guilt. They need it.”

Of course they do.

“The people of Haven mourn our Most Holy, Divine Justinia, head of the Chantry,” Cassandra continues. “The Conclave was hers. It was a chance for peace between mages and templars. She brought their leaders together. Now, they are all dead. We lash out, like the sky. But we must think beyond ourselves, as she did. Until the breach is sealed.” Once past them, Cassandra takes out a dagger from her belt. Mina takes a frightful step back, but is relieved when Cassandra cuts the rope off her wrists. “There will be a trial. I can promise no more. Come. It is not far.”

“Where are you taking me?” Mina asks as she rubs the feeling back into her hands.

“We must test your mark on something smaller than the Breach,” Cassandra replies.

Cassandra takes Mina along the bridge and up to a set of double doors.

“Open the gates!” she calls. “We are heading into the valley.”

“Right away, Lady Cassandra!” a soldier salutes as he opens the gates.

Mina and Cassandra walk in silence for a while, leaving Mina to her own thoughts.

Creators, there’s so many bodies lying around! Falon’Din enasal enaste. I hope this thing on my hand can help fix this quickly so I can go home to my clan. I wonder what they’re doing right now… Probably think I’m dead with everyone else. Once we are safe, I might ask Cassandra if I may write them. These people may be shems, but they haven’t killed me yet.

Suddenly, the Breach expands again, as well as the mark, bringing Mina to her knees again from the pain. Cassandra helps her to her feet again. “The pulses are coming faster now,” she says with a sympathetic frown on her face as she pats Mina’s shoulder. “The larger the Breach grows, the more rifts appear, the more demons we face.”

Well, that’s obvious, Mina thinks. Especially that first bit. “How did I survive the blast?”

Cassandra hesitates. “They say you… stepped out of a rift, then fell unconscious. They say a woman was in the rift behind you. No one knows who she was. Everything farther in the valley was laid waste, including the Temple of Sacred Ashes, but I suppose you’ll see soon enough.”

“Creators, that… I uh… I don’t know what to say to that…” Mina says.

Cassandra snorts and smiles at Mina. “What should we call you? I just realized I don’t know anything about you.”

Mina looks at Cassandra slightly wearily, but decides to tell her anyway. “My name is Mina and I am the First of Clan Lavellan of the Free Marches. I was at the Conclave to watch and inform my clan of the result, as it could affect us as well. Ever since waking up, I have been trying to wrack my brain as to the events after arriving at the Conclave, but I unfortunately have zero memory of it. You probably don’t believe me and think I’m hiding something, especially since I basically just told you I was at the Conclave to spy, but it’s the Creators' honest truth. Fenedhis, I’m rambling, aren’t I? Ir abelas. I ramble when I’m nervous. Feel free to stop me any time I start doing it again.”

Cassandra openly laughs at that. “I believe you, Mina,” she says as they walk onto a bridge.

Before Mina can thank Cassandra for believing her, she sees a ball of energy from the Breach plummeting straight for them. “Watch out!” she calls as she puts a barrier on the two of them and pushes Cassandra out of the way. However, the impact still sends them both flying and rolling to the ground to the right of the bridge. Thankfully, it wasn’t a tall bridge.

As they get to their feet, another ball of energy lands and a demon appears in its place.

Fenedhis! While I don’t need one, it would help if I had a staff right now to fight this off!

Mina hears Cassandra unsheathe her sword. “Stay behind me!” she yells at Mina.

While Mina wants to follow that order, she sees bubbles of green energy in front of her, but behind Cassandra. Without a staff, Mina’s spells are a lot more chaotic, but she knows she must act quickly, as Cassandra is still fighting off the first demon. She looks around and notices a staff leaning against a supply crate just to her left. She smirks as she rushes over and grabs it just as the shade appears out of the bubbles of energy.

Using the staff, Mina makes fairly quick work of the shade. Just as she kills it, she sees Cassandra finish off the first demon and breathes a sigh of relief.

“It’s over,” she says, still trying to catch her breath. When she looks up, she sees the business end of Cassandra’s sword pointing directly at her.

“Drop your weapon,” she orders. “Now.”

Mina sighs. “All right. Have it your way.” She begins to carefully lower the staff to the ground.

Cassandra sighs. “Wait,” she says before she sheathes her sword. “I cannot protect you, and I cannot expect you to be defenseless.” She begins to continue walking to their destination before turning back to Mina. “I should remember you agreed to come willingly.” She reaches into her pack and hands Mina a few bottles of red liquid. “Take these potions. Maker knows you’ll probably need them.” She beckons Mina to follow her.

As they are walking, Mina’s curiosity gets the better of her. “Where are all of your soldiers?” she asks.

“At the forward camp, or fighting,” Cassandra replies. “We are on our own for now.”

They continue walking, fighting demons, and gathering wild herbs along the way.

 

“They’re falling from the Breach!” Mina says at one point.

 

Finally, as they are walking up a set of snow-covered steps, they get close to their destination, as Cassandra warns: “We’re getting close to the rift. You can hear the fighting.”

“Who’s fighting?” Mina asks.

“You’ll see soon,” Cassandra replies. “We must help them.”

They pick up the pace and come upon a rift. Mina sees a dwarf with a crossbow and a bald city elf with a staff fighting off demons before she and Cassandra quickly join them in battle.

Once all the demons are done for, the city elf grabs Mina’s left hand. “Quickly, before more come through!” he yells as he points her hand toward the rift. A weird magic shoots out of the mark on her hand. It hurts. After a few seconds, he pulls her hand back, the rift closes, and the magic stops.

“What did you do?” Mina asks him as she shakes her hand out.

I did nothing,” he replies. “The credit is yours.”

“At least this is good for something,” Mina says as she looks at the mark on her hand.

“Whatever magic opened the Breach in the sky also placed that mark upon your hand,” the elf continues. “I theorized the mark might be able to close the rifts that have opened in the Breach’s wake—and it seems I was correct.”

“Meaning it could also close the Breach itself,” Cassandra says in realization.

“Possibly,” the elf replies before turning back to Mina. “It seems you hold the key to our salvation.”

From behind the elf, the dwarf with the crossbow speaks up. “Good to know!” he says. “Here I thought we’d be ass-deep in demons forever.” He walks over to Mina. “Varric Tethras: rogue, storyteller, and occasionally unwelcome tagalong.” He winks at Cassandra, who gives a groan of disgust in return.

“It’s good to meet you, Varric,” Mina says with a slight bow to the dwarf. “That’s a nice crossbow you’ve got there.”

“Bianca?” Varric asks. “Yeah, she’s one of a kind… and the one story I’ll never tell.”

“You may reconsider that stance, in time,” the elf says to Mina with a smile.

“Aww. I’m sure we’ll become great friends in the valley, Chuckles,” Varric says to the elf.

Chuckles? Mina thinks. What kind of name is that?

“Absolutely not,” Cassandra says to the dwarf. “Your help is appreciated, Varric, but…”

“Have you been in the valley lately, Seeker?” Varric asks Cassandra. “Your soldiers aren’t in control anymore. You need me.” He smiles at her. She gives him another disgusted noise.

Wait… Mina thinks. Did he just call her ‘Seeker’? As in the ones who are above the templars? Creators, now I recognize that emblem on her armor! Keeper Deshanna warned me about them! They can cut off my magic just like the templars! Okay, I need to be more careful around her. She then makes the connection. This is Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast: the woman who saved Mina’s father at the Ten-Year-Gathering twenty years ago in the battle that ended up cutting her a path to become the Right Hand of the Divine! Mina now has a new sense of respect for the warrior.

The elf’s introduction brings Mina out of her own thoughts. “My name is Solas, if there are to be introductions. I am pleased to see you still live.”

Is he flirting with me? Mina asks herself. And why did Varric call him ‘Chuckles’?

“He means, ‘I kept that mark from killing you while you slept.’” Varric says.

Creators, I can barely keep up with all this… “Then I owe you my thanks,” Mina says to Solas.

“Thank me if we manage to close the Breach without killing you in the process,” Solas replies. He turns to Cassandra. “Cassandra, you should know: the magic involved here is unlike any I have seen. Your prisoner is a mage, but I find it difficult to imagine any mage having such power.”

“Understood,” Cassandra says with a nod. “We must get to the forward camp quickly.”

They begin to walk on.

“Well, Bianca’s excited!” Varric says from beside Mina before following Cassandra and Solas.

Mina shakes her head at the craziness of all of this before following the others. They have to make a detour, as the path they were going to take is blocked.

“Up ahead!” Cassandra calls. “Demons!”

“Glad you brought me now, Seeker?” Varric calls to Cassandra.

Mythal preserve me! Mina thinks as she gets her staff ready for battle.

They dispatch of the demons rather quickly and then continue on their way.

 

“So, are you innocent?” Varric asks Mina at one point.

“I don’t remember what happened,” Mina replies matter-of-factly.

Varric chuckles. “That’ll get you every time. Should have spun a story.”

“That’s what you would have done,” Cassandra snarls at Varric.

“It’s more believable, and less prone to result in premature execution,” Varric retorts. Cassandra makes another one of her disgusted noises.

“Believe me, Varric, I’m a terrible liar,” Mina says. “You’d know I was lying the second I did. Plus, I was taught that the truth sets you free, whatever that means. Honestly, Varric, I understand where you might come from with that, being an author and all, but do you really believe your lies will never come back to bite you in the ass later?”

“She has a point there, Varric,” Cassandra says.

“That she does,” Varric says with a slight chuckle. “Say, Smartie, how old are you anyway?”

Varric!” Cassandra yells. “You should know to never ask a woman her age!”

“It’s quite alright, Cassandra,” Mina says. “I don’t mind.” She turns to Varric. “But, before I answer that, what did you just call me, Varric?”

Varric sighs. “I called you ‘Smartie’, but I’m still working on it.”

“Well, for your information, my name is Mina and I am the First of Clan Lavellan of the Free Marches. I turned twenty on Wintermarch the seventh and would appreciate it if you don’t go shouting it for all to hear. While I don’t mind telling you how old I am, I do mind having my age being told to others, as my clan has told me I’m very smart for my age. Keeper Deshanna once told me I corrected her on the logistics of a certain magic spell at the age of four, which, mind you, was six years before my magic actually manifested. Keeper always said I was a smart kid, even when I did cause a lot of trouble. Nearly--”

“Mina,” Cassandra interrupts her. “I believe you’re rambling again.”

“Fenedhis!” Mina curses. “Ma serannas, Cassandra. Never had to kill this much in my life, so I’m a bit nervous and on edge. I’ve always been more of a healer and a crafter, magic wise. Suppose I’ll just have to get used to it. Agh! I’m still doing it! Okay, I’ll just shut up now.”

“Talker, you might want to consider writing your rambles in a journal or finding someone to ramble to,” Varric says with a slight chuckle. “Otherwise, you’ll just go crazy.”

Mina sighs and looks at the dwarf. “If you must find a nickname for me, although I detest them, keep trying. As for that suggestion, I already do. However, they took my journals and I can’t very well write while walking, now can I?”

Cassandra sighs. She’s getting as annoyed with Varric as I am on a daily basis, she thinks. I’d better change the subject. “I hope Leliana made it through all of this.” Mina gives her an appreciative look, to which the Seeker returns with a subtle nod.

“She’s resourceful, Seeker,” Varric says.

“We will see for ourselves at the forward camp,” Solas says. “We are almost there.”

As they come close to the next gate, they notice a rift blocking the path. The four of them quickly engage the demons. They make quick work of them. Just after Mina uses a Mind Blast spell that gets rid of the last demon, she loses her balance and falls backward.

“Hurry—use the mark!” Solas yells, not noticing Mina has fallen on her behind and is nursing a major wound on the left side of her abdomen.

Mina hopes she can close the rift from her sitting position as she lifts her left arm towards the rift. Sure enough, she’s able to close it, but can’t get up afterwards. She doesn’t even realize Cassandra is calling her name until after Solas heals her wounds and gives her a health potion.

“Mina!” Cassandra says yet again, as she looks Mina over. “Are you alright? What happened?”

“Fucking shade got me, then I Mind Blasted it, but got knocked off balance in the process,” Mina replies. “Thanks for saving my life yet again, Solas. I don’t know why I zoned out.”

“What matters is we are clear for the moment,” Solas replies. “Well done.”

“Whatever that thing on your hand is, it’s useful,” Varric chimes in.

“Let’s get moving,” Mina says as she turns to try to stand up, but fails. “Fenedhis! That fight seems to have taken a lot more out of me than I thought. I can normally use magic to help myself up, but it seems I’m low on mana.”

“Andraste’s sacred nickers, Solas, get the girl a lyrium potion!” Varric says as he helps steady Mina back on her bottom.

“No!” Mina shakes her head. “I refuse to take that nasty templar shit! I need you to trust me when I say you will not like the effects that shit has on me. I just need a moment.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t have any time to spare, Mina,” Cassandra says. “Let me help you up.” She holds out her hand for Mina to take.

Mina sighs and grabs Cassandra’s arm. With a nod from Mina, Cassandra helps her up. As soon as Mina gets her balance, she gets a major head rush and would have fallen back on the ground, if not for Cassandra’s quick reflexes.

“Creators, I almost think I might need that lyrium potion, but I won’t risk the effects it has on me,” Mina says after the dizzy spell subsides.

“What effects does it have on you?” Cassandra asks.

“I’m not comfortable saying that here,” Mina replies as she starts walking towards the gate. “Too many people would want to kill me if they heard. Templars especially!”

Cassandra makes a mental note to ask about it later as she and the others go to catch up with Mina.

After they pass the gate, they hear Leliana arguing with an unknown man.

“You have already caused enough trouble without resorting to this exercise in futility,” the man says angrily.

I have caused trouble?” Leliana asks incredulously.

“You, Cassandra, the Most Holy—haven’t you all done enough already?”

They rush forward and Mina sees the unknown man is in Chantry robes, if she recalls correctly.

“Ah, here they come,” the man says with zero hint of pleasure, and every bit of disgust in his voice.

“You made it,” Leliana says with a sigh of relief. “Chancellor Roderick, this is--”

“I know who she is,” the Chancellor scoffs. “As Grand Chancellor of the Chantry, I hereby order you to take this criminal to Val Royeaux to face execution.”

Mina already didn’t like this man, but now, she just wants to set his robes on fire. Thank the Creators I don’t have enough mana to do that. Otherwise, I totally would!

Apparently, Mina isn’t the only one who doesn’t like this man, as Cassandra sets his robes on fire with her words: “‘Order me’?” she says incredulously. “You are a glorified clerk. A bureaucrat!”

“And you are a thug, but a thug who supposedly serves the Chantry!” Roderick retorts.

“We serve the Most Holy, Chancellor, as you well know,” Leliana says.

“Justinia is dead!” he yells. “We must elect a replacement, and obey her orders on the matter!”

Time to end this damn argument… “Isn’t closing the Breach the more pressing issue?” Mina asks.

You brought this on us in the first place!” Roderick yells.

So much for that

“Call a retreat, Seeker. Our position here is hopeless.”

“We can stop this before it’s too late,” Cassandra snarls.

“How?” he retorts. “You won’t survive long enough to reach the temple, even with all your soldiers.”

“We must get to the temple,” Cassandra says. “It’s the quickest route.”

“But not the safest,” Leliana chimes in. “Our forces can charge as a distraction while we go through the mountains.” She points toward the mountain before them.

“We lost contact with an entire squad on that path,” Cassandra says. “It is too risky.”

“Listen to me,” Roderick says. “Abandon this quest now before more lives are lost!”

Suddenly, the Breach expands, causing the mark on Mina’s left hand to flare again. Already low on mana, this surge nearly makes Mina pass out, but she is just barely able to stay awake and standing without support from anyone else. As soon as the mark fades, Cassandra turns to her.

“How do you think we should proceed?” she asks.

Mina is shocked. “Now you’re asking what I think?” she asks incredulously.

“You have the mark,” Solas says.

“And you are the one we must keep alive,” Cassandra chimes in.

Mina sighs. “I say we charge,” she says as she looks up at the Breach. She looks at the Chancellor. “I won’t last long enough for your trial—this mark is killing me as it is. Whatever happens, happens now.”

Cassandra nods and turns to Leliana. “Leliana, bring everyone left in the valley. Everyone.”

Leliana nods and the group begins walking toward the Breach again.

“On your head be the consequences, Seeker,” Chancellor Roderick spat as they are walking off.

Everyone rolls their eyes at him.

As they make their way away from the Chancellor, Mina has to rant a bit: “Creators, he’s an asshole! Had I not been low on mana, I probably would have set his robes on fire!”

“And if he had any lyrium in his body, I probably would have set that on fire!” Cassandra says. “He made me want to punch him!”

“Remind me not to get on either of your bad sides,” Varric quips.

“I’ll second that,” Solas says.

“Wait, Cassandra, did you just say you can set lyrium inside a person’s body… on fire?” Mina asks.

“Yes I did,” Cassandra replies. “Some Seekers can use that ability to kill, although that is considered rare.”

“Creators, I wish I could do that! It would be super beneficial when my clan has run-ins with templars back home! I, as well as our Second, pass out when Silenced…” She thinks for a second. “Is that common?”

Cassandra’s eyes widen at this. “Sweet Maker!” she exclaims. “No, that is not common, Mina. I’ve actually never heard of anyone passing out when Silenced. And to have two mages in one clan with that tendency… Maker, I’ll have to look into that! Maybe there’s a way to fix it or something.”

“Well, given that our Second is my identical twin sister, Lira, I think I can understand why it happens to both of us,” Mina replies.

“How’s your mana, by the way?” Cassandra asks.

“Been better,” Mina replies with a shrug. “But, I can now use one of my favorite spells if I need and/or want to.” She smiles just thinking of it. “But, it’s a shapeshifter spell and I don’t think you Chantry people would like me using that one freely…”

“What do you shapeshift into?” Solas asks.

Mina smirks. “Anything I want, really,” she says with a shrug. “I once turned into a tree to hide from my sister after she wouldn’t stop asking me to teach her how to shapeshift.”

“You mean she can’t?” Cassandra asks.

“Nope,” Mina replies. “I don’t know what went wrong, but she’s not as smart as I am. While she can control her magic and do a few simple spells, she can’t do much else, magic wise. Barely learned how to Fade Step a week before I left for the Conclave.” Mina’s sensitive ears suddenly pick up on the sound of fighting up ahead. “Fenedhis! More fighting up ahead!” She starts to make a run for it.

“I don’t hear anything,” Cassandra says.

“Elf senses, Cassandra,” Solas reminds her.

The rest of the group rushes to catch up with Mina. By the time they do, she is already engaging the demons at the rift. After they are all dead, Mina closes the rift. However, she is once again injured and has to close it from a sitting position.

“How many rifts are there?” Mina asks once it’s closed, although, no one seems to have heard that, as they haven’t noticed her yet.

“Are you alright, miss?” a male voice asks.

Mina looks up and sees a man crouched down in front of her with a worried look on his face. His amber eyes seem to be peering into her soul. She notices a few of his blonde locks of hair have fallen from the confines of whatever he uses and are extremely curly. Creators, he’s beautiful! “I—uh—not really,” she stammers out her reply. “Stupid demons keep flanking me!”

Solas comes up and begins to heal Mina. “Sealed, as before. Aside from continually getting injured, you are becoming quite proficient at this.”

“Let’s hope it works on the big one,” Varric says from behind Mina.

The man is still looking at Mina in wonder as Solas finishes healing her. “I hope they’re right about you. We’ve lost a lot of people getting you here.”

“Seeing as I keep getting injured, I can’t promise anything, but I’ll try my best,” Mina replies.

“That’s all we can ask,” he says as he stands up. “Here, let me help you up.” He offers a hand to Mina, who gladly takes it.

“Ma sarannas, sir,” Mina says.

The man gives Mina a smile and a nod before he turns to Cassandra. “Lady Cassandra, the way to the temple should be clear. Leliana will try to meet you there.”

“Then we’d best move quickly,” Cassandra replies with a nod. “Give us time, Commander.”

Commander? Mina thinks. Creators, is that why his outfit reminds me of a lion?

The Commander turns to Mina. “Maker watch over you—for all our sakes.” He then turns to walk away, helping an injured soldier in the process.

Creators, I shouldn’t be feeling these things for a shem! Why do I just want to see what’s under all that armor? Is it his voice? His eyes? Creators, this won’t end well for me if I fall for him…

“I believe he’s available, you know,” Varric says, bringing Mina out of her thoughts.

“Excuse me?” Mina asks incredulously. Did I hear him correctly?

“I saw the way you were looking at Curly,” Varric replies. “I’m just saying, I think he’s single, if you want to jump in there…”

Yes I did… And ‘Curly’? Surely that has to be another one of his nicknames… “I’ll have you know I’m a married woman!” Mina says defensively. “Besides, I’m not allowed to like shems anyways.”

“That, Princess, is definitely a lie,” Varric retorts with a chuckle.

“Ugh! Fine! But only the first part of that was a lie. I actually am not allowed to fall for shems, so please drop it! And ‘Princess’? Really? You’re gonna have to do better than that! I’m not some damsel who needs rescuing all the time, despite what it may seem like!”

“Hey, I’m not the one who just tried to get me to shut up about Cullen by lying and saying they were married!” Varric says. Mina gives him a death glare. “What? I’ve written enough romance stories to see where this goes!”

Before Mina realizes what she’s doing, she magically slaps Varric and gets in his face. “If there weren’t witnesses to this, I would have just killed you!” she snarls. “You are walking a very thin line, dwarf! I would keep your mouth shut for a while if I were you! Do you understand me?” Varric gulps and nods. “Good.” She turns to the others. “Let’s get this fucking over with so I can go home to my clan! I’ve had about all I can take from all this shit!” She begins to stomp toward their next destination.

“Well done, Varric,” Cassandra growls at the dwarf. “While she may have started out as a prisoner, I now don’t believe she is guilty, so we should try to make her feel welcome. You just did the exact opposite. I hope you’re proud of yourself!” She turns and begins to follow Mina. “Wrong way, Mina!” she calls.

Mina stops walking and turns to Cassandra. “I need a minute or else I definitely won’t survive closing the Breach!” she calls back before resuming her walk to a nearby rock, where she sits down and begins to meditate.

Cassandra makes a mental note to check up on Mina’s mental and physical health as often as she can. Leliana had said she found Mina’s journals and, true to the Spymaster’s form, she began to read them for any evidence of Mina’s guilt, but found nothing noteworthy, other than subtle indications that the mage might be severely depressed.

 

As soon as Mina is done meditating, she joins the others and they continue on into the temple.

“This is where you walked out of the Fade and our soldiers found you,” Cassandra explains. “They say a woman was in the rift behind you. No one knows who she was.”

Mina notices the rift Cassandra is talking about seems closed; not like when she closes rifts with the mark, but just not spewing out demons every so often. Creators, the Breach is high up there! I don’t think I can close it from down here!

Varric seems to have the same thought. “The Breach is a long way up,” he says.

Mina hears several sets of footsteps coming from behind them. She turns to see Leliana and several archers walking up to their location.

“You’re here,” Leliana says. “Thank the Maker.”

“Leliana, have your men take up positions around the temple,” Cassandra instructs.

Leliana nods and goes to tell her men what to do as Cassandra turns back around to look at the Breach.

Cassandra turns back to Mina. “This is your chance to end this,” she says. “Are you ready?”

Mina sighs. “I’ll try, but I don’t know if I can reach that, much less close it.”

“No,” Solas says. “This rift is the first, and it is the key. Seal it, and perhaps we seal the Breach.”

“Then let’s find a way down,” Cassandra says. “And be careful.”

They begin to make their way through the temple, before a booming voice echoes throughout the rubble.

“Now is the hour of our victory,” it says. “Bring forth the sacrifice.”

“What are we hearing?” Cassandra asks to no one in particular.

“At a guess, the person who created the Breach,” Solas replies.

They round the corner and see a red glowing crystal that reminds Mina of raw lyrium ore, except red. It seems to be calling to her.

“You know this stuff is red lyrium, Seeker?” Varric asks Cassandra.

Well, that answers that question, Mina thinks.

“I see it, Varric,” Cassandra replies matter-of-factly.

“But what’s it doing here?” Varric wonders.

“Magic could have drawn on the lyrium beneath the temple, corrupted it…” Solas says.

“It’s evil,” Varric says. “Whatever you do, don’t touch it.”

As they round another corner, that booming voice speaks again: “Keep the sacrifice still,” it says.

“Someone help me!” a woman’s voice calls out.

Cassandra gasps. “That is Divine Justinia’s voice!” she exclaims.

Mina jumps down a ledge as the mark flares again. They begin walking closer to the rift.

“Someone help me!” the woman’s voice calls out again.

Then they hear Mina’s voice: “What’s going on here?”

Was that me? Mina thinks. Creators, why do I hear my voice?

“That was your voice,” Cassandra says. “Most Holy called out to you. But…” She looks back up at the Breach.

The mark, which has been continually getting brighter, suddenly surges and they all see a vision of an elderly woman in Chantry robes being held up by an unknown magic. A dark figure with red glowing eyes is looming over her.

That must be the Divine, Mina thinks. But what or who is that thing with her?

“What’s going on here?” Mina’s voice asks again.

“Run while you can!” the Divine calls. “Warn them!”

“We have an intruder,” the looming voice that Mina can only assume is coming from the shadowy figure says. “Slay the elf! Now!”

Suddenly, they see a flash of bright white light and then the vision fades.

They are all shocked, Cassandra especially, it seems. “You were there!” she nearly screams at Mina as she begins to close the distance between them. “Who attacked? And the Divine, is she…? Was this vision true? What are we seeing?”

“I don’t remember!” Mina replies. “I’m sorry, Cassandra.”

“Echoes of what happened here,” Solas says as he looks at the rift. “The Fade bleeds into this place.” He turns to the rest of them. “The rift is not sealed, but it is closed… Albeit temporarily. I believe that with the mark, the rift can be opened, and then sealed properly and safely. However, opening the rift will likely attract attention from the other side.”

“That means demons,” Cassandra warns. “Stand ready!”

Soldiers from all around the temple take their positions. Cassandra looks at Mina gives her a ‘whenever you’re ready’ nod. Mina looks back at the rift and takes a steadying breath before lifting her left hand and letting the foreign magic open the rift. Once opened, a massive pride demon appears. Fenedhis! Mina curses to herself.

“Now!” Cassandra calls.

From all around the temple, arrows leave their bows and hit their mark in the demon and the battle commences.

It takes what seems like forever to defeat the pride demon and all other demons that spawn from the rift. Mina uses the mark to disrupt the rift several times, which, in turn, weakens the pride demon and allows them to kill it easier. Once the pride demon is defeated, Mina takes a deep breath. It’s now or never, she thinks to herself.

Cassandra seems to notice Mina’s slight hesitation and calls out to her. “Now, Mina! Do it!”

Mina nods and lifts her left hand toward the rift. The pain of trying to close this one is easily at least ten times greater than when closing the other rifts. It also takes that much longer and that much more out of Mina. She barely has a second after cutting off the magic before everything goes black. She hasn’t even hit the ground yet when she falls unconscious.

Chapter Text

Cassandra holds her breath as Mina uses the mark to close the rift, and as a ball of green energy surges from the now closed rift and up towards the Breach. They see a bright flash of light and have to cover their eyes as it hits the Breach. When Cassandra regains eyesight, the first thing she sees is Mina lying motionless on the ground. She doesn’t even bother looking up to see if the Breach is still in the sky as she begins running in Mina’s direction.

“Mina!” she calls just before she reaches her. She kneels down and begins searching for signs of life. She breathes a sigh of relief when she detects a faint heartbeat. “Solas!” she calls to the elf. “She’s alive, but only just!”

Solas quickly goes to the other side of Mina and begins checking her over and healing her. “I can get her stable, but we need to get her back to Haven as soon as possible to ensure the best and quickest results as to her recovery,” he says.

“Understood,” Cassandra replies. She turns to Leliana, who is carrying a stretcher to their location. “Leliana, go back to Haven and notify the healers of our arrival,” she says as she takes the stretcher from her and begins to lay it out. “Also, I believe Mina has shown her innocence enough that she should no longer be considered a prisoner. She will need a bed and a change of clothes when we get there.”

“Understood,” Leliana replies with a nod before rushing off toward Haven.

Solas finishes stabilizing Mina and he and Cassandra carefully move her onto the stretcher. They, along with two others carefully lift the stretcher with Mina on it and slowly begin making their way back to Haven.

O0o0o0o0o0o

Cullen is helping with the wounded and counting the deceased when he hears the bells signaling the incoming arrival of a squad. He excuses himself and goes to see if Leliana, Cassandra, and the prisoner’s party have arrived back from the remains of the Temple of Sacred Ashes.

Once he gets to the gate, he sees Leliana, along with only a few of her men and women, just as they arrive at the gate.

“Commander!” Leliana calls as she sees him. “Cassandra will be arriving with the former prisoner, along with Solas, Varric, and the rest of our men who helped at the temple in a few minutes. However, the former prisoner is unconscious and severely injured. She will need a bed and a clean change of clothes. I can help on the latter, but I’m not sure what cabins aren’t occupied off the top of my head. Do you happen to know?”

“We’re full up at the moment, Leliana,” Cullen replies. “However, she can take my cabin and I can move to the tents with the soldiers. I changed the sheets this morning and it won’t take long to move my stuff.”

“I can’t ask you to give up your cabin for her, Commander,” Leliana protests.

“I insist,” Cullen persists. “People have heard about her heroism, and of the woman behind her in the rift and are beginning to call her the ‘Herald of Andraste’, claiming they believe that woman was Andraste. I only see it fit to at least offer her my cabin. Besides, I’m used to sleeping in tents. Don’t worry about me.”

“Very well,” Leliana sighs. “Go start gathering your stuff and I’ll fetch Adan and the healers and meet you there.”

They go their separate ways to complete their tasks. Once Cassandra and the others arrive, they are ready for them.

 

“How is she?” Cullen asks Cassandra as she exits the cabin a couple hours later.

“Solas and Adan both think she’ll make a full recovery,” Cassandra replies. “As to when she’ll wake up…” She sighs. “They say it could be a few days at least. Especially since she has expressed she might have potentially catastrophic side effects to lyrium. Her mana is of the most concern right now.” She sighs again. “Solas and Adan have promised me to get some rest in a few minutes, once they are done cleaning up.”

“I’ll watch over her tonight, Lady Cassandra,” Cullen offers. “I’ve already had to deal with a few people who wanted to get in and hurt her, and Maker knows I don’t get much sleep anyways.”

Cassandra is shocked. “People want to hurt her?” she asks incredulously. Cullen nods solemnly. “Sweet Andraste, I better let Leliana know to post some of her most trusted agents to secretly and discreetly watch over her, especially after she awakens.” She looks at Cullen again. “Thank you for telling me, Commander. I’d recommend you posting a few of your most trusted soldiers outside the doors and windows as well, just in case.”

“I’ll compose a list during my watch tonight,” Cullen replies. “Now, go inform Leliana and then go get some rest. You’ve had a long day.”

“I could say the same thing about you, Commander,” Cassandra retorts playfully. “But, yes. I think I shall. Good night, Commander.”

“Good night, Seeker,” Cullen replies. He waits until he can no longer see Cassandra’s retreating form before quietly slipping inside the cabin.

Upon entering, he sees Solas and Adan finishing gathering up their supplies to get ready to leave the cabin.

“Good evening, Commander,” Solas says as he sees him. “Come to gather the remainder of your stuff?”

“On the contrary,” Cullen replies, “Cassandra has assigned me to watch over her tonight, as there have been a few attempts at harming her.”

“Sweet Maker!” Adan exclaims. “Well, I won’t stop you. Good night, Commander.” He turns to leave.

“Send someone to get me if she does awaken,” Solas says as he too turns to leave. “Good night, Commander.”

“Will do. Good night Solas; Adan,” Cullen says to them with a nod before they exit the cabin.

Once Solas closes the door behind him, Cullen goes and sits in the chair by Mina’s bed that the elf has just vacated. He looks at her and notices a few things he missed on the battlefield and as she was brought in on the stretcher. He realizes her hair is a lot longer than he originally thought, as her hair was put up in a braided up-do when he first saw her and is now in a single Orlesian braid that goes down to just above her left breast. Maker’s breath, she’s beautiful, he thinks. Her lips look so soft and her breasts look like they would fit perfectly in my hands… Wait! Why am I thinking such thoughts? She may not even be staying in the long run! Cassandra said they would ask her to formally join the Inquisition as a member of the War Council once she wakes up and has recovered enough to process the amount of weight we will be putting on her shoulders, but also that she expressed the want to return home to her clan as soon as possible. Plus, there’s also the rumor going around that she was saved from the Fade by Andraste herself and, thus, she is being called the ‘Herald of Andraste’… Maker’s breath, Cullen! She is waaay out of your league! Not to mention she’s a Dalish elf! You know how unkindly the clans take to one of their own falling for a human, especially a human like you!

Cullen knows from experience how unkindly the Dalish clans take to the templars attempting to take their younger mages to the circles. Typically, they let them be, but occasionally they would see that a young mage was untrained and would attempt to take them to the circles. Those cases would always end in bloodshed on both sides.

Is that how she got those scars all along her arms? Maker’s breath, I hope not. From what Cassandra has told me, though she can shapeshift to hide or defend herself, she doesn’t do it often; especially around the cities, to avoid speculations of blood magic, and she is really smart for her age. Cullen was just as surprised as Cassandra was to hear that she corrected her Keeper on the logistics of a certain spell six years before her magic actually manifested. He hopes she will give him a chance to prove himself worthy of her trust, and maybe even love, once she wakes up.

Sighing, Cullen gets up, moves the chair to the desk, and sits back down to begin writing the list of his most trusted soldiers to take up guard rotations at the door and windows of the cabin.

 

Soon after he finishes writing the list and cleaning up the supplies, there is a soft knock on the door. Cullen is about to stand up to open it when Leliana sticks her head in the door.

“Commander?” she asks. “May I come in?”

“Of course, Leliana,” Cullen replies before she quietly enters and closes the door. “What can I do for you?”

“Cassandra told me about the reported attempts at harming her,” Leliana states.

“Unfortunately,” Cullen murmurs.

“And that you volunteered to watch her tonight,” Leliana continues. “That’s very noble of you, Cullen.”

Cullen rubs the back of his neck. “Yes, well…” He looks at Mina and then back at Leliana. “If the rumors are true and it was Andraste who pushed her out of the Fade and she is her herald—her champion—then any attempt at her life is, in my opinion, an attempt to thwart the Maker’s work.”

Leliana smirks. Cassandra had also told her about the threat Mina made Varric after he teased her a bit too much. “Are you sure that’s the only reason?” she asks innocently. “I think she might be developing feelings for you too, you know.”

“Maker’s breath, Leliana!” Cullen forces out in shock. “Even if I was developing feelings for her, which I don’t think I am,” Leliana raises an eyebrow at him, “okay, maybe I am a little bit, but still… She deserves some basic human decency! Maker knows what traumas she’s experienced at the hands of our people! Void take me! Have you seen the scars on her arms, Leliana? She’s clearly been through a lot!”

Varric and Cassandra are right, Leliana thinks. These two would be perfect for each other! Too bad the Dalish don’t take highly to human lovers… “She has your temper too,” she giggles.

“What in Thedas does that mean?” Cullen scoffs.

“Oh, nothing,” Leliana replies with a shrug and a smile. “Cassandra just said something about her going off on Varric for pressing on this very topic…” Her grin widens at Cullen’s shocked, yet concerned look.

“Maker’s breath, what did she do?” Cullen asks as he rubs the back of his neck.

Leliana tells Cullen what she gathered from Cassandra’s account of Mina’s profanity-laced outburst and openly laughs at the look of shock, mild horror, and something else—is that desire?—on Cullen’s face. As Cullen looks over at Mina again, Leliana glances downward—oh, that’s definitely desire!—and nearly gets caught doing so, but hides her gasp as a yawn.

“Pardon me, Commander,” she says. “It’s been a long day. I just came in here to let you know I already have some of my most trusted agents watching for suspicious activity, as well as keeping an eye on the cabin should someone try to make a move again. Plus, I just had to see for myself if what Cass said about you and Mina is true. Sorry, but I can’t help it. I’ll let you get some rest; whatever little you will get. Good night, Commander.” She begins to head out the door

Cullen sighs. “Good night—oh, hey, Leliana?” He goes to the desk and picks up his list of most trusted soldiers.

“Yes, Commander?” Leliana asks as she sticks her head back in the door.

“Will you run a few extra background checks on these soldiers?” Cullen asks as he hands her the list. “That is a list of the soldiers that I trust to stand guard for Mina, but I want to be absolutely positive none of them will try to hurt her, especially given that she can shapeshift.”

He’s so in love already and he doesn’t even realize it! Leliana thinks as she takes a quick look at the list. “Of course,” she replies. “I’ll get started on it first thing in the morning. Good night, Commander.”

“Good night, Leliana.”

O0o0o0o0o

“I’m telling you, Cass!” Leliana says somewhat excitedly a few minutes later in the room she, Cassandra, and the Inquisition’s Ambassador, Josephine, are sharing just to the right of the War Room. “The man is in love with her but doesn’t realize just how much! I wonder if he ever realized his pants were getting tighter…”

“Knowing how flustered Cullen gets, and how flustered he got just now, I’d say he did and is hoping you didn’t notice,” Cassandra says with a giggle.

“Let’s see him try to keep a straight face and a natural color with you tomorrow,” Josephine giggles.

“Maker, you two are hopeless romantics…” Cassandra laughs.

“Says the most hopeless romantic of us all, Miss I-read-Swords-and-Shields-don’t-tell-anyone!” Leliana retorts.

Cassandra looks at Leliana with wide eyes. “H—how…?” she stutters.

Leliana smirks and laughs again. “I’m the Spymaster, Cassandra,” she says. “It’s my job to know these things. Like I know that Knight-Captain Rylen has specifically asked Cullen about you.”

“Sweet Andraste, I hope he doesn’t try anything,” Cassandra mutters. “It’s too soon…”

“Believe me, Cass, I know,” Leliana says as she puts a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Galyan was a fine young man. I know his death has hit you hard.”

Cassandra nods solemnly before a tear slips past her resolve and slides down her face. Leliana notices this and realizes Cassandra hasn’t had time to actually grieve the loss of her lover.

She moves to sit beside her friend on her bed and fully embraces her. “It’s okay, Cass,” she soothes. “Let it out. I know it hurts now, but until you are able to grieve, you won’t be able to let go—to move on and be happy.”

Cassandra finally lets her resolve shatter. She begins to sob and cry out uncontrollably. After about a minute, Josephine hands Leliana a note:

I’m going to wait outside in case anyone hears her and begins to worry. I’ll be just outside the door should you need anything.

Leliana nods and mouths ‘I’m sorry’, to which Josephine replies, ‘Don’t worry about it’ before quietly exiting the room.

Once outside, Josephine takes a calming breath.

“Everythin’ alright, Milady?” a voice softly asks.

Josephine jumps and instinctively reaches for one of her hidden daggers, only to remember she took them off to go to sleep.

“Sorry, Milady; I didn’t mean to startle ya,” the voice says.

Josephine finally looks up and sees a soldier in templar armor regarding her with curiosity and a hint of concern. “Who are you?” she softly asks just before another of Cassandra’s wails rings out, slightly startling them both.

“Knight-Captain Rylen, Milady,” the man bows. “And who do I have the honor of speakin’ with this evenin’?”

Sweet Maker, this is the one who supposedly has feelings for the woman crying her heart out on the other side of this door! Josephine thinks to herself. Better make sure to not reveal too much… “Lady Josephine Montilyet of Antiva, Ser Rylen,” she replies with a small curtsey. “Ambassador to the Inquisition.”

Rylen smiles a little before another wail rings out. “Is everythin’ alright in there, Milady?” he asks again. “Sounds like Seeker Pentaghast is havin’ a rough night.”

Josephine raises an eyebrow. “What makes you say it’s Lady Cassandra in there crying her heart out, Ser Rylen?” she asks. Play The Game.

“That room is assigned to the three highest women in the Inquisition, is it not?” Rylen replies. “Sister Nightingale, Seeker Pentaghast, and you, Milady. Given that you are out here means the person cryin’ is either Sister Nightingale or Seeker Pentaghast. From what I can tell, that is a Nevarran cry, rather than an Orlesian cry; therefore, it has to be Seeker Pentaghast who is cryin’. Am I correct?”

Josephine is shocked. Either this man is really good at The Game, or he is just really good. Leli is sooo hearing about this later! She sighs. “Yes,” she relents.

“Would you care to tell me why such a beautiful and strong woman like Seeker Pentaghast is in there cryin’ her heart out?” Rylen asks.

“I’m not at liberty to say, Ser Rylen,” Josephine replies. “My apologies.”

Rylen nods in understanding. They wait in silence for a bit.

After a few minutes, the door slowly opens and Leliana steps out, softly closing the door behind her.

“How is she?” Josephine asks.

“Sleeping,” Leliana replies.

“Poor lass,” Rylen mutters. “Is there anythin’ I can do to help? I hate hearin’ the hurt in her voice.” Maker, did I just say that?

Leliana and Josephine exchange a knowing look.

“Ser Rylen, how much do you really want to pursue Cassandra romantically?” Leliana asks.

“Maker’s breath, is it that obvious?” Rylen forces out.

Both Leliana and Josephine smile and nod.

Rylen sighs. “Well, to answer your question, very much so. Seeker Pentaghast is the strongest and most beautiful person I know. It hurts my heart to hear her cryin’ like I heard her tonight.”

“And just how much do you know about her that she herself has told you?” Josephine asks.

Rylen pauses at that. Maker’s breath, do I really know nothing about her that she herself has told me?

“Exactly,” Leliana says, as if reading his mind. She sighs. “If you really want to pursue her, talk to her. However, be careful. Her previous lover died at the Conclave. That is why she was crying this evening. She never got the time to actually grieve until tonight.”

“Maker’s breath, I had no idea!” Rylen says. “I promise I won’t let you down Miladies. On my honor. I’ll bid you a good night and let you get some sleep.” He turns and leaves the Chantry.

Once the door closes, Josephine tells Leliana everything about the conversation she had with Rylen before she arrived.

“I swear, Leli! Either he’s an expert at the Game, or he’s just that good!”

Leliana smirks. “Maybe I should ask Cullen to find a new second-in-command and make him mine…” she jokes. “Or yours.”

“We both know he will be better off staying with Cullen; as much it would be amusing to see him try our jobs,” Josephine replies with a slight giggle.

“Indeed,” Leliana says with a giggle of her own before sighing. “Rylen’s a good lad. He’d be good for Cassandra. I just hope she’ll see the benefit of the doubt. I just want her to be happy in the end, wherever that takes her. That goes for you, too.”

“It should go for you as well, Leli,” Josephine replies.

Leliana chuckles. “Touché.” She sighs again. “But let’s leave that for tomorrow and get some sleep for now. Good night, Josie.”

“Good night, Leli,” Josephine replies before quietly following the Spymaster into the room and going to bed.

O0o0o0o0o

Cassandra wakes from a restful, dreamless sleep to the sound of an animal sniffing and the feel of something small and wet sliding across the length of the scar on her cheek. She opens her eyes to see a small nug is the reason for those sensations. She picks it up and it squeaks happily.

“How’s that for a wake-up call?!” Leliana’s laughter-filled voice rings out from her side of the room. “A Fade-Touched nug that is apparently attached to you!”

“I can’t have heard that right…” Cassandra says as she sets the nug down and sits up to face Leliana.

“Oh, you heard right, Cass,” Leliana replies. “Solas confirmed he’s Fade-Touched a couple hours ago.”

“Sweet Andraste, what time is it?” Cassandra asks as she realizes there’s sunlight coming through the windows.

Leliana chuckles. “Almost noon,” she says. “Now, before you go off on me for letting you sleep, you needed it, Cass. You’ve been working hard the last few days and only just truly grieved last night. And, might I say, Rylen heard you and actually asked what he could do to help! He was genuinely worried for you, Cassandra.”

“He still is apparently,” Josephine says from the doorway carrying a small bundle of flowers. She hands them to Cassandra. “He wrote you a note.”

Please don’t tell me you told him about the ideal romance thing…” Cassandra says to Leliana.

“That’s one thing we actually didn’t mention,” Leliana replies.

Cassandra looks between the two of them incredulously. “Do I even want to know?”

Whether or not she does, they tell her anyways.

“So, you’re saying he really wants to do this?” Cassandra asks after they finish. She had begun pacing the room about a minute into their confession.

“What does the note say?” Leliana asks.

Cassandra looks to the bed and sees the nug standing on his hind legs and holding the flowers in his mouth in an offering to the Seeker, who carefully takes it from the nug and scratches his chin.

“You’re gonna have to name him, you know,” Leliana says with a slight chuckle as Cassandra unravels the note that was holding the flowers together.

Ignoring what Leliana just said, Cassandra unrolls the note, places the flowers back on the bed, and reads it to herself:

Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast, you are the strongest, most beautiful person I know. Last night, you reminded me that underneath all the armor and hardened faces, each soldier is still human at the core. I would like to get to know the human that is at your core, if you will let me. Yours, Knight-Captain Rylen.

Well that’s very sweet, Cassandra thinks once she finishes reading the note. But I fear it’s too soon. She sighs. “Leli, I’m scared it’s too much too soon,” she says as she starts pacing again. “While part of me wants to maybe see where this goes, another part of me is scared all I’ll be doing is setting my heart up to break yet again! We’re at war for Maker’s sake!”

The nug makes a noise to get Cassandra’s attention. When she looks over at him, she notices he has arranged the flowers into a heart shape.

“I think he wants you to take the risk,” Leliana says. The nug gives a squeak of approval. “He definitely wants you to take the risk!” she laughs.

All three of them look at Cassandra expectantly.

“I’m still not sure…” Cassandra says. “It’s still too soon. I feel like I’d be disgracing Reggie if I did.”

Suddenly, the nug hops off the bed, goes to Cassandra’s heels and starts biting her calves very lightly to get her to sit on the bed. Once she is on the bed with her feet propped up, Leliana helps him to the bed. He then crawls up her leg to the exact spot where Regalyan magically healed her for the first time and looks at her with bright green eyes.

Galyan’s eyes.

“Sweet Maker, it can’t be!” Cassandra breathes as she realizes this.

“What can’t be?” Josephine asks.

“H—He has his eyes…” Cassandra stutters, barely above a whisper. “A—and h—he’s o—on th—the exact s—spot…”

“Where he magically healed you for the first time,” Leliana finishes. Cassandra nods. Then it hits her. “Wait! Are you saying you think it’s him?”

“I don’t know!” Cassandra nearly yells as she throws her hands in the air. She picks up the nug and moves him so she can get up and pace again. “They say spirits sometimes come to this side of the veil and can’t return to the Fade until their purpose is fulfilled, but to possess an animal like this nug… Andraste preserve me, it’s demonic!”

“Cassandra, calm down,” Leliana pleads as she moves to stop her friend’s pacing. However, Cassandra’s quick reflexes make that impossible.

“I am calm!” Cassandra yells as she shakes out of Leliana’s grasp and resumes her pacing.

“Oh, come on, Cassandra!” Josephine says. “You are not calm! Even someone who is terrible at The Game can tell that!”

“Ugh!” Cassandra groans. “I need to take a walk! Can you two leave so I can change?” Leliana and Josephine nod and begin to leave. “And take the Blighted nug too!” she adds. Leliana sighs and turns to pick up the nug.

Once she is alone, Cassandra quickly, but angrily changes out of her nightclothes and into her armor. She then leaves the room, only to nearly trip over a tray on the other side of the door. She picks it up and reads the note on it:

C ~ It isn’t much, but you need to put something in your stomach. I’ll be in the Herald’s cabin should you need me. ~ L

Cassandra sighs as she lifts the cover to see an apple and a roll. She takes them and passes the tray along to a passing servant to return to the tavern. When she exits the Chantry, she immediately heads for the path that leads to the frozen lake where she’s gone when she’s needed to clear her head in the past, eating along the way.

Once there, she begins to pace again as she recalls and tries to make sense of the events of that morning.

 

Meanwhile, Leliana has taken over for Varric on watching Mina. She had found Cullen softly reading a book on military tactics to her early that morning, claiming it seemed to calm her, and immediately sent him to bed and Varric to take over after Solas and Adan checked on her progress.

She looks at the nug, who has fallen asleep next to the Herald, and smiles. I can see why Cassandra might be freaking out… she thinks. If I somehow came across something similar of a previous lover, I’d probably be freaking out as well. However, I think if this is truly Galyan’s spirit, we have nothing to worry about.

She returns to the Herald’s ‘Journals of Rambles’, as Cassandra called them. They had found them in her pack when she fell out of the Fade at the temple and had confiscated them to possibly find evidence of her guilt. However, all Leliana found were subtle indications that Mina is severely depressed. The Spymaster had only read her most recent journals, and thought it best to return them, after reading a few of the entries in the journals from Mina’s childhood out of curiosity, of course. She notices a few of the entries contain not only rambles, but also details about the Herald and her clan that could be used against them. These are usually the ones written entirely in Elvish. Luckily, her work as the Left Hand of the Divine and as a Spymaster has allowed Leliana to learn, speak, read, and even write a number of different languages, including Elvish.

Cassandra had mentioned that Mina said she has severe side effects to taking lyrium, but wouldn’t elaborate for fear of someone overhearing, but if what Leliana is gathering from the journals is true, if the Herald so much as touches lyrium, the effects are catastrophic.

Entry, written in Elvish, in which Mina would be ten years old:

Bloomingtide the fourteenth, 9:31 Dragon:

I touched a vial of blue liquid a shem gave me today. He said it boosts my magic. I heard it calling to me. I should ask Keeper Deshanna about this later. However, he said that it is addictive and that it also gives non-magical shems called Templars abilities that allows them to cut off a mage’s magic. Keeper Deshanna has told me about these so-called Templars before. We always called them “Mage Killers” because they are also known to kill mages. I asked him what it costs and he said for a pretty knife-ear like me, just my word that we would continue doing business with him. He said that he shouldn’t really be giving me the magic booster—I think he called it lyrium—but that he noticed my mana was low and said it would help. I don’t know how he could tell my mana was low, but I thanked him and am now on my way back to the clan with the rest of our traded goods.

Another entry, also in Elvish, written seemingly several hours later:

Creators, this is why a lot of clans don’t trust shems! I may have run low on mana again, more severely this time, and used the vial of lyrium… I lost control of my magic… turned everything around me to stone, and I turned into a tree. Keeper found me a few hours later and was able to make everything right again, but was very cross with me. I am now not allowed to trade with shems anymore. She said I was always really smart for my age and that I once corrected her on the logistics of a spell around six years ago, but after my magic manifested a month ago, I’ve been nothing but trouble… I am very sad that I can’t adventure out alone anymore. Now the only time I can be alone is when I have to relieve myself… Anyways, it’s getting late and I have a drop of lyrium left in the vial that Keeper doesn’t know I have… I wonder if the effects are similar by just touching it… Let’s go find out…

Creators, that’s even worse! As soon as I touched it, it made my magic surge to my hand and I burned my entire body. Keeper found me again and healed me, but I still have a lot of scars, and she said that she is very disappointed in me. Said tomorrow she will begin training me as First, and my identical twin sister, Lira, who is less smart, as Second. She and I unfortunately killed our previous First and Second when our magic manifested at the same time a month ago. Keeper said it’s a miracle we both survived, as we were right next to each other when we each had a burst of fire shoot out in all directions from our bodies. Shit… Keeper is telling me to stop writing and go to bed… Guess I’ll have to follow directions now…

Sweet Maker she was a troublemaker… Leliana thinks as she finishes reading. She looks at a few more entries before there is a soft knock on the door. She puts a piece of paper in the journal before closing it and returning it to the shelf before going to open the door. What she sees when she does worries her: Cassandra is pacing in front of the cabin. She must still be trying to make sense of the events of this morning… Leliana thinks before quickly ushering her in.

“How is she?” Cassandra asks as she looks at Mina.

“There is little change, other than the fact that she seems to calm when Cullen reads to her,” Leliana replies.

Cassandra sighs. “I keep hearing people call her the ‘Herald of Andraste’ and it worries me. On top of everything that happened this morning, I can barely keep up anymore.”

“I understand, Cassandra,” Leliana replies as she puts a reassuring hand on her friend’s shoulder. “Really, I do. We all just want the best for you.”

“And you think Rylen is the best for me?” Cassandra asks. “Or even just love in general?”

“I’m not saying that, Cassandra,” Leliana states. “I’m just saying there are times like this when you need more than just a shoulder to cry on. There are times when you need someone who knows more about you than you do about yourself, a person to love and be loved by, a person who is more than a close friend or a family member. A person who understands who you are and where you are coming from in a way only a lover—a partner—can. I’m not saying Rylen is that person. I’m just saying it won’t hurt to get to know him better, and maybe see if he might be.”

Cassandra sighs and nods. “I’ll talk to him the next time we both get a break,” she says. “For now, we need to figure out how to handle these ‘Herald’ rumors.”

O0o0o0o0o0o

Early the next morning, Cullen wakes to the sound of someone knocking on the Herald’s cabin door. He had offered to watch her again overnight and was met with surprisingly little objection. Sighing, he gets up and opens the door to find Leliana standing there reading a report. She looks up and smiles at him.

“Good morning, Commander,” she says sweetly. “I have the reports on the soldiers you wanted me to look into.” She hands him the papers in her hand. “They are in there, along with the edited list based on my findings.” She looks past him toward where Mina is still unconscious on the bed. “How is she?”

Cullen beckons her to come inside. “She had a fairly violent dream last night,” he says after closing the door. “For a while I thought I was going to have to get Solas or Adan to administer a sleeping draught or something, but after a few minutes of me holding her down and talking to her, she calmed down.” He rubs the back of his neck as Leliana hides the knowing smirk that threatened to show past her resolve. “Other than that, there’s very little difference.” What he doesn’t tell her is that she said something that worried him that he wanted to ask Cassandra about before telling anyone else.

Leliana nods, but notices he seems to be fidgeting a little more than usual. “There’s something else isn’t there?” she asks.

Cullen sighs and rubs the back of his neck again. “Yes, but I need to confer with Cassandra about it before I feel comfortable bringing it up with anyone else.”

Leliana nods. “Very well,” she says. “I’ll let her know on my way back to my work tent.”

“Actually, I need to set these rotations in place and need to set the next training regimen for the troops,” Cullen says. “I’ll talk to her when I can.”

Before Leliana can reply, there’s a knock on the door. Cullen opens it to a frantic messenger.

“Commander, Knight-Captain Rylen requests your assistance in the training grounds. Apparently there’s a fight no one has been able to stop regarding what happened at the Conclave.”

“Go, Commander,” Leliana says. “I’ll watch her until Josie arrives. She asked to watch her this morning.”

Cullen nods and rushes to follow the messenger.

 

“No wife of the Maker would send a mage, let alone an elven mage to be her champion in our time of need!” a man yells at another.

“You don’t know that!” the other man yells back. “The Herald saved me from a demon attacking me at a rift the other day! Gave me some elfroot and told me to eat it to ease the pain. Just like Andraste would have done!”

“And I don’t suppose you know who created the hole in the sky, killing the Most Holy and thousands of others, do you?” the first man spits back.

“Enough!” Cullen calls as he gets between them. “Whether or not she is the one responsible for the explosion at the Conclave, or if she is, in fact, Andraste’s Herald shouldn’t matter! What should matter is closing the Breach!”

“What makes you think a second attempt will work?” the first man asks. “The knife-ear failed the first time! How do we know it will work the second time?” He looks around. “Where is the little whore anyways? I thought she survived…”

“I said enough!” Cullen yells again. “If you don’t like how we are doing things here, then you can just leave! In fact, I’ve had enough of your derogatory and hateful language toward her! I’ll just have you escorted out right now!” He motions to Rylen and a few lieutenants to restrain him.

However, as they approach him, he smirks and produces a vial of purple liquid, effectively stopping everyone in their tracks. “You know what this is, Commander?” he asks.

Before anyone knows what’s happening, the vial goes flying into Solas’s hand and Leliana has restrained and disarmed the man.

“You think you can get away with that?” she snarls. “I don’t think so!” She passes him to Rylen and tells him to put him in the dungeon. Then, she and Solas gather the man’s belongings and begin to head towards the Chantry.

“Alright, back to work!” Cullen orders. “All of you!” He sees Cassandra in the crowd. “Lieutenant!” he calls. “Make sure there are no further disturbances and continue with today’s training regimen.”

“Yes, Commander!” the lieutenant salutes and then goes to give orders as Cullen begins to walk in Cassandra’s direction.

“We need to talk privately,” he says as he reaches her location.

“So Leliana told me,” Cassandra replies. “Come. Let’s go to the War Room.”

Cullen nods and they begin to head to the War Room.

 

“It’s about Lady Lavellan, isn’t it?” Cassandra says once she closes the door to the War Room.

Cullen nods. “How much did Leliana tell you?”

“Just that you wanted to confer with me about something before bringing it up with anyone else,” Cassandra replies. “And that she had a violent dream last night and what you did to calm her down.”

“Well, it’s somewhat about that,” Cullen says as he rubs the back of his neck. “She said something in her sleep that worries me.”

“And what did she say?” Cassandra asks.

“It seemed like she was pleading with someone to not give her lyrium. Along with a string of Elvish, I specifically heard her say ‘I will turn everything to stone!’ as well as ‘I will burn everything around me if I touch it!’. Did she tell you about the effects lyrium has on her?”

Cassandra’s eyes widen in shock. “No, she didn’t,” she shakes her head. “All she said was that she has a severe reaction to it.” She starts pacing. “If this is truly what happens when exposed to lyrium and it gets out, there will be no stopping the swarm of people, templars especially, who want to kill her! Maker, she was right about that at least!”

“We need to bring it up with the others as soon as possible,” Cullen says.

“I agree,” Cassandra says. “But first, I think we need to figure out why that man did what he did.”

Cullen nods and they head down to the dungeon.

 

“How do you know the harlot will succeed the second time?” they hear the man say again as they enter the dungeon. “She’s weak! And so is your so-called Inquisition!”

We haven’t even officially called it yet! Cassandra, Cullen, and Leliana think.

Cullen and Cassandra catch Rylen’s attention from his guard post with the two lieutenants that helped bring the man to the dungeons.

“Has he said anything of use, other than those last few offensive and untrue accusations, yet?” Cassandra asks.

“No, Milady,” Rylen replies. “Lady Nightingale and the apostate elf are in there trying to get a motive out of him, but to no avail.”

“Thank you, Knight-Captain,” Cullen says before turning to the Seeker next to him. “Cassandra, go see if you can help get something out of him. I need to talk to my Second in private.”

Cassandra nods and heads toward the inner dungeon, exchanging a small smile with Rylen as she passes him.

Cullen turns to the two lieutenants. “No one is to be down here without Leliana, Cassandra, or I present. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Commander,” they both salute.

“Good,” Cullen says and then turns to Rylen and motions for him to follow. He leads him into the War Room.

“My apologies for bringin’ you into this mess, Commander,” Rylen says after Cullen closes the door. “They just wouldn’t stop arguin’ no matter how we tried to intervene and separate them.”

“You did the right thing, Rylen,” Cullen says. “I’ve been meaning to ask you what you think about Lady Lavellan. Do you think she is Andraste’s Herald? Her Champion?”

Rylen seems to hesitate. “Permission to speak freely, sir?” he asks.

“Granted,” Cullen says. “But you should know by now that you don’t need to ask for permission to speak your mind with me.”

Rylen seems to relax at that. “Thank you,” he says. “To answer your question, I don’t know. I won’t deny she’s what we needed, when we needed it, but to be chosen by the Maker’s wife is far out there. Nonetheless, if—no, when she wakens, if it is necessary, I would pledge to protect her from people like the man in the dungeons with everythin’ I have.”

“Even knowing she can shapeshift?” Cullen asks.

Rylen’s eyes widen at this and he nearly chokes on his own spit. “Maker’s breath, I didn’t know she could shapeshift!” he says. “But, regardless, I’d still protect her with everythin’ I have. I’ve met enough shapeshifters to know it’s not truly blood magic as the Chantry teaches us.”

Cullen breathes a sigh of relief. “Good, because you, along with a few more of my most trusted officers will begin guard rotations at the door and windows of the cabin she is in, starting now. Some of Leliana’s agents are already keeping watch from afar. However, we can’t take any risks, as there have been several attempts on her life already.”

“Maker’s breath,” Rylen whispers before looking up at Cullen. “I won’t let you down, Commander. You have my word.”

“Thank you, Rylen,” Cullen says. “Now, go. Take up position at the door. I’ll send a few more officers to take up the other positions in a few minutes. They will answer to you for this task. I will want reports on any and all attempts, and anyone who does try to get inside detained. The only people allowed inside without an escort are me, Seeker Pentaghast, Ambassador Montilyet, Sister Nightingale, Varric, Solas, and Adan. Ambassador Montilyet should be in there now. Let her know you have taken up position at the door so she isn’t caught off guard.”

“Yes, Commander,” Rylen salutes and exits the War Room.

Sighing, Cullen rubs his temples to try to alleviate the headache that has formed during this morning’s events, to no avail. Giving up, he goes to question the remaining officers he will be assigning to the guard rotations.

O0o0o0o0o

That evening, Cassandra insists Cullen get some proper rest and that she would watch over the Herald that night. While reluctant at first, Cullen eventually relents when he hears Mina is likely to wake very soon—the next day most likely.

Watching the Herald sleep, Cassandra remembers how easily the mage convinced her of her innocence. And how the lie she told Varric reinforced that belief in the Seeker.

She takes Mina’s hands in hers. “Rest well, Mina,” she says softly. “Maker knows you will need all the strength you can get when you awaken.” She says a silent prayer to the Maker before releasing her hands. She moves a strand of hair out of her face and kisses her forehead before going to the desk and resuming reading The Tale of the Champion yet again for clues as to where Victoria Hawke and her apostate and criminal boyfriend, Anders might be. The Fade-Touched nug, which she has named ‘Marcall’ or ‘Marc’ for short, after Galyan’s last name, is sleeping at Mina’s feet. While reading, Cassandra steals glances at the two of them and smiles.

 

Cassandra wakes from a light slumber after falling asleep at the desk to the sound of Marc squeaking very worriedly. After rubbing her eyes, she looks at the bed and notices Mina is thrashing about very violently. She quickly stands and goes to the bed to try to calm her. As she reaches Mina’s side, Cassandra hears her muttering something in Elvish. She sits at the edge of the bed, brings the thrashing mage into her lap, and wraps her arms around her, effectively restraining her. She speaks softly to try to calm her.

“Shh,” she coos. “It’s alright, Mina. It’s just a dream.”

Suddenly, Mina begins to try to get out of Cassandra’s restraint.

“Fenedhis lasa!” she yells. “Ma harel lasa! Ma banal las halamshir var vhen! Na din'an sahlin!”

Suddenly, Cassandra feels the veil weaken as Mina begins to summon her magic. She quickly does a Spell Purge. However, that doesn’t seem to do much. She is about to Silence Mina when Marc squeaks and rushes to where Cassandra is holding Mina’s hands. He then curls up and begins to glow. Mina calms at that and Cassandra slowly releases her after getting over the shock.

“Thank you,” she whispers as she scratches Marc’s chin. The nug looks at her and seems to nod before curling back up near Mina’s hands and falling back asleep.

Cassandra sighs. I need to ask Solas what else this nug might be able to do, she thinks. She starts to get up, but stops when she feels Mina trying to keep the Seeker underneath her subconsciously.

“Penshra! Ghilas vellathan!” Mina mutters as she turns on her side and frantically tries to grab something. The movement makes Marc slide off her, but he just curls back up next to her and promptly falls back asleep. Mina’s hand makes contact with Cassandra’s shirt and balls it in her fist. There is a small smile on her face when she seems to calm again.

Cassandra sighs as she leans back against the wall and subconsciously runs her fingers through Mina’s unbraided hair in a soothing way. She somehow falls asleep like that.

 

Cassandra wakes up when Leliana knocks on the door and enters. The Spymaster raises her eyebrows when she sees the Seeker’s current position.

“Another night terror,” Cassandra explains. “She wouldn’t let me leave afterwards.” She points to where Mina’s fist is still holding onto the Seeker’s shirt.

Leliana nods as she pulls the chair from the desk and sits in it after placing it closer to the bed. “Tell me what happened,” she says.

Cassandra sighs and tells Leliana everything, from the moment she woke up, to the moment she fell back asleep. She tries to repeat the bits of Elvish she heard, but butchers the pronunciations. Luckily, Leliana is able to figure out what they were.

“‘Fenedhis lassa’ is ‘bull shit’ or ‘I don’t give a shit’, depending on the context,” Leliana translates for Cassandra. “‘Ma harel lasa!’ would be ‘You lied to me!’ ‘Ma banal las halamshir var vhen!’ is ‘You do nothing to further our people!’ ‘Na din'an sahlin!’ is ‘Your death is come!’ and, most interestingly, ‘Penshra! Ghilas vellathan!’ is not usually used in a polite manner, but is politely translated as ‘I prefer that you remain close.’” She looks at Cassandra. “You said she began to summon her magic after saying ‘your death is come’, yes?” Cassandra nods. “She must have been about to kill whomever, or whatever she was talking to, but her magic actually accumulated in the waking world as well.” She looks to Marc, who is still sleeping at Mina’s side. “I am very surprised at what he did to help.”

“I was too,” Cassandra replies. “Even if he isn’t Reggie’s soul reborn, I still feel he is near and watching over us from the Maker’s side.”

Leliana smiles at her then.

Suddenly, Mina starts making noises that sound oddly sexual. Both of their faces visibly redden as they realize this.

“Garas’in’ar,” Mina says as her noises grow more breathy and her breathing quickens. “Ir sumeil.”

Leliana gasps when she realizes what Mina just said. “It seems our Herald is having a very vivid sex dream,” she says with a laugh as Mina’s sounds get louder and more erotic. “She just said ‘come in me’ and ‘I’m close’.”

Cassandra covers Mina’s mouth with her hand to try to quieten the sounds she’s making, but to little avail. The noises continue to get louder and her breathing continues to quicken.

“Oh, Creators, Cullen! Don’t stop!” Mina says.

“Andraste preserve me!” Cassandra says as she begins to squirm a bit. “I’m already not going to be able to look at her in the eyes… Now I doubt I’ll be able to look the Commander in the eyes!”

“If she remembers this dream, I doubt she will be able to as well,” Leliana says with a smirk.

Mina begins to shake as she screams out in pleasure. Then, she seems to start to calm and she falls into a deeper sleep. Cassandra is able to wiggle out from underneath her then.

As soon as Mina is calm and stable enough, Cassandra and Leliana leave the cabin to begin their day.

Chapter Text

Mina doesn’t know why she asks Cullen to help her find a release she desperately needs, but as soon as she does, his lips are on hers and he backs her into the wall as his hands begin to explore. He stops kissing her to take her dress off, revealing that she isn’t wearing anything underneath. Cullen’s hand immediately goes to her dripping wet core and he inserts a finger in her as he resumes kissing her.

Cullen picks Mina up and takes her to the bed in the room, gently placing her down before quickly undressing himself.

“Take me as hard and as fast as you want,” Mina says as he seems to hesitate. “Don’t hold anything back.”

Cullen immediately sheathes himself all the way inside her and they both moan in pleasure. Cullen immediately starts setting a really fast and hard rhythm. They are both rapidly approaching the edge.

“Come in me,” Mina says. “I’m close.”

Cullen nods and then begins to rub the bundle of nerves just above her heat. Mina’s breathing becomes quicker and she becomes louder at the contact.

“Oh, Creators, Cullen!” she exclaims. “Don’t stop!”

Cullen complies. Soon they are both tumbling over the edge and crying out in pure ecstasy. Once their orgasms have subsided, Cullen removes himself from her and cuddles up with her.

Chapter Text

Mina awakes to the feel of blankets on top of her and the sound of a fire going in the fireplace nearby. She slowly opens her eyes and looks around. She’s in a small cabin. Creators, that was a weird sex dream… she thinks.

She hears the door open and a small elven girl, seemingly not much younger than Mina, walks in. She is carrying a crate of items, but drops it when she sees Mina is awake.

“Oh!” she exclaims as Mina sits up. “I didn’t know you were awake, I swear!”

Why does she seem scared of me? Mina thinks. “Don’t worry about it. I only--”

Mina’s words are cut off when the girl suddenly falls to the floor and bows to Mina. “I beg for your forgiveness and your blessing,” she says. “I am but a humble servant.”

Well this is new… Mina thinks as she moves her legs to the side of the bed so she can stand up, but remains sitting for now.

“You’re back in Haven, My Lady,” the girl says as she continues to bow. “They say you saved us. The Breach stopped growing, just like the mark on your hand.”

As if on cue, the mark flashes, but it’s not nearly as painful as before. Mina looks at it and then back at the elven girl, who seems to also be looking at the mark, but with more fear than curiosity.

“It’s all anyone has talked about for the last three days,” she says.

Three days? Mina thinks. I was asleep for three days?! Creators, is that why I’m so sore? “Then the danger is over,” she says, more statement than question.

“The Breach is still in the sky, but that’s what they say,” the girl replies. She slowly starts to stand up. “I’m certain Lady Cassandra would want to know you’ve wakened. She said, ‘At once.’”

“And where is she?” Mina asks as she stands up.

“In the chantry, with the Lord Chancellor,” the girl replies. “‘At once,’ she said.” She then runs out of the cabin, leaving Mina alone with more questions than answers.

Mina notices her armor nearby and slowly changes into it, as her muscles are still sore from disuse. As she is putting her hair up, she notices a stack of notes from whoever watched over her:

Vain hope: Someone better at this than me takes over before the survivor expires. Notes in case.

—Day One—

Clammy. Shallow breathing. Pulse over-fast. Not responsive. Pupils dilated.

Mage says her scarring "mark" is thrumming with unknown magic.

Wish we could station a templar in here, just in case.

—Day Two—

Pulse normal, breathing normal.

Still unresponsive; careful drop-feed of prep. elfroot extract to hasten her recovery.

A lot of thrashing. Mutters about too many eyes. Something about "the grey." Encouraging?

—Day Three—

Less thrashing. Some response to stimulus. Vitals seem solid.

Two attempts so far by locals to break into the chantry to kill my patient.

All this work to save her life, and will they just execute her?

Will inform Lady Cassandra I expect her to wake before the morn.

These must from when I was still a prisoner, Mina thinks since they talk about executing her. She looks at some of the other notes and finds a couple that are written in some sort of code. If it’s in code, that must mean it’s personal, she thinks. Or confidential. She takes the stack of papers and puts them in her coat pocket before looking around a little bit. She finds her journals and is shocked, as well as relieved to find they are all there.

Sighing, she grabs her staff and opens the door. She is stunned and a little scared when she sees two armed guards and a huge crowd of people all looking at her in awe and wonder. The two guards raise their right fists over their hearts in a salute to her and one of them steps forward. Mina takes a frightful step back.

“I mean you no harm, Milady,” he says as he puts his hands up in surrender. “My orders are to make sure you get to the Chantry unharmed.” He bows slightly at her when she gives him a cautious look. “Knight-Captain Rylen at your service, Milady.”

Knight-Captain? Mina thinks. Fenedhis, this man is a templar! Better be careful! “Mina of Clan Lavellan of the Free Marches,” she says with a small curtsey. “First to Keeper Deshanna Istimaethoriel Lavellan. It’s an honor to make your acquaintance, Ser Rylen.”

Rylen chuckles. “Believe me, the honor is mine,” he says before motioning to the crowd. “Shall we?”

Mina sighs and nods. The people are lined up to make a path toward their destination. As they begin walking, Mina’s sensitive ears pick up on their whispers. However, none of them are of the typical ‘knife-ear’ or ‘rabbit’ variety.

“That’s her,” a voice says excitedly. “That’s the Herald of Andraste.”

The Herald of what now? Mina thinks.

“They said when she came out of the Fade, Andraste herself was watching over her,” the voice continues.

“Hush,” another voice says. “We shouldn’t disturb her.”

“Why did Lady Cassandra have her in chains?” the first voice asks. “I thought Seekers knew everything.”

“It’s complicated,” the second voice replies. “We were all frightened after the explosion at the Conclave.”

“It isn’t complicated,” the first insists. “Andraste herself blessed her!”

Rylen seems to have noticed Mina slow down, as well as the look of confusion on her face, as he tries to reassure her. “Best to ignore them for now,” he says in a tone only she can hear. “Seeker Pentaghast will be able to explain everythin’ once we get to the Chantry.”

Mina nods and resumes walking towards the Chantry. She is about to go up a second set of steps when another conversation catches her attention.

“That’s her,” a voice says. “She stopped the Breach from getting any bigger.”

“Still a lot of rifts left all over,” another voice says. “Little cracks in the sky.”

“She can seal those, though—the Herald of Andraste,” the first voice says in awe.

“Someone had better,” the second voice says. “You won’t seal those rifts with the Chant of Light.”

The first one turns to Mina. “Good luck sealing those rifts,” she says. Mina nods her thanks to the girl, who nearly screams with excitement at being recognized.

They make their way up the steps and Mina notices a lot of Chantry Brothers and Sisters, if she remembers correctly, lining the wall of what she assumes to be the Chantry itself.

“Chancellor Roderick says that the Chantry wants nothing to do with us,” a Sister says to another.

Ah! The man who wanted me taken to Val Royeaux for execution… Mina thinks.

“That isn’t Chancellor Roderick’s decision, Sister,” the other replies.

Another conversation takes place as they approach the doors.

“Most of the grand clerics died at the Conclave. Who will lead us now?”

“Andraste didn’t have grand clerics telling her what to do, and she managed nonetheless.”

“You expect us to be like Andraste?”

“Someone must.”

Rylen opens the doors to the Chantry for Mina. Once they are inside, they hear a heated argument coming from the back of the room. As they approach, they are able to understand what’s being said, and by whom.

“Have you gone completely mad?” Chancellor Roderick’s voice rings out. “She should be taken to Val Royeaux immediately, to be tried by whomever becomes Divine!”

He still thinks I’m guilty, Mina thinks.

“I do not believe she is guilty,” Cassandra’s voice says.

Well, thanks, Cassandra.

“The prisoner failed, Seeker,” Roderick says. “The Breach is still in the sky. For all you know, she intended it this way.”

“I do not believe that,” Cassandra says.

“That is not for you to decide,” Roderick scoffs. “Your duty is to serve the Chantry.”

“My duty is to serve the principles of which the Chantry was founded, Chancellor,” Cassandra replies. “As is yours.”

From behind Mina, Rylen snorts and chuckles. “Nice one, Cass,” he mutters. He looks at Mina and motions to the door. “I believe that’s your cue.”

“Thank you for escorting me, Knight-Captain,” Mina says with a nod before opening the door and entering the room where Cassandra and Leliana are with the Chancellor, nodding to two more guards on the way.

“Chain her,” Roderick tells the two guards as she enters. “I want her prepared for travel to the capital for trial.”

Fenedhis, Mina thinks. Why is he so Fade-bent on getting rid of me?

Luckily, Cassandra seems to hold higher authority. “Disregard that,” she says, “and leave us.” The guards salute and exit the room, closing the door behind them.

Chancellor Roderick doesn’t seem to like how Cassandra overruled him. “You walk a dangerous line, Seeker,” he sneers at her.

“The Breach is stable, but it is still a threat,” Cassandra says as she begins to close the distance between them. “I will not ignore it.”

Let’s see if I can stop this before it gets violent, Mina thinks, but gets a spell ready just in case. “I did everything I could to close the Breach,” she says. “It almost killed me.”

“Yet you live,” Roderick sneers. “A convenient result, insofar as you’re concerned.”

Mina is shocked. Does this man not know basic human decency? Oh, wait… I’m an elf. Of course he doesn’t show me any respect…

“Have a care, Chancellor,” Cassandra says. “The Breach is not the only threat we face.”

“Someone was behind the explosion at the Conclave,” Leliana says as she steps forward. “Someone Most Holy did not expect. Perhaps they died with the others—or have allies who yet live.” She looks pointedly at the Chancellor.

I am a suspect?” Roderick asks incredulously.

“You, and many others,” Leliana replies sternly.

“But not the prisoner,” Roderick says as he points at Mina, more statement than question.

“I heard the voices at the temple,” Cassandra says. “The Divine called to her for help.”

“So her survival, that thing on her hand—all a coincidence?” Roderick asks angrily.

“Providence,” Cassandra replies confidently. “The Maker sent her to us in our darkest hour.”

“So, you believe I’m innocent?” Mina asks Cassandra.

“I believe there is more going on here than we were first led to believe,” the Seeker replies. “We lost everything… then, out of nowhere, you came.”

“The Breach remains, and your mark is still our only hope of closing it,” Leliana says.

“This is not for you to decide,” Roderick sneers.

Suddenly, Cassandra slams a book down on the table in the middle of the room, making Mina jump and stop her magic that was about to slap Roderick in the face like she had done with Varric.

“You know what this is Chancellor,” Cassandra says angrily, more statement than question, as she points to the book. “A writ from the Divine, granting us the authority to act. As of this moment, I declare the Inquisition reborn.” She stalks over to the Chancellor, backing him into the wall while pointing and talking very sternly at his face. “We will close the Breach, we will find those responsible, and we will restore order. With or without your approval.”

Roderick grunts angrily before exiting the room in a rush.

“Permission to set his robes on fire the next time I see him?” Mina asks somewhat sarcastically.

Cassandra snorts and smiles at Mina. “Denied,” she says. “As much as we all want to be rid of him, he has been of great use otherwise.” She motions for Mina to join her and Leliana at the table.

“This is the Divine’s directive: rebuild the Inquisition of old,” Leliana says as she slides the book toward Mina. “Find those who will stand against the chaos.” Mina begins looking through the book as Leliana continues. “We aren’t ready. We have no leader, no numbers, and now no chantry support.”

“But we have no choice: we must act now,” Cassandra says. She turns to Mina. “With you at our side.”

Mina is torn. She wants to get back to her clan, but if she doesn’t help this shemlen Inquisition, they are all doomed.

“And… if I refuse?” she asks curiously.

“You can go if you’d like,” Leliana replies.

“But you should know the Inquisition can only protect you if you are with us,” Cassandra says. “While we have taken care of those attempting to harm you so far, there’s no telling how many more will try, whether you are with us or not.”

Mina sighs. “As long as I can contact my clan, let them know what’s going on… If you’re truly trying to restore order…”

“That is the plan,” Leliana says.

“Help us fix this before it’s too late,” Cassandra says as she reaches her hand out, which Mina shakes with a firm nod of her head. Cassandra smiles.

 

Everything seems to go by in half the time after that. Leliana sends ravens to potential allies; Cullen posts notices about the reborn Inquisition’s official announcement; everything is going smoothly.

After a while, Mina is led to stand outside the Chantry with the Inquisition’s highest-ranking officials and sees Cassandra walking towards them. When she reaches them, the Seeker turns around to face the crowd and they all look at the Breach as a banner with the Inquisition’s logo is lowered to hang above the Chantry doors.

 

As soon as all the ceremony and stuff is done, Mina is given time to rest before they make their next move. She spends that time talking to and helping the people of Haven, gathering elfroot and other supplies for villagers, and even hunts a few druffalo and rams for their meat and hide. When it’s close to sunset, she realizes she never asked how to decipher the code on those reports. She goes to the Chantry in search of Cassandra or Leliana.

When she is about to enter the Chantry, she sees Cassandra and goes to talk to her.

“Ah, there you are,” Cassandra says as Mina reaches her. “We’re needed in the War Room. Come.”

Sighing, Mina nods and follows the Seeker inside the Chantry. Once inside, Mina subconsciously rubs the mark on her hand. It’s quiet for now, but the feeling it gives her is weird to say the least.

“Does it trouble you?” Cassandra asks, having noticed Mina’s fidgeting.

Mina sighs again. “It’s stopped spreading,” she replies, “and it only hurts when I use it or when it flares. Its magic, on the other hand, is weird to say the least, especially when it intertwines with my own.”

Cassandra smiles. “We take our victories where we can,” she says. “What matters is that your mark is now stable, as is the Breach. You’ve given us time, and Solas believes a second attempt might succeed—provided the mark has more power. The same level of power used to open the Breach in the first place. That is not easy to come by.”

Mina tries not to make a sarcastic comment, but can’t help herself. “What could go wrong with playing around with something we know so little about?” she says with a shrug. “Sounds like fun to me.”

Cassandra openly laughs at that. “Hold onto that sense of humor,” she says. She leads Mina into the War Room, where everyone else is waiting. “You’ve met Commander Cullen Rutherford, leader of the Inquisition’s forces.” She motions to the man that Mina found rather dashing for looking like a lion.

“It was only for a moment on the field,” Cullen says with a smile. “I’m pleased you survived.”

As Mina looks at Cullen, she remembers the dream she had and she smiles softly before having to look away. Leliana notices this and smiles to herself.

“This is Lady Josephine Montilyet, our Ambassador and chief diplomat,” Cassandra says, motioning to the woman Mina hasn’t met yet.

“Andaran atish’an,” Josephine says. Her accent sounds Antivan, from what Mina can gather.

Mina is taken aback. “You speak Elvish?” she asks her.

“You’ve just heard the entirety of it, I’m afraid,” Josephine replies with a chuckle and a sigh.

“And of course you know Sister Leliana,” Cassandra continues, motioning to the red haired woman to her left.

“My position here involves a degree of…” Leliana starts.

“She is our Spymaster,” Cassandra says to Mina.

“Yes. Tactfully put, Cassandra,” Leliana says.

“That’s an impressive bunch of titles,” Mina says as she looks around at everyone. “It’s a pleasure to meet you all.”

“I mentioned that your mark needs more power to close the Breach for good,” Cassandra says.

“Which means we must approach the rebel mages for help,” Leliana says.

“And I still disagree,” Cullen says. “The templars could serve just as well.”

“We need power, Commander,” Cassandra says. “Enough magic poured into that mark--”

“Might destroy us all,” Cullen half-yells. “Templars could suppress the Breach, weaken it so--”

“Pure speculation,” Leliana says.

I was a templar,” Cullen scoffs. “I know what they’re capable of.”

“Unfortunately, neither group will even speak to us yet,” Josephine says. “The Chantry has denounced the Inquisition—and you, specifically,” she says to Mina.

“They still think I’m guilty,” Mina says with a sad sigh, more statement than question.

“That is not the entirety of it any longer,” Josephine replies. “Some are calling you, a Dalish mage, the ‘Herald of Andraste’, and that frightens the Chantry. The remaining clerics have declared it blasphemy, and we heretics for harboring you.”

“Chancellor Roderick’s doing, no doubt,” Cassandra says.

“It limits our options,” Josephine says. “Approaching the mages or templars for help is currently out of the question.”

Mina has wanted to ask someone about all of this since this morning, but never got the chance until now. “Just how am I the ‘Herald of Andraste’ exactly?” She asks. “If you couldn’t tell, I’m Dalish. We don’t necessarily believe in the Maker, or Andraste.”

“Regardless of your personal beliefs, people saw what you did at the temple, how you stopped the Breach from growing,” Cassandra says. “They have also heard about the woman seen in the rift when we first found you. They believe that was Andraste.”

“Even if we tried to stop that view from spreading--” Leliana starts.

“Which we have not,” Cassandra cuts in.

“The point is, everyone is talking about you,” Leliana says.

“It’s quite the title, isn’t it?” Cullen says with a small smile as he looks at Mina. “How do you feel about that?”

Mina tries and fails to hide the blush creeping up on her cheeks. “Honestly, I’m not sure how I should feel,” she replies. “I’ve never had a title, other than the First of my clan, before. And even then, no one ever called me something other than ‘Mina’. Well, other than the occasional ‘knife-ear’ or ‘rabbit’ from shems. I honestly detest nicknames and titles and would prefer people just call me by my name!”

“I understand, Mina,” Cullen says. “Unfortunately, it seems the Chantry has decided how you should feel for you.”

“People are desperate for a sign of hope,” Leliana says. “For some, you’re that sign.”

“And to others, a symbol of everything that’s gone wrong,” Josephine says.

“Will the Chantry attack us?” Mina asks.

“With what?” Cullen says with a slight chuckle and a smile. “They have only words at their disposal.”

“And yet, they may bury us with them,” Josephine says.

“There is something you can do,” Leliana says. “A Chantry cleric by the name of Mother Giselle has asked to speak with you. She is not far, and knows those involved far better than I. Her assistance could be invaluable.”

Mina nods. “I’ll see what she has to say,” she says.

Leliana nods. “You will find her tending to the wounded in the Hinterlands near Redcliff,” she says.

“Look for other opportunities to expand the Inquisition’s influence while you are there,” Cullen says.

“We need agents to extend our reach beyond this valley, and you’re better suited than anyone to recruit them,” Josephine says.

“In the meantime, let’s think of other options,” Cassandra says. “I won’t leave this all to Mina.”

 

They continue on for a little bit, planning their trip to the Hinterlands, planning letters, et cetera. They decide to leave in three days’ time. Once they are about to break for the day, Mina pulls out the medical notes she found in the cabin she was in.

“Before we break for the night,” she says. “I found these notes in the cabin I was in when I woke up and was wondering why some of it is in code. I mean, what could be so personal or confidential that an elaborate code has to be used?”

Cassandra and Leliana exchange a knowing look. Cassandra looks at Cullen and Josephine. “Thank you, Commander; Ambassador,” she says to them. “This is something that Leliana and I need to handle with Mina privately.”

Cullen and Josephine nod and leave the room, closing the door behind them. The rest of them sit down in a few chairs pushed to the side during the meeting. When Mina finally looks at the two of them, their faces are surprisingly redder than normal.

“Mythal preserve me, what happened?” Mina groans.

“You talked in your sleep, Mina,” Leliana says. “And made noises.”

Mina looks up at them in shock. “You mean…?” They nod.

“We also heard who it was with,” Cassandra says, her cheeks getting redder. 

“Fenedhis,” Mina curses under her breath. “I swear I don’t know why I agreed to it. Looking back, it could have been a desire demon trying to possess me. Creators, I should have been smarter about it all! Ugh! Why has my magic made me stupider? Ever since it’s manifested, I’ve caused nothing but trouble! I turned a whole patch of forest to stone and shapeshifted into a tree after ingesting lyrium for Creators’ sake!” She gets up and starts pacing. “And then I lied to Keeper about still having a little bit left and was curious about what might happen if I just touched it and do you know what happened when I did?” She looks at the two of them. “My magic surged into my hand and I burned my entire body! That’s why I have so many scars! Keeper was able to heal me, but it still scarred! And, yes, I find the Commander beautiful! I can’t help it! But I’m not allowed to be with a shem! Especially a mage-killer shem like him!” She sighs at their shocked faces. “Ir abelas. That was uncalled for. We always used to call templars ‘mage-killers’ because, well, you know, they are.” She then realizes Cassandra is basically a super-templar. “Fenedhis! Sorry about that, Cassandra. I forgot you Seekers are basically super-templars, so that insult would go for you too.”

“There’s more, Mina,” Cassandra sighs. “I nearly had to Silence you early this morning, way before that dream happened.”

Mina looks at Cassandra in shock. “What?” she asks. “Why?”

Cassandra sighs again. “Leliana, I’m going to go get Marcall,” she says to the Spymaster. “She needs to see him to understand this next part. Will you tell her about Reggie so she understands?”

Leliana nods and Cassandra leaves to get whoever this ‘Marcall’ is.

“Do you know what ‘Fade-touched’ means?” Leliana asks Mina once the door closes.

“In people, animals, or materials?” Mina asks.

“I will ask what it is in people later, but in this case, I mean in animals,” Leliana replies.

“Yes, I do. It’s when an animal is essentially possessed by a spirit, but doesn’t become a demon or an abomination. I think there was a mage during the Blight who was essentially Fade-touched like that, but not in the way I know to be called ‘Fade-touched’ in people. He blew up a Chantry somewhere if I remember correctly. I think his name was Andy? No… Andre? No…”

“Anders?” Leliana asks.

“Yes! Anders!” Mina says. “Thank you, Leliana. That would have bothered me until I remembered. Anyways, why did you ask if I knew what it meant?”

“Cassandra lost her lover in the explosion at the Conclave,” Leliana explains.

“Falon’Din enasal enaste,” Mina prays. She looks up at Leliana. “Continue.”

“And the morning after you stabilized the Breach, a Fade-touched nug appeared and attached to Cassandra. He has her lover’s eyes and we think it may actually be him. His name was Regalyan D’Marcall. As you might have figured out, Cassandra named the nug after him, due to this reason.”

Mina hears the door being opened, but chooses to ignore it. “And what does a Fade-touched nug have to do with Cassandra nearly having to Silence me?” she asks.

“Because he saved you,” Cassandra says as she closes the door.

When Mina looks up, she sees the Seeker carrying a small nug in her arms. It squeaks happily when it sees Mina and jumps out of Cassandra’s arms and onto Mina’s head.

“Sweet Maker, Mina, I’m so sorry!” Cassandra says as she quickly grabs the nug off Mina’s head. “Marc, don’t you ever do that again!” she tells the nug.

When Cassandra turns back to Mina, she realizes she is crying.

“Maker, did he hurt you, Mina?” she asks as she hands the nug to Leliana and kneels in front of the chair Mina is sitting in. She takes her hands from her face and tilts her head so she can look at her eyes. Mina closes them. “Mina, look at me.” Mina shakes her head and covers her face again. Cassandra sighs. “Did he hurt you?” Mina nods. “Where? Let me see.” She begins to stand, only for Marc to squeak pleadingly.

“Don’t let that thing near me,” Mina says, her voice barely above a whisper due to her crying. “I have a wound that I think he reopened that I need to heal but it takes a lot out of me. I also have to shapeshift to do it.”

The nug squeaks again and begins to glow.

“I’m sorry, Mina,” a voice says. “I was just glad to see you’re alright. You gave us quite the scare.”

Everyone looks at the nug in shock.

“R—Re—Reggie?” Cassandra stutters, breathless.

The nug looks at Cassandra. “Yes, Cassie,” he says. “It is I.” He looks to Mina again and then back at Cassandra. “Listen, I can’t keep this going for very long. You need to know: Rylen is a good lad. He’s perfect for you.” He turns to Mina. “And, Mina. Stick with Cullen. Trust me when I say your clan will accept him. Also, have Solas teach you to become a Dreamer. You will need it in the long run.” Mina nods but winces in pain from the wound. “Again, I’m really sorry about that. Will you let me help you?” Mina doesn’t respond. “Shit! Cassie, help her to the floor! Trust me on this!”

As Cassandra helps Mina to the floor, Marc goes to her head. “Once I’m done, she won’t wake until morning. I’ll tell her the rest of what happened in the Fade tonight.” He turns to Cassandra one last time. “This will probably be the only time I am able to communicate with you like this. But, remember, Cassie: I will always love you and I will always be with you. I love you, my beautiful Nevarran princess.”

“And I love you, my gallant Orlesian knight,” Cassandra replies with tears in her eyes.

Then, Marc goes to Mina’s head, and begins to glow more brightly. Once he has stopped glowing, he nods at Cassandra, who slowly and gently picks Mina up and carries her to the room she shares with Leliana and Josephine.

 

“¡El aliento del fabricante!” Josephine exclaims when she sees Mina as Cassandra puts her on her bed. “What happened?”

As Cassandra helps Mina out of her armor and into one of Leliana’s nightgowns, Leliana tells Josephine what happened.

“I didn’t realize she was a shapeshifter,” Josephine says once Leliana finishes. “But I’m glad she’s alright.”

“Physically, I think she’ll be fine, but mentally? That’s another story,” Cassandra says as she gets the bedroll out of her pack and begins to roll it out. “She’s already been through a lot. Maker knows what else she’ll go through before this is over.”

“Agreed,” Josephine says. “Good night Cass; Leli.”

Chapter Text

Mina wakes up with a start in an unknown room, in an unknown bed, as well as in an unknown item of clothing. She sits up and looks around. It’s still dark and she can hear the faint sounds of breathing nearby. Using her enhanced elf senses, Mina realizes she’s in a room with Leliana, Josephine, and Cassandra. The latter of which is sleeping peacefully in her bedroll on the floor.

I must be in her bed, Mina thinks. Regalyan told me what happened while I was still sleeping after stabilizing the Breach in the Fade last night. Mina was surprised to see Regalyan in his human form in the Fade. Cassandra was lucky to have such a gorgeous man to love and be loved by.

Suddenly, Mina hears Cassandra start to stir. Realizing she’s safe, Mina lies back on the bed and tries to go back to sleep.

 

Waking up with a start again, Mina looks around and realizes she’s alone and it’s light outside. She sees a note with her name on it on the nightstand closest to the bed and picks it up.

Mina ~ Food in Singing Maiden. Knight-Captain Rylen is waiting outside the door to escort you. Meet me in my office later. Rylen knows where it is. ~ Josephine

Sighing, Mina gets out of bed and puts her armor on. When she opens the door, she sees Rylen, who salutes her and begins to walk toward her.

“Mornin’ Milady,” he says as he reaches her. “I take it ya slept well?”

“Good morning, Ser Rylen,” Mina replies with a smile. “And, yes, I did.” She sighs. “I hear you are to escort me to get some food and then to Josephine’s office. Is there a certain reason for this?”

“There have been multiple attempts on yer life, Milady,” Rylen replies. “It’s just a safety precaution.”

“And it’s not because I’m a shapeshifter mage that I have a templar following me around everywhere?” Mina asks innocently.

“It’s not widely known that ye can shapeshift, Milady,” Rylen replies. “And I don’t know the answer to that, Milady. My apologies.”

Mina’s stomach growls, causing her to sigh again. “Well, let’s go. Apparently, I’m hungry. What about you?”

“I ate not too long ago, Milady,” Rylen replies as they begin to walk to the tavern. “Thanks for askin’, though.” They smile at each other.

 

As they enter the tavern, Mina’s senses pick up the smell of various different food items, as well as the sound of various different conversations. Rylen leads her to a small table in the back of the room and goes to get her some food. She tries to tell him she can get it, but he insists.

When he comes back a few minutes later with a steaming bowl of soup and a few rolls, Mina is drawing in her journal.

“What ya drawin’, Milady?” Rylen asks as he sets the tray down.

“Someone I saw in the Fade last night,” Mina replies as she closes the journal and puts it back in her bag. She pulls the tray closer to her and takes a spoonful of soup into her mouth after blowing on it to cool it off slightly.

“Are ya a Dreamer, Milady?” Rylen asks.

“No, but I want to be,” Mina replies. “I just had a lucid dream last night and wanted to document what I saw there before I forget. I’ve been doing that since I learned how to draw.”

Rylen nods in understanding. “Not to change the subject or anythin’, but I’m curious: you said you are from the Free Marches, yes?” Mina nods. “I’ve heard the Dalish travel around a lot, but the Free Marches is a big place. Do you not find a place to stay a while?”

Mina swallows the bit of bread she has in her mouth. “Sometimes,” she says. “But we usually don’t stay in one place for more than a month. My clan was near Wycome the last I heard from them.” She sighs. “I miss them. They are the only family I’ve ever known.” She takes another bite of soup.

“I know how ya feel, Milady,” Rylen says. “I left home at the age of fifteen to join the templars. It took a while to adjust to not being around my family all the time, but I managed.”

“Where are you from?” Mina asks. “Your accent sounds Marcher, but I can’t place where.”

“Starkhaven, Milady,” Rylen says. “Born and raised.”

“How did you come to join the Inquisition?” Mina asks.

“When the Mage-Templar War broke out, Knight-Commander Karsten elected to follow the Lord Seeker's edict and joined the revolt against the Chantry,” Rylen says. “I, along with many of the other senior Templar officers dissented and refused to follow. When Cullen offered us a position within the Inquisition, we gladly accepted. Maker knows where we’d be if it weren’t for him.”

“And how did you meet the Commander?” Mina asks.

“Followin’ the destruction of the Kirkwall chantry in 9:37, I was dispatched to lead an aid mission and coordinate rescue efforts. I met Cullen leadin’ the remnants of Kirkwall's Templars while there. We became friends and kept in touch afterwards. He’s a good man.”

“He certainly seems that way,” Mina says with a nod.

They continue talking while Mina finishes her breakfast. Once she has finished the last piece of bread, she stands up to take it back to the counter, only for Rylen to stop her.

“Let me get that for ya, Milady,” he says as he also stands up and reaches for the tray.

Again, Mina tries to refuse, but Rylen insists. Sitting back down, Mina pulls her journal back out to finish the drawing of Regalyan. As she draws, she barely notices when two figures sit across from her.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” a voice says. “A lowly knife-ear with a journal.”

“She probably whores her way around to be able to afford such a nice looking journal,” another voice says.

Mina ignores them. Instead, she turns to a new page and begins to draw another part of the dream she had the night before.

“At least the rabbit knows when to keep quiet,” the first voice says. “I bet she likes it rough.”

“I’m willing to find out,” the second voice says.

“So much as touch me and you won’t leave here alive,” Mina says calmly as she continues to draw.

The two men laugh.

“I doubt you could do anything like that, knife-ear,” the first voice says.

“Oh, really?” Mina says, still drawing. “Then I don’t suppose you shemlen know what I’m capable of.” Where is Ser Rylen?

One of them goes to grab Mina, but her reflexes are faster and she slaps both of them hard magically. Closing the journal and putting it in her bag, Mina finally looks up and smirks.

“I tried to warn you,” she says as she stands up. “Have you two learnt your lesson or do I need to castrate you so you won’t try to get in an unwanting girl’s smalls again?”

“I doubt you could do that if you tried, knife-ear,” the second man says.

Mina uses her magic and wraps it around the man’s scrotum. “Oh, really?” she says as the man screams in pain. “I’ve done far worse to a number of rapists like you.” She tightens her hold on the man’s scrotum, effectively cutting off blood supply. “Care to join that list? Just keep spouting insults at me.”

Rylen comes rushing up.

“Ser Rylen, you say there have been multiple attempts on my life, yes?” Mina says, looking at him. Rylen nods. “What happened to the people who tried?”

“They are either still in the dungeon, or have been kicked out of Haven, Milady,” Rylen replies. He looks between her and the two men. “Have these men tried to harm you, Milady?” he asks her.

“Yes, they have,” Mina replies. “They came in and started spouting insults at me and calling me a whore and then proceeded to try to grab me. I was faster and am now about to magically castrate the one screaming in pain. That is, unless you want to take them into custody?”

“Release your magic, Milady,” Rylen says as he approaches the two men. “I’ll see that these men pay for their crimes.”

Mina releases her magic, but binds their hands with ice before doing so. “I don’t want them escaping,” she explains when Rylen gives her a questioning look.

Rylen nods and lifts the men to their feet. He leads them out the door and Mina follows, wanting to make sure they don’t try to escape.

When they exit the tavern, Leliana comes rushing toward them.

“Is everything alright, Knight-Captain?” she asks Rylen as she reaches them. “One of my agents said there were two men harassing Lady Lavellan and that it seemed it was about to get violent.” She looks at the two men Rylen is holding onto. “I take it these are the two men?” Rylen nods. She sighs. “Right. Take them to the dungeon. I need to talk to Lady Lavellan privately.”

Rylen nods and proceeds to walk towards the Chantry. Leliana turns to Mina.

“Are you alright, Mina?” she asks as she hugs the shaking Herald.

“I’ve been worse,” Mina says shakily as they separate. “It’s been a while since I’ve had to do something like that.” She looks at the ground as a tear escapes her eye and rolls down her cheek.

Leliana notices and wipes it away with her thumb as she cups Mina’s cheek. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Mina,” she says as she drops her hand. “Do you mind going somewhere and telling me what happened?”

Mina sighs. “I’m not sure if I’ll be able to, but I can try,” she says.

Leliana nods and takes her to the frozen lake just outside of the town. She sits on a dock overlooking the frozen waterfall and motions for Mina to join her.

“No one should be able to overhear us out here,” Leliana says as Mina sits down beside her. “I sometimes find Cassandra pacing just over there.” She points towards another dock on the frozen lake. “She says it clears her mind.” She sighs and looks at Mina. “But, I digress. I want you to know you can take all the time you need to tell me what happened, and that I won’t tell anyone what you tell me unless you want me to. I just need to know your side of the story before I interrogate the two men and decide what should be done with them.”

Mina sighs. “Thank you, Leliana,” she says. “I need to ask you something not entirely related to this, however, and it might help me come to terms with it all.”

“Ask away,” Leliana says.

Mina sighs again. “Last night, when I called Cullen a mage-killer, you didn’t seem as shocked as Cassandra. The only reason I can think of for that is if you read my journals, as I wrote about my encounters with templars in them, as well as why my clan always called them that. Can you give me another reason why you might not have been as shocked as the Seeker?”

“I can’t because I did read your journals,” Leliana replies. “But that was before you stabilized the Breach and we thought you were responsible for the explosion at the Conclave. I am the only one who read them and knows what is written in them, however. Well, except for the part about what effects lyrium has on you.”

“Regalyan told me Cullen heard me mention the effects in my sleep,” Mina says. She sighs. “I’m not mad that you read my journals, Leliana. I just wish they could give you closure as to who did cause the explosion. Creators, I only write in them to get things off my chest and so I can look back and remember what happened when I was younger. They are the only things that allow me to process what goes on day to day. And, now that it will be a while until I can return to my clan, they are the only things that allow me to remember what they are like.”

Mina hears someone approach from behind them. Turning around, she sees Cassandra walking towards them.

“Are you alright, Mina?” the Seeker asks as she reaches their location. “People have been talking about what happened in the tavern.”

“Fenedhis,” Mina curses under her breath. “Word travels fast I see,” she says solemnly to Cassandra, who nods. “To answer your question, not really.”

“What are they saying happened?” Leliana asks Cassandra.

Cassandra sighs and sits down with them. “Can I ask what actually happened first?” she asks. “What they are saying just doesn’t seem possible and I’d like to know the truth.”

Mina sighs. “Might as well tell you both and get it off my chest.” She then tells them what happened.

 

“What I heard appears to be accurate, it seems,” Cassandra says after she gets over the shock. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Mina.”

“I’ve done worse to men like them,” Mina replies with a shrug. “I once fed a man his own balls for trying to rape a girl from our clan. I was fifteen at the time.”

The two women look at Mina in shock.

“Sweet Maker,” Cassandra mutters.

Mina takes her journal out of her bag. “Before I forget… Cassandra, I wanted to know if this is what Regalyan looked like.” She opens the journal to the page she drew the mage on and passes it to the Seeker.

Cassandra takes the journal from Mina and gasps when she sees what the Herald has drawn. It looks exactly how she remembers her lover. She looks at Mina incredulously. “H—how?” she asks.

“He visited me in the Fade last night and told me what else happened while I was sleeping and why you didn’t have to Silence me that morning,” Mina replies. “That is how he appeared to me.”

Cassandra hands the journal back to Mina and wipes away a tear that slipped past her resolve. “To answer your question, that is exactly how I remember him,” she says shakily. “If—if only it could have been drawn in color…”

“I can make you a copy in color if you’d like,” Mina offers.

“I wouldn’t want to take up your time with that,” Cassandra replies.

“It’ll only take a few seconds,” Mina says. “It’s a nifty spell Keeper taught me a few years ago.”

Cassandra looks back at Mina then. “Really?” she asks hopefully.

Mina chuckles and nods. “Yep.” She takes a sheet of parchment out of her bag and begins the spell.

After a few seconds, Mina hands the finished image to Cassandra, who hugs her and thanks her profusely.

“You’re very welcome, Cassandra,” Mina says. She stands up. “Now, if you will excuse me, I need to take a walk and clear my head. Cassandra, you’re a Seeker. Follow my magic signature if you need me.” With that, she looks around to make sure no one else is around and turns into a halla. Then she remembers she’s not around any hallas and reverts back into her normal form. “Forgot I’m not in the Free Marches anymore,” she explains when she notices the women’s confused faces. “So, I can’t turn into a halla or else I’ll stand out.” She tries to shapeshift again. “Ugh, too soon to try that again.” She rubs her forehead with ice on her fingertips to try to alleviate the headache that has begun to form.

“Mina,” Cassandra says as she and Leliana stand up. Mina looks at her. “Sweet Andraste, your eyes!” Cassandra says with a gasp.

“Oh, right,” Mina says with a sigh. “I forgot my eyes turn purple when I use my shapeshifting magic.”

Cassandra notices Mina is wobbling a bit and reaches out to steady her. “Let’s get you back to Haven, Mina,” she says. “Josephine wanted to ask you about something, apparently.”

“Fenedhis!” Mina curses under her breath as she slaps herself in the face. “I totally forgot about that!” She looks up at Cassandra. “Do you happen to know where her office is?” she asks her.

Cassandra nods and begins to lead Mina back towards Haven. Leliana follows close behind.

 

Just as they are about to reach Mina’s cabin so she can grab something, a small child goes running past them with an older woman, seemingly her mother, following angrily behind, trying to catch her. Seeing this, Mina Fade-Steps toward the child and picks her up.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Mina asks her.

“Don’t let me go back to her!” the child whines as she grabs onto Mina and holds on as if her life depends on it. “She’ll use me for her magic again!”

“What do you mean?” Mina asks. Please don’t be blood magic!

“She doesn’t know what she means, Your Worship,” the woman says, apparently recognizing Mina as the Herald. “I’m not a mage and I most certainly don’t use her for magic.”

“You do realize I can sense your mana, and I’m sure the Seeker here probably can as well,” Mina says.

“That I can,” Cassandra confirms as she Silences the woman and Mina binds her hands like she did with the two men earlier.

“You don’t understand!” the woman yells as Leliana takes her away. “I’m just trying to protect her!”

“I doubt that,” Leliana says as she continues to lead her toward the Chantry.

Mina carries the child to her cabin and Cassandra follows her in.

“What’s your name, da’len?” Mina asks the child once she sets her down on her bed.

“Eva,” the girl replies.

“Well, Eva, my name is Mina, and this here is Seeker Cassandra,” Mina says.

“Will you be my new mother?” Eva asks. “Pleeaase?”

Mina is taken aback by the question. She sighs. “I’m not sure I would be a good mother for you, Eva,” she says solemnly. “But I tell you what: if we can’t find someone better suited to be a mother to you, I will think about it, okay?”

Eva nods excitedly. “Okay!” She then hugs Mina.

“How old are you, Eva?” Cassandra asks.

“Five,” Eva replies.

“And how did that woman use you for her magic?” Mina asks.

Eva pulls at the sleeves of her dress to reveal scars on her wrists from several knife cuts.

“Sweet Maker, I thought I smelled blood magic,” Cassandra gasps.

“So did I,” Mina says sadly as she takes Eva’s wrists in her hands and summons her healing magic into them. When she is done, only a small white line is left. She looks to Cassandra. “Go warn Leliana,” she says. “I’ll make sure Eva stays safe in the meantime.”

Cassandra nods and leaves to warn Leliana about the blood magic.

Once they are alone, Mina turns back to Eva. “Do you have anything you want to get from your old cabin?” she asks her. “I think it would be best if you stayed with me until we can find someone to take care of you.”

Eva nods. “Everything I own is in there,” she says. “It’s not much, but it’s all I have left of home.”

“Let’s go get it then,” Mina says as she helps Eva off the bed. “Lead the way.”

Eva takes Mina to the cabin she’d been living in with the blood mage and helps her gather her belongings. Mina is surprised to see a child’s bow, along with several quivers of arrows among the items. Soon after they have finished bringing all of Eva’s belongings back to Mina’s cabin, a messenger knocks on the door.

“Lady Cassandra requests you and the child’s presence in the War Room, Your Worship,” she says as Mina opens the door.

“Thank you,” Mina replies. “Tell her we’ll be there shortly.”

“Yes, Your Worship,” the messenger says before saluting and rushing off.

Sighing, Mina turns around and sees Eva sleeping on the bed. Poor thing. She’s never felt safe until now. Sighing again, Mina goes over and gently shakes her.

“Eva, darling, I need you to wake up,” Mina says as she tries to wake her.

Eva slowly opens her eyes and smiles up at Mina.

“I know you must be tired, but we are needed,” Mina says calmly.

Eva nods and lets Mina pick her up and carry her to the Chantry.

 

When Mina enters the War Room, all of her advisors, including Cullen and Josephine, are there. They all give her solemn faces.

“What is it?” Mina asks worriedly as she tightens her grip protectively on Eva. “Did something happen?”

“Eva is elf-blooded, Mina,” Leliana says.

“Okay… and what does that have to do with anything?” Mina asks.

“She’s half Dalish,” Josephine says. “We think she may be from the Lavellan clan.”

“More specifically, we think she may be your half-sister,” Leliana says as she slides a report across the table in Mina’s direction.

“That can’t be possible,” Mina says. “My mother died giving birth to me and my twin sister, and my father passed away almost six years ago.”

“That report explains it,” Cassandra says as she offers to take Eva, but the child refuses to let go of Mina.

“What does it say?” Mina asks as she adjusts her grip on Eva.

“It says that her father is Harrian Lavellan and that he died soon after she was born,” Leliana says. “I don’t think he even knew about her when he died.”

“Eva, when is your nameday?” Mina asks the child.

“Solace the fourteenth, 9:35 Dragon,” Eva replies.

“And Father died on the twentieth of that month and year,” Mina says in realization. She sighs. “Eva, I need you to wait here for me, okay?” Eva nods and Mina sets her down. “I’ll be right back,” she tells everyone in the room.

 

A few minutes later, Mina comes back in the room carrying one of her journals. She flips to a certain entry and shows it to everyone in the room:

Kingsway the fourteenth, 9:34 Dragon:

Father came home from trading with shems today. He’s been gone for two weeks and I am glad the Creators have brought him back to us safely. He said he met a woman who gave him twice the amount our goods were worth and sold her goods for half of what they were worth. Keeper said the Creators have blessed us this season and that there is a good chance she will send him to her again when we have more to trade. I hope Father didn’t do anything with that woman. I’ve only been offered a deal like that if I lie with the merchant, which I never accepted.

“Is there a way to confirm she’s your half-sister?” Cullen asks.

“Keeper knows a way,” Mina replies. “I need to write her anyways, let her know I’m alright. I’ll ask her if she can send me the instructions on how to do it or something.” She yawns. “For now, I think Eva and I need a nap. Is there anything else?”

“Are you alright?” Cassandra asks. “I can only imagine how this news is affecting you.”

“I’ll manage,” Mina replies as she picks Eva back up.

“I’ll walk you back to your cabin, Mina,” Cullen offers.

Mina nods and they exit the War Room.

They walk in silence all the way back to Mina’s cabin. When they get there, Mina thanks him and invites him in, which he declines.

Once Mina closes the door, she puts Eva on the bed and proceeds to take off her own armor. Once they are both ready for their nap, Mina cuddles up to Eva and they both fall asleep fairly quickly.

 

A few hours later, Mina wakes up and gets herself and Eva ready to go to dinner. Just as they finish getting ready, there’s a knock on the door.

“Come in,” Mina calls.

Josephine and Leliana enter carrying trays of food.

“Ah, we were just about to leave to get food,” Mina says as they set the trays on the desk. “I’ll admit I was a little nervous to go back to the tavern, so you are doing me a great favor. I can’t thank you enough.”

“You’re welcome, Mina,” Josephine says. “I’m sorry you had to go through that this morning.”

“Eh,” Mina replies with a shrug as she hands Eva a roll. “Like I told Leliana and Cassandra, I’ve done worse to men like them, but I won’t repeat what for Eva’s sake.”

“You still shouldn’t have had to experience that, Mina,” Leliana says.

“No one should,” Mina replies as she takes a bite of ram meat. “But, thank you.”

Leliana notices the child’s bow and arrows leaning near Mina’s staff. “How good is your aim, Eva?” she asks, hoping to change the subject.

“Huh?” Eva asks as she swallows the piece of meat she’d been chewing on.

Leliana smiles and points to the bow. “How good is your aim?” she asks again.

“Oh, um, not that good,” Eva replies sadly. “But now that my wrists are healed, I hope it will get better.”

“I was hoping to take her out hunting a little later,” Mina says. “That is, if the kitchens need more meat. Don’t want anything to go to waste.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t think that will be possible tonight,” Josephine says. “We need to talk about a few things. I’m sorry, Mina.”

“Don’t worry about it, Josephine,” Mina replies. “I can always take her hunting later. And I apologize for the delay. I know you’ve wanted to talk to me since this morning, but a lot happened that has caused me to have to push it back.”

“It’s quite alright, Mina,” Josephine says. “I totally understand.”

They sit in silence for a bit while Mina and Eva finish their dinner.

 

“Are we really sisters?” Eva asks Mina as they set the trays aside so Josephine can lay a few things out on the desk that they need to talk about.

“I believe so, da’len,” Mina replies. “But only half-sisters.”

“What does that mean?” Eva asks.

“It means that only one of our parents is the same. In our case, our father is the same, but our mothers are different.”

“I never met my father,” Eva says. “And Mother never liked to talk about him. I think she used me for her magic because elven magic is older and more powerful and she wanted to be a strong mage. I know blood magic is wrong and forbidden, but I did love my mother.”

“I know, da’len,” Mina says.

“What was our father like?” Eva asks.

Mina smiles. “He was a kind and smart man,” she says. “I think we got our smarts from him. He always said I would do great things in this world, and I believe him. I also think you will do great things in this world, da’len.”

“Why do you keep calling me that?” Eva asks.

“I’m calling you ‘little child’ or ‘little one’ in Elvish,” Mina replies.

“Do you speak a lot of Elvish?” Eva asks. Mina nods. “Will you teach me?” she asks hopefully.

“I will certainly try,” Mina replies. She notices that Josephine and Leliana are ready. “But that’ll have to wait. For now, I have some work to do. Why don’t you go play with some of your toys?”

Eva nods and thanks Mina profusely before going to her toy chest and begins to play on the floor.

When Mina looks at the other two women in the room, they are both smiling kindly at her.

What?” Mina asks.

“Are you sure you aren’t already a mother, Mina?” Leliana asks innocently.

“Oh, for the love of…” Mina rolls her eyes. She looks at Leliana. “Mar solas ena mar din. You know that, right?”

Leliana laughs. “Ir abelas,” she says in Elvish. “You’re just acting all motherly with her. So much so that it seems like you’ve done it before.”

Mina sighs. “You read my journals, Leliana,” she says. “You should know that I had to be a mother to my twin sister when it was just us, as she didn’t inherit Father’s smarts. Plus, I was tasked with helping with births since soon after he died.”

“Fifteen is quite young to be helping deliver babies, is it not?” Josephine asks, shocked.

“Keeper started at that age,” Mina replies with a shrug. “It’s common for the mages of the clan to deliver babies in case one ends up being Fade-touched. That’s extremely rare, though.” She sighs. “But, we’re getting off topic. What do you have for me, Josephine?”

They go over various reports and inquiries for several hours. When night has fallen and Eva has long since fallen asleep, Leliana and Josephine bid Mina a good night and exit the cabin. Mina gets ready for bed and crawls in the bed beside Eva, falling asleep surprisingly quickly.

O0o0o0o

Mina wakes from a dreamless sleep to the sound of Eva whimpering. Sitting up, Mina begins to shake the sleeping child in hopes of waking her from the nightmare she is inevitably having.

“Eva, wake up,” she says as she shakes the child. “It’s just a dream.”

After a few more shakes, Eva wakes up with a start and looks up at Mina. She then hugs her and begins crying.

“Shh,” Mina soothes as she embraces the sobbing child. “It’s alright. It was just a dream.”

“But it felt so real!” Eva sobs.

“I know, Eva,” Mina says softly as she rubs the child’s back soothingly. After a few minutes of soothing Eva, Mina gets an idea. “Hey, you wanna go watch the sunrise? Sometimes it helps me to take a walk or just watch the sunrise after I have a nightmare.”

“Can we go hunting?” Eva asks hopefully.

Mina chuckles. “Maybe. How’s your night vision?” she asks. “You’re half elf, so you should have at least some of the enhanced senses us full-blooded elves have.”

“I can see the door,” Eva says as she looks toward the door.

“That should be good enough,” Mina says as she helps Eva to the floor. “Cover your eyes,” she warns. “I’m going to relight the fire to try to get some more heat in here.”

“Okay,” Eva says. “My eyes are covered.”

Mina inwardly laughs as she relights the fire with her magic. She also lights the few candelabras so they have a little more steady light. She then helps Eva change into the light armor she had with her before getting herself changed into her own armor. Mina then helps Eva equip her bow and quiver before grabbing her staff and leading her out of the cabin.

“Mornin’ Miladies,” Rylen says as they exit the cabin. “Where might you be off to so early this mornin’?”

“Eva and I are off to hunt and watch the sunrise, Ser Rylen,” Mina replies. She then remembers something Josephine said the night before and sighs. “Hey… um… Josephine mentioned that I can get a bathtub installed in the cabin so I don’t have to use the public bathhouse. She said it should be installed later today. However, if it could be installed at least an hour before breakfast is called, that would be great. I won’t need water brought in; I can do that magically. Do you think you can help make that happen?”

“I don’t know, but I can try, Milady,” Rylen replies.

“Thank you, Ser Rylen,” Mina says. “If it can’t be done, don’t worry about it.” With that, she takes Eva’s hand and leads her into the forest to prepare for the hunt.

 

A few hours later, Mina and Eva drop off their haul at the kitchens and smithy before heading back to the cabin to see if the bathtub has been installed.

When they get to the cabin, Rylen informs them that he was able to get it installed and Mina thanks him before entering the cabin with Eva.

 

Once they have both been bathed and changed into clean outfits, Mina takes Eva to the tavern to get some breakfast. Rylen comes with them. Soon after they sit down to begin eating, Cassandra, Leliana, and Josephine join them, soon followed by Cullen, Solas, and Varric.

“Good morning everyone,” Varric says cheerfully as he sits down across the table from Mina, next to Rylen. “You’re looking well, Flashy,” he says to Mina, using his new and carefully thought out nickname for her. He then turns and examines Eva. “And this must be the young girl you saved from the blood mage. How are you, Princess?”

Eva looks at Mina for guidance.

“Eva, this is Varric,” Mina says. “Everyone at this table is a friend and you can go to any of them if you ever feel unsafe.”

Eva nods and turns to Varric. “I’m alright now that my sister has saved me from Mother’s blood magic,” she answers the dwarf’s question.

Varric almost chokes on his toast. “Andraste’s sacred nickers, you two are sisters?” he asks incredulously. “No wonder you look similar! I mean, you have different colored hair and eyes, but you still look a lot alike!”

Mina chuckles. “We’re not one hundred percent positive yet, Varric, but we have significant evidence to suspect that we are half-sisters,” she says. “I’m going to ask Keeper if she can teach me how to do the spell that confirms it or something when I write to her to let her know what’s going on. Until then, I’m just going to assume that we are, in fact, half siblings.”

“You have the weirdest luck, Flashy,” Varric says.

“That I do, apparently,” Mina mutters.

“Who are all these other people, sis?” Eva asks Mina.

Mina smiles and begins to introduce everyone. “You know the woman to my left as Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast,” she says indicating the Seeker. “She was Divine Justinia, as well as Divine Beatrix’s Right Hand, and she is—what?—eighty-seventh in line to the Nevarran throne?”

“Seventy-eighth,” Cassandra replies with a slight chuckle. “How in Thedas did you know all that? I don’t recall mentioning it to you.”

Mina smirks. “Keeper made everyone who traded with humans learn everything we can about everyone in power, regardless of religious or racial beliefs. You, My Lady, are quite the wonder among my clan for what you did to become the Right Hand.”

“I’m surprised that story is so popular amongst your clan, Mina,” Cassandra says.

Mina shrugs. “Anyways,” she goes back to introducing Eva to everyone. “The woman next to Cassandra is Sister Leliana Nightingale, Divine Justinia’s Left Hand, and the Inquisition’s Spymaster.”

“What’s that?” Eva asks.

“She finds and keeps secrets for the Inquisition,” Mina replies. “As well as sends scouts and agents to gather some of the information.”

“Ohhh,” Eva says in understanding.

“The woman next to Leliana is Lady Josephine Montilyet of Antiva, the Inquisition’s Ambassador and chief diplomat,” Mina says, motioning toward Josephine.

“So you deal with political and religious stuff?” Eva asks Josephine.

“Pretty much,” Josephine replies with a nod.

Eva nods in understanding. “And who’s the pretty lion-man?” she asks, pointing to Cullen.

The whole table looks between Eva, Mina, and Cullen and then bursts out laughing.

“Maker’s breath…” Cullen mutters as he rubs the back of his neck and his face visibly reddens.

“That…” Mina starts after the laughter calms down, only to burst out into giggles again. “That,” she giggles, “is C—Comm—oh, someone help me, will you?” She bursts out into giggles again.

“What’s so funny?” Eva asks.

“Princess, you just called Curly a ‘pretty lion-man’ when he is commonly referred to as the ‘Lion of Ferelden’, especially by Orlesian nobles,” Varric laughs.

“But why is it so funny?” Eva insists.

“Da’len, it’s complicated,” Mina says after finally regaining her composure. “I’ll explain later. Anyways, his name is Cullen Rutherford and he is the Commander of the Inquisition’s military forces.” She motions to Solas. “The bald elf is Solas. He is the apostate who kept my mark from killing me after I emerged from the Fade.” As if on cue, the mark flares.

Eva stares at it. “Wait, that thing might kill you?” she asks worriedly as she looks up at Mina.

“It certainly would have had he not been here and had I not stabilized the Breach,” Mina says. “It isn’t killing me as quickly anymore, if at all.”

“I hope it stays that way,” Eva says before looking at Solas. “Thank you for saving my sister from the mark, Solas,” she says to him. Solas nods in acknowledgement.

Mina continues with the introductions. “Varric is a famous author,” she says, motioning to the dwarf. “I’ve never been able to get copies of his books, but I’ve certainly heard about them and wanted to read them. He loves giving people nicknames and is annoying sometimes—no offence—but I believe he has everyone’s best interest at heart. Oh, and don’t ask him how he got his crossbow, or why he named it ‘Bianca’. Apparently, that’s the one story he’ll never tell.”

“Aww, Flashy, I’d almost think you’d gone soft for me,” Varric says.

“Ugh,” Mina and Cassandra scoff and roll their eyes at the same time.

“I’d be careful if I were you, Varric,” Solas says. “You don’t want to get either of those two mad at you again.”

“Believe me, Chuckles, I know,” Varric replies.

“And, last but not least,” Mina says, motioning to the Rylen. “This is Knight-Captain Rylen of Starkhaven, Cullen’s second in command. He is apparently assigned to keep me safe from anyone who tries to harm me, and I hope that has been extended to you as well, since we will be spending most, if not all of our time together while I’m here, and he will be staying here when I leave for the Hinterlands tomorrow.”

“Aye, it has, Milady,” Rylen says.

“Can I come with you, sis?” Eva asks.

“No, da’len,” Mina says. “Unfortunately you can’t.”

“How long will you be gone?” Eva asks.

“I—uh—I actually don’t know the answer to that,” Mina says. She looks at her advisors then. “Do any of you happen to know?”

“Depending on what you find there, it could be a month before you get back,” Leliana says.

Mina groans and puts her head in her hands.

“I thought the Dalish moved around a lot,” Leliana says.

Mina sighs. “We do, Leliana,” she says. “It’s just that I’ve never liked it.”

The group continues talking for a bit while they finish their breakfast and then leave to get started on their day.

O0o0o0o

“I wish I could go with you,” Eva says as Mina is packing later that night.

“I do too,” Mina replies. “But I’ll write whenever I can. Sound good?”

Eva sighs. “I can’t read,” she says. “Or write.”

“That’s okay, Eva,” Mina says. “Josephine or Leliana can read them to you and write your response if you want to send a letter in return.”

“Really?” Eva asks hopefully.

“Really,” Mina replies with a smile and a nod as she looks at Eva.

Eva smiles back at Mina and then yawns.

Mina chuckles slightly as she goes to the shelf and grabs her journals to pack them. “I know how you feel, da’len,” she says. “If you want to go ahead and go to bed, I’ll join you in a few minutes. I just have to finish packing.”

“Can I ask you something?” Eva asks.

Mina looks at Eva then. “Of course,” she says as she sits on the bad next to the child.

“Have you always had magic?” Eva asks.

Mina is a little surprised at the question. “Well, I was always going to be a mage, but no one knew until my magic showed itself when I was ten,” she says. “Why do you ask?”

Eva sighs again. “Mother always said there’s always been magic in my blood,” she says. “I never understood what she meant by that, though.”

“Well, elves are an ancient people,” Mina says. “It is believed that all elves once had magic, and thus, that magic is still in our blood. Whether that magic ends up manifesting or not depends on your lineage. It is likely that you will become a mage, due to your mother being one, but that is not for certain, since Father wasn’t a mage.”

Eva nods in understanding. “What happened when your magic manifested?” she asks.

It’s Mina’s turn to sigh. “I don’t want to give you nightmares,” she says. “But, if and when your magic does manifest, I’ll teach you how to control it. For now, keep practicing with your bow and arrows, okay?”

“Okay,” Eva says with a nod before hugging Mina. She yawns again once they separate.

Mina then makes her go to bed, singing a Dalish lullaby to help her fall asleep, which works. Once Eva is asleep, Mina quickly, but quietly, finishes packing and then slides into bed beside Eva and falls asleep rather quickly.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Mina wakes up to the sound of Eva whimpering again. Sighing, she shakes her to try to wake her up.

“Eva, wake up,” she says. “You’re dreaming again.”

Once again, Eva wakes up with a start and then hugs Mina when she sees her. Again, she begins crying as Mina embraces her.

“Was it the same dream as yesterday?” Mina asks softly. Eva nods. “I’m so sorry, da’len. I wish I could help you not have those dreams.”

Just then, there’s a knock on the door.

“Come in!” Mina calls.

Cassandra enters the cabin and closes the door behind her.

“Good morning, Mina,” she says. “Is everything alright?” She motions to Eva.

“She had the same nightmare two mornings in a row,” Mina replies as she rubs the sobbing child’s back soothingly. “She hasn’t told me what it’s about yet though, and I won’t pressure her to.”

Cassandra’s face visibly softens as she approaches the bed and kneels down to Eva’s level. “I’m sorry you keep having that nightmare, Eva,” she says softly as she moves a strand of hair out of the child’s face. “I hope they will stop soon.”

“Me too,” Eva says shakily. “I’m scared they will get worse and I won’t get much sleep otherwise. If it weren’t for Mina, I’d have to continue to suffer through it until I wake up naturally.”

Cassandra nods in understanding and then smiles slightly as she gets an idea. “What would you say to sleeping in my bed while we’re gone?” she asks. “I share a room with Josephine and Leliana, and I’m sure they could wake you up if you continue to have the nightmare.”

“That’s very kind of you, Cassandra,” Mina says before looking at the child in her lap. “What do you think, Eva?” she asks her.

“Would that be okay?” Eva asks. “I don’t want to burden anyone else with having to wake up to me having a nightmare. I hate having to burden you with that, sis.”

“You can’t help it, Eva,” Mina says. “And I don’t want to have to watch you suffer like that. I’m sure they would feel the same.”

“I’ll ask them before we leave,” Cassandra says. “Speaking of,” she looks at Mina, “We’ll be ready to leave at sunrise, which is in about an hour. Will you be ready then?”

“Of course,” Mina replies with a nod. “I just have to put my armor and traveling cloak on and eat breakfast and then I’ll be ready. Are we taking horses or are we walking?”

“We have horses ready for the four of us,” Cassandra says as she stands up. “But we’ll have to double up, as we only had two horses to spare. I figured you’d rather share one with me than Solas or Varric, so that’s what’s been arranged.”

“I can also shapeshift if I need to,” Mina says.

“You can shapeshift?” Eva asks in awe.

“Yes I can,” Mina confirms.

“If I become a mage, can you teach me?” Eva asks.

“Shapeshifting requires a lot of focus and discipline,” Mina replies. “And the Chantry frowns upon it, so it probably wouldn’t be good if two mages who are close to each other can both shapeshift. But, if you show enough focus and discipline, I might consider it. For now, I need to finish getting ready to leave.” She helps Eva stand and begins to stand up herself.

“I’ll leave you to it, Mina,” Cassandra says as she turns and heads toward the door. “Meet us in the tavern for breakfast when you’re ready.”

“Thank you, Cassandra,” Mina says. Cassandra smiles at her before leaving the cabin.

 

Once Cassandra leaves the Herald’s cabin, she nods to Rylen and heads to the tavern to have breakfast and talk to Leliana and Josephine about Eva. Once she enters, she is surprised to see Leliana sitting alone. Upon getting closer, Cassandra notices she isn’t really eating and is just moving food around on her plate.

“What’s wrong, Leli?” Cassandra asks as she is handed a plate and a mug of water and sits down across from the Spymaster.

Leliana sighs. “I miss her,” she says.

Cassandra doesn’t need to ask who Leliana is talking about to know she means the Divine. “I do too,” she says. “She was a fine woman.”

“That she was,” Leliana replies. She finally looks up and notices Cassandra seems to want to ask her something. “You look like you want to ask me something.”

“Is it that obvious?” Cassandra asks. Leliana nods. She sighs. “Where’s Josie?” she asks, looking around. “It’s something that I need to ask her as well.”

“What do you need to ask me?” Josephine asks from behind the Seeker before she sits down next to Leliana with a plate of food in her hand.

Cassandra jumps slightly at the Ambassador’s sudden appearance. “Well, really, I need to ask you both a favor. You see, Eva has been having nightmares the past two mornings, including this morning. Mina has been able to wake her up from them, but since we’re leaving today, she won’t be able to do that for a while. I offered her to sleep in my bed while we’re gone so that one of you might be able to wake her if she has another nightmare. I just want to make sure that’s okay with you two before I confirm anything.”

“That’s fine with me,” Leliana says before turning to the Ambassador next to her. “What about you, Josie?”

“I don’t see why not,” Josephine says with a shrug.

“Thank you, both of you,” Cassandra says. “I wouldn’t trust this to anyone else.”

They simply nod in understanding and the three of them eat in silence for a bit. Varric and Solas, followed shortly after by Mina, Eva, and Rylen, soon join them. Cullen is notably absent, Cassandra observes, worriedly.

“I’m going to go make sure the horses are ready,” Cassandra says as she stands up. She turns to Mina, Varric, and Solas. “You three meet me at the stables when you’re ready.” With that, she turns to leave.

When Cassandra leaves the tavern, she heads straight for the training grounds where Cullen usually is. Upon reaching where his tent is, she notices a faint amount of light coming from the bottom of the tent flap.

“Commander?” she asks.

She hears a bit of shuffling before Cullen’s head pops out of the tent flap. “Yes?” he asks as he fully exits the tent.

“Are you alright?” Cassandra asks. “Mina was slightly disappointed she didn’t see you at breakfast this morning.” Well, she hadn’t said anything about it, but Cassandra could see it on her face, especially after looking around, as if looking for someone.

“Rough night,” Cullen replies as he rubs the back of his neck. “I didn’t want to scare her. Or little Eva, for that matter.”

Cassandra nods in understanding. She had noticed the bags under Cullen’s eyes as well. “Well, it might reassure her to see you before we leave in about fifteen minutes.”

“I’ll try to be there to see you guys off,” Cullen replies. “Now, if you will excuse me…”

“Of course,” Cassandra says with a nod as she turns to leave to check on the horses.

Upon arriving at the stables, a stable-hand greets her.

“Good morning, My Lady,” he says with a bow. “The horses you’ve requested are ready to go.” He points to two horses who look ready for travel. “Maker give you a safe journey.”

“Thank you,” Cassandra says with a nod. “Maker guide you as well.” With that, she turns her attention to the two horses, leading them out of the stables and making sure everything is properly in place.

A few minutes later, Mina and Eva approach. Cassandra notices Mina is looking nervous.

“Is everything alright, Mina?” she asks.

“I may have failed to mention I’ve never actually ridden a horse before,” Mina says. “And I didn’t know they would be this tall.” She timidly reaches out her hand toward the horse closest to her and it nuzzles against it, very slightly reassuring her.

“How did you get to the Conclave if not on a horse?” Cassandra asks.

“I flew,” Mina replies with a shrug. “Keeper found out about it too late for anyone to be able to arrive in time any other way, so I was her only hope.”

“Makes sense,” Cassandra says as the rest of the group arrives. Leliana is holding Marc.

“Oh, Eva, would you like to meet a Fade-touched nug?” Mina asks the child as she sees him.

Eva looks at the nug and starts to back up as she sees his eyes. “Why are its eyes like that?” she asks. “Nugs have black eyes! That nug’s eyes are green!”

“He’s Fade-touched, da’len,” Mina replies. “And he won’t hurt you.”

Leliana crouches down so Eva can reach him if she wants. When she reaches them, Eva shyly reaches her hand out so Marc can sniff it and then scratches his head and giggles.

“What’s his name?” she asks.

“‘Marcall’ or ‘Marc’ for short,” Leliana replies.

“He’s kinda cute,” Eva says. Marc squeaks in defiance.

Cassandra laughs. “Don’t call him ‘cute’,” she says. “He hates it.”

“How do you know?” Eva asks.

“It’s complicated,” Cassandra replies with a sigh. “Just trust me when I say he hates being called ‘cute’.”

Eva nods in understanding and then scratches Marc’s chin again before going back to Mina’s side.

“Is everyone ready?” Mina asks her traveling party. Everyone nods and begins to mount the horses. Mina turns to Eva. “I’ll see you soon, da’len,” she says as she crouches down to her level. She notices Eva’s nervousness and summons her magic to produce a small halla figurine on a chain, all made of ice that will never melt. She colors it magically and places it around Eva’s neck. “That is a halla,” she tells her. “They are sacred among the Dalish. Wear it proudly and know you will never be alone and I will always come back.” Eva nods and they hug. When they separate, Mina kisses Eva’s forehead and smiles before standing up and mounting the horse to sit in front of Cassandra.

Everyone says their final good-byes and the group sets off toward the Hinterlands.

 

“Mina, you should know that we may have to call you ‘Herald’ while out on the road,” Cassandra says once they are a good distance away. She feels Mina tense at the title. “I know,” Cassandra tries to soothe. “For now, would you like to try to take control of the reins?”

“Wait, is this the first time you’ve ever ridden a horse, Flashy?” Varric asks. Mina nods. “Andraste’s sacred nickers, I thought you knew just about everything!”

Mina snorts. “For your information, Varric, I said I’m smart for my age, not that I know everything. There are several things I know nothing about, such as riding a horse, or even what it truly feels like to love and be loved by someone romantically. Creators, I only know what sex feels like from my own fingers! Fenedhis, did I just say that out loud?” Her face reddens in embarrassment. She feels Cassandra tense behind her. “Seeker, your body just went ridged,” she mutters. “I know you were in the room when I had that dream, but I feel like there’s more to the story than that. Care to enlighten me?”

“What dream?” Solas asks, looking between the two women.

“None of your business, Solas,” Mina snaps. “I forgot you have the damn elf senses too.” She sighs. “Can we stop for a second?” she asks Cassandra.

“Why?” Cassandra asks.

When Mina looks at her, she sees that the Herald looks like she’s about to throw up. She immediately stops and Mina dismounts, goes to a bush, and vomits onto it.

Cassandra dismounts and hands the reins to Varric before rushing to Mina’s side.

“I’m sorry,” Cassandra says as she rubs Mina’s back. When Mina has stopped heaving, Cassandra hands her a waterskin to get the taste out of her mouth.

“Why are you sorry?” Mina asks after drinking some of the water. “I get motion sick very easily. That’s one of the reasons I always hated moving around with my clan.” She turns around and vomits again.

Cassandra is a little worried at how much Mina is throwing up. “I have some ginger root if you want some,” she says. All Mina can do is nod as she continues to dry heave after her stomach is empty. “I’ll be right back then.” She turns and goes back to the horse to get the ginger root out of her pack.

“Is everything alright, Seeker?” Varric asks.

“She’s just motion sick,” Cassandra says as she opens her pack to find the ginger root. She takes her dagger and cuts off a small bit before rewrapping the root and closing it back in her pack.

“I hope you aren’t planning on giving her that raw ginger root,” Solas says. “It might make it worse.” His face scrunches up at the smell of it.

“I asked for it, Solas!” Mina’s voice calls. “It doesn’t affect me like it might you.” She heaves again. “Hurry up, Cass! I can’t handle much more of this!”

She’s never called me ‘Cass’ before… Cassandra thinks. She sighs and rushes over to hand Mina the ginger.

Once Mina begins chewing, she instantly feels better. She smiles at Cassandra in thanks.

“Mina, let me see your hand,” Cassandra says with her arm outstretched.

Mina looks at Cassandra confusedly but still places her right hand in Cassandra’s outstretched one. When the Seeker checks her pulse, Mina realizes what she’s doing. Her realization is only confirmed when Cassandra puts a hand on her forehead.

“Let me know if you start to feel bad again,” the Seeker says. “Your pulse was a little fast and you might be developing a slight fever. If you are, in fact, getting sick, we may need to return to Haven.”

Mina sighs but nods in understanding. They return to the rest of the group and remount in silence. They stay like that for the rest of the ride that day.

 

Once camp has been set up and they have eaten, Mina retires to the tent she is sharing with Cassandra for the night. Once she has changed into her nightclothes, she pulls out her journal and begins to log the events of the day. Cassandra soon joins her in the tent.

“How are you feeling, Mina?” she asks as she begins to remove her armor.

Mina sighs. “I’ve been better,” she says. She closes her journal and puts it back in her pack. “I need to ask you something and I want you to be completely honest with me.”

“Okay…” Cassandra says somewhat suspiciously as she sits on her bedroll and faces Mina.

Mina sighs again. “When and how did you know you were in love with Galyan?”

Cassandra is surprised that’s what Mina wanted to ask. She thinks about it, but must have taken too long to answer because Mina speaks again.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I know that’s probably a bit too personal to share with me when I barely know anything about you beyond what is widely known. Just forget I asked.”

“No, it’s alright,” Cassandra says quickly as she moves to sit so she is directly across from Mina. She takes Mina’s hands in hers. “Mina, you should know by now that you can ask or tell me anything, no matter what.” Mina looks at her then and Cassandra realizes the Herald’s hands are shaking very badly. “But before I answer that, your hands are really shaking. Are you sure you’re alright?”

Mina shakes her head and closes her eyes as she begins crying. “Do you know what happened when my magic manifested?” she asks shakily after a bit.

“From the way you’re acting, I’m guessing you killed someone or something close to you,” Cassandra replies softly.

Mina nods. “Ten years ago today, my twin and I manifested at the same time and killed our previous First and Second.” Her voice cracks at the last word and she has to stop talking. She sighs and pulls out her journal that has the entry from that day in it. She turns to the page and hands it to Cassandra. “Here. It will probably be better if you read for yourself.”

Cassandra nods and begins to read the entry Mina points to:

Cloudreach the fourteenth, 9:31 Dragon:

Creators, I have magic! And so does Lira, apparently! Sylaise has blessed us both with her gifts! Unfortunately, however, Falon'Din took our First, Calan, and our Second, Adwen from us when we manifested. It saddens me that the boys Lira and I were going to marry one day are now in the Beyond, but Keeper says I must not lose faith. They were only fifteen and I was beginning to actually like Calan… Anyways, Keeper says I need to document what happened when our magic manifested, so here goes…

The four of us were out hunting when a bear appeared out of nowhere. It scared me, and I only assume it scared Lira as well, since the both of us immediately had fire shoot out of our bodies, killing the bear and the boys. Lira and I were badly burned, but Keeper found us and was able to heal us. She says it’s a miracle we both survived the severity and multitude of the burns on our bodies. Lira still hasn’t woken up, but Keeper says she will be fine. I pray that she’s right. Anyways, it is late and Keeper is going to begin to teach us how to control our gifts tomorrow, so I’d better get some sleep. Good night, journal.

When Cassandra finishes reading, she looks back up at Mina and notices she’s crying. Closing the journal, Cassandra places it to the side and embraces Mina. At that point, Mina lets her resolve fall away completely and she falls into Cassandra’s embrace, sobbing uncontrollably.

They sit there for several minutes before Mina falls asleep and Cassandra gently lays her down on her bedroll. She then scoots her own bedroll a little closer to Mina’s since the Herald seemed to get a little restless once the Seeker let go of her. Once she has gotten herself comfortable, Cassandra reaches out, takes Mina’s hand in hers, and falls asleep rather quickly.

O0o0o0o

Mina wakes and feels a hand holding hers. She opens her eyes and turns her head to see Cassandra sleeping next to her. She tries to recall the events of the night before and inwardly groans when she remembers crying in the Seeker’s embrace. She must have fallen asleep like that. She sighs heavily, letting the cool air fill her lungs. When she looks over at Cassandra again, her eyes are open.

“Sorry,” Mina says, barely above a whisper. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“It’s alright, Mina,” Cassandra replies as she sits up and stretches. “How are you feeling?”

Mina sits up and stretches as well. “Better than last night,” she says. “The anniversary of that day is always rough for me and Lira. Thank you for being there for me. I just hope Lira was able to find someone like that, since I wasn’t there.”

Cassandra smiles kindly and nods in understanding. She takes her hand again and gives it a squeeze before checking her pulse. She then feels her forehead and sighs in slight relief. “The good news is that I don’t think we will have to return to Haven due to you getting a cold. The bad news is that we still have at least eight long days of riding ahead of us before we reach the Crossroads. Meaning you will probably have to suffer motion sickness several more times.”

“I could just shapeshift and then I wouldn’t get motion sick,” Mina says with a shrug. “I could even take on a rider if Varric or Solas get tired of sharing.”

“Unfortunately, we might encounter a few civilizations in the next few days, so I wouldn’t recommend shapeshifting,” Cassandra says.

Mina sighs and then remembers Cassandra never got to answer her question the night before. “You don’t have to answer now if you don’t want to, but you never got to answer my question last night. Or the question I asked on the horse before that.”

Cassandra sighs. “I’m surprised Reggie didn’t tell you that your head was on my lap and you were holding onto my shirt when you had that dream,” she says.

Mina stares at Cassandra in shock for a second before speaking. “Creators, Cass, I’m so sorry! That must have been very uncomfortable for you!”

Cassandra chuckles. “Don’t worry about it, Mina,” she says. “Now, to answer your other question, I think I started falling in love with Reggie when he magically healed me for the first time, but I didn’t really know or want to believe it until he made a comment right before I was crowned the Right Hand.” She sighs dreamily. “I still remember it like it was yesterday.”

“Wait,” Mina says. “You’re saying you truly realized you were in love with him while thousands of people were watching?” she asks incredulously.

Cassandra chuckles. “No, right before then. We were waiting in a small waiting area and right before we were set to go out into the crowd, he literally said to me, ‘Cassandra, you are the bravest person I've ever met. And the most beautiful.’ I was taken aback by his sudden confession and tried to brush him off, saying ‘This isn’t the time, or the place.’ He just laughed and I playfully elbowed him in the side and said ‘You fool,’ before kissing his cheek. That made him stop laughing in surprise. I was honestly a little surprised by my own boldness for a second before saying, ‘Galyan, you have helped me win back more than just my honor. Suddenly the world is different for me now. Thank you. For everything.’ That’s when the doors opened and we were led to where Divine Beatrix stood and she crowned me her Right hand.” She sighs dreamily again. She looks over at Mina, who has put her hands and chin on her knees, and is looking at her with a small smile. “Why are you looking at me like that?” she asks with a chuckle.

Mina shrugs. “I know I probably should have asked you a little more about yourself before that heated question, but I’m now curious to hear the whole story of how you became the Right Hand.” She pauses. “And the story of how you and Galyan actually met.”

“Sweet Andraste, do you really want to hear all of that?” Cassandra asks. Mina smiles again and nods. Sighing, Cassandra relents. The sun wouldn’t rise for another couple hours, but neither of them would be getting any more sleep. “It was, what—eighteen, twenty years ago?” the Seeker begins. “Some still discuss it like it was yesterday. The tale gets bigger each time it’s told. I barely recognize myself within it now.”

“That’s how stories work, unfortunately,” Mina says. “I wish I could say you’re just being modest, but I doubt you are.”

Cassandra snorts. “True. I was there. I think I know what happened.” She sighs. “To hear others tell it, I alone saved Divine Beatrix from a horde of dragons sent to assault the Grand Cathedral. Rather impressive for such a young Seeker, wouldn’t you say?”

“Yes,” Mina says with a nod. “But, you were there. What actually happened? I want to hear your first-hand account.”

“I stumbled upon a conspiracy to kill Beatrix,” Cassandra says. “A templar Knight-Commander was at its heart. And there was a dragon battle at the Grand Cathedral, but I had help from loyal mages, including Reggie, who rallied to the cause. They freed the dragons from magical control. Without them, the Divine and I would both have died. Yet I became Right Hand, and they are forgotten.”

“What happened to Galyan and the other mages who helped you?” Mina asks.

“They went back to their circles, with rewards and privileges and Most Holy’s gratitude,” Cassandra says. “Many of them, including Reggie, as you know, died at the Conclave.”

“Falon’Din enasal enaste,” Mina prays. She looks back up at Cassandra. “I think you’re a hero, no matter how you downplay it.”

“Fine, but it was twenty years ago,” Cassandra says with a sigh. “I will not rest upon my laurels.”

“You saved my father there, so you have my sincerest gratitude,” Mina says.

“Wait, your father was there?” Cassandra asks incredulously. Mina nods. “You and Lira would have just been born, if not about to be born, at that time! Wouldn’t your father have wanted to be there for the birth and first few months of your lives?”

“We were born two months early,” Mina says with a sigh. “So he thought he’d be able to get back in time. We were born two days after he left.”

“Maker, how did you survive being that early?” Cassandra asks.

“Magic,” Mina replies simply. “Anyways, how did you meet Galyan?”

Cassandra tells Mina how she met the mage that stole her heart. Then, Mina inquires more about the Seeker order and about Cassandra personally. She learns about her brother, Anthony and how he died, as well as various things about the Seeker Order and the Chantry she never knew before. In return, Mina tells Cassandra a little more about herself, referring to and showing the Seeker her journals when necessary. When they break camp later that morning, Mina feels more at ease around the Seeker and feels comfortable asking her a few questions that make them both blush, but she saves them for when they are alone.

Chapter Text

Their second day of traveling proves worse for Mina’s motion sickness than the first and she has to shapeshift after about an hour of riding. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to make any progress. Since they are in Ferelden, Varric suggests a mabari, so when Mina tries that, Varric gives a nod of approval and they go on their way.

 

“So, Flashy, can you talk when transformed?” Varric asks after a few minutes of traveling with Mina in mabari form.

Mina shakes her head. “I wish.”

Both horses stop and her three companions look at her in shock.

“Wait, you can hear me?”

They all nod.

Suddenly, Mina’s magic falters and she reverts back into her normal form and rolls on her back. Cassandra is almost immediately by her side.

“Ow,” Mina mutters as she begins to massage her temple. “That felt like a Spell Purge.”

“Are you alright?” Cassandra asks as she looks around for injuries. “What happened?”

“I said it felt like a Spell Purge,” Mina repeats, still wincing in pain. “Now I’m gonna have a headache all day.”

“But what caused it?” Cassandra asks.

Mina then realizes what might have caused it and gasps. “Oh nononono! Please Creators no!” She sits up and buries her head in her hands.

“What is it, Mina?” Cassandra demands.

“Lira,” Mina whispers. “A Spell Purge or a Silence was cast on her, but it went to me.”

“I’ve heard about identical twins feeling each other’s pain, but to have a spell cast on the other twin like this is extremely rare,” Solas says.

“Well it happens all the time to us,” Mina says. “I just didn’t think it could happen when I’m so far away.” Suddenly, Mina’s mark flares. “Fenedhis, is she near a rift?” Mina begins actually panicking. “Oh please Creators no!” The mark continues to flare and is getting brighter. “Oh no! Everyone get back!” she orders. When they don’t move, Mina snaps. “Now!” she yells. “Unless you wanna turn to stone or something! Lira is trying to close the rift for some damn reason! I think I can transfer the mark to her for a few seconds, but I don’t know what could happen when I do!”

Everyone nods and begins to back away. Soon, the mark shoots out green energy as if Mina is closing a rift, but it stops about a foot in front of her. After a few seconds, Mina pulls her hand back and the magic stops. She breathes a sigh of relief.

“It’s done,” she says, panting.

Solas comes rushing up to her and checks on the mark. “Mina, I think you may have the power of the Evanuris if you were able to do that,” he says. “Have you ever considered becoming a Somniari? The most experienced ones are very powerful mages like you.”

“Solas, not now,” Cassandra says. “We need to get on the road if Mina feels up to it. If not, there’s a place nearby where we can set up camp.”

“No, you’re right, Cass,” Mina says. “Solas, help me up. I need to see if I can walk, as I will not be shapeshifting again, nor do I want to ride a horse due to my motion sickness.”

Solas sighs and helps Mina stand up. However, her legs give out from under her, and he and Cassandra end up supporting all her weight before she feels herself being lifted and placed on a horse.

“I’ve got you, lethallan,” Solas says from behind her. “I’m switching places with Cassandra for now so I can put a sleeping spell on you so you don’t get sick.”

“No, Solas, please don’t,” Mina says.

“Ir abelas, lethallan, but Cassandra has already agreed that it would probably be best, and you are very low on mana right now. If anything else gets passed to you from your sister, you won’t be able to handle it.”

Mina sighs. “Fine, but wake me when we get to camp so I can help set up and write the day’s events in my journal.”

“Ma nuvenin,” Solas replies before putting the sleeping spell on Mina. He turns to the others. “Let’s go.” He spurs the horse and they gallop along the road.

 

Goodness she’s beautiful, Solas thinks at one point as he looks at Mina. I wish I could feel her lips against mine… They look so soft… And I wonder what noises I can get her to make as I thrust deep into her over and over again… Or when I make her come over and over again until she begs for mercy… I wonder if I even have a chance…

“Solas!” Cassandra yells.

Jumping out of his thoughts, Solas stops his horse and looks at Cassandra. He raises an eyebrow at her in question.

“I’ve been trying to get your attention for the last two minutes!” Cassandra says.

“Ir abelas,” Solas says. “What is it?”

“We’re almost to where we will make camp tonight,” Cassandra replies.

Solas looks at the sky and realizes it’s almost dark. He looks at Cassandra and nods in understanding.

 

Once they get to where they are going to set up camp, Solas reverses the sleeping spell on Mina.

“Lethallan, we’re at camp,” he says as he shakes the Herald.

Mina breathes in deeply and begins to stretch, nearly falling off the horse in the process.

Solas grabs Mina’s waist to prevent her from falling. “Careful,” he says.

Once Mina is awake enough, she thanks Solas and dismounts the horse after him. Then, the group begins to set up camp. Mina and Varric go out to hunt for their dinner. On their way back, Varric decides to engage in friendly conversation with Mina.

“So, now that Cassandra’s out of earshot, are you holding up alright?” he asks. “I mean, you go from being the most wanted criminal in Thedas to joining the armies of the faithful. Most people would have spread that out over more than one day.”

Mina sighs. “I don’t even want to think about how many lives were lost on that mountaintop,” she says.

“A lot of good men and women didn’t make it out of there,” Varric agrees. “For days now, we’ve been staring at the Breach, watching demons and Maker-knows-what fall out of it. ‘Bad for morale’ would be an understatement. I still can’t believe anyone was in there and lived.”

“If it was that bad, why did you stay?” Mina asks. “Cassandra said you were free to go.”

“I’d like to think I’m as selfish and irresponsible as the next guy, but this…” Varric sighs. “Thousands of people died on that mountain. I was almost one of them. And now there’s a hole in the sky. Even I can’t walk away and just leave that to sort itself out.”

“It’s pure luck that I escaped,” Mina says.

“Good luck or bad?” Varric asks. Mina shrugs. He sighs. “You might want to consider running at the first opportunity. I’ve written enough tragedies to recognize where this is going. Heroes are everywhere. I’ve seen that. But the hole in the sky? That’s beyond heroes. We’re going to need a miracle.”

“I understand,” Mina says. She sighs. “Can I ask a few questions about you, Varric?”

Varric chuckles. “You want to talk about me?” he asks. “I’m flattered. Also, inclined toward extravagant lies.”

Mina inquires about where Varric is from and what he does when not writing books. She asks how he and Cassandra know each other, as well as how he knows so much about red lyrium. She learns a lot about the sometimes-annoying little dwarf, and about the corrupted form of lyrium. By the time they get back to camp, Varric has also learned a little more about Mina and has agreed to get her a copy of Tale of the Champion and Hard in Hightown. Mina asks about his romance serial, Swords and Shields, but he says that was a failure and he wouldn’t recommend it.

Once back at camp, they cook and eat their dinner and sit around the fire telling stories.

 

“And then Hawke, being the sarcastic woman that she is, said ‘How about I throw your ass in the Waking Sea and see who finds it?’” Varric says with a laugh. “Meredith actually laughed at that.”

The rest of the group laughs. Now it’s Mina’s turn to tell a story.

“Okay I think I got one,” she says. “So I used to play pranks on people in my clan when I was a kid, before my magic manifested. One time, when it had just snowed, Lira and I made several snowballs and began to throw them at unsuspecting people of our clan. At first, we didn’t let them see us, but Lira got caught once and the person she hit crouched down, began gathering snow, and then threw it back at Lira. However, it hit me instead.” She chuckles. “Soon, the entire clan was throwing snowballs at us in payback. Keeper even joined in. Still, we didn’t relent. Never in a million years did I think just a simple prank would turn into an all-out snowball fight! It lasted for hours, but we finally had to stop when Lira and I literally couldn’t move, we were frozen solid from all the snowballs being thrown at us.” She chuckles again. “Keeper thawed us magically, but we were both sick for a week after that. It was worth it though.”

“I didn’t realize you were so rebellious as a kid,” Cassandra says with a chuckle.

“It became worse as I got older and my magic manifested,” Mina says somewhat sadly. “While I didn’t play many more pranks after the snowball fight, I was still quite rebellious and got into a lot of trouble.” She sighs and then stands up. “Anyways, I think I’m going to retire for the night. Good night.”

Everyone wishes Mina a good night and then she goes into the tent she is sharing with Cassandra to log the day’s events in her journal. Soon after she finishes, Cassandra comes in the tent, and she looks nervous.

“Why do you look nervous, Cass?” Mina asks.

Cassandra sighs and sits on her bedroll. “I admit what happened today with the mark scares me,” she says. “But, I need to tell you something that happened while you were sleeping that is bothering me, but I don’t want either of the other two to hear it.”

“Oh, I can help with that,” Mina says as she puts a soundproof ward around them. “They won’t be able to hear us, but we will be able to hear them if necessary.”

“Thank you,” Cassandra says. She sighs. “It—it’s about Solas. Right before we reached camp, it took two whole minutes to get his attention. During that time, I saw him look at you in a way that only a lover would.”

Mina’s eyes widen. “Fenedhis, are you serious?” she asks.

“Unfortunately,” Cassandra replies with a nod. “He also, and I’m not sure he was doing this consciously, but he moved his thumb while the rest of his hand stayed on your stomach to make sure you didn’t fall off the horse. The hand thing I can understand, but the thing with his thumb is weird.” She sighs again. “I think he may have feelings for you, Mina.”

“Well, that’s obvious,” Mina mutters. She sighs. “Thank you for telling me. I still don’t know how I feel about pursuing anyone here, and Solas kinda reminds me of Fen’Harel in his demeanor for some reason.”

“And what about Cullen?” Cassandra asks innocently.

Mina looks up at the Seeker, who is smiling kindly at her. “You’re a hopeless romantic aren’t you?” she accuses playfully.

Cassandra chuckles. “Guilty,” she says. “But don’t go spreading that around, or I’ll never hear the end of it. Leliana and Josephine already tease me about it from time to time.” She sighs. “But, seriously, what do you think of Cullen?”

Mina sighs. “Honestly, I’m not sure,” she says. “I mean, yes, he’s very handsome and he seems very sweet, but I worry if I make a wrong move, or when he finds out I can shapeshift, that he’ll turn on me.”

“He already knows you can shapeshift, Mina,” Cassandra says.

“H-he does?” Mina asks incredulously. Cassandra nods. “What was his reaction? Please, Cass, I need to know.”

Cassandra sighs. “He was surprised mostly,” she says. “But he actually didn’t seem to mind, which actually surprised me. He hasn’t had the best experiences with mages, but his views have drastically changed since then, and I think you have further helped with that.” She smiles. “You know, the cabin you are staying in at Haven was his.”

Mina looks up at Cassandra in shock. “It was?” she asks incredulously.

Cassandra nods. “We tried to get him to keep it and find a different one, but he insisted. He also watched you the first two nights after you stabilized the Breach. I made him rest the third night, and I’m glad I did.”

“Me too,” Mina chuckles. “Creators, imagine what would have happened had he been there when I had that dream! Both of them!”

Cassandra chuckles as well. “That would not have gone well,” she agrees. “Especially the first one.”

Mina sighs. “I’m glad I have someone here I can confide in,” she says. “Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome, Mina,” Cassandra replies as she puts a reassuring hand on Mina’s knee and gently squeezes. “If you ever need anything, you just need to ask.”

Mina smiles and nods in understanding and thanks. She sighs again as she thinks of something. “There is one thing I need to ask. If Eva becomes a mage, what will happen? I know the Circles have all but disbanded, but due to her mother being a blood mage, I don’t think she would do well in one anyways.”

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Cassandra replies with a sigh. “I know you wanted to train her, and I wouldn’t mind that, but I’m not sure the Chantry would agree.”

“I understand,” Mina says with a sigh. She yawns. “Ara seranna-ma. I think I should get some sleep. Goodnight, Cass.” She lies down on her bedroll and falls asleep rather quickly. Cassandra does the same.

 

O0o0o0o

 

The next morning, Cassandra wakes to see Mina drawing in her journal.

“Morning,” Mina says without looking up.

“Good morning,” Cassandra replies as she sits up fully. “Are you alright?”

Mina sighs. “I had a bit of a nightmare last night,” she says. “I’ve been awake for about an hour.”

“Do you want to talk about it?” Cassandra asks.

“Not really,” Mina replies as she finishes her final drawing and closes the journal. “Drawing them in here helps.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Cassandra asks.

Mina shakes her head. “No, but thanks for asking,” she says.

Cassandra nods in understanding. Then, they both get ready to continue on toward the Hinterlands and leave the tent to eat breakfast.

 

The rest of the journey to the Hinterlands is fairly uneventful. Mina is able to shapeshift into a mabari for most of the trip and is able to chew on ginger root for the times when she has to ride the horse with Cassandra. When they finally reach the Inquisition camp near the Crossroads, a friendly female dwarf greets them. Well, more like greets Mina.

“The Herald of Andraste!” she says with awe. “I’ve heard the stories. Everyone has. We know what you did at the Breach.” She gives Mina a respectful nod. “It’s an honor to meet you, My Lady. Inquisition Scout Lace Harding, at your service. I—all of us here—we’ll do whatever we can to help.”

“Harding, huh?” Varric says before Mina can say anything. “Ever been to Kirkwall’s Hightown?”

“I can’t say I have,” Scout Harding replies. “Why?”

Varric smirks. “You’d be Harding in… oh, never mind.”

Mina tries not to chuckle while Cassandra makes one of her disgusted noises.

Mina turns to Scout Harding. “Please, call me ‘Mina’,” she says. “I’m starting to worry about these ‘stories’ everyone’s heard.”

“Oh, there’s nothing to worry about,” Harding replies somewhat sarcastically. “They only say you’re the last great hope for Thedas.”

“Oh,” Mina says with a sigh. “Wonderful.”

“The Hinterlands are as good a place as any to start fixing things,” Harding says. “We came here to secure horses from Redcliff’s old horsemaster. I grew up here, and people always said that Dennet’s herds were the strongest and fastest this side of the Frostbacks. But with the mage-templar fighting getting worse, we couldn’t get to Dennet. Maker only knows if he’s even still alive. Mother Giselle’s at the Crossroads helping refugees and the wounded. Our latest reports say that the war’s spread there, too. Corporal Vale and our men are doing what they can to help protect the people, but they won’t be able to hold out very long. You best be going. No time to lose.”

Mina thanks Scout Harding and begins to head toward the Crossroads. On their way, the group is attacked by several waves of rogue templars and mages. Once at the Crossroads, several Inquisition soldiers salute the group and Mina is directed towards Mother Giselle. Leaving Cassandra, Varric, and Solas to check in with soldiers, Mina goes to talk to her.

 

Upon arriving, she hears the Revered Mother trying to soothe a patient.

“There are mages who can heal your wounds,” she says to the man. “Lie still.”

“Don’t… let them touch me, Mother,” the man pleads. “Their magic…”

“Turned to a noble purpose, their magic is surely no more evil than your blade,” Mother Giselle replies.

“But…” the man protests.

“Hush, dear boy,” Mother Giselle says. “Allow them to ease your suffering.”

The man finally relents and Mina takes that as her cue.

“Mother Giselle?” she asks.

Mother Giselle looks up at Mina. “I am,” she says as she begins to stand up. “And you must be the one they’re calling the Herald of Andraste.”

Mina sighs, suddenly a little nervous. “I’m told you asked for me,” she says.

Mother Giselle nods and motions for Mina to follow as she begins walking. “I know of the Chantry’s denouncement, and I’m familiar with those behind it,” she says. “I won’t lie to you: some of them are grandstanding, hoping to increase their chances of becoming the new Divine.” She stops walking and turns to Mina. “Some are simply terrified. So many good people senselessly taken from us…”

“What happened was horrible,” Mina agrees.

“Fear makes us desperate, but hopefully not beyond reason,” Mother Giselle says. “Go to them. Convince the remaining clerics you are no demon to be feared. They have heard only frightful tales of you. Give them something else to believe.”

Mina is shocked. “You want me to appeal to them?” she asks incredulously.

“If I thought you were incapable, I wouldn’t suggest it,” Mother Giselle replies.

“Will they even listen?” Mina asks.

“Let me put it this way: you needn’t convince them all. You just need some of them to doubt. Their power is in their unified voice. Take that from them, and you receive the time you need.”

Mina nods. “Thank you,” she says. “It’s good of you to do this.”

“I honestly don’t know if you’ve been touched by fate or sent to help us… but I hope,” Mother Giselle replies. “Hope is what we need now. The people will listen to your rallying call, as they will listen to no other. You could build the Inquisition into a force that will deliver us… or destroy us. I will go to Haven and provide Sister Leliana the names of those in the Chantry who would be amenable to a gathering. It is not much, but I will do whatever I can.”

Mina nods in thanks and understanding before Mother Giselle walks off, and the rest of the group rejoins Mina. Cassandra asks what the Revered Mother said and she tells them. She nods in understanding and then says that they should speak with Corporal Vale. Mina nods and they leave to speak with him.

 

Corporal Vale informs them that the refugees are struggling and provides a list of people to talk to to find out what is needed. It takes a full two weeks to get the area stabilized. During that time, Mina closes several rifts, hunts rams for the villagers, and locates locations of blankets, among other things. They acquire several horses for the Inquisition after watchtowers are built, and even convince the horsemaster to join the Inquisition.

 

Now, back at camp the night before they are set to begin their return trip to Haven, Mina is having trouble writing a letter to her Keeper regarding what’s going on.

Keeper,

I hope this letter finds you well. Things have gotten weird here. The Conclave was a disaster. I don’t know if you can see the big hole in the sky, but there are people who think I caused it; as I am the only one who survived an explosion that killed the Divine and thousands of others at the Temple of Sacred Ashes, as the shemlen call it. I also bear a mark on my left hand that can close the rifts that have been appearing all over Thedas. Those who believe I am innocent are calling me the ‘Herald of Andraste’, believing a woman who was seen pushing me out of a rift after the initial explosion was their Maker’s mortal prophet, Andraste.

I have joined a shemlen organization called the ‘Inquisition’ to help them close the Breach, as they are calling the hole in the sky. I hope we can fix this soon so that I may return to the clan.

Keeper, please keep Lira and everyone else away from the rifts in the future. I know she was near one because I was somehow able to transfer my mark to her for a few seconds to be able to close one. It took a lot out of me, though, and I’m not sure I will be able to do it again. If you encounter any more rifts, please map them and send the map to the Inquisition at the town called Haven. If I ever travel there, it will make it easier to find and close the rifts.

Other than all this craziness that is going on, I’m doing all right and am making friends here. I miss everyone in the clan and I hope to return as soon as possible.

Dareth shiral,

Mina of clan Lavellan of the Free Marches

First to Keeper Deshanna Istimaethoriel Lavellan

Herald of Andraste (It still feels weird to write that)

P.S.: The day after waking up after stabilizing the Breach, I saved a five-year-old girl from her mother who was a blood mage. I later discovered that she is elf-blooded and most likely my half-sister, as we have a report that says her father is actually Father. I also have an entry in my journal that is further evidence to the possibility. I know you know a spell that can confirm whether or not Eva is, in fact, my half-sister and was wondering if you could maybe tell me how to do it or something. For now, I am taking care of her whenever I am in Haven, and I have some of my advisors watching her while I’m away.

P.P.S.: One of my companions on this journey seems to know a lot about my mark and is actually a Somniari. However, for some reason Solas rather reminds me of Fen’Harel in his demeanor. He is a bald elven apostate and an expert on the Fade. He actually saved my life by preventing the mark from killing me while I slept after the initial explosion at the Conclave. I’ve been told by a Fade-touched nug to have him teach me how to become a Somniari as well (that is a very long story that I will have to tell you about later), but I’m a bit nervous. He’s already Fade-walked with me a few times and I want to learn more. He also said I have the power of the Evanuris after I transferred the mark to Lira to close that rift. What do you think I should do, Keeper?

Mina sighs as she puts down the feather and ink well to stretch her hands, which have begun to cramp up on her. She considers mentioning Cullen, but decides it’s too soon and that she will need to explain Marcall before she does, which she will need to ask Cassandra for permission before she does. She reads over the letter several times before sighing again and placing it in her journal to send once she gets back to Haven.

“You alright, Mina?” Cassandra asks as she sits down beside the Herald.

Once again, Mina sighs. “I don’t know,” she says. “I’m worried I won’t be able to close the Breach. I’m worried I won’t be able to be the hero all of you need me to be. I’m worried I may never be able to return to my clan. I’m terrified that Eva won’t be accepted as one of them if she is, in fact, my half-sister. I have a lot on my mind, Cass. I don’t know how you people do it all the time.” She puts her head in her hands and begins crying softly.

Cassandra notices this and embraces Mina. “Shh,” she soothes. “It’s alright.”

“No it’s not!” Mina half-yells as she breaks out of the Seeker’s embrace and stands up to begin pacing. “If I don’t close the Breach, we are all doomed! I can’t let that happen! Everyone we all know and love will die if I can’t do this! Even if it kills me in the process, I can’t let that happen! Don’t you see, Cass? I can’t fail at the one thing that might destroy me in the process!” She continues pacing.

The rest of the group tries to get Mina to calm down, but to no avail. She just keeps pacing and muttering that she can’t do this and the consequences if she fails. It’s not until Mina starts pulling at her own hair and muttering about ending it all that Cassandra takes matters into her own hands and Silences the Herald. As soon as she does, Mina passes out and begins to fall, but the Seeker catches her. She lowers her to the ground and releases the Silence, muttering her apologies to the Herald.

“It’s okay, Cass,” Mina says weakly as she wakes from the Silence. “If anything, you did me a favor. You have my permission to do that any time I get out of control again.”

Cassandra is slightly surprised at how quickly Mina regained consciousness. “I hope I never have to do it again, but it does help to know that,” she says as she helps Mina sit up.

“Flashy, you gonna be alright?” Varric asks.

Mina sighs. “I think so, Varric,” she says. “For now, I think I better get some rest.” She goes to grab her pack from where she left it and then bids everyone a good night before heading into the tent she is sharing with Cassandra. Once inside, she quickly writes the day’s events in her journal and then goes to bed. Cassandra comes in soon after she falls asleep and goes to bed herself.

 

O0o0o0o

 

“Lethallan, I have a confession to make,” Solas’s voice says as Mina enters their nightly Fade-walking routine.

Mina opens her eyes to see where they are this time. So far, she doesn’t see anything too specific. “What is it, Solas?” she asks.

Solas takes a step toward her. “I have never met a woman quite like you,” he says as he tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, sending a shiver down her spine. “You are kind, strong, independent, and everything a man could ever want in a woman.” He hooks his finger under her chin to make her look at him. “I only hope whomever you end up finding knows that they are the luckiest man in Thedas.”

Before Mina can say anything, his lips are on hers. The intensity of the kiss starts out slow, but quickly grows more passionate and hungry. His tongue asks for entrance and, damn it, she lets him. Part of her wants this, but another part of her isn’t so sure.

Whatever my true desires, I’m going to need air soon, Mina thinks.

Solas must have noticed this, as he breaks the kiss, but moves to place kisses along her jaw and neck.

“Solas…” Mina breathes. She can feel her pupils dilating and her mind losing all sense of self-preservation.

Solas lets out a low growl against Mina’s skin that goes right to her core. She shivers. “Let me have this one night to pleasure you,” he murmurs into her skin. “If you truly don’t want to pursue this further, we can go back to a strictly professional relationship after tonight. We’ll just go back to exploring the Fade together as teacher and student until you have mastered the craft.”

Mina is trying her best to think clearly, but Solas is making it damn near impossible as he sucks at her pulse point.

“Solas…” she breathes again. “Solas, I-I don’t know about this…”

“I know you’re inexperienced, lethallan,” Solas says against her skin as his hand moves up and down her side. “I’ll only use my fingers if you wish, but this night is about you.” He places his other hand on her hip and hooks it in her trousers, as if asking for permission.

“Solas, I don’t think I can,” Mina says.

“You don’t have to do anything except enjoy it, lethallan,” Solas says.

“Well I’m not, so please get off me!” Mina snaps.

Solas immediately complies and lets go of Mina, who backs up and covers her face with her hands.

“I don’t care what time it is, but please just let me wake up,” Mina says.

 

As soon as she says that, she immediately shoots upright in her bedroll with a scream, waking Cassandra up as well.

“What is it?” Cassandra exclaims as she bolts upright. “Are we under attack?” She immediately calms when she sees Mina sobbing in her bedroll next to her. “Maker, Mina, are you alright?”

“No,” Mina sobs in reply.

Cassandra is almost immediately at Mina’s side and hugging her. “Can you tell me what happened?” she asks after a bit.

“Not right now,” Mina sobs. “Sorry for waking you up.”

“Shh,” Cassandra soothes. “I totally understand. It’ll be alright.”

They stay like that for several minutes until Mina has calmed down enough to put a silencing ward around them and tell Cassandra what happened.

“Sweet Maker, I’m so sorry that happened, Mina,” Cassandra says once the Herald has finished telling her what happened. “If you want me to make him leave once we--”

“No,” Mina cuts her off. “He should know to never to do it again, but I’m still going to make sure he knows the next time I talk to him.”

“Are you sure?” Cassandra asks. “I don’t want you to feel unsafe when you’re with us.”

“I’m positive, Cass,” Mina replies. “But if that ever changes, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

They go silent for a bit, until Cassandra notices Mina is still shaking uncontrollably.

“Mina, you’re shivering,” she says worriedly as she wraps her arms around the Herald again.

“No, I’m panicking,” Mina replies shakily.

Cassandra tightens her grip on Mina to try to help ground her. She whispers soothing words in her ear and rocks them both back and forth. After a few minutes, Mina actually falls back asleep. Seeing as the sun won’t rise for another few hours, Cassandra gently lays Mina back down on her bedroll, moves her own bedroll closer to hers, and falls back asleep herself while holding Mina’s hand.

 

O0o0o0o

 

Mina wakes from a dreamless sleep to the feel of Cassandra gently trying to wake her up. She opens her eyes and sees a kind and somewhat worried look on the Seeker’s face. She sits up and stretches.

“How are you feeling, Mina?” Cassandra asks.

“Weird to be honest,” Mina says with a slight sigh. “I’m sorry I woke you up earlier.”

Cassandra takes Mina’s hands in hers. “Like I said then, I totally understand, Mina,” she says. “You should never have to apologize for something you have no control over.”

“I just feel like I’m becoming a burden with all my problems,” Mina replies with another sigh.

“Mina, look at me,” Cassandra says as she squeezes Mina’s hands. Mina complies. “You are not becoming a burden, no matter how much you might think otherwise!” She cups Mina’s face and wipes away a stray tear from her face.

“How do you always stay so positive?” Mina asks shakily.

Cassandra snorts and chuckles. “I don’t,” she says simply. Mina gives her an incredulous look. “What? I really don’t.”

“She really doesn’t,” Varric says from outside the tent. “Anyways, you two might wanna hurry up. Apparently there’s a storm coming.”

“Fenedhis,” Mina curses. “That was me, sorry.” She replaces the magical stopper to her storm magic. “Is it gone now?”

Varric chuckles. “Flashy, you scare me sometimes,” he says. “But, yes, it’s gone.”

“For once, I agree with the dwarf,” Cassandra says as she looks at Mina in shock and mild worry. She does a few of the checks she can as a Seeker, which Mina notices.

“I’m not possessed, Cass,” she says with a sigh. “Nor am I Fade-touched.” She then remembers that she technically is Fade-touched since she’s a mage. “Well, besides being a mage, of course.”

“I know,” Cassandra says as she puts a hand on Mina’s shoulder before turning to leave the tent. “Get dressed. We leave in a half hour.” Mina nods and Cassandra leaves the tent.

 

O0o0o0o

 

“Lethallan, we need to talk,” Solas says to Mina that night at camp.

Cassandra notices Mina’s hesitation and gives her a reassuring smile. Still, Mina doesn’t feel comfortable going anywhere alone with the elf just yet.

“Cass knows what you did, Solas,” Mina says with venom. “And I don’t feel comfortable going anywhere alone with you just yet.”

Solas sighs. “I hope you know how sorry I am for that and that I will never do something like that again,” he says. “But that’s not all we need to talk about.”

Mina sighs. “This is about my magic, isn’t it?”

Solas nods. “You are a very powerful mage, lethallan,” he says. “The amount of mana needed to conjure up a storm like you did this morning is massive.”

“I’m going to stop you right there, Solas,” Mina says. “That storm happened because the magical stopper I have on my storm magic decided to remove itself. Without that stopper, it would rain until I replace it, or until I die. I have no control over it if that stopper isn’t in place.”

“But what caused it to remove itself?” Varric asks from the other side of the fire. At their questioning faces, he sighs. “I’m not saying I understand what you guys are talking about. I’m just saying that metaphor you keep using is one I understand.”

“I don’t know, Varric,” Mina says with a sigh. “I’ve removed it myself on several occasions so my clan wouldn’t die of thirst, but this is the first time it’s removed itself. And the first time it’s been that far away. It’s always come within a few minutes whenever I’ve removed it.”

“Regardless, we need to keep an eye on it,” Cassandra says. Mina gives her a look. “Look, I know you will never give into a demon’s temptation, and that this is the first time something like this has happened, but if word gets out that you lost control of your magic, the risk to all of us, especially you, skyrockets.”

Mina sighs again. “I know. I just wish I knew what’s going on.”

“It could be the mark,” Solas says. When they all give him questioning looks, he sighs. “The mark’s magic intertwines with your own, yes?” he asks Mina.

“Not always, but sometimes, yes,” Mina replies.

“Interesting,” Solas says before looking away in thought. He looks back at Mina. “The mark’s magic may have removed the barrier you have on your storm magic by mistake when intertwining with your own, but there’s no way to know for certain.”

“But why now and not when she received the mark?” Cassandra asks. “Or when she first used it?”

“I don’t know,” Solas replies. “Like I said, there’s no way to know for certain that’s what really happened. What I do know is that Mina is a very strong mage and she has the potential to be able to control that storm magic and use it to her advantage in battle.” He turns to Mina. “I could teach you, if you’d like.”

Mina hesitates. “There’s something else…” she says as she hangs her head as if she did something wrong.

“What is it?” Cassandra asks.

“I can also bend nature to my will,” Mina says as she continues to hang her head. “I haven’t done it around you all because I didn’t want to scare you.”

“Can you show us something using that magic?” Cassandra asks. 

“Now?” Mina asks. The Seeker nods. Mina sighs. “Very well,” she says. She summons her magic and the bush nearby begins to grow. Soon, vines are growing out of it and heading straight toward an unsuspecting fennec. Soon, the little creature is trapped within the vines. “Fennec sound good for dinner?” Mina asks.

“Sounds good to me,” Solas says with a slight chuckle. “But we will need more than just one to feed all of us.”

Mina smirks. “I can take care of that.” She returns her attention to her magic. Before long, they are cooking their dinner and Mina is creating something out of the pelts.

“What are you making, Flashy?” Varric asks.

“Something for Eva,” Mina replies. She sticks herself with the needle she’s using. “Ow! Fenedhis!” She summons her healing magic and heals the wound.

Varric chuckles. “Flashy, you ever hear of a thimble?”

“I have and they don’t work for me,” Mina replies.

“What do you mean?” Varric asks.

“I can’t sew when I use them,” Mina replies. “I poke myself more often. So, I learned to sew without them.”

Cassandra chuckles, a rare thing for her. “Mina, you continue to amaze me,” she says.

“And scare you, apparently,” Mina mutters.

“You don’t scare me, Mina,” Cassandra says. Mina gives her a look, causing her to shiver. “Not all the time,” she corrects.

Mina sighs. “Exactly,” she mutters before returning to her sewing.

Cassandra, however, places her hand on top of Mina’s, making her stop and look at her. “Mina, you only make me scared to get on your bad side,” she says. “The magic thing worries me, but it never scares me.”

Mina sighs again. “I know you’re scared of me, Cass,” she says. “And for that, I’m sorry. If I wasn’t a mage, maybe you wouldn’t be scared of me.”

“I’m not scared of you, Mina!” Cassandra reiterates as she shakes their hands to try to reassure Mina and ground her. “And I sure in Thedas am not scared of your magic either!”

“Yes, you are!” Mina says as she removes the Seeker’s hands from hers and stands up. She puts the thing she’s making for Eva in her pack and starts to head to the tent she and Cassandra are sharing. “I’m not hungry anymore. Feel free to my portion. Good night.” She then goes in the tent and writes the day’s events in her journal before promptly going to sleep.

 

Meanwhile, Cassandra is mad at herself for upsetting Mina. The rest of the group eats in silence and Cassandra takes first watch afterwards.

Why does she think I’m scared of her? she asks herself. Is it because I agreed with Varric this morning? Maker, that’s probably it! Ugh, I feel so bad! I was scared for her, not of her! Maker, I need to explain myself to her!

She focuses on her watch, later waking Varric to take over and then goes into the tent she and the Herald are sharing. However, she can’t sleep. After about twenty minutes, she looks over at Mina, who is sleeping peacefully.

She and Solas are probably walking the Fade, she thinks.

Sighing, Cassandra gets up, puts her armor back on, and joins Varric outside.

 

“You okay, Seeker?” Varric asks her as she approaches.

“I can’t sleep,” Cassandra replies as she sits down near the dwarf.

“It’s because of what Flashy said, isn’t it?” Varric says.

Cassandra sighs and nods. “For the record, when I agreed with you this morning, I was scared for her, not of her. I don’t think she realizes that though.”

“That’s what I meant as well,” Varric says. “Probably could have worded it better, but I think she would understand me being scared of her since she did threaten to kill me the day we met.”

“Are you though?” Cassandra asks.

Varric shrugs. “Maybe a little. I’m surprised you aren’t.”

“I’m only scared to get on her bad side,” Cassandra replies. “Who wouldn’t be?”

Varric chuckles. “True, but being scared to get on someone’s bad side is pretty much the same as being scared of the person in general.”

“You wound me, Varric,” Cassandra says in mock offence when she realizes the dwarf basically just said he’s scared of her as well.

“Well, I am scared of you, Seeker,” Varric says. “I don’t have to get on your bad side to know you could kill me in an instant several different ways.”

Cassandra chuckles. “Touché.”

They sit in silence for the rest of the night and into the morning. Once the sun has risen, Cassandra goes to wake Mina, and Varric goes to wake Solas.

 

The ride that day is quiet. Mina turns into a raven to scout the way ahead, and Solas is too worried about what Mina told him in the Fade the night before to speak. Varric and Cassandra are too tired to start a conversation.

 

When they are about three hours away from where they planned to make camp for the night, they hear a raven caw. Knowing it’s probably Mina, they stop. Soon after, a raven lands on Cassandra’s shoulder. Its purple eyes let the Seeker know it is, in fact, Mina, but she becomes worried when she notices the raven is nursing a wound.

“Sweet Maker!” Cassandra exclaims as she dismounts. “What happened?”

The raven caws again. “Nearly got killed by a fireball about an hour up ahead. I can’t revert back, Cass! I’m scared! A Spell Purge or a Silence might help, but I’ll be a lot weaker for a while afterwards and probably won’t be able to fight. I’m sorry.”

Cassandra places the raven on the ground. “It’s alright, Mina,” she says. “I’ll do a spell purge. You ready?”

“Yes.”

Cassandra does the Spell Purge and Mina reverts back into her normal form. What the Seeker sees then really worries her: Mina’s entire body looks badly burned.

“Sweet Maker!” Cassandra mutters. “Solas! A little help?!”

Solas quickly dismounts and makes his way over. He immediately begins healing Mina upon arriving at her side.

“Mina, stay awake!” Cassandra says when she notices the Herald is beginning to pass out. However, Mina is too weak to stay awake and she passes out shortly after.

“We need to get her armor off,” Solas says after a bit. “She’s already beginning to swell. I’ve healed all I can, and it wouldn’t be good to travel with her like this. Not to mention she said she was hit about an hour up ahead.”

“Understood,” Cassandra says as she starts removing the heavier pieces of Mina’s armor. “You and Varric take the horses and search for a good spot to set up camp. I’ll watch over her in the meantime.”

Solas nods in understanding and stands to go with Varric and the horses. “If she wakes, try to keep her so.” Cassandra nods. With that, they leave to try to find a suitable spot to camp.

Looking back at Mina, now only in a loose tunic and pair of breeches, Cassandra worries about how much of her body was burned. She is surprised Mina was even able to fly back to them. Sighing, Cassandra cradles Mina’s head and looks out for danger.

 

A few minutes later, Solas comes back to lead them to the camp. The Seeker carefully lifts Mina and follows Solas to the camp.

Once there, Cassandra gently places Mina down on her bedroll and Solas heals her a little more.

“I think we will need to ride hard tomorrow,” he says afterwards. “We need to get back to Haven as soon as possible.”

“I agree,” Cassandra says. “Thank you, Solas.”

Solas nods and leaves the tent.

Cassandra looks over at Mina and sighs. She looks so fragile right now, she thinks. I hope she’ll be all right. Sighing again, the Seeker says a prayer for Mina and goes to bed.

Chapter Text

The rest of the trip is fairly uneventful, besides having to fight off the few enemy mages that had hit Mina without her. Mina is kept unconscious with sleeping spells and draughts the first few days, and is in little enough pain to be able to stay awake and on a horse afterwards.

When they arrive back in Haven in the early evening, a runner comes rushing up to them.

“There’s a disturbance in front of the Chantry!” she says frantically. “Mages and templars are arguing. We may need your Seeker abilities, Lady Cassandra.”

Of course the mage-templar conflict has spread here too, Mina thinks.

Sighing, Cassandra nods. “Thank you,” she tells the runner. “Dismissed.”

“Yes, My Lady,” the runner says before rushing off.

The group quickly dismounts and rushes toward the Chantry. Upon arriving, they hear an argument taking place between a mage and a templar.

“Your kind killed the Most Holy!” the templar yells at the mage.

“Lies—your kind let her die!” the mage yells back.

“Shut your mouth, mage!” the templar yells as he begins to draw his sword.

“Enough!” Cullen yells as he gets in between them.

Where did he come from? Mina thinks.

“Knight-Captain!” the templar says.

“That is not my title,” Cullen scoffs. “We are not templars any longer. We are all part of the Inquisition!” He points at both the templar and the mage.

“And what does that mean, exactly?” Chancellor Roderick asks as he walks up.

Ugh, not him again… Mina thinks.

It seems Cullen has the same thought. “Back already, Chancellor?” he sneers. “Haven’t you done enough?”

“I’m curious, Commander, as to how your Inquisition and its ‘Herald’ will restore order as you’ve promised,” Chancellor Roderick says.

“Of course you are,” Cullen scoffs. He turns to the crowd. “Back to your duties, all of you!” he orders.

As the crowd disperses, Mina and Cassandra approach Cullen and the Chancellor.

“Mages and templars were already at war,” Cullen tells Mina. “Now they’re blaming each other for the Divine’s death.”

“Which is why we require a proper authority to guide them back to order,” Chancellor Roderick sneers.

“Who, you?” Cullen scoffs. “Random clerics who weren’t important enough to be at the Conclave?”

“The rebel Inquisition and its so-called ‘Herald of Andraste’?” Roderick scoffs back. “I think not.”

He does realize I’m right here, right? Mina thinks. Creators, he’s a nuisance.

“So far, you’re the only one who’s insisted we can’t work together,” Cassandra says.

“We might, if your Inquisition would recognize the Chantry’s authority,” Roderick replies.

“There is no authority until another Divine is chosen,” Cullen scoffs.

“In due time,” Roderick says. “Andraste will be our guide, not some dazed wanderer on a mountainside.”

Time to put an end to this, Mina thinks. “Remind me why you’re allowing the Chancellor to stay?” she asks Cullen.

“Clearly your templar knows where to draw the line,” Roderick sneers.

I didn’t ask you! Mina thinks. She looks at Cullen expectantly.

Cullen sighs. “He’s toothless,” he tells her. “There’s no point turning him into a martyr simply because he runs at the mouth. The Chancellor’s a good indicator of what to expect in Val Royeaux, however.”

Wait! Mina thinks. Val Royeaux? The Orlesian capital? The mage-templar war has spread all the way there too? “How widespread is the violence between the mages and templars?” she asks Cullen.

“Impossible to say,” Cullen replies.

“Your organization flouting the Chantry’s authority will not help matters,” Roderick cuts in. “With the Conclave destroyed, I imagine the war between mages and templars has renewed. With interest.”

“The mages and templars are fighting even though we don’t know what really happened at the Temple of Sacred Ashes?” Mina asks.

“Exactly why all this should be left to a new Divine,” Roderick says. “If you are innocent, the Chantry will establish it as so.”

“Or will be happy to use someone as a scapegoat,” Cassandra sneers.

“You think nobody cares about the truth?” Roderick scoffs. “We all grieve Justinia’s loss.”

“But you won’t grieve if the Herald of Andraste is conveniently swept under a carpet,” Cullen scoffs back.

Mina sighs. “I’ll make sure they’ll see reason in Val Royeaux,” she says.

“I pray you’re right,” Cullen says. “I will keep the peace here while you and the others appeal to the Chantry in Val Royeaux.” He motions to the Chantry. “Come. Leliana and Josephine are waiting in the War Room.”

“Better ready yourself for the blame you will be rightly assigned,” Roderick sneers as they walk off.

 

“Mina!” Eva’s voice calls as they enter the Chantry.

Mina barely has time for her eyes to adjust before Eva is colliding with and hugging her.

“Oof,” Mina breathes. “It’s good to see you too, Eva.” She pats the girl on the head. When Eva lets go of her, Mina bends down and picks her up. “Did you have many nightmares while I was gone?” she asks as they resume walking towards the War Room.

“Just about every night,” Eva replies sadly.

“I’m so sorry, da’len,” Mina mutters. “Was it the same one?” Eva nods. Mina sighs. “Once I’m done with this meeting, you and I are going to talk, okay?”

Eva sighs and nods. “I’m ready to tell you anyways.”

They reach the door to the War Room and Mina sets Eva down near Rylen. “Ser Rylen, can you take her back to the cabin? I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Of course, Milady,” Rylen replies. He motions for Eva to follow him and she does.

When Mina opens the door to the War Room and Cullen and Cassandra follow her in and take their places, Leliana and Josephine are giving her kind smiles.

What?” Mina asks. “Why are you two looking at me like that?”

“Did Eva tell you?” Leliana asks.

“Tell me what?” Mina asks. “All she said was she had nightmares almost every night and that it was the same one.”

“You didn’t notice something different about her?” Leliana asks.

“She seemed a little heavier and a little more excited, but other than that, I didn’t notice anything,” Mina replies. “Why?”

“Mina, even I noticed it,” Cassandra says.

“Creators, will you just tell me?” Mina snaps. She sighs. “Sorry. It was a long ride back and I’m still a little sore from the injury.”

“Wait, you were injured?” Josephine asks worriedly.

Mina sighs. “It’s a long story,” she says.

“I’ll tell you guys later,” Cassandra says as she pulls a chair for Mina, who thanks her and sits down. “But for now, unless you tell her about Eva, I will.”

“I don’t care who tells me,” Mina says. “I just want to know what happened and why you keep evading telling me.”

“We’re evading it because it’s both good news and bad news,” Leliana says.

Mina then gets an idea of what it could be and gasps as she looks at Leliana. “She didn’t manifest did she?”

Leliana chuckles. “No, thank the Maker.”

“Then why did I sense mana in her?” Cassandra asks.

Everyone looks at Cassandra in shock.

“Wait, what actually happened?” Mina says after a bit.

“We heard from your clan,” Leliana says. “Eva found the letter somehow and we had a long conversation about snooping around afterwards. I thought she’d tell you, but clearly I was mistaken.” She sighs and turns to the Seeker beside Mina. “Now, Cassandra, what’s this about sensing mana in her?”

“I don’t know,” Cassandra replies as she starts pacing. “I detected a faint amount of mana, too little to do anything, but it was there.”

“Will you come with me after this meeting is over to do a few checks on her?” Mina asks. “I’ve heard of something like this happening a few months before certain mages manifest and I know you Seekers are able to determine things like this.” She sighs. “Sorry. I don’t know how else to describe it.”

Cassandra chuckles. “I understand what you meant, Mina,” she says. “And I will go with you after this meeting is done to do that.”

“Thank you,” Mina says before sighing again. “Now, what’s this about my clan sending a letter?”

Josephine hands Mina a piece of parchment. Mina carefully unfolds it and reads the script she recognizes as her Keeper’s:

Clan Lavellan offers greetings to the Inquisition and wishes it well in sealing the Breach that has opened in the sky. While some Dalish clans hate humans and wish nothing to do with them, Clan Lavellan has always dealt fairly with all and wished only for peace. That said, we have on occasion been forced to defend ourselves from those who saw us only as potential victims.

It has come to our attention that a member of our clan is being held captive by your Inquisition. She went to the Conclave only to observe the peace talks between your mages and templars, and we find it highly unlikely that she intentionally violated your customs. If she has been charged with a crime, we would appreciate hearing of it. If not, it would ease our concerns to hear from her to know that she remains with the Inquisition of her own will.

We await your reply,

Keeper Istimaethoriel Lavellan

Mina sighs and goes to her pack to get the letter she wrote the night before they began their return trip to Haven.

“I’m glad I wrote Keeper a letter before we began our trip back,” she says. “I was having a hard time with it, so it would’ve taken even longer to get a letter to send if I hadn’t.” She hands the letter to Josephine. “If you have an Elvhen messenger, that would be great. The clan isn’t used to messenger birds, and I don’t know how they would react to one.”

“Is there anything your clan might need that we could send them as a show of good faith?” Leliana asks.

Mina thinks for a bit. “We could always use runes for our armor and weapons,” she says after a bit. “That’s one thing we always had to trade for. I understand if the Inquisition doesn’t have any to spare. I just know we could always use them.”

“I’ll see what I can find,” Leliana says with a nod.

“Thank you,” Mina says. “Ow! Fenedhis!” she exclaims suddenly.

“Are you alright?” Cassandra asks. “What happened?”

Mina summons her ice magic to her fingers and rubs her forehead to try to relieve the headache that has begun to form. “I think another Spell Purge transferred to me from Lira,” she says.

“Wait, what?” Cullen asks. “That’s not possible!”

Mina sighs. “Cullen, we’re identical twins.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Cullen asks. “Spells can’t transfer to other people like that!”

Mina sighs again. “Have you ever heard of identical twins feeling each other’s pain without even having to see or know they are hurt?” she asks.

“Yes, but that’s different!” Cullen replies.

“Not really,” Mina says. “Because of the connection I have with Lira, we often have spells transferred to each other. Granted, we are never this far apart, but I learned while on the road that it can still happen. Creators, I was even able to transfer the mark to her for a few seconds to close a rift soon afterwards! I don’t know how, but I did!”

Everyone except Cassandra looks at Mina in shock.

“Yes, I know!” Mina says. “Solas says I have the power of the Evanuris, which is what we Elvhen call our gods sometimes. It is said that they were very powerful mages.” She sighs. “I’m not sure how I feel about being compared to them though.”

“Just how powerful are you?” Cullen asks.

“Without the stopper on my magic… very,” Mina replies. “I keep the stopper on to avoid speculations of blood magic, since it’s very unstable and I have little control over the power of the spells when the stopper is off.” She looks at Cassandra. “Should I tell them?”

Cassandra sighs. “It would probably be best,” she says with a nod.

Mina sighs and nods. She then tells them what happened with her storm magic the morning they began their return trip to Haven.

 

“Before you say anything, Cullen, I checked and she’s normal,” Cassandra says when she notices the Commander has begun to look at Mina more wearily after she finished telling them what happened.

Mina sighs. “I told you he’d turn on me,” she mutters to Cassandra. However, it comes out louder than expected and everyone else hears it.

“What makes you think I’d ever turn on you?” Cullen asks.

Fenedhis! Mina thinks. She sighs again. “You’re a templar,” she says. “You are taught to kill any mage who has any chance of being a blood mage or possessed. I just gave you ample reason to believe that I could be either of those.” She stands up. “Ir abelas. I need some time alone.” With that, she turns and leaves the room.

“Maker’s breath, is that what she really thinks of the Order?” Cullen asks as he rubs the back of his neck.

“Why do you think her clan calls templars ‘mage killers’?” Cassandra replies.

“You do realize you’re technically part of that, right?” Cullen says.

“Yes, and we’ve discussed it at great length,” Cassandra replies.

“She seemed stressed,” Leliana says.

“She could be recovering from the severe motion sickness she had to endure on the last leg of the trip,” Cassandra says. “She shapeshifted whenever she could to avoid it, but after her injury, we insisted on making her ride with us, and ginger root only did so much.”

“How was she injured?” Leliana asks.

Cassandra sighs and then tells them how Mina was injured.

 

“So, you’re saying she wasn’t able to revert back into her normal form until you did a Spell Purge on her?” Cullen asks incredulously.

“Yes, Cullen,” Cassandra replies somewhat impatiently. “Is that really all you got from that story? Maker, Mina’s hesitation seems valid.” She sighs. “Speaking of, I should probably go make sure she’s alright. Excuse me.” With that, she turns and leaves the room.

“If you want to have a chance with Mina, watch how you act,” Leliana says to Cullen as she heads for the door. “Josie, I need to talk to you about something.”

Josephine nods and follows the Spymaster out the door.

 

Meanwhile, Cassandra is having a hard time finding Mina. She checks her cabin, only to find Eva sleeping alone with Rylen watching over her. She checks with Solas and Varric, only to learn they haven’t seen her. She checks the tavern, and she hasn’t been seen there either. She checks the frozen lake, as well as the forest, and can’t find her there either. Finally seeing one of Leliana’s scouts assigned to watch Mina, Cassandra inquires as to the Herald’s whereabouts.

“She shapeshifted into a raven and flew off,” the scout says after leading Cassandra to a more secretive location. “We tried to keep an eye on her, but she flew so far away.”

What?!” Cassandra yells. “You didn’t think to let Leliana or I know?!”

“I’m sorry, My Lady,” the scout says. “I wasn’t the one who promised to do that. Sister Nightingale should know by now.”

Cassandra sighs. “Thank you. Keep your eyes out for her. As you were.”

“Yes, My Lady,” the scout says with a salute before walking off.

Sighing again, Cassandra rushes off to find Leliana.

 

“She’s injured!” Josephine exclaims after the scout tells Leliana what happened. “She can’t have gone far!”

Just then, Cassandra comes rushing in the room.

“I take it you’ve heard,” Leliana says.

“About Mina?” Cassandra asks breathlessly. The Spymaster nods. “She shapeshifted into a raven and flew off.” Again, Leliana nods. “What should we do? We have no idea if she’s alright, or where she is!”

“There is a way to find out,” the scout, who happens to be a mage, speaks up. “There’s a tracking spell, but I will need something of hers. Hair works best, but anything of sentimental value to her will also work.”

“Will something she’s drawn or made work?” Cassandra asks. “Mina keeps all her belongings with her, and they weren’t in her cabin when I went to look for her there.”

“Is it something she made magically?” the scout asks.

“She drew an image for me magically,” Cassandra replies. “Will that work?”

“It might,” the scout replies.

Just as Cassandra is reaching into her pocket to pull out the drawing of Galyan, Marcall comes running in the room.

“Marc!” Cassandra exclaims as she picks the nug up. “What are you doing?”

The nug squeaks and begins to glow. “Follow me,” he says. “She’s in danger.”

“Maker’s breath!” the scout exclaims. “Never thought I’d see a Fade-touched animal talk!”

Marc looks at the scout and then at Leliana. “You two come as well. Bring your weapons.”

They nod, and Cassandra places Marc on the ground.

“Lead the way,” she says.

 

Marc leads them out of Haven and about a quarter of the way to the Temple of Sacred Ashes. What they see when they get there worries them: Mina is fighting off several pride demons at a rift, and losing. They quickly join the battle and before long, all of them are dead and Mina has closed the rift. However, she is badly injured and has to close it from a sitting position.

“Mina!” Cassandra exclaims as she rushes toward the Herald, who is now lying on her back and rapidly losing consciousness. “Mina, stay with me!”

The scout comes rushing over and immediately summons his healing magic to heal Mina’s wounds. As soon as he’s done, Cassandra tries to get Mina to open her eyes.

“Mina, open your eyes!” she says.

“Please go away,” Mina says weakly. “I should have died with them.”

“No you shouldn’t have,” Cassandra says sternly as she embraces Mina. “What brought all this on?”

“Yes I should have!” Mina yells as she tries to get out of the Seeker’s embrace, but is too weak to do so. “Ugh! Please let go of me!”

“Not gonna happen, Mina,” Cassandra replies.

“Cass, please!” Mina begs as she continues to try to get out of the Seeker’s embrace.

“No,” Cassandra says sternly. She sighs. “Mina, what in Thedas is going on?”

“I can’t do this, Cass!” Mina yells. “I can’t be the hero you all need me to be! I’m just a lowly knife-ear with a messed up past, and an even more messed up future! All of you expect so much from me, and I’m not capable of meeting those expectations! And what the fuck is Cullen’s problem? Yes, I know he hasn’t had the best experiences with mages, but he shouldn’t take it out on the first mage he sees that gives him pause! Creators, did you see how he looked at me after I told him I can’t control my own damn magic sometimes?! That it’s all or nothing when it comes down to the power of the spells when the fucking stopper is off?! He looked ready to run me through!”

“Mina, you need to cut it out with this mindset!” Cassandra says sternly. “You can and you will do this! And Cullen was really mad at himself for upsetting you! He wanted to join us coming here, but I advised against it. Maker, Mina! If we are pushing you too hard, just say something and we’ll do whatever we can to at least help you, if not cut back on how much we are putting on your shoulders!”

Mina finally stops trying to get out of Cassandra’s embrace and sighs. “I just want to go home,” she mutters as tears start falling down her face.

“I know,” Casandra whispers as she tightens her hold on Mina in a soothing way.

“I hate to interrupt, but we should probably get going,” the scout says. “We already won’t make it back by the time it’s completely dark.”

“Unfortunately, I have to agree with Phoenix,” Leliana says as she walks over to them and offers her hands to help them up, which they take.

As they begin walking back, Cassandra wraps her arm around Mina in a reassuring side hug when she notices the Herald is still crying.

 

“How did you guys know where to find me?” Mina asks shakily when they are about ten minutes away from Haven.

“Marc led us to you,” Cassandra replies.

Mina looks over at the nug in Leliana’s arms and sighs. “Thank you,” she tells him. Marc nods in acknowledgement. Mina turns to Cassandra. “I’m sorry for flying off,” she says sadly.

“Don’t worry about it, Mina,” Cassandra replies. “I’m just glad you’re alright.”

Mina sighs. “I’m not, to be honest,” she says shakily.

Cassandra makes them stop walking at that and looks at Mina worriedly.

Please don’t give me that look, Cass,” Mina says shakily. “You’re just making it worse.”

“I can’t help it, Mina!” Cassandra replies. “I’m really worried about you!”

Mina sighs again. “Well stop worrying then,” she says before Fade-Stepping away.

Phoenix taps Cassandra’s shoulder. “Should I put a sleeping spell on her?” he asks in a whisper, hoping Mina’s elf senses don’t pick it up.

Cassandra sighs and nods.

Nodding, Phoenix Fade-Steps toward Mina and puts a sleeping spell on her, catching her as she begins to fall and easing her to the ground.

“Was she like this on the road?” Leliana asks Cassandra as they begin to walk toward Mina and Phoenix.

“Every now and then,” Cassandra replies with a sigh and a nod.

Leliana sighs. “I’m hoping she’s just homesick, but I fear she may be bipolar.” Maker, I may need to write Rai if this gets much worse, she thinks.

“I fear you may be right,” Cassandra says solemnly.

As they reach Mina and Phoenix, Cassandra leans down and gently picks the Herald up. Phoenix takes Mina’s pack to lighten the weight the Seeker has to carry.

“Maker’s breath, how does she carry this much stuff with her all the time?” he asks rhetorically. “This thing weighs a ton!”

“I always assumed she used a spell or something,” Cassandra replies.

“Phoenix, you go on ahead,” Leliana says. “Make sure no one will be around when we arrive. Wait for us at her cabin.”

Phoenix nods and rushes off to make sure the task is done when the rest of them arrive.

Leliana looks at Cassandra. “How often was she like this when you were on the road?” she asks.

Cassandra thinks for a second. “I can count at least ten times she cried in my arms,” she says. “I had to Silence her once to get her to stop from pulling her own hair out or possibly killing herself, as that’s what she was muttering about at the time.” She sighs. “Maker, Leliana! She’s really struggling! Did you know that she and Lira killed the boys they were set to marry when their magic manifested? That was ten years ago the day we left for the Hinterlands and she’s still grieving that loss!”

“I knew about what happened when their magic manifested, but I didn’t know she’s still grieving the loss,” Leliana says.

Cassandra nods. “She fell asleep crying in my arms that night,” she says sadly. She sighs. “I’m really worried about her.”

“I am too,” Leliana says.

Marc squeaks, indicating his worry for Mina as well.

Cassandra sighs again. “There’s something else,” she says. “All I feel comfortable saying right now is keep an eye on Solas. He did something that might have triggered some of this, but Mina made me promise her not to send him away. He knows to never do it again.”

Leliana gasps when she realizes what Cassandra probably meant. “Maker, he didn’t try to…?”

Once again, Cassandra sighs. “I can say nothing more on it at the moment,” she says. “If Mina gives me the permission, or if you talk to her directly, then I’ll answer all your questions on the matter. Until then, just keep an eye on Solas.”

Leliana sighs. “Very well,” she says. Maker, please don’t let her have a dark past like Rai’s! she thinks worriedly.

 

They walk the rest of the way in silence. When they get to Haven, Phoenix is waiting for them at Mina’s cabin.

“Lady Eva is fast asleep inside,” he says softly when they reach him. “Ambassador Montilyet was able to get a child’s bed put in there, so you won’t have to worry about disturbing her when you place the Herald on her bed. The sleeping spell I put on her should wear off by morning.”

“Thank you, Phoenix,” Leliana says. “Go get some rest. You’ve done enough for today.”

“Yes, My Lady,” Phoenix says before rushing off.

Sighing, Leliana quietly opens the door for Cassandra and follows her in, softly closing the door behind them.

When Cassandra places Mina on her bed, they hear rustling from Eva’s bed.

“What’s going on?” Eva asks sleepily as she sits up.

“Nothing,” Leliana says as she goes over to Eva’s bed and makes her lie back down. “Go back to sleep, Eva. You and Mina will have a lot to do tomorrow.”

Sighing, Eva nods and curls back up, turning her back to Leliana, and falls back asleep fairly quickly.

Leliana stands back up and adds another log to the fire before she notices Cassandra is sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall.

“What are you doing, Cass?” she softly asks her.

“I don’t feel comfortable leaving her alone after what just happened,” the Seeker replies softly.

Leliana sighs. “Let me watch over her,” she says softly. “You two just got back today, and I know how you always can’t wait to get a bath and into an actual bed after you get back from trips like that.”

“No, this should be my responsibility,” Cassandra says with a sigh. “And I can do all that tomorrow. If I did it tonight, I’d just worry myself too much.”

Leliana sighs again. “Very well,” she says before turning to leave. “Good night, Cass.”

“Good night, Leli,” Cassandra replies.

Chapter Text

Mina wakes with a start and realizes she’s alone and it’s light outside. She panics at first, but then she sees a tray of food on the desk. Sighing, she pulls the covers back and realizes she’s in a nightgown and in desperate need of a bath. Sighing again, she stands and walks over to where the bathtub is. She summons her magic to fill the tub with ice and then heats it up.

Once the bath is ready, Mina goes to her pack to get the soap she always uses. When she gets back to the area where the tub is, she closes the privacy wall just in case someone decides to come in, then undresses and eases into the water.

She soaks in the relaxing water for several minutes before she quickly washes herself and gets out of the tub. She dries herself magically and then puts on a light blue sundress that she brought with her to the Conclave. She grabs her hairbrush and begins to brush her hair out, deciding to leave it down for once.

Finally happy with her appearance, she goes to her desk and lifts the lid off the tray to see a bowl of soup and a couple of rolls. She heats up the soup with her magic and begins eating. She notices a note underneath the tray and pulls it out so she can read it:

M ~ Eva wanted to hunt this morning, but Cassandra wanted to let you sleep, so I took her. Her aim is getting a lot better. You should watch her at the archery targets sometime. Cassandra did the checks this morning that you wanted done on her last night, and will let you know of her findings personally. When you are ready, meet me in my tent in front of the Chantry. Eva eagerly awaits your arrival. ~ L

Mina sighs and sets the note down to resume eating. Just after she finishes, there’s a knock on the door.

“Come in!” Mina calls as she goes to her pack for her makeup.

The door opens and Cassandra walks in, closing the door behind her. “Sweet Maker!” she gasps when she looks up at Mina.

Mina sighs. “Is it bad?” she asks. “Creators, it’s bad isn’t it? Ugh! I should’ve just put it up like always!” She brings her hands up to begin braiding it like she usually has it.

“No!” Cassandra exclaims as she rushes forward to stop Mina’s hands. “Maker, Mina, it’s lovely, actually! I just didn’t expect to see it down! And, Maker, that dress!” She takes a step back to admire the dress a little more. “Maker, it’s gorgeous!” She takes Mina’s hands in hers and makes her do a little twirl.

Mina giggles a little despite herself as she turns. “Stop it, Cass!” she says as she playfully swats at the Seeker’s hands. “This dress was my mother’s… as well as my grandmother’s.

“That just makes it even more gorgeous,” Cassandra replies with a wide and genuine smile.

Mina’s face visibly reddens as she smiles back at the Seeker.

“I can’t wait to see Leli and Josie’s reactions,” Cassandra says. “Or Cullen’s,” she adds playfully.

Cass!” Mina exclaims as her face goes an even darker shade of red that goes to the tips of her ears in embarrassment.

“Sorry,” Cassandra chuckles. “I couldn’t help it. Hopeless romantic, remember?” She notices the eye shadow laying on the desk. “Is that pink the only color of eye shadow you have?” she asks.

“I have one that’s more purple than pink,” Mina replies. “I just prefer this one.” She closes her eyes and snaps her fingers to put the makeup on magically. When she opens her eyes, Cassandra is looking at her with a shocked look. “Have you never seen a mage do that?” she asks with a chuckle.

“I haven’t,” Cassandra replies. She sighs. “Mina, we need to talk about what happened last night.”

Mina sighs but nods in understanding. “You have my word that it won’t happen again,” she says.

“It’s not the going off by yourself that we need to talk about,” Cassandra says with another sigh. She takes Mina’s hands in hers. “Mina, we think you may be bipolar.”

Mina sighs again. Fenedhis, they know I’m depressed! she thinks. “I’m not,” she says. “I’m just really stressed. I’ve never been near this many humans, or even away from my clan for this long before.”

“Mina, you wanted to die last night!” Cassandra exclaims. She sighs again. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to yell. I’m just very worried about you.”

“Cass, do we have to have this conversation now?” Mina asks. “I was hoping to avoid all of this for at least a day.”

Cassandra sighs. “Fine, but for your own safety, I’m going to have to impose that you are always with someone who knows what happened last night, at least until we talk about it.”

“Who knows besides you, Leliana, and Phoenix?” Mina asks.

“Rylen, Cullen, Josephine, and Knight-Lieutenant Jessica,” Cassandra replies. “Eva knows something happened, but she doesn’t know the details.”

“I’d like to keep it that way,” Mina says. She sighs. “I agree to your terms.” She holds her hand out and they shake on it.

“Can I just ask one thing?” Cassandra asks.

“If you’re wanting to know if I’m alright, it’s complicated,” Mina replies. “So don’t ask.”

Cassandra chuckles. “How’d you know that’s what I was going to ask?”

Mina shrugs. “It’s what everyone wants to ask me these days when they worry about me,” she says. “Anyways, what did you find out about Eva this morning?”

“She definitely hasn’t manifested yet, but she will soon,” Cassandra replies. “I asked her what her nightmare was about, and, while reluctant at first, she eventually told me she’s in a prison cell and chained because she’s a mage.”

“Creators…” Mina mutters. She then looks at Cassandra slightly worriedly. “That’s not what will actually happen, right?”

“Maker, no!” Cassandra exclaims.

Mina breathes a sigh of relief. “Good.”

Just then, there’s a knock on the door. Cassandra goes to open it.

“Sister Nightingale requests you and the Lady Herald’s presence in Ambassador Montilyet’s office whenever you are ready,” a runner says as the Seeker opens the door.

“Thank you,” Cassandra says. “Tell her we’ll be there shortly.”

“Yes, My Lady,” the runner says before rushing off.

Cassandra turns back to Mina, who has begun summoning her magic to create a pair of flats out of flexible ice that will never melt that goes well with her dress.

“Leliana will be so jealous of those shoes,” Cassandra says with a slight chuckle.

Mina looks up at the Seeker and smiles. “I can make just about anything with my magic,” she says before motioning to the still open door. “Shall we?”

Cassandra chuckles. “After you,” she says as she holds the door open for Mina.

 

Cassandra opens the door to Josephine’s office and smiles at the Ambassador and Spymaster.

“What now, Cass?” Leliana groans. “Last time I saw you smile like that was—Sweet Maker!” Her words are cut off when Cassandra moves aside and lets Mina enter.

Josephine, on the other hand, is completely speechless.

“I told you they’d love it!” Cassandra says to Mina before turning back to the Spymaster. “And that’s not even the best part!” She turns back to Mina. “Tell them where you got your shoes!”

Mina is suddenly really shy. She looks down at the ground. “I…uh…I made them,” she stammers. “With magic.”

“Right in front of me, too!” Cassandra says excitedly.

“Has Cullen seen her yet?” Josephine forces out after finally getting over the shock.

Josie!” Leliana exclaims with a giggle as she playfully hits the Ambassador’s arm with the back of her hand. She then looks between Mina and Cassandra. “Wait, has he?”

Mina chuckles and then looks at Cassandra. “Why didn’t you tell me that they are hopeless romantics as well?” she asks before looking at the other two women in the room. “And, no, he hasn’t.”

“Should we send a runner to fetch him?” Josephine asks. “Make him think it’s important Inquisition business?”

“Why would you do that?” Mina asks. “He’ll be less likely to believe you the next time there’s actually something important that he’s needed for. Besides, I wouldn’t want to bother him just because I decided to wear my hair down and a dress.”

“Because you look like a goddess, Mina!” Leliana says as she rounds Josephine’s desk and goes to the door to summon a runner. “Tell Commander Cullen his presence is required as soon as possible,” she says to the runner.

“Yes, My Lady,” the runner says before rushing off.

Leliana turns back to Mina, who is now fidgeting with her hands. She sighs. “While we wait for Cullen, what’s this about you made your shoes with your magic?”

Mina actually smiles as she turns to face Leliana. “Exactly that,” she says.

“You and your shoes, Leli,” Josephine mutters with a giggle and a shake of her head.

“A pair of shoes can make or break an outfit, Josie!” Leliana says. “We’ve been over this!”

Josephine sighs. “Yes, but you have a bit of an obsession,” she says.

“I do not!” Leliana scoffs in mock offense.

“Then answer this honestly: do you, or do you not want a pair of shoes like that?” Cassandra says.

Leliana sighs. “Okay, maybe I do have a little bit of an obsession,” she relents. “But, who wouldn’t want a pair of shoes like that? They’re gorgeous!”

“I can make all three of you a pair if you want,” Mina says. “They’re actually quite comfortable for me, and I’m used to walking around barefoot. They’re warm too.”

Leliana and Josephine both look at Mina hopefully. Cassandra, on the other hand, declines the offer.

“I’m good,” she says. “Thank you, though.”

Leliana chuckles. “We’ve been trying to get her in a dress for years now,” she tells Mina. “Nothing we’ve done has worked.”

“And nothing you ever do will work,” Cassandra says.

“What are you going to wear when you get married, then?” Mina asks innocently.

Leliana laughs. “Now who sounds like a hopeless romantic?” she says.

“Oh, you don’t even know half of it!” Mina replies with a smile. “I don’t even write this stuff in my journals! It’s for my mind only!” She looks back at the Seeker. “But, seriously, Cass. I’m sure a hopeless romantic like you has had thoughts on what she will wear to her wedding. I know I have! You should see the drawings I have sometime!”

“I honestly haven’t given it much thought,” Cassandra replies. “Between the Seekers and serving as the Divine’s Right Hand, I never gave it much thought beyond the fact that I would say ‘yes’ if Reggie proposed.”

“Same answer as always,” Leliana says with a smile and a shake of her head.

“So… Do you two want a pair?” Mina asks Leliana and Josephine.

They both nod hopefully.

Chuckling, Mina summons her magic and creates them both a pair of shoes like her own.

“I can even color them if you want,” Mina says once she’s done making them.

“I like them how they are,” Leliana says.

“Same,” Josephine says.

“Very well,” Mina says as she hands them the shoes. “If you ever change your mind, let me know.”

They both thank Mina profusely before placing the shoes aside to put in their room later.

Just then, they hear a commotion coming from the doorway to the Chantry.

“I do believe our Commander is here,” Leliana says as she ushers Mina and Cassandra towards Josephine’s desk. “Everyone, look busy!” she orders before walking toward the door to greet Cullen.

Mina shakes her head and sighs, but smiles despite herself. She quickly does as she’s told.

“Ah, there you are, Commander,” Leliana says sweetly as Cullen appears at the door. “We have a question to ask you.”

“I hope it’s as important as that runner made it seem,” Cullen says.

“Oh, it is,” Leliana replies as she motions for him to enter the room. “We were just wondering what you thought of the Herald’s outfit.”

Josephine motions for Mina to turn around so she’s facing Cullen. When she does, her face is tinted a nice shade of pink in embarrassment.

That’s what was so important?” Cullen asks incredulously and somewhat angrily. He hasn’t even looked at Mina yet.

Leliana smiles and nods.

Mina sighs. “I told them not to summon you, but they did it anyway,” she says to Cullen. “I’m sorry to bother you.”

Cullen turns to Mina. “Don’t worry about--” he starts. “--Maker’s breath!” he gasps when he finally sees her.

Leliana and Josephine try to contain their giggles, but fail miserably. Cassandra, however, is able to contain hers, but only just.

Cullen sighs and rubs the back of his neck as he looks between Leliana and Josephine. “Honestly, you two are just mean,” he says. He turns back to Mina. “You see what I have to deal with when it comes to these two?” He sighs again as he turns to leave, but stops and turns back around as he reaches the door. “You look beautiful, by the way,” he says to Mina. He gives her a kind smile as his face visibly reddens and he rubs the back of his neck again.

Mina notices how handsome he looks with his face flushed, and how the scar on his lip twitches ever so slightly with his smile. She blushes as well and returns the smile. “Thank you, Cullen,” she says shyly. “Again, I’m sorry to bother you.”

“Again, don’t worry about it,” Cullen says as he smiles at her again. “Some things can’t be avoided.” He sighs. “If that will be all…?” He looks between Leliana and Josephine.

Leliana sighs. “Yes, that will be all, Commander,” she says. “Thank you.”

Cullen nods, then turns and leaves the room.

As soon as they hear the Chantry doors close, Leliana closes the door to Josephine’s office and they all begin squealing and giggling, while Mina smiles and covers her face with her hands in embarrassment.

Creators, he actually called me ‘beautiful’! Mina thinks excitedly, smiling even bigger at the thought of it.

“Maker, did you see how red he got?” Cassandra asks through her giggles.

“I need to stop looking down when we tease him,” Leliana says through her own giggles. She goes to Mina and places a kind hand on her arm. “Let me just say he definitely wants you,” she whispers in her ear. “He’s probably thinking about all the ways he wants to take you right now.”

Mina gasps. “Leliana!” she exclaims incredulously and in shock as she looks at the Spymaster.

Leliana chuckles. “What?” she asks innocently. “He probably is!”

“She just whispered something extremely dirty in your ear, didn’t she?” Cassandra asks Mina with a slight chuckle.

All Mina can do is nod as she covers her face in embarrassment again.

Cassandra sighs and shakes her head. “Of course she did,” she mutters.

“Regardless, I’d call that a success,” Josephine says. She looks at Mina as the Herald turns to face her. “What do you think, Mina?”

Mina sighs and shakes her head. “Honestly, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that he called me ‘beautiful’,” she says as her face reddens again.

“I can’t blame him,” Leliana chuckles. “You do look rather dashing when you blush like that,” she teases.

Mina’s blush deepens and goes all the way to her ears. “Whatever,” she groans.

“Now that we’ve effectively embarrassed Mina and Cullen, what did you two summon us here for in the first place?” Cassandra asks Leliana and Josephine.

Leliana sighs. “Did you tell her about Eva?” she asks Cassandra.

Cassandra nods. “I told her what I found with my abilities and what her nightmares were about,” she says.

“Where is she, by the way?” Mina asks.

“She wanted to practice her aim a little more, so Knight-Captain Rylen took her to the training grounds,” Leliana replies.

“Does she know she’s going to manifest soon?” Mina asks.

Leliana shakes her head. “We thought it best to wait until you knew to tell her,” she explains.

Mina sighs but nods in understanding. “You mean you wanted me to be the one to tell her,” she says.

Leliana chuckles. “How’d you know?”

“That’s what people say when they want you to be the one to tell someone something,” Mina replies.

“Regardless, that’s not the entirety of it,” Josephine says. When Mina gives her a questioning look, she sighs. “Leliana found out something that surprised both of us.”

“What is it?” Mina asks.

“She’s a Pentaghast,” Leliana says.

Cassandra looks between Leliana and Josephine in shock. “I’m sorry, did you just say she’s a Pentaghast?” she asks incredulously.

Leliana nods. “We found documents in the cabin she and her mother were staying in that confirm her mother was born to a Pentaghast couple, and that Eva, even though she’s technically a bastard child, is ninety-sixth in line to the Nevarran throne.”

“Do you have those documents?” Mina asks curiously.

“I’m guessing you do trust us, but have never seen documents like that and are curious,” Leliana says with a raised eyebrow.

Mina chuckles. “Yeah,” she says. “Sorry if it seemed the other way around.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Leliana says with a kind smile as she goes to a locked drawer in Josephine’s desk. She holds her hand out to the Ambassador expectantly.

What?” Josephine asks obliviously.

“The key,” Leliana says.

“Oh, right,” Josephine says with a gasp as she reaches in her pocket and pulls out a key. She hands it to the Spymaster.

When Leliana unlocks and opens the drawer, Mina immediately falls to the floor in agony. Luckily, Cassandra is able to catch her and soften the fall.

“Maker, Mina, what happened?” the Seeker asks worriedly as Mina curls into a fetal position and covers her ears. “Are you alright?”

Mina is unable to respond due to the agony.

Leliana quickly opens the box the documents are in and takes them out before closing it and locking it back in the drawer. As soon as the drawer is locked, the spell seemingly on Mina disappears and the Herald relaxes somewhat, taking labored breaths.

Leliana goes to Mina’s other side. “I’m so sorry, Mina,” she says as she and Cassandra help the still shaking Herald into a sitting position. “I totally forgot about the enchantment on that box!”

Mina is still taking extremely labored breaths and can’t answer.

“Why was there an enchantment like that on the box in the first place?” Cassandra demands.

Before Leliana can answer, Mina grabs Cassandra’s arm.

“Silence me, Cass!” she breathes. “Don’t ask why, just do it!”

Maker, I’ve never heard any mage actually wanting to be Silenced! Cassandra thinks. Sighing, she does as she’s told, releasing the Silence as soon as Mina passes out.

“Andraste preserve me, why did she just pass out?” Josephine asks worriedly.

“Besides the fact that she passes out when Silenced, I don’t know,” Cassandra replies. “Her identical twin, Lira, also passes out when Silenced and I hope to find out why at some point, as well as any possible remedies.”

“How long will she be out?” Leliana asks.

“I don’t know,” Cassandra replies worriedly. “Last time she woke up within a few seconds of me releasing the Silence, but I have no idea what the average amount of time she is out actually is.”

“It’s never taken me longer than an hour to regain consciousness,” Mina says weakly as she wakes up. “Thanks, Cass. That helped.”

“You’re welcome, Mina,” Cassandra says as she and Leliana help the Herald into a sitting position again.

Mina turns to Leliana. “Why in the Beyond was that thing enchanted like that?” she asks her.

“I don’t know,” Leliana replies as she stands up and then helps Mina and Cassandra up as well. “But, you have my word that I’m going to get it disenchanted as soon as I can.”

“Good,” Mina says with a nod.

Leliana motions for Mina and Cassandra to join her at Josephine’s desk and hands the Herald the large stack of documents regarding Eva’s lineage.

Creators, that’s a lot! Mina thinks. Nodding her thanks to the Spymaster, she begins to scan the documents, placing each one face down on Josephine’s desk once she’s done reading them to keep them in order. In the stack, they find a huge family tree that even Cassandra is somewhat surprised to see, as well as several letters that prove Eva’s lineage and claim to the Nevarran throne. Mina even finds several documents pertaining to the Lavellan clan, and her father specifically.

 

After a couple of hours of looking through the documents, Mina suddenly gasps as she reaches a particular one. She goes completely still, aside from her hands, which have begun to shake uncontrollably. “It can’t be…” she whispers.

“What is it, Mina?” Cassandra asks somewhat worriedly.

Mina places the parchment on Josephine’s desk so she doesn’t accidently tear it and then stares at it with her mouth open in shock and disbelief.

Leliana glances down at the document and gasps herself. “Wait, is that a marriage contract?” she asks incredulously.

Mina nods. “Between Father and Eva’s mother,” she says shakily.

“I thought you’d read these already,” Cassandra says to Leliana.

“I stopped after I found the family tree,” Leliana replies.

“This can’t be real!” Mina suddenly exclaims as she begins to pace the room and tears begin to stream down her face. “Father would never do something like this! He refused to even consider remarrying after Mother died! Oh, Father, did you really do this? Did you really marry a shem just so you could get elf blood in a royal line—no offense, Cass?! Creators, this is not the Father I know! The Father I know would stay true to the clan and not marry a shem, let alone abandon her and your newborn daughter afterwards! Did you even die the way I thought you did?! Did you really have Banalhan, or did you die of a broken heart?! Or maybe even of fucking blood magic?! Father, please don’t let this be fucking true!”

Cassandra looks to Leliana for translation of the Elvish word Mina used. Leliana shrugs, not having heard that word before. Cassandra sighs. “Out of curiosity,” she begins hesitantly, “what’s Banalhan?”

“The Blight, Cass!” Mina snaps. “Father had the fucking Blight! Or that’s what I thought he had!” She resumes her pacing. “If Keeper knew about this… Creators, she needs to know about this!” She turns to the three women in the room. “Can one of you maybe write her and tell her?” she asks pleadingly. “I don’t think I can in my current state of mind.”

“I’ll do it,” Leliana says. “It would probably be best if it’s written in Elvish anyways, considering the sensitive subject.”

Mina looks at the Spymaster in shock. “Not only can you speak and read Elvish, but you can write it too?” she asks her incredulously.

Leliana nods.

How?!” Mina asks incredulously. “Only Keepers and their Firsts and Seconds are supposed to know how to write it!”

“I have my ways,” Leliana replies.

Mina sighs and summons her ice magic to her fingertips before rubbing her temple to try to relieve the headache that has begun to form. “Fine,” she tells the Spymaster. “Keep your secret. For now, I need to be left alone for a bit.” She turns to leave the room.

“Mina, we talked about this!” Cassandra says as she goes to stop the Herald from leaving.

“Not now, Cass!” Mina half-yells as she turns to face the Seeker. “I’m just going to a quiet spot I found while out hunting with Eva. She knows where it is, so if you truly need me, ask her where we watched the sunrise that day.” With that, she turns and leaves the room, not even noticing Rylen and Eva narrowly avoiding colliding with her as she storms out of the Chantry.

“Maker, what a mess,” Cassandra whispers before going to talk to Eva.

“What did you do to my sister?!” Eva asks Cassandra angrily.

Cassandra sighs. “Nothing, Eva,” she says calmly. “She just found out something very upsetting and just needs some time to cool off.”

Eva sighs. “I wanted to show her something,” she says disappointedly.

Rylen chuckles. “You know, Milady, maybe Seeker Pentaghast here would like to see it,” he tells the child.

“I’m not a Lady, I’m a girl!” Eva whines.

Cassandra snorts at that. “Why can’t you be both?” she asks innocently.

“I’m not of noble birth!” Eva says. “Mother always said I will never be a noble because I’m a bastard child!”

Cassandra’s eyes go wide at that and she almost tells Eva that they are related and she isn’t actually a bastard child, but decides against it. “Regardless, what is it you wanted to show your sister?” she asks instead as she motions for the two to enter Josephine’s office.

Just as Cassandra is about to close the door, Eva breaks out into a sneezing fit.

“Maker, Eva, go punch a tree or something,” Cassandra says after a few seconds.

“How in Thedas would that help?” Rylen asks with a chuckle.

“It works for me,” Cassandra replies with a shrug.

Rylen chuckles again. “Now that’s a story I must hear!” he says.

Cassandra sighs. “I suffered from hay fever when I was small,” she says. “My brother joked I should punch a tree in retaliation, so I did, and the sneezing stopped. I’ve done it ever since.”

Just then, Eva punches a potted tree looking plant in the room and the sneezing stops.

“Maker, it actually worked!” Rylen says in shock.

“Maybe it’s a Pentaghast thing…” Mina’s voice says with a chuckle.

Everyone except Cassandra freezes and widens their eyes in shock and mild fear.

“Mina, you said that out loud,” Cassandra says with a sigh. She looks around. “Where are you, by the way?” she asks. “And why are you shapeshifted?”

“Hang on,” Rylen says. “Why did she say ‘maybe it’s a Pentaghast thing’? Eva isn’t a Pentaghast, is she?”

“Wait, I’m a Pentaghast?!” Eva asks incredulously. “I’m related to famous dragon hunters?!” She looks up at Cassandra and beams with happiness. “I’m related to a famous Seeker?!” she asks hopefully.

“Calm down, Eva,” Mina’s voice says with another chuckle. They then hear her sigh. “Leliana, show her the family tree and the letter written by King Markus that confirms her lineage. Eva, you and I have a lot to talk about. Meet me in the cabin when you’re ready. Cass, you might want to be there too, since it has to do with the checks you did this morning.” With that, they see a small purple butterfly dart out of the room.

Cassandra sighs. “And now you know what it’s like to talk to her when she’s shapeshifted,” she says with a chuckle.

“Maker, that is nothing like how Morrigan communicates when she’s shapeshifted,” Leliana says.

“I gotta say, I’m a bit jealous,” Rylen says with a chuckle.

“That’s surprising, coming from a templar,” Josephine says.

“I’m a bit jealous of her myself,” Cassandra says with a chuckle of her own. “I mean, who wouldn’t be jealous of a mage who can make things like shoes or necklaces with magic?!”

“Wait, what?” Rylen asks.

“She made her shoes with her magic,” Cassandra says with a smile. “As well as that halla necklace that Eva is wearing.”

“And don’t forget she made me and Josie a pair of shoes like her own as well!” Leliana says excitedly. “Too bad Cassandra declined her offer to make her a pair as well,” she teases. “She would look so beautiful in them!” She looks at Rylen. “Don’t you think?”

Leli!” Cassandra exclaims as her face visibly reddens. She turns to Rylen. “Feel free to ignore that question,” she tells him.

Rylen commits the image before him to memory. Never in a million years did he think he would see the Seeker blush so beautifully. “I think you’d look beautiful no matter what you wear, Milady,” he says. “Includin’ that gorgeous blush of yours.”

Cassandra’s heart does a little flutter at that statement and her face reddens even more. Maker, why is it suddenly so hot in here? she thinks. “I…uh…I think I should go talk to Mina before…before Eva arrives,” she stutters. “Excuse me.” With that, she rushes out of the room.

“Maker, did I say somethin’ wrong?” Rylen asks.

“I don’t think so,” Leliana says with a chuckle. “Cassandra just doesn’t like being teased that much. Don’t worry about it.” She motions for Rylen and Eva to join her and Josephine at the Ambassador’s desk where the documents still lay.

 

Meanwhile, Cassandra rushes out of the Chantry and heads straight for Mina’s cabin. Maker, I need a drink, she thinks.

When Mina opens the door after the Seeker knocks, she immediately giggles.

“Creators, I wish I could have seen what caused that face!” Mina tells the Seeker as she motions for her to enter.

“Rylen,” Cassandra replies simply with a sigh as she enters the room and Mina closes the door. “Anyways, I’m curious… Why did you come back so quickly and why were you shapeshifted when you did?”

“Oh, you’re not getting out of it that easily!” Mina giggles as she sits cross-legged on the bed. She pats the spot on the bed next to her in an offer to the Seeker to join her. “What happened?”

Cassandra sighs as she sits down on the bed next to Mina. “It was Leli’s doing,” she relents. She tells Mina about what their Spymaster did, and of Rylen’s reaction.

As Cassandra is telling her what happened, Mina watches the Seeker’s face turn several different shades of red. As soon as she’s done, Cassandra is fairly certain the Herald’s face has reddened slightly as well.

“Creators, it’s gonna be one Void of a time for us when all four of us hopeless romantics are in the room…” Mina says after a bit. She then gets an idea. “Hey, what would you say to trying to pair them up with someone so we can tease them as much as they tease us?”

“You’re just trying to make it so we don’t tease you that often,” Cassandra replies with a chuckle.

“You do realize this would benefit both of us, right?” Mina says. “We aren’t teased as often, and we get to tease them as much as they tease us!” She sighs when Cassandra crosses her arms and smirks at her. “This is falling on deaf ears, isn’t it?”

“Of course it is, Mina!” Cassandra giggles as she playfully shoves the Herald.

“Well at least I tried,” Mina says. “Anyways, now that we have finished with that topic, I need to tell you something about my father that I totally forgot about until just before I came back in the room earlier.” She sighs and her hands begin to shake.

Noticing this, Cassandra faces Mina and places a reassuring hand on her knee. “Whatever it is, I’m here for you,” she says.

“Thanks, Cass,” Mina says with another sigh as she puts one of her hands on top of the Seeker’s. “I told you he had the Blight?” she asks. “Or that I believed he had the Blight?” Cassandra nods. “Well, he would frequently go into town to get treatments. Seeing that marriage contract makes me think he didn’t actually have the Blight, and that he was using that as a cover up to be with Eva’s mom.”

“When did he allegedly ‘get’ the Blight?” Cassandra asks.

“I’ve been told he got it on that first trip into the city to trade; the one where Eva was actually conceived,” Mina says.

“Were you ever told how?” Cassandra asks.

Mina shakes her head. “Father never told anyone, so far as I’m aware,” she says. She sighs. “We had to burn his body since we thought he had the Blight and didn’t want it to spread.”

“What do the Dalish normally do with their dead?” Cassandra asks.

“We usually burry them and plant a tree over their remains,” Mina replies. “We provide them with an oak staff to help them along the path to the Beyond, and a cedar branch to scatter the ravens of Fear and Deceit, who were once servants of Dirthamen, or our god of secrets and knowledge. If we are able to, we will do this in a sacred burial site that we call ‘Var Bellanaris’, which is translated as ‘Our Eternity’ and is located in Dirthavaren.” She sighs. “We still provided Father with those items, but we had to burn them with him.”

Cassandra nods in understanding. “May I ask where Dirthavaren is?” she asks.

“I think you humans call it the Exalted Plains, if I remember correctly,” Mina replies.

Once again, Cassandra nods in understanding. “I’m slightly curious, do the bodies ever become possessed?” she asks.

“You mean like in Nevarra?” Mina asks as they both shudder; Cassandra from the memory of it, and Mina from the mental image the Seeker put in her mind when she told her about it.

“I mean, I guess?” Cassandra says with a shrug once they both stop shuddering.

“Well, we don’t lure spirits to possess the bodies,” Mina says. “But, they do become possessed every now and then. Or so I’ve heard. I’ve thankfully never been a witness to that.”

“And I hope you never do,” Cassandra says with another shudder. “Spirit or demon, either way is not very pleasant to witness.”

“Especially for a child, I recon,” Mina says.

Cassandra chuckles. “That is true,” she says.

Just then, there’s a knock on the door.

“Come in!” Mina calls.

The young Elvhen girl that was in the cabin when Mina first woke up after stabilizing the Breach enters.

“Good afternoon, Your Worship,” she says. “I’ve come to gather your armor for cleaning and any repairs,” she says.

Mina sighs. “Elona, what did I say about calling me that?”

“Apologies, Mina,” she says. “I’m still not used to calling you by your name.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Mina replies with a kind and reassuring smile. “I already cleaned my armor, actually,” she says as she points to the armor stand in the corner of the room. “And I didn’t see any damage to it.”

“Regardless, Harritt has insisted that he take a look at it,” Elona replies as she goes to the stand and begins to carefully remove it and put it in a crate she brought with her.

Mina sighs. “Very well,” she says. “Do let him know that I’ve already cleaned and checked it, though.”

“Will do,” Elona says. She quickly, but carefully finishes gathering the armor and bids them a good afternoon before exiting the cabin.

As soon as Elona closes the door, Cassandra hears Mina sigh heavily. Looking over at the Herald, she sees that Mina has covered her face with her hands.

“Cass, I don’t think I can handle much more of this,” she mutters. “The stress is killing me, I can feel it!”

Cassandra is almost immediately embracing Mina in a reassuring hug. She whispers soothing words in her ear as she rocks them both back and forth.

After a few minutes, there’s another knock on the door. Mina tenses up and begins to shake.

“I’ll get it,” Cassandra whispers before letting go of the Herald and going to the door.

When she opens the door, she sees Eva and Rylen standing there.

“We can come back,” Rylen says when he sees the Seeker’s expression.

“Let them in, Cass,” Mina calls. “This is something that can’t wait much longer.”

Sighing, Cassandra opens the door wider and lets them in.

“Eva, da’len, come here,” Mina says after Cassandra closes the door.

Eva goes over to where Mina is and looks at her. “Yes?” she asks.

Mina picks the child up and puts her in her lap. “You know how Cassandra did those checks on you this morning?” she asks her.

Eva nods. “She wouldn’t tell me why or what she found, though,” she says.

“Well, you are about to find out,” Mina says with a smile. She and Cassandra then explain what the tests were for, and what they found.

 

“Wait, I’m gonna be a mage?!” Eva asks excitedly once they are done. “When?”

“We don’t know when you will manifest, da’len,” Mina says. “But we know it will be soon.” She sighs. “Therefore, we have to keep a close eye on you, as well as begin your training. While we can’t teach you how to control it until you actually manifest, we can teach you how to resist a demon’s temptations, as well as a few calming techniques that will help when you do manifest.”

Eva nods in understanding. “I’m ready,” she says.

Mina smiles at the girl and they begin the training.

 

After a few hours of training, just as the sun begins to set, a meeting is called in the War Room. Mina and Cassandra leave Eva and Rylen to continue the techniques Eva has learned, and they head to the meeting.

 

The meeting goes on for several hours, thus, they have to have their dinner brought in for them to eat while they are discussing everything. They discuss several things and how to handle them, as well as what they are going to do when Eva’s magic does manifest. Finally, they discuss Mina’s trip to Val Royeaux.

“Having Mina address the clerics is not a terrible idea,” Josephine says.

“You can’t be serious,” Cullen scoffs.

“Mother Giselle isn’t wrong: at the moment, the Chantry’s only strength is that they are united in opinion,” Josephine replies.

“And we should ignore the danger to Mina?” Leliana asks.

“Let’s ask her,” Josephine replies before turning to Mina.

Mina sighs. “I’m more concerned this won’t actually solve any problems,” she says with a shrug.

“I agree,” Cullen says. “It just lends credence to the idea that we should care what the Chantry says.”

“I will go with her,” Cassandra says as she takes a step forward. She turns to Leliana. “Mother Giselle said she could provide us names?” she asks her. “Use them.”

“But why?” Leliana asks. “This is nothing but a--”

“What choice do we have, Leliana?” Cassandra interrupts. “Right now we can’t approach anyone for help with the Breach.”

Sighing, Leliana nods.

“Use what influence we have to call the clerics together,” Cullen says. “Once they are ready, we will see this through.”

They continue on for about another hour before they break for the night. Cullen walks Mina back to her cabin.

 

About half way there, Cullen stops and turns to Mina.

“I—uh—I wanted to apologize for making you feel uncomfortable last night,” he stammers out as he rubs the back of his neck—a nervous habit, Mina has noticed. “That was never my intention, and I am truly sorry for making you feel that way.” He puts a reassuring hand on her arm. “Mina, if you ever feel like you want to kill yourself again, please let one of us know. I don’t care who you tell, but please, for the love of the Maker, tell someone. We are all here for you and will do whatever we can to help you.”

Mina takes a deep, shaky, but calming breath. “Thank you, Cullen,” she says. “It really means a lot to hear you say that.” She sighs. “And I’ll be sure to do that the next time I feel that way. I guess I’m just a bit stressed and homesick.”

“Believe me, I know what that’s like,” Cullen says.

Mina looks up at him then. “Y—you do?” she stammers. Cullen nods. “Creators, I thought I was the only one!”

“A lot of people go through it,” Cullen says as he takes her hands in his. “It’s never easy, but it helps to have people to talk to.”

Creators, he’s so close… Mina thinks. And, Mythal preserve me, his hands! He’s being so gentile and sweet! He makes me want to…

“Mina!” Cullen says worriedly as he literally shakes the Herald out of her thoughts.

“Huh?” Mina says as she blinks a few times. “Sorry. Uh… W—were you saying something?” Was I staring?

“Maker’s breath, you had me worried there for a second,” Cullen says as he regards her with a concerned look. He then realizes he is still holding on to her and lets go. He rubs the back of his neck again. “I—uh—let’s get you back to your cabin. You must be exhausted.”

Mina notices a slight change in the color of his face. She probably wouldn’t have noticed it if not for her enhanced elf vision, but it’s there nonetheless.

“Mina,” Cullen says again.

Creators, was I staring again? Mina thinks. “Yes?” she asks innocently.

“Are you alright?” Cullen asks. “You keep zoning out.”

Mina sighs. “Yeah, sorry,” she says. “Long day.”

Cullen takes a step towards her. “Mina, let’s get you to your cabin.” He motions for her to go in front of him. “Before you freeze to death. You must be getting cold.”

Mina sighs before turning and resuming the walk to her cabin. Cullen follows close behind.

They walk the rest of the way in silence. They steal glances at each other on several occasions, not knowing the other is doing the same thing. When they finally reach her cabin, Mina thanks Cullen, dismisses Rylen to get some rest, and then quietly slips into the cabin and goes to bed.

Chapter Text

Mina wakes from exploring the Fade with Solas to Eva desperately trying to get her to wake up.

“Mina, wake up!” she whines as she shakes the Herald.

Upon hearing the desperation in Eva’s voice, Mina immediately bolts upright. “Eva, what’s wrong?” she asks worriedly.

“S—something h—happened,” Eva stutters.

Mina gets an idea as to what she means and immediately snaps her fingers to light the candelabras. “Eva, did you manifest?” she asks as she gets out of bed and crouches down to the child’s level.

Eva starts crying. “I don’t know!” she sobs. “Maybe?”

Mina goes to embrace Eva, but the child backs away in fear.

“Don’t touch me!” she sobs as she backs away. “I don’t want to hurt you!”

“Da’len, tell me exactly what happened!” Mina says.

“I had another nightmare and I couldn’t go back to sleep after waking up,” Eva says. “So, I used one of those calming techniques you and Cassandra taught me yesterday. I must have done something wrong, because I somehow voided myself of all emotions, but then I felt something touch my mind, and I regained all of my emotions. But I feel different. Like I have new abilities or something.”

Mina starts to panic, and she grabs Eva and rushes out of the cabin and into the Chantry, not even bothering to put on a few more layers, or even shoes. She Fade-Steps most of the way there. Once inside the Chantry, she rushes to the door to the room Leliana, Josephine, and Cassandra are sharing and knocks frantically on the door.

“Mina, what’s wrong?” Leliana asks as she opens the door. “It’s not even six in the morning yet.”

“Leliana, I’m so sorry to wake you, but I need Cass immediately,” Mina says hurriedly.

Leliana nods in understanding. “Wait here. She’ll be out shortly.”

“Thank you,” Mina says as Leliana closes the door.

Sighing, Leliana goes to wake the Seeker.

“Cassandra, wake up,” she says as she shakes her.

“What is it, Leli?” Cassandra asks.

“Cass, Mina is waiting frantically with Eva outside the door for you,” Leliana says. “I think something may have happened with Eva.”

“What?!” Cassandra asks as she bolts upright. “Did she manifest?”

“I think it’s something different, but Mina wouldn’t say,” Leliana says. “Now hurry up! She seemed very distressed!”

Cassandra nods and quickly gets out of bed. She quickly puts on her armor just in case and then rushes out of the room.

“What is it, Mina?” she asks as she exits the room.

“Can we go into the War Room?” Mina asks frantically.

Sighing, Cassandra nods, and they head to the War Room. Leliana tries to go with them, but Mina stops her.

“Not now, Leliana,” she says. “This is something I would prefer to have just the Seeker for. If that changes, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

Sighing, Leliana nods in understanding and goes back into the bedroom.

 

As soon as the door to the War Room closes, Mina sets Eva down, and the child begins to back away in fear.

“Maker, Eva, what’s wrong?” Cassandra asks as she sees this.

“I don’t want to hurt either of you,” Eva whines as she continues to back up. “I don’t know what I can do yet.”

“Da’len, will you please tell Cassandra what happened?” Mina asks the child.

Eva sighs and then tells the Seeker what happened.

 

“Sound familiar?” Mina asks Cassandra once Eva is done telling her what happened.

Cassandra looks at Eva in shock. “It can’t be…” she mutters. “Eva, come here,” she says to the child. “You won’t hurt me.”

Eva shakes her head and tries to back up further, but she can’t.

Mina sighs. “Da’len, please,” she says. “I know you’re scared, but if what we think happened is true, you are of more danger to a mage or templar than you are to one of your own, like Cassandra.”

“Then why aren’t you scared of me?!” Eva snaps. “If I’m of danger to you, why aren’t you freaking scared of me?!”

Mina sighs. “I didn’t mean it like that, Eva,” she says. “And I’m not scared of you because I know you would never intentionally harm me.”

“But I might accidently harm you!” Eva cries. “I’d never be able to live with myself if I did!”

Cassandra sighs. “Mina, I hate suggesting this, but I think it might be best if you wait outside,” she says.

Mina sighs but nods in understanding before she turns and leaves the War Room.

“Everythin’ alright, Milady?” Rylen’s voice asks as the door to the War Room closes.

Mina jumps. “Creators, Rylen!” she breathes. “Didn’t they teach you to never startle a mage? Especially a particularly stressed and worried one?” She leans on a wall near the door she just came out of and lowers herself to the floor.

“Apologies, Milady,” Rylen replies. “It wasn’t my intention to startle ya.”

Mina sighs. “No, I should be the one apologizing,” she says. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that.”

“I totally understand, Milady,” Rylen says. “Is everythin’ alright? Knight-Lieutenant Jessica said she saw you runnin’ out of the cabin with Lady Eva earlier and asked me to make sure everythin’s alright.”

Mina sighs again. “Honestly, I don’t know,” she says. “It’s so complicated and I don’t feel comfortable saying anything until I know for sure.”

“I understand, Milady,” Rylen says.

Just then, the door to the room Leliana, Josephine, and Cassandra are sharing opens and Josephine walks out.

“Maker, Mina, what are you doing out here in your nightclothes?” she asks with a gasp when she sees the Herald. “And on the floor, no less.”

Mina sighs. “How did I not wake you up?” she asks. “I was knocking quite loudly earlier.”

“I’m a deep sleeper,” Josephine replies with a shrug. “What happened?”

Mina sighs again. “I don’t feel comfortable saying anything until I know for sure, but just know that it has to do with Eva, and that Cass is in the War Room with her now,” she replies. “Poor child is scared she’s gonna hurt me now…”

“And what about the danger to Seeker Pentaghast?” Rylen asks worriedly.

“Like I said, it’s complicated,” Mina says. “But Cass is in no danger from her.”

Mina hears Rylen breathe a sigh of relief.

“Are you?” Josephine asks.

“Once again, it’s complicated,” Mina replies.

“Oh, Mina, I’m so sorry,” Josephine mutters sympathetically as she begins to walk closer to the Herald.

At that, Mina loses all sense of self-control and begins crying. However, she doesn’t want either of them to see her, so she shapeshifts into a small purple butterfly and flies out of the Chantry.

Josephine sighs. “We’ve got to talk to her about not doing that,” she mutters.

“Even though she was cryin’?” Rylen asks.

Josephine looks up at him in shock and disbelief. “Wait, she was crying?” she asks incredulously.

Rylen nods sadly. “I think she just didn’t want us to see her.”

Josephine sighs. “Stay here and make sure no one goes in the War Room until Cass and Eva come out,” she says. “I just remembered that Mina shouldn’t be left alone, since she and Cass haven’t talked about what happened the night before last yet.”

Rylen nods in understanding. “Will do, Milady,” he says.

Josephine nods her thanks and rushes out of the Chantry to see if she can find Mina.

 

“Is the Herald in there?” Josephine asks the guard at the door to Mina’s cabin.

“Aye, My Lady,” the guard replies with a nod. “But I was asked to only disturb her with news about Lady Eva, whatever that means.”

Josephine sighs. “Well, I unfortunately don’t have news about Lady Eva, but I do have something extremely important to discuss with her,” she says.

Just then, the door to the cabin opens.

“Please come in, Josephine,” Mina’s voice says.

When Josephine enters the room, what she sees really worries her: Mina still hasn’t changed out of her nightclothes and she has several of her journals opened all around the cabin.

“Sorry for the mess,” Mina says hurriedly as she quickly begins to move some of the stuff around to make room for the Ambassador to sit.

“Mina,” Josephine says worriedly as she rushes forward and takes the Herald’s hands in hers, effectively stopping her from her task. “Mina, something’s happened that has really upset you, I can tell.”

“It’s not just one thing,” Mina replies shakily as she tries to go back to making room for them, but Josephine’s grip on her is making that impossible.

“Mina, look at me,” Josephine says.

“Please don’t do this right now, Josephine,” Mina whispers, still not looking at the Ambassador.

At that, Josephine knows Mina is not in a good place and needs major help. Maker, this isn’t good, she thinks worriedly. She sighs. “Mina, you are not well,” she says sternly. “So, I need you to do exactly as I say.”

Josephine...” Mina warns. “Not. Now.”

Josephine sighs. “Very well,” she relents as she lets go of Mina and turns to the door. “Just know we are all very worried about you and will do whatever we can to help.” With that, she leaves the cabin.

“Everything alright, My Lady?” the guard asks as the Ambassador closes the door behind her.

“Make sure she doesn’t try to leave the cabin,” Josephine says with a sigh. She looks around. “She passes out when Silenced,” she says in a tone that only the guard can hear. “Do that if you must, but just make sure she doesn’t leave the cabin.”

“Is something wrong, My Lady?” the guard asks worriedly.

Josephine sighs again. “She denies it, but we think she may have bipolar depression,” she relents. “If you saw what I did in there just now, you’d be worried as much as I am, if not more, right now.”

“Maker’s breath,” the guard mutters. “I won’t let you down, My Lady,” she says to Josephine.

“Thank you,” Josephine says before rushing off to find Leliana.

 

“Josie, what’s wrong?” Leliana asks as the Ambassador approaches her tent.

“I think Mina’s mental state has gotten worse,” Josephine says.

“Merde,” Leliana mutters under her breath.

“‘Mierda’ es correcta,” Josephine replies in her own native tongue.

“¿Que pasó?” Leliana asks in Antivan.

Josephine then tells Leliana what she just witnessed, in Antivan, of course, so they are less likely to have someone overhear them.

As soon as Josephine is done telling her what happened, Leliana says a silent prayer for Mina’s health and wellbeing before telling the Ambassador to go tell Cassandra immediately and have the Seeker meet her at the Herald’s cabin.

“Have Rylen take Eva to practice her aim or something,” she says. “She shouldn’t hear what happened.”

Josephine nods and goes to inform Cassandra.

Sighing, Leliana rushes to Mina’s cabin.

 

“Has she tried to get out?” she asks the guard when she arrives.

“No,” the guard replies with a sigh. “But I’m worried. It’s been oddly quiet since Ambassador Montilyet left.”

Leliana nods. “Thank you.”

“I just hope she’s alright,” the guard replies with another sigh.

“Me too,” Leliana says before knocking on the door. “Mina?” she asks.

“Go away!” Mina’s voice calls. “I won’t be a burden to you shems any longer! Just let me die in peace!”

Merde!” Leliana mutters under her breath. “Go get Solas immediately!” she tells the guard. “And make sure Cassandra gets here as soon as possible. She’s currently in the War Room. Just make sure Eva doesn’t hear what’s going on.” She doesn’t even wait for the guard to reply before rushing in the cabin.

“I said go away,” Mina says again, but much weaker this time. “It won’t be long now.”

Leliana looks at Mina, who is leaning against her bed on the floor, and sees an empty vial in her hand. Maker, please keep her alive! she thinks as she rushes over to the Herald. “Mina!” she exclaims just as she gets to the Herald’s location and crouches down. She takes the vial out of Mina’s hand and sets it aside. “Mina, I need you to stay awake!”

“Tell… tell Eva I’m sorry…” Mina whispers before her eyes close one last time.

“Mina!” Leliana yells as she grabs the Herald and shakes her. “Mina!”

Just then, the door bursts open and Solas comes rushing in.

“Solas!” Leliana calls. “She’s poisoned herself! I don’t know what with, but she must be saved!”

She trades places with the elf, who begins various healing spells.

“I can get the bulk of the poison out, but it will take a while, and I will probably need lyrium,” Solas says after a bit. “She will be stable afterwards, but it may take a while for her to wake up, and for the rest of the poison to be flushed out of her body.”

“Just do what you can,” Leliana says. “As long as she stays alive, I don’t care how long it takes for her to wake up.”

Just then, Cassandra comes rushing through the door, closely followed by Josephine. The guard resumes her previous position at the door.

“Sweet Maker!” Cassandra gasps when she sees Mina.

Josephine breaks down in tears. “Maker, this is my fault!” she sobs. “If I had just stayed with her, this wouldn’t have happened!”

“No, it’s my fault!” Eva yells as she appears at the door. “I didn’t want her to touch me for fear of hurting her, and I could see the hurt in her eyes! I hurt her just by being scared to let her touch me!” She rushes to Mina’s feet and falls down to her knees and begins crying. “Oh, sis, I’m so sorry!” she sobs. “I’m so, so sorry! Please, Maker, Andraste, Creators, or anyone who can hear me! Take me instead of her! She has the entirety of Thedas counting on her to close that hole in the sky! I’m just a nobody who just so happens to have accidently undergone a vigil and became a Seeker, and will soon become a mage! I don’t deserve to live if she can’t!”

The rest of the women in the room begin crying as Eva sobs out her rant. However, everyone in the room looks between Eva and Cassandra in shock when the child says the part about her becoming a Seeker.

“It’s complicated,” Cassandra chokes out. She turns to the child and sighs. “Eva, let’s let Solas work. We can’t do anything more at the moment.”

“I’m not leaving her side again!” Eva cries. “If she dies, I’ll die too! And if I die and she lives, then at least I get to die saving her!”

“Da’len, neither of you are going to die in the near future,” Solas says. “She’s already stable, and I think you may have had a role in that, as I actually did very little before all of the poison left her body.” He gives Eva a small smile before standing up. He turns to Cassandra. “Cassandra, do you mind helping me get her to the bed?” he asks her. “I’ve done all I can. Now we just have to wait for her to wake up.”

Cassandra nods and begins walking over to Mina, sniffling and wiping away any remaining tears on her face on the way. Once there, she carefully lifts the Herald up and places her on the bed. She gently places the covers over her, saying several silent prayers as she works.

“I think we can all agree she should never be alone for the foreseeable future,” Leliana says after a bit.

“That would be best,” Cassandra agrees with a nod.

“Don’t worry!” Eva says. “I’ll be here! I’m not leaving her side again!”

Leliana chuckles a bit. “You’re sweet, Eva, but I think it would be best if there’s at least one other adult with her at all times,” she tells the child.

“Besides, you and I have a lot of work to do,” Cassandra says to Eva.

“Okay, can you please explain how in Thedas she was able to accidently undergo the vigil to become a Seeker?” Leliana asks Cassandra. “You once told me it takes more than a year for it to be completed.”

Cassandra sighs. “It does,” she says. “And I have absolutely no idea how she was able to do it with just one calming technique, let alone in the amount of time it took her.” She sighs again. “Plus, I can still sense a faint amount of mana in her, and still believe she will likely manifest at some point, which will be interesting, as I’ve never heard of any Seeker being a mage.”

“And aren’t Seekers immune to possession and mind control?” Leliana asks.

Cassandra nods before turning to Eva. “But, don’t try anything to test it,” she tells the child.

“I won’t,” Eva replies.

“Good,” Cassandra says.

They go silent for a bit.

“Maker’s breath!” Rylen suddenly mutters.

Everyone gives him questioning looks.

Rylen sighs. “Sorry, everythin’ just sunk in,” he explains. “Sh—should we maybe tell the Commander what happened?”

Cassandra sighs. “That would probably be best,” she says. “And, while I’m not a fan of suggesting it, I think Varric should know as well, since he will be going with us to Val Royeaux.”

“And I think I should mention it to her Keeper, see if she or Lira has had a history of this and what may or may not have worked to help in the past,” Leliana says.

“That’s a good idea,” Cassandra says. “Also, if you can, inquire about anything else about her that she may not know herself, just so we can prepare ourselves better.”

Leliana nods in understanding. “Will do,” she says.

“Go do that,” Cassandra instructs. “The elven messenger should be ready to depart whenever everything we are sending to her clan is ready.” She turns to Rylen. “Knight-Captain, go relieve Knight-Lieutenant Jessica of her post. She’s been working over-time because of this. Let her know that I’ll explain what happened at the beginning of her shift tonight.” She turns to Solas. “Solas, Varric and I aren’t on the best of terms, so do you think you can let him know what happened?” Solas nods. “Thank you.” Finally, she turns to Josephine. “Josie, can you stay here until I get back from telling the Commander what happened?”

“Of course,” Josephine replies.

“Thank you,” Cassandra says.

With that, everyone except Josephine and Eva leave the cabin to do their various tasks.

As soon as the door closes, Eva sighs.

“Are you alright, Eva?” Josephine asks as she sits in the chair at the desk. “I’m sorry you had to witness all that.”

Eva sighs again. “I still feel like it’s all my fault,” she says.

“Well, it’s not,” Josephine replies. “In a way, it’s probably the Inquisition’s fault, as we have been putting a lot on her shoulders for the past almost two months. Not to mention, she was probably already struggling before any of us even met her.”

Eva looks over at Mina and sighs yet again. “Well, that makes me feel a little better,” she says. She goes over to a trunk at the foot of her bed and pulls out a light purple casual dress, a matching ribbon, and her hairbrush. She places the hairbrush and ribbon on her bed and takes the dress with her over to the area where the bathtub is and changes into it.

 

“Maker, that purple is your color!” Josephine says as Eva emerges from behind the privacy wall. “You look like a princess!”

Eva smiles shyly. “Thank you,” she says. She goes over to another chest and puts her nightgown in it before going over to her bed and picking up the hairbrush. She begins brushing her hair, but runs into several tangles that begin to get on her nerves.

“Oh, I know what that’s like,” Josephine says with a slight chuckle. “Would you like some help?”

Sighing, Eva nods and hands the hairbrush over to the Ambassador. “This is my least favorite part of getting ready in the mornings,” she says as she goes and sits on her bed as Josephine instructs.

“Just wait until you get older and start wearing makeup,” Josephine replies with another chuckle as she begins to expertly brush Eva’s hair. “Now, that’s a pain sometimes.”

“Mother always said she hated when she had to go to parties when she was young because of the dresses she was forced to wear, not because of the makeup,” Eva replies with a chuckle of her own. “She always did hate corsets.”

“Did your mother go to parties often?” Josephine asks.

“I don’t know,” Eva replies. “She didn’t like talking about them.”

“Have you ever gone to one?” Josephine asks.

“No,” Eva replies. “I wasn’t born yet when Mother last went to one.”

“You aren’t missing much,” Josephine says as she finishes brushing Eva’s hair. “How do you want your hair put up? I can only assume that ribbon is for your hair since I don’t think it’s long enough to go around your waist.”

“Oh, um, I can do this part,” Eva says as she turns around and stands back up. “Thank you though.” She begins to quickly put her hair in an Orlesian-Fishtail braid.

“Maker, how are you doing that so quickly?!” Josephine asks incredulously.

“Practice,” Eva replies simply.

Just then, the door opens and Cassandra comes walking in.

“Maker, that’s fast,” she mutters as she watches Eva for a few seconds.

“That’s what I said!” Josephine says with a giggle.

“You mean you don’t put that braid in your hair this quickly?” Eva asks Cassandra as she grabs the ribbon and ties it around the end of the braid. She then puts the braid in a bun and ties it snug with the rest of the ribbon.

“Maker, no!” Cassandra says with a chuckle. “I’m surprised you don’t even need a mirror to do that!”

“I’ve been doing this since my hands could learn how to do it,” Eva replies with a shrug. She holds her hand out and begins moving her fingers. “I have the movements memorized, so all I have to do is place my hair in the right spots and then I can do almost any braid really quickly.”

Josephine reaches out and touches a part of the braid. “Maker, it’s tight too!”

Eva chuckles. “Yep.” She glances at Mina’s desk and sees several folded pieces of parchment stacked on top of each other. She notices the top one has her name on it. “Hey, um, why does that note have my name on it?” she asks as she points to the stack of notes.

Cassandra and Josephine look to where Eva is pointing and they both gasp when they realize what those notes probably are.

“Mierda…” Josephine mutters as she reaches toward the stack of notes.

Josie!” Cassandra exclaims. “Language!”

Eva giggles. “Don’t worry about that around me,” she says. “Mother cursed like a sailor in every language in Thedas around me all the time, so I’m used to it and won’t repeat any of them.” She sighs. “Anyways, I’m only assuming from the gasps and one curse word that you know why my name is on that note, yes?”

Josephine sighs and grabs the stack of notes, looking at each one. Sure enough, there’s one for each of Mina’s advisors and companions, as well as for Eva, Rylen, and Jessica. There are even notes for Lira and the Keeper of Mina’s clan.

“Andraste preserve me…” Josephine mutters. “Th—these are suicide notes…”

Eva’s heart drops. “Well, she’s alive, so I don’t want to know what’s in mine,” she says.

“Leli should see these,” Josephine says as she stands up. “And, I have several things I need to do today.” She turns to Cassandra. “I trust you can take over watch from here?”

Cassandra nods. “Thank you, Josie,” she says.

Josephine nods before exiting the cabin to give the notes to Leliana, and get started on the rest of her day.

Chapter Text

“Leli, there’s something you need to see,” Josephine says as she enters the Spymaster’s work tent.

“What is it, Josie?” Leliana asks.

“Notas de suicidio,” Josephine replies in Antivan as she holds out the stack of notes for the Spymaster to take.

Leliana’s eyes widen at this, and she carefully takes the stack from the Ambassador. “Did anyone read theirs?” she asks.

Josephine shakes her head. “Eva blatantly stated she didn’t want to know what was in hers, and I don’t think Cass did either,” she says. “While I am curious, I didn’t feel it was right necessarily to read mine. I knew you would probably want to read them all anyways, so I decided to just bring them to you.”

Leliana sighs and nods. “Thank you, Josie,” she says.

Josephine nods and heads toward the Chantry to get started on the day’s paperwork.

 

As soon as Josephine is out of sight, Leliana sits down and begins reading the letters, starting with her own, which is written in Elvish:

Leliana,

Whether this works or not, I know you will probably read all of these, so I probably don’t need to explain myself here, but I will anyways. You see, there’s something you need to know that you couldn’t have gotten from my journals, and I need you to keep this to yourself if this ends up being a failed attempt, which I doubt it will be, as the poison is very fast acting and very potent. If it ends up being successful, I don’t care who you tell, but know that I am the only other person who knows this at the moment. Father never knew; Keeper doesn’t know; not even Lira knows…

I honestly don’t know why you are the one I want to tell, but you are…

Creators, this is hard to even write

This all started when I was ten, the day that man gave me the lyrium and I had my accident from the exposure to the Blighted mineral. You see, what I didn’t write in my journal that day was that… Creators, this is hard… that man… he… well, I can’t even write the word for some damn reason… but he did something to me and said that if I ever told anyone, no one would believe me, as well as that what he did was normal and even widely accepted behavior. I later learned that was not the case and felt so disgusted. Still, I never told anyone, since it was five years later, and there was a greater chance that no one would believe me then. So, I took it out on the man that tried to do the same thing to another girl in the clan and fed him his own… well, you know that story… Anyways, that began my very depressing mission of making every man who tries to do that to a girl pay for his crimes. I don’t know if Cassandra told you about what Solas did in the Fade the night before we started heading back from the Hinterlands, but it was something similar. Thank the Creators he stopped when I asked. If she feels up to it, you have my permission to ask Cassandra exactly what happened, as I told her in grave detail. I didn’t write it in my journal, because of the same reason I didn’t write the first encounter, or even what I did to the man five years later: I was scared and I didn’t want anyone I didn’t want to find out do so.

Anyways, ever since the day the man… well, you know…, plus the lyrium accident, I haven’t been the same. I was already different because of the deaths Lira and I caused when our magic manifested, but this just enhanced it. Now, with the Inquisition, not being able to go home for the foreseeable future, and this fucking mark, my stress level has gone through the roof and past the point of no return. I know I am the only one who can close the Breach, as well as all of the other rifts, but I’m hoping my hand will still work or something.

Please know this isn’t your fault; as well as how sorry I am to have burdened you all with my problems, and that I couldn’t be the hero you all needed. I’m just a lowly knife-ear with a messed up past, and an even more messed up future, if I were to continue on with this life.

May the Creators go with you wherever you happen to go. It was an honor to get to meet you.

Dareth shiral,

Mina

P.S.: Please only send the ones to Keeper and Lira if this is successful.

Leliana is shocked at what she reads. She then realizes Mina’s past is so much darker than she originally thought and immediately chastises herself for not noticing the signs sooner. The Hero of Ferelden, Queen Raisa Amell-Theirin, had been raped in the Circles before being conscripted to the Gray Wardens. The troubled mage had confided in Leliana because they were the two hopeless romantics in their little band of misfits and they became fast friends because of that. Leliana had noticed something off in the Warden one day and had confronted her about it, only to find out that she had freaked out during sex with Alistair because of her past experiences in the circle. She, too, had been suicidal in the beginning days after being conscripted, or so Leliana had heard, and continued to go through it all throughout the Blight. Falling in love with Alistair proved to be her saving grace. She learned to trust most templars again, and she was even able to get over most of her depression and suicidal thoughts. She still has them occasionally, according to Alistair, but for the most part, they have completely vanished.

Leliana sighs at the memories of her dear friend. After learning that the Wardens of Ferelden have all gone missing, the Spymaster begged her friend to put her quest to find a cure for the Calling on hold and return to Denerim until the mystery has been solved. Raisa agreed immediately, believing that she was falling down the road to depression again anyways and needing Alistair’s comforts again. Leliana received a letter a week ago saying that Raisa has returned safely to Denerim and that Alistair is over the moons with happiness.

Sighing again, Leliana goes back to reading Mina’s suicide notes. The ones for Eva, Rylen, Jessica, Josephine, Solas, and Varric are pretty much the same, just saying that it wasn’t their fault and that she’s sorry. Cassandra’s has a few requests, such as take care of Eva, as well as where and how to dispose of her body, should the suicide attempt be successful. Cullen’s is so sweet that Leliana has to read it twice:

Cullen,

First off, this isn’t your fault. I’ve been dealing with this depression since I was a child and nothing you have done has made me want to do this any more or any less. So, please don’t be hard on yourself, because I have already forgiven you for your actions the other night, remember?

Speaking of our conversation last night, you need to know something, and if this attempt ends up being unsuccessful, which I doubt it will be, Creators, it will be embarrassing…

Cullen, I think I’m starting to fall for you. Creators, the day we met I started falling for you. However, it wasn’t until that Fade-touched nug, Marc, told me that my clan will accept you that I even begun to consider it a possibility. And then that thing with Josephine, Leliana, and Cass yesterday morning… Once again, I’m so sorry for that… But, hey, now you will have one less hopeless romantic teasing you all the time… well, if this is successful, that is…

Please know this isn’t your fault; as well as how sorry I am to have burdened you all with my problems, and that I couldn’t be the hero you all needed. I’m just a lowly knife-ear with a messed up past, and an even more messed up future, if I were to continue on with this life.

May the Creators go with you wherever you happen to go. It was an honor to get to meet you.

Dareth shiral (farewell/safe journey),

Mina

Leliana almost wants to go show the note to Cullen, but decides against it. Sighing, she is about to open the note to Mina’s Keeper when she hears footsteps approaching the tent. Looking up, she sees Cullen walking towards her. Thinking of the Dread Wolf… she thinks amusedly.

Please don’t tell me those are what I think they are,” Cullen says when he sees the papers in Leliana’s hands and lap.

Leliana sighs. “Her suicide notes,” she says with a solemn nod.

Cullen sighs. “I don’t see why you insist on reading them when she’s alive and well,” he mutters.

“She’s alive, but she isn’t well,” Leliana corrects him.

“You know what I meant,” Cullen replies as he rubs the back of his neck. “Anyways, I was just wondering what in Thedas is going on with her. I mean, she seemed fine yesterday, maybe a little tired, but fine nonetheless.”

Leliana sighs. “She’s bipolar, Cullen,” she tells him. “She can be having the time of her life one moment, and attempting suicide the next. All we can do is be there for her when she’s at her low points. Unless you want to try blood magic to alter her mind.”

“Maker’s breath, Leliana, why would you even suggest that?!” Cullen asks in shock.

“I’m not,” Leliana replies. “I’m just saying those are our only two options.”

“One shouldn’t even be an option,” Cullen scoffs.

“I agree,” Leliana says. “But it’s possible to do that, so, unfortunately, it is an option. One we are not even going to consider.”

“At least we can agree on that,” Cullen says. He sighs. “Is there really nothing else we can do to help her?” he asks.

Leliana sighs. “Unfortunately, there is not,” she says. “Look, I’m just as worried about her as you are, Cullen. What I saw today is something I had hoped I’d never see again, and I still hope I will never see again, but I’m pretty sure I will at some point.”

“When did you see this before?” Cullen asks worriedly. “She hasn’t tried to do this before, has she?”

“No, thank the Maker,” Leliana replies. “It was with Rai. She had pretty severe depression during the Blight, like Mina does right now.” She sighs. “She still does occasionally, apparently.”

“Rai?” Cullen asks confusedly. Then it hits him “Wait, you mean Raisa? The Hero and Queen of Ferelden? She has what Mina does?”

Leliana nods. “I believe it’s the same base cause too,” she says solemnly. “However, I’m under orders from both of them to not tell anyone what that is, and that is an order I plan to follow tooth and nail.”

Cullen remembers catching templars raping Raisa in the Circles before she was conscripted to the Wardens and hopes that isn’t the cause Leliana is talking about. “How did she get over the worst of it, if I might ask?”

“Alistair,” Leliana replies simply with a shrug. “And me.” She sighs. “Well, everyone we traveled with during the Blight, really. But Ali and I were her two biggest confidants.”

“I think her journals and Cassandra are Mina’s at the moment,” Cullen says. “I read Cassandra’s report from their trip to the Hinterlands, and, I have to say, I think our Herald is doing good work. We just have to help her build her own confidence in herself.”

“I agree,” Leliana says. “In all of her notes, she apologized for burdening us with her problems, when I think it is actually us who have been the burden.”

“Exactly,” Cullen says. “If we can, I think we need to slow way down on the speed we send her back out in the field, as well as on the amount of weight we are putting on her shoulders, or tell her stressing news. Cassandra told me everything that has happened regarding little Eva these past couple of days, and I have to admit that just hearing about it all at once is a lot to take in.”

“It is,” Leliana says with a nod in agreement. She sighs. “Cullen, I have a favor to ask.”

“Name it,” Cullen replies.

“Cass, Josie, and I have been discussing the upcoming trip to Val Royeaux, and we think that it might be best if Rylen and Jessica went with them, and I think Cassandra is going to want to take Eva as well, to continue with her training. Would it be alright with you if your two closest inferiors went with the Herald’s party to the Capital?”

“I assigned them to protecting the Herald for a reason,” Cullen replies. “If they need to go with her to Val Royeaux, I won’t object.”

“Thank you, Cullen,” Leliana says with a nod. She sighs again. “Maker, I hope we can help her overcome this,” she mutters.

“Me too,” Cullen replies worriedly. He sighs. “Thank you, Leliana. I’ll leave you to your work.” With that, he turns and walks off toward the Chantry.

Sighing, Leliana turns back to the letters in her hands. Opening the one to Mina’s keeper, she notices it is written entirely in Elvish:

Keeper,

I am so sorry to do this to you and the Clan. I need you to know something about my past, but I can’t write it again. The Inquisition’s Spymaster, as well as the Left Hand of Divine Justinia, Sister Leliana Nightingale has the information you seek. She can speak, read, as well as write Elvish fluently and has probably read this already. If you truly want to know why my depression started, ask her for a copy of her note. I have asked her to only send this note and the one to Lira if the attempt is successful. So, if you are reading this and the attempt was unsuccessful, I’m sorry to say, you may never know why. However, if Leliana denied my first request of not sending this if the attempt was unsuccessful, then I have no reason to think she won’t deny my request to not tell a soul about what actually happened either, so you might actually learn anyways. If she does that, which I will be very mad at her if she does, do not write me for more details. I will not be able to tell you. She doesn’t even know all of the details, just the basics of what happened.

Keeper, I have asked Lady Cassandra Pentaghast, who was Justinia’s Right Hand, as well as the same Seeker who saved Father all those years ago, and has become a dear friend to me during my time here with the Inquisition, to bury my body at Var Bellanaris in Dirthavaren if possible, as it is not far from here. I have told her what we traditionally do with our dead, so she knows how to do it properly. I want Lira to attend the burial services if you will allow it and if she is able to arrive in time. If anyone else wants to attend, that’s fine I guess, but Lira is the one I want to be there the most. I hope you understand.

I have also asked Cass to take care of Eva, as there was an interesting development this morning that I will not go into detail about in this suicide note. Write Seeker Cassandra or Sister Leliana for more details.

Please know that this is not anyone at the Inquisition’s fault, Keeper. Nor is it anyone in the Clan’s fault. Like I said, ask Sister Leliana.

Speaking of the Inquisition’s Spymaster, she was supposed to write you and tell you about Eva’s heritage. We have found out that she is a Pentaghast and that her mother actually married Father before Eva was even conceived. You know how Father went into the city to allegedly get treatments for the Blight sickness? Well, I have a hunch that he was actually going to see Eva’s mother. She was (or is; I don’t know what they did to her after we rescued Eva) a blood mage, and there’s a chance that Father died of blood magic or a broken heart, rather than of the Blight. There might also be a chance that Eva’s mother was the one treating him of the Blight, if he did, in fact, have it. Keeper, this information goes against everything I know about Father, and I was very shocked to learn of this. I sincerely hope you didn’t know, or, if you did, that you had good reason to continue to accept him in the clan.

Again, I’m sorry. Please keep Lira safe for me. I will watch over you all from the Beyond, if I can.

May the Creators go with you wherever you happen to go. It was an honor to be your First.

Dareth Shiral,

Mina

Leliana doesn’t notice that she has begun crying until she has finished reading the letter. She guesses the severity of Mina’s depression is just beginning to sink in, but she also knows that she probably wouldn’t cry like this if she didn’t consider Mina a friend, and not just someone—or worse, something—they just needed to close the Breach and the rest of the rifts.

Wiping away her tears with a sigh, Leliana takes the last note in her hands, carefully unfolds it, and begins reading the Elvish script:

Dearest Lira,

I am so sorry to do this to you, but I just can’t take it anymore. You’ve known I’ve had severe depression since the lyrium accident, but you… well, no one besides me, actually… knows the reason behind it. That is, until now. There is a woman named Sister Leliana Nightingale who now knows what happened and I have given her permission to tell anyone she wants if this attempt is successful, and Keeper knows to ask her if she wants to know. If you want to know, ask Keeper for the information.

Please know this is not your fault, nor is it anyone’s but my own. I let everything pile up too high, and I went past the point of no return.

I would like you to attend the burial services if Keeper will allow it and you are able to arrive in time. I have asked to be buried at Var Bellanaris in Dirthavaren if possible, as it is not far from here.

Lira, please be careful. If the Clan loses you too, that wouldn’t be good. You will make a fantastic First; I know it! Just keep up with your studies and training and you will do great!

Again, I’m sorry. Please stay safe for me. I will watch over you all from the Beyond, if I can.

May the Creators go with you wherever you happen to go. It was an honor to have you as my sister.

Dareth Shiral,

Mina

As soon as she has finished reading the note, Leliana gathers all of them up and begins to walk toward the Chantry to put them in the lockbox she keeps by her bed.

 

As soon as she exits the room after doing so, she hears an argument coming from Josephine’s office.

“How many times do I have to tell you, there’s nothing else we can do, Commander?!” she hears the Ambassador yell. “I’m just as worried as you are, Cullen! Andraste preserve me, you’d be looking for a potential cure as much as I am if you’d seen what I did! I’ve been scouring Haven’s library for any possible fixes, but have found nothing!”

“That doesn’t mean there aren’t any other suitable options!” Cullen yells back. “And I have been looking for any potential fixes or even cures, even though I didn’t see what you and Leliana did! Just because I’ve been coming up empty handed so far as well doesn’t mean I’m just going to stop looking! Seriously, if you know of anyone who might know where to find the information we seek, we need to contact them! This is a matter between life and death!”

Leliana sighs and opens the door. “And how do you suggest we do that without exposing the true reason?” she asks. “Not to mention, there aren’t many people who would want to help us at the moment, anyways.”

Cullen sighs and rubs his temple. “You’re right,” he relents. “Just forget I asked. Excuse me.” With that, he turns and leaves the room.

Leliana hears Josephine sigh heavily. “Are you alright?” she asks her as she closes the door.

“Not really,” Josephine replies shakily. “I still feel like I could have prevented all this from happening in the first place if I had just stayed in the cabin and forced her to talk to me. If I could have the chance to fix that mistake, I would. But I can’t change the past, so I just started to see if I could maybe make the future a little easier for her, but I’m having no luck.”

Leliana goes over to the Ambassador and takes her hands in hers. “Josie, it’s not your fault!” she tells her. “And you want to know how I know that? It’s because she admitted to me exactly whose fault it is, and that person is none of us!”

“I still could have done something different than just walk out of her cabin when she probably needed someone to talk to the most, even though she was being very dismissive about it!” Josephine says as she breaks out of the Spymaster’s grip and sits back down to resume trying to find a way to help Mina.

Leliana sighs. “I think you should read the note she wrote you,” she says as she pulls the said note out. She had kept it out to give to the Ambassador anyways. She places it on the desk.

Josephine looks between the note and the Spymaster and swallows. “Why?” she asks.

“You’ll see,” Leliana replies as she pushes the note closer to the Ambassador.

Sighing, Josephine hesitantly picks up the note. She subconsciously traces the script of her name as she stares at it in contemplation. Sighing again, she unfolds the parchment and begins to read:

Josephine,

First off, this isn’t your fault. You leaving my cabin when I snapped at you didn’t have anything to do with it, nor would you have prevented me from following through with this had you stayed. I was already past the point of no return then. It was probably best that you left before I lashed out at you further. I honestly don’t know what I might have done had you stayed, but I know it would probably be worse than the way it did and will turn out.

Second off, I’m really sorry for snapping at you. And for all the chaos this will cause. I’m so sorry to have burdened you all with my problems, and that I couldn’t be the hero you all needed. I’m just a lowly knife-ear with a messed up past, and an even more messed up future, if I were to continue on with this life.

Lastly, please tease Cass as much as possible about Rylen. She will need it if she is to get over my death.

May the Creators go with you wherever you happen to go. It was an honor to get to meet you.

Dareth shiral (farewell/safe journey),

Mina

Josephine stares at the note for several seconds after she finishes reading it. “Maker, that just makes it worse!” she mutters. “To know staying wouldn’t have done anything just tells me she is worse off than I thought!” She takes one of her hidden daggers out and flings it at one of the training dummies being stored in the room, landing it right in between where the eyes would be. She sighs. “Sorry.”

Leliana giggles once she gets over the slight shock. “Maker, Josie, you landed that perfectly without even looking!” she says. “I couldn’t have done better myself!”

Josephine smirks as she gets an idea.

“Oh, you’re on!” Leliana says with a laugh when she sees the smirk on the Ambassador’s face, already knowing the Antivan in her wants to settle this with a duel, of sorts. “But not in here. Meet me in the training yard in ten minutes.”

Josephine giggles herself. “I’ll be there in five,” she says as she stands up and retrieves her dagger from the training dummy. After sheathing back in place, she grabs her cloak and walks up to the Spymaster. “Prepare to find out which one of us has the better knife skills.”

Leliana chuckles. “Are you prepared to lose?” she asks playfully.

“Are you?” Josephine replies with a smirk and a raised eyebrow as she crosses her arms playfully.

“Let’s go find out,” Leliana says before turning to leave the room. “Remember, tardiness equals forfeit,” she says over her shoulder just as she reaches the door. “I’ll see you in no more than five minutes.” With that, she walks out of the Chantry to make sure some target dummies are set up for them.

Smiling, Josephine exits her office and goes to get her training daggers before heading out to the training yard.

 

“Three rounds,” Leliana says once they are both ready and in position. “Round one: five throws looking at the target and throwing head on. Round two: five throws looking at each other and throwing to the side. Finally, round three: one of us will throw a board in the air and the other will throw a dagger at it. Whoever misses first loses that round.” She crosses her arms and looks at the Ambassador in front of her with a raised eyebrow and a smirk. “Are you ready?”

Josephine smiles and nods. “Are you?” she asks in return.

Leliana nods as her smirk widens. “Let’s do this.”

With that, they begin. Josephine goes first this round, landing her daggers really close to the center, one of which is exactly in the center. On her last dagger, the Ambassador takes a deep breath and focuses on the target. She throws and it lands exactly in the center, effectively splitting the hilt of the dagger already there.

“Impressive,” Leliana says with a smirk as she gets her first dagger ready to throw. It lands exactly in the center. Her next one splits that one, along with the next two. Her final throw, however, gets shot out of the air by an arrow.

“Nice shot, Harding,” Josephine giggles as she sees the dwarf walk up.

“I couldn’t let her show off too much,” Harding says with a shrug and a chuckle. She looks at Leliana. “No offense.”

Leliana chuckles herself. “None taken. Care to join us? I’ve heard your dagger skills are just as good as your bow and arrow skills.”

Harding smirks before walking in between the two women and throwing two daggers from the pile at their feet at the same time, splitting both sets of already split daggers on each target.

“That would be correct,” she says smugly.

Now who’s showing off?” Josephine says with a giggle.

“I think we can say Harding won that round,” Leliana says.

Josephine nods in agreement. “The question is, can she do that without looking, or even from behind,” she says.

Harding takes two more daggers from the pile and tosses them from the side, splitting the center daggers again. She does it again when throwing behind her. “I can even hit moving targets all three ways,” she says with a smirk.

Just then, a messenger comes rushing up.

“Apologies for the interruption, My Ladies,” he says. “But Lady Cassandra has requested that I give this to you immediately.” He hands Leliana a note.

Leliana takes the note, quickly unfolds it, and begins reading:

L ~ She’s awake. Get everyone who knows about the attempt, except for Knight-Lieutenant Jessica, in here now! She has an important favor to ask. ~ C

“Thank you,” Leliana tells the messenger. “As you were.”

“Yes, My Lady,” the messenger says before rushing off.

“Well, it seems we will have to continue this later,” Leliana says as she hands Josephine the note. “Josie and I have been called back to our duties. Thank you, Scout Harding.”

The dwarf nods before rushing off herself.

“I’ll clean this up and meet you there,” Josephine says.

Leliana nods before rushing off to bring Solas, Varric, and Cullen to the Herald’s cabin.

Chapter Text

Mina wakes up with a start and bolts upright. “Szar, hol vagyok?” she mutters before seeing an older woman and a young child in the room. She shrinks back to the wall in fear. “Kik vagytok emberek? Várj, milyen nyelven beszélek?” Shit, where am I? Who are you people? Wait, what language am I speaking?

Cassandra and Eva look at Mina in shock.

“Cass, why did she just speak in fluent Nevarran?” Eva asks the Seeker worriedly.

“I don’t know,” Cassandra replies worriedly. She does some checks she can as a Seeker and breathes a sigh of relief when she knows for sure that the Herald isn’t possessed. “Maybe the poison did something with her mind…”

“Válaszolj, átkozott!” Mina demands. Answer me, damn it!

“Mina, nem emlékszel semmire?” Cassandra asks worriedly. “Az öngyilkossági kísérlet? Az inkvizíció? Nem is beszélve arról, hogy magyarul beszélsz, amikor egy Dalish elf a Free Marches-ből!” Mina, you don't remember anything? The suicide attempt? The Inquisition? Not to mention, you are speaking Nevarran when you are a Dalish elf from the Free Marches!

At that, Mina looks at Cassandra in shock and disbelief as her memories come rushing back to her and she begins crying. “What the fuck was that?” she mutters through her tears. “And how the fuck am I even alive? I took enough of that poison to kill a fucking dragon!”

Cassandra instinctively covers Eva’s ears, forgetting what the girl had told her about her mother’s cursing around her.

“Cass, I already told you my mother swore like a sailor in every language of Thedas around me all the time,” Eva whines. “So you don’t have to cover my ears just because of some swear words!” She removes the Seeker’s hands from her ears.

“Sorry,” Cassandra mutters before turning back to the Herald. “Mina, there are no words to express how relieved all of us are that this was a failed attempt. Not because of the mark, but because of who you are as a person. As a friend.” Her voice cracks slightly at the last word. Sighing, she stands up and begins to walk towards the bed.

“Please don’t, Cass,” Mina mutters as she holds out a hand to tell the Seeker to stop. “I can’t handle this conversation right now.”

Cassandra sighs, but doesn’t stop walking toward Mina. “Unfortunately, we can’t delay this conversation any longer,” she says as she sits on the edge of the bed and takes Mina’s hands in hers. “Mina, whatever the reason for this behavior, please know that we are all here for you and will do whatever we can to help you. You are not a burden to us; nor will you ever become one! No matter what you might think!”

“Sis, please don’t try to kill yourself again!” Eva says.

Mina sighs. “I can’t make any promises, da’len,” she tells Eva sadly. “But I will do my best.”

Cassandra nearly breaks at that, but stays strong for Mina’s sake. “Mina, you should know by now that you can talk to any of us about any of this,” she says instead as she takes her right glove off and cups Mina’s cheek to wipe away her tears. “We are all here for you and will do whatever we can to help you. I know we keep telling you that, but it’s the truth!”

“I know,” Mina mutters as she leans into the Seeker’s touch and closes her eyes as more tears start streaming down her face. “And I hope I can get over this, but it’s very likely that I won’t, since I’ve been this way since I was a child,” she adds shakily.

“You will get over this, Mina!” Cassandra says sternly. “But you won’t do it alone. You will have a whole support team to help you!”

“Cass, please just stop,” Mina whispers as even more tears fall down her face. “I can’t handle much more of this!”

At that, Cassandra sighs. “Okay,” she whispers as she embraces Mina in a reassuring side hug. “But please talk to someone whenever you feel like you might want to try to kill yourself again.”

“I will,” Mina says as she leans into the Seeker’s embrace.

Other than Mina’s sniffles, they sit in silence for a little bit. During this time, Cassandra continues to embrace Mina and runs a soothing hand up and down her arm. She kisses the top of her head several times, something she and Leliana would do to each other when they needed each other’s comforts.

 

“Hey, um, c—can I ask for a favor?” Mina asks shakily after a few minutes.

“Of course,” Cassandra replies.

Mina sits up straighter and wipes the remaining tears from her face. “Is it possible to have the people who know about this not ask or talk to me about it directly unless I initiate it?” she asks. “I don’t think I can handle talking about it until I’m ready.”

Cassandra smiles softly in understanding. “We can ask everyone else, but know that I may need to disregard that request from time to time, for your own wellbeing.”

Mina sighs. “I understand,” she says.

“Would you like me to summon them to ask them now?” Cassandra asks.

Mina sighs again. “I don’t want to bother them,” she says. “I’ve already bothered you all enough today, or however long I was out.”

“You were only out for a couple of hours,” Cassandra says. “And all you did was worry us, Mina. You never bothered us!”

“Is there a way to fix this?” Mina asks. “I’ve reached the breaking point, and I don’t think I can do much until it’s fixed.”

“Besides blood magic, I highly doubt it, Mina,” Cassandra replies sadly.

“Fenedhis lasa!” Mina exclaims as she slams her hand down on the bed.

Cassandra jumps slightly at Mina’s sudden outburst.

“Ir abelas,” Mina says with a sigh when she sees this. “It’s just… there has to be a way to fix this! This has gone on too fucking long!”

“I know,” Cassandra mutters as she embraces the Herald again. “We’ll help you get through this, Mina. No matter how long it takes.”

Mina sighs again. “Go ahead and summon them,” she says. “I need to get this over with.”

Nodding, Cassandra lets go of Mina and goes over to the desk to grab a piece of parchment. She quickly writes a note and folds it. She opens the door to the cabin and calls over the first messenger she sees.

“Give this to Sister Leliana immediately,” she tells him as she hands him the note.

“Yes, My Lady,” the messenger replies before rushing off.

“How is she?” Rylen asks once the runner is out of earshot.

“Awake,” Cassandra replies. “Anyways, will you only let them in when everyone who knows about the attempt, except for Knight-Lieutenant Jessica, is here? I don’t want her to have to be awkward around everyone else while we wait for the others.”

“Is there a problem, Milady?” Rylen asks.

“No, she just needs to ask everyone a favor, so you will need to come in as well when everyone gets here,” Cassandra replies. “Now, if you will excuse me, I should probably get back in there.”

“Of course, Milady,” Rylen replies.

With that, Cassandra goes back into the cabin.

“May I ask who else knows?” Mina asks as Cassandra closes the door.

“Leliana, Josephine, Cullen, Varric, Solas, Knight-Captain Rylen, and Knight-Lieutenant Jessica,” Cassandra replies.

Mina sighs. “I just wish I could get rid of that part of my mind sometimes,” she mutters.

“I understand, Mina,” Cassandra says as she begins to walk back towards the Herald. However, Mina starts to get up, but her legs give out from underneath her as soon as she stands up, and Cassandra has to rush forward to catch her before she falls.

“Thanks, Cass,” Mina says as the Seeker helps her sit back down on the bed. “I didn’t think my legs would give out on me.”

“It could be some lingering effects of the poison,” Cassandra says slightly worriedly. “We should have Solas check to make sure as soon as everyone else leaves.”

Mina nods in understanding.

“What were you going to do?” Cassandra asks. “Perhaps I could help.”

Mina sighs. “I was going to get my hairbrush out of my pack,” she says. “And maybe put on a change of clothes.”

Cassandra nods and goes to get Mina’s hairbrush out of her pack. However, she pauses when she sees some fabric that has a very intricate pattern woven into it. It looks Dalish, from what the Seeker can tell.

“Sweet Maker, that’s intricate…” she mutters.

Hair forgotten, Mina chuckles. “You found my baby blanket, didn’t you?”

Cassandra carefully pulls the fabric out. “Is that what this is?” she asks.

Mina chuckles again as she nods. “We wrap our newborns in those blankets to ward off demons and to gain the Creators’ blessings. Each pattern represents one of the Creators. Those blankets have the most intricate of the Dalish patterns on them, as whoever makes them has seven to ten months to do so.” She smiles as she motions for Cassandra to bring it to her. “Bring it here and I’ll show you something.”

Cassandra takes the blanket over and gently places it in Mina’s outstretched hands. Mina begins unfolding it.

“We also enchant these blankets so that if the baby gets sick or hurt, it will actually heal them; and if it can’t heal everything, it will glow to let someone know.” She places the blanket on her legs, and, sure enough, it begins to glow. She sighs. “I figured that would need a mage. I can actually feel it.”

“Did it heal anything at all?” Cassandra asks.

“It did a little bit, actually,” Mina says as she picks up the blanket and traces one of the patterns with her fingers. “I’ve always used this for minor injuries when I’m low on mana.”

“Does it work on other people?” Cassandra asks. “Or just you?”

“It only works on me, sadly,” Mina replies. “Plus, I’m the only one who can actually feel the enchantment on this particular blanket. If I hadn’t become a mage, I would still be the only one who could feel it, and it would be one of, if not the only enchantment that I would be able to feel.”

“That’s really interesting, Mina,” Cassandra says. “I never knew the Dalish did something like that.”

“Why does one of the patterns look similar to your tattoo?” Eva asks.

Mina smiles slightly at Eva’s question. “I take it you don’t know what my tattoo is called, nor what it represents,” she says.

Eva shakes her head. “I want to know, though,” she says.

“What do you know of the Creators?” Mina asks.

“That they are the gods that elves worship,” Eva replies. “But nothing else.”

“Well, each Creator has a particular design of vallaslin, which is what the tattoos are, and we Dalish elves will choose which one we want when we come of age. Mine represents Ghilan’nain, or the Mother of the halla, and goddess of guides and navigation.” She points to the pattern on the blanket that represents the goddess. “This is her pattern on the blanket. Another neat thing the blanket does is this…” She summons her magic and the pattern begins to glow before morphing into a halla. Mina releases her magic and it reverts back into the original pattern. “All of them morph into what the god or goddess teaches us or represents.”

“Why is Gill-nain a mother of a halla?” Eva asks, butchering the name.

Mina chuckles. “Ghil-an’nain,” she says slowly so Eva can get the pronunciation correct.

“Ghil-an’nain,” Eva repeats.

Mina smiles. “There you go,” she says. She then explains the story of how Ghilan’nain became the first halla and was elevated to god status. She is about to move on to the rest of the pantheon when there’s a knock on the door.

“Keep going, Mina,” Cassandra says as she gets up. “I’ll ask them.”

“Thanks, Cass,” Mina says.

Cassandra nods and then exits the cabin.

“How is she?” Josephine asks as Cassandra closes the door.

Cassandra smiles. “A lot better, actually,” she says. “She’s been telling Eva about the Elven Pantheon for the last few minutes, and I didn’t want to ruin the mood, so I told her I’d ask you guys for the favor on her behalf.”

Everyone breathes a small sigh of relief.

“What is this favor?” Varric asks.

Cassandra sighs. “She would like to not be asked or talk about this unless she initiates it, as she doesn’t think she can handle talking about it until she’s ready. She didn’t say this, but I think that might also include asking if she’s alright.”

“I agree,” Leliana says. “That is not something you want to ask a suicidal person.”

“But how will we know if we need to take measures to stop her from trying to kill herself again?” Josephine asks worriedly.

“She already knows that I won’t adhere to the request for her own wellbeing,” Cassandra replies.

“Do ya know when she might be ready?” Rylen asks.

Cassandra sighs. “I don’t,” she says. “All we can do is be there for her, no matter how long it takes.”

Everyone agrees to the request, but before Cassandra can go back inside the cabin, Leliana stops her.

“Cass, can I talk to you for a sec?” she asks.

“Make it quick,” Cassandra replies. “I shouldn’t leave them for too long.”

“It will be,” Leliana replies. She motions for her to follow her into the cabin next to Mina’s—the one Eva and her mother shared before she was rescued.

Upon entering, Cassandra notices Leliana fidgeting a bit. “Maker, Leli, why are you fidgeting?” she asks after she closes the door. “You never do that!”

Leliana sighs. “What did Solas do to her that night in the Fade?”

It’s Cassandra’s turn to sigh. “She gave you permission to ask me, didn’t she?”

Leliana nods.

Cassandra sighs again. “H—he made a move on her,” she stutters. “She told me he wanted to pleasure her in a sexual way just that one night. She refused and he immediately backed off. She woke herself up after that.”

“Maker,” Leliana mutters as she looks down in thought. She looks back up at Cassandra. “I know he knows to never do something like that again, but I will definitely keep a closer eye on him.” She sighs. “Cass, you will need to be very vigilant regarding her mental health. She’s apparently been like this since she was a child, and I highly doubt she will be able to handle much more stress.”

“I know,” Cassandra replies with another sigh. “I just wish we could do more to help her.”

Leliana places a reassuring hand on the Seeker’s shoulder. “Believe me, I do too,” she says. “Cullen and Josie have been trying to find something as well, but to no avail.” She sighs again. “Go take a break, Cass. I’ll keep watch for a little bit.”

“I’m fine, Leli,” Cassandra says.

“Have you eaten yet?” Leliana asks.

Cassandra nods. “Eva and I had food brought in the cabin,” she says. “Mina hasn’t eaten though.”

Just then, there’s a knock on the door.

“Apologies for the interruption, Miladies,” Rylen says from the other side of the door. “But Lady Eva requests the Seeker’s presence immediately.”

Cassandra starts to panic and she immediately rushes out of the cabin and into Mina’s.

“What happened?” she demands when she sees Mina curled up in a fetal position on the floor.

“Lira,” Mina whimpers.

“Did something get transferred to you again?” Leliana asks, having come in behind the Seeker.

“Cass!” Mina whimpers instead of answering Leliana’s question. “Silence me!”

Sighing, Cassandra does as she’s told, releasing the Silence as soon as Mina falls unconscious.

“If this keeps happening, we may have to ask Lira to join us,” Leliana says worriedly.

“Keeper won’t like that,” Mina says weakly as she wakes from the Silence. “But I unfortunately have to agree with you.”

“Who’s Lira, and what the fuck just happened?” Eva asks as Cassandra helps Mina into a sitting position. “Ah, I mean what in the Void just happened?” she corrects herself.

Mina giggles. “About time a curse word slipped from your mouth!” she says. “I said my first curse word at the age of four and haven’t stopped since!”

“Did no one try to stop you?” Leliana asks.

“Oh, they did,” Mina replies. “I never listened, though.” She giggles again.

“Maker, you were a rebellious kid…” Cassandra says with a chuckle.

“I always have been fairly rebellious,” Mina replies with another giggle. “Add on being an energetic child, and you get a disaster waiting to happen. I had to be disciplined so many times as a kid that I rarely wasn’t in trouble.” She sighs and turns to Eva. “But, to answer your question, Eva, Lira is my identical twin sister and we frequently have spells transferred to each other, which is what happened just now.”

“What do you mean you have spells transferred to each other?” Eva asks worriedly.

“That Spell Purge, or whatever it was, was actually cast on Lira, but I was the one who received the effects,” Mina explains.

“Wait, what?” Eva asks. “How in Thedas is that possible?”

“Have you ever heard about how identical twins feel each other’s pain without even knowing the other is actually injured?” Mina asks.

Eva looks at Mina with a very confused expression on her face.

Mina laughs. “I’ll take that as a no,” she says. She sighs. “It’s really complicated, so I can’t really explain it further. I wish I could though.”

Eva shakes out of her thoughts. “It’s okay,” she says. “I don’t think I would be able to understand it anyways.”

Mina nods in understanding before she begins to stand up, only for her legs to give out on her again.

“Fenedhis,” she curses as Cassandra catches her to soften her fall back to the floor. “I forgot about that.”

“Should I go get Solas?” Leliana asks worriedly.

Cassandra nods. “I was going to have him stay when I asked you all the favor, but it completely slipped my mind.”

Leliana nods and quickly exits the cabin to go get Solas.

 

A few minutes later, Solas comes rushing in the room, closely followed by Leliana.

“Lethallan, why can’t you walk?” Solas asks Mina as he crouches down to her level.

Cassandra answers for her. “We think it could be some lingering effects of the poison she used,” she says.

Nodding, Solas begins some healing spells. However, after a few seconds, he stops.

“What?” Mina asks worriedly.

Solas looks at Leliana. “Can you get Eva out of here?” he asks her. “I need to ask Mina some questions that a child of her age shouldn’t have to hear.”

“I’m not leaving Mina’s side again!” Eva says.

“Da’len, please,” Solas says. “I know you don’t want to leave her side, but I need you to.”

No!” Eva says as she stomps her foot.

Eva,” Mina warns.

At that, Eva sighs. “Fiiine,” she grumbles before stomping out of the cabin. Leliana follows her.

“Lethallan, how did all this begin?” Solas asks Mina once the door is closed. “I know this is disregarding the favor you asked of us, but if you want me to be able to heal this properly, I need to know.”

Mina sighs. “I can’t answer that question, Solas,” she says. “I’m the only one who knows the answer to that, and I don’t feel comfortable telling anyone just yet.” She figures just telling a half-truth would work, but she was mistaken.

“Ma harel, lethallan,” Solas says.

Mina sighs again. “Okay, fine. Leliana knows, but I have asked her to keep it to herself. And she doesn’t know all of it. Just the basics.”

Solas sighs. “I can tell you aren’t going to tell me,” he says.

“Damn right, I’m not!” Mina snaps. “And I don’t see why I have to for just a bit of healing! I’m not naïve, Solas! So, you better have a good reason to ask whatever else you want to ask me, or else I don’t think I will be able to keep my Force-Slap or temper from flaring further!”

Solas looks at Cassandra pleadingly.

“Don’t look at me!” Cassandra says. “I’m with her on this one! I don’t see any reason, other than personal curiosity, for that question.”

“Thanks, Cass,” Mina mutters. She looks at Solas and crosses her arms. “What else say you?” she asks impatiently.

At that, Cassandra bursts out laughing. “Sorry,” she says when Mina gives her a look. “I just never thought I’d hear you say those words that way.”

“Mar solas ena mar din,” Mina mutters with a shake of her head.

“What’s this about Solas?” Cassandra asks confusedly.

Mina sighs. “I just said, ‘your pride will be your death’,” she explains. “‘Solas’ means ‘pride’ in Elvish.” She looks at Solas. “But, seriously, my patience is rapidly declining.”

Solas sighs. “Lethallan, all the poison is out of your body,” he says. “If you can’t walk, then it likely did some major damage that I don’t think I can fix. You are able to feel your legs, yes?”

Mina shrugs. “I don’t know,” she says. “I’ve heard that people still feel their limbs after amputation or paralysis, so what I feel could just be that.”

Solas pokes Mina’s leg with his fingers. “Did you feel that?” he asks.

“Fenedhis,” Mina curses under her breath as tears start falling down her face. “No, I didn’t.”

At that, Solas stands up and magically lifts Mina up onto the bed. He pokes a little higher up. “What about that?” he asks.

Mina shakes her head. “No,” she sobs.

Solas keeps going up until Mina feels his pokes, which is just below her knees. However, she feels slight pain when he pokes there. Solas sighs and looks at Cassandra.

“Cassandra, you should know, I’m about to do a Spirit Healing technique,” he tells her.

Cassandra nods in understanding. “Just do what you can,” she tells him. “As long as you don’t become possessed or use blood magic, I’m fine with that.”

Nodding, Solas turns back to Mina. “This may hurt a bit,” he tells her. At Mina’s nod, he begins the spell.

Sure enough, it hurts, but Mina doesn’t even wince. She treats it like when she got her vallaslin.

After a few minutes, Solas stops the spell and looks at Mina with glowing eyes. “You ready to see if it worked?” he asks her with his hand outstretched. 

“I’ll wait until your eyes stop glowing,” Mina replies.

Sighing, Solas nods in understanding. After a few minutes, his eyes return to normal, and he and Cassandra help her stand up.

After Mina gets her balance, they let go of her and she does a few test steps.

“Thank the Creators!” she sighs in relief. “I thought I was never going to walk again!” She looks up at Solas. “Ma serannas, Solas.”

“You’re welcome, lethallan,” Solas replies.

 

The rest of the day is fairly uneventful. Mina eventually takes a bath before she goes out and helps the townsfolk with various tasks, as if nothing ever happened that morning. She even goes to dinner at the tavern, where everyone gathers and stays well into the night.

Once back in the cabin, Mina and Eva go straight to bed. Knight-Lieutenant Jessica takes the chair from Mina’s desk and sits down just inside the door.

Mina and Eva fall asleep fairly quickly. Eva unfortunately has another nightmare, but Solas takes it as an opportunity to show Mina how to enter other people’s dreams and alter them.

Chapter Text

It takes another week for Leliana to hear back from the clerics in Val Royeaux. During this time, Mina is ordered to take it easy and rest as much as possible. However, she takes the time helping the villagers of Haven in any way she can. Many of the villagers even begin to come to her when they get sick or injured for her gentle healing work. Mina actually enjoys it all, and she feels a sense of accomplishment and worthiness while doing it.

Also during this time, Cassandra teaches Eva a few Seeker abilities, including Spell Purge and Silence. Eva still hasn’t manifested yet, but Cassandra still believes it will be soon.

 

Deciding they will leave the next day, Mina, Eva, Cassandra, Solas, Varric, Rylen, and Jessica all begin to pack for the trip. Mina is not looking forward to the two and a half days at sea, or any of the trip for that matter. Thankfully, Cassandra has given her plenty of ginger root to last until they return to Haven.

While they are packing, Eva grows curious.

“Why do you always take all of your stuff with you?” she asks Mina.

“In case I need it,” Mina replies simply.

“How do you fit it all in your pack?” Eva asks. “And how do you carry it all? It must weigh a ton!”

“Magic,” Mina answers simply for both questions.

“Wait, really?” Eva asks.

Mina nods. “Yep.” She puts the last item in her pack and closes it. “I enchant it so it doesn’t weigh much, as well as so it has an almost endless bottom.”

“So, you could put a bathtub in there if you wanted?” Eva asks.

Mina chuckles. “No, sadly, I can’t. I wish I could though.”

Eva nods in understanding before returning to her own packing. Mina had told her to bring several outfits, so she picks out her favorites. However, when she goes to get her extra traveling cloak, she trips.

“Eva!” Mina exclaims as she rushes forward. However, she doesn’t reach the child before she hits her head on Mina’s bedpost and goes unconscious. “Eva!” Mina yells again as she summons her healing magic. However, she’s not strong enough to heal her properly. “Fenedhis! Jessica!”

“Yes, My Lady?” Knight-Lieutenant Jessica asks as she opens the door. “Maker’s breath!” she gasps when she sees Eva.

“Go get Solas immediately!” Mina says. “He’s a far better healer than I!”

“Yes, My Lady,” Jessica says before rushing off to go get Solas.

Sighing, Mina returns her focus to her magic and tries to at least stabilize Eva.

 

A couple of minutes later, Solas comes rushing in.

“What happened, lethallan?” he asks Mina as he begins to summon his magic.

“She tripped and hit her head,” Mina replies frantically.

Nodding, Solas focuses on his magic.

Mina gets up and goes over to where Jessica is standing. “We’ll let you work,” she says to Solas as she motions for the Knight-Lieutenant to follow her outside.

Once outside, Mina begins pacing. She doesn’t even notice someone walking up after a few minutes.

“Mina?” Cullen’s voice asks.

Mina jumps. “Creators, Cullen, don’t do that!” she snaps. She sighs. “Ir abelas, that was uncalled for. I’m just worried.”

Cullen looks between Mina and Jessica. “What’s wrong?” he asks.

“Eva tripped and hit her head on my bedpost,” Mina says. “Solas is in there now. Probably using a Spirit Healing technique. I couldn’t stay in there, but I can barely stay out here either!” She starts pacing again as tears start falling down her face. “Creators, I hope she’ll be alright!”

Cullen goes over to Mina and stops her pacing. “Hey,” he says reassuringly as he cups her cheek and wipes away her tears. “Solas is an excellent healer. She’ll be fine.”

Mina takes a deep breath and nods. “Thank you, Cullen,” she says with a small smile.

Cullen gives her his signature half-smirk as he drops his hand and takes a step back. “You’re welcome, Mina,” he says. 

Just then, the door opens and Solas walks out.

“How is she?” Mina asks worriedly.

“She’s stable, and I put a sleeping spell on her, so we’ll have to reverse it in the morning,” Solas replies. “I will watch over her in the Fade tonight, which means you and I won’t be able to walk the Fade together tonight.”

“That’s alright, Solas,” Mina says. “I’m just glad she’s alright. I was really worried. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, lethallan,” Solas replies.

Mina sighs. “I think I should go get some sleep,” she says. “Good night.” With that, she goes in the cabin and goes to bed.

 

O0o0o0o

 

Mina wakes up from a dreamless sleep to the sound of someone knocking on the door.

“Yes?” she calls as she sits up and stretches.

The door opens and Solas walks in.

“Lethallan, I’m sorry to wake you, but we leave in an hour,” he says.

“Thank you, Solas,” Mina says as she gets out of bed.

“You’re welcome, lethallan,” Solas replies. He walks over to Eva’s bed and reverses the sleep spell.

Eva wakes up with a start and bolts upright.

“It’s okay, da’len,” Solas says.

“Solas?” Eva asks. “Did you enter my dream last night, or was that a demon?”

“That was me, da’len,” Solas replies. “And what I told you is true.”

“Creators, I’m glad you’re alright, Eva!” Mina says as she goes over and hugs the child. “I was really worried!”

“How are you feeling, da’len?” Solas asks. “You hit your head pretty hard.”

“I have a slight headache, but other than that, I feel fine,” Eva replies.

Solas nods and begins to lift his hands, but pauses. “May I?” he asks.

Eva nods. “Go ahead,” she says.

Solas summons his magic and places his hands on Eva’s head. After a couple of minutes, he releases his magic and drops his hands.

“Any better?” he asks.

“Yes, very!” Eva replies. “Thank you, Solas!”

“You’re welcome, da’len,” Solas says as he stands up. “We leave in about forty-five minutes, so I’ll let the two of you finish getting ready. Meet us in the tavern for breakfast when you’re ready.”

“Thanks again, Solas,” Mina says.

“You’re welcome, lethallan,” Solas replies before exiting the cabin.

Once Solas closes the door, Mina and Eva quickly get dressed and finish packing. When they exit the cabin, Knight-Lieutenant Jessica greets them.

“Good morning, My Ladies,” she says. “Are you two ready to go?”

“Good morning, Knight-Lieutenant,” Mina greets back. “We are. Are you?”

“Aye, My Lady,” Jessica replies with a nod. “Would you like me to take your packs to the stables to be attached to the horses?”

“I appreciate the offer, but I got this,” Mina replies. “We’ll meet you in the tavern in a few minutes.”

“As you wish,” Jessica says before heading to the tavern.

With that, Mina and Eva head to the stables and drop off their packs before heading to the tavern to have breakfast.

 

When they enter the tavern, they are handed trays of food and glasses of water. They go over to the table where the rest of their companions are eating their breakfast and sit down in the chairs left for them.

“Good morning, Flashy,” Varric says as they sit down. “I take it you slept well?”

“I did, actually,” Mina replies with a nod before taking a bite of food.

“Are you ready for the journey, Mina?” Josephine asks. “I hear you get motion sick quite easily.”

Mina nods. “Cass was able to get me enough ginger root to last until we get back,” she says. “And if I end up using more than expected on the way there, I’m hoping I can get some more in Val Royeaux. Thanks for asking though.”

Josephine nods in acknowledgement. “Well, I wish you the best of luck,” she says.

“Other than that one other thing that you can do to not get motion sick, has anything else worked?” Leliana asks.

“Besides having a sleeping spell put on me, I haven’t tried anything else,” Mina replies.

Leliana nods in understanding. “Well, good luck,” she says.

“Thanks,” Mina replies.

 

They eat in silence for a bit. Just as they finish eating, Mina is handed a small package.

“What’s this?” she asks the messenger as she takes it from her.

“I don’t know, Your Worship,” the messenger replies. “I was just asked by Harritt to give it to you before you left this morning.”

At that, Mina realizes what this is. “Creators, I didn’t expect him to finish them so quickly!” she says with a gasp. She looks back up at the messenger. “Thank you, Brenda,” she tells her. “As you were.”

“Yes, Your Worship,” Brenda says before rushing off.

“What is that, Mina?” Cassandra asks, motioning toward the package still in the Herald’s lap.

Mina smiles and begins to untie the string keeping the little box closed. “I asked Harritt to make a pair of gloves that will hide the light from the mark in case it flares while I’m sleeping again,” she says. She takes the gloves out of the box and puts them on. “As well as so I can hide the mark if I need or want to.”

“It flared when you were sleeping?” Josephine asks slightly worriedly.

Mina nods. “It didn’t hurt that time, but I was woken up by the blinding light,” she says.

“Well, it’s a good thing you thought of that,” Josephine says. “We can’t have you going blind.”

“True that,” Mina chuckles. She stands up. “I’ll be at the stables whenever you all are ready.” With that, she leaves the tavern and heads to the stables.

After a few minutes, the rest of the group arrives at the stables and they head out.

 

The eight-day trip to Jader is fairly uneventful, besides Mina’s motion sickness. When they board the ship the next morning, however, Varric seems to recognize its captain.

“Andraste’s sacred nickers, you’re a sight for sore eyes, Rivaini!” he says.

“I could say the same thing about you, Varric,” this ‘Rivaini’ replies. “But do introduce me to your new friends!” She looks at the rest of the group, but lingers on Mina. “Andraste’s knees, Varric! Is this the one they’re calling the Herald?” she nearly squeals.

Mina sighs. “Captain, please call me ‘Mina’,” she says as she holds her hand out.

“Only if you will call me ‘Isabela’,” the Captain says as she shakes Mina’s hand. “And it’s Admiral now. It’s an honor to finally meet you.”

Mina chuckles. “Believe me, the honor is mine. Varric has told me a lot about you.”

“All good things I hope,” Isabela says before noticing Mina looking at the ship nervously. “You get seasick easily, don’t you?”

Mina looks back at Isabela. “I get motion sick easily,” she says with a nod. “I highly doubt I’ll make it to Val Royeaux without throwing up at least once; even with the ginger root!”

“Stay up on deck as much as possible,” Isabela advises. “You won’t get as sick.”

Mina nods. “Thanks. I’ll need all the help I can get since I won’t be able to shapeshift.” She then realizes she just said that aloud and gasps. “Fenedhis! I’m not supposed to say that! Just forget I told you!”

Isabella laughs. “Don’t worry, my dear,” she says. “Your secret’s safe with me.”

Mina breathes a small sigh of relief.

“Flashy, Rivaini and Daisy are close friends,” Varric says. “If anyone knows about the importance of keeping one’s controversial magic specialty a secret, it’s her.” He sighs. “But let’s get back on track.” He motions to Cassandra. “This is Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast, the one I told you about.” He motions to Solas. “This is Solas.” He motions to Eva. “This is Lady Eva Lavellan-Pentaghast, a distant cousin to Cassandra, and Flashy’s half-sister.” He motions to Rylen and Jessica. “This is Knight-Captain Rylen, and Knight-Lieutenant Jessica. They are basically Flashy’s bodyguards when Seeker isn’t around.” He smirks. “Or Curly,” he adds on teasingly.

“Don’t make me Force-Slap you again, Varric!” Mina warns, but blushes nonetheless.

“Oh cute!” Isabela teases. “You're blushing. Is this ‘Curly’ a lover of yours?”

Mina gives Isabela a death-stare, but the blush persists. “Don’t make me Force-Slap you either!” she warns. “We are in the presence of a child for Creators’ sake!” She sighs and rubs her forehead with ice on her fingertips to try to alleviate the headache that has begun to form. “Is there any way we can get going? I just want to get this over with.”

Isabela chuckles. “Of course,” she says as she motions for the group to follow her. They had decided to leave the horses in Jader, so Isabela shows them to their rooms so they can drop off their packs. She then gives them a tour of the ship before excusing herself to set sail.

 

Ginger root proves no match for Mina’s motion sickness that first day, and she isn’t even able to keep any food she eats down for more than a few minutes. She stays on deck and just vomits constantly. She is given lots of water, bread, and ginger root, but nothing stays down.

Just after Eva has gone to bed, Isabela comes up on deck.

“Andraste’s knees, you weren’t joking!” she says with a gasp when she sees Mina. “Have you been throwing up all day?” she asks worriedly as she rushes over to the Herald.

All Mina can do is nod before she dry heaves again. Sighing, she takes a drink of water from her waterskin and then a bite of bread. After swallowing, she takes a piece of ginger root and begins chewing.

“Nothing will stay down,” she says weakly after a bit as she sits down on the deck and leans against the railing wall. “The longest it’s stayed down was maybe ten minutes, but it’s been averaging about five.” She sighs. “At this rate, I’m going to run out of ginger root by noon tomorrow, and I know food is limited, so I’m trying to take small bites and eat slowly, but I don’t want to dry heave all the time.”

“Yeah, that wouldn’t be good,” Isabela agrees as she crouches down to Mina’s level and feels her forehead. “Andraste’s ass, you’re burning up!” she exclaims before taking Mina’s wrist and checks her pulse. “And your heart is racing!” She stands back up. “I’ll be right back!” she says as she rushes off to find one of Mina’s companions, preferably Solas.

 

“Andraste’s sacred nickers, Rivaini, what’s wrong?” Varric asks Isabela as she nearly collides with him on her search.

“Varric!” Isabela breathes. “Where’s that elf, Solas? He’s a mage, right?”

“The last I saw him, he was on deck with Flashy,” Varric replies. “And yes, he is a mage. Why? What’s wrong?”

“It’s Mina,” Isabela says. “She’s apparently been throwing up all day, not able to keep anything down for more than ten minutes, but when I checked her temperature and pulse, both were extremely high! Like, higher than any other person I’ve known to get seasick!”

What?!” Cassandra exclaims as she appears behind Isabela, having heard the conversation. “Maker, this isn’t good!” she mutters. “Solas said he would be in his room if we needed him,” she says as she looks back up. “Varric, go get him and meet us on deck,” she tells the dwarf. “Admiral, come with me.”

With that, Cassandra turns around and begins to rush toward the deck with Isabela following close behind. Varric rushes off to go get Solas.

 

When they get back on deck, Mina has barely moved, and is barely conscious.

“Mina!” Cassandra exclaims worriedly as she rushes over to the Herald’s side.

“C—Cass?” Mina asks weakly as the Seeker crouches down to her level.

“I’m here, Mina,” Cassandra says as she takes the Herald’s hands in hers. “Solas is on his way. We’re going to get you back to good health, I promise.”

“Have him put a sleep spell on me for the remainder of the trip if you can,” Mina whispers weakly, her voice so quiet, Cassandra just barely hears her.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Cassandra says. “For now, I need you to stay awake.”

“I… d—don’t… th—think… I… c—can…” Mina whispers. Her lids start to close.

Cassandra shakes the Herald. “Mina!” she exclaims worriedly. However, Mina is too weak to stay conscious. “Mina!” Cassandra exclaims again as she shakes her once more, but to no avail. “Szar!” she mutters.

Just then, Solas comes rushing up, healing spells at the ready.

“Do what you can, Solas,” Cassandra says. “She has asked to have a sleeping spell put on her for the rest of the journey if possible.”

Solas nods and then focuses on the magic. After a few minutes, Mina is stable and under the sleep spell. Solas nods to Cassandra, who carefully picks her up and takes her to the room they are sharing with Eva and Jessica.

 

The rest of the journey to the capital is fairly uneventful. Mina is kept under the sleeping spell the whole time, and her temperature and heart rate return to normal. Everyone is worried for her, but are relieved when she is able to keep her breakfast down the late morning they dock.

 

Disembarking the ship, the group bids Isabela farewell, and begins to head into the city. They drop off their packs at the Montilyet estate, where they will be staying, and freshen up a bit. Once they are ready, they begin heading toward the square.

As they are walking, Mina looks around and takes it all in. They hear bells in the distance.

“The city still mourns,” Cassandra says.

They walk past a nobleman and –woman. However, the noblewoman seems to recognize them, and screams as she backs away in fear.

“Just a guess, Seeker, but I think they all know who we are,” Varric quips.

“Your skills of observation never fail to impress me, Varric,” Cassandra says.

A scout comes rushing up to them.

“My Lady Herald,” she says as she gets down on one knee.

“You’re one of Leliana’s people,” Cassandra says in realization. “What have you found?”

“The Chantry mothers await you, but… so do a great many templars,” the scout replies.

Templars? Mina thinks. Fenedhis! While I trust Cullen, Rylen, and Jessica, I don’t really trust any other templars at the moment… She begins to become worried.

It seems Cassandra has similar thoughts. “There are templars here?” she asks the scout.

The scout nods. “People seem to think the templars will protect them from…” she hesitates, “from the Inquisition.”

More like from me, Mina thinks.

“They wish to protect the people?” Cassandra asks. “From us?”

“More like from me,” Mina says. “But we expected this. We knew there was going to be some kind of reaction.”

“But I didn’t expect the templars to make an appearance,” Cassandra says.

“The people may just be assuming what the templars will do,” the scout says. “I’ve heard no concrete plans.”

“You think the Order’s returned to the fold, maybe?” Varric asks. “To deal with us upstarts?”

“I know Lord Seeker Lucius,” Cassandra says. “I can’t imagine him coming to the Chantry’s defense, not after all that’s occurred.”

“Where are they?” Mina asks the scout.

“They’re gathering on the other side of the market,” the scout replies. “I think that’s where the templars intend to meet you.” She stands up.

“Only one thing to do, then,” Cassandra says with a sigh as she begins walking, but stops after a few steps and turns to the scout. “Return to Haven,” she tells her. “Someone will need to inform them if we are… delayed.”

“As you say, My Lady,” the scout replies before rushing off.

The group begins to walk into the market square. They see a group gathered on the far end, with a Chantry mother on a platform being the center of attention. Upon getting closer, Mina sees a couple of guards with sunburst symbols on their uniforms standing just in front of the platform, as well as some templars and Chantry clerics on the platform with the Mother at the center.

“Good people of Val Royeaux, hear me!” the Mother calls with her hands outstretched as she takes a few steps forward. “Together we mourn our Divine. Her naïve and beautiful heart silenced by treachery!” She looks at Mina and her companions. “You wonder what will become of her murderer. Well, wonder no more!” She points at Mina. “Behold the so-called Herald of Andraste! Claiming to rise where our beloved fell.”

I never claimed such a thing! Mina thinks, temper rising.

“We say this is a false prophet!” the Chantry Mother continues. “The Maker would send no knife-ear in our time of need!”

At that, Mina snaps. “We came here in peace, simply to talk—and this is what you do?” she asks angrily. “I implore you: let us sit down together, to deal with the real threat!”

“It’s true!” Cassandra pipes in. “The Inquisition seeks only to end this madness before it is too late!”

“It is already too late!” the Mother says as she points to a small group of templars walking up on the platform. “The templars have returned to the Chantry! They will face this ‘Inquisition’, and the people will be safe once more!”

One of the templars in the group punches the Mother in the back of the head, causing her to cry out and fall to the ground. The gathered crowd gasps, and Mina feels her temper flaring. One of the templars who was standing on the platform goes to help the Revered Mother, but the man who seems to be the leader of the templars who came up on the platform stops him.

“Still yourself,” he orders. “She is beneath us.”

At that, Mina loses control of her temper. “What is the meaning of this?!” she demands angrily.

“Her claim to ‘authority’ is an insult,” the leader of the group of templars scoffs. “Much like your own.” He turns and starts to walk off the platform.

Mina is about to Force-Slap the man when Cassandra takes a step toward him. “Lord Seeker Lucius, it’s imperative that we speak with--”

“You will not address me,” the Lord Seeker interrupts her.

“Lord Seeker?” Cassandra asks confusedly.

“Creating a heretical movement, raising up a puppet as Andraste’s prophet,” the Lord Seeker sneers. “You should be ashamed.” He turns to the crowd. “You should all be ashamed! The templars failed no one when they left the chantry to purge the mages!” He points to Cassandra. “You are the ones who have failed! You who’d leash our righteous swords with doubt and fear! If you came to appeal to the Chantry, you are too late. The only destiny here that demands respect is mine.”

Mina sighs. If he won’t see reason, maybe some of the others will, she thinks. “Templars!” she calls. “One of your own leads the Inquisition’s forces, and two more are his Second and Third in command! Join us, as they did!”

The Lord Seeker scoffs. “Staunch and loyal members of the Order. So loyal, they abandoned it for a false Herald.”

The templar who had wanted to help the Revered Mother after she was hit steps forward. “But Lord Seeker… what if she really was sent by the Maker? What if--?”

The man who hit the Chantry Mother steps up. “You are called to a higher purpose!” he sneers. “Do not question!”

I will make the Templar Order a power that stands alone against the void,” the Lord Seeker sneers. “We deserve recognition. Independence!” He takes a step forward. “You have shown me nothing, and the Inquisition… less than nothing.” He turns to the templars with him. “Templars!” he calls. “Val Royeaux is unworthy of our protection! We march!” With that, they turn and leave the city.

“Charming fellow, isn’t he?” Varric quips.

“Has Lord Seeker Lucius gone mad?” Cassandra asks incredulously and rhetorically.

“Do you know him very well?” Mina asks.

“He took over the Seekers of Truth two years ago, after Lord Seeker Lambert’s death,” Cassandra replies. “He was always a decent man, never given to ambition and grandstanding. This is very bizarre.”

“Do you think he can be reasoned with?” Mina asks.

“I hope so,” Cassandra replies. “If not him, there are surely others in the Order who don’t feel as he does. Either way, we should first return to Haven and inform the others.”

As they begin to walk back to the platform to check on the Revered Mother, an arrow goes flying past their heads and onto the ground nearby, startling everyone.

“What’s that?” Cassandra says after getting over the shock. “An arrow with a message?”

Mina goes over and picks it up. She carefully detaches the note and unrolls it. She sees the text is written in a large flowing hand, and is bordered with doodles. Sighing, she begins to read what’s written:

People say you're special. I want to help, and I can bring everyone.

There's a baddie in Val Royeaux. I hear he wants to hurt you. Have a search for the red things in the market, the docks, and 'round the cafe, and maybe you'll meet him first. Bring swords.

Friends of Red Jenny

There is a poor drawing of the locations in the market attached. Mina hands the note to Cassandra and examines the arrow before sticking it in her pocket.

“We should check that out once we’re done here,” she says. With that, she resumes the walk toward the Chantry Mother. However, she is stopped by a mage.

“You are the Herald of Andraste, are you not?” he asks. “I have an invitation for you.” He hands Mina a folded piece of parchment with the Circle of Magi seal on it.

“Thank you, sir,” Mina says as she takes the invitation from the man. Sighing, she breaks the seal and reads the note:

You are cordially invited to attend my salon held at the chateau of Duke Bastien de Ghislain.

Yours,

Vivienne de Fer

First Enchanter of Montsimmard

Enchanter to the Imperial Court

“We’ll be sure to attend if we have time,” Mina tells the mage, who nods and walks off. Sighing again, Mina hands the note to Cassandra. “Seems like we have someone else who wants to be an ally,” she says. “Both could be traps, but I think they are worth the risk. For now, I want to make sure that Chantry Mother is all right. Even though she doesn’t seem to like us, I can’t just leave her.” With that, she goes over to the Chantry Mother and crouches down to her level. “Are you alright?” she asks her. “Do you need healing?”

The Chantry Mother looks up at Mina. “Why would you ask such a thing after all I just said?” she asks incredulously.

“Because it’s the right thing to do,” Mina replies. “I can’t just walk away without at least offering to help.”

The Revered Mother smiles softly then. “Whether chosen or not, you have a kind heart,” she says. “That is a rarity these days.” She sighs. “While I may not believe you to be her Herald, I know Andraste teaches us that magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him. If you truly want to help, go ahead. Otherwise, it may take a while for me to be able to recover on my own.”

Nodding, Mina summons her healing magic and channels it to the Chantry Mother’s injuries. After a few minutes, she stops. “How do you feel?” she asks her.

“I feel much better,” the Revered Mother replies. “Thank you.”

Mina smiles softly as she stands up. “You’re very welcome,” she says before taking a step forward. “Here, let me help you up.”

The Chantry Mother nods and Mina helps her to her feet. She helps the other two clerics who were fretting over the Revered Mother to their feet as well.

“Before I let you go, just tell me one thing,” the Chantry Mother says once everyone is back on their feet.

“Yes?” Mina asks.

“Do you truly believe you are the Maker’s chosen?”

Mina sighs. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know,” she says.

“That is… more comforting than you might imagine,” the Revered Mother says. She sighs. “I suppose it is out of our hands now. We shall see what the Maker plans in the days to come.”

The group bids farewell to the clerics and begins to head toward some of the Red Jenny clues. However, before they can go far, an older elven woman stops them.

“If I might have a moment of your time?” she says.

Cassandra tells Varric, Solas, Rylen, Jessica, and Eva to go search for the clues. They nod and begin to walk off. Mina and Cassandra turn back to the elven woman.

Mina can sense mana in this woman, telling her she’s a mage, but there’s also something else. Something she could sense in her father the last few months of his life.

“Creators, she has Banalhan!” Mina accidently says aloud as she realizes this. “Wait, I said that out loud. Sorry. I didn’t mean to!”

The elven woman chuckles. “I’m a Grey Warden, da’len,” she says. “What you are detecting is called the Taint.”

At that, Mina goes wide-eyed with shock. She has always had great respect for the Grey Wardens, but didn’t think she’d ever get to meet one.

“Creators…” she whispers under her breath.

The elven woman chuckles again and holds her hand out. “Grand Enchanter Fiona, leader of the mage rebellion.”

Mina shakes Fiona’s hand. “Mina of Clan Lavellan of the Free Marches, First to Keeper Deshanna Istimaethoriel Lavellan,” she says. “I’ve always had great respect for the Grey Wardens, but I didn’t think I’d ever get to meet one! It’s an absolute honor!”

“Believe me, the honor is mine,” Fiona replies with a kind smile. “I saw what you did for that Chantry Mother. Andraste’s chosen or not, you will do great things in this world. If it is help with the Breach you seek, perhaps looking to your fellow mages is the wiser option.”

“I’m surprised the leader of the mages wasn’t at the Conclave,” Mina says.

“Yes,” Cassandra chimes in. “You were supposed to be, and yet you somehow avoided death.”

“As did the Lord Seeker, you’ll note,” Fiona replies. “Both of us sent negotiators in our stead, in case it was a trap. I won’t pretend I’m glad to live. I lost many dear friends that day. It disgusts me to think the templars will get away with it. I’m hoping you won’t let them.”

“So you think the templars are responsible,” Mina says, more statement than question.

“Why wouldn’t she?” Cassandra asks.

“Lucius hardly seems broken up over his losses, if he’s concerned about them at all,” Fiona says. “You heard him. You think he wouldn’t happily kill the Divine to turn people against us? So, yes, I think he did it. More than I think you did it at any rate.”

“Does that mean the mages will help us?” Mina asks.

“We’re willing to discuss it with the Inquisition, at least,” Fiona replies. “Consider this an invitation to Redcliffe: come meet with the mages. An alliance could help us both, after all. I hope to see you there. Au revoir, My Lady Herald.” With that, she takes her leave.

“Come,” Cassandra says to Mina. “Let’s return to the estate. I asked everyone else to meet us there after looking for the clues in that Red Jenny letter.”

Mina nods and they begin to walk back to the estate.

 

As they are walking, Cassandra finds her curiosity nagging her.

“How were you able to detect the Taint in Fiona?” she asks.

“Father,” Mina replies simply, too stressed to say anything further.

Cassandra notices this and stops. She takes Mina’s hands in hers. “Talk to me,” she says worriedly.

“Later,” Mina says. “I’m not about to cry in public.”

Sighing, Cassandra nods and they resume walking.

 

Once at the estate, they learn they will have to do two things that evening: investigate the Red Jenny location, and attend Madame de Fer’s salon. Seeing as they have several hours, Cassandra takes Mina up to the room she and Eva are sharing and makes her talk to her.

 

“We aren’t leaving until you tell me what’s wrong,” Cassandra says.

Mina sighs. “I’m wondering if Father became a Grey Warden,” she says.

“Because of Fiona?” Cassandra asks. Mina nods. “Would your Keeper know?”

“I doubt it,” Mina replies sadly. “But if she says anything in her return letter, then I’ll ask her some more questions.”

Cassandra nods, but notices Mina looking at her hands, as if in contemplation. “What is it?” she asks.

When Mina looks up at her, Cassandra notices the Herald’s eyes are glassy, indicating she’s trying to hold back tears.

At that, Cassandra goes over to Mina and embraces her. “Talk to me,” she says worriedly.

Mina sighs. “I just can’t believe Father would do something like this,” she says shakily. “Let alone keep it a secret.”

“I understand,” Cassandra says reassuringly. “I wouldn’t be able to believe it either. Maker, I don’t!”

Mina looks at Cassandra with a small smile. “That’s surprisingly comforting, thank you,” she says. She sighs again. “Cass, while I was out on the boat, I had a weird dream that makes me want to try something with my magic.”

“What do you mean?” Cassandra asks.

“In the dream, I was able to create a whole city with my ice magic,” Mina replies. “I’ve never made anything bigger than a chest that Lira keeps her stuff in, but the dream made me think it could be possible.”

“Where do you think you would create this city?” Cassandra asks.

“I don’t want to create a city, Cass,” Mina replies. “I just want to try making more things with my ice magic.” She smiles as she remembers how beautiful the city was and goes to her pack to get her journal. “I just remembered I never got to draw it,” she says as she pulls the journal out. She returns to the couch and turns to a blank page before beginning to draw.

As Cassandra watches Mina draw, she can’t help but notice how much her friend has changed in the past almost two months. While there are tough moments, the Seeker realizes Mina has shown such strength and compassion in everything she does. The Herald’s leadership skills are extraordinary. She would make the perfect Inquisitor! Cassandra realizes.

“Cass?” Mina says, effectively breaking the Seeker from her thoughts.

“I’m sorry, did you say something?” Cassandra asks.

Mina chuckles. “I asked how things have been going with Ser Rylen,” she says. “I saw him looking at you pretty intently this afternoon.”

“You did not!” Cassandra accuses, but starts to blush nonetheless.

Mina chuckles again. “He even whispered something to me that makes me think he wants you more than he wants to admit.” She closes her journal and looks over at the Seeker. When she sees the look on her friend’s face, she bursts out into giggles. “I tried to warn you, I’m relentless when it comes to teasing!”

“And you’re not going to tell me what he said?” Cassandra asks.

“Wouldn’t you like to know…” Mina teases with a smirk. “And, no, I’m not!”

Cassandra makes one of her disgusted noises, causing Mina to burst out into giggles again.

What?” Cassandra asks.

“Oh, nothing,” Mina replies through her giggles. Rylen thinks those noises are the most adorable sound in the world! she thinks to herself.

“It’s clearly something!” Cassandra says.

Mina smirks. “Damn right it is!”

Just then, there’s a knock on the door.

“Apologies for the interruption, Your Worship, but I have an important message for you,” a servant’s voice says from the other side of the door.

Sighing, Mina stands up and goes to open the door.

“What is it?” she asks as she steps out into the hallway and closes the door behind her.

“There’s someone waiting in the main hall for you, Your Worship,” the servant girl says.

“Who?” Mina asks.

“He wouldn’t give his name, Your Worship,” the servant replies. “All he said is that he is a friend of Sister Leliana’s.”

Sighing, Mina nods. “Thank you. Tell him I’ll be there shortly.”

“Yes, Your Worship,” the girl replies before rushing off.

Sighing again, Mina reenters her room and grabs her staff. “Cass, we have a visitor,” she tells the Seeker, who is regarding her with curiosity and a hint of concern. “He wouldn’t give his name, but he said he is one of Leliana’s friends. I sense a trap, so I need you with me.”

Cassandra nods and stands up. “Let’s go then,” she says.

 

They exit the room and head down to the main hall. When they get there, they see an elven man standing there.

“Who are you?” Mina asks.

The man turns around and looks at Mina and Cassandra with a small smile on his face. He bows to them.

“My Ladies, it’s an honor,” he says. “I do apologize for any interruptions this may have caused.”

“Answer the question, damn it!” Mina snaps.

The elven man chuckles. “Maker, Leli used to do that, too,” he mutters.

Mina gives him a death glare.

“Now, My Lady Herald, don’t give me that look,” the man says. “It’s bad for your health.”

“Answer the fucking question now, or be prepared to face my wrath!” Mina snarls as she takes a step forward.

Mina!” Cassandra exclaims in horror as she goes to look in the Herald’s eyes. “What has gotten into you today?” She turns to the elven man. “My apologies, Sir. She isn’t usually like this.”

The elven man snorts. “She’s got ample reason to be hostile towards me,” he says. “I totally understand.” He reaches his hand out toward Mina. “Zevran Arainai, at your service, My Lady,” he says.

Mina shakes his hand. However, just as she is about to introduce herself, Zevran goes to kiss her hand. She pulls it away just before his lips touch her skin. “Garas quenathra?” she asks.

Zevran looks at Mina curiously. “Can’t you tell?” he asks. “I want to join the Inquisition!”

“If you’re a friend of Leli’s, then why didn’t you just write her or come to Haven?” Cassandra asks.

Zevran smiles and pulls out a letter from his pocket. “Because I did write her, and she said to meet your party here.” He hands Cassandra the letter.

Mina sighs. “Cass, you handle this,” she says. “I need some time.” With that, she turns and Fade-Steps away.

Cassandra sighs. “Welcome to the Inquisition, Zevran,” she says as she hands the letter back to him. “I apologize for being so short with you right now, but I should go make sure she’s alright. Excuse me.” With that, she rushes to follow the Herald.

 

Mina goes straight to her room and takes out a bottle of poison from her pack. She looks at it and begins crying. As she goes to uncork it, however, Cassandra snatches it from her hands.

“Mina!” the Seeker yells. However, Mina just tries to take the bottle back from her. “No, Mina!” Cassandra says. She places the bottle aside and embraces the Herald before Silencing her, hoping it will help reset her mindset like it has in the past. She releases the Silence once she has carefully placed Mina on her bed. She whispers her apologies and soothing words in her ear.

“I’m the one who should be apologizing, Cass,” Mina says as she wakes up from the Silence. “I broke a promise to you.”

“Oh, Mina, I know you couldn’t help it,” Cassandra says as she helps her friend into a sitting position and embraces her. “Mina, you are going through something that can take years, if not a lifetime, to recover from! You now have a support group that will help you get through this, no matter how long it takes, but unless you let us know what you’re feeling, we may not be able to!”

Mina sighs, but nods in understanding.

They sit like that in silence for a bit.

 

“We should probably get going soon,” Mina says after a few minutes.

Cassandra sighs. “Will you be alright?” she asks. “If you don’t think you can do this, we can--”

“I’ll be fine, Cass,” Mina interrupts her. “But I’ll let you know if that changes.”

“Very well,” Cassandra says with another sigh. She stands up and helps Mina up. “I assume Eva will be staying here?” she asks.

Mina nods. “I’m not about to put her in danger, even though her aim is getting better.”

“I wouldn’t either,” Cassandra says.

 

When they leave the room and head down to the main hall where the rest of the group is waiting, Mina sees Rylen, Jessica, and Eva there too.

“You three are staying here,” she says to them as she reaches them. “Cass, Varric, Solas, and I can handle this.”

Rylen and Jessica nod in understanding. Eva, however, doesn’t seem to like being left behind.

“Why can’t I come?” she demands.

Mina sighs and crouches down to the child’s level. “Eva, we are going to be in battle,” she says. “I know your aim has gotten better, but I can’t put you in danger like this. Not yet.”

Eva sighs. “Fiiine,” she groans.

Mina smiles slightly. “Thank you, da’len,” she says. They hug and Mina places a kiss on Eva’s forehead before standing up and leaving the estate with Cassandra, Varric, and Solas.

Chapter Text

The group gets to the location the Red Jenny clues led to and are immediately ambushed. They fight off the three mercenaries and one archer fairly quickly. Pressing on, they open a door and nearly get hit by a fireball.

“Herald of Andraste!” the man who shot the fireball says. “How much did you expend to discover me? It must have weakened the Inquisition immeasurably!”

“I don’t know who you are!” Mina says.

“You don’t fool me!” the man scoffs. “I’m too important for this to be an accident! My efforts will survive in victories against you elsewhere!”

Just then, there’s a commotion coming from a set of stairs. Looking in that direction, everyone sees an elven archer move a dead guard out of the way and then draw an arrow to point at the man.

“Just say ‘What!’” she says.

“What is the--” the man starts, but his words are cut off when the arrow hits him in the face and goes through his skull and out the other side, killing him instantly.

The elven archer scrunches up her face. “Eww!” she groans. She begins walking toward the man just as Mina the rest of her group do the same. “Squishy one, but you heard me, right? ‘Just say ‘What.’’ Rich tits always try for more than they deserve.” She crouches down, takes the arrow out of the man’s skull, and places it back in her quiver. “Blah, blah, blah! Obey me! Arrow in my face!” She stands back up and turns to Mina. “So, you followed the notes well enough. Glad to see you’re…” she pauses. “Aaaand, you’re an elf. Well, I hope you’re not ‘too elfy’. I mean, it’s all good, innit? The important thing is: you glow? You’re the Herald thingy?”

“They say I’m the Herald of Andraste,” Mina confirms with a nod. “But who are you, and what’s this about?”

“No idea, I don’t know this idiot from manners,” the elf replies. “My people just said the Inquisition should look at him.”

“Your people?” Mina asks. “Elves?”

“Ha!” the elf laughs. “No. People people. Name’s Sera. This is cover. Get round it. For the reinforcements. Don’t worry. Someone tipped me their equipment shed.” She giggles. “They’ve got no breeches.”

Before Mina can question Sera on what she means by that, they are attacked by the said reinforcements. It seems as though the elf was speaking the plain truth, as none of them have pants on. Creators, I’m starting to like her sense of humor, Mina thinks as she tries not to burst out laughing while fighting them.

Once they are all done for, Sera comes up to Mina. “Friends really came through with that tip,” she says. “No breeches!” She bursts out laughing. “So, Herald of Andraste,” she says after regaining her composure. “You’re a strange one. I’d like to join.”

“How about we get to know each other first?” Mina says. “You know, names and such?”

Sera sighs. “One name. No, wait, two. It’s… well, it’s like this. I sent you a note to look for hidden stuff by my friends. The Friends of Red Jenny. That’s me. Well, I’m one. So is a fence in Montfort, some woman in Kirkwall. There were three in Starkhaven. Brothers or something. It’s just a name, yeah? It lets little people, ‘Friends’, be part of something while they stick it to nobles they hate. So here, in your face, I’m Sera. ‘The Friends of Red Jenny’ are sort of out there. I used them to help you. Plus arrows.”

“The Inquisition has spies already,” Mina says, just barely able to keep up with Sera’s fast-paced ramblings. “Can you add to these professionals?”

“Here’s how it is,” Sera says. “You ‘important’ people are up here, shoving your cods around. ‘Blah, blah, I’ll crush you. I’ll crush you!’” She begins making kissing sounds as her hands move to indicate people kissing. “‘Oh, crush you.’ Ahem.” She stops and regains her composure. “Then you’ve got cloaks and spy-kings. Like this tit. Or was he one of the little knives, all serious with his… little knife. All those secrets, and what gave him up? Some houseboy who don’t know shite, but knows a bad person when he sees one. So no, I’m not Knifey Shivdark, all hidden. But if you don’t listen down here too, you risk your breeches. Like those guards. I stole their…” She stops herself before she can burst out laughing again and sighs. “Look, do you need people or not? I want to get everything back to normal. Like you?”

Mina sighs. “All right, Sera. The Inquisition could use you and your ‘Friends’.”

“Yes!” Sera exclaims in excitement. “Get in good before you’re too big to like. That’ll keep your breeches where they should be. Plus extra breeches, because I’ve got all these… you have merchants who buy that phish, yeah? Got to be worth something. Anyway, Haven. See you there, Herald. This will be grand.” She starts to rush off.

“Hang on a minute, Sera,” Mina says. “First off, please call me ‘Mina’. Secondly, we are leaving around noon tomorrow. If you want to meet us at the docks then, I’m sure it would be alright if you traveled back with us.” She looks to Cassandra. “I mean, is that alright?”

“I don’t see why not,” Cassandra says with a shrug.

“I knew you were different!” Sera says. “It’s just… I get so sick on boats that I just want to die! So, I think I’ll pass and take the long way, where there’s no sea travel.”

Mina chuckles. “Well, at least I won’t be the only one who gets seasick,” she says. “I couldn’t keep food down for more than ten minutes on the way here.”

“Wait, really?” Sera asks. Mina nods. “Well, I suppose I can give it a shot. See you there, Mina.” With that, she takes her leave.

The rest of the group takes their leave as well and starts to head to Vivienne de Fer’s salon.

 

On their way, they stop and wash up. They change into outfits that are more formal: Mina puts on her mother and grandmother’s blue sundress and the shoes she made with her magic; Cassandra puts on a dress shirt and breeches; Varric and Solas do the same. Mina lets her hair down and puts little ice crystals in it, causing them to shine when light hits it just right.

When she steps out, everyone looks at her in awe. Even Cassandra can’t get over how beautiful she looks with the ice crystals in her hair.

“Maker, Mina, why didn’t you tell me those crystals would enhance your beauty?!” Cassandra says. “Wait, is that ice?!”

Mina chuckles and nods. “Yep. I told you I can make almost anything with my magic. And I didn’t know it would get much reaction, honestly.”

“Well, it does,” Cassandra says with a wide and genuine smile. “Anyway, are you ready?”

Mina nods and they resume walking to the salon.

 

When they arrive, a Herald announces them:

“Lady Mina Lavellan on behalf of the Inquisition. First to Keeper Deshanna Istimaethoriel Lavellan. Herald of Andraste. Accompanying her, Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast. Fourteenth cousin to the King of Nevarra, nine times removed. Hero of Orlais, Right Hand of the Divine. Renowned author Varric Tethras. Head of noble House Tethras, deshyr of Kirkwall to the Dwarven Merchants Guild. And the Apostate elf, Solas.”

Thank the Maker he didn’t use my middle names, Cassandra thinks to herself.

The group makes their way up the steps and is stopped by a pair of nobles.

“What a pleasure to meet you, My Lady,” the man says to Mina. “Seeing the same faces at every event becomes so tiresome. So you must be a guest of Madame de Fer. Or are you here for Duke Bastien?”

“Are you here on business?” the woman asks. “I have heard the most curious tales of you. I cannot imagine half of them are true.”

“What have you heard about me?” Mina asks the woman.

“Some say that when the Veil opened, Andraste herself delivered you from the Fade,” the woman replies.

Mina sighs. “Some of those storytellers may have gotten carried away,” she tells her.

“But only for the best effect,” the woman says. “The Inquisition is a ripe subject for wild tales.”

“The Inquisition?” another noble asks from the top of the stairs. “What a load of pig shit!” He walks down the stairs. “Washed-up sisters and crazed Seekers? No one can take them seriously.” He begins to walk toward the group. “Everyone knows it’s just an excuse for a bunch of political outcasts to grab power.”

“With all due respect, sir, you’re wrong,” Mina says. “The Inquisition is working to restore peace and order to Thedas.”

“Says the outsider, restoring peace with an army!” the man scoffs in reply. He takes a step closer to Mina. “We know what your ‘Inquisition’ truly is.” He takes another step closer to her, getting so close that Cassandra can’t get in between them. “If you were a woman of honor, you’d step outside and answer the charges.” He begins to reach for the sword on his back, but before he can unsheathe it, he gets frozen solid.

Cassandra then grabs Mina and makes her take a few steps back.

“My dear Marquis, how unkind of you to use such language in my house… to my guests,” a woman says as she comes down the stairs. Her hands have the same light blue glow that the man does, indicating she is the one who froze him. “You know such rudeness is… intolerable.”

“Madame Vivienne, I humbly beg your pardon!” the man says.

“You should,” Vivienne replies as she gets as close to him as he was to Mina a few seconds ago. “Whatever am I going to do with you, my dear?” She turns to Mina. “My Lady, you are the wounded party in this unfortunate affair. What would you have me do with this foolish, foolish man?”

Mina sighs. “Let him go,” she says. “I think the marquis has seen the error of his ways.”

Vivienne nods and turns back to the marquis and cups his chin. “By the grace of Andraste, you have your life, my dear. Do be more careful with it.” She snaps her fingers, effectively releasing the spell on him.

The marquis goes into a coughing fit before rushing out of the ballroom.

Vivienne turns back to Mina. “I’m delighted you could attend this little gathering. I’ve so wanted to meet you.” She motions toward an empty hallway. “Come. Let’s talk over there where it’s quieter.”

Mina nods and they head into the hallway. Cassandra follows Mina, while Varric and Solas stand guard at the entryway. Mina is thankful for the Seeker’s presence, as she doesn’t feel comfortable making any recruitment decisions without her present just yet.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” Vivienne says as she stops and turns to them. “I am Vivienne, First Enchanter of Montsimmard and Enchantress to the Imperial Court.”

“Mina of Clan Lavellan of the Free Marches,” Mina replies with a small curtsey. “First to Keeper Deshanna Istimaethoriel Lavellan. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lady Vivienne.”

“Ah, but I didn’t invite you to the chateau for pleasantries,” Vivienne says. “With Divine Justinia dead, the Chantry is in shambles. Only the Inquisition might restore sanity and order to our frightened people. As the leader of the last loyal mages of Thedas, I feel it only right that I lend my assistance to your cause.”

“The last loyal mages?” Mina asks. “Loyal to whom?”

“To the people of Thedas, of course,” Vivienne replies. “We have not forgotten the commandment, as some have, that magic exists to serve man. I support any effort to restore such order.”

Mina has heard that quote from the Chant of Light many times and she hates it. “What’s in it for you?” she asks.

“The same thing anyone gets by fighting this chaos:” Vivienne says, “The chance to meet my enemy, to decide my fate. I won’t wait quietly for destruction.”

Mina sighs. She doesn’t really like this woman, but she knows the Inquisition can use all the allies it can get. “What exactly can you do for the Inquisition?” she asks.

“I am well versed in the politics of the Orlesian Empire,” Vivienne replies. “I know every member of the Imperial Court personally. I have all the resources remaining to the Circle at my disposal. And I am a mage of no small talent. Will that do?”

“Does that mean you’ll be aiding the Inquisition from the Imperial Palace?” Mina asks.

“Ordinarily, I would be happy to serve as liaison to the court, but these are not ordinary times,” Vivienne says. “The Veil has been ripped apart, and there is a hole in the sky. I would join the Inquisition on the field of battle.”

Mina looks to Cassandra, who smiles softly and nods. She turns back to Vivienne. “The Inquisition will be happy to have you, Lady Vivienne.”

Vivienne smiles. “Great things are beginning, my dear,” she says. “I can promise you that.” She holds her hand out and Mina shakes it. “I have a few things I have to do before I can leave the capital, but I will leave for Haven within a week. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy yourselves at this little gathering for as long as you’d like.”

Cassandra sighs. “Unfortunately, we must get going,” she says. “But thank you for your offer.”

“Of course,” Vivienne says.

With that, the group takes their leave and begins to head back to the estate.

 

On their way, Cassandra notices Mina is hugging herself in a way that worries her. When the Herald catches her staring, the Seeker notices her face seems to shine in the low lighting.

Maker, is she crying? she thinks worriedly. “Maker, what’s wrong, Mina?”

“Later,” Mina chokes out.

When Cassandra hears that, she immediately knows Mina is doubting herself again. She takes the Herald’s hand in hers and gives it a reassuring squeeze. However, Mina doesn’t allow her to let go.

“Please don’t let go, Cass,” she begs in a whisper.

At that, Cassandra knows Mina is not in a good mindset and it is very likely she will try to kill herself again if she is left alone. The Seeker nods to let her know she won’t let go and gives her hand another squeeze.

 

When they arrive back at the estate, Eva has already gone to bed, so Cassandra takes Mina to her own room so they can talk. Upon entering the room, Mina loses all sense of self-control and falls to the floor in tears.

“I can’t do this, Cass,” she mutters as the Seeker kneels next to her. “Everyone wants me dead, so maybe I should be!”

“All of that is utter nonsense!” Cassandra half-yells. “You can and you will do this, Mina! Not everyone wants you dead, and you shouldn’t be!”

“But what if I did cause the explosion?!” Mina exclaims. “What if they are right about me?!” She looks at the Seeker in the eyes then. “I have zero memory of the event, Cass! What if all of this really is my fault?!”

“It’s not your fault, Mina!” Cassandra says sternly as she grabs the Herald’s shoulders and shakes her a bit.

“But what if it is?!” Mina cries. “What if--”

“Mina, just stop!” Cassandra interrupts her. She takes Mina’s hands in hers and shakes them with every word of what she says next: “You. Did. Not. Do. This.”

“Then why do I have this fucking mark?!” Mina yells.

“I don’t know, Mina,” Cassandra says with a sigh. “But I do know that whatever happened at the Conclave was not your fault! Do you understand me?”

Mina sighs. “I guess,” she relents.

Cassandra sighs again. “Mina, please talk to me. What’s going on?”

“Too much,” Mina mutters.

At that, Cassandra knows they need to slow down even further. She nods in understanding. “I’m sorry,” she says.

“Don’t be,” Mina replies. “I need to get used to going at such a fast pace. I can tell that no matter what you guys do to slow things down, there’s always a chance that it will return to a fast pace.”

“That doesn’t mean we can’t at least try to slow things down,” Cassandra says. “Mina, if you are under too much pressure, that wouldn’t be good for any of us. Therefore, all you need to do if you feel that way is let us know, like you just did, and we will try our best to relieve some of that pressure.”

Mina nods in understanding. “Thank you,” she whispers as more tears start falling down her face.

Cassandra notices this and cups Mina’s face to wipe the tears away. She then embraces her in a reassuring hug and rocks them back and forth.

 

After a few minutes, Mina has actually fallen asleep.

Maker, how does she do that? Cassandra asks herself as she carefully lifts the Herald and places her on the bed. She takes Mina’s shoes off her and puts the covers over her. She then gets herself ready for bed and falls asleep on the couch.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Mina wakes up to a very worried Seeker shaking her.

“Oh, thank the Maker,” Cassandra sighs in relief when she sees Mina open her eyes. “I’ve been trying to wake you for the past minute straight!”

“Sorry,” Mina says as she sits up and stretches. “I’m a deep sleeper sometimes.”

“Well, I’m just glad you finally woke up,” Cassandra says. “We need to be downstairs in about an hour for breakfast. I brought your pack in here for you.” She points to the spot where Mina’s pack is.

Mina looks where Cassandra points and realizes where she is. She looks back at the Seeker. “Thank you… but where did you sleep last night?”

“Don’t worry about that, Mina,” Cassandra replies. “I made the decision for a reason, and I would gladly do it again.”

Mina sighs. “Very well,” she says as she begins to get out of the bed. She goes over to her pack and takes out a light green dress and her hairbrush.

“You’re not wearing your armor?” Cassandra asks.

“I don’t feel like it,” Mina replies. She looks around and sighs when she doesn’t see a privacy wall for her to change behind. She turns back to Cassandra. “Watch this,” she says with a smirk. She then shapeshifts into a butterfly. When she lands on the floor, she reverts back into her normal form and has changed into the dress.

“Sweet Maker, how did you do that?” Cassandra asks in shock.

Mina chuckles as she puts the dress she was wearing in her pack. “A lot of practice.” She takes her hairbrush and begins to brush her hair. “You should’ve seen what happened the first time I tried it.” She chuckles again. “Creators, that was a disaster!”

“What happened?” Cassandra asks.

“Let’s just say I may have shown the entire clan my bare ass,” Mina replies as she begins to blush slightly.

“How old were you?” Cassandra asks, trying not to giggle at that.

“Eleven,” Mina replies. “It took me a whole month to perfect it. It’s really useful when there isn’t much privacy.”

“Well, don’t do it around anyone who doesn’t know you can shapeshift,” Cassandra says.

Mina chuckles again. “Don’t worry. I won’t.” She finishes brushing her hair and starts to put it up.

“Have you seen how fast Eva braids her hair?” Cassandra asks.

“Creators, yes!” Mina laughs. “She tried to teach me the movements, but I could never get it.”

“I don’t even know how she can get it,” Cassandra says. “I’ve never seen someone braid hair that fast!”

“Me neither!” Mina says. “Well, without the aid of magic, that is.”

“What do you mean?” Cassandra asks.

Mina stops braiding and looks at Cassandra with a small smirk on her face. She drops her hands and summons her magic. Within a few seconds, her hair is put up in its usual braided up-do.

Cassandra looks at Mina in shock. “If it’s that easy, why don’t you always do that?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” Mina replies with a shrug. “I guess I just like doing it myself.” She takes her journal out of her pack. “You said we have to be down in about an hour, right?”

Cassandra nods. “More like forty-five minutes now, but yes,” she says.

“Good,” Mina says as she goes over to the couch and begins to write the previous day’s events in her journal, as well as draw what she saw in her dream that night.

 

When they have to be down in about five minutes, Mina closes her journal and places it back in her pack. She then goes over, takes her shoes, and magically colors them to match her dress. She and Cassandra then head down to have breakfast.

 

“Mother of Mercy!” Zevran exclaims when he sees Mina. He stands up and walks over to them. “You look beautiful this morning, My Lady Herald,” he says as he bows slightly to her. He takes her hand in his and goes to kiss the back of it.

As much as she wants to, Mina doesn’t pull her hand away this time. Instead, she gives Cassandra a ‘help me’ look.

When Cassandra sees this, she chuckles. “I do believe you are making the Herald uncomfortable,” she tells Zevran. Mina gives her an appreciative look.

At that, Zevran looks up and sees Mina is blushing slightly, but is indeed looking quite uncomfortable. “Ah, my apologies, My Lady Herald,” he says as he drops Mina’s hand. “I was just trying to be friendly. That’s all.”

“If flirting is your way of being friendly, be prepared to face my Force-Slap sooner or later,” Mina replies. “Now, if you will please move. I am very hungry and would like to have as much food digested before we have to get on that freaking boat, as I likely will not have anything in my stomach within the first few minutes of the ride.”

“Ah, but you just need to take your mind off it,” Zevran replies. “I could help you if you’d like.”

“I’m fine, thank you,” Mina says, temper rising. She crosses her arms. “Now, please move so I can go eat.”

Cassandra feels Mina start to summon her magic. “I’d do as she says,” she tells Zevran. “I’ve seen her wrath first hand, and it’s not pleasant to witness, and I doubt it’s pleasant to experience.”

“It’s not,” Varric says.

“Well, at least she doesn’t turn people into toads,” Zevran says with a slight chuckle.

“What makes you think I don’t?” Mina asks with a smirk and a raised eyebrow.

“Maker, you remind me of Morrigan sometimes,” Zevran mutters.

“You mean the shapeshifter who traveled with the Hero of Ferelden during the Blight?” Mina asks.

“You know them?” Zevran asks incredulously.

“I know of them,” Mina replies. “Who doesn’t? Now, are you going to move or not?”

Zevran sighs. “My apologies, My Lady Herald,” he says as he makes room for them to pass.

As Mina goes to sit down, Cassandra notices she lets Zevran help her sit and smiles softly to herself. If Cullen hadn’t already caught Mina’s attention, I would totally try to put these two together! she thinks.

They eat in silence. Mina rather enjoys it, despite the tense nature of it.

 

Once they are done eating, they head into the market to get some much-needed supplies. They get some more ginger root, enough that they are sure they won’t run out if Mina is able to stay awake this time, as well as for the rest of the group. They also get some sweets for Leliana and Josephine. Mina gets Eva a little coloring book so the child can have something to do if and when she gets bored. When they arrive at the ship around midday, they see Sera waiting for them.

 

The first day on the water is actually bearable for Mina and Sera. Despite their protests, Zevran actually stays up on deck with them and keeps them company. He even helps steady them when they do have to throw up over the side of the boat.

That night, Mina doesn’t even have to ask Solas to put a sleeping spell on her. She and Sera are able to go below deck and get some decent sleep.

 

The next morning, however, Mina’s health declines drastically. She, Sera, and Zevran are up on deck again when Mina just col1apses after a particularly large vomit episode. Zevran is able to catch her, but she is so weak that she doesn’t even notice when he picks her up.

“I’ve got you, My Lady,” he tells her softly as he begins to rush her below deck for medical attention.

Mina just whimpers weakly and starts to pass out.

“Please try to stay awake, My Lady,” Zevran says as he continues to rush to where he knows Solas will be.

Mina just whimpers again.

As Zevran rounds a corner, he nearly collides with Cassandra.

“Maker, Zevran, what happened?” she asks worriedly when she sees Mina’s condition.

“Her seasickness is worse today, it seems,” Zevran replies. “She just nearly went overboard before I caught her. She’s barely awake right now.”

Cassandra sighs but nods in understanding. “Right, follow me,” she says as she turns around and leads them to the room the women are sharing.

 

“Seasick again?” Eva asks worriedly when she looks up after the door is opened.

“Unfortunately,” Cassandra replies as she motions for Zevran to put Mina on her bed.

“I’ll go get Solas, then,” Eva says as she rushes out of the room.

“C—Cass?” Mina mutters weakly as Zevran carefully places her on the bed.

“I’m here, Mina,” Cassandra says as she goes over and takes her friend’s hand in hers. “We’ll get you back to good health, Mina. I promise.”

“I—I’m sorry, Cass,” Mina whispers. She starts to heave again.

Cassandra quickly grabs the bucket Mina had put in the room the night before and helps her friend roll over, just in time for her to vomit into it.

“I’m sorry,” Mina whispers again after rolling back on her back.

“Oh, Mina, I know you can’t help it,” Cassandra replies as she starts to take the braids out of Mina’s hair to make her more comfortable.

Just then, Solas comes rushing in the room, closely followed by Eva.

“Lethallan, do you want to be put under a sleeping spell for a while?” Solas asks Mina as he begins to stabilize her. However, Mina has already passed out from being so weak.

“I think it would probably be best,” Cassandra says. “I should probably go inform Isabela.”

“I’ll do it, Lady Cassandra,” Zevran says. “You shouldn’t have to leave the Lady Herald’s side just to inform the ship’s captain of her condition.”

Cassandra sighs. “Very well. Thank you, Zevran.”

Zevran nods in acknowledgement before leaving the room to go inform Isabela of the situation.

Soon, Solas has finished stabilizing Mina and has put a sleeping spell on her. He bids Cassandra and Eva a good day and then exits the room himself.

 

The rest of the trip to Jader is fairly uneventful. Mina is kept under the sleeping spell for her own wellbeing. Sera refuses to have one put on her, and does fairly well without it. When they finally dock in Jader, Solas reverses the sleep spell so Mina can eat that evening and so they don’t have to carry her to the inn.

 

The eight-day trip back to Haven proves really bad for Mina’s motion sickness. Cassandra has to ride with Eva; Sera and Zevran have to share Mina’s horse; and Mina herself has to shapeshift.

 

“You can shapeshift?!” Zevran asks incredulously when he sees it for the first time.

“Yes I can,” Mina says in her mabari form.

“You mages are freaky,” Sera says. “Just don’t do any mage stuff on me.”

They hear Mina laugh. “I didn’t realize you were scared of magic.”

“How do you expect me to react to magic?” Sera asks.

“No way in particular,” Mina replies. “I just didn’t think you were scared of it.”

“Well, I am,” Sera says. “End of story.”

 

O0o0o0o

 

When they finally arrive back in Haven the morning of Justinian the seventeenth, Leliana is waiting for them.

“Mother of Mercy, you’re a sight for sore eyes, Leli!” Zevran says when he sees her.

Leliana giggles. “I could say the same thing about you, Zev,” she says.

“And to see you again here in Haven of all places…” Zevran says.

“I know!” Leliana says with another giggle.

Mina looks to Cassandra. “How much history do these two have?” she whispers in her ear. Cassandra just shrugs.

“What are you two whispering about over there?” Leliana asks.

“Nothing!” Mina and Cassandra say at the same time.

“Ah, the Lady Herald was just wondering how much history we have,” Zevran tells the Spymaster with a smirk.

Mina groans. “Fucking elf senses,” she mutters.

Zevran laughs at that.

“Are you done?” Mina asks impatiently after the laughter dies down.

“Apologies, My Lady Herald,” Zevran says.

“Ugh! How many times do I have to tell you to not call me that?!” Mina groans.

“Apologies, Mina,” Zevran corrects. “I promise I will try to remember that.”

“Thank you,” Mina says with a sigh. “Come on, Eva. Let’s go get ourselves cleaned up.”

“Right behind you, sis,” Eva says as she grabs her pack and follows Mina to their cabin.

“Well, let me show you two to your cabins,” Leliana says to Zevran and Sera. “Cass, meet me in our room in an hour. I need to talk to you about something.”

Cassandra nods and they go their separate ways.

 

An hour later, Leliana enters their room and waits on Cassandra. When the Seeker enters a few minutes later, her hair is still damp from her recent bath.

“Ah, there you are,” Leliana says with a smile.

Cassandra sighs. “I hope you weren’t waiting long,” she says as she goes to put her stuff away.

“I wasn’t, actually,” Leliana replies. She sighs. “How was she? Were there any more attempts?”

Cassandra sighs again. “Just one, but I was able to stop her before she uncorked the vial.”

Leliana nods in solemn understanding. “I heard back from Rai yesterday morning,” she says. 

“What do you mean?” Cassandra asks as she sits on her bed and faces the Spymaster.

Leliana pulls out a note and hands it to Cassandra. “Read for yourself,” she says.

Cassandra carefully takes the note from the Spymaster, unfolds it, and begins reading:

Leli,

I’m so sorry to hear about your friend and her suicide attempt. I hope what I suggest works. Please let me know of the results if you can.

First thing’s first: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, LEAVE HER ALONE! Even on her good days! She’s Bipolar, for Maker’s sake! She can be having the time of her life one second, and attempting suicide the next!

Secondly, learn her ticks. If you know what can send her down the path to attempting suicide again, you can do your best to avoid those things in the future.

Third, if she has eyes for someone, try to bring them together. If nothing else works, perhaps love will. But that may just be the hopeless romantic in me talking.

Fourth, ask her how she’s feeling as often as possible. She may not like being asked that, but it will prove invaluable to her that someone cares. It will also let you know where she is mentally.

Fifth, avoid stressful situations as much as possible. I know that’s hard when we are in the middle of a war, but if I remember one thing, the less stressed I was, the less I felt like there was no hope for me in the world.

Lastly, if nothing works and/or she just needs someone to talk to who has been through what she is going through, I am giving you permission to tell her my story and for her to write me if she wants. If she doesn’t want to reveal her identity to me, she can remain anonymous. I won’t mind.

Again, I hope this helps. I wish I could be of more help, but that’s all I can give with my current knowledge of the situation.

I eagerly await word on the results. Maker watch over you all!

Your friend,

Rai

When Cassandra finishes reading, she looks at the Spymaster in shock. “I had no idea the Hero and Queen of Ferelden was Bipolar!”

Leliana sighs and nods. “It’s the same base cause, too,” she says solemnly.

“I’m slightly surprised Mina told you and not me,” Cassandra says.

Leliana sighs again. “Well, I’m technically under orders from both of them not to tell anyone, but for Mina’s safety, I think you need to know.”

Cassandra sighs. “If you really think so…”

“I unfortunately do,” Leliana replies with another sigh. She takes Cassandra’s hands in hers. “Cass, Mina was raped at the age of ten.”

What?!” Cassandra exclaims in shock. “Maker, why didn’t you tell me sooner?!”

“Because she asked me to keep it to myself!” Leliana says. “I am the very first person she told since it happened! Maker, her Keeper doesn’t even know!”

“You mean she’s kept this to herself for ten years?!” Cassandra asks incredulously.

Leliana nods solemnly. “She said the man told her it was normal behavior and that if she ever told anyone, no one would believe her. She found out it isn’t normal behavior five years later, but she still didn’t tell anyone. She just took it out on anyone who tried to do that to anyone else.”

“And thus the reason she once fed a man his own balls,” Cassandra says in realization.

Again, Leliana nods solemnly. “He was the first after she learned the truth.”

Cassandra sighs. “Thank you for telling me. It does clarify some things that I have noticed in her behavior.”

“What do you mean?” Leliana asks.

“I noticed something shift in her when talking with Zevran,” Cassandra replies.

“Maker, he flirted with her didn’t he?” Leliana groans slightly.

Cassandra nods.

“Ugh, that flirt!” Leliana scoffs, but fails to hide the smile creeping up on her face. “It’s one of the reasons I fell for him…”

Cassandra looks at Leliana in shock. “I knew there was something going on between you two!” she says with a smirk.

“What makes you say that?” Leliana asks innocently, but starts to blush nonetheless.

Cassandra laughs. “Oh, cut the act, Leli! Your little slip up won’t fool me! Besides, that blush tells me all I need to know!”

“Ugh, fine!” Leliana groans. “Seriously, though, he flirts with everyone, but I can see why Mina might take it the wrong way.” She sighs. “Did you notice anything else?”

It’s Cassandra’s turn to sigh. “Unfortunately.” She then tells Leliana about the rest of the trip to the capital. Leliana had heard about a lot of it from her scouts, but she didn’t know the details that the Seeker is able to give her.

 

“Are you getting the same thought as I am about Mina?” Leliana asks after Cassandra finishes telling her what happened in the capital.

“That she would make the perfect Inquisitor?” Cassandra asks in return. The Spymaster smiles and nods. “Yes, but I think we should wait until after the Breach is sealed. She has enough stress on her as it is.”

“I agree,” Leliana says. “And I don’t think we should just ask her when everyone else is watching, as much as it would be nice to surprise her. I think we will need to sit her down and talk to her about it.”

“That would probably be best,” Cassandra agrees. “But, if the time comes and we feel like she should be surprised, I’ll check on her mental state before we do it.”

Leliana nods in understanding.

 

They continue talking for a while, before they hear yelling coming from outside the Chantry. They quickly rush out to see Mina and a templar in a heated argument.

“You are no Champion of the Maker’s wife!” the templar sneers.

“I never claimed to be!” Mina yells back. “I have no idea how I got this fucking mark, nor who that woman was, but people have speculated as to who it was, and here we are!”

“Lies!” the templar scoffs. “You killed the Most Holy! That alone means you should be executed!” He starts to unsheathe his sword, but before he can, he falls to the ground in agony.

“How dare you treat my sister that way?!” Eva snarls as she gets in between Mina and the templar, her eyes glowing a soft blue. She laughs at the man’s shocked expression. “You know what I am now, don’t you? That’s right! A child is a Seeker! Don’t ask me how; I have no earthly idea, but I am! Now, unless you apologize to my sister, I am going to continue to set all the lyrium in your body on fire until you have nothing left!”

“Maker, she might have the ability to kill with that power!” Cassandra mutters as she realizes how powerful the spell on the templar is.

“Isn’t that rare?” Leliana asks.

Cassandra nods. “It is.”

Just then, the man passes out and Eva immediately stops the spell. “Maker, what just happened?” she mutters.

Leliana and Cassandra immediately come rushing forward. Leliana checks the man’s pulse.

“Maker, Eva, you have a rare ability with that power!” the Spymaster says in slight shock when she doesn’t detect a heartbeat.

“What do you mean?” Eva asks.

Leliana sighs. “Mina, take her to the War Room. We have a lot to discuss.”

Mina nods and begins to lead Eva into the Chantry.

“Back to your duties!” Cassandra tells the gathered crowd. “All of you!”

The crowd begins to disperse.

“Is he really dead?” Cassandra asks Leliana once the crowd is gone.

Leliana nods. “Unfortunately.” She sighs. “Go tell them. Eva may be turning six in a month, but she needs to know what she can do with that ability. I will clean this up and meet you in there in a few minutes.”

Cassandra sighs. “Very well.” She then turns and enters the Chantry.

 

When she enters the War Room, Cassandra sees Mina sitting in a chair, Eva pacing the room, and Josephine trying to get details out of the two of them, but to no avail. She sighs. “He’s dead.”

What?!” Eva exclaims incredulously as she stops her pacing and looks at the Seeker. “How is that possible?! You said I shouldn’t be able to kill people with that ability!”

“Eva, that is considered rare,” Cassandra says. “So rare that I didn’t think it would be an issue. Clearly I was mistaken.”

“Can someone please tell me what’s going on?!” Josephine asks.

“I apparently just killed a man by setting the lyrium inside his body on fire!” Eva cries as she resumes her pacing. “I was just trying to protect my sister! I didn’t want to kill him!”

“I know, Eva,” Cassandra says. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m proud of you, Eva,” Mina says. “You exposed your secret in the best way possible, and you did it with such grace and bravery that if you were scared, I couldn’t tell.”

“I’m just glad he didn’t hurt you,” Eva says. “I still can’t believe I killed him, though.”

“Honestly, I can’t either,” Cassandra says. She sighs. “Eva, I need you to be careful with that ability in the future. Only use it when someone’s life is in danger, like today. Some Seekers use it to interrogate, but until you learn how to control how powerful it is, only use it in self-defense, or in the defense of others. Do you understand?”

Eva nods. “Only use that ability when I or someone I love is in danger, and, until I can control how powerful it is, don’t use it to interrogate. Got it.”

Cassandra smiles at Eva then. “Very good.” She looks over at Mina, who has a blue orb of magic hovering in between her hands. “What are you doing, Mina?” she asks with a slight chuckle.

Mina lets the orb disappear as she turns to look at Cassandra with a small smile on her face. “I do that for fun sometimes or as a stress reliever,” she says. “It’s also the base of many neat spells, so I like to keep it in practice.”

“Is it always blue for you?” Josephine asks.

“Nope,” Mina says as she summons her magic again. This time, the orb is purple. “I can do any color I want.” The orb changes colors several times before going back to purple. “I can even do this.” The orb changes to a full spectrum of colors.

“That’s pretty,” Eva says.

Mina chuckles. “Thank you, da’len. I’ve always loved this side of my magic.” She lets the orb disappear.

“I wish all magic was that pretty,” Josephine says.

Mina chuckles again. “You and me both.”

Just then, the door opens and Leliana and Cullen walk in.

“Ah, there you are, Josie,” Leliana says. “I take it you’ve heard.”

Josephine sighs and nods. “I have.”

“That particular templar has been giving everyone trouble recently, and I was going to suggest he be kicked out of Haven anyway, but I suppose that isn’t needed now,” Cullen says. He turns to Mina and Eva. “He didn’t hurt either of you, did he?”

“No, thank the Creators,” Mina says. “Luckily, Eva was able to get to him before he did anything.”

“Good,” Cullen says with a nod and a small smile.

“There’s still the issue with the backlash this might cause,” Leliana says. She turns to Cassandra. “Cass, will having Eva as your apprentice be a problem with the Order?”

Cassandra sighs. “Normally, I wouldn’t think so, but after the encounter with Lord Seeker Lucius in the capital, I’m not sure the Order is the same anymore.” She sighs again. “But, regardless, I won’t let them take her to train elsewhere.”

“Are you worried about your reputation at all?” Mina asks.

Cassandra laughs. “Mina, we are already considered heretics for rebuilding the Inquisition. My reputation is the least of our problems.”

“Have you had an apprentice before?” Eva asks.

“I have, actually,” Cassandra replies with a nod. “If I ever get the chance, I’ll introduce him to you.”

“Okay,” Eva says. She turns to Mina. “Can we go play now?”

Mina chuckles. “Da’len, I have to brief everyone on what happened in the capital, and we have to discuss our next move. But after I’m done here, we can, okay?”

“Okay!” Eva says before she takes out the little coloring book Mina got her in Val Royeaux and tries to crawl up in a chair in the corner of the room, but is having difficulty.

Leliana chuckles before she goes over to Eva and helps her up onto the chair.

“Thanks, Leliana,” Eva says as she crosses her legs in front of her and opens to a blank image.

“You’re welcome, Eva,” Leliana replies before she goes back to the War Table and they begin the meeting.

 

They go over several things, including suggesting two more places for Mina and her party to check out: the Storm Coast and the Fallow Mire. The meeting goes on for a couple hours before they finally get to talk about the trip to the capital.

“It’s a shame the templars have abandoned their senses as well as the capital,” Cullen says.

“We had to do something, and now we have an opportunity,” Mina replies with a shrug.

“Yes, and we now have the opening we need to approach both the templars and the mages,” Josephine says.

“Do we?” Cassandra asks. “Lord Seeker Lucius is not the man I remember.”

“True,” Leliana says. “He has taken the Order somewhere, but to do what? My reports have been… very odd.”

“We must look into it,” Cullen says. “I’m certain not everyone in the Order will support the Lord Seeker.”

“Or Mina could simply go to meet the mages in Redcliffe, instead,” Josephine says.

“You think the mage rebellion is more united?” Cullen asks incredulously. “It could be ten times worse!”

Mina sighs. “Regardless, we need to come to an agreement soon. I highly doubt the Breach will remain stable forever. Right now, we don’t have an invitation to talk with the templars, but we do with the mages. I could at least go to Redcliffe and see what they want.”

“No doubt what they’ve always wanted: support for their cause,” Cassandra says.

“We shouldn’t discount Redcliffe,” Josephine says. “The mages may be worth the risk.”

“They are powerful, Josie, but more desperate than you realize,” Cassandra says.

“You think the invitation could be some kind of trap?” Mina asks Cassandra.

“If some of the rebel mages were responsible for what happened at the Conclave…” Cassandra starts.

“The same could be said about the templars,” Josephine cuts in.

“True enough,” Cullen says. “Right now, I’m not certain we have enough influence to approach the Order safely.”

“Then the Inquisition needs agents in more places,” Cassandra says. She turns to Mina. “That is something you can help with.”

“In the meantime, we should consider other options,” Josephine says.

 

They continue on for another hour, and decide they should at least go to Redcliffe and see what the mages want. During one of the silent moments, Mina is looking at the map and notices something interesting about Lake Calenhad. She tilts her head to the side and squints to get a better look.

“What is it, Mina?” Leliana asks.

“If you squint, Lake Calenhad is shaped like a bunny,” Mina replies.

Josephine sighs. “Perhaps we should take a--”

“Oh, I think I see it!” Leliana exclaims excitedly, effectively cutting off the Ambassador.

 

When they finally break for the day, Leliana tells Eva to go with the rest of the group to go get lunch and that she and Mina would join them in a few minutes.

 

“What is it, Leliana?” Mina asks once the door is closed.

“There is one other matter,” Leliana replies. “Well, two.” She sighs. “Several months ago, the Grey Wardens of Ferelden vanished. I sent word to those in Orlais, but they have also disappeared.”

“Wait, what?” Mina asks. “I saw Fiona in Val Royeaux! Surely there are others who haven’t disappeared! And aren’t the King and Queen of Ferelden Grey Wardens as well?”

“Fiona is a retired Warden,” Leliana replies. “And Rai and Ali are safe, thanks to my letters to them, but all of the other Wardens have disappeared. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t even consider the idea they’re involved in all this, but the timing is… curious.”

“That does sound odd, I agree,” Mina says.

“The others have disregarded my suspicion, but I can’t ignore it,” Leliana says. “Two days ago, my agents in the Hinterlands heard news of a Grey Warden by the name of Blackwall. If you have the opportunity, please seek him out. Perhaps he can put my mind at ease.”

“And if he can’t?” Mina asks.

“Then there may be more going on than we thought,” Leliana replies.

Mina nods in understanding. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you,” Leliana says. She sighs. “As for the other thing, I’m sorry about Zevran. He flirts with everyone; so don’t put it against him.” Damn it, Leliana! Just tell her!

“I’ll try,” Mina says with a sigh of her own. “But what did you really want to tell me?”

“How’d you know I wanted to say something else?” Leliana asks, shocked.

Mina chuckles. “For one, you’re fidgeting, and you never do that. Two, I can just tell.”

Leliana sighs again and makes Mina sit down. She sits in a chair in front of her and takes her hands in hers. “Mina, I had to tell Cass your secret.”

It’s Mina’s turn to sigh. “I understand.”

“You’re not mad?” Leliana asks incredulously.

“Not really,” Mina says with another sigh. “I had a feeling one of us would have to tell her eventually, since she’s the one who’s been watching me when we are out on the road. I just wish there was a way to get rid of that part of my mind sometimes.”

“I understand, Mina,” Leliana says as she squeezes their hands reassuringly. “If it makes you feel better, Rai said you could write her and ask her about her struggle with the same thing. I didn’t tell her who you were or about the rape incident, just that you are Bipolar like she is and that you attempted suicide.”

Mina looks at the Spymaster in shock. “I’m sorry, did you just say the Hero and Queen of Ferelden is Bipolar?!” Leliana nods. “Creators, I had no idea!”

“It isn’t widely known,” Leliana says. “It was unfortunately quite common for templars to rape their charges in the Circles. Add on being conscripted to the Wardens, and Rai could just barely take it. She actually attempted suicide several times before she found her saving grace.”

“And what was her saving grace?” Mina asks.

Leliana smiles softly. “Alistair, actually.”

“Wait, really?” Mina asks.

Leliana nods. “He taught her to trust most templars again. As well as what it’s truly like to love and be loved.”

“And you said she’s willing to answer any questions I might have regarding our… um… condition?” Mina asks.

Again, Leliana nods.

“What if I don’t want to reveal my true identity just yet?” Mina asks.

“She said she won’t mind if you remain anonymous,” Leliana replies.

Mina breathes a small sigh of relief. “Alright. Can you give me a few minutes to write her? I feel like I should go ahead and get these questions off my chest.”

“Of course,” Leliana replies.

“Thank you,” Mina says before she goes over to the War Table and pulls out a sheet of parchment from the box they keep there. She takes the quill and dips it in the ink before beginning to write:

Justinian the seventeenth, 9:41 Dragon

Your Majesty,

Creators, I don’t know what to say except thank you for allowing Leliana to share your story with me, and for allowing me to write you. You have no idea what it’s like to know that I can talk to someone who’s going through something similar to what I’m going through!

I think I would like to remain anonymous for now. If I realize that is no longer possible, I will let you know.

Creators, this is hard…

I suppose I should tell you a little bit about myself. I don’t know what Leliana told you, but I was raped at the age of ten while out trading with humans. If you couldn’t tell by my use of ‘Creators’, I’m a Dalish Elf. I had never told anyone about being raped until my suicide note to Leliana. After that unfortunate encounter ten years ago, I have made it my mission to make any rapist pay for their crimes. That, and the fact that my identical twin and I killed our previous First and Second, who just so happened to be the boys we were set to marry one day, when our magic manifested a month prior, have proven to be very depressing for me. Add on this Herald business… oh, shit… I guess you know who I am now… Anyways, add on this Herald business and the fact that I won’t be able to go home to my clan at least until I can seal the Breach, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. That’s why I attempted to kill myself.

Anyways, I have a few questions for you… How did you overcome your Bipolar Depression? I’ve reached my breaking point and I don’t think I can last much longer… Also, how exactly was His Majesty your saving grace? I’ve been told by a Fade-touched nug to seek out a rather dashing former templar here by the name of Cullen Rutherford, who is the Inquisition’s Commander, and that my clan will accept him, but I’m still not sure about pursuing love here… Lastly, are you a Dreamer? I heard a rumor that you are a mage, and was wondering if you also happened to be a Dreamer. I am learning how to be one myself, and thought that maybe we could communicate in the Fade as Dreamers if writing becomes too slow of a process.

Anyways, I really appreciate that you are doing this. I’m sorry you had to experience what you did. I wish you the best of luck. May the Creators go with you, always.

Dareth shiral (safe journey),

Mina of Clan Lavellan of the Free Marches

Herald of Andraste (Creators, it still feels weird to write that)

As Mina finishes writing the letter, she sighs. “Creators, I’m sorry that took longer than expected,” she tells Leliana as she shakes her hand out before magically drying the ink.

“It’s perfectly alright, Mina,” Leliana replies. “I totally understand.”

Mina smiles softly at the Spymaster before turning back to the letter and folding it. She turns and hands it to her. “Um… Can I ask that you not read it? And maybe her return letter as well?”

Leliana smiles softly as she takes the letter from Mina. “Of course.”

“Thank you,” Mina says with a small sigh of relief.

After Leliana has placed the letter safely in her pocket to send later, she goes over and takes Mina’s hands in hers. “You’re welcome, Mina,” she tells her. “If you ever need anything, you just need to ask.”

Before Mina can say or do anything, her stomach growls quite loudly. She sighs. “Well, I apparently need food, so I guess we should make our way to the tavern.”

Leliana nods and they begin to head to the tavern. However, when they leave the Chantry, someone stops them.

“Excuse me, I’ve got a message for the Inquisition, but I’m having a hard time getting anyone to talk to me,” he says.

“Who are you, soldier?” Leliana asks.

“Cremisius Aclassi, with Bull’s Chargers mercenary company,” he replies. “We mostly work out of Orlais and Nevarra. We got word of some Tevinter mercenaries gathering on the Storm Coast. My company commander, Iron Bull, offers this information free of charge. If you’d like to see what the Bull’s Chargers can do for the Inquisition, meet us there and watch us work.”

“You must know how much this sounds like a trap,” Mina says. “Why did your commander send us this information?”

“Iron Bull wants to work for the Inquisition,” Cremisius replies. “He thinks you’re doing good work.”

“What exactly can your Bull’s Chargers offer the Inquisition?” Leliana asks.

“We’re loyal, we’re tough, and we don’t break contracts,” Cremisius replies. “Ask around Val Royeaux. We’ve got references.”

“Alright,” Mina says. “Is there anything we should know about your commander?”

“Iron Bull?” Cremisius asks. “He’s one of those Qunari. The big guys with horns? He leads from the front, he pays well, and he’s a lot smarter than the last bastard I worked for. Best of all, he’s professional. We accept contracts with whoever makes the first real offer. The Inquisition is the first time he’s gone out of his way to pick a side.”

Mina looks to Leliana, who smiles softly and nods.

“Alright,” Mina tells Cremisius. “I look forward to meeting this Iron Bull.”

Cremisius smiles softly. “We’re the best you’ll find. Come to the Storm Coast, and you can see us in action.” He hands Mina a map with the meeting location marked on it and takes his leave.

As soon as he is out of earshot, Mina sighs and hands Leliana the map. “I guess we’ll have to leave again soon,” she mutters.

“If you leave the day after tomorrow, you will still have plenty of time to reach the meeting location on time,” Leliana replies. “But if you need more time, we can arrange it.”

Mina sighs again. “No, we should leave the day after tomorrow. The sooner you have answers to the Warden situation, the better. Plus, we still have to see what the mages want.” Her stomach growls again. “Okay, okay!” she exclaims to it. “We’re going to get some food in you, so cut it out!”

Leliana bursts out into giggles at that.

“Sorry,” Mina mutters as she starts to blush slightly.

“Don’t worry about it, Mina,” Leliana says as they begin to walk toward the tavern. “I do that too sometimes.”

“Well at least I’m not the only one,” Mina mutters.

 

When they enter the tavern, they are handed trays of food and mugs of water, and they head to the table where the rest of the group is finishing their own meal.

“Ah, there you two are,” Josephine says as they sit down and begin eating. “We were wondering if we would have to have food brought to you.”

Leliana smiles. “We would have gotten here sooner if we hadn’t been stopped by a member of a mercenary group wanting to join the Inquisition. Mina and I think it would be best if she and her party leave the day after tomorrow for the Storm Coast to meet with them, and then head to the Hinterlands to check something for me, before heading to Redcliffe to meet with the mages.”

Everyone nods in understanding and agreement. They eat in relative silence for a while before getting back to work.

Chapter Text

After they finish eating lunch, Cassandra takes Eva to train with her abilities; Cullen goes back to training his troops; Leliana goes to send Mina’s letter to Queen Raisa; Josephine heads to her office to get back to work; and Mina takes some time to talk to her companions, starting with the Red Jenny:

“So, this is it, huh?” Sera says as she invites Mina to sit next to her on the bed in the cabin she was given.

Mina gives her a slightly confused look as she sits next to the elf.

“Oh, no, it’s fine, yeah?” Sera says. “I just thought it’d be bigger. The Inquisition I mean.” She chuckles. “Pfft, that would’ve been hilarious if you were a man, right? Wasted. Anyway, stopping wars should earn more sovereigns than this. Need things back to normal for coins to be flowing again. Another reason the templars and mages need to be sat down.”

“It’s not just a war between those two,” Mina says.

“Well, sure, the sky has a hole in it,” Sera says. “But I can’t put an arrow in that. Well, I have. Doesn’t come down. That’s… weird. And that’s the point, right? It’s weird and right there, but they still want to punch each other. They’re too busy to look up where the real questions are.”

“That’s why we’re here, to help guide everyone back from the brink,” Mina says.

“The religious ones tell you that?” Sera asks. “That’s important, right. But don’t make it all about that. Seems like believing too hard is what got everyone here.” She scrunches up her face. “And here is stupid. And smells of horse. Really, what everyone needs is to get everything back to normal and proper and profitable.” She smiles. “Sound good to you, all touched Lady Herald?” When Mina gives her a look, she just laughs. “Sorry. I know what you said about not calling you that. I just had to get it out at least once.”

Mina sighs. “I’m committed to putting an end to this crisis, whatever it takes.”

“It’s why I’m here, yeah?” Sera says. “This is where it gets done, whatever it is. Can’t do a bloody thing with everyone pissing themselves. Stupid everyone.”

“Not everyone is stupid, Sera,” Mina says.

“Of course not!” Sera says. “You aren’t; you’re smart. Smart enough to know what’s right when you see it, and what needs to be done to make things right. Can’t say the same about a lot of other people.”

“I’m not that smart,” Mina says. “I make a lot of dumb choices.”

Sera chuckles. “I haven’t seen any.”

“You probably will soon,” Mina says with a sigh.

“Oh, now I definitely will,” Sera says before giving Mina a curious look. “You need to cheer up,” she says as she stands up and pulls Mina off the bed. “I have the perfect idea; come with me!” She starts to pull Mina toward the door.

“Where are you taking me?” Mina asks.

“You’ll see,” Sera replies as she opens the door and pulls Mina through it.

Mina sighs, but follows the rogue nonetheless.

 

Sera takes Mina to the hill the mage had found while out hunting with Eva and stops.

“Alright, I’ve seen the way your mood changes when you do your magic stuff,” Sera says. “As much as I don’t trust magic, you need to get a good release.” She stops when she realizes her innuendo. “I mean… if you want a different release, I’ll help you, but if you don’t…” She sighs. “Just use your magic, yeah?”

Mina looks at Sera in surprise. “You want me to use my magic?”

Sera sighs again. “I mean, unless you have a better idea.”

Before Mina can say or do anything else, they hear a scream.

“Creators, that sounded like Eva!” Mina exclaims as she Fade-Steps back toward the town. She rushes toward the sound in a bit of a panic.

 

When Mina finally finds Eva, the child is sobbing in Cassandra’s arms on the floor in their cabin.

“What happened?” Mina asks frantically.

Upon hearing Mina’s voice, Eva curls into an even smaller ball in the Seeker’s arms.

Cassandra sighs. “Close the door, Mina,” she says. “You might want to sit down for this.”

Mina does as she’s told and closes the door before going to sit near them. However, as she sits, she notices some red marks on Eva’s wrists and gasps. “Garas melar, da’len!” she demands. Come here, little one!

Having been taught the translation to what Mina just said, Eva shakes her head.

“Eva, you’re hurt!” Mina insists. “Let me heal you!”

“No,” Eva chokes out.

“She wouldn’t even let Solas heal her,” Cassandra says as she rubs the child’s back soothingly.

“Why?” Mina asks.

“I don’t know,” Cassandra says with a sigh. “She actually Silenced him, so I wouldn’t try anything.”

“What happened?” Mina asks again.

“She and I were walking toward the Chantry to talk to Josie about something when someone grabbed her,” Cassandra says. “She screamed and I punched him. He let go, but not before he hurt her. Leliana is interrogating him now, but I have a feeling it was because of what happened this morning.”

Mina nods in understanding. She turns to the still sobbing child in her friend’s arms. “Eva, why won’t you let someone heal your wounds?”

Eva looks at Mina then and sighs. “I deserve it,” she chokes out. “I killed a man today.”

“That was justified, Eva!” Cassandra exclaims. “You did that to protect Mina!”

“But I didn’t mean to kill him!” Eva cries.

“I know, da’len,” Mina tries to soothe. “I’m still proud of you.” She reaches out to move a strand of hair out of Eva’s face, but the child just writhes away. “Okay,” Mina says as she puts her hands up in surrender. “I won’t touch you.”

Just then, the door opens and Leliana sticks her head in.

“Oh, Mina!” she says when she sees her. “I’m glad I found you. I need to talk to you.”

“Will you two be alright here?” Mina asks Cassandra.

The Seeker nods. “Don’t worry.”

Mina nods and stands up before following Leliana outside.

“Did she let you heal her?” Leliana asks as they begin walking to the Chantry.

Mina shakes her head. “Unfortunately, she didn’t. She thinks she deserves it.”

Leliana sighs. “You never forget the face of the first person you kill,” she mutters.

“That’s the truth,” Mina chuckles sadly.

 

They walk the rest of the way to the Chantry in silence. When Leliana opens the first door that leads to the dungeon, Mina realizes where the Spymaster is taking her.

“What’s the smallest thing you can shapeshift into?” Leliana asks after closing the door.

“Safely, probably that butterfly,” Mina replies. “Why?”

Leliana smiles softly as she takes a ring out of her pocket and hands it to Mina. “Put this on, shapeshift into the butterfly, and land on my shoulder.”

Mina feels an enchantment on the ring the Spymaster just handed her, but she can’t tell what kind of enchantment. She stares at it in slight confusion.

Leliana notices this and chuckles slightly. “That’s a stealth ring,” she tells her. “So you won’t be seen while shapeshifted.”

“Um… okay…?” Mina says, still slightly confused.

“Trust me, you don’t want him to know you’re with me,” Leliana says. “At least at first.”

“What do you mean?” Mina asks. “What are you planning, Leliana?”

Leliana sighs. “All you need to know is that I think he will answer to you, but only if he thinks you’re a blood mage, which shapeshifters are often incorrectly considered.”

“If that’s the case, why do I need to be hidden at first?” Mina asks.

“You’ll see,” Leliana says. “And, trust me; you’ll know when to reveal yourself.”

Mina sighs, but nods in understanding before she puts on the ring and shapeshifts.

“I’m ready,” she says once she has landed on Leliana’s shoulder.

“Good,” Leliana says before she opens the door to the dungeon and walks to the prisoner.

“I told you I’m not answering any of your fucking questions!” the man snarls.

“What if I told you that I have someone with me who can make your life a living nightmare if you don’t?” Leliana asks in return.

“I’m not going to answer that,” the man scoffs. “Because you don’t.”

“I do, actually,” Leliana replies. “She’s right here.” She points to her shoulder.

Mina takes that as her cue and she comes out of stealth. She then flies off Leliana’s shoulder and reverts back into her normal form.

The man looks at Mina in shock. “Y—you’re--?”

“I’m what?” Mina asks with a smirk as she crosses her arms.

The man looks to Leliana, who is mimicking Mina’s posture. “I’m still not answering any of your fucking questions,” he snarls.

“Fine, we’ll do this the hard way,” Mina says as she summons her magic and wraps it around the man’s right wrist. “This requires extremely little mana, so I could essentially do this all day.” She wraps her magic around his right ankle. “Start talking or I will keep adding places that I wrap my magic around until I get to your scrotum, and you don’t want to know how painful that one is.”

Leliana walks over to Mina and cups her hand near her ear. “Are you sure you want to do this?” she asks in a whisper, knowing the mental consequences this could have on the Herald. Mina nods. “Very well.” She then turns back to the man. “I hope you’re ready to cooperate,” she tells him.

The man scoffs. “You think bringing this rabbit in here to do whatever the fuck she is doing will make me talk?!” he sneers. “I’ve suffered worse pain than what the little harlot can do!”

At that, Mina rolls her eyes and wraps her magic around the man’s scrotum. “Was it worse than this?” she asks with a small smirk as the man screams out in pain. “Believe me; I could just castrate you right now if I wanted to.”

“Okay, okay!” the man screams. “I grabbed the child because she killed a Knight-Corporal in cold blood! I was going to kill her in return!”

At that, Mina lets go of the man’s scrotum and gets in his face. “I’ll have you know that the templar she killed was the one in the wrong!” she sneers. She turns to Leliana. “I think we’re done here, don’t you?”

Leliana nods. “Yes. Let’s head to the War Room to discuss this further.”

With that, they leave the dungeon and head to the War Room.

 

Once Leliana has closed the door to the War Room, Mina literally falls into her arms.

“Woah, Maker, are you alright?” Leliana asks worriedly as she helps the Herald to a bench in the room and sits them both down. Maker, I had a bad feeling this would happen…

“Please don’t make me do that again,” Mina mutters. “I know I said that I was sure about doing it, but truth be told, it was worse than I thought it would be!” She begins crying and shaking uncontrollably.

Leliana notices this and embraces Mina in a soothing way. “Maker, I’m so sorry, Mina,” she says. “I promise I won’t ask you to do that again.” Mina, however, doesn’t seem to have heard that, as her breathing has quickened exponentially, telling the Spymaster that she’s having a full blown panic attack. “Shh,” she tries to soothe. “It’s alright. It won’t happen again.” Mina still doesn’t respond.

Just as Leliana is about to get up to send for help, the door opens and Cullen walks in.

“Maker’s breath, I didn’t know anyone was in here!” he mutters when he sees them. However, he becomes worried when he sees Mina. “Sweet Maker, what happened?!”

Leliana sighs. “I did a bad thing, Cullen,” she says regretfully. “I made her help me interrogate the man who tried to grab Eva, and now she’s having a full blown panic attack. Nothing is getting through to her.”

Cullen nods in solemn understanding before he goes over and crouches in front of Mina.

“Mina,” he says softly as he puts a hand on her knee. “Mina, can you hear me?”

At the sound of Cullen’s voice, Mina instantly calms and looks up at him with glassy eyes.

Woah, Leliana thinks. I didn’t think that would happen!

“Hey,” Cullen says softly with a small smile as he cups Mina’s cheek and wipes away her tears. “It’s okay. You’re safe.”

“Eth?” Mina asks in a whisper.

“Yes, Mina, you’re safe,” Leliana says.

Upon hearing Leliana’s voice, Mina starts crying and shaking uncontrollably again.

Leliana is slightly hurt at first before realizing why Mina might be acting this way. Okay, I’ve traumatized her, she thinks slightly worriedly. Maybe I should just leave her with Cullen…

“Maker’s breath, I think you’re scaring her!” Cullen says.

Leliana sighs. “Well, it seems that you have this handled. I’ll be in Josie’s office if you need me.” With that, she stands up and leaves the room.

Sighing, Cullen sits in the spot Leliana just vacated and takes Mina’s hands in his. “She’s gone,” he says softly.

At that, Mina looks at Cullen again. “Keep talking,” she whispers. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s helping.”

Cullen complies. He starts telling Mina about various military strategies and their applications, as he couldn’t think of anything else to talk about. He rubs her knuckles absentmindedly as he talks.

 

After a few minutes, Mina has calmed down significantly, and is able to tell Cullen what happened.

“I’m sorry that happened,” Cullen says softly after Mina is done telling him what happened. “Do you know why Eva wouldn’t let anyone heal her, other than the fact that she thinks she deserves it?”

Mina shakes her head. “I’m worried though, because she wouldn’t even let me touch her, and even tried to make herself smaller when I first entered the cabin. This is highly unusual behavior for her.”

“I know,” Cullen says worriedly as he squeezes their hands reassuringly.

Mina sighs. “Thank you, Cullen. I don’t know what it is about your voice that seems to ground me, but it does.”

“I’m just glad I could help,” Cullen replies with a small smile on his face.

Mina smiles back at him before sighing again. “I suppose I should go apologize to Leliana and then go see if Eva has changed her mind,” she says as she stands up and heads to the door. “Thanks again, Cullen.” She smiles at him again, but doesn’t let him respond before she rushes out the door and knocks on Josephine’s door.

“Come in!” Josephine calls.

Mina opens the door and looks around. “Hey, is Leliana in here?” she asks.

Josephine smiles softly. “You just missed her, actually,” she says. “She said she was heading to your cabin, so maybe try there.”

Mina nods. “Thank you, Josephine.” She turns to leave.

“Just a second, Mina,” Josephine says as she stands up and walks over to the Herald.

“Yes?” Mina asks as she turns back around.

As Josephine reaches Mina’s location, she holds her hand out in front of her. In it is a signet ring.

“We had this made for you so you can seal your letters and reports if you want,” she tells Mina. “It just came in yesterday.”

Mina takes the ring from the Ambassador and looks at it with curiosity. The design is a halla head inside a sunburst symbol. “Um… thanks, but I don’t know how these work exactly,” she tells her.

Josephine smiles softly. “I’ll show you tomorrow,” she tells Mina. “For now, I think you should probably go see if you can get Eva to let you heal her. Leli said that it looked like the man might have broken her arm in the way he twisted it.”

At that, Mina gasps as she realizes she saw the signs of that when she saw Eva’s wrists earlier. “Creators, that’s why I thought her wrists looked a bit swollen!” she mutters. She looks back at the Ambassador. “Thank you, Josephine.” She then rushes out of the Chantry and heads to her cabin.

 

Upon entering the cabin, what Mina sees really worries her: Cassandra and Eva haven’t moved much, and Leliana is trying to convince the child to let someone heal her, but to no avail.

“Ah, Mina, maybe you can help convince her to let someone heal her,” Leliana says as Mina enters the room. “I’ve tried to tell her that her wrists might be broken, but she won’t hear it.”

Mina sighs as she walks over and crouches near the child in Cassandra’s arms. “Da’len, can you tell me why you don’t want someone to heal your injuries, other than the fact that you think you deserve to have them?” she asks her.

“That’s the only reason,” Eva mutters.

Mina sighs again. “Does it hurt?”

“Only if I touch it or move it in a certain way,” Eva replies.

“Is that why you haven’t moved much?” Cassandra asks.

Eva nods.

“Eva, are you scared it will hurt to heal it?” Mina asks.

Eva sighs and nods.

“Ah, now I understand,” Mina says. “Will you allow me to put a sleeping spell on you to heal your injuries? You won’t feel a thing.”

“I—I guess,” Eva mutters.

Mina smiles kindly at Eva before putting the sleeping spell on her. She then goes and picks her up so Cassandra can get up if she wants. She places her on her bed and then begins to heal her. After a few minutes, she stops and reverses the sleep spell on Eva.

Eva wakes up calmly and looks up at Mina. “Is it done?” she asks.

“Yes, da’len,” Mina replies as she helps the child into a sitting position. “Will you let me check to make sure there’s no more pain?” When the child nods, Mina carefully takes her wrist in her hands. “Any pain?”

“No,” Eva says.

Mina nods. “Let me know if you feel even the slightest amount of pain, okay?”

“Okay,” Eva says.

Mina then does several movements with each of Eva’s wrists to check for pain. Thankfully, Eva doesn’t feel any and Mina breathes a sigh of relief.

 

“Mina,” Cassandra says after her friend is done.

“Yes?” Mina asks as she turns to face the Seeker.

Cassandra sighs. “I really need to speak with you alone,” she says. “Leli has agreed to watch Eva for a bit. Do you mind going somewhere with me?”

Mina sighs. “I suppose not,” she says as she stands up.

Cassandra nods and leads Mina out of the cabin. She takes her to the hill the mage seems to love.

 

“How does everyone know about this place?” Mina asks when they get there. “Sera brought me here earlier as well.”

Cassandra chuckles. “I don’t know how Sera knows about it, but Leliana told me she’s found you here on several occasions, and that if I ever can’t find you to check here.”

Mina sighs. “I come here whenever I need to have some alone time,” she says. “It’s peaceful here.”

“That it is,” Cassandra says in agreement. She sighs. “Mina, I hate to do this to you, but I need to talk to you about something Leli told me earlier.”

Mina sighs again as she sits down and invites Cassandra to sit next to her. “She told me she had to tell you. However, I don’t think I can talk about it. I’m sorry.”

“All I want to know is how no one found out for ten years,” Cassandra says with another sigh as she sits down next to her friend.

“I honestly don’t know,” Mina replies. “If anyone else does know, they haven’t said anything about it.”

Cassandra nods in understanding before she takes Mina’s hands in hers. “Mina, I’m so sorry that happened to you. If you ever want to talk about it, you just need to ask.”

“Thanks, Cass,” Mina says. “I doubt I will though, since I would rather forget that day.”

“I understand,” Cassandra says as she squeezes their hands comfortingly. “I’ll still be here if you change your mind.” She sighs. “That’s not the only thing I wanted to talk to you about though.”

“I hope it’s a little more cheerful,” Mina mutters.

“Unfortunately, it’s not,” Cassandra says. She sighs again. “It’s about Eva. I think the incident has scared, as well as scarred her more than she wants to admit.”

“I agree,” Mina says. “I’ve never seen her act that way.”

“She wouldn’t let go of me after it happened,” Cassandra says. “I won’t be surprised if she doesn’t want to leave the cabin for a while.”

“Me too,” Mina says sadly. “What do you think we should do? I don’t think we should take her with us when we leave the morning after tomorrow, but I don’t think I would feel comfortable leaving if she won’t even leave the cabin.”

“I agree,” Cassandra says. “And I honestly don’t know what we should do, other than try to reassure her that it was a justified killing.”

Mina nods. “Did she say anything of concern to you?” she asks.

“She didn’t say much, actually,” Cassandra replies. “Even when I asked her why she Silenced Solas, she didn’t say anything. All she did was cry in my arms.”

Mina sighs. “That’s almost worse,” she mutters.

“I know,” Cassandra says. “I wish there were a way to read her mind or something.”

“There is, actually,” Mina says. “But I have to have her permission for it to work, and I doubt she will want me reading her mind.”

“I agree,” Cassandra says. “But we can certainly ask her.”

Mina sighs and puts her head in her hands. “Creators, I have a lot to do before we can leave again,” she mutters.

“What all do you have to do?” Cassandra asks.

“I have to talk to Eva about what happened today,” Mina says. “I have to talk to Josephine about how to use the signet ring she gave me earlier. Oh, and I have to return the stealth ring Leliana let me borrow for something earlier. I have to make sure I have everything I need for the trip in my pack. I have to make sure Eva will be all right while we’re gone. Creators, I even have to walk around the town and look for suspicious people, just in case I notice anyone who might harm her!”

“Mina, Leli is already doing that,” Cassandra says.

“Sure, but Eva and I are actual targets,” Mina says. “I can assess who might be a danger to either of us just by walking around!”

“I can’t allow you to use yourself as bait!” Cassandra says. “That could do more harm than good!”

“What choice do I have, Cass?!” Mina asks. “If I don’t do this, who knows how many people might try to harm her while we’re gone!”

“Mina, you can’t get all of them!” Cassandra says.

“Yeah, but I can maybe get some of them!” Mina replies. “That’s better than nothing!”

Cassandra sighs. “Mina, I know you’re worried about her safety, but she’ll be fine.”

“You don’t know that,” Mina says.

Cassandra sighs again. “You’re right, I don’t, but I do know that Eva is smart enough to know what to do in a situation like that. So you have nothing to worry about.”

It’s Mina’s turn to sigh. “I guess,” she relents.

They stay there for several minutes before Cassandra notices Mina is hyperventilating a bit.

“Maker, Mina, what’s wrong?” the Seeker asks worriedly.

Mina suddenly sneezes hard—so hard that she shapeshifts into a butterfly. When she lands back on the ground, she reverts back to her normal form, but is on her back.

“Creators, that hasn’t happened in a while,” Mina mutters as she rubs her forehead with ice on her fingertips to try to relieve the headache that has begun to form.

“Are you alright?” Cassandra asks worriedly as she helps her friend into a sitting position.

“I think so, Cass,” Mina replies. “I sometimes shapeshift uncontrollably when I have a huge sneeze like just now. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I always need a few minutes to regain some of my strength.”

“When did it happen last?” Cassandra asks.

Mina thinks about it for a few seconds. “Uhh… maybe a few years ago? I can’t remember for sure, but I can look in my journals when we get back to the cabin if you want.”

“No, it’s alright,” Cassandra says. “I’m just glad it doesn’t happen that often. I can tell how much it took out of you.”

Mina nods. “Yeah, for some reason I use a shit ton of mana to do that, even though shapeshifting doesn’t usually require much.”

“Do you know why that is?” Cassandra asks.

“I don’t,” Mina replies. “Creators, I don’t even know why I shapeshift after those sneezes in the first place! I have excellent control over my magic otherwise!”

“I know, Mina,” Cassandra says. “Perhaps it’s a remnant from before you could control your magic.”

“What do you mean?” Mina asks.

Cassandra sighs. “I’ve heard about untrained mages spewing magic every time they sneeze. Perhaps there are some sneezes that cause mages to spew magic no matter what.”

“I once heard a sneeze is like an orgasm of the face,” Mina says.

Cassandra looks at Mina incredulously. “I’m sorry, what did you just say?” Did I just hear her correctly?

Mina sighs and starts blushing. “I said I once heard a sneeze is like an orgasm of the face,” she repeats.

Yes I did. “Where in Thedas did you hear that?” Cassandra asks with a chuckle. “And what does it have to do with what we are talking about?”

“I can’t remember where I heard it,” Mina replies as her blush deepens. “But I’ve heard that some mages spew magic when they have an orgasm. That’s the relation I just made.”

Cassandra chuckles again. “Are you speaking from experience, or…?”

“I’m not answering that,” Mina says quickly as her blush deepens further.

“I wasn’t expecting you to,” Cassandra laughs.

“Then why did you ask me?!” Mina asks incredulously.

“It’s called teasing, Mina!” Cassandra says as she playfully shoves her friend.

“Then answer this: how many orgasms could you and Galyan get out of each other before you were both spent?” Mina says playfully.

Mina!" Cassandra exclaims in shock.

“Thought so,” Mina says with a smirk as she crosses her arms.

Cassandra suddenly gets an idea and before Mina knows what’s happening, the Seeker has tackled her to the ground and is tickling her.

Mina squeals in shock. “Oh, you!” she says once she realizes what’s happening. She then shapeshifts into a butterfly and flies out from under her friend, only to revert back into her normal form and tackle her back.

“Oh, no fair!” Cassandra says.

“Says the one who started it!” Mina says with a laugh as she continues to tickle the Seeker.

“What are you two doing?” Leliana’s laughter filled voice says.

Both Cassandra and Mina stop their ministrations on each other and look at Leliana in shock.

“She started it!” they both say at the same time.

Mina looks at Cassandra. “How did I start it?! You were the one who tackled me!”

“You were the one who said a sneeze is like an orgasm of the face!” Cassandra retorts playfully.

Leliana starts openly laughing at that. “And what caused you to say that I wonder,” she says to Mina.

Cassandra uses Mina’s distraction as an opening and flips their positions before standing up.

Mina squeals in surprise. “Oh, now that was uncalled for!” she says.

“I actually agree with Mina on this one,” Leliana says as she walks to Mina and helps her up.

“Thanks Leli,” Mina says as she brushes herself off. She then realizes what she just called the Spymaster and gasps. “I—I mean, i—is it okay if I call you that?”

“Of course, Mina,” Leliana replies with a smile. “I still want to know what caused you to say that surprisingly true statement, though.”

Mina sighs. “I sometimes shapeshift uncontrollably after a bad sneeze, which happened a few minutes ago,” she relents. “It takes a lot out of me and Cass said it could be a remnant from when I couldn’t control my magic, and I asked what she meant by that, and she said that most untrained mages spew magic when they sneeze no matter what and perhaps there are some sneezes that cause this to happen to even trained mages. I then remembered that some mages spew magic when they have an orgasm, which reminded me of that statement. End of story.”

“Teasing ensued and then I playfully tackled her,” Cassandra says.

“Exactly!” Mina says. “She literally asked me if I was speaking from experience!”

“And were you?” Leliana asks innocently.

“She refused to answer and then asked me a question that I refused to answer!” Cassandra says.

“And that was when she tackled me!” Mina says.

Leliana laughs. “Maker, if I didn’t know any better, I would think you two were siblings or childhood friends!”

“Ugh,” Mina and Cassandra groan and roll their eyes at the same time.

Leliana laughs again. “Or maybe you two just spend so much time together that you have acquired each other’s mannerisms.”

“Or maybe I was already like this!” Mina says.

“Or that,” Leliana agrees. She sighs. “Anyways, Mina, you might want to go talk to Eva. She doesn’t seem to want to leave the cabin.”

Mina sighs. “I had a feeling she might,” she mutters. She looks back up at Leliana. “I’ll go talk to her.” She begins to walk back to the town before she remembers about the stealth ring and turns back around. “Oh, Leli, catch!” She tosses the ring to the Spymaster.

Leliana catches the ring but doesn’t have time to thank Mina before the mage has Fade-Stepped away. She sighs and turns to the Seeker next to her. “Did she say anything that concerned you? You two were here for quite a while.”

Cassandra sighs. “She wants to use herself as bait to try to weed out any other potential attackers before we leave. I tried to tell her you are already looking out for them, but she wouldn’t relent. Well, not really.”

“What do you mean?” Leliana asks.

Cassandra sighs again and then tells Leliana about the rest of the conversation she had with Mina.

 

“I’ll make sure to have my agents keep a closer eye on her when she walks around the town,” Leliana says when Cassandra has finished telling her what happened.

“That would probably be best,” Cassandra says.

They go on talking for a while before they go see if Mina has gotten Eva willing to leave the cabin.

 

Meanwhile, Mina has convinced Eva to go out to the archery targets with her. She watches the child for a while before she sees Cassandra and Leliana walking up.

“Leli and I have a proposition to make,” Cassandra says with a smile as they reach their location.

“And what might that be?” Mina asks.

“What would you say to sparring with me?” Cassandra asks.

“What? Right now?” Mina asks, shocked.

Cassandra nods. “You’re wearing your armor, and we still have a couple hours until dinner.”

“And what are the rules to this?” Mina asks. “Will I be able to use my magic?”

“Of course,” Cassandra says. “We’ll just have to have either you or Solas put a spell on us that makes it so we won’t hurt each other.”

Mina smiles and snaps her fingers. “Done.”

Cassandra smiles as well before leading Mina to the ring they set aside for sparring purposes.

“You ready?” Mina asks as she takes her staff off her back.

Cassandra draws her sword and nods. “I am. Don’t hold anything back.”

With that, they begin circling each other and the sparring match begins.

Mina is the first to make a move, shooting a ball of ice in the Seeker’s direction, which Cassandra quickly does a Spell Purge on.

“Fenedhis!” Mina curses. “Forgot about that.”

Cassandra takes Mina’s slight distraction as an opening and charges toward the Herald, only for Mina to Fade-Step away just in time. Mina then sends a fireball in the Seeker’s direction, which she blocks with her sword.

“Damn it!” Mina curses before sending a ball of lightning at the Seeker. Cassandra does a Spell Purge on it. “Fenedhis!” She then Fade-Steps away from the Seeker’s charge.

Cassandra chuckles. “Wanna give up?”

“Never!” Mina says before she Fade-Steps directly toward the Seeker and tackles her to the ground. She puts her right foot on Cassandra’s chest and points her staff blade at her throat. “Do you yield?”

Cassandra smirks before grabbing Mina’s staff and pushing the mage off her. She returns to her feet and charges at her, only for Mina to Fade-Step away again.

They continue sparring for a while with no clear winner. After about fifteen minutes, a fairly large crowd has gathered to watch the pair.

 

When they have been sparring for about an hour and a half, Mina slams her staff in the ground and then wraps herself with her fire, ice, and lightning magic. She then stomps her foot with a battle cry and all of the magic around her flies directly at the Seeker, who doesn’t have time to do anything before it hits her in an explosion of light and magic.

Fenedhis, I forgot how powerful that spell was! Mina thinks as the dust begins to settle. I hope I didn’t hurt her!

Everyone else seems to have the same thoughts, as they all hold their breaths as they wait for the dust to settle.

When the dust finally settles, everyone sees Cassandra lying motionless in a fetal position on the ground.

“Fenedhis!” Mina curses as she Fade-Steps to the Seeker and crouches down to her level. “Creators, Cass, I’m so sorry!” she says as she summons her magic to check her friend over. However, she doesn’t detect any injuries.

Suddenly, Cassandra grabs Mina and tackles her to the ground.

“What the fuck, Cass?!” Mina exclaims as tears start streaming down her face. “I thought I hurt you!”

“You certainly would have if it weren’t for the spell you put on us before we started,” Cassandra replies. “That was a powerful spell you just used.”

“Well, I yield,” Mina says.

“You actually won that,” Cassandra says as she stands up and helps her friend up.

“Then why did you tackle me?!” Mina asks incredulously as she dusts herself off.

Cassandra shrugs. “Because I could.” She turns her friend to face the crowd before she grabs her wrist and holds it in the air to indicate the winner.

The crowd cheers.

As the pair leaves the sparring ring, several people come up to them giving Mina congratulations, requests for a match, and even some requests for the Herald to teach them how to do the spell she won with from several mages. Mina tells those wanting to spar with her and those wanting to learn the spell that she’ll think about it and will get back to them.

 

When they finally enter the tavern, Mina and Cassandra are handed trays of food and led to sit with the rest of Mina’s Inner Circle. As the tavern fills up with the rest of Haven’s residents for dinner, several more people come up to congratulate Mina, ask for a match, and/or to be taught the spell. After a few minutes of this, Cullen tries to put a stop to it.

“It’s fine, Cullen,” Mina protests.

“But, Mina, you have barely eaten anything due to everyone wanting the same things from you!” Cullen says.

“Cullen, I said it’s fine,” Mina insists. “I’m not that hungry anyway.”

“How are you not that hungry after what you just did?” Leliana asks slightly worriedly.

Mina shrugs.

“Y—your W—worship?” a small boy asks as he approaches Mina.

“Yes?” Mina says as she looks at the boy.

The boy starts fidgeting with his hands. “Um… I was um… wanting to um… know if you um… would maybe show me the um… the mark,” he stutters.

“You want to see my mark?” Mina asks slightly incredulously.

The boy nods. “M—mother s—said A—Andraste g—gave it to y—you to s—save the w—world.”

Mina smiles softly before standing up and crouching down to the boy’s level. “What’s your name, da’len?” she asks him.

“A—Adrian W—Weiss, Y—Your W—Worship,” the boy replies.

“And how old are you Adrian?” Mina asks.

“F—five, Y—Your W—Worship,” Adrian replies.

“Please, call me ‘Mina’,” Mina says with a smile. She then holds her left hand out toward the boy so he can see the mark.

“Can I touch it?” Adrian asks as he looks back up at Mina.

Mina nods.

Adrian then reaches out and timidly runs a finger along the scar. “Does it hurt?”

“Only when I use it,” Mina replies.

Adrian!” a heavily pregnant woman’s voice calls as she approaches them. “What did I say about running off by yourself?!” She turns to Mina. “My apologies, Your Worship. He has a mind of his own sometimes.”

“He wasn’t bothering me,” Mina says. “I’m always happy to answer the questions of curious minds like his.” She smiles at Adrian again before standing up. “I take it you are Adrian’s mother?”

The woman nods. “Aye, Your Worship.”

“Please, call me ‘Mina’,” Mina says as she holds her hand out.

“And you may call me ‘Linda’,” the woman replies as she shakes Mina’s hand. However, just as they are about to drop their hands, she literally falls into Mina as the baby kicks fairly hard.

“Creators, are you alright?” Mina asks slightly worriedly as she helps steady Linda.

“Yeah,” Linda says as she rubs her belly. “This little stinker is just active this evening.”

“When are you due?” Mina asks.

“Any day now,” Linda replies. The baby kicks again. “Maker preserve me,” she mutters.

“Where are you staying, Linda?” Mina asks. “I think you may be going into labor.”

“What?” Linda asks incredulously. “How do you know?”

“I’ve helped deliver babies in my clan for the past five years,” Mina replies. “I know the signs of labor when I see them. So, I’ll ask again, where are you staying? I think we should get you there as soon as possible.”

Linda nods before turning to her son. “Adrian, go tell your father to meet us at the cabin, okay?”

Adrian nods. “Okay!” He then rushes off.

Linda then leads Mina out of the tavern and to her cabin. Along the way, the baby kicks several more times and Linda starts having contractions. When they finally get to the cabin, Adrian and his father are already there.

“Maker’s breath, what’s going on?” the man asks worriedly as they enter the cabin.

“She’s going into labor,” Mina replies as she leads Linda to lean on the bedpost. “I’m going to need at least three clean towels, a clean washcloth, and a clean bowl.” She turns to Linda. “Are you okay with me using my magic?”

Linda nods.

Mina turns back to the father. “Then that’s all I need,” she tells him. “If you already had a midwife in mind, bring her as well. Take Adrian with you.”

“Yes, Your Worship,” the man says before rushing out of the cabin with Adrian in tow.

Mina sighs before turning back to Linda. “Breathe, Linda,” she tells her. “You’re doing great.”

“I’m sorry to drag you into this,” Linda says. “But I guess it’s a good thing, since we didn’t have a midwife.” She sighs. “Will you be alright delivering it by yourself? With Adrian, there were two midwives in the room.”

Mina nods. “I’ve delivered several babies alone, so don’t worry.”

Linda breathes a sigh of relief before she has another contraction. “Maker, I forgot how relentless these are!”

Mina chuckles. “I’ve heard that a lot.”

“You said you’ve been doing this for five years?” Linda asks. Mina nods. “How old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I’m twenty,” Mina replies.

Linda looks at Mina in shock. “You started delivering babies when you were fifteen?!” she asks incredulously.

Mina nods. “It’s common for the mages of the clan to start around that age,” she tells her. She sighs. “Linda, I need to ask you a few questions about Adrian’s birth, so I know how likely some things are.”

“Oh, um, I have the papers regarding all that in that chest over there,” Linda says as she points to a chest in the corner of the room. “The blanket I want this one wrapped in is in there too.”

Mina nods and then goes over to the chest Linda pointed to, opens it, and takes out the papers and blanket. She places the blanket at the foot of the bed before she reads the documents regarding Adrian’s birth.

 

Just as Mina finishes reading the documents, there’s a knock on the door. She sets the documents down and goes to open it.

“I’ve brought the items you’ve requested, Your Worship,” the father says as Mina opens the door.

“Thank you, sir,” Mina says as she takes the items from him. “It will probably be several hours before the baby is born, so is there anything you would like to get from inside the cabin?”

“Maybe just me and Adrian’s cloaks that are on the back of the chair in there, Your Worship,” the man says.

Mina looks over at the chair he was talking about before looking back at him with a small smile. “Of course; just a second.” She closes the door and sets the items at the foot of the bed before she grabs the largest and the smallest cloaks off the back of the chair and opens the door to hand them to the man.

“Thank you, Your Worship,” he says.

“Please, call me ‘Mina’,” Mina says. “Is there anything else you would like to get?”

“No, that will be all,” the man says. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Mina replies. “Now, don’t freeze to death out here. I believe the Chantry is always open and warm. If you want to go there, I can have someone come get you when the time comes.”

“Of course; thank you, Mina,” the man says before rushing off with Adrian toward the Chantry.

Mina closes the door and goes back over to check on Linda. “How’s it going, Linda?” she asks her.

“About the same,” Linda replies.

Mina nods in understanding. “Will you let me check on the baby magically?”

Linda nods.

With that, Mina places her hands on Linda’s stomach and summons her magic. After about a minute, she stops. “Linda, when was the last time someone checked on the baby like I just did?”

“This is the first time,” Linda replies. “Patrick and I could never afford to have regular checks done. Why? Is something wrong?”

“No, nothing’s wrong,” Mina says. “I just wanted to know when the baby was last checked like that.” She smiles. “You’re actually doing great.”

Chapter Text

It’s almost sunrise when Linda finally gives birth to a healthy baby girl, which she, Patrick, and Adrian name Caroline Mina Weiss. When Mina finally gets back to her cabin after making sure the family is fed and will be okay, she is absolutely exhausted, but knows she can’t go to bed for the risk of messing up her sleep schedule. Therefore, after setting the tray of food she brought for Eva down on the desk, she goes to her pack and takes out the herb mix for the tea she drinks when she has to stay awake. She takes a mug and measures out the right amount of the herbs into it before shooting ice into it and heating it with her magic.

As Mina is sipping her tea, she looks over at Eva, who is still sleeping peacefully in her bed, and sighs in contentment. Once she finishes her tea, she goes over to the bathtub and summons ice into it before heating it up. She then goes over and gently shakes Eva.

“Eva, da’len, it’s time to wake up,” she says as she shakes the child.

Eva wakes up and looks at Mina.

“Good morning, da’len,” Mina says with a smile. “I brought you breakfast.” She points to the tray on the desk.

Eva stretches and sits up. “Thanks, but what about you?”

“I’ve already eaten,” Mina replies.

Eva nods before going over to the desk and begins eating. “Why is it so humid in here?” she asks after a bit.

Mina had almost forgotten about the bath she prepared for herself. “Oh, I was going to take a bath,” she says as she goes over to her pack and takes out her light blue sundress, clean smalls, and a clean breast band.

Eva nods in understanding. “I won’t stop you, then,” she says.

Mina smiles softly at the child before going behind and closing the privacy wall so she can take her bath.

 

A few minutes after Mina has gotten in the bath and Eva is almost done eating her breakfast, there’s a knock on the door.

“Will you get that, Eva?” Mina asks.

“Okay,” Eva says as she gets up and goes to open the door.

“Oh, is the Lady Herald in there?” a messenger asks. “I was asked to give this to her and no one else.”

Mina sighs. “Who gave it to you?” she calls.

“Sister Leliana, Your Worship,” the messenger says.

Mina sighs again. “Please give it to Eva,” she calls. “I can’t come to the door at the moment.”

“Oh, of course, Your Worship,” the messenger says before handing the package to Eva. “Good day to both of you.” With that, she takes her leave.

Sighing, Eva closes the door. “Do you want me to bring it to you?” she asks.

“Just leave it on my bed,” Mina replies. “I’ll tend to it when I get out.”

“Okay,” Eva says before placing the package on Mina’s bed and resuming eating her breakfast.

 

When Mina gets out of the bath a few minutes later and has put her clothes on, she goes over to her bed and sees the package Leliana sent is of considerable size.

“Creators, what has she done now?” Mina mutters as she begins to untie the string holding the box closed. She opens the box to see a note on top of some fabric that is the color of her eyes when she shapeshifts. Sighing, she takes the note, unfolds it, and begins reading:

Mina,

We had this commissioned for you soon after you left for Val Royeaux. It came in this morning. Hope you like it.

Leli

P.S.: If it needs to be adjusted, please let me know.

Sighing, Mina carefully takes the soft fabric out of the box and begins to unfold it. She realizes it is an embroidered traveling cloak and gasps when she sees the full design. Along the edges is a design similar to her vallaslin and the cloak itself is shaped like a butterfly.

“That’s really pretty,” Eva says. “It reminds me of a big purple butterfly.”

“I think that’s intentional,” Mina says. “One of my favorite things to shapeshift into is a butterfly.”

“Wait, really?” Eva asks. “I don’t think I’ve seen that form yet.”

Mina smirks as she sets the cloak down on her bed and turns to the child. “Hold out your hands like this,” she says as she shows Eva how to hold her hands.

“Like this?” Eva asks as she holds her hands out.

“Exactly,” Mina says. “Now, don’t move. You ready?”

“I think so,” Eva replies. “I’m not exactly sure what you’re about to do.”

Mina smirks again before she shapeshifts into her butterfly form and lands on Eva’s outstretched hands.

“Woah,” Eva says when Mina lands on her hands. “Now I see the resemblance to that cloak!”

Mina chuckles. “I think this form is what it’s modeled after,” she says before flying off Eva’s hands and reverting back into her normal form.

“Maker, I’m so jealous of you right now,” Eva mutters.

Mina chuckles again. “I bet.”

Just then, there’s a knock on the door.

“Do you mind getting that?” Mina asks. “I probably shouldn’t because of my eyes.”

Eva nods and goes over to open the door.

“Eva?” Cassandra asks in surprise and mild worry. “Is everything alright? Where’s Mina?”

“Let her in, Eva,” Mina says.

Eva opens the door wider and lets the Seeker in.

“Is everything alright, Mina?” Cassandra asks worriedly when she enters and Eva closes the door.

“Yeah,” Mina says as she goes back to her bed to try on the cloak. “I just shapeshifted, so my eyes are still purple.”

“Ah, now I understand,” Cassandra says. “Wait, where did you get that cloak?” she asks once Mina has put it on. “Maker, it’s gorgeous! It reminds me of the butterfly you seem to like shapeshifting into.”

Mina chuckles. “Apparently Leli had it commissioned for me soon after we left for the capital.” She reaches in the bottom of the box, takes out the clasp, and examines it. It has a design similar to the signet ring Josephine had given her the day before, and the metal is purple to match the cloak. “Creators, is this Nevarrite?”

Cassandra walks closer to Mina and examines the clasp. “I believe it is,” she tells her.

“I never thought I’d get to see it in person!” Mina says. “It’s even prettier than I thought it would be!” She goes to attach it to the cloak but is having trouble. “Ugh! Fenedhis!” she curses.

Cassandra chuckles. “Would you like some help with that?”

Mina sighs and nods.

At that, Cassandra closes the distance between them and expertly attaches the clasp to the cloak. When she is done, she repositions the cloak on Mina’s shoulders and smiles at her. “With your eyes still slightly purple, you look like an absolute goddess, Mina!” she tells her.

“I agree,” Eva says.

Mina smiles shyly as she starts to blush slightly. “You two are just trying to get a reaction from me aren’t you?” she says somewhat playfully.

Cassandra chuckles. “I’m just speaking the truth,” she says with a shrug.

“Same,” Eva says.

Mina sighs, but her smile persists. “Whatever.”

“Are you going to wear that out today?” Cassandra asks. “It may be summer, but we had a bit of a cold snap hit last night.”

Mina chuckles. “I know! I only just got in about an hour ago, and had to put a warming spell on myself because of the cold.”

Cassandra looks at Mina in shock. “How are you even awake right now?! Let alone with this much energy?!”

Mina chuckles again. “I drank a mug of a traditional Dalish energy tea as soon as I got back.”

“And it’s already taken effect?” Cassandra asks incredulously.

Mina nods. “I magically enhanced it to take effect sooner, since I was so close to passing out from exhaustion. But, the baby’s healthy, so I’ll consider that a good thing.”

“I hear you did that family a great favor by doing that,” Cassandra says with a smile. “I believe that had Adrian not talked to you at dinner last night, it would have been a very different situation.”

“I agree,” Mina says.

Just then, there’s another knock on the door.

“Creators, what’s with everyone coming to my door this morning?” Mina mutters as she goes to open the door. She gasps and instantly becomes worried when she sees Patrick carrying Caroline on the other side of the door. “Patrick? What’s wrong?”

Patrick holds Caroline out to her and she immediately takes the child. “Open the blanket,” he says worriedly.

Mina motions for Patrick to come in the cabin and turns to Cassandra and Eva. “Cass, can you take Eva out to train for a bit or something?” she asks hurriedly.

Cassandra nods and takes Eva out of the cabin.

As soon as the door is closed, Mina places Caroline on her bed and begins to unwrap the blanket. What she sees when she does really worries her: the child’s entire chest is covered in hives.

“Creators, she’s allergic to the blanket!” Mina mutters with a gasp as she lifts Caroline off the blanket and pushes it to the side before setting her back down. She then summons her healing magic and heals the child. She turns back to Patrick. “What is that blanket made out of?” she asks him.

“I believe Lambswoll,” Patrick says.

Mina nods before taking the blanket in her hands and summoning her magic. She puts a permanent barrier on it so it won’t irritate Caroline’s skin. She also puts the healing enchantment that is on her own baby blanket on it. When she is done, she lays it out on her bed and starts to rewrap the child. “What I just did was put a permanent barrier on the blanket so it won’t irritate her skin,” she tells Patrick as she works. “I also put an enchantment on it so if she gets sick or hurt, it will actually heal her. However, if at any point the blanket starts glowing, that means that the illness or injury is so severe that it needs a mage to heal it properly. Also, the enchantment will only work on her and will never stop working. She will also be the only one who can feel the enchantment, and if she doesn’t become a mage, it will probably be one of, if not the only enchantment that she will ever be able to feel. I still have my own baby blanket that has the same enchantment on it and use it on myself whenever I get mild injuries and am low on mana.” She chuckles slightly as she carefully picks Caroline up and hands her back to Patrick. “Did you get all of that? I apologize if I went too fast for you to understand what I just said.”

“I was able to follow it just fine,” Patrick replies with a small smile as he takes Caroline from her. “Thank you so much. We were really worried.”

“You’re very welcome,” Mina says with a smile of her own before she walks to the door and opens it. “Come. I’ll walk with you back to your cabin and tell Linda what I just told you.”

Patrick nods and walks out of the cabin with Mina following close behind.

 

When Mina leaves the family’s cabin a few minutes later, she heads to Leliana’s tent to thank her for the cloak. When she gets there, she sees the Spymaster kneeling in prayer.

“‘Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just,’” she says. “‘Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow. In their blood the Maker’s will is written.’ Is that what You want from us? Blood? To die so that Your will is done?” She stands up. “Is death Your only blessing?” She turns to Mina, not realizing she’s wearing the cloak. “You speak for Andraste, no? What does the Maker’s prophet have to say about all of this? What’s His game?”

Mina is a little shocked at the question. “How is this a game?” she asks.

“Do you see the sky?” Leliana asks in return, her tone is that of slight frustration and anger. “What about the temple ruins? The bones lying in the dust? Even if you didn’t believe in the Maker, or support the Divine’s peace, you wouldn’t call this right. Who could? So many innocent lives—the faithful murdered where the holiest of holies once stood. If the Maker willed this, what is it if not a game or a cruel joke?”

Mina sighs. “I speak for no one but myself, and I have no answers for you. I’m sorry.”

“Then we can only guess at what He wants,” Leliana says. “The Chantry teaches that the Maker abandoned us. He demands repentance for our sins. He demands it all. Our lives. Our deaths. Justinia gave Him everything she had, and He let her die!”

“I’m sorry,” Mina says. “Her death has clearly hit you hard.”

“Not just me,” Leliana says. “All of us. She was the Divine. She led the faithful. She was their heart! If the Maker doesn’t intervene to save the best of His servants, what good is He?” She sighs. “I used to believe I was chosen, just as some say you are. I thought I was fulfilling His purpose for me, working with the Divine, helping people. But now she’s dead. It was all for nothing. Serving the Maker meant nothing.”

Mina has never seen the Spymaster like this. “Maybe you have another purpose,” she tells her. “I could help you find it.”

“No, this is my burden,” Leliana says with a sigh. “I regret that I even let you see me like this. It was a moment of weakness. It won’t happen again.” She then realizes Mina is wearing the cloak and her eyes light up. “Oh! You’re wearing the cloak! What do you think of it?”

Mina smiles slightly. “I love it!” she tells her. “I’m just not sure what I did to deserve it.”

Leliana smiles. “You’re a symbol of hope for so many. It’s only fitting that you look the part. If nothing else, consider it a thank you for the shoes you made me and Josie.”

Mina nods. “Well, thank you. I’ll let you get back to work.” With that, she turns and heads toward the Chantry to talk to Josephine.

 

Upon getting close to the Ambassador’s office, Mina hears an argument taking place between Josephine and a man. Hoping to maybe help pacify the situation, she sighs, opens the door, and walks into the office.

“The Inquisition cannot remain, Ambassador, if you can’t prove it was founded on Justinia’s orders,” the man scoffs at Josephine.

“This is an inopportune time, Marquis,” Josephine says. “More of the faithful flock here each day.” She looks over at Mina as she enters before turning back to the Marquis. “But allow me to introduce you to the brave soul who risked her life to slow the magic of the Breach.” She turns to Mina. “Lady Lavellan, may I present the Marquis DuRellion, one of Divine Justinia’s greatest supporters.”

“And the rightful owner of Haven,” the man says in a scoff to Mina. “House DuRellion lent Justinia these lands for a pilgrimage. This ‘Inquisition’ is not a beneficiary of this arrangement.”

“This is the first time I’ve heard of Haven having an owner outside the Chantry,” Mina says.

“My wife, Lady Machen of Denerim, has claim to Haven by ancient treaty with the monarchs of Ferelden,” the Marquis replies. “We were honored to lend its use to Divine Justinia. She is…” he pauses and corrects himself, “she was a woman of supreme merit. I will not let an upstart Order remain on her holy grounds.”

Would he really kick everyone out just because of some fucking arrangement?! Mina thinks incredulously. “People have been injured,” she tells him. “You can’t just turn them out onto the snow.”

“And who benefits if they stay?” the man asks.

“Divine Justinia, Marquis,” Josephine says. “The Inquisition—not the Chantry—is sheltering the pilgrims who mourn her.”

“Why is the Chantry ignoring the faithful?” the Marquis asks incredulously.

“Because it remains in shock,” Josephine replies sternly and confidently.

The Marquis sighs and turns away from them.

“We face a dark time, Your Grace,” Josephine says. “Divine Justinia would not want her passing to divide us. She would, in fact, trust us to forge new alliances to the benefit of all, no matter how strange they might seem.”

The Marquis turns back around to face them. “I’ll think on it, Lady Montilyet,” he says with a sigh. “The Inquisition might stay in the meanwhile.” With that, he takes his leave.

“Do the DuRellions actually have a claim on this place?” Mina asks Josephine once he’s gone.

“His Grace’s position is not as strong as he presents it,” Josephine replies. “Despite their Ferelden relations, the DuRellions are Orlesian. If the Marquis wishes to claim Haven, Empress Celene must negotiate with Ferelden on his behalf. Her current concerns are a bit larger than minor property disputes.”

Mina nods in understanding. “I apologize for the intrusion,” she says. “I was only trying to help pacify the situation. I didn’t realize you were meeting with the Marquis.”

“You did little harm,” Josephine replies with a kind smile. “In truth, the debate was most beneficial as practice for those to come.”

Mina looks at Josephine in slight shock. “You expect more people like him in Haven?” she asks.

“Undoubtedly,” Josephine replies with a nod. “And each visitor will spread the story of the Inquisition after they depart.” She begins to circle her desk and sits down behind it. “As Ambassador, it is my duty to ensure the tale is as complimentary as possible.”

Again, Mina nods in understanding. “May I ask what brought you to work for the Inquisition?” she asks her. “I just realized I haven’t gotten the chance to get to know you like I have with Cass and Leli.”

Josephine smiles softly. “It was Leli who approached me, actually,” she says. “We’ve been acquainted for quite some time. For better or worse, being the Inquisition’s diplomat has become as interesting as she promised.”

“What sort of dealings have you had with the nobility in the past?” Mina asks.

“For some years, I was the royally appointed court ambassador from Antiva to Orlais,” Josephine replies. “The nobility of Thedas is a rather singular sphere. Those I’m not acquainted with, I know through reputation.”

“Well, the Inquisition is lucky to have you as an advocate, Josephine,” Mina says with a respectful bow.

“Thank you,” Josephine says. “Let us hope so. Thedas’s politics have become… agitated of late. I hope to guide us down smoother paths. But please excuse me. I take it you are here to learn how to use the signet ring I gave you yesterday, are you not?”

Mina nods as she takes the said ring out of her pocket. “I am.”

 

Josephine then shows Mina how to use the ring. Being a fast learner, Mina gets the hang of it really quickly. Within fifteen minutes, Josephine has deemed Mina ready to use the ring on her own. Mina thanks her and begins to leave to go see how Eva’s doing.

“Oh, Mina, do you mind handing these to Leli on your way out?” Josephine asks as she holds a small stack of letters out for the Herald to take.

Mina turns back around and takes the stack of letters from the Ambassador. “Of course not,” she says with a small smile.

“Thank you,” Josephine says.

“You’re welcome, Josephine,” Mina replies before taking her leave.

 

When Mina arrives at Leliana’s tent, the Spymaster is talking to a scout, so she leans against a pole holding the tent up and listens quietly.

“So it’s true,” Leliana says with a sad sigh. “Butler has turned on us. I had hoped my hunch was wrong.”

“You knew him well?” the scout asks.

“Not as well as I thought,” Leliana replies. She sighs again. “Show me the reports.”

The scout hands Leliana some reports.

The Spymaster quickly looks through them. When she is done, she places them on the table next to her. “There were so many questions surrounding Farrier’s death,” she says. “Did he think we wouldn’t notice?” She turns to the scout with an angry look on her face. “He’s killed Farrier. One of my best agents. And he knows where the others are.” She looks at the ground and makes a decision. “You know what must be done. Make it clean. Painless, if you can. We were friends once.”

Mina didn’t want to get involved in this, but hearing what the Spymaster just said makes her blood boil and she knows she has to intervene. “Wait,” she says as she stands straighter. “What are you doing?”

“He betrayed us,” Leliana says somewhat angrily to Mina. “He murdered my agent.”

“And you’d kill him?” Mina asks incredulously. “Just like that?”

“You find fault with my decision?” Leliana asks.

“We can’t solve our problems with murder,” Mina says. “I’ve had to learn that the hard way.”

“And what do you suggest?” Leliana asks. “Leave him be? Butler’s betrayal put our agents in danger. I condemn one man to save dozens. I may not like what I do, but it must be done. I cannot afford the luxury of ideals at a time like this.”

“Now is precisely the time for ideals,” Mina says sternly and confidently.

Leliana sighs as she turns away from Mina. “You feel very strongly about this,” she says, more statement than question.

Mina nods. “I do.”

Leliana sighs again. “Very well. I will think of another way to deal with this man.” She turns to her scout. “Apprehend Butler, but see that he lives,” she tells him.

The scout nods and takes his leave.

Leliana turns to Mina. “Now, if you’re happy, what is it that you wanted?”

Mina sighs and holds the letters from the Ambassador out to the Spymaster. “Josephine asked that I hand these to you on my way out to the training yard to see how Eva’s doing,” she says.

“Oh, thank you,” Leliana says as she takes the letters from Mina. “Now, if you will excuse me, I have much work to do.”

“Of course,” Mina says before taking her leave to head to the training grounds.

 

When Mina gets to the training grounds, she hears Cullen yelling at his troops and decides to go talk to him.

“You there!” Cullen yells at a recruit. “There’s a shield in your hand. Block with it. If this man were your enemy, you would be dead.” He sees Mina walking toward him and turns to an officer next to him. “Lieutenant, don’t hold back. The recruits must prepare for a real fight, not a practice one.”

“Yes, Commander,” the Lieutenant says with a salute before walking off.

Cullen turns to Mina. “We’ve received a number of recruits—locals from Haven and some pilgrims,” he tells her before smiling. “None made quite the entrance you did.”

Mina tries and fails to hide the slight blush that creeps up on her cheeks. She sighs. “I just hope I can help.”

“As do we all,” Cullen says. “It is enough that you would try.” He uncrosses his arms and motions for Mina to follow him as he begins walking through the lines of troops. “I was recruited to the Inquisition in Kirkwall, myself. I was there during the mage uprising—I saw firsthand the devastation it caused.”

A messenger comes rushing up. “Ser!” he says to Cullen as he hands him a message.

Cullen looks at the message and hands it back to the messenger. “Cassandra sought a solution. When she offered me a position, I left the templars to join her cause. Now it seems we face something far worse.”

“Everything’s a mess, I agree,” Mina says. “But I must have this mark for a reason. It will work. I’m sure of it.”

“Provided we can secure aid—but I’m confident we can,” Cullen says. “The Chantry lost control of both templars and mages. Now they argue over a new Divine while the Breach remains. The Inquisition could act when the Chantry cannot. Our followers would be part of that. There’s so much we can--” He stops himself and sighs. “Forgive me. I doubt you came here for a lecture.”

Mina smiles softly. “No, but if you have one prepared, I’d love to hear it.” Creators, did that really just leave my mouth?

Cullen chuckles. “Another time perhaps.”

Mina smiles at him involuntarily, and he smiles back. They stare at each other for a few seconds.

Cullen is the first one to tear his gaze away. “I, ah…” he stammers out before clearing his throat and rubbing the back of his neck. “There’s still a lot of work ahead.”

“Commander!” another messenger calls. “I have a report on our supply lines.”

Cullen looks back to Mina. “As I was saying,” he says with another smile before walking off.

Mina sighs dreamily as she watches the Commander walk away before realizing where she is. She pulls the hood of her cloak over her head to hide the intense blush that has crept up on her cheeks and rushes off. She isn’t even aware where her legs are taking her until she is at the hill she loves going to.

“Creators, what the fuck was that, Mina?!” she asks herself as she begins pacing. “‘No, but if you have one prepared, I’d love to hear it.’ You just had to say something flirtatious, didn’t you?! Ugh! Mythal ma halani! Why did I have to fall for a shem?! Ugh! Falon’Din ma ghilana mir din'an!” She hears someone chuckle and immediately stops pacing and looks around. “Show yourself!” she yells. “Before my magic electrocutes you!”

“Hold your magic, My Lady!” Zevran’s voice says. “I apologize for the intrusion. I didn’t know you would come here.”

Mina hears a rustling in a nearby tree before Zevran appears at the base of it with a thud.

“How the fuck does everyone know about this place?!” Mina demands before sighing. “Creators, I need to find a new place to go when I need to be alone,” she mutters. She looks back up at Zevran and closes the distance between them. “Not a word about this to anyone, do you understand me?” she says sternly as she points a finger in his face.

Maker, she may be shorter than me, but that look she’s giving me is the stuff of nightmares! Zevran thinks. He gulps and nods.

“Good!” Mina says before she shapeshifts into her butterfly form and flies off to find a new hiding spot.

Worried about Mina’s safety, Zevran sighs and goes to find Leliana.

Chapter Text

“Leli, can I talk to you in private real quick?” Zevran asks as he approaches the Spymaster’s work tent.

“¿Hay algo mal?” Leliana asks in Antivan as she looks up at Zevran. Is something wrong?

Zevran sighs. “Can we please go somewhere more private? I just heard Mina say something that worries me.”

At that, Leliana starts to panic. “Where is she?!” she demands.

Seeing Leliana panic like this reminds Zevran of a time that Raisa nearly killed herself and his heart drops. “Maker, Leli, please don’t tell me she has what Rai did!”

Leliana sighs, grabs Zevran’s hand, and drags him into the War Room.

 

“Tell me everything,” she says hurriedly once the door is closed.

Sighing, Zevran tells Leliana everything, including how scary Mina’s face looked when she practically threatened him.

 

As soon as Zevran is done telling her what happened, Leliana sighs. “Zev, your suspicion about Mina having what Rai does is unfortunately true. She’s already attempted suicide once, almost attempted suicide soon after meeting you, and would have if not for Cassandra, and has said multiple times that she sometimes wishes she could get rid of that part of her mind.” She sighs again. “Maker, we need to find her and make sure she’s okay.”

Just as they are about to leave, the door opens and Cassandra comes rushing in.

“Maker, Cass, what’s wrong?” Leliana asks.

“I can’t find Mina,” Cassandra says breathlessly. “Have either of you seen her recently?”

Leliana and Zevran share a knowing look.

“Oh no, what happened?” Cassandra asks worriedly when she sees this.

Leliana sighs. “Go get Marc. I think we will need him for this.”

Cassandra sighs, but nods in understanding before going to grab the nug.

 

When she returns to the War Room a few minutes later with Marc, Cassandra demands to know what happened. Zevran tells her quickly, and the Seeker’s hopeless romantic heart swells slightly before she remembers the translation of the bit of Elvish the Herald had said. She turns to Marc. “Can you show us where she is?” she asks him.

Marc nods.

“Thank you,” Cassandra says before placing him on the floor. “Lead the way.”

 

Marc leads them to a different hill where they see Mina facing away from them with a purple orb of magic in between her hands.

Suddenly, the orb disappears and Mina turns to face them. She Force-Slaps Zevran when she sees him.

“Ow!” Zevran exclaims as Mina stands up and turns to walk away. “Okay, I deserved that.”

“No, you didn’t,” Leliana says. “You were worried about her.” She turns to Mina, who Cassandra has stopped from leaving. “Are you alright, Mina?”

“Does it look like I’m fucking alright?!” Mina snaps. “I flirted with Cullen and I’m not sure if I meant it or not!” She starts pacing. “Creators, what the fuck is wrong with me?!” she mutters.

“Nothing is wrong with you, Mina!” Cassandra says as she goes and stops her friend’s pacing.

“Then why did I flirt with him?!” Mina demands as she looks at Cassandra in the eyes.

Cassandra chuckles. “Maybe because you have feelings for him?”

“I don’t!” Mina says quickly. “Wait, I do! Wait, ugh! I don’t know!” She starts pulling at her hair and resumes her pacing.

Leliana chuckles. “Maker, I can’t wait for you and Rai to meet. You two are so much alike!”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?!” Mina demands as she stops her pacing again and looks at Leliana in the eyes.

Zevran chuckles. “She and Leli had this exact same conversation during the Blight,” he says.

“But I have a bigger problem than she did!” Mina yells as she resumes her pacing. “I could get disowned by my clan if Keeper finds out! Yes, I know Marc said he will be accepted, but I’m still fucking terrified that he won’t be! Creators, I don’t know if I even have time to pursue love here before the Breach is sealed and I return to the clan! Besides, the Inquisition will probably go on after my purpose to you shems is fulfilled and I go home! I wouldn’t want to tear him away from that!” She starts pulling at her own hair again. “Ugh, maybe I should just cut off my hand and return to the clan now to avoid any further embarrassment!”

“Absolutely not!” Cassandra says sternly.

“Then what should I do?!” Mina demands.

Cassandra snorts. “Exactly what you’ve been doing,” she says. “Just be yourself.”

“It seems like being myself is what got me in this situation in the first place,” Mina mutters.

“Mina, there’s nothing to be upset about,” Zevran says. “It’s just a bit of flirting, that’s all.”

“If you grew up Dalish like me, you wouldn’t think that!” Mina scoffs.

“Perhaps,” Zevran says. “But I think that you will be even madder at yourself if you don’t give it a chance, only to return to your clan and find out that they, in fact, would have accepted him.”

“Well said, Zev,” Leliana says.

“But what if they end up disowning me?!” Mina demands before she resumes her pacing again. “I may be a powerful mage, but I couldn’t survive out in the world on my own! Especially now with this fucking mark! Not to mention I am considered a blood mage by so many people simply because I can fucking shapeshift! I wouldn’t last one fucking day out there!”

“Mina, calm down,” Cassandra says worriedly as she goes and stops her friend’s pacing again. Maker, I don’t want to have to Silence her, but I may have to…

“I am calm!” Mina exclaims as she breaks out of the Seeker’s embrace and resumes her pacing.

Cassandra sighs. “I didn’t want to have to do this, but…” She reaches her hand out and Silences the Herald, catching her as she falls, and releases the Silence as soon as she has lowered her to the ground.

“Mother of mercy, what did you do?” Zevran asks worriedly.

“I Silenced her,” Cassandra replies.

“And she passed out?!” Zevran asks incredulously.

Cassandra nods. “She and her identical twin pass out when Silenced, though I’m hoping to find a way to fix that for them.”

“How long will she be out?” Zevran asks.

“She normally wakes up within a few seconds of me releasing the Silence, but has said that it’s never taken longer than an hour to regain consciousness,” Cassandra replies worriedly. “I wonder what’s taking so long this time…” She checks Mina’s pulse and her eyes widen when she feels how fast the Herald’s heart is racing. “Szar, ez gyors!” she mutters. Shit, that’s fast!

Suddenly, Mina shoots upright with a gasp, nearly head-butting Cassandra in the process.

“Woah,” Cassandra says. “Easy there. It’s alright.”

Mina looks at Cassandra as she tries to calm her breathing. “What the fuck was that for?!” she asks breathlessly after a bit.

Cassandra sighs. “I was hoping it would help reset your mindset like it has in the past,” she says.

“Wait, you’ve done this before?!” Zevran asks Cassandra incredulously and worriedly.

Mina sighs. “I gave her permission to do it any time I get out of control again after the first time she did it,” she tells him. “For some reason it helps.” She turns to the Seeker next to her. “Ma serannas, Cassandra.”

Cassandra smiles softly. “You’re welcome, Mina,” she says as she stands up and helps her friend up. “I wish there was a better way to help you, but it is what it is, I guess.”

“What would happen if this happened with your clan?” Leliana asks.

Mina sighs. “Honestly, it’s a new thing,” she tells her. “I’ve never really gotten so out of control like that before coming here.” She sighs again as she rubs her temple with ice on her fingertips to try to relieve the headache that has begun to form. “Now, if you will excuse me, I need some time alone.” With that, she shapeshifts into her butterfly form and flies off into the forest.

Cassandra sighs. “Maker, we need to talk to her about that…” she mutters.

Leliana chuckles. “I’m slightly surprised no one outside of the Inner Circle and the guards and agents assigned to watch and protect her has found out yet.”

“Let’s hope it stays that way,” Cassandra says with another sigh. “I don’t know if the Inquisition will be able to protect her if it gets out.”

“Do either of you know if she actually turns people into toads?” Zevran asks.

At that, Cassandra bursts out laughing. “Are you still thinking about that?!” she asks through her laughter after a bit.

“Well, Morrigan did once turn me into a toad, and I would rather not be turned into one again,” Zevran says.

“I remember that,” Leliana says with a laugh of her own. “Rai was quite mad at her for a while afterwards.”

“Do you remember the first thing I did after she reversed the spell?” Zevran asks with a small smirk.

“How could I not?!” Leliana replies with a smile and a needy look in her eyes.

Cassandra notices this and chuckles. “I’ll let you two have fun,” she says as she picks Marc up and begins to walk off. Once she is a few feet away, she remembers Zevran’s question and turns back around. “Oh, and Mina told me she doesn’t actually turn people into toads, but she knows how to do it and won’t hesitate if she feels the need to. She said she’s never had to do it and that she would only use it as a last resort, so I wouldn’t worry about becoming a victim of it.” With that, she leaves the pair alone.

 

As soon as Cassandra is out of earshot, Zevran is kissing Leliana fiercely. They have both missed each other’s touch and lovemaking severely.

Leliana moans into Zevran’s mouth when she feels him palm her core over her pants. She starts to pull his shirt out of the confines of his breeches as he starts to move his hand over hers.

Zevran chuckles into her mouth before breaking the kiss so they can get some air. They quickly undress each other and, before long, Zevran has gently laid Leliana on the ground and is kissing along her jaw and neck. He begins to trail kisses lower until he has taken her left nipple in his mouth. She moans at the contact.

“Maker, Zev, don’t make me announce our activities to the whole town!” Leliana says with a gasp as he takes her other nipple in his mouth.

Zevran groans against Leliana’s skin, the image she just put in his mind making his already extremely hard length throb with desire. “Déjalos escuchar,” he murmurs into her skin. “Quiero que sepan que el asesino élfico ha reclamado al poderoso maestro de espías.” Let them hear. I want them to know the elven assassin has claimed the mighty spymaster.

Leliana shivers with desire as the meaning of his words sink in. She’s always been loud during sex, but knows how to be quiet if she absolutely needs to. “Vous ne savez pas ce que vous demandez,” she says in Orlesian before moaning again as Zevran runs a finger along her folds. You don't know what you're asking.

“Sé exactamente lo que estoy preguntando, mi amor,” Zevran says with a smirk before slipping two fingers in her and begins to pump them in and out, causing her to moan her pleasure. I know exactly what I'm asking, my love.

“Créateur, ne t'arrête pas!” Leliana moans. Maker, don't stop!

Zevran chuckles before returning his mouth to her stomach and resuming his descent of kisses. When he gets to her core, he sucks on her pearl, causing her to moan loudly. He continues his ministrations on her until he feels her walls tighten around his fingers and she screams out in pleasure.

As soon as Leliana has come down from her high, she pulls Zevran up and kisses him hard, tasting herself on his mouth. She moans into his mouth.

Breaking the kiss, Zevran looks at Leliana in the eyes, which have become almost black with desire. “¿Estás listo?” he asks her as he lines his length up at her entrance. You ready?

“Maker, yes!” Leliana breathes.

With that, Zevran starts to slowly push into her. When he is hilted all the way in her, they both moan.

Suddenly, they hear a gasp, followed by Mina’s voice:

“Fenedhis! She’va dhal! Ir abelas! Ir abelas! I thought someone was hurt! Creators, ir abelas! Ugh, thank me for this later!”

They feel magic being cast and realize Mina has put a silencing ward around them. Leliana looks up and sees Mina’s butterfly form fly off toward Haven. She looks at Zevran, whose face is ruby red in embarrassment.

“Well, that’s never happened before,” Zevran says with a slight chuckle after a bit.

Leliana chuckles as well. “I hope we haven’t scarred her too much.” She kisses him. “Now, where were we?”

 

O0o0o0o

 

Meanwhile, Mina flies into Haven and sees Cassandra hacking away at some training dummies. She is about to fly down when she sees Rylen walking up to the Seeker.

“Yer a force of nature aren’t ye, Milady Cassandra,” he says.

Cassandra gives one of her disgusted noises. “When I need to be,” she says defensively before she strikes the dummy again.

Rylen chuckles. “It’s impressive,” he tells her with a slight shrug.

Cassandra gives another disgusted noise. “You flatter me,” she says defensively.

Rylen smiles softly at her as she resumes her assault on the dummies.

After a few seconds, Cassandra looks back at Rylen and scoffs. “Maker’s mercy, Rylen, I’m not in the mood for your games right now! What is it that you need?”

“My apologies, Milady,” Rylen says as he regains his composure and stands at attention. “Lady Eva was just wonderin’ where the Lady Herald was and I thought ya might know.”

“I’m right above you two,” Mina says to just the two of them. “Cass, meet me at the frozen lake. I need to talk to you.”

Both of them go wide-eyed in shock, but Cassandra is quick to regain her composure.

“I don’t, Knight-Captain,” she tells Rylen. “But I will go look for her.”

Taking the hint, Rylen nods. “Of course, Milady,” he says before walking off.

Sighing, Cassandra goes to the frozen lake to talk to Mina.

 

Upon arriving at the frozen lake, Cassandra sees Mina pacing in the spot she usually goes to do the same thing herself.

“Maker, Mina, what happened?” she asks worriedly when she sees this.

Mina looks at Cassandra with wide and still slightly purple eyes. “You don’t want to know,” she mutters. “Just don’t go to the hill where you found me earlier for a while.”

Cassandra then realizes what the Herald likely saw and slaps herself in the face. “Ugh, I had a feeling they would do something like that,” she groans. She looks back up at Mina, whose face has reddened slightly from embarrassment. “I take it you caught them in the act?”

Mina nods and her blush deepens. “I heard a scream and thought someone was hurt,” she mutters. “But I found them instead. I put a silencing ward around them before I left, but I still wish I hadn’t seen it.”

Cassandra snorts. “I bet.”

“I’m serious, Cass!” Mina says as she resumes her pacing. “The only other times I’ve caught anyone in the act was against the woman’s will! Had I not realized it was consensual for both of them, I would have thrown him off her! Creators, I nearly did! Ugh! I don’t know why I’m telling you this!”

“Mina, you’re just in shock,” Cassandra says worriedly as she goes to stop her friend’s pacing. She sighs. “If it makes you feel any better, I’ve caught several couples in the act myself—both consensual and nonconsensual.”

Mina looks at Cassandra incredulously. “Y—you have?” she stutters.

Cassandra nods. “Unfortunately,” she says.

“Does it ever get any easier?” Mina asks.

Cassandra snorts. “Maker, no!” she says with a chuckle.

Mina sighs. “What do you usually do afterwards to get the image out of your head?”

It’s Cassandra’s turn to sigh. “Well, it was part of my job as a Seeker, so I just treated it as such.”

“What do you mean?” Mina asks confusedly.

“Remember how I told you part of my job was to look for corruption in the Circles?” Cassandra asks.

Mina nods. “Yes, but what does that have to do with it?” she asks.

Cassandra sighs again. “Well, it was strictly against the rules for mages and templars to be intimate with each other, but it happened anyways. Those caught would face severe punishment, such as being made tranquil for the mage and being kicked out of the Order for the templar.”

“Wait,” Mina says. “Mages were made tranquil simply because they had sex with a templar?!” she asks incredulously.

“Not all the time,” Cassandra says. “Though, in the stricter Circles, it was more common.”

“But why?” Mina asks.

“Because they could have controlled the templar’s mind with blood magic,” Cassandra says.

“But what if the templar took the mage against their will?” Mina asks.

Once again, Cassandra sighs. “Some of them were still made tranquil, but those that I caught weren’t.”

“Creators,” Mina mutters. She remembers what Leliana told her about Queen Raisa being raped in the Circle before being conscripted to the Wardens and wonders how many mages were made tranquil just because they were caught being raped, but were thought to be blood mages.

Cassandra notices Mina’s breathing start to increase as she becomes lost in thought and begins to worry slightly. “Mina,” she says as she places a hand on her friend’s shoulder.

Mina jumps slightly as the Seeker’s touch breaks her out of her thoughts. “Sorry,” she says as she blinks a few times and shakes her head to try to rid her mind of the images. “I was just trying to imagine how many mages were made tranquil simply because they were thought to be blood mages, but, in fact, were taken against their will,” she mutters.

Cassandra sighs. “It was unfortunately quite a lot,” she says solemnly. “The Seekers could never catch all of them, but those we did were spared, or punished in the case of the templars who raped them.”

Mina suddenly grabs onto Cassandra’s arms and looks at her with wide and fearful eyes before closing them tight and shaking her head to try to shake the images of her rape incident out of her mind.

“Maker, what’s wrong, Mina?” Cassandra asks worriedly as she tries to steady her friend back on her feet. However, Mina continues to hold onto her arms as if her life depends on it.

Unable to get the images to leave her mind, Mina starts to cry uncontrollably. She is so wrapped up in the images and the emotions they are giving her that she doesn’t realize Cassandra has lowered her to the ground and is almost yelling her name.

“Mina!” Cassandra calls yet again as she shakes her friend worriedly. Sighing, she Silences the Herald to try to get her to respond to her once she wakes up. She releases the Silence as soon as Mina goes unconscious. However, she becomes even more worried when Mina is still unconscious after several seconds. She checks her pulse, which is just as fast as it was the last time she Silenced her, and fears she may have to get Solas if she doesn’t wake up soon. “Mina!” she says as she shakes her again.

Mina suddenly tackles Cassandra to the ground. “I said get off me!” she growls as she holds the Seeker’s hands above her head.

Cassandra is surprised at how strongly Mina is holding her to the ground. She can see in the Herald’s eyes that she isn’t really aware of what she’s doing and begins to worry slightly. “Mina,” she says calmly as she tries to get out of her friend’s grasp. However, Mina just tightens her grip on the Seeker’s wrists. “Mina,” she says again, this time a little more desperately. Still, Mina doesn’t budge. Knowing Silencing her again, or even using a Spell Purge would be dangerous, she pushes out one of her Seeker abilities and wraps the Herald in a calming aura. “Mina,” she says once again. She sees the change in the Herald’s eyes as she finally comes to her senses and inwardly breathes a sigh of relief and releases the spell.

When Mina sees Cassandra’s position, she immediately gasps and lets go of her. “Creators, Cass, I’m so sorry!” she says. “I thought you were him! Creators, I’m so sorry! Did I hurt you?” She sees some red marks on the Seeker’s wrists and gasps again. “Creators, I hurt you! Fenedhis, I’m so sorry!”

“I’m fine, Mina,” Cassandra says as she sits up. “You, however, are not.”

“I know I’m not!” Mina exclaims. “I hurt you because I had a fucking flashback!”

“Mina, you didn’t hurt me,” Cassandra says. However, she hisses in pain when Mina grabs her wrists again.

“Yes, I did!” Mina says before healing the Seeker’s wrists. When she is done, she checks her friend over magically for any other injuries, knowing she won’t tell her if she’s hurt anywhere else. The only other thing she notices is a slight concussion. “Creators, I don’t think I can heal that!” she mutters.

“What’s going on here?” a voice asks.

Both Mina and Cassandra look up and see one of Leliana’s scouts regarding them with a concerned expression.

“Nothing,” Cassandra says. “Mina and I were just talking and things got a little heated. That’s all. You two keep this to yourselves. As you were.”

“Cass, he’s the only one here besides us two,” Mina says worriedly.

“Really?” Cassandra asks. “I see two of them. They look like twins.”

At that, Mina realizes the concussion is worse than she thought. She turns to the scout. “Do you know about my magic specialty?” she asks him.

The scout nods. “I know you can shapeshift, My Lady,” he says.

“Well, I need you to go tell Solas to meet us in the room Cass shares with Leli and Josephine as soon as possible. Also, if you see her, tell Leli to meet us there too. But don’t go looking for her. And not a word about this to anyone else, do you understand me?”

“Yes, My Lady,” the scout says with a salute before rushing off.

“Mina, what’s going on?” Cassandra asks.

Mina looks at Cassandra worriedly. “Do you trust me?” she asks.

“Of course I trust you, Mina!” Cassandra says.

“Then close your eyes and don’t open them until I say so, no matter how much your curiosity wants you to,” Mina says.

Cassandra knows something is wrong with her, but doesn’t have the strength to demand Mina to tell her what that is due to the splitting headache that has begun to form. She’s also beginning to see two of Mina, which worries her even more. However, just as she is about to nod, she vaguely hears Mina curse in Elvish before she feels magic being cast and everything goes black.

 

O0o0o0o

 

Leliana arrives back at her work tent after her lovemaking session with Zevran to one of her scouts assigned to watch Mina pacing near it.

“Maker, Sketch, what’s wrong?” she asks worriedly when she sees this.

Sketch looks up at her and quickly tells her what happened. As soon as he is done, Leliana dismisses him and rushes to the room she is sharing with Cassandra and Josephine.

 

Upon entering the room, she sees Cassandra lying unconscious in her bed and Mina knelt down next to it in prayer while holding the Seeker’s hands in hers.

After about a minute, Mina finishes her last prayer and looks up at the Spymaster with tears in her eyes. “This is my fault, Leli!” she chokes out, not moving from her spot, nor removing her hands from Cassandra’s. “I had a major flashback and tackled her to the ground, thinking she was the man who raped me all those years ago! She has a major concussion that Solas and I have healed as much as we can of, but Solas said that she won’t be able to leave this room for a few days at least! I know we were planning to leave tomorrow morning, but unless we can find someone else to go with us, we may have to postpone that trip! I mean, we could take Sera, but I would feel better if there was someone who could Silence me if need be there too. Plus, I don’t feel comfortable making any major decisions like recruitment and stuff on my own yet! Ugh, Creators, what have I done?!”

Leliana quickly makes a decision to go with Mina and to have Knight-Lieutenant Jessica come with them, but is worried about what might’ve caused the flashback to occur. “Mina,” she says as she walks over to the Herald and crouches down to her level. She places a kind hand on her shoulder. “Don’t worry about that,” she tells her. “From what I’ve gathered, it was a total accident.” She sighs. “If it makes you feel better, Rai occasionally had flashbacks as well and accidently injured just about everyone we traveled with during the Blight more than once, including me and Ali.” She sighs again. “Do you think you can tell me exactly what happened without another flashback being triggered?”

Mina sighs and shakes her head. “I doubt it, Leli,” she says solemnly.

“That’s okay,” Leliana says as she squeezes the Herald’s shoulder reassuringly. “If that changes between now and the time we get back, just let me know.”

Mina looks at Leliana in confusion. “I’m sorry, what?” she asks. “You’re going with us? Not that I’m against it, but what about your work here? You once told me that it’s better that you stay here.”

Leliana chuckles slightly. “Well, given the circumstances, and what you just told me, I think it would be best if Knight-Lieutenant Jessica and I went with you. I’d let you pick between her and Rylen, but I doubt he’ll want to leave once he learns about Cassandra’s condition.”

Mina chuckles as well. “I agree.” She looks back at Cassandra before sighing and standing up. She lets go of the Seeker’s hands and pulls the blankets over her. When she is done, she places her hands on Cassandra’s forehead and summons her healing magic once again. “Please get well soon, Cass,” she says before she stops the spell and removes her hands. She looks up at Leliana and sighs again as they hear the Chantry bells ring, indicating lunch will soon be served in the tavern. “I know that’s the bell indicating lunch will be served soon, but can I talk to you in the War Room real quick?” she asks her.

“Of course,” Leliana says with a nod before opening the door. “After you.”

Mina grabs her cloak off the bedpost and walks out of the room with Leliana following her and closing the door behind them.

“Oh, is everything alright?” Josephine asks as she exits her office at the same time to go get some lunch.

Mina sighs. “Not really,” she says.

Josephine looks between Mina and Leliana worriedly. “What happened?”

Mina sighs again and motions for the two of them to follow her into the War Room.

“Mina, what’s going on?” Josephine asks worriedly when she sees the Herald immediately start to pace upon entering the room and after placing her cloak along the back of a chair.

“Fenedhis, not again,” Mina groans as she starts to lean on the War Table to support her weight as a new wave of images start to flood her mind, this time of the look Cassandra gave her just before she put the sleeping spell on her.

Leliana rushes behind Mina and places her hands on the side of the Herald’s head. She applies a steady pressure and begins to rub while whispering soothing words in her ear.

 

After about a minute, Mina calms and turns to look at Leliana in slight shock.

“Thanks, Leli,” she says. “I’m guessing that worked for Her Majesty during the Blight?”

“You’re welcome, Mina,” Leliana replies. “And, yes, it did. If we could get to her in time, it would usually take effect before she injured one of us, and I’m glad it worked for you this time.”

“Me too,” Mina says.

“Can someone--” Josephine starts.

Josie!” Leliana snaps at her friend, effectively cutting her off. She rounds the table and looks at her in the eyes. “Mina is having flashbacks from a very rough point in her life, and she accidently hurt Cassandra during her last one! What you said triggered another one just now! I apologize for being so stern with you right now, Josie, but this brings up worrisome memories with Rai for me, and I don’t want a repeat of that!”

“Wait, Cassandra’s hurt?” Josephine asks incredulously and worriedly.

Leliana nods. “She is, and she won’t be able to leave our room for a few days at least, so Knight-Lieutenant Jessica and I are going to leave tomorrow morning with Mina’s party instead. Now, if you will please excuse us, Mina and I need to talk about a few things privately.”

Mina sighs. “Leli, is that really necessary? You two are friends!”

“I understand where she’s coming from, Mina,” Josephine says as she turns to leave the room, but stops and turns back around just as she’s about to reach the door. “Can I just ask if Cassandra will be alright?”

Mina sighs again. “She has a major concussion, but is expected to make a full recovery and is currently under a sleeping spell to help with it. That’s all I feel comfortable saying right now without risking another flashback. I apologize.”

“That’s alright, Mina,” Josephine says. “But what about you?”

Once again, Mina sighs. “I think I’ll be fine, Josephine, but I’m not one hundred percent positive.”

Josephine nods in understanding. “Well, let me know if you ever need anything.”

Mina nods in understanding. “I will. Thank you, Josephine.”

“You’re welcome, Mina,” Josephine replies before turning and leaving the room.

As soon as the door closes, Mina goes over and hugs Leliana tightly. “Thank you,” she whispers in her ear.

As soon as Leliana realizes what’s happening, she hugs Mina back just as tightly. “You’re welcome, Mina,” she says. She isn’t exactly sure what Mina is thanking her for, but decides not to ask. She just knows that the Herald needs this hug, and she is happy to give it to her.

They stay embraced like that for almost a full minute before they loosen their grip on each other. Mina looks at Leliana in the eyes then.

“I don’t know what I’d do without you and Cass here to help and guide me through all this,” she tells the Spymaster with a small smile. “I’ve come to think of everyone here as a friend, you two especially, and I will certainly miss you all when I return to the clan after all this is over.”

Leliana returns Mina’s smile and takes her hands in hers. “I’m sure you would do just fine, but I’m glad you have people here you can confide in.” She sighs. “Not to change the subject or anything, but what did you want to talk to me about?”

It’s Mina’s turn to sigh. “How good is Phoenix’s healing magic?”

Leliana thinks for a few seconds. “I think it’s about as good as yours, give or take,” she finally says. “Why?”

Mina sighs again. “Unless you have a better idea, I think he should be the mage to check on Cassandra while we’re gone. Either that, or have him switch places with Solas and come with us. Due to my motion sickness, and my slight clumsiness in battle, I think we need to have at least one other mage with us on the road.”

“How bad is the concussion versus how likely you will need a more powerful mage than Phoenix to heal any injuries you might get?” Leliana asks.

Mina thinks about it for a few seconds. “Ugh, I don’t know!” she finally says as she starts pacing a bit. “I think we will have to talk to both of them and see what they think. While the concussion is really bad, I don’t know if it’s worse than any possible injury I might get while on the road.”

“That’s okay, Mina,” Leliana says as she goes to stop the Herald’s pacing. “We can ask them after lunch if you’d like.”

Mina sighs. “I—I don’t think I should go to the tavern for the rest of the day,” she says sadly. “I don’t know what could trigger another flashback, and if I have one there, it wouldn’t be good.”

Leliana nods in understanding and places a comforting hand on Mina’s shoulder. “I understand,” she tells her. “If you’d like, I can bring you some food to your cabin or wherever you’d like to eat it.”

Mina sighs again. “I think I need to go take a walk, and maybe release some magic, to clear my head.”

“You’re not hungry?” Leliana asks worriedly.

“No,” Mina says. Her stomach growls.

“I beg to differ,” Leliana says.

“I’m really not,” Mina tries to reiterate.

“You really are,” Leliana says worriedly. “Maker, Mina, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing!” Mina says.

“Ma harel, falon!” Leliana says in Elvish as she takes Mina’s hands in hers and leads her to the bench in the room.

“Leli, please don’t,” Mina mutters as she refuses to sit down.

“Mala suledin nadas,” Leliana says.

Leli…” Mina warns. “Tel’sahlin!” Not now!

At that, Leliana knows Mina is not in a good place and hopes she doesn’t have to summon Rylen to Silence her. She gives Mina a look that she would often give Raisa when she was like this. However, it doesn’t have the same effect. Instead of scaring her into submission, all it does is makes Mina give a deadly look of her own in return.

“I’m not scared of you, Leli,” Mina says. “Those looks won’t work on me. Need I remind you that I can both shapeshift and turn people into toads?”

Leliana sighs. “Mina, please talk to me!” she says pleadingly. “I know I’m not Cassandra, but I’m probably the closest you will get right now!”

“It’s not that!” Mina says defensively.

“Then what is it?” Leliana asks.

Mina starts pacing. “Ugh, I don’t know! I just feel like I could have prevented all of it from happening somehow, or at least stopped myself before I hurt Cass! Ugh, Creators, why did this have to happen now of all times?!”

“Mina,” Leliana says calmly as she goes to stop her friend’s pacing. “Mina, there is nothing you could have done that would have prevented this! Flashbacks happen because of a trigger that you have absolutely no control over! Our minds are weird like that sometimes.”

Mina sighs. “I guess,” she relents. “I still feel bad though.”

“As did Rai whenever she hurt one of us,” Leliana says. She chuckles. “Seriously, I can’t wait for the two of you to meet! If you weren’t an elf, I would seriously think you two were twins or something! And, you know, she and the Champion of Kirkwall are related, so imagine if you were related to them! All of the heroes of Thedas in recent history would be related!”

Mina chuckles despite herself. “That would be some crazy weird luck for that family, I agree!” she says. She sighs. “Am I really that much like Her Majesty?”

Leliana nods. “You really are, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

“You read my journals, Leliana,” Mina says. “You know just about as much of my past as I do and should know that pretty much all of my life has been fairly shitty, for the lack of a better word.”

Leliana chuckles. “I wouldn’t say it’s all like that,” she says. “I seem to recall a number of entries where you described some pranks you and Lira played on your clan.”

Mina smiles and her eyes light up slightly. “Those were the best!” she says with a giggle. “Keeper made me stop doing it as often once my magic manifested, but I still have fond memories of that time.”

Leliana smirks as she gets an idea.

“Oh, I’m in!” Mina says excitedly when she sees this.

“You haven’t even heard what I had in mind yet!” Leliana says with laugh. “For all you know, I could want to do something you are morally against!”

Mina chuckles. “I doubt you’d do anything as bad as murder or taking someone against their will.”

Leliana chuckles as well. “No, but I do have a condition before we do this.”

“And what might that be?” Mina asks.

“That you eat,” Leliana replies.

“Deal!” Mina says.

Leliana chuckles again. “Alright. Just wait here. I’ll be right back.” With that, she leaves the room to get them both some lunch.

As soon as the door closes, Mina starts brainstorming ideas to prank the people of Haven. She thinks of a few she could do with her magic, as well as with her shapeshifting magic, that she will have to run by Leliana to make sure they are okay for her to do. While she waits for the Spymaster to return, she decides to play a small prank on her, so she shapeshifts into her butterfly form and flies to the back of a chair in the room that is hidden, but still gives her access to shoot magic at anyone who enters.

 

She only has to wait about another minute before Leliana comes back in the room and sets the tray of food down on the table.

“Mina?” she asks as she looks around. “Oh, Maker, I had a bad feeling you would do something like this…”

“You sound like Cass,” Mina says with a chuckle. “Oh, and watch out!” She shoots the magical snowball she had been building right at the Spymaster and reverts back into her normal form.

“Ach!” Leliana breathes as the snowball hits the arm she put up to shield her face. She smirks mischievously at Mina once she lowers her arm. “Oh, you’ll pay for that later!”

“Banal nadas,” Mina says with a smirk of her own before she takes the bowl of soup Leliana offers her.

“So, have you thought of anything yet?” Leliana asks before taking a bite of her own soup.

Mina nods and begins to relay some of her ideas to the Spymaster. Leliana takes everything the Herald says to account and gives her opinion on the safety of each idea.

 

When they have finished eating, they have come up with several ways to prank the people of Haven that are safe to do. They decide to set up all of the traps that are going to be the pranks quickly and before everyone returns from lunch. As soon as they are done, Leliana takes Mina back to the War Room to talk a bit more.

 

“And then Alistair told the Landsmeet that Rai would be their Queen!” Leliana says excitedly. “I believe his exact words were, ‘This woman before you may be a mage, but she is the love of my life, and I’d be damned if I can’t make her my wife and your Queen!’” She sighs dreamily. “Maker, you should’ve seen Rai’s face! The new King of Ferelden just cursed in front of the Landsmeet, and told them that he loved her and will marry her!”

Mina chuckles. “I think I’m starting to see why she fell for him.” She then makes a small realization. “How long did it take for her to be accepted?”

Leliana sighs. “While hesitant, they agreed almost immediately. Granted, it was before the final battle against the Archdemon, and there was still a good chance that either of them could die, but they still accepted it surprisingly quickly.”

“Well, I’m glad,” Mina says. “The two seem perfect for each other, based on what you just told me and what is widely known about them.”

Leliana chuckles. “You really are a hopeless romantic, aren’t you?” she says playfully.

“Damn right, I am!” Mina says confidently with a smirk.

Just then, they hear a scream.

“Ah, there’s Josie,” Leliana says with another chuckle before heading to the door to “make sure the Ambassador is alright” as she and Mina had planned.

 

“Maker, Josie, are you alright?” Leliana asks her friend “worriedly” as she enters her office. “What happened?”

Josephine looks up at Leliana and immediately knows something is up. “You know what happened,” she accuses angrily. “I know this is your doing because you are the only one who knows about my hatred for bugs!”

“Whatever are you talking about, Josie?” Leliana asks innocently. “I’ve been talking to Mina in the War Room ever since you left. I only left that room to go get some lunch for the two of us.”

“Then it must be Mina’s doing,” Josephine says.

“What makes you say that?” Leliana asks innocently.

Before Josephine can answer, they hear a loud noise coming from the War Room.

That wasn’t planned… Leliana thinks worriedly once she realizes where the noise came from.

“Andraste preserve me, what was that?” Josephine asks worriedly as they both begin to rush to the War Room.

When they enter the War Room, what they see really worries them: Mina is curled up in a fetal position on the floor near a chair lying on its side.

“Maker, Mina, what happened?” Leliana asks worriedly as she rushes to the Herald’s side.

“Lira,” Mina whimpers as Leliana helps her into a sitting position and she begins to rub her forehead with ice on her fingertips to try to relieve the headache that has begun to form. “It wasn’t as strong as some of the other ones, but it still caught me off guard. I tried to reach for the chair, but I didn’t catch it right, and we both fell to the floor.”

“Are you alright?” Leliana asks. “Do you need me to get Phoenix or Solas to heal you?”

“I’m fine,” Mina says. “But we do still need to talk to both of them about Cass, so maybe go ahead and summon them.” She starts to stand up, but Leliana stops her.

“Mina, I can tell you’re in pain,” the Spymaster says as the Ambassador begins to leave the room. “Josephine is going to get them in here, but I think you need to ask one of them to check you over.”

“I’ve already checked myself over and I’m fine, Leli,” Mina says, temper rising a bit.

Leliana sighs. “Okay,” she says before standing up and helping Mina up. She then turns the chair back over and Mina immediately sits in it. She raises an eyebrow at her in question.

Mina sighs. “It always takes a bit for me to recover after something like that happens,” she explains. “I’ll be fine.”

“Why do I not really believe you?” Leliana says with a slight and worried chuckle.

Mina sighs again. “Damn…” she mutters. “And here I thought I was getting better at that…”

Leliana chuckles again. “We really need to teach you how to play the Game. Especially if you’re going to make this a habit.”

“The Game?” Mina asks. She then realizes what Leliana means. “Wait, do you mean that Orlesian thing where everyone lies to each other?”

“Well, that’s one way to put it,” Leliana says with yet another chuckle. “Just don’t say that to any of them.”

Mina chuckles herself. “Don’t worry, I won’t.” She sighs. “I really will be fine after a bit. I just need to sit here until then.”

Leliana sighs. Maker, she doesn’t really think I believe her, does she?

“Leli?” Mina asks. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Leliana sighs again and brings another chair to sit in front of Mina. “I’m just worried about you,” she tells her friend as she takes her hands in hers. “I can tell you’re in pain, but if you won’t accept healing from Phoenix or Solas, I can only wonder how many other injuries you may have hidden from us.”

Mina sighs. “The pain subsides with the time I sit here to recover,” she tells her. “But, if it will make you not worry so much, we can have Solas or Phoenix check me over when they get here.”

“It would put my mind at ease,” Leliana says with a nod. She sighs. “Mina, I hate to do this to you, but I need to ask you something about Lira that might upset you a bit.”

Mina takes a deep, calming breath to prepare herself. “Okay, what is it?”

“You once said she’s not as smart as you, yes?” Leliana asks. Mina nods. “And you’re sure you two are identical twins?” Once again, Mina nods. “Did something happen during the birth that might have caused this?”

Mina sighs. “I honestly don’t know. All I know is that Mother died either soon after or soon before we were born, so they had to use a spell that speeds up the birthing process, but also has a high chance of killing the mother if she isn’t already, so they only use it in extreme cases, like Mother’s. I was born first and was told that they didn’t use the cream they use for the births of multiples, so Lira could have suffered some brain damage from running out of air, but I don’t know.”

“What happened to your mother?” Leliana asks.

Once again, Mina sighs. “Bear attack,” she says simply.

“But you were born in the middle of winter!” Leliana says. “Shouldn’t bears be hibernating at that time?!”

“I’ve heard it was a mild winter that year and the bears came out of hibernation early,” Mina replies.

“And was your mother the clan’s First?” Leliana asks.

“Second, actually,” Mina replies. “The clan’s First was actually Keeper, and Calan and Adwen were her twin sons. I heard a rumor that their magic manifested in a similar way to how Lira’s and mine did, and killed the Keeper of the clan at the time. Lira and I would’ve been about one when it happened.”

“So they manifested when they were six?” Leliana asks. Mina nods. “And you aren’t related to your Keeper?”

“What?” Mina asks in shock. “Creators, no! Mother was transferred to the clan soon after her magic manifested. This dress was actually given to her by her mother as a going away present for when she would grow into it. She had always loved it when Grandmother wore it, so when her magic manifested at the age of fourteen and it became clear that she was going to have to move clans, Grandmother gave it to her.” She sighs. “When Keeper gave this to me to wear when I got my vallaslin two years ago, she told me that story. I had never known where Mother came from, nor about what happened before Lira and I were born. I had always assumed we were born on time, but I learned then that we were actually born two months early.”

“And I hear your father was at the Ten-Year Gathering where Cass defeated that horde of dragons when you and Lira were born,” Leliana says.

“We were born two days after he left,” Mina says with a nod. She chuckles. “He told the whole clan the story of what happened there so often, that I have a slight feeling he had a crush on Cass.” She chuckles again. “No wonder he fell for Eva’s mother!” She then realizes what she just said and gasps. “Creators, that makes so much sense now! Wait, no it doesn’t! Eva’s mother didn’t look that much like Cass! Well, besides the dark hair and the eyes.”

Leliana chuckles. “I’ve seen a portrait of Cassandra as a young girl, and she actually looked a lot like Eva.”

“Wait, really?” Mina asks.

Leliana nods. “Granted, I also see a lot of similarities to you in her as well, but if Cass ever shows you the locket that has her and Anthony’s portraits in it, you’ll see what I mean.”

Just then, the door opens and Solas and Phoenix walk in.

“You asked for us?” Phoenix says as Solas closes the door.

“Yes,” Leliana says. “Phoenix, have you heard about what happened with Mina and Cassandra a few hours ago?”

“No,” Phoenix replies.

Mina suddenly groans, grabs Leliana’s hands, and places them on the side of her head.

“Maker, are you having another one?” Leliana asks worriedly as she starts to apply pressure and rub.

Mina nods slightly as she closes her eyes tightly and tears start falling down her face.

 

After about a minute of Leliana’s ministrations, the images fade and Mina looks at the Spymaster with glassy eyes.

“Thanks, Leli,” she says shakily as the Spymaster lowers her hands to her cheeks and wipes away her tears.

“You’re welcome, Mina,” Leliana replies with a kind smile as she drops her hands. She stands up and turns to Phoenix and Solas. “Mina has been having flashbacks from a very rough point in her life, and she accidently hurt Cassandra during the first one, as the Seeker didn’t know the technique that I just did. I have decided to go with Mina’s party tomorrow, but due to her motion sickness and her slight clumsiness in battle (her words, not mine), Mina says she needs a mage with us. Solas, I know Phoenix’s healing magic is about as good as Mina’s is, so based on how bad Cassandra’s concussion is and what I just told you, do you think you would be better off staying here to watch Cassandra, or do you think Phoenix will be fine doing that?”

“If I may,” Phoenix cuts in. “I’m not that good with healing magic. I know how to patch up wounds and stuff, but I don’t know if I would feel comfortable healing something as severe as a concussion. I think I would do better going with the Herald’s party tomorrow.”

“I was going to suggest the same thing,” Solas says.

“Then it’s settled!” Leliana says. “Solas, you will stay here and Phoenix, you will come with us tomorrow.” She nods to both of them. “Thank you. That will be all. Phoenix, we leave at dawn and breakfast will be an hour before then. Come see me before you go to bed tonight.”

“Yes, My Lady,” Phoenix says before he and Solas start to leave the room.

“Oh, I almost forgot, Solas, Mina and I need to talk to you for a bit before you go,” Leliana says before he can leave.

“Of course,” Solas says as he turns back to them and closes the door behind Phoenix. “What is it?”

Leliana sighs. “Something got transferred to Mina from Lira again and she fell when it happened. She says she’s fine, but has agreed to have you check her over for any injuries to put my mind at ease, so do you mind?” She motions toward Mina.

“No, I don’t mind,” Solas says as he walks over to Mina. When he gets to her location, he sits in the chair Leliana had been sitting in only minutes before. “Are you ready, lethallan?” he asks Mina.

Mina nods. “I am.”

With that, Solas summons his magic. He runs it up and down Mina’s body, but lingers on her torso. When he stops the spell, he looks at her with slight concern. “Lethallan, when was the last time you had your monthly bleeding?”

“I’m sorry, what?” Mina asks, shocked. Did I hear him correctly?

Solas sighs. “When was the last time you had your monthly bleeding?” he asks again.

Yes I did. “What does that have to do with anything?”

Solas sighs again. “Do you have a spell on you that stop them?” he asks.

Mina sighs. “Yes I do. I would be dead if I didn’t.”

“What do you mean?” Leliana asks slightly worriedly.

“I had such severe pain during my first few that I literally couldn’t move,” Mina replies. “Keeper had to put sleeping spells on me just to feed me. So, after the third month, she put the spell on me. It also makes it so whenever I do finally have sex, I will definitely get pregnant unless I take a witherstalk potion.” She puts her head in her hands as her face reddens in embarrassment. “Creators, I’ve never told anyone that before,” she mutters. “And, no, Leli, I won’t consider putting it on you. Or anyone for that matter, unless they have the same condition that I do.”

Leliana chuckles slightly. “I wasn’t going to ask you to.” She sighs and turns to Solas. “Why did you ask her that in the first place?”

Solas sighs and turns to Mina. “Lethallan, you seem to be in good health, except that spell is beginning to fail. Have you had any pain recently that could be because of that?”

Mina looks at Solas incredulously. “I’m sorry, did you just say the spell is failing?!” she asks worriedly.

Solas nods. “Yes, lethallan. I can reapply it, but if you have been having any pain recently that might be because of that, I won’t be able to do it until after the bleeding stops.”

Mina’s eyes widen in horror as the meaning of Solas’s words sink in. “No, Solas, don’t say that!” she nearly yells as she starts to panic. “I will very likely die if I have to have one!”

“Mina, answer his question,” Leliana says worriedly and pleadingly.

“And please be honest,” Solas adds.

Mina sighs. “That I know of, the only pain I’ve had recently were headaches,” she says before looking at Solas pleadingly. “Please, Solas! Do the spell before it’s too late!”

Solas sighs and looks at Leliana. “Normally the spell is done at night after the woman falls asleep naturally, but due to the fact that by the time Mina falls asleep naturally tonight, the chance might be gone, I have to do it when she’s awake, and it’s a fairly painful spell. Therefore, I need to ask you to do something, if the two of you will allow it.”

“And what might that be?” Mina asks.

Solas sighs again as he turns to Mina. “I don’t know for sure, but the thing she did when you had that flashback might help with some of the pain. It’s a spell that is much more painful than the one used when you got your vallaslin. However, I need complete access to your front side, and it’s a very long spell. Therefore, I think if Leliana sits behind you to do it, it will be the most comfortable for both of you.”

“That’s fine,” Mina says as she stands up. “I just want to get this over with.” She looks to Leliana pleadingly. “Please, Leli. I need this more than you could ever know.”

Nodding, Leliana goes and sits in the chair Mina just vacated and spreads her legs so Mina can sit in between them. “Lean against me,” she says as the Herald sits.

Mina does as she’s told and leans against the Spymaster. She feels Leliana place her hands on her head and Solas place his hands on her stomach. She flinches slightly at Solas’s touch, but closes her eyes to try to calm herself down.

“Focus on your breathing, lethallan,” Solas says.

“Let me help,” Leliana says softly in Mina’s ear as she begins to rub the Herald’s forehead. “Follow my lead… In… two… three… four… five… Hold… two… three… four… five… Out… two… three… four… five…”

Mina follows Leliana’s instructions as the Spymaster repeats them over and over. Leliana does such a good job at keeping her mind occupied that she barely feels Solas begin to cast the spell.

 

After almost ten minutes of this, Mina feels Solas release his magic and Leliana remove her hands. However, she doesn’t open her eyes. Instead, she just keeps doing the breathing exercise on her own.

“It’s done, lethallan,” Solas says softly as he places a hand on her knee.

Mina slowly opens her eyes and is greeted with Solas’s kind and slightly worried gaze.

“How do you feel?” he asks softly.

“I feel fine,” Mina replies as she stands up. She looks to Leliana as she stands up as well and then back at Solas. “Thank you. Both of you. I don’t know what would’ve happened if you hadn’t made Solas check me over, Leli, and had you not noticed that the spell was beginning to fail, Solas.”

“You’re welcome, Mina,” Leliana says. “I’m just glad you weren’t hurt more by the fall, and that Solas was able to reapply the spell.”

“You and me both,” Mina says. She turns to Solas. “Thank you so much, Solas.”

“You’re welcome, lethallan,” Solas replies. He sighs. “How was Seeker Cassandra when you left?”

“There was little change,” Mina replies. “I did another round of the healing spell you showed me how to do just before I left, but I don’t think it did much.”

Solas nods in solemn understanding. “I’ll go check on her now,” he says. “If that will be all…?”

“Yes, thank you, Solas,” Leliana says.

Solas nods in recognition before turning and leaving the room.

 

The rest of the day is fairly uneventful. Mina and Leliana tell Sera, Varric, and Knight-Lieutenant Jessica that they will be leaving in the morning, and tells them and Rylen of Cassandra’s condition. Sure enough, Rylen instantly becomes worried when he hears of what happened. Mina tells him that she will be fine, but he still looks extremely worried.

“I have a favor to ask you, Knight-Captain,” Mina says to Rylen after dismissing the others.

“And what might that be, Milady?” Rylen asks.

Mina smirks slightly. “I know you have feelings for Cass, and I know she will want to join me on the road as soon as she wakes up. However, she will likely still be on bedrest at that time. Solas and Josephine know about this and have agreed to allow you to keep her company during the day, but if she tries to escape, I ask that you restrain her.”

Rylen almost chokes on his own spit as the meaning of Mina’s words sink in. “I’m sorry, Milady, but why me?” he asks as Mina tries and fails to stifle the laughter from surfacing.

“Because you are the only one I trust to do this,” Mina says through her laughter. “Besides, I’m sure Cass will appreciate your company.” She takes a deep breath to try to regain her composure. “I apologize. I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic. Cass is usually the one I tease, but with her condition, I haven’t been able to do it as much as I usually do in a day.” She smirks again and leans forward a bit. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but Cass once told me she still has the flowers and the note you left her the day after I stabilized the Breach and that she smiles every time she sees them when she opens her lockbox that they are in.”

Rylen’s eyes go wide in shock and slight gratification. “Maker’s breath, really?” he asks Mina.

Mina smiles and nods. “Just don’t tell her I told you, or she’ll never forgive me. She told it to me in confidence.”

“Don’t worry, Milady, I won’t,” Rylen replies.

 

When they go their separate ways a few minutes later, Rylen has an idea about how to woo the Seeker further, and gets started on putting it into motion.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Mina is the first of the traveling party to wake up and arrive at the tavern. She and Eva eat alone for a bit before the rest of the group arrives.

“You’re up early,” Leliana says as she sits across from the Herald. “Did you sleep alright?”

Mina sighs. “I’ll tell you later.”

Leliana looks at Mina with concern, but nods in understanding.

 

Just before the group leaves, Mina and Solas check on Cassandra’s condition. They become worried when they realize the Seeker isn’t making as quick of a recovery as they thought she would.

“Creators, I hope she’ll be alright,” Mina mutters.

“She should be,” Solas says. “It will just take a little longer than we originally thought.”

 

When the group finally leaves, Mina begins to chew on some ginger root and does fairly well without having to shapeshift for a while.

“So, who do you think is the toughest: Josephine, Leliana, or Cassandra?” Varric asks at one point.

“I'm right here, you know,” Leliana says.

“That doesn't rule you out, Nightingale,” Varric says with a chuckle.

“Cullen's not up for consideration?” Jessica asks.

“Curly?” Varric asks. “They just keep him around to look pretty.”

Leliana chuckles. “What about Mina?”

“You saw Flashy and Seeker spar the other day, Nightingale,” Varric replies. “Our Herald would win that any day.”

Mina suddenly heaves as her motion sickness hits her hard. “Not when it comes to motion sickness, I’m afraid,” she says before heaving again. “Ugh, hang on. I gotta stop.” With that, she stops and dismounts. She hands the reins to Leliana before going to a nearby bush and vomiting into it.

“Is this how bad it normally gets?” Leliana asks worriedly.

“It’s sometimes worse,” Varric replies sadly. “Just wait until you see her mabari form, though.”

“I’m not doing that one today,” Mina says as she walks back to the group and grabs some more ginger root out of her pack.

“Mina, it’s okay to shapeshift, you know,” Leliana says. “Cass has told me that your temperature and heart rate tend to rise when you get motion sick, and that if it gets extremely severe, you tend to pass out. I’d like to avoid that as much as possible.”

Mina sighs. “It’s not that.”

“Then what is it?” Leliana asks.

“It’s not one of my bad days,” Mina replies. “I try to only shapeshift when even ginger root can’t help me.” She remounts her horse and takes the reins from the Spymaster. “Granted, I may have to later, but for now, I’m fine.” With that, she spurs her horse and they go on their way.

 

After about another hour of riding, Mina has to stop to throw up again. However, this time, she has trouble regaining control of her breathing afterwards and she starts to pass out from suffocation. Luckily, Phoenix realizes this and dismounts to use his healing magic on her.

“I think I’m going to have to suggest that you shapeshift for a while,” he says after Mina is stable and they are walking back to the horses.

“I agree with Phoenix,” Leliana says.

Mina sighs. “I’m really fine,” she says as she starts to remount her horse. However, Phoenix’s hand on her shoulder stops her.

“It’s either shapeshift or a sleeping spell,” he says.

“Please don’t touch me,” Mina says as she removes Phoenix’s hand from her shoulder. “Especially if you are going to threaten me like that.” With that, she remounts her horse and begins to trot off.

“Just let her be,” Leliana says to Phoenix. “She can be extremely stubborn sometimes.”

“I heard that,” Mina says as she continues to trot down the path.

Sighing, Phoenix remounts his horse and the rest of the group hurries to catch up with Mina.

 

The rest of the ride that day is fairly uneventful. Mina is able to catch her motion sickness before it makes her throw up again with more ginger root from then on. When they are setting up camp that evening, however, Mina suddenly rushes to a nearby bush and empties her stomach. She hadn’t even been doing anything that would normally make her motion sick when it happened.

“Maker, Mina, are you alright?” Leliana asks worriedly when she sees this. She hands the Herald a waterskin when she has stopped heaving.

“I think so,” Mina says after drinking some of the water. “I forgot that I couldn’t keep any food down the day after Keeper did that spell on me. I suppose that’s what’s happening.” She sighs. “Which means I probably shouldn’t eat anything else until tomorrow morning.”

Leliana sighs, but nods in understanding. “That would probably be wise, but I’m beginning to worry about you.”

“I’m fine,” Mina says before starting to walk back to continue setting up camp. However, a hand on her shoulder stops her. She turns slowly and finds herself staring into Leliana’s pale blue eyes.

“Why don’t you and I take a walk?” the Spymaster suggests. “Maybe hunt for everyone else’s dinner?”

“Maybe after camp is set up,” Mina says as she goes to turn around again. However, Leliana’s grip on her shoulder remains strong. “Leli…” Mina warns.

Leliana sighs. “Fine, but you and I are going to talk tonight whether you like it or not.” She lowers her hand. With that, they return to finish setting up camp.

 

When camp has been set up and everyone but Mina has eaten, Mina goes to take a bath in the river she and Leliana had found nearby.

Just as she is about to get out of the water, she hears someone else approach and immediately puts a barrier over herself just in case.

“Don’t worry, Mina, it’s just me,” Leliana says as she comes into view.

“Can I help you, Leli?” Mina asks as she dissolves the barrier and covers her breasts under the water with her arms.

Leliana places her own bathing supplies next to Mina’s armor and sits down next to the piles. She begins to unlace her boots. “I just thought we could talk where the others won’t hear us,” she says.

“And now is the only time we can do that?” Mina asks as she creates a cover up with her ice magic and begins to step out of the water.

“Unless you want them to hear us,” Leliana replies as she removes her first boot and begins to take the other one off.

“You do realize I can create a silencing ward around us, right?” Mina says as she grabs her nightgown and clean smalls. She then shapeshifts into her butterfly form and changes into them before reverting back into her normal form.

Leliana looks at Mina in shock. “Maker, your magic continues to surprise me,” she mutters.

Mina chuckles. “Did Cass not tell you I did that in Val Royeaux?”

“Oh, she told me,” Leliana says with a chuckle of her own. “I just didn’t realize you did it that fast.”

Mina chuckles again. “Did Morrigan never do that?”

“Ugh, please don’t mention that witch again,” Leliana groans. “I hate thinking about what she did to Rai and Ali before the final battle with the Archdemon.”

“What do you mean?” Mina asks.

“Don’t ask,” Leliana replies.

Sighing, Mina nods in understanding.

 

They go on talking for a while. During this time, Leliana takes her own bath, much to Mina’s slight discomfort.

 

That night, Mina has a weird sex dream, and when she wakes up a couple of hours before sunrise, she can’t go back to sleep due to the need for release in between her legs. She always hates herself when she has to do this, but she rarely has a choice. Sighing, she looks over at Leliana, who is still sleeping peacefully on the other side of the tent, and puts a silencing ward over herself. She turns her back to the Spymaster and slides a hand underneath her smalls to try to relieve some of the pressure there.

After a few minutes, Mina is close to her peak when she hears Leliana start to stir.

“Mina?” she asks when she sees the ward over the Herald. “Are you alright?”

Sighing, Mina extends the ward to include the Spymaster. “I had a weird dream that gave me a need for release,” she mutters, knowing it would be of no use to try to dodge the truth. “I was so close, too.”

“Would you like some help?” Leliana asks as she sits up.

Mina’s eyes widen as she turns to look at the Spymaster. “Did you just ask what I think you did?”

Leliana chuckles. “I asked if you would like some help,” she says again.

Mina looks at the Spymaster in shock. “A—are you sure?” she asks after a bit. “Y—you and Zevran…”

“I’m positive, Mina,” Leliana says.

Mina thinks about it for a few seconds. She needs a release desperately, but it will be awkward to no matter what she does. She trusts Leliana implicitly, and she knows the Spymaster won’t ask her to do something she’s uncomfortable with, such as possibly returning the favor. Sighing, she nods. “Okay.”

Leliana smiles as they both get out of their bedrolls. When Mina lies on top of hers, the Spymaster hovers over her.

“Tell me to stop, and I’ll stop,” she says. At Mina’s nod, she slides her friend’s smalls off her.

Mina didn’t know what to expect when she accepted Leliana’s offer to help her find the release she so desperately needed, but when the Spymaster lowers her head to her core, she is immediately glad she did. She has never felt anything so disorienting, and she almost goes over the edge just at the first contact. When Leliana inserts two fingers in her, curling them and hitting her sweet spot repeatedly as she thrusts them in and out, Mina can’t hold back the loud moan that escapes her mouth.

Her orgasm hits her hard and fast. Her core clenches in waves and tremors as Leliana drags it out for an impossibly long time.

After Mina comes down from her high, Leliana pulls her fingers out and makes sure Mina isn’t watching as she raises them to her mouth and sucks her juices off, for she knows that would probably make the Herald uncomfortable.

“That…” Mina says breathlessly after a bit. “Creators, where did you learn how to do that? Wait! Don’t answer that!” She sighs and covers her face with her hands as it reddens in slight embarrassment. “Thank you,” she finally says.

Leliana chuckles. “You’re welcome, Mina.”

 

The rest of the journey to the Storm Coast is fairly uneventful, besides Mina’s motion sickness. She and Leliana bond further, and become as close as the Herald and Cassandra are. Mina is eventually able to tell Leliana what happened when she hurt the Seeker without triggering another flashback.

 

When they finally get to the Storm Coast, Scout Harding greets them.

“Ah, Mina!” she says when she sees them. “For what it’s worth, welcome to the Storm Coast. I would have sent word sooner, but our efforts have been… delayed.”

“How so?” Mina asks.

“There’s a group of bandits operating in the area,” Harding replies. “They know the terrain, and our small party has had trouble going up against them. Some of our soldiers went to speak with their leader. Haven’t heard back, though.”

At that, Mina’s eyes widen in shock and worry. She sighs. “I’ll look into it,” she says.

“Thank you, Mina,” Harding says with a sigh of relief. “That’s a relief. The soldiers didn’t have an exact location for the bandits, but they were starting their search farther down the beach. With all this fuss, we haven’t been able to conduct a proper search for the Wardens either.” She sighs. “Well, good luck, and enjoy the sea air. I hear it’s good for the soul.”

Mina thanks Scout Harding and the group begins to head toward the meeting location for the Bull’s Chargers.

 

When they get there, they see the Tevinter mercenaries fighting a different group that they can only assume are the Bull’s Chargers. They quickly engage the Tevinter mercenaries and, within minutes, they are all done for.

“Chargers, stand down!” a huge Qunari with an eyepatch over his left eye says to his men as Mina and the rest of her party approach. He turns to the man that Mina recognizes as the one who gave them the information back at Haven. “Krem! How’d we do?”

“Five or six wounded, Chief,” Krem replies. “No dead.”

“That’s what I like to hear,” the Qunari says. “Let the throatcutters finish up, then break out the casks.”

Krem nods and walks off.

The Qunari turns to Mina and the rest of her party. “So, you’re with the Inquisition, huh?” he says to Mina, who nods. “Glad you could make it. Come on, have a seat. Drinks are coming.” He motions to some nearby rocks.

“Iron Bull, I presume,” Mina says as she follows the Qunari to sit down. Leliana sits next to her.

“Yeah, the horns usually give it away,” Iron Bull replies. Krem comes walking up to give his report. “I assume you remember Cremisius Aclassi, my Lieutenant,” Bull says as he motions to him.

“Good to see you again,” Krem says to Mina before turning back to Iron Bull. “Throatcutters are done, Chief.”

“Already?” Iron Bull asks incredulously. “Have ‘em check again. I don’t want any of those Tevinter bastards getting away. No offense, Krem.” He chuckles.

“None taken,” Krem replies with a shrug. “Least a bastard knows who his mother was. Puts him one up on you Qunari, right?” He chuckles as he walks off.

Iron Bull turns to Mina, seemingly unfazed by his Lieutenant’s quip. “So… you’ve seen us fight. We’re expensive, but we’re worth it… and I’m sure the Inquisition can afford us.

“The Chargers seem like an excellent company,” Mina says.

“They are,” Iron Bull replies. “But you’re not just getting the boys. You’re getting me. You need a frontline bodyguard, I’m your man. Whatever it is—demons, dragons? The bigger the better.” He stands up and motions for Mina to follow him. “And there’s one other thing. Might be useful, might piss you off.” He looks between Mina and Leliana. “Ever heard of the Ben-Hassrath?”

“The Qunari spies?” Leliana asks in shock.

“Yeah, that’s them,” Iron Bull replies. “Or, well, us.” He turns back to Mina. “The Ben-Hassrath are concerned about the Breach. Magic out of control like that could cause trouble everywhere. I’ve been ordered to join the Inquisition, get close to the people in charge, and send reports on what’s happening. But I also get reports from Ben-Hassrath agents all over Orlais. You sign me on, I’ll share them with your people.”

“So, let me get this straight…” Mina says. “You’re a Qunari spy, and you just… told us?” she asks incredulously.

“Whatever happened at that Conclave thing, it’s bad,” Iron Bull replies. “Someone needs to get that Breach closed. So whatever I am, I’m on your side.”

“You still could’ve hidden what you are,” Mina says.

“From something called the Inquisition?” Iron Bull asks incredulously before chuckling. “I’d’ve been tipped sooner or later. Better you hear it right up front from me.”

“What would you send home in these reports of yours?” Leliana asks.

“Enough to keep my superiors happy,” Iron Bull replies. “Nothing that’ll compromise your operations. The Qunari want to know if they need to launch an invasion to stop the whole damn world from falling apart. You let me send word of what you’re doing, it’ll put some minds at ease. That’s good for everyone.”

“And what’s in these Ben-Hassrath reports you’re offering to share?” Leliana asks.

“Enemy movements, suspicious activity, intriguing gossip,” Iron Bull replies. “It’s a bit of everything. Alone they’re not much, but if your Spymaster is worth a damn, she’ll put them to good use.”

Mina and Leliana look at each other.

“She?” Mina asks.

Iron Bull chuckles. “I did a little research,” he tells her. “Plus, I’ve always had a weakness for redheads.”

Mina chuckles. “Well, one, you’re looking at her,” she says as she motions toward Leliana. “Two, she’s taken.”

Mina!” Leliana exclaims as she playfully nudges her friend’s side.

What?” Mina asks innocently. “Is that not the case?”

“It is, but you don’t have to go around saying it to anyone who’s willing to listen!” Leliana replies.

Iron Bull laughs. “I apologize for not recognizing you sooner,” he tells Leliana. “I would’ve assumed you’d be staying in Haven.”

“Well, we had an unfortunate injury happen to one of the other party members, so I decided to come instead,” Leliana says.

“Makes sense,” Iron Bull says. He then looks between them. “So, what do you think?”

Mina looks to Leliana, who nods softly. “Alright, you’re in,” she says to Iron Bull.

“Excellent,” Iron Bull says. He turns toward his Lieutenant. “Krem, tell the men to finish drinking on the road. The Chargers just got hired!”

“What about the casks, Chief?” Krem asks. “We just opened them up. With axes.”

“Find some way to seal them,” Iron Bull replies. “You’re Tevinter, right? Try blood magic.”

“Please don’t!” Mina calls. “I’m already incorrectly considered a blood mage by many, and I would prefer I don’t have actual blood mages traveling with me!”

“Why are you incorrectly considered a blood mage?” Iron Bull asks. “I didn’t see anything even remotely close earlier.”

“That’s because I can’t do it freely,” Mina replies.

“What can’t you do freely?” Iron Bull asks.

Mina looks to Leliana, who nods again. Sighing, she shapeshifts into her butterfly form and lands on Leliana’s shoulder.

Iron Bull’s eyes widen before he smiles and bursts out laughing. “That’s what you can’t do freely?” he asks incredulously through his laughter as Mina flies off Leliana’s shoulder and reverts back into her normal form.

Mina sighs. “It’s also the eyes,” she says.

Iron Bull looks at her then and sees her purple eyes. “Okay, that is a bit freaky at first,” he admits. “But I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

Mina sighs again. “I wish you and the Chantry had the same opinions on the matter,” she mutters. “No offense, Leli.”

“None taken,” Leliana replies.

Iron Bull chuckles. “I’d say just do it!” he tells Mina. “You’re their Herald! If they can’t accept you for who you are, screw them!”

“I can’t!” Mina says. “If they find out, they’ll think I caused the explosion for sure!”

“She really can’t,” Leliana says. “At least, not right now. I believe she may be able to tell everyone eventually, but for now, it needs to stay within the Inner Circle.”

 

They go on talking for a bit longer before Bull—as he told Mina to call him—tells the Chargers to start heading to Haven. Bull, himself, joins the party as they go searching for the missing soldiers.

 

When they find the missing soldiers, they are all murdered. They find evidence of who did it, and what to do.

“Hey, Flashy, come look at this,” Varric says as he finds an amulet attached to a piece of parchment.

Mina walks over to the dwarf and takes the amulet and parchment from him. “It says that if we want answers regarding the deaths of these soldiers, to wear this amulet to their base camp to gain the right to battle the leader,” she says as she finishes reading what’s written on the parchment.

“Alright, let’s go!” Bull says.

Mina sighs as she puts the amulet around her neck. “I agree.” She turns and starts to follow the map on the parchment.

 

Along the way, they close a few Fade rifts. As they are about to get to a point where they start to turn inland, they see a giant and a High Dragon fighting.

“Okay, that's badass,” Bull says.

Sera laughs. “Wow. We can watch, yeah?”

Mina sighs. “Cass is the dragon expert. I wish she was here to tell us what to do.”

“She’d probably say something along the lines of, ‘don’t get killed. By either of them,’” Leliana says, trying to imitate the Seeker’s voice.

Mina chuckles. “I can see her saying that.”

 

They watch the fight for a while, until the dragon kills the giant and flies off. They are glad the dragon doesn’t attack them. With that, they continue on their way.

 

When they get to the bandit’s camp, they are led to their leader. As they are walking toward him, Mina hears many of the bandits whisper amongst themselves.

“Someone’s come with a challenge?” someone asks another.

“The others failed,” the other says.

Well, that’s encouraging… Mina thinks.

 

When they get to the leader, he scoffs. “So you would challenge the Blades of Hessarian?” he sneers at Mina.

“There’s been enough violence,” Mina says. “Stand down.”

“I earned my place here,” the leader scoffs. “Do you think I’ll step aside for you?” He unsheathes his sword. “Come on! Let’s fight! One on one! No help from your allies!”

Sighing, Mina grabs her staff off her back and goes to the ring that the bandits have formed for them.

“Boss, are you sure you want to do this?” Bull asks.

Mina smirks. “He underestimates my power,” she says.

“Who comes to challenge our leader?” one of the bandits calls out.

Mina steps forward. “My name is Mina of Clan Lavellan!” she calls. “First to Keeper Deshanna Istimaethoriel Lavellan, and, to some, the Herald of Andraste!” She hears a collective gasp as she shows them the mark.

That’s the Herald?” someone asks incredulously.

“And what are your reasons for challenging our leader?” the bandit calls out.

“Simple,” Mina says with a shrug. “His men killed Inquisition soldiers and left instructions on how to avenge their deaths!”

“Very well,” the bandit says. “The rules to this fight are as follows! Rule number one: this is a one on one fight! Absolutely no help on either side! Rule number two: this is a fight to the death! Rule number three: breaking of the first rule equals forfeit! Do both of you understand?”

The bandit leader rolls his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, let’s just get this over with!”

“Do you understand, My Lady?” the bandit asks Mina.

Mina nods and gets into a battle stance. “I do!”

“Then let the battle… commence!” the bandit says as he backs out of the ring.

With that, the crowd cheers, and the battle begins. The leader immediately charges at Mina, who Fade-Steps away. She then sends a fireball in his direction, which he blocks with his sword.

“Ha!” the leader taunts. “You think a weak fireball will kill me, mage?!” he sneers.

“No, but this will!” Mina says before she shapeshifts into a small purple dragon, flies upward, and breathes fire right at the leader, killing him instantly. She then breathes out ice to put out the flames. She then lands on the ground and reverts back into her normal form.

The entire camp is silent for a good ten seconds before the crowd cheers.

“Now that’s what I’m talking about, Boss!” Bull calls out.

Mina looks back at Bull and smirks before she sees Leliana’s disapproving posture and look. Fenedhis, I’m going to pay for that later… she thinks.

The bandit who gave the rules walks up to Mina and kneels at her feet.

“Your Worship,” he says. “The Blades of Hessarian are at your service. If you want eyes on the Coast, here we are.”

Mina looks at the man, shocked. “What?” she asks. “Are you saying you’re loyal to the Inquisition now?”

“We’re loyal to you,” the man replies. “I suppose that’s the same thing, Your Worship.”

“So there’s no ill will over what happened to your former boss?” Mina asks.

“The man was a bastard,” the man replies. “You’re not the first to stand up to him. You’re just the first to win, and we’re happy with that. Besides, I would rather swear my life to the Herald of Andraste.”

“I’ve never heard of these Blades of Hessarian before today,” Mina says. “What is it that you do exactly?”

“Our work is often misunderstood, much like your magic specialty, but we serve Andraste—and whoever proves worthy of wielding us,” the man says. He stands up. “We normally have a feast whenever a new leader takes over, and we would be honored if you and your traveling companions would join us.”

Mina looks at Leliana, who has appeared at her side. The Spymaster smiles and nods. Mina turns back to the man. “The honor is ours, sir,” she says.

 

When Mina and her party finally leave the Hessarian camp, it is almost dark, so they head straight for the Inquisition forward camp. When they get there, Bull pulls her aside.

“That was amazing what you did to that Hessarian leader, Boss!” he tells her.

“And extremely dangerous!” Leliana says as she walks up. “You were lucky they were fine with it!”

“Oh, come on, Red,” Bull says. “Mina needs to take more risks when it comes to her shapeshifting magic! That way, when it does finally come out, people are more likely to accept her for it!”

“Or they will be more likely to want her dead!” Leliana says.

“Will the both of you just shut up?!” Mina snaps. She sighs. “Leli, Bull is right. I’ve been hiding the truth from the people for too long. And, yes, I’m fucking terrified, but if the reaction I’ve gotten so far is any indication, the majority of the people will accept it!”

“And what about those who don’t?” Leliana asks.

“Screw them!” Mina says. “What matters is closing the Breach, and if they can’t accept that I can shapeshift, then they can deal with it after it’s fucking closed!”

Leliana looks at Mina in shock and mild horror.

“Ha!” Bull laughs. “Well said, Boss!”

“Flashy, are you sure that’s wise?” Varric asks as he walks up, having heard the conversation.

“Oh, not you, too!” Mina groans.

“If I might offer a word of advice,” Jessica says as she walks up as well, also having heard the conversation. “I don’t think you should reveal it just yet. I know you feel like you’ve hidden your secret for too long, but I also know that there are several templars in Haven who will want to make you tranquil if they find out.”

“They’ll have to get through me first,” Bull says in a low growl.

“And me,” Sera says as she walks up, also having heard the conversation.

“They’ll have to go through all of us,” Varric says. “But that still might not be enough.”

Mina sighs. “Honestly, I don’t care anymore,” she says.

Mina!” Leliana exclaims in horror.

Mina sighs again. “Look, I already fly around Haven in my butterfly form a lot, and let a lot of people see me, too. They just don’t know it’s actually me.” She chuckles. “I’ve even let some kids chase me around on several occasions. I actually consider that a good thing because I make sure they don’t wander off too far, whereas if they were chasing a regular butterfly, they might get lost.”

“And, if they know, you could probably use it to your advantage in battle,” Bull says. “You could probably even take on a dragon on your own if you can make that dragon form even bigger!”

“Oy, stop giving her ideas, ya daft tit!” Sera says to Bull.

“Well said, Buttercup,” Varric says.

Mina sighs. “Well, Bull, it seems we are outnumbered. I’ll sleep on it, I guess. Good night.” With that, she goes into the tent she and Leliana are sharing, writes the day’s events in her journal, and goes to bed.

Chapter Text

Cassandra wakes to the sound of someone reading The Tale of the Champion. As she wakes up further, she realizes that person is Rylen. She slowly opens her eyes and sees him sitting in a chair next to her bed.

“R—Rylen?” she croaks out, surprised at how dry her throat is.

Upon hearing the Seeker’s voice, Rylen immediately stops reading and looks at her in shock. “Cassandra!” he nearly exclaims in relief as he sets the book aside and kneels beside her bed. “How are ya feelin’?” he asks. “You’ve been out for almost a week! Mina was very worried before she left! Maker, we all were! I’m so glad you’ve finally awakened! Maker, where are my manners? Yer probably thirsty!” He stands up and goes to pour some water out of the pitcher in the room into a cup. When he returns to her side, he helps her sit up before handing her the cup of water.

As Cassandra drinks the water, what Rylen said begins to sink in and she starts to panic slightly. “Mina!” she suddenly says with a gasp. “I was supposed to go with her to the Storm Coast!”

“Don’t worry about that, Milady,” Rylen says as he takes the now empty cup from her. “Sister Nightingale and Knight-Lieutenant Jessica went with her. We received word this mornin’ that they are about halfway there. Ya wouldn’t be able to catch up to ‘em even if ya tried.”

Cassandra starts to get out of bed, but Rylen stops her.

“Please stay in bed, Milady,” he tells her. “I’m under orders to make sure ya stay in bed, even if I have to restrain ya, and I would rather not have to do that.”

Cassandra makes one of her disgusted noises. “Let me guess, Leli gave you that order?”

“It was an order agreed upon by several people, includin’ Sister Nightingale, but it was actually the Lady Herald who gave it to me,” Rylen tells her. “Oh, that reminds me! Mina asked that I give this to ya when ya awakened.” He takes a piece of parchment off the nightstand next to her bed and hands it to her.

Sighing, Cassandra takes the parchment from Rylen and looks at it. She realizes Mina has sealed it with her new signet ring that they had gotten her. Sighing again, she breaks the seal, unfolds it, and begins to read:

Justinian the nineteenth, 9:41 Dragon

Cass,

I feel so bad that I gave you the concussion yesterday. I know it was an accident, but I still feel bad.

Please don’t get out of bed until Solas has taken you off bedrest. Yes, he is staying in Haven to make sure you heal properly. We are taking Leli’s scout, Phoenix with us, along with Leli herself and Knight-Lieutenant Jessica. I have asked Rylen to watch over you and keep you company during the day, so try not to shut him out. We all agreed to this and he is under orders to restrain you if you refuse to stay in the bed.

Zevran is taking over Leli’s post until we get back. Apparently, that was another reason he joined the Inquisition: to be Leli’s Second in Command here in Haven. I hope the fact that they are romantically involved doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with it.

Please don’t fret over not being able to come with us. Just focus on getting better. I hope by the time that I get back, you will be back in action, but please don’t rush it.

Creators give you a swift recovery,

Mina

When Cassandra finishes reading the letter, she sighs. “I suppose I don’t have a choice in the matter,” she mutters.

“No, Milady, ya don’t,” Rylen says. He picks up the slip of parchment he had been writing on and walks to the door. “I’ll be right back, Milady. Don’t move.”

Cassandra sighs again, but nods in understanding. “Don’t worry, I won’t.”

Rylen smiles at her before leaving the room. He gives the note to the first messenger he sees and tells her to give it to Solas immediately. He then knocks on the door to Josephine’s office.

“Come in!” Josephine calls.

Rylen opens the door and walks in. “I just thought I’d tell ya that Seeker Pentaghast is awake, Milady,” he says.

“She is?!” Josephine asks hopefully as she stands up.

“Aye, Milady,” Rylen replies with a nod. “She seems to remember everythin’ as well, which is good. Solas is on his way to check her over, but I thought I’d let ya know.”

“Oh, thank the Maker,” Josephine says with a sigh of relief as she rounds her desk and leaves the room to go see the Seeker’s condition for herself.

Rylen chuckles slightly before following the Ambassador back to the room where Cassandra is.

 

“Oh, thank the Maker!” Josephine says again when she enters the room and sees Cassandra. She sits in the chair on the other side of the bed that Rylen was at earlier and takes the Seeker’s hand in hers. “We were so worried about you, Cass! I’m so glad you’ve finally awakened! How are you feeling?”

“Honestly?” Cassandra asks. “I feel like shit, for the lack of a better word.”

Rylen has never heard the Seeker curse in the Common Tongue, and he tries and fails to hold back his laughter. “Apologies, Milady,” he says through his laughter when he sees the look the Seeker gives him. “I just didn’t expect to hear a curse word come out of the high and mighty Seeker’s mouth!”

Cassandra makes one of her disgusted noises. “Büszkesége lesz a halála,” she mutters in her native tongue. Your pride will be your death.

Rylen doesn’t know what the Seeker just said, but he finds that he loves it when she speaks in her native tongue.

“I do believe you have rendered the man speechless,” Josephine tells Cassandra with a slight chuckle. She leans forward. “Or maybe he just wants to hear more of your native language,” she whispers in her ear. “I mean, it seems his breeches got tighter when you said that.”

Josie!” Cassandra exclaims as she looks at the Ambassador in shock and her face reddens slightly. “I’d expect that from Leli, maybe, but not from you!”

Josephine laughs. “Well, at least you still have your wits about you,” she says as she stands up. She looks at Rylen. “Will you please tell Solas to come see me when he’s done checking Cassandra over?”

“Of course, Milady,” Rylen replies.

“Thank you,” Josephine says before leaving the room.

 

When Solas comes in a few minutes later, he checks Cassandra over. While he is glad she finally woke up, he isn’t too happy with the progress she has made healing wise.

“Seeker, we are going to have to monitor your progress closely,” he tells her. “Your concussion is unfortunately not healing as fast as I’d like, but it is healing. I estimate at least another two or three weeks before you will be able to return to the training yard.”

“And when will I be off bedrest?” Cassandra asks.

“I can’t tell you for certain, but I estimate it will be within the next few days,” Solas replies. “Granted, I’m going to have to ask you to always have someone who knows about this to be within sight, for your own safety, but I don’t see why you won’t be able to get out of bed within the next few days.”

Cassandra sighs, but nods in understanding. “Alright. Thank you, Solas.”

“You’re welcome, Seeker,” Solas replies as he stands up and starts to leave the room.

“Solas, Ambassador Montilyet asked to see ya after ye checked Seeker Pentaghast over,” Rylen tells him before he can leave.

Solas nods in understanding and then leaves the room.

 

The next few days go surprisingly quickly for Cassandra. Rylen keeps her company during the day, and they learn many things about each other that they didn’t know before. The first thing Cassandra does when she is taken off bedrest is take a bath.

After her bath, she and Rylen go to the tavern to have some lunch.

“It’s good to see you out and about, Seeker,” Cullen says as he joins them at the table.

“Thank you, Commander,” Cassandra replies. “Solas says I still have a long road ahead of me recovery wise, but it feels good to finally be able to leave that room.”

“I bet,” Cullen says with a chuckle. “If you ever need anything, just let me know.”

“I will,” Cassandra says.

They eat in relative silence for a while. When they finish eating, Rylen and Cassandra take a walk.

 

“I’ve been meanin’ to ask, Milady,” Rylen says at one point. “What did that bit of Nevarran ya said the day ya woke up mean?”

“You mean, ‘Büszkesége lesz a halála’? Cassandra asks.

Rylen feels his length harden slightly when Cassandra repeats those words in her native tongue. “Aye, Milady,” he tells her with a nod.

“In the Common Tongue, it means, ‘Your pride will be your death’,” Cassandra tells him.

“I was wonderin’ if it meant somethin’ like that,” Rylen says with a slight chuckle.

 

They go on talking for a while longer before Cassandra starts to feel tired and they head back to her room. She is glad someone changed the sheets and falls asleep almost the instant her head hits the pillow.

Slightly worried at how tired the Seeker is, Rylen goes to get Solas.

 

“I think she just overdid it slightly,” Solas tells him after he checks her over. “Her body is still recovering, so I’d recommend taking shorter walks in the future until she has fully recovered.”

Rylen nods in understanding. “Thanks, Solas,” he tells the elf.

“You’re welcome, Knight-Captain,” Solas replies before taking his leave.

 

O0o0o0o

 

Cassandra doesn’t wake up until early the next afternoon. When she does, she feels a significant amount of weight on her ankles. She opens her eyes and sees Eva sleeping peacefully and using her legs as a pillow.

I can’t imagine that’s very comfortable… she thinks amusedly.

“Ambassador Montilyet found her there this mornin’,” Rylen whispers in her ear, startling her, which, in turn, wakes Eva up.

“Cass!” Eva says excitedly when she sees the Seeker is awake. She goes and hugs her.

“Hello to you too, Eva,” Cassandra says with a chuckle as she hugs the child back. “I can’t imagine that was a very comfortable position. Were you there all night?”

Eva sighs. “I think it was around three this morning when I came in,” she says. “I had a nightmare and couldn’t go back to sleep. I didn’t want to wake you or Josie, but I didn’t want to stay in the cabin alone, so I just came in here.”

“Was it the same nightmare as before?” Cassandra asks.

Eva shakes her head. “No, it was worse,” she mutters. “I’d rather not talk about it right now.”

Cassandra sighs, but nods in understanding. “Alright. Just let me know when you do.”

“I will,” Eva says.

 

It takes Cassandra a bit longer than usual to get ready that day, and she decides to forego the armor, much to her reluctance. When she exits the room, Rylen immediately notices her hesitation and pulls her aside.

“What’s wrong, Milady?” he asks her.

“Nothing!” Cassandra says defensively. “What makes you think something’s wrong?”

“Perhaps I was mistaken, but I noticed ya fidgetin’ a lot more than usual,” Rylen replies. “Add on the fact that yer not wearin’ yer armor, nor did ya put yer hair in its normal braid—not that I mind—but it just concerns me a bit, Milady. That’s all.”

Cassandra sighs. “I had a bit more difficulty than usual with all that,” she admits. “But I’m fine. Now, can we please go eat?”

“Did ya have this problem yesterday, Milady?” Rylen asks worriedly, knowing coordination problems are symptoms of concussions.

“Maybe a little,” Cassandra replies with a shrug. “Really, I’m fine, Rylen.” She turns to start heading to the tavern, but Rylen’s hand on her shoulder stops her.

“Forgive me, Milady, but I think ya need to go back in the room,” Rylen says.

“I’m fine, Rylen,” Cassandra says again.

“No you aren’t, Cass,” Eva says. “Mother happened to teach me how to spot the signs of a concussion, and what you are experiencing is one of them!”

“Why would yer mother teach ya that at such a young age?” Rylen asks.

Eva shrugs. “I have no idea. Mother was weird.” She looks at Cassandra. “But, seriously, Cass. You aren’t doing well.” She turns back to Rylen. “I’m going to go get Solas.” With that, she rushes out of the Chantry.

Cassandra sighs. “Maker, that girl continues to surprise me,” she mutters.

Rylen chuckles. “Same,” he says. He places a guiding hand on her arm. “Come on. Let’s get ya back in bed, Milady. I don’t want yer symptoms gettin’ worse.”

Cassandra sighs again, but nods in understanding before they begin to walk back to the room. Rylen has never touched her as much as he has in the last few days, and Cassandra finds that she actually enjoys it. His genuine concern for her wellbeing makes her heart skip a few beats.

Cassandra is so wrapped up in her thoughts that she doesn’t realize that Rylen has lowered her to sit on the foot of her bed until he places a hand on her cheek, effectively startling her out of her thoughts.

“Are ya alright, Milady?” he asks worriedly as he drops his hand once he knows she has snapped out of her thoughts.

“Yeah, sorry,” Cassandra replies as she looks into his hazel eyes. “I was just lost in thought.” Sweet Maker, what is happening to me?! she asks herself as she feels a tightening in her core and a blush heat up her cheeks.

“Well, ya worried me, Milady,” Rylen says. “It took a while to get ya to snap out of ‘em.”

“I apologize,” Cassandra says. “I’ll try not to do that again.”

“It’s okay to get lost in thought from time to time, Milady,” Rylen replies. “But with yer current condition, the longer it takes to get ya to snap out of ‘em, the more worrisome it can become.”

Just then, Solas comes in the room, closely followed by Eva.

“Seeker, what’s this about having more trouble getting ready than usual?” Solas asks Cassandra.

Cassandra sighs. “I just had a bit of a hard time getting my boots laced, so I decided to just forego the armor and putting the braid in my hair. That’s all. It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Seeker, it’s a huge deal!” Solas says. “How long has this been going on?”

Cassandra sighs again. “I may have had a little trouble yesterday, but it was worse today,” she says.

“Have you noticed anything else different than before?” Solas asks.

“No,” Cassandra says as she shakes her head. “Well, besides the fact that I’ve been getting tired more easily.”

“And that is to be expected,” Solas says. He raises his hands, but pauses. “May I?”

Cassandra nods. “Go ahead.”

With that, Solas summons his magic and places his hands on Cassandra’s forehead. After a few minutes, he stops the spell and looks at her with glowing eyes.

“That should help with the coordination issues,” he tells her. “You’ll still probably get tired easily for a while longer while your mind and body continue to heal, so continue to take it easy.”

Cassandra nods in understanding. “Alright. Thank you, Solas.”

“You’re welcome, Seeker,” Solas replies. “I’ll have someone bring food for the three of you in here. I think you need to rest as much as possible today.”

Cassandra sighs, but nods in understanding again. “Very well. Thanks again, Solas.”

Solas smiles and nods in acknowledgement before turning and leaving the room.

“So, what do you want to do?” Eva asks once Solas has left the room.

Cassandra sighs again. “I’m afraid I can’t do much right now, Eva,” she tells the child. “Ugh, this is ridiculous! I should be at Mina’s side right now!”

“And Mina was very mad at herself for hurting you,” Eva says. “She wouldn’t stop rambling about it while she was packing the night before she left. I actually had to get Leli to help calm her down.”

Cassandra runs a hand down her face as she sighs yet again. “I’m beginning to wonder if we need to watch her mental health closer than we already are,” she mutters.

“Could it be that it might’ve been one of her bad days?” Rylen asks.

Cassandra snorts slightly. “It was definitely one of her bad days. You don’t want to know what happened just before she overheard us talking that day.”

 

They continue talking for a few minutes before someone brings them some food. They talk a little bit while they eat, but for the most part, they eat in relative silence. When they finish eating and someone has come in to take their dishes back to the tavern, Rylen and Eva act out a scene of Tale of the Champion for Cassandra that is kid-friendly.

 

O0o0o0o

 

Later that evening, Eva doesn’t want to go back to her and Mina’s cabin for fear of having another nightmare, so she sleeps in Leliana’s bed that night.

 

Eva finds herself in a cage in a dark room. Oh, not again, she thinks.

Just then, someone comes in the room. Eva can’t see them yet, but she knows the person is here to hurt her.

“You can’t harm me, demon!” she sneers. “I am a Seeker of Truth, immune to possession and mind control!”

The ‘demon’ laughs, and Eva immediately recognizes the laugh as Mina’s.

“You really think I’m going to fall for that?” it says in Mina’s voice. “You’ve been a very naughty girl, da’len. It’s time that you pay.” It comes into view, looking just like Mina.

“You aren’t really Mina!” Eva sneers. “This is your final warning!”

The ‘demon’ laughs again before it sends a fireball in Eva’s direction, which she does a Spell Purge on.

“If I’m not a Seeker of Truth, how do you think I was able to do that?!” she asks it in a sneer.

Suddenly, she hears Cassandra’s voice, but it sounds far away and she can’t understand what’s being said.

“Ugh!” the ‘demon’ says. “Stupid Seekers!”

 

“Eva, wake up!” Cassandra says as she shakes the child for what feels like the hundredth time. “You’re having a nightmare!”

Eva wakes up with a start and a sharp intake of air. She would’ve shot upright if it weren’t for Cassandra holding her down.

“Oh, thank the Maker!” Cassandra says with a sigh of relief when she realizes Eva is awake. She lets go of the child, only for Eva to embrace her and hold on for dear life as she begins crying.

“Thank you!” she whispers in between sobs.

Knowing the sun would be rising soon and that Eva probably wouldn’t be getting any more sleep, Cassandra hugs the child back, whispers soothing words in her ear, and rocks them both back and forth.

 

After a few minutes, Josephine wakes up.

“What happened?” she asks worriedly when she sees Cassandra and Eva’s positions.

“Another nightmare,” Cassandra says as she rubs the still sobbing child’s back soothingly. “I think it was a Fade Dream, based on what she said in her sleep, but I haven’t asked her what exactly happened in it yet.”

“I didn’t realize Seekers could still have Fade Dreams even though they are immune to possession and mind control,” Josephine says in slight shock and continued worry.

Cassandra sighs. “We can, but the demons usually give up fairly quickly once they realize what we are.”

“You mean they don’t already know what you are when they give you the Fade Dream?” Josephine asks.

Cassandra sighs again. “They are usually weaker or lower class demons that don’t know, but on occasion a particularly strong demon will try to prove that wrong. Personally, I haven’t had an experience like that, but the ones I’ve heard of have always failed.”

“Stop talking about demons!” Eva sobs. “Please! I beg you!”

“Sorry,” Cassandra mutters. “But you do know I’m going to have to ask you what happened in both of your nightmares, right? Preferably sooner rather than later.”

“Just please stop!” Eva sobs again. “I can’t do this right now!”

“Okay,” Cassandra says with a sigh as she tightens her embrace on Eva. She looks at Josephine, who has a sympathetic, but extremely worried look on her face.

‘Sorry,’ the Ambassador mouths.

‘Don’t worry about it,’ Cassandra mouths in return.

 

After Josephine gets dressed and leaves the room, Rylen and Solas enter.

“Da’len, I tried to get to you the past two mornings in the Fade, but by the time I got there, you had already woken up,” Solas tells Eva somewhat sadly.

“Well, do it faster next time!” Eva sobs as she tightens her grip on Cassandra.

Solas’s eyes widen in shock before he raises an eyebrow at Cassandra in question.

Cassandra sighs. “I believe she actually had a Fade Dream this morning, based on what she said in her sleep.”

“Seekers can have Fade Dreams even though they are immune to possession and mind control?” Rylen asks somewhat worriedly.

Cassandra nods.

“I’ve heard something about this,” Solas says. “It always failed, but--”

“Stop!” Eva sobs.

Cassandra sighs again. “Eva, Solas is an expert on the Fade. If it is the same demon taunting you, perhaps he can--”

Cass…” Eva warns, but it doesn’t come out as intimidating as she thought it would due to her crying.

“Da’len, Cassandra is right,” Solas says calmly to Eva. “I can help you not have those dreams in the first place, but if you can’t handle talking about what happened, I may not be able to.”

“Just read my mind!” Eva sobs. “Mina said mages can do that if they have the person’s permission and that I won’t relive any of it!”

Solas sighs. “If you want me to read you mind, da’len, you’re going to have to let go of Cassandra.”

Eva immediately lets go of Cassandra and sits next to her on the bed. “Is this good?” she asks shakily.

“Yes, da’len,” Solas says as he approaches the bed. He turns to Cassandra. “Do you want to know?” he asks her.

Cassandra looks at Solas confusedly. “What do you mean?” she asks.

“I can transfer the memories to you as well if she allows it and if you want to know as well,” Solas replies.

Cassandra sighs. “I mean, if she’s okay with it, I think it would probably be best.”

Solas nods in understanding before turning back to Eva. “Is that alright with you, da’len?” he asks her.

Eva nods.

With that, Solas stands in front of them and places a hand on each of their foreheads. “Ready, da’len?” he asks Eva.

“Yes,” Eva replies.

“Good,” Solas says. “Ready, Seeker?” he asks Cassandra.

“I am,” Cassandra replies.

With that, Solas begins the spell and both he and Cassandra see the images and hear the sounds of Eva’s nightmares the past two nights.

 

When the images fade and Solas lowers his hands, Cassandra looks at Eva in shock.

“Please don’t say anything,” Eva mutters when she sees this.

“I was just going to say how proud I am of you for how you handled the one this morning,” Cassandra says. “You immediately knew it wasn’t real, Eva! That’s saying something!”

At that, Eva looks at Cassandra in shock. “Wait, really?” she asks.

Cassandra smiles and nods.

 

They go on talking for a bit. Solas tells Eva that he will visit her in the Fade that night and prevent another nightmare from happening. He then checks on Cassandra’s condition and tells her she will be able to leave the room that day, but to take it easy.

 

O0o0o0o

 

Cassandra makes a slow recovery, but is eventually able to return to the training yard and her normal activities. Bull’s Chargers arrive in Haven soon after. The Inner Circle celebrates Eva’s sixth nameday on Solace the fourteenth. Finally, they receive word that Mina’s party encountered something disturbing in Redcliffe and that they are on their way back. Cassandra doesn’t like the bad feeling she gets when she reads the vague letter from Leliana, but she can’t do anything except wait for them to arrive.

During this time, her concussion fully heals, and Solas clears her to go back in the field with Mina’s party the next time they need to do so. Cassandra is relieved, but when Solas says if she experiences any more symptoms, to let him know, she becomes slightly confused.

“I thought it was completely healed,” she says.

“It is, Seeker,” Solas replies. “However, you are still vulnerable to another one if you aren’t careful.”

Cassandra sighs, but nods in understanding.

With that, they go their separate ways.

Chapter Text

Mina wakes up with a start to the sound of Leliana and Bull arguing. Sighing, she quickly puts on her armor and traveling cloak before exiting the tent.

“I’m just saying, Red; she needs to tell them soon!” Bull says.

“And what should we do if they don’t accept her for it?” Leliana asks. “You have no idea how many people wanted her dead after the explosion at the Conclave! Even after she stabilized the Breach!”

“Well, I, for one, don’t think now is the time,” Mina says as she walks up. “Thanks for the wake-up call, by the way.”

Varric laughs from the other side of camp. “Flashy, you are the last of us they woke up!” he tells her. “They’ve been at it for hours!”

“You’re lucky you slept through most of it!” Sera says. “Anyway, I’m glad you finally came to your senses! Don’t want to have to show those pissbags what happens to people who threaten the Herald of Andraste!”

“Sera, I said I don’t think now is the time,” Mina repeats. “Not that I’m never telling them.”

“Well, we’ll all be here for ya when ya do, but I’m glad ya decided to wait a while,” Sera says.

 

The ride that day is fairly quiet and uneventful, besides Mina’s motion sickness. When they set up camp that evening, however, Mina doesn’t feel well at all. She barely makes it to Leliana before her legs start to give out on her.

“Leli…” she says weakly as she reaches the Spymaster.

Upon hearing how weak Mina’s voice sounds, Leliana immediately turns to face the Herald, only for her to fall into her arms. “Maker, what happened, Mina?” she asks worriedly as she carefully lowers her friend to the ground.

“I think I’m getting sick,” Mina mutters weakly. “I don’t feel well.”

Leliana nods in understanding. “Just try to stay awake,” she tells her. “Phoenix!” she calls for her scout.

“Yes, My Lady?” Phoenix asks as he comes into view. “Maker’s breath, what happened?” he asks worriedly when he sees Mina. He quickly rushes to her side, healing spells at the ready.

“She thinks she’s getting sick,” Leliana says quickly. “Her legs gave out on her just as she reached me.”

Phoenix nods in understanding before focusing on his magic. After a few seconds, he stops and grabs a healing potion off his belt. “Drink this,” he tells the Herald as he raises it to her lips.

Mina complies. As soon as the potion hits her tongue, she instantly starts feeling better.

“Thank you,” she says after she has emptied the vial.

“I’m not done yet,” Phoenix says as he summons his magic again.

 

After a few minutes, Phoenix releases his magic and looks at Mina slightly worriedly. “How do you feel?” he asks.

“I feel a lot better,” Mina says. “Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome, Mina,” Phoenix replies as he stands up. He then helps Mina and Leliana up as well.

“What do you think she had?” Leliana asks as she dusts herself off.

“I don’t know,” Phoenix replies. “Her symptoms reminded me of the Blight, but I know for sure it wasn’t that.”

Leliana turns to Mina. “When did you start having symptoms?” she asks.

“Just before I came to you,” Mina replies. “I didn’t notice anything until it hit me suddenly.”

“Well, I’m just glad you’re alright,” Leliana says.

“Me too,” Mina says.

 

The rest of the two-week trip to the Hinterlands is fairly uneventful, besides Mina’s motion sickness. When they finally arrive in the early evening of Solace the seventeenth, they immediately head toward where the Warden Blackwall was last seen.

 

Upon arriving at the house where Warden Blackwall was last seen, they see a man in Grey Warden armor talking to what looks like new recruits.

“Remember how to carry your shields!” he calls. “You’re not hiding, you’re holding. Otherwise it’s useless.”

Mina walks up. “Blackwall?” she asks. “Warden Blackwall?”

The man turns to Mina. “You’re not—How do you know my name?” he asks. “Who sent…” He suddenly shouts and raises his shield to block an arrow that would’ve hit Mina in the head.

Suddenly, they hear shouts of the bandits as they ambush them.

Blackwall looks at Mina. “That’s it,” he tells her. “Help or get out. We’re dealing with these idiots first.” He turns to the men he was talking to. “Conscripts!” he calls. “Here they come!”

With that, everyone engages the bandits. Being as there are so many of them compared to the bandits, they are all killed fairly quickly.

 

When it’s all over, Blackwall sticks his sword in the ground and kneels down next to one of the now dead bandits.

“Sorry bastards,” he mutters. He stands up and turns to his conscripts. “Good work, conscripts, even if this shouldn’t have happened,” he tells them. “They could’ve--” he pauses and sighs, “well, thieves are made, not born.” He points to the dead bandits. “Take back what they stole. Go back to your families. You saved yourselves.”

With that, the men loot the bodies and rush off. Mina and her party approach Blackwall.

“You’re no farmer,” Blackwall says as he turns to Mina. “Why do you know my name? Who are you?”

“I know your name because I’m an agent of the Inquisition,” Mina says. “I’m investigating whether the disappearance of Wardens has anything to do with the murder of the Divine.”

Blackwall looks at Mina in shock. “Maker’s balls, the Wardens and the Divine?” he asks. “That can’t--” he pauses, “no, you’re asking, so you don’t really know.” He sighs. “First off, I didn’t know they disappeared. But we do that, right? No more Blight, job done, Wardens are the first thing forgotten. But one thing I’ll tell you: no Warden killed the Divine. Our purpose isn’t political.”

“I’m not here to accuse,” Mina says. “Not yet. I just need information. I’ve only found you. Where are the rest?”

“I haven’t seen any Wardens for months,” Blackwall replies. “I travel alone, recruiting. Not much interest because the Archdemon is a decade dead, and no need to conscript because there’s no Blight coming. Treaties give Wardens the right to take what we need. Who we need. These idiots forced this fight, so I ‘conscripted’ their victims. They had to do what I said, so I told them to stand. Next time they won’t need me. Grey Wardens can inspire, make you better than you think you are.”

“I wasn’t aware Grey Wardens could take whatever they want,” Mina says before giving Leliana a ‘why didn’t you tell me?’ look.

“It’s complicated,” Blackwall replies. “If there’s a Blight, everyone has to help the effort to fight it. The treaties are ancient. Outside of Blights, it’s as binding as a clever tongue can make it.”

Mina nods in understanding. “Do you have any idea where the other Wardens could have gone?”

“Maybe they returned to our stronghold at Weisshaupt?” Blackwall replies. “That’s in the Anderfells, a long way north. I don’t really know. Can’t imagine why they’d all disappear at once, let alone where they’d disappear to.”

“And why haven’t you gone missing like the rest of them?” Mina asks.

“Well, maybe I was going to,” Blackwall replies. “Or maybe there’s a new directive, but a runner got lost or something. My job was to recruit on my own. Planned to stay that way for months. Years.”

Mina sighs. “It’s been a pleasure, Warden Blackwall, but this didn’t help at all.” She turns and starts to walk off with her party following close behind.

“Inquisition… agent, did you say?” Blackwall asks after a few seconds. “Hold a moment.”

“Yes?” Mina asks as she turns back around.

“The Divine is dead, and the sky is torn,” Blackwall says. “Events like these, thinking we’re absent is almost as bad as thinking we’re involved. If you’re trying to put things right, maybe you need a Warden. Maybe you need me.”

Mina looks to Leliana, who smiles softly and nods. She turns back to Blackwall. “Warden Blackwall, the Inquisition accepts your offer.”

“Good to hear,” Blackwall says. “We both need to know what’s going on, and perhaps I’ve been keeping to myself for too long. This Warden walks with the Inquisition.” He scratches the side of his head as if in contemplation. “Just give me a moment to gather my things.”

“Of course,” Mina says.

With that, Blackwall goes into the cabin and gathers his things. When he exits a few minutes later, they head back to the Inquisition forward camp.

 

When they get there, they have dinner and then go to bed. While Mina is writing the day’s events in her journal, Leliana comes into the tent and starts her own nightly routine.

“So, what do you think of Blackwall?” Mina asks as she finishes writing and closes her journal before putting it back in her pack.

Leliana sighs. “Do you mind putting a silencing ward around us?” she asks.

“Oh, sure,” Mina says before putting the ward around them.

“Thank you,” Leliana says. She sighs again. “It’s a disappointment he doesn’t seem to know anything about the disappearance of the Grey Wardens. I am, however, glad that he is with us, even if he was… not what I expected. He seems to be a good man and his experience will be an asset to the Inquisition. As for the other Wardens, I suppose we will have to keep looking.”

“That we will,” Mina agrees with a nod. She yawns. “Ara seranna-ma. I suppose I should get some sleep. Good night, Leli.” She dissolves the ward around them.

“Good night, Mina,” Leliana replies.

With that, they both go to bed and fall asleep rather quickly.

 

O0o0o0o

 

The next morning, Mina is the first to wake up, so she gets started on making breakfast.

 

After a few minutes, Mina hears shuffling coming from one of the other tents. Not too long after, Blackwall appears beside her.

“You’re up early this morning,” he says.

Mina sighs as she stirs the pot of porridge that is over the fire. “I sometimes have trouble sleeping,” she says. “I’ve been learning how to become a Dreamer, but the Elvhen mage who’s been teaching me isn’t here with us, and I’m not that confident in my ability to do it alone yet, so I’ve been having regular dreams recently.”

Blackwall nods in understanding. “If I might ask, what brought you to work for the Inquisition? Where do you fit into all of this?”

Mina sighs again and shows him the mark. “Honestly, if it weren’t for this mark, I would be back home with my Clan.”

Blackwall gasps when he sees the mark. “Maker’s balls, you’re the Herald?” he asks incredulously. “I have to admit, I thought you’d be…”

“Human?” Mina asks.

Blackwall sighs. “Yes.”

Mina chuckles. “Being upfront is better than ‘knife-ear’,” she says with a shrug.

“It was a foolish thought,” Blackwall says. “Should’ve known better than to say anything. It’s what you do, and how you do it, that’s important.”

Mina sighs. “May I ask you something?” she asks.

“Go ahead,” Blackwall replies.

“There was a mage named Morrigan who traveled with the Hero of Ferelden during the Blight,” Mina says. “Do you know her?”

“Are you talking about the Witch of the Wilds?” Blackwall asks in return. “One of Flemeth’s daughters?”

“That’s exactly who she’s talking about,” Leliana says as she exits the tent she and Mina are sharing, effectively startling the Herald.

“Creators, Leli!” Mina breathes. “I thought you knew by now that I’m startled very easily!”

“Ir abelas,” Leliana says in Elvish with a slight chuckle. “And I thought I told you not to mention that witch again.” She playfully crosses her arms and raises her eyebrows at Mina with a small smirk on her face.

“I didn’t think it was off limits to talk about her with other people!” Mina says defensively.

Leliana laughs. “I’m teasing, Mina!” she says as she playfully shoves her friend. “You’re right. I only said not to ask me about her again.” She cups a hand near Mina’s ear. “Though, I will say, I wouldn’t recommend comparing yourself to her,” she whispers. “The only thing you two have in common is that you can both shapeshift.”

Mina sighs, but nods in understanding. “But, yes, that’s who I’m talking about,” she says to Blackwall. “Do you know her?” she asks again.

“I’ve heard of her,” Blackwall replies. “Can’t say I’ve ever met her. Why?”

Mina sighs again. “What’s your opinion on her magic specialty?” she asks. “Do you think shapeshifting is actually blood magic?”

“Maker’s balls, no!” Blackwall replies before looking at Mina curiously. “Is there a reason for asking me that?”

Mina sighs yet again before shapeshifting into her butterfly form and landing on Leliana’s shoulder.

Blackwall’s eyes widen when he sees this. “Maker,” he mutters under his breath.

Mina sighs before flying off Leliana’s shoulder and reverting back into her normal form. “It’s also the eyes,” she says.

Blackwall looks at Mina then and sees the purple eyes. “Maker,” he mutters under his breath again. “It’s not that I disapprove, or even fear you for this!” he says quickly when he sees Mina’s demeanor change. “I’m just surprised, is all.”

“As is just about everyone,” Mina mutters before going back to stirring the pot with their breakfast in it.

Blackwall gives Leliana a ‘did I do something wrong?’ look.

Leliana shakes her head and motions for him to follow her to the other side of camp.

 

“She’s just under a lot of stress right now,” Leliana says when they are out of Mina’s earshot. “We’ve been over the fact that she must keep her magic specialty within the Inner Circle, but recently, she’s expressed the want to share it with everyone. Bull is the only other one who agrees with her on the matter. Everyone else, including myself, thinks she needs to wait at least until the Breach is sealed, but will stand beside her if she decides to share it sooner.” She sighs. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but she’s also extremely bipolar and suicidal. But, don’t talk to her about it. After her first attempt, she made us all agree to only talk to her about it if she initiates it. For her own safety, there are only two people who can disregard this, and I am one of them.”

“Maker’s balls,” Blackwall mutters under his breath. He looks at Leliana slightly worriedly as what she said sinks in. “You said ‘after her first attempt’,” he says. “How many have there been?”

“Technically, just the one,” Leliana says. “But she has nearly attempted suicide one other time that we know of.”

“Wake up, sleepyheads!” they hear Mina call. “Breakfast is ready!”

“Ugh! Five more minutes!” they hear Sera say sleepily.

“Don’t make me use my magic, Sera,” Mina warns.

“Shit, fine!” Sera groans.

Leliana chuckles. “She’s not a fan of magic,” she tells Blackwall when she sees the look of confusion on his face. She motions for him to follow her back to where Mina is. “Come on. Mina’s breakfasts are actually really good.”

“Wait, really?” Mina asks, having heard that last bit. “It’s just porridge. It’s not my favorite breakfast to have when traveling.”

“Really,” Leliana replies with a nod and a slight chuckle. “But what’s your favorite?”

Mina sighs dreamily. “Halla butter on toast,” she says. “You’re making me homesick.”

“Ir abelas,” Leliana says. “Mala suledin nadas.”

“Ugh, halam’shivanas, I guess,” Mina says.

“Oy, enough with the elfyness!” Sera calls from inside her tent.

“Mala suledin nadas!” Mina calls back. “Mar solas ena mar din! Are you getting up, or do I need to come in there and use my magic?”

“I’m up!” Sera calls. “Just putting on my breeches!”

Mina’s face reddens slightly. “Oh, well… carry on, then.”

“You can use your magic on me any time, Boss,” Bull calls from inside his tent.

Mina smirks before summoning her magic and they hear Bull let out a yelp.

“Oh, not nice!” he calls.

“You asked for it!” Mina calls back. She makes eye contact with Leliana and smirks again as she holds a finger to her lips. She then summons her magic again.

“Ack, parshaara!” Bull calls.

“Get your ass out of that tent and I’ll stop!” Mina calls before summoning her magic again.

“Ugh, ashkost kata!” Bull yelps.

“Mina, that’s enough!” Leliana says. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you this morning, but it needs to stop!”

“Kill joy,” Mina mutters.

“I found it quite amusing,” Harding says with a chuckle as she walks up and takes the bowl Mina offers her.

“Thanks, Harding,” Mina says. “What’s the word from Redcliffe?”

“My reports say there’s a Fade rift blocking the gate into the village and that it has some weird magic going on with it,” Harding replies before taking a bite of porridge.

Mina’s eyes widen before she shapeshifts into her butterfly form and flies straight up in the air. She looks toward Redcliffe and sees the rift Harding was talking about. She then flies back down to the camp and reverts back into her normal form.

“Creators, that’s not good,” she says breathlessly. She looks at Leliana. “We need to go now!” she says. “I almost think I need to shapeshift again and meet you guys there!”

“Absolutely not!” Leliana says.

“Then we’d best get going!” Mina says as she goes to grab her staff out of the tent she and Leliana are sharing. “Breakfast will have to wait!”

“Flashy, I don’t know about you, but I can’t function without breakfast,” Varric says as he exits the tent he and Phoenix are sharing.

Mina exits her tent with her staff on her back and Leliana’s bow and quiver in her hands. She hands them to the Spymaster. “Varric, there are innocent lives at risk!” she says hurriedly to the dwarf. “If you must, eat on the way, or maybe just stay here! I don’t care! But I am not going to stay here while people are dying from a fucking Fade rift!” She looks around. “Now, who’s coming with me and Leli? And there’s no hard feelings if you stay.”

“I’m with you, Boss,” Bull says as he exits the tent.

“I think I’m gonna stay,” Sera says. “Magic and I don’t get along.”

“I’ll go,” Blackwall says.

“I’m with you, Mina,” Phoenix says.

“I think I’ll stay,” Jessica says. “I don’t want the mages to freak out and refuse to help us because you brought a templar with you.”

Mina looks at Varric. “Are you staying or going?” she asks.

Varric sighs. “I think I’ll stay,” he says.

Mina nods in understanding. “Alright.” She looks at everyone coming with her. “Let’s go. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can get back and eat.” With that, she starts walking in the direction of Redcliffe, with her traveling party following close behind.

 

When they arrive at the gate to Redcliffe, they see the Fade rift and the weird magic associated with it.

“Stay away from those green and yellow circles!” Mina calls as she casts a barrier over her traveling party and those already engaging the demons. She quickly raises her left hand and disrupts the rift with the mark.

“It’s the Herald!” one of the people already engaging the demons calls to his comrades.

“Thank the Maker!” another one calls.

 

They make quick work of the demons and, within a few minutes, Mina has closed the rift.

“What… was that?” Mina asks breathlessly once the rift is closed.

“We don’t know what these rifts can do,” Leliana says. “That one appeared to alter the time around it.”

“In any case, there are many mages in Redcliffe,” Mina says. “Maybe Fiona will know what’s going on.” She walks up to the gate.

“Maker have mercy!” someone on the other side of the gate says. “It’s over?” he asks. Mina nods. He breathes a sigh of relief. “Open the gates!” he calls to the person at the gate controls.

“Yes, sir!” he says.

The gates slowly start to rise. Once they are up, Mina and her party walk through. One of Leliana’s scouts comes rushing up to them.

“We’ve spread word the Inquisition was coming, but you should know that no one here was expecting us,” he says to Mina.

Mina looks at the scout in shock. “No one?” she asks incredulously. “Not even Grand Enchanter Fiona?”

“If she was, she hasn’t told anyone,” the scout replies with a shrug. “We’ve arranged use of the tavern for the negotiations.”

An elven man comes rushing up. “Agents of the Inquisition, my apologies!” he says breathlessly. “Magister Alexius is in charge now, but hasn’t yet arrived. He’s expected shortly. You can speak with the former Grand Enchanter in the meantime.” He motions for Mina and her party to follow him.

As they begin to follow him, Mina turns to Leliana. “I have a bad feeling about this,” she says softly.

“So do I,” Leliana replies in the same soft tone. “We should talk to Fiona. See what she has to say about all of this.”

“Agreed,” Mina says.

 

When they enter the tavern, Fiona greets them.

“Welcome, agents of the Inquisition,” she says. “What has brought you to Redcliffe?”

Mina and Leliana share a ‘well, shit’ look. Mina turns to Fiona. “We’re here because of your invitation back in Val Royeaux,” she tells her.

“You must be mistaken,” Fiona says. “I haven’t been to Val Royeaux since before the Conclave.”

“Well, that’s very strange, because someone who looked exactly like you, even introduced herself as you, spoke to me there,” Mina says.

“What?” Fiona asks incredulously and in shock. She sighs. “I suppose it could be magic at work, but why would anyone…” She sighs again. “Whoever… or whatever brought you here, the situation has changed. The free mages have already… pledged themselves to the service of the Tevinter Imperium.”

“An alliance with Tevinter?” Leliana asks incredulously. “Do you not fear all of Thedas turning against you?”

“Maker’s breath… I’m trying to think of a single worse thing you could’ve done, and I’ve got nothing,” Phoenix says.

Fiona sighs. “As one indentured to a magister, I no longer have the authority to negotiate with you.”

Mina sighs. “Very well,” she says. “Who is in charge now?”

Just then, the door opens and two men walk in.

“Welcome, my friends!” the older of the two says. “I apologize for not greeting you earlier.”

“Agents of the Inquisition, allow me to introduce Magister Gereon Alexius,” Fiona says as the men get in between her and Mina’s party.

“The southern mages are under my command,” Alexius says. “And you are the survivor, yes?” he asks Mina. “The one from the Fade? Interesting.”

Mina sighs. “I’d like to know more about this alliance between the rebel mages and the Imperium,” she says.

“Certainly,” Alexius replies. “What do you wish to know?”

“The Grand Enchanter said she was ‘indentured to a magister’,” Mina says. “What does that mean?”

“Our southern brethren have no legal status in the Imperium,” Alexius replies. “As they were not born citizens of Tevinter, they must work for a period of ten years before gaining full rights. As their protector, I shall oversee their work for the Imperium.”

“When, exactly, did you negotiate this arrangement with Fiona?” Mina asks.

“When the Conclave was destroyed, these poor souls faced the brutality of the templars, who rushed to attack them,” Alexius replies. He looks at Fiona. “It could only be through divine providence that I arrived when I did.”

“It was certainly… very timely,” Fiona says.

“What does the Imperium gain from taking the rebel mages under its wing?” Mina asks.

“For the moment, the southern mages are a considerable expense,” Alexius replies. “After they are properly trained, they will join our legion.”

Fiona suddenly looks ready to run Alexius through. “You said not all my people would be military!” she says angrily. “There are children, those not suited--”

“And one day, I’m sure they will all be productive citizens of the Imperium,” Alexius says to Fiona. “When their debts are paid.”

“I haven’t seen any sign of Redcliffe’s arl or his men,” Leliana says. “Where are they?”

“The arl of Redcliffe left the village,” Alexius says.

“What?” Leliana asks incredulously. “Arl Tegan did not abandon his lands during the Blight, even when they were under siege,” she says, not believing him for a second.

“There were… tensions growing,” Alexius replies. “I did not want an incident.”

Mina sighs. “If you’re leading the mages now, then let’s talk,” she says. “I’m sure we can come to an agreement.”

“It is always a pleasure to meet a reasonable woman,” Alexius says. He motions for them to sit at a table and sits across from Mina and Leliana.

The rest of Mina’s party stays standing as a safety precaution.

Alexius motions to the other man who came in with him. “Felix, would you send for a scribe, please?” he asks. He turns to Mina and Leliana. “Pardon my manners,” he tells them. “My son Felix, friends.”

Felix bows to them.

“I am not surprised you’re here,” Alexius says to Mina. “Containing the Breach is not a feat that many could even attempt. There is no telling how many mages would be needed for such an endeavor. Ambitious, indeed.”

“Does that mean you’ll lend the mages to our cause?” Mina asks.

“There will have to be--” Alexius starts, but stops when he sees Felix staggering towards them.

Mina immediately stands up to catch Felix as he falls. As she does so, he discretely slips a small piece of paper in her hand.

“Felix!” Alexius says worriedly as he stands up.

“I’m so sorry!” Felix says as Mina helps him back on his feet. “Please forgive my clumsiness, My Lady.”

“Are you alright?” Alexius asks Felix worriedly.

“I’m fine, Father,” Felix replies.

Alexius shakes his head. “Come, I’ll get your powders.” He turns to Mina and her party. “Please excuse me, friends. We will have to continue this another time.” He turns to Fiona. “Fiona, I require your assistance back at the castle.”

“I didn’t mean to trouble everyone,” Felix says as they begin to walk out of the tavern.

“I shall send word to the Inquisition,” Alexius says. “We will conclude this business at a later date.” With that, they leave the tavern.

Mina has her party huddle around her as she unfolds the piece of paper Felix gave her.

“‘Come to the Chantry,’” she reads the note aloud. “‘You are in danger.’” She looks at her companions. “We’ll need to be careful, but we need to figure out what’s going on here.”

“I agree,” Leliana says. “But, first, let’s talk to some of the people here. See if they can shed some light on the situation.”

Mina nods in understanding before they talk to some of the people in the tavern. They talk to one mage who doesn’t like the Inquisition, and another who doesn’t like the Imperium. They also talk to a tranquil mage, and Mina’s heart drops upon hearing the monotone in his voice. She recruits him to be an alchemist for the Inquisition.

 

When they finally leave the tavern, Mina’s hands begin to shake uncontrollably. Leliana notices this and places a kind hand on her shoulder.

“I know,” she says solemnly as Mina looks at her.

Mina sighs. “Are all tranquil like that?” she asks shakily.

Leliana sighs and nods. “Unfortunately,” she says.

Mina sighs again. “Let’s get going,” she says. “I’m getting very hungry.” With that, they head towards the Chantry.

 

When they arrive at the Chantry, Mina’s mark flares just before she opens the door. “Fenedhis, there’s a rift inside!” she says as she takes her staff off her back. “Everyone ready?”

Everyone tells her they’re ready.

With that, Mina opens the door and they rush in to see a mage fighting off some demons at a rift.

“Good!” he says when he sees Mina and her party. “You’re finally here! Now help me close this, would you?”

Mina sighs and nods before lifting her hand up to the rift and attempting to close it. However, all it does is disrupt the next wave of demons they have to fight off.

This rift has the same green and yellow circles as the one at the entrance to the village, and Mina warns her party about them again.

 

When all of the demons are done for and Mina has closed the rift, the mage walks up to her.

“Fascinating,” he says as he takes Mina’s marked hand in his and looks at it. He looks up at Mina. “How does that work exactly?”

Mina gives him a questioning look.

The mage laughs and drops Mina’s hand. “You don’t even know, do you? You just wiggle your fingers, and boom! Rift closes.” He mimics his words with elaborate hand gestures.

“Who are you?” Mina asks.

“Ah, getting ahead of myself again, I see,” the mage replies. He bows to Mina. “Dorian of House Pavus, most recently of Minrathous. How do you do?”

“Another Tevinter,” Phoenix says. “Be cautious with this one.”

“Yeah, watch yourself,” Bull says. “The pretty ones are always the worst.”

“Suspicious friends you have here,” Dorian quips.

“Can you give them a reason not to be?” Mina asks.

“Magister Alexius was once my mentor, so my assistance should be invaluable—as I’m sure you can imagine,” Dorian replies.

“Are you a magister as well?” Mina asks.

Dorian sighs. “All right. Let’s say this once. I’m a mage from Tevinter, but not a member of the Magisterium. I know southerners use the terms interchangeably, but that only makes you sound like barbarians.”

Mina nods in understanding before looking around. “I was expecting Felix to be here.”

“I’m sure he’s on his way,” Dorian says. “He was to give you the note, then meet us here after ditching his father.”

“Alexius couldn’t jump to Felix’s side fast enough when he pretended to be faint,” Mina says. “Is something wrong with him?”

“He’s had some lingering illness for months,” Dorian replies. “Felix is an only child, and Alexius is being a mother hen, most likely.”

“And you’re betraying your mentor because…?” Mina asks.

“Alexius was my mentor,” Dorian replies. “Meaning he’s not any longer, not for some time.” He sighs. “Look, you must know there’s danger. That should be obvious even without the note. Let’s start with Alexius claiming the allegiance of the mage rebels out from under you. As if by magic, yes? Which is exactly right. To reach Redcliffe before the Inquisition, Alexius distorted time itself.”

“I hope that’s less dangerous than it sounds,” Mina says.

“More,” Dorian states simply.

“Manipulating time itself?” Phoenix asks. “Many have attempted over the ages, but never once succeeded.”

“The rift you closed here?” Dorian asks Mina. “You saw how it twisted time around itself, sped some things up and slowed others down. Soon there will be more like it, and they’ll appear further and further away from Redcliffe. The magic Alexius is using is widely unstable, and it’s unraveling the world.”

“Creators,” Mina mutters. “This is a lot to swallow and you’re asking me to take a lot on faith.”

“I know what I’m talking about,” Dorian replies. “I helped him develop this magic. When I was still his apprentice, it was pure theory. Alexius could never get it to work. What I don’t understand is why he’s doing it? Ripping time to shreds just to gain a few hundred lackeys?”

“He didn’t do it for them,” Felix says as he enters.

“Took you long enough,” Dorian says. “Is he getting suspicious?”

“No, but I shouldn’t have played the illness card,” Felix replies. “I thought he’d be fussing over me all day.” He turns to Mina. “My father’s joined a cult,” he tells her. “Tevinter supremacists. They call themselves ‘Venatori’. And I can tell you one thing: whatever he’s done for them, he’s done to get to you.”

“Why would he rearrange time and indenture the mage rebellion just to get to me?” Mina asks.

“They’re obsessed with you, but I don’t know why,” Felix replies. “Perhaps because you survived the Temple of Sacred Ashes?”

“You can close the rifts,” Dorian says. “Maybe there’s a connection? Or they see you as a threat?”

“If the Venatori are behind those rifts, or the Breach in the sky, they’re even worse than I thought,” Felix says.

Mina nods in understanding. “Alexius is your father,” she says to Felix. “Why are you working against him?”

“For the same reason Dorian works against him,” Felix replies. “I love my father, and I love my country. But this? Cults? Time magic? What he’s doing now is madness. For his own sake, you have to stop him.”

“It would also be nice if he didn’t rip a hole in time,” Dorian says. “There’s already a hole in the sky.”

Mina sighs. “Do you have any suggestions?” she asks.

“You know you’re his target,” Dorian says. “Expecting the trap is the first step in turning it to your advantage.” He sighs. “I can’t stay in Redcliffe. Alexius doesn’t know I’m here, and I want to keep it that way for now. But whenever you’re ready to deal with him, I want to be there. I’ll be in touch.” With that, he starts to walk off, but turns back after a few steps. “And Felix? Try not to get yourself killed.”

“There are worse things than dying, Dorian,” Felix replies. With that, they both leave the Chantry.

Mina sighs. “Alright, let’s see if we can do anything for the villagers before we leave. Creators know they probably need our help.” With that, they go talk to the villagers.

 

When they arrive back at camp, it’s almost noon and the party that went into Redcliffe is extremely hungry.

 

When they have all eaten, they split up to complete the tasks for the villagers. When they arrive back at camp that evening, Mina goes straight to bed after writing the day’s events in her journal. She doesn’t eat anything, much to everyone’s concern.

 

The next morning, Mina barely talks to anyone. Whenever asked questions, she only gives one or two word answers. This causes everyone to grow more concerned about her.

“What did you guys discover in Redcliffe?” Varric asks Leliana softly when Mina is out of earshot soon before they leave. “I’ve never seen Flashy this quiet unless it’s one of her bad days, but even then, she’s never this closed off.”

Leliana sighs. “I can’t go into details, but it’s bad,” she tells him. “I sent word to Haven and let them know this and how Mina is acting, but nothing beyond that. She sighs again. “I’m going to make her talk to me before we leave.” With that, she walks over to Mina and places a hand on her shoulder. “We need to talk,” she says.

“What about?” Mina asks as she continues attaching her pack to her horse.

“Your attitude,” Leliana replies.

“What about it?” Mina asks, still focusing on her horse.

“What caused it?” Leliana asks in return.

“You know what caused it,” Mina replies as she tightens the straps of the saddle on her horse.

Leliana sighs. “Mina, I know what happened at Redcliffe is not what we expected…”

Mina scoffs. “That’s the truth.”

But…” Leliana continues. “I think this gives us a good reason to follow up on this.”

“You say that as if I haven’t already thought about it,” Mina says as she finishes her final adjustments on her horse.

Leliana sighs again. “Mina, talk to me,” she pleads.

“What is there to talk about?” Mina asks. “I’d just like to get back to Haven so we can discuss this with everyone else. Plus, I’d like to see how Cass is doing.” She starts to mount her horse, but Leliana stops her. “Leli…” she warns.

Once again, Leliana sighs. “Fine, but you and I are going to talk tonight whether you like it or not,” she says as she drops her hand and goes to mount her own horse.