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The Beat of Dying Hearts

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There was a clarity in the chaos -- every little detail so sharp he could cut himself on it. blood and blood and the wardens thought they could use it against him.


He pulled the death of an archer towards him. It caught under the ribs of a mage between them, exploded her chest cavity into black ichor that burned through the flesh of the wardens next to her.

Three more died on the ramparts. He spun their dying wails into fear so strong it choked. Two of those he bound died nigh instantly; Varric moved frightfully fast when he stuck with Garrett. Spin again and those deaths wove into a barrier around them all. He didn’t bother with the warrior charging his way. Not his job.

Reality shattered into golden glass, slowing with each steady breath, his will alone hanging the world in suspension. The warrior was clove in half at the waist. He pulled the echo of him out of the current, tangled it with one of the archers in the back until they screamed right along with the instant of death. Their life emptied and body filled as one, purple glow to any who cared to look. They turned and shot the next in the throat, clean through.

Fragments realigned and the battle returned. Nine -- ten -- died at once. Barrier, horror, and the bridge washed in flame.

A hand caught his bicep, shocking him out of his center; no one was supposed to reach him. The heavy shove of his will rolled right off his own barrier on them. Ally. Bull.

Bull hauled him under cover, grip keeping him upright against the force of it. Their little honor guard was all there, Cassandra pulling a crossbow bolt from Rethari’s shoulder. Gap in the vitaar and armor? No: it had simply punched through hardened skin.

Eight more died. Then twelve more. Bodies knew how to heal, and he knew how bodies fit. Their collective wounds sealed, left only blood and torn clothes as evidence.

Leather-clad hand under his chin, turning him back.

“You’re deep.” More growl than words. Reaver -- or whatever Bull was: where Dorian was filled, Bull emptied.

“Yes.” A collection above died in the same breath, louder than the impact of the boulder that killed them. Dorian wove them into the shield of his barriers.

“You need to come up for air?” If he broke out now, he’d start screaming and never stop. Too much and too loud with no channel. And people were surprised when he kept up with Cole's listenings.

The stillness extended his range. He pushed the extinguished lives reaching for him into the rest of them; aches and exhaustion traded out and stolen away.

“No. I need to keep casting.” Impossible to tell how much of the blood was Bull’s own. Dorian pressed the next of the battle’s heartbeat into him, just in case.

Bull’s head dipped in acknowledgement, expression blank and eyes black. His grip slid down Dorian’s arm as he turned away, catching at his hand with a brief squeeze.

“Let’s keep moving,” Bull urged the others, already stepping back out from cover. Fuck but he loved this man.