Denerim, capital city of Ferelden
Silent Blades hideout
This rage is maddening. I’m taunted with images of Jeremiah’s smirking face in the back of my mind. Never have I felt this level of hatred for another. I feel like I could cut down an entire army just to get my hands around his throat.
Lowering my two short swords, I kick open the door to the study in front of me, breaking the surprisingly fragile locks. Intent on my mission, the impact of my foot against the thick wood barely registers.
Maker help anyone who tries to stop me right now.
He will pay for this betrayal.
“Where is the lying bastard?” I hear Caleb growl somewhere behind me, following me into the empty room. With short black hair and dark blue eyes, so much more striking than my own light brown, his perpetual sneer gives him the look of a man one would not want to cross. I’m glad this particular human is my friend, rather than my enemy.
“Probably knew I was coming for him,” I say, trying to get a hold on my growing frustration. Sheathing my swords, I glance around, looking for clues as to where the coward might have run off to. Tucking a strand of long, dark blond hair behind my pointed ear, my eyes come to rest on the desk that dominates the far end of the room.
As good a place to start as any, and hopefully the quickest way to find what I need. Luckily, there are only so many places to check in this nondescript little building, stuck between two bigger structures in the heart of the city. Even so, we have to hurry. We don’t have much time before Jeremiah’s men, our former comrades, come for us.
“Ilara…” I pause at the wary sound of Sylas’ voice as he enters the room last, cautious as ever. “You need to think this through.” His shaggy salt and pepper hair is unkempt as usual, helping to cover his own pointed elven ears and the long scar across his left temple. His hazel eyes move over the room slower than mine had, analyzing what he’s seeing.
I normally respect his thoughtful attitude towards situations like this, but this time it’s too personal to go with his calmer approach.
“He needs to answer for what he’s done,” I say as I look away, unwilling to hold his gaze. The last thing I’m in the mood for right now is a quiet voice of reason, so I busy myself with rifling through a few loose papers on Jeremiah’s desk.
“And he will,” Sylas answers in that frustratingly composed way of his, and I hear the faint scrape of metal against a sheath as he puts his sword away to help me search. “You know I will not let him get away with this.”
There’s no question that Sylas is on my side. He always has been, ever since I was a little girl. He was the only one who stepped forward to raise me after my parents died, and he’s always supported me, even when I decided to follow in his footsteps and join the Silent Blades.
Glancing up, I pause as I meet his steady gaze, and force myself to take a deep breath. “I know.”
Flattening my palms against the desk, I look around again, slower this time, as Sylas taught me so long ago. Again, he’s right, and I know it. I can’t just throw myself into Jeremiah’s path and expect to win. This will take strategy.
He didn’t become the leader of the Silent Blades without learning how to protect himself. He’ll be hard to find, and even harder to kill.
A knot of unease begins to build in my stomach at the thought. The Silent Blades are a vigilante organization, true, but that in no way makes us greedy mercenaries. We’re meant to do good, seeing that justice is served to those who get away with things they shouldn’t because of their wealth, power, or influence.
At what point had that changed? When did Jeremiah’s deception start, and why didn’t I see it? Clenching my hands into fists, I’m filled with self-loathing as I wonder how much my love for him may have blinded me to his real character.
Has he sent us out to kill innocents? The idea that we may have been used in such a way makes me sick.
I nearly jump out of my skin at the feel of a gentle touch on my shoulder, and my hand automatically goes to one of my blades.
“We will find him,” Sylas says quietly, drawing my gaze with his confident tone, and my hand unclenches under his more composed influence. “And then he will answer to you for his crimes.”
His kind tone is almost too much to bear, and I have to swallow past the tightness in my throat before I can speak. “And then what? How do I make this right?”
Although he gives me a sad sort of smile, I know it’s meant to comfort. “You will know what to do when the time comes,” he says, giving my shoulder a gentle squeeze before releasing me.
Sylas has more faith in me than I do at the moment. Even now, I can feel hate eating away at me. At my perspective of right and wrong.
I so badly want Jeremiah to pay. That’s all that matters to me right now.
I feel like a week ago, if this were another criminal in the same situation, I could have said what the right course was. But if he were here now, in front of me, what would happen?
What would I be willing to do to make it happen?
“He can’t have gone too far yet,” Caleb says, busily ripping books off a small shelf and shaking them open. “He only has a few hours lead on us.”
I know it’s true, but the thought isn’t comforting. A few hours is more than enough for someone like him to disappear.
We continue searching, moving through the room quickly, and all the while I’m still stuck replaying the memory of meeting Jeremiah’s gaze across the room the night before, in those final moments before I was forced to run from the city guardsmen he’d brought with him. I remember every damn detail, like it’s etched into my brain. Shaggy brown hair I used to run my hands through. Dark green eyes that make me think of the forest, and always seem to be laughing at me. The pendant he still wears that I’d given him months ago, before we parted ways.
I’d never taken a human as my lover before, but he had charmed me. His easy smile and seductive words had worked their way into my heart over time. But, in the end, I had seen the darkness and greed in him too, and had to break it off.
He knew I had begun to suspect he was using the Silent Blades for his own purposes. Money, power, and influence with the kind of people that could give him even more money and power. The trust I’ve gained with the Silent Blades would have given my words against him weight.
And so his invitation to meet privately so he could convince me I was wrong, using sweet words he knew would sway me into giving him the benefit of the doubt, had all been a set up. He had brought the guardsmen with him to find me crouched over the body of a dead woman, and my fate was sealed.
I can only assume some of his new influential friends helped him get those guards there in that precise moment. I don’t even know who the woman was. I’m glad Sylas and Caleb had believed me when I went to them for help, or I would be alone in this.
“Minrathous,” Sylas says, breaking into my bleak thoughts. I drop the useless papers I’m holding and go to his side, where he’s found some paper remnants in the fireplace. “He’s there, or soon will be.”
“You’re sure?” I can feel my heartbeat picking up, and that dark hatred I’m becoming accustomed to washes through me.
“It looks like he’s meeting someone.” He hands the charred remains of the letter to me. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the dirty little opportunist has decided to take advantage of the tensions between the mages and templars.”
Caleb snorts, for once seeming to agree with him. “With his skills and connections, he could have found a powerful mage to hide behind in Minrathous.”
“That would make the most sense,” I say, squinting at what looks like a name along one of the burned edges of the page. I can’t quite make it out. Kar-something. “Whoever it is, they’re probably someone important.”
“From what little I can tell, it sounds like a business proposition,” Sylas says.
“He’s going to turn the Silent Blades into assassins.” Considering how badly I want to kill Jeremiah, and what lengths I feel I’d be willing to go through to accomplish it, this thought isn’t nearly as shocking as it would have been a week ago.
Caleb crosses his arms, raising a brow at us. “That’s really not too different from what we’ve been doing.”
“Speak for yourself,” Sylas says, narrowing his eyes at the other man. “I’ve never been one to align myself with greedy, bottom feeding, murderers.”
This conversation is making me uncomfortable, especially since I know Sylas would not approve of how dark my own intentions have grown in the span of a single day.
“Enough,” I say, keeping my tone even. Both of them look like they have a lot more they’d like to say on the subject, but they listen anyway. I fold the scrap of paper carefully, wanting to examine it again later, when we have more time. I doubt I’ve missed anything, but I have to be sure. “The longer we waste time here, arguing over something that may not even come to pass, the easier he could be slipping away from us. We have a direction.” Turning on my heel, I head for the door, hoping I don’t have to fight my way past men I used to call friends. “All that’s left is to hunt him down.”
Several long days pass before we reach Minrathous, capital of the Tevinter Imperium, and with each one I’m sure we’ve already lost Jeremiah. He’s too cunning to stay in one place for too long. If he’s still in the city, he’ll already be hiding somewhere.
Not that it makes a difference either way. I’m going to find him, no matter how long it takes, or how far I have to go.
Corrupt to its core, in my opinion, I’ve never been interested in setting foot anywhere in Tevinter. Now, I’m left with no choice. I can only inwardly cringe at the things I witness throughout the city.
I try not to notice the slaves that scurry to do their master’s bidding, or the little details that tell me blood magic is practiced here. Although we find barely a whisper about Jeremiah’s presence in the city anywhere, we hear more and more about disappearing slaves, and that the numbers have gone up since the problems between the mages and templars erupted in Kirkwall.
“This is pointless,” Caleb grumbles beside me.
I sigh, frustrated. “If we could use our usual contact here, this would be so much easier.”
“We should find a place to stay,” Sylas says, and I can tell from his inflection that he feels the same. “Somewhere quiet, where we won’t be noticed by anyone.”
I nod. As much as I hate waiting even another second to start searching for Jeremiah, I know we all need some rest. Sleep and a hot meal will help clear our heads, and get us ready for tomorrow.
As we head to a small inn at the edge of town, I notice a commotion at the end of a narrow alley. One of very few altercations I’ve seen since arriving. Most people here are either too powerful to bother with openly fighting, or too downtrodden to put up a fight in the first place, depending on their class.
“Please!” the first man begs. He’s older, with pale blue eyes and short white hair cut in a fashionable style. His thin frame seems so much frailer than the younger, taller man standing in front of him. I can tell from the way he’s dressed, in an expensive-looking gray mage coat and charcoal pants, that he’s probably a member of one of the upper classes here. “I paid what you asked!”
I pause, frowning in their direction, but they don’t notice me.
“Forget it, Briall,” the younger man growls, shaking off Briall’s hand when he would have stopped him from walking away. With dark hair and eyes, his more informal clothes mark him as someone in the lower class. “You didn’t tell me she was a magister. Altus mage or not, even you can’t touch her. I’m not getting involved in this.”
From what I can remember about Tevinter, Briall sounds like a powerful mage in his own right if he’s in the Altus class. Why would he go up against a magister, higher ranking than himself, unless he has something to gain by it?
Assuming this is just another power struggle, I begin to walk away. Sylas touches my arm, however, and I stop to raise an eyebrow at him.
His eyes are narrowed as he watches the two men argue, and I sigh, following his gaze.
“Then I want my money back,” Briall demands, scowling up at the man.
The man stops, and slowly turns back. “Consider it a fee for my silence.”
“Either do the job I paid you for, or give it back,” Briall says again, crossing his thin arms over his chest.
“What will you do if I don’t?” the man asks, grinning at him. “I may not be a mage, but I can personally make sure she learns all about your plans. I have a feeling that would end badly for you, old man.”
“I…” Briall hesitates, and I think I understand why Sylas stopped. This doesn’t seem like the desperation of a greedy man. Just a frightened one. “Please, I need that money back to hire someone else.”
“Sounds like you’re out of luck,” the man says, laughing cruelly.
Caleb sneers, giving me an annoyed look. “Leave them,” he says coldly. “This is none of our business, and it would only take up more time when we should be searching for Jeremiah.”
“Ilara…” Sylas only has to say my name in that tone for me to know his opinion. He never seems to agree with Caleb, and this is a shining example of why. Their moral compasses couldn’t be more opposite. I know Sylas well enough that he doesn’t have to say he wants to help for me to know.
In my moment of hesitation, the man roughly grabs Briall by the front of his coat, nearly lifting him off the ground, and my hand tightens on one of my swords.
“This never happened, understand? I know where to find you,” the man says, giving Briall a shake. “Tell anyone I almost helped you go after a magister, and I will kill you.”
(What do you choose?)
~ This isn’t right. Help Briall. (2a: Continuing the Search)
~ This isn’t my problem. Keep moving. (2b: Moving On)
For easy navigation, and do-overs. 😀 ~ DA FF: Blades (Chapter Master Post)
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, lore, etc. are the property of BioWare, and their respective writers. The only things that are mine are the original characters and plot of this story – DA FF: Blades. I am in no way associated with BioWare. No copyright infringement is intended. This is for entertainment purposes only.