“I’m sorry for your losses,” I say, shaking my head. “But I want no part of this.”
“Ilara, we can’t just turn a blind eye,” Sylas says, predictably taking Briall’s side.
“We didn’t come here for this,” I insist, crossing my arms. It stings to know I’m disappointing him, but it can’t be helped. “Getting mixed up with a magister can only make things worse.” I look to Briall again. “Thank you, but we’ll find him on our own.”
Briall gives me a scathing look, and storms from the room without another word.
“Thank you!” Caleb says, throwing his hands in the air. “Finally, you make sense again.”
“This isn’t like you,” Sylas says, ignoring Caleb. “You would never-”
“Things are different now,” I say, cutting him off. I sigh, wishing I could make him understand the confusion I’m feeling right now. “I’m not really sure I know what we’ve been fighting for all this time. The only thing that’ll make this alright again is finding Jeremiah, not getting ourselves killed doing favors for random strangers.”
“I don’t like this,” Sylas says, frowning at me.
“Obviously,” Caleb snorts, flopping down in a chair. “But the decision’s made.”
“I need some air,” I say, and head out into the hallway.
I close the door behind me, leaning back against the wood and closing my eyes for a moment. I need to collect my thoughts and decide on the next step, but I can hear the guys arguing through the door, and sigh to myself.
Pushing away from the door, I start to wander downstairs to get a drink, when a familiar voice stops me in my tracks.
“A wise decision, not helping him,” someone says from behind me.
Drawing one of my swords I spin around, and come face to face with my adversary. “Jeremiah…”
“Did you really think I wouldn’t notice you searching for me?” He asks, stepping out of the shadows. “I’m impressed you managed to escape both the guards in Denerim and the Silent Blades, by the way. I trained you well.”
“Sylas trained me well,” I growl, my entire body strung tight with tension. He’s up to something, but I don’t know what. He wouldn’t come to me directly otherwise.
Jeremiah shrugs, measuring my every move with his eyes. He holds his staff defensively for the moment. “If you prefer to see it that way.”
“Why did you betray me?” I demand, scowling at him. It’s not lost on me that he’s mocking me by continuing to wear my pendant.
“I thought you wouldn’t go along with my plans,” he says easily, smirking at me. It’s a mischievous expression that used to make my heart flutter, but now I feel nothing looking at him except regret. “Maybe Caleb, but definitely not Sylas.” He pauses, tilting his head as he studies me. “Now I wonder about you, however. I was so sure you’d cause problems, but maybe I was wrong.”
“I’m not so sure myself right now,” I admit, the fury in me ready to boil over at any second.
He knows why I joined the Silent Blades. In a naïvely trusting moment, I had told him all about it. My parents’ murder. The bandits that hadn’t been arrested because one of them was the son of someone I was supposed to give a damn about. Someone much more important than my parents had been, apparently.
I’ve spent years pitting myself against those kinds of injustices, but I’m not sure I know why anymore. Was there ever a point? For every rich man’s bandit son I take down, there’ll just be a Jeremiah to take their place. My hate for him is so powerful that I can feel my entire body shaking. Maker help me, I don’t know if I care about justice right now, or just seeing him dead.
He shrugs again, as if none of this really matters. “I knew you were too smart not to find out someday.”
“You bastard!” I shout, leaping forward and taking a swing at him, but I’m so clumsy in my rage that he blocks me easily, knocking me back into the wall. Pain shoots through my shoulder, and I struggle futilely as he shoves me back with his staff. He disarms me, abandoning his staff for my sword, but I at least manage to rip the pendant off his neck.
The others hear the commotion and rush out into the hall, but it’s too late. Jeremiah has me pinned, one forearm braced across my chest to hold me in place, and my own sword at my throat with the other hand. I can feel the sting of cold metal as it bites into my neck, and the warm trickle of blood.
“Any closer, and I’ll kill her,” Jeremiah says, eyeing the others coolly. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll do it.
Caleb and Sylas exchange a glance, but keep their distance otherwise.
“I have a proposition for you,” Jeremiah says, still holding me pinned to the wall.
“Not interested,” Sylas says immediately.
“Holding her hostage like that isn’t going to convince us,” Caleb adds, for once on the same page with Sylas.
Jeremiah laughs coldly, tugging me forward so he can use me as a shield. He wraps one arm around my waist, pressing my back into his chest, and holds my sword to my neck from behind with the other hand.
“The old man was on the right track,” Jeremiah continues as if they hadn’t spoken. His voice so close to my ear bothers me, and I jerk my head away. “I was hired by the magister, Karinn, to obtain a powerful relic for her.”
“Let me go,” I say, repulsed by being so close to him. “Now.”
“Patience,” Jeremiah says, tightening his hold on me. “Not until we’ve come to an understanding.”
I see movement on the stairwell behind Caleb and Sylas.
“Behind you!” I shout, but there’s nothing that can be done at this point.
A couple of Jeremiah’s men are standing there, closing off the only escape route, weapons ready. We’re boxed in, exactly where Jeremiah wants us.
“Consider my offer,” he says confidently, keeping me still against him. “Help me kill Karinn, I keep the relic, and you get the Silent Blades.”
“The relic must be powerful if you want it so badly,” I say, shaking my head. “What makes you think I’d help you get your hands on it?”
“There’s something bigger going on than our little… misunderstanding,” Jeremiah says, carefully keeping the sword to my throat so I won’t cause problems. “Something that could bring this war between the mages and templars to an end before it gets any worse.”
“Something you can use to your benefit,” Sylas says, taking a threatening step forward. “Not interested.”
“It’s true that I have a lot to gain from this, yes,” Jeremiah admits, holding his ground. He knows he has the upper hand right now. “But what’s worse? Me having this power? Or a blood mage?”
That gives me pause. “How bad is it?”
“The relic? Nightmare bad,” he says calmly, and there’s something in his tone that tells me he’s being honest for the moment. “The magister? Much worse. Even I won’t do the kind of things she’s into.”
“Really?” Sylas sneers, holding his sword in a white-knuckled grip. “And what will you do with this relic?”
“I’m a mage,” he says mockingly. “I want what she wants. Power. Control. Influence.”
“You can’t become a magister that way,” Sylas points out.
“Does that matter if I have the kind of power even they can’t match?” Jeremiah asks casually. “Help me, and I’ll clear your name with the Blades. You can go back to your unending crusade for justice.”
I hesitate at that, and I hate myself for letting him get under my skin so easily. He knows me too well.
“Don’t even consider it,” Sylas says evenly, and I try to draw strength from his calm demeanor.
“I don’t know,” Caleb says, hesitating. I can tell he’s thinking about the relic.
I’m still clutching the pendant in my fist, and I can feel it biting into my palm. I hate the idea of teaming up with Jeremiah again, for any reason.
On the other hand, however, I could always just take the relic from him in the end, and then bring him to justice.
(What do you choose?)
~ The relic sounds too dangerous to let either Jeremiah or Karinn have. I need to take it from them. Join him, but don’t trust him. (4c: A Shaky Truce)
~ Not a chance. I’d rather die than help Jeremiah ever again. Kill him. (4d: A Traitor’s End)
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.