“Fine,” I say, and Karinn’s answering smile makes my skin crawl.
“You can’t be serious?!” Sylas grabs my arm, but I shake him off, unable to look at him. The ends justify the means. We’re too close to finding Jeremiah. I have to see this through, even if that means siding with Karinn.
“Sounds good to me,” Caleb says, shrugging. “I don’t see the problem.”
“She’s abusing her power!” Sylas says, as though noble ideals can hold any real weight here.
“We help her, we get Jeremiah,” I say, finally mustering the courage to look at my old friend. I feel bad for disappointing him, but at the same time I’m just so fed up with this whole situation we’re in.
He holds my gaze for a long moment, scowling in obvious frustration. “I hope you know what you’re doing, Ilara.”
I sigh, my annoyance getting the better of me. “What has following all the rules gotten us?” I ask, raising an eyebrow at him. “I’m done playing nice.”
He shakes his head, still looking at me like he doesn’t know what to think, but doesn’t say anything further.
“If you’re done squabbling about your shallow moral issues,” Karinn says, rising to her feet. “I’ll take you to Jeremiah. All you have to do is go for him. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“The rest?” I ask, raising an eyebrow.
“Didn’t I mention?” she asks, tilting her head. “He’s surrounded by your Silent Blades. The ones who didn’t mind becoming mercenaries, that is.”
Sylas curses under his breath, but doesn’t comment otherwise.
Caleb claps me on the shoulder. “Jeremiah is getting what he deserves.”
The sun is setting as Karinn leads us to a shabby building on the outskirts of the city. Pausing outside the door, she pulls a heavy pendant out from beneath the neck of her robe.
It’s gold, with what looks like red jewels decorating it, but the faint glow emanating from it tells me it’s much more than it seems. It’s hard to look away from for some reason.
“Is that the relic?” I ask, keeping my distance.
She smiles, gripping it in one hand, her staff in the other, and that red glow envelops her. Her lack of a response is unsettling. “Do not step in front of me as we enter the building. I’ll tell you when you can take Jeremiah.”
I don’t like taking orders from her, but I nod anyway. This is just a means to an end. I can play along for the moment.
The door is torn off its hinges, blown open with a flick of Karinn’s wrist, and I follow her as she goes inside, Caleb and Sylas close behind. They’re both unusually quiet as we enter.
Inside, I see a large group of Silent Blades, maybe twenty or thirty people, with Jeremiah at the center. They’re around a table, planning something.
“Karinn?” Jeremiah frowns, pushing past his men to meet her. Then he freezes, his gaze landing on me, just behind Karinn. “What is this?”
“I know you’re planning on taking the relic for your own, now that you know what it is,” she says, and with another wave of her hand, the Silent Blades are hurled back against the walls. No matter how they struggle, none of them can free themselves. I see then why she needs us. She stays completely still as she holds Jeremiah’s men. “It just so happens I’ve made a new acquaintance that hates being betrayed as much as I do.”
Jeremiah holds his staff in front of him, backing away from us slowly as he shields himself in magic.
“Maker help us…” Sylas mutters beside me, looking around. “This is dark magic.”
“It’s impressive,” Caleb adds, grinning.
I don’t trust myself to speak right now. All I see is Jeremiah standing before me, and the chance Karinn has given me.
“He’s yours, Ilara,” Karinn finally says, and I charge him. It doesn’t matter that she holds Sylas and Caleb back from helping me.
I want Jeremiah to myself anyway.
I lash out at him with both swords, swiping and then ducking away when he tries to counter. I’m so focused, I barely pay attention when he gets a few strikes in, shards of ice slicing into my arm and side at his command.
The wounds are shallow. Not nearly enough to stop me.
At first he’s able to hold me off, but I have unbridled rage on my side, and he tires long before I do.
“Ilara, wait!” he shouts between labored breaths, blocking another onslaught from me and shoving me back with his staff.
“There is nothing you could say,” I manage through gritted teeth, waiting for another opening.
“Spare me, and I swear to you-” He shoots another blast of ice at my wounded side, and I see what I’m looking for.
Knocking his staff hard to the side, I plunge my other blade into his chest. Whatever else he would have said is lost as he drops his weapon, falling to his knees. I yank my sword free, and he slumps to the floor.
Aside from my heavy breaths, there’s a deafening silence in the room, and I turn to look at the others. Karinn is smiling her cold smile, and Caleb merely nods at me, as if to say I’ve done well.
Sylas walks to my side, placing a hand on my shoulder. “It is done, Ilara. He has paid for his crimes.”
I nod, but it hasn’t quite hit me yet.
“You are mine now,” Karinn says, eyeing the Silent Blades all around us as she releases them from her power. They stumble to find their balance, their bodies once again their own. “Ilara will lead you, under my orders, or you die. Your choice.” I’m too shocked to speak at her words. What is she planning? Why would she do this? She glances down at Jeremiah’s body. “Now, someone carry him for me.”
There’s a short moment where nobody moves, but then The Silent Blades step forward, one after another, and a couple of them lift Jeremiah’s body between them. After that display of power, no one seems interested in challenging her.
“What are you doing?” I ask, eyeing her suspiciously as she turns to leave with the Silent Blades.
She pauses, glancing at me over her shoulder with one of her chilling smiles. “I only need one more ingredient to tap into the relic’s full power,” she says, glancing at Jeremiah’s body meaningfully. “Meet me at my estate tomorrow. We have further matters to discuss.”
“That’s only mildly disturbing,” Caleb says as she leaves with Jeremiah’s corpse.
“You’re surprised that she’s twisted?” Sylas asks, looking at us both like we’re just as bad as her.
I’m not sure what to think. I feel like a weight has been lifted, now that Jeremiah is dead.
But now what?
I hadn’t thought any further than my need for revenge.
We arrive at Karinn’s estate early the next morning, and are immediately led into the same sitting room, where she’s already waiting for us. Something seems different about her, and it puts me on edge immediately. She seems even more smug, if that’s possible.
“Our dealings are over,” Sylas says calmly, but I can sense the tension in him too.
“Are they?” she asks, raising an eyebrow.
“Something has changed…” I say, studying her.
“The relic has given me the power of a dreamer,” she says, smiling in that twisted way she has.
“That’s not possible.” I shake my head, trying to make sense of this. But I can’t deny her power seems to have increased to the point that she’s nearly glowing. “How did you do this?”
“How else?” she says in bored tones. “I ripped it from the dying body of a dreamer.”
“I don’t understand,” I say, watching her closely. She’s carrying her staff casually, but it makes me very uneasy, considering what I saw her do just the day before.
“I slipped into his mind, made him into my puppet, and took what I needed,” she says, as if it was nothing. “And now I control the Fade.”
“You asked us here for a reason,” I say, gripping the handle of one of my swords.
“I said you would lead the Silent Blades,” she says, tilting her head. “But now I require the assurance that you’ll do so under my command.”
Sylas shakes his head. “This is wrong, Ilara.”
“Why?” Caleb demands, scowling at him. “I see nothing wrong with having a strong ally.”
“Why do you want me to lead them?” I ask, considering my options. “Why don’t you just do it?”
“I need someone like you,” she says, smiling in that cold, confident way of hers. “I need a sword to back me up. You’re discreet. Efficient. And I believe you see the value of having my power on your side as well.”
If that relic can take someone else’s power, what else can it do? I’m no mage, but perhaps it could bend others to my will, as it did for Karinn with the dreamer she had drained.
“Serve me,” she continues, approaching me slowly. She’s so sure she knows my answer already, it irritates me. “Lead your Silent Blades, under my orders. Together, no one will stand against us.”
(What do you choose?)
~ I’m tired of taking the moral high road when nobody else seems interested in doing the same. It’s time I start looking out for my own interests. Serve her. (4e: Her Servant)
~ I have my revenge, but now I want the power to make sure I’m never betrayed again. The relic has only twisted Karinn further, and I don’t like the idea of serving her. Kill her, and take the relic for myself. (4f: Change of Heart)
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.