“Caleb will probably have something to say about this,” I say with a grin, crossing my arms. “But I wouldn’t feel right leaving a friend to fend for himself.”
There’s a muffled thud from Sylas’ room, and a series of crashes, and we pause. We both laugh when we hear Caleb cursing loudly through the door.
“Thank you for the offer of a drink,” I add, shaking my head. “But I think we should get back in there before Sylas and Caleb kill each other.”
Vaellen laughs easily, nodding. He seems a little disappointed about skipping the drink, but he turns back to the door anyway, heaving a sigh. “This should be interesting.”
With Jeremiah gone, it’s like Karinn has disappeared completely. Every lead we follow seems to end with nothing. As the days stretch on, we all agree we need to go back to Denerim to get the Silent Blades in order. We haven’t given up the search, but I can’t just leave the Blades in chaos.
I’m leading them now, with Sylas and Caleb supporting me. The remaining members have all renewed their oaths, and anyone who wanted to become mercenaries have long since left.
Vaellen has joined us, for the time being, still afraid to be left alone, and Briall travels between our hideout in Denerim and his home in Minrathous. The Silent Blades contact there is still working alongside Briall’s connections, looking for any sign of Karinn.
But weeks have turned in to months, and I can tell Vaellen is suffering. Some days he seems fine, but others I can tell he didn’t sleep well. The risk of possession is so much higher when he’s sleeping, it’s no wonder he tries to avoid it, even to his own detriment.
Being a mage himself, Briall has used this time to teach Vaellen how to protect himself better from the demons and their temptations, but even he doesn’t know how to stop them from targeting Vaellen.
Briall is back in town for the next couple weeks, having just returned from Minrathous with a depressingly small amount of new leads on Karinn. Even her associates don’t seem to know where she went.
With nothing to do tonight, we’re all sitting around playing a game of Wicked Grace at the large kitchen table. Sylas suggested it, knowing Vaellen is trying to put off going to sleep a little longer.
We’ve all had a few drinks, and everyone’s subtle attempts at cheating are getting sloppier. It’s an expected part of the game that has us all cracking up every time one of us fumbles.
“The Angel of Death,” Briall says after drawing a card, a confident grin spreading across his face. Three of his five cards match, and I know I’ve already lost.
Vaellen and I both only have two matches.
Caleb curses, tossing his cards down. None of them are matches, and Sylas chuckles, shaking his head.
“How can you be so incredibly bad at this game?” he wonders out loud, showing his winning hand of four matching Song cards.
We joke and tease each other, and even Vaellen laughs and cracks a few tired smiles throughout our games, but eventually it gets late.
I bid goodnight to everyone as they leave, and am about to head to my room when I notice Vaellen hesitating, the last to get up.
“You alright?” I ask, raising an eyebrow.
He gives me another of his weary smiles, finally rising to his feet. “I’m fine,” he says, but I’m not entirely convinced. “It’s just the lack of sleep.”
“You sure?” He looks a little pale to me, and I’m annoyed at myself for not noticing sooner. Looking at him now, I’m glad he’s still sharing a room with Sylas. “You’ll let us know if something feels off, right?”
He nods, giving me a friendly clap on the shoulder. “You worry too much,” he says, laughing softly. “I think I’ll be able to sleep better tonight.”
He says goodnight and excuses himself, giving me a wave over his shoulder. I know I’m probably being paranoid, but he seems more tired than usual to me.
A loud pounding at my bedroom door has me shooting up in bed, my hand going for the dagger on my bedside table.
“Ilara!” Sylas shouts through the door, and the urgency in his voice has me scrambling for my clothes. “Ilara, Vaellen needs you!”
I haphazardly pull on my leather pants and throw on a loose linen shirt, in such a hurry I don’t even bother with the buttons at the top. Out of breath, I wrench the door open, shirt hanging off my shoulder. All the essentials are covered, so I’m not concerned. I reach down to pull on my boots. “What happened?”
“I think he’s been possessed,” he says, and I pause.
Cursing under my breath, I rise and finish buttoning my shirt, grab my short swords, and head for Sylas’ room.
“He was talking in his sleep, and tossing around,” he says, his longer legs easily keeping pace with my hurried strides as he fills me in along the way. “Some of my things started floating around the room.”
“Don’t forget the demons coming out of the damn walls,” Caleb mutters, meeting us halfway.
“It’s been dealt with,” Sylas says when I shoot him a look. “The Blades are going through the hideout now to make sure we got them all.”
When we reach the room, Briall is standing over Vaellen’s bed, chanting some kind of incantation. His hands are glowing with a white light, and Vaellen seems to calm a little under his influence.
He’s deathly pale now, a fine sheen of sweat on his brow. Even in his sleep he’s frowning, and his breaths are shallow.
“You know what he wanted,” Caleb says. Before, when we were in Minrathous, I know he wouldn’t have said it so gently. Even he’s taken a grudging liking to Vaellen over the past months.
“No!” Briall drops his hands, turning to us. “You have to go after him.”
“Sure, but it shouldn’t be her that goes,” Caleb says. “There are other mages in the Blades. It would be better to send them, since they know the Fade. She should stay, in case…”
Everyone is silent at his hesitation. None of us want to fill in the end of that sentence.
“I’m with Briall,” Sylas says, glancing from Vaellen to me. “He knows you. Let us watch keep watch, while you go after him.”
“Whatever possessed him will be waiting for you,” Briall says, being honest with me. “Bring more of your mages here to help me, and I’ll support you while you’re in there.”
(What do you choose?)
~ There’s no way I’m letting the demons take him. Enter the Fade. (7a: The Fade)
~ It would be better to have actual mages go in after him. Don’t enter the Fade. (7b: A High Price)
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.