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Carved In Stone [Closed]

Sofia di Castelbuono

Prominent member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
Sofia nodded at Cauthrien’s enquiry over the milk. “Si. It coats the tongue and counteracts the spice. Water simply spreads the spice to every area of the tongue.” A corner of her mouth curled in slight amusement. “A rookie mistake, we would say.”

Ever since their confrontation on the journey here, Sofia hadn’t been too sure how well Cauthrien might take to any sort of familiarity, but it seemed safe enough to tease her a little over her lack of experience with spicy things. Cauthrien’s reasons were, as ever, practical. Introducing a new element into the rations of an army on the march would have poor consequences. However, she wasn’t completely untested.

“I got used to odd dishes while I was captain of Maric’s Shield. The nobles were always trying to outdo each other with exotic foods. Maric would eat whatever he was served, but if Cailan didn’t like it, he’d pass it back to us to get rid of … which generally meant eating it, unless there was a potted plant nearby to dump it in. Not a lot of spicy foods, but - snails cooked in garlic butter, fish eggs served on crackers. But I can eat anything if I’m hungry enough … or if royalty is shoving it at me.”

Sofia chuckled, both at the description and at the curl of Cauthrien’s nose. “Snails were not something that ever tempted me particularly. And the Circle wouldn’t have wasted food that exotic on us, anyway.” Most of the spices and flavourings had been grown by the mages themselves, although it was likely of better quality than anything that could have been bought. “So I have been spared, I think. Quite possibility it would have been expected of me to partake had I followed the path I originally believed was laid out to me.”

She’d likely be a merchant’s wife by now, or rather a merchant herself married to somebody who could bring money to the business, and wining and dining potential investors or her competitors. As it was Antiva, she would have been involved in some political machinations. She might have had a few children by now, even. Sofia thought about that life in moments of idleness, but pangs of wistfulness rarely followed. She was doing good with her talents, and that was what mattered.

Conversation returned to their mission. “We should leave tomorrow. Do you have everything you need?”

“Yes. I replenished a few things soon after arriving, and I’ve picked up some of the local medicinal lichen. It can be applied to smaller wounds to seal them temporarily; no substitute for magic but in the event we have skirmishes before we reach the thaig itself, we’ll be able to preserve our stocks of lyrium as long as possible.”

“How much time have you spent in the Deep Roads?”

“I’ve been on several missions into the Roads, while I was stationed in Selemy.” One of which would rank at the top of her most terrifying life experiences, but that wouldn’t help Cauthrien to know. “There’s an old thaig almost directly beneath half of the town and the support structures sometimes start to collapse. I and a few other Wardens used to accompany some engineers below the surface to reinforce the supports.” Sofia mopped up the last of the sauce in her bowl before nibbling delicately at the bread. “The furthest I went in was on a rescue mission. A village was just about wiped out by darkspawn but we followed their trail back to the Roads just in case they’d abducted anybody.”

She wouldn’t give further description, not in public, but Cauthrien would know that the importance of trying to rescue anybody went beyond a sense of chivalry. Besides sparing the women a horrific experience, thwarting the darkspawn on that front denied them new Broodmothers.

That hadn’t been an easy mission. They’d heard the screaming start shortly after making their way into the tunnels, and the sound had reverberated around the walls, making it sound as though a hundred women were trapped down there. It had inspired a desperation in the pursuing Wardens that affected their caution - they’d moved too quickly into a cavern that had been crawling with darkspawn.

Not all of them had made it back out alive.

Sofia wiped the thought from her mind. “What of you? Have you been down there before?”