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Scout and About [Closed]

Mara Kerr

Prominent member
Grey Warden
DAO/DA2 Timeline
(( 10 Guardian, 41 Dragon, Mid-Morning, Vandi ))

Two weeks of travel felt like a much-needed vacation for Mara. At least, it would’ve been if it wasn’t clouded by worries and worse dreams than usual. She could no longer count the number of months that had passed since the last time she’d been through Redcliffe, but she could still remember the face of every Warden that served there. The thought of them made her heart ache, and even though every step brought her closer to where they were, there was no telling what she would find there.

The wind bit cold and crisp at her nose and ruffled the fur on Kitten’s back. After yesterday’s hunt, she had plenty of energy to burn as she bounded back and forth ahead of Mara. These lands were growing more and more familiar to the big cat as they neared Redcliffe. Kitten had spent much of the early morning on her own, probably exploring her old territory as Mara pushed on towards their destination. Having grown bored of finding everything much the same, she’d returned to Mara not too long ago for a quick snack before taking on her zig-zagging pattern in the front.

It worked well enough for Mara. Left to her thoughts, she tried with each step to recall better days in an effort to keep the worrisome what-ifs at bay. All those monotonous patrols with quiet Adam, Kitten’s first hunt with Vandi and Dane at her side - even that time she’d sprained her ankle and had to let Theo and Leo carry her home. The twins were still competing over who was the Pun King at the time, and both were determined to win while she was a captive audience.

Now she could only wish for those days back as the sun rose higher and higher and shadows grew shorter. Recliffe wasn’t far, and she was certain she’d reach it before the day was out. After that, there was no telling what she would find, if anything at all.

Mara kept her gaze on the ground, loosely following Kitten’s enormous pawprints in the muddy soil. Mara’s own bootprints bridged across each zig and zag until suddenly they stopped zigging and turned into one big zag. Whatever Kitten had found, it’d sent her darting off to the right, and quickly.

“Kitten!” Mara dashed after the pawprints, nearly slipping in a puddle before steadying herself against a tree and hurrying on. Between the trees she could make out Kitten laying on the ground, a tall human standing beside her. The Warden’s heart skipped a beat as she drew her bow and picked up her pace.

“Step aside, n- Vandi?” Mara skidded to a stop a few meters from the other woman. Her bow dropped to the ground beside her. Eyes wide, she took in the sight of Kitten flopped on her side, her own eyes round and ears pointed expectantly at Vandi. Mara rushed to the other woman, stealing a quick embrace before she could protest.

“Maker, I’m glad to see you!” She stepped back, chin tilted up to look the taller woman in the face and make sure this was really, really her old friend. Kitten flopped over to her other side before lithely standing up as if she hadn’t just been begging for some love. With one last look at the pair, she bounded off into the trees, off to find Dane. At least, that's what Mara assumed. It could be anyone's guess with that cat sometimes.

“So how is everything? It’s been so long and I’ve been meaning to write but, well...you know how that is.” Even with tutoring, her penmanship was juvenile at best, and her spelling even worse. “Oh, this is perfect! You and I can check out Redcliffe together and sort out what’s going on - you should know something of the Wardens, right? We’ve haven’t heard from them in awhile.”

Mara leaned over to look behind Vandi. Seeing nothing and only hearing the sound of Kitten’s less-than-elegant bounding among the trees, she asked, “And what of Dane? It sounds like Kitten hasn’t found him yet.”
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Vandi Morganach

Inquisition Scout
Post DAI Timeline
After a literal lifetime among the well organized ranks of the Blackstone Irregulars, being a part of the Inquisition was … an adjustment, to put it in the politest terms possible. The nascent institution was a seat-of-the-pants affair as yet, with the one wearing those pants changing from day to day. Precious few with any real combat experience had shown up among the volunteers that trickled in daily; Vandi dutifully put in time most days trying to teach some of them how to use a bow, but she breathed a sigh of relief on the days when she got tagged to head out on a patrol.

Bringing order to the Hinterlands remained the primary focus, with the damned mages and templars making it difficult to travel a mile without getting into a fight unless you knew how to sneak. Locating their camps, and those of the bandits that were trying to capitalize on the chaos; mapping out the rifts that remained; and helping the beleaguered locals procure food and other necessities that the conflict had made hard to come by … no shortage of things to do, even with Sati and her team handling most of the heavy lifting and rift closing, and it was satisfying work. Even with the occasional frustration of butting heads with that idiot Roderick or trying to wheedle supplies out of Threnn, she had no regrets.

But damn, she missed Dane. It felt as though she was half blind as she moved through the forest, and missing an arm when she hunted, but the greatest loss was at night, sitting beside a fire with a yawning emptiness where the wolf had once lain at her side. Even when he’d slipped into the nighttime forest to prowl, she’d been able to sense his presence nearby; she hadn’t been truly alone since her sixteenth year, until now. Wishing wouldn’t bring him back, however, and while Harding and several of the other Inquisition scouts were decent company, Vandi preferred to be out on her own as she was today, moving silently through the trees, not having to worry about anyone else, simply taking note of what she saw and heard to report back later.

She got a bit of warning: a deer flashed through the undergrowth off to her left, a covey of quail burst into flight ahead and a squirrel scolded loudly from the branches overhead. Something was coming: something big, from the sound of breaking branches and leaves rustling. Vandi nocked an arrow and raised her bow, felt her heart stop at the sight of russet and grey striped fur in the dappled light beneath the canopy, then start again as she realized that this particular red lion hadn’t simply wandered away from the Frostbacks in search of a snack. She lowered the bow as Kitten bounded from the trees with a happy prraaow and reared up on hind legs to embrace the ranger with paws the size of dinner plates draping over her shoulders.

Sheathed claws or no, the big cat was better than three times Vandi’s weight, and she staggered back a few steps even as she dug her fingers into the thick pelt for an affectionate scratch, then a push. “Good to see you, Kit, but down.” Kitten obligingly dropped to all fours, then rolled to her back, wriggling back and forth with paws waving in the air in a not-so-subtle bid for a belly scratch. “Where’s Mara?” The other ranger wouldn’t be far from her companion, and moments later -

“Kitten!” Mara burst through the trees, bow up and ready. “Step aside, n- Vandi?” The bow hit the ground, and the younger woman ran forward, throwing her arms around Vandi’s neck. She was definitely lighter than the cat, and Vandi returned the hug. It had been a while since she had hunted with the Grey Warden, and it was good to see a familiar face.

“Maker, I’m glad to see you!” Mara exclaimed, stepping back and peering up at Vandi with a smile. Kitten rolled to her feet and loped off into the forest. Mara watched her go, then turned back. “So how is everything? It’s been so long and I’ve been meaning to write but, well...you know how that is.”

“I know.” She wasn’t much for writing herself; you saw people when you saw them and got caught up then. That was what firesides and taverns were for. “I’m working with the Inquisition as a scout. Just for now.” That she would be returning to the Blackstones sooner or later was as sure to her as the sunrise. "The Wardens treating you well?"

“Oh, this is perfect!” Mara beamed. She’d come a long way from the wary and cynical youngster that Vandi had first encountered at Highever. “You and I can check out Redcliffe together and sort out what’s going on - you should know something of the Wardens, right? We’ve haven’t heard from them in awhile.”

Vandi shook her head, feeling a twinge of disquiet. “We haven’t heard much of anything from Redcliffe,” she admitted. “A lot of the mages were there when the explosion happened, I think, but -” She shrugged. “They’ve kept to themselves since.” It was the ones running around the countryside fireballing anyone that looked crossways at them that got the attention. “And we haven’t seen any Wardens that I’m aware of. You’re the first.” She frowned. “In fact, I think I heard something about all the Orlesian Grey Wardens being missing.” Nobody had asked her to look for them, so she hadn’t given it much attention. There was so damn much jumping up and down and demanding to be seen to right now that it was easy to overlook the things that weren’t making themselves obvious. Which was a bad idea; any ranger knew that it was when the forest got quiet that you needed to worry.

Kitten could be as silent as a shadow when she was hunting, but right now, she was making no effort at all to be stealthy, crashing around in the trees like a damned city-dwelling tenderfoot. Mara peered after her, and Vandi had a moment of premonition before she spoke: “And what of Dane? It sounds like Kitten hasn’t found him yet.”

“Dead.” Her voice was matter-of-fact. She’d done her grieving at the pyre. Mara would know what she was feeling; she’d been mourning Duff when they’d first met. “Demons, right after the Breach happened.” Part of her knew that it had been inevitable, that it had been better for him to die fighting than face advancing debilitation as the years pressed in ever harder, but a part of her had wanted him to live forever. “Did you encounter many on the way?” The rifts and the demons that they produced were not something to be taken on by a lone fighter, even one with a companion as formidable as Kitten.